Conversations in the Light of Blackness

This conversation between two of the most authentic Black artists is so powerful, so instructive, so wise.

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Such and Suchness

This article originally appeared on:

http://chimurengachronic.co.za/genres-of-the-human/

In his new book, The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics, Louis Chude-Sokei samples freely from history, music, literature and science, conjuring new meanings from dead texts, to build an echo chamber where the discourses of race and technology collide. At a time when automation threatens jobs and pits humans against machine and Artificial Intelligence systems manage financial markets, Chude-Sokei’s arkeological excavations reverberate through the future-present. In this conversation, he joins Kodwo Eshun and Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom on a journey into science fiction and Afrofuturism that engages the intimate relations between black peoples and technology within the wider imperial histories of industrialisation and slavery.

piano-lessons

“What then comes up for me in this conversation about the limits of the human is what constitutes the human, right? Because whenever you ask whether or not this is human or that is human, you’re actually asking “what is the human?” in the first place. Which is a question that we still don’t really know. The same thing when we talk about artificial intelligence. What artificial intelligence has taught us is that we don’t know what intelligence is. Whenever we encounter a machine, can it think? Does it have a soul? And then the question becomes: well, what is thinking? What is a soul? Are they human? Do they merely mimic us? Will they take over from us? Will they revolt? These same exact questions that were asked about slaves during slavery. This is not an accident. Things that seem accidental are not accidental at all. It’s a shared logic around a restrictive understanding of what constitutes the human. And that’s where blacks and robots and machines really come together – not just in a clever, theoretical formulation. It’s there in history. It’s why Robert Johnson wants to have sex with his phonograph.”

Read more from an edited transcript in The Chronic: The Invention of Zimbabwe.

It is Time to Free MumiaAbu-Jamal

One could say a lot about the unjust issue of how America has kept so many Black people imprisoned, many of who are actually innocent. But the story of Mumia Abu Jamal is not only unique because of his political opinion as well as his symbolic hold on the American consciousness. It is a travesty of international proportions that after 25 yeas, this father of three is still languishing in prison. But the aim of this post is to shine a light also on his activism and his writing. I have recently bought his latest book of short but sharp articles, titled Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? It is a harrowing read, and makes so clear the extent to which Black lives are just disrespected to say the least.

He writes under the title To Protect and Serve Whom?

The Reason Movements Emerge: “When a society reaches a dead end, when it can no longer persist in its old ways, social movements arise to push it to its next stage of development. if that social movement is able to project its ideas, and spread them widely enough, and these ideas find room in the hearts and minds of the People, such movements may make that next step, and define the era’s zeitgeist and what is and is not the common good. History shows us that social movements can transform society, but they do not go uncontested, for the status quo of the state abhors change. The state always sees change as a challenge, and it utilizes its vast power to counteract any such change.” – 

Here is a film that gives a fuller picture of this man’s story.

From Heroism to the great betrayals: Southern Africa is still a colony

Angazi nokuthi ngiqalephi … the rage one feels regarding the Zulu King’s recent statements and his decision to join hands with a right leaning racist white political formation called AfriForum is palpable. Yet, if one understand the history of Southern Africa and how apartheid was established and how colonialism installed its own loyal people to oversee the land and its people, it is easy to rationally conclude that the king is still being used, whether he knows it or not. South Africa is a strange place of multifarious paradoxes.

I don’t even know where to begin …the sheer betrayal of trust that Afrikan leaders, including kings have exhibited towards us is beyond my ability to contemplate. While I am aware of how white supremacy uses folks against each other,employing all kinds of devices to turn governments against their own people, states against traditional leaders as well as customary leaders against their “subjects”; the things that are happening in South Afrika right now are just too much to bear.

Let us briefly examine a few key players in the land, farming and socio-political climate of  the entity called South Africa. We shall begin with the roles of traditional leaders, then and now. We shall then analyse just what purpose they serve in the so called developmental state, as the Republic of South Africa purports to be one.

South African History 101

An overview of South African history is necessary in order to gain some understanding of the current socio-economic situation.

The African National Congress

 

The Pan Africanist Congress

 

The EFF and Other Insurgent movements

 

Key Elements of Divide and Rule

 

Who is King Goodwill Zwelithini?

 

What Should be Done With Kings and Lands Under Their Stewardship?

 

For Balance, Here is Neil Degrasse Tyson in his ‘own’ words.

Between Scientists and Conspiracy Theorists, who will inherit the new Earth?
While this is not about the Flat Earth issue, which I have promised to explore further – examining its merits and demerits, I found the conversation compelling. There is just something about DeGrasse’s sharp intelligence that is juxtaposed so sharply with his egocentricity, but perhaps that is an expected consequence of his fame.

Interrogating This Notion of Nation

I have often refuted this notion of nations, especially when it comes to the peoples of Afrika. What is a nation and can we find better definitions and peaceful resolutions to our own being, our constitutions as well as ensuring that we are not further exploited by foreign interests as Afrikans/AbaNtu? But beyond just my own pan-Afrikan interests, I believe that nationalism anywhere is a powerful inhibitor of progress and humane relations. It may sound like a contradiction coming from a pan Afrikanist as much of pan-Afrikanism has been fueled or driven by the protection and even projection of national sovereignty for formerly colonized peoples. But we may have inherited a lot of regressive ideas from our colonisers, and nationalism which may have been useful at some point of the struggle for independence,  it has now become a thorn and a hindrance to Afrikan and global progress.

One of my favourite writer, Mario Vargas Llosa has been a vehement critic of the notion of nationalism. here is a piece from an interview:

“The basic idea of nationalism is wrong,” declares Vargas Llosa when we meet at his publisher’s offices in London. “The idea that to be born in a given place is a value in itself is ridiculous. Totally ridiculous! Now the Scots want to be independent. That would be very sad. I don’t think Scotland is going to be privileged by independence. On the contrary, this is not the march of time – the march of time is for the dissolution of frontiers, integration, common denominators. Nationalism appeals to the tribe, the basic primitive tribe. No, no, no, we must fight this – Scotland must fight this. But we must fight colonialism too,” he says, adding that he is in favour of European union despite the current crisis. “We have had almost 60 years of peace in Europe for the first time in history, which is a great achievement. Never forget, nationalism has produced the most brutal and cruel wars in history.”

The elder is very clear and articulate here, but I would like to share something that is constantly on my mind, regarding questions of security and progress in the continent of Africa. The Congolese and Ethiopian situations are always a tough subject, as they both have a long history of ethnic and class conflicts, many leaders there have tried various ways to force some kind of national unity among their people, history has proven that this tenuous arrangement has only served to make matters worse. This article looks at the Ethiopian situation in a similar manner.

Please read and respond. I will add my full thoughts later as I have written about this on other platforms.

http://ayyaantuu.org/walelign-mekonnen-the-question-of-nationalities-and-ethiopias-persistent-crisis/

The Cannabis Effect

Will this leave us high and dry, or will our visions and dreams truly fly?
I found myself wondering after the effects of South Africa’s Constitutional Court decision to partially legalize the use of cannabis wore off. I have a nagging feeling that it is not Afrikan people in general who will benefit from this landmark case. But there is still more work to be done. The tree must be wholly freed.
Many newspapers lapped up the news and the Business Day of 19 September 2018, even made it their cover story. But it was Mary Nel on the Sunday Times of 23rd September which carried a more succinct or balanced narrative. Headlined “Constitutional Court Ruling on dagga leaves brains somewhat muddled.”
She began, “The Constitutional Court has passed down a judgement that makes it legal for adults to cultivate and smoke dagga in their homes. The court ruled that the right to privacy was violated by prohibiting the possession, purchase or cultivation of dagga for personal consumption by an adult in a private dwelling. The case was pursued by various parties, including a Cape Town lawyer, Gareth Prince, who is practicing Rastafarian. It was opposed by , among others the ministers of Justice and Constitutional development, police and health; the national director of public prosecutions and the NGO Doctors for Life International.” Now this opposition is what we must investigate further. We need to understand exactly on what grounds do these ministries and a civil society formation find it correct to oppose the constitution of the land as well as the will of the people.
nel continues instructively: “The Constitutional Court’s judgement is to be applauded for doing away with the moralistic and paternalistic assumption that dagga use by adults in private is always wrong and unhealthy. SA joins a number of countries that have taken a similar step, among them Canada and Portugal.”
The complexity of the COnCourts decision centres around matter of persecution and legislation regarding trading in dagga/ganja/cannabis.
Essentially, the user can grow their own herbs yet they need to obtain the seeds elsewhere. So while the private citizen has rights, the so called dealer does not have the right to sell. This speaks to the difficulty that courts will have to determine what constitutes a public and a private space. For an example, is my body not my personal space wherever I may take it. Is my motor vehicle also not a private space, what about my Bed and Breakfast or Hotel room or even the home of my relatives or friends?

“The COnstitutional Court envisages instead that, provided dagga is used “in private and not in public”, it is protected by the right to privacy even if the adult in question is not at home or in a private dwelling.” Now if that does not sound rather confusing then I do not know what else is?

The Business Day ran a more business centric story. With headlines such as, “Hemp houses could spur job creation”; “Dagga chef rolls out the boom butter”, and “Ploy to trade legally in weed just the ticket”, which included this interesting quote from a user, “Transactions are always going to happen. We are going to trade and transact and purchase and swap in private.” The journalist, Katherine Child added. “He has thought of ways to circumvent the ban on the purchase of dagga – all based on not paying directly for it.”
Needless to say, it is obvious that this is only the beginning of a very interesting journey for this versatile plant.
But the most thought provoking headline is one that said ‘Cannabis trials are up in the air”, which deals with the lives of thousands of people facing prosecution for possession as well as dealing in Marijuana/dagga/ganja. I have been there too and I know how difficult it is to get off the roll without cash. There will be bribes and there will be mass confusion, but if the law is respected and the legal system does its job properly, we should be seeing a lot of presumed guilty people walking free and contributing bountifully to society.
My only advise to fellow Rastafari is “SAVE THE SEEDS and SECURE LAND”.

We will be writing soon about how so many multinational companies as well as pharmaceuticals have already planned just how to exploit the opportunities presented by the steady but sure international acceptance of the plant that Rasta’s love to call ‘The Healing of the Nations”.