“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.