Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the not so far past - continued

dang - blogger is being a pain. i can't actually log
in and post so i'm having to send in my posts via
email. why won't blogger work outside the us! or on a
slow connection!

anyway, back to the story.

thursday, i got up and took the local private minibus
service downtown to where the summit was going to be.
they call these things taxis (i think i wrote that
earlier). anyway, i took a taxi downtown. found a nice
little cafe on the main square across from the museum
africa and market theater.

* side note - apparently the museum africa has a nice
exhibit on how many many south african wineries use
the "dop" system to pay their workers. as in - they
pay the workers in wine, make them stay on the
vineyards all year, provide them food and a yearly
salary of about $100. not so far from slavery . . . .
i hope i can get there to see the exhibit and educate
myself about this industry.

anyway, i found this cafe, got a coffee and headed to
the bassline, a venue where the summit would be based.
i soon ran into the brother of hempza, whom i'd met
the night before and hung out with him and hempza for
much of the morning. the summit was basically speeches
all morning, and then some more open discussions in
the afternoon. the big thing for me that day was
listening to emmanuel jah, k'naan and lady b speak.
they spoke about coming from conflict zones as
children and channeling this into their art.
emmanuel was a child soldier in the sudan and has a
heartbreaking story. heartbreaking. and he just tells
it the way it was, no holding back. the audience was
in tears. and sometimes laughing at stuff that really
you can't comprehend even if you hear it. anyway, the
basic point of this is that hip hop (and art
generally) is helping kids deal with severe violence
in conflict zones, be they war zones like somalia
(k'naan) or neighborhoods with heavy
violence/drugs/etc (soweto, south central la, etc).

after the summit was over for the day, i headed to the
songwriter's club to check out the latest release from
MELT, one of the labels on Calabash. this group,
calling themselves vivid africa were very cool. they
also helped me understand or start to understand south
african jazz, which is such a developed and amazing
genre of music. this stuff is like what is going on
elsewhere, but is completely it's own thing. and a
very cool thing it is as well. so it'll be up soon to
hear some samples of, and i'll put up pictures from
the performance here soon as well.

then i got a ride from another 1 giant leap fixer
named kerry, who had hooked up the shoot here in south
africa this spring. she dropped me off at constitution
hill for a dinner for speakers and artists at the
conference. we were eating in a courtyard at this
complex. the part we were in was part of the old fort,
where mandela was held before he got sent down to
robben island. so we were eating like 50 feet from his
old cell. crazy. this complex also houses the new
constitional court of south africa (made up of 7 men
and 4 women, hear that gw?). speaking of this, south
african democracy really seems vibrant and alive,
putting us to shame. anyway, it was a nice dinner and
then tumi and the volume played and then the mic was
opened up for anyone to do their thing. lots of great
artists got up and did spoken word, freestyle, etc.
nice. i spent most of the night chatting with emile
from black noise, and i'll put more up about him

anyway, i'm running off to get some food now, and my
hour is up. much love to all, and more later!

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