Why has there been no new international style in 50 years? Because the new ideas, the new needs are not yet clear. (Hence, we content ourselves with variations + refinements on Art Deco and, for refreshment + fusions, parodistic — ‘pop’ — revivals of older styles.) (8/8/1975) -Susan Sontag
The time has come. We don’t just need new names, we need new voices.
The old voices spoke: see! Hear! We let the poets speak;
Speak they did.
They were heard: the world changed.
Life was good, impi yombangazwe yaphela, kwathwa tiritose.
We, for the most part, thrived.
But then the world changed again, and those voices could no longer be heard.
So we sought new voices; we ran.
In a trickle then in a flood: our version of the Great Exodus.
What is Pharaoh’s army compared to persecution and death by starvation on one hand, an electric fence and crocodiles on the other? We too sit by those banks and sing ‘I am a conqueror’, even as we accept defeat, weep as we remember the land of milk, grain and honey.
Started with adventures with crocodiles and now we here.
Yet, what prize?
The loneliness, the otherness, the cold grey damp? Is this what they fought and died for?
Could it be that their time is past? Those old voices no longer resonate, are no longer calls to action. When last were you moved to act, really act not just click the ‘share’ button?
Sokuyinselele: what are you willing to live for?
We need new names, oh yes.
Call me warrior, Amazon, victor, conqueror, because I am all those things and more besides.
But call me Fear too for it rules me. Call me yella, coward, call me soft, for I am that too.
If I weren’t and if you weren’t we would not be reminiscing over the things we have lost, but we would be fighting hard for the restoration of the harvest: amagatsh’ angathel’ iz’thelo ayophosw’ emlilweni: hold the thorns, thanks.
We need new voices.
Voices to calm the fear and fan the warrior spirit into flame.
The time has come for those voices. Not the voices of yore that spoke of dry seasons and thorny harvests, but new voices that speak to where we are now.
We need voices that understand the multiple advanced degrees and the craving for sushi and the slam nights and the walk of shame.
We need voices that understand the suburbs and can make sense to us in our perches in the upper echelons, rubbing shoulders with difference-makers, being difference-makers, at least of a sort.
We need voices that understand the power of a #hashtag and why WiFi is a need on the 2015 iteration of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
We need voices that will be as that of the shepherd to the sheep. This is a new generation, it needs a new shepherd.
The time has come to sing that song you thought should never be sung, to write that story, and paint that picture. The time has come for a new art, for a re-birth and re-construction of what has been destroyed. Let the voices speak in stone and wood and in ink and on canvas. Let there be a din as the new sounds are heard and echoed.
Let them throng the streets as they haven’t done in a decade and more, in response to the voices.
We need new voices.
Let them speak.