Arts + Culture
The Archive of Forgetfulness

The first of six regional projects under the online exhibition titled The Archive of Forgetfulness. The above project, titled My Karitsye, was curated by Ngangare Eric "1Key".

Review: An Online Exhibition Highlights The Limits Of Memory


The Archive of Forgetfulness is an exhibition dedicated to remembering both our personal and collective histories.

Cheriese Diljrah's Existence is An Occupation is a six-minute video installation that starts with the artist creating a paper jet to the sound of Miriam Makeba's "A Piece of Ground". "When the white man first came here from over the seas. He looked and he said, this is God's own country. He was mighty well pleased with this land that he'd found and he said, 'I will make here my own piece of ground,'" sings Makeba. The song sets the emotional tenor of Diljrah's piece, which compares the state violence in occupied Palestine with the forced removals enforced by the City of Cape Town. The video ends with her asking: Can people be illegal invaders in their own country or continent?

The video is a commentary on the circular nature of colonial history — how it's bound to repeat itself — and the inextricable link between the past and the present. Bubbling beneath the images of forced demolitions and her poetic spoken word piece about a mother cradling her child through a forced eviction, is a simple question: Why do we seem to forget the past when it informs so much of our present social realities?

Diljrah's piece is one of hundreds that makes up The Archive of Forgetfulness, an online exhibition that interrogates the failure of memory and the histories of racial violence and forced segregation. The exhibition, funded by the Goethe Institute, compiles essays, podcasts and visual art from artists across the continent to tell personal and collective stories about our different histories.


Accessing The Future Via The Past

Digital Beings by Kwasi Darko (Ghana)The Archive of Forgetfulness

The question is posed multiple times throughout The Archive of Forgetfulness, which mainly speaks to the malleability of memory. And on a continent such as ours, whose history has been so widely defined by violence and colonial contact, The Archive of Forgetfulness is an exhibition dedicated to remembering both our personal and collective histories.

In Bicycle Stories, an essay about women cyclists in Tanzania written by journalist Wanjeri Gakuru, she shares her memories of women cyclists in Kenya from 2013 to 2017. Expressed in fragmented vignettes, she writes, "To cycle is to be highly visible. It is to be vulnerable to the elements. Yet to cycle is also to trust in oneself and be propelled forward by muscle and sheer willpower. In this context, the image of a woman cycling is oppositional, always a challenge, always-already embodying and performing the power to refuse." But then she also remembers in 2013, how an MP in Kenya proposed a law that would ban women from riding bicycles because "the act of sitting with legs astride is demeaning and uncultural."

Let Me Come & Be Going by Nkeiruka Oruchei (Nigeria)The Archive of Forgetfulness

Siyagoduka: Ka Flying Saucer Babez is a multimedia art piece which features an augmented short film with a short prayer from artist Malebona Maphutse. A shadowy figure is surrounded by Greek pillars and celestial bodies. "We demand that we are unburdened through public communal confessionals of our collective traumas," a piece of text reads in the middle of the film. "While witnessing the forced and now declared illegal inhumane removals in Hangberg, Ocean View and Khayelitsha in Cape Town during the COVID-19 storm, I was reminded of the long history of forced removals in South Africa, and beyond, from the 1913 Land Act to the Tulsa Oklahoma Massacre, writes Maphutse". "History has a cyclic recurrence that has a way of reminding us of the cracks in our systems of governance and existence. This prompted me to consider the process of coerced, forced or 'voluntary' black migration due to unfavourable circumstances and living conditions, to find new life and prosperity."

Takeaway?

Qhakuva by Umlilo (South Africa) The Archive of Forgetfulness

As a whole, The Archive of Forgetfulness is a lot to take on. While one can admire the sprawl and ambitions of the project, the execution can feel both exhaustive and exhausting.

Beyond the essays, videos and podcasts, each month there is a "regional project" with an artist from the continent interpreting the themes of forgetfulness and memory in their own way. In June, theatre director Princess Zinzi Mhlongo produced a work called Izibongo, which collects 25 personal stories from people who share their family histories. It was inspired by Mhlongo finding out that her father is actually her stepfather but his surname (and its attendant praise clans) were all she knew. Izibongo is a cartography of her own search for identity, other people's search for meaning and how entire histories and identities are tied to something as simple as a surname.

Hers is a perfect interrogation of memory and it's limits. But in some parts, some of the work feels dense and seems to run away from the exhibition's central theme. Still, as a whole, the exhibition is worth your time. If only for the fact that it offers an exhaustive examination of the ties that bind our past and present.

The exhibition is on until the end of 2021 and can be viewed at archiveofforgetfulness.com

Music
Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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