REEEEE-MIIIIX – Genealogists serve in a multitude of professional arenas. In the capacity as Curatorial Director, I was privy to participate in the stellar artistic works and exchange of Muisi-kongo Malonga’s “Kimpa Vita” creation. Daunting, yet always guided we prayed, researched and gathered oral narratives from Congo to California, combed scholarly works and built compelling stories focused upon 3 iconic travesties of justice involving African American Women. The particular stories chosen, we felt resonated with the movement and demise of our central figure Kongolese Matriarch and Warrioress – Mama #KimpaVita of old Kongo Kingdom.
The solo chore-opera first debuted as an excerpt, at San Francisco Counter Pulse Performing Diaspora 2nd 4-day weekend showing, witnessed by 3 sold-out audiences. Wearing the “Directorial” hat was like balancing a 50lb laundry basket upon my head. Yet through stealth training and mentorship, I focused on balance determined to obtain evidence unearthing associated documents. To my surprise, my discovery included rare graphic depictions concerning these African American Women dating back to as early as 1865 for one, an actual audio recording of American Folk singer Woody Guthrie, and a state sponsored historical marker citing the lynching rampage of the times in 1918.
Born 14 months after the Laura and L.D. Nelson lynching, Woody Guthrie’s own father, then a local politician was actually associated with the lynching and the heinous crime of these times, ultimately chronicled into a postcard. Guthrie wrote a song called “Don’t Kill My Baby & My Son” and gives his crackling retell of story along with the accounts leading to the Nelson lynchings. The song wails in agony…
Not content to believe that Ms Laura’s story starts with lynching and ends with death, I further discover a blog dedicated to her aptly named “The Nelson Lynching of 1911 @Okemah, Oklahoma” also bearing genealogy research for Laura’s husband, giving some idea as to how the two came to be united and ultimately divided. [see link below]
I remember thinking the whole time, “Who are the descendants of these matriarchs and what are the surviving legacies arising from their marked death?” Equally thrilling was to discover active initiatives and commemorative efforts that raise awareness and bring to the forefront these injustices, engaging ongoing activism that combat violence against Women. The #KimpaVita project speaks veneration, and is a powerfully artistic offering to elevate these Spirits through Muisi-kongo’s dynamic mediumship for birthing the stories. Regarding the reveal of these historical accounts concerning the African American Women, it exposed such an inherit ignorance about an abominable era of American History and at the same time de-mystified Mama Kimpa Vita, provoking more people to want to know herstory deserving to be known through her own rites – WAH!
And my #DANCESTORY2013? Its been a fast track, as I’m currently preparing my case scenarios for further research and engagement with genealogy kinship. About the next leg of travel, I’ve added #AK to the #MSY sojourn! I invite You to join the sojourn and support the project that invokes more stories deserving to be preserved, starting with my own. Updates right here: http://bit.ly/1e56YML
~Regina Califa Calloway
nzo.califa Dance Works
“Working Da Lines: Dancestory2013″
About the Artist: Muisi-Kongo Malonga