Mabandu writes: A great uncertainty is upon the world, we are haunted by a mysterious menace that's not fully revealed. Everywhere is death and dearth occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this lecture, I conduct a meditative exploration, a call to a leadership of creatives, the heartiness of the arts, as we all grope for a new grammar against grand grief -- a new song -- cry, smile, and then a dance!
The event will be facilitated by photographer and academic George Mahashe, and the lecture will be followed by a Q&A with online viewers. Join us at 1pm this Wednesday! Access the Zoom link here.
Percy Mabandu is a South African writer, artist, and communications professional. He is the author of the book, Yakhal'inkomo – Portrait of a Jazz Classic. He is interested in life at the intersection of art, jazz, and the political economy. Mabandu's arts journalism, both in print and broadcast, has been published globally on platforms like NewFrame, Departures Magazine, Mail & Guardian, SAfm, and many others. He lives in the City of Tshwane.
Theme for the Series
The 2021 Great Texts/Big Questions Lecture Series – Loss upon loss – responds to the complexity of grief and grieving in South Africa and across the continent in the time of Covid-19, with a particular focus on the role and response of artists.
The most critical months of the pandemic have been defined by a near disintegration of cultural and familial rituals for mourning, gathering and coming to terms with death – individually, but especially collectively. A period in which, in so many communities, the deaths of loved ones have followed in such quick succession that there is no ordinary time or proper space to mark their passing. There have been other losses too – jobs, careers, financial security – equally without closure or the promise of resolution. And in the wake of both, a new vocabulary has quickly become part of our everyday speech: Zoom memorials, virtual funerals followed with alarming speed, deep cleaning, lockdowns, social distancing, masks.
The vision for the series draws from the concept of ‘ambiguous loss’ – a term that academic and therapist Pauline Boss coined in the 1970s to name and describe a rupturing of human relationships without closure or clear understanding. Ambiguous loss has since been applied widely across the world in approaching forms of grief that cannot be resolved. In the context of the pandemic, the term provides a possible starting point of collective recognition and reckoning, and opens pathways to healing.
Schedule for the Series
Wed 12 May @ 1pm: Zukiswa Wanner, Creativity in the face of crisis
Wed 19 May @ 1pm: Yewande Omotoso, Death: unfathomable, inevitable
Wed 26 May @ 1pm: Athambile Masola, Grieving: surviving imiphanga through a black aesthetic
Wed 2 June @ 1pm: Lebo Mashile, Crisis catalysing creativity as rituals and as resistance
Wed 9 June @ 1pm: Percy Mabandu, A Call to artistry: Catharsis, and creative grammars against grief
Thursday 17 June @ 7pm (please note change in start time): Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Language and Liberation of the African Inventive Imagination