Editor’s Note & Artist’s Statement
As editor in chief of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, and on behalf of the journal’s editorial and advisory boards, I would like to issue an open apology to Sethembile Msezane and her ancestors for the use of her image Water Bodies- Isinqumo I (2018, Photograph, 120cm x 180cm) on the cover of volume 45.2 with modification and without authorization or license. We strive to produce quality content while maintaining the highest ethical standards. We sometimes fall short and make errors. We have certainly fallen short in this case and we are truly sorry. While inadvertent, this oversight is a breach of the artist’s intellectual property rights, namely copyright and moral rights, and compromises the artist’s vision. Such an egregious failure is both deeply troubling and embarrassing for our journal. We have brought on a managing editor to improve communications and workflow, and to raise the professional standards of journal administration.
We apologize to the artist Sethembile Msezane, her ancestors aboMashoba ezithole nabobonke amadlozi akhe amahle, our contributors, editors, and readers. Moving forward, we are committed to serving as a model platform for proper copyright use as an extension of our mission to support the literature and arts of African and African diaspora artists.
Below find an approved reproduction of the original and correct image with a short description provided by the artist.
Duriel E. Harris, Editor in Chief
Water Bodies- Isinqumo I (2018), Photograph, 120cm x 180cm
It is no secret that African societies have been the architects of some of the greatest civilisations. The walls and libraries built were historical markers of culture, tradition, and knowledge. The imperial world built new walls on African soil that were more than just physical. Colonial constructs erected intangible walls that rejected the feasibility of Africans as producers, and also sought to erase or absorb the existing knowledge systems through violent gains.
With this history in mind, this body of work asks, “how do we begin to humanize ourselves in spaces and on grounds that have been fertilised by bloodshed?” Moving through historical spaces of trauma and communion primarily in a South African landscape, the moments captured in this work connect with historical ills and effects of apartheid and colonialism as well as contend with the need to be still and listen to the self and the land. The work journeys through portals of reflections and ancestral communication through spiritual dreams that are articulated in natural landscapes in South Africa and Zimbabwe, highlighting the history and influence of spirituality, violence, and land in both settings.
Water Bodies- Isinqumo I (2018) introduces a meeting of worlds and communion of the living and those who came before; it is an acknowledgement of the connectedness of life. Humbled by ancestral communication in various forms, the knowledge systems that are tucked away in land, water, and dreams is a conversation of retrieving lost knowledge, an acceptance of a gift, and the decision to embrace ancestry.