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

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.

 

Remembering Eric Miyeni’s Work – The Only Black …

I have been re-reading the great work of Eric Miyeni, especially the O’Mandingo series of books, such as The Only Black at a Dinner Party, published by Jacana Media in 2006. The actor, ex-talk-show host and creative director at the Communications company Chillibush, is one of the talented 10th of what one could call the Black intelligencia of Southern Africa.

Although he can’t still be regarded as young, he was among the few real outspoken and cleverly opinionated writer/creative activists of this often perplexed and perplexing country.

Without having to dwell too much on the person, although I would like to celebrate and ventilate the works of many South Afrikans who have directly or indirectly contributed to our freedom of expression, let me turn to a particular article in this aforementioned book.

In the chapter, A Little Politics Perhaps? Why Not?, subtitled Frankly Indian South African, Miyeni touches upon a topic which is always approached but never really unpacked for its nuanced complexity. He first narrates a childhood story of how an Indian shopkeeper literarily short-changes an illiterate Black woman and how this episode made him feel so powerless and  angry at a young age. He then states:

“There are many black people with these horror stories of black South African exploitation at the hands of Indian South Africans. None of these Indian South Africans have ever stood up, like the Afrikaner South Africans and the black South Africans at the TRC, and said, “We are sorry. We benefited largely from apartheid; at times we did horrible things to further exploit our fellow South Africans. We are sorry, and as the Jews say, ‘Never again'”. The Indian South African community has never stood up, spoken in one voice and acknowledged its apartheid sin, asking for forgiveness. And now Fatima Meer has the gall to stand up and blame black people for the lack of Indian South African support for the ANC. This is disgusting to say the least.” (p.201, O’ Mandingo – The Only Black at the dinner table )

What Miyeni is dealing with is a matter that can be stressed further towards many poles. We can either use the tools of analyses learned from our grasp of what Black Consciousness, according to Steve Biko teaches, or we can deal with it as he does from the standpoint of the African National Congresses embrace of a multi-racial democratic South Africa. Whichever tool we use, the Indian South African community will still fall short of the basic test of what it means to be humane. While there is a miniscule number of so called Indians in the ANC or who became members and meaningful contributors in the Black Consciousness movements, the collective amnesia and downright apathy and even cruelty of many of them towards Natives is appalling.

On a personal level, I have been struggling with the tendency of my South African Indian /Muslim comrades to fight for the rights of Palestinians, yet they remain silent or wilfully ignorant of the various struggles taking place all over the Black world, whether it be in the African continent or in Europe or America. It appears as if there is a selective focus on their own ethnic groups or even religious groups. How do I stand up for Palestine when I cannot stand up for Central African Republic, the repressed people of Swaziland or the Shack-dwellers all over Southern Africa.

The only person of Indian origin I ever see flying off to offer humanitarian assistance in African lands and even as far as Haiti is the CEO of the NGO, Gift of the Givers. This is a problem that we have dealt with during my days as an active member of the radical political movement, Black First Land First. We have had seminars where we invited everyone, especially tertiary students from UKZN and DUT etc to deal with the Indian Questions, but guess what, NO INDIAN ever attends. We end up debating among ourselves whether our open armed and BC based inclusion of Indians in our movements isn’t vainglorious?

But then again these days, someone may read this and say “But everybody has their Indian.”, citing the BLF’s defence of the Gupta/Zuma ‘faction’. Suffice to say, the enemies of Black peoples liberation and humanity are many, and even those we may think are for us can be our downfall.

I can go on further, and deal with how the relationship between the black people of Kwa-Zulu Natal and their Indian neighbours is far from healed and is a potential powder-keg just waiting for an accidental or incidental spark to blow up. Perhaps it is only through revolutionary violence that freedom is attained, but we must make sure that we do not turn against each other while the main architects of our division still remain comfortably white.

As he states in one of the essays, titled, Are White South Africans Nice People? “…Based on this definition of the word “nice”, my short answer to this tricky question is “No”. Most white South Africans are not nice people. But do I have any scientific research to back up this claim? Sadly, the answer to that question is “No”. So then, on wat do I base this contentious answer regarding my fellow citizens? Well, the explanation is complicated in its simplicity. It’s based on a little research and a little intuition that comes from this little research. First, the research part. I don’t know a single black South African person who does not have a horror story that involves a white South African person. These horror stories range from being beaten to a pulp for no reason other than being black…to having a chef coming out and asking people at every single table at his restaurant how they are enjoying their meals only to skip the only table full of black people, and then say he did not see them …”  (p.24, The Only Black …)

There is still a lot that can be said about Miyeni’s vision of a non-racial society and whether it is realistic or not, but I would like to honour him while he lives, for daring to speak his truth.