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A Hymn Of Light In The Mouth Of Sharks

by Marcy Angeles 6 months ago in Filmmakers
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The Decolonization of a Gay Khoisan In Africa

photo of Film Maker & Musician Gerschweyn Avron Matthews

Decolonization, a term often associated with the Indigenous people of the ‘ Americas ‘ is now becoming more widely accepted amongst Indigenous cultures throughout the world. The impact of Colonialism has left many trying to survive in it’s Eurocentricism, with sometimes very little to salvage. It has cost many of us our cultures, loss of our identities, loss of our will to live, and even the loss of our languages. Gerschweyn Avron Matthews is a film director, musician and teaches English as a foreign language. Gerschweyn was born, raised and even conditioned in the Western Cape of South Africa. Home of the Khoisan, much has happened to their landscape and people since Apartheid first made it’s way to their home.

The Khoisan, often times referred to as Bushmen, speak Khoekhoegowab. Their language is often recognized for it’s dominant usage of click consonants. Like many of the AmerIndians of the Americas, Khoisan people were slaughtered through terrible acts of violence. Gerschweyn explained that the Colonials would often times hurl the bodies of the tribe's people off cliffs. Their bodies would then slam into the waters and ripped to shreds by the barbarous mouths of sharks. Like any successful oppressors throughout history, what the Khoisan people have endured was sugarcoated and conveniently forgotten. Gerschweyn explains his people’s love and empathy for AmerIndians and what we have had to endure through the Native American Holocaust. However, he justifiably finds himself saddened that many of his people don’t recognize that they survived a similar suffering. The Khoisan are often disregarded with very little mentioning of who they are as a people within the arms of learning. He shared, that in most cases, when the Khoisan are mentioned - the details about their people are very brief and simplified. His communities sometimes are not that aware of just how much they have lost. This undoubtedly explains the epidemic of many people’s loss of self-worth and struggles with addiction. The Khoisan are often depicted as just “ Black People “ and are usually overshadowed by South Africa’s dominant White Culture. There is never enough acknowledgement of their culture as Indigenous people. Gerschweyn even explained that he found himself trying to bleach his skin as he was younger, something people are known to do in that area with creams. Eurocentrism has instilled a hatred of yourself as a person of color, especially if you are darker complected. “ The way of life in South Africa, is learning to mimic the way of White people “ he said. Colonialism has acted as a catalyst to Africans and aiding in further erasing oneself.

Gerschweyn lived many years hiding from his people that he is gay. White Supremacy and it’s tool of Christian Guilt has left many LGBTQ2S throughout the world in hiding. It has been responsible for the Colonization of our peoples and the rejection of many of it’s tribal members just for being LGBTQ2S. This is a feeling us Two Spirits in the Americas know all too well. Through ‘ Die Geheim ‘, Gerschweyn’s new film accompanied by a body of music - he hopes to free himself and his people from the bondage of Apartheid and Colonialism. The film has a theme of Sacred Fluidity as the Shaman in this film is making contact with the Feminine Deity of their religion. For Khoisan people, it is tradition for male Shamans to work with their male deity named Kaggen. It is also traditional for female Shamans to work with the female deity named Ihunntu!att!atten. Gerschweyn works intuitively in relationship with his Ancestors and Deities in the hopes of acknowledging that sacred fluidity found in most beings. “ This piece taught me to not try to control the feeling of masculinity or femininity but to embrace it. It is fluid phenomena. we don’t get to decide what to do with our bodies, masculine and feminine energies decide what to do with our bodies. It is natural and nature always wins “ said Gerschweyn. He also explained, outside of the gender constraints of the body - in sexuality - people often find themselves publicly denying that which brings them pleasure. It is much more complex than just the modes of which we reproduce but that being gay, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, lesbian etc. are completely normal. He then explained “ if we were honest with ourselves, we would all be happier because we would be representing the truth. We would be representing nature. “

Gerschweyn said that the response to his film and music has mostly been positive. Sometimes it takes seeing someone you know and their humanity to better understand their struggle. People tend to have common misapprehensions and expect Gay men to be strictly masculine or feminine. Gerschweyn works intensely to do away with the fixed identity. “ For me every day it’s different, feels different in my body. I'm sometimes more masculine, sometimes more feminine “ said Gerschweyn. It is his bravery through ‘ Die Geheim ‘ that he finds himself in the midst of so much recognition. It is his truest, most authentic and most personal work. This film will be featured in Lift Off Global Film maker sessions in both Los Angeles and London, as well as many other film festivals. The artist’s strongest work is always where the artist shares their story. It is in learning the way of which an artist navigated through their story that we really experience the medicine they have to share. His mission of making contact with the past before colonization, working with the old religion while simultaneously searching for clemency for gay people has intrigued people from all over the world. Gerschweyn explained “ it is just as important to be accepted in the metaphysical world as it is to be in the physical world. The metaphysical world informs our beliefs in the physical world of what is and should not be accepted. “ He explained “ this is more than about just me. This is about many people and those that claim to love them but allow them to suffer. “

The shaman finds himself surrounded by the elements. It is the most natural and divine atmosphere, it is real and it is sacred. Gerschweyn explains that the film is about the Shaman being cradled by nature, without the influence of the Colonizers and any ideas of the forced gender binaries or heterosexual dominance found in White Supremacy. This film is clearly about who the Khoisan people were pre-contact, pre-colonizatoin, pre-cultural erasure, pre-apartheid.

Gerschweyn's film ' Die Geheim ' can be found on

The music that accompanies the film can be found on Gerschweyn's Bandcamp

by Marcy Angeles: Artist, Writer, Musician, Journalist & Public Speaker


About the author

Marcy Angeles

Marcy Angeles is a Disabled Two-Spirit Nednhi Apache & Guamares Band of Chichimeca writer, painter, musician, dj and freelance journalist from Southern New Mexico.

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