VIRULENT STRAIN unsettles the hegemonic, exclusionary constructions of African and coloured identity
1. COVID KONTSEKJIND
2. THE TESTIMONY (for Jethro)
3. THE SHAMAN
Decolonisation is firmly foregrounded across the multiple mediums in which I work. In my work it means unsettling the hegemonic, exclusionary constructions of African and “coloured” identity in the South African context. Film as a medium is new to me. The isolation and solitude of lockdown allowed me the time and space to explore basic film-making skills using the iMovie App for cell phone.
Virulent Strain is made up of four short films set to music that constitute the four chapters of this work. In the first two chapters it is the audio that inspires the image while in the last two chapters the image inspires the music. Chapter one contains an example of a local WhatsApp voice message that went viral in the first few weeks of lockdown when people were still flouting social distance rules and not taking Covid-19 seriously. This voice is an identity marker for the indigenous people of South Africa, the Khoisan. The anonymous voice speaks in Afrikaans in the strong accent and vernacular so characteristic of the people of Namaqwaland. It is a vernacular characterized by an abundance of colourful (and ironic) humour and swear words of which the word “Kontsekjind” is a classic example that can roughly be translated as “son of a bitch” or “motherfucker”. In this extract the speaker is strongly venting his anger at the stupidity of those breaking lockdown regulations where he stays but also at the police who ride by and do nothing. Virtually every second word that he utters is a swear word!
The second chapter contains two cell phone audio messages that my friend Jethro Louw sent me of his altercation with police in the street during a lockdown protest in his community. The police were attempting to chase people off the streets. First, there is a fairly serious, slowly escalating, verbal exchange (in Afrikaans) between him and a policeman who threatens to shoot and that ends with him defiantly shouting back and exclaiming his Khoisan identity. Then, there is the sound of a salvo of shots by the police during the same protest.
During this salvo Jethro was hit five times with rubber bullets. Jethro is my colleague in the band Khoi Khonnexion. Chapter three focuses on the shaman in indigenous culture as the communal healer or medicine man in the context of the time of Covid-19 plague. The one who metaphorically draws out illness and absorbs it into himself as the healing process. Chapter four is a meditation on place (Cape Town) and the pain inflicted by colonization.