Bongeziwe Mabandla is being touted as the ‘new face of Afro-folk’ – a postmodern remix of traditional Xhosa lyrical themes and folk stylings with a thoroughly modern global musical sensibility. His management agency, Black Major, approached us to produce a music video for his debut single which would capture Bongeziwe’s unique sensibility and speak to a global market.
We conjured up images of an Afro-futuristic world where intricate traditional patterns and symbols abound, over a narrative drawn from themes of African spirituality, ritual, devotion and self-sacrifice.
The concept for the video is of an allegorical journey, where Bongeziwe as Shaman or Pied Piper gathers ‘lost’ initiates, and leads them to a new future. The narrative is embedded in themes of discipleship, initiation, journey, nirvana, rebirth
“For me the narrative of the film was an allegorical representation of the underlying spiritual themes present in the lyric,” explains director, Ian Henderson. “The lead actor’s character was intended to suggest a younger Bongeziwe, and at the same time, provide a counterpoint to the older self. The two narratives represented the outer world, and the inner spiritual journey.”
We begin in lost, abandoned places – at the side of a motorway, amongst broken buildings, at the outskirts of the city, in a remote rural landscape.
Intercut night scenes bring an otherworldy feel to evoke the sacred, the ritual, the spirit world. Dancing, enactment of trance, spirit creatures, sacred animals, suggest the unity of all of nature and hint at the ritual of transformation to come.
At sunrise the characters are drawn together on a beach, at the boundary of elements – land, sea, sky – and enact the transition from flesh to spirit, from this world to the other. The song deconstructs into an broken organic interlude leaving us alone, but strangely hopeful.