South African Artist Nazlee Arbee Uses Music as a Form of Mobilization in Their New Music Video

South African artist and activist Nazlee Arbee speaks to OkayAfrica on the creative and spiritual processes for "The Wake Up Call."

This montage of a music video is the most ethereal remedy to the battles of decolonization taking place across the globe, at this moment. This New Moon is the continuation of a cycle that manifested when the stars aligned for Our generation’s birth.

The offering is presented by Nazlee Arbee, a South African artist, activist and ancestral channel. Arbee has been keeping a conscious and healing voice on the low, while being involved in decolonial interventions and a healing of spirit.

But the time has come to recognize music as a form of mobilization. Spaces may be occupied, but the colonial matrix of power extends into our eardrums too, so we must deflect these waves of colonial nonsense with the highest form of light, collaboration and lyrical sound.

The making of this video was an organic process over the course of six months with lightworker and film director Anunaka. The two crossed paths in Cape Town in the second half of 2016 and crafted the visual poem of radical self-knowledge, while collaborating on many other projects which we have to look forward to in 2017.

Chaze Matakala for OkayAfrica: The video expresses what I recognize as a call to arms with hearts on sleeves. A radical transition between realms which may be a lived experience of many artists and healers across Africa and the diaspora. Can you share with us how you see yourself as channel and artist communicating such powerful imagery?

Nazlee Arbee: I am a multidimensional artist, I am a writer, musician. I like to infuse photography with writing. It’s also a spiritual channelling. My art recharges me through prayer, as a Muslim, I am a healer, but I’m also a patient. An I’m seeking to mend the scattered pieces of my identity with my art.

I seek recharging through Salah, which is a constant meditation on the Most High. And meditations on the past, the future, the ancestors and children. So, basically I write poetry in every form that I can find. I write visual poetry through my newfound love of taking photos. I write physical poems. I write rap verses I write stories. I wonder if I write poems or if poems write me sometimes.

In what sociopolitical context are you creating?

I like to laugh at the fact that we are supposedly born free in a post-apartheid-apartheid South Africa. Coming out of Azania, having occupied buildings, this art is an attempt to take decolonization beyond the student movements. So I use art for mobilization, music for mobilization; mental, spiritual, political mobilizations, against oppressive systems and the hierarchy.

Where are you based as an artist?

For the past three years I suppose my creative home-base has been Cape Town. But in all honestly my spirit is nomadic. I see myself traveling a lot over the next few years, Insha'Allah. I wanna travel to places my spirit is scattered, both within myself and abroad. The places that my spirit has been calling is India, Brazil, Malaysia, and wow, this whole Azanian continent.

With whom are you collaborating with in your art?

I’ve made quite a bit of work in the last two years and kept it in the archive. This project particularly was a collage of work that I started two years back with a sound engineer and beat-maker Michael Carlse. And having stored those songs on my laptop for about two years, Anaka came through, bumped them, and she was like ‘Woah! We definitely have to make this vision!’ So this filmmaker, spirit twin, you know, celestial kin, I’ve met her before in the spirit realms, but she had just came through from Los Angeles. And we were just reconnecting through art and we made this piece as a collage, basically over the span of six months, making a video at a time, growing as people and friends, going through transitions in life, making another piece of the collage. Breathing, going through changes, you know, again, and then making the final piece. So yeah, three is a magic number. And it was a three piece collage by Anaka and a lot, a lot, of our spirit companions. Basically you see the whole crew up tin there.

Anaka: It is my pleasure and purpose to direct this short film for Nazlee Arbee’s music, an artist who masters channeling the reflection of Self within the Spirit Realm back onto Earth. My cosmic mission to travel from Los Angeles to Cape Town was fueled by the psychic feeling that I would find beings there to fulfill the fullest potential of conscious collaboration. I am forever grateful to Nazlee for trusting me with the music and opening space for us to work from pure intuition. Visuals are the ultimate reflections of our reality and how we as shapeshifters manifest the future for ourselves & the Earth. This film began with an idea, rose to the skies to dream, was cultivated carefully with time and love then rebirthed like a Phoenix back into this harsh world. We enter this new phase without fear. Ride the waves with us and mirror new light as we bear the Truths our Ancestors whisper into our hearts from the Universe.

Film Credits

Imagery is Infinite™ Productions Presents:


Music: Writing and vocals by Nazlee Arbee

Beat & Music Production: Michael Carlse

Muses: Haneem Christian, Chaze Matakala, Malaika Evans, Aisha Wanjiru Osob Mugo,

Dounia Trh, Zenobia Marder, Anaka, Lufuno Sedzani Ramadwa & Nicola Wright

Shot, edited & directed by Anaka


Score: Ethos

Sound: Anaka & the Nature

Wise One: Tanaka

Shot, edited & directed by Anaka


Music: Writing and Vocals by Nazlee Arbee

Adlibs: Thembelihle Dunjana

Shot, edited & directed by Anaka

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Kenyans Are Furious at the New York Times for Posting Photos of Terrorist Victims

After the the deadly attack on Tuesday, many are accusing the American newspaper of having a double standard on which dead bodies they allow into the paper

Is the New York Times guilty of a double standard when it comes to publishing images of dead bodies?

Kenyans, and others fed up with the coverage, took to social media in the hundreds to denounce a Times article that included an image of victims of Tuesday's Nairobi terrorist attack, bloodied from bullets, and lying hunched over their laptops, dead.

It has cause enough debate online to where the Times' incoming East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura felt the need to explain their photo policy, which is to show the dead only if their faces cannot be seen in the image. The photo in question fits the policy as the faces are facing away from the camera. She would later apologize before posting the official policy to her Twitter account. The photo remains up.

The Times' official response, as those tend to do online, has only created more anger. But unlike many unruly Twitter mobs, those responding to the official statement have a rather coherent message—"you wouldn't do this with photos of the American dead."

Some of the responses to the Times' official statement.

In a response to the controversy from the Poynter Institute, a typically astute observer of journalistic practice in the United States, they run through the typical American journalism school approach to publishing photos that might shock or offend. They write:

Should the Times have run the photo?
There is no easy answer.
The first question any news organization must ask when deciding to publish violent images is: WHY show it?
In other words, what is the news value? Does the public need to see such an image to fully grasp what happened? Does the public need to see such a photo to confirm or disprove the official account of the events?
An argument could be made that a writer's words could accurately describe the scene without being as disturbing as the image. In addition, when it comes to an act of terrorism, might publishing such a photo actually advance the cause of the terrorists, showing the damage they caused, thus fueling dread and panic?
Also this: The photo on the Times website came without warning. As a reader, you didn't know you were going to see a photo of dead people until you actually saw it.
Those are arguments to not run such a photo or, at least, warn readers of its graphic content.

While it's a fine analysis of when to show a violent image, it misses the central issue at play for those aggrieved by the Times' posting—that the American news-gaze values certain lives differently. Black, brown, foreign, poor—American journalism organizations, including the New York Times, cannot escape a base ethnocentrism in their coverage. It's so embedded into how these institutions operate, and the gap in understanding is so wide, that to much of the world, the Times' official response is laughably wrong at first glance.

"We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens--balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events"

And while there are examples from the Times that complicate this feeling, like these images of the dead in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, it doesn't discount the wider and correct feeling that the white victims of American mass shootings are treated differently than their African counterparts. And while there are complicated and systematic reasons for this which will always make discussing it difficult, to simply deny that different standards exist, does not increase the Times' credibility with Kenyans or the newspaper's growing online audience which will only become more vocal about how they're portrayed.

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