The wall across my lounge chair is adorned with a beautiful Meshu piece. This is not a typical Meshu creation. It is Meshu in the abstract–his interpretation or contortion of “the scream“!
I fell in love with the piece from the moment I laid my eyes on it. I had never before heard or seen “the scream”, which is apparently one of the most recognisable works of art from the 19th century. But when I looked at Meshu’s piece, the scream I saw—a scream of life. A scream for clean green living. A scream of a woman (or man) overwhelmed, yet still determined to make sense of the world and the everyday struggles. It was indeed a scream of radical hope for a life of peace and prosperity.
In the financial realm, the scream was also an apt representation of my finances. The painting was far from my price reach. I couldn’t afford it; yet there was no denying the fact that I strongly related to the painting in an unimaginable way, at least in the eyes of Meshu. I became a worthy custodian because Meshu in his generosity decided to apply the logic of ancestral kinship and not that of capitalism; the ancestors wouldn’t have it any other way– balimo ba taung ba ne ba se ba laotse! The painting needed to move from the hands of one motaung to the next; otherwise one of us (not me) would stand to interfere with what was divined by the ancestors.
It really is with a deep sense of gratitude that each morning, as I have my cup of tea, I also make an effort to enjoy the version of “the scream” that adorns my wall. A passionate scream for a life of regal dignity, where many of us can walk with our heads held up high, in part, because we are able to use our various rich talents to create a just and green world.
This new morning ritual of mine may seem a tad depressing, but it is not. To paraphrase John Holloway from his book, Changing the world without taking power, it is a reminder that everything essentially starts with a scream and not with the word. As he elaborately explains, it is the scream and the rage behind it, that spurs us into possible action to want to change the world. He makes a point that we need to act to reject the world which we feel is wrong, even if we are uncertain about how impactful our efforts will be– for ultimately every small effort counts to building “a true world”.
To the question: “What would a true world look like? “, ergo why should we reject our current one through willingness to act and make the small or big changes?, this is how Holloway responds:
We may have a vague idea: it would be world of justice, a world in which people could relate to each other as people and not as things, a world in which people would shape their own lives. But we do not need to have a picture of what a true world would be like in order to feel that there is something radically wrong with the world that exists. Feeling that the world is wrong does not necessarily mean that we have a picture of a utopia to put in its place. Nor does is necessarily mean a romantic, some-day-my-prince-will-come idea that, although things are wrong now, one day we shall come to a true world, a promised land, a happy ending. We need no promise of a happy ending to justify our rejection of a world we feel to be wrong.
Basically, we need to act in hope that eventually we might get the world that we and our children deserve. But we must remember that it all starts with the scream!