If you are reading this and asking who Blitz The Ambassador is, well the only thing I can suggest you do is hit the Google button. If you live in Ghana (born and bred) and was of age in the late 90s and early 2000s, you might have heard the name Baza. If you are didn’t please take a listen to Debaa’s maiden single Debaa. The guy who rapped on that song is Blitz The Ambassador.
The Ghanaian born, New York based rapper has been one of the He has 3 studio albums and 4 EPs to his credits. And this year, he would be releasing his much anticipated Diasporiadcal EP.
Blitz The Ambassador has released three short but intense videos off the Diasporadical EP. The Diasporadical Trilogia as he calls them are three different videos with an interconnecting theme of spirituality, gentrification and Pan Africanism.
Two things reveal itself watching the video. First, Blitz is trying to demystify the stereotypical notion that African Traditional Religious practices (culture) is backward especially its spirituality. African Spiritualism has, thanks to Western culture has been labelled, erroneously as backward and fetish and anyone who is regarded a believer of the religion is deemed in need of salvation by Jesus Christ.
Second, the video is to wean people out of this long sold misconceptions and avert their minds to the fact that, to be an African means to embrace their roots and have a re-think of the negative posture of their orthodox religion.
Here is my interpretation of the three videos.
JUJU GIRL: This video was shot in Accra and released in July, 2015. Blitz is seen entering a club (The Republic Bar) obviously to have a good night. In there was this beautiful lady whom he instantly fell for. The two are seen being chauffeured to what obviously would be Blitz’ place. But, en route their destination, the car halted and she runs away with him following her.
Next, Juju Girl (A girl with a spell) is seen dancing at the beach with her ‘family’ and before the day broke, she was gone. Blitz arrived at the scene only to see her ribbon on the floor which he clutched to whiles gazing at the sea.
Interpretation: The concept of the video is borrowed from an old tale about a sexual relationship between the sea goddess, Maame Water and a man. According to the tale, a lonely man went to the beach one night with his guitar and hummed an enchanting melody which attracted Maame Water out of her abode. The ensuing contact ended with them indulging in a sexual rendezvous. The next evening, the same encounter happened. This fling continued for months till one day, fearing Maame Wata might not show up again, the man followed Maame Water back into the sea.
Blitz took this concept for the Juju Girl video from this ancient myth or philosophy and draw the attention to the power of attraction or affection; that love could be so enchanting that people could become intoxicated from it. It could also be interpreted to mean, one has to love his or her antecedents-the culture. One of the interesting things about this video is the Cinderella-like ending, where Juju Girl leaves behind a souvenir for him.
SHINE: Shine is the second video in the Trilogia. Here too, the concept of family and ancestral relationship is well represented. The video opens with a man, wearing a pensive face and his daughter, Ama sitting at a bus terminal in New York. A black SUV pulls up and the man runs towards it. It becomes clear the man has been threatened by the occupant of the SUV-the police- with deportation if he doesn’t snitch on other illegal immigrants. He was ordered to take a ride with the cops in an effort to persuade him into talking.
Before joining them, he tells Ama to go home, a directive she obliged. Here journey home was under the guidance of her ancestors, who indulged in her playfulness (dancing) on the train and the terminal. Later, the two were united again; this time the father taking her home.
Interpretation: Two interpretations could be inferred from this Shine video. The first being the African concept that the spirit of the dead are always with their kindred. The dead are still revered because they are believed to be the guardians of the living through the journey of life; warding off potential dangers and directing their steps and talking to them through dreams.
The second interpretation is steeped in Akan family belief where the spirit of the father is always guarding and guiding his children. There is an Akan proverb that reference this important role; that a father’s spirit is the blanket that covers his household. It is often said that a child who has experienced a father’s presence would usually fall sick when the father is away from home only to get well as soon as the father returns from his long sojourn.
Shine therefore, is a reflection of the importance of family and fathers in the life of their kindred and children.
RUNNING: The first scene shown is that of a boy on a canoe unconscious if not on the verge of death (sad). A couple having a wedding (joy). An elderly woman senses the imminent death of this boy and goes to pick him. She, through traditional divination and incantations, heals the boy, adding to the already joyous scene. The video was shot in Bahia, Brazil.
There came a scene where a bulldozer runs through the town demolishing homes of the natives. As they reached the home of this elderly woman, two kids chase the demolishing men away thus saving the home of this woman.
Interpretation: Before going on with the interpretation, the video has a few symbolism. The woman in her white gown represent a priestess. In typical African societies where traditions are revered, the priestess/priest is usually invited to bless a marriage ceremony. And as the priestess, she has an eye to see what is befalling her ‘children’ and must do all in her power to forestall any misfortune. One realizes how she moved away from the celebrants without them noticing? Yes, her spirit left to save her ‘child’.
The two kids chasing the demolishers represent the Orishas revered in Yoruba culture of the Nigerians. The Orishas are the guardians of the land who not protect its inhabitants but ward off any disaster bound to befall the land. Here, Blitz borrowed from Yoruba mysticism.
The demolishers represent colonialism, slavery and the gentrification of city spaces. When the colonialists with their religion came, the first African institution they discredited with passion was the African traditional culture. Next came enslavement which was followed by gentrification and its economic stifling of Africans.
The issues tackled in these videos are relevant, interesting and educative in reflecting one of the most important aspect of the African culture. It is a feather in the cup of Blitz The Ambassador for spotlighting these themes-tapping into folklore, mysticism and spirituality.
And why should anyone be surprised that Blitz The Ambassador has been invited to speak at TEDEx about the themes expressed in the Diasporadical Trilogia next month? And just to add he is a resident lecturer at Duke University courtesy his album and videos. What A Time for Blitz!