“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, for none but ourselves can free our minds.” – Marcus Garvey.
These often repeated words from the erstwhile leader of the the pan-Afrikan, Negro Improvement Association were said and written in the early 20th century, yet their impact is still felt today during the 21st as Afrikan people globally still languish at the bottom of the socio-economic ladders. It is dawning on most of us that regardless of accolades, riches or highest levels of educational success, the Afrikan still need to learn more about herself/himself in order to be truly liberated, otherwise their liberation is a sham. Your Phd, Doctorate or Masters thesis which is based on Eurocentric education will not free your people from the shackles of white supremacist hegemony.
“The present generation is the hinge of history …we may now be in the time of the most rapid change in the whole evolution of the human race, either past or to come …the world has now become too dangerous for anything less than Utopia.” – J.R. Platt
The word utopia usually conjures up some fantastic vision of idyllic or even imaginary living. This is not always the case though, in a world where almost anything goes and moral/socio-economic as well as ecological decay is rife, it has become crucial for people of vision to apply themselves to processes of healing, restoration, repairation and cosmic balance. Utopia, then does not necessary mean an impossible or fictional world, but actually connotes a highly possible, longed for future state, one which can be attained if people organised themselves to attain it. We must become something we have never been.
We are currently on a quest towards establishing an Afrocentric school for Black children and young learners in the Southern Hemisphere. While this may not be a novel idea/ideal, as it has been done before with varying degrees of success or sustainability, it is becoming more evident that Afrikan parents need an education system that caters to the particular needs of Black children. As a father of three boys who have to attend a ‘secular’ private nursery where 99% of the images the children see do not represent either their race nor our cultural worldview, the urgency of this vision has become very real.
This desire to be taught in one Mother tongue, be surrounded by positive Black/Afrikan images and cosmic symbols,imbued with the cultural aesthetics as well as the values that characterize intrinsic Afrocentric ideals is not new, while it is a noble ideal, it is by no means easy.
The reality of existing within a highly volatile capitalistic global system perpetuated by a so called Free market founded on racist ideologies, means that more and more values that make us human/humane are being eroded for the benefit of unscrupulous profitters.
The aim of such an Afrocentric/Afrikological school is to restore the essential characteristics of Ubuntu and Natural progression of the learner, who then grows up to become a well balanced citizen. It must and will be a Futuristic learning system, characterised by transformative and highly conscious teachers and learners.
The late educational transformation activist Neville Alexandre, wrote during the year of his death:
“Once the commodity value of people displaces their intrinsic human worth or dignity, we are well on the way to a state of barbarism. Unless and until we bring back into our paradigms, and thus into our social analyses, the entire human being and the ways in which human beings can live fulfilled lives beyond their mere economic needs, we will continue to promote anti-human philosophies and policies that ultimately tend to work to the benefit of those who have, and to the detriment of those who do not.”
Our school will include a sufficient concentration on Agrarian as well as vocational training. It will also place emphasis on information technology, from coding to robotics as well as ecological knowledge and non-Western examples of mathematics and scientific disciplines.
We are now at the stage of collective information, research and like-minded contributors. The vision is that the schools will begin on digital platforms before establishing satellite schools on the ground.
Dr Phil Valentine painstakingly cuts through some of the well established theories from science, to religion to astrophysics. There is an interesting expose on Neil Degrasse Tyson and others who represent conventional science.
I am sharing this because I have also developed a healthy questioning of the status quo according to theoretical physics and dogmatic sciences.
“Love and Light Interested me so
That I dared to knock at the door of the cosmos” – SUN RA Arkestra
There is music and there are artists that dare to throw caution to the wind, yet like a masterly boomerang wielder, ensure that whatever they throw windward returns exactly where they are. These artists are neither interested in trends, fashions, nor commercial interests, what they create is monumental beyond monuments, it is significant beyond their particular genre and draws humanity and the universe closer to the heart and to the meanings of Life. Sun Ra and Lupe Fiasco are just two of the ones we would like to shine a light on for now.
Of course there are many such phenoms, we can count at least 12 from the top of the head, but this is not a list of luminaries, it is about the serendipitous connections that visionary creators seem to have. In some cases there is a conscious effort to emulate each other but in some instances, it is just dividual morphism or happy coincidence and consequence.
Let us begin with a spontaneous poem I wrote while deeply engrossed in the music of the Hip Hop artist Lupe Fiasco and then we shall take a look at how both Fiasco and Ra come together in the cosmic balance of all things Black genius.
“The Buddha is sage, impepho yabaNgoni
The sage Buddha devours everything
Walking barefoot emisebeni
Yamalanga onke …
Bearing the terrible Black beauty of Kali
Black and Blue with the temperament of Krishna
Peaceable as Ausar the foremost of the West
The greensome 12 digital Lord is a maiden voyager
Lonely as a cloud of unknowing
Now contemplative under trees
Now a dervishly whirling wind under the sea
The Buddha is a sage
The Buddha is a black sage
Whose appetite is beyond eclectic
Grips nothing too firmly
And so it all, it all falls down
Mindless while mindful
Horsepower with no harness
No pressure, nor stress
No desire, no aversion
All risk so no risk
No test, nor failure …” – Menzi Maseko
Wikipedia has a serviceable description of who Sun Ra was if one is seeking a basic overview, but what we aim to illustrate here is how this artist has influenced generations of innovators far beyond his milieu, that is if anything was truly beyond the man from Saturn.
Here is an overview:
“Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony’r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. For much of his career, Ra led “The Arkestra”, an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.
Born and raised in Alabama, Blount became involved in the Chicago jazz scene during the late 1940s. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Le Sony’r Ra, shortened to Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun). He developed a complex persona and an idiosyncratic, myth-based credo that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism. He claimed to be an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he publicly denied ties to his prior identity.
His widely eclectic and avant-garde music echoed the entire history of jazz, from ragtime and early New Orleans hot jazz, to swing music, bebop, free jazz and fusion. His compositions ranged from keyboard solos to works for big bands of over 30 musicians, along with electronic excursions, songs, chants, percussion pieces, and anthems. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore and June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the Space Age. (Following Ra’s illness-forced retirement in 1992, the band remained active as The Sun Ra Arkestra, and, as of 2018, continues performing under the leadership of veteran Ra sideman Marshall Allen.)
Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards and synthesizers. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century.”
Enter the prolific super MC/Rapper/Composer, Lupe Fiasco.
It would require a few more pages to describe the proficiency and scope of the prodigy called Lupe Fiasco, suffice to say that not since De La Soul or Digable Planets and Shabbaz Palaces, has there been a Rapper possessing such a heightened sense of cosmic balance. His music is simply larger than his genre, his lyrics are unparalleled and with the advent of his latest album Drogas Wave, he has simply gone beyond the level of musical world building and created an epic of gargantuan proportions. Drogas Light and Drogas Wave are an Afrocentric Science Fiction odyssey unheard of, except maybe since Deltron 3030 or Del The Funky Homosapien and Dan The Automators collaboration …( more on that later).
Here is a review ( I shall add mines in another post):
Kuyathokozisa ukuthi lolulwazi ngiphende ngiluthole sengihlala eZimbabwe, eHarare. Lomsebenzi weAfrikology / Izifundo ZoBuntu bethu, ubaluleke kakhulu. Ngiyathokoza ukuthola ukuthi kukhona izakhamuzi zalelizwe ezenza lomsebenzi ngokuzimisela onkungaka. Empeleni Isintu nabafundisi baso bathe chithisaka kwizwekazi elibizwa nge Afrika/ Kham/ Ta – Neter.
In due time, I shall write a review of these two important books that I hired from the Library. I will be using the appropriate language of IsiZulu, as they are written in that beautiful idiomatic and magical language, I may later translate or summarize my thoughts in English. Suffice to say, these books contain information that should not only be taught in schools, but they also carry the keys to Liberating us from our own delusions and even those imposed on us my colonial conditioning.
An in depth study of how many conceptions of African studies have been invented and formulated by the powers that be, to disenfranchise us and keep us in perpetual bondage. We must know how we are trapped in order to formulate Ways of being free. This is essentially about the power of definition and also the decolonization of Knowledge production. The author states:
“The book attempts, therefore, a sort of archaeology of African gnosis as a system of knowledge in which major philosophical questions recently have arisen: first,concerning the form, the content, and the style of “Africanizing” knowledge; second, concerning the status of traditional systems of thought and their possible relation to the normative genre of knowledge.
From the first chapters, which interrogate Western images of Africa, through the chapters analyzing the power of anthropologists, missionaries, and ideologists, to the last, on philosophy, I am directly concerned with the processes of transformation of types of knowledge.
This orientation has two consequences: on the one hand, an apparent attenuation
of the originality of African contributions and, on the other, an overemphasis upon external procedures, such as anthropological or religious influences.
The fact of the matter is that, until now, Western interpreters as well as African analysts have been using categories and conceptual systems which depend on a Western epistemological order.
Even in the most explicitly “Afrocentric” descriptions, models of analysis
explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unknowingly, refer to the same order.
Does this mean that African Weltanschauungen and African traditional systems of thought are unthinkable and cannot be made explicit within the framework of their own rationality?
My own claim is that thus far the ways in which they have been evaluated and the means used to explain them relate to theories and methods whose constraints, rules, and systems of operation suppose a non-African epistemological locus. From this viewpoint the claim of some African philosophers such as O. Bimwenyi (1981a) and E Eboussi-Boulaga (1981) that they represent an epistemological hiatus should be taken seriously. What does this mean for the field of African studies? To what extent can their perspectives modify the fact of a silent dependence on a Western episteme?
Would it then be possible to renew the notion of tradition from, let us say, a radical dispersion of African cultures?
These are the most important issues in the debate on African philosophy.
They oblige me to clarify immediately my position about representatives of African gnosis.
Who is speaking about it? Who has the right and the credentials to produce it,
describe it, comment upon it, or at least present opinions about it? No one takes offense if an anthropologist is questioned.
But strangely enough, Africanists-and among them anthropologists-have decided to separate the “real” African from the westernized African and to rely strictly upon the first.
Rejecting this myth of the “man in the bush,” J. Jahn chose to “turn to those Africans who have their own opinion and who will determine the future of Africa: those, in other words, of whom it is said that they are trying to revive the African tradition” (Jahn, (1961:16).
Yet, Jahn’s decision seems exaggerated.”
A really brief history of who we really are and what our traditions and culture entailed before we were scattered …Because in out attempts to become Free to be who We truly are, we must first know what and who we were before colonial conquest. This is an unfinished story, but reveals a lot about aspects of Afrikan Being which has been suppressed by both foreign religions and capitalism: