THE ETERNAL BEAUTY OF DARKNESS, ROOTED IN THE MIRE, NOURISHED BY DECOMPOSED WATER, GROWING UPWARD, OPENING RADIANTLY INTO SPACE AND LIGHT.
An unexpected journey of two random Asian girls into the dark dangerous depths of Africa, with Ninja and ¥o-landi as their travel guides – the freeky South African rap duo known as Die Antwoord.
We booked the trip for summer vacation just to chill and check if everything really was like the way it is in ‘The Lion King’, but when Ninja and ¥o-landi arrived at the door of our hotel in their matte black ‘Initial D’ style Subaru WRX STI, playing “Drowning” by A Boogie wit da Hoodie super loud, suddenly they changed the vibe of our African adventure from Simba to Zef psychedelia.
Our conversations with Die Antwoord started on a WhatsApp group with an instant connection that formed between us bizarrely fluid and easy, like chatting to long-lost friends again. This bond grew stronger each day, and at a certain point, it exploded in Cape Town. This book is the ashes of our mysterious travel memories with Die Antwoord and their Zef family in 2019.
We stayed in a fancy hotel facing the South Atlantic Ocean in Camps Bay. Behind us was the famous Table Mountain. Our holiday resort fantasy bubble was popped very quickly when Ninja and ¥o-landi took us behind Table Mountain, deep inside one of the most dangerous ghettos in South Africa known as ‘No Rules’.
Besides the beautiful animals and breathtaking nature, South Africa has the 3rd highest crime and murder rates in the world, and is one of the most economically unequal countries on the planet – the rich living right next door to the poor.
NINJA – “Being born into the 3rd world is like being born into hell. People are born with nothing. Imagine being born with everything against you, and every day of your life you have to fight to survive. Everyday there is an average of between 40 and 60 murders in South Africa, every 3 hours a woman is raped, and every 5 minutes, an African child goes missing.”
DARKNESS IS OUR FIRST REALITY, THE LOOMING RIDDLE OF OUR BECOMING
5 RULES OF
THE TRIBE OF ZEF
-Be creative. -Only speak what is true. -Only take what is offered. -Protect the temple gates. -Stay woke.
The Tribe Of Zef all have curious fashion sense. Everyone rocking fresh sneakers, and designer flip-flops, ASICS running shoes standing next to GIVENCHY and GUCCI slides. The men and women all wear long skirts covered in elaborate African prints. Some bare-chested, some rocking netted tank-tops, some wearing blankets for hoodies, topped off with peaks caps, turbans, and gold bling mixed with African wooden beads. Everyone (men and women) stylishly armed with killing staffs, machetes, beautifully engraved knives and other hidden weapons (for self-defence purposes).
We found ourselves having a language exchange session. The typical tourist conversation – “How do you say this in Afrikaans?” “How do you say that in Chinese?” These African rappers were instantly enchanted with Chinese sounds, words and tongue twisters. “This” in Chinese sounds like “jei-ge”, and “That” sounds like “na-ge”. The rhythmic sound of these South African rappers repeating “Jei-ga-na-ge, Jei-ga-na-ge, na-ge, na-ge” rapidly became the soundtrack to our holiday. I suddenly found myself rapping Chinese tongue-twisters about grapes and monks, with two guys with dreadlocks so long, they looked like ‘Dragon Ball Z’ characters in transformation.
One of the South African rappers I was introduced to was a high ranking member of the Tribe Of Zef called Bukhulubakhe, which means ‘Your Highness’ in Xhosa, a click-laden African language.
BUKHULUBAKHE – “A lot of the big rappers in South Africa rap with American accents and flows, and dress in American styles. Because people think wow! America is the best. I suppose it is because some South Africans look at American culture and they see how the rappers over there are rich and empowered and so they want to feel this way too. But the problem is, no one from America wants to hear someone from Africa rapping in an American accent. So although these local rappers are ‘big’ in South Africa, no-one ever really makes any noise overseas. I respect Die Antwoord, because they rap in their mother tongue. I myself rap in Xhosa, and when I flip to English, I maintain my African flows and African accent. This is why I am in this camp, making the best music in the world, music with the power to shoot open the doors to the overseas.”
¥O-LANDI – “We create art out of the chaos we come from. We moved to LA for 4 years but over time, we became sad there, because in LA everything is fine. We lived in a big mansion in the Hollywood Hills and at 1st it seemed amazing, but soon began to miss Africa like crazy, but we thought, no, we have to carry on pushing here, this is what we have always dreamed about! But LA was too much like a paradise. I’m sure LA definitely has it’s problems, but compared to South Africa? It’s strange, I was born fighting, born with enemies. It’s what I am used to. Living in difficult situations makes me happy, it gives me purpose. Because now I have enemies to fight, and people to help. When I am filled with attack energy I am fire, because it brings me joy. Without a challenge life is boring. The bigger the challenge, the more creative we get. LA was just too comfortable. So we moved back home.
NINJA – “In Africa we grow like trees out of all the shit that goes on here. The negativity in Africa is almost nuclear level, but if you can harness this nuclear energy, you can light up a whole city. All the chaos here, all the friction, all the diversity, all these crazy weird vibes. It’s what makes us super creative. We left LA because we have work to do in South Africa. It feels like we are meant to be here.”
At around 9pm, all Tribe Of Zef members started leaving, Ninja and ¥o-landi were already in bed – yoga and meditation starts at 4am every morning (I found out more about this strange yogic discipline of theirs later during our trip). Suddenly, the only people awake and active left at the party were us, the two relaxed Asian tourists, and the children of the Zef Family: Sixteen, Meisie, Tokkie, and Jemile.
This was not Die Antwoord house party I was expecting. Sipping on a delicious pink gin and tonic (made for me earlier by ¥o-landi) and snacking on a spread of delicious vegetarian food made by by the youngest in the family, Jemile. Before getting to know ¥o-landi and her family, I thought to myself: “How did this tiny alien-nymph, with a V-line and firm six-pack pop out so many kids?!” From chatting with the kids, I found out that Sixteen was their only biological daughter, visually a clone of the two rappers.
Tokkie was 9 when they adopted him from a ghetto in Johannesburg, he’s now 18. Tokkie’s sister meisie was adopted after. Jemile is the last little genius on board with the family. I was enchanted by him. He’s the coolest and most mature kid I’ve ever met. His tooth fell out and he superglued it to his earring. He made his own tooth jewellery.
Ninja and ¥o-landi met Jemille 4 years ago in the same hood in Johannesburg as Tokkie. Jemile was 9 years old at the time, when they found him sitting barefoot, alone in the dark, next to a big fire he had made in a park. He wouldn’t speak to them and ignored them. They found out that Jemile was the naughtiest kid in the hood, and that he was an active little criminal, who broke into houses, stole cars, and set people’s cars on fire if they made him angry.
After N&¥ saw Jemile doing crazy back-flips off high walls onto the concrete below, they offered him a role in a feature film they were busy making, and while they were shooting the film, Jemiles biological mother told N&¥ that he was soon going to get sent to a special education school and that this school wanted to put Jemile on drugs to calm him down.
But N&¥ quickly realised that this was a mistake and that Jemile did not need drugs because he was so smart. He just needed the correct stimulation, and so with his mothers blessing, Ninja and ¥o-landi became Jemile’s legal foster parents. The concept of conventional Asian family comes from bloodline, to carry on the family name. While the way Ninja and ¥o-landi created their family comes from their bigger love of their motherland, their people, and their tribe, The Tribe Of Zef.
“Up until now Jemiles only focus has been survival, now he gets a chance to learn.” – ¥o-landi Vi$$er aka Mother of Rats
I was not ready for the positive energy and the instant and strong connection I made with the weirdest rappers from the other side of the world. I thought the Safari would be the ultimate climax of the trip, but the pair were on fire everyday. Hailing me with creative tornadoes and jokes, mixed with storytelling of South African history and feeding me facts, all the while submerged deep in a super-sayyin creative discipline that involves waking up at 4am in their Zef Mountain Temple in the forest , jumping off a cliff into an ice-cold rock pool in the dark, doing an hour of Kundalini Yoga, followed by an hour of deep meditation, then they drop the kids at school, and hit an almost supernatural amount of creative activity which includes:
1-Writing and recording songs for Die Antwoord’s final 23 track album called THE HOUSE OF ZEF.
2-Creating a series of next-level music videos that accompany the final album.
3-Creating a new episode of Die Antwoord’s music-filled reality show, ZEF TV, weekly, that they release online.
4-Creating a 60 minute documentary about Die Antwoord that they have been working on for the last 10 years, called IS IT REAL?
5-Creating a 90 minute feature film that Ninja and ¥o-landi wrote, funded and starred in, directed by Ninja, scored by Die Antwoord, called THE FLOWER FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD.
All these zef projects are due to start dropping in early 2020, followed by a wild festive season as Die Antwoord and The Tribe Of Zef leave the dark depths of the African ghettos behind to embark upon their next big world tour.
My zef tour guides like to show and celebrate the culture of the ghetto. What I see they are doing there is to help the living conditions of the place. Fixing the ceiling of a shack-dwelling from leaking or enabling electricity and water. N&¥ are also currently developing a Zef Foundation, that will set- up Zef Soup Kitchens, Zef Yoga Schools, and Zef Rap Schools in the ghettos (among other things). What I found the most precious on this trip was The Lotus flowers hidden in my tour guides hearts, despite the muddy environment they live in.
NINJA – “We are very blessed to have achieved the success we have experienced to date, and even more blessed that we are now able to come home and share what we learned with our fellow African artists, so that they too, can step out into the big wide world with us, making money, having fun. Ninja and ¥o-landi have invited these two lucky asian girls to join the Tribe Of Zef on this magical mystery world tour, with all access passes, all up in the vip area baby! Mmmmwa!
IF ONE CONSCIOUSLY ENTERS INTO THE DARKNESS AND BECOMES ENRICHED BY THE NOURISHMENT IT OFFERS, ONE LEARNS TO SEE AND HEAR THE BEAUTY THAT EMANATES OUT OF IT. DARKNESS WILL BECOME THE FAMILIAR AND MYSTERIOUS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND TRANSFORMATION, GROWTH AND HEALING, TO WHICH WE GRATEFULLY RETURN.
“You’re poor but you’re fancy”
“You’re poor but you’re sexy”
“You poor but you’ve got style”
这是两个不起眼的亚洲姑娘和她们的导游Ninja、¥o-landi——南非饶舌怪才二人组 Die Antwoord深入黑 暗而危险的非洲腹地的旅程。
我们预订这趟暑期行程时，为的只是放松，顺便看看那儿是不是真跟《狮子王》里一样。但来酒店接我们 的却是Ninja和¥o-landi ：开着他们那辆《头文字 D》风格的哑光黑斯巴鲁WRX STI，把A Boogie wit da Hoodie的《Drowning》轰得山响。于是，我们这趟辛巴故乡之旅的色调瞬间变成了Zef（南非亚文化和地 下文化的笼统称呼）式迷幻。
我们和Die Antwoord的对话是在WhatsApp的群组里展开的，但我们之间瞬间了一种联系，和他 们的交谈莫名其妙的流畅，像是和失散多年的朋友聊天一样。每一天这种牵绊都来得更紧密，直到在开普 敦，我们更加确信了这一点。
2019年8月，我们和Die Antwoord以及他们的Zef之家一起进行了次神秘的旅程 这些文字就是这段旅 程回忆的余烬。
山（Table Mountain）。然而，随着Ninja和¥o-landi把我们带到山的另一边，五 光十色的度假幻想很快就破灭了——我们所处的是南非最有名的贫民窟，这儿以
黑暗就是我们最初的现实、关乎我们将为何物的隐现谜语 [DIE ANTWOORD（南非荷兰语）= THE ANSWER（英语）]
Zef部落的成员时尚品味都挺古怪，这里有新潮运动鞋爱好者，也有穿着设计师 款人字拖的家伙，ASCIS跑鞋、GIVENCHY和GUCCI拖鞋的主人并排站在一起，男男女女都穿印着繁复非洲图案的长裙。有人袒胸，有人穿着网眼运动背心，还 有人把毯子裹成帽衫。有戴棒球帽的，也有围波斯头巾的，闪亮的首饰间夹杂着 非 木珠子。无论男女，人人都带着致命的家伙用于自卫，比如开山刀、刻蚀精 美的匕首和其他什么暗器。
我们互相学习对方的语言，像在典型的旅游团里似的—— “这个在南非荷兰语里 怎么说？” “那个中文怎么说？” 这些非洲饶舌歌手立刻着魔般地用中文发音、字 词和绕口令编歌。随着他们学会了中文的“这个” 和“那个”，他们开始没完没了 地重复嘟囔一连串高速的“Jei-ga-na-ge、Jei-ga-na-ge” ——简直成了我们 旅途的配乐，我发现自己也开始和两个长得像超级赛亚人一样的脏辫非洲哥们儿 一起，念叨“吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮”、“喇嘛哑巴” 什么的……
Bukhulubakhe是我新认识的饶舌乐手之一，他在 Zef 部落中地位很高。他是 科萨族人，名字在科萨语里是“殿下” 的意思。
BUKHULUBAKHE 很多南非大牌饶舌乐手说唱时都带着美式口音和flow， 穿着也是美式风格，因为人们觉得—— “哇！美国最棒了”。有些南非人向美 国文化看齐，看到那儿的饶舌乐手又有钱、又被人追捧，就也想过成他们那 样。问题是，没有美国人想听来自非洲的乐手用美国口音说唱啊！所以虽然 这些本地乐手在南非很大牌，但没人在海外搞出过什么名堂来。我尊重 Die Antwoord正是因为他们用母语说唱。我自己用科萨语说唱，即使换成英语，也保留着我的非洲flow和口音。这也是我到这个营地来的原因：我想要做出 世界上最好的音乐。让这音乐的力量足以轰开国门冲出去。
¥O-LANDI 我们创作的艺术出自我们所源于的混沌。我们在洛杉矶待过四 年，越待越难过，因为那儿一切都太好了。我们住在好莱坞山的大宅子里，一开始所有的东西看着都无与伦比。但马上我们就开始疯狂地想念老家非洲。但转念一想，不，再试着多待一阵子吧，这可是我们一直梦寐以求的生活 呀！洛杉矶太像天堂了。当然，那儿肯定也有它自己的问题，但跟南非可是 没法儿比呀，是吧？你说奇怪吧，我从出生开始就在斗争，从出生开始就有 敌人要去面对，我对这种事儿早就习惯了。生活在困境中让我感觉还挺兴奋 的，因为它给了我斗志，我有要对抗的敌人和要帮助的人。当我浑身充满攻 击性能量的时候，我就像团火一样，这样的状态让我感到愉悦。没挑战的话，生命会乏味得很，挑战越大，我们就越有创造力。相比之下洛杉矶太舒服了。
NINJA 在非洲，我们就像这树一样在乱七八糟的环境里瞎长。非洲的负面影 响几乎是核能级的，但如果你能驾驭核能，就能利用它给城市带来光明。这 儿的混沌、摩擦、多样性和疯狂古怪的气氛都极大地丰富了我们的创造力。我们幸运地能获得现有的成功并经历这一切。更幸运的是，我们能够回到故 乡，和我们的非洲艺术家同胞分享我们学到的东西，让他们也能和我们一起 踏上旅程，到广阔的世界里挣钱、享受生活。
晚上九点左右，Zef部落成员们陆续离开，Ninja和¥o-landi已经上床睡觉了—— 们每天早晨四点就要起床开始练习瑜伽和冥想。突然，这场聚会上仅有的还醒着的人就只剩下我们这两 个自由自在的亚洲旅客和Zef家族的孩子们了：Sixteen 、 Meisie、Tokkie和Jemile
我期待中的Die Antwoord家派对可不是这样的，一边喝着可口的粉红金汤力（¥o-landi之前 给我做的），一边吃着各式各样素食零食——出自这一家子最年轻的成员 Jemile之手。在了 解¥o-landi和她家庭之前，我自忖：“这个有人鱼线和六块腹肌的小精灵是怎么生下这么一大 堆孩子的？”
跟这些孩子聊了一通以后，我发现只有Sixteen是这对饶舌夫妇真正有血缘关系的女儿。她长 得就像他俩的克隆体一样。Tokkie是9岁那年他们在约翰内斯堡贫民区收养的，现在已经18 岁了，后来他们还收养了Tokkie的妹妹Meisie。Jemile是最后一个加入这个家庭的神童。他 是我见过的最酷、最成熟的孩子。他会把自己掉的牙粘在耳环上，做成首饰。
四年前，Ninja和 ¥o-landi在他们收养Tokkie的同一片街区遇到Jemile，当时他也是9岁。黑暗中，他一个人在公园里生了堆火，赤脚坐在火边，俩人跟他说话他也不搭理。后来他们发 现Jemile是那一片儿最皮的孩子，也是个年轻的惯犯：闯空门、偷车，谁惹了他，他就放把 火把人家车给点了。当Ninja和¥o-landi目睹Jemile从高墙上一个后空翻蹦到水泥地上时，他俩立马就想到请Jemile在当时正急着制作的电影中演一个角色。拍摄过程中，Jemile的生母告诉Ninja和¥o-landi，这孩子会被送进一所特殊教育学校，校方想通过药物让他安静下来。Ninja和¥o-landi立刻意识到这不对：Jemile需要的不是因为太过聪明而吃药，他需要的是正向的激励。于是，经过生母的同意，Ninja和¥o-landi成为了Jemile的法定养父母。
—— ¥o-landi Visser，又名耗子妈妈（Mother of Rats）
我对这正能量和我跟地球另一面这对儿最古怪的饶舌歌手瞬间建立起的强烈联系毫无准备。我曾经以为， 非洲之行的高潮将会是游猎，但这一对儿每天都风风火火地用飓风般的创造力和笑话治愈我，还夹杂着 南非的历史和概况。沉浸在“那美克星” 式的创造性纪律中，他们每天早晨四点在Zef山林庙宇中醒来， 在黑暗中从悬崖上跳进冰冷的池水中，一个小时的昆达利尼瑜伽，接着是一个小时深度冥想。然后他俩 送孩子们上学，开始一系列多到超常的创造性活动，包括：
1.为 Die Antwoord 的23首双张专辑The House of Zef撰写和录制歌曲；
3.为ZEF TV创作新一集内容，这是Die Antwoord的音乐真人秀节目，每周在线播出；
4.十年来，他们一直在制作一部关于 Die Antwoord 的纪录片，这部60分钟长的片子名为《它是真的 吗？》（Is It Real?）
5.创作一部由Ninja导演、Die Antwoord配乐、Ninja和¥o-landi编剧、出资并参演的90分钟剧情片，名为《来自外部世界的花》（The flower from the outside world）。
这些Zef作品都将在2020年初面世。紧接着，Die Antwoord和Zef部落将从非洲贫民窟深深的黑暗中起 身，开始他们下一季的全球巡演和狂欢。
我的Zef导游喜欢展现贫民区文化，并为之喝彩。我看到他们致力于帮助改变那里的生活状况， 为漏雨的 棚屋修补屋顶、改善供水供电。Ninja和¥o-landi正在推动一项 Zef 基金，以便在贫民区设立Zef粥棚、Zef瑜伽学校和Zef说唱学校等其他设施。在这趟旅程中，我最珍贵的发现是，尽管我的导游生活在泥泞 中，他们心里却像是有莲花在开放。
在故事的结尾，Ninja和¥o-landi邀请两位幸运亚洲女孩加入他们奇幻又神秘的“the Tribe Of Zef” 世界 巡演，附加全程VIP通行，完结散花。