A stitched in the heart of Africa – Entry 15
As the red dust of Eastern Africa levitates behind our Indian motorcycle, lightening rips through the approaching skies. An echo of white light, the seasonal mask shifts from sunshine to torrential downpour and the internal storm tearing through the colorless flesh, exposing the skeleton within the forgotten finger of humanity. After 27 kilometers of navigating through the red lakes, the captain of this arc on two wheels is the first to be swallowed by the dangerous conditions. Blood was sacrificed in exchange for the well being of my colorful, soaked crew. With cherry cool-aid dripping from my hand, I drove the ship down the asphalt to home. Steven, Jacquie and the first-aid kit formed a powerful team of healers, loving neighbors walked an extra mile, and by the nights end an angelic doctor jabbed the needle into the severe puncture wound, the metacarpal of my right hand. The war has torn the human crust in half, but through the healing properties of art therapy we can mend this laceration with a single stitch of love.
As the sky remembers its peaceful self the leaves of the marigold pulse through the soul of the Mami Wata Project. “There is an Israeli woman looking for you,” the man without a name spoke. With a blink of an eye, two hands and a golden heart joined the composition of this ever evolving month. Shira’s artistic style fuses the abstractions of duality into a journey of the imagination, offering the freedom of subjective interpretation; her personality is reflected through the fire-red ants that are rioting atop her head, and she was born with the ears of compassion for the children. With 39 functioning fingers, eight feet and four hearts our team now orchestrates the healing symphony of art, guiding the children of war towards the power of color in their visual depiction of the freedom song.
By day the wheels of inspiration carry us across the blood soaked land with a flag of peace waiving in the winds of change. By night the calmness of the midnight hours invite us out for a stroll. A hundred eyes twinkle between the leaves of a grandfather tree like the radiating stars that dance between the shadows in the sky. The Grand-Artist has blessed her creation with the power to create, building a trusting symbiotic relationship between the paintbrush and the masterpiece. Who is painting who? All four of us glanced upwards to witness renegade flames spark above our circle of meditation. This eve exudes poetry and the day to follow without question goes down in history as one of the most powerful days of art any of us have ever participated in.
“How many of you are touching a paintbrush for the very first time in your life?” I asked. To my surprise over one-hundred students raised their hands high into the air. One could feel the consciousness of humanity growing in this very moment when the children of the Borlonyo massacre wrapped their fingers around the wood and bristle, dipped the tool into a color, and made first contact with the reality that their life is a clean slate ready to be painted into a masterpiece. Absolute freedom carried their expression across the entire two dimensional composition, off the page and onto the skin. The church had never seen such colorful smiles illuminating from the youth who witnessed the slaughter of their family members. The art speaks thousands of words… just wait until the traveling exhibition this coming fall and prepare to be enlightened by the love of the next Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.
Through the massacre sight we rode painted up and down with love. Off to the afternoon class we ride where once again 100+ students raise their hands. Over two-hundred students in one day felt the blessing of creativity oxygenate their traumatized blood for the very first time in their LIFE! The kids dreamt up the door, manifested this door into reality, and then walked through it. The former slaves painted in hiding on the walls of a cave here in Northern Uganda, and now the youth paint on the walls of their “modern” cave in broad daylight for the world to see. Freedom glows directly through the weight of the past, spreading the message of peace into all the regions that have been forgotten about inside the human body, as well as within the body of life itself. Walls, clothes, faces, bodies, paper and canvas… they are all ready for art and the children are hearing the call! CELEBRATION!!!
With so much gratitude, respect and love,
Benjamin Swatez and the Mami Wata Team