Welcome Visitors!

Welcome Visitors! continues Siopis' interest in the essay film as a mode of inquiry rooted in speculative form. It weaves a story around Skokiaan, a jazz composition named after a brew made by Africans during the colonial era in southern Africa. The brew was outlawed by the authorities, and so both it and the tune became forms of resistance.  Composed by Zimbabwean musician August Musarurwa in the late 1940s, the song was famously covered by Louis Armstrong. Mixing archival material from Armstrong’s tour of southern Africa in 1960 with anonymous home-movie footage of travel, the film associates the migration of the melody with real and imagined imagery of ‘Zuluness’, and the connections between southern Africa and the American South that it uncovers. The particular mix of words and imagery speaks to larger questions of origin and source and the nature of hybridity. The piece is structured by three versions of the tune: a contemporary jazz cover by South African Kevin Davidson, which opens and closes the film; Musarurwa’s original recording, in which he plays the saxophone; and Armstrong’s instrumental and vocal cover, nicknamed ‘Happy Africa’.