Monday, March 12, 2007


Dance like a dervish to Mercan Dede

We closed office on Friday for our regular staff iron-out by awesome facilitator Mark Berger. It is a very necessary day that we all enjoy every two months, as it brings out issues that need to be addressed, while also bringing focus to each of us in our small family as to what our roles are, and how we want to achieve satisfaction in what we do, by doing it well. And Mark is the perfect man for the job.

We met at the Blue Peter’s mini conference centre as usual, and Mark immediately got us into a 30 minute meditation that he had experienced on his annual self-help holiday to the Osho International Meditation Resort situated on 40-acres of land outside Pune, India. We were blindfolded and taken through a series of pretty strenuous breathing, shouting and bouncing techniques that certainly cleaned out my system, leaving me feeling very refreshed and calm for the rest of the day.

Mark was playing some Indian meditative music, and while blindfolded and swaying away to the rhythmic sounds (Please Note: Rouvanne does not dance, so that's NOT what Mark was laughing about - right), I tuned into the traditional sounds; being a listener of traditional music by choice.

The earthy sounds that strings and hides and wooden instruments of old create can send a person into such calm places when your mind is feeling at peace; leaving you absorbent.

Of course, working with Pops, and his experience and continued appearance with the San Bushmen of the Kalahari, I know how music has been sending the Bushman into states of trance for thousands of years. Trance through music without the use of any hallucinogenic stimulants is quite common in Africa, unlike most of the indigenous peoples of South American, who make use of all kinds of exciting and very scary plants from the jungles of the Amazon. Last year I read Graham Hancock’s Supernatural, about his research and personal experiences across the world in reaching trance states, and the other world:

This is a book of page-turning story-telling with electrifying descriptions of the daunting journey that Hancock must undertake as he drinks hallucinogens with tribal shamans in the Amazon and self-experiments with DMT, psilocybin and the (West) African visionary drug known as Iboga – “the plant that enables men to see the dead.” (Left - Pops playing the Kora - also from West Africa)

Yikes… Good thing they weren’t serving that at our lunch at the Blue Peter!

Turkey’s Mercan Dede is a musician in the fold of our own Pops Mohamed, Busi Mhlongo, or Mali’s Salif Keita and Tinariwen, Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi; being one who introduces cultural sounds to the world, by appealing to the clubbers and trance-dancers in the big cities.

Mercan, who is now based in Canada and taking the Western music market by storm, creates haunting electronic sounds that are accompanied by traditional wooden flutes, or neys (Persian flutes from around 3500BC), to float in sweet, breathy melodies, while he has masters of the kanun (zither), clarinet, darbuka (hand drum), come in to spin magical, trance melodies. Mercan usually also has a whirling dervish dancer, spinning hypnotically in a form of dhikr – a rememberance of Allah dance that sends the dancer into a state of trance. Watch this little clip below:

Another culture at the other end of this great continent using dance and music to reach a state of bliss.

So instead of getting smashed on Smirnoff, or i-buggard on
Iboga, get Mark to come and sort out some of your stress, stimulate a good working enviroment or just dance to some good music!

Better still… next time make it some South African music! Have an awesome week!

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P.S. Though still pretty shocked at my inclusion as a finalist for Best SA Music Blog, I am pretty honoured to be up there with some top company, and have decided to see how other geeks tick by going along to the next 27 dinner – after all, the new iaminawe website and blog are going to need to be appreciated, so I had better get my mouse oiled and ready to click!

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