You are warmly invited to attend, A Spectre of the Commonwealth, a live art intervention conceived and performed by Sikhumbuzo Makandula with Eria “SANE” Nsubuga, as the closing event of The Baganda exhibition curated by Ruth Simbao.
A "sonic aesthesis” performance as a "re-burial" of the British Queen
“The passing of the long-reigning monarch, ‘The Queen’ marks a shift from the Commonwealth to possibly a Post-Commonwealth era in the colonial worlds”
(Eria “SANE” Nsubuga, *The Baganda* exhibition, 2022).
In Eria Nsubuga's exhibition, The Baganda, Queen Elizabeth’s silhouette lingers like a spectre refusing to be forgotten. A Spectre of the Commonwealth is a live art response to Nsubuga’s above statement, and seeks to further an initial conversation through a call and response. In 2017, Eria Nsubuga and Sikhumbuzo Makandula were invited to publish a “conversational partnership” titled “Reimagining Our Missing Histories” in the first African Arts journal issue edited by Ruth Simbao and Rhodes University. This conversation will be extended in the form of a live art “re-burial” of the British Queen, as a way of interrogating the Commonwealth and raising questions about colonial archives that exclude African knowledge systems.
Since 2017, as part of his practice-based research, Makandula has conceived an archetype named Mzilikazi (“the mourner of the land”) who symbolically wanders through various gravesites, actual and imagined. Inspired by Stanlake Samkange’s book, On Trial for My Country (1966), he is interested in the role of King Mzilikazi Khumalo, as the one who left Zululand and then settled in Matebeleland, Zimbabwe, resulting in his progeny being displaced further by the colonial settlers. Makandula questions Zimbabwe’s relationship with the Commonwealth, which ended in 2003 following Zimbabwe’s 2002 suspension for breaching the Harare Declaration.
Linking this to Uganda’s relationship with the Commonwealth of Nations, A Spectre of Commonwealth asks what it would mean to collectively witness a re-burial of such an influential British monarch. Through a performative gesture, this live art intervention interrogates how we might understand the “master’s tools” (a bell, hymn, song, dirge and text) through the lens of what Mhoze Chikowero refers to as an “acoustemological” perspective. In performative conversation with the artist Eria “SANE” Nsubuga, Makandula proposes a “sonic aesthesis” as a way of historicizing overlooked and silenced histories of black people in Southern Africa and their intellectual strategies. Through A Spectre of the Commonwealth, Makandula and Nsubuga question how we historicise that which is left out of the archive.