Liberating voices from our past

One of the most influential books in my intellectual and activist life has been W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, published in 1903. This book not only opened my eyes wider to the challenge of racial justice but also endowed me with the tools I needed in order to discern between race hustlers and authentic justice activists. Du Bois is among the most revered founding fathers of Pan Afrikanism. He was there at the beginning structures of the men and women who organised themselves not only for diaspora emancipation projects, but worked tirelessly for the liberation of Afrika’s various countries, and his last days were spend in Ghana wherein he lies buried. Like many Pan Afrikanists of his day, and even many of us today, he was mostly concerned with the building of properly equipped and ideologically sound institutions for the development of Black people. I hereby would like to quote him where he wrote about the establishment of Afrikan American colleges.

The function of the Negro college, then, is clear. it must maintain the standards of popular education, it must seek the social regeneration of the Negro, and it must help in the solution of problems of race contact and co-operation. And finally, beyond all this, it must develop men. Above our modern socialism, and out of the worship of the mass, must persist and evolve that higher individualism which the centers of culture protect; there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign human soul that seeks to know itself and the world about it, that seeks a freedom for expansion and self development; that will love and hate and labor in its own way; untrammeled alike by old and new. 

Herein the longing of black men must have respect: the rich and bitter depth of their experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange rendings of nature they have seen, may give the world new points of view and make their loving, living and doing precious to all human hearts.” – page 73 ( The Souls of Black Folk )

When I read such words, written so long ago by men who strove for real justice and whose primary focus was on freeing their own kind yet whose scope was truly about freeing the whole human race, I shudder in shame. Somehow with all our technology and knowing, we have not really achieved the great feats that these men and women fought and worked so hard for. Yes of course there are many shining examples of Black excellence, there are now many schools and institutions that do great work in our communities globally, but the missing link is still unity of purpose. Many are either divided by religious dogma while others have perished through the corrosive egotistical character of their founders or inheritors. All in all, we are moving forward, but rather slowly or too gradually. This is why it appears as if the posturing and shock tactics of radical Black political activists are our main hope. Groups such as the Economic Freedom Fighter, the Black First Land First movement and others appear as the clearest choices for people who have long given up putting their hopes in standard political processes. But herein lies the difference between the likes of Marcus Garvey, Du Bois and other Pan Afrikan leaders of the past, while they were engaged in political processes, they were also engaged in community uplift projects that were entrepreneurial in nature, but above all that, they were also educators and institution builders, the foundations of which are strong because even after a century we still look to them for guidance.

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Up for air, Down for the money

chorus: deep into the core

we keep digging for more

so what, if we’ve died

a million times

at least we tried

 

someone deep in our tangled past decided

that wealth was stronger than death

the lie was repeated enough times

we now take it as indisputable fact

so true is our belief in the gold, silver and paper trail

we have trained our young to hold on to the dragons tail

or take the bull by the horns

ignoring the man with the crown of thorns

 

today there is hardly anything which is not up for sale

mothers sell their daughters and honor won’t prevail

presidents sell countries while peddling morality tales

miners have been slaughtered but leaders still come up for air

We Are Searching and Working For A Self Determined Afrika

Check out this article I wrote in one of my blogs and feel free to offer your views. The vision of a unified, peaceful and prosperous Afrikan continent is our only motivation. We can no longer bear to repeat Bob Marley’s lyrics “How Long Shall they kill our prophets why we stand aside and look.” Neither can we afford to keep complaining and blaming the past for our condition. Let’s Work.

https://brokenseeds.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/the-quest-for-effective-leadership-in-afrika/

The Essence of Queens, Kings, Gods and Goddesses

In the blockbuster science fiction film Black Panther, the people of Wakanda, a mysterious country in Afrika, the people worship the Ancient Egyptian/Kamitic deity Bast. There are so many angles with which we can approach the significance of this Cat-like Goddess, but we wish to look at the uses and abuses of power, both mythic and realistic by modern and ancient peoples. How much can Afrikan’s gain from the reinstatement of ancient rituals and how much of those rites have become truly obsolete. Here is a brief perspective of how Bast was invoked:

Bast was associated with childbirth, perhaps because of the way a mother cat cares for her kittens – and the fact that she might have continual litters of them. During the 2nd Century AD Plutarch wrote, somewhat mysteriously, that the Egyptian Cat gives birth first to one kitten, then two, until the number seven is reached. He points out that this makes a total of twenty-eight, the same as the days of the lunar month. 
Nowadays, Bast has assumed a mother Goddess aspect. While there is no doubt she has a side whose teeth and claws are bared, she is now generally regarded as benevolent. Her rituals involve music, feasting and dancing, when she can be petitioned to grant boons. Bast can be invoked to help with problems concerning domestic life, work situations and success, as well as love and good health, for the petitioner, their friends and families, or their cats. Any visit to the Temple of Bast, through visualization, is a time of serenity, contemplation and pleasure.” – ( http://www.occultlectures.com/kemetic-deities.html)

Today’s world is like the typical Game of Thrones. Competing queendoms, kingdoms, fiefdoms and principalities contest for a space in the minds of a mostly gullible public. Unfortunately for the less technologically and economically advanced kingdoms, the monopolization of resources has debilitating consequences. Loss of land, natural resources as well as Cultural heritage is real and it has deleterious effects. Afrikan scholars and cultural activists are doing their best to keep us woke. But there are challenges that include the apathy and fragility of the younger generations who hardly ever explore the depths of the war we are in. Writing in his ‘Cultural framework for the development of science and technology in Africa” Mabawonku states:

The problem of scientific and technological development in Afrika was attributed to a predominance of exclusive hierarchical and fatalistic cultural categories. The challenge of science and technology development in Afrika would require a new institutional arrangement with appropriate cultural values and norms of behavior.”  In essence, culture should be the basis for scientific and economic development.

If ever there was a clash of civilizations and of cultures, the 21 century is the most brazen battlefield.  No idea, thought or narrative is left unchallenged, especially in the instantaneously reactive platforms of social media. Sacred cows have long been slaughtered and ‘vampires’ drcorate themselves with crucifixes, while sipping holy water, while myriad truths turn out to be lies.

With reality becoming more and more fragmented and a matter of perception and perspective, the roles of mythology, chance and mysticism are being reactivated and rededined.

The foundations of institutions/structures such as family, community, clan and nationhood are being shaken to their last shaky legs. Non-permanence  and fragility are the order of the day even in fields where exactitude in calculation is the order of the day. One persons divine being is no more than a fantasy, a figment of active imagination, while another persons rationality can be construed as ignorance.

There are various knowledge systems and as many ways of life one can choose from.Freedom of choice, expression as well as other liberties are cherished as human rights. The institution of monarchy, the so called divine rights of rulers along with its various forms of servitude/servant-hood, feudalism and honor and dishonor is gradually losing its grip on the minds of many modern societies who pride themselves as traditional.

Not only are matters of gender equality as well as other already mentioned rights challenged, the deceptively formidable edifices of empire,royalty is becoming as passe as that old time religion. Some would think that the French Revolution did away with any notions of royal power. Yet, there are millions of people who still worship archaic Gods, and reverence their chosen kings and queens. The Ancient Egyptians/Kemetans are renowned for their many so called gods. But the theology and cosmic approach of Egyptians is still very much misunderstood. I have dealt with the fact that Abantu BaseKhemethi (The people of the Black land) were not just idol worshipers, but they, just like many other peoples throughout the Afrikan continent and other First Nations, had a healthy and holistic approach to the supernatural. They held a lot of things and phenomena sacred and associated each and everything with a particular attribute called NTR (Neter/Netcher/Nature), these Beings are symbolic of the essence of the elements that are among us and the people of Sudan/Nubia and Egypt/Kemet created immortal works of art that are also linked to science, governance and other fields. Everything is connected and attributable to another. There is a sense of purpose in everything, a singularity. A unity in the diversity. The ancients ensured that there is Ma’at or cosmic balance between the image and the realization. In this rediscobvery, we will find that Women play a significant role, both as mothers, daughters, queens as well as goddesses. As we know among the Nguni/Ngoni and Tonga, there is no King without a Queen Mother.

In the film Black Panther, the people of the fictional Wakanda kingdom do not only swear by Bast*, they also rely heavily on the language of the Xhosa’s. We will explain how significant the use of isiXhosa is in the context of telling such an Afrocentric yet universal tale. Let us start with a bit of description, who and what is this Bast?

“Bast (known as “Bastet” in later times to emphasise that the “t” was to be pronounced) was one of the most popular goddesses of ancient Egypt. She is generally thought of as a cat goddess. However, she originally had the head of a lion or a desert sand-cat and it was not until the New Kingdom that she became exclusively associated with the domesticated cat. However, even then she remained true to her origins and retained her war-like aspect. She personified the playfulness, grace, affection, and cunning of a cat as well as the fierce power of a lioness. She was also worshiped all over Lower Egypt, but her cult was centred on her temple at Bubastis in the eighteenth nome of Lower Egypt (which is now in ruins). Bubastis was the capital of ancient Egypt for a time during the Late Period, and a number of pharaohs included the goddess in their throne names.”

There is still much to be unlearned since the beginning of the decolonization wave, Afrikans and other First peoples have to find value in their own myths, our own sciences as well as our own languages. The Europeans and other members of the white race have founded their civilizations upon Greek, Roman as well as Nordic tales, both mythical and historical. It is high-time that Afrikans also mine the reservoirs of their past to construct future civilizations.

Indlela Ibuzwa Kwabaphambili …

Truth Will Free We All, Including Our Leaders

Freeing ourselves from psychological slavery is a daily task. Firstly we have to know how we are victims of this slavery, secondly we have to see ourselves as the primary agents of our own emancipation. The next step in my opinion, is we have to continually educate ourselves, our families and communities regarding our history, present situation and collectively find solutions to our predicament. The question of Leadership always arises. In an age of fake news and false prophets as well as virtual reality we have to ask ourselves certain crucial questions. What are the characteristics or traits of the best leaders we can find among ourselves, because it still remains true what Marcus Garvey said, “None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds.” We have to be truthful and we have to expose the fakers and promote the realness.

Lately I  have been watching with earnest concentration, some video’s from and about Dr Umar Ifatunde Johnson and thinking deeply about my own agency as a Pan-Afrikan activist. I am impressed as millions of others by the robust debates that the brother raises as well as his vision of establishing a Pan Afrikanist school for Black boys. When we hosted Dr Umar as The Institute of Afrikology in Kwa-Zulu I had several detractors to deal with. Most of the people who disagreed with Umar were Black feminists, Black radicals as well as people from the LGBTQ …community, yet our lectures were fully packed and great insights were shared among ourselves. I wrote a couple of essays about that and debated a few people in addition to speaking to Dr Umar in private regarding the concerns of all these people who follow our work. I still stand by my opinions, yet I have further concerns. The problem of viewing  and judging each other or ourselves through European and white liberal eyes.  We need to remain confrontational and factual as we carve our way towards Afrika’s liberation.

After posting some of the videos and debates on Umar on my Facebook timeline, I sat and meditated for a bit. The main realization and concern I have is not what Dr Umar Johnson said, but the problem of the Ego. Now everyone has a right to define and defend him or herself, but if we have a long term vision and seek to remain truthful, we have to become as transparent and as honest as possible firstly among ourselves. We owe no white people any explanations regarding our mission.

But I am writing today because I am watching videos of Dr John Hendrik Clarke, a scholar and activist of a much higher order. The videos that piqued my interest was the series titled The Million Man March and Fake Leadership, posted by Afrikanliberation*.

Dr Clarke is to me part of the foundations upon which brothers such as Dr Umar Johnson stand upon. Controversial mainly because they reveal things about the Black community which we are often afraid to confront. I will come back to the question of respect, egocentricity, the quality of our leadership and what we have to do to take progressive steps towards proper Black Power Pan Afrikanism. For now, please just listen to Mkhulu JHC.

Ankh Udja Seneb.

Ngcamane!!!

Visions From The House of Plenty

The country I now live in is undergoing a precarious transition. I come from a country that is still struggling to figure out whether its own celebrated democratic transition was worth it all or it is really a shambolic mess. I belong to a country without a name. Although many of we who espouse the Pan-Afrikan/Black Consciousness ethos call ourselves Azania(n), there has been resistance to that mired name, fraught as it is with what some call Arabic connotations of slavery. We shall deal with the name Azania on a different platform. Just call me South African for now, at least until the transformation is complete.

My family and I have been in Zimbabwe for just about a week now, and both my wife and I are still stunned by the amount of vegetation we have been confronted with, both in our yard and across every cultivatable surface. The people of Zimbabwe are on a mission to plant their own food in every nook and cranny. The only places where there is no maize, pumpkin, spinach, or sorghum growing are parks and business premises. This is another phenomenon I hope to return to once I have fully gained proper understanding of it. Suffice to say that, the whole thing is stoking my long suppressed will to became a serious farmer, a vision that I have long neglected in my home base in the suburbs of Durban, although I do have a few things growing in my garden, a smallanyana garden I had to reluctantly abandon for expedient reasons. I am also aware that farming requires much more work than I can afford right now, nevertheless, I would like to see my children growing up to a regime where we all get up in the morning to till the soil and mind the animals, this could be anywhere, between Azania and Zimbabwe.

Yet after reading today’s New Day newspaper, it is becoming clearer to me that this is a country whose transformation is going to take much more than politics and green-fields to achieve. The seemingly successful public relations campaigns that the present government lead by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is a great start, and they are making all the right noises in order attract investors, but I am concerned about the noises that they are not making. They are not being practical or forthcoming with regards to dealing with their detractors, ignoring or rubbishing calls for restorative justice regarding the Gukurahundi massacres is not a great way to begin, or perhaps they are saving such things for a later period. In the letters section of the New Day, Dube says:

Gukurahundi is an easy way of seeking relevance and attracting cheap publicity among academics and unsuccessful politicians. To non-governmental organisations, it also serves the same purpose, but more importantly, it is a cash cow to get money from donors. One has to keep making noise and ruffling feathers of the establishment. As we approach elections, the noise about Gukurahundi will be ratcheted up. Such people had decades to confront former President Robert Mugabe about Gukurahundi, but they never did so in any meaningful way. Mugabe was never liked in Matebeleland, but he always won elections nationally ( questionable statement ). It is not, therefore impossible for the country’s new leaders to also win. Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa is essentially a good man, but should be wary of individuals and organisations seeking to profit from his name.” – ( p.11, sms letters, News Day. Tuesday. January 16, 2018 )

I must admit, I said the similar things too in December, when I saw people all over South African news, who were opposed or heavily criticized Mnangagwa over this massacre. How come they were not as vocal during the Mugabe regime? But I also understand that it is far more complex than that, and people do not usually have free speech during the tyrannical reign of a man who was loved and much as he was hated and feared. Zimbabwe’s position is similar to the Ethiopian situation after the deposition of HIM Haile Selassie I by the Derg regime, but there are also uncanny parallels between Ramaphosa and Mnangangwa, both have a controversial history but the tides of future times and providence seem to be carrying them towards new and more promising shores.

Let me just add that I shall be writing short essays and short poems under the title The House of Plenty, once I have figured out just what kind of country Zimbabwe truly is. To gain such knowledge I have begun observing everything, reading and making notes, listening to the people in addition to aspiring to learn the Shona language. At the supermarket today, I discovered a bookshop I will be frequenting, mainly for historical books.

 

 

 

Beyond Libya

Joint Statement on the Migrant Situation in Libya

African and European leaders, gathered in Abidjan for the 5th AU/EU Summit, discussed the terrible media reports on inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees by criminal groups.
They condemned in the strongest terms any such criminal acts and expressed their firm resolve to work together for an immediate end of these criminal practices and to ensure the well-being of the migrants and refugees.
They also agreed to widely communicate to the youth about the dangers of such hazardous journeys and against the trafficking networks.
They welcomed ongoing efforts of the Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord of Libya in undertaking appropriate measures to address such incidents, as a thorough and swift investigation has been launched in Libya, including to confirm the validity of media allegations.
They called to support Libya, through international cooperation, in undertaking immediate action to fight against the perpetrator of such crimes, inside and outside Libya, and to bring them to justice. This international cooperation should cover enhanced police and judicial mutually agreed cooperation, including freezing of assets of convicted
perpetrators.

They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin as well as durable solutions for refugees. In this regard, they stressed the need for all Libyan stakeholders to facilitate access by
international organisations and by consular officials of countries of origin.
They welcomed the African Union Commission for swift engagement, including the
AUC Commissioner visit to Libya.
They also commended the existing work by UN
agencies, African countries of origin, and the EU, which together have already allowed for 13,000 assisted voluntary returns of stranded migrants to their countries of origin.
They have committed to work together between AU, UN, EU, Libyan government and countries of origin and transit, and to take the necessary means and actions, in order to accelerate exponentially this work, while continuing to ensure with international organizations that voluntary resettlement is available for those in need, whether to countries of origin or third countries.
They agreed that lasting resolution of the issue of African migrants is closely linked to addressing the root causes of the phenomenon and requires a political solution to the persistent crisis in Libya.
In this respect, they stressed the imperative need for coordinated action involving all the stakeholders concerned, especially the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the League of Arab States, in order to expedite the lasting solution to the crisis. To this end, they committed themselves to convey a common and coherent
message.

Afrika Matters

File 20171204 4062 c4kuwu.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

President of the AU Alpha Conde, European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and President of the EU Jean-Claude Juncker. Reuters/Luc Gnago

Frank Mattheis, University of Pretoria and John Kotsopoulos, University of Pretoria

African and European heads of government gathered last week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for their 5th summit since 2000. For the first time, the African Union (AU) rather than “Africa”, officially appears as the European Union’s partner. While plenty has been discussed about youth, migration, security and governance less is being said about the shift from an EU-Africa to an AU-EU summit.

Is this just a case of semantics? After all, the AU has been the key organiser of these triennial summits since they started in 2000. Or are there larger implications? We think there are.

The AU-EU summit coincided with the January 2017 report on the reform of the African Union prepared by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The report recommends rationalising “Africa’s” many international partnerships by having the continental body take the lead. This means that the previous, current and future AU chairpersons, plus the AU Commission chairperson and the chairperson of the Regional Economic Communities, would represent the AU, rather than all its member states.

Despite some misgivings at the July 2017 AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Kagame’s proposed reforms were well received. The AU and its member states have committed to a timetable of reform implementation, heralding a potential new era for the AU.

The transformation of the EU-Africa summit series into the EU-AU summit in Abidjan is more than just a change of name. It reflects the increasing recognition of the AU as an international actor that is becoming difficult to circumvent when engaging Africa. But there’s still a risk that the recognition remains confined to ceremonial purposes, as long as key challenges such as funding and mandate are not resolved.

The history

The first summit in Cairo in 2000 was intended as a meeting of the EU and the AU’s forbearer, the Organization of African Unity (OAU). But, the EU insisted on the inclusion of Morocco – the only African country not a member of the OAU and the exclusion of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a full member of the OAU.

Only after last minute shuttle diplomacy was the cancellation of the summit averted. The compromise solution was to call the event the “Africa-Europe Summit Under the Aegis of the OAU and the EU”.

The idea of “Africa” as the EU’s interlocutor was set.

This way of seeing Africa had repercussions for the relationship. Although the EU had targeted the AU as its principle partner by 2007, the AU’s organisational growing pains and less clear jurisdiction in external relations meant that it was exposed to the whims of its member states.

This was the case before the 2nd summit in Lisbon in 2007, when after months of AU-driven negotiation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, several AU member states voiced strong misgivings about it. Their objections on issues such as the restitution of stolen cultural artefacts, while crucial, were outside of the EU’s jurisdiction and threatened to scuttle the AU’s own good work.

The 2010 summit in Tripoli was overshadowed by the outsized personality of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who stole headlines insisting that the EU pay him to limit migration to Europe. Lost was the fact that the AU was endeavouring to upturn decades of EU driven agenda setting in the EU-ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States) relationship.

The upgrade

In theory the AU’s new status in EU-Africa summits has the potential to substantially contribute to the AU’s cohesion, recognition and identity. But whether this upgrade will actually materialise or whether the summit only offers a ceremonial appearance of the AU’s standing will depend on four crucial factors.

Firstly, the AU still needs to be based on a sustainable financial mechanism. So far, it depends heavily on development aid for its activities.

Secondly, member states need to provide the AU with an authoritative mandate to negotiate on their behalf. While it is becoming a stronger institution, it still heavily depends on compromises between heads of states.

Thirdly, the AU has to compete for the EU’s attention with other existing partnerships with Africa. Plans are already underway for the it to play a more prominent role in the ACP. This would underline the central role of the AU for all interregional arrangements.

Fourthly, other international partners such as China will need to recognise AU’s central role in their summits with Africa. So far, China is focusing on bilateral relations and there are few signs of the direct relationship China-AU receiving a substantial upgrade.