Archive for the ‘Statements’ Category
You Must Be Born in Africa
A polemic prose poem by Edoheart
If you are not born in Africa, you cannot be African. Your mother must be poorly educated, must have walked miles barefoot selling pepper, must dream of America, where nobody gives a fuck about real Africans and cares only for African decorations, be they musics, fabrics or fashion models. If you are African, you must be born to an African mother in Africa who can only afford to eat peanuts and drink bottles of warm Coca-Cola. She is descended from an ancient royal family but Europe and America have desecrated and confused this into meaninglessness and abject poverty so that your 80-year old grandmother walks everywhere even in monsoons. Your growth in this womb to term, on a diet of peanuts and Coca-Cola, on a exercise regimen of 14-hour, 110 degrees Fahrenheit market days is the first improbable miracle that forms the destiny of your African-ness. You must be born in Africa to be African. You must be descended from the continent where Europe and America come to steal shit, fuck shit up and give nothing back. You must be born here. Pesticides, insecticides and vaccines not fit for use anywhere else on Earth must be sprayed on or around or injected into your mother, so that the extreme multiple intelligences with which you are nevertheless born is a testament to the superiority of your African gene pool. But you will most probably be of small stature. You might be born premature; regardless, you must be born in Africa to be African. The hospital in which you are born must be dark and desperate because there is never any electricity or running water, understaffed due to brain drain, without the most basic of medical supplies, so that your very survival of this second passage through the birth canal deserves a Nobel prize for perseverance. After this, to be African, your first breaths must be of air choked with kerosene or gasoline exhaust. Because there is never any electricity or running water, your first lullabies, if you are lucky, must be of generators spewing kerosene at 120 decibels into the bedroom you share with several relatives because Christianity or Islam colonized you and now your mother practices no birth control and thus you sleep with several brothers and/or sisters on mats on the cold ground. When you see computers or clothes, they are always castoff American items; they are missing lots of buttons but somehow you manage to convince a gullible American to send you money through the Internet. This is due to your superior intellect and desperation. The members of your government, installed and propped up by Europe or America, are stealing all the money your country makes and spending it in Europe or America. Europe or America will send you billions in aid at the next famine but this is of course a tiny percentage of the trillions that the members of your government have lost to Europe and America in diamonds, oil, precious metals, rare earths and slaves since they made each other’s acquaintance. In fact, the famine is partially due to Europe and America’s refusal to grant you equal trade powers but they will blame you for your poor accounting methods. You must develop asthma. You must almost die of malaria; viruses must attack your blood so often the viruses become afraid of your blood for failure’s sake. Note that if you are lucky enough to leave Africa for America, Americans will also be afraid of your blood. You will not be able to donate blood nor will anyone who has ever fucked you be able to donate blood; your blood becomes unfit for human consumption by virtue of having been born-in-Africa. This is the most important reason you must be born in Africa to be African. Why, if they let you give your blood, you might start selling it, you might have a little money left over after sending money back home to Africa; with the money you saved from selling your blood, you might have time to organize your thoughts; you might have time to consider the unconscionable and lasting disadvantages of having been born in Africa where your educational textbooks were castoff, obsolete, nonlinear, falling-apart, with misspelled words. You might employ your superior intellect in changing the world. This cannot be. Why, what would the world be without poor African souls born in Africa, their blood bearing Africa? Hungry, I imagine.
It’s been a long time since I updated this blog. Thanks to you all who are following! Things have been wild and surprising since my last post.
I was accepted to NYU – Tisch’s Performance Studies Master’s program and have been reading all sorts of beautiful, inspiring and complicated theories about the ways we humans perform ourselves and our identities and how we structure society and experience…
I made a trip to Nigeria in which I narrowly missed being in Abuja on the same day of a bombing that claimed many lives.
I’ve also gotten into a television series that will premiere on channel 25 here in NYC but that’s another story for another time.
Before I began my studies at NYU, I collaborated with some friends on a new and I think, final, installment in my Fire Butoh Series that began in 2007.
I have been very emotionally affected by fire all my life. The basement of of our first house in America caught on fire once… and I’m a fire sign. Fire keeps us warm, lights our way in the dark, cooks our food and dances. I hoped to be that magical and have given much consideration to this living organism, fire.
Without further ado, I present to you, “Fire Butoh 4!”
Thanks to Mikhail Torich, Teddy Bonsu, Kristen Bacino and Bryant Keller for all their help on this shoot! Lots of love!! -E.
Where Does The Heart Symbol Come From?
A couple of months ago, I came up with a fabulous marketing scheme I thought was sure to keep me forever in my fans’ minds. I decided that I would have a tattoo artist at all my shows to tattoo hearts on any audience members that were interested in getting a tattoo memento. Good idea, right? Because my name is Edoheart.
The idea is related to an application I started on Facebook called edoheart’s Hearts but to be fair, I also extrapolated it from a performance I witnessed an artist friend of mine, Ernest Truely, give while we were on tour in Europe.
I was stunned but the man was able to convince hordes of people to pay him to brand (yes, burn) them with card symbols- hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. There were lots of wonderful ideas behind this branding about American culture and religion. We, the audience members, held hands in a circle, surrounding the branded-to-be while Ernest fired up the metal brand and eventually pressed it into someone’s skin.
For me, the idea of branding and tattooing is a really powerful one and the results can be quite beautiful. I come from a culture in which scarification and tattooing was and is done in important rituals. Here’s a photo of a Nuba Woman I found on the internet. I don’t know what her name is, which is annoying- or why she is posing for this photograph; probably, she was photographed sometime in the early to mid 20th Century.
I did not undergo any processes of scarification myself but I currently have one small tattoo- an eye of Horus.
According to Wikipedia, The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet (also written as Wedjat, Uadjet, Wedjoyet, Edjo or Uto and as The Eye of Ra or “Udjat”). The name Wadjet is derived from ‘wadj’ meaning ‘green’ hence ‘the green one’ and was known to the Greeks and Romans as ‘uraeus’ from the Egyptian ‘iaret’ meaning ‘risen one’ from the image of a cobra rising up in protection.
I am realizing just now, that Edjo looks a little like Edo… and green was my first favorite color… It’s sometimes beautiful the way things line up in life. This tattoo has protected me many times, but that’s another story.
Let’s fast-forward a couple of weeks. I’d convinced the secret tattoo artist I wanted to tattoo for me to participate and he’d agreed to create thirty-three designs of hearts. We started discussing the origin of the heart. He thought the heart symbol was from Europe. I thought it was from Africa- because I think everything originates in Africa. And why not? That’s where homo sapiens sapiens come from! We argued about it some more and then I decide to google it. I don’t know what people did before Google but I was right.
The heart symbol in its earliest usage is found in Libya and Egypt, on coins, and comes from the shape of the silphium plant’s leaf. Silphium was thought to aid in birth-control. Silphium comes from Libya- the only place it ever grew- and is now extinct. Here is a photo of an ancient silver coin from Cyrene- an ancient city in LIBYA, depicting a seed/fruit of Silphium.
Fast-forward some more and Egypt is in the middle of a desperate fight for freedom from tyranny and oppression, with the very means I had used to find out where the heart symbol comes from- THE INTERNET- taken away from them. (If you’re like me, you’re already drawing connections between birth control, information, the internet and hearts and minds.)
It has been widely noted that to completely block the internet (and phone usage) is an unprecedented action for any government. My brother, who is in prison, just reminded me though, that all throughout time, government and ruling parties have tried to completely stifle the flow of information to protect their powers. My brother asked me whether I thought the Egyptian people felt they were in prison like he was. I said, “Maybe not, they are able to run around and talk to each other and there are people shouting and demonstrating.” Then he said, “But people in prison here, they do these things also. And the flow of information inside here is incredibly controlled.”
It is dangerous and a cruel to limit education, information, communication. We all have a right to knowledge. If you limit those things, are you not limiting the ability to dream, even and to improve one’s self? It was this that made me decide I want to set up a charity dedicated to increasing technological assistance and materials to African artists. I’m calling it “Dream Africa” and hoping to get going soon!
I don’t know about you guys but anytime I see a people trying to throw off a dictator, I support them, I feel for them.
More information from Wikipedia on the Internet: An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be the Ib (jb), or heart. The Ib or metaphysical heart was believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the child’s mothers heart, taken at conception. To Ancient Egyptians, it was the heart and not the brain that was the seat of emotion, thought, will and intention. This is evidenced by the many expressions in the Egyptian language which incorporate the word ib, Awt-ib: happiness (literally, wideness of heart), Xak-ib: estranged (literally, truncated of heart).
The Ancient Egyptians were smart enough to invent the Pythagorean Theorem and to build amazingly mathematically precise pyramids… they could be right about the heart/soul.
If all action originates in the heart and all hearts come from the first mother, then repressing others is repressing yourself. And to love others is to love yourself.