‘We’re not all mystics who can extract beauty from our pain.’
– K Sello Duiker
The French-born Johannesburg-based artist and mother of SENEB House, Tabita Rezaire, locates her decolonial practice in healing and artmaking. In her work, the digital screen is engaged as a politicised site. Articulated as an intersectional preacher in digitised activism, donning a 90’s collage aesthetic, Tabita unapologetically seeks to cure the colonial wound.
The notion of SENEB is derived from the symbol of health in ancient Kemeticism and extends to ‘be sound’ or ‘to have soundness’. The fabric of the universe and everything within it is said to emit energy vibrations on a spectrum of frequencies – creating a perception of discord and difference. However, “we are a connected mass of energy.” Tabita describes SENEB as utilizing this power of vibrational energy to heal an array of wounds, including the physical, emotional, technological, historical and spiritual. It operates as an African and Diasporic community engaging in healing technologies, an “energy center for us to remember, feel, (re)connect, share and vibrate high to nurture our health, energy and wisdoms.” At its core is collectivity, “it takes a whole community to heal someone.”
She perceives the world largely as a racist-cis-het-capitalist-patriarchal one, “designed to break us down and keep us in a state of lower vibration which makes us emotionally, mentally, politically and spiritually unbalanced.” Health practices are largely entangled in the capitalist and political agenda constructed as the ‘pharmaceutical-medico-legal complex’ which Tabita believes “directly benefits from our energetic imbalances.” The Queer/Trans/Femme/Black/Brown/Indigenous/Poor communities are greatly affected by this system. “This is the continuing legacy of colonial history, the same bodies are denied humanity and exploited, the same people whose knowledge(s) are being erased, or capitalized on while made shameful, the same people hurting and the same people living [through] it all.”
In response to the need for alternatives, Tabita postulates that “understanding health more holistically outside of a western obsession with pathologies and symptom solving is also part of decolonization.” A revelatory experience in the Nile River lead her to following a “long tradition of worshiping Nile water for her healing power. I believe in her power, and believing is the first step of manifesting.” “Water is energy. Water is life. Literally. We are also made of up to 60% water so we are water, and we all come from the water of a womb. The same way it is weaponized against us as biological warfare – industrial pollution, forced chemical consumption, unfair distribution – water can be used to heal.”
Hoetep Blessings is a collective offering from Elizabeth Mputu, Fannie Sosa and Tabita. As an offering to spiritual Black femininity it “celebrates spiritual knowledges and Black femme technologies. It is a celebration of the divine power of the cunt, a litany for survival and pleasure, and a means to weaponize our melaneted femmeness.” Hotep, originally was understood as an altar, or to be at peace – it now also encompasses a “problematic category of Black men” in internet discourse. Hoetep Blessings is an expression of “unapologetic hoe-ness into political distress.”
Upon meeting Angela Davis, the icon said, ‘the young generation of activists stand on our shoulders, but we do not provide a steady foundation’. Tabita probed, “How do you keep walking when the ground is crumbling?”