I was exceedingly proud to receive this video of Angelique Kidjo singing this song in Ewe (my family’s language!!) to world heads of states as part of the Armistice Day Celebration. May the spirits of the ancestors do their best on this lot. Ay yi yi.
Here are the lyrics in English and then below in the original Ewe.
Blewu (by Bella Below) (lyrics translated into English)
Slowly slowly, Gently, we will make it safely home, Gently, we will make it safely home, Slowly ; Slowly, the leopard does not press his steps; Softly, gently, the leopard does not press his steps; The animal with tail does not jump over the fire; Slowly. God in whom we confide is the only one who knows our problems; The Rich man we trust is the only one who knows our problems. Stay awake, pray; Stay awake, pray; Even with a long life, one can not escape the Hereafter; Even with a long life, you can not escape the Hereafter. Gently, we will make it safely home, Gently, we will make it safely home, Slowly.
Blewue, blewue Blewue mia d’aƒe lo Blewue mia d’aƒe lo Blewu Đɔɖɔɖɔ Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o Blewu, blewu Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o Lã to asike me da ata dzo o Blewu Mawu si me mieleeya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo Tsuito si me miele, eya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o Blewue mia d’aƒe lo Blewue mia d’aƒe lo Blewu
You know the drill. Before the month is out, I just want to take a moment to give thanks for a few things that have been giving me (sorely-needed) life this month.
1) Drake’s “Nice for What?”
I’ve been having a tough month and this song and video came right on time. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history, folks.
2) BBCAmerica’s Killing Eve
I have had a big crush on Sandra Oh ever since I saw her in the 1995 short film Preywith (the also swoon-worthy) Adam Beach. I unfortunately didn’t really dig Grey’s Anatomy so I was waiting for her next thing and am excited to be able to watch her as the lead every week in BBC America’s fantastic new crime thriller Killing Eve. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who is also the star and writer of the excellent Fleabag on Amazon Prime) is genius and the villain played by Jodie Comer is creepy and brilliant. Three cheers for a thoroughly female-driven thriller!
3) Autonomy Institute’s “Keynes, Foucault and the ‘Disciplinary Complex’: a Contribution to the Analysis of Work”
The Autonomy Institute is devoted to rigorous study of work. I am a big fan of everything they are doing to question the meaning of work and beginning to envision a post-work world. This article delves deep into work’s role as a means of creating and enforcing social order. I encourage you to read it and then peruse the rest of their site as they are putting out a lot of great scholarship and commentary.
I’ll be honest: I don’t love my job and I don’t think I’ve ever truly loved any job I’ve ever had since I began my working life in earnest. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had several lovely work environments in beautiful offices with truly fantastic co-workers — many of whom I still count as my closest friends — but I’d still not call that loving my job.
No, I’ve had jobs from unbearable to perfectly survivable, and the older I get, the more I realize that here in late-stage capitalism, a job I love is not the goal, –being able to put time and money and resources into things I want to see flourish is. I don’t do what I love, I fund what I love.
By this I mean, I am a donor of my money and time and skills. I currently do unpaid work for at least five different groups and give money and/or advice to dozens more. I don’t work on the front lines of any efforts to cure the sick or free the encaged or smash the empire, but I do my best to give to groups that do. And I’m finally coming around to realizing that funds and funders matter.
I recently facilitated a dinner event attended by people from both the commercial and nonprofit spaces, and I noted a distinct snootiness towards people who hadn’t committed their lives to radical struggle defined as working in a cooperative or a foundation-funded NGO. I’ve encountered this sensibility throughout my journey as an independent activist/organizer and it’s lame and wrong. The “revolution” will no more be funded by large non-profit donors than it will by Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
The truth is that the struggle has and will always require a diversity of tactics, as well as a diversity of funding and energy sources. The more we radicals understand and accept that, the easier it will be to start building cultures and structures of support that help us better share responsibilities and promote self/mutual care.
Activist guilt, that feeling that you constantly should be doing more for the movement, is real. Survivor/thriver guilt is real, but so is activist/organizer burnout and illness. If we embrace a model of funding what we love rather than doing what we love to death, we just might move our lives and efforts into balance, and begin modelling that new world we seek.
A few things that have been making me happy recently.
The Improbable Dome Builders
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the brilliant thinker and architect R. Buckminster Fuller fell in with a ragtag group of Puerto Rican teenagers on the Lower East Side that came to be known by the name of CHARAS (a nonsense word combining the first initial of each member). Fuller would come down to the neighborhood and teach the young people geometry and how to build his geodesic domes.
They went on to revolutionize the neighborhood with a community-empowering eco-minded project of build renovation and self-education. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the soft release gathering for the re-release of this magical project here in Brooklyn at Pioneer Works where many of the original members spoke about this magical experience. You can read more about and buy the book here.
Build An Ark – “Dawn” (2007)
I’m revisiting the beautiful Build An Ark 2007 album “Dawn”. Good 70s jazz vibe. Highly recommended! Just click play above.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
Laugh if you want, but this old white man is saving my life daily. I heard about this book I think from Russell Brand, and I got it on audiobook. It first felt like a gut punch, but then I woman’d up and felt such relief. I’ve been recommending it to people left and right.
Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed
In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first woman to make a serious run for president. She was underfunded and underappreciated but courageous and brilliant. Watch this document to learn your history and be reminded of the long history of liberal and Democratic “lesser evil”-ism that continues to lead people nowhere.
This summer I co-founded CoLET: The Collective for Liberation, Ecology, and Technology. It’s a much-needed space for politically radical technologists. We finally got our website to a good place. I am excited to make a radical intervention in tech spaces and a tech intervention in radical spaces. Our time is SO now. Check it out when you get a moment!
4) Bookchin on Streetfighting with Nazis back in the day
I’m still on a Bookchin kick and someone in the social ecology community sent along this timely clip. Know your history, people!
These two women have gotten me through many a tough day and given me my whole life with their groovy, funky, punky selections on this monthly independent radio show brought to us live from the streets of London. I love you, Ruby and Josephine!!
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of going up to beautiful Vermont to take part in the annual gathering of the Institute for Social Ecology. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been delving into the work of activist-scholar Murray Bookchin, and the Institute for Social Ecology is an institution that he helped to found over 40 years ago. The annual event is a chance for eco-anarchists, ecofeminists, Green Marxists, libertarian communalists, and every other persuasion of social ecologist (who can afford to) to make the trek and gather in the dual spirit of conflict and collaboration.
Despite my objection (that were clearly voiced over the weekend) to the glaring whiteness of the gathering and the lack of focus on female voices, the three days were still so packed full of useful information and brilliant quotables that my hand started to cramp up from how feverishly I was taking notes.
While I won’t attempt to summarize everything that occurred, I will share a few of my favorite quotes, as well as links to interesting groups/gatherings I want to research and potentially useful further reading.
My Favorite Quotes from ISE 2017
“When someone accuses you of essentialism, reject the argument but then go on to refute the category.” – Ynestra King
“We’ve all learned that if you take control of the state, the state eventually takes control of you.” – Lincoln Van Sluytman
“The crisis of our time is that we haven’t really explored what it means to be political.” – Eleanor Finley
“Don’t just share the ‘conscience experience’; share the capital.” – Cora Roelofs