Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Changing Face of Civilization by Joe Pollitt


The Changing Face of Civilization


Today, thankfully we are coming to the end of an abysmal cycle of Civilization. The Greeks had their time, so too the Romans and later the British, French, Portuguese and the Americans. The rise and fall of Empire is solely dependent on whether or not those that are Governed by the so-called, ‘civilized’ are prepared to tolerate the notion of unjust, outdated feudal systems, whereby power, (both economic and intellectual) is distributed to the few. These cycles of Civilization are constant, ever changing and optimistic; sadly, the civilization of now has its roots based strictly on race. Its success has been largely dictated by the blatant exploitation of the Continent of Africa. This comes in many guises, the resources found in the ground and the forced migration of the vast unpaid workforce in the form of slavery. This perverse human ownership, similar to that of cattle-thieves and homogeneously as noble, was a foreign affair whereas Colonization, less obviously shocking but nonetheless equally damaging, was more a domestic affair; both evenly derogatory for those held captive.

In the early days of European trading with Africa; mainly in the West and Central regions, the partnerships where amicable, trustworthy and even respectful | In Chinua Achebe’s essay, ‘Africa’s Tarnished Name’, he notes that the Portuguese captain, Diogo Cao first visited the Congo in 1482 and by his third visit in 1487 he was introduce to the King Mweni-Congo.  

“Seated on an ivory throne surrounded by his courtiers. Cao’s monks were returned to him, and all was well. An extraordinary period ensued in which the king of Congo became a Christian with the title Dom Afonso I. Before very long, the royal brothers of Portugal and Congo were writing letters to each other that were couched in terms of complete equality of status. Emissaries went back and forth between them. Relations were established between Mbanza and the Vatican. A son of the Mweni-Congo was appointed in Rome itself as bishop of his country. This bishop, Dom Henrique, had studied in Lisbon, and when he led a delegation of Congo noblemen to Rome for his consecration, he addressed the Pope in Latin.”

These harmonious relations fizzled out, as the aggressive Europeans started fighting over territory, carving up the Continent for themselves. Soon enough the white man’s greed dominated, as they became increasingly aware of the abundance of wealth to be gained from the coast to the interior of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Modern European Civilization goes back to 15th Century but it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th Century that the clandestine style of literature, speeches, paintings, cartoons, eugenics, botany, evolution, natural philosophy and expeditions, funded by the Church started to evolve.  Thus, begins a campaign by the wealthy elite, on a lasting racism that has become forever ingrained in the feeble minds of the Enlightened Europeans of that time, right up until the present day. This systematic formation of the very definition of our Modern Civilization has been founded on the notion of racial division. Ideas that have been cunningly established in the public libraries, constructed by academic slave-owners, all of which requires the reader to be complicit and obediently silence in order to become an acceptable “civilized” individual. The recurring theme over time has been based on superiority of race and the value of location; Geo-political racism, where those that have been omitted from the pages of history are considered redundant when it comes to the collective global village. At the time of these writings and centuries before, the tribal make-up of West Africa were highly sophisticated and complex systems of governance and power sharing. These practical and intelligent forms of African democracy prior to the Colonial invasions have been absent from the shaping of our Modern Civilization. Conveniently ignored over years of formal published abuse, which was superciliously crafted in the ironically named, ‘Age of Enlightenment’. 

If you want more pay for it...I AM NO SLAVE! I am not your private Nigger; your House Nigger..I am a FREE MAN, so PAY ME!!

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Bisi Silva | International Curator


Bisi Silva, 56, Bold Curator of Contemporary African Art, Dies

Source | NY TIMES

Bisi Silva in Central Park during a trip to New York in 2016. “Twenty, 25 years ago, curators of contemporary art might have been completely and totally scared of going to ‘the Dark Continent,’ ” she said. “Now it’s like, ‘Oh, Bisi, I want to go to Lagos, I want to go to Ghana.’  


 Photo by Gabriela Herman for The New York Times

Article By Richard Sandomir
Bisi Silva, an adventurous curator who, with her own money, founded a nonprofit art gallery and education center in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, that has nurtured the growth and recognition of contemporary African artists, died on Feb. 12 in a hospital there. She was 56. Her sister Joke Silva, an actress, said the cause was breast cancer.

Ms. Silva started the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos in 2007 and made it a hub for bold and experimental sculpture, painting, photography and video and performance art that could ignite local and global interest.

She also curated exhibitions of African art around the world. One, in Helsinki, Finland, in 2011, featured the Nigerian photographer J. D. Okhai Ojeikere’s images of African women’s exotic hairstyles. (She turned that show into a book.) Others showed the work of the Ghanaian-born sculptor El Anatsui in Amsterdam and Johannesburg.

“I wouldn’t call her an African curator, but an international curator,” Hannah O’Leary, the head of modern and contemporary African art at Sotheby’s in London, said in a telephone interview. “She promoted African artists to the world and brought the international art world to Africa, and did it tirelessly. She never did the obvious: Her knowledge and vision were unrivaled.”

Ms. Silva felt that her mission was to change the way contemporary African art was being viewed from a Western perspective and to develop African artists in ways that their schools were not.
“The gaps in the art education system are jarring,” she told Frieze, an art and culture magazine, in 2017. While some West African nations like Nigeria had arts education programs, she called them “a colonial relic out of tune with present-day contextual, stylistic and intellectual realities.”

To fill the gaps, she created the Asiko Art School — actually a series of pop-up schools holding annual, monthlong educational gatherings in various African countries including Senegal, Ghana and Ethiopia, where artists, writers, historians, curators and teachers immersed themselves in seminars, workshops and exhibitions. The events gave Ms. Silva opportunities to evaluate artists’ work.
“Everyone had 15 minutes to present,” Antawan Byrd, who learned art curating under Ms. Silva at C.C.A. and is now assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, said by phone. “She’d be very critical. You had to defend your work and your research.”

Ms. Silva believed that her exhibitions, lectures, workshops, mentoring and educational programs made a positive impact in a short time.

Monday, 17 December 2018

AFRICAS GRAND MASTER JEDI, JACK KATARIKAWE


AGONY AND EMPTINESS AS EAST AFRICAS GRAND MASTER JEDI, JACK KATARIKAWE RESTS HIS PAINTING BRUSHES AND COLOUR PALLETE IN NAIROBI.

In 2016, I was tasked to research and write about contemporary Ugandan Artists. I was cautioned to situate my research within the period stretching from the 1940s through the 60s to the late 90s. My findings indicated that the name Jack Katarikawe appeared more than any other in most published local and foreign Journals, Catalogues, newspapers, books and periodicals about contemporary African Art.


That is how i was baptized with new knowledge concerning Jack Katarikawe. This new knowledge about Jack Katarikawe led to permanent withdrawal from my earlier assumptions that since I had mastered the perfect interplay of western principles and elements, I had less interest in reading about artists who had not gone through formal training. I must confess that in my blindness, the first time I looked at Katarikwes work, I didn’t see much of the ingredients that defined Art with a capital. (I am not alone in this category of Artists who do not bother to look outside their box). Little did I know that in this universe, God secretly served wisdom and luck to all created beings in doses. Following this secret formula, people like Kataritawe received the right dosage and luck from the creator who they call Ruhanga in Kataritawes native language. Katarikawe must have realized these two God given gifts at an early age and he quickly applied the icing sugar of Determination and hard work to his cake of wisdom and luck.


I was humbled to find out that Kataritawes work had been exhibited and collected in more than one hundred museums and galleries across the different six continents that make up our world. I wrote all those findings plus making a thorough analysis of his painting style which I submitted as part of the fulfillment for an award. I was told that Katarikawe lived in Nairobi and I kept on thinking I would pay him a visit and interview him with or without invitation. This never happened.


On the 25th/10/2018. I received a shocking notification from the president of Uganda visual artists and designers association (U.V.A.D.A) concerning the death and send off program for this Grand master Jedi Jack Katarikawe. (Jedi is nowadays used to refer to someone who possesses a special skill in doing something) The UVADA president organized a special send off and public viewing of Jack Katarikawe’s body at Nommo Gallery in Kampala before leaving for Kabale, the final resting place. The function was attended by a few Ugandan Frontline Artists, Katarikawe’s family members and the Art fraternity from Kenya. The reasons for taking Katarikawes body to Nommo Gallery for public viewing can be explained by the UVADA President and Uganda’s soldier Artist Gen. Tumwine.


Runyanzhuka Village the birth place and final resting place of the legendary master Katarikawe is located in the Kigezi region of south west Uganda in Kitumba county off the Kabale Katuna- Rwanda boarder, past Rushoroza girls school.


I am laboring to give a detailed explanation of Runyanzhuka village on the presumption that you can never understand the true life and style/ work of an artist unless you know his birth place and the circumstances under which he was nurtured.


Jack Katarikawe was born in 1938 and raised in the mysterious landscape of Runyanzhuka, a dramatic conglomeration of breathtakingly beautiful, neatly laid out terraces covering thousands of hectares of high rising flat topped and round topped hills.


The thousands of hectares of heavily cultivated hills must have registered a permanent kind of squared or rectangular canvass picture in Katarikawe’s memory. This inspired his desire to become a painter who must have wished to earn a living from making and selling paintings on canvasses that emulated the shapes and colours of the large tapestry of cultivated fragments that surrounded his village.


The Geographers have always guessed that thousands of years before Katarikawe’s great ancestors settled in Runyanzhuka, there must have been one major break where a fault in the underlying parent rock caused a section of the highland to suddenly drop and create a series of spectacular valleys. Today, what we see is that, not only are the valleys steep sided, but the faults cut deep into the floor and create winding cliff lined valleys within a valley. The valleys are filled with dense human settlements and jungle like vegetation. Sensational slow moving mixtures of fog and smoke occasionally rise from underneath the valleys causing an Eldilla. (an Eldilla is a mysterious smoky manifestation of the Holy Spirit in medieval philosophy!). This slow moving Smog causes a blur effect on distant hills and it is seen in Katarikawe’s paintings.


Katarikawe also benefits greatly from the highly sophisticated anthropological advantage of his native Kiga culture. This is in terms of language, orthography, folklore and other unique forms of oral literature that define his ancestry. It is a known fact that up to this day, the Banyakigezi have remained at the frontline as far as promotion and preservation of unique forms of cultural expressions like stories, proverbs, idioms, riddles, dance and song is concerned.


The tendency of combining human and animal forms in most of Katarikawes paintings enables the artist to explore his inner world of emotions, to identify the metaphysical echoes of love, lust, pain, fear, and anger against which all living things are powerless.


This subject matter of Katarikawe’s paintings therefore originates from his rich culture and it is against that backdrop that the UVADA president requested Sana Gateja, a highly respected artist and personal friend of Katarikawe, to deliver UVADAS condolence message in the local language. (Certain things are better said in our local languages than the English language). The Kenyan fraternity was represented by Lady Annabelle, a self-taught Artist who passed through the hands of Katarikawe. Lady Annabelle invited the director of the national museums of Kenya Beatrice Wangeshi who eulogized Katarikawe as a legend.


It it is true that more than ten of Katarikawe’s paintings are permanently exhibited in the Frankfurt museum in Germany and more than fifty others in UK, USA, Australia and Canada, then Katarikawe has served as Uganda’s ambassador to the outside world more than any other Ugandan. This means that he deserved a hero’s welcome and a state funeral .I have always lamented that there is lack of a clear policy regarding the visual arts in this country, Does this mean that the story of Katarikawe may temporarily fade?


According to Amos Wekesa Uganda Tourism guru and president of Great Lakes Safaris, in 2016 alone, Uganda hired three PR firms in the US, Gernany and UK whose job is simply talking about how beautiful Uganda is. A lot of tax payers’ money is spent on these PR firms who simply copy and paste a few camera shots of Uganda’s flora and fauna, use their laptops to manipulate a few digital clips, create a blog or some kind of “website” and use it as evidence to convince Uganda tourism board to sign their huge cheques. People like Jack Katarikawe and other legendary Ugandan artists who have sold more of their works abroad such as David Kibuuka, Noah Wamala Nyanzi, Dan Ssekanwagi and many others have been practically marketing and talking about the beauty of Uganda through their works for more than fourty years. Why pay the PR Firms and bury our heads in the sand when it comes to recognizing Visual artists? Is it because the PR firms are “smarter” and know more about “marketing” than the visual artists?


Now, let the Uganda Tourism board be born again and realize that in the beautiful hills of Kitumba in Runyanzhuka – Kabaale, lies a great man called Jack Katarikawe whose works will continue to market Uganda to the outside world. To wash itself clean, let the Uganda Tourism board liaise with the director of the National museums in Kenya and the president of Uganda visual Artists and designers Association. The three bodies will get in touch with Katarikawe’s family members who have already announced a grand project, the Jack Katarikawe foundation. This foundation can be developed as a tourist destination in addition to the much publicized gorilla permits or “hanging fruits” in Kibale National park, Bwindi, and queen Elizabeth National Parks.


If the Uganda Tourism board thinks that this is unnecessary, someone from Gremany, UK or Australia will come to Uganda one day and will be the first to recognize the final resting place and the contribution of Katarikawe towards contemporary East African Art.


IBANDA JOSHUA
FINE ART HISTORY POLITICS MUSIC CULTURE.










Saturday, 15 December 2018

Finland Leads the way in Education

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system

With Finland radically reforming the way its children are taught, Richard Garner visits Helsinki to find out if the teachers approve

Richard Garner




Pupils at Siltamaki primary school perform a rap as part of their cross-subject learning
Pupils at Siltamaki primary school perform a rap as part of their cross-subject learning ( Jussi Helttunen )


For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme.

Pasi Silander, the city’s development manager, explained: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.

“Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of  bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed.

“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”

Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.

More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography. There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager – who will be presenting her blueprint for change to the council at the end of this month, said: “It is not only Helsinki but the whole of Finland who will be embracing change.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow.

“There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.”
The reforms reflect growing calls in the UK – not least from the Confederation of British Industry and Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt – for education to  promote character, resilience and communication skills, rather than just pushing children through “exam factories”.
But there would currently be little appetite in the UK for going as far as ditching traditional subjects.
Even in Finland, the reforms have met objections from teachers and heads – many of whom have spent their lives focusing on a particular subject only to be told to change their approach.
Ms Kyllonen has been advocating a “co-teaching” approach to lesson planning, with input from more than one subject specialist. Teachers who embrace this new system can receive a small top-up in salary.

About 70 per cent of the city’s high school teachers have now been trained in adopting the new approach, according to Mr Silander.

“We have really changed the mindset,” he said. “It is quite difficult to get teachers to start and take the first step… but teachers who have taken to the new approach say they can’t go back.”

Early data shows that students are benefiting too. In the two years since the new teaching methods first began being introduced, pupil “outcomes” – they prefer that word to standards – have improved.
Finnish schools are obliged to introduce a period of “phenomenon-based teaching” at least once a year. These projects can last several weeks. In Helsinki, they are pushing the reforms at a faster pace with schools encouraged to set aside two periods during the year for adopting the new approach. Ms Kyllonen’s blueprint, to be published later this month, envisages the reforms will be in place across all Finnish schools by 2020.

Meanwhile, the pre-school sector is also embracing change through an innovative project, the Playful Learning Centre, which is engaged in discussions with the computer games industry about how it could help introduce a more “playful” learning approach to younger children.

“We would like to make Finland the leading country in terms of playful solutions to children’s learning,” said Olavi Mentanen, director of the PLC project,

The eyes of the education world will be upon Finland as it opts for change: will it be able to retain or improve its showing in the PISA league tables published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

If it does, how will the rest of the education world react?

Case study: Finnish approach

 

It is an English lesson, but there is a map of continental Europe on the whiteboard. The children must combine weather conditions with the different countries displayed on the board. For instance, today it is sunny in Finland and foggy in Denmark. This means the pupils combine the learning of English with geography.

Welcome to Siltamaki primary school in Helsinki – a school with 240 seven- to 12-year-olds – which has embraced Finland’s new learning style. Its principal, Anne-Mari Jaatinen, explains the school’s philosophy: “We want the pupils to learn in a safe, happy, relaxed and inspired atmosphere.”
We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.






Friday, 14 December 2018

FINLAND ~ NUMBER ONE IN EDUCATION

 

Finland To Become The First Country In The World To Get Rid Of All School Subjects

Source: Moon-child.net

It’s no secret that the modern day education system, particularly in North America, desperately needs to be reformed. Children graduate from high school not understanding how to produce their own food, pay their taxes, or accomplish many everyday, “real world” activities. The education system’s sole purpose should be to educate us in order to better ourselves and society, but instead it just tells us what to think (rather than how to think), so we learn only how to assimilate and blend into society. 

Many children graduate not even realizing that the system is broken because they’re so engrained within it. In some cases, they’re even fed propaganda and misinformation. Just take a look in any history textbook: You’d likely see that the Europeans founded North America, completely omitting the mass genocide that took place against Native Americans. Alternatively, if you look into milk education or the Food Guide Pyramid that’s taught to children at a young age in schools, you’d learn that it does not reflect what’s healthy, but rather what’s profitable.

The good news is that this isn’t the case in every country, and some countries are even trying to shift the way we approach education. Finland, a longstanding leader in education, is in the process of completely reforming its education system. Finland will be adopting a “phenomenon-based learning” system, allowing students to drop the standard subjects and experience more holistic, interdisciplinary learning.

What Is Phenomenon-Based Learning?

Phenomenon-based learning takes a very different approach to education, dropping the classic divide amongst subjects like math and science. Instead, students take one particular phenomenon or concept and look at it through multiple lenses, applying it to whatever subjects pertain to it such as geography, history, or economics.
As Phenomenal Education explains on its website:

Phenomenon based teaching and learning use the natural curiosity of children to learn in a holistic and authentic context. Holistic real-world phenomena provide the motivating starting point for learning, instead of traditional school subjects. The phenomena are studied as holistic entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects. Phenomena are holistic topics like human, European Union, media and technology, water or energy.This enables students also to learn 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, innovation, team work and communication.
 
So, students would no longer study just one subject like physics, but a whole range of subjects that relate to one topic, taking a more interdisciplinary approach. For example, students could look at the European Union, which could then incorporate languages, economics, history, and geography, and then they could look at climate change the following week, which might involve science, environmental studies, economics, and policy.

The teacher-student relationship will also change fairly dramatically, as students will take a combination of online and in-class courses. The dialogue between students, peers, and teachers will also shift, as students will be encouraged to speak more openly and share information. The structure will be less hierarchical and more of a team-based setting, greatly differing from the classic “teacher instructs student” mentality.

Plus, it won’t be just the teachers and faculty members designing the lesson plans and assessing what students have learned, as the students will play an active role in establishing them. This is great news, as it will hopefully engage students more and shift testing away from focusing only on traditional written exams.

How Finland Will Be Implementing This New Approach

Finland is well-known for being one of the leading countries in education, with incredibly high literacy and numeracy rates. In fact, one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and education, Harvard professor Pasi Sahlberg, has written numerous articles on Finland’s education system. Sahlberg has worked hard to share Finland’s experiences with education reform with the rest of the world, and for good reason.

Finland didn’t always have incredible education statistics, but the country holds a strong appreciation for teaching and learning and has undergone significant educational change. Finland doesn’t use these scores to assess its education system; instead, educators focus on what students need to learn in their lives, not what the exams or rankings say.

The Finnish education system is also decentralized, allowing teachers to alter their lesson plans and arrange schooling according to their local needs and preferences. This greatly differs from the more centralized approach taken in the public education systems in North America.

The Finnish approach to education is already quite innovative, so perhaps that’s why so many teachers are on board with this shift in teaching. In fact, 70% of the teachers in Helsinki are in some way involved in shifting the education system towards phenomenon-based learning.

Some teachers had already started implementing phenomenon-based learning in their classrooms. This isn’t really surprising, as it seems like it would be more rewarding for teachers to be able to connect with students more and teach them what they’d actually like to learn.

Finland plans to gradually change the system, so schools won’t be fully phenomenon-based learning until 2020. The first big change occurred in August 2016 under Finland’s National Curriculum Framework (NCF). The NCF is a binding document that highlights the overall goals of the education system including teaching techniques, learning styles, guidelines, assessments, support services, and more.

The NCF now incorporates phenomenal-based learning and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. However, this style wasn’t necessarily new to the Finnish, as some teachers have used a more holistic teaching method for quite some time.

As of August, public schools with students aged 7-16 years old need to have one extended period using phenomenon-based learning, the length of which can be determined by the school. Many schools just have two or more periods, each lasting a few weeks, that take this approach.

Why Is This Important?

Many children don’t have a perfect “family life,” so they learn through their experiences outside the home or by themselves. This is why the argument that “children don’t need to be taught practical subjects in school” is so flawed. The education system is supposed to represent the entirety of what we want children — who represent our future — to learn. So why would we be feeding them propaganda and teaching them that there’s only one way to think, one way to feel, and one way to determine intelligence?

There is not one way of determining intellect because we are all unique in our own way. That’s the beauty of duality; our differences are our strengths, and we shouldn’t have to suppress them and conform to society. The public education system should embrace this and teachers should educate their students from the heart and in their own unique way!

That’s why decentralization and phenomenon-based learning could be so useful. It inspires a more collaborative environment and allows students and teachers to connect in a way that division and hierarchy prevents them from doing. Perhaps through this new system, teachers will recognize that they can learn just as much from their students as their students can learn from them.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Will of Life | Tunisia

Firstly, here is an extract taken from the book, "The Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon ~ p.166, Chapter 4. On National Culture

"To take part in the African revolution it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people. And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves, and of themselves.

In order to achieve real action, you must yourself be a living part of Africa and of her thought; you must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress and the happiness of Africa. There is no place outside that fight for the artist or for the intellectual who is not himself concerned with and completely at one with the people  in the great battle of Africa and of suffering humanity.*

*Sekou Toure, 'The political leader as the representative of a culture'. Address to the second Congress of Black Writers and Artists, Rome, 1959.


Beware the "Saatchi Effect" |  As Admen move in on the children of the revolution it is vital they understand the culture in Tunisia is rich beyond that found in the Western World ~ A poem by the Tunisian poet, Abu-L-Qasm Al Shabbi | The Will of Life


Demonstration in Tunisia | The Guardian

The Will of Life

If, one day, the people should want to live,
Fate is certain to respond.
Darkness will meet the dawn,
and shackles will be broken!
Those constantly refusing to accept
            the longing for life
Will surely evaporate into the abyss
            and be forgotten ~~
Grief to anyone not aroused by
            the burning desire of life.
Let others fear the slap of oblivion!
This is what life said to me,
this is how its spirit spoke.

= {|} =

The wind muttered between
            the valleys and the ravines;
“When I aspire to achieve my goals,
I ride my wishes, forgetting caution,
face the wilderness, the rugged trails
and flaming days –
He who does not like scaling mountains
will live eternally in potholes.”

So the sap of youth churned in my heart
As other tempests raged within my breast.
I bent my head, listening to
the loud clap of thunder,
the chimes ringing in the breeze,
and the steady tempo of the rain.

= {|} =

When I asked the earth,
“Mother, do you hate mankind?”
She replied, “I bless those
            with ambition,
those who brave danger –
I curse the ones not keeping
            step with time,
those who are content to live
            a fossil life.
The vibrating universe
            loves what moves
and despises the dead,
            forgetting their greatness.
The horizon hugs no
            stiffened bird
nor does the bee kiss
            an emaciated flower.
Not even graves would
hold the dead,
save for the tenderness
            in my motherly heart!
Woe to the one not longing
            for life!
Let him beware the curse
            of extinction!”

= {|} =

On an autumn night
            laden with boredom,
I was so drunk on starlight
            my sadness drank too.
I asked the dark, “Does life
            return the spring of youth
once it has dried up?”
The lips of darkness did not move
nor did the virginal dawn.
Then the forest gently spoke
like the quiver of a chord:
            “Winter comes, bringing in the mist,
            bringing in the snow and the winter rains,
and creation slowly dissolves.
What budded and ripened in
the gleaming notion of fields
under the quiet charisma of the
bright sky has vanished – gone like
branches that fall with their leaves.
Now the wind tosses dead petals
for floods to bury them, haphazardly.
All perish like a lovely dream
which, shone in the hearts of the few,
            then disappeared.
Only the seeds remain,
            kernels of memory,
still embracing, even under
            thick fog, the snows,
the heaps of earth –
the shadow of life that never dulls,
the green embryo of spring
dreaming of birdsongs,
the musk of flowers,
            the tang of fruits.”

= {|} =

“Time and trouble tumble on,
seasons diminish, others are reborn.
Dreams awaken laced with the mystery
of daybreak, asking,
            “Where is the morning mist?
The evening’s mystique? The glow of the moon?
The elegant swarm of butterflies?
The buzzing of the bees? Where are the clouds
            that floated by,
the sunbeams and creatures,
            the life that we all seek?”
“I have grown thirsty for the
sheen of light on branches,
thirsty for the shade beneath the trees!
Thirsty for the fountain that
            sings through blossoming fields,
            for the voices of birds,
            the whisper of clean fresh air,
the raindrops fluid melody –
I am thirsty for the universe,
searching for the long-awaited world!
Maybe it lies beyond the reaches of our sleep
and we need just awake in order to find it.”

= {|} =

“Like a bird’s slight flutter,
the seed longing to sprout
bursting till it cracks
the surface of the earth
and beholds a world
of exquisite marvels.
And spring returns with its
parcels of dreams,
its sweet-smelling freshness,
and kisses the lips
of all that had faded,
saying, “You have been granted life,
immortalized in your abundant seed.

The light has blessed you –
Now is the time to receive it!
Whoever worships the light in
            their dreams
Will be blessed in that light,
            wherever it shines.
Onward! To radiant spaces,
            inside the dreamy furtile earth!
For you are, whatever is luminous!
For you are, undying beauty.
The meadows, the air, the stars in the sky
            will be your home.
Commune with the moon
            and the stirring of life in all its glory.”

= {|} =

The diaphanous night revealed a 'Beauty'
that kindled in the mind.
A strange magnetism was flung
across the skies
as a giant wizard
            lit the glittering stars.
Incense drifted from flowers
            on the moon’s quiet wings…
A holy hymn singing out in a temple!
Across the universe it was proclaimed:
Endeavour is the flame of life,
the heart of victory.
If the spirit chooses life,
Fate is certain to respond!”