Le Ngoma: Lyrical Journey’s with Prince

The Morning Papers

Prince

Produced By Prince

Album: Symbol

[Verse]
He realized that she was new to love
Naive in every way
Every schoolboy’s fantasy she was
That’s why he had to wait
If he poured his heart into a glass
And offered it like wine
She could drink and be back in time for the morning papers
They could take a walk down the ocean-side
Make a wish on every wave
They could find a carousel
And ride or kiss in every cave
They could contemplate the entire universe
Or just one star
Or just how far was the walk for the morning papers
Let me play it for you one time, oh oh
Well
Hey
Shucks
Why is age more than a number when it comes to love?
Should we ask the ones who speculate
When they don’t know what it’s made of?
Should we ask the moonlight on your face
Or the raindrops in your hair
Or should we ask the man who wrote it there in the morning papers?
Should we ask the moonlight on your face
Or the raindrops in your hair
Should we ask the man who wrote it there in the morning papers?

[Outro]
Somebody help me sing it now
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la
Oh yes
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la
Go play
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la
Ok

Cool School Blues

I grew up listening to Michael Franks; Phil Collins; Fela Kuti and Peter Tosh. Some of the vinyl records my father and uncles collected, swapped and would occassionally discuss over cooldrinks and loud robust broken English, made me the way I am today.

I am now a father of three boys, using the music of Herbie Hancock, Tete Mambisa, Alice Coltrane and Cinematic Orchestra to put the hyperactive little wailers to sleep …(tbc)

-add Michael Franks; Stimela and Cindi Lauper and expand on the beautiful yet always contested cultural diversity inherent in music.

Take from Michael Franks, The Art of Tea; Rendezvous in Brasil and Stimela’s Highlnd Drifter* …

– Fela Kuti’s Let’s Start intro: “You Afrikans please listen to me as Afrikans, you non-Afrikans listen to me with an opem mind.”

Poetics:Rantings from Rock n’ Rule : upcoming book kaMenzi Maseko

Additional Poems for Rock ‘n Rule Book

Rocks, Rules and Righteous Rantings

 …Still got my dread crown on Papa was rolling stoned/Ancestral blasphemy will not be condoned …The ancient future is here / the howlin’ how long blues might just up n disappear / we found a way to outmaneuver the fear …But we still asking what’s wrong Ms Simone …
Mississippi to Soweto Kwa-Mashu Marikana Rwanda to Brazil Alabama God damn
I just woke up from a lucid dream a fiery gospel blues sermon from Old Nina Simone
The whole church/beer-hall was in a frenzy the only unrepentant was the politicians/ pigs and askaris /taking selfies shuffering and shmiling while the Goddess sang I Shall Be Released …
….Been running from the whiteness since 7 years old
Now i m the 7th Sun of a Thrice Great God
Betrayed on the Southern cross for telling my people rebel and Unlearn
if God is not within us let me crash or burn
Lets be done with the running
but we still on that rat race …
Where it takes selling out to keep apace / too black u might lose your place / on the masters last supper table …

Runnin’
But i can hear the Soul Trane
coming forth by day just to bring my Ba home / I can hear that Coltrane n Mankunku coming for to carry me home

 

Reed River Rap

Running on tracks waving n weaving like we dodging bullets
or the thought police / or walking while black modern day willy lynchin’
Underground Railroad no dipping and dapping we field negro escape artistes
Heart is just a drum / on c major a minor stacatto arrangement polyphonic 12 bar blues
Think of Tubman necessary by any means thru muddy waters
we follow Dirty Harriet
Thru thick through thin
Blood in blood out dont bury the hatchet
Til we reach freedom lands
where our children’s Blues turn a violet shade of Indigo …really doe’
Tales of the hunted are finally told / we the final half that has ne’er been sold / Watch the triple throne if your dome can unfold
The details are stolen from the devil Gods sons have Landed …black n tan fantasy diggin’ Duke Ellings-tone

Burn Chalice rid the world of Malice
Chalwa sweet but it ain’t no liqueurice

….When we eat the fruits we sow in due seasons
Between the Land and we
No charge of treason
When we get to the place of Flow …Peace with Justice coupled with sufficient doses of Equal Rights
Then the Pen n Untamed mind would cease to be weapon
of Mass confusion? derision and Deconstruction
We would have found a better occupation
Our poetry would resemble Songs of Freedom ..

 

Land Love and Sandalwood

When our wits returned from being out at Sea
When we Learned to Love ourselves and did away with scandalwood and bollywood caste dreams
Once we had learned to once more
measure our schemes
According to Mother Natures whims …

 

Autobiographic
Not picture perfect We Magic
Ultra Realistic

 

So dem a wonder
How Him aka Creator
Also known as Ankh El Green UMalume kaNandi, Kwenza benoJoshua
Nyahbinghi Warrior Priest
and King / Magic Realist they use to call him Ras Levi aka LevitiKush
Revolutionary Chalice Legalizer …

RIP Mambush
Sisonke in this Struggle over Trees and Truths and Rights to Global Commons …

Commodified defied Dignity of Working for A Living Wage / or living to die for the pay
But better than a wage we wage Thought Revolutions for A Grander New Way / a Righteousness Consciousness
When we all work the Earth
Love and Live so intensely We wont need to Get Paid
Turn weapons of destructions to Amageja and Fruitful Gains
Work these hills thousand valleys and planes
Reach Higher Plateaus* thru examples of Excellence we set our Selves

 

I and I and I praise a Living Loving God
Known by many Splendid Names
Including: Power of the Sacred Trinity
The Thrice Great
The Wonderful Councillor
The Life Giver
UMdali …

 

 

 

Between BBBEE and a Harder Place

Ankh em Maat – Living in truth, justice and cosmic orderWingedIsis

I have just read Andile Khumalo’s article on page 10 of the Sunday Times, August 14 2016/the Business Times section. Titled, ‘Pinnacle ticks the boxes but fails the test: Corporate social investment is masquerading as empowerment‘, the article really made me glad that there are still some intellectuals who are keenly keeping watch on what real black representation in the South African economy means. Even for a person who is not as well versed in the jargon of investments and the macro-economic environment, Khumalo made it plain and simple that there is a crucial difference between the obligatory corporate social investment and what broad-based Black Business empowerment entails.

Personally I am not a great supporter of the BBBEE policies but I understand why theu exist as well meant attempts to address the gross inequities in prevailing in Azania / South Afrika – (Elaborate )

Khumalo asks crucial questions that expose this and most so called BBBEE deals as a fraud. He writes: “How is this effective participation when the company to be empowered is the one writing the script for the broad-based BEE shareholder – founding its trust, appointing its trustees, specifying that half the trustees need to be black and dictating its beneficiary initiatives?”  This is a point he clearly elaborated in the previous paragraphs, elucidating how Pinnacle Holdings sale of some 29.9% of its wholly owned subsidiary DCT Holdings to a BBBEE partner, is flawed; and then he goes on to state:

Deals like this undermine transformation and prove that there remains a tick the box attitude towards broad-based BEE. I am afraid this attitude will remain for as long as broad-based BEE is seen as a “best endeavors” project that relies on nonexistent good faith. Enough is enough, It’s time for the stick.”

One of the other reasons I think that there is no shortcut solution to South Afrika’s socio-economic troubles, is because the whole system is racially based and biased. We need nothing short of a radical revolutionary mass movement advancing a Black First ideal society which will firstly re-humanize the Natives by endowing them with real power. Any attempts at airbrushing and reducing the racial connotations and basis of our inequality is reactionary falsehood that we should disabuse ourselves from.

Following the advise of the Black Consciousness movement’s figure-head Steve Bantu Biko and radical scholars such as Nigeria’s Dr Chinweizu, even many white scholars have long diagnosed this problem as racial in essence. So no amount of colour-blindness and perpetuation of the market-economy or status quo can lead us out of the mire of poverty and corruption. Writing in the New Left Review as early as 1991, John S. Saul analyzed the precarious state of South Afrika’s transition:

South Africa’s system of racial segregation and repression is a veritable paradigm of capitalist super-exploitation. It has a white monopoly capitalist ruling class and an advanced black proletariat. It is so far the only country with a well developed, modern capitalist structure which is not only ‘objectively’ ripe for revolution but has actually entered a stage of overt and seemingly irreversible revolutionary struggle.”

While Saul was paraphrasing Magdoff and Sweezy’s 1986 study of South Afrikan situation, it is clear that ruling ANC entered into was the well documented betrayal of revolution called teh SUnset Clause. In clear language, the ANC did not attempt to dismantle the capitalist structure it found, but instead reestablished themselves as the new black colonialists.

No one exemplifies this class of neo-colonialists/capitalists catapulted to stupendous wealth through BBBEE deals better than the Deputy president of the ANC itself, Cyril Ramaphosa. Thabo Mbeki biographer Gevisser writes ()

On an April evening almost exactly three years to the day South Africans voted Mandela into power, you could watch, at a black-tie dinner in Johannesburg, the dynamics of South African power relations change before your eyes. The dinner celebrated the deal in which Anglo-American the vast mining house that rules the the South African economy – sold a controlling share of Johnnic, a $2 billion company with blue-chip industrial holdings, to a group of black businesses and trade unions called the National Empowerment Consortium (NEC), led by Cyril Ramaphosa. ‘I think’, said Anglo-American’s Michael Spicer when introducing Johnnic’s new head, ‘we can call you chairman Cyril rather than comrade Cyril.’ Replied the former trade unionist who led the mineworkers’ charge against the company a decade ago: ‘It’s wonderful to have Anglo as a minority shareholder!’ “Ramaphosa, the man most responsible for organizing the working masses into the collective action that brought apartheid to its knees, no leads another charge: an advance, by the mushrooming black middle class, on the commanding heights of the economy. The corporate sector is crowing. ‘Cyril Ramaphosa was the man who built unions in the 80’s’, one very senior Anglo-American executive tells me, ‘and he’ll be the one to break them in the nineties.‘ ( Gevisser 1997)

The white executive was eerily prescient since Ramaphosa did much more than just break unions and follow Thabo Mbeki’s plan Black middleclass at the expense of the poor black majority, he is now in the 2000’s, suspect number 1, fingered for the murder of 44 miners in Marikana’s London Mines. This is just a quick and vivid example of how white supremacist power corrupts absolutely and how neither social corporate investment, BBBEE or neo-liberalism can create a really new society out of us as South Afrikans/Azanians. The only way is to educate to emancipate.

Make Land return to black majority a priority and a reality and ensure that Education is decisively Afrika-logical and addresses our pressing needs. We must be rulers of our own destiny, overcoming petty prejudices and party lines. One principle uniting us. LAND in Ma’at.

The revolution will not be sustained while the economy is still controlled by the minority and the ruling party is more notorious for corruption and striking self-enrichment deals with former oppressors, rather than setting new standards of excellence and economic inclusion.The masses themselves must be king-makers, the call of Amandla Awethu ( Power to the People) must be realized sooner than later, since almost 20 years of have yielded nothing of relevance.

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen an Government officials, but the voters of this country.“- Frankilin D. Roosevelt

Nice advise from one of the United States of America’s former presidents, but since we as black people are also skeptical of the real benefits of democracy, we would rather do what Mwalimu Nyerere advised and advance our own radical governing systems, our own ethos and our own methods of economic developement based on our own lessons and indigenous knowledge systems.

 

 

Ode to Genius: a poem for bhekumuzi hyacinth mseleku

For Bhekumuzi Hyacinth Mseleku, a Jazz poem

By Menzi Maseko aka Sankaras Chalice aka Katonda Lisa Mwari

 Sing:

There is evidence of Light

On the horizon hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm mmhmm!

Faith is beautiful but Truth

We can depend on …again and again, again and again!

From the Source of Life we came …

We had Soul music before we even had names

 

But then we drifted

We were all so gifted

And we drifted ….

Further from the Source …Farther the Source

Further from the Source …Farther from the Source

 Spoken:

Until God sent Trane / steaming across the path left by Bird

Of Paradice / Until Sonini-nanini sent Mankunku

Men of blood, spirit and brass echoing the ululations of Princess Magogo

Until the Gods sent us Hyacinth

Divine Royal Purple Flower

Seeded from the Timelessness of Stars

That die but never fade

We are Ankh’s …UMlenzemunye KaNsondo OnguSimakade

 Ankaa the Phoenix star

We are the eternal flame

Transcendental omnipotent are our names

SibhekuMuzi WeThongo ekuphileni nasekufeni

Njengendoda Yasemandulo Eyacamel’etsheni Yaboniswa Izithunywa Eladini Zehla zenyuka Kuhle Kwenyanda YeZulu …

We are the 12 bar blues people …we are the blues

All our Zulu names are codes and symbols and hues

Notes, nodes and half notes

Colours on the kaleidoscope Mind of God

Tones of Yellow, Gold, Orange, Red

Are hints of the Old folks prayers strung like ribbons on the deathless branches of the Tree of Life

Tears of old folks who bled

To wash their wounds in the sacred lakes

While their exiled voices murmur in the deep

Carrying memories of blood-rivers –

Our names are echoes of the winds of Truths crushed to the ground

Now sprouting strange fruits

The fruits of freedoms prayed for but half attained …

We are the Blues people …

Azanian people so beloved of the Gods

And our music is the memory of half remembered Wisdom

Telling us …

“Vukani Bantwana Ilanga Liphumile Kusile …

Wake Up Children The Sun Is Risen it’s a New day …”

Alter-Native Society: Between Kingdoms, Political Structures and Anarchy

“The king was the personification of Ma’at, a word that we translate as ‘truth’, or ‘justice’, but has an extended meaning of the proper cosmic order at the time of its establishment by the Creator …There is in Akhenaten’s teaching a constant emphasis upon Maat …as is not found before or afterwards.” – Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten: King of Egypt

What can we learn from the past? Is there anything at all that we cannot learn from seeking the wisdom of the ancients, while we forge ahead with boldness towards the future we desire? In our quest to find effective leadership styles, ways to rule with equality and govern with equity, we found ourselves using many inadequate words. Even the very words, rule, govern, and equality are found wanting in the greater scheme of things.

Many of us use words such as democracy, socialism, social justice, nation/nationhood, nationality and the old troublesome one RACE as if these are natural terms that cannot be avoided or substituted for ‘better’ or more adequate words.

As Afrikans ( even this term is highly questionable in some circles) or as Black people ( this term is also contestable and may only be limited to socio-political description) and personal choice, we are undergoing a transformation. Every revolution brings forth new faculties of interpretation, ways of being and naming. Every revolution also necessitates the destruction, deconstruction and reconstitution of previous terms and conditions.

My comrades within the Black Radical tradition often use the phrase ” To End The World As We Know It”, or simply “End The World, by which they are referring to the exploitative and highly unequal system which is maintained and perpetuated by White Capitalist Monopoly  or White supremacy. This is a world we all agree must be destroyed in order to build a better world from its ashes.

Socialist and variations of democratic dispensations are proposed and in some places even begun, but maintaining them in a sea of oppositional or counter-revolutionary forces becomes a rather daunting task. Not only do such alternative or supposedly progressive governments faced with internal social and economic dynamics, they are also under attack by external market and ideological forces.Many have capitulated and exist only as caricatures of their original principled selves, some,, such as the Republic of South Africa and few others insist that theirs is a dual or mixed economy. This is highly debatable but it is what it is.

This essay seeks to explore the future firstly or primarily through an ancient lens. I wish to take a deeper and analytical look at the efficacy of Kingship or rule by monarchical, theocratic, and monarchical-democratic or social and traditional leadership. Perhaps later we can even explore the proposals expounded by Anarchists and Chaotic theorists.

Maat1

But before, we get into the discussion on Ancient rule, lets explore the pros and cons on Western style democracy. According to Samuel P.Huntington; “Liberal democracy, rooted in the concept of individual dignity, is a Western product, and some have argued that liberal democracy is impossible outside the West. In fact, however, at least one liberal democracy exists  in almost every other civilization. Liberal democracy, in short, is not inherently incompatible with major- non-Western cultures.

Yet the extent to which non-Western societies are receptive to wither liberal democracy or electoral democracy varies with the extent to which they have been influenced by the West.” ( After Twenty Years:The Future of The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington, 1997)

In the music: people’s intuitive travels and the paths of rhythm

Inside the sleeve of Nduduzo Makhathini’s newest offering,after the prayer, these words are stated:

“Inner Dimensions – Seeks to go deep within the the inner realms of our souls and find those melodies that will bring about harmony, healing and hope for all people. It is a journey to our innermost being that connects us to God. We believe that when we reach this part of our inner selves, it is easier to reach everywhere else…”

I am listening to Inner Dimensions, an exceptionally beautiful album by Nduduzo Makhathini.

Last night as I arrived at the Jazzy Rainbow, a jazz venue in the Durban suburb of Morningside, I was pleasantly surprised to find Makhathini and his ace drummer, Ayanda Sikade standing outside.

After exchanging hugs, greetings and introductions, we immediately got into the subjects of Spirituality, the Gospels, Afrikan Cosmology and the historical development of jazz from the Negro-Spirituals to the Blues and the present day expressions of izingoma/songs. Our conversation was brief but spanned many more subjects, and by the time Salim Washington joined us at the parking lot, we ended up talking about Kamasi Washington, Shabaka Hutchins and Nduduzo and Salim also excitedly glowed when it came to the subject of Randy Weston, whom I have been reading about but have not yet listened to. But just from reading the August 2016 issue of Downbeat Magazine, which bears the image of a purple Afrikan suited elder holding a rod with an image of an Ankh and other Afrikan images,with the words ‘Randy Weston enters DB Hall of Fame’, I know I already love this troubadour.

The story goes that, “In one single work, Weston manages to pay tribute to the ancient tombs of Siki Bilal in Aswan, the Sufi tradition, the holy city of Touba in Senegal, China’s great Shang dynasty, African folk music, the timeless history of the blues, and the unity of humankind.” Weston dialogues with each participant in notes and tones, and emcees from the piano bench, revealing exhaustive knowledge of how the traditions intersect.

Just from reading about Weston, and hearing so much about him from the great musicians in my presence,  couldn’t wait to also read one of the books that influenced his album, The African Nubian Suite. The book by Wayne B. Chandler is interestingly titled “Ancient Future: The Teachings and Prophetic Wisdom of the Seven Hermetic Laws of Ancient Egypt“. From that title alone, I know that we are vibrating on the same higher frequency.

I had actually come to see Professor Salim Washington’s performance with his Sankofa ensemble. Even though I’d read that Salim would be playing with Nduduzo on the previous gig at the Centre for Jazz, I had not anticipated that Makhathini would be part of that night’ s line up. The Sankofa Ensemble turned out to be one of the best sonar experiences I have ever had. With Salim Washington leading the band through compositions such as Oshun, dedicated to the Water Bearing Orisha from the Yoruba Spiritual tradition followed by a melancholy and gut-wrenching tribute to the Souls who perished by fire during the recent Afrophobic attacks, the black on black violence that transpired not long ago in our city Durban.

The song was called Umlilo ( Fire) and featured some evocative singing, wailing and conversations from a very agile young vocal quartet which is part of the Sankofa Ensemble. With permission from my brothers and elders I wish to share the music here in the near future in addition to writing more extensively about it.

Matters of the Spiritual Heart

An appreciation: Ever-since I was introduced to the ‘jazz’ artists called Kurt Elling, I have become irreversibly hooked. A perfect stranger called Lesego had given us a ride home one evening after the Poetry Africa festival’s final concert. We were all still buzzing from a great performance by Hip Hop Pantsula and some herbs were being passed around in a spirit of One Love. All of a sudden I heard a familiar tune while we were in the car cruising along Durban’s North Beach area. “The Creator Has A Master Plan,Peace and Happiness for Everyman …”, and I knew that melody from the original Pharaoh Sanders and other subsequent versions…the most famous being one done by Leon Thomas.

We had been discussing the future of Black Consciousness and the concept of Righteousness consciousness and whether music has any real impact on the Hearts and Minds of people. We were a beautiful pan-Afrikan group consisting of a guy from Lesotho, whom I now call the Maestro, a thespian/poetess from Cameroon and two South Afrikans.  I was just so excited and later begged the Maestro to repeat the song, but he was like ‘you haven’t heard anything yet …just listen I will mesmerize you…’ –

I complied, with all my senses wide opened,as he played tune after tune from a vocalist whom I thought I ‘d recognized but clearly had never listened to. Needless to say that my new friend never did tell me who the other singers of the songs he had played were. It turned out that the version of the Creator Has A Masterplan was a live version by Dwight Trible.

He then told me that the singer who did a song called Higher Vibe, Concord, and a rendition of John Coltrane’s Resolution was actually a white guy named Kurt Elling. I had not heard of him at all and felt embarrassed, because I had been going on and on about Dwight Trible.

I initially I refused to believe that the singer who did such as perfect rendition of Coltrane was a white-man. But such is the joy of jazz, the universality of music. I may have held strong views that certain feeling in music can only be invoked by Black people, whether they be vocalists, saxophonists or any instrument really. But when you listen with your heart wide opened, music will surprise you, and no music has more mysteries, surprizes, mathematical ingenuity and inventiveness than what they call ‘jazz’. That was then, but this is now. I am still essentially Afrocentric and Black Conscious but much less self-conscious and insular.

I have since become one of the greatest fans of Kurt Elling, I started with the album called Man In The Sky and my partner later gifted me with Passion World. I have only just discovered how extensive and exciting this man’s discography is. I am also anticipating to get the new album called Upward Spiral, with Branford Marselles.

Today while I was driving with my brother Khaya Maseko, listening to a song from Passion World, called Bonita Cuba, I suddenly had the notion that there is an uninterrupted somewhat Cosmic Connection inherent in certain types of Jazz. But more specifically, my mind made a connection between the concept of the Heart in Ancient Egyptian/Kemetic spirituality and the particular lyric in Kurt Ellings’s Bonita Cuba.

When he sings: ” If I could I’d build a boat out of my heart/ and sail on home to Bonita Cuba in the dark …“and for some reason the concept of the Celestial Boat that carries the heart of the deceased to the ‘Abode of the Blessed’ occurred to me.There is so much more in story within that song that can be interrelated to the Soul’s longing for home and Mr Elling knows just how to carry ‘Longing’ with every vocal expression.

In the  Papyrus of Ani, or the Book of Coming Forth … famously known as The Book Of The Dead, there are chapters named The Weighing of The Heart, which describe how the Heart of the deceased is weighed in the balance of the Goddess Ma’at ( the epitome of order, truth and justice etc). One of the passages, titled The Speech of Thoth/Tehuti/Djehuti or Hermes Trismegistus, we read:

Thoth, the judge of right and truth of the Great Company of the Gods who are in the presence of Osiris, saith: Hear ye this judgement. The heart of Osiris hath in very truth been weighed, and his Heart-soul hath borne testimony on his behalf; his heart hath been found right by the trial in the Great Balance.” ( Texts Relating To The Weighing Of The Heart Of Ani )

There are thousands of references in the ancient texts, referring to the Neteru/ntrw/Gods sailing between the heavens and Earth on celestial boats. The Ancient Afrikans/Kemetens being masterful craftsmen and mindful of the power of symbolism, would fashion real life boats and images pertaining to their stories, mythology and Spiritual sciences. Some of these boats are still extant:

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/61-1301/features/274-top-10-2012-abu-rawash-funerary-boat

kemetichistoryofafrikabluelotus.blogspot.com/2016/…/oldest-boat-in-egypt-found.ht.

May he string his words into song. May be roll through the heavens like music. And for as long as the sun is singing, may the strings of my soul hum like a lyre.” ( exerpts from the Egyptian Book of the Dead: http://www.jbeilharz.de/ellis/egypt.html )

To be continued …

http://litmusic-zwakala.blogspot.co.za/?zx=2c831eee904dbc6f

 

 

Poetics: Global Afrikanness and The Legacy of Eskia Mphahlele

As I have mentioned on one of my earlier posts, I leave books everywhere. I do not only sell them, I also share many books among my friends and colleagues and sometimes perfect strangers. One of my Eritrean friends runs a restaurant called Habesha Cafe’ on 124 Helen Joseph Road, Durban. When I visited last-night I just couldn’t resist taking browsing through one of the many books and journals I have ‘donated’ there for the reading pleasure of his patrons.

The book, which I ended up taking home for further perusal, was ESKIA: Education, African Humanism and Culture, Social Consciousness, Literary Appreciation, published by Kwela Books, in association with Stainbank & Associates. It is part of the momentous Eskia Mphahlele Project, sponsored by Eskom. This particular copy was published in 2002, you can find the rest of them on: http://www.eskiaonline.com

As can be anticipated, the large tomes are collections of the many essays, articles, reviews and literary productions of the great South Afrikan scholar and cultural activist.The main current that runs accross most of the writings is Education, which was Eskia’s main passion. In one essay titled ‘Educating the Imagination – 1993, Eskia reflects :

“Nature led me along its own rugged and smooth paths according to its integrated curriculum – I have been recounting this in order to place the development of the imagination in a proper perspective, i.e. as a social process and as a prominent feature in the natural growth of the individual.”

Later he continues to reflect: ‘I only wish the West could begin to re-educate itself towards a conscious synthesis; and that “the other” could assimilate and synthecize on its own terms, not those of the master race… And in situations of political conflict and violence we can rescue the imagination, at least for an interim period, from the kind of programming that compels us to repeat ourselves.’

In the main body of Eskia’s reminiscence on his childhoodin the rural areas, he notes that: “Poverty, together with its companion malnutrition, stalked the rural ares. Landlessness became a permanent condition. Even when the land laws are repealed. Africans will not be able toafford to buy land, nor do they possess any farming skills. The drift to the towns seems irreversible for now. What has happened to the oral tradition in the poverty striken countryside? Until the 1930s, people grew the food they ate. Today they buy their food from the nearby store – in small, miserable, absurdly overpriced quantities.”

Interestingly, even though my friend Binium Misgun, who is the owner of Habesha Cafe’ had not read this book, which had sat on his shelf for months, our conversation was exactly about this topic of Landlessness, food production and the futility of aid controlled economy. Binium is a Sociologist and he is doing his PHD at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and I always emerge more knowledgeable about Afrikan and global politics and economics whenever I spend time with him. Such are the friendships I most value.

While our conversation ranged from the pros and cons of the Mugabe led Zimbabwean government and the Eritrean conditions and govenements relations with neighbouring Ethiopia and the West, our main focus was how South Africa can rescue itself from a puppet of the Western powers.

Eskia Mphahlele offers an insightful perspective on this,in one of his essays penned as far back as 1973. Titled African Literature: A Dialogue of Two Selves and the Voice of Prophecy -1973,by way of an evocative poem by African American poet of the early 20th century:

But the great western world holds me in fee,

And I may never hope for full release

While to its alien gods I bend my knee.

Something in me is lost, forever lost,

Some vital thing has gone out of my heart,

And I must walk the way of life, a ghost

Among the sons of earth, a thing apart.

For I was born, far from my native clime,

Under the white man’s menace, out of time.

Still writing about the psychological and social crisis of exile, he quotes from many African American and other writers who were forced from their homelands by the colonizing enterprise.

‘The one world holds me when I want to go away‘, said Langston Hughes, another African American. Quoting the Ghanaian poet, Francis Parkes, he states that the coming of the white man was a holocaust, but as a disaster that we must willfully raise ourselves from, a situation we must escape, by any means necessary, the poet cries out:

Let us build new homesteads

New dreams to decorate these ruins

Let us weave fresh rafters from rescued stalks

Let us start all over again

The past is a pitiless dream

A dread nightmare, you may remember …