Check out this article I wrote in one of my blogs and feel free to offer your views. The vision of a unified, peaceful and prosperous Afrikan continent is our only motivation. We can no longer bear to repeat Bob Marley’s lyrics “How Long Shall they kill our prophets why we stand aside and look.” Neither can we afford to keep complaining and blaming the past for our condition. Let’s Work.
In the blockbuster science fiction film Black Panther, the people of Wakanda, a mysterious country in Afrika, the people worship the Ancient Egyptian/Kamitic deity Bast. There are so many angles with which we can approach the significance of this Cat-like Goddess, but we wish to look at the uses and abuses of power, both mythic and realistic by modern and ancient peoples. How much can Afrikan’s gain from the reinstatement of ancient rituals and how much of those rites have become truly obsolete. Here is a brief perspective of how Bast was invoked:
“Bast was associated with childbirth, perhaps because of the way a mother cat cares for her kittens – and the fact that she might have continual litters of them. During the 2nd Century AD Plutarch wrote, somewhat mysteriously, that the Egyptian Cat gives birth first to one kitten, then two, until the number seven is reached. He points out that this makes a total of twenty-eight, the same as the days of the lunar month.
Nowadays, Bast has assumed a mother Goddess aspect. While there is no doubt she has a side whose teeth and claws are bared, she is now generally regarded as benevolent. Her rituals involve music, feasting and dancing, when she can be petitioned to grant boons. Bast can be invoked to help with problems concerning domestic life, work situations and success, as well as love and good health, for the petitioner, their friends and families, or their cats. Any visit to the Temple of Bast, through visualization, is a time of serenity, contemplation and pleasure.” – ( http://www.occultlectures.com/kemetic-deities.html)
Today’s world is like the typical Game of Thrones. Competing queendoms, kingdoms, fiefdoms and principalities contest for a space in the minds of a mostly gullible public. Unfortunately for the less technologically and economically advanced kingdoms, the monopolization of resources has debilitating consequences. Loss of land, natural resources as well as Cultural heritage is real and it has deleterious effects. Afrikan scholars and cultural activists are doing their best to keep us woke. But there are challenges that include the apathy and fragility of the younger generations who hardly ever explore the depths of the war we are in. Writing in his ‘Cultural framework for the development of science and technology in Africa” Mabawonku states:
“The problem of scientific and technological development in Afrika was attributed to a predominance of exclusive hierarchical and fatalistic cultural categories. The challenge of science and technology development in Afrika would require a new institutional arrangement with appropriate cultural values and norms of behavior.” In essence, culture should be the basis for scientific and economic development.
If ever there was a clash of civilizations and of cultures, the 21 century is the most brazen battlefield. No idea, thought or narrative is left unchallenged, especially in the instantaneously reactive platforms of social media. Sacred cows have long been slaughtered and ‘vampires’ drcorate themselves with crucifixes, while sipping holy water, while myriad truths turn out to be lies.
With reality becoming more and more fragmented and a matter of perception and perspective, the roles of mythology, chance and mysticism are being reactivated and rededined.
The foundations of institutions/structures such as family, community, clan and nationhood are being shaken to their last shaky legs. Non-permanence and fragility are the order of the day even in fields where exactitude in calculation is the order of the day. One persons divine being is no more than a fantasy, a figment of active imagination, while another persons rationality can be construed as ignorance.
There are various knowledge systems and as many ways of life one can choose from.Freedom of choice, expression as well as other liberties are cherished as human rights. The institution of monarchy, the so called divine rights of rulers along with its various forms of servitude/servant-hood, feudalism and honor and dishonor is gradually losing its grip on the minds of many modern societies who pride themselves as traditional.
Not only are matters of gender equality as well as other already mentioned rights challenged, the deceptively formidable edifices of empire,royalty is becoming as passe as that old time religion. Some would think that the French Revolution did away with any notions of royal power. Yet, there are millions of people who still worship archaic Gods, and reverence their chosen kings and queens. The Ancient Egyptians/Kemetans are renowned for their many so called gods. But the theology and cosmic approach of Egyptians is still very much misunderstood. I have dealt with the fact that Abantu BaseKhemethi (The people of the Black land) were not just idol worshipers, but they, just like many other peoples throughout the Afrikan continent and other First Nations, had a healthy and holistic approach to the supernatural. They held a lot of things and phenomena sacred and associated each and everything with a particular attribute called NTR (Neter/Netcher/Nature), these Beings are symbolic of the essence of the elements that are among us and the people of Sudan/Nubia and Egypt/Kemet created immortal works of art that are also linked to science, governance and other fields. Everything is connected and attributable to another. There is a sense of purpose in everything, a singularity. A unity in the diversity. The ancients ensured that there is Ma’at or cosmic balance between the image and the realization. In this rediscobvery, we will find that Women play a significant role, both as mothers, daughters, queens as well as goddesses. As we know among the Nguni/Ngoni and Tonga, there is no King without a Queen Mother.
In the film Black Panther, the people of the fictional Wakanda kingdom do not only swear by Bast*, they also rely heavily on the language of the Xhosa’s. We will explain how significant the use of isiXhosa is in the context of telling such an Afrocentric yet universal tale. Let us start with a bit of description, who and what is this Bast?
“Bast (known as “Bastet” in later times to emphasise that the “t” was to be pronounced) was one of the most popular goddesses of ancient Egypt. She is generally thought of as a cat goddess. However, she originally had the head of a lion or a desert sand-cat and it was not until the New Kingdom that she became exclusively associated with the domesticated cat. However, even then she remained true to her origins and retained her war-like aspect. She personified the playfulness, grace, affection, and cunning of a cat as well as the fierce power of a lioness. She was also worshiped all over Lower Egypt, but her cult was centred on her temple at Bubastis in the eighteenth nome of Lower Egypt (which is now in ruins). Bubastis was the capital of ancient Egypt for a time during the Late Period, and a number of pharaohs included the goddess in their throne names.”
There is still much to be unlearned since the beginning of the decolonization wave, Afrikans and other First peoples have to find value in their own myths, our own sciences as well as our own languages. The Europeans and other members of the white race have founded their civilizations upon Greek, Roman as well as Nordic tales, both mythical and historical. It is high-time that Afrikans also mine the reservoirs of their past to construct future civilizations.
Indlela Ibuzwa Kwabaphambili …
The country I now live in is undergoing a precarious transition. I come from a country that is still struggling to figure out whether its own celebrated democratic transition was worth it all or it is really a shambolic mess. I belong to a country without a name. Although many of we who espouse the Pan-Afrikan/Black Consciousness ethos call ourselves Azania(n), there has been resistance to that mired name, fraught as it is with what some call Arabic connotations of slavery. We shall deal with the name Azania on a different platform. Just call me South African for now, at least until the transformation is complete.
My family and I have been in Zimbabwe for just about a week now, and both my wife and I are still stunned by the amount of vegetation we have been confronted with, both in our yard and across every cultivatable surface. The people of Zimbabwe are on a mission to plant their own food in every nook and cranny. The only places where there is no maize, pumpkin, spinach, or sorghum growing are parks and business premises. This is another phenomenon I hope to return to once I have fully gained proper understanding of it. Suffice to say that, the whole thing is stoking my long suppressed will to became a serious farmer, a vision that I have long neglected in my home base in the suburbs of Durban, although I do have a few things growing in my garden, a smallanyana garden I had to reluctantly abandon for expedient reasons. I am also aware that farming requires much more work than I can afford right now, nevertheless, I would like to see my children growing up to a regime where we all get up in the morning to till the soil and mind the animals, this could be anywhere, between Azania and Zimbabwe.
Yet after reading today’s New Day newspaper, it is becoming clearer to me that this is a country whose transformation is going to take much more than politics and green-fields to achieve. The seemingly successful public relations campaigns that the present government lead by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a great start, and they are making all the right noises in order attract investors, but I am concerned about the noises that they are not making. They are not being practical or forthcoming with regards to dealing with their detractors, ignoring or rubbishing calls for restorative justice regarding the Gukurahundi massacres is not a great way to begin, or perhaps they are saving such things for a later period. In the letters section of the New Day, Dube says:
“Gukurahundi is an easy way of seeking relevance and attracting cheap publicity among academics and unsuccessful politicians. To non-governmental organisations, it also serves the same purpose, but more importantly, it is a cash cow to get money from donors. One has to keep making noise and ruffling feathers of the establishment. As we approach elections, the noise about Gukurahundi will be ratcheted up. Such people had decades to confront former President Robert Mugabe about Gukurahundi, but they never did so in any meaningful way. Mugabe was never liked in Matebeleland, but he always won elections nationally ( questionable statement ). It is not, therefore impossible for the country’s new leaders to also win. Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa is essentially a good man, but should be wary of individuals and organisations seeking to profit from his name.” – ( p.11, sms letters, News Day. Tuesday. January 16, 2018 )
I must admit, I said the similar things too in December, when I saw people all over South African news, who were opposed or heavily criticized Mnangagwa over this massacre. How come they were not as vocal during the Mugabe regime? But I also understand that it is far more complex than that, and people do not usually have free speech during the tyrannical reign of a man who was loved and much as he was hated and feared. Zimbabwe’s position is similar to the Ethiopian situation after the deposition of HIM Haile Selassie I by the Derg regime, but there are also uncanny parallels between Ramaphosa and Mnangangwa, both have a controversial history but the tides of future times and providence seem to be carrying them towards new and more promising shores.
Let me just add that I shall be writing short essays and short poems under the title The House of Plenty, once I have figured out just what kind of country Zimbabwe truly is. To gain such knowledge I have begun observing everything, reading and making notes, listening to the people in addition to aspiring to learn the Shona language. At the supermarket today, I discovered a bookshop I will be frequenting, mainly for historical books.
“The Revolution being fought now is a revolution to win the minds of our people. If we fail to win this we cannot wage the violent one.” – Karenga
Waking up this morning, I had planned to begin by re-reading the ‘Summary of Critique of the National Development Plan, March 2013‘, as well as part of the tome National Development Plan, 2030.
Today, I woke up with my mind in a rather chatty mood. The usual routine is to begin with a reflective or meditative attitude of Thanksgiving, giving thanks to the Creators (God, Amathongo, the Ancestors ) for the breath of Life. Then more often than we should, we find ourselves on our phones, scrolling through social media or websites for news and peoples views on what’s the latest this or that. The initial reason for picking up the phone may have been to check the time or update oneself if there are any upcoming events, but what usually happens is one may find oneself absorbed in an unfinished conversation that took place a day or two ago. Such are the distractions, self-created, of social media.
The debate that captured my mind this morning had something to do with Culture, Afrikan culture to be specific, as well as the crimes that are committed in the name of it. At about the same time, I happened to be re-reading some notes I had written in 2014 on the subject of Black Power; from The Black Power Revolt, 1968. I had highlighted the words of Leroi Jones ( Amiri Baraka) as well as Maulana Ron Karenga.
The words of these two Afrikan American cultural icons were very inspirational and urged one to refocus more effort at playing a more significant part in bringing about the Black power dynamic into popular culture. Baraka writes:
“WE want power to control our lives, as seperate from what American, white and white oriented people, want to do with their lives. That simple. We ain’t with yuall. Otherwise you are talking tricknology and lie conjuring. Black power cannot exist WITHIN white power. One or the other.”
This is what has really put me in a difficult position ever-since I first read it. I am an Afrikan, a Black man living in a previously and still predominantly white suburb near the port of Durban in EThekwini Municipality.
Like many post 1994 situations, we still see more white power than anything else around here. The economic conditions of black people have not changed much. While there are many people who have acquired new wealth and went on to move to more affluent suburbs and even built huge houses in previously impoverished areas such as Adams Mission, eNdwedwe and many others, these symbols of wealth are few and far between and they certainly do not mean that Black people have arrived at the economic, social, cultural liberation that was so long fought for.
Many of the blacks residing in these suburbs are caricatures or mimes of whiteness, they are Christians or Muslims, most of them cannot even tell you something substantial about Afrikan culture and their children know very little about the Afrikan continent as their educational curriculum is essentially Eurocentric. Many Black people today do not even like to be called Black because that makes them feel guilty by association, blackness is equated with lack, with ignorance and various forms of poverty. Precious few black folks have an appreciation of the cultural power that they potentially possess, and even fewer know anything about the Civilizational achievement of fellow Afrikans.
Amiri Baraka continues to write: “The politics and the art and the religion all must be black. The social system. the entirety of the projection. Black power must mean a black people with a past clear back to the beginning of the planet, channeling the roaring energies of black to REVIVE black power. If you can dig it???”
The Afrikan American icon speaks loud and clear and what he says is true of Southern Afrika too. This is partly why in my ideal world, Black power means the amalgamation and collaboration of thought and actions from the whole Black world. There are no borders and no segregation between Abantu Abantsundu/Abamnyama. Since most of our experiences and struggles against imperialism are the same, there should be little that comes between us in terms of cultural unity, a unity that is our only weapon against our extinction. Afrocentricity and Afrikology have given us many tools and many studies to equip us to win the fight for our lives. But we keep being distracted by politics,m disorganization and the disorientation that comes with our lives which are punctuated with all manner of violence.
This brings me to the matter of the National Development Plan 2030, as well as the summary done by COSATU in 2013.
There is a part in the summary, ( Draft for discussion) that reads: “The NDP proposes too many low quality and unsustainable jobs: the target of 11 million jobs by 2030 is based on a plan which is unsustainable, relies disproportionately on exports, and particularly SMME jobs, as well as jobs in the service sector. If the plan is followed, it is highly likely that many of these jobs won’t materialize, and those that do materialize will only be of low quality. The plan conceded that it is based in the creation, particularly in the first 10 years of low paying jobs, as opposed to descent work. It fails to pursue the NGP ( National Growth Path ) / IPAP ( Industrial Policy Action Plan ) vision of re-industrialization the economy, with manufacturing at the centre…. The NDP vision is based on the acceptance that high levels of inequality will persist until 2030.” –
This bleak scenario is partly what pushes some of us to advocate for a Cultural economy. This paradigm shift places culture and the arts as part of the socio-economic work that must be invested in with adequate urgency. We believe in industrialization and the inevitability of technological advancement, but we know that it is important to prepare the minds and souls of the labour that will take Afrika forward.
The following was written as a presentation at the Mazisi Kunene Colloquium that was recently held at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems on the 4th and 5th of December.
I publish the draft here, the complete article will appear in a publication that features the presentations from the other illustrious delegates:
Radical Spiritual Transformations:
Harvesting the Super-abundance in Mazisi Kunene’s Works for Transforming Our Society
The following poem from Mazisi Kunene is titled Imbewu kaMakhasana, it is quoted from his book INDIDA Yamancasakazi ( The riddle of the young maidens ), published in 1995 by Reach Out Publishers. The Poet speaks about sowing a seed on a pathway between two houses, the leaves and fruits from the tree will nourish forthcoming generations until future generations sing its praises. It is a proverbial description of the work of a conscientious and purposeful cultural worker, someone who knows that our work is not only for present generations, but is merely a seed for the spiritual and cultural sustenance of future generations. It is also obvious that as a metaphysical and Thongocentric ( One Inspired by Ancestral Urging ), Kunene also means much more in the poem.
“71. Imbewu kaMakhasana
Phakathi kwemizi emibili
Mina mina ngitshala imbewu kaMakhasana
Ngiyibekela labo abahamba ngendlela
Ngithi wukuba bathilambile impela baphile
Badle kuzo izife ezikhulayo
Yiyo lena imizi iyakuzihlakula
ithi uma isilele ubuthongo bobusika
izifudumeze kanjalo emaziko omhlaba
kube yilo iculo lomphefumulo eseliyakuduma.”
I often wonder if modern historians, sociologists and anthropologists, black, white or other scholars have ever read the works of Cheikh Anta Diop, Van Sertima or Toni Morrison. I wonder if they have ever heard of Ayi Kweyi Armah, Magema Fuze, B. Kojo Laing, Walter Rodney or Noni Jabavu or even Carl Jung or Levi Strauss, not to mention Molefi Asante and the myriad Afrika-centred scholars.
I ask this because many contemporary intellectuals appear to suffer from an acute form of historical amnesia. It is either that or they are under the spell of neo-colonialism, whose liberal tendencies appear to mask a deep seated attitude of afro-pessimism. This is the logical manifestation of imbibng too much Western philosophy and being mired in the epistemological straight-jackets of colonial racism.
I recently read an article written by a white American history professor, Mary Lefkowitz, from a journal called The History Place: Points of View. The article entitled: Not Out of Africa, subtitled; Was Greek Culture Stolen from Africa? Modern Myth vs. Ancient History – aimed to debunk the myths peddled by Afrocentric scholars and reputable Black Power activists, that seek to elevate Afrikan knowledge above that of Europeans. The article itself is extracted from her book which is provocatively titled: Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History.
I begin with this reflection because after reading the article, I was troubled by the fact that much of what the white professor said was actually true. As a student of uSolwazi Mazisi Kunene, Cheick Anta Diop, Ayi Kwei Armah, Magema Fuze, Mfuniselwa Bhengu,Toni Morrison, Marcus Garvey, Francis Creswell, Octavia E. Butler, Frantz Fanon,Walter Rodney and Steve Bantubonke Biko and many other Afrika centred writers and activists, I am very intolerant of lies disguised as truth, especially when it comes to matters regarding my people, the Black people of the world.
The point I seek to emphasize is that in a similar way that uMkhulu uMazisi Kunene had done, many scholars of history and writers of the ancient into the future, are very interested in protecting their own people, their own cultural and intellectual heritage. Some even go to the extent of basing their whole work on demystifying or exploding the myths, while others even create their own myths in the process. In answering her own question, “Did ancient Greek religion and culture derive from Egypt” professor Lefkowitz states:
“Apparently Greek writers, despite their great admiration for Egypt, looked at Egyptian civilization through cultural blinkers that kept them from understanding any practices or customs that were significantly different from their own. The result was a portrait of Egypt that was both astigmatic and deeply Hellenized. Greek writers operated under other handicaps as well. They did not have access to records; there was no defined system of chronology. They could not read Egyptian inscriptions or question a variety of witnesses because they did not know the language. Hence they were compelled to exaggerate the importance of such resemblances as they could see or find.”
In other words, although she raises many important questions about the claims of Afrocentric writers such as Martin Bernal, Ben Jochannan and others, she also contradicts herself and ends up strengthening the argument of Afrocentric scholars whose sole aim is to raise Afrikan history and Intellectual life to reputable and redemptive levels.
When I first met Baba Kunene in the early 2000’s at SABC studios, at a Creative Writers workshop co-organised with Ukhozi FM, I was intimidated by his regal age, his fiery white hair and his reputation as a no-nonsense intellectual. I had been writing short-stories and only in English, I had also recently read his Emperor Shaka Zulu The Great, Amalokotho KaNomkhubulwane and his books of poetic proverbs, Impepho as well as Igudu LikaSomcabeko.
After the intense workshop, which became really his unique way of asking us armature writers to Become Truly Who We Are, To Redefine The Essence of Storytelling and To Embrace The Wealth Embedded in Our Mother-tongues, I met him when most of the learners were gone. One on one, he became more serious. He read my one page story quietly and frowned and said: “Such a great imagination, but why do you insult your Mother and your ancestors by writing in English?”
He paused and continued, “You are living in the age of freedom and information but you insist on enriching the culture of Abantu abangena’Buntu.” He then through the page on my face and said, “Hamba uyozifuna, uzibuze ukuthi ungumbhali noma ungumlingisi”
Translation: “Go and find yourself, ask yourself if you are a writer or an actor or imitator.”
I thought I should share these two, apparently unrelated episodes; it is my way of reaching back and reaching in. Baba Kunene’s work and life asked us to not only reach back but like Biko, or jazz multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku, he forced us to Look Within, mainly because that is where our treasured lie buried, ready to be discovered by us and the world. The world is waiting to Afrika to reveal her wonders. Those wonders are locked in our own stories, both realistic and fantastic.
Lastly, Kunene’s work is revolutionary, and calls for a Radical Spiritual Transformation. They are a cultural reservoir from which we and our children can find sustenance. In the words of Maulana Ron Karenga, another pragmatic Afrocentric worker: The seven criteria for culture are these:
- Social Organisation
- Political Organisation
- Economic Organisation
- Creative Motif
- As well as Ethos.
We do not have time to get deep into all of these right now, suffice to say Baba Kunene’s work remains one of the most dexterous and purposeful attempts by an Afrikan Intellectual and Sanusi, Inyanga Yamagama, to overthrow a system that is built on eliminating us. His poems and proverbs are Revolutionary magical invocations or charms, written for a generation that would, should and will use them wisely to Create The Afrika We Want.
Kunene also reminds us that a love for Afrika, an appreciation of ones own peoples contributions to civilization does not have to be parochial, we do not have to be dogmatic and blind to other influences; the poem says that we should be able to love ourselves while being able to glean wisdom from everywhere else. He writes ;
“72. Ezinkambeni zolwazi lwezizwe
Ongathi lungathi luphela lolu suku
Ngibe sengiphuzile ezinkambeni ezininginingi
NezaseChayina nezase-Arabia nezaseMaija
NezaseNdiya nezaMongoliya nezaseMelika
NezaseYurophu nezaseRashiya nezaseMaori
Nazo zonke zemihlaba ngemihlaba ehlakaniphileyo
Kepha ekugcineni ngibuyele kwezakithi
Ngibuyele kuzo zaseMbokodweni ezimnandiyo
Ezimithombokazi ibomvu ngokuvuthwa ndulweni
Yizo zona zingamafa afihlelwe thina
Sesiyakuwuphinda size sifike ekugcineni.”
Menzi Maseko ©
The Institute of Afrikology
I must state clearly that I have never entertained nor tolerated any discussions regarding the so called Illuminati, the secret societies that are said to run the world. I am neither a believer in Satan nor the Gods of the Jews and Christians. To me, these are all distractions that keep humanity in perpetual mental and emotional chains. That said, I am neither an atheist nor an anarchist or any of the labels and isms that are out there that people believe in. What I can admit to be guilty of is adhering to the Rastafari way of being. This too I regularly question and I am neither a fundamentalist nor a believer in the so called Black supremacy aspect of the Rastafari tradition. I love Rasta for different reasons and most of them have nothing to do with the Ethiopian Orthodoxy of it all. You will have to get to know me a little more intimately to overstand what I mean.
The reason I mention the Illuminati and the inter-relatedness of Abrahamic religious dogma in this story is because, after watching a few You Tube videos where Ab Soul, Jay Electronica and Kendrick Lamar speaks, I find myself questioning the intelligence as well as the foundations of the knowledge systems or the structural straight jackets that these Afrikan Amerikkkan brothers are in.
After all this time, after so much knowledge of alternative or global knowledge systems have been made available, on the internet as well as through various academic platforms, how can seemingly intelligent and clearly talented people still be stuck in the manufactured or whiteness constructed dualism of religion?
Among the plethora of religious propaganda that Kendrick Lamar spews in his other wise brilliantly executed album DAMN, is this curious line “I’m not even Black no more, I’m an Israelite.”
I guess this means he has joined the Afrocentric Biblical sect called the African Hebrew Israelite’s. While I understand and respect my sisters and brothers who are drawn into such archaic religious formations, the question I often ask is why did they not simply join a church? They, just like many Rastafarians who claim to have liberated themselves from the mental slavery of the Abrahamic mythology, and Christian monopolization of the Nature and the ‘Word’ of ‘God’, all seem to view the world through a very limited and limiting prism. The limitations and contradictions of these Biblical fundamentalists have many repercussions. Most of the claims from the prophecies to the miracles as well as much of the historicity of the texts and personalities can barely withstand scientific scrutiny. Everything from the stories of Adam and Eve, Jonah and the great fish, Noah’s Ark to the existence of personalities such as David, Moses, Jacob, Melchizedek and even Jesus are founded on very fickle historical evidence. Now I appreciate the wondrous power of myth and ancient stories and how belief in such stories and their sacredness has permeated the whole planet, but I also have seen the devastating damage they have visited on the world, human relations as well as humanity’s relationship with the cosmos.
In an essay titled The Faith of our Forefathers, I write about how freedom fighters from Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey to the early South African, ‘exempted’ African leaders found succor, comfort and courage in the Bible and the Quran. I also offer that their, and our own heavy reliance on these religious also limits our capacity to change, innovate and find truly African centered solutions to the problems that we face as a ‘Race’.
There are many contradictions and there are many levels or perspectives with which we can face this matter of ‘foreign religions’, or even the foreignness of religion to we as Abantu. Being in Africa, we have a greater advantage and a greater responsibility to emancipate our selves from mental and spiritual servitude. Our mixing and matching of foreign religions with our indigenous knowledge does not benefit our communities, but only the hierarchical and paternalistic families and societies that control the purses. Listening to the brother Kendrick Lamar and the even more deluded Jay Electronica reminded me of what my brother Madoda Mditshwa always said. We must restore inkolo YeMveli ( We Must Restore Our Ancestors Ways of Knowing and Being.) We have a chance to do it as Afrikans/Abantu, but it mat be too late for our sisters and brothers who dwell in the belly of the beast. Unless they are willing to make a Radical transformation and seek the Afrika that is authentic and unmoved by the trappings of the West.
A New Afrika may yet be created, perhaps with a new name and a new way of Being free, devoid of the exploitation of religion, market economy and blinding illumination.
Knowledge production in Afrika is second-nature. We make stories, images and music as if by default, or is it all by design? Within the Afrocentric school of thought there are as many artists, orators and researchers as there are scientists, designers as there are technocrats. The celebrated writer Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie is absolutely correct when she says that we should into the danger of ‘the single story’, you know -? Those stereotypes and generalizations that enforce narrow perceptions of the world we all co-exist in. Similarly, there is a misleading narrative that has been set, where Africa/Afrika is cast as simply a Cultural, Traditional and somewhat backward space of underdevelopment. Yet there have been scientific, and leading edge ideas developed by Afrikans for many centuries, it is simply the fact that many minds are yet to be decolonized that allows for the stereotypes to become self-fulfilling.
Rediscovering the works of the Cameroonian musical Griot, Manu Digango reminded me of this fact. His work, his sounds and design ethic reminded me that we are not a static people. Manu Dibango reminded me that we are as dynamic individually as we are multifaceted communally. There are Afrikan people all over the globe making remarkable contributions in every conceivable field of endeavor, from engineering, astrophysics, to arts and other sections of knowledge production. the world may still be biased towards white skins, and Ethnocentrism may still be far from over, but each project that shifts the mind towards progressive thought is a step in a positive direction.
This is part of what I wish to communicate to the world through various projects, ranging from workshops, installations and contributing to facilitating a new Afrikological curriculum in all Afrikan learning spaces. Towards this end, I am currenlt studying Communication Science at the University of South Africa, and in one of the subjects ( Projects and Programmes As Instruments for Development), I found this :
“Each project is a social experiment, generating important new knowledge about what works and what does not in a specified cultural context. Assessment is, therefore, a crucial part of project development. ( Nolan 2000:200)”
I highlight this quote because, for the longest time I was frustrated by mostly United States and United Kingdom awards ceremonies that seemed to not recognize Black peoples contributions in any given field; but then again, when there are Black run awards ceremonies they also seemed to follow the template or formats of the Eurocentric ones. It became simply a matter of white supremacy re-asserting and perpetuating itself. Again we return to Music and its power. We shall extend this essay further and discuss how the same amount of creativity has been exerted by Black people or people of Afrikan descent in various fields.
For now, please enjoy Mr Soul Makosa’s tunes:
Esoteric Africa Masterclass: Afrikans In Science Fiction
Facilitator: Menzi Maseko
Organisations: Green Ankh Works/ CineCulture / Mercurial Africa
Dates: 30 September 2017 (?)
Venue: Mangosuthu University of Technology (?)
- What is the purpose behind studying Esoteric African works?
- Which subjects did you do in high school and which institution did you start crafting an understanding of the facts and myths behind African cultures?
- How long does it take to gather information about Afrocentric characters to help heighten the environment they are surrounded by?
- How does Esoteric African study help influence the work black filmmakers create a world in a film believable?
- How do we create a solid voice in the industry that is young with regards to the Science Fiction genre?
Life is a collection of Stories, some stories are well told and available for all to hear and see, while others are seldom told or told falsely. Afrilka as the cradle of Humanity possesses some of the most ancient stories. Before there were the great legends of the Pharoahs and the ancient Egyptian/Kemetic Goddesses and Gods, there were mythological tales of the Creators of the universe.
They are still known by many names, but very few of us know the power and significance behind those names. It is in our own interest to search for those ancient stories and retell them with the benefits of new technologies, mediums and Artistic expressions.
Afrika is a land of many contrasts; perhaps we should simply call them contradictions. Many of these contradictions are not Self-Created, in other words, we as Afrikans have not invented much of the confusion and states of poverty we exist in. One of the most pervasive questions that come up in various sectors is the one concerning Afrika’s wealth. The Rastafarian revolutionary Artist best known as Peter Tosh puts it this way: “Africa is the richest place / yet still has the poorest race.” The Artist puts it as a statement and not as a question. In other words it is a matter of fact. But what is the cause of Afrikan people’s poverty? Surely there is a level of dysfunction or a serious discrepancy within our systems or our institutions.
We all know about the colonial and apartheid history that ravaged Afrika for centuries, some may say that the legacy of these evil systems continues today but the slavery is now in the minds and even Spiritual lives of AbaNtu/the Afrikans. The challenge we now have is Freeing ourselves from Mental, Systemic as well as Institutional slavery.
In this presentation we shall deal with Esoteric African systems. There may be many definitions to this term, but we shall choose to simplify it, hoping that we shall have more opportunity to delve deeper some other time.
Define: Esoteric denotes something that is hidden or concealed. Much of what I will mention is not new yet the essential and scientific value of it is un-explored. Esoteric Africa then is the knowledge of the hidden treasures of Afrika’s wisdom. Afrika’s knowledge is concerned with healing the person and the Earth from Within. We see ourselves as Ancient Spiritual beings, Divine beings having a human experience. The quality of that experience depends largely on how much we Know about our True Self.
We will utilize the multi-lineal methods that have been used by Afrocentric teachers, Pan Africanists, Black Consciousness scholars and activists as well as Healers from various Afrikological disciplines. The essence of Our Presentation is akin to a Healing Process as well as a Rebuilding process. We are healing from thousands of years of brutal detachment with the Land and the Ways of our Ancestors, Esoteric as well as exoteric traditions that ensured that we are still alive this very day.
As children of Afrika we shall begin with acknowledging our Ancestors and the Tree of Life. We Shall also Acknowledge our predecessors and present ourselves according to the values of Ma’at or UBUNTU. Ubuntu/Ma’at is what connects us both socially as well as cosmologically.
An Outline of Afrikology
An Outline of Afrikan Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Afrikology is essentially an Afrocentric methodology that incorporates various schools of thought towards creating a logical framework for the research, study and promotion of Everything Afrikan. Afrikology with a K is uniquely used by specific scholars who place Afrika and Afrikan women and youth especially at the centre of all solutions. In the words of professor Dani Nabudere:
“African scholars must pursue knowledge production that can renovate African culture, defend the African people’s dignity and civilizational achievements and contribute afresh to a new global agenda that can push us out of the crisis of modernity as promoted by the European Enlightenment.”
In keeping with these words of wisdom, the Institute of Afrikology continues on its mission to: “Provide an Afrikan Centred system of education, incorporating a practical approach to Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Afrikan Renaissance, Health, Organic Farming processes and in-culcating the philosophy of Ubuntu.” – Menzi Maseko, Rock ‘n Rule, 2016.
- Opportunities and Challenges Posed by Afro-Futurism
- Much of Afrikan knowledge is Oral and Customary. It does not take such a long time for an Afrikan child to imbibe and restore their sense of Afrikanness.
- As Long as the impediments and social constructions such as religion and colonial education are limited or eliminated, it only requires a knowledge of Self, Family line and choosing a Discipline to focus on.
- The Technological era presents great opportunities for learning as the internet has opened communication channels, one can download PDF’s from various Afrocentric teachers from Marcus Garvey, to Empress Afua to Ra Un Nefer Amen and Credo Mutwa, one can even join groups on Social Media where some Esoteric knowledge is transmitted through Animation and Meditation and Yoga classes.
- Filmmakers who are Afrocentric are few and far between but those that do exist remain part of the Documentary, Animation/Comic and Social Media platforms, but there is very limited number of Fiction/Science Fiction makers due to structural and budget constraints.
- Esoteric VS Exoteric Knowledge
- What are the phenomena that are known and measurable?
- What are the hidden phenomena that can only be subjectively and contextually experienced?
- What are the types of knowledge that should be Open to Public and Which Ones should remain within Afrikan Secret Societies and Initiation schools.
- Scope and Relevance of Afrikan Esoteric Concepts:
In everything we do we must evaluate the Need, Necessity and Value of it in today’s terms. How does knowledge of Afrikan systems help us to Create Better Lives, Better Arts and Sustain Ma’at or Ubuntu in all that we do?
- How does Esoteric African study help influence the work black filmmakers create a world in a film believable?
Afrocentric study is essential and enriching to filmmakers who are keen to develop a appreciation of Pre-colonial Afrikan knowledge. Many books by Black science fiction writers exist and many of them contain excellent and researched materials from the Global Afrikan sources.
- How do we create a solid voice in the industry that is young with regards to the Science Fiction genre?
The key is to develop reading and critical thinking skills. Reading material or books and digital information developed by Afrikans must be made available from primary schools to institutions of Higher Learning.
- The Orisha or Santeria System/ Candomble in Brazil
An outline of the concepts of the Yoruba originated Divinity system and its Global scope.
“THE IMPORTANT CONCEPTS OF ASHË, and IWA PELE. There are two concepts that are vital to the core beliefs of Santeria.
The first one Is Ashe (also known as Ase, Ache or Axe). It means very simply life force. “
Ashe is generative energy that Olodumare has blessed us all with. It is energy; breath, life force and we cannot exist without it. Ashe gives us the power to create and the wisdom to see things through. Without Ashe there is no life.
Iwa Pele, means in essence good or gentle character. For Santeria followers, initiated as priests or not, It is important to grasp the meaning and entity of Iwa Pele. Living with good grace is what gives us a purpose in life. As spiritual beings we are responsible for living the best life that we have been blessed with.” – https://oshunschild.com/2013/11/08/making-ocha-and-the-initiation-procedure/
- The Concepts of One God or Creator With Many Names and Attributes
“There is only One God. Like many modern religions, Santeria followers believe in just one God, the Creator known as Olodumare. It is neither a Polytheistic nor a Pagan religion, nor an animistic one. The reason why there is confusion is that many refer to the Orishas as Gods. Strictly speaking, the Orisha are not Gods but aspects of Olodumare that are manifested in the natural world around us.
It is thought that there are hundreds of Orisha, but there are some that are more popular in Santeria than others. Amongst the most well-known Orishas are Elegua, the trickster deity. Respect is paid to Elegua before any other Orisha. Ogun, the blacksmith warrior and Ochosi the hunter. They are collectively known as “The Warriors.
Yemaya, The Mother deity that rules the Ocean and is the mother of us all.
Oshun is the deity of the sweet waters and is also the patron of all that makes life worth living, the arts, music, love and sweetness.
Obatala is the King of the White Cloth, the Owner of all uninitiated heads and stands for wisdom, patience and justice. He also reminds us to respect our elders.
Shango is the King of the Drum, a deity who was once a King of Oyo. His Domain is Thunder and lightening.
Oya is the Orisha that guards the gates of the Cemetery; She is also Queen of the market place. There are many many others, all who have equal importance. Each individual is thought to be a child of one or other of the Orishas.” –
The Inner and Outer Life of Initiates and Believers
Dress Code, Hygiene and Sex:
White is the emblem of the iyawó and it must be worn for one year and 7 days after initiation; this is both in public and at home.
We Shall Explore How Various Afrocentric Divinity Systems Have Many Things In Common and How these Esoteric Symbols Have Permeated religious practices Globally. The Orisha System has a lot in common with Ubungoma which we shall also explore.
Female iyawós wear for the first 3 months a shawl, skirt, bloomers, panties, stockings, brassiere, undershirt, slip, long or calf length skirt, shirt with sleeves and no cleavage showing, white closed shoes, handkerchief and hat.
- Important Studies and Research Regarding Afrikan Spirituality
These days there are many scholars and writers interested in the revival of Afrikan spirituality. But there are few names that come to mind, such as Isanusi Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, Dr Mdende, Dr Malidome Some and Shekhem Ra Un Nefer Amen and Dr V.V.O. Mkhize, but I shall mention the work of two lesser known researchers.
A study of literature on the essence of ubungoma (divination) and conceptions of gender among izangoma (diviners)
By Winifred Ogana; Vivian Besem Ojong Post-doctoral student, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
UBUNGOMA: “Literature highlights some personality traits are more apparent in females as compared to male izangoma. Among the Zulu a diviner is expected, first and foremost, to uphold high moral ideals. To this end, it is befitting for isangoma to be in ‘a state of light and purity in the profane world she lives in’ (Ngubane 1977: 86-87). A diviner is expected to espouse these attributes always in order to play the vital role in linking the living and their ancestral spirits. In illustrating the importance of upholding above-average moral values, the author observes that the diviner’s attire, which includes white strips of goatskin, are permanently strapped over her shoulders and breasts. In Zulu culture the colour white symbolizes good, but can also signify extraordinary goodness or power, which izangoma enjoy if they remain upright. Lee (1969: 140) offers a similar explanation when he says: ‘ Possession imbues an individual with social status, since his or her ways are clear’”
We shall also explore how Ogana and Ojong deal with matters of Gender equity and Power in their work.
Here is an extract from their Abstract:
In South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, the isangoma (diviner) remains firmly entrenched at the apex of the hierarchy of African traditional medicine (ATM). This review article raises two questions. The first interrogates the essence of ubungoma (divination), while the second focuses on gendered notions in this line of work.
The latter question probes four issues: why izangoma (plural for isangoma) are mostly women; whether these females possess disproportionate power as compared to their male counterparts; and whether such womenfolk possess their power by virtue of being female or izangoma per se. The fourth aspect addresses sexual orientation of ubungoma.
Plausible explanations for these questions were gleaned from a scanty – albeit fascinating information – collated through a literature search and personal communication.
Female izangoma were found to have attributes that outclass their male counterparts. This review also interrogates the manner in which African beliefs have been represented in literature. Western epistemologies have tended to misrepresent the realm of African beliefs by dismissing them as mere superstition. Alternatively, they create boundaries of intellectual segregation by treating African beliefs as cognitive false consciousness. In contemporary South Africa this form of misrepresentation has not deterred Africans from seeking the services of izangoma.
Keywords: Ubungoma, Divination, Izangoma, Divine, Initiation, Indigenous Knowledge Systems
At the beginning of the 21st Century most izangoma (diviners) among the Zulu in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province are almost exclusively women. Despite being female in a patriarchal society, the female izangoma remain at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of African traditional healers in the province.
Interest in the gendered nature of ubungoma originated from the findings of an earlier qualitative study, where among a sample of 10 izangoma, only one was male.
Over three decades ago, the World Health Organization (WHO 1978) officially acknowledged the importance of traditional health, recognizing its holistic approach encompassing the environmental, social and spiritual aspects of illness that biomedicine does not always take into account. In South Africa, among reasons for the reluctance to endorse African traditional medicine (ATM) earlier is that indigenous systems were, and still are, equated with negative practices such as witchcraft (Green 2005).
Nonetheless, in contemporary South Africa, ATM is gaining popularity as the prohibitively high cost of allopathic medical care coupled with expensive pharmaceuticals pushes patients to seek the services of traditional healers (Kofi-Tsekpo 2004). It is for such reasons that he dismisses the frequently touted figure that 85 percent of Africa’s people use traditional medicine, observing instead that the figures are much higher and continue to rise. The popularity of ATM can also be explained from other perspectives. In 2004, former Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge acknowledged that traditional health practice had defied easy definition in legal terms (South Africa Government Information 2004). Hence, she borrowed the following definition used for ‘African Traditional Medicine’ from World Health Organization’s Centre for Health Development. African traditional medicine is defined as:
The dearth of information underlines the fact that while gender has become a major research focus in African Studies in the past two, men have rarely been the subject of gender research. If anything, the study of masculinity on this continent is still in its infancy (Miescher & Lindsay 2003). Hopefully in future, interested researches will fill this lacuna – “http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1011-76012015000100004
Winifred OganaI; Vivian Besem OjongII
The FUTIURE NOW:
In Conclusion we must take a brief look at the Future of Afrikan Esoteric Knowledge …
Tricksters and Animal Fables. Many African myths feature a trickster. The trickster may be a god, an animal, or a human being. His pranks and mischief cause trouble among gods, among humans, or between gods and humans.
West Africans tell many tales of a wandering trickster spirit known as Eshu among the Yoruba and as Legba among the Fon. This trickster is associated with change and with quarrels; in some accounts, he is the messenger between the world and the supreme god.
Animal tricksters are often small, helpless creatures who manage to outwit bigger and fiercer animals. Anansi, the spider trickster of the Ashanti people, is known throughout West and Central Africa. Tortoises and hares also appear as tricksters. In one such tale, the hare tricks a hippopotamus and an elephant into clearing a field for him.
Other stories about animals show them helping humans. The San Bushmen say that a sacred praying mantis gave them words and fire, and the Bambara people of Mali say that an antelope taught them agriculture. A popular form of entertainment is the animal fable, a story about talking animals with human characteristics. Many fables offer imaginative explanations of features of the natural world, such as why bats hang with their heads downward or why leopards have spots.