Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The power of music, dance and drums

 Four-year-old Lily Mervyn holds a sign at an Idle No More demonstration near Surrey, B.C., earlier this month. A teachable moment?

During the 2011 federal election campaign that Harper's CONtempt party *won* with a pathetic 39% of the popular vote (with the support of CPC fraudulent tactics that likely included voter suppression in key ridings), I wrote this review of world-reknowned Mali musician Salif Keita's concert.

As a result of political upheaval and regime changes in northern Africa, the tenuous balance of power in other countries has been disrupted, notably in Mali where civil war has been raging for months. 

Scott Taylor describes how the Harper government aided the Islamist terrorists

In a nutshell, where things stand at the moment in Mali.

One of the revealing actions taken by religious fundamentalist in Mali was to ban all public performances as well as the private expression of music. Yes, music.

There is an uplifting energy to music that fundamentalist ideologies loathe, unless its power can be controlled and directed to support religious and political hegemony or simultaneously exploited by profit-making ventures.

In contrast, the exuberant, chaotic outbreaks of round dancing in corporate public places is a judicious and brilliant manifestation of the open, inclusive and generous spirit of Idle No More.

Leanne Simpson, an Anishinaabe academic and writer, argues that a spirit of celebration has generally characterized Idle No More gatherings.

"One of the things the round dances have demonstrated to me is that there's a joyfulness to this movement," she says.

"It's strategic and it's serious and it's multifaceted but, at the foundation, it's not coming from a place of anger. It's not coming from a place of want. It's coming from a place of joy and connections to our homeland and our cultures."

Idle No More began as a series of teach-ins by four women in the Prairies, and has been spurred on by a female chief on a hunger strike. So it has been very much shaped by women.

It's an incredible thing when you see our women leading," says McMahon. "They bring a power and a balance we as men can't bring. And it's about time."
From here.

Though some may prefer to gleefully focus upon CONtempt party tactics intended to crush the human spirit, it's timely to remember this Indigenous teaching.
A Cherokee elder told a grandchild that all human beings have two wolves doing battle inside them.

One beast is armed with anger, jealousy, fear, greed, vindictiveness, scorn, lies and vanity. The other animal has joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, honesty and empathy in its arsenal. 

The child thought, then asked which creature would win. 

The elder said with twinkling eyes: "The one you feed."
In closing, a round dance exuberantly performed and joyfully expressed on December 22, 2012 at the TD centre in Calgary.

The YouTube displayed was recommended by @CopperBronzed - I am proud to be her ally and her sister in solidarity.


CanNurse said...

Wonderful piece today, DeBeaux! Absolutely love how you segued from CPC to Mali to IdleNoMore. If there was more dancing & music in Ottawapiskat, there'd be a lot fewer miserable people I suspect.

karen said...

These days I feel despair and hope kind of simultaneously. Outlawing public and private expression of music for god's sake? I really don't want to live in the kind of world they want.

On the other hand, I was at my local Idle No More gathering on the weekend. It was very cold, and a little somber, until the drummers started, and then the singers kind of exploded, and the dancing and the cheering started, too. It became, as you say, joyful.

I guess that is the beast to feed. (I'm going home to sing at the top of my lungs while I peel potatoes.)

H. Wallace said...

I am a white Canadian, and am working to inform myself on First Nations issues and support the Idle No More movement and recognize that you do, too.

I want to point out that the "Cherokee" story you point out, is actually a Christian parable.

Here is my source:

fern hill said...

Typo there.

Thanks for that, H. Wallace. Here's the clickable link.

deBeauxOs said...

Thanks for the link to âpihtawikosisân's blog post.

She is a power house.

The original source she cites for challenging that particular fable can't be consulted, as the link is broken.

It's evident the Billy Graham parable reduces a complex struggle to a Manichean caricature.

I don't exclude the possibility it could have been inspired by a teaching, an original Indigenous oral tradition that was appropriated and distorted by missionaries in support of the evangelization of those they called "savages".

The Graham parable essentializes Christian ideology in classic dualistic terms: white vs black, good vs evil.

If there ever indeed existed an original Indigenous tale that was appropriated by Christian converts and trickled down to evangelical preachers, it was likely more subtle and not moralistically prescriptive, much as the story âpihtawikosisân provides to demonstrate that very point.

Niles said...

Nothing like the sound of drums and voices loud and proud. Made bannock for the rally in Olympic plaza but was laid low by plague for this...and pretty much everything else over the season. I see familiar faces in there.

And the round dance always reminds me of this...

"He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!"

deBeauxOs said...

That was beautiful Niles.

Grand merci.

Niles said...

It's a shorty by Edward Markham title "Outwitted". He has a couple of other shorties that might or might not be appropos.

For all your days prepare,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil, bear--
When you are the hammer, Strike.

The Avengers
The laws are the secret avengers,
And they rule above all lands;
They come on wool-soft sandals,
But they strike with iron hands.

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