Radical Spiritual Transformation from Zulu to All of Afrika

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

Add Quote from Impepho / Amalokotho Kanomkhubulwane*

Introduction:

I often wonder if modern historians, sociologists and anthropologists, black, white or other have ever read the works of Cheikh Anta Diop. I wonder if they have heard of Ayi Kweyi Armah, Magema Fuze, Walter Rodney, Noni Jabavu.

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.”

 Conclusion:

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:

  • Mythology
  • History
  • 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.

tbc

Menzi Maseko ©

www.greenankhworks.com

The Institute of Afrikology

 

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Puppets On A Strange God’s String

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.

http://greenankhworks.blogspot.co.za/

 

Ancient Future Sounds

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:

My Presentation at 2017 Essence Festival

Esoteric Africa Masterclass: Afrikans In Science Fiction

Facilitator: Menzi Maseko

Organisations:  Green Ankh Works/ CineCulture / Mercurial Africa

Dates: 30 September 2017 (?)

Time: 3pm

Venue: Mangosuthu University of Technology (?)

The Guideline:

  1. What is the purpose behind studying Esoteric African works?
  2. 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?
  3. How long does it take to gather information about Afrocentric characters to help heighten the environment they are surrounded by?
  4. How does Esoteric African study help influence the work black filmmakers create a world in a film believable?
  5. How do we create a solid voice in the industry that is young with regards to the Science Fiction genre?

 

Introduction

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.

Methodology:

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Background:

  1. 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/

  1. 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.

  1. 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’”

 

REFERENCES

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.

Historical Background

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.

Read more: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/A-Am/African-Mythology.html#ixzz4u69c4BRO

Reality and Imagination Influence Genius in Sci-Fi

Are there any stories that particularly influenced these novellas?

I started writing Binti when I was in a deeply bothered state. Much of the Binti series came from personal struggles, narratives, and imaginings. I can’t really name any novels that were a specific influence.

When I look back, I can see flashes of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in Binti. The character of Nausicaä has a lot of similarities to Binti: both are agents of change and mediators. Binti, however, is far more nonviolent. Also, some other elements from the graphic novels and animated films found their way into the DNA of the Binti trilogy. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, and my love for that series and world helped me find the courage to write my own space opera. Lastly, there was a cartoon I loved from the ‘80s called Galaxy High. It was about an intergalactic high school. I loved that cartoon.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/25/15610998/nnedi-okorafor-binti-home-night-masquerade-cover-interview-read

Heroes of Black Science Fiction

In the late 1980s, Butler published her Xenogenesis trilogy—Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989). This series of books explores issues of genetics and race. To insure their mutual survival, humans reproduce with aliens known as the Oankali. Butler received much praise for this trilogy. She went on to write the two-installment Parable series—Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998).

In 1995, Butler received a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation—becoming the first science-fiction writer to do so—which allowed her to buy a house for her mother and herself.

 

https://www.biography.com/people/octavia-e-butler-38207

“I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure.”

Compositionz -Undoing The Other-ring

After viewing Sphephelo Mnguni’s exhibition for the first time, I wanted to remark that his work, although probing into uncomfortable racial and gendered narratives, appears to NOT BE ANGRY. Yes, there is a lot of red and a lot of aspects that provoke one to reflect with concern over the un-transformed state of our Urban settings, but the Artist appears to have measured his message quite evenly, making his testimony in what seems to be a more reflective/ mirroring and objective way. Speaking during the launch of the exhibition, Mnguni mentioned that though he has a story to tell, he is eager to emphasize that his is “Not the only story.”  He urged us all to find in his work, a way to tell our own stories and face our own fears and prejudices. To question the spaces we exist in and often take for-granted as merely given. It is possible that I may be misreading his messages but as a person who also grew up in the Township before moving to the Suburbs, I saw so much of myself in this depictions of taxis moving along the ‘white area” along the walls, the  White routes in and out of the Ghetto. It is a story of Separate Development and deliberate race based underdevelopment, it is also a story of violence against the black body and as Mnguni also mentioned, the “Shameful violence against the Black woman.” The image of the primus stove, conjured up images of nights in the Township of KwaMashu where my Grandmothers would vigorously pump this hazardous ‘poor peoples stove’ in order to cook for us and keep us warm. But let me begin this way.

It was a serendipitous to walk into TheOtherRoom, an arts, books and music space situated next to Khaya Records at the corner of Lilian Ngoyi and Florida Road in Durban’s Morningside suburb. Being one of Durban’s burgeoning vinyl record companies which is just one  area where history is brought alive so vividly by the kind of music that issues from within these walls. This particular afternoon was even more special as I walked into the space while a song called Ma-Afrika by Sister Cool was blasting from the record player. Sister Cool happens to be a Afro-Pop group which released this record through Cool Spot Productions way back in 1989. Before I proceeded towards my mission of viewing Sphephelo Mnguni’s installation titled Compositionz* in the OtherRoom and displayed all over the passage walls, i read these interesting words on the back of the Sister Cool album sleeve: “Afrika, Everything About You Appeals To All Nations.

Entering The OtherRoom I sat down on a stack of magazine cuttings, to view a film titled Ubuqhophololo/Staircase, Created and Directed by Sphephelo Mnguni. I was not too surprised to hear the distinctive guitar refrain aka Madala-Line of KZN legend Madala Kunene forming the first part of the film. The all too familiar Township scene that is shown against this musical background is both disturbing and intriguing in its ordinariness. Mnguni’s rendering of  black and white light, space and the textures of the shacks is a cinematographic masterstroke. After we see a Black boy running through the precarious pathways in the shack-lands carrying a 2 liter Coca Cola bottle half-filled with a clear liquid which we later discover to be paraffin, the scene shifts to a depiction of an older Black youth going to fetch water from the communal tap. While everything around him is rendered in Black and White, the 10 liter containers he uses exude a golden glow.  Once he returns into his one room shack he proceeds to have a bath, but while he is doing so, the screen is halved so that we also see a white woman in an advert for Palmolive soap, which appears to be a skin-lightening ingredient. The youth is applying soap and water on his face while the white lady also wipes her own face with this Palmolive, the image immediately reminds me of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin-White Masks*. Mnguni’s work as evidenced by many juxtapositions and scenes in this short-film and shot-through the whole gallery space presents us with the unmistakable nuances of the Black Consciousness tradition. So the Fanonian imagery is obviously not a mistake. Infact, although the young Mnguni does not come across as a deliberately political or ideologically motivated Artist, it is clear from viewing his work that there is no fence sitting here and that everything is political whether we want it that way or not.

I am not sure which aspect of this expansive and thought-provoking work to begin with as all of it is composed in such a way that one can see the politically fraught transitions from Township to the Suburb that part of this work explicitly focuses on. I am also careful not to give away to much information, as it is best to view the work for oneself. I will revisit this work and write a little more and perhaps add some images.

Leaving the gallery, these are the rough notes I jotted on my journal:

Draft Review: “Compositions, Collages, Co-existence, Confluence, Conditioning, Art as a conduit…

All these terms and more, come together in Mnguni’s installation work, visual arts, music and a psychological exploration of what it means to commute daily from a place of blackness to a place of whiteness while knowing that you are part of the majority population – yet the way the city is planned still makes you feel like The Other, the alien in your own native land. The work somehow reflects the character, personality and current conditions of the artist himself. Whether his work may be categorized as social-commentary, protest-art is speculative and would probably only box the Artist into some concept coined by both liberal and conservative viewers from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

What strikes me about this massive and expansive work is how it is devoid of any condemnation, bitterness or confusion. It is as the title suggests, Composed. It is the Artists work acting as a mirror to a society that is still grappling with the legacies of colonialism, apartheid and a convoluted nationalism. Mnguni’s voice reminds me of how Hip Hop mentions everything that is happening around us yet does not claim to hold solutions or any antidotes. The writing is literally on the wall. Sphephelo Mnguni is really a promising and intelligently articulate young Artist to watch closely. His sense of compassion and revolutionary consciousness is original, distinct and quite refreshing to see.” –

The Exhibition, titled Compositionz is up for the whole Heritage Month of September. Check it out and lets tell our own stories.

Menzi Maseko (c)

 

 

 

 

 

Timelessness /Sonininanini

 

What is time, beyond the Defined

beyond the measurements and instruments …In what dimension is time / a fundamental and realistic feature? —factor in anything, any material and condition and experience

Does it all manifest in time

or is taking place in a

Circle or cyclic stages of a wheel revolving in time, on time, in between and out of time?

In my head I am hearing Abbey Lincoln singing –

With Bhekumuzi Mseleku accompanying her –

Through the years 

The sound

Of love and music …”

Also on my mind at the very same time

is Abdullah Ibrahim

Brother With Perfect Timing also known as

Bra Timing From Mopholong

many other thoughts, spaces and traces of perpetuated memory

all co-existing in what I call my mind right now

-rhythmic elements

breathing sounds and heaving scrolls

-The pulsing life-forces of the 4 Living Beings around me right now

my Beloved, my three sons

all harmonizing with the joy of living –  sleeping only to be awakened by a benevolent Sun

Its furious mercy could unmake us all but providence gives us space

gives us distance

gives us time

And of course there are many other living entities around us

they are not bound by the dictatorship of time

beings beyond the 5 nodes

there are others beyond the realms of extra-sensory perception

even speculation

when we are inclined we can picture them

scripture them like Samuel R. Delaney

feature creature them like Nnedi Okorafor’s tales of inner spaces

Time is Relative to each experience

before Einsteins theory

or any scientists hypothesis

there is a beating of a drum / a clock

that does not measure or define time – the clock as neither arms nor digits

it is in and around the essential timelessness

a Black Existential void where we are seen in Light of our own being

Beyond this death of a lifetime

in due time

the title of a song by Outkast featuring Cee-Lo Green

Echoes of Sojourner Truth, Bhambada and Harriet Tubman echoed by the Dungeon Family

We are Gods Body of Work Reflecting our Godhood through sound

Inspired By The Living Road

Everybody gets the Blues! This is what I thought this morning, while driving to BK bookbinders to print yet another batch of my book Rock ‘n Rule – I was listening to one of my many mix-tapes ( I never can decide what to listen to so I decided to put it all into either mix-tapes /Compact Discs or in a USB ).

Between the Hip Hop,  Reggae-Dub, Jazz, Afro-Fusion and Rhythm&Blues,one can never be done with these labels, these boxes; there came along songs by such artists as Msaki and The Golden Circle and the indomitable and deeply engaging voice of Lhasa de Sela; The Mexican-Canadian artist was introduced to me by a very intelligent and eclectic Romanian ex-girlfriend a couple of years ago. I am yet to thank her for this and many other indelible gifts she may not be aware that she bestowed upon me. Only the music lives to tell the soundtrack of the journey.

Now, I am working on a film project about the Life and Dreams of an intriguing friend of mine and I am actively listening for Soundtracks or Cinematic music to fit with the spirit and images of this quasi-magical project. Hearing Lhasa’s song My Name, this morning got me so very inspired, I almost did not reach my initial destination. All I wanted to do was park by the roadside and somehow register this light-bulb moment, perhaps match the song with some of the images and texts that we have already put together.

Lhasa sings with such melancholic surrender and the musicians accompanying her carry her lovelorn tales with dexterous precision. The music is at once very modern or electronic based, yet remains decidedly grounded in the minimalist genius of the individual players.

Such is the power of music. We have even considered making the film project a sort of tapestry of sounds, scenes that a woven together in such a way that they form a coherently multi-storied collage. But let me not give away too much. I am now listening to Blue Note recording artist Lionel Loueke’s Heritage project, a swooning and magnificent project, co-produced by pianist/keyboardist Robert Glasper. Yet again, my ‘scatter-brained’ Self discovered Loueke’s Karibu album, another ‘gift’ from a friend who called Osmosis Liza, who is actually involved in the film project.

By sheer coincidence, (If we can call these strings of serendipitous incidents coincidences), Karibu contains a version of Naima, the John Coltrane song I recently told the lady who is the main subject of the project that I wanted to include in the Soundtrack. This is the difficulty with labeling music. This version of Loueke’s version of Naima is so string laden, electric and expansive, it is only the clarinetist and bassist who make it vaguely recognizable, yet somehow this now seems to be the perfect fit for this Afrocentric tale that we are trying to tell.

Here are the Lyrics to the Lhasa song that captured my imagination; I so hope that one can obtain the Rights to use it once the whole film is ready for Production etc:

Lhasa de Sela – My name (The Living Road 2003)

Why don’t you ask me How long I’ve been waiting / Set down on the road With the gunshots exploding / I’m waiting for you In the gloom and the blazing / I’m waiting for you I sing like a slave / I know I should know better / I’ve learned all my lessons / Right down to the letter / And still I go on like this Year after year / Waiting for miracles And shaking with fear /

Why don’t you answer /Why don’t you come save me / Show me how to use All these things that you gave me / Turn me inside out So my bones can save me / Turn me inside out You’ve come this close/  You can come even closer / The gunshots get louder / And the world spins faster /And things just get further And further apart / The head from the hands And the hands from the heart /

One thing that’s true Is the way that I love him / The earth down below And the sky up above him / And still I go on like this Day after day Still I go on like this / Now I’ve said this I already feel stronger / I can’t keep waiting for you Any longer / I need you now not someday When I’m ready /Come down on the road Come down on the road

My name, my name Nothing is, nothing is the same / And I won’t go back the way I came My name, my name Nothing is the same “

The sadness and the sheer Blues of these lyrics and the way the late Canadian-Mexican singer carries it just grabs at the heartstrings and will not let go until the last phrase.