Peace Song of Harlem,
I had just started listening to the second track on my godbrother's recent album, BABA, when I learned of Aunt Nomsa’s passing. Damn, I wanted to say to myself. I hadn't been to visit godma in a minute.
Aunt Nomsa, also my namesake, taught me as a small child, a nappy and beautiful child, an ashy and beautiful child, a black and beautiful child, to love myself whole. Her friendship with my late mother showed me early on what it meant to friend, to love. She would alternate between letting me know that she loved me and that I was beautiful; you can imagine, that yes, I and so many loved to be in her company.
I am listening to the album by Mandella Eskia again, one of her sons, and what strikes me is the extent to which Aunt Nomsa's love, patience and integrity carries through the lyrics.
The track titled WAIT, is a flex song, beginning off with the line, I don't wait around for other people, boy that's straight lame. It goes on with the lyricist sharing that they're now a connoisseur, assuring us that their veins pump pure gold, that we don't bleed the same blood.
I can see here Aunt Nomsa in her early days as a Grandassa model also flexing, in her hoops and headdress, dangling earrings. Aunt Nomsa epitomized regality. Captured in photo by the famed photographer, the late Kwame Brathwaite (Aunt Nomsa's brother-in-law), Aunt Nomsa emanated forth a revolutionary black aesthetic. Black folk in search of new, more fitting images of themselves, the Grandassa models wore their hair in natural coiffures and dressed in West African cloth.
And we can see here too, the artist in search of themself. The song continues and shows in just a few lines how the lyricist has grown. I don't like the same things, and distancing yourself will cause you great pain, but pain equals growth spurts and growth comes with great gain.
A plumb line of wisdom follows through the album's twelve tracks. And reveal to me the impact of Aunt Nomsa's sure and easy confidence, her teaching, her magical way of being, and it revealed to me that we are always connected to the beautiful ones in our lineage.
As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us, we are a cloud that never dies,' endlessly shapeshifting & transforming & shapeshifting & reforming again.
We approach the new moon in Scorpio this coming Monday. I ask myself, and I ask you, how do we know if we have done what we came to do?
If you do know, what is it that you did?
What did you be?
What did you leave?
What did you see?
What did you think?
What did YOU?
H. Nomsa Brath, presente.
In gratitude & love,
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