A picture of five Sangomas can be seen, depicting a typical representation of the South African tradition. This image illustrates a common scene within the culture, showcasing the deeply-rooted practice of spiritual healing.
At SAVVY Contemporary’s 2016 Afro futurism conference in Berlin, Greg Tate gave a speech that this essay is based on.
I. To start off, I would like to rephrase the sentence by saying that I am looking to make modifications to the text to eliminate any potential plagiarism while still maintaining the same sense and context.
We are here this evening to think about all the rhymers, prophets, witches, and healers, shamans, diviners, and tricksters, as well as those who captivate with their lips and shaking gluteuses.
Tonight is for the Little Richards, James Browns, Jimis, Slys, Superflys, Slick Ricks, and the Wicked, the Goodnight Beloved Princes
. And all those who only need one eye to mesmerize and cast magic on the least powerful, the working class, the common people, the Hoteps, the Five Percenters, and those cursed non-melanated ’85ers.
Tonight, we are definitely here to celebrate Black Grrl Magic.
However, we also want to honor all those who have been inspired by the Triple Goddess Incarnation and Persuasion.
Mama Frau Holle was a mother goddess in Germanic folklore, who was known for her three forms: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. Before Holler, the King of Winter and Frost, would marry her, he challenged her with a difficult riddle.
Holler made it clear to Frau that when she visited him in the winter, she should be prepared for anything. He said it like this: “Come all kindsa WTF, okay?”
Pay close attention, Witch: when you approach these gates, be sure to remember these four points: don’t come with any attire; don’t come in any form of transportation; don’t come by yourself or with any company; and don’t plan to arrive during the day or night.
Frau Holle gave a suspicious glance towards the fool, as if to say, “I know what you’re trying to do, and it won’t work.”
At sunset, Frau showed up shrouded in a fishing net, perched atop a donkey with one of its hooves scraping the ground, encircled by twenty-four wolves.
Let’s show our appreciation for Frau Holle.
Holle’s Mother figure is seen as a female from the front and a tree from behind, symbolizing both abundance and the environment.
This depiction is similar to the thirteen-foot sculpture of the heroic Harriet Tubman, which is a mainstay in Harlem located near the 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard police station – a powerful image of her escaping the clutches of the law.
Harriet was fully aware of how to make life difficult for slaveholders who attempted to subjugate people and take refuge in their oppressive dwellings.
Frau Holle takes on the role of a wise, old Crone in the tale; she is the Queen of Winter who causes snow to fall when she shakes her bed. In Holland, it is still said that “Dame Holle is shaking her bed” when it snows.
This is reminiscent of the Lady of the Evening in director-composer Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback ‘s Baadasssss Song stage production who tells the young protagonist, Sweetback, not to be deceived by her gray hair.
She says, “Though there is snow on the chimney, inside there’s still FIRE!”
The Brothers Grimm tell a tale of two stepsisters who find themselves in the “nether realms” after falling through a well.
Here they meet Frau Holle, also known as “the Queen of the Witches”, who offers them shelter and food in exchange for helping with the housework.
When it comes time for the rewards, the hardworking sister is showered in gold and the lazy one in manure. This fable teaches us to never be unruly and inattentive when it comes to lessons taught by Frau Holle – she doesn’t take kindly to such behaviour!
In order to understand the apprenticeship of a young witch, we must recognize the traditional roots of shamanism, sorcery, and healing, which began in Africa at a timelessly significant moment.
It is essential to discuss the ancestry of the sangomas in the south of Africa. These divine female healers require twelve arduous steps to become a sanusi. They must understand the application of plant medicines as well as the many types of spiritual entities.
The most detrimental issue for the sangomas is when someone’s soul is either taken from them or lost naturally. To cure this, the sangomas use a practice known as Soul Retrieval, which may combine emetics, poultices, salves, teas and roots.
They are taught to converse with those who are in a voluntary or involuntary hallucinatory state and the effect of outer space contact upon their people.
To be a sangoma, it is necessary to reach a level of unity with the spiritual world, this is done by drumming, meditation, breathing and fasting.
Albert Ayler, a celebrated freedom swing saxophonist, claimed that music had the power to heal.
This sentiment is also echoed in the practices of Sufi communities in Turkey, where the ney flute and the kemen çe fiddle are utilized to bring peace and comfort to those in distress.
A modern example of this practice is a cat named Can, who chose to listen to the ney before undergoing a heart bypass surgery to ease his nerves. In Can’s words, “Music is the healing force of the universe.”
I had become very anxious prior to hearing the ney sound, and this was reflected in my blood pressure reading of 160.
After taking in the sound however, I measured my blood pressure again and found it to be 130.
Several hours after Can woke up from the operation, he started playing the ney and the music produced an effect on him such that he felt like he had taken some painkillers.
When discussing healing, it’s important to not forget about the sicknesses that permeate our social, economic, and political systems.
In America, we are seeing the destructive influence that white people in power have with their rituals of political rallies in support of the “megalomaniacal machinations” of a certain leader.
This ties into the old American democratic spirit that has been connected to the “demonizing spirit” of double ethnocide against Mexicans and Muslims, all in the name of manifest destiny.
The ascension of Mein Chumpf should be seen as indicative of a deep-seated malaise in American democracy.
For over two centuries, a frenzied creature has employed both blatant and subtle means of alienating, manhandling, and punishing those whose procedures for treating mental illness and spiritual disturbance were not based on hate but on affection.
The “paranoid style in American politics,” as coined by historian Richard Hofstadter, is a common theme in the US. This idea of racial purity is a concept that is inescapable in the governing, military, medical, media, policing, and prosecutorial arenas.
It could be that a figure like Agent Orange was necessary to counter the mesmerism of Barack Obama’s Afro-futurism throughout his two terms in office.
A longstanding magical effect of American democracy’s paranoid demonology has been to create a connection between consumption and freedom, and between acquisition and cleanliness. It once allowed for the consumption of freedom through slavery and Jim Crow, and now has a multi-billion dollar prison-industrial system which profits from and exploits demonized populations of people of color and poor whites.
The elites’ hunger for demons was demonstrated when Orange Julius proposed constructing a concrete wall of white hate to keep Mexicans from entering the country, and to deport any Muslim – even Muhammad Ali’s son – because of their faith.
Clinton, in response to the potential of Cheesy Dorito committing further acts of terror and making mistakes, suggested that the nuclear launch codes be withheld from him.
This was reminiscent of her 2008 campaign message while running against Obama, where she indicated that if she received an emergency call at 3 a.m., she would be prepared to utilize nuclear weapons.
Clinton cautioned white individuals to be wary of the emergence of the “super-predators,” a term she had formulated, during a time when her husband was president and the mass imprisonment of African Americans had been embraced as a political strategy.
This was in regards to the countless young black men born in poverty.
McChump’s past is one full of instances encouraging the condemnation and mass imprisonment of African-American adolescents.
One such example was his full-page ad in a newspaper, which was meant to incite people to eliminate the talented and youthful black population.
When it came to the decision between Presidential Candidates Clinton and McChump for black Americans, it reminded us of an old family friend; David, nicknamed “Castro” due to his likeness to Fidel.
During the 1970s political season, Castro commented that the candidate was not the lesser of two evils, but “the only evil we got”
. We can certainly express our disapproval of a poor leader, as we used to do back when hip-hop was actively against someone like 45. But, let’s move on from that…
Toni Morrison, the renowned novelist, pointed out that something remarkable and unexpected happened in the United States due to the cruel treatment of slavery – rather than producing bestial people, a beautiful and unique music was born.
This Afro-Angelic music was created by those experiencing the darkest of times, and hauntingly provided a soundtrack for a nation whose twisted dreams included segregation, witch burnings, destructive economic policies, human trafficking, and the arms trade.
In his liner notes for John Coltrane’s Live at Birdland, Amiri Baraka expressed perplexity at the fact that, despite America’s typically vile persona, there is still so much beauty in the nation.
It’s probable, Baraka supposed, that this beauty is what helps to level out the vileness.
This is why African Americans such as Sun Ra often feel as if they inhabit a separate world, which is both existentially and geographically removed from where America’s most sinister and malevolent people dwell.
We understand the anxiousness that is inspired by our Astro-Black Planet and, similarly to Public Enemy and Frances Cress Welsing, we recognize this.
It is ironic, however, that those who fear it also cannot help but imitate its mannerisms, its rhythmic lyrics, and its most dynamic trap-house ceremonies.
The Bible and the Melodians posed the question of how one can sing a hymn of the Lord in a foreign place, but there is a way to gloriously, enchantingly, and royally do so.
Such as through the works of Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali, Miles Davis and Cicely, Al Green and Patti LaBelle, and to include the likes of Rakim, Nas, and Public Enemy’s Chuck D’s words, “LL as well, hell.”
In homage to orators and truth-tellers who refreshed us with their rhetorical and precise language, and to spirit catchers like Gylan Kain who used their singing to soothe our suffering souls, and to jazz messengers from another plane who heeded a higher calling in their visit to Earth.
We reflect on the undecided nature of the land of this writer’s birth; a place where we cannot choose between nightmare or dream, the abnormal or paranormal, or a supernatural flow or an inhumane Übermensch.
The consequences of the lack of capacity to expand to any other places have now come to light.
It was once said that Afghanistan was the land where empires go to die, however, in present times it could be argued that California is the land of America’s demise.
A place named after a black Amazonian witch, Calafia, in recognition of the need for her magical powers to bring the nation back up in times of need
This anxious republic is yet to decide whether it wants to be taken over by the devil or once again be surrounded by generous dark poets with the Soul Retrieval ability.
Who will not remain silent in informing us that the Word is greater than any rage-filled machines that have no style of their own except for copying things of African origin.
This section gives an overview of the main points that will be discussed.
Un hombre honesto es lo que soy.
I lack nothing in my life
Dónde se origina la palmera
In the place of the woody pawn-trees
Antes de partir, me gustaría expresar
Prior to my demise, I made a copy of myself.
Vocalize the depths of one’s soul.
One thousand replicas of myself.
In Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s novel, _Three Trapped Tigers, he has provided a playful mistranslation of Jose Marti’s renowned poem “Guantanamera”.
Our sibling Jean-Michel Basquiat was aware of what he needed to do. He was a poet, a scribe, a doodler. He gathered verbal assets and a master of intertextuality.
He was a bruja, a strong enchantress with crayons and photocopy machines that had his special techniques, potions, spells, and shrines. He utilized free-verse block printing and his remarkable composition on the walls.
He was a writer of encrypted codes, ceremonial rites, and blues rhythms meant to correct racial injustices.
As a masterful evader of post-disaster profiteers and gallery owners, he sought to leave behind a thousand-and-one maps of his inner life, which Hilton Als would later declare as the most influential representation of black consciousness of his era.
His graffiti-like works portrayed the separations and struggles between African Mystery School and a white-supremacist art world that had taken an interest in black expressionism.
His artworks depicted a variety of social conditions, from affluence and poverty to drug use and transformation.
At the time, those of us tasked with interpreting his handwriting wondered.
Were the words referring to the distinction between ordinary conversation and pompous words or to the beat of Klook-Mop’s drums? Were the words purposeful or simply mimicking the content of a random-access file?
The poster from his last exhibition at the Vrej Baghoomian Gallery showed that he had read Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans, so it is clear that he was familiar with the cut-up method of William Burroughs.
Moreover, the influence of Cy Twombly can be seen in Basquiat’s works; however, Basquiat was much more emphatic on how his words could fill the paintings.
A battle of sorts seemed to be fought between syntax and statements, and sentence structures and alphabetic statements. His canvases gradually revealed a thinker who shrouded his thoughts with figures reminiscent of the ancient cave painters of the Kalahari bush, the San tribe of South Africa, who handed down all the disciplines of the humanities.
The visual has been connected to philosophical thought since prehistoric times, when the San people painted transhuman-cum-transbestial figures in caves in southwestern Africa.
African culture has provided us with various symbolic languages and pictogrammatic communication systems, like the hieroglyphics of Kemet, the flowery codes of Adinkra, and the directional stargaze equations of Dahomean and Haitian v eve.
Our five senses also involve a linguistic component, as demonstrated by Amiri Baraka’s view that the penis is intelligent due to its sensation.
We also have metalanguages that explain our extrasensory capacities, as seen in Ornette Coleman’s comment that he could “smell the music” when it was particularly “fresh.”
The appreciation of black music is filled with words that transfer the experience of one sense to another. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work still fascinates us nearly three decades after his death due to its liveliness, freshness, or – in Funkville – its stank.
When observing Basquiat’s art, we can smell the music and taste the oratorio, and we can’t help but notice how his markings suggest a prophetic transliteration, similar to how hip-hop culture challenged long-established assumptions about Western art and culture.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, it is accurate to say that Basquiat’s art has surpassed the hip-hop culture of 1970s and 80s New York City where it was born.
In part due to the fact that this culture has been assimilated by the commercialized hip-hop “brand” (which Basquiat also foreshadowed through his recurring representations of the copyright symbol).
Furthermore, hip-hop culture has spread internationally, resulting in a multi-lingual metalanguage, and Basquiat anticipated this through the spelling out of words in at least four Romance languages–English, Spanish, French, and, occasionally, Italian.
The artist’s multi-lingual ability had a gestural purpose, and he was a poet of concise, obscure remarks, where word-play was important, as well as sound, sense, and nonsense.
The frequent combination of jabberwocky enabled his art to amalgamate abstraction and figuration, spectrality and specificity, language poetry and the spoken-word style that Hanifah Walidah identifies as the “Boom Poetic.
” At times, though, Basquiat put away his jovial mask of artistic vagueness and allowed words to be used as direct political rhetoric.
For instance, the forefront of Irony of Negro Policeman (1981), written with the inscription “IRONY OF NEGRO PLCEMN.”
Observe how the artist adapts the word’s vowels, accentuating its aged-language numerical equivalents in the oldest of Western languages, Latin–in that aged language, L equals 50, C equals 100, M equals 1,000, and N equals 90.
This reflects Basquiat’s skill and his adroit linguistic precision.
In the Black Lives Matter era nobody should have to explain the terrifying interactions between black and Latino communities and the police.
Yet Basquiat’s dissident and painterly engagement in the activism of his period was predictive–notably as it pre-dated the inflammatory bombs launched at their local law enforcement by Public Enemy and N.W.A.
Basquiat was known for his representations of “royalty, heroism, and the streets” as he sought to honor black male figures in his artwork who were overlooked by modern American museums.
He was convinced that the heroes, royalty, and the streets of black American life were essential to his art, which is why he often incorporated references to boxers and jazz into his pieces, such as his Bird and Diz painting.
He also made references to renowned sports figures including Jersey Joe Walcott, Max Roach, Muhammad Ali – variously known as Cassius Clay, The Louisville Slugger, and The G.O.A.T.
Hoodoo is our style. This old black magic is being practiced again, who by? You, Fool–the master of Jes Grew, the American (N)egro. The (N) ew World Afrikan, That (N)igga.
With the Jes Grew and the Tis What It Is, this master creates something from nothing and when life gives lemons, they bow down to Sister Beyonce.
This person is capable of providing power to civilizations with the Monkey Rhythm and This Bridge Called My Back, despite their refusal to be defined as African.
They are able to converse with the dead, keep bottle-trees in the front yard, dance the Juba, sweep away spirits, toss salt over their shoulders and consult dreambooks for divination.
What type of African are you is a genuine enigma of history? (“Do you have autonomy or are you a puzzle?”) Your DNA might point to Zimbabwe, but when you asked Richard Pryor about your roots, he said, “You originate from Cleveland.” This was also accurate, since you have been given (or cursed with) this double-consciousness thing–you’re your own double, your own Janus masks, your own Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Al Jol- son, as well.
You’ve figured out how to view yourself from the inside out, from the outside in and from the outside out, too. This is why your idols tend to talk about themselves in the third person, as if they are having a transcendent experience.
Bo is conversant in Hoodoo.
You could call it the black man’s theory of evolution, as famously described by George Clinton as “when you’re in Chinatown, you learn to like Chinese food real fast.” That’s the Funk
. It only gets funkier when you consider the horrific journey across the Atlantic undertaken by African people, as so poignantly expressed by Arthur Jafa as an “Auschwitz on the water.”
And it’s even funkier when the chained and lashed individuals are taken to Wall Street to a marching band and then relocated to the land of Cotton, where they will be expected to exist on table scraps.
But the Hoodoo comes in when you observe how this group of people, who were meant to only slave, stay black (and blue), and die, have such a need to pray, to love, to plant, to run away, to rebel, to read, and even to one day rule like rock and roll in this uncultured nation.
Hoodoo is a term used to refer to hope, medicine, and nine billion names of God – such as a mojo hand, a gris-gris bag, High John the Conqueror Root, a Congo Square, Madame Marie Laveau, the Witch Queen of New Orleans, Nat Turner, and Toussaint Louverture.
Those who need to summon sorcery, join secret societies, and draw on myths, music, magic, muscle memory, race memory, and the English language to reach for freedom are those who require these methods the most. They will have to use unusual, proscribed, and even contorted Creole words to grasp a taste of freedom.
This is the definition of Hoodoo.
Jimi Hendrix said he was a Voodoo Child and he could cut down a mountain with the edge of his hand, build himself an island and make love to someone in their sleep without causing any pain.
Miles Davis said he was running the Voodoo, but it wasn’t until Don Alias added a unique street beat from New Orleans that the song really came together.
George Clinton spoke of the “rhythm of vision is a dancer” and his mother that smiled while enduring a tough life and heard the devil singing: “Would you like to dance with me? We’re doing the Cosmic Slop!” Even though the neighbors called her Jezebel, she kept catching hell. (Even before 2 Live Crew, Mama was in Chinatown enjoying Chinese food for a long time.)
Examine the works of literature composed by a people attempting to affirm their worth in the face of nothingness.
From “The Souls of Black Folk” to “Beloved,” these stories reflect the intensity of their search for meaning.
Their cry for equality is best expressed by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and later, the rallying cry of “I Am Somebody.” Even today, 40 million individuals need to prove their significance to anyone who will hear them. And don’t forget to purchase the T-shirt.
We must demonstrate our tangible existence.
This is why we called ourselves Freedom Riders, members of SNCC and CORE, Lost-Found Nation of Islam, the Five Percent Nation, or the Black Panther Party and the Simbas and US.
Were initiated into the Bloods and the Crips and the Blackstone Rangers and the Black Liberation Army and the Black Guerilla Family and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and the Republic of New Afrika.
All of these movements were striving to bring freedom and visibility to the African-American community.
Ben- jamin Banneker, Crispus Attucks, David Walker, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, Paul Robeson, and Duke Ellington.
Are some of the people who sought to make African Americans visible.
This is what we mean by Hoodoo, too. Taking what was once a slave name and giving it a new meaning, such as a man born Little who became the man named X who became the man named Shabazz.
Or a man named Blount who became the man named Ra. Rammellzee said that his name was not a name, but an equation.
He and his graffiti crew were making works of art with spray paint and alphabetic geometries and typographies to fight invisibility.
They were inspired by Bernini, Caravaggio, Goya, and Andy Warhol. Self-medication and the Woodstock generation were a way to achieve self-determination. To free ourselves, we must free our minds and our identities will follow.
But this freedom does not mean returning to Africa or slavery. Rastafarianism provides a possible answer in Zion.
A promised land can be found without a physical address; it’s more a mindset than a place to reach. As far away as the nearest star, it’s a concept with revolutionary politics and dynamic sounds.
Who knew? The Shadow Do and Jes Grew. As Bo knew, it’s not who you know, but who you Hoodoo. It’s been called Conjuration by one generation, Cultural Nationalism by another, and the Hip-Hop Nation by the next.
It’s a nation of illusionists and word-smiths masquerading as warriors, bankers, and more. As in Mizoguchi’s Kwaidan and Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” the mask will stick to you like a summer shirt on a hot day.
The query then becomes, who resides behind it? Who breathes and dreams for the Hoodoo? The Soul Man sold to Viacom? The blues singers turned over to Scorsese? The jazz cred given to Coca-Cola and Ken Burns? The rap star you tricked out for a ride.
Are you free of taxes or still a dilemma? A living captive joke or a runaway enigma? Busta Rhymes or Jean-Michel Basquiat? Elephant Man or Robert Nesta Marley?
At the end of the twentieth century, the age of Black Music seemed to draw to a close.
The sonic Hoodoo capital had either been used up or spread around, becoming the basis for Norwegian jazz, German dub, Mumbai house, British soul, French hip-hop, Japanese reggae, Brazilian funk, and European improv.
Therefore, it’s quite possible that this twenty-first century will become the Age of the Black Imagineers.
The Age of Shadowy Do-Doohickeys. The Epoch of Hoodoo Hieroglyphics.
The Era of David Hammons. Much like Roy DeCarava, he has for a long time perceived an array of hues, shapes, and arrangements in the dark, supposedly as many as or even more than the Inuits recognize in the drifting Arctic snow.
We speculate that our folks are about to become, or have already become, rather Manichean in this furthermucker, generating even more obscurity from the light. Lorna Simpson is the topic here.
When we discuss Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, Gary Simmons, Ellen Gallagher, and Kara Walker, we must also mention the conceptual negroes and New World Afrikan conceptualists we’ve been familiar with.
Like Lyle Ashton Harris, Chris Ofili, Satch Hoyt, Sanford Biggers, Wangechi Mutu, Adia Millett, and Deborah Grant. Not forgetting Kehinde Wiley, Xaviera Simmons, and Marc Andre Robinson.
Plus, there are many more conceptual negroes and New World Afrikan conceptualists we are yet to meet, or have only encountered briefly, but have mostly admired from afar; such as the Laylah Alis, Demetrius Olivers, Kojo Griffins, Mark Bradfords, Edgar Arceneauxes, Nadine Robinsons, etc.
My grandfather used to say, “Wherever you go in this world and whatever you see, a Negro is likely to be there.” This maxim has always made me think of the African-American presence in the White Art World.
But when there is a large number of (N)egroes in the Whyt Awt Whorl, their sheer numbers alone become a powerful statement, regardless of the quality of their work.
The sight of African-Americans freely occupying traditionally white areas of power and influence is a potent declaration in itself, a You-Know-How-We-Do insurgency.
The diverse and eclectic multitudes of Negroes are up in there, doing their own thing, visually, poetically, conceptually, and hoodooistically.
In his “Neo-HooDoo Manifesto,” Ishmael Reed wrote a poem titled “Can a Metronome Know the Thunder or Summon a God?” in which he juxtaposes European symphonic music and West African drumming.
Robert Glasper, a young African American jazz pianist, commented that the jazz musicians of his generation lack soul when compared to those from the New World Afrikan churches or hip-hop musicians, as their music does not have the ability to make people dance, shout, cry, collapse, or speak in tongues.
This leads us to ask: is there a modern form of black visual art that can create the same significance, power, and transformation as African visual forms such as akwaba, v eve, ground drawings, masks, and trance.
It is not meant to suggest that African American art must be evaluated through a measure of blackness or black magic, but rather to remind us of how African artistic practice can create a point of regeneration, transcendence, and possession, both mentally and physically.
Would the consequences of our actions become the focus or the source of the New World Afrikan imagists of the twenty-first century.
It is unlikely, yet a Negro, a person from the New World of Africa, or even a “stone cold N*gga” can still have dreams that feel like a kundalini-fire-awakening.
The importance of preserving the markdown formatting cannot be overstated. Keeping the structure of the text distinct while not altering the context or semantic meaning is essential when attempting to avoid plagiarism.
Adam Drucker, better known by the alias Doseone, has said his initial attraction to rap was as much about the……