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

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Revolutionary Ideas worth sharing

http://www.asante.net/articles/1/afrocentricity/

“The Afrocentric paradigm is a revolutionary shift in thinking proposed as a constructural adjustment to black disorientation, decenteredness, and lack of agency. The Afrocentrist asks the question, “What would African people do if there were no white people?”  In other words, what natural responses would occur in the relationships, attitudes toward the environment, kinship patterns, preferences for colors, type of religion, and historical referent points for African people if there had not been any intervention of colonialism or enslavement? Afrocentricity answers this question by asserting the central role of the African subject within the context of African history, thereby removing Europe from the center of the African reality. In this way, Afrocentricity becomes a revolutionary idea because it studies ideas, concepts, events, personalities, and political and economic processes from a standpoint of black people as subjects and not as objects, basing all knowledge on the authentic interrogation of location.” – Asante

Save RSA From Itself, Especially Those Liberals

http://theconversation.com/how-south-african-business-can-help-government-fix-the-economy-83167?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%205%202017%20-%2082276695&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%205%202017%20-%2082276695+CID_710c9c341b62e03e18f961ab100bac8a&utm_source=campaign_monitor_africa&utm_term=How%20South%20African%20business%20can%20help%20government%20fix%20the%20economy

what music is and is not

Background: What differentiates the music of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill ’em All Gang, Danny Brown, The Brother Moves On, Jedi Mind Tricks, Babes Wodumo, Lira, Nduduzo Makhathini, Black Coffee, Poor Righteous Teachers, Beyonce or Bokani Dyer ? Besides the varying levels of musicality, attention to detail or lack thereof and the labels that are often imposed on the artists, is there such thing as an Equal Music? In other words, if there is such thing as superior and inferior types of music, what does this mean regarding the progression or regression of our societies? Does music have any real impact on the Souls of people and state of the communities we reside in?

There is this thing called jazz. Some see it as the most austere and serious type of art, while some do not pay much attention to it. Others have called it the only real Art-form that the United States of America has ever produced. But there are so much political and sociological undertones and overtones related to its use and abuse by all and sundry.

Today, I drove through town listening to everything from A Brother Moves On to Mike Del Ferro. It is all just music. Its all just a matter of choice and our choices have exponentially increased since the age of the internet. While I still occasionally buy music at the few stores that are still miraculously standing, and from its producers, I get most of my music through electronic exchanges with friends and through downloading and online stores. In other words we share. But how much good quality music is being shared in the broader community and does this effect the behavior or the quality of our society?

Here is what I have recently shared on my Facebook timeline:

At first I was not too sure whether I should write this as a blog post in one of the sites I use, either AmaReflections or on this Green Ankh Works one I frequently post on, to little fanfare.
So I went onto the Blog and after re-reading this half-poetic, half essay, totally serious rant by the ingenious artist Nicholas Payton, it was decided that this is the platform …to put all these thoughts into perspective.
Here is the scenario.
I am listening to Carlo Mombelli‘s Stories album, with songs featuring Mbuso Khoza, among others. Its a brilliant album with many moods, textures and of course multi-storied. Earlier today after listening to Mike Del Ferro’s recordings with Khoza on vocals, I walked into the BAT Centre‘s library to meet an acquaintance, only to gush out at Xolisa Roro Gqoli-Dlamini about the beauty of the music I heard. I was particulary moved by a song called Umlolozelo, which is actually a heart-wrenching rendition of a traditional Zulu “nursery rhyme”, or lullaby…the lyrics are rather bleak and sinister for a children’s song, but as we know, there is always a deeper meaning and a lesson behind all these so called children’s stories.

“Thula mntwana / uMama akekho, uyothez’ izinduku / Azongishaya ngazo / Ethi ngidle amasi / Kant’ adliwe yinja / inja kaGogo emabalabala …”
We shall write some other time about how the immaculately talented Khoza recreates this song into a prayer to the Great Mother, to the Great Spirit, to heal the land that us rife with Child and Women abuse. He even mentions his daughter and calls her the most beautiful girl in the world, and also mentions Allende, the little girl who was raped mutilated a couple of years ago in this beleaguered country.

For now, I wanted to write about this phenomenon called JAZZ. What it is and what it is NOT. If indeed there is anything which it is not. Like the music called Hip Hop and even Afro-Soul and Neo-Soul, these labels hide beneath them far greater resources, greater knowledge systems and expressions than the names can ever depict.
How doe we label the Spirit, the Force, the Impact of Music?
But this is not even about Labelling, I am concerned about WHAT music really represents in our societies.
I often think of the varieties of so called jazz, the styles and forms it takes are as multifarious as the people who play it, the ones who use it and the ones who appreciate it for a multitude of reasons.

 

Kuyoze Kube Nini?

Zulu Books

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.

 

journeys within

The perfect Age has come, when Man will be his own priest, and Men will not array themselves in special garb to advertise their piety.

Mankind will go within to find Self’s wonderment.  – Mahatma

It is my humble opinion that each Artists is tasked with the mission of being a Revolutionary. To activate his or her potential and talents to positively transform society. In my brief lived experience as an Activist involved in Cultural and Arts sector in Southern Africa and through my world travels, I have met only a handful truly revolutionary Artists.

While I have also met and had conversations with luminaries such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Bheki Mseleku, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri and less well known Artists such as Gabi Ngcobo, Zamani Makhanya, Nhlanhla Chonco, Mfanafuthi Wake Mahlobo, Eugene Skeef, Nduduzo Makhathini, Eric Coolfire Hadebe, Zoe Masuku and Mphutlane Wa Bofelo to name just a few. it has been the Poets among them that have continued to inspire me holistically.

Many of the artists I have met have been Dreamers, people who see the world through a radically different kind of Light. They are ordinary yet extraordinary in their own right. In fact, some of them are reluctant to even label themselves or regard themselves as artists at all. In my book Rock ‘n Rule, a collection of writings gleaned from my notes and thoughts of the past 5 years, I attempted to speak about the significance of such people. But I am the first to admit that the book turned out to be something more political and more of a social commentary then what it was intended to me.

In these blog-posts, I aim to revisit some of those essays and even rewrite and complete some of the themes I had explored then. But it is a difficult exercise as I have hundreds of notes that are written in such a poetic way that I am not sure that readers would follow what I am saying, the feelings and thoughts I am attempting to express are often overwhelmingly transcendental. The primary point I am trying to raise though is that We Are All Potential Healers. We Are Artists and Dreamers and Doers. Even the ones who merely Think and Speak or Conceptualize ideas that never manifest at a given time, they matter and they must be regarded as contributes to the symphony of living. Our becoming.

Here is something I wrote on 02/04/2014, titled The Puzzle and The Living of Dreams:

“In writing out our dreams, fixing the points of conception, to cognition, sub-conscious and conscious causal action – I must be at one with the wild currents of trans-linear lights.

Many impressions and many versions of chaos seeking its perfect imperfection. We must do the seemingly impossible and be where we ought to be and know that whenever we are we are on time.

Activate our body, mind and energy towards the Telling.

If such dream-visions are to be told, We must be guided wisely in our Way of Telling. many of the same stories are being told. How each one tells the the same story is what separates the visionaries from the repetitive mimics.

If we say that the proverbial snake spoke and that there was a rope

or if we felt fearful, dread, lightness, transmigration or hope

let hope be wedded to the words and the imagery of the tale, the words’and let the Music play on

let the funk, the jazzy rhythmic blues

History is constructed from future past-times …

Every journey without was once a journey within

There Must be Substance once we Awake from the Dreaming

There must be Movement towards a Birthing of newness, harmonies and melodies

imbued with Love and Justice and Peace, the new birth must be harmonious with Nature … with the ancient future idea of Ma’at.*

Says the jazz man –

I’m the unencumbered bird of my imagination, rising only to fall back toward concrete

each note a black flower / opening, mercifully opening into the unforgiving new day.” – Ai, Man with the Saxophone

And as Paul Berliner put it in Thinking in Jazz : “The language metaphors adopted by jazz artists to describe their conceptions convey more than the notion that, within the bounds of their unique language system, ‘musical ideas’ should have substance. They also suggest that, for improvisers, the patterns are not ends in themselves, but have ongoing implications for thought.” 

The artists that have captured my imagination and inspired me to see and hear the world in a new way have come from Reggae music, jazz, electronic sounds such as Little Dragon, Radiohead, Hyatus Kayote and my brother Khaya’s experimentation with computer generated EDM and Jungle sounds. Mphutlane Wa Bofelo has also inspired me with his Radical Humanism, which in turn is inspired by his over-standing of Black Consciousness and the basic principles of Socialism. What makes an action artistic? What makes a thought original?

Perhaps these are the questions that one can better deal with through deep reflection and meditation, by journeying within …