Money Dance vs Spirit Dance

DAni NabudereRevolution is a science, but it is one that takes shape socially, both privately as well as publically, and it is essentially experiential. The theory is as significant as the practice. The ironical art of revolution  is comparable to the art of music. One person can compose a symphony in the privacy of their own home or even while walking along as part of a crowd. The symphony will require a number of performers yet it comes from the mind of a single person. In jazz, there is the art of improvisation. While the composer can arrange the music in one way, the music can take a shape of its own in the hands of capable improvisers, but the foundation remains. Is it possible for a whole country to be conducted like a symphony or even a jazz big band, with each musician, audience member and spectator contributiung to a harmonious whole?

The people must first agree to play together, to trust the bandleader, the leader has to have a record of excellence in performance and there must be freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite to more freedom. Afrikan people should or can agree to get off the grid of monopoly foreign capital, we can harmonise. This is what I am learning from listening to Wadada Leo Smith and reading late Ugandan Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere.

While reeling along and ‘taking the pain’, with every other Zimbabwean and even most South Africans amid the seemingly perennial economic crises, we are also edified by the seemingly intangible.  Caught between two worlds – that of pursuing the mental liberation of ourselves and our people from the numerous shackles of neo-colonial existence, by working on a cultural/spiritual revolution while at the same time striving to be entrepreneurial and financially independent, it is daunting work. It is our music that really helps us to get over these black and blues. What would we be without this music?

In all our travails we have had music that either interprets, interrogates, elucidates and presents our struggles and our joys. The music reaches further, it can be a comforter as well as an agitating force, compelling us to seek new ways of being, to be more than just labourers and consumers, but to also catch the Spiritual vibrations that surround us, even as it appears as if we are drowning in endless dept, depraved systems and despair. The music is our campus to our Souls true purpose.  The music is in everything we do because the music comes from within as well as without.

During my regular errands to do some research at the Harare City Library, I came across an book by one of my all time favourite intellectuals, the consummate philosopher and pragmatic Afrikologist Dr Dani Nabudere. The title of the book also caught my roving eye, called The Rise 7 fall of Money Capital, with the name Dani Wadada Nabudere written below on the cover, I could not resist it. I spent a good three hours perusing its contents. I will explain later how discovering that his name was also Wadada, means so much to me. Firstly, about the book. The best way to describe it is to re-write what is written on the back-page cover and thereafter elucidate on its significance for me personally, for Zimbabwe as well as for the whole continent of Afrika:

“This book comes out at an important time in the history of monetary and financial systems which, with the October 1987 crash on bloody Monday and the mini-crash in October 1989, has undergone tremendous  shocks and tremors. The author traces the theory of money and credit in a historical perspective – doing so from a Marxist perspective – and convincingly demonstrates the root causes of monetary and financial crises in the capitalist economy, as well as money’s contradictory role in a socialist economy.  His crucial contribution lies in his exposure of the false acceptance of the notion that money is a neutral’ circulating agent in capitalist economies as well as, to some extent, ‘socialist’ economies. He demonstrates the historical role of money as a social relation in which class relations are counterimposed within the monetary relationships ( This is a crucial point we shall return to and investigate further  ). Commodity-money relationships are seen as lying at the base of the capitalist economies and monetary and credit crises reflect the class struggles that continue on a world level over the political and technical questions that underlie commodity production and distribution. ( This is the part that really interested me in this book, as Zimbabwe suffers the effects of such a crisis. It is usually easier to point to government corruption and bloated state budgets when trying to find solutions to the issue of finances and foreign investments, but very few if any analysts have tried to look at the intrinsically flawed logic of capitalism itself.)

Nabudere is vigorous and so instructive in this work, that I wished I could just make copies of  the requisite chapters and send to some African heads of state and relevant ministers. But one wonders if such people actually make time to read and engage in dialectical thinking in order to steer their countries towards economic well-being. I am not as well versed in financial literacy as I should be, but I often wonder and sometimes even tell my wife that a country such as Zimbabwe has a great opportunity to actually be innovative and be a leader in the electronic and  other online /mobile credit avenues such as the clearly workable eco-cash and the the rest of the electronic alternatives. But somehow we are all use to possessing cash. Are we possessed by cash, perhaps? It is possible that it is our attitude towards paper-money that keeps us otherwise impoverished. Why are alternative currencies such as Bitcoin etc not hugely successful in Zimbabwe? There are explanations for this, but I do believe that Afrikan people should be forging ahead with alternatives to the US Dollar and any other foreign capital. Anyway, the book’s description continues:

“The author brings up the old dispute about a definition of money, demonstrating thoroughly the scientificity of Marx’s insistence that money itself is a commodity with its own cost of production., thus undermining the monetarist argument that it is the state that determines the value of money, and other universal equivalents, still remain at the base of the monetary system, despite the fact that gold may no longer be in the reserves of the central banks. In private hoards, gold still plays a central role in the private appropriation of the social product of labour by capital.” – ( Africa In Transition publishers )

I strongly believe that we as Afrikan people can discover new ways to work, to earn and to learn. We can feed ourselves, find water, remunerate each other and gift each other in various ways beyond this commodity called money. This book shows that this is not mere wishful thinking. There is life beyond capitalism, but we should sow those seeds now.

In this new situation the precondition is that capital now stands on one side and labour on the other. Both are alien to one another and are historically presented with the dispossession of direct producers by merchants’ capital as antagonistic forces. The extremes which stand opposite one another are specifically different in their roles in the process of production. on the one side labour exists on condition that it offers itself as use-value to capital for a wage. This use value ( or labour-power) exists only potentially as the bodily and mental capacity of the worker. It becomes a reality only when it has been solicited by capital and set in motion by it within the process of production. On the other side stands capital as exchange-value which is no longer its original quality, as we have seen, but is now money-capital. It is not money in the simple form of gold and silver, nor is it money in opposition to circulation, but it is now in the form of commodities.

In conclusion, let me just reiterate what has already been said; there is life after capitalism, just as there was life before. But we are not suggesting that we should return to the rudimentary sort of bartering system or to simplistic economies that existed before the industrial era and the advent of globalization, what we are saying is that rather than collapsing along with the failing system of money-capital, we can invent other ways of doing business and forging our existence, the financial markets have done nothing good for Afrika, instead, we are used as the source of raw materials, slave labour and charity cases.  We can be more creative but our creativity should not be wasted on saving a system that is intrinsically harmful to the entire planet, especially to we the Children of the Sun.

Countries such as Zimbabwe and indeed many more so called Third World countries are caught up in debilitating conditions of debt from accruing aid from all and sundry. Nabudere writes:

“In this way an alliance is sealed between the state comprador bourgeoisie which receives the ‘aid’ and the dominant international bourgeoisie, which dishes out the ‘aid’. Under such a situation, any expansion in the economy which generates growth elements immediately leads to a further depreciation of the currency, of neo-colonial Third World countries, ad the appreciation of the currencies of the stronger developed capitalist currency.”

In my next essay, I will expand on why the name Wadada, shared by my inpsirations, is so significant. I will also share how serendipitous it is that Wadada Nabudere finished this particular book The Rise and Fall of Money Capital in the city of Harare, from where I am writing this.

TBC

 

 

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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.

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.

Interesting Science Fiction Audio

“Massive, eyeless, segmented horrors, they swarmed over the body, tied themselves in knots to gouge out massive chunks of flesh and bone. They devoured every bit of skin or drop of blood, no matter where it fell — concrete, wood, stone, metal, or human flesh.

Twelve hours later, the sated worms rose from the devastation and returned through the hole in the sky to the unknown, leaving a cold, sinking confusion in their wake.” – excerpt from GODFALL

http://podcastle.org/2018/09/11/podcastle-539-godfall/#more-6079

Stories Of Various Nows

I recently wrote an almost 5000 word short-story for some lucrative competition. Nervous as I was when I sent it, flaws and all, I was a little proud of it. I had meant to suffuse the whole tale with lots of music, lots of carefully placed images or symbols of Southern Afrikan, Nile Valley symbolism and Time Travel in its plot. If I had access to 300 more words, I could have made it better, but 5000 words is a lot – so no excuses, a short-story should do everything in the first 500 words anyway.

I posted this ‘jazzy’ album because I love the players, it is not related to my story in any way aside from the fact that I love its title. Yesterday I agonised all day about whether I had chosen the right title for the story. Then again, I think whether I win or not, I am going to develop this story into something brilliant.

Beyond Land, Rights and Diplomacy

My wife and I are in Zimbabwe on a diplomatic mission. No. Well, kind of. Not really, but well, I have to curb my compulsion to comment politically in my usually open freedom loving manner. Yes, I may say all I can about South Afrika or any other country that interests me, but we are living in Zimbabwe, and well – lets just say – in the words of Bob Marley, “Don’t jump in the water, if you can’t swim.” Who knows what kinds of sharks, snakes and crocodile may lurk in these electronic waterways?

Despite the fact that most crocodiles are now kept in various national amusement parks and mummified in museums, the proverbial deadly bite still lurks out there somewhere. I must still live and we must respect our jobs, for the children, for a better life for all.

It is hard though for me not to speak about the people I am among. To reflect through my poetry or my voice and writing, their struggles, their concerns and their pain. I listen, I observe and I hear too much. The fact is, the people of this Great country are in travail, yet somehow someway they bear it with a dignity that I have not seen in the country I come from. There is so much industriousness, I am inspired. Necessity. What is it that is said about the Mother of Invention?

Paradoxically, part of me also sees Zimbabwe as not being so different from the Republic of South Africa or any other former-colony for that matter. Structurally as well as psychologically, these are spaces and peoples who have been captured purely for the extraction of the minerals and human resources that power the various machines of neo-colonialism – locally as well as globally. Europe and America still under-develops Afrika albeit in much more subtler ways. We now also have the Asian dragons, as well as the parasitic Black bourgeoisie but that is another subject.

Zimbabwe is a large scale farm and mine. South Africa is a mine and a farm too, a golf course, a dirt road, a freeway and a highway for the movement of wealth from the native land to the rest of the world. They are also gardens, playgrounds and sources of almost unlimited social experiments for the sociologists, anthropologists as well as philandeering philanthropists of the world. We have symbolic messiahs as well as perennial bogey-men and persona non-gratas. The Black communities are all places of unspeakable deprivation, depravity and conspicuous debaucheries, where sex, violence and dance moves and sounds are exported globally for the amusement of all and sundry. We are Ousmane Sembene’s God’s Bits Of Wood, placed here to keep the world warm while our own flesh and bones burns to simmering cinders, ashes, to ashes, dust to dust. But I digress.

Let me come back to the land. I am not a good politician. I cannot even call myself an activist anymore, hiding as I do, behind, books, screens and occasional forays into science fiction and mytho-poetic workshops where I am overpaid for recycling the Sacred treasures of my people, my ancestors and the bit of knowledge I have gleaned through books and experience. Other than that, I drift again.

The Land, the Land, the Land. Whose Land is it anyway? from Cape to Cairo, from Mombasa to Cape Coast, from Ghana to Las Palmas, Madagasca to eThekwini from the Congo to the Limpopo, the Nile/Hapi Valley, from the Cameroonian rivers and hills to the River banks where the Dinka and the Shilluk ply their trade in ancient lore and the Dogon glare at near and distant stars – who does this all belong to? If it was once stolen and its people cruelly decimated, can it be restored and all people compensated? Compensated? Who shall be compensated and why and how.

Today at a cafe, where I usually sip my Ethiopian, Kenyan and Zimbabwean coffee. I overheard a white man complaining to his mates that he is the only one in his area whose land has not been indigenized. He added that the promise of compensation and restoration is a pipe dream. No one is being compensated. It is better to sell. But this is another story. This man was talking about not just farms but also shop space in the peri-urban areas which were formerly white-owned.

In a book  I reluctantly bought recently, titled Voices of Zimbabwe – The Pain, The Courage, the Hope, edited by Glyn Hunter, Larry Farren and Althea Farren; ( I was reluctant because I saw no Zimbabwean indigenous names on the cover, nor in the contents page, but the shop keeper told me that some stories are actually those of Black people, just edited by the publishers. I bought it anyway, it was cheap and I liked the cover images); anyways, here is a quotation from a chapter titled: A Further Blow to Wildlife and Tourism, subtitled, The Wisdom of the Wild:

“The land has been hurt. Misuse is not to be

excused, and its effects will be long felt

But nature will not be eliminated, even here.

Rain, moss, and time apply their healing bandage

and the injured land at last recovers.

Nature is evergreen, after all.”  – Robert Michael Pyle

Oh and lastly, somewhere in the beginning, they even quote Nelson R. Mandela

The time to build has arrived

the time to build together, and to build each other.

This is from a chapter entitled This Land is Our Land

 

For the sake of Diplomacy, let me just leave that there and go pray for a peaceful 22/08/2018 and beyond. Mwari may still hear our cries for Equal Rights and Justice.

 

 

New Myths Needed

I just love the first song that they have chosen to begin with during the break of this Conversation, its title, “One Day Suffer Go Finish‘, says it all.

Part of Discussion: ‘The distance between how things are and how things should be in Zimbabwe” – ( Man from Chitungwiza

Having followed the Chimurenga and Chimurenga Chronic publication/movement, for as long as it has existed, part of my ambition as a writer has been to publish some stories or even essays and poems in this auspicious black radical publication. I was also glad when the Pan African Space Station was launched. It basically fused the literature and live Chimurenga music sessions to the whole revolutionary concepts. I could say more, but I am always keenly aware of the data-struggle among my people, not all of we have WiFi and affordable data. So it would be best to listen to this. I must add though, that since coming to live in Zimbabwe recently with my family, the urge to do work in and around Harare is huge. Part of it has to do with the realization of what Chimurenga entails, in its various aspects, but it is also about the texture of the land and the struggles and lives of the people of both Zimbabwe and South Africa. There is lots happening in terms of Art, Violence and Revolutionary possibilities in both these countries, in fact my upcoming book, The House of Plenty is an attempt at making sense of how beauty, strength, wealth and hope and suffering can coexist. We shall also investigate what really keeps Afrikan countries, particularly in the SADC region from developing at apace.