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Impi Yabomdabu Isethunjini: towards a review of J.C. Buthelezi’s book

Awusho Ngubane, uke uzifunde izincwadi ezibhalwa nguMbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali? Ngiyamthanda lapho ethi khona:

‘Let them know thy name

It’s gone too long

Your vacant place unknown

Its number

Murdered easily by computer.

Thixo! We want to rejoice

Celebrating the best of the new age

For gone is Kleinbooi

No more Sixpence

John is neither here nor there

Mary lives no more for tea only.’

Cha Mnumzane Martin, angibafundi ababhali abamnyama bezinkondlo. Izinkondlo zabo azifani nezo-T.S. Eliot. Mina ngithanda o-Wordsworth, oShelley, uShakespear no Tennyson.” – Buthelezi, p.76

Umbhali wakwaZulu, futhin obhala ngesiZulu, uJC Buthelezi ungivusa ingqondo ngendlela emangalisay negculisayo. Indlela asebenzisa ngayo inkulumompikiswano ukuphenya nokuhlaziya amaqiniso angavamile ukukhulunywa ebantwini, kuyingqayizivele. Unekhono lokuphenyisisa ezembusazwe kanye nezokucabanga kwabantu abayizifundiswa ebaqhathanisa nalabo abafundile kepha abazisa kakhulu imisebenzi eyenziwe ngabanye bendabuko. Indlela abantu abehlukene ababuka ngayo impilo iveza okuningi ngokwehlukaniswa kwethu ngenhloso.Empeleni umbhalo lona ungenza ngizibuze ukuthi empeleni abantu abansundu bengahlangana kanjani besebenzisane entweni eyodwa esiyisa phambili. Unity of purpose requires unified vision among diverse peoples. UButhelezi usebenzisa oBiko, Fanon nabanye ababhali ukuhluba udlubu ekhasini, eveza amaqiniso anganakekile. TBC

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Inkonzo Yezinkondlo

Bathi ake siphawule

Kuthiwa isimo sitshekile

Enzansi kuyantula nabantu baxakekile

Izizwe zikhemile nabahlakaniphileyo badidekile

Bathi ake siphawule

Thina abangasibheki nakusibona kasibonwa

Engani bona bachemile bafundile bagogodile

Kepha bebhekile imiphefumulo ichithekile

Okwetiye emasosweni eminikelo ezinkonzweni

Bathi ake sibeke amabili noma amathathu

Ulimi lwethu balwazi lusokile lucolekile

Namazwi ethu enothile

Kepha nxa siphefumula basihleka usulu

Kulalelwa abadumile nabaculile ngisho noma becwilile

Ezinkanukweni nasegazini lemizimba yezimpofana

Bathi ke ake siphawule ngobhubhane nemihelo yezingane ezizithwele

Kepha uma siphawula bathi siyahlambalaza

Namagama esiwaphimisayo kawaziwa umsuka

Asisibo yini abengabade nabasemandulweni?

Amanzi esiphethu angalifundisani idwala?

Amanzi asempophomeni alufundisani uthingo?

Isiwula singatholani emgodleni wabakhaliphileyo?

Poetic

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Can Southern AfriKa Turn The Energy Crisis Into An Opportunity?

The Key is – “to embrace the idea that abundance comes from this unified field. Within it lies the power of infinite creativity.” – D. Chopra

As a civilization struggling with a multitude of problems, mostly based on our reluctance to embrace the necessary paradigm shifts, in consciousnes as well as in how we approach work, life and the energy we use, we are doomed if we remain unwilling to transform the way we live.

Now, remember, gloom and doom is not our destiny, destruction is neither in our integral nature or design, but it has become part of our reality simply by force of habit. We are capable of cultivating new habits, we are able to create and use energy in ways that are both scientifically sound as well as metaphysically holistic. Let us begin where we currently are and see what we are struggling with and from this place we can reach into our inate creative resources and begin to build a civilization that is truly civil as well as joyously energy efficient.

Lessons from South Africa’s Recent Experience –

Refering to the South African context, the Energy Roundtable that gathered in 2015 made the following observations. 

“An Energy Role Model Under Strain. There was a strong consensus at the Roundtable on the need for a common pathway forward and a ‘holistic and regional solution’ to South Africa’s current power crisis. South Africa still boasts the largest ratio of population power access in sub-Saharan Africa and, compared to the rest of the region, highly-sophisticated energy infrastructure. Though, after nearly three decades without significant investments in its power generation capacity, South Africa is plagued by scheduled blackouts, its net power exports to neighbouring markets have nearly dried up and decision-makers appear trapped in crisis management.”

(https://www.thebrenthurstfoundation.org/downloads/brenthurst-paper-2015-04.pdf – exerpt from a summary prepared by Enrique Manzanares, Leungo Motlhabane and Terence McNamee, 2015)

The energy crisis experienced by the Republic of South Africa appears to be taking much longer to solve than expected. After many panel discussions, high-level negotiations with various, most relevant stakeholders, it appears that the country is nowhere near a sustainable solution. There are many experts in this field, there are also just as many opinionated opportunistic forces doing their best to edge their way into a challenge that is not only costing the entire economy tremendous strain, but each and every citizen is mostly affected negatively. We are supposed to be forging ahead with the 4th industrial revolution, which requires a particular level of infrastructural development, scientific research and knowledge aquisition and investment at an international level. This revolution also requires wide and far-reaching improvements in both basic and higher education, yet we find ourselves struggling on all these important developmental froentiers. How do we forge an inclusive technologically based industrial revolution when we can barely keep the lights on?

As already stated, there are many opinions about what should be done, but judging from this highlevel roundtale held almost a decade ago, when the dark spectre of load-shedding was already upon the country, some solutions are easier stated than implemented. Aside from many proposals offered at this special meeting between industry leaders and stakeholders, this was shared; “The Economist recently speculated that ‘Africa has the potential to jump from being the world’s electricity laggard to a leader in renewables’. Yet such enormous opportunities will not be realized unless governments and private sectors in Africa address serious challenges in capacity, bureaucratic effectiveness and leadership.”

The most persistent Afrikan challenge continues to be the incompetence of the leadership, the political as well corporate bureaucracies appear to always be at logger-heads, consistantly hampering any opportunities for pragmatic improvements in the energy generation sector. Although many have recognised this for the longest time, very little has been done to improve matters. Southern Afrikan governments appear to not share the same interests as energy producers, whether indipendent or national. It is not only government red-tape and legislation that causes bottlenecks and lack of implementation of the best ideas, it is the additional tug-of-war between labour and unions, as the latter has set itself the impossible task of saving every job while at the same time not offering adequate solutions regarding the leveraging of new opportunities in emerging technologies and the upskilling of the working-class.

In the deliberations around the Just Transition from over-reliance on fossil-fuels into a sector characterised by a richer energy mix, many considerations have been raised. They are the pillars of resilience for a transformative just transition and at least three have been identified, namely; 1. Green decent work agenda which sould contribute to climate resilience for the most vulnerable communities while supporting job creation. 2. Social protection – the provision of safety-nets for vulnerable communities which are hardest hit by energy poverty as well as the effects of climate change. According to scholars (Bahadur et al. 2015) Social protection builds direct resilience through absobtive capacity, anticipatory capacity and adaptive capacity. For example, during and after climate disasters such as flooding, heat waves, and droughts, absorptive capacity allows affected communities to absorb and cope with shocks and stresses (Basani Baloyi, Katrina Lehmann-Grube, Hlengiwe Hadebe and Prabhat Upadhyaya).

Thirdly, the energy crisis is also an opportunity for serious consideration of committed and visionary investments in renewable energies. While assurances have been offered by various countries, international organisations and industries and state owned companies regarding the number of jobs that will be created through renewable energy generation based on a wide range of models, investments appear to remain a trickier terrain. A job guarantee is a public employment scheme which can improve resilience to climate change by minimising the impoverished worker’s exposure to transition risks, by transfering these risks to the state as the employer of last resort. This kind of scheme requires a well managed and maintained partnership between the private sector and government. At the moment there appears to be an unhealthy and thus unproductive tension between governments and the private sector.

The debacle at the country’s main energy supplier Eskom did not begin recently. Problems with the whole infrastructure have been identified since even before the advent of the current regime, but progress in terms of implementing some of the most lucrative solutions have been curtailed by ideological biases or the stalemate between a radical socio-economic transformation which requires an overhaul of the entire system and neo-liberal ideas that seek to maintain a course that is more market based where energy generation is primarily relegated to the private sector.

Lastly, there is no hope for improvement in the energy sector as well as a justified transition into renewable energies in Southern Afrika when the Land question remains unsolved. Given the unequal access to land due to raciallised capitalism and the nature of the anti-black structural make-up of South Africa, a lot of Black South Afrikans are extremely vulnerable to climate change related crises. Only a radical agenda that focusses all energies on the wellbeing of people and nature can take Southern Afrika forward. Unless the majority of its citezens is removed from the precarious and unproductive land masses we currently reside in, there can be no serious progress in implementing a just energy transition. We need new urban precincts and radically improved rural and semi-rural developments where renewable energy resources are introduced from the very inception of those developments and the benefits of Zero Waste principles is introduced from the basic education level all the wat to tertiary and at work. All half hearted and fossil fuel based strategies are doomed to cost us time, money and loss of many lives.

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vital knowledge: Law vs Legal System

Professor Dolores Cahill is an inventor, immunologist and molecular biologist who has been at the forefront of claiming sovereignty in the face of unlawful Covid-19 restrictions. She is co-founder of World Freedom Alliance, the World Travel Alliance, and Custodean.com, a community networking site. In today’s talk, Dolores sheds light on the law, and the unlawfulness of the legal system. This is eye-opening and important information that can empower us to truly understand our unalienable rights and personal sovereignty.
For more information about Dolores, please visit:
https://profdolorescahill.com/
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Songs In The Chi of Love

Stories Set To Music: 1/11/2018

The original version of this story appeared around 2018-2019 and began with this quote from a Blood Orange song, “I can be the only one / but do you even want me to …”; the point was to highlight the highs and lows of romantic love as well as the perils of infatuation with material objects or possessions. It was really first written as meditation or a note emerging from the inspiration of music. As I am re-writing this from the original handwritten copy, it may not appear exactly the same as the earlier versions.

Even when people can no longer afford anything, somehow they can still afford to Love. There is no denying that like all aspects of living or existence, Love can be excruciating and if unhindered, can also bear the most terrorizing effects. People who for some reason feel unloved, under-appreciated, or whose presence and existence are denied can react very horribly. In other words, some of the worst interpersonal, social, and humanitarian disasters can all be traced to a deficiency in love. Think of the pervasive generalization that states that “hurt people, hurt people”. It has become a generic stereotype precisely because it is so widespread.

South Africa has seen the deaths of many young artists lately, this has prompted the public, media, and other institutions to engage in really robust discussions around the subjects of Depression and related causes. This is a very healthy conversation and allows so many possibilities for gaining understanding and identifying solutions. The conversation also gives people an opportunity to emerge from their private dark spaces, to see themselves not just as burdens or abnormal, as we all realize that the challenges we face are quite similar or shared.

Lack of love does not always manifest as depression. There are various other internal and social pressures that are drivers of the early deaths of artists and indeed other lesser-known people. This specter of death is a sign of a break from cosmic law or harmonious social cohesiveness. Music is about harmony and requires the kind of attention that is akin to loving. Storytelling and the patience it requires of both actors ( the teller and the listener) can help our society to function more harmoniously. When various members of a society can devote themselves to Listening, really listening to each other, so much can be achieved. Qualities and virtues gained from listening can enrich our lives so much more than the avoidance of emotion and social responsibilities that we have become so used to. Sometimes we avoid hearing others as a way to avoid caring or responding, as that may require us to stop and consider doing something outside of our plans or set course.

How does Listening enhance wellbeing?

Well, well-being begins within oneself, primarily. The prime being, and one that seeks to be Known and Understood, is the Self. When we can listen to ourselves well enough, we can better find the best qualities in hearing, listening, and intimately engaging with others.

Sometimes these things do not happen naturally, we often struggle to accept each other’s idiosyncrasies, and each other’s behaviors, and it requires Love, whose main attribute is Understanding and Acceptance – to really listen and hear another. Sometimes it just takes more time.

As one of the attributes of Love is good attention, one has to know intuitively how to measure what is enough attention and what is insufficient, what is excessive, and what is simply not attention at all.

In this regard, I have been observing the behavior of my three children. My Triplet boys could not be more different from each other. They may display a lot of common traits, but what makes them so beautifully unique is the consistency of their individuality. Each requires the specific attention of their parents, albeit in a different way. Mvulandlela, the firstborn, is boundlessly energetic and yet so very sensitive to noises, music, smells, and other stimuli. Sometimes the Helpers assume that he is cowardly, excitable, or timid, yet I see it as their failure to pay more careful attention …So I have made it my duty to ensure that he gets the kind of attention and discipline that is positively stimulating and conducive to his natural progression.

While I have told the Helpers/Child-minders that each of the boys should be treated with adequate care and special attention, the onus to lead our children up an intelligent and harmonious path is up to us and of course also themselves as beings. I will write about the other two boys later, they each would require a dedicated essay for your special attention.

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Abakhanyiselwa

As a response to challenges insisted on by the harsh environment, the
brutal physical abuse by their captors and the psychological disintegration
produced by the chaos of the unfamiliar, Africans reached deep within
themselves where the roots of culture abide. This protracted struggle and
accompanying cultural resolve has allowed them to maintain the deep
structure of their cultural distinctiveness. Moreover, dynamic cultural
processes allowed enslaved Africans to establish familiar and intelligible
patterns through maintaining and preserving their identities and renewing
spiritual and ancestral forces. Many of the Africanisms were codified
in the folkways of African people, especially the expression of spirituality.
The intense need for the expression of spirituality reflected the continuity
of beliefs transported from Africa. This spiritual aspiration was encoded
in the folklore.” –
K. Zauditu Selassie

“Add appropriate Zulu proverb” – The Zulu language is something remarkably marvelous. Take the title of this essay. Abakhanyiselwa is directly translated as Those Who Have Been Enlightened or Those Upon Whom Light Has Been Revealed or Shone. The same word can also mean They Have Not Been Enlightened, or They Are Not Receiving The Light. But where is the logic in having such a paradoxical word? This phenomenon of ambiguity and of hidden meanings is not exclusive to the Bantu language family, there are various other languages that when examined carefully, carry similar linguistic paradoxes. Yet, perhaps these are not contradictions at all, but simply part of the divine or magical power of words.

The very human acts of prayer, incantation, invocation, and verbalized meditations or affirmations are part of human traditions spanning all continents and dating back millennia. The art of placing the right words, tones, and notes in exactly the right or intended places is part of the joys of being a languaged being. We also tend to gravitate or be more articulate in the languages of our origins. There is something deeply satisfying as well as positively challenging to me whenever I read the language of IsiZulu. Even though I mostly write and speak isiNgisi or the language of the colonizers of our region, I would like to even think that I dream in BaNtu languages, it is the language of my Soul …I aspire to deepen my personal aptitude towards it.

Back to the actual reason why I chose to title this article, Abakhanyiselwa. There is often a lot of ego and self-interest involved in the formulation of organizations, interest groups, societies, and even nations. It may be shared values and traditions finding expression or extension in the formulation of rules, characteristics, and systems to live by, but it may also be the sole vision of a visionary or heroic figure that captivates or motivates followers or adherents to abide. The formation of organizations is just as complex as the molding of families and keeping the legacy intact …

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My Presentation At LitFest Harare

Greetings GREEN ANKH WORK readers, I have not posted in a while. Here is something I thought I should share. It’s the presentation from LitFest Harare’s Black History Symposium.

LitFest Harare: Black History Month Symposium

Event Held at AFROTOPIA, 1st Floor Construction House, Harare, March 4, 2022

Time: 09:30am to 18:15pm

My Topic/Discussion Subject: Under the Theme Afropoetiq

“How Has Literature and Art from Africa and the Diaspora Contributed In Promoting Traditional Medical Remedies”

General Notes:

Names that immediately come to mind when I think of Literature from Afrika and the Diaspora include:

Octavia E. Butler; Ben Okri; Malidoma Some, Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, Wangari Maathai; Alice Walker; Toni Morrison; Queen Afua, Ra Un Nefer Amen, Sebau Muata Ashby …

In his book The Dialectics of Cultural Economy: Moral Economic Core, (2012), South Afrikan philosopher and Ubuntu advocate Mfuniselwa J. Bhengu offers numerous examples of how Afrikans lived in harmony with the environment, neither desiring to subdue it for private purposes or to own it for individual gain. He quotes many scholars from within and outside the Afrikan continent but he essentially attributes this attitude towards Nature to the philosophy of UBUNTU, UNHU or Ma’at.

On page 131 of this book under the title Medicines of Therapeutic Value in an African Setting he bases much of his thesis on Dr. MV Gumede’s book, ‘Traditional Healers: A Medical Doctor’s Perspective’ (1990), illustrating the significance of local traditional knowledge, what is now commonly termed Indigenous Knowledge Systems or Wisdoms. Bhengu then continues to list various medicines used for a vast number of common ailments since time immemorial and even today. He uses both local/native names as well as their scientific terms.

It is important to note that in the Zulu culture, traditional medicines are actually referred to as sentient beings or even in human forms. They are regarded as assistants or help-mates in the holistic healing process, a process that often involves talking or singing to them as they are prepared and applied.  Among the Nguni people’s we talk to the plant medicines as one would speak to and listen to a friend.

Bhengu writes: “As a result of the colonial misfortune much of what constitutes contemporary Africa both metaphysically and epistemologically is, – to a large extent a product of the European gaze.

As the gazing subject, the European enjoyed the privilege of seeing it’s ‘Other’, the African, without being seen for some time and in the process took this opportunity to define the African as its negative Other. As a result, much of what goes into defining African cosmology is what is developed from the privileged position of the outsider.” (Page 136, Bhengu)

To this I must add that many European-trained and Eurocentrically educated Afrikans still view themselves through the lens of the European or in simpler terms, we view our own lives through the White man’s opinionated eyes. With all this said, let us turn to the Poetics, Arts, and Sonics of our own Lived Experiences.

We will start with stories told through the medium called Literature. The writer/storytellers I have already mentioned are similar to Shamans, Nyanga’s, Sangomas, and other forms of Afrikan mediums. In my teenage years, I saw the likes of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and the plethora of writers in the African Writers Series as Diviners and Healers. When I read Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Healers in the late 90s I was quite sure that the Ghanaian sage was speaking to me and my experiences. Although I was not yet called to work with Traditional Healers then, the story of the young man who endures various challenges as he was being prepared to become a healer resonated with me as a Poet and Activist in my early 20s. Reading the rest of Armah’s work made it abundantly clear the medicines that the writers and artists of the past and present generation were talking about were not just the Traditional Type and that the illnesses we were experiencing were psycho-social and spiritual rather than just physical.

The natural medicines they wrote and sang about were often used as metaphors for remedies for a wide range of isms. When Thandiswa Mazwai sings “Sizilibele Ukuba Sizalwa Ngobani …” in IsiXhosa, meaning ‘We have forgotten those who gave birth to us/our forebears …” While the song speaks of political and social activists who were heroic in the fight against apartheid and colonialism, the way artists such as Thandiswa present their work is also emblematic and ritualistic. Like Blue Note recording artist Nduduzo Makhathini, as well as Mangoma and GudoGuru, the artists present themselves symbolically and actually as Healers, Mediums, and Channels for the Ancestral and Futuristic Vision of a whole or healthier society.

The Mythopoetic Historical work of Vusamazulu  Mutwa as well as Mazisi Kunene and Malidoma Some were intersectional even before the term was made popular. In Mutwa’s books, there are visual arts, metaphysical imagination, poetry, songs in addition to giving an alternative view to popular or traditional histories as well as traditional medicinal practices. South Afrikan poetry laureate Mazisi Kunene composed a lot of poetry, parables, and proverbs during his lifetime and Natural Healing featured very prominently in his work, including The Ancestors and The Sacred Mountain, Amalokotho KaNomkhubulwane ( a collection of short stories), Anthem of The Decades, Igudu LikaSomcabeko, etc

 References from Literature:

  1. Giving no outward sign, she went on tending her garden. As long as she knew where the intruder was, she had no fear of him. Perhaps he would lose his courage and go away. Meanwhile, there were weeds among her coco yams and her herbs. The herbs were not the traditional ones grown or gathered by her people. Only she grew them as medicines for healing, used them when people brought their sick to her. Often she needed no medicines, but she kept that to herself. She served her people by giving them relief from pain and sickness. Also, she enriched them by allowing them to spread word of her abilities to neighboring people. She was an oracle. A woman through whom a god spoke. Strangers paid heavily for her services. They paid her people, then they paid her. That was as it should have been. Her people could see that they benefited from her presence, and that they had reason to fear her abilities.” – Anyanwu, on page 3, Wild Seed, Octavia E. Butler
  • In his 1988 thesis on Ayi Kwei Armah’s novels, Art and the Revolutionary Content of Ayi Kwei Armah’s Novels with special reference to Two Thouysand Seasons, George Odera Outa states:

“But as is always the case with Armah, “healing” as an African practice is not just lauded because it is African: Everything earns praise or condemnation on its own merit. Thus, “quacks” who cash on peoples miseries and yearning for cure are so sarcastically condemned: …”They stuffed her stomach with scrapings from the backs of innumerable trees. They fed her scratching from snakes, rhinos, lizards, spiders, and scorpions, a most impressive array of beasts. Each doctor promised with his concoctions to give Araba Jesiwa the key that would unlock her love gift and open her to fruitful life…” – 95

This highlights the importance of self-criticism not only in the works of Armah but that of various Afrikan writers from Achebe, Lewis Nkosi, Noviolet KaBulawayo, Pettinah Gappah, and our Sisters and Brothers in the wide Diaspora – including Nnedi Okarafor, N.K. Jemisin as well as the Poets we have been blessed with – who act as oracles, warners, and seers guiding us with their wit and verbal medicines through the tedious terrain of neo-colonialism.

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An Apologia For The Unforgiven: a reflection on Desmond Tutu

I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency …the other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964

I was compelled to begin this by half-jokingly asking “Wenzeni uTutu?”, using the famous refrain employed by former president Jacob G. Zuma’s supporters. I wanted to use the phrase to rhetorically question what Tutu has actually done for the Natives of this land called South Africa.

This is a serious question but even more timely since many South Africans are questioning the efficacy of the Rainbow Nation. Tutu may have blamed the African National Congress for many of the ill-fated decisions that were made since CODESA and the much-criticized TRC, but as a supposed moral figure, did he do enough to challenge the disastrous macro-economic policies of his contemporaries?

In trying to compose my thoughts around the personality, celebrated humanity, and infamy of Tutu, I cannot help but remember that in spite of him being a famous national figure in my country, I really did not know him at all until I read his books. The first one I encountered was titled No Future Without Forgiveness …, then I read his preface to Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like before I read his, God Is Not A Christian – Speaking Truth In Times Of Crisis. Perhaps the only way I can explain why I was so drawn to this man’s voice was how he truly wore his heart on his sleeve. Here was a Christian who was unafraid to point out and critique the gaping flaws in his own personality as well as the religion he professes. In short, as vehemently theologian as he was, the Arch spared no holy-cows in his own brand of Black theology. So why on earth was the former archbishop equally hated and loved so fiercely?

The recently deceased Archbishop Emeritus Despond Mpilo Tutu was more controversial in his own country than can be appreciated by anyone outside of Southern Africa. The almost equally controversial former Zimbabwean leader Robert G. Mugabe once called him “that little man“, but then again, Big Men of politics wield words like swords, bullets, and shields. The attacks that Tutu received from all parts of society certainly did not dim his effervescent personality and global shine. He certainly will be remembered more for his greater contributions in the struggle against apartheid tyranny rather than the more shadowy or controversial parts of his socio-spiritual career. Just like Dr. Martin Luther King, or even John Langalibalele Dube, these men of the cloth are immortalized by their larger-than-life personal sacrifices. Their perceived sins are no more than proverbial “signs and crosses in their way”, to quote a Rastafari Nyabinghi chant.

While it is possible that their armor as faithful Christian soldiers may have endeared them to the largely Christianised /colonized Black population, it certainly did for the White liberal establishment whose power as the thought-police cannot be under-estimated. Whether Tutu may have committed some gravely immoral acts or ommissions during and after his tenure as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is covered by either his own public tears, moralistic admonitions as well as the ‘sea of witnesses’. I am attempting to highlight the contribution of the neo-liberal propaganda machinery that has operated in Southern Africa even before the inevitable rise of the so-called Black Theology. We shall have to get back on some further analysis of that notion, suffice to say that, a lot of the foundations of our purported Black theology is largely founded on Eurocentric ideals of humanity, in spite of the many writings about Ubuntu by the likes of Tutu and other humanist philosophers. We may soon discover that many versions of ubuntu are just like many Abrahamic religions, merely a smokescreen to keep the heaving and languishing Black masses from identifying their true power and capacity to self-actualize.

King points out the shortcomings of naturalistic and humanistic explanations of human nature that leave out Christian perspectives. He rejects the all too sentimental notions about man. Even his shortcomings are explained in terms of errors or lags of nature. The belief that human progress is inevitable and that man is gradually evolving into a higher state of perfection is rejected. Freudian terms are used to explain away man’s misdeeds. All bad deeds are said to be due to phobias, inner conflicts – the conflict between the id and the superego. King sees the real conflict as between man and God, man and himself and his brother resulting from the estranged relation with God.” – Roberts, Liberation, and Reconciliation, ( excerpt from a critique of Dr. Martin Luther King in a book titled To Make The Wounded Whole, edited by Lewis V. Baldwin)

All men and women of great renown are also largely problematic. The Mandela’s, Martin Luther King’s, Gandhi’s, Haile Selassie I, Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s, Hilary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, or even Erykah Badu’s of this world carry long shadows along with their mesmerizing public personas.

This article seeks to not only investigate the legacy of one of these luminaries but also highlight briefly the dangers of unencumbered idealism and popularism, otherwise referred to as idolatry. The post-apartheid lives of the Mandela’s were bound to be tied up to the actions and inactions of other renowned South Africans. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has to be among the most famous South Africans next to Nelson and Winnie Mandela yet after the infamous Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which Tutu had called for but not obtained any apologies from any of the key figures in the apartheid state, his relationship with the Winnie Mandela soured significantly. The main bone of contention was that Tutu as the chairperson and the purported conscience of the nation, the proverbial Father of the Rainbow Nation notion had required of a Black woman what he would willing to get out of the White perpetrators of gross historical injustice.

Today as he has recently passed away, a vast array of the younger generation of South Afrikans find it hard to forgive the Elder for the perceived act of discriminating against a perceived and venerated heroine of the liberation movement. But for those who can remember, Winnie Mandela was equally vilified by many among the Black Consciousness and Pan Africanist movements, citing the very same controversial episodes that the Arch was rebuking her and asking her to apologize for. But there is much more to the story than the public spats and controversies. We shall delve into these intricate interpersonal relationships and examine just how the media and the gullible unquestioning public falls into the same traps of indecent exposure.

As I have mentioned earlier, much of our liberation struggle as well as general socialization is intimately tied to the Biblical God/s or the God of Israel. This ancient brew puts us in a peculiar position when it comes to how we perceive our leaders as well as reality in general. Those among us who have chosen to rebel against notions of paternalistic leadership as well as colonially constructed moral codes find ourselves perceived as outlaws or simply uncaring, even unforgiving. But what is there to forgive? In a land where the larger native population remains landless and economically impoverished, can we really honestly afford to celebrate perceived heroes who have not addressed the root causes of our wretched condition?

In critiquing Tutu, we must surely view him as a key member of a passing generation, while not passive, he can be viewed as one of those who fought for the assimilation of Afrikan into an ideal of a society that was already broken. Because let us face it, Eurocentric notions of faith and forgiveness without restorative justice are not what we deserve as a people. While the work to free ourselves from the burdens of whiteness is upon us, as we decolonize our minds and Afrikanise our institutions of learning and earning, our old leaders must also be brought to question, not on a witchhunt against the dead and the dying, but as a matter of principle, so that we can bequeath our children the health, wealth and Afrikan personality they deserve.

Disclaimer:

The next chapter will focus on the problem of Non-Whites* – the historical evolution of the house-negro and the pervasive ideology of messianism.

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Anatomy of Social Justice

It is still true of the Negro in America, as it once was of the serfs of Europe, that city air makes men free, and this is true in more ways than are ordinarily conceived of. The great cities are now what the frontier and the wilderness once was, the refuge of the footloose, the disinherited, and all those possessed by that undefined malaise we call social unrest.” – ‘Politics and “The Man Farthest Down”, in Race and Culture by Robert Ezra Park, 1964

I was observing rival political party supporters and leaders ( ANC and EFF) straining to out-chant each other during one of the coalition voting stations in the South African economic capital, besides the pathetic looks on their faces, as young and old Black folk were singing at the top of their voices right next to each other in the over-crowded town hall, I wondered where their white counterparts were. It all reminded me of the stereotypes often peddled by racists, or even casual observers – that Afrikan people are merely good for singing, dancing, and serving under the superior management of other races. Another thought that plagued my mind was that of political party funding, especially the under-current insinuations that many of these political parties are financed by the elites, the 1% billionaires that dictate the real ‘selections’ behind the elections.

While the local media is busy reporting just how much the ruling party has lost out during the recent Local Government Elections, failing to obtain the majority votes required to continue governing the key municipalities; I am internally lamenting the further fragmentation of Afrikan political representation which translates to further economic disenfranchisement of the still oppressed Black masses. My primary concern is really the direction and usefulness of the present political dispensation. Whom do the political parties really serve and how can we speak of participatory democracy when so few people of voting age even bother to cast their votes? Many non-voters had clearly defined and understandable reasons to withhold their votes, but others had simply stayed away from the ballot out of sheer frustration, lethargy, or even sabotage. The latter can be categorized into various sections, suffice to say that there are South African’s who have no interest in party politics and the available choices.

The South African socio-economic landscape is a true microcosm of the rest of the world. The inequality, levels of violent crimes, and the multiple forms of corruption in high and low places are so appalling that one would be forgiven for assuming that both the captains and the crew have abandoned the ship to the tumultuous waters of free for all capitalism. The political climate is so fraught with challenges that one would expect that public servants would be required to be individuals of the most outstanding character, yet there are people who have been chosen in some provinces who have been convicted for the most insidious of crimes in the land, rape. While these few corrupt individuals may not be a reflection of the general status of the incumbent leaders, it does tell us a lot about the kind of checks and balances that exist as well as the society itself that has been abused so much that we fail to discern between the self-serving and those who serve the greater good. So how does South Africa figure out the necessary steps towards properly representative politics? Is politics as we have it at present, still necessary to achieve adequate levels of welfare and social justice?

Let us trace the development of reconstruction and democratic politics to see if Black people have ever had a chance to dismantle the masters house using the masters tools.

Probably no one expected the Negro would be permitted, without a struggle, to enjoy all his newly acquired civil rights; but it was hoped that, having the ballot, he would at least be able to enforce in the new social and political order a consideration that he had not received in the old. As it turned out, the interests of race and caste triumphed over the interests of class and party. With the rise of the so-called Solid South, at any rate, Negroes lost their representation not only in southern legislatures but in congress. They continued to share, to be sure, in the federal patronage, but they ceased to participate, in any effective way, in local politics.” – Park,p.172, Race and Culture, Politics and “The Man Farthest Down”

What this historical analyses by one of America’s chief sociologists shows us is that Black people, no matter which part of the world they may find themselves, were never really considered as potential participants in the political platforms and systems that white people had created for themselves. The very tools for participation in liberal democratic platforms were hardwired to serve the racial minority, i.e. the white colonialist. But even the very white socialologists and theorists we often turn to still fail to deal effectively with the plight of Black people, they simply have a biological blindspot. A good example, is the kind of solutions or quality of leadership they often imagine we need as a race. Here is an example of that psychological blindspot, exhibited by the same author I have quaoted in this essay.

“The task of securing the enforcement of the Negro’s civil rights was eventually taken up by the emerging Negro intelligentsia, led by men like Burghardt Du Bois, supported by the Society for the Advancement of Coloured People, of which he was the founder. This society inherited the idealism and radicalism of the abolotionists, but radicalism, at this time, amounted to no more than an insistence that the Negro should have, here and now, the rights which the new order promised but in practice posponed. Meanwhile the masses of the Negro people, where they were permitted to vote at all, continued to support the Republican party. In this way, they were acting in accordance with , if not in response to, the admonition of their number one political leader, Frederick Douglass. “The Republican party”, he once told them, “is the ship. All else is the open sea.”

TBC

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Reflections from The Mountain with Shabaka Men of Afrika

In the next upcoming days I will be sharing some deeply personal reflections and notes from The Men on the Mountain Sessions which I attended recently with Dr Baba Buntu’s Shabaka Men of Afrika.

Of course it is worth mentioning that I cannot divulge too much of what other brothers said about themselves and what they are working on, I too cannot say too much about what I may have said to the Elders, my own ancestors and in confidence to a particular brother up there on the mountain, the known code is “what happens on the mountain stays on the mointain”; however, I will use the template that has been already provided by the Great Teacher himself, Dr Buntu through his 16 Steps Towards Afrikan Manhood “Warrior Reflections for Unafraid Black Men” – Men on the Mountain Edition, 2021

Heal The Self, Family and Community
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Word Wide Web

A Collection of Essays to be published as a series by end November 2021

Word Wide Web:

Meditations from the Green Ankh Works Site

1st Draft for print publication September 2021

Background

In my previous collection of essays, stories and poems, I mentioned that there are so many events that occur in and around our lives that would benefit from being published. The point was to highlight that there is emancipatory power in storytelling as well as articulating of experiences, which simply means that as human beings, we would relate better if we could give each other a chance to hear each other out, to seek understanding rather than presume and assume things about each other.

I was also alluding to the value of journaling, telling our own stories in whatever form is suitable for us. Some may be fortunate enough to have close relatives, friends or companions that they can speak to about everything they feel or go through, but many do not have that good fortune – the sheer ability to speak out, voice out what is inside. Fortunately there is the art of writing. The great thing about telling ones story through writing is that there are so many ways that one can explore it, from private diary keeping to social media platforms as well as blogging and journaling in various other platforms both public and private. The words I will be sharing in this publication are both private as well as public outpourings of my own thoughts, observations and even recommendations for our beleaguered society, with particular focus on the Black community in Southern Afrika. I am also conscious of the fact that what afflicts one group of humanity also affects every other member of the Race, the human race. The reader will see through these essays that what may appear as personal musings are in reality a social call.

The University of Rochester Medical Centre’s Encyclopaedia, mentions journaling as part of the practices that are helpful in maintaining ones mental health:

Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by: Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them. Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts …”

This quotation clarifies simply that we often keep journals for the sheer reason of maintaining our state of mental wellbeing. If we do not tell our stories, we may even disintegrate into deep despair. We therefore offer our words as lanterns, lighthouses and life-boats without which we may drown in the heaps of negative information that we see all around us.

Contents

Chapter 1: Spontaneous Essays Shared on the Greenankhworks.wordpress.com site

Chapter 2: Spontaneous Poetry Mostly shared on social media platforms

Chapter 3: Thoughts regarding planetary health, regenerative eco-systems and indigenous knowledge systems

Opening Poem:

Dust settles

Light comes carried in the wind

Through the window

Voices from ululating trumpets

Screaming phoenixes aching to be born again

Echoes through time zones

Planetary experiences of Nature’s changes

The children of Man striving to capture it

Through instrumentation, sciences material and corporeal

We plunge into darkness carried by the winds of our lore

Deeper into mysteries known and unknown

Life becomes a gamble when even Nature is monopolized

Yet remains untamed

We too remain ochre children of the dust

Chapter 1

The Communal and Intellectual Properties of Afrikan Cultural Aesthetics (part 1)

A conversation that turned into an argument on Facebook today, which was about the lyrical prowess of US rapper Jay-Z really got me thinking about Black aesthetics in a general sense. The debate was sparked by someone who said that they were alarmed at how much praise Jay-Z gets for displaying a skill that he invented nor is he superior at it. Since rap music is part of the highly competitive segment of Hip Hop culture, many die-hard fans are quite picky about who really is the best at a specific aspect of rhyming.  

It was Mos Def aka Yasin Bey who once rapped, “This thing called rhyming/ is no different from coal mining/ we’re all on assignment / to un-earth the diamond …” You see, the whole argument was really about the use of something called ‘the double entendre’; it’s just a fancy way of describing an ambiguous turn of phrase or saying something with a double or triple meaning. In the art of storytelling called Rap, there are so many gimmicks and stylish ways that the artists use to stand-out, be unique and basically become ahead of their peers.

It is a great feat that after more than 40 years of its existence, despite commercialisation and so many practitioners pandering to capitalist/materialist interests, Hip Hop artists can still be distinguished through their work ethic, skills and excellence. Jay-Z happens to be one of the most successful artist/entrepreneur in the game at present. I do not wish to get into the merits of demerits of whether he is The master of the double entendre or not, suffice to say that there are hundreds if not thousands of less commercially successful MC’s/rappers out there in various languages, who can boast of being the masters or even geniuses in the same game. Someone in the Facebook debate even mentioned Aesop Rock and I later mentioned the recently belated MF DOOM.

The rapper Mos Def whom I quoted above can also be mentioned among the top experts in the art of story-telling, but we can mention many others beyond the shores of the USA. The late Ben Sharpa as well as The Hymphatic Thabs and Supa Mpondo are some of the South Afrikan luminaries that come to mind and so does Yugen Blakrok.

When Blakrok rhymes, “immaculate entanglement …chromosomes have relapsed the hidden element/ chosen matriarch walks with the ghosts of elephants …” – (Metamorphosis), it may require someone who either understands her milieu or simply has a grasp of the semiotics of Afrikan cosmology to decipher her meaning.

On Morbid Abakus, she raps quite succinctly, “A Neo moving counter-clockwise, til this cipher is complete/ False prophets are the first to seek the shelter of cocoons /Like a newborn retreating back into its mother’s womb/ out of this world I search space like quantum physicists/ scaling the mountain like Moses only to find out where the lizard lives/ I crash imbecilles and elevate seers/ My order is psychics that levitate above fear…”

The music is not particularly designed for the clubs or for mainstream audiences entertainment, it is like some forms of what is called jazz, only for ‘Heads’, or those among us who enjoy art-music. It is a proverbial and actual music of the spheres. Of course, not all music can be described as art.

Some of it is specifically created with the profit motive in mind, and a vast amount is made for the sole purpose of mind-less entertainment. For those who art fans, the lines are clearly drawn and heated debates have always ensued between purists and hedonists; the latter being part of the mass population. It is no surprise at all that less discerning listeners who are mostly spoon-fed their art, would attribute mastery to artists who are either mediocre or predictably over-rated. The music of the spheres is not found on radio stations and the television broadcasting is owned and controlled by people who have no interest in cultivating a culture of provocative or regenerative thought.

The purpose of this essay though is really to engage with how many of the cultural aesthetics found the art of Hip Hop are not only traceable to earlier expressions from jazz to Mbhaqanga to the Blues as well as more traditional Indigenous performative arts, but that the intellectual property really does not belong to persons but to the entire Afrikan community as well as other members of humanity who are able to embrace it and therefore reproduce it. It is during this stage of reproduction that the complex socio-political and economic dimensions manifest fully.

It is very important that as Afrikans engaged in the preservation of our creative economic production, we remain aware that there have always been forces that thrive on distorting and destroying what we create.

We may enjoy some moments of frivolous entertainment and even self-degradation/humiliation now and then, but there are still spaces of sacredness and conservation. Traditions in musical history as well as cultural life are established for a reason, they are the stuff that guides us and restores our confidence that our lives have more meaning than the stuff that can be bought or sold.

Our resistance to erasure is not a resistance against natural progression of change, we know that culture is dynamic and that traditions must adapt to contextual realities, yet we also are aware that without institutions there will be no systemic or functional best practices.  Note this passage from Frank Tirro’s book Jazz, A History: “Jazz became a symbol of crime, feeble-mindedness, insanity and sex, and was under constant attack from the press from the early 1920’s on …. It is ironic that we preserve study and enjoy a music today that was felt to be insidious and lascivious only yesterday.”

Perhaps the obvious question from this statement is who exactly considered Black music in those terms? What was the contextual or even psychological background of the critics at that particular time? It would emerge that the so called taste-makers or opinion makers of that era were the same ones who later began reproducing the music albeit a poorer version of it and constructed a whole new branding of it complete with their own preferred stars as well as the very identity of the sound. Somehow someway, Afrikan people are still able to withstand this entire negative onslaught against our creativity and emerge shining forth with boundless expressions of pure Soulful, Spiritual genius.

Perhaps the best and only way to preserve our creations is to find ways to remain our authentic selves, undiluted by the whims of trends, brands and opinions. We are not just here to create content and cater for the gullible masses, we are here to make life and art rhyme so eloquently that no one can dare to copy or fake it without sounding inauthentic. The same agents who have created a Hip Hop industry that lacks Soulfulness and spiritual harmony are the same descendants of the people who attempted to stifle the organic growth of what they called jazz. There is an undeniable Afrocentricity to the art-forms in question here and they cannot be alienated or removed from the very politics or sociological being of the Mother continent. Note what David Tame writes albeit simplistically in his book The Secret Power of Music, in the chapter Jazz and The Blues:

On the physical level the rhythms of jazz, like their parent sounds of Africa, literally forced the listeners to do something rhythmic with their limbs. The faster the tempo, the more the emotional tension created. . . -When pulsation and syncopation are the rhythmic foundations of the music at a dance hall, the movements of the dancers can invariably be seen to become very sensual and oriented around the loins. Such rhythms actually possess the capacity to force the subtle energies of the body downward into the region of the anatomy, therefore increasing the outpouring into the bloodstream of sexual hormones. Once such biochemical and more subtle forces have been concentrated on the loins, they must find some manner of expression.”

In part 2 of this essay, I will explain through a Fanonian and Cesairean approach just how racist these statements are. Racism camouflages itself within the cloaks of anthropology and white pathological paternalism. This is the sense of cultural delusion of supremacy that thrives on making sweeping judgements on matters that white intellectuals and even colonised Black writers know very little about. In preparation for part 2 I would advise the reader to seek out Aime Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land as well as Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks.

Whither The Afrikan Way?

Posted by greenankhworks September 13, 2019 Posted in Afrika MattersBlack Economics

Someone writes in the Financial Mail, August 15 – August 21, 2019;

 “SA is sliding inexorably into a debt trap, with the government unable to make the hard political choices necessary to spark growth, or to prevent a steady rise in the country’s debt ratio. Though finance minister Tito Mboweni has warned that “we really and truly cannot go on like this”, there is every indication that this is exactly what will happen.”

Afrika is committing an acquired form of assisted-suicide at an unprecedented scale. This is happening at every level of society from the individual, the social to the economic as well as, most disturbingly, on a spiritual level. Our focus will lean more towards the latter, although all other mitigating factors will be considered as well.

There are more ways to die than there are ways of living. Paradoxically, Afrika has a lot of intellectuals. The continent boasts thousands if not millions of individuals as well as institutions specializing in various disciplines ranging from cutting edge-science, engineering, architecture, applied mathematics and a myriad of technological fields of endeavour. Afrika is also most revered for its Creative economy, an ungovernable and wholly innovative and lucrative sector.

Needless to mention that we have been known to produce artistic and entrepreneurial geniuses in vast numbers too.  Afrikan genius has enriched the whole world since the dawn of recorded history. We are not short of human or intellectual capital.

The troubling question is where is the glorious fruit of all this genius, where can we truly say we are developing progressively as a Race, not just as individuals?

The recent death of former Zimbabwean founding ‘Father’ Robert Gabriel Mugabe has brought this fact so sharply into our collective psyche – ( We will explore his legacy briefly in another essay); How can a highly educated, revolutionary and industrious people fare so poorly in the development spheres? To put it bluntly, how can such a rich people remain so impoverished? What is it that we, our former liberation heroes and general leadership have been doing so wrong that we fail so dismally to thrive and beat the usual threats to ours and future generations wellbeing?

Many Afrocentric scholars have offered that Afrika has to create its own path to economic and social development. Yes, we can and should play our part in this world of capitalist /neoliberal competition, but that part should be clearly defined by Afrikans, united in purpose with definitive collective goals. How do we do this without alienating the rest of the world?

We have harped on and on about the practical value of Afrikan and Black people’s unity, but perhaps our voices are not audible enough to the powers that purport to be. Our voices are hoarse and our minds and hearts often grow weary, yet there are still so many untried avenues. Perhaps we have been going about it the wrong way. In the words of S.M.E. Bengu, we have been ‘Chasing Gods Not Our Own’. 

Is it not high-time we strive towards making Indigenous Knowledge Systems part of our training/education in the formal education circles? It is not enough to host numerous conferences and write thick volumes and actively pontificate on pulpits and social media.

Yes, Afrika must wake up, but the awakening must not be towards contributing so politely and gullibly to economies or systems that have not improved our collective wellbeing. Even the institutions that monitor and claim to promote our progress must be re-evaluated from an Afrikological perspective. We cannot continue to be accessories in a dying capitalist system.

Former President R.G. Mugabe and the incumbent President E.D. Mnangagwa are clear examples of how power and opportunity are not enough to turn people’s lives around. Praise them or reject them, the point is not really about their individuality, it is about the fact that they represent a breed of Afrikans who are devout Christians and clones of their European foes. How can one honestly defeat the plans of an enemy they secretly admire and seek to become? Can an Afrikan whose ideological and ethical worldview is framed in another Land truly serve Afrika’s interests?

There are so many examples of how many Afrikan leaders simply mimic the ways of their former masters in their daily living. They may speak their Mother-tongue and pay lip service to their respect for Afrikan traditions, but their general outlook, appearance and idealogical frameworks is Eurocentric and verging on superstitious. It is power that is scared to dare to be different. Afrikan economies and the underdevelopment of the lives of Black folks are the direct result of detached and visionless leaders as well as our inability to challenge them.

We may react emotionally to the passing of these leaders, but until we question their roles or culpability in our mired existence, we shall repeat their costly mistakes. The institutions that our leaders depend on and preside over, are not our own creation, so are the borders and the monetary systems that we are fighting to control. They are out of control in-spite of us and our contributions.

Let us no longer squander our gifts. Afrika must and can define itself. We can escape the double edged sword of contradictory economic growth figures. We can start by being clear that economic growth as well as technological advancement does not benefit Afrikans in any significant scale.

We can also note that mineral resources have not benefited us. Then we can start answering the questions such as, when exactly will we rid ourselves of the parasitic corporations that make billions from the rest of the continent yet have not helped us to lead better lives? Again the onus is on our leaders, from the political, the business as well as the traditional levels. Afrikan leaders have failed dismally to protect its inhabitants from extractive and exploitative commercial farmers, minders and other speculators. Our intellectuals are merely playing musical chairs, writing about an economy in industries that WE DO NOT OWN.

Here is a brief look at some recent statistics from the African Development Bank:

This year’s African Economic Outlook from the African Development Bank shows that the continent’s general economic performance continues to improve. Gross domestic product reached an estimated 3.5 % in 2018, about the same as in 2017 and up from 2.1 % in 2016. Africa’s GDP growth is projected to accelerate to 4.0 % in 2019 and 4.1 % in 2020.

But even that growth is not fast enough to address persistent fiscal and current account deficits and unsustainable debt. Indeed, countries have to move to a higher growth path and increase the efficiency of growth in generating decent jobs. The 2019 Outlook shows that macroeconomic and employment outcomes are better when industry leads growth.

The special theme this year is regional integration for Africa’s economic prosperity—integration not just for trade and economic cooperation but also for the delivery of regional public goods.

New research for this Outlook shows that five trade policy actions could bring Africa’s total gains to 4.5 per cent of its GDP, or $134 billion a year. First is eliminating all of today’s applied bilateral tariffs in Africa. Second is keeping rules of origin simple, flexible, and transparent.

Third is removing all non-tariff barriers on goods and services trade on a most-favoured-nation basis. Fourth is implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement to reduce the time it takes to cross borders and the transaction costs tied to non-tariff measures.

Fifth is negotiating with other developing countries to reduce by half their tariffs and nontariff barriers on a most-favoured-nation basis.”

Lastly, David Manang, former Mines Minister and Second in Charge at the Exchequer in Botswana, had this to say in his book, Delusions of Grandeur: Paradoxes and Ambivalence in Botswana’s Macroeconomic Firmament:

Botswana’s territory is a 582, 000 km affair. The population therein is a sparsely distributed 2 million. The proportion of unused land is practically infinite. Yet land acquisition both for citizens and investors is one hell of a headache. The hurdles in land acquisition are in fact one of the most commonly cited impediments to investment besides immigration permits. —Government, as the primary provider of serviced land, is guilty of failing investor’s big time. Puzzlingly, it is not aware that it is its own road-block to inward investment traffic in this regard.

That sums it up.

As we say Rest in Peace to Robert Gabriel Mugabe aka Gushungo, let us make sure as younger Afrikans, to not repeat the gullible and arrogant mistakes of our ancestors. Afrika can still create its own path to prosperity and we do not have to do it in any one’s terms. Whoever seeks to do business with us can do it in our own way. But We Must Find The Way.

Liberation Papers (2011 – 2012)

A Bloodless revolution is possible: The Death of Politics as We Know It

As we all watch with bated breaths the unfolding of revolutionary events taking place in Egypt/KMT, it appears to be taken lightly that about 160 people have been murdered in the process. The Tunisian revolution that has preceded the Egyptian events which the news channels are calling ‘turmoil’, ‘revolt’, chaos, ‘standoff’ depending on who is reporting also has left many families grieving. Perhaps we could view all the lives lost as collateral damage or as martyrs which are only necessary in times such as these, but is that not just a lie we have to tell ourselves so that we can carry on living or existing in the safety of our own nervous conditions?

There seems to be a tendency these days, to accept the suffering and ultimately inhumane deaths of others, whether far or close to us as just another natural give and take package of life, perhaps as one of nature’s laws. Some lives are viewed as disposable. We are increasingly getting too close and too comfortable with the state of being dead and/or slowly dying. Even some of the most celebrated philosophers, doctors and self-help gurus are churning out books and advice on how to live and co-exist amiably with our most feared neighbour (Death); we are being collectively trained to accept decay without any grudges or misgivings.

Of course it is a reality that whatever comes forth into the light of day must inevitably return into the darkness from whence it came, death therefore should be as normal as birth, right?

In any case, if we cannot stop it or prevent its eventuality, there is no other choice but to accept it as inevitable and really just au natural. Yet there are ways of dying that are not natural and accepting them as such is part of this era’s pathological mess, a loss of empathy and sense of Ubuntu.

But the question we must ask ourselves is; could any revolution be possible without loss of the innocent women and young people’s lives? Perhaps the problem lies in the very reasons why revolutions are taking place in the first place, could social and systematic change take place by any other means? This may be a stupid question because as a South African (Azanian) who has grown up in the midst of township political violence which was supposedly aimed at dismantling the apartheid regime yet seemed to cause the massacres of many young people, destruction of private property until eventually everyone  resorted again to reasonable dialogue. The biggest problem for me was the nature of the aggression, most violence was directed at our own neighbours, no schools in the suburbs were ever burned, no English man or Indian woman was necklace and White peoples businesses were never disrupted. The violence appeared to me as self-destructive and therefore unnecessary.

Although we were all aware of insurgence and Umkhonto WeSizwe’s struggles at our borders, the violence there also appeared to be Black on Black, while progress continued unperturbed in the White world. Even though this should not be about race, it increasingly becomes so when the power and sense of economic security remains within one race.

Today there is a lot of anti-imperialist rhetoric going on within the ruling parties ranks, from the Women’s to the Youth leagues. Meanwhile it is becoming even harder to reconcile all that revolutionary talk with the elitist and pro-capitalist lifestyles and actions of the leaders. It seems that revolution means many things to different people, one’s revolution may be characterised by social change while another’s is based on a change in personal fortunes.

The problem of Nationalism

As a person who has been raised as a speaker of the Zulu language, imbibing the cultural mores and traditional strains of the Zulu legend and folklore while living within the borders of a province called KwaZulu, it should follow that I am a Zulu. My maternal parenthood is composed of a mixture of Xhosa and Zulu, the Xhosa side also being touched by European and Khoi-San or Coloured ancestry. My paternal side is a mixture of Zulu and Swazi, so it could be argued that I am more Zulu than anything else.

My surname is the more tricky part, seeing that the Maseko’s are known to be either of Swati or Malawian origins. When I did some research on the Maseko people, I found out that the Maseko clan/nation had once ruled Eswatini/Swaziland for about 800 years before the Dlamini clan/nation usurped them. Perhaps what I am attempting to explain is merely the tribal part of my life, is there such a thing as a tribal nationalism? When one looks at the history and politics of the people called Ama-Zulu, it is clear that this conglomerate of clans and surnames came together in a sweeping and infamous attempt to become the world renowned nation that it claims to be today.

But even within the Zulu nation there have always been factions and clans who express the need and will to be freed from the term of Zulu who they see as just another clan or kingdom which should be independent from them.

In recent years there has been a lot of words thrown about between the house of Zulu and the house of Dlamini, the media has dealt a lot with that one and the intensity of the latter’s argument seemed to wax and wane in the light of public opinions.  The public is often a very fickle mass of people who are populist and strongly influenced by those who apparently wield power, so much so that whatever the general public may usually express is just the opinion of their superiors.

In Kwa-Zulu Natal as this province is so notoriously called, public opinion against the Dlamini claims for sovereignty often came very close to violence. There were many people who commented on national television and on newspapers, most of them standing by the well-established and nationally endorsed kingdom of the Zulus.

 And so the cries of the Dlamini’s were routinely silenced, at least for now, although there is no doubt that there are on-going arguments and land disputes behind closed doors. The very same thing has occurred since the 60’s or 70’s between the Maseko/Ngcamane Swazi people and the Dlamini-Sobhuza-Swazi, but that is also another long and drawn out war of words and it is  based on various role players interpretations of historical truth.

I am simply pointing these cases out to show that nationhood is a concept or idea that has been largely forced upon unsuspecting masses that would otherwise get along just fine despite their differences. It is the powerful and the power hungry chiefs and their advisers who manipulate both history and people’s minds in order to gain a monopoly on land and other resources.

As a Rastafarian I have also been convinced, mostly through the rousing and revolutionary music of Reggae pioneers, that nationality is a fallacy that has no place in a peaceful habitation that seeks to support and look after the needs of many people have been mixed through-our a tumultuous and foreign manipulated history. In other words Rasta’s are Outer-Nationalists, citizens of the World, a world which does not discriminate in terms of colour, language or even race. This is of course true in theory, while many Rases practice it according to the teachings and utterances of HIM Haile Selassie, there are a lot of them who still act through their own personal prejudices.

But disagreement or dissent never leads to violence. That is largely because the movement is spiritual without being Religious in essence. Within a religious framework, nationalistic sentiments always lead to conflict because people are often forced to choose sides and that’s when xenophobia and hostility begins. Just for the record, here’s what South American author Mario Vargas Llosa has to say about Nationalism and Utopia:

No nation has evolved from the natural and spontaneous development of a single ethnic group, religion or cultural tradition. They all came about as a result of political arbitrariness, dispossession or imperial intrigue, crude economic interests, brute force combined with good fortune, and they all, even the oldest and most distinguished of them, have erected their borders on a devastated terrain of destroyed or repressed or fragmented cultures, incorporating people who have been thrown together through wars, religious strife or out of a simple survival instinct. Every nation is a lie that time and history has given – as in old myths or classical legends – an appearance of truth.” –p.222

This famous Peruvian writer of such books as The War of the End of The World and The Feast of The Goat, does not hold any punches in order to convince the reader of what he thinks nationalism is.

He even uses the writings of many of his contemporaries and historical writers to demonstrate that nationalism is just a reaction to other forms of mind control mechanisms and that it can only breed strife and violence. I have to say that I have been one of the defenders of what our politicians, especially the ANC Youth League chief calls Nationalisation. I have half-heartedly spoken out in defence of this idea too as I have also been influenced by the well-meaning works of previous Africanist heroes who sacrificed their lives in order to preserve the national identity of Black People universally.

I say that my support has been half-hearted because my other mind tells me that Blackness and African-ness is a very complex issue and when it is used to make political arguments concerning matters of macro-economic then it becomes even more complicated and even dangerous.

It is well known that race and racism is one of the many traits of nationalism. In defence of one’s own interests it seems plausible that one must respond or react strongly or forcefully against any so called foreign opinion or incursion. This is the very reason why this is such a problematic topic and it will require not only the sociologist, the anthropologist and the psychologists input to truly decipher, but it also will require that the people who are used as the pawns in this historical game to stand up and speak for themselves without the propaganda and control exerted by their so called leaders.

Here is what Llosa has to say again, even more earnestly:

Nationalism is the culture of the uncultured, the religion of the demagogue, and a smokescreen behind which prejudice, violence and often racism can be found lurking. Because at the root of all nationalism is the conviction that being part of a specific nation is an attribute, something distinctive, an essence shared by similarly privileged people, a condition that inevitably establishes a difference – a hierarchy – with respect to other people. It is the easiest thing in the world to play the nationalist card to whip up a crowd, especially if that crowd is made up of poor ignorant people who are looking to vent their bitterness and frustration on something or someone.” – 223.

There is just so much that this elder has to say which is just so on point and agrees with what I think, but in order to be more objective, I will simply cease from quoting any more of his words. In the final analysis, it is even risky thing to merely write about the vulnerability of the masses without sounding like another philosopher without any sensible solutions to offer.

In Azania (Southern Africa) there is a chance for people to actually turn the tables on their leaders. Events in the past few years even just before the FIFA World Cup clearly illustrated that the general African population is ready to see real changes in the status quo. But the political machine is well oiled with dirty money and as soon as they sense a revolution brewing, as in the many wage and other labour related mass actions that took place even after the world cup in SA (Azania), Government and their media machinery have used many devises to divert attention from the problems that must be addressed.

Aside from the universal challenges of violent crime and youth delinquency, the South African public rarely uses violence to deal with problems. Does this mean that we are not capable of revolutions such as displayed by the people of Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and even the student’s revolt in the United Kingdom? Not really.

South Africans are no strangers to aggression; this is even more so when it comes to violence against African people who we choose to call foreigners. This kind of violence which is labelled as Xenophobic must be the most disturbing to observe because it fits right into the neo-colonial plans of divide and conquer us. When people are controlled by means of the illusion of money or loss thereof they are capable of murdering their own brothers and sister.  The irony of it all is that the very some people are made to be more foreign than others and poor people appear incapable to distinguish between a white foreigner and a black one. Reminding me of a title from one of Andile Mngxitama’s Frank Talk booklets “Whites are Tourists and Blacks are Kwere-kwere’s”*.

 I have never heard or read a story where a Norwegian, Scottish or British national has been harassed and beaten for not having the right papers to work or live in this country. But the politicians are always making a fuss about how much they loathe racism, how much South Africa has transformed and allowed the assimilation of so many colours, cultures and even products. At a fundamental level, the power of self-definition still remains in the hands of Whites people and the few newly rich Blacks who do not have any empathy for the poor masses who have to live like paupers in their own land, living as beasts of no nation.

Essentially, there should be a renewal of the way we view and define ourselves as the people of Southern Africa.  This way of being and seeing should not be influenced by whatever the democratic culture which dominates the rest of the imperial nations recommends. We should and can define our own destiny in a new way, without even referring to what the great strategist King Shaka had to do, without even looking to Marx and all those well-meaning European thinkers said and wrote.  The very unique people that reside in this land have a special purpose on earth, to give humanity its dignity through the well-known ideal of UBUNTU.

Ubuntu is what is missing in all of the world’s politics, it may be written within the constitutions but whatever else goes on in the powerful business and media world is directly contradictory to the principles of Ubuntu. The Revolution therefore should begin within each individual, to see oneself as an agent, the greatest actor or (activity) activator within the universe. This can be done through self-knowledge and understanding of others purpose too, no nation has ever given anyone that divine sense of purpose. The nation has only created the illusion that I am because we are. It is an illusion that has so long been disguised and clothed in the robes of truth.

Nabiy ©

Inside looking Out (A Rant)

One of the things that made me remember to notice my true self was to actually wake up and become intentionally conscious about my true self; to take long absences from the front of the mirror. I needed to understand what my identity was beyond what I see and what I have been programmed to think.

Mirrors are fine if you still view yourself as merely a body. Just as the body itself is justified and wonderful in its own material manifestation or as the philosophers call it, its corporeality.

The inner view is as sure as the nakedness of youth, the naked truth or the vigour of youth. It exposes the more vulnerable viscera to what we perceive as truth or even reality. 

In my own observations and limited knowledge of sociology I can say that most people are afraid of the truth and they would rather be offered or exposed to as little reality as possible. Truth as it has erroneously been said hurts. Very few of us can actually bear to live with it. One could even say, it is both priceless and complex.

Here in Southern Africa/ Azania, I find that we are especially afraid of hurtful truths, preferring to even ignore the terrible pandemic of HIV/AIDS or else to view it through the most pessimistic eyes. In a situation like this, every few people end up being able change their diet, lifestyle and attitude to manage the disease in order to live.

Crime has become so overwhelming that the only way we collectively deal with it is to say agh shame, or if it happens to us, we shrug it off and blame it on the rate of unemployment; in other words, we still refuse to see the bigger picture. We try to pray it, drink it and wish it away.

Only occasionally do we ever see communities taking to the streets in protest over rising child abuse cases…

The environment and society which harms its youth is in a sore and hellish predicament. That society needs to stand still and reflect on what must be done to stop that kind of behaviour. South Africans generally wait for the law to take its own lethargic time to solve these many cases. We are at a perfect time to become pioneers of change and the kind of activists who can revolutionise the way the world functions. But something seems to have been ‘stolen’ from us, or there is a faculty of the mind that we have deliberately shut down in order to bask in the fleeting glow of capitalist globalisation.

It is not enough to establish multi million rand funds and programs which deal with the problem once it has happened, to counsel the raped, the rapists and their families is similar to dressing the wound without applying antiseptics.

It is similar to believing everything we see in the mirror.

Conversely, to work/strive for the love, wellbeing and knowledge of the youth is to take a firm step towards building a vigorous and robust people or even a nation.

Liberation Time Music

I hear the elder politician who has positioned himself as an intellectual, speaking, and even writing of a developmental theology. I think to myself, what a brilliant yet unimaginative and predictable idea. Is it unique? Can it be achieved within an increasingly consumerist, deeply superstitious and haplessly gullible society?

What is it exactly, are we developing here…?

The people, the land, the governmental coffers…?

Diversification, inclusivity, the political business person, the project, the unmitigated theft of public funds through felonious tender systems?

Can we develop, strengthen and sustain the life/ survival of a people who are still yet so naïve (politically and spiritually); ready to believe anything a popular person says who are ready to die for a lie rather than the truth?

Will these theologically developed people be satisfied with a plate without bloody meat?

What then will we eat, the people will ask again, sleeping and waking daily in a land that is lush, fertile and ready for any foreign picking…

This splendid land which is as coveted as it is free for all who can buy a piece…

This sacred hearth…

This is indeed a country beloved by many well-meaning people, how will a Kairo moment, a phenomenal and fantastical idea change the lives of ordinary Southern Africans?

There are many good ideas and imported remedies for the rot that is plaguing the whole of Afrika and the rest of the world today. These many proposals do not even scratch the surface if they still ignore Rights to Life of all organisms, while others are hunted down and others are manipulated to satiate the hunger for blood.

Black Dignity

How best can Africa’s multi-millennial history be envisioned as one continuous stream? Why did the society that invented literacy sink into the misery of illiteracy, ignorance and religion? What creative African values lie buried under the lethal debris of slavery, colonialism, structural adjustment and globalization? And why did the ancient scribes call the concept of Maat our best promise of regeneration? 

KMT is the narrative of an African woman’s life quest, and of the answers she uncovers.” – (Review of Ayi Kwei Armah’s KMT: In the House of Life)

There is this tendency among South Africans, both educated and less educated, that any talk of other parts of Africa distracts us from focussing on our immediate problems. In fact, each time one mentions the fact that Africa must unite, the first argument is that each of the African countries has its own problems and that the real motivator these days is not our shared values and faith in One Supreme Being, but money.

The people who say such things are choosing to forget that mankind has managed to survive for many thousands of years without money and will continue to do so for many more if we remove our focus from the enslaving concepts of currency.

A New World Emerges Glistening

Posted by greenankhworks June 30, 2021 Posted in Afrika Matters, Black Economics, Myth and Story, Power, Science of Revolution Tags: Governance, Kingship, and Power. A New World Emerges Glistening

None of us can control every situation we find ourselves in. What we can control is how we react when things turn against us. I have always seen failure as a challenge to pull myself up and keep going. A struggle is only one step in the long path we walk and dwelling on it only postpones the completion of our journey. Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times.” – Wangari Maathai, Unbowed, One Woman’s Story

The future is now drawing us in faster than the past can hold us back. An obvious consequence to this scenario is the end of the conservative, the traditional and the archaic, plus the naive notion that somehow we can return to childhood, to the fantasy of any creation myth, like the Garden of Eden. But nothing will stop the evolutionary momentum. The conservatives and the traditionalists are on the verge of extinction and the institutions associated with them can sense it. ” – Mike Kawitzky

Real and sustainable economic empowerment aims at evening out the spread of wealth across the demographic spectrum and not to perpetuate its skewing. The implicit mandate of any government anywhere is to economically empower the citizenry.” – David Magang, Delusions of Grandeur, Paradoxes and Ambivalences in Botswana’s Macroeconomic Firmament

We need new creation stories. We need stories without queens, kings, serfs and imaginary monsters or gods. Yes, there will be fantasy and magical realities and even so called false-positives. Archetypes are the stuff of our human experience, both good and bad and everything else in-between, but our new stories must be based on truly new inventions, where old habits have been proven to be obsolete and not useful. Royalty is one of those habits, a dirty habit which is held aloft by demagogues, just as nationalism is. Politics as well as money or fiat finance are the other unfriendly ghosts we ought to exorcise if we are truly serious about the pursuit of happiness, prosperity and mutual wellbeing.

So many ages have passed unto infinity, history fills a space and time that we can neither fully grasp nor accurately retell. We relate to the past merely because we have been there, it is part of our old skin, a presence that is always shifting, snakish, moving with us as we grow into the next moment. We also relate to the past because we are connected to it through ancestry, our collective evolution as a species is as cyclic as it is relational. It may not always be fair or even rational, but it is relational. “Every little action has a reaction …” Bob Marley

Afrikan Warrior Teacher Dr Baba Buntu says that we are ‘relational beings’, meaning that humanity is in a cosmic relationship not only as homosapiens and the various human families/races that are within it, but that we are interconnected with everything else both visible and unseen. We relate. As racial relatives as well as beings with common histories.

All of the earth’s peoples have their creation stories, and some view them clearly as part of their particular folklore and mythologies, while some cultures hold a more myopic view, the fundamentalist opinion that their own stories are realistic or truthful, that they are a universal truth.

There are certain cultural motifs or systems that have transcended these differences. These tendencies, whether based on basic instincts or our part animal /part systemic intelligence that keep us needing certain kinds of leadership so that we can feel secure as groups or ‘tribes’, are in fact part of what keeps us competing instead of relating. Kingship is one of the outmoded systems that almost every nation has either had or still holds on to. The purported divine right of royalty is by far one of the most fantastical of all human inventions; That a certain group of members of the race is somehow preordained to rule or ‘lord it’ over others.

It is quite amazing just how this institution has managed to last well into the 21st century. As much as kingship faces a myriad of challenges, it appears that new intelligence and people’s traditional habits remain at an impasse. The political systems such as constitutional democracies, communism and even so called monarchical democracy and feudalism all appear to be alternating forms of the dictatorship of some by others. While there may be many other ideas from scientific socialism to anarchy and federalism, none have shown any significant success as allowing humanity to gravitate to our natural states. Peace, equity and justice are still very much a struggle to achieve, even in most developed or technically advanced countries. Dominant ideas still find more expression than individual or even communal liberties.

In the United States of America, which is known as the land of the free, there is as much injustice if not more, than in any other dictatorship. A semblance or pretence of freedom is sold to citizens as part of an American dream. Yet, both government and corporations have created a system wherein the profit motive has become more powerful and influential than the vote or peoples actual choices. In simpler terms, it is money or wealth, not merit or service excellence that determines leadership.

In his book More Together Than Alone, the power of community; Mark Nepo writes: “In America, our sense of self-reliance is so embedded in our “Live free or die” ethic that, when we mean to honour what we’re been through as a society, we often re-enact the conflict. For example, there are annual re-enactments of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) rather than annual healing conversations about race. And there are annual re-enactments of the Revolutionary War battles at Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) rather than public forums on the deeper meanings of freedom.”

What this warrior writer of ‘new ideas for new ways of living’ states here reminds me of something I have always questioned regarding the history or story of the people known as AmaZulu. This famous nation within the Republic of South Africa has long been famous for all the wrong reasons. The Zulu is almost always defined as a warrior and even the women are defined as sturdy and rock-like. It is a stereotypical image that many Zulu’s and South Afrikans have embraced unquestioningly.

These are the toxic stereotypes that are repeated and performed in the arts as well as in various other national and even global spaces, they reinforce a narrative that traps the people into a cycle of psychic as well as actual violence. It also diminishes the value of the many other beautiful attributes of this culturally rich people.

New storytellers understand that complexity is as importance as simplicity. It is the healthy tension between the two that creates an atmosphere of inventiveness. When we tell stories of peaceful warriors rather than two dimensional kings with killer instincts, we allow the quiet to be articulated as clearly as a sounded bell. Surely we are more than the sum of our conflicts. People are more than the minions and subjects of their rulers or kings.

In Southern Africa, traditional leadership has been afforded a place in the globally acclaimed constitution or the Bill of Rights, yet traditional leaders hardly have any power to make any significant decisions among their constituents. The very government that is in power through the ballot still receives instructions from global powers and funders in making decisions that directly affect citizens. It is as if the proverbial pyramid of power has remained intact beyond the collapse of colonialism or imperialism.

While one appreciates the schemes of geopolitical macroeconomics, and that no country is an island, it is important to still ask the questions of whether anything is still sacred, whether sovereignty is a reality or a thing of the past?

The people of the land called Afrika are as diverse as we are uniquely gifted. The land is rich in every conceivable natural resource. Our endowments, on a human and environmental level should mean that we should not be beggars or the wretched of the earth. The so called resource curse seems to follow us despite the many global conferences, United Nations and other institutional policies that are aimed at ensuring that human rights and planetary justice is observed, yet neither traditional leadership, Indigenous Knowledge practitioners nor socio-political elites have been able to clarify just how we can transcend our state of collective wretchedness.

Our story is not one-sided. We are as wonderfully creative and industrious as anyone else, if not more, given our experiences and circumstances. Afrika influences the world in uncountable ways. Our story is a story of rising each time we have been brought down low; resilience and tenacity are part of our narrative. Reinvention is in our DNA, it is all a matter of finding the right catalysts to activate it.

Yet, we still need to do more. We need to unlearn many of our old habits. Some that have been acquired through the colonial traumatic experience and some that are part of the deadly past. Yes, the past is both life-giving as well as death laden. We must move as a people that have discerned just what we can use and what we must discard if we are to thrive in the brave new world of this here future.

There are institutions that have already been formed which work on how to use history in a positive or proactive way. We will need them to refine their data and methodologies. We are always telling new stories and there are industries that thrive on distributing those stories through various media internationally, let them be cognizant of the impact of such stories on the collective psyche of the new world’s children. Let us guard against poisoning our children with the debris and violence of our messy past. While it may stroke our national egos to tell stories of our own bloodied heroes and struggle stalwarts, it does not make the world a more peaceable place to pollute fresh springs with our muddied feet.

IZAZI

( Izazi is a collection of reflections / telling/ notes and essays written either randomly or inspirationally by Ras Nabiy, better known as Menzi Maseko of Azania, better known as Sothern Africa, on the Eastern side)

Menzi Maseko Reflects

I’m all things to all men …” – Roots Manuva

Ras Nabiy,  Ras Levitikush, Brother Menzi, Mfwethu, Mzala, my friend and even Sibali (at least for one brother from another mother.) This Menzi fellow must really be proud, arrogant or schizophrenic to have all those names heaped upon him-Self. So who really am I?

I am very glad you’ve asked, my brother. Just like the Kwaito singers who chanted and shouted Wena uwubani? (it was  a group called Chiskop in the not too distant past. Real r-evolutionary patriots of Mandela’s bleeding rainbow nation.)

There is so much in a name and there is so much more to you, and I write this knowing that it has been said before, perhaps by someone as Common as Common, then it should make perfect Sense to acknowledge the man, or at least the Heritage. The ancient principle of ‘ man know thyself’, still continues and will remain until mankind understands what we are here for and perhaps that is when we will transform our actions into perfect devotion and mutual benefit.

Word travels Son! Word travels at the speed of light or any God given wind, under any given wing, word travels and reaches its destination. Being more pure than water and more potent than medicine, word is able to create contusions through mind, space and time, spanning eternity and defining infinity.  Word plays havoc with one world while it maintains the harmony of another. As the Angel that stands over land and sea, the words of man are as many and yet as futile as the deepest and most profound silence. Yet with Music and Poetry, mankind has been known to attempt and even approach feats of Divinity through the use of the Art of Composing, Singing, Humming, Producing, Writing and Listening to Music. Music itself has been known as one of the Healing Arts. Poetry and Music are almost indivisible, one feeds off and nourishes the other, they nurture each other like parents to a child. Words and names are not mere building blocks or atoms for the material world, effectively manipulated as communication devises, yet their fullest potential can be unlocked with further insight.

Knowledge can be secret even though it is in the open, available for everyone to see, it is only those who seek it who come upon it. In desolate places we find our bread, the Rasta-man did chant, passing on the traditional knowledge found in the life and times and the actions of Jesus Christ (Yehshua the Anointed One). Knowledge of things hidden and revealed also informs the disciple of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I about the revealed Divinity of Jah Ras Tafari, the Royal Son of Ras Makonnen in Ethiopia, Who ascended the Throne of David in these latter days. In the beginning, there was the Word…

A child is sometimes wiser than the old fool. In the children’s soul there is that divine spark, the innocence of inexperience with the carnal and physically and mentally challenging material world, therefore a child, or youth is more receptive of the Naked Truth.  A child like faith is a concept that is misunderstood and grossly misinterpreted almost to the point of corruption by sensational people, yet the significance of that Knowledge is as important as having a heart that seeks Gods kingdom/ the kingman. The Kingdom of man and the gods is on earth, the Kingdom of God is in the heavens. The blessing comes from above and then from below.

It is all a matter of reception, relation and communication. 

From above, the Attentive Love comes down to mankind from God, Jah, the Highest and the Beginner of all things.  If one seeks to find knowledge of the existence of The Beginner, His view and Power-strong Presence on earth, they should look no further than Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and Yeshu’a Messiah of Judah.  The Father the Son and the Spirit are wholly Holy and a perfect example of how the Eternal Secret is preserved in the Universe. Earth is not only the favoured planet; it is the place where the Reflection of God is seen in its most wondrous manifestation. The Tri-Unity of Haile Selassie I will be discussed thoroughly during another telling as we use the word for what it was originally created for (Composition, repetition and recreation of songs for Him in Her Creation).

The Christ has sacrificed Himself into the material world in order to remind mankind of their celestial or Heavenly Home. The habitation of the Souls of men is here yet it is also beyond the veil of this material world. In a chapter titled City of the Gods, Braham Hancock writes or repeats:

 “The gods gathered together at Teotihuacan [‘the place of the gods’] and wondered anxiously who was to be the next Sun. Only the sacred fire [the material representation of Huehueteotl, the god who gave life its beginning] could be seen in the darkness, still quaking following the recent chaos. ‘Someone will have to sacrifice himself, throw himself into the fire,’ they cried, ‘only then will there be a Sun.”

The church members often repeat among themselves that God’s blessings are new every morning. It is a simple reference to the daily rising of the sun, but when it is said with a religious feeling, it also denotes the more deeper and esoteric meaning of receiving influx from the Creator as afresh and new experience.

So begins the chapters which deal with my written reflections, a series of essays and notes that I began writing from the middle part of 2008. Written randomly at my mother’s home and at my girlfriends quiet and irie little place.

I’ll begin with one written on 09.10.08 and titled Reflections:

In our lifetime, wait a minute, that doesn’t even begin to sound like a candid or light conversation, one that could be had between two or more friends sharing or reflecting. Or does it?

Every day nowadays, brings along with it various challenges, daring us to come into either confrontations whereby we ‘deal with it’ purposefully or deny them any of our attention. But before we possibly get carried away deeper in some rhetorical words and philosophizing, let us bring to the table some real stories about people reflecting and dealing with themselves and their most basic encounters.

Let us start with the family unit, if in actual fact it can ever be called a unit. Despite the apparent notions that family is a couple of people who are together through some genealogical, adoptive, adaptive, productive or even counter-productive manner; the family can easily become a kind of social contract and even a morally fundamentalist spectacle. Take two brothers who share the same room, the same air for the most of their ‘off duty/social…’lifetime (before independence), they may share a few basic things, such as food, shelter, clothing and even books, but being two different people, their individualistic perceptions will show in their thought processing and actions.

For example, I may say ‘God is’ and my brother may respond by saying ‘but who, where, how and why doesn’t God show Him/Herself to me…?’

A brief exploration of family and God in history and mythology

I took a book from the BAT Centre library, written by one Claude Levi-Strauss; it is called Myth and Meaning.  After debating /reasoning with my younger brother about the reality or the non-reality (existence or fiction) of God, I continued writing the end of the first chapter of my Reflections.

It appears to me that the vision of Faith and the ways of science are always going to be counter-active (Osiris, Horus, Set and Isis). There is a vast amount of ‘knowledge’ that can be gotten from the archives of science, theology and philosophy.  Knowledge is treated with meticulous care by most if not all known philosophers, confronting all the questions of  human existence with a keen mind of uncovering the real truth behind so called Truth, the real facts behind so called Religions, belief and many other social frameworks. Questioning in itself is a not a bad thing, it is one of the gateways to knowledge and there are plenty respectable human beings whose livelihood features some form of ‘deals’ with the powers that be. Public Enemy also raps enthusiastically and furiously about ‘Fighting the powers that be!’.

And so I also reflect on powers, power received and power misunderstood, misused is power that has become disempowered or has lost its essential and natural/metaphysical ability to positively contribute on creation. The example of politicians as the ministers for social change has for centuries long lost its dignity. Stories that are created around leadership have contributed to instilling certain reflexive and detrimental attitudes and attributes to the leaders themselves. These attributes have taken on specific mythological connotations and denotations making the leaders themselves incapable of distinguishing just and unjust actions. In short, power received has the potential to be grossly abused. This depends a lot on leader’s character, faith and upbringing.

Most leaders continue forging on through their careers and become ironically satisfied with the power and lifestyles they possess, in time the style and not the life begins to possess them. But at the centre of all this Right and Wrong, there is always the question of The Standing. Who or what do you stand for, what do you understand, over-stand, inner-stand, how-much can you with-stand, where do you stand…one can go on and on until we grind to a stand-still; but it is clear that as it is colloquially said : ‘ you have to stand for something or else you will fall for any and everything.’

This expression is primarily used within the religious and political circles, where people are being galvanised or indoctrinated into believing in something, coaxed to stand for something. It is not the most positive affirmation of faith but it reflects clearly the dilemma of believing and disbelieving humanity, it cuts to the point. If I say I am placing my trust in only that which I can see, feel and calculate, I am being rational and am willing to show scientific proofs for it, but if I say I know and have it in my heart or that my spirit testifies to this or that and I don’t need to measure the limits of my faith, can both these points of view be reconciled in one person, or is there a middle path between… ‘Ever since the advent of science in the 17th century, we have rejected mythology as a product of superstitious and primitive minds. Only now are we coming to a fuller appreciation of the nature and role of myth in human history.’                                                                                                                             – ( from the back-page of Claude-Levi Strauss’s book Myth and Meaning ).

It is as if everything I tend to think of and tend to do or study further really makes itself available to me at a ‘pre-destined’ level or time; I had to discover this book while I was returning one on Ingmar Bergman. While in the latter book I was searching for inspiration that would prepare my mind for production of the plays/dramatic pieces in my planning stages, I also had been watching some DVD’s that discuss the impact of religious fundamentalism, mass-media and global capitalism on our society and global communities. Levi-Strauss happened to appear as one of the primary and idealistic or American leaders/politicians.  Although I have come across his name or occasional quotations in the past I had never quite read his work.

As we say in IsiZulu ‘ Umuntu ufunda aze afe!’, which translate as ‘ a person learns until they die. I am constantly learning too. But what am I learning from this elder is what I have always known. Whether through my reasoning’s with colleagues, a-alikes or arguments with my brother, it seems that the meaning of myths, science and signs of Gods existence have occupied my being for a rather long time.

Notes written on 11 September 2008/1 Meskerem 2001)

 Have I been writing still, forward or just writing backwards? Writing must be revitalizing, symbolic and ultimately, the words must contain some form of healing and be a foundation for natural regeneration. If writing is to be considered worthy of copying, printing and publication, there must be something valuable that the writer has in store for the potential readers.

Writing, be it personal, mystical/metaphysical, theoretical, philosophical or secular or scientific, carries within it a multifarious (many) meanings. Some writing implicitly set itself as a proper search for the very meaning of writing and furthermore, the meaning of such words as meaning.

One who is unfocussed can often drift and become caught up in the swirl, bristle, whistle and infinite movement of words, hypnotised by the poetry and ideas in words and sentences until he or she is lost in a sort of labyrinth.  That is when one can begin to think of words as containing some types of keys. Locks and keys can be inserted into seemingly unassuming and innocent texts.

Texts bearing certain orders of words with the idea of producing particular or specific images in the readers mind, images that can provoke or invoke specific connotations, actions and emotional if not just psychological effects. In other words, we can use words to bind and blind, just as we can use words to unbind and cause one to see more clearly.

This is how I have always thought of words, the effect of some words, sentences and stories can be have a slow while others can have a semi-permanent effect on the subconscious. Stories have been narrated and passed down through man-kinds history, some as tales for the instruction of children, some told as liturgy and passed on through certain traditions that bear the signs of customs, faith and religion. Some stories are the instruments used to preserve memory and to strengthen it.

These are among some of the longest surviving stories. These stories travel through time and in and out of different civilizations, languages and peoples carried by people who have found, recreated or imparted meaning to the words and essences of the story.

Some of these stories have been true and realistic depictions of historical occurrences, after, after having been passed on or told to many people or been allocated to specific guardians, the words are liable to the effects of time. There are many examples of stories that occur at a certain age, and the people of that age appear to perceive these occurrences as if they are happening for the first time.

Some writers and story tellers even have the nerve of saying that that they are transcribing or describing has never before occurred, that it is the first and the last time, and that so and so is and will forever be the richest or wisest person ever.  

This brings us to the question of How Do We Know for sure? Some texts declare that Knowledge is power, everything that mankind can think of or imagine, she can make possible, there is nothing that cannot come to pass once one has mastered the keys, the secret and sacred doors of Right Knowledge, Right-Action, Right Thought and ultimately a Divine-like Righteousness.

 History tells us that through the achievements of many scientific, magical, spiritual and soulful geniuses who employed all their faculties into the Creative Work of healing, leading and articulating our purpose in Life.

It has not been easy for any Messiah to tread this bitter-sweet Earth, yet despite the tribulations and trials they have faced, the Wisdom that they come to relate among us remains until this day. The hardships that the so called saviours of the people of this world have always faced have been a necessary factor in their redemptive missions, the Spiritual traditions, stories, legends and textual myths give us a lot of explanations as to why it is this way. You can ask any knowledgeable Christian why he or she believes that the Cross was as necessary to Jesus as it is for any martyr who lives to die for an Idea that will surely live on.

The MC who goes by the name of GURU (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) rapped “it seems that life is just a constant war between good and evil…” The victory of good over evil and the drama that ensues between within human relationships has been a subject of songs for as long as we can remember.

People tend to generally associate themselves with the winning side or the side that they perceive is in the lead in whatever endeavour. The challenges and experiences that people face as they pursue the course of life are the most common signs of a greater Cosmic Game. Yet it is not merely as game as any one will testify as they go through the changes (planned and unplanned for) that birth, learning, experience and death bring. Our reactions to some of these challenges and changes can either make or break us. Depending on our psychological and emotional disposition we respond differently to various stimuli, the ones who learn to adapt or even adept themselves find it easier to manoeuvre through the labyrinth of Life.

So as some continue to forge ahead with new and improved ways to use their chosen languages to broaden the Creative Spectrum of literature, art  and life in general. Yet where do we find ourselves and what is our true worth as human beings. Is it enough to see and hear, from here or there, stories of individuals who are excelling in their chosen fields, their chosen vocations and who continue to wow us through their talents and labours?

Is this what we are brought here for, to see others perish like insignificant insects and numbers in the infinite pool of time, so that we can pray and hope and testify that some so and so has ‘got his own’ while some other so and so ‘got nothing’.

Are we here to wander along unequally in the wheel of time, to go away, to come forth and back to earth, to bend or to mend reality; searching and finding these bits of ‘meaning’ in our troubled and often meaningless world in order to create stories of yet another possible world, through words and action.

In the beginning, we are told, there was the word and the word was with God…In the middle of our life the word is still with us, yet too many are still question or presence of God within it. How do you prove the existence of your God, the believer and the knower is asked? How do you prove the non-existence of HIM/HRR? The believer retort and point to their books to refer the supposedly blind to God. On and on and continually, the debates return to the TEXT. Although a lot of conflict springs from interpretations of the texts, a lot of good acts are also inspired by the texts. The rapper Common Sense also repeats the trend by saying “Quran and The Bible, to me they’re all vital, gotta read them boys, you can’t just skim ‘em, different branches of the leaf…” From a song called Gaining Ones Definition.

Truthfully, one has to gain ones own definition ( Man Know Your Self ! ), to define oneself appears to have been of utmost importance to people such as Jesus Christ/Yehoshua Messiah, Emperor Haile Selassie I, Malcolm X, Bantubonke Stephen Biko to mention but a few. But what is this defining that must happen and why is it important to emphasize that it should be properly done?

To answer that question, let us turn to some of the sayings of these Great Men. Beginning with Yehoshushua/Jesus Himself:

 “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “ What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him. “The son of David.” He said to them, “ How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, ‘ the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet?”

If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did any one dare to ask him any more questions.” 

Thus we see that if one has Superior Knowledge of himself he is able to stop every question put to him. The man who knows himself has the Truth to back him up against any false claims to his identity. It is therefore very important to define things, people and situations as they truly are; it violates not even a single natural or cosmic law. Instead it assists a man and his world to purify his or her vision and experience. The second example comes from the Living Words of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I who said:

“Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as was given by the Most High. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe and each other as the essence of our existence; it embodies our culture, True identity, nationhood and destiny.”

Even though it may seem that HIM is describing a concept here, He is actually explaining and defining Spirituality as something not mystical and in need of complex governing, but as something that is necessary for the harmonious survival of people, nature and the whole interwoven universe. The importance of defining Spirituality is very obvious especially in a world that is torn by so called Religious propaganda, isms and wars. It reminds mankind of a common destiny and a shared hope in peaceful and just living.

The power of definition has even deeper connotations and we can learn either to live or to die via the proper or improver use of words, knowledge and related phenomenon. It takes us to the roots of consciousness and the foundations of good or evil. In her book, Esoteric Healing, Alice A. Bailey elaborates on the inner workings of common and universal laws that govern whether we lead a healthy life or not.

On page 229 under a chapter titled Cause Emanating from Group Life she writes:

A great new law of nature was then imposed by the planetary Logos which has been expressed (very inadequately) by the words, -‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ This law could better be expressed by saying, “He that misuses that which he hath built will see it fall from forces within itself.”

We shall return to the i-sights from this book as we continue to define what really we are for on this planet, this act is significant because the more we over-under and inner-stand about our-selves, the more we begin to know and live in our world, able to respond to each and every situation or change and thus we have reached a level of Consciousness whereby we fully perceive the Mind of God, within ourselves and also out There.  This is because we all contain the forces which act upon each other in the universe, each through subtler and more ethereal ways than others.

The question of Purpose has always confronted us. As human beings, people of every race and creed, we live by the knowledge of what we are for. It is not enough to simply know that you are Benzi Masiko, Bruce Lee or Phumzile Mashile, you have to be sure of who, what, how and where you are. These are the basic modes of consciousness. Knowledge of Self Definition, we repeat as we reflect eternally about the Life eternal, the life in time and the life in Rhyme.  

The purpose of a life is an individual choice, yet since man is existing within a society with others whose purpose is intermingled with theirs, the matter of rules and patterns arises. The social contracts that we all have to reckon with are generally accepted, although there are some of us who do not seem to fit comfortably with the way things are.

It is important to recognize the rights of others around us, being conscious of the needs and desires of people outside of ourselves also help us to grow. But what happens when the needs and desire of others begin to cause friction and impede the needs of another? The social contract is compromised and we find ourselves engaged in ways to try and make amends. Compromise seems to be the order of the day for most people on this planet, yet the compromises we often make are selfish ones, usually inspired by our desire to own things, spaces and even people.

Unfortunately in our lifetime, a great number of people die before they can even recognise their Purpose. What have I been living for, they ask on their deathbed, what has it all been worth. Others receive last moment illuminations and are able to die in relative peace, forgiving and forgetting all the pain of the body and transcending their own carnal mind.

How then do we minimize the amount of pain and disturbance we cause on each other? Are the Self-help books and therapy sessions offering solutions or mere cures for problems that have not been rooted out?

It is not enough to say that time will tell, the human race knows that it deserves better conditions devoid of all the penitentiary systems, debts, costs of living, hospitals and other related institutions, factories with their pollutions and all other factors contributing to our visible and often unnoticeable decline.

The African Master-teacher and author Ayi Kwei Armah says:

 “But you know that the loved ones are dead even when they walk around the earth like the living, and you know that all they want is that you throw away the thing in your mind that makes you think you are still alive, and their embrace will be a welcome unto death.”   – pages 64-5 (Two Thousand Seasons)

The Poet and author Kofi Awoonor has commented:

My concern is not…to provide a picture of a particular society at a particular time, but rather to provide through a series of selected images, the idea of a continuous process of corruptibility which the human society without strength and vision can be locked in.”                                                                                                                                                     – ( Taken from a Personal Letter to Richard Priebe, quoted by R. Priebe, in Myth, Realism and the West African Writer – Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1988, page 65)     

It is clear to notice from the words of these authors that the question of Life’s Purpose is an often difficult one to answer. Armah writes the above words in his novel as a testimony for the decline of the respect for individual vision and right to life. The individuals he writes about are specifically African, and in probing how forces beyond our own personal strength invade us and overcome us when we are not fully aware, the writer also provides a warning that one should never give in, not even to the ‘loved ones’. It is a sentence that has I have often recalled in my mind as I also struggle to define my real purpose as a Ras Tafarian.

To be involved in a discipleship or an order that seeks to liberate both body and mind from the visible and invisible shackles of existence is not easy. The ‘loved ones’ often do not understand as they are satisfied with the means they use to survive. 

As unsatisfactory as these conditions may be, it is hard to tear people from what they are used to, even if they can see that their knowledge is insufficient and they are slowly dying. One often hears the words ‘we’re all going to end up dead, anyway!’ and it is a painful reminder of how misunderstood the matter of death is. Writers have always been informing us of alternatives to this ‘dying life’, from different perspectives ranging from the spiritual, religious and practical, the issue of life and death is dealt with utmost seriousness. The Buddhist’s speak of the seven Bardos, the Ancient Kametans wrote it into their sacred laws in such work as The Papyrus of Ani, better known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead or the Book of Coming Forth from Night into Day.

The images of these texts have often baffled the mundane mind, instead of enlightening us about the passage of time and how we ought to view our earthly existence; they have mostly sparked superstitions and misunderstanding. The past, being far from just history to be repeated and remembered, is our map and our campus towards a future we can grasp while we’re still here right now. Half the story is still being told. 

26 Masingane 2009                        

Articulate Love: A Note on Excess and Deficiency

“If the heart is the image of the Sun in man, in the Earth it is gold.” – Juan Eduardo Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols (Great Zimbabwe: Resting Place of the Lion)

As healers, we are constantly working on ourselves, our own weaknesses, shortcomings and fragility. It is very instructive that one of the primary ways in which Nguni/BaNtu Shamans/Sangoma’s/Nyanga’s become initiated into their powerful duties as mediums is that there must be a recognisable illness or sickness that they have to go through. This sickness is usually impossible to define in western terms, but it usually involves a kind of psychosis and sometimes strange inexplicable misfortunes and even physical suffering.

Part of Initiation involves overcoming or conquering ingulo/ the sickness and occurs in the early stages. The healer never forgets this usually near death experience, it is a constant reminder of the fragile bond between the visible and invisible worlds, between wellness and infirmity.

We have to be healed and cleansed in order to guide and heal others. Cerebral or mental Consciousness of this is not quite enough. We have to strive to walk this path daily with the required sense of purpose and keen vision. Our guides can teach us so much, but we walk the road alone. Healing may be for the community but it is also a solitary road. We must embrace the loneliness as much as we must enjoy communal living.

While working on my own deficiencies and striving to improve my character as well as my practice, I have been studying various books in addition to a deeper meditation work. One of the key books is Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and The Chakra System as a Path to the Self. I hereby quote from a chapter titled Excess and Deficiency.

Introduction:

In order to develop love – universal love, cosmic love, whatever you would like to call it – one must accept the whole situation of life as it is, both the light and the dark, the good and the bad.” – Chogyam Trungpa

Excess:

Excess in the heart chakra is not an excess in actual love, but an excessive use of love for our own needs. Excess occurs when we overcompensate for our own wounds. Since love, by nature, involves others, then others become victims in our drama of overcompensating. Excessive love is desperate in its need for constant assurance, and does not uphold another’s freedom to be who they are. It is love that is used like a drug, where the goal is to get high and remove ourselves from our responsibilities and unresolved pain. We are in excess when we use love to compensate for the incompleteness in ourselves, or when we use another to go where we cannot or will not go ourselves.

Excess – An Excessive fourth chakra has such a strong movement outward that very little can get in. This eventually depletes the core, which tries to replenish itself by connecting with others in the same excessive manner that caused the depletion.

Deficiency – Rigid boundaries keep the inside from coming out and the outside from coming in, resulting in isolation, which perpetuates deficiency.

By definition the heart chakra is about reaching beyond the self and connecting with others. Co-dependency expresses an excessive heart chakra, where the emphasis on the OTHER is out of balance. The compulsive need to fixate on others with excessive care taking and meddling is a behaviour that arises from our own denied need for such care. Co-dependency is not an act of love, but an obsession clothed in the guise of love. An obsessive heart chakra can be demanding and possessive. It is passionately connected, but often blindly so.

There is so much illumination in these pages, but we have to stop here and contemplate, meditate on Self-care and how to let go of our own compulsive behaviour that hurts us as well as others. We often do this without noticing. I am constantly reminding myself to be aware and to act accordingly.

The next post will focus on Healing the Heart Chakra. This is a topic that the author of this book deals with deftly on Chapter Four. She begins the theme of Healing / Restoring the Lotus, with the following words, which shall be the closing of this post:

Love is the essence that heals. Patience, skill, training, and talent all play their part, but without love they are merely techniques. All wounds cry for the universal medicine of love.

As the cosmic glue of the universe, love is the force that bridges the gaps that cut us asunder. In the gap between Heaven and Earth, love is the binding force that holds together the many-coloured steps of the Rainbow Bridge.”

As we close this episode, I must state that, not since reading Ayi Kwei Armah’s books Two Thousand Seasons, The Healers and The Beautifull Ones Are Not Yet Born, have I been so moved by the written word. In the next episode we shall also explore just how words can both heal and harm.

Reflections on the Spiritual Economy of a People

Five Elements of Invocation:

Fire – Am : Awaken Qebsenuf

Water – Nu : Awaken Hapi

Air – As : Awaken Imset

Earth – Ta : Awaken Duamutef

Quintessence – Sa : Awaken Khephera !!!

Chant: Am Nu As Ta Sa!!!

We used to be a people of invocation. NATURAL MAGIK, scientific ingenuity, rainmakers, HEALERS and seers are still among us, but we are somehow either unable to make a new Afrika or we are left with scraps of knowledge from other religions to comfort us – the masters tools are still expected to help us to undo the masters work.

A wise old Zimbabwean man once told me while we were queuing at a fuel station, that Zimbabweans are not well educated as it is claimed, but they are rather well ‘trained’ mimics of their former colonial masters. We had been talking about the impact of colonial education, religion and economic systems on the present generation. The elder and I agreed that a completely new education system is required throughout the whole continent of Afrika, an open system as well as several levels of secret societal systems, where the real essence of Afrikology is taught and practiced.

The following is a story I wrote on my journal right after seeing another biblical sign boldly advertising quite a peculiar message. The Israelite religion is still quite appealing to Africans, in spite of all we have been through, but it is not a mystery why this is so. As the elder said, we are well trained.

Once, driving along Harare’s King George Street, towards the suburb of Avondale this afternoon, I noticed a sign outside a church wall; it read or quoted the biblical verse Genesis chapter 26 verse 18. I memorized this scripture as I could not read the entire quote fast enough from the car. It was the graphic image and the message that clearly showed that it was now time to dig the old wells anew – that resonated. But what does it mean?

The significance of this scripture for Zimbabwe was very poignant and once again I drove on contemplating just how much the church means to a people who have been and are still undergoing severe economic troubles as well as social degeneration.

While it is clear to all that this is a wealthy country or a potentially prosperous people who are suffering from severe cases of misrule in addition to cultural and spiritual genocide, there is so much dependence on the unseen, the hoped for and the often mysterious world of Gods, Ancestors and sundry invisible forces.

The tormentors of the people are known. They are the people in powerful positions, some elected and others imposed through cultures of compliance and convenience and connivance. The land is thirsty for fresh and vigorous leadership. The land is thirsting for progress and an end to the brutality of a regime that squanders the resources and saps the energy of generations of hopeful and faithful people. The people are creative and ingenious in how they manage to keep above the sinking sands created by both failed internal systems as well as international misunderstanding resulting in sanctions and repression.

While we are acutely aware of the geopolitical or macro-economic environment that the country is operating under, it is not a subversive idea to call for a radical revolution. From the political, governance and business standpoint there has been plenty offers of advice or possible solutions given to the rulers or decision makers but it appears that there are forces that are not ready to see the end of their peoples suffering. As long as they are comfortably numb in their own false opulence.

This biblical verse is just one thread of the greater puzzle, a significant population’s very need. There is scarcity of clean water; there is scarcity of living wages, jobs and opportunities for the educated youth. We depend on wells or borehole water in Harare and many other locales. The biblical verse is not something that should only be taken metaphorically or evangelically, there are many ways to interpret Water, but let us look into the purport of this scripture: Note the story of Isaac found on Genesis 26 verse 18 –

He dug once again the wells which had been dug during the time of Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped after Abraham’s death. Isaac gave the wells the same names that his father had given them. Isaac’s servants dug a well in the valley and found water …The names of the wells were Quarrel, Enmity and Finally the last was named Freedom and the other one was named Vow, in Beersheba.”

Many people all over the world find affinity to these stories which are collectively called the Gospel. Afrikan people in particular have found such deep resonance with Biblical scripture that there are various interpretive routes under the banner of Black theology and scholarship that supposedly prove that the very roots of Hebrew /Judaic religion are to be found in the continent called Africa. This is a subject we shall revisit in due time. Suffice to say, there is something remarkably strange about substituting an original for a copy.

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Excerpt From Soon To Be Published Book

Menzi Maseko Spontaneous Poetry Collection

A collection of poems written mostly spontaneously on social media platforms or live during and after music performances.

1

The Ring Of Fire (revisitation)

Last night I saw Johnny Cash while blowing my trumpet

At first I thought it was the Devil

then I remembered that

Black is the colour of my Lovers hair

And the devil may wear black but she is still trapped in the dragons lair

When Cash stretched out his wrinkled hand

I Blue one Note but he swallowed the flame

I blew another note so orgasmic God came

Shimmer shimmying like some Ethiopian dame

Smacked Johnny across the face and his false teeth fell out

Takura Yakuda tried to rescue him but he pierced him with a hellish shout

I asked God why did She do that cause I had it under control

She smiled and whispered calmly

“I am the devourer of Souls” …

2.

times like these squeeze hope through the optimists ears

once sound minds run to and from real and imagined fears

reaching reaching for the pipe

dreams strangled by chords from open mics

where artists souls are sold deep below market price

the state is the prime suspect

the audience is the judge, jury and executioner

blinded by the glare of foreign lights

willfully ignorant of both recent and ancient histories …

the messages in the music

the bassists armpit

which made the sound so sweet

after walking and walking and walking

to the recording booth …

3.

It is this sound that feeds us

Frees us from a system that bleeds us

Turning what Nature meant for progress

Into serfs, looters and tools for regress

This sound reminds we

Of our promises to Self and to Ancestors

We said we shall over come

And we said Mayibuye IAfrika

Kepha Sisacwile ezinkambeni zikaFaro

Sikhotha izinyembezi zikaElizabitch

The Whore of Babylon has become our mother

Her tongue is out bridge over troubled seas

Her crown jewels may have been stolen

Yet we bow to her sons and daughters

Each time they put up a show

This sound brings us back to our senses

Smacks us with a wake up slap across our stupid face

Saying : “Wake Up You Black God

Why would you cower and eat dry bones like a forsaken dog”???

This is the sound that encapsulates our grandmother’s prayers

Mingled with Impepho, sweat and tears

Making a dread portion called jazz

Dragging us screaming and kicking

From the tavern to the boardroom to the kitchen to the classroom back to eMsamo

Reminding us….

4.

Sometimes life is a game of masquerades.

You have to see through the show into the reality –

The sufferation and the redemption are all staged together to teach us how to maintain equanimity.

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Toward a full review the book: The Oromo An Ancient People Great African Nation

The Oromo are not fetishists. They believe in Waaqa toko, unique universal creator and master. They see His manifestations in the great forces of nature, without mistaking them for Him. The Oromo abhor idolatory. Even more, they have not raised any temple to Waaqa, nor to awulia; they repudiate all anthropomorphic representation of the Divinity. Their temple, that is the universe with the star-studded arch; their altar, the surface of the earth; their sacrifices are always innocent, even the ones which we see to sanctify the cradle of humanity, that is to say the first fruits of the fields and the primes of the herd. They ask only of the giants of the forest or of the most beautiful neighboring tree of their village to shade, with its luxuriant trees their prayers and their immolations.” – Father Martial de Salviac

“The general traits of the history and the destinies of a people have intimate connections with the structure of the country that is at the same time itrs cradle and the theatre of its action. Let us first take a quick glance at the geography.

In this massive Africa, with reliefs a bit accentuated, the ranges of Ethiopian mountains surpasses in dimension all of the other orographic systems of the continent. It is the mightiest redoubt of this rampart of mountains along the coast, parallel to the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea, which begins in the regions of the Cape, goes narrowing and lowering toward Nubia and ends in the thin eastern embankment of Egypt which is called the Arabian chain. Facing those of Yemen, the Ethiopian heights are flanked, below the equitorial zone, by the plateau of the Upper Nile, which has the interior sea of Nyanza for a central hollow, and by the two highest peaks of Africa, the Kilimanjaro and the Kenya, – perhaps the summits which the ancients call the “Mountains of the Moon”.”

I shall be quoting a lot from this book, published in 1901 and translated in 2005 in Ethiopia. I will later tell the story of how I came to acquire it, for that story itself is part of the fascinating lifelong journey to Know The Real Ethiopia, as diverse as that land and its people are.

The conscientious reader will discern the levels of Eurocentric prejudice or even racism in the tone and turns of phrase use by the author, yet one will also confess that there is so much to learn from the revelations in this book. The teller of this story reveals many of the inter-social or ethnic prejudices and challenges faced by the Oromo people from all sides, it also highlights their resilience and valor.

We shall discuss all of this in later essays and hopefully find out more about the author Martial De Salviac …

He continued:

“The Oromo perpetuate their institutions and customs, tainted by some superstitious and abuse, from the remotest ages. Their worship, directed to God creator and legislator, which they call Waaqa; the subdivision of their nation into familial tribes, are survivors from a patriarchal period. They sustain themselves against the Muslims, outlawed by their customary law, hatred as alive as that of the Abyssinians, and crush them on the way of their victorious armies. They have been seen shedding their blood in anguish rather than adhere to the law of Mohammed and desert the Waaqa.”

Soon after the translated book was launched this was published on :https://amharic.voanews.com/a/a-53-2007-04-12-voa1-93030544/1459011.html

“In 1901, Martial de Salviac, a French missionary, published Ancient Oromo: Great African Nation. The book gives an account of Oromo history, the flora and fauna of their land, their system of self governance, their religious beliefs and how their people were captured and sod into slavery. For the past century it has been considered a classic of Oromo history. Since last year, the book has been available in English, translated from the French by Dr. Ayalew Kanno of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University.

Interviewed for the VOA Afan Oromo program, by Jalene Gemeda, Dr. Ayalew said: “The purpose of revisiting how one’s ancestors lived over a hundred years ago does not and must not imply a desire to relive the past. However, disregarding the past complicates the vicious circle of misunderstanding and perpetuates divergence of opinion. An unbiased self-realization is a necessary condition for a lasting stability and progress.” (click the link above to hear the interview in Afan Oromo)”

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The Fear of Women

At this time I’d like to say a few word, especially to my sisters. Sisters, Black people will never be free unless Black women participate in every aspect of our struggle, on every level of our struggle.” – Assata Shakur

For the longest time, I have comtemplated writing on the subject of women’s complex conditions, positioning and power. Questions of power and disempowerment are always going to reflect each community’s cultures and socio-economic conditions. In the South Afrikan context we are faced with epidemic proportions of anti-woman or what is called Gender Based Violence. Children, girls and women of all ages are sexually violated and murdered at an alarming rate. We shall discuss just how this violence is also manifest throughout all levels of our society too inspite of gender, status and even race. Our primary attention is particularly focussed on the Afrikan woman, her history, her multifarious roles in personal, domestic, societal struggles and ill-appreciated victories.

The violence in South Afrikan society is not just disheartening but it also obscures the many complexities of the power that women hold and have always held in Afrikan societies. While the violence foregrounds our brokenness and highlights the savagery or depravity of certain men, all Afrikan men stand guilty of NOT DOING ENOUGH to stop the plague.

Many of us are aware of the myriad sources of Injustice in this country, sadly now called The Rape Capital of the World, (worse than war torn countries and those experiencing more severe economic challenges) – Our knowledge of the causes of our aggression appears to not be sufficient to help us dispell the daily adverse occurances. We are simply on a murderous autopilot mode and the haemorraging is making us delirious with sorrow. While many girls and women live in constant fear of being abused by known as well as strange boys and men, there is an almost paralyzed silence among many HEALERS.

Another part of my ‘cathartic’ exercise will include topics with titles such as; “What Is A Whore or Who is a Whore”? – or Sex For Sale In Capitalist Society. I have written notes on my journals but I do not want to attempt to deal with the subject if I cannot delve deep enough to explore its roots and implications especially from an Indigenous Knowledge perspective.

In my notes I wrote:

“I aim to write and curate works centreing on the Divine Female without objectifying Her. How is this even possible? With themes ranging from portrait of women from various backgrounds.

The sacred divine as mother – Mothers can be sub-divided into so many varieties and approached through various lens due to their diverse attributes both culturally, traditionally and in the modern sense.

The sacred divine as worker, as a carrerist, as a slave, as serf and as public servant.

The sacred female divine as a child surrounded by a world that limits the potential of girls.

The sacred divine as Lola Darling. Or the pros and cons of Sexual Liberation.

What is a Whore or Who is a Whore:

The matter of sex for sale and sex for SURVIVAL and even sex for the pure/impure pleasure of it fits rather uncomfortably in most peoples minds. How Do We Incorporate the subject in a discussion or subjects pertaining to divinity? It requires one to firstly UNTHINK all notions of Sex as a ‘Dirty Word’ or as a SINFUL act or sinful in nature.

When did we learn that sex is not sacred, or that it is only hallowed or sacred once it is institutionalised/traditionlised or performed in martriage?

We shall answer these questions once we have covered the topics of a MALE CENTRED WORLD, of PRIVATE PROPERTY, divisions of Labour …

Who decides what can and cannot be done, sold and whose ethical and moral compass is being used to navigate this territory.

What does experience and history tell us about the nature of sex and public opinions regarding matters of illicit engagement – how does civilization impact our conduct?

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Words of Power, Sounds of Peace

“Our subject is not music as an abstract art, but music as a force which affects all who hear it. Music – not as entertainment only, but as a literal power. Whether we are within audible range of music, its influence is playing upon us constantly.” – David Tame, The Secret Power of Music

Towards a much more in-depth essay on Nduduzo Makhathini’s Work

It is written that in a beginning there was the word, so to avoid any sense of confusion or misinterpretation, let us start with a definition of one of the words that will be used here.

Although this brief review of the work of a very exciting and quintessentially focused artist will lean heavily on the cultural/spiritual aspects of the production and reception of the music, we would like to begin with some disclaimers regarding the sound popularly known as jazz. 

The music itself is considered by its listeners and producers as being one of the freest mediums of artistic expression. But the terms jazz as well as the connotations of what was considered ‘free-jazz’ or even ‘African jazz’, do not fit comfortably in the contexts of many of its listeners and most especially its practitioners. Nduduzo Makhathini himself considers himself an Improviser. While improvisation is nothing new in the art-form, there is distinctive shift of perception when an artist decides to define himself in terms that are distinct in word and sound.

The erudite and prolific Afrikan-American composer/trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has an elaborate explanation on what he prefers to call Systemic Music or simply Art Music (insert reference link).

The fact is definitions are rather unwholesome as well as increasingly unnecessary as ways of describing many practitioners of this kind of music. The fact remains that considered in relation to many other modes of musical communication, the sound formerly labeled jazz is quite unique and there are specific traits that compel us to categorize or distinguish it; despite the remonstrations of many generations of its creators and some of its audience.

With all this considered, let us look at the following definitions and see how they may assist in a common or layman’s analysis of the multifaceted and layered sounds of Nduduzo Makhathini.

Listening to an artist who considers himself a healer and a conduit of Spirit requires much more than an ear for good or quality entertainment. In the words of a famous South African radio advert, you must “Listen with your Soul”.

Firstly, I will dare to call this “sound we revere”, an elite music. But what does this word elite mean?

Elite or é·lite

[ ih-leet, ey-leet ]


noun

(often used with a plural verb) the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.

(used with a plural verb) person of the highest class: Only the elite were there.

a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group: the power elite of a major political party.

a type, approximately 10-point in printing-type size, widely used in typewriters and having 12 characters to the inch. 

adjective

representing the most choice or select; best: an elite group of authors.”

Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini might be the first person to refuse to be ‘labelled’ an elitist in any shape or form; but how far can producers of art control their own sphere of influence or even their reception by the listeners and the industries they operate in?

The option of using the word elite to describe both the perception of what is called real jazz as well as the character and psychological state of its producers is quite deliberate. It denotes the difference between the elevated and pristine state of the music as compared to the run-of-the mill/mainstream or what is termed popular music today.

Fans of this music have always been the vanguard of any society, the ones whose taste for other modes of artistic communication and expression have been more discerning compared to the average enjoyer of music.

It is as if jazz is an actual language on its own. The musicians may be ordinary artists pursuing a music that gives them joy; but after all the work is done and they have communicated their message, it is up to us to enjoy it and allow it to take us wherever it does. The music of Nduduzo Makhathini uniquely takes us deeper into ourselves, exploring both our ancestral heritage as well as our place in a universe populated by various often unnamable forces. In other words, the music transports us into realms that lie just beyond the mundane, causing us to strive for better or clearer reception, to receive the messages of the Ancestors as much as we are compelled to offer our prayers for the present and future.

As stated in one of the essays in my book Rock ‘n Rule – jazz is an intellectual choice. This does not mean it is not to be enjoyed solely within its recreational or fun contexts, it simply means that it has a built in quality of endurance, a deliberately created permanence that the band members all contribute in communicating.

While not being deliberately exclusive, it is not overly inclusive either. Despite the fact that Leo Smith calls it the most democratic art-form, referring to how each member in the band strives to be as honest and harmoniously participatory, there is still individual freedom within the perimeters of a seemingly boundless ‘system’.

It is an elite sound; a bespoke cultural phenomenon and each audience member has a unique approach to how they appreciate it.

Questions of influence, power (spiritual and economic), control, reception and receptivity must be considered when dealing with a sound that has for a long time been considered proto-classical.

While the African-American roots of what is considered jazz today are worthy of reverence, there has been considerable work done to support the notion that what is called jazz is truly a unique amalgamation of Afrikan idioms, tones, cultural cadences and harmonics developed through exceptionally Black American styles using European instruments. Ironically, artistes such as Makhathini are creating a language that shatters the elitism while keeping the tradition distinct. It is a mode of communication that brings in the listener through a shared narrative, while offering a sense of education.

The difference between Western or European classical music and jazz/Black American Music goes beyond the point of fixed composition, improvisation, and individual interpretation of the musical score. The people who have developed the sounds of jazz/BAM far more than anyone else are a people who have imbued the music with their unique cultural and ancestral flavors.

There is an distinctive disciplic succession in the way the jazz/BAM tradition has been handed down from one generation to another via a plethora of compositional and improvisational styles and Afrikan and Diasporic contributions can be considered as much influential to the development of today’s artists as the mainstream and readily quotable names from the United States of America.

So much of this music exists outside of the mainstream and popular canon’s that have been controlled by Eurocentric and America-centered tastemakers that many generations of artists and listeners have been robbed of the omniversal/omnispacial nuances of this music.

Just like there has been a hegemony of religious, cultural and economic dogma that was deepened by the advent of globalization, there was been a deliberate attempt to either ignore or only pay lip-service to musical contributions by Afrikan artists in the sphere called jazz. The induction of Southern Afrikan pianist/Healer and storyteller Nduduzo Makhathini into the Blue Note jazz stratosphere is a fulfillment of many musical prophecies.

The sheer breadth of sounds that make up the album Modes of Communication: Letters From The Underworlds, make it clear that Nduduzo was very cognizant of the fact that he is carrying the hopes and dreams of past, present and future contributors to this auspicious tradition. The songs range from the clearly ancestrally or spiritually inclined narratives, to the gospel nuanced as well as the socially conscious.

The socio-political aspects of the narrative cannot be ignored as the artists are deliberately compelled to confront the Black condition with fervent intentionality. While the act of communicating at a universal level is important, each member in this group is perceived as chanting or conjuring up something that can potentially healing towards the global African race, to heal the social ills before we can be ushered into the proverbial imagined race.

While there are many great South Afrikan artists who could have been elevated to this position much earlier, it is a highly significant that the forces that be, have begun with a powerful artist such as this one.

Let us briefly look at the musical output that has led to this moment …

  • Mother Tongue (Gundu, 2014) with Sakhile Simani, Mthunzi Mvubu, Linda Sikhakhane, Ariel Zamonsky, Benjamin Jeptha, Ayanda Sikade
  • Sketches of Tomorrow (Gundu, 2014) with Sakhile Simani, Mthunzi Mvubu, Jonathan Crossley, Ayanda Sikade
  • Listening to the Ground (Gundu, 2015)
  • Matunda Ya Kwanza (Gundu, 2015)
  • Icilongo – The African Peace Suite (Gundu, 2016) with Sakhile Moleshe, Justin Bellairs, Shabaka Hutchings, Benjamin Jeptha, Ayanda Sikade
  • Inner Dimensions – Umgidi Trio & One Voice Vocal Ensemble (2016) with Fabien Iannone, Dominic Egli, Lisette Spinnler, Jule Fahrer
  • Reflections (Gundu, 2017) solo piano
  • Ikhambi (Universal South Africa, 2018)
  •  (Universal Music (Pty) Ltd., 2020)

Albums Produced

  • Mbuso Khoza: Zilindile (Winner Best Contemporary Jazz 2013, Metro FM) Lindiwe Maxolo: Time SAMA Best Jazz 2013
  • Tumi Mogorosi’s Project Elo
  • Sisa Sopazi’s Images and Figures
  • SAMA Best Jazz 2014 Nominee Xolani Sithole: Limitless Produced two of his own albums: Mother Tongue and Sketches of Tomorrow.
  • African Time – Herbie Tsoali
  • Movement – Ayanda Sikade
  • Uthingo Lwenkosazana – Omagugu Makhathini

There are many more collaborations and work that can be mentioned here, but for the sake of time and space. Let us call this part one. Donda! We are grateful for your channeling of the messages from your Ancestors unto our realms. May we all learn to discern the languages of the Ancients as well as the tones of the present and future yearnings. The music belongs to all.

An End!!!

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The Communal and Intellectual Properties of Afrikan Cultural Aesthetics (part 1)

A conversation that turned into an argument on Facebook today, which was about the lyrical prowess of US rapper Jay-Z really got me thinking about Black aesthetics in a general sense. The debate was sparked by someone who said that they were alarmed at how much praise that Jay-Z gets for displaying a skill that he neither invented nor is he superior in it. Since rap music is part of the highly competetive segment of Hip Hop culture, many die-hard fans are quite picky about who really is the best at a specific aspect of rhyming. It was Mos Def aka Yasin Bey who once rapped, “This thing called rhyming/ is no different from coal mining/ We’re all on assignment / to un-earth the diamond …”

You see, the whole argument was really about the use of something called ‘the double entendre’; it’s just a fancy way of descibing an ambiguous turn of phrase or saying something with a double or triple meaning. In the art of storytelling called Rap, there are so many gimmicks and stylish ways that the artists use to stand-out, be unique and basically become ahead of their peers. It is a great feat that after more than 40 years of its existence, despite commercialisation and so many practitioners pandering to capitalist/materialist interests, Hip Hop artists can still be distinguished through their work ethic, skills and excellence. Jay-Z happens to be one of the most successful artist/entrepreneur in the game at present. I do not wish to get into the merits of demerits of whether he is The master of the double entendre or not, suffice to say that there are hundreds if not thousands of less commercially successful MC’s/rappers out there in various languages, who can boast of being the masters or even geniuses in the same game. Someone in the Facebook debate even mentioned Aesop Rock and I later mentioned the recently belated MF DOOM. The rapper Mos Def whom I quoted above can also be mentioned among the top experts in the art of story-telling, but we can mention many others beyond the shores of the USA. The late Ben Sharpa as well as The Hymphatic Thabs and Supa Mpondo are some of the South Afrikan luminaries that come to mind and so does Yugen Blakrok.

|When Blakrok rhymes, “immaculate entanglement …chromosomes have relapsed the hidden element/ chosen matriarch walks with the ghosts of elephants …” – ( Metamorphosis), it may require someone who either understands her mieliu or simply has a grasp of the semiotics of Afrikan cosmology to decipher her meaning. On Morbid Abakus, she raps quite succinctly , “A Neo moving counter-clockwise, til this cipher is complete/ False prophets are the first to seek the shelter of cocoons /Like a newborn retreating back into its mothers womb/ out of this world I search space like quantum physicists/ scaling the mountain like Moses only to find out where the lizard lives/ I crash imbecilles and elevate seers/ My order is psychics that levitate above fear…”

The music is not particularly designed for the clubs or for mainstream audiences entertainment, it is like some forms of what is called jazz, only for ‘Heads’, or those among us who enjoy art-music. It is a proverbial and actual music of the spheres. Of course, not all music can be described as art. Some of it is specifically created with the profit motive in mind, and a vast amount is made for the sole purpose of mind-less entertainment. For those who art fans, the lines are clearly drawn and heated debates have always ensued between purists and hedonists. The latter being part of the mass population. It is no surprise at all that less discerning listeneres who are mostly spoonfed their art, would attribute mastery to artists who are either mediocre or predictably over-rated. The music of the spheres is not found on radio stations and the television broadcasting is owned and controlled by people who have no interest in cultivating a culture of provocative or regenerative thought.

The purpose of this essay though is really to engage with how many of the cultural aesthetics found the the art of Hip Hop are not only traceable to earlier expressions from jazz to Mbhaqanga to the Blues as well as more traditional Indigenous performative arts, but that the intellectual property really does not belong to persons but to the entire Afrikan community as well as other members of humanity who are eble to embrace it and therefore reproduce it. It is during this stage of reproduction that the complex socio-political and economic dimensions manifest fully.

It is very important that as Afrikans engaged in the preservation of our creative economic production, we remain aware that there have always been forces that thrive on distorting and destroying what we create. We may enjoy some moments of frivolous entertainment and even self degradation/humiliation now and then, but there are still spaces of sacredness and conservation. Traditions in musical history as well as cultural life are establish for a reason, they are the stuff that guides us and restores our confidence that our lives have more meaning than the stuff that can be bought or sold. Our resistance to erasure is not a resistance against natural progression of change, we know that culture is dynamic and that traditions must adapt to contextual realities, yet we also are aware that without institutions there will be no systemic or functional best practices.

Note this passage from Frank Tirro’s book Jazz, A History: ” Jazz became a symbol of crime, feeble-mindedness, insanity and sex, and was under constant attack from the press from the early 1920’s on …. it is ironic that we preserve, study and enjoy a music today that was felt to be insidious and lascivious only yesterday.”

Perhaps the obvious question from this statement is who exactly considered Black music in those terms? What was the contextual or even pychological background of the critics at that particular time? It would emerge that the so called taste-makers or opinion makers of that era were the same ones who later began reproducing the music albeit a poorer version of it and constructed a whole new branding of it complete with their own prefered stars as well as the very identity of the sound. Somehow someway, Afrikan people are still able to withstand all this negative onslaught against our creativity and emerge shining forth with boundless expressions of pure Soulful, Spiritual genius. Perhaps the best and only way to preserve our creations is to find ways to remain our authentic selves, undilited by the whims of trends, brands and opinions. We are not just here to create content and cater for the gullible masses, we are here to make life and art rhyme so eloquenly that no one can dare to copy or fake it without sounding inauthentic. The same agents who have created a Hip Hop industry that lacks Soulfulness and spiritual harmony are the same descendents of the people who attempted to stifle the organic grouwth of what they called jazz. There is an undeniable Afrocentricity to the art-forms in question here and they cannot be alienated or removed from the very politics or sociological being of the Mother continent. Note what David Tame writes albeit simplistically in his book The Secret Power of Music, in the chapter Jazz and The Blues:

On the physical level the rhythms of jazz, like their parent sounds of Africa, literally forced the listeners to do something rhythmic with their limbs. The faster the tempo, the more the emotional tension created. . . -When pulsation and syncopation are the rhythmic foundations of the music at a dance hall, the movements of the dancers can invariably be seen to become very sensual and oriented around the loins. Such rhythms actually posses the capacity to force the subtle energies of the body downward into the region of the anatomy, therefore increasing the outpouring into the bloodstream of sexual hormones. Once such biochemic and more subtle forces have been concentrated on the loins , they must find some manner of expression.”

In part 2 of this essay, I will explain through a Fanonian and Cesairean approach just how racist these statements are. Racism camouflages itself within the cloaks of anthropology and white pathological paternalism. This is the sense of cultural delusion of supremacy that thrives on making sweeping judgements on matters that white intellectuals and even colonised Black writers know very little about. In prepaation for part 2 I woulod advise the reader to seek out Aime Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Notebook of A Return To The Native Land as well as Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks.

TBC

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A New World Emerges Glistening

None of us can control every situation we find ourselves in. What we can control is how we react when things turn against us. I have always seen failure as a challenge to pull myself up and keep going. A struggle is only one step in the long path we walk and dwellinjg on it only postpones the completion of our journey. Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times.” – Wangari Maathai, Unbowed, One Woman’s Story

The future is now drawing us in faster than the past can hold us back. An obvious consequence to this scenario is the end of the conservative, the traditional and the archaic, plus the naive notion that somehow we can return to childhood, to the fantasy of any creation myth, like the Garden of Eden. But nothing will stop the evolutionary momentum. The conservatives and the traditionalists are on the verge of extinction and the institutions associeted with them can sense it. ” – Mike Kawitzky

Real and sustainable economic empowerment aims at evening out the spread of wealth across the demographic spectrum and not to perpetuate its skewing. The implicit mandate of any government anywhere is to economically empower the citizenry.” – David Magang, Delusions of Grandeur, Paradoxes and Ambivalences in Botswana’s Macroeconomic Firmament

We need new creation stories. We need stories without queens, kings, serfs and imaginary monsters or gods. Yes, there will be fantacy and magical realities and even so called false-positives. Archetypes are the stuff of our human experience, both good or bad and everything else inbetween, but our new stories must be based on truly new inventions, where old habits have been proven to be obsolete and not useful. Royalty is one of those habits. A dirty habit which is held aloft by demagogues, just as nationalism is. Politics as well as money or fiat finance are the other unfriendly ghosts we ought to exorcise if we are truly serious about the pursuit of happiness, prosperity and mutual wellbeing.

So many ages have passed unto infinity, history fills a space and time that we can neither fully grasp nor accurately tell. We relate to the past merely because we have been there, it is part of our old skin, a presence that is always shifting, snakish, moving with us as we grow into the next moment. We also relate to the past because we are connected to it through ancestry, our collective evolution as a species is as cyclic as it is relational. It may not always be fair or even rational, but it is relational. “Every little action, has a reaction …” Bob Marley

Afrikan Warrior Teacher Dr Baba Buntu says that we are ‘relational beings’, meaning that humanity is in a cosmic relationship not only as homosapiens and the various human families/races that are within it, but that we are interconnected with everything else both visible and unseen. We relate. As racial relatives as well as beings with common histories.

All of the earth’s peoples have their creation stories, and some view them clearlly as part of their particular folklore and mythologies, while some cultures hold a more myopic view, the fundamentalist opinion that their own stories are realistic or truthful, that they are a universal truth.

There are certain cultural motifs or systems that havce transcended these differences. These tendencies, whether based on basic instincts or our part animal /part systemic intelligence that keep us needing certain kinds of leadership so that we can feel secure as groups or ‘tribes’, are in fact part of what keeps us competing instead of relating. Kingship is one of the outmoded systems that almost every nation has either had or still holds on to. The purported divine right of royalty is by far one of the most fantastical of all human inventions. That a certain group of members of the race is somehow preordained to rule or ‘lord it’ over others. It is quite amazing just how this institution has managed to last well into the 21st century.

As much as kingship faces a myriad of challenges, it appears that new intelligence and peoples traditional habits remain at an impasse. The political systems such as constititutional democracies, communism and even so called monarchial democracy and feudalism all appear to be alternating forms of the dictatorship of some by others. While there may be many other ideas from scientific socialism to arnarchy and federalism, none have shown any significant success as allowing humanity to gravitate to our natural states. Peace, equity and justice are still very much a struggle to achieve, even in most developed or technically advanced countries. Dominant ideas still find more expression than individual or even communal liberties.

In the United States of America, which is known as the land of the free, there is as much injustice if not more, than in any other dictatorship. A semblance or pretence of freedom is sold to citizens as part of an American dream. Yet, both government and corporations have created a system wherein the profit motive has become more powerful and influential than the vote or peoples actual choices. In simpler terms, it is money or wealth, not merit or service excellence that determines leadership.

In his book More Together Than Alone, the power of community; Mark Nepo writes: “In America, our sense of self-reliance is so embedded in our “Live free or die” ethic that, when we mean to honour what we’re been through as a society, we often re-enact the conflict. For example, there are annual re-enactments of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg ( July 1-3, 1863) rather than annual healing conversations about race. And there are annual re-enactments of the Revolutionary War battles at Saratoga ( September 19 and October 7, 1777) rather than public forums on the deeper meanings of freedom.”

What this warrior writer of ‘new ideas for new ways of living’ states here reminds me of something I have always questiond regarding the history or story of the people known as AmaZulu. These famous nation within the Republic of South Africa has long been famous for all the wrong reasons. The Zulu is almost always defined as a warrior and even the women are defined as sturdy and rock-like. It is a stereotypical image that many Zulu’s and South Afrikans have embraced unquestionangly.

These are the toxic stereotypes that are repeated and performed in the arts as well as in various other national and even global spaces, they reinforce a narrative that traps the people into a cycle of psychic as well as actual violence. It also also diminishes the value of the many other beautiful attributes of this culturally rich people.

New storytellers understand that complexity is as importance as simplicity. It is the healthy tension between the two that creates an atmosphere of inventiveness. When we tell stories of peaceful warriors rather than two dimensional kings with killer instincts, we allow the quiet to be articulated as clearly as a sounded bell. Surely we are more than the sum of our conflicts. People are more than the minions and subjects of their rulers or kings.

In Southern Africa, traditional leadership has been afforded a place in the globally acclaimed constitution or the Bill of Rights, yet traditional leaders hardly have any power to make any significant decisions among their constituents. The very government that is in power through the ballot still receives instructions from global powers and funders in making decisions that directly affect citizens. It is as if the proverbial pyramid of power has remained intact beyond the collapse of colonialism or imperialism.

While one appreciates the schemes of geopolotical macroeconomics, and that no country is an island, it is important to still ask the questions of whether anything is still sacred, whether soverignty is a reality or a thing of the past?

The people of the land called Afrika are as diverse as we are uniquely gifted. The land is rich in every conceivable natural resource. Our endowements, on a human and environmental level should mean that we should not be beggars or the wretched of the earth. The so called resource curse seems to follow us despite the many global conferences, United Nations and other institutional policies that are aimed at ensuring that human rights and planetary justice is observed, yet neither traditional leadership, Indigenous Knowledge practitioners nor socio-political elites have been able to clarify just how we can trascend our state of collective wretchedness.

Our story is not one-sided. We are as wonderfully creative and industrious as anyone else, if not more, given our experiences and circumstances. Afrika influences the world in uncountable ways. Our story is a story of rising each time we have been brought down low, resilience and tenacity are part of our narrative. Reinvention is in our DNA, it is all a matter of finding the right catalysts to activate it. Yet, we still need to do more. We need to unlearn many of our old habits. Some that have been acquired through the colonial traumatic experience, and some that are part of the deadly past. Yes, the past is both life-giving as well as death laden. We must move as a people that has discerned just what we can use and what we must discard if we are to thrive in the brave new world of this here future. There are institutions that have already been formed which work on how to use history in a positive or proactive way. We will need them to refine their data and methodologies. We are always telling new stories and there are industries that thrive on distributing those stories through various media internationally, let them be cognizant of the impact of such stories on the collective psyche of the new world’s children. Let us guard against poisoning our children with the debris and violence of our messy past. While it may stroke our national egoes to tell stories of our own blodied heroes and struggle stalwarts, it does not make the world a more peacable place to pollute fresh springs with our muddied feet.

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SONGS IN THE KEY OF ANPU

The Kemetic/ Ancient Egyptian Neter known as Anpu/Anubis is the Guardian of the deceased and assists Souls to reach forth towards their own resurrection in the presence of Ausar/Osiris. As a spiritual guide and observer of the scales of Ma’at (divine justice, truth and righteousness, He is the Natural Force that assists the Living to conduct a holistically balanced life so that they enter the phases of transition without a struggle.

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Intersections

Bringing Traditional Healing Under the Microscope in South Africa

December 30, 2020 by Sarah Wild

In June, Artemisia afra was in high demand on the streets of Johannesburg in South Africa. To treat Covid-19 symptoms, the Indigenous herb’s silvery leaves were for sale at roadside vendors and in the city’s popular traditional markets. Some people even pulled the plant from private gardens. And on the sides of nearby highways, people held signs for “mhlonyane” (A. afra’s isiZulu name) and offered bushels to passing motorists like bouquets. Between February and July, the herb doubled in price.

People in the region have consumed the bitter plant for centuries to treat illnesses from colds to intestinal worms. With deaths rising as South Africa battled its first Covid-19 wave, people have turned to A. afra and other traditional medicines, including cannabis. (They were not the only ones. In April, Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina, had launched Covid-Organics, a herbal concoction containing another artemisia species, A. annua, which he claimed — without evidence — could cure Covid-19.)

As with most traditional medicine in South Africa — a broad category that relies on a variety of herbs, rather than the refined molecules of Western drugs — there is no robust, peer-reviewed evidence that A. afra has any utility against any ailment, including Covid-19. Local medical doctors and officials have cautioned the public against using the plant instead of seeking medical attention for Covid-19, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has similarly urged people to avoid using untested medicines to treat the disease. But that has not stopped demand for A. afra — and that demand now has some mainstream health advocates calling for greater scrutiny of traditional remedies — including submitting them to clinical trials.

Whether this will come to pass is far from clear. Despite South Africa having a large number of practicing traditional healers and millions of mostly Black South Africans who use their medicines, traditional health care practices stand well outside of mainstream health care in the country. Although there have been efforts to regulate traditional healers, their remedies, for the most part, have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny. This is in part due to South Africa’s history. While people in the region have used traditional medicines for millennia, in 1957, the racist apartheid regime suppressed traditional healing through the Witchcraft Suppression Act, labeling many of its practices as criminal offenses and forcing it underground. There is also a long history elsewhere in the world of scientists and companies turning Indigenous knowledge into Western medicines, and many stakeholders fear that, once healers divulge their secrets and methods to expose their therapies to the rigor of clinical trials, this will happen again with South African traditional medicine.

Indeed, many herbal remedies are closely guarded secrets, intertwined with a philosophy in which health is inextricably linked with spiritual life. And unlike other ancient health care systems that rely on written texts, African healers share and preserve knowledge largely through oral tradition, so there is little record of how the medicines were made and used hundreds of years ago. This lack of ingredient information and recorded longitudinal safety data make African traditional medicines particularly difficult to test.

Still, the WHO and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP), have developed guidelines to evaluate the medicines’ safety and efficacy against Covid-19. And while some experts lobbying for more scrutiny of traditional medicine noted that South Africa’s drug regulators have been historically antagonistic to the idea, the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic may well be helping to change all that. Indeed, government overseers have established a special unit to evaluate these traditional products, and while answers may come too slowly to address Covid-19, the investigations may have long-lasting implications. “Covid has been a game changer for traditional medicine,” said Nceba Gqaleni, a traditional medicines specialist at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, adding that the Covid-19 treatments haven’t faced some of the same controversies as past traditional medicines — especially therapies for HIV/AIDS.

A. afra is one of a number of herbs that the government is investigating against Covid-19. In July, officials set up the African Medicines Covid-19 Research Team, which includes scientists and traditional healers, and diverted about R15-million (at the time equaling about $880,500) from existing Indigenous knowledge projects to fund the collaboration.

The project could lead to other research outside of Covid-19, since the country is home to 10 percent of the world’s plant species and remains a largely untapped pharmaceutical resource. Nox Makunga, a medicinal botanist at Stellenbosch University, says that since the abolition of apartheid, the South African government has been expressed eagerness to investigate and develop effective herbal medicines. “They see it as ‘green gold,’” she said. But that hasn’t yet come to fruition. In 2008, the government published a draft policy for traditional medicines, which was subsequently shelved, and while South Africa’s 2013 Bioeconomy Strategy laid out ambitious plans to investigate herbal cures, the country has not yet managed to formally evaluate traditional medicines or discover any new drugs based on their constituents.

The Covid-19 pandemic may be providing new impetus for such efforts, but experts say it won’t happen without compromises.


Modern medicine, of course, hinges on the ability to show that any particular compound — be it from nature or synthetically-derived — is effective and safe at an established dose. Such demonstrations are generally obtained through clinical trials, and while the process is not without shortcomings, it has generally yielded tried, tested, and — importantly — reproducible results. “Clinical trials are the best and safest way” to evaluate medicines, said Francois Venter, deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. The drugs are tested for safety in animals and humans, and this way of testing is widely accepted, he added. “But there are no shortcuts, they are expensive.”

This standardized approach, however, is at odds with the opaque and complex belief system that underpins African traditional medicines. “We are responsible for the body, the mind, and the soul,” said practicing healer Phephisile Maseko. “We are the only healing system that looks into all three, unlike Western medicine which just focuses on applying bandages.”

In this system, ancestral worship is intertwined with people’s health, and is just as important as the plant formulations a healer dispenses. When a patient comes to Maseko, she says she asks questions about not only people’s ailments, but also their histories: “‘What happened to your mother? Why is there no connection between your mother and the family of your father? What happened when you were born?’”

Similarly, when Hlupheka Chabalala, head of Indigenous knowledge-based technology innovation in South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, refers to traditional medicines, it is typically a mixture of various whole-plant extracts, rather than single, isolated compounds. The different plants in the medicine work together, he suggests: One may act as the primary medicine, while another promotes the body’s absorption of the drug, or the bioavailability, and another might curb the side effects of the other plants.

The importance of family history and the benefits of complementary drug interactions are, of course, not foreign to Western medicine. The problem is that formulations and ingredients in traditional cures vary widely, making most assertions of efficacy exceedingly difficult to prove — and leaving many experts dubious. “Most things are not safe if you get them from nature,” said Kelly Chibale, an organic chemist who heads a drug discovery group at the University of Cape Town. “They’re actually very toxic.”

But testing such custom-made, non-standard preparations can prove advantageous. “If you want to push biodiversity or African traditional medicine, you have to conduct a clinical trial, a clinical study, because that’s the only way scientifically you can prove something works,” said Chibale. He pointed to sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), the cousin of A. afra used in Covid Organics and an important plant in Chinese traditional medicine: “For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese have been using that drug in a concoction, as part of traditional Chinese medicine.” It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, that Chinese scientists derived molecules from the feathery green A. annua, called artemisinins, that now form the cornerstone of malaria therapies around the world. Artemisinin-based combination therapies have more than halved annual malaria deaths globally.

That accomplishment required modern tactics. Scientists needed to understand the chemical structure of sweet wormwood in order to identify its active pharmaceutical ingredient, Chibale explained — and along the way they discovered it was poorly soluble and not absorbed well. Scientists were then able to chemically modify artemisinin to produce better-performing derivatives. In that sense, the traditional medicine served as the pathfinder for a drug that would save millions of lives — but modern science was needed to bring that about. “Everything is just a starting point,” Chibale said.

That notion, however, does not sit well with many traditional medicine proponents, including Chabalala, who says they should be considered an end to themselves, and not individually dissected to identify one active compound. “We use everything as nature intended it to be, even if mixing herbs,” he said. “If you isolate compounds, that’s when you start having problems with side effects.”

Venter, a proponent of evaluating traditional medicines via clinical trials, dismisses this as unscientific. “There is this idea that something natural is good for you, but heroin is natural,” he said. “I’d rather take a highly synthetic compound than chew a leaf that is going to give me heart failure.”

(While A. afra does not contain artemisinin, it has also been proposed as a treatment for malaria. According to the WHO, however, chemical compounds found in the plant can vary widely and concerns about damage to the brain and heart have been reported.)

Despite the South African government’s stated interest in developing drugs based on traditional cures, many people involved in traditional medicine, including Gqaleni, say South Africa’s Medicines Control Council (MCC) was historically reluctant. “They thought they were lowering their standards to approve traditional medicines,” Gqaleni said. But legislation to replace the MCC with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) was passed in 2015, and amid the pressures to find new ways to treat Covid-19, the agency has recently come to the table with traditional medicine advocates. Sahpra has “begun considering appropriate mechanisms of regulating proprietary African traditional medicines,” spokesperson Yuven Gounden told Undark.

Historically, traditional medicines research had not been scientifically rigorous, says Salim Abdool Karim, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the chair of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19. “So it has given traditional medicines research a bad name. But we shouldn’t let a few lapses in scientific quality put us off a fundamentally important issue.”


Scientists, public officials, and traditional healers all seem to agree that traditional medicines must be shown to be safe and effective. The sticking point is how this should happen. And despite a newfound willingness to engage with traditional medicines, Sahpra’s evaluation unit will face practical difficulties in evaluating African traditional medicines — including the lack of written records.

In China, some medical scripts date back centuries, says medical botanist Makunga. “They formalized their own traditional medicines: x amount of this plant, x amount of that plant, x amount of that plant is good for treating disease y,” she said. South Africa’s traditional medicine system — in which dosages are based on individual handfuls and plants may be included because in a dream ancestors told a traditional healer, or an inyanga, to add them — is playing catch up with these more formalized systems.

Meanwhile, disagreement over just how traditional remedies ought to be scrutinized under Western protocols has already surfaced. In September, a regional expert committee on traditional medicine, set up by the WHO, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, endorsed protocols for traditional medicine clinical trials, although the traditional medicine regional adviser for WHO Africa, Ossy Kasilo, told Undark in an email that the protocols were currently being finalized. The guidelines, Kasilo wrote, include a “standard protocol for a multi-center, randomized, double-blind clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of herbal medicine compared to the standard of care for the treatment of hospitalized patients with mild to moderate cases” of Covid-19.

In standard clinical trials, after researchers show that their drug is safe in animals, there are four phases. The first includes a small number of healthy people to test for safety and dosage over a few months; in the second, up to several hundred people with the health condition being treated are given the drug for up to two years to gauge efficacy and side effects. The third phase involves giving the drug to between 300 and 3,000 people who have the disease, and can last for a few years, while the fourth phase continues once the drug has been made available to the public. Pharmaceutical companies have to jump through these hoops, says Venter, so other industries, such as supplements and traditional medicines, should have to as well. “The important thing is that the traditional medicine industry — and it is an industry –– doesn’t get a free ride,” he said. “It has to subscribe to the same scientific methodologies.”

Not everyone feels that this elaborate and painstaking system is necessary for traditional medicines. While the medicines need to be subjected to scientific rigor, they should not be treated as new chemical entities since they have been in use for centuries, argues Motlalepula Matsabisa, a pharmacologist at the University of the Free State in South Africa who chairs the WHO expert committee. The duration of phases one through three should be shorter and should include the minimum number of people, he says, and phase four should not be necessary since the therapies have already been subject to long-term use.


For all of Undark’s coverage of the global Covid-19 pandemic, please visit our extensive coronavirus archive.

“People want to know: One, it will not kill me and, two, it will relieve my health problems,” said Matsabisa. He later added: “There is science in African traditional medicines, and let’s prove the science through the methods everyone believes in and understands.”

Others go even further, suggesting no version of a modern clinical trial is appropriate. The Traditional Healers’ Organization, a voluntary national nonprofit headquartered in Johannesburg, is advocating for self-regulation, rather than the imposition of an external value system. The group’s perspective is that only healers should be able to evaluate traditional medicines and practices, says Maseko, who is also a spokesperson for the organization. “We can’t be Western medicine,” she added. “And we can’t aspire to be.”

Venter calls self-regulation a shocking idea. “Ask them,” he said, “how they would feel if the pharmaceutical industry self-regulated.”


For many experts, Covid-19 is a stark reminder that humanity is continuously confronted with new diseases. Traditional healers adapt their medicines to this changing world; their formulations and applications have changed as new diseases become more prevalent and others disappear, and they are also used in conjunction with Western drugs — something that did not occur in past centuries.

Indigenous knowledge evolves too, says Makunga. As an example, she relates the story of what happened when she accompanied a healer on a walk in the Eastern Cape province. In the forest, the flowers of Bulbine plants stand out like tiny yellow stars. Traditionally, people have used the plant to treat a range of ailments — from cracked lips to parasitic worms — but Makunga was surprised to be told it was also good for erectile dysfunction.

“This one is really potent,” Makunga recalls the healer saying. “We give it to guys and it makes you come on.” Bulbine plants were particularly important for men who were “full of sugar,” the healer told her, in isiXhosa, the local language. An inability to get or maintain an erection is common among men with diabetes. Diabetes prevalence has more than doubled in the last two decades, with 4.5 million people in the country suffering from the condition. “Twenty-five years ago, this was not something I was treating all the time,” Makunga remembers the healer saying.

Still, there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence that the plants are an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction in humans, nor has there been any examination of how these plants are used in traditional healing, in what dose, and in conjunction with what other plants. Indeed, the slippery nature of traditional medicine and the context in which it exists presents many challenges for anyone hoping to evaluate its safety and efficacy.

Few studies have been done, for example, on how traditional medicines interact with pharmaceuticals — even though millions of South Africans likely use both on a regular basis. Makunga gives the example of pregnant women who are rushed to hospital. Sometimes they drink a traditional tonic to induce labor, but the contractions become “too intense,” Makunga said. “In the hospital, the doctors didn’t know what they’ve taken.”

Despite these risks, traditional healers often have justified concerns that outsiders will steal knowledge about plants for commercial use without recognizing the community from which the knowledge originates. They can point to Hoodia gordonii, a succulent that rises out of the deserts of southern African like fat thorny fingers, as one example. For millennia, hunter-gatherers in the region — in particular, the San people — have chewed its watery flesh to suppress their thirst and appetites on long hunts.

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), tipped off by ethnographic reports of the plant’s use, began investigating the plant in 1963. By the mid-1990s, they had isolated its active pharmaceutical ingredient, P57, in the hopes of developing an appetite suppressant and, without the knowledge of the San, were granted an international patent for the ingredient. In 1998, CSIR entered into a licensing agreement with U.K.-based company Phytopharm. Following international attention and accusations of biopiracy, the CSIR entered into a benefit sharing agreement with the San people in 2003.In 2010, Phytopharm returned all development and commercialization rights to the CSIR.

Despite the furor around H. gordonii’s appropriation, to date no blockbuster weight-loss drugs have emerged from it and in trials there were a number of side effects, although the plant alone is still widely used. “There is a lot of mistrust of scientists, the belief that scientists steal the information and then make a lot of money,” said Vinesh Maharaj, a plant chemist at the University of Pretoria who was at the CSIR when it brokered the H. gordonii benefit-sharing agreement. Based on how little progress has been made in identifying novel drugs in traditional medicines, the idea that scientists are making money “isn’t true,” he said.


Still, scientists do sometimes publish traditional healers’ knowledge in academic papers without consent, and the history of traditional knowledge theft looms large for many traditional practitioners. Maseko pointed by way of example to the highly-protected, proprietary formula for Coca-Cola. “That’s the thing that makes it Coca Cola,” she said. “If we expose our secrets to the vultures, healing is gone.”

There are other reasons for secrecy. Chabalala, for example, would not reveal which herbs, aside from A. afra and cannabis, that the government is investigating to treat Covid-19. “The minute we say we’re working on it, everyone will hit the forest to unsustainably start harvesting them,” he said. “People will start harvesting them and preparing them not in the way healers use them. People will start researching without benefit sharing and thinking of the wisdom keepers.”

On the streets of Johannesburg and on its outskirts, there are still people claiming to sell A. afra, he said. But they are not healers and there is no certainty that they are actually what they say. Patients could die, Chabalala warns. “Then people will say, ‘You see’,” that’s what happens when you take traditional medicines.’”

Even advocates for greater scientific scrutiny of traditional remedies say that outsiders need to understand the complex system of healing of which they are only a part. Healers are not only doctors, but also counselors and spiritual guides, Makunga noted. “There is an incredible amount of power in somebody just going to a healer, before you’ve started to give a herbal remedy,” she said.

“You would describe a feeling,” she added, “and they start burning imphepho a musky sweet Indigenous herb that is used to commune with spirits — “bringing the ancestors, speaking to parts of our feelings aside from the physical.”

But as both a scientist who investigates medicinal plants and as someone who understands their spiritual significance, says she knows the value of evidence. When someone tells her they use a plant to treat a specific illness, she says she wants to see the research showing that “it works 99.9 percent of the time.”

The statistics are necessary, she said, “because that is my training and line of thinking.”

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

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Storying The Future Through The Past

In distant days, in those days, after destinies had been decreed, after An and Enlil had set up the regulations for Heaven and Earth, Enki, the exalted knowing God …by the rules for heaven and earth, the fixed rules, he set up cities.” – The Creation of the World ( according to Mesopotamian mythology)

What a country and developmental strategies really require are policies that foreground culture – value and belief systems, social mores, traditions that inform behavior and interpersonal relationships, self and group identities etc. – and the manner in which these could impact adversely on, or help to facilitate developmental goals.” – Mike Van Graan, in Locating the Revised White Paper in the context of Development ( his critique of the Revised White Paper, the 4th Draft of the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage)

It can be reasonably argued that modernity has ushered in various progressive ideas about human development. From scientific invention in every conceivable field, to the way we interact with each other and nature, our understanding of the issues of our existence has significantly improved from our collective primitive beginnings.

Yet it can also be sufficiently argued that much of humanity’s progress has been deleterious or regressive. We can read or hear about civilizations that were much more sophisticated and culturally impressive than us, out of every continent.

Perhaps we can return to the question we have explored before, regarding what constitutes a successful civilization, by what or whose standards can it be measured?

Much of what we know about these great civilizations which had risen and fallen through the sands of time, we have learned from stories passed along from generation to generations. Many of the stories are subjective, or are told from the perspective of the outwardly powerful, so we really never get to know exactly how the ordinary folk lived and whether they felt liberated or oppressed.

While our knowledge of history is not perfect, we can at least be assured of multiple faculties of reasoning and methods of measuring or ascertaining whether some stories are purely fantasy/ flights of fanciful storytelling or they are actual recollections of what indeed took place in the past. The past is relative, but what does that tell us about what we deem to be reality today? Additionally, how can our perception of todays reality help us to create futures that are more just and healthier than our present state?

Different civilizations approach their respective pasts in various ways, while some place more value on the exploits of heroes and nation builders ( strong and cunning men and strong and beguiling women), some civilizations placed more value on subtler stuff, such as medicine, arts, cultural motifs, religion. Other cultures have a well developed or sophisticated and detailed appreciation of all facets of their history and this is evidenced in the way they choose to tell their stories.

The question of equality and equity between the various classes of society has been one of the most insidious subjects. The 21st century began with a massive re-evaluation of what freedom, human rights, ecology and justice really should be about. In addition to the subject of climate change, the entire question of the wellbeing of the earths sentient beings has been in the forefront of many debates and inventions.

We have been questioning the efficacy or the pros and cons of nationhood, race, theories of economics as well as what technology means to us in the age of mass media, artificial intelligence and population explosion … While it may appear as if nothing is sacred anymore – there has been a healthy integrative communication happening between metaphysics and the ordinary science, between spirituality, religion and physics. This robust interrogation of the meaning of life and our responsibility in it is actually a real return to the sacred – not as religious fundamentalism but a philosophy of knowing better and choosing to do better for the greater good.

As much as cultures undergo contextual transformations, so too does science. Once science is static it no longer serves it primary purpose, which is to inquire into the inner workings of physical life. These days this quest for the how and what of life has become so much more intermingled with spiritual exploration that in some disciplines, it is difficult to separate the two. Some of those disciplines include holistic health, music and sports. We shall return to each of those subjects in a more in-depth essay.

Glossary:

  • The Pan African Pantheon – prophets, poets and philosophers; edited by Adekeye Adebajo
  • Sage Philosophy: Indigenous Thinkers and Modern Debate on African Philosophy
  • African Philosophy: Myth and Reality by Hountondji by Henry Odera Oruka
  • Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists ( The Myth of Spontaneous Philosophy) by Louis Althusser
  • Paulin j. Hountondji: Africa’s Quest for Authentic Knowledge

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Geb Season Meditations: Mastery over physical whims

How do the symbols and natural energies support and empower us in our striving to become virtuous divine beings. Even while we are existing in a state or stages of being human?

The ancient Afrikan ways and rites of passage were established to offer us guidance and practical steps towards living our best life. It is important to note that these methods were never matters of individual practice, but necessitated the contribution of family, community and even the whole nation to participate in. The reason why this is significant resonates more today then ever, since many people have given their own spiritual development to Holy-Men, so called Men and Women of God to whom they offer not only their financial resources but most crucially, their energy.

Men and women are to become God-like through a life of virtue and the cultivation of the spirit through scientific knowledge, practice and bodily discipline.” – Ancient Egyptian/Kemetic Axioms

This season we call Geb, the Earth Father is one of great importance in the scheme of all things. We are being asked to cultivate an attitude of industriousness and exert great effort in foundational work. Whether that work involves financial gains or spiritual goals, the same amount of discipline is expected. We are supposed to draw from both terrestrial and celestial energies of the Earth Father, to become the best that we can be in all endeavors.

In this space we will deal with the details regarding how to take the necessary steps towards attainment of these goals, these virtues, to achieve results and divine life right here on Earth.

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By Water and by Land

“In Abundance of Water the Fool Is Thirsty” – Water Work vs Wage Work.

Well above the timberline and only a short distance from the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine, where the sun first hits the United States each morning, is a spring of water. Above it is only hard rock. So where does that water come from? It cannot be rainwater percolating down from above. It’s primary water, and it comes from way below the base of that impressive mountain.” – Sig Lonegren, Dowsing for Water (page 137 of Masaru Emoto’s The Healer Power of Water, 2004)

It is now not a mystery that my upcoming book, the House of Plenty is a work that is shaped like a jig-saw puzzle or even a spinning chessboard. In this scheme of things and telling’s, there is neither respect for time nor standardized rules of literature. We are dealing with the simplest as well as the most complex of Afrikan problems. Next to finding workable creative/economic programs and models for creative cultural networks, Land is high up on the agenda.

I will be quoting from essays I wrote between 2018 to 2020 while I also add emerging concepts and thoughts to the foundations of this House, the walls, windows, and the roof will be built by our children and their offspring. This is an intergenerational mission. We do not write to entertain but to regenerate and sustain a Ma’atic civilization.

It is the year 2021 and South Africans are still debating the merits and demerits of the Expropriation of Land Bill.

At its 54th National Congress, the ruling ANC decided that the land reform program had to be sped up. The ruling party announced that it would pursue a policy of land reform without compensation if it were done in a sustainable manner that would not disrupt the economy or the agricultural sector. To this end, much dialogue between opposing parties, the state and the citizens has occurred.

Some heated debates have been aired on state and private broadcasters, civil society groups have issued out questionnaires and much robust conversations have been had around the details of this issue, but it appears as if not much progress has been achieved in the implementation aspects.

The actual decision to review the bill by an amendment of Section 25 of the Republic’s constitution was made in 2017. Some scholars and economist offered many reasons why the ANC should not pursue such a decision, citing the ‘Zimbabwe situation’ as one of the scare tactics. In fact, the so-called Zimbabwe situation has always been brought up in the last two decades whenever South Africans even mentioned land redistribution, or what some more Pan Afrikan and Black radical citizens prefer to call Land Restoration.

This essay will not delve on the pros and cons of a constitutional amendment, but instead we will try to point out that the Land question is tired to the not so hotly debated challenge of water and climate changes. Both these challenges are also tied to the critical matter of Afrika’s regional integration which is also linked to the core focus of this book: Creative and Cultural Unity of Purpose of Black people, beginning in the South.

We are on a mission to define a new economics. We seek to grow wiser and then share the wisdom of both our Ancestors and the new generation, within and beyond the 4.0 generation. In this pursuit of Self realization and self-determination regarding Land, we ought to be very mindful of the past to ensure that it is not repeated. Despite what the various scholars have to say about the matter of Zimbabwe, we should not that just like in all the countries throughout this continent, millions of people were displaced and rendered slaves.  Consider these excerpts from some notes I jotted down from a library in Harare:

Between October 1893 and March 1896, anything from 100 000 to 200 000 cattle were seized from the Ndebele. Armed gangs of settlers and contingents of B.S.A. police equipped with Maxim guns roamed across the countryside, taking what they could.

Although the invaders were sometimes driven off by a show of force, refusal to reveal where cattle were hidden could end in death, as indeed it did for four women shot in cold blood.” (Phimister, 1988, p.16) – The Struggle for Land in Zimbabwe, 2010.

Also note:

Marandellas* (Marondera) District was established as a trading station in 1892 when Cecil John Rhodes offered land to any group of European settlers willing to accommodate traders between Umtali and Salisbury. By 1896 the British South Africa Police had already claimed more than 1023538 acres (409415 hectares) of land in exercise of its powers over the land as enshrined in the Order-in-Council of 18 July 1894.” (Palmer 1977: page 182)

Addressing the challenge of land redistribution is a simple matter, only complicated by how we approach it. It is important for people to have a healthy appreciation for the significance of land, it increases respect and value. The settlers simply and forcefully took possession of land belonging to Abantu and proceeded to trade with it as they pleased. As Afrikans we have an Ancestral and futuristic duty to restore our land and proceed to use it as we see fit. All other debates about constitutional amendments and what any settlers have to say about it should be secondary.

Just like the water springing up from Mount Katahdin in the United States, the water belongs to the mountain like we belong to this land. The sacred duty of each Afrikan is to strive towards restoration of land in this generation and we can then begin the secondary tasks of whether we need to save an economy founded on stolen goods. This is not a negotiated settlement, it is a war, a battle for our very survival and wellbeing.

The unmaking of Zimbabwe and its socio-economic conditions cannot be solely blamed on its corrupt leadership, but it is based on a historically progressive erosion of Ubuntu and communal values among its ‘first citizens’, the ruling party structures, its systems as well as a neglect of the principles that defined its people before the aggressive arrival of European and other settlers. Let us take a brief look at Zimbabwe, its cities, towns and a historical perspective on Harare.

Before the arrival of the Pioneers Column in 1890, the main part of Salisbury District was Chief Gutsa’s territory. Originally a member of the Mutukedza and Nyashanu Chieftaincy in Uhera, part of the Nyanja Confederacy. Chief Gutsa accepted by Chief Seke of Chitungwiza into the area and allowed to co-exist with Chief Mbari who ruled part of the Salisbury District around Mount “Hampden” area. (p. 65, The Struggle for Land in Zimbabwe)

This book describes the occupation of Harare as a series of balancing acts where rural and urban development, the industrial and agricultural economy coalesced to form a new reality for the natives and the settlers. It shows just how there is a seeming separation of these equally vital economies. The people who live and work in the cities and urban areas need the produce of the land just as the rurals who work the land need their sisters and brothers emadolobheni*. The symbiotic relationship makes any separation of these peoples rather superficial, but it has been the legacy of colonialism to ensure that Afrikan people are as divided psychologically as we are spatially.

There is a way of being a rural Afrikan which allows one to remain rooted not only to Nature but also to the values that have sustained our people for generations even before colonialism. The urban Afrikan however has been created or constructed out of the steely vibrations of industrial machines, a peculiar brand of Eurocentric education and ambition to become just like the European ‘boss’.

Very few Afrikans ever manage to escape this entrapment of affluence. Many stories have been told illustrating the dichotomies of the rural – urban exchanges and changes, suffice to state here that there is hardly an aspect of Afrikan life that has not been adversely affected by colonialism and its accomplices, Western religion, and racism. European settlers have not only tainted our bloodstream and thinking, but they have also effectively and literally polluted our life-giving waters.

A Poem: Songs for Trumpet / Dream Making

  1. And our lives are unfinished business.

Cynicism and optimism cohabiting the Amen Corner.

Both peddling dreams of utopia

We are both in the middle of a waking nightmare.

Visions steeped in darkness and ghetto squalor.

Yet our minds are ultra-light.

Beams

Once lost in the West

But our orient was found.

The journey took us through blood, chaos, blinded faith and Sounds not our own.

(Discordant Trumpet and Ngoma-drum)

Yes, the sound is our heat

The sparkle of blood on the tar

Sunbaked molecules swirling in the whirl of wayward uncivilizations.

We are becoming the culmination

Of all our ancestors libations

Yet our lives are unfinished business

The prayers of our enslaved grandparents

Sweat drenched parents

Burying their knees on concrete

Wood and stone and shifting sands

Offering all that we have

Tithing

Time biding

Crying faithfully to an earless

God

Eyeless, unkind, uncruel

Unrepentant

Yet we must repent

For known and unknown sins

We must repent

For willful omissions and

We are the experience of the divine experiment

For polluting the Earth with noise, plastic and other toxins

Repent for committing present, past and future sins

For being all too human

When we know we have been divine

What does walking on water mean

When the forest is a spectre of shadows

Of trees struck by lightning –

And the poor are always with us –

Acts of God!!!

Trumpet Solo

  •   

We live in a house of plenty

But we are begging for pennies

At the bottom of a snake filled wishing well

From the scum of the Earth

We are supplicating and bending over backwards

Ubuntu bethu in tatters

Like the ruins of our partitioned land

We need to re-examine the starts of our birth

Check the constellations

For what is the consequence of our collective breath – Ask the trees –

Our Ancestors bled for an Afrika for Afrikans

A lofty dream

Yet today what is it all worth?

We are still Gods bits of dry wood

Slammed from pillar to post

Trying to find who’s got the maps

And remind us how we used to dance.

How exactly are we to harness the Indigenous Knowledge Systems or the Afrika centered technologies to build a prosperous new Muntu? The maxim that says, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu has been dealt some serious and almost deadly blows since the advent of the inexorable rise of industrial revolution, colonialism, Western theology as well as wage-labour. The latter has been the source of a multitude of false identities. The Marxists/communists have sufficiently dealt with the essential dynamics of the precarious class wars …. We now should be in a better position to offer a perspective that goes beyond simply countering capitalism and private property lore. We should be looking at interventions that reflect the desire to implement laws and actions that show wisdom of two hundred years of knowledge. This is because we are the generation that has seen great tribulation.

We must now be able to take the lessons of the past 500 years and begin to construct ways of being that are not only unique but also in harmony with Nature. There are several avenues which we can pursue towards doing this, beginning with Education. A transformative education requires the participation of many sectors o society. It also requires a re-view of how we use Land, Water, and other resources at our disposal. We ought to pursue a transformative education that is based on an evolved, involved and resolved appreciation of Water.

SANKOFARING: Consider the Source and Uses of the River Nile

Inside one of the pyramids in Khemethi (Ancient Egypt), there is a lake. While there are other waterways and water related rituals and customs in the Beloved Land of the First Times and there are still mysteries yet to be uncovered. Did the pyramid builders build this structure on top of an existing spring and then widen it for their purpose or is it a completely man-made?

It is up to us to study deeply, reflect, meditate and rediscover how our Ancestors were able to utilize these Waters. Our lives depend on the resurrection of such memories – the proper use of the post-Atlantean wisdom.

What does this have to do with the politics of land today? The landmass we call Earth, rests upon watery foundations. The beings that exist on the Earth are all composed of parts of carbon and even larger parts of water. The water is something which is worth much more than gold. Yet we have been fooled into believing that it is Land and the minerals and other treasures in it that are more precious and to some people, even worth dying for.

Wars are fought over territory and finite resources and contentious matters of who owns what and who deserves which share are part of the historical underdevelopment of humanity. Humanity has found many ways to digress or become distracted and far removed from what our priorities should be.

When we consider the supposition that the next world wars will be about the struggle for Water, what should we be preoccupied with right now? The work of the scientist and the philosopher and the guardian of Ancient ways should be all connected to the preservation of Water.

Let us tell you why:

TBC

‘How We and Them A Go Work It Out’: A new way is possible

The roots of underdevelopment lie in the entanglement of African societies in the mercantile capitalist system of the world through the nexus of international trade. The main architect of Africa’s underdevelopment was, and remains, Western capitalism.” – S.Ndlovu-Gatsheni, decoloniality as the Future of Africa, 2015

Disclaimer: The title of this essay is inspired by a line from Bob Marley and the Wailers Song, Rat Race.

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Exploring The Ethiopic Narratives

When I was studying towards a Diploma in Marketing Management at the Durban University of Technology, I would spend many nights devouring the wealth of Afrika- centered literature. In the hours wherein I should have been drawing graphs and learning about market segmentation and consumer behavior, I was delving into Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Ayi Kwei Armah, Wole Soyinka, Mafika Gwala and Kwame Nkrumah publications. The Steve Biko campus library was replete with information that seems rather neglected by the general  student population, perhaps it was due to the fact that as the name suggest, the college was and still is a space for technocratic and engineering scholarship, with a very small part of the syllabus focusing on Humanities and the Arts.

During this time I came across a book by the Ethiopian scholar Ayele Bekerie. As I was then ‘rising’ as a young Rastafari devotee, I went in deep into this book. For the first time in my life I was even tempted to steal this book, after making so many copies which I ultimately shared with my sisters and brothers who were as serious about Afrikan scholarship, Ethiopian studies to be specific, but could not afford attend tertiary education. While the Bekerie’s book had interested me due to its detailed analysis of the Ethiopian ancient and modern script, it also dealt with various subjects which interested me a lot – astronomy, calendar’s, Afrikan culture, literature as well as a unique view of the Ethiopic book of the prophet Enoch/Henok. I will deal with this later, but here is an interesting excerpt from an Ethiopian scholars review of Bekerie’s book:

“So crucial to his scholarship, Bekerie locates himself in the Africologist framework, namely the Locational Model of history of philosophy (pp.12-18). The tenet of this
Model is that African people are subjects of their own as well as the whole world’s historical and social experience rather than, as Eurocentrists insist, objects in the margin
of European experience (Asante, 1992). With this framework, Bekerie’s ultimate goal is to locate the socialhistorical origin of Ethiopic system in an African context.
This is his response to the mainstream Indo-Europeanist “persistent interjection of the Semitic Paradigm” (p.18) that thrives to dislocate “Ethiopic system” to South
Arabia.  Nevertheless, he himself could not successfully break with the same paradigm which veiled truth about the history and agents of the Ethiopic system.

The purpose of this paper is to explicate some of Bekerie’s groundbreaking perspectives as well as unveil some of the mystifications he still perpetuates quite not unwittingly. Firstly, his style, both in the traditional and critical sense (Fairclough 2003), shall be discussed. Secondly, how the author braved challenging the commonsense about Ethiopic shall be pointed out. Next, an explication of how the author leaves intact a ‘history’ abounded in mysteries shall be made, chiefly focusing on alternative perspectives that he neglected. Finally, conclusion and implications for future action shall be presented.” ( Review by: Dereje Tadesse Birbirso; Assistant Professor, College of Social Science and Humanities, Haramaya University, P.O.BOX 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
Accepted 19 February, 2013 )

After further reading, I am deciding to paste the whole book review here. I shall write my own review of this book I read a long time ago much later, once I have re-read it.

Book Review
Ayele Bekerie. Ethiopic: An African Writing System–Its
history and principles. Lawrenceville, N.J., and Asmara,
Eritrea: Red Sea Press, 1997. xiv + 176 pp. $18.95
(paper), ISBN 978-1-56902-021-0; $59.95 (cloth), ISBN
978-1-56902-020-3.
Review by: Dereje Tadesse Birbirso
Assistant Professor, College of Social Science and Humanities, Haramaya University, P.O.BOX 138, Dire Dawa,
Ethiopia.
Accepted 19 February, 2013
Ethiopian history is notoriously a history abounded in mystifications, phantasms and deAfricanizations. A key aspect of these mystifying narratives is about the social origin of the so-called Ethiopic writing system. However, Ayele Bekerie’s Ethiopic is the first break with reproduction of flaw.
In his book about the history and principles of Ethiopic system, Bekerie exploits his ideographical, syllographical, astronomical, grammatological and theological knowledge and argues that Ethiopic is part of the Ancient African societies’ philosophy. For the conservative Abyssinianists, Bekerie’s work is disconcerting, while for the few relatively liberal Ethiopianists it is disillusioning. Yet, for a critical Africologist, it is a step in the right direction. Yet, for non-Semitic scholars and peoples in the Horn of
Africa it is a swerve between the former two, Abyssinianism and Ethiopianism. In other words, it is deification—a history book without human agents. Using theories in historical linguistics, discourse analysis, social semiosis and history of philosophy, this paper attempts to unveil these anomalies in Bekerie’s Ethiopic. Directions for future research are also pointed out.
Key words: Ayele, Bekerie, Ethiopic, Ge’ez, Oromo, Cush, writing, system.
INTRODUCTION
Though the central theme as in the title suggests it is a
book on a ‘Writing System’, Ayele Bekeries work
(Ethiopic) can be approached as a critical philologicalhistorical analysis of the narratives of non-African (IndoSemitic) civilization built into Africa, particularly NorthEast and Horn of Africa. The first time I run through
Bekerie’s book, I felt that it was Ethiopianized version of
Martin Bernal’s semiticized Black Athena (1987), critical
works yet perpetuating the usual gulf between Ancient
African and Arabian landmasses. The moment I began
to read it the second time, I found him, just in the early
few pages, transgressing this artificial boarder. Note that
Bekerie’s book comprises six chapters. The introduction (chapter) is a bit lengthy (pp.1-30).

The main *Corresponding author. E-mail: dttadesse@yahoo.com. Tel: (+251) 9-10-95-28-18
28 Afr. J. Hist. Cult. body comprises five chapters: “The Arabian Peninsula in
Ethiopian Historiography” (pp. 31-60); “The History and
Principles of the Ethiopic Writing System” (pp. 61-103);
“The Book of Hénok and African Historiography” (pp.105-
18); “Se’en: Aesthetics and Literary Traditions of
Ethiopia” (pp.119-39); and, Conclusion (pp.141-49). Each
chapter comprises bibliographic endnotes, in addition to
presentation of a comprehensive Bibliographic notes
(pp.151-64) and Index (pp.165-76).
So crucial to his scholarship, Bekerie locates himself in
the Africologist framework, namely the Locational Model
of history of philosophy (pp.12-18). The tenet of this
Model is that African people are subjects of their own as
well as the whole world’s historical and social experience
rather than, as Eurocentrists insist, objects in the margin
of European experience (Asante, 1992). With this framework, Bekerie’s ultimate goal is to locate the socialhistorical origin of Ethiopic system in an African context.
This is his response to the mainstream Indo-Europeanist
“persistent interjection of the Semitic Paradigm” (p.18)
that thrives to dislocate “Ethiopic system” to South
Arabia. Nevertheless, he himself could not successfully
break with the same paradigm which veiled truth about
the history and agents of the Ethiopic system. The
purpose of this paper is to explicate some of Bekerie’s
groundbreaking perspectives as well as unveil some of
the mystifications he still perpetuates quite not unwittingly. Firstly, his style, both in the traditional and
critical sense (Fairclough 2003), shall be discussed.
Secondly, how the author braved challenging the
commonsense about Ethiopic shall be pointed out. Next,
an explication of how the author leaves intact a ‘history’
abounded in mysteries shall be made, chiefly focusing on
alternative perspectives that he neglected. Finally,
conclusion and implications for future action shall be
presented.
STYLE
Primarily, in the traditional sense of style–the distinctive
choice of language–Bekerie needs to be appreciated. He
writes in simple, clear English in African nuance which
makes any graduate student not only appreciate but also
understand what he wants to mean. Overall, he skillfully
avoids the usual colorful, bombastic and non-lively
vocabulary which by contrast is the favorite of some
African writers. Short and precise sentences and
paragraphs are styles which good writers employ and so
does Bekerie. Nevertheless, especially in Chapter 1,
lengthy and numerous quotations and dotted and
numbered lists, with insignificant level of his own voices,
are among Bekerie’s stylistical drawbacks. This crippled
not only illumination of alternative perspectives but also
renders the book to appear a graduate student’s notebook taken, however, in a critical historian’s classroom
lecture. Moreover, strange transcriptions unknown to IPA
are widely employed. This repulses ‘appetite’ of an
international reader.
In Faircloughnean (Fairclough, 2003) critical linguistics
sense, an author’s style also textures identification. As
such, the lion share of Bekerie’s book is ascribed to
Abyssinian Orthodox Church identity crisis: the dogmatic
hymn and celebratory music to Eurocentrists’ Virgin
Mary, Angels and Kings. Still, his too liturgical language,
a manifestation of his infatuation with the Abyssinian
Orthodox Church history, at least offends readers from
different background: Islam, Waaqeeffanna (the preChristian Oromo religion, worshiping Waaqaa ‘Black God;
Sky, Heaven’), Protestantism or Atheism. At worst, they
categorize him under ‘(Orthodox) Christian terrorists.’
The ultimate goal of the book seems to advance “our
contention that” the “Latin script currently in use among
some Oromo circle” is made “without a thorough
knowledge of the [Ge’ez] system” (pp. 94-95; emphasis
original); that the system can address the “explosive
[ejectives?] sounds” found both in “Orominya and
Amarinya” and the choice of Latin “limit or compromise
the rich and varied polyrythmic sounds of the Oromo
language” (p. 95). At the end of his book Bekerie reiterates, “Whatever the distress other parts of the system,
priests and monks had support, facilities, and protection
that enabled them to keep alive the central ideas of their
tradition” (p. 148). This suggests that he is also open to
critique or criticism.
CRITICALITY: CHALLENGING COMMONSENSE
In Chapter 1, Bekerie explicates and explains away the
“Semitic Paradigm” or “Indo-Semitic” mindset responsible
for “external paradigm”. He also adds to this group the
students of the latter, namely “the miseducated
Ethiopians” (p. 35). In Chapter 2, he treats on “the history
and principles of the Ethiopic writing system”. In the last
two chapters he chiefly analyzes, Ethiopic Book of Hénok
and the Ge’ez ‘philosophy’ especially Se’en, which he
defined as at several places as “aesthetic and literary
tradition of Ethiopia”. His key argumentation is that Ge’ez
or Ethiopic, as a language, and the texts i are African text
and philosophy.
Bekerie adopts multidisciplinary approach–history,
linguistics, theology, calligraphy–which makes the book
so interesting and, indeed, proves that he has read
widely to present his point. More interesting, Bekerie
appears from outset so progressive and transgressive
that he lends to negative critique those traditional extremist Ethiopian ‘historians’, whom he calls ‘Ethiopianists’,
albeit, he avoids the term ‘Abyssinianists’, a term that
other critical social scientists like Asmarom Legesse
(Legesse, 2000, 1973), to mention a few, prefer. Bekerie’s
critical stance unfolds especially when he articulates that
the “Hamitic/Semitic divide” (p.44) that “Ullendorff the
teacher and Sergew the student” are fancy of is “but a
means to keep the Ethiopian people divided” (p. 44). That
Ullendorff “the teacher” drew parallelism between “South
Arabia”, the origin of Ethio-Semites, and “Aksum”, on the
one hand, and “Wales” and “New South Wales” or “New
York”, on the other, is one of his skillful disentanglement
of a good stuff of ridicule. Yet, Bekerie’s main effort is to
falsificate the God-Selected, Orthodox-Semite Ethiopia,
fabricated through the window of Eurocentric scholars.
His double-face sword pointed also at the local Semitists,
who, in their joint anti-aboriginals, built a pile of myths as
‘history’ over the past two centuries. The author then, in
his critical lashes proceeds to listing critical questions that
the “external paradigms” and “the miseducated
Ethiopians” should collectively take as their homework:
What is south Arabia? What is the evidence for South
Arabian origin of the Ethiopian Civilization? What is South
Semitic?—a language? a group of languages? writing
system? ethnographic or linguistic category? Why was
there no internal source for the Ethiopian civilization? (pp.
34-35).
CAVEATS: SWERVING BETWEEN POSITIVISM AND
CRITICALITY
Bekerie’s big caveat in his masterpiece seems that he
continues to point to unexplained Proto-Ethiopic and/or
Ethiopic society which had had age-level based social
philosophy and advanced curricula: linguistics, grammar,
theology, astronomy, mathematics, military, medicine,
literature and so forth. In this respect Bekerie seems to
suggest ‘(Proto)-Ethiopic’, ‘Geez’ speakers or ‘Sabaean’,
‘Axumite’ people, preemptively and pervasively, if these
were unblemished. It is so striking that he never touched
the ancient-to-contemporary advanced age-/generationbased theologico-political Gada System of Oromo-Cush
founded upon the supreme creator, Waaqaa ‘Black-God’
(De Salviac, 2005[1901]). Indeed, in his later work,
Bekerie unveils the discovery of “ancient Egyptian
documents and artifacts” in which “significant Oromo
conceptual terms” are found: Egyptian Auqas “a name of
the divine ferryman” and what “Oromos call their God
Waqaa [Waaqaa]”; Greek “term Sirius, the beautiful star
that rises once a year towards the source of the Nile”,
which corresponds “ both in meaning and pronunciation
with the Oromo term for a dog, Sarre” and the “star warns
the Egyptian farmer against the coming water” (Bekerie,
2004:116). Bekerie’s reference to Oromo language,
which the speakers significate as Afan Oromo for
themselves, as “Oromiyna” /oromiñña/ speaks directly to
his continuation of the Abyssinianist hegemony, while,
he, on the other hand, accuses the Western for their
“hegemonic epistemology”.
At some point (pp. 65-66) he implicitly agrees with
many who believe the present day Ethiopia does,
historically and geographically, never stand for the
Ancient Ethiopia. He also appears to deconstruct the idea
Birbirso 29
of ‘Hametic’ as a quite racist term fabricated by extreme
Indo-Semitist scholars to legitimize the false impressions
of ‘white Ancient Ethiopians’ or what Chiekh Anta Diop
(Diop, 1975) says ‘white-pharaohs of Ancient Egyptian’,
with the intention to muddy the African origin of
civilization. But he distances himself from the great
scholars like Houston (1926). Given his critical stance
that classical Aksumite people are Black Africans and
their civilization is non-imported, his ambiguous, unclear
position from the outset not only leaves the reader wade
in the traditional wisdom but also makes him exposed to
what the critical linguist Fairclough (2003: 10) says a
“managerial style”, a style that inculcates big claims in
“business-like ways.” This ambiguous and positivistic
attitude demeans the author’s commitment with respect
to truth, obligation, values and evaluative sense. For
instance, why could not he add to his critical questions
the “external paradigms” and “the miseducated Ethiopians”: How come that powerful language called Ge’ez
died after few centuries of its emergence? According to
Ullendorff (1960) it emerged in the A.D. 3rd century and
substituted the Classical Greek serving as a lingua
franca, documentary, official and communicative language
of Axumite, only in A.D. 8th century evolved into two
different languages, Amhariña and Tigiriña, in A.D. 10th or
11th century.
NEGLECTING OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS
Bekerie rarely uses etymology-cum-history for his arguementations. For instances a large portion of his book is
devoted to what he calls Geez siwasiw, ‘grammar’, which
he acknow-ledged as originally meaning ‘ladder’. This is
in actuality an anagram of Oromo word waʑaʑa ‘a bier
upon which the dead bodies are carried to the grave’
(Tutschek, 1844:153), a symbol of waɗaa ‘alliance, oath’
with the deceased. The Oromo and Classical Greek
concept of grammar correspond both in form and
meaning. In Oromo, the polysemous word qaraa means,
among others, ‘read, sharpen; inquire, be wise, civilized’
from which the metaphorical qoro ‘wise, aristocrat, hawk’
comes. The same concept must be at work in Meroitic
kerma, qore ‘chief, king’ (Aubin 2003: 31) and Egyptian
‘hawk’ and its symbolic representations. It is not by
chance but by influence of Africans that in Classical
Greek χάrα means ‘pierce, sharpen, engrave,’ the
embryonic stage of grammar and grammatology.
Bekerie uses sometimes so ecclesiastic etymology,
which does not connect to reality. For instance, he draws
our attention to “the great book”, namely, “Mäzmura
Dawit”, one of “the only” Abyssinians gospels, that B’alu,
a counterpart of Baal, which the Middle East Semites
claim patent right for and Bekerie seems to refute, is,
according to him, Ge’ez, on one hand, and is the
invention of the Abyssinian Orthodox Church, on the
30 Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
other, as observed in the banner “Ba’ala Igzia’bher or
God is Lord” (p.71). He has to defend himself because,
since time immemorial, the Oromo (Cush) peoples have
been instituting and practicing social praxis whose names
are very much connected to the radicals b-l- (or b-r-, w-lwith rhotacization and ablauting). Few examples can be
mentioned: the cosmogony (ßala, Wala-bú) and genesis
of Man (Ba), the cradle land of origin (Baaɭí, Baalee), the
genealogical lineage-formation (balbala), the solemnest
ritual of adoption of infants (baallii), the Gada ceremony
of power-handover after every 8-year (baalli) holding the
sacred, symbolic ostrich feather (baallii) or leaves of
sacred plants (baallii), and so forth (Hassen, 1990).
Beyond dogmatically and circularly defining “Ba’al is a
crucified God” (p.72), the author never explains the sociocultural meaning, generative mechanisms or the human
agents.
CONFUSING DOGMA AND PHILOSOPHY
Somewhere in his book (pp. 97-98), Bekerie lists five
“principles of writing systems”, each of which he used to
justify the emergence and grandioseness of Ethiopic
system. Among them is that “writing is philosophy” and,
hence, a philosophical book was first written in “Ethiopian
classical writings.” According to him this book was
translated from Geez or Ethiopic into English by Willis
Budge, the London Museum guard, under the title “The
Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great.” Here comes
the argument. This writing is philosophical because
“Alexander the Great, the conqueror of Egypt and the
founder of Alexandria…and his deeds were glorified” by
church “scholars” and “philosophers” of “Ethiopia”.
This statement contains a very injurious sense, because, among the discourse community of African
scholars, the deadliest insult one can do to a (African)
person is to glorify Alexander of Macedonia as
“conqueror”, “great”, “founder”. On the one hand, this
amounts to thrashing ‘philosophy’. Philosophy is, rather,
a practice of advancing human “pulse of freedom”, to a
system where the flourish of each is (considered as) a
precondition for flourishment of all of us and all of us are
never free inasmuch as a single woman is enslaved for
freedom is, as Martin Luther King would say, indivisible.
On the other hand, Bekerie fails to understand that for
millions, Alexandar came as perpetrator of genocide and
looter of African documents of science and philosophy.
Did he conquer Egyptian to advance freedom? Perhaps,
it is him that not only interrupted African civilization ahead
of Europe, but also the one who reduced Africans to
today’s Third World. Simple questions for Bekerie: What
exactly is the meaning and purpose of philosophy? Who
are the Ethiopian “philosophers” or “scholars” who
accomplished Luther-King-like philosophy? History of
Ethiopia tells us that never in history was an Abyssinian
Orthodox priest preached love, equality, respect but hatred, ethnocentric stereotypes against ‘pagans’. In the
name of church and state, his ‘scholars’ and ‘philosophers’ only committed genocide alongside Abyssinian
“kings” like Minilik, Theodros and Yohannes.
LACK OF INTERTEXTUALITY: A BARRIER IN
ETHIOPIAN STUDIES
Bekerieis is rather one-sided in selecting resources for
his argumentations. He could have been more sensitive
and inclusive to ‘non-Ethiosemitic’ texts for competing
theoretical concepts and arguments. He is totally fixated
on the spatiotemporally and epistemologically narrow,
monastic ‘scholarship’ which Legesse (2000), one of the
most respected and objective social scientists on East
and Horn of Africa, treated under “The Barriers in
Ethiopian Studies”. As a reader reads through and
through, it becomes clear that the ultimate goal of
Bekerie is to revitalize the dominance of “Amharic
Language” and the often repeated nonsense of “EthioSemitic” grand narratives (p.136). To disentangle it more,
Bekerie’s Ethiopic appears to be the last battle to save
the dominant mythocracy of the Abyssinian Orthodox
Christianity, the champion of “Ethiopic” and the Ethiopian
State, but a worldview that, in fact, disapproved
iconographic engravings and signs such as of Ethiopic as
“satanic” and “pagan” since its very inception in the A.D.
4
th century. Indeed, Bekerie (p.116), a subaltern scholar,
has speculated:
Western scholars’ consistent intent to exclude, without
any evidence, the [ancient] Ethiopic language as one of
the possible languages of [the ancient documents],
perhaps, suggests that the Ethiopic language is not part
of the Indo-Semitic languages…[rather it] is an African
language and thus it is not suitable within the hegemonic
paradigm of the western scholarship.
Nevertheless, without explicitly stating the owners his
statements like “the Ethiopic writing system [is linked] to
the material and historical reality or experience of the
people” (p.136) becomes an empty word display. If
Bekerie braves truth more, as he has begun it well, then,
he should agree with Houston (1926:17-18):
Stephanus of Byzantium, voicing the universal testi-mony
of antiquity wrote, ‘Ethiopia was the first esta-blished
country on earth and the Ethiopians were the first to set
up the worship of the gods and to establish laws.’ The
later ages gained from this ancient empire, the
fundamental principles upon which republican governments are founded. The basic stones of that wonderful
dominion were equality, temperance, industry, intelligence and justice…. The gods and goddesses of the
Greeks and Romans were but the borrowed kings and
queens of this Cushite Empire of Ethiopians.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
The general aim of this paper is to critically analyze Dr.
Ayele Bekerie’s Ethiopic, an unusual book in the
historiography of Ethiopia, a historiography notoriously
known for fabricating and perpetuating fairy tales and
legends as “true history”. No question Bekerie is perhaps
the first historian to destabilize the myths built up for over
a century about the current Ethiopia. He sheds new light
on where to look for in our inquiry into socialphilosophical history of Ethiopia and especially for
students of (evolutionary) social semiotics mainly
because the Horn of Africa is, indeed, the epicenter of
origin of not just humanity but also civilization. Yet, if
Bekerie would have re-written or edited his book and
came up with ‘Ethiopic: Another stolen legacy of
Cushites’, modeling himself on the critical philosopher
George James (James, 1954), his book would have been
read as a truly Locational Model book. In only doing so—
that is, putting the transformative power of humans at the
centre–will his work be read as true ‘history’ instead of
the reified, peopleless ‘history’.
Further research would reveal whether Ethiopic is
different or just a gradual development out of its
precedents. Nonetheless, scholars are concordant on not
only African origin of social semiosis as social praxis
(representation, storage and reproduction of social
knowledge, including writing system, grammatology,
rhetoric, logic and mythology), but also origin of this in
African mythical metaphors as well. Therefore, how
different is Ethiopic system from the Ancient Black
Meroitic, Nubian, Egyptian, Zimbabwean social semiosis?
How different is the Ethiopic system from, to mention only
few: The prehistoric Konso, Tʔ
iya stone slab cultures of
storing their mythological, ancestral knowledge (Jensen,
1942)?; The pre-Egyptian Laga Oda, Laga Gafra on-rock
rhetorics (Červíček and Braukämper, 1975)?; The
ancient, paradigmatic and sophisticated (Oromo-Cush)
Gada system—cosmogonal, theological, genealogicalgenerational, sociopolitical, lunar-stellar calendrical
systems (Tablino, 1994; Legesse, 1973; Doyle, 1986;
Bassi, 1988)? Unfortunately, the vast majority of
documents on these civilizations have been written by
Eurocentric, colonial-mentality scholars who either saw
them from spatiotemporally narrow perspective or deAfricanized them or just ascribed them to imaginary
agents such as “Gudit”, “Harla”, “Belu”, etc (Červíček and
Braukämper, 1975:49). Apparently, these strange names
are the usual linguistic play through alchemy (deforming
Gada to “Gudit”) and rhotacization of the liquids /l/ and /r/
(hence, changing Bora and Harar, or related, to “Belu”
and “Harla”), for the principle of consonantal compatibility
restrictions in Afroasiatic phylum does not allow these
liquids to co-occur in base-words (Rowan, 2006).
Birbirso 31
REFERENCES
Asante K (1992). ‘African American Studies: The Future of the
Discipline’. Black Scholar 22:20-29.
Aubin P (2003). ‘Evidence for an Early Nubian Dialect in Meroitic
Inscriptions’. Meroitic Newsletter, 30:15-39.
Bassi M (1988). ‘On the Borana Calendrical System: A Preliminary
Field Report’. Curr. Anthrop. 29/4:619-624.
Bekerie A (2004). ‘Ethiopica’. Int. J. Ethiopian Stud. 1(2):110-121.
Bernal M (1986). Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical
Civilization. Vol.1. London: Free Association Books.
Červíček P &Braukämper U (1975). ‘Rock Paintings of Laga Gafra
(Ethiopia)’. Paideuma 21:47-60.
De Salviac M (2005 [1901]). The Oromo: An ancient people of great
African nation. Paris: © Ayalew Kanno.
Diop AC (1975). The African Origin of Civilization. New Lawrence Hill &
Company.
Doyle L (1986).’The Borana Calendar Reinterpreted’. C

Featured

Ethiopia On the Brink of Revolution

Recently, just before I left South Afrika for Zimbabwe, a fellow Rastafari brother who had just finished reading my book Rock ‘n Rule …asked me to write a journal about my opinion on Ethiopia, the Rastafari impact on the community as well as other personal reflections.

This will be a series dealing with my trip to Ethiopia, Shashemane as well as my thoughts regarding the tensions between the Ethiopian government and its various peoples. I will share a lot of other activists works, their opinions in addition to my own views. I believe that the time for the progressive rise of Oromo Ethiopians is inextricably tied to the socio-economic rise of Ethiopia as well as the rest of Afrika as an economic power.

I wish to also analyze just why the All Africa Rastafari Trade Conference failed to take into account the plight of Oromo people, both historically as well as the present struggles. In my opinion, any movement that ignores the struggles of the community it resides in is setting itself up for failure. I also understand that there are complexities related to the presence of Rastafari community as well as other Pan-Afrikanist movements in Ethiopia and the surrounding regions. My intention is to find out the real impact of Pan Afrikanism in Afrikan peoples daily struggles. I wish to be as practical as possible while contextualizing the various challenges that are faced by such movements both internationally and inter-continentally.

It is sad that many so called Pan-Afrikanists and even Rasta’s have very little knowledge of who the Oromo people are and why their liberation and understanding of their Spiritual system is as vital to our progress as that of other Indigenous peoples. We love to look to Ethiopia’s Christian or Abrahamic heritage, we even go as far as Egypt/Kemet yet we know so little about a people whose lives have been impacted so negatively by the Triple Heritage ( Islam, Judaism, Christianity).  I became interested in Oromo people  while I was researching about the impact of foreign religions on Afrikan people, my primary concern is still the Spiritual and Cultural progress of all Afrikan people. Let me share a brief history of who these people are, according to Oromo Liberation Front website:

“The People: Origin

A brief look at the early history of some of the peoples who have occupied north-eastern Africa sheds some light on the origin of the Oromos.  The Oromo belongs to the Eastern Cushitic language subfamily which in turn belongs to the Afro Asiatic super family that occupied most parts of northeastern Africa. The Cushitic speakers have inhabited north-eastern and eastern Africa for as long as recorded history. The land of Cush, Nubia or the ancient Ethiopia in middle and lower Nile is the home of the Cushitic peoples. According to recorded evidence the Cushitic family separated into different linguistic and cultural groups called Northern Cush, Middle Cush, Southern Cush and Eastern Cush at around 5,000 BC. The Eastern Cushitic family in turn gradually separated into different branches between 3500 and 2000 BC. Accordingly the Oromo national group came into existence as a linguistic and cultural group or as an entity beginning from 3500 BC. The Oromo is one of the Cushitic groups which spread southwards and then east and west occupying large part of the Horn of Africa. Their physical features, culture, language and other evidences unequivocally point to the fact that they are indigenous to this part of Africa. Available information clearly indicates that the Oromo existed as a community of people for thousands of years in East Africa (Prouty at al, 1981). Bates (1979) contends, “The Gallas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted”.

According to Perham (1948): “the emigrant Semites landed in a continent of which the North-East appears to have been inhabited by the eastern groups of Hamites, often called Kushites, who also include the Gallas” (Oromos). Paulitschke (1889) also indicated that Oromo were in East Africa during the Aksumite period. As recorded by Greenfield (1965), Oromo reject the view that they were late arrivals, “… old men amongst the Azebu and Rayya Galla dismiss talks of their being comparative newcomers. Their own (Abyssinians) oral history and legends attest to the fact that Oromo have been living in Rayya for a long time.”  Beke (cited by Pankhurst, 1985-86) quoted the following Lasta legend: “Menilek, the son of Solomon, … entered Abyssinia from the East, beyond the country of the Rayya or Azebo Gallas (Oromos). There are also evidence (Greenfield et al, 1980) that at least by the ninth and tenth centuries there were Oromo communities around Shawa (Central Oromia) and by about the14thcentury settlements were reported around Lake Tana. The recent discovery, (Lynch and Robbins, 1978), in northern Kenya of the pillars that Oromo used in the invention of their calendar system, dated by carbon date around 300 B.C. is another indication that Oromo have a long history of presence as a community of people in northeastern part of Africa.

Different areas have been mentioned as place where the Oromo developed or differentiated into its own unique community of people or ethnic group (Braukamper, 1980). According to some ethnologists and historians, the Oromo country of origin was the south-eastern part of Oromia, in the fertile valley of Madda Walaabu in the present Baale region. This conclusion was reached mainly on the basis of some Oromo oral traditions. Bruce, an English traveler in the 17th century indicated that Sennar in the Sudan was the Oromo country of origin and that they expanded from there.

There are several Cushitic peoples in East Africa very closely related to the Oromo. For instance, the Somalis are very similar in appearance and culture. The fact that the Somali and Oromo languages share between 30 percent and 40 percent of their vocabulary could be an indication that these two groups of people became differentiated very recently. Other Cushitic-speaking groups living in the same neighborhood who are closely related to the Oromo are Konso, Afar, Sidama, Kambata, Gedeo, Agaw, Saho, Baja and other groups. Konso and the Oromo people share more than 50% of common vocabulary.

In older literature and in fact until quite recently, the Oromos were referred to as “Galla”, a term with negative connotation that was given by Abyssinian ruling families. One may encounter this name in older texts, here and there but it should be noted that it is a pejorative and derogatory name.  Historically, some people among the northern Amharic community used the label “Galla” derogatorily to label the Oromos. However, it should be known that the Oromo people neither call themselves nor like to be called by this name. The term seems to be aimed at destroying the identity of the Oromo people

The ancient Oromo settlement extends deep into present day Gojam, Gondar and Tigrai in northern Ethiopia. Even in recent history the Oromo were living in Gojam and Gonder as early as the seventeen century.  But the Habasha clergy and rulers intentionally hide these facts or label these periods  – the era of the princess – as the dark ages of their history. It is a fact that some of the Oromo population was absorbed by Amharic and Tigrinya speaking peoples. That such a process did take place is strongly suggested by the fact that Oromo personal names that frequently appear in genealogical reckoning of Amharic and Tigrinya speaking population. The Oromo also assimilated many of its neighboring populations. In this process it is believed that the Oromo developed into a veritable cultural corridor. It opened up extensive cultural exchange between societies which would have otherwise remained isolated and atomistic (Gada, Asmerom Legese 1973) —

Religion

The Oromos, have a strong and well-defined system of belief or worldview characterized by its respect  of all virtues (such as kindness, honesty, integrity, truth, equality, brotherhood, peace and justice) as opposed to all vices. Monotheistic in nature, the belief is known for its glorification of God or Waqa Who is considered as immortal, everlasting and the sole and ultimate creator of man and the entire universe. The religion preaches that all men are created equal and that they deserve equal treatment in many aspects of life and in the protection of basic human rights. It gives special importance to social harmony and peaceful coexistence. The Oromo believe in only one Waqa (God). They did worship false gods or carved statues as substitutes.  The Oromo Waqa is one and the same for all. He is the creator of everything, source of all life, omnipresent, infinite, and incomprehensible, he can do and undo anything; he is pure, intolerant of injustice, crime, sin and all falsehood.

In traditional Oromo religion there is a religious institution called a Qallu. Qallu is also the name given to the spiritual leader of the institution. He is like a Bishop in the Christian world and an Imam in the Muslim world. A Qallu is  the most senior person of the society. The Oromo describe the Qallu as Makkala, means messengers of God. As opposed to the egalitarian democratic system of the Oromo society the authority of the Qallu is divine origin, and hereditary.

In Oromo religion is distinctly separated from politics. The domain of Qallu is purely the domain of sacred and peaceful. Whereas the Gada leaders are charged with legal and political activities the Qallu are charged only with ritual and spiritual affairs. There is a clear functional differentiation between the sacred and the profane. The Qallu institution and traditional Oromo religion were weakened with the advent of colonialism and outside religions.The Abyssinian  conquerors  interfered in the religious affairs of the Oromo and weakened it. They adopted  policies to discourage and destroy Oromo cultural institutions and values.

The Oromo have a number of religious holidays such as Irreecha (thanksgiving festival) which takes place once in a year in river meadows.

In its later history, the Oromo people have been in constant contact with other religions like Islam and Christianity for the last 1000 years or so. For instance, the Islamic religion was reported to have been in eastern Shawa about 900 A.D. and Christianity even before that.

Today the majority of the Oromo people are followers of Islam and Christianity, while the remaining are still followers of the traditional religion, Waqeffannaa. The Oromo who are followers of Islam or Christianity yet still practice the mode of experiences of their traditional religion. Bartels (1983) expressed this reality as follows: ‘Whether they (Oromo) became Christians or Muslims, the Oromo’s traditional modes of experiencing the divine have continued almost unaffected, in spite of the fact that several rituals and social institutions in which it was expressed, have been very diminished or apparently submerged in new ritual”. In fact adherence to traditional practices and rituals is still common among many Oromo people regardless of their different religious background.

There has not been threat of religious fanaticism or fundamentalism in Oromo population. The cultural affinity and ethnic identity among the Oromo did not allow such development. Thus there is a great deal of tolerance among the different religions in the Oromo society. It was the Oromo who stopped the protracted wars between the Abyssinian Christian kingdom of the north and Muslim kingdoms of the Somali and Afar from the south that went on for centuries during Medieval Abyssinia. The Oromo created a buffer zone between the two in the 16th century, and stopped the religious wars once and for all.” – http://oromoliberationfront.org/en/oromia-briefs/

 

Ethiopia Uprising
Ethiopia Uprising

 

Religion, agriculture and market dynamics in Zimbabwe

zimbabweland

The last blog offered a brief overview of different churches across our study sites. This second blog in this series focuses on their role in agriculture and markets, and more broadly rural livelihoods. Given their different histories, forms of organisation, finance and religious beliefs different churches’ influence is quite varied.

The modernising mission

As discussed previously, the missionary churches that dominated in the colonial era were committed to a vision of elite, technically ‘modern’ African farming. This was often central to the paternalistic form of development offered through vocational training and an array of ‘development’ projects.

The famed American Methodist ‘native instructor’, E.D. Alvord, proclaimed a ‘Gospel of the Plow’ in his book. He was influential in framing agricultural policies from the 1927 onwards when an extension programme was established by the state, with many of his ideas being central to support for ‘native agriculture’ for decades…

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Resonant Thoughts: Haruki Murakami’s “Novelist As A Vocation” (2022)

brettworks

“The key component is not the quality of the materials—what’s needed is magic. If that magic is present, the most basic daily matters and the plainest language can be turned into a device of surprising sophistication.

Their only recourse is to throw open their garage doors, drag out whatever they have stored away to that point— even if it looks like no more than a pile of useless junk—and slave away until the magic takes hold.

Refusing to think of oneself as an artist removes a lot of pressure.

There’s something more important deeper down in running. But it’s not at all clear to me what that something is, and if I don’t understand it myself, then I can’t explain it to others.

I felt very strongly that paying close attention to what the body is feeling is, fundamentally, a critical process for someone involved in creative work.

Your mind…

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Can Southern AfriKa Turn The Energy Crisis Into An Opportunity?

The Key is – “to embrace the idea that abundance comes from this unified field. Within it lies the power of infinite creativity.” – D. Chopra As a civilization struggling with a multitude of problems, mostly based on our reluctance to embrace the necessary paradigm shifts, in consciousnes as well as in how we approach […]

Can Southern AfriKa Turn The Energy Crisis Into An Opportunity?

666

Nkosy Light

Greetings dear ones, I am Nkosy Mkhize of Light Family. As I continue to sit in your feet in honour and in love. I am of service to you with great gratitude and esteemed honour for what you are going through in these difficult times of transition.

During the live session that was held on TikTok platform on the 30th September 2022, someone asked me to explain about 666. Today’s message will be unpacking the secret meaning behind 666.

But before we begin, allow me to say the following:

There is one reason for all of our existence on Earth: we are in lesson for the purpose of raising the vibration of the whole. This is the overall reason, and is not fully explainable to us at this time. Our endeavours while in lesson create energy through our incarnations and subsequent elevation of the Earth consciousness (MASIZAKAZI)…

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A Confluence of Ideals

“This Temple of a Million Years, whose construction is mentioned on the walls of the Temple of Karnak, must therefore, be the same as the Temple of Solomon. This has to be another historical exclusive – a first-hand account of the building of the Temple of Solomon. Once more, this gives us strong evidence that Sheshonk/q I was none other than Solomon himself – but if this is so, then we ought to be able to find some further similarities between the reign of King Solomon and the parallel reign of Sheshonq I. In fact th, there are some additional and striking similarities and these can be seen when comparing the Biblical book of Proverbs with the ancient Egyptian papyrus known as Instructions of Amenemope.” – page 201, Solomon, Falcon of Sheba by Ralph Ellis

With this background, I would like us to exploDespite the various biblical verses that offer some insights into the geopolitical as well as religious enmity between the peoples of Egypt and Palestine/Israel, the relationship between Ancient Egypt and the Biblical Israel has always been a nuanced and complex one. It has been further complicated by the overzealous fascination of so called enlightenment era Europeans, whom even though being late arrivals to the story of the Levant and North Afrika, appear to have captured those stories and manipulated them towards their own racist ends. Nevertheless, there have been many great contributions to the telling of that complicated historiagraphy made by some of the so called Egyptologists, orientalists and wide eyed explorers. We shall try to be as objective or open-minded as possible when dealing with their research findings. We will strive to be less subjective even though the story we are telling is actually the story of our Ancestors, for it has been made abundantly clear that not only was Egypt and much of the so called Middle-East part of the vast ancient Ethiopian empire, but it is by all evidence part of a more expansive Black-Afrikan history.

Empress Tallowah

A Rastafarian Empress from Soweto shares her insights

La Nkosi Writes

Mine is to filter out the rhetoric and propaganda, so that we children of the soil can form opinions based on logic and reason. Not through those summarized and scripted tales presented to us.

Nkosy Light

Member of Light Family

My Mind Diary

Where my mind finds a place to rest

AMNTE NOFRE (Amentet Neferet)

Ancient Egyptian Religion