Morning Manifesto An Ode To The Women I Love

​MORNING MANIFESTO, an ode to the women I love - Luanda Casella

| 8 March 2021
We are grateful to share Luanda Casella's Morning Manifesto, a speech she wrote during the Edinburgh International Festival (2019) and performed during the Dutch Theaterfestival in September of that same year. For International Women's Day she made a new and longer version of the manifesto, as an ode to the women of her heart.

THE ONTOLOGIST (Mariana Casella dos Santos) 

Never underestimate the power of words. Study grammar. Understand semantics. Study rhetoric. Know how to use it. Zoom in on structure. Zoom out on discourse. See the bigger picture. Help others see the bigger picture.

THE KILLJOY FEMINIST (Maysa Lepique)

Be a killjoy feminist. Be ready to spoil the enjoyment of others every time violence is manifested, in the form of inappropriate jokes, behavior, commentary, gaze or any other form. Do this under any circumstances. Be energetic about it.

THE OTHER (Veridiana Zurita)

Engage with the other as a political exercise. Learn, through dialogue and by practicing art, how you become individual, how you become collective. Understand that activism happens in the encounter; and that this too is an educational endeavour. Be a participant. Sit at the discussion table. Be hopeful. Be humble. Be kind.

THE MIRROR (Carol Quintanilha)

See humanity in people. Recognise that pain, that hunger, that beauty, that innocence, that ambivalence, that contradiction. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Trust them first. Create with children. Join their fantasy. Create with adults. Participate in their dreams.

THE AVID READER (Jane Casella)

Read everything that comes into your hands. Read. One book after the other. Keep reading. Finish some things, start others, read simultaneously. Revisit your own notes, throw your time away recklessly, lose yourself in words. Meanings appear with time, in waves. Meanings reappear with time, in waves. Be curious.

THE EDUCATOR (Nicole Aun)

Our knowledge is only valuable if we can inform others. Share your knowledge. Educate the youth. Engage people in the naming of violence. Be active in the fight against structural and institutionalised misogynistic discourse and behaviour. Be passionate about it.

THE ALLY (Leticia Kamada)

Question our standards of normality. Understand the power of the LGBTQ+ movement. Not only the power of the fight for basic human rights, but the power in its vocabulary. Participate by understanding the terms, the concepts. Language creates reality. Get acquainted with hybrid genders, hybrid bodies. Study how they embody change.

THE JOYFUL (Maité van Keirsbilck)

Be humbled by your position in the world. Make others humble. Embrace indiscretion, impulsivity, be unrestrained, be unconstrained. Care. Be loving. Smile at people. Bring their light-heartedness out to play.

THE INTERLOCUTOR (Helena de Preester)

Don’t engage in small talk. If you have to, make sure you don't do it for long. Be invested in the conversation you’re having. Ask questions, listen to the answers. Build up your comments from there. Share personal experiences only when relevant. Behave. Be good company. Be funny. If you can, be ironic.

THE EXPERIENCER (Helena Dietrich)

Get to know yourself. It’s a priority. People who walk around in oblivion cannot question their own biases. Be able to be with yourself. Be good company to yourself. Learn how to love yourself and to meditate. When you think you’re there, help others do the same. Propose situations of encounter.

THE TRUTHFUL (Lydia Rigaux)

Be truthful with yourself. Face your traumas. The pain inflicted by others on you isn’t your responsibility. Recognise that pain and learn from it. Recognise the pain of others. We often feel powerless: share that anxiety. Create firm bonds. Test your emotional knowledge with a friend you love. Test your political opinion. The individual is political. Find that link.

THE CHANNELER (Kelly Schacht)

Utterances can assert things. Utterances can initiate things. I order, I demand, I plead, I yield, I challenge, I provoke, I dare, I claim, I condemn, I denounce, I name, I disrupt, I evoke, I initiate, I inspire, I declare, I resist. Active power verbs provoke movement. Learn how to use them. Use them.

THE AESTHETIC (Oshin Albrecht)

We have received an anti-poetic training since childhood that taught us not to see the material world with playfulness. Learn that. Read Gertrude Stein. Don’t try to understand her. Enjoy that.

THE ANCIENT (Isnelle da Silveira)

Occupy whatever space you are in with your full presence. Evoke the presence of others.

THE SPELLBINDER (Sachli Gholamalizad)

Maybe you’ve been given an incredible natural charm. Use your charm to fascinate others, but beware of misreadings. You know your narrative better. Tell it wisely. Protect yourself from the distilling powers of misrepresentation.

THE PROFESSIONAL (Yolanda Mpele)

Always try to understand your motivations. You will act better in the world when you do.

THE READY (Helena Casella Dendooven)

Discipline does not always come easily. Train it. Beware of your craft. Be focused. Be ready. Stand tall. Perform.

THE DISOBEDIENT INVENTOR (Olivia Casella Heytens)

A child takes risks because consequences aren’t yet irreversible. Their focus is on a certain sequence of unforgettable moments. Learn how to disobey. It is only in risk that the unexpected can be born.

THE DETERMINED (Thelma Casella Heytens)

I was three. Now I’m five. I still know what I want. And I’m gonna get it. Every time.

THE TENDER (Maimouna Rachels)

Life can hit you hard sometimes. Be courageous enough to pick yourself up. Speak with pause when you communicate your pain. Be fearless when ready to move on.

THE PLAYER (Augusta Ruiz)

Whatever you commit to, commit all the way. A true actress stays in character. Be complicit. Let others rely on you.

THE DIPLOMAT (Lindah Leah Niyrenda)

It takes courage to bring change to institutions. It takes diplomacy to find something your adversaries care about enough to change their perception of subjects you care about (mostly because they’re urgent). Engage in dialogue with those who don’t share your ethical values. Be patient. Be strategic.

THE RHIZOMATIC (Mariana Lanari) 

Deconstruction of language is the first step to deconstructing institutions. Be a reader. Don’t try to understand things chronologically. Don’t be obsessed by the original source. Don’t move impatiently towards the climax. Open your eyes. Establish connections. Dive into semantic chains. Be always in the middle of reading.

THE MEDIATOR (Lara Staal) 

However disempowering a discussion panel can feel sometimes, change only happens one thing at a time. Every discussion can be educational. Bring people together. Turn the arts centre into a forum. Give space. Let people voice themselves. Let them be heard.

THE POWER-WALKER (Amy Jeptha) 

Don’t let others slow you down. Carry on at your own speed. Know your priorities. This principle is not meant to be understood as selfish. Rather, as generosity towards oneself. The manifestation of generosity is not possible when one is late for something important. Remember the masks in the aeroplane!

THE EMANCIPATOR (Nora Chipaumire) 

Women of colour have been unjustly judged for too long as not carriers of knowledge. You might be a reference for others. Others might search for your guidance to grow. Share your wisdom with younger women of colour.

THE LAUGHER (Timia Van der Linden) 

Please laugh. Make others laugh. The world is ending. Understand the power you gain from the healing caused by the laughter you ignited.

THE CONVERGENT (Elisa Liepsch) 

Creating relationships is not networking. Know the difference. Be intrigued by people. Approach them, befriend them, then be in their lives.

THE RIGHT COMPANY (Leonie Persyn) 

When the situation is unbearable, there’s often someone with whom you can share that knowledge. That’s the right company. They make conversation the best of games.

THE UNCOMPROMISED (Caroline Goossens) 

Always speak your mind. Really? Yes, always. You can filter wisely but do not compromise meanings.

THE CONNECTOR (Rena Lanari) 

There is someone who makes you funnier. You might imitate their laugh unconsciously. Know who that person is.

THE RESILIENT (Michele Van Parijs) 

If you understand your privilege, you might donate. But you do understand that donating is not letting you off the hook. Understand this type of engagement. Feel responsible to awaken others about their privilege. Persist to understand the core values of justice, help strengthen them.

THE PRESENT (Ligia Kamada) 

As a society we’re losing our presence to the virtual world. It’s a phenomenon calling the urgency to preserve our capacity to be in the moment. If you’re given the spotlight, be there. Don’t be unenthusiastic. Don’t be lukewarm about your chances of voicing.

THE ACTIVIST (Swati Simha) 

Reason is not the opposite of passion. Reason, ruling alone, is a force held captive. Passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Activism needs both. Be a killjoy activist; fight violence with reason and passion. Be funny whenever possible (the joke always comes first). And have a drink whenever the hell you want!

THE STORYTELLER (Ana Maria Casella Maldonado, Vó) 

In oral traditions, the role of the storyteller—who took what she told from experience—was to disseminate wisdom, and therefore create memory. Practice telling stories until the day your memory is compromised. Then, just go on telling them however that works best for you. Make sure you’re the best unreliable narrator when you reach your nineties.

THE WRITER A writer has the obligation to create a bond of poetic faith—suspension of disbelief—between herself and the reader. Always try to expand the language of art. Through art we can widen the scripts for what counts as ‘a good life’.

Dear women of my heart,

this is not only a feminist appeal of solidarity or call for action. This is a declaration of love, of shared knowledge and shared ethics, of sisterhood. I wrote this during the Edinburgh International Festival (2019), a few months after my sister died. I was then taking part of a writer’s program called Cross Current / Morning Manifestos from the British Council in which writers and public got together to discuss urgent political issues trough a manifesto provocation. 

I made a call for sisterhood. I’m particularly interested in the format of the manifesto, in the strength of its spontaneity. I think it’s a misunderstood format. Many mistake it for a set of rules, while it is in fact a set of guiding principals, ethical principles. A manifesto ‘makes manifest’, renders visible a certain order of ideas (an outdated order of ideas? A violent order of ideas?), exposing the need for a different attitude, ethical posture, a need for change and it sets the tone for future action.

You are all women I love, respect and learn from. Some of you are old friends and forever sisters, others newcomers in my heart. I fell in love with each of you in many different ways. One of you, was my first girl-love. You know who you are. Two of you were made inside of me, three of you are my babies.

Some of you are witches, all of you are wicked; wild, warm, willful, witty, wayward, wry women (I include myself on this list and know you love me for it).

I wrote each principle of this manifesto inspired by one of you. The principles do not represent you. They reflect something you have thought me, something about you that helps me become more ethical and politically engaged.

In 2019, on that occasion, I called you by your names, and read each principle together with the women that were present in the room. Some couldn’t pronounce your names, but they’ve learned something about you; about your ethics, your knowledge, your generosity, your struggle… It was a wonderful moment when I felt deeply embraced by strangers. So thank you for making my life more profound and dignified. Thank you for making me feel loved and protected.

All my love to you, Luanda