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You are stronger than you think – Rufus Mufasa

Published 21 November 2017 - By Rufus Mufasa

A blog post by poet and musician Rufus Mufasa, prior to the launch of her debut album, due out in December. 

 

“When we first visited the site, it was late Autumn last year. I was heavily pregnant, and Autumn was extra crisp and doubly divine, and I watched the leaves with a wiser wonder. My crew and I played and explored the woods together, and watched Unity transform a decaying, derelict out-house in to a beautiful masterpiece, dedicated to me and my forthcoming album, featuring Sekhmet – an Egyptian Lioness Goddess that had frequented my dreams throughout pregnancy. Until I discussed these dreams with Mab Jones, I had no idea of her name, only her depth and beauty. Mab helped me understand her message, and here, Unity cemented her, and her words, “You are stronger than you think”, a message I needed then, and even more so now, and as Spring moves in to Summer, these beauties, Sekhmet and Unity, were reminding me that, I am “stronger than I think!”

I am also more forgetful than before. I had the wrong book, I forgot my dictaphone, so much of me felt messy… sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, feeling further away from my partner and miles away from myself… but against all odds, I was there! Thanks to some special funding from Articulture. I’d made it, and the woods wanted to nurture me, to allow me some time to reconnect, with myself, my vision, the message… “you are stronger than you think!”

So, with all the wrong bits and pieces, (my camera even died half way through) we just felt, listened, talked, cried, listened and listened some more. Do you know that the birds never ever stop! They are with us all the time…

 

train in the distance

tweet tweet rustle rustle

tweet tweet crunch crunch

chirp chirp beep beep L O N G Horn

so much sound in silences

so much noise in secrets

so much memory in the leaves

floating branches

so much space to cry and scream

so much space for stillness

so much love in the seeds

so much love in the homemade salad

so much care in the caress of

the branches dancing in the breeze…

 

My friend Ramla once told me that the birds carry our prayers to heaven. If I have ever been saddened since, I pass on all my troubles to the morning bird song and I listen to them helping me out. The birds were listening to us on that day- two mothers, two girls, sat on rocks, really trying, needing nourishment, and boy did we listen to them! Beautiful Oscar, Unity’s funny, loyal graffiti side kick, also joined us. He loves stretching his cords and it can at times drive Unity nuts, but I love it. He reminds me of my first dog, Marley, but Marley was much louder.

We were there hours. I got bitten alive. I filled pages of field notes, walked in wonder, hugged trees and kicked soil. There was a moment where I dropped the tiniest memory card in the biggest bundle of leaves and Oscar was desperately trying to help me find it, but made it harder, and it truly was a miracle that we found it!

On our way out of the woods, talking about birds, how my daughters have helped me see them with fresh eyes, we were frozen in our tracks. There she was, on our path, a female black bird, with a beautiful speckled chest, looking so much more than a bird. She looked like an Indian Chief, a Majestic Mauri, so spiritual, so wise, so wonderful. Not even Oscar disrespected her lifeless body and Unity gently placed her in a bed of leaves inside a high hedge, back in to the forest, back in to the cycle, as all energy is borrowed, and we will always be everywhere.

I learnt so much that day. About our mother, the Earth, who can cradle us closely. About Unity and her art form. About sisterhood and motherhood. About myself- “I am stronger than I think!”

Unity and I have studied together since, and I have watched her as an artist, always hunting, for space, for nature, for decaying spaces that she can heal, that heal her and others. We were “walking and talking” recently, following an exhibition space viewing, pushing my eldest daughter in her pram, that really, she is too big for. It was the day before she started school. I suppose we are both hanging on to the last few magical moments of her being my baby. We all walked along the Roath Graffiti Lanes, and it felt special, important, showing my daughter artefacts of our culture. My daughter pointed out all the animals, and told us all the letters she could see, all the colours… and we arrived at Om Yoga Studio, and there he was, a familiar, friendly face, Ganesh. Molly squealed with delight. She recently put a photo of him next to my bed. During my pregnancy, my eldest daughter was my best friend, and reminded me daily that I was “Mami Elephant”, and this gave me so much strength. Elephants have become so important in our home. There was a man sat in his garage, and he laughed at my daughter’s enthusiasm and apologised for his garage door being far less exciting, and Unity practically pounced on him.

“I’ll paint it! Can I paint it? Here’s my card!”

I couldn’t quite believe his hesitation.

In the world of graffiti, you need that wall space, like I need a notebook, or a laptop. A constant need to write, to write love letters to the city, to give first aid, to plaster forgotten spaces, to tell your story, to offer hope, to be heard, to be seen, to grow. You’ve got to hustle hard to tell your story, or, reaffirm that it is sometimes easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Unity’s spray can is her microphone.

Unity and I both keep scrapbooks and journals. We understand one another’s art forms. We both send prayers to the birds.

We have been given a space, a canvas, a notepad, at Inkspot, Cardiff, as part of the Made in Roath Festival. Our show, titled Landmarks, truly is a stunning collection of work, and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a talented writer and artist. Come listen to the messages of birds, rediscover the magic that letters possess. Come cast spells, resurrect old words and explore complex dimensions of the new ones. Let’s celebrate bird song and make poetry and art together. By the end of the residency we will have a great epic poem of the people, and a new love for nature and language, and a stronger collective song sheet.”

ArtWorks Fellowship