09.07.2022 - 31.08.2022
Through a series of interventions, Mbali Khoza will explore how black people across time and space have mused over, navigated and negotiated black mobility. In the short essay Errantry, Exile, Edouard Glissant scrutinises the notion of rootedness — “rooted” meaning belonging to a specific community, state, or nation. In other words, to be rooted in the case of South African natives would mean being in possession of one's land and to be settled in this land.
Writing about land and Africa, Aderonke E. Adegbite together with Elias Taslim Olawale posit that land cannot be separated from its "attachment to indigenous African lives." A statement made by a Nigerian chief standing before the West African Lands Committee in 1912 encapsulates this sentiment:
"Land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless members are unborn." — Chief Gboteyi, 1912.
The above quote insists that for Africans, land is not merely a portion of the earth's surface, but a resource. It is where Africans' social, economic, and political affairs take place. Furthermore, land is also spiritual; it is seen as a holding for ancestors, a space where religious activities honour the living, dead and unborn. When Africans' relationship with land is viewed from this holistic point of view, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi writes that we are compelled to think about the land’s significance and the "material, cultural and spiritual" effects of being uprooted from this land. Edward Said explains that living in exile is like living in a "place of terminal loss.“
It is this "place" that Khoza is interested in, especially given that migrating the black body is no longer profitable to Western colonies. The re-criminalisation of transatlantic travel in an effort to deny migrants asylum or European citizenship has exposed the West's long-standing ideas about black people, which were strategically used by many EU countries to endorse anti-migrant movements such as Bretix. In an effort to get re-elected again, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban publicly denounced the EU acceptance of refugees, claiming that letting them in would result in "terror, women, and girls will no longer be safe." Many share Orban's fears that their "cultural identity will…evaporate", much like those of their former colonies. For these reasons, Dionne Brand explains that black bodies remain "one of most regulated bodies in the Diaspora.