I took mental pictures as the van drove us into the beautiful home where we would be staying for the next few days. My instincts told me that I needed to remember every single moment and my instincts were right. The experience would prove to be a very profound one for me, both emotionally and creatively. We chose our different rooms and I tried to settle in before having dinner. We were exhausted as Keith, our “big brother” and chaperone from Kay Media Africa, the facilitating hub for Interstellar which was also part of the Scripts and Bars program, asked us to gather. We all introduced ourselves formally as we stated the foods we hated to eat and we had a good laugh while at it. Slowly peoples’ personalities were unravelling as I still stayed safely tucked away in my cocoon, watching and absorbing intently. Tafadzwa with his huge grin looked like he was right at home, chatting away. My gaze moved to Patrick, curiously searching his face for cues, as he constantly kept pushing his silky hair from his forehead. I wondered if he felt at home. He seemed at ease as he also had so much to say. Novhuyo was engrossed in her phone as she tried to multitask and keep up with the conversations as well. How do they fit in so effortlessly, I thought to myself. Keith on the other hand was calm, quite comfortable to oversee the different personalities and very big “brotherish”. Keith explained to us that the theme would be “University” and we were to produce a song and incorporate each of the four artists that were there, and that we would perform the song at the Baseline Academia conference in 3 days. Talk about pressure…We briefly discussed how we could interpret the theme and decided we were too tired to do anything meaningful that night. As I had initially suspected of our videographer, Ngoni decided to take video diaries of us while we were tired and looking like overworked donkeys. He craved to tell a raw and unedited story. I guess art, in its purest form, is really about expressing your unfiltered core.
The next day, the creative process began. I woke up feeling quite excited at first. It was the day we would create and soak up all the minds of the creatives on board. Exploring a creatives’ mind is like diving into unchartered deep waters for me. It is some of the most exhilarating minds for me to explore and get inspiration from. It was the day we would share and show what we had…wait…did Keith say I had to be part of the song somehow?! I was so out of my element. How did I get here? Now I start to panic. I started feeling nervous on how it will all pan out. Am I good enough? Do I belong? The imposter syndrome started to rear its ugly head. I was so used to creating on my own, in my bed, late at night when I had no other voice judging or watching my creative process. Now I have to share that intimate space with complete strangers who could eat me alive and drown my voice, the one that felt so safe standing alone. I say a quiet prayer for my poor insecure soul, as I prepare for what felt like a naked exposure that would leave me vulnerable in an unfamiliar space.
We decided on focusing on creating a piece of art rather than a commercially appealing song. Our end product, according to Ngoni, sounded like a soundtrack from a James Bond movie…dope. Patrick quickly came up with a beat we used to come up with the lyrics. Tafadzwa and Novhuyo suggested some sort of sultry poetic piece. We worked really well together with absolutely no diva moments from anyone. Using our different individual creative processes, we fused our ideas into a masterpiece called Ubuntu Ngabantu, which means “I am because we are”. The song talks of how our individuality is important to humanity, how diversity can make unity powerful. That is how we interpreted the theme “University”, in that there is unity in diversity. I learnt the art of collaboration and team work as each artist shared ideas and gave each other feedback. My team made me feel at home and put to rest any insecurities I had had about being part of a song for the first time in my life. In them I found my tribe and a safe space. Novhuyo has an amazing powerful sultry voice that can shake mountains and the presence of a goddess, Patrick has the mind of a wizard and is a musical genius, Tafadzwa is a brilliant comic artist and even though Ngoni recorded us from the sidelines, he also contributed insightful ideas and gave me tips on how to feel more at home with my performance. We created a recording “studio” in Patricks’ bedroom using a mattress, sheets, pegs and some Zambezi cans as a cooling system for Patricks’ laptop, or so we thought 😉
Apart from creating the song, we explored Bulawayo and also had the chance the visit Matopos. We also visited some cool studios like Tizzie Studios as well as different restaurants like The Deck and Smokehouse, where we enjoyed our meal over some good liquor and loud incessant belly laughter, especially after Eugene joined the group on the third day. As soon as he arrived from Harare with the other team from Kay Media Africa and Page Poetry Alive, who had come for the Baseline Academia conference, the group suddenly became louder. Part of the reason being that the group was larger but I am quite sure the main reason was that Eugene took up space for at least 10 people. He switched the big brother role with Keith on the day he arrived and he brought out a different side and flavor to the Creatives’ Big Brother House. In a way they balanced each other well, with Keith being calm and Eugene hilarious, the experience was full bodied like a good glass of vintage wine.