Pre-task: The Spiritual Physical Emotional Creative Business Mental CLOCK!
Tu Nokwe is a songwriter, singer, composer, teacher, stage actress, producer, director, healer and trainer for artists. She was born in Kwa-Mashu, Durban. She has a distinguished personal, musical dynasty as the daughter of swing jazz band musician, Alfred Nokwe and soprano soloist Patty Nokwe.
Her belief in the connection with the ancestors comes through her bloodline. Her grandfather, her mother’s father, was an Ethiopian Church preacher. She grew up deeply spiritual and attended church. She attended the traditional Methodist church from her father’s side but also went to the Zionist church which is more African people who live a basic life, and they praise inside a house and take their furniture out and use candles and water. They are more connected to the traditional way of healing – like what is called ‘voodoo’ in Haiti.
From her experience and sayings, she imagines the source – GOD – in whatever form – watching a play, looking at Himself, performing through us as we are sitting. As she says, “We are spirit, having a human experience. GOD is still living through us and experiencing himself through us.”
Tu has acted in the TV series, Shaka Zulu, and worked with legendary Zulu umakhweyana- berimbau player and singer, Princess Magogo. Tu is influenced by her tradition where the Zulu women play the umakhweyana, whilst leaning it on the left breast where the heart resides because the women couldn’t express themselves freely. uMakhweyana was used as a form of release – it was a part of therapy.
The Nokwe family formed the Amajika Youth and Children in Durban in 1976. This fulfilled the need to boost the self-esteem of the youth in an effort to counteract the mental and emotional abuse that was endemic to the Apartheid system.
It became clear to Tu that her mission was to devote time and energy to educating and empowering the children and youth of both South Africa and the rest of Africa. But in any great journey, the self-preparation had to begin within. Only once you have a holistic understanding of yourself can you teach others. Tu’s mantra for success is “Order creates Comfort.”
Journal of my Soul
From age 12, Tu used to journal titles of stories her mother?? used to tell. She became so accustomed to telling her mum’s story that it was as if she was there and as if she knew how her mum grew up. So, she continued telling her mother’s story. One night whilst on tour in the United States, Tu began writing. And she didn’t stop. She wrote until morning, lying on her tummy, a thick long foolscap book all the way to the end. Whilst writing, she was remembering where her mum was talking about her grandfather, her grandmother and all the wives. He was a polygamist and ran the Ethiopian church. He became a preacher, even though he couldn't read. When he came into contact with the Bible, he learnt to read. He came to Joburg, and he died in the mines from falling from a truck. To remembered all the stories her mum had told about Tu’s grandfather; like how he met God. And Tu was remembering her mum’s stories too. Her mum had secret prayers’, that she would say in order to live the kind of life she wanted. Her mum prayed for five days solid on a wish she had to move from Zululand to Durban. This wish was granted.
As Tu wrote throughout the night, she experienced that when you use a real pen, writing onto real paper, you connect directly with whoever wants to assist from the spiritual realm. It was like she was channelling and in this instance she had channelled a hit play about her mum called Singing the Times.
This play was performed at the Market Theatre during the Barney Simon and John Kani era. Whilst rehearsing the play, Tu’s mum came up with a song. Tu was playing guitar and singing. Her sister Marilyn started harmonising, and her mom sang Inyakanyaka. And together they started creating verses for the song. Inyakanyaka means the world is full of mish-mash- madness. Today Inyakanyaka is an iconic hit song.
Tu has written the book, Journey of my Soul – 1st African Diary with Management Tools. This is a personal development clock covering the 6 aspects of our life – Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Creative, Business and Mental (SPECBM).
Teaching is a part of life and that is the power of journaling –going day by day. The energy comes from around you and from within, you need to take your spirituality seriously, always pushing for more knowledge of metaphysics, religion and spirituality.
To be fully functioning as an artist – all aspects need to be fed, checked and balanced. To get inside one’s own heart is a sure way to manage our lives and find balance. Tu’s methods, concepts and exercises to develop a sense of personal empowerment, came through her practice of journaling. Journaling helps in the process of understanding that, as people we are not judged. Through journaling we seek to find out what is our frequency? Our personal frequencies are vibrations that indicate where we are in life. You must keep moving until you find your own frequency, and the best possible one.
Now answer the following Pre-Task questions
1.Tu Nokwe is teaching us that, “As I began my journey, I soon realised that the self-work had to begin with me.” What experience can you share with us in your development as an artist where you realised that true change begins from within?
2.In terms of Tu’s 6 aspects of our life – Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Creative, Business and Mental (SPECBM), which one in your personal and artistic development have you been working on. How has this helped you?
3.Tu makes the analogy of a tree. The trunk is the inspiration, the roots are all the different qualities you want in your life – like kindness, and the fruits are the results that come - they can be both positive and negative. Now, draw a tree of your own life.
4.Tu tells us that listening and journaling the stories of her Mum Patty, was the basis for the hit musical Singing the Times, as well as the songs in her iconic album, Inyakanyaka. Have you used any family or friends stories in creating your music or your characters as you act? Share a song, a video clip of acting on such stories you have done.
Order creates comfort by Tu Nokwe
Post-Task: Music needs a lot of discipline.
Music makes communication easy, like when an actor communicates something without words. But once a sound comes in to join that message whether it is through an instrument or voice – everything changes. The heart opens immediately.
Music works with sounds and melodies. It is like the first weapon to crack everything and open doors where we want to go. And, it brings things together because it makes everyone feel good. Music is a healer. Music is a mother. It is the mother of all arts. That is why all the students at Tu’s Amajika school learn to do everything. When they audition and when they train, they learn all aspects from performance to administration, so their skills and natural gifts come through to serve as the foundation for their career.
Joy goes a long way. Once you are performing on stage, the intention is to touch people until they are happy – to cut through with that power of joy into their hearts and whatever they need at the time.
Tu had to work much harder to develop her music, her acting and her skills as cultural organiser. She had to humble herself, adopt the discipline and consistency, be honest on her musical shortfalls and seek training and mentoring from those around her. She had to fight that which brought up so much anger within her. She had to find the healing from her anger.
One way in which healing manifested was through overcoming the insecurity that Tu felt about her singing voice. She was the only one in her musical family who didn’t have a voice. Tu prayed to GOD. She said, “I promise you if you help me fix this problem, the joy I have inside I will share with the world until I die. I don’t want to sing off tune anymore – I want to have confidence that I am ok.”
One day she asked her first love, pianist Bheki Mseleku, “What do you think is my problem that I cannot keep a tune?” Bheki took her to a piano and showed her a major scale C. He said, “You can set a time every day to come to this piano and sing only what you hear. Do the major scale and start picking a note. At least do 30 minutes. If you like, you can do more – but at least be consistent.” True education was now in Tu’s hands and she did that and her singing was fixed.
A prayer to the ancestors
Things keep evolving. That is why cultures have this thing of purifying your ancestors. African people do ukuphahla ritual to purify the ancestors. Africans use impepho-incense, African beer, water and snuff or whatever they are familiar with, like meali-meali and 5 cent coins. Indians do it like that too: they use a combination of coins, black seeds and sprinkles of water to communicate with their ancestors.
To speak to the ancestors, these cultures are using the 5 elements, and they are connecting through multiple generations - past, present and future. The purpose of talking to the ancestors, is to bring peace, love and all the positive attributes to the energy you omit.
By purifying the ancestors, you purify the disfunctions in your own family. All the problems of the past can be turned into positive energy. In the process of purifying the ancestor, you think of a gift that you wish to manifest. Then you open the tap, allow the water to flow and receive this gift. The water is the purifier and the gift is to move into the light where you are blessed. This ritual, purifying of the ancestors can be done everyday. And, it brings about change. The ritual must be done for the ancestral line on both the mother and father’s side.
Now answer the following Post-Task questions
1.Tu’s road to stardom was not easy. She had to humble herself, adopt the discipline and consistency, be honest on her musical shortfalls and seek training and mentoring from those around her. What has been your experience on your road to mastering your craft?
2.Tu teaches us that music and performance is the mother of all arts. Do you agree? What is your experience with arts and culture?
3. Are you impressed with Tu Nokwe’s practices and teachings on art and spirituality? How do you apply your spirituality in creating and performing?
4.Do you know anything about African spirituality, about Islam, about Hinduism, about Judaism, about Buddhism? What is universal spirituality to you?
5. Can you make a little voodoo - umsamo altar of your own? Look for a white cloth, snuff or tobacco, impepho or incense sticks, alcohol, and a candle. Then tonight, before you go to bed, look for a tree around the house. You are going to be working with the 5 elements. Open a small hole on the ground next to the tree so as to stand a candle in it. Light the candle. This is the 5th element - fire. And if you like you can get a glass of water and put it next to the candle, so you also have the 4th element – water. It is up to you if you want to talk or do a quiet prayer outside. The prayer will become something very useful, because your personal guides will help. Now, take your tablet or cell-phone and record the prayer.