Sound Escapades from the indomitable Pan African Space Station.
Please follow the link below to purchase my book, Rock ‘n Rule: The Essays, Stories and Poetry of Menzi Maseko. Published and distributed indipendently by Green Ankh Works (Pty) LTD.
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.
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.
Green Ankh Works in collaboration with the BAT Centre and a Community of people all over the Continent and the Diaspora will Screen the Documentary : Sembene! Across Africa.
Ousmane Sembene is known as The Father of African Cinema, the film will reveal to the viewers that he was indeed so much more. The Screening is Free of Charge. It will be followed by a Discussion/Conversation regarding the subject.
The BAT Centre Screening Time is :
10 June 2017
In The Mission Control Room/ BAT Centre 45 Maritime Place, Small Craft Harbour, Durban.
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:
Rock ‘n Rule: The Essays, Stories and Poetry of Menzi Maseko is an elaborate work of word-art.With themes ranging from jazz, Black Consciousness philosophy, Reflections on Socio-Economic conditions and solutions for Southern Africa and Spiritual development. The work is suitable for people of all races, age groups and even institutions interested in understanding the dynamic of modern African development, the role of cultural institutions such as jazz, Afrikology and Ma’at. Although it also touches on universal themes, this book is the first in a series of works focused on finding communal solutions to some of the challenges plaguing Southern Africa and South Africa in particular.