THE BLOG
29/12/2017 10:36 SAST | Updated 29/12/2017 10:36 SAST

Afropunk -- A Safe Space For Healing And Love Work

The Afropunk values, with Solange as headliner in South Africa, was a mainstreaming of a culture and a destiny for most of us.

Eduardo Munoz/ Reuters

Yesterday morning I woke up to a plethora of black screams –– but first I must admit, as a premise, my immunity to black pain, as that has been and is a lived experience.

After weeks of building up spiritual strength and fighting anxiety attacks in hope of "a promise" of an intersectional solidarity at South Africa's inaugural Afropunk, Instagram and Twitter were already mourning the breaking news in relation to the festival: that headlining artist Solange has cancelled her appearance.

As a result, I thought that maybe this text could be an analysis of what this moment means for intersectional futures. Black children's reaction to broken promises. The ways in which black organisers and audiences do not debrief after revolutionary casualties. Initially, like most skimming through the first few posts, I assumed that the story was flawed.

I convinced myself that it was flawed because of the money I have already spent on outfits and the ticket, but I guess what made this particular moment even more heartfelt –– and a question of a grandeur –– is the courage and work we have collectively put into validating ourselves in preparation of the alternative church.

Kevork Djansezian / Reuters
Solange Knowles arrives at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards in Inglewood, California August 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/File photo

My friends and I have been trying to hold each other in believing what we had all thought was impossible in the first place -- singing to cranes in the sky. Affirming each other in familiar and aspirational ways. Affirming a seat at the dinner table in times of decaying and dubious solidarity. The Afropunk values, with Solange as headliner in South Africa, was a mainstreaming of a culture and a destiny for most of us.

The odds that led to Solange cancelling her set at the festival are also worthy of analysis, however. Autonomic disorders are rare, but they are very much alive and a lethal range disorders that we all need to raise awareness about. It is sad that I only became aware of this condition because I was preparing for this auspicious moment –– and the person who brought it to light was Solange.

So it is important we recognise the importance of Solange adopting the self-care she has been singing about; that we do the self-care as movements, communities and beings we have theorised.

In the shrinking space for LGBTI bodies, the feminist movement, people living with disabilities and many groups in the margins, spaces like Afropunk have become important for breathing and practicalising 'safe spaces'.

Afropunk remains an important moment. I recently attended the 2nd Annual Abantu Book Festival, a space thought through by amazing black thinkers and activists. For the second year running, it was an archive of black love letters. The end programme of Abantu this year was #FreeEducationLive; a musical university for #FeesMustFall activists and fallists.

Some of the acts that headlined #FreeEducationLive are also headlining Afropunk. So I guess accepting the latest news also means kissing goodbye imaginations of King Tha, Solange and Jojo Abot as masters of one ceremony. The possibility of a specific healing; a nuance to the black political thought that I know we have all needed.

In the shrinking space for LGBTI bodies, the feminist movement, people living with disabilities and many groups in the margins, spaces like Afropunk have become important for breathing and practicalising "safe spaces". There is also a need to which I have the utmost commitment to, which is the need for intersectional futures to see and affirm each other -- such is love work and soul sustenance.

Erika Goldring via Getty Images
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 13: Solange performs during Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on October 13, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Erika Goldring/FilmMagic)

On the global stage, Solange represents and affirms the latter. Thus her aura and outstanding creativity would have aided with new year resolutions. I write through this moment not sure of the finality I wanted to fabricate in this text, because all of this is a lot.

This moment meant a lot. I have regained my anxiety. Yesterday was characterised by a cacophony of questions on validity, sensation and feeling. I have been troubled in analysing the nature of my asks.

It has also come forth that solidarity and alliance ripple my core.

I do not think I fully know what it looks and feels like, and maybe I had hoped the presence of Solange as a testimony of the latter was going to ease all of this.

Alas, it was reimagination work that brought us here, and it is this work that I believe will carry all of us through.

This text is an ode to the thousand queer bodies who fled home for Johannesburg this festive season, in search of familiarity and validation. I hope Afropunk can heal us.