The Ocean is a very special force. She is a woman. A mother like no other. Her relationship with the endless sky one cannot fathom. The special language they speak is theirs and theirs alone. The Sun can try to learn it with the dawning of every single day. He can try to invite the Four Seasons to help him learn, to no avail. He can call upon his life partner the Moon, but she has her own relationship with the Ocean. The sign language they speak is quiet, gentle, nervous, protective, angry, wild, dramatic — so emotional one can lose their head trying to understand it! Unless of course you are one of the children in the Ocean’s body! For they have a bond and sense of belonging that never can be shaken.
A human child’s connection to its mother too is something unique and timeless. That original home in the womb is the same for every single child, regardless of gender, race or creed. A private ocean so special and nourishing, modern technology has tried countless times but still cannot fully emulate it. With eyes closed and tiny hands folded over each unborn child’s gifts and talents, our young have so much potential to make a major contribution to the future. Our great ancestors knew this centuries ago. We would do well to see it too.
I find myself looking at today’s world, our motherland, South Africa, to be more precise. Our turbulent history and the fruits thereof. And the number of times that our women’s names are omitted from the history books. This is changing, at a snail’s pace; but changing nonetheless. But the daily drama that is played out often stands in the way of growth for all our citizens. The plethora of weapons raised up high, still breeding fear, lies, confusion, destruction, pain, hunger, homelessness, insecurity, blood and tears that flow like invisible rivers of greed that burn instead of quench our thirst.
A river that threatens our natural inner beauty as a nation instead of watering it. Then again, each day we see hands out-stretched and giving, nourishing, embracing the poor and the vulnerable; fires of undying hope, song, laughter rising like a new sunrise. Many times it is the women of our land who remember that ancient place, that umbilical cord connecting each and every one of us to the original ocean with special powers. It does not need to be fictional. With all of us banding together and singing the same healing song, our beloved motherland can be healed. A blanket of love can be woven to cover the young and awaken the most creative spirits.
With all of us banding together and singing the same healing song, our beloved motherland can be healed
Did I say CAN? That blanket is being woven; it only needs more hands, more hearts with special vision. Arts and culture practitioners know one truth: the Healing Ocean is within us. This can be seen in the works of so many artists in so many different disciplines. Ancient voices speak to us in languages reminiscent of that unique communication shared by the Sky and the Ocean. We are tasked by the universe to take on the role of Healers. We must walk with more vigour and act more decisively as women and mothers who care for the wellbeing and future of our young.
Imbokodo is a very powerful image: the smooth grinding stone that crushes corn and produces nourishment for family and communities. What an amazing power we have, to crush the insecurities, jealousy, lies and mistrust amongst one another. To show our children and the next generation of women in the arts that we can be smooth, dignified, compassionate and still powerful like the rock from which the grinding stone was moulded. The time has never been riper for women to be celebrated as warriors of truth! To heal us all.
— Gcina Mhlophe