“Love and Light Interested me so
That I dared to knock at the door of the cosmos” – SUN RA Arkestra
There is music and there are artists that dare to throw caution to the wind, yet like a masterly boomerang wielder, ensure that whatever they throw windward returns exactly where they are. These artists are neither interested in trends, fashions, nor commercial interests, what they create is monumental beyond monuments, it is significant beyond their particular genre and draws humanity and the universe closer to the heart and to the meanings of Life. Sun Ra and Lupe Fiasco are just two of the ones we would like to shine a light on for now.
Of course there are many such phenoms, we can count at least 12 from the top of the head, but this is not a list of luminaries, it is about the serendipitous connections that visionary creators seem to have. In some cases there is a conscious effort to emulate each other but in some instances, it is just dividual morphism or happy coincidence and consequence.
Let us begin with a spontaneous poem I wrote while deeply engrossed in the music of the Hip Hop artist Lupe Fiasco and then we shall take a look at how both Fiasco and Ra come together in the cosmic balance of all things Black genius.
“The Buddha is sage, impepho yabaNgoni
The sage Buddha devours everything
Walking barefoot emisebeni
Yamalanga onke …
Bearing the terrible Black beauty of Kali
Black and Blue with the temperament of Krishna
Peaceable as Ausar the foremost of the West
The greensome 12 digital Lord is a maiden voyager
Lonely as a cloud of unknowing
Now contemplative under trees
Now a dervishly whirling wind under the sea
The Buddha is a sage
The Buddha is a black sage
Whose appetite is beyond eclectic
Grips nothing too firmly
And so it all, it all falls down
Mindless while mindful
Horsepower with no harness
No pressure, nor stress
No desire, no aversion
All risk so no risk
No test, nor failure …” – Menzi Maseko
Wikipedia has a serviceable description of who Sun Ra was if one is seeking a basic overview, but what we aim to illustrate here is how this artist has influenced generations of innovators far beyond his milieu, that is if anything was truly beyond the man from Saturn.
Here is an overview:
“Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony’r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. For much of his career, Ra led “The Arkestra”, an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.
Born and raised in Alabama, Blount became involved in the Chicago jazz scene during the late 1940s. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Le Sony’r Ra, shortened to Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun). He developed a complex persona and an idiosyncratic, myth-based credo that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism. He claimed to be an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he publicly denied ties to his prior identity.
His widely eclectic and avant-garde music echoed the entire history of jazz, from ragtime and early New Orleans hot jazz, to swing music, bebop, free jazz and fusion. His compositions ranged from keyboard solos to works for big bands of over 30 musicians, along with electronic excursions, songs, chants, percussion pieces, and anthems. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore and June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the Space Age. (Following Ra’s illness-forced retirement in 1992, the band remained active as The Sun Ra Arkestra, and, as of 2018, continues performing under the leadership of veteran Ra sideman Marshall Allen.)
Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards and synthesizers. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century.”
Enter the prolific super MC/Rapper/Composer, Lupe Fiasco.
It would require a few more pages to describe the proficiency and scope of the prodigy called Lupe Fiasco, suffice to say that not since De La Soul or Digable Planets and Shabbaz Palaces, has there been a Rapper possessing such a heightened sense of cosmic balance. His music is simply larger than his genre, his lyrics are unparalleled and with the advent of his latest album Drogas Wave, he has simply gone beyond the level of musical world building and created an epic of gargantuan proportions. Drogas Light and Drogas Wave are an Afrocentric Science Fiction odyssey unheard of, except maybe since Deltron 3030 or Del The Funky Homosapien and Dan The Automators collaboration …( more on that later).
Here is a review ( I shall add mines in another post):
I have often refuted this notion of nations, especially when it comes to the peoples of Afrika. What is a nation and can we find better definitions and peaceful resolutions to our own being, our constitutions as well as ensuring that we are not further exploited by foreign interests as Afrikans/AbaNtu? But beyond just my own pan-Afrikan interests, I believe that nationalism anywhere is a powerful inhibitor of progress and humane relations. It may sound like a contradiction coming from a pan Afrikanist as much of pan-Afrikanism has been fueled or driven by the protection and even projection of national sovereignty for formerly colonized peoples. But we may have inherited a lot of regressive ideas from our colonisers, and nationalism which may have been useful at some point of the struggle for independence, it has now become a thorn and a hindrance to Afrikan and global progress.
One of my favourite writer, Mario Vargas Llosa has been a vehement critic of the notion of nationalism. here is a piece from an interview:
““The basic idea of nationalism is wrong,” declares Vargas Llosa when we meet at his publisher’s offices in London. “The idea that to be born in a given place is a value in itself is ridiculous. Totally ridiculous! Now the Scots want to be independent. That would be very sad. I don’t think Scotland is going to be privileged by independence. On the contrary, this is not the march of time – the march of time is for the dissolution of frontiers, integration, common denominators. Nationalism appeals to the tribe, the basic primitive tribe. No, no, no, we must fight this – Scotland must fight this. But we must fight colonialism too,” he says, adding that he is in favour of European union despite the current crisis. “We have had almost 60 years of peace in Europe for the first time in history, which is a great achievement. Never forget, nationalism has produced the most brutal and cruel wars in history.””
The elder is very clear and articulate here, but I would like to share something that is constantly on my mind, regarding questions of security and progress in the continent of Africa. The Congolese and Ethiopian situations are always a tough subject, as they both have a long history of ethnic and class conflicts, many leaders there have tried various ways to force some kind of national unity among their people, history has proven that this tenuous arrangement has only served to make matters worse. This article looks at the Ethiopian situation in a similar manner.
Please read and respond. I will add my full thoughts later as I have written about this on other platforms.
Will this leave us high and dry, or will our visions and dreams truly fly?
I found myself wondering after the effects of South Africa’s Constitutional Court decision to partially legalize the use of cannabis wore off. I have a nagging feeling that it is not Afrikan people in general who will benefit from this landmark case. But there is still more work to be done. The tree must be wholly freed.
Many newspapers lapped up the news and the Business Day of 19 September 2018, even made it their cover story. But it was Mary Nel on the Sunday Times of 23rd September which carried a more succinct or balanced narrative. Headlined “Constitutional Court Ruling on dagga leaves brains somewhat muddled.”
She began, “The Constitutional Court has passed down a judgement that makes it legal for adults to cultivate and smoke dagga in their homes. The court ruled that the right to privacy was violated by prohibiting the possession, purchase or cultivation of dagga for personal consumption by an adult in a private dwelling. The case was pursued by various parties, including a Cape Town lawyer, Gareth Prince, who is practicing Rastafarian. It was opposed by , among others the ministers of Justice and Constitutional development, police and health; the national director of public prosecutions and the NGO Doctors for Life International.” Now this opposition is what we must investigate further. We need to understand exactly on what grounds do these ministries and a civil society formation find it correct to oppose the constitution of the land as well as the will of the people.
nel continues instructively: “The Constitutional Court’s judgement is to be applauded for doing away with the moralistic and paternalistic assumption that dagga use by adults in private is always wrong and unhealthy. SA joins a number of countries that have taken a similar step, among them Canada and Portugal.”
The complexity of the COnCourts decision centres around matter of persecution and legislation regarding trading in dagga/ganja/cannabis.
Essentially, the user can grow their own herbs yet they need to obtain the seeds elsewhere. So while the private citizen has rights, the so called dealer does not have the right to sell. This speaks to the difficulty that courts will have to determine what constitutes a public and a private space. For an example, is my body not my personal space wherever I may take it. Is my motor vehicle also not a private space, what about my Bed and Breakfast or Hotel room or even the home of my relatives or friends?
“The COnstitutional Court envisages instead that, provided dagga is used “in private and not in public”, it is protected by the right to privacy even if the adult in question is not at home or in a private dwelling.” Now if that does not sound rather confusing then I do not know what else is?
The Business Day ran a more business centric story. With headlines such as, “Hemp houses could spur job creation”; “Dagga chef rolls out the boom butter”, and “Ploy to trade legally in weed just the ticket”, which included this interesting quote from a user, “Transactions are always going to happen. We are going to trade and transact and purchase and swap in private.” The journalist, Katherine Child added. “He has thought of ways to circumvent the ban on the purchase of dagga – all based on not paying directly for it.”
Needless to say, it is obvious that this is only the beginning of a very interesting journey for this versatile plant.
But the most thought provoking headline is one that said ‘Cannabis trials are up in the air”, which deals with the lives of thousands of people facing prosecution for possession as well as dealing in Marijuana/dagga/ganja. I have been there too and I know how difficult it is to get off the roll without cash. There will be bribes and there will be mass confusion, but if the law is respected and the legal system does its job properly, we should be seeing a lot of presumed guilty people walking free and contributing bountifully to society.
My only advise to fellow Rastafari is “SAVE THE SEEDS and SECURE LAND”.
We will be writing soon about how so many multinational companies as well as pharmaceuticals have already planned just how to exploit the opportunities presented by the steady but sure international acceptance of the plant that Rasta’s love to call ‘The Healing of the Nations”.
Ulwazi nokuzazi Akunamkhawulo
When will the
From Red lipped black books
to cyber-spaced face books
we still dance the minstrel show
paid, underpaid and unpaid slaves
With no intergenerational wealth to show
While my people being
the greater Gods still give away our Powers
we Give until we got nothing for to live
that is ours
– the world the gifts of gab
too few are filling generation gaps
between the perpetual have nots
and the proverbial haves
who among these luminaries and poor liticians give full effect to freedom
works like freeing Mumia Abu Jamar
or Assata, International justice for Lumumba or Sankara?
from red lipped black
books to white pages
blue eyed face books
Our blues are daily painted
grey / our situation will remain in this way
if our powerful ones don’t really sway
the global powerplay
we making minor – major moves
but to white supremacy
its just another office day at the slave market
mark my word and notice
how every rapper boasting about European cars
labels and titty bars
20 years after MC GZA the Genius exposed Hilfiger
are we major?
have we made it?
We stay vainglorious even when we know we haven’t
Who wears the crown and who wears it/
Black excellence is a fact
but how do we celebrate it?
When invisible hands are the ones who fix our stars
and the fault is ours?
from the housed niggers
pitting noble Africans
against the so called pagans
Thats why more often than not I want to throw away the tell-lie-vision
So I can raise daughters and my sons on a good foundation
of Nina Simone, Ayi Kwei Armah, Lupe Fiasco, Sun Ra
And other sound vibrATIONS of the Divine beings we Are.
THE PATH TO SELF KNOWLEDGE: THE INFLUENCE OF COSMIC ORDER ON HUMAN PERSONALITY
Mfuniselwa J. Bhengu
Founding Director | Usikolwethu Global Institute : September 2018: Durban, South Africa.
As Above, So Below
(Thoth-Hermes Trismegistus, 1040 BC)
This paper seeks to argue that Ubuntu/Maat philosophy is a God-created philosophy that is fully connected to the Cosmic Order, and thus cannot be changed or altered by human being; and that this is a philosophy for humankind, and lastly, that there is a need to broaden the definition of Ubuntu to accommodate its unique connection to the Cosmic Order. Therefore, this paper develops a new dimension on the nature and content of Ubuntu.
The Cosmic Order
According to Robert Bauval in his ‘The Orion Mystery’, “the ancient Egyptian theocracy was regulated by Cosmic Order called Maat which was none other than the order of the sky viz. the observable, precise and predictable…
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