A city journalist reluctantly follows ‘The Call’ of a Bushman Rainmaker … their story started 200 years ago. The Keeper of the Kumm is a historic and modern quest, interwoven in a story that crosses the flimsy boundaries between worlds, in search of healing.
In 1870 //Kabbo, a pipe smoking revolutionary Bushman hunter driven by his need to safeguard his fragile culture, goes on a Quest to find city people whom he has heard can preserve his stories in books. The result is an archive recorded over a thousand days and nights. More than a century later the archive is entered into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register and //Kabbo reaches out to a writer, one of his descendants, to go on a vision quest of her own.
The Keeper of the Kumm is the story of a 19th Century Rain Maker who searches for someone to record the stories of his people. Along the way he finds Victorian researcher, Lucy Lloyd and linguist Wilhelm Bleek. But even further down the line he engages modern day writer and filmmaker Sylvia Vollenhoven.
Sylvia undertakes a Quest of her own to find //Kabbo, behind the cold, clinical academic record and in turn to find herself in the unfolding drama of modern day South Africa.
A Sangoma convinces her that she will find healing from the serious illness that has forced her to stop working by obeying ‘The Call’ to engage with //Kabbo’s story. Her journey through the places where traces of //Kabbo is to be found begins. Through the rock art sites of Southern Africa, via the dynamic revivals of ancient dance forms, into the rituals of the Kalahari Bushmen and on to the scientific archives where //Kabbo’s stories and poetry abound.
It is a bold narrative that interweaves different time periods, combining historical research with personal intuitive experience. We depart from just about everything that has ever been written about //Kabbo by putting him firmly in charge of events. He is no longer a submissive informant, captive in the drawing room of Victorian experts, but a Visionary with the power to float his stories anywhere anytime. A vital element of the story is the combination of scientific research and esoteric experiences. We emphasise that African traditional beliefs have a place in the modern world and are essential to the healing of communities.
The Keeper of the Kumm is a cross platform Initiative that comprises (each element has the same name) the following:
- The Kumm book that was launched by Tafelberg to coincide with the bicentenary of //Kabbo’s birth. Tafelberg is one of South Africa’s largest publishing houses
- The Keeper of the Kumm dance drama – a joint initiative between VIA, Suite Basil Productions, Artscape and the SA National Arts Festival.
- A Feature Length Documentary Film that is being supported by the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) and the SA government’s Dept of Trade & Industry.
- Multimedia Extensions e.g website, exhibition, educational material and a traveling show