Afulodidim Nikefolosi is a figure in answer to the challenge: show me a contemporary mixture of Amos Tutuola and Zora Neale Hurston.
She was born in the 1990s in a remote and flourishing matriarcal subsaharan village.
Against all advice, except that of her Chieftainess who had noticed her exceptional and spirited intelligence, she pursued her quest for alternative knowledge at a formal school, some one thousand kilometres away. This at a time she had already become familiar with the bleeding moon. She learnt to read and write in a few weeks and completed primary and secondary school within three years.
Believing that field experience is the inevitable complement to academic knowledge, she wandered through three continents and a number of jobs ranging from sales to care. Rejecting the idea of single authorship, she wrote articles, fiction and poetry under a number of pen names.
Her years-long observations of The Noisebringers formed the basis of her seminal trioethnogroahic piece, for which she received a university scholarship from The Council Culture of the Associated Chieftainesses of baLafuni. That made her the youngest PhD student in the UK, where she now conducts pioneering research in the field.
Tente, the mushroom that the crocodile ate, is her first film, signalling her move away from trioethnographic field work, as well as a poignant reunion with her roots.
Tente, the mushroom that the crocodile ate
Since the 15th Century, Geneva and its region have been exporting magical sticks and wands to shamans, sorceresses and magicians from as far as Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Their most precious sticks were coming with special instructions and rituals, in order to maintain their magic. The winter solstice ritual is one of those. In Zambia, back in the 16th Century, Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Tente – the mushroom that the crocodile ate; She whose spirit is slippery and appears like as a season; Sovereign of the chiefdom of baLafuni, those to whom water flows – made it correspond to their traditional rain ritual. In order to make this rain ritual more powerful, Tente has been traveling to Geneva, where the power of the stick is even stronger, every year for the past four centuries. For the first time on screen, we will show the preparation of this ritual with Tente, her assistant Iluba Lya Muyayaya, and an unnamed ritual musician.
A film by Afulodidim Nikefolosi produced by the Noisebringers.
Tente II – Dreaming restlessly
It is almost June season in baLafuni. In order to bring the cold weather from the regions of the Antemaria (otherwise known as ‘South’), Tente and her assistants have to dream restlessly for a month. They travel and join forces from all over the world in this exhausting and dangerous sleep. If they dream well, the temperatures in baLafuni will finally drop under 10 degrees.
Written and directed by Afulodidim Nikefolosi
Produced, filmed and edited by the Noisebringers and Jonathan O’Hear
Tente’s assistants’ names as civilians are: Cléa Chopard, Manon Parent, Maria Sappho and Tammy. Tente’s dream hand and feet are Davide-Christelle Sanvee’s. The hiker is Sylvie Kleiber.
Music composed, improvised, performed and mixed by Ludwig van Beethoven, Bristophe, Brutalust, Laurent Estoppey, Colin Frank, Xina Hawkins, Nikias Imhoof, Raymond MacDonald, Henry McPherson, the Noisebringers, Maria Sappho, Mariabrice Sapphocatherin, Christophe Schweizer, Dejana Sekulič and Tammy at Analix Forever Gallery, Switzerland, 3 – 9 May 2021.
Soundtrack available in the Noisebringer album is the new punk.
Beginning and end credits: images of Rudy Decelière’s The Wind You Never Felt (2017-2021), Pavillon de la danse, Collection Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève (FMAC)
Special thanks to Rudy Decelière, the FMAC, José Manuel Rodriguez and the Mandafounis Corporation.
WhatsApp video calls between Tente and her mother
(It’s a WhatsApp video call between Tente and her mother just after the big battle of Ochiai-juku in 1844.)
– So, how did it go in Japan, my precious darling?
– Oh, mum it was hard. I had to save the people of the shogunate from the shōgun’s evil half-brother. Nine of my dear friends got killed. They had very modern weaponry which compelled me to invent some new magic. It had to be cunning, experimental, totally improvised and of course with no budget whatsoever.
– Oh, darling, but I like it when you perform classical magic.
– Mum, it wouldn’t have worked in this context. Also, they don’t have the same stuff here. There’s no way I could have gotten Barotse Shovel-Snout Frog or even Kafue Reed Frog to help me. Also our ancestors’ spirits are hard to summon because the network is so bad in the countryside. I had to go full experimental, so I came up with a deadly storm conjured from stinky French cheeses thanks to, long story short, a Frenchman who was with us and who always travels with his running cheeses, and I mixed them with bagpipe multiphonics, some of my nipple hair for the texture, and eventually I was able to summon Sei Shonagon. It was still not enough power but then I thought ‘why not summon spirits of people yet to be born instead of just dead people’, so I called Amos Tutola (who will be born in 1920, you’ll love his books mum) whom I had met during my last visit to the land of the funny-people-to-be-born-soonish. He gave me some super strong etc, which basically saved the day, although it arrived too late for nine of my friends.
– What did he give you?
– What and then etc, LastOne?
– There’s no what and then, just etc. It’s a very powerful and multipurpose artefact. It’s so powerful that it’s forbidden in universities. Amos Tutuola’s etc is the strongest I am aware of.
– (Long kissing-teeth noise) You went to the land of the funny-people-to-be-born-soonish just to get etc? Did you at least take the time to warn my yet-to-be-born grandchildren that I would not tolerate bad behaviour in my house?
– Mum I did not have that much time, it was kind of an emergency.
– You never have time for your family, ChildOfYourFather. But never mind. When will you perform classical witchcraft again? You know I really like it.
– But mum, I’m not a classical witch! I’m doing experimental and improvised witchcraft! The people here really liked it. I even became a character in their national folklore, they call me Kitsune the she-fox.
– But it’s so nice when you have a bit of nshima, use our orchid roots and you summon a couple of dead ancestors.
– Mum, everyone summons dead ancestors. It’s boring. In Europe they all summon the same skinny-buff prestidigitator who died on a cross and their magic sucks. I’m more interested in finding new stuff, like summoning the spirit of people yet to be born.
– But people love dead ancestors! Why do you have to challenge everything? What is wrong with dead ancestors? They work just fine! I don’t understand this ‘modern’ witchcraft. There isn’t even a melody in the incantations anymore.
– Mum, there haven’t been any melodies in incantations for three centuries. Things have changed since your childhood!
– (Very long kissing-teeth noise) Now you are saying my witchcraft is not good enough?
– Noooo, muuuuum, it’s not what I’m saying. It’s just different, not better or worse, we just don’t do it the same way now…
– It’s such a shame though, you were so good at classical witchcraft. Anyway, have you considered a teaching position here in Real Africa?
– I don’t have time to teach with all the travelling, the solstices rituals etc. Saving people here and there is very time consuming, but I do give workshops from time to time.
– Yes ChildOfYourFather, but a teaching job would be safer, you would be in one place and have a regular income.
– Mum, I’m making enough money as it is.
– Really? Okay. I’m just saying you could have a job and still do your thing on the side.
– But muuuuum, it is a job!
(It’s a WhatsApp video call between Tente and her mother.)
– But remember my sweet child, your father and your grandparents miss you a lot. How long have you been in Europe? Three hundred years?
– Four hundred, but it’s a very long course, mum!
(Tente’s mother thinks that she is in Europe to get a degree in Celtic witchcraft. Tente hid from her that she has been saving the world – and the Noisebringers – all this time, in order to spare her useless anxieties.)
– Of course you are free to live your life and be away for as long as you want my child. Just remember your sisters cannot bear the weight of taking magical care of the baLafuni chieftenessdom forever.
– Oh mum, they are perfectly qualified.
– It would still be better for everyone if you were doing it together. Why don’t you do the rest of your degree long distance from here?
– I’m busy here with my own magic. They need it. Witchcraft at the university is very theory oriented. All the practical magic has been privatised here, not many people can afford it, so I volunteer whenever I can.
– (Long kissing-teeth noise) What time will you have to find a good baLafuni boy who’s religious, then? Even a mBira boy would do as long as he’s religious. Before you end up falling for one of those sweet talking goddessless Europeans. You will need someone to take care of your household, you know. Witchcraft is a big responsibility, you won’t have time to take care of daily chores, bring the children to school and to see me etc. A good man can and should take care of this.
– Did you reply to U? He’d be a very good match. He is very well mannered, very pious and a very decent sorcerer for a man.
– But muuuum…
– What is this with your hair my sweet child? You don’t do your hair anymore? Tell me you are not going out with your hair like this MyLastOne!
– Mum, it’s not an issue here. They don’t care how I arrange my hair.
– (Long kissing-teeth noise) Your mum cares! You know we have bad hair running in the family from your father’s side, and you inherited it from him. You need to take care of it. I’m only telling you because I love you and I care for you. Do you have enough warm clothes? I know Europe, I went there in 1750, it was freezing.
– It was the Little Ice Age. It ended in 1850 with the beginning of climate collapse. I’m perfectly warm, mum.
– So, why are you dressed like this? Are these your clothes?
– Mum, I like them!
– It’s fine if you like them my love. Just don’t let anyone see them, they can be our little secret, it’s really fine. I’m saying this for your own good. Do you have something to wear when you video call U?
– Mum, I don’t think I will…
– (Long kissing-teeth noise)
– Oh well, yes mum, I’ll wear something else.
(It’s a WhatsApp video call between Tente and her mother.)
– I can’t stand the thought of you being right, Mother.
– No, you can’t stand the thought of being wrong. It’s different. But that’s probably why your grandmother came to see you. What did she say?
– I don’t remember.
– What do you mean you don’t remember? You know she doesn’t visit for no reason. You must pay attention when she does. I’ve not known you to be like this. When did you become like this?
– I don’t know.
– (Kissing-teeth noise) You don’t seem to know much. Maybe it’s a good thing you’re away. Anyway, take a trip, ask your grandmother what she said.
– Mother, I don’t have any magic left.
– Of course, you would need magic to go to where her spirit is. Do you see why I say you must tell me everything? It’s so I can help. I can help before things get to this stage. I don’t see any other solution, you’re going to have to come home.
– I don’t know if I will have enough magic for the trip.
– Of course you will. You’re my daughter after all, your grandmother’s grandchild, her LastOne. Remember she always called you that?
– I do.
– Good. Gather some and make your way over. But this should also teach you not to give it away too easily. And for what? You’ve always been too generous. It’s a wonderful quality but also a fault. You need to work on that or at least channel it towards something that really matters.
– Yes Mother.
Tente III – þə Жəγəχ ᛖþᛖ ᚻᛖゑᛉə‽
Since the year 2020, Afulodidim Nikefolosi, a young but already important Zambian ethnographer and artist, has been making a series of documentaries about Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Tente – the mushroom that the crocodile ate; She whose spirit is slippery and appears like as a season; Sovereign of the chiefdom of baLafuni, those to whom water flows – with the help of the Noisebringers. For this third episode, Afulodidim has teamed up with Chimère to recreate as faithfully as possible the magical rituals that Tente needs to put all the chances on her side before a big battle or a whatsapp call with her mother.
þə Жəγəχ ᛖþᛖ ᚻᛖゑ ᛉə‽
Written and directed by Afulodidim Nikefolosi and Chimère
Produced, filmed and edited by the Noisebringers and Chimère
Brice Catherin as the person with the noise drinking helmet
Cléa Chopard as Olga
Dai as NAMESAKE
Joël Maillard as Ken Ken Ken Ken Ken Ken Ken Ken
Henry McPherson as the shaman
Maria Sappho as Marion
Tente as herself
Music: Brice Catherin, Chimère, Henry McPherson, Maria Sappho, Mariabrice Sapphocatherin and the Noisebringers
Staff writer: Joël Maillard
Props and technical wizards: Luc Job and Jonathan O’Hear
Opening credits and shaman scene Filmed on location in Wales
All other sceneries generated by chimere and Ferdinand Hodler
Executive producers: Aiia and Impactia
Zombie in Zambia
Tente IV – My hymen is free
Improvised and directed by Brice Catherin, under Afulodidim Nikefolosi’s supervision.
Directors of photography:
starring (in order of appearance):
a generic brunette
Marek M. Chojecki
Novicat de Soeurs Missionaires
Yesu Ka Mkwebaze
Chilli and bonbon in Chililabombwe
& Mariabrice Sapphocatherin
Mama Loi, Papa Loi.
Tente’s glasses were designed and built by Jonathan O’Hear.
Produced by AiiA Festival.