Ntale #1: The source of the NilePosted on Jan 6, 2011 by Jason Minnis |
To many people, the Nile River is considered the Root. The Nile’s waters have nurtured great civilizations and its location is considered to be the birthplace of mankind. On my first visit to Uganda I was able to stand next the source of the Nile and experience its beauty and raw energy first hand. The experience left me breathless. After my visit I began to wonder about my own roots. Who were my ancestors? Where do I come from?. These are the questions that fueled the creation of Ntale’s Groove. This album has become my imaginary journey back Africa. Because of this, the source of the Nile is a fitting place to start the Ntale’s Groove journey.
Over the Next 11 weeks we will be releasing songs from Ntale’s Groove along with additional content (pictures, articles, videos) as well as an Ntale story written by Bayo Awseo. We are doing this little experiment to try and give listeners insight into the behind the scenes influences that helped create the album. Some of the articles will feature collaborations with other artists while others will be my own personal stories. This week we are starting off with two songs , Ntale’s Prelude & The Nigerian High Life, and the Ntale story called “Taata”. I hope you will join me on this 11 week adventure.
Jason “ClassicBeatz” Minnis
Ntale’s story #1: Taata by Bayo Awesu
“I can still feel the heat from the sun against the ground I walk bare footed upon. That I know for sure. I tiptoed with every step for mile upon mile as I weaved gracefully about my kingdom. I was the greatest hunter of my times. And she, I would worship her with zest unregimented. I was of no more worth without her than a ship with no shore. I protected her, she gave meaning to my name: Ntale the prophet of Kintu, protector of the Buganda. My son would carry on my tradition. He was strong and would protect his mother and his children when I was gone. This is what I know.”
Stillness…It was such an alien concept for me. My inclination to touch, to glance, to hold were almost as involuntary as the beat of the heart in my chest. I slowly stretched my hand towards the green leafhopper that sat on a solitary branch inches from my reach. I paused, as I felt a subtle but predictable tug on my arm. I looked up at my father who eyed me sternly. “Let it be,” he mouthed silently. I turned again towards the leafhopper that had found its new home deeper within the forest – a few inches from my grasp. I was more like this creature than I cared to acknowledge; vagabonds within our own kingdom. I looked back towards my father. His arm still locked against mine but his eyes fixated firmly on the solitary Kob that grazed before us in the distance. “Be still,” he whispered….I jolted instinctively as I felt him release his grip on my arm and run at the beast. He glided through the morning undergrowth that bordered our home, the modest sound he made drowned out by the grazing prey itself. His movement concealed within the animal’s blind spot. I followed – foolishly, unable to resist. My flatfeet and erratic movement soon catching the animal’s attention as I tripped over thorny twigs, rustled against bushes and exhaled copious breaths. It was startled, aware that it was prey. My father had already flanked it. I gasped as he drove his hunting knife deep into the animal’s midriff as it turned from the soft verge bordering the reservoir. The animal screamed and stumbled to the ground mortally wounded. I smiled and ran towards my father. I was Ntale, son of a great hunter.
“You killed the beast, Taata?”
My father looked across at me, then down at the dying Kob that still lay at his feet.
He turned to face me again.
“This creature will feed us with its flesh and cloth us with its skin. Yet because of you it will live the last moments of its life in preventable torment.”
“But what? But there is a reason why you disobeyed me?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but instead simply lowered my head. My father moved towards me.
“If not for your disturbance the kill would have been clean and the animal would have felt no pain….instead it lays here waiting to die.”
I nodded my head in understanding, conceding the point. I then looked up at my father.
“Will you kill it now…to stop the suffering?”
My father looked back towards me, his 6 year old, only son.
“No,” he said softly. He then handed me his hunting knife, “You will.”
I opened my eyes wide.
“But father, I….”
“You wanted to come on this hunt, yes?”
“Then do as I say. This creature was not to die for your entertainment. Why are you here, if not to provide for your family.”
I again looked at my father, then at the Kob that wheezed in pain at my feet. I took the blade from my father’s hands. My legs trembled as I positioned the tool above the animal’s neck. My father put his arm warmly on my shoulder. I closed my eyes and drove the blade sternly into the Kob, only opening them when I heard its moans cease. I stared at it lying before me. For the first time perhaps in my short life I was truly still, and under my own control. I had imagined this moment would fill me with pride…to be a hunter for the first time. But now I understood. To be a hunter was not to be proud, but to be indebted. I was beholden to my prey. I would rejoice for this animal and the others that would allow me and my family to grow. My father knelt down towards me.
“I apologise if I was forceful with you. But I think now you understand.”
My father smiled.
“You are a restless boy Ntale, but your character is not without motivation. You want to discover, to conquer. These are not bad attributes for a man to have. They will certainly lead you to witness greater things than I.”
My father then took back the knife from my hand.
“But there is more to life than to dance and to sing. Your essence is here, with her.”
My father stood up.
“Yes her. The tree that gives you shade in the sunlight, or that blade that subdues your meals,” he paused and looked towards me “Do not take from her more than you need and do not ask of her what she cannot give.”
“I was a great man in these times. I know this because you know this. I walked barefoot – free from carbon. I used what I found. My way of life could have saved your world. From bare necessities, to Simba’s pride, to the proverbs that hang above your bathroom walls.”