Watch Batuk’s Manteiga swim the ocean as a mermaid for Deep Ocean Deep

Batuk sound the alarm on ocean pollution in the expertly crafted “Deep Ocean Deep” music video

There’s this idea that mermaids are a foreign (read: Western) concept but anyone with enough melanin in their skin will tell you that that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why it’s so important that Batuk’s newest video, “Deep Ocean Deep,” begins with a brief description of Mamlambo, the goddess of the rivers in Zulu mythology. The video itself is an important visual art exercise and that’s what I want to talk about now.

It’s easy to interpret “Deep Ocean Deep” as a longing for all consuming love and, in many ways, it is but not in the romantic lover-to-lover sense. In this lament, Batuk’s Manteiga plays the role of Mamlambo, crying out to us self-centered mortals on land. We’ve taken the ocean for granted. We’ve lost all respect for it. And we’re killing it, and consequently, ourselves on a daily basis. The final spoken-word piece puts it best.

The waste of humankind filters down to the sea
And collects as dirt in her hair
Deep down at the bottom of the ocean
She combs her thick afro daily

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My sister-in-law happens to be Mozambican and, since coming into my life, I have come to acutely understand how intimately intertwined the ocean is with Mozambican culture. Manteiga, herself is Mozambican so for a song like this to be written by her comes as no surprise.

Not only did she write the song, she wrote the concept for the music video which she also stars in. Donning a crystal leotard and crown, with scale-like makeup and embellished jewellery, it’s clear that there was a concerted effort to ensure that Mamlambo, and indeed, the ocean is represented as the most beautiful sight you will ever be lucky enough to lay your eyes on. Which makes our complicit murder of her all that much more tragic.

The expertly shot video, directed by Chris Kets – known for his work on Dope Saint Jude’s “Keep in Touch” and Batuk member, Spoek Mathambo’s “The Mountain” – gives Mamlambo a brand new superpower: the ability to survive outside of the water, in direct sunlight. It’s a necessary step in bringing her manifesto to the mere mortals on land though she visibly struggles once within the polluted streets of the city. Turns out, humans trash their own home just as badly as they trash hers.

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“Our task as creatives is to choose imagination over fear, and to dive deep,” a statement for the “Deep Ocean Deep” release reads. “The video raises an important subject that addresses the devastating pollution that harms and kills sea life. We need to be responsible, and held accountable for all the damage we cause as human beings.”

When I first watched the video, I was disappointed that some of the underwater ocean shots were so murky. I wished they would pull down the video, quickly reshoot in more pristine waters and re-upload. But this is exactly the point: if we don’t show it like it is, we will never get to the point of accountability where we “addresses the devastating pollution that harms and kills sea life.”

Dive into the “Deep Ocean Deep” video below.

Well, what do you think?