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Creativity of practice as re-existence: Mowoso, iQhiya and Ozhopé | FIELD

Creativity of practice as re-existence: Mowoso, iQhiya and Ozhopé

Creativity of practice as re-existence: Mowoso, iQhiya and Ozhopé*

Massa Lemu

Introduction

In some of its performances, Mowoso collective, which was active in the townships of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2007 and 2011, drew inspiration from Sapeur culture to respond to bourgeois dandyism, poverty, neocolonialism, globalization and migration. iQhiya collective of Cape Town used the iqhiya headpiece predominantly worn by women in southern Africa as central metaphor to engage the black female body in performances that dealt with the abjection, and erasure of black women in South Africa. Ozhopé collective of Malawi adopted the patched dugout canoe found along the shores of Lake Malawi to deal with issues of aid, extractivism and the ecosystem. These different collectives are unified in their practices which directly engage everyday life using collaboration, objects, and performance. In this essay, Achille Mbembe’s term “creativity of practice” provides a framework for appreciating how these artists engage in modes of re-existence shaped by the everyday [1].

While it can be interchanged with “creative practice,” I specifically use Mbembe’s term which he defined as the “ways in which societies compose and invent themselves in the present” [2]. Focusing on the work of Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé, I seek to show how creativity of practice inspires certain strands of contemporary art making in Africa which engage everyday life in politics of self-empowerment. I demonstrate how these practices venture beyond resistance to signify re-existence of a people seeking dignity, beauty, and love in capitalist induced crises. I use the term re-existence in the decolonial sense as what Catherine E. Walsh, borrowing from Adolfo Albán, terms “the redefining and re-signifying of life in conditions of dignity” [3] or what Walter Mignolo defines as “the sustained effort to reorient our human communal praxis of living” [4]. Thus, creativity of practice as re-existence is a praxis of the reclamation of the human in contexts of dehumanization [5].

The lines between art and creativity of practice are blurry, as both operate, and intertwine in (real and virtual) spaces of everyday life. The practices of iQhiya and Mowoso are based in, and deeply shaped by the city spaces of Cape Town and Kinshasa respectively. However, while most critical conversations surrounding contemporary African art practice are situated in, and center around the space of the city where most art practices and markets are based, Ozhopé, cognizant of the boundlessness of life, creativity, exploitation and its resistance, takes its work to the rural in the fishing villages along Lake Malawi.

Sapeur imaginaries

Defined as “an experimental network of transdisciplinary creators who come together as space, time, need and desire allow to explore shifting takes on collaboration as an aesthetics of political engagement,” Mowoso collective (mowoso means “a rustling of the leaves” in Lingala) was founded by the artists Dikoko Boketshu Bokungu, Bebson de la Rue, and Eléanor Hellio [6]. Its projects were based in, and dealt with the tough lived experience of the poor township neighborhoods of Kinshasa. In the series of performances titled Blue Boys (2006) by Dikoko Boketshu, a group of sapeur(members of the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes or SAPE) pose for photographs clad in blue denim jeans and leather jackets, cuddling furry terrier dogs and showing off Versace labels.

Mowoso, “Blue boys,” (2006). Performance, Kinshasa. (Courtesy of Mowoso)

Sapeur are known for their fabulous performances of sartorial elegance. Full of color and pomp, in the dusty streets of Kinshasa or Brazzaville, the spectacle of outlandish SAPE fashion parades is a masquerade of sorts. In these dance-infused catwalks, young men show off stylish suits, expensive watches, the latest cell phones and other accessories. The performances imitate, amplify and embellish bourgeois dandyism.  Sapeur culture is driven by a cosmopolitanism known as mikilisme, rooted in the Lingala term Mikili or “the world.” Mikilisme is a “wide variety of practices (ways of dressing, moving, speaking, and, more generally, communicating, eating and drinking, and earning money) elaborated in response to the dream (and nightmare) of engaging with Mikili” [7]. It is, in other words, a form of self-fashioning adopted primarily by young people who wish to flee the poverty that surrounds them by relocating to European metropolises, particularly Paris [8].

Sapeur are perpetually on the move, between the slum and the city, or Kinshasa and Paris. They form part of the multitudes of migrants who seek freedom from the privations of the African postcolony. Mikilisme is thus a cosmopolitanism shaped by, and responding to legacies of colonialism, neocolonialism and the ravages of neoliberal capitalist globalization [9]. As observed on ArteTV, sapeur is “resistance against colonialism, war, and poverty” [10]. In this sense, it exemplifies the imaginaries of re-existence initiated by those who seek to reverse the long processes of dispossession. But while mikilisme is a mindset forged out of the skewed global relationships of domination and of the long duree of exploitation (the story of violent extractivism in Congo facilitated by a rapacious African bourgeoisie in service of multinational corporations is well known), it is not life lived in permanent victimhood. As noted, sapeur live in color. They are a people decorating their lives with humor, elegance and flair.

It is important to note that while Blue Boys seeks to capture the flair and flamboyance of the flashy sapeur, the performers are not draped in the usual couture of shiny designer suits, fur coats and bow ties. The rugged and worn clothing of the Blue boys seems to have been sourced from the second-hand clothing markets abundant across Africa. In this light, the Blue Boys’ exaggerated and absurd poses, set against dirty walls, trash and cesspool-ridden backgrounds, provide a satirical, if ambivalent, critique of sapeur mimicry of bourgeois dandyism defined by the second-hand or the hand-me-down. The piece therefore incorporates an incisive critique of the well-documented controversy surrounding the global trade of recycled clothing choking the African textile market [11]. As Dominique Malaquais notes, Mowoso’s response to sapeur is a “deeply fraught push-pull of desire and revulsion, sensual pleasure, dispassionate coolness, and blood-boiling anger” [12]. In its ambivalence, the work asks an important question: to what extent can mimicry be empowering and redemptive?

iQhiya’s poetics of visibility

iQhiya, a collective of eleven black women artists that emerged from the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2015, takes its name from the headgear that African women use both as a fashion accessory and as cushion for carrying heavy objects. Members of iQhiya include Asemahle Ntlonti, Bonolo Kavula, Bronwyn Katz, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Charity Kelapile, Lungiswa Gqunta, Sethembile Msezane, Sisipho Mgodwana, Thandiwe Msebenzi, Thuli Gamedze and the late Pinky Mayeng. For iQhiya, the city is a space for engaging, through networking, collectivism and performance, issues of the (mis)representation, exclusion, invisibilization and abjection of black women. Echoing the Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter (BWABLM) movement, which took the New York art scene by storm in 2016, the collective staged a series of works titled Portrait (2016). All clad in white, the performers stood on or next to red soda crates in and around private and public art institutions, such as at Greatmore Studios, and at other historical buildings such as the old apartheid pass office (now a museum) in Cape Town for as long as they could endure.

iQhiya, “Portrait,” (2016). Performance, Cape Town (Courtesy of iQhiya)

The iqhiya headpiece—also known as duku in parts of southern Africa—adopted by the collective is an apt symbol for the lived experience of Black women in southern Africa. In Portrait, the iqhiya was stuffed in the Molotovs with which the performers “attacked” the exclusivist art institution and confronted the brutal histories of apartheid. Brandishing these unlit Molotovs, the group returned the (predominantly white or upper class) viewers’ gaze, merging art and militant protest in the fight against the abjection of Black women—Nomusa Makhubu calls this merging of art and protest for political ends ‘militant creative protest’ [13]. Staged in multiple venues in South Africa and abroad, including at Documenta 14 in Athens in the same year, the young Black women therefore symbolically took over, in order to decolonise the predominantly white elitist spaces of the art world.

Portrait also comprised a wider critique of the objectification and abjection of Black women’s bodies outside the art world. iQhiya’s all white dress code echoed the all red dress code of BWABLM, both of which gestured towards collective healing and renewal under normalized race, gender, and class-based violence. iQhiya’s performance was inspired by a photograph from a member’s family album, in which a group of older aunts strike defiant but elegant poses [14]. For iQhiya, the old photograph represents the resilience of Black women who endure the violence of apartheid and its legacies. This resilient spirit drives the struggle of black women fighting continual racism, abductions, rape, and other forms of normalized gender violence in post-apartheid South Africa. Like that photograph, the performance captures and celebrates a triumphant strength and dignity while also reminding us of the pain and suffering that women are forced to endure.

The Life-politics of Ozhopé

In the postcolony, creativity and resistance against capitalist exploitation is not limited to the space of the city. In the work of Ozhopé—a Malawian art collective comprised of Ella Banda, Paul Chimbwanya, Tavwana Chirwa, Emmanuel Ngwira and this author—play, humor, the ephemeral and site-specificity are deployed to engage Lake Malawi and the dugout canoe as spaces for contesting extractivism, aid, and capitalist globalization. Multinational oil corporations have been haunting Lake Malawi for a long time, thirsting for its oil deposits. The lake, a freshwater body containing a thousand species of fish, is an ecosystem that supports millions of livelihoods. According to environmentalists, a single oil spill would damage this fragile ecology permanently [15]. As per tradition in Africa, after irreparable damage, humanitarianism—the other arm of neoliberal capitalist globalization—rushes in to “save lives” it has itself ruined. Ozhopé’s work attempts to untangle these tentacles of domination in work that engages lake shore practices of resistance and re-existence by foregrounding the patched dugout canoe.

Collaboration and collective production are central in the art making process involving not only a professional photographer, writer, and artists but also the local fishermen and women (ozhopé or wosopé means “all of them” in Yao). In addition, play, bricolage, reuse of cultural objects such as the dugout canoe or the mask create spaces, processes, and events for discussion and exchange with the fishers who are the works’ primary viewers.

In the work, the abandoned dugout is transformed structurally into temporary sculptures, or “unmonuments”—i.e. monuments that do not aspire for permanence and the heroic—that are later left on the shore to continue their decaying processes [16]. Documented through photography, video and text, which are shared on Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, the canoe becomes a catalyst for discussions about issues of history, aid, extractivism and the ecosystem.

Ozhopé collective, “Wake,” (2017). Lake Malawi Shore. (Courtesy of Ozhopé)

The dugout canoe has been used for fishing and transportation on Lake Malawi since precolonial times. It is made by hollowing a buoyant tree trunk that is streamlined at the bow and stern using the adze and axe [17]. When the trunk rots, the dugout is repaired by patching with plastic and tin recycled from empty oil tin and jelly-cans. The resultant complex patchwork is functional, but it also transforms the canoe aesthetically, adding onto its surface a rich quilt of colours and textures. For instance, the yellows and blues of the plastic jelly-cans, usually framed by the black tar used as sealant, create a stunning contrast. The nails used for patching form a complex stitching pattern around the seams of the yellow plastic. This complexity is particularly remarkable inside the canoe where sunlit plastic glows like stain-glass against the shadows. In a sculptural piece such as “Wake” made with a found dugout decorated with cork and plastic plates—gesturing towards the idea of the dugout as vessel, Ozhopé enhances, highlights and documents these transformations.

Where wear and tear has been severe, with repeated layering of the materials over time, rotting wood, bruised plastic and rusty metal blend and are almost unrecognizable on the surface of the beaten canoe. The yellows, blues and greens of the man-made materials seamlessly blend with the browns and greys of the wood. This union of matter is enhanced by faded coats of paint, which, from afar, makes these surfaces resemble the skin of mammoth fish. In some instances, one material such as the plastic eventually seem to almost replace the wood, for example in “Wake” which was entirely covered in the yellow plastic.

As the mutated canoe shows, the natural intermixes with the synthetic over time. The traditional morphs into the modern. This transformation inspires certain modes of reading the canoe beyond the aesthetic. As commodity products, the tin cans and jelly-cans contain labels and are therefore text that can be read literally. In addition, the fishers write their names, proverbs, and other statements on their canoes with paint (such as the proverb “Apa pana kulya” or “the canoe does not eat” in Tonga, which speaks to the dugout as a valuable investment). Altogether, the patchwork and the writing make the canoe texturally and textually layered, turning it into a document. The performance “Palasu/Apa pana kul” featuring a mask paddling in a docked dugout is a sort of activation and documentation of this document.

Ozhopé collective, “Palasu/Apa pana kul,” (2018). Performance, Lake Malawi. (Courtesy of Ozhopé)

Malawi’s economy is propped by donor aid, but the country also relies on humanitarian assistance in times of strife, during which such organizations as Oxfam or the American aid agency, USAID, distribute products such as edible oil in branded tin cans to supplement the diets of the afflicted. Malawi also has refugee camps hosting people from disaster stricken neighboring countries. However, some of the tins are smuggled out of the camps. The empty tin cans are repurposed for various uses such as to hold potted plants, or for beer drinking. Branded “Not to be sold or exchanged”, the tin cans nevertheless find their way into local markets where they are sold openly, thereby challenging the politics and ethics of neoliberal do-gooderism (aka philanthrocapitalism): if it came with so many conditions, was it ever really given to you? Cut, flattened and nailed on the body of the canoe (Fig. 5), the cans therefore signify the politics of aid that shape Malawian society.

USAID tin can patchwork detail on dugout canoe found on Lake Malawi (Courtesy of Ozhopé).

The dugout can therefore be read as text upon whose surface are sedimented stories of resistance. It documents the cross-border trade between Malawi and its neighbors defined in greater part by smuggling of commodities to evade taxation. I argue that smuggling—of commodities such as shoes, cigarettes, cooking oil and textiles—from and into refugee camps, or across the border, exemplifies struggles by a people on the fringes who have been marginalized in the national or global capitalist economy. While cross-border smuggling and evasion adversely affect the national economy, its effects cannot compare, in magnitude and impact, to the massive corruption and plunder of national wealth by transnational corporations in alliance with local elites [18]. Seen in this context, evasion is therefore a practice of resistance. In fact, the smugglers are enacting what I would call their own “under-globalization” operating under the radar of neoliberal capitalist governmentality [19]. In the neglected zones leapt over by capitalist extractivism, the marginalized devise their own technologies of survival [20]. This is not to say that the poor are completely excluded by the regime of profit, which colonizes and exploits their lands and bodies, but that they are sidelined in wealth redistribution (for example, how the people of the Niger Delta have been simultaneously included and excluded in the oil economy) [21]. The 20-liter vegetable oil or paraffin jelly-cans smuggled out of the camps, or from neighboring countries, find their way onto the surface of the dugout canoe, sealing and decorating it, but also inscribing narratives of marginalization, exclusion, resistance and re-existence.

The Ethics and Aesthetics of Creativity of Practice

Performance is key in the works of Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé. Since it foregrounds process and action and activates bodies in space and time, performance—particularly the live kind situated in everyday life—is the art form closest to creativity of practice; it holds potential for subject-empowerment and self-determination in conditions of subjugation and privation [22]. The performative is key to creativity of practice as praxis of the human. In creativity of practice people perform actions of everyday survival and self-formation which are then adopted by artists such as the groups discussed above. For example, car repair is a township practice of recycling, repairing and making-do, which structurally and metaphorically shapes the redemptive art of some of the artists at Village Unhu art space in Harare, Zimbabwe [23].

Founded upon Frantz Fanon’s sociogenic principle which reveals the Human as formed through both bios and logos, or biology and myth (i.e. “race is not in the body but rather is built in the social imaginary grounded on colonial differences) [24], Sylvia Wynter’s groundbreaking reconceptualization of the human is a critique of the colonialist episteme in which Humanness is reserved for people of European origin, and where the rest, particularly Africans, are cast as non-Human (and relegated to what Fanon called the “zone of non-being”) [25]. Through imperialist conquest, a locally specific self-definition was elevated to the status of universality [26]. In this racially hierarchical bourgeois episteme peoples were, and continue to be relegated to the status of non-human in order to be subjected to all sorts of privations and violence. Wynter’s reformulations counter this epistemology of the objectification and abjection of black and brown bodies. For Wynter, humanness is constituent and not constituted. Rather than a set of attributes or a noun reserved for a special group of people, being human is a verb, a praxis, or a process of becoming. This reformulation of the human as process sheds light on my understanding of creativity of practice as it figures in everyday life and in the art in question, as life-affirming, performative labor of self-empowerment [27].

As noted above, the three groups Mowoso, iQhiya and Ozhopé perform this labor of self-empowerment through collaboration. What I call Biopolitical Collectivism is key to this conception of creativity of practice, which is characterized by a subject-centered communalist ethos. Biopolitical Collectivism thus highlights a people-centered, life-politics that encourages collaborative meaning-making in the art process. But most importantly, it underscores collaboration and sharing as central in creative practice in African societies in which kinship ties are close knit. This is not to resuscitate the tired conception of the essentially communalist African but to redirect the gaze and to shed light on other ways of seeing, thinking and doing beyond, or in the cracks of a hyper-individualist neoliberal capitalism. Rather than isolated, fragmented and atomized, individuals in villages and townships live deeply interwoven and interconnected familial and kinship networks. For instance, in the city, kitchen parties are a common event that gathers family and friends in the home sharing the spirit of ubuntu (“humanness”). Kitchen parties inspire the work of artists who gather at Village Unhu [28]. But these networks of collaboration also bind the fishing communities with which Ozhopé worked [29].

In creativity of practice, material or commodity objects such as the iqhiya and the dugout canoe are tools of everyday life. These tools are shaped by their users, for example, the transformed dugout canoe. However, the objects also profoundly shape the material existence and enhance the agency of the users. As noted, some of these objects are appropriated by Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé in performances and installations as metaphors for the subjecthood of the township or country dweller. For instance, the iqhiya is a symbol of the resilience of black women in normalized hetero-patriarchal violence and objectification. Clothing as status symbol of bourgeois aspirations in Mowoso, and in Ozhopé the dugout canoe as vessel or text. It bears mention that the groups under discussion are not pioneers of such methods in the history of African art. Some precedents include Laboratoire Agit-Art and Set Setal of Senegal, Huit Facettes-Interaction of the DRC and Gugulective of South Africa, all of whom sought to engage everyday life beyond the walls of the art gallery or museum using collaboration, performance and the material or commodity objects.

Re-existence

In the words of Indian intellectual Vijay Prashad, “when there are no decent jobs and no decent state apparatus, society putrefies” [30]. However, where neoliberalized states abandon their citizens [31]; where national economies and political systems compromised by forms of toxic loans and neocolonial interference, endemic corruption, rigging no longer serves the people, the poor devise their own tactics of survival. As Mbembe notes, due to the fractured economy, in the postcolony people device countless tactics of survival:

false mileage meters; faked water, electricity, and telephone bills; falsified taxes and other dues: few pay, these days. Doctors are abandoning hospitals and treating patients at home. Teachers are going through the motions of teaching in official establishments and, in secret, organizing private classes for those with the means to pay. Civil servants are working with one hand and striking with the other [32].

This spirit of make-do is shared by the multitudes of hawkers, artisans, charcoal sellers, fishers, scavengers and herbalists. Vendors hawking vegetables, secondhand clothing, electronic gadgets and other wares take over the streets of African cities which are originally designed to marginalize or exclude them in neoliberal development policy [33]. In the streets of Malawian cities, for instance, one can find anything, from homemade electric extension units to DVDs of Chinese Kungfu movies translated in Chichewa.

No grand anti-capitalist ideologies drive these activities, but that does not diminish their power as projects of subjectification. Lack of explicit metanarratives does not mean the poor do not reflect upon or theorize their lives. They might not confront capitalism directly, but the poor engage in forms of self-narrativization (auto-poeisis) in their day-to-day struggles. In confrontations with specific instantiations of power, official policy is re-interpreted, perverted, emptied of meaning. By highlighting these acts I do not intend to foreground resistance as the sole driver of life in the African societies. As Njabulo Ndebele has observed regarding the complexities of so-called ordinary lives or what he calls “the unproclaimed heroism of the ordinary person”:

even under the most oppressive of conditions, people are always trying and struggling to maintain a semblance of normal social order. They will attempt to apply tradition and custom to manage their day to day family problems; they will resort to socially acquired behavior patterns to eke out a means of subsistence. They apply systems of values that they know. Often those values will undergo changes under certain pressing conditions. The transformation of those values constitutes the essential drama in the lives of ordinary people [34].

Creativity of practice draws from and encompasses such disparate acts of existence as people maneuver in and around the intricacies of lived experience. These disparate acts in turn inspire and shape the work of such art groups as Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé. While it is true that capitalist violence covers the postcolonial terrain, it is neither the primary nor the sole determinant of life. Therefore, rather than foreground capitalist domination as the catalyst of life in these spaces to which these forms of artistic production respond, I reflect on the practices as re-existence, i.e. as modes of living that gesture beyond domination. In this light, re-existence is life lived with love, beauty, hope, desire, dignity, imagination and creativity despite oppression. In Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé, the artists are driven by what Catherine E. Walsh calls a “praxis of the otherwise” [35]. For as Walsh defines the term, re-existence

references the configuration of ways to exist and not just resist – to re-exist resisting and to resist re-existing – as subjects, to build projects of society and life despite adverse conditions (of enslavement, dehumanization, racialization, and discrimination), and to surpass and overcome these conditions in order to occupy a social and cultural place of dignity: a re-existence as subjects and with others in radically distinct terms [36].

Inspired by lives lived in the domain of re-existence in the city or the countryside, the practices of the collectives in question demonstrate creativity of practice as a mode of thinking, seeing and doing concerned with being and becoming within and beyond objection and abjection.

Conclusion

A praxis of the human entails love and respect for life. Creativity of practice describes a constellation of diverse actions by people driven by this love in everyday projects of subjectification under regimes of abjection. Where rigging, corruption, exploitation, violence and erasure define the modus operandi of the agents of capitalism such as multinational corporations and the neocolonial state, the people devise their own subversive tactics of survival and redemption. Seen as complementary, rather than as an alternative to formal resistance (such as demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, etc.) creativity of practice has a political valence as continuous traction and corrosion on power. But it also is a praxis of living beyond domination. Creativity of practice frames my study of the work of Mowoso, iQhiya, and Ozhopé collectives whose practices are inspired by this praxis. For Mowoso, fashion is material for undressing the interconnected issues of globalization, neocolonialism, poverty and migration in the DRC. For iQhiya, the iqhiya headpiece is a cushion for bearing the heavy load of the marginalization, abjection and invisibilization of black women in South Africa. And finally, for Ozhopé, the dugout documents how seemingly peripheral and backward rural Malawi is deeply entangled in global networks of capitalist extractivism and accumulation. In these ethical and aesthetic struggles, the street, the taxi, the lake, the dugout, and fashion are materials and spaces for being and becoming. In short, for these artists, the collectivist production of performative actions set in the everyday constitute locally specific forms of autopoiesis that do not aspire for universality.

* Parts of this essay were published in a shorter essay on the topic titled “Creativity of practice in African townships: a framework for performance art” published by Burlington Contemporary Journal, https://doi.org/10.31452/bcj1.creativity.lemu

Massa Lemu is a Malawian artist and writer currently teaching in the department of Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Notes

[1] Similar terms used to describe these artistic practices include ‘Practioning’ and ‘Practitioning’, see N. Ntobela: ‘Practitioning: a few notes on curatorial training in Africa’, in S. Baptist and B. Silva, eds.: Àsìkò: On the Future of Artistic and Curatorial

[2] W. Shipley: ‘Africa in theory: a conversation between Jean Comaroff and Achille Mbembe’, Anthropological Quarterly 3, no.3 (2010), pp.653–78, esp. p.654. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2010.0010.

[3] Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh: On Decoloniality: Concepts, analytics, praxis, Durham 2018, p3.

[4] Mignolo and Walsh: On Decoloniality, p106.

[5] Processes of dehumanization and re-humanization are understood within Jamaican theorist Sylvia Wynter’s radical decolonial critique of the long Euro-centric and antiblack imperial epistemology of “Man” which reserved the category of the Human for Europeans Katherine McKittrick (ed), Sylvia Wynter: on being human as praxis, Durham 2015.

[6] Dominique Malaquais, “Imagin(IN)g Racial France: take 2_Mowoso”, in Public Culture, Vol 23: No 1, 2011.p.47. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2010-015.

[7] Malaquais, p.47.

[8] ibid.

[9] Malaquais, op. cit. (note 12).

[10] ArteTV, La Sape: Invitation au voyage, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=588295795260985, accessed 21st November 2019.

[11] See L. Gambino: ‘It’s about our dignity: vintage clothing ban in Rwanda sparks US trade dispute’, The Guardian (29th December 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/dec/29/vintage-clothing-ban-rwanda-sparks-trade-dispute-with-us-united-states-secondhand-garments, accessed 17th April 2019.

[12] Malaquais, (2011), p.48.

[13] Ibid., p.688.

[14] K. Mashabela: ‘iQhiya: in defense of art collectives’, ArtThrob (4th July 2016), https://artthrob.co.za/2016/07/04/iqhiya-in-defense-of-art-collectives/, accessed 17th April 2019.

[15] See Timveni TV, “Oil exploration in Lake Malawi: what does it mean for Malawi?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rswa4SLo77M . accessed 2nd February 2020.

[16] See Laura Hoptman, R. Flood, et al.: Unmonumental: the object in the 21st century, London 2007.

[17] G. Chirwa, C. Kanjo & M. A. Munthali, “The dugout canoes of Lake Chilwa,” The Society of Malawi Journal, 19:2 (1966), 59.

[18] See Tom Sangala, “Smuggling and how it denies Malawian revenue and jobs,” The Times,https://www.times.mw/smuggling-and-how-it-denies-malawians-revenue-and-jobs/ accessed 2nd February 2020.

[19] The term “under-globalization”, which I would like to differentiate from alter-globalization which proposes alternatives to official neoliberal globalization, is inspired by Fred Moten’s conceptualization of subterranean anti-capitalist forms of collective production “the undercommons”. See S. Harney & R. Moten: The undercommons: fugitive planning & black study, New York, 2013.

[20] For a discussion on how neoliberal extractivist capitalism leaps over and excludes large swathes of the African continent see J. Ferguson: Global shadows: Africa in the neoliberal world order, Durham, 2006.

[21] Noah De Lissovoy calls the situation in which capitalism simultaneously incorporates bodies in exploitation and excludes them in redistribution of wealth “violation”. See N. De Lissovoy: Education and emancipation in the neoliberal era: being, teaching, and power, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, p5.

[22] For further discussion regarding the critical potential of performance and live art, see C. Boulle and J. Pather, eds.: Acts of Transgression: Contemporary Live Art in South Africa, Johannesburg 2019.

[23] Tinashe Muchuri, Village Unhu: the project space cultivating a community of artists in Harare, contemporaryand, https://www.contemporaryand.com/magazines/the-project-space-cultivating-a-community-of-artists-in-harare/ accessed 21st October 2019.

[24] Walter Mignolo, ‘Sylvia Wynter: what does it mean to be human?’, in K. McKittrick (ed), Sylvia Wynter: on being human as praxis, Durham, 2015, p116.

[25] Frantz Fanon: Black skins white masks, New York 1952.

[26] Sylvia Wynter: “1492: a new world view,” in V. L. Hyatt & R. Nettleford: Race, discourse, and the origin of the Americas: a new world view, Washington, 1995, pp6-57.

[27] Katherine McKittrick (ed), Sylvia Wynter: on being human as praxis, p23.

[28] Tinashe Muchuri, ‘Village Unhu: the project space cultivating a community of artists in Harare’, contemporaryand, accessed 21st October 2019.

[29] See Massa Lemu & Emmanuel Ngwira: ‘Row: a Thinkivist art intervention’, Nordia Geographical Publication Yearbook, 47:5 (2018).

[30] Vijay Prashad: ‘This ends badly: race and capitalism,’ in J. T. Camp &C. Heatherton (eds): Policing the planet: why the policing crisis led to Black Lives Matter, London 2016, p.285.

[31] South Africa, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have all been shaped, in different ways, by colonialism, neocolonialism, and neoliberal globalization.

[32] Achille Mbembe: On the postcolony, Berkeley 2001, p.147.

[33] For example, on 23rd November 2019, Blantyre City Council of Malawi banned the sale of ready-to-eat or home cooked foods in the city purportedly for hygiene reasons. Critiques argue that the ban favours restaurant and grocery owners and persecutes the poor who are trying to eke out a living in the city. See https://www.maravipost.com/ready-to-eat-foods-banned-in-malawis-blantyre-city/ accessed 2nd February 2020.

[34] Njabulo S. Ndebele: Rediscovery of the ordinary: Essays on South African literature and culture, Scottville 2006, pp. 48-49.

[35] Mignolo and Walsh, On Decoloniality p.95.

[36] ibid.