Please note that I wrote this in November 2014. I am only re-sharing here as I am moving some articles/notes/essays from one old blog into this one. Some of these will form part of the upcoming book, The House of Plenty.
The CHI: Thoughtless Dancers or Dancing Thinkers?
In his book Representing African Music: Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions; Kofi Agawu writes
“Inventing African Rhythm: That the distinctive quality of African music lies in its rhythmic structure is a notion so persistently thematized that it has by now assumed the status of a commonplace, a topo’s.
And so, it is with related ideas that African rhythms are complex, that Africans possess a unique rhythmic sensibility, and that this rhythmic disposition marks them as ultimately different from others.
Consider a few of these characterizations. The eleventh-century Christian physician and theologian, Ibn Butlan, in a tract entitled “On how to buy slaves and how to detect bodily defects,” claimed that If a black were to fall from the sky to the earth, he would fall in rhythm.” In other words, even while facing certain death – speaking as metaphorically as Butlan did-blacks (especially black women) continued to exhibit an essential and irreducible rhythmic disposition.
The association of dancing with death, the racialist referral of particular sensibilities on particular groups of people, and the construction of African rhythm as complex, superior, yet ultimately incomprehensible: these and other implications of Ibn Butlan’s casual remark are found reproduced in diverse ways and with diverse accents throughout the history of discourse about African music.
In many twentieth century accounts, the emphasis on dance and the constancy of music-making are retained while rhythm as a separate dimension is singled out for special mention. Erich von Hornbostel describes a piece of African xylophone music in which he found one of the parts “syncopated past our comprehension.”
And A.M. Jones, writing with characteristic enthusiasm and confidence in 1949, declares that – “the African is far more skilled at drumming rhythms than we are – in fact our banal pom, pom, pom, pom on the drums is mere child’s-play compared with the complicated and delicate interplay of rhythms in African drumming.”
All the above clearly shows the various stereotypes and convenient generalization with which the Euro-Americans and some lazy minded Afrikans have continued to view Afrika. This single-story narrative has been analyzed and rubbished by the likes of Franz Fanon and even Aime Cesaire in his Return to My Native Land and other essays, poems and songs from the Negritude and Black Power era’s.
Recently the celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie did an TED Talk on this very notion of a single story, although she was speaking out against the expectations that weigh African writers down to the extent that they no longer have individual/personal or unique stories to tell since the world expects some types of narratives.
The rhythmic African narrative has even been thrust comically onto the public sphere by neo-liberals caricaturing the South African president Jacob G. Zuma as a dancing buffoon with no other redeeming qualities.
They even go so far as contrasting him with the more Western palatable ‘rhythmless’ former President Thabo Mbeki. The problem with all these Eurocentric constructions and deconstructions of Africa is that many Africans follow suit unquestionably.
But fortunately for the thinking Afrikan, the Afrikologist, there are still many Black folks such as V.Y. Mudimbe who provides a sustained interrogation of the very idea of ‘Africa’, showing it to be a construction of European fantasy and discourse.
Mudimbe argues that beyond its relative stability as a geographical pointer,” Africa” is not readily ontologized from within an imagined Afrikan worldview; nor is it easily graspable either as a unified cultural phenomenon or as a fruitful epistemological referent. Kwame Appiah similarly argues that “the very invention of Africa (as something more than a geographical entity) must be understood, ultimately, as an outgrowth of European racialism.”
Yes, we have rhythm, yes, we gravitate towards the polyphonic and syncopated sounds of our cultural environment but that does not make “us” any more humane, or special as a species. We are just as fallible and as beautiful as any other people. But more than anything, Afrika’s people are diverse and as multifaceted as the peoples of any other continent.
That Africa is a continent rather than a country, that crossing national borders is not – in terms of restrictions – like going from one American state to the next, that a greater portion of it is French – rather than English-speaking, that its numerous languages are not mutually comprehensible dialects of a few languages: knowledge of these and other “facts “cannot yet be taken for granted.
“Indeed, it is possible to discern an ongoing resistance to knowing Africa. Why should we bother to learn the strange and often unpronounceable names of people in remote places practicing weird customs when we can simply use the all-purpose term Africa”?”?
Allied to the retreat from comparison is a retreat from critical evaluation of African musical practice. The pious dignifying of all performances as if they were equally good, of all instruments as if they were tuned in an “interesting” way.
All of this reminds me of how Europe and America systemically underdeveloped Afrika and how this underdevelopment continues until this day and that popular music largely contributes to this colonization at least on a psychological level.
Our purported sense of uncanny rhythmic ability may be a natural impulse, but it may very well be our undoing as “a people”.
The saga continues …
Tehuti or Thoth, represents the divine intelligence, which at creation uttered the words that when spoken turned into the objects of the material world. He ( It) was self produced and was the great Ntr/God of the earth, air, sea and sky; he united in himself the attributes of many Neteru/Gods.
He is the scribe of the Neteru and such He was regarded as the inventor of all the arts and sciences …some of His titles include: “Lord of writing”, “Master of the papyrus,” “the mighty speaker’. He is the Neter of Right and Truth. His name Tehuti/Djehuti means ‘The Measurer”.
In the great metaphysical battle between Set and Heru, Tehuti is known as the great Judge. He is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts as the Brother of Wsr/Ausar.
United Against Truth
“It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. “In the time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – From John Pilgers ITV website–topic: the politics of bollocks.
In order to make this essay as truthful as possible, I feel it is right to admit that I am not exactly a political analyst, neither do I subscribe to any of the conventional political ideals that are out there.
With that mentioned I ask the reader to consider that most of the issues I will be raising here have more to do with peoples need for truth and justice than they have to do with politics.
It has been said that the truth is a light and it can set you free, but it is quite clear that many of the people who think that they are in possession of the truth are far from being free of their poverty, ignorance and disease.
It is just unfortunate that most of the people that occupy themselves with keeping the people in almost total ignorance of their own rights and just dues are those who call themselves the servants of the people, their counselors, teachers, doctors, entertainers, public servants and indeed economists and of course the usual suspects, the politicians.
While this is not meant to defame anyone or to cause the general public to be pessimistic about their prospects, it is instead the opposite.
My aim is to help people, beginning with my neighbors, to take a closer and honest look at their own lives and the lives and actions of those who govern them and see whether there is any need to support them. When the introspection is done, I would like to see people using their power to free themselves from all the lies that have been constructed to keep them in the darkness of ignorance. But we cannot free ourselves from lies before we free ourselves from liars.
So the first step will be to identify precisely who those liars are and after that we should reveal what profit has it been to them and their supporters.
The history and function of politics in SA
As I have mentioned above, I am not an avid student of politics but growing up in one of Southern Africa’s most ‘politically active’ provinces has undeniably left its impressions in my mind.
Being from the KwaZulu Natal city of Durban and growing up in Kwa Mashu township was not easy. Many times I witnessed and found myself in the midst of teargas, rubber bullets and all the turmoil that went with fast changing climate of SA’s society.
Above all else, it was the political violence, social destruction that I witnessed in my neighborhoods that caused me to simply abandon any hope in the political process of solving our problems.
Without sounding ungrateful and forgetful of all the blood that was spilled on our streets, I must say that there was always a sense in me that there surely must be another way to relieve ourselves of the evils of the apartheid system.
Far too many early deaths could have been easily avoided, especially the ones of black youth in the hands of other black people, not to mention the massacres before the guns of the then South African Defense Force.
It is true that our elders and leaders had tried many ways to try and reason with the tyrannical maniacs at the helm of the South African government, many of their noble deeds are recorded in our history books and indeed many are they who fell without being acknowledged by the present power sharers.
Without dwelling too much on the many sights, sounds and ideas that shaped my own socio-political and metaphysical perspective, I must add that being raised in a strictly Pentecostal household has had its advantages and disadvantages.
One of the advantages is that as much as I suspected that my father was clandestinely involved in the politics of the area, I never quite knew in which side he was on until after he passed away under mysterious circumstances in 1993.
I call this an advantage because I am sure that if I knew what party he supported then, I would have felt obliged to follow in his masterly footsteps.
My fathers role in the community I resided in was felt, not only was he a well known Kung Fu, Martial artist and instructor, he was also what I could loosely call a street disciplinarian, many petty thugs and pavement gamblers knew him well and regarded him with respect whenever I happened to be walking along near the train station with him.
As a young boy I did not then realize what political role he actually played in the community and what this status meant for our relative safety as a family, but as I came of age and started questioning my mother and grandmother about certain occurrences around our home, it became clear to me that my father was not affiliated with the most popular party in SA.
The banned ANC was the most popular liberation movement which operated in Black communities via such splinter parties as the United Democratic Front, This revelation first came as a shock to me and I had to find out for myself just what truly sets the rival parties against each other so violently.
The development of my political thought emerged from a place of deep concern and compassion toward my people, the people of Kwa Mashu Township. But as I grew older and wiser, it became clear that it became clear that we were not alone in our struggles for equal rights and justice.
From hearing and watching the news on television I realized that it seemed like the whole world and not only Southern Africa was in serious trouble.
As soon as our parents had acquired television sets all the images of the Africa north of our country were the harrowing ones of Ethiopian people, women and children dying in what looked like a living hell. This parched and unforgiving world which was either in the grip of civil wars or severe starvation was our first glimpse into the homes of our African sisters and brothers.
It left a sore lump in my throat for a long time and truly broke my heart to see how there was so much inequality in the world. I began to ask myself, how come?
To my understanding it was the so called Black people of the world that appeared to be living lives of perpetual violence, poverty and even the natural disasters such a droughts and floods seemed to only plague Us. As my windows into the world gradually opened up I began to see that this was not entirely true.
There were people in India and many countries nearby and far, including places with people whose skins are called white where the similar kinds of poverty, alcoholism, ignorance and misfortune occurred. So, our experience is not so unique then?
I began to relax and think more about what I wanted to do with my life, which led me to thinking about what I could contribute to my community. It was about time that I let go of whatever shackles have kept many of my generation bound to a cycle of poverty, lack of enthusiasm and curiosity about a better life.
As much as I tried to learn in school, I felt like a fool as I just could not find myself interested in what was being taught.
Even when my parents transferred me to an Indian/Muslim dominated school I still struggled to concentrate. At the time I could not understand what was going on with me but after some introspection I realized that I just was not concentrating enough on my studies. This is not strange to anyone teenager is still going to school, there are always moments when we just do not want to be in school. As a grown person now, I am an advocate for good affordable education for all mankind.
Unfortunately, South Africa is infamous for having been under a depilating and systematically applied form of miseducation called Bantu education. While not all African youth, people who fail to properly apply themselves in school can blame the insufficient educational qualities of Bantu education, it is quite clear that this substandard form of education which permeated 98% of schools attended by Africans has left an indelible mark on the psyche of this generation.
Not only do most of us have no desire to search for truth in books and to seek knowledge through proper means, we are a generation that has been taught to follow the patterns of all the other countries which we see as developed, the so called third world nations. In general, we seem to be satisfied with ordinary and predictable well-paying jobs.
Very few Black people have had the opportunity to even think of aspiring for other occupations outside of what is clearly cut out for them by the apartheid government.
This has led to many people struggling to sustain themselves in employment that they have never thought of ever being in, marriages fail at alarming rates due to the many symptoms of stress and depression.
People simply live to work and they no longer work in order to live. When they entertain themselves it is only through ways that they have to pay for, such as attending football games, taking the family to the shopping mall for what is called ‘retail therapy’ which is simply another glossing over of consumerism…
Because of the way we have been educated, raised and expected to behave, most of us simply have no time to reflect about a different system of living which is not controlled by the cycle between the job and the wife, the kids and the games.
It also clear that the general public clearly does not see that there is another way which could be far less stressful than this one he is forced to get used to.
The role of the politician and the economist in this vicious cycle cannot be underestimated…here are some of the reasons why.
The Decepticons (Those who profit from deceiving and conning others)
In the world of mass media, there are few names that appear at the top of power and influence hierarchy; these few men and unsurprisingly few women are the image makers and myth makers of our present era.
The stories and images that have been targeted to sell their newspapers, magazines, television shows and other informative products are often more than what meets the eye.
Most of the people who purchase newspapers and watch the news have no idea that what they are viewing has been specifically selected in order to form certain ideas in their minds.
The opinions of the ones who own the news industry have gradually become the opinions of the masses.
Yet it is still just as important to consider that even though most of us have become reduced to mere consumers rather than producers in the chain of life, there are many among us who do manage to read between the lnes ( lies) and still ask for unbiased truth.
But the truth Is an important commodity for the corporations and as they sell it among themselves it becomes even more important for their livelihood to make sure that ordinary people do not get to it. In other words, the truth has become the most prized possession.
Who Do Men Say that I am?
It was The Honorable Stephen Bantubonke Biko who said that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. These famous words need to repeat as much as possible in South African schools and other institutions of learning. But the problem is these very institutions have transformed from being places where one can hone their natural gifts and learn about their heritage, they too have become commercialized to the point that what is being taught in most schools is the anti-thesis of real education.
The few individuals who can still afford to think independently find themselves in precarious positions, where they have to tread carefully and watch what they speak or else they could lose their jobs.
Those who profess the truth and try to help their students along a path of wisdom and original thought constantly risk being ex-communicated, libeled and having their careers systematically cut short.
Deception is the name of the game. When the truth is no longer sexy to tell, the sweet lie we are told, will not hurt nobody. But this is absolutely the moral dilemma that we find ourselves in during the twenty first century. The democratic constitution is very liberal concerning questions of right and wrong, so liberal that we are asked to unlearn ancient familiar traditions and strongly held ideas about God, family and righteousness, all in the name of human rights and democracy.
Democracy itself is the chief of all modern deceptions. As much as it is not quite a new concept since the Greeks and Romans of old had constructed it, there is nowhere in the world where it has been proven to exist as a well functioning system of governance.
Defined as …
This is not a course in how to tell the difference between a real news or spin; a community newspaper and a tabloid newspaper. It has become increasingly difficult to tell between truth and fabrication when one is dealing political reporting. One can always foretell what political analysts will say when they are being interviewed in order to shed light on a particularly sensitive political situation.
If the analyst does not merely repeat what the others have already mentioned in other interviews in the other stations, he will simply ignore a pressing question, one that would somehow put him in a precarious position where he has to condemn the action of a specific political figure.
If we are a generation of vipers then where is our poison?
What questions are we posing, what answers are we exposing.
They say that nothing is new under the ancient glare of the sun
And that Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everything…
If we are a generation of doves then what makes us take flight
Are we moving to or away from the light, which way is right?
Questions that the heart has answered the mind would rather build a campus
In order to make sure that we remember the direction
To the North and toward the south
We say Truth is Light, the very life of light as sure as space is Black
Bodies of light sun bright watching the battles between darkness and lightness
Knowledge of the Divine known and seen within the sacred texts and beyond that
JOHN COLTRANE and HIS Brethren is on the OK Player blowing star light into the deep Blue
Knowing me is knowing you
In I and I there is no I O U
Only the depth of Love will we owe to The Great Who …
And some are still united against truth, so how can man survive the fight against himself…
Humanity needs to change the way we look at ourselves, our world and the concepts of time, life and death. We live with too much fear, so much that we have largely become desensitized to the fact of our common beginnings and our common needs and destinies. A lot of our fear based actions have kept us from reaching that pinnacle of our nature, the God state of mind, which is why we have invented so many ideas that should bring us closer to each other and to One Love, One God, One destiny but instead we appear to be drifting further from the Truth.
Our time is running out, there are plagues and natural disasters like we have never seen before, a summit on the use and abuses of nuclear power has just been concluded, lead by a charismatic American president whose vision of change has infected most of the world yet his plans and actions appear futile in the face of the challenges. He too is operating under a false premise, measuring his actions and outcomes with a linear approach to both time and transformation.
In his controversial book, The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent writes:
“Our political philosophy too is very dependent upon linear time, on a trajectory stretching from the past into the future where, if we manage our legislation correctly, we will achieve satisfaction for all citizens, as if legislation is something that does more than plaster over cracks. And yet those of our culture who have stepped out of time – the mystics – report, like the ancient Egyptians ( KMT ), that the world of the dead is indeed the world of the living, that it is ever present and very close.” – p.162
And as if it ever needed to be stressed again and again, the Rastaman who was known as Robert Nesta Marley warned all who are under the power of his sound and word to:
”don’t gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold.” –
Berhane Selassie ( Light of Selassie )
For profit, the multinational corporations have continued shed poor peoples blood and sweat in their competitive pursuit for power.
Can we hear what HIM Haile Selassie I say?
“We believe in the peaceful settlement of all disputes without resorting to force. And in accordance with the charter of O.A.U. we will strive to eradicate colonialism, racism and apartheid from the face of the earth, to frustrate the efforts being made by foreign powers to dictate the destiny of the African continent, and we will continue to stand. “ – HIM on Morality
It is now time we opened our collective eyes and stopped denying truth its rightful place in our consciousness. Truth is not as they say, stranger than fiction; whatever is fabricated has its source and inspiration in the destructive powers of delusion.
When the state owned media companies report something, it is often as an exercise to divert attention from certain issues that the state would rather not publish or have the public knows about.
The democratic institution is today as faulty as it possibly can get.
Not since the classical times of Greek/Roman politics has there been such a need for a paradigm change.
The time is now for the table to turn against all powers that have been propped up by greed and mass deception and that include religious institutions.
It is also high time that writers, political analysts, preachers and all those who feel the burden of exposing people to news and stories begin to do their work free from fear. People need to take back their lives from the politicians and false leaders who continue to steal, lie and cheat them out of their hard earned livelihood for mere silver and gold.
Power to the wise and let everyone who loves truth embrace it without reservations, there is no death but the death of conscience and there is no life outside the life of love.
By Ras Nabiy Menzi Maseko