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
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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.
“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 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.
“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 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.