Happy Birthday, wendydavis!

This might be one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. These voices, these sounds, make it clear that this is where music came from. I hope it touches you like it touched me, and I hope you have an equally beautiful day today, my friend.

From Yahoo: http://za.news.yahoo.com/watch–the-most-touching-mandela-tribute-came-from-the-least-expected-place-070947330.html (WordPress isn’t letting me do links the usual way, dunno what’s up with that)

A South African chain store has laid on one of the most touching tributes to Nelson Mandela we’ve seen in the past week – and it was in the form of a flash mob.

Woolworths teamed up with the Soweto Gospel Choir, who posed as shoppers and store workers at the Parkview store in Johannesburg.

The choir then began an “impromtu” rendition of Asimbonanga [We have not seen him], singing:

Asimbonanga [we have not seen him]
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina [we have not seen Mandela]
Laph’ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph’ehleli khona [in the place where he is kept]

Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina [we have not seen our brother]
Laph’ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph’wafela khona [in the place where he died]
Sithi: Hey, wena [We say: hey, you]
Hey, wena nawe [Hey, you and you]
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona [when will we arrive at our destination]

The song was written during Mandela’s incarceration as a call for his freedom.

12 responses to “Happy Birthday, wendydavis!

  1. it couldn’t have touched me more, mi amiga, nor could this kind post. thank you ever so much; my guess is that you must have known it was my birthday from the comments over yonder? :)

    i’d like to say more soon, especially since africa, her stories, tribes, songs, and freedom music, mean so much to me. seeing the continent being recolonized provides a certain amount of agony to me.

    but here i am, with almost no sleep, and hurtin’ fer certain, and i need to take a siesta. i love you, and i will be back. bless your heart all the way around. i’ll sleep with the song in my heart. love, wd

  2. around my mind’s a-tumble at all that african music and people mean to me; it’s hard to know where to begin. no, no beginning, i’ll just try to sort a few of the images. one was certainly discovering through spencer wells’ devoted work tracing dna around the world, and finding the migratory paths of all the different races, transformations, etc., that we are indeed related to (then) one living male member of the san bushmen in the kalahari desert, he called the Y-chromosonal adam. i was so knocked out by it, that i was sure it would be the beginning of the end of racism. i even wrote a two-part piece about it for the local paper. (we know how much it meant in the end.) ;)

    i also happened to go with friends to see an oakland band with friends in durango one night, and one was so thrilled by them, their music, the complexity of the beats that lent so strongly to not only dancing, which i loved so well, but to being prodded by the music to develop dancing steps and ways that i’d never felt emerge before. i brought mr. wd to see them the following night, and from then on, every time they came back to durango, we’d even take the kids out of school to go to their concerts. you may have known them, too, and we may have spoken of that before. among other things, it was so good tohave jordan be around black people at all, much less such wonderful and creative ones. they did a lot of songs for mandela…

    i felt similarly bonded with ladysmith black mambazo, and revere paul simon immensely for introducing african song and rhythm to an unwitting public. we’ve also been watching a (sadly) unknown film called ‘the first grader’, filmed in kenya, about a stellar and inspirational man who against enormous odds, started school so he could learn to read and write once kenya began to fund money for schools, post colonial british rule. i’m going to write about it soon, i think, as a stark contrast to what’s going on with disappearing *true* education in this nation.

    and again, it’s the faces of the children in which i recognize myself, others, and the joyous music and constant motion of the people as they live, love, and try to survive. they bounce like tiggers, don’t they? but sometimes it feels as though if we were/are reincarnated, i may have lived in africa; silly thought, but…there it is. but even the mystical songs of the land seep into my spirit, and take me to other realms now and again. i can see the serenghetti plains, the masai running such long distances, and smell the acacias, or what i think their scent would be.

    rory just called; she’s been in a very bad spot for the past four or five weeks, and not communicating. mr. wd asked me if he could tell her that it’s my birthday, and i relented, since she was on the phone. i told her, ‘say happy birthday to the old bat’. it prompted her to say, ‘happy batday’, lol, and then she laughed at her reflexive goof.

    anyhoo, thank you for the trip to the cradle of civilization: we are they, ain’t it lovely?

  3. Yes, to all of your musings about Africa; I have thought those same things. I know that no other kind of music really matters to me. I could take this Soweto Gospel Choir song or Ladysmith Black Mambazo to a desert island and not want for anything else.

    And speaking of music . . . we were out enjoying the wonderful winter weather in Tucson (sunshine and mid-60s) and checking out downtown to see what’s happened since we left. They have a street fair called Second Saturdays and there were bagpipers on the sidewalk who momentarily blocked our way; there was also a punk band setting up and we thought that would be more our style. As the bagpipers left, we noticed that one of them was a Yaqui. Tucson is like that.

    I hope that Rory’s call made your birthday brighter. Love to you and Steve, and thanks for the videos. I will savor them.

  4. i can’t go so far as to say no other music matters to me, but there might be case that it IS the root of music, well: except for bagpipes, lol. arrgh so hard on the ears, much more culturally and reasonably pleasant when heard from atop a hill…far away, no?

    i’d forgotten to say that music like the ayub ogata song above also make me feel the tragic pain of africa. i know you’ve read kingsolver a lot, iirc. ‘Poisonwood’ and her essays on colonialism, which hit the mark in all directions. heartbreaking to know that local areas were quite sustainable before the british, dutch, tra la la…had to change things for their own profit and religious beliefs.

    to accept the past tragedies and genocides, yet walk forward is something i have yet to grasp. to laugh, as first americans, if often the only way to move, aside from prayer or other beliefs that one day things may come right. not altogether OT, but i’ve been considering the trap that is desire, or want, or expectation. i wonder if i will ever move beyond it, and just be.

  5. Happy birthday again, wendy. Enjoying the music, thank you, as I wind down my day with reading and a hot mugga tea.
    Steady easterly flow brought about an inch of light snow an hour throughout most of the day. Swept the front step several times, will shovel in the morning sun.

    I seem to go into a brief holding pattern until we pass the solstice each year about this time. Taking care of a lot of little things that get neglected through the autumn and pushed down the priority list. Nothing earth shaking going on for sure. Spider web in a corner, missing sock found under the bed, garden tools cleaned, wood handles re-varnished and stowed. Watching the snow and relishing the sight, the quiet, the defining contrast to the rest of the year.

  6. “no other music matters” was a bit of hyperbole, but I mean that r&b is what I return to over and over, and of course it has its roots in Africa. Somehow certain kids of country music (Willie Nelson, western swing, etc.) fits in with that blues theme and I love it as well. But I could do without that easier than Marvin Gaye or Al Green.

    Cap and I often say that if we could go anywhere in the world, we’d go to Africa but it would break our hearts in a million pieces for a million reasons. It would be worth it.

    If you figure out how to just be, let me know. I haven’t a clue.

    nonquixote, I know what you mean about the holding pattern and the solstice. This is a hard time of year for me, but Tucson makes it easier with the big sky and the sunshine and the beautiful sunsets every evening.

  7. ‘a holding pattern until the solstice’ for both of you. my sense is that this year, at least, our nation and much of the world is experiencing that. could it be that the low background grumbles and some silence are people assessing what their futures will become unless the trajectory changes? so often it’s the personal, rather than the general, but are more understanding that the ACA *wasn’t designed to be affordable*, that the oligarchs don’t give a fart about rampant unemployment, hunger, closing schools, injustice in every direction imaginable…and that spring will bring more enlightenment as to our collective predicament? i have to hope so on my good days.

    but some days, i just feel the pain of it, and hear arrow’s ‘it didn’t have to be this way’.

    good to hear you’re getting the small bits taken care of, nonquixote. rather satisfying winter can be in that way.

    and i hear you about the music you love best, even though i really never loved marvin and never even heard al green much.

    soaked into ‘the first grader movie’, reading up on the mau mau uprising, and even US education going to hell. and i discovered that ayub ogada has a lot of music and partenerships to his credit, *and* apparently played denys finch-hatten’s masai friend in ‘out of africa’. and he plays several different lyre-like instruments. cool.

    i’m not getting emails from this place again, so i’ll try to remember to check in more often until it gets sorted out. good sunday to you. :)

  8. happy birthday

  9. I’m sorry I missed your birthday, wendye – happy day after! What a wonderful song video, hfc; lovely gift.

    For my Sunday today I went to an article featured at the Guardian that was an interview with Pope Francis. I have to say that this good man has some of Mandela’s simplicity – I love what he has to say, especially this:

    “One man who has been a life mentor for me is Dostoevskij and his explicit and implicit question “Why do children suffer?” has always gone round in my heart. There is no explanation. This image comes to mind: at a particular point of his or her life, a child “wakes up”, doesn’t understand much and feels threatened, he or she starts asking their mum or dad questions. This is the “why” age. But when the child asks a question, he or she doesn’t wait to hear the full answer, they immediately start bombarding you with more “whys”. What they are really looking for, more than an explanation, is a reassuring look on their parent’s face. When I come across a suffering child, the only prayer that comes to mind is the “why” prayer. Why Lord? He doesn’t explain anything to me. But I can feel Him looking at me. So I can say: You know why, I don’t and You won’t tell me, but You’re looking at me and I trust You, Lord, I trust your gaze.”

    We are all children, and particularly on our birthdays.

  10. thank you, mark. :)

    and you, too, juliania. this pope has been surprising me, and i’d have bet money that he wouldn’t preach liberation theology. so that’s been remarkable, and i do hope the oligarchs and greed-infected might heed his words; he does have a major megaphone. :) i do see why both you and he find the ‘why’ prayer comforting, and i agree kids want to be settled by seeing their parents’ grounded expressions.

    i think even non-believing or apatheistic parents can offer questioning kids comfort just by showing their *acceptance* that there is death, suffering, and injustice. at times we all will rail against it, i think, even as adults. good to let kids know that we’re all in it together, and that as parents we’ll be there to share all those difficult moments as we can.

    daughter aurora finally realized this weekend that it’s time to send her husband’s grandmother to a nursing home as it’s one more great care and responsibility that is causing her to be quite unwell. she’s nursed her for a year. she’s bedridden, diabetic, 90 years old, and getting mean. rory has three kids and a host of animal and bird pets to care for besides. yes, it’s time to let her go; i am simply confounded that she provided such loving service to her for so long. ‘i just wanted to make her life happier, mom.’ it makes me weep, and would you, if you knew what a long hard life we’ve had with her due to the abuse she had as an infant. yep, downright miraculous. :)

  11. Bravo to your daughter, wendye! I don’t know if this will make your heart leap – it does mine. There is still so much beauty in our beautiful world.


  12. ‘…a lot like the white cliffs of dover…only colder’, lol. how in the world do the penguins and seals ever get back on top of the floe, iceberg, once they’ve finished feeding?

    yes, it was thrilling. i wondered about no life jackets, or such minimal ones, but hell, the cold water would kill ya lickety-split. :)

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