Transcription of a spoken word performance extracted from the track “Saturn” on the CD 2000 Black — Ascension for expansion. This originated in the Book “Let the Circle Be Unbroken” by Dona Richards (Marimba Ani)
Soul is the essence of the human in the African view. It was our soul that was traumatized by slavery. It was soul that revitalized itself and survived by its connection to the universal African soul as we expressed our deepest feelings through music, dance, and song.
Our profoundly complex philosophy of life is expressed through these vehicles and that is because we express ourselves, our essence, our souls through music dance and song. Our music is proof that we are Africa. Black music is sacred music. It is the expression of the divine within us. We gain our strength from communication with spirits and from being touched by them. We gain meaning force and being from relationship with the universal life force by feeling ourselves as being a part of the whole. Our music manifests that relationship as it puts us in tune with the universe. It explains to us the mysterious workings of the universe and ourselves as cosmic beings. Our music calls the spirits. They force us to play it. It in turn forces them to show themselves: to come… to be close to us… to touch and teach us.
For us dance is inseparable from music. The dance that is done by diasporic Africans when our feelings have become too much for words. Demanding to burst outside our bodies the dance that is done when we want to speak on our deepest convictions concerning spiritual truth. The dance that is done when the love and oneness and humanity that we are feeling can no longer be contained. That dance is call “the shout.” Through dance we experience reality as immediate to us. In it we are identified with the universe. In this relationship of identity we have reached our goal; spiritually, emotionally, intellectually; in our being.
The primary instrument of this experience is the drum. It predominates in importance because of its relationship to rhythm. Rhythm is the prime mover. It causes the dance and it is the objective of the dance. Rhythm is NTU, the universal life force. It energizes. It revitalizes. It is the task of the drum to locate the rhythm and to communicate it to us until finally we are able find it within us, resulting in our dance and we become it. We become rhythm. Rhythm exists outside of us, before us and yet can only be manifested in and through us. Rhythm transcends the ordinary categories of time and space. In rhythm all reality, all being is joined. NTU, the universal life force, animates the entire universe. To be touched by it is to know that all being is spirit. Music transcends us to ultimate reality. Dance and song, rhythm and music are part of the matrix, the womb of the African universe. They are mode and modality, metaphysics and ontology. African diasporic spirituality is expressed through them and by them. Our ability to create them gives us strength.
Our music is our magic and through magic we create. Our creativity defies rational explanation. Our musical genius, the beauty of our bodies in dance. Our rhythm and creativity in these modalities issues from our blackness; our manifestation of Africa.