The sound of the heavy droplets beating against the corrugated iron roof mimicking ancestral sounds, drum beats and ancient calls…
Mother of the Drum.
Nyangoma they call her…
She wills me with each beat to stay awake and listen to her…to hear her stories.
To let myself feel.
To let herself heal.
Nyangoma begins her dance.
At first she starts slow building with each moment…but there is no order to her movements. They are scattered and disparate.
Djemebe and Doundoun.
Thunder and Lightning.
And as the rain subsides (only just a little) Insomnia lies in anticipation watching as Nyangoma once again takes the lead. Another dance. Pink flamingo’s, fluttering mariposas, Rhapsody in Blue, Firebird suite. Perfectly arranged concerto’s.
Insomnia is captivated and for a moment she can’t breathe. She is subsumed by the magic.
Then in an instant – Silence.
Nyangoma is gone.
And slowly my eyes begin to shut just as the sun begins to rise.
And in ways even she cannot yet understand Nyangoma has soothed Insomnia’s restless mind.
Her lids feel heavy as Nyangoma whispers
Sleep precious one. Sleep.
Let your body rest.
So why are you doing this sisters? African women are notoriously “spoken for” in colonial and post-colonial media and art. Yet we rarely hear African women’s own voices in galleries, on the silver screen, or in print. So what are women from various countries, backgrounds and contexts in Africa saying about politics, religion, tradition, their bodies, the future? What happens when African women take up the camera, pen or chisel themselves? What images of their lives and their worlds do they produce? Whose voices do they foreground? Are African women as wedded to culture and tradition as we are led to believe? Or are we challenging these limiting norms, and creating new forms of cultural expression?
There is a vibrant tradition of subversive artistic expression among African women across the continent. However what many artists lack are the platforms to share this work widely. Distribution mechanisms within Africa are dominated by for-profit companies who believe that women’s oppression “sells”.
nyangoma (mother of the drum) is a space for innovative, vibrant, sometimes unsettling, always fascinating expressions by African women artists working against the grain. It is fed by a collective of feminist artists and art-lovers linked to the African Feminist Forum.
This is us! nyangoma. A space for creative dissents * fierce sisters * artistic troubadours * africans in all our complexities * activist because the world needs to change * uncompromisingly feminist because that’s who we are….