“The Wake Up Call” by Nazlee Arbee

Directed by Anunaka, the music video/short film is a visually compelling call to action.

image by Luhnar Pickering

The music video for a new track by Nazlee Arbee, a Cape Town-based writer, poet and emerging MC, has just been released. Called ‘The Wake Up Call’, the seven-minute short was directed by Anaka Morris, aka Anunaka – a self proclaimed ‘creative archivist’ and photographer seeking to showcase the creativity of the continent and its diaspora. Their film serves as a montage of creativity aimed at mentally, spiritually, and politically mobilising individuals against the systems that oppress them.

One of the leading organisers and activists within the Rhodes Must Fall movement – the student led-protests calling for the decolonisation of education that dominated South Africa’s socio-political landscape for much of 2015 – Arbee and Anunaka met when the Portland, Oregon-born, Los Angeles-based artist began a degree exchange programme in ethnographic research, interactive media and photography at the University of Cape Town. Shortly after, the two began a creative collaboration from which ‘The Wake Up Call’ emerged.

More of a short film than a music video, its story is separated into three acts: Untitled, Transition and 9to5. Filmed around Cape Town over the course of 6 months, it opens on Arbee surrounded by a diverse crew of women as they engage in a ritual of self-adornment before swiftly transitioning into a hypnotic and undeniably spiritual interlude. In the third and final act, we see Arbee energetically spitting lyrics as she walks down the streets of Woodstock.

It was as Arbee and Anunaka’s friendship developed that this particular project began to progress in scope. Naming Anunaka her ‘celestial kin’, Arbee explains how it all took shape:

“I’ve met her before in the spirit realms…and we were just reconnecting through art and we made this piece as a collage, basically over the span of six months, making a video at a time, growing as people and friends, going through transitions in life, making another piece of the collage. Breathing, going through changes, you know, again, and then making the final piece.”

Anunaka adds: “I am forever grateful to Nazlee for trusting me with the music and opening space for us to work from pure intuition.”

“Visuals are the ultimate reflections of our reality and how we as shapeshifters manifest the future for ourselves & the Earth. This film began with an idea, rose to the skies to dream, was cultivated carefully with time and love then rebirthed like a Phoenix back into this harsh world.”