Naked Truth and The Twisted Ladder

DNA is a master of transformation, just like mythical serpents. The cell-based life DNA informs made the air we breathe, the landscape we see, and the mind-boggling diversity of living beings of which we are a part. In 4 billion years, it has multiplied itself into an incalculable number of species, while remaining exactly the same.” – Myths and Molecules, The Cosmic Serpent; DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, by Jeremy Narby

What is the real origin of homosexuality? Is it rooted in the same biological and social constructs as heterosexual relations? Is it all in our DNA or is discrimination and revulsion against homosexuals ( Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people) based merely on religious dogma and patriarchal worldviews? What is the authentically Afrikan worldview on this subject, one that is not tainted by newly inherited Male centric religions and patriarchal standards?

For the longest time I have meant to write about a subject that is usually taboo to many sections of the so called ‘woke’ society. You know, the Black conscious ( yet not all Black Consciousness adherents are anti-gay), nationalist and even the traditionalist/ pan-Afrikanists which may all be grouped as Afrocentrists. The subject is homosexuality.

Having been a Rastafarian since the early 2000’s, and coming from a Pentecostal church background, it has been difficult for me to speak openly about what I still view as an alternative kind of sexuality. Members of the Rastafari movement  do not mince their words about their disdain and use any chance they get to voice their rebukes against the LGBTQ people. I have tended to remain silent because I too have had to think about where I stand on the subject. While I certainly do not condone violence against people who are different from myself, I have not supported gay people in their efforts to be recognised as ordinary human beings. I have never read anything from Haile Selassie I, the Black God of the Rasta’s that condemns people for their sexual orientation, so I too have never condemned them.

Although I have had friends, colleagues and other people I admire who are gay, I have not been so open in expressing support for their causes, only venturing as far as stating that each person has a right to define themselves and that another person’s sexuality is entirely their own business, discrimination is unnecessary. There have been many times when I have confronted Rasta’s and Traditionalists as well as blatant homophobes about their overzealous anti-gay stances and statements. Asking what revolutionary purpose does it serve to discriminate and even incite violence against people whose gender does not fit their expectations of what is deemed ‘natural’?

Needless to say, I have been called many names for this, from fence-sitter, apologist to closet or secret homosexual. The real naked truth is that, I have my own prejudices and they may or may not fit the term homophobia, but as I told another gay friend, who does not talk to me anymore, not even on social media – I am still working on myself – part of me sees same sex romance as uncanny or somehow unethical, especially in the context of raising families, yet another part of me, I guess the liberal sensibility in me, simply says let’s live and let live. As long as homosexuals pose no discernible threat to the liberation of Black people from the common enemies of racism and capitalist exploitation, let them be. Love is love after-all and it does not always need to be sexual and if it is, then so be it. I am far from dictating who does what and how sexually. But as a person engaged in Afrikology and rekindling Afrikan value systems – I must take a clear stand either for or against. The main question I ask myself is – is homosexuality in line with Ma’at and principles of Ubuntu?

According to the 42 Principles of Ma’at, it is not. So there, it should be easier to make a decision, right? Well, not really. There are several admonitions or negative confessions of Ma’at, which people of any gender can and do easily violate. So who judges us when we pollute the water or commit adultery or commit any other act that is deemed a violation of the Cosmic or Natural Law?

When I first thought of writing this essay, I was thinking about the many gay folks who have contributed to my intellectual and cultural development. I also wanted to mention the many artists and writers who lived openly gay or queer lives who have contributed immensely to our social, cultural lives. The example of the writer/activist, James Baldwin always comes to mind. I read two or three of his books as a teenager and did not know or care about his sexual orientation until my mid-twenties when I read Giovanni’s Room and his other works. By that time I had already started interacting with more gay people in the arts scenes, political movements as well as in literature. Besides that I found many of them eccentric and well, queer, I did not see much else that made them special or not so special compared to other folks. They too displayed the various hangups, strengths and weaknesses and beautiful qualities as anybody else. In short, the gay people I have encountered and shared intimate spaces with have been normal people who are as complex or as simple as anybody else. What they did in their beds or with their private life was and is still no business of mine. But I also have grappled with the question of what the Afrocentrists insist on; that the whole ‘practice’ of homosexuality is un-Afrikan, that it is merely a ‘behaviour’ which we as a homogenous Afrikan population have inherited unwillingly from the West, through slavery and through colonialism. My own research into such claims has yielded some mixed messages, most of which reveals that indeed, there have been Afrikans of old who either displayed openly gay traits or were openly gay and engaged in same sex intercourse. Still, there are also messages that contradict that narrative. While there are more instances of lesbian relations, there are rarer instances or examples of homosexual male courtship, not to mention marriage. Sodomy and ritual same-sex encounters, especially between rulers and younger men or boys are reported all over the continent, but I have not found any publication that confirms that this was the norm or a widely acceptable social practice.

A overtly nationalist newspaper from here in Zimbabwe recently published a scathing article lamenting the negative effect of Western ‘values’ being dictated upon Afrikan peoples in the name of democracy and human rights. The article focussed on the issue of Homosexuality. What drew me to the article was how the author used the ancient Egyptian cosmic principles of Ma’at to support his point that even in ancient Afrikan societies, as well as in Biblical narratives, homosexuality was frowned upon. I had saved this particular page of the newspaper as I had meant to quote it for this article, but I cannot seem to find it anymore. But the article is just another propagandist work insisting that ‘Zimbabwe is a conservative country,” This is just another way of saying the Zimbabwean population is generally vehemently Christian. But there are serious problems with this assertion and we can deal with it later. Suffice to state that there are behaviors that we as Black folk have internalised as Afrikan yet they are just a mixture of patriarchy and fundamentalist religiosity.

Lastly, I am father raising three boys. These toddlers will soon become young men, and I am keenly interested in them being the best that they can be as divine beings. They are in the normal way of perceiving existence, human. What sexual preferences they may choose when they grow up is based on biological as well as environmental determinants or is it entirely based on how we raise them?

According to a study: (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cross-cultural-evidence-for-the-genetics-of-homosexuality/)

Biological mechanisms, however, offer a more compelling account. For instance, exposure to female-typical levels of sex steroid hormones in the prenatal environment are thought to “feminize” regions of the male brain that are related to sexual orientation, thereby influencing attachment and anxiety. On top of these observations, studies in molecular genetics have shown that Xq28, a region located at the tip of the X chromosome, is involved in both the expression of anxiety and male androphilia. This work suggests that common genetic factors may underlie the expression of both. Twin studies additionally point to genetic explanations as the underlying force for same-sex partner preference in men and neuroticism, a personality trait that is comparable to anxiety.”

This is very revealing, but it may also vindicate the positions of those who discriminate and urge us to commit mass genocide of people merely due to their sexual orientation.

To Be Continued.

NP. I hope to be a better informed and less discriminatory person after a short while, I promise I am working on it.

 

Community Education vs Public and Private Education: A case for Integral-Afrocentric Schools

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, for none but ourselves can free our minds.” – Marcus Garvey.

These often repeated words from the erstwhile leader of the the pan-Afrikan, Negro Improvement Association were said and written in the early 20th century, yet their impact is still felt today during the 21st as Afrikan people globally still languish at the bottom of the socio-economic ladders. It is dawning on most of us that regardless of accolades, riches or highest levels of educational success, the Afrikan still need to learn more about herself/himself in order to be truly liberated, otherwise their liberation is a sham. Your Phd, Doctorate or Masters thesis which is based on Eurocentric education will not free your people from the shackles of white supremacist hegemony.

The present generation is the hinge of history …we may now be in the time of the most rapid change in the whole evolution of the human race, either past or to come …the world has now become too dangerous for anything less than Utopia.” – J.R. PlattMaa Aankh Cosmology

The word utopia usually conjures up some fantastic vision of idyllic or even imaginary living. This is not always the case though, in a world where almost anything goes and moral/socio-economic as well as ecological decay is rife, it has become crucial for people of vision to apply themselves to processes of healing, restoration, repairation and cosmic balance. Utopia, then does not necessary mean an impossible or fictional world, but actually connotes a highly possible, longed for future state, one which can be attained if people organised themselves to attain it. We must become something we have never been.

We are currently on a quest towards establishing an Afrocentric school for Black children and young learners in the Southern Hemisphere. While this may not be a novel idea/ideal, as it has been done before with varying degrees of success or sustainability, it is becoming more evident that Afrikan parents need an education system that caters to the particular needs of Black children. As a father of three boys who have to attend a ‘secular’ private nursery where 99% of the images the children see do not represent either their race nor our cultural worldview, the urgency of this vision has become very real.
This desire to be taught in one Mother tongue, be surrounded by positive Black/Afrikan images and cosmic symbols,imbued with the cultural aesthetics as well as the values that characterize intrinsic Afrocentric ideals is not new, while it is a noble ideal, it is by no means easy.
The reality of existing within a highly volatile capitalistic global system perpetuated by a so called Free market founded on racist ideologies, means that more and more values that make us human/humane are being eroded for the benefit of unscrupulous profitters.
The aim of such an Afrocentric/Afrikological school is to restore the essential characteristics of Ubuntu and Natural progression of the learner, who then grows up to become a well balanced citizen. It must and will be a Futuristic learning system, characterised by transformative and highly conscious teachers and learners.
The late educational transformation activist Neville Alexandre, wrote during the year of his death:

Once the commodity value of people displaces their intrinsic human worth or dignity, we are well on the way to a state of barbarism. Unless and until we bring back into our paradigms, and thus into our social analyses, the entire human being and the ways in which human beings can live fulfilled lives beyond their mere economic needs, we will continue to promote anti-human philosophies and policies that ultimately tend to work to the benefit of those who have, and to the detriment of those who do not.”

Our school will include a sufficient concentration on Agrarian as well as vocational training. It will also place emphasis on information technology, from coding to robotics as well as ecological knowledge and non-Western examples of mathematics and scientific disciplines.
We are now at the stage of collective information, research and like-minded contributors. The vision is that the schools will begin on digital platforms before establishing satellite schools on the ground.

TBC

Intelligently Questioning The Status Quo

Dr Phil Valentine painstakingly cuts through some of the well established theories from science, to religion to astrophysics. There is an interesting expose on Neil Degrasse Tyson and others who represent conventional science.
I am sharing this because I have also developed a healthy questioning of the status quo according to theoretical physics and dogmatic sciences.

freed style poetics

When will the
Performance End?

From Red lipped black books
to cyber-spaced face books
we still dance the minstrel show

paid, underpaid and unpaid slaves
With no intergenerational wealth to show
While my people being
the greater Gods still give away our Powers
we Give until we got nothing for to live
that is ours
We give
– the world the gifts of gab
too few are filling generation gaps
between the perpetual have nots
and the proverbial haves
who among these luminaries and poor liticians give full effect to freedom
works like freeing Mumia Abu Jamar
or Assata, International justice for Lumumba or Sankara?

from red lipped black
books to white pages
blue eyed face books
Our blues are daily painted
grey / our situation will remain in this way
positive disarray
if our powerful ones don’t really sway
the global powerplay
we making minor – major moves
but to white supremacy
its just another office day at the slave market

mark my word and notice
how every rapper boasting about European cars
labels and titty bars
20 years after MC GZA the Genius exposed Hilfiger
are we major?
have we made it?
We stay vainglorious even when we know we haven’t
Who wears the crown and who wears it/
Black excellence is a fact
but how do we celebrate it?
When invisible hands are the ones who fix our stars
and the fault is ours?
picking cotton
picking niggers
from the housed niggers
pitting noble Africans
against the so called pagans
Thats why more often than not I want to throw away the tell-lie-vision
So I can raise daughters and my sons on a good foundation
of Nina Simone, Ayi Kwei Armah, Lupe Fiasco, Sun Ra
And other sound vibrATIONS of the Divine beings we Are.

Mental Health, Creativity and Stigma

Mental health is a real challenge to our society, especially in the Black communities globally. It is also more prevalent within the Creative Arts communities, yet support is lacking. While we all grew up knowing someone who we called mad or crazy, and we would often tease them harshly, until it was in our own family, wherein we would joke about it but rarely ever took it as seriously as we should – it has only emerged recently that society really stands up and acknowledge its culpability in making life worst for the mentally challenged.

A friend of our just recently died, he had been living on and off the streets for the past year or so. While the erratic and sometimes violently volatile episodes happened sporadically in the earlier times, we were able to help him in various ways. But he eventually returned to the rural home of his estranged father, this is when matters became worse.  Last year a fellow artist took a picture of him on the streets of Durban/eThekwini, looking rather haggard, and carrying items such as plastic bags and pieces of writings including business proposals. It was a hard moment and many strangers poured their hearts out in sympathy. But real actual help was hard to come by. Some of us went out to search for him for a few hours each day and even during some nights. When one of us found him in one of the parks bordering a community arts centre we had all worked at for more than a decade, he was quite difficult to contain and he even refused to be helped. We would later find him posting ‘nonsense verse’ on social media, especially on Facebook. He had always been a very deep and cryptic Poet, but these latest words were borderline ‘freaky’, and very pessimistic. I would then inbox him assuming he is at some internet cafe’, but he would often not respond. The only time he responded he just insulted me and my brother Khaya but later apologized and commended me for starting a family. He seemed to be holding some grudges, but then he would also sound very conciliatory.

The moral of the story is that much of the depression associated with mental illness is not always due to schizophrenia, bipolar disease and any psychosomatic disease, but it is largely due to the state of our broken society. The capitalist system that places profits before Nature ( people, water, plants, the atmosphere etc) is really debilitating on a personal as well as community levels.

The stigma must end but it will not change significantly until humanity configures its ways of co-existence. Many indigenous communities in the so called Third-World had various effective ways to deal with outliers and those who were different in many ways, but the world we live in now is changing too rapidly and materialism seems to erode our core values even further.

I am sharing this post from a Black website to highlight the fact that many celebrities, who are actually our sisters and brothers anyway despite their extra-ordinary talents, also suffer from the same social ills, in spite of money and access to help. What should be transformed is humanity’s way of being.

https://face2faceafrica.com/article/6-black-celebs-who-suffer-from-mental-illness-but-thrive-nonetheless/7