Calabar is what Cape Town is for South Afica, a well-kept port town geared towards nurturing tourism and I guess in a way, a hub of significant historical points/stories. After coming from Lagos, then Aba, Calabar almost felt ‘un-Nigerian- like’, and I was quite amused that the crew I was with, had a handful of beliefs that they shared with me about ‘Calabarians’: they are promiscuous, they are a sexual bunch, they are good in bed (both men and women) etc.. It was never made clear to me as to how these beliefs came about- but moving along- yes the film or rather the audio-visual meditation I’ve made on Calabar.
The music that starts the clip is taken from a CD I bought at the Slave Museum in Calabar where most of what stands out to me about the place, was formulated there. I actually met a great B-boy dance crew called the ‘Dream Crew’ that was rehearsing at the Millenium Park for a competition they were planning on winning the following month. They allowed me to film this fantastic dramatic sequence they were working on, apparently most of the moves they took from a South African dance show called ‘Zulu’ (never seen it). But hey, the point is they didn’t make it into the edit because in retrospect, I couldn’t remember Calabar as anything other than a slave port- one of the biggest slave trade ports in Africa- Calabar transports you into the past- not into the upbeat present or future, if that makes any sense at all.
Because I’m focusing on music and sound, I was curious about the slave songs- about songs sung at sea- and I was presented a great book after my slave museum tour with about 20 slave songs — but all written in English. I wish we had had more time to explore and meet Elders who might have known of someone, or heard some story or song that they still remembered. So I ended up settling for the CD I use in the beginning of the film, by an artist called Chief Inyanga Henshaw. The music surprised me, made me think of Cuba, which motivated the black and white colour tint (nostalgia), Calabar made me feel nostalgic. Ubine-Musa Joseph who sings for me for the rest of the clip- what can I say, he’s the reason I do what I do, why it excites me- this moment was a gift- his song a gift.
– Lesedi Mogoatlhe
[Filmed during Invisible Borders Trans-African Project 2012 (4th Edition)]