The Story of Progress

On the teeming, nervous streets of Harare, somewhere along the byways of the promising northern suburbs – stands a boy named Progress. His parents must have been really hopeful, if he has a sister, her name may very likely be Prosperity. The parents could possibly also be faithful with their Sunday tithes, giving of the little they can scrape from almost nothingness.

It is also possible that this eleven year old was named by his ailing grandparents somewhere in the deep in the rural areas. Whatever the case may be, here he stands between the amen corner and impending doom. His country, better to say homeland, has been scating on the thinned ice of total economic collapse for more than two decades now. With a reported 90% unemployment rate, half the citizens residing in various foreign lands …All they had really asked for was an equal share in the wealth of the land.

We can tell the story of a ravenously corruptible, heavily indebted and bloated neo-colonial leadership later, for now we have to simply stop, look and listen to the story of Progress. We need to find out who or what circumstances have led him and millions of other Black somebody’s down this perilous road – being trapped in a spiral of poverty.

My name is Progress Nhamo, I was born in Mbare, Harare in the year 2001. My parents had been farm worker in Kondozi for all their lives, but they had fled that part of the country during the invasions. I know I should not put it that way, many elders do not actually use the word invasion, but land occupations. But as my mother would say gleefully, “Once we had new bosses, there was no more occupation, so let’s call a spade a spade.” Anyways, we had moved around a lot when I was still a baby, and my father told me that we even had to live on the streets of Mutare for several weeks before we finally found a room in notorious Mbare. It is strange to claim that my parents lived together because my father was hardly ever home. Unless he came home drunk out of his wits on some weekends, he was mostly hustling in or out of some part of Harare selling everything he could find. My mother once said that he probably also sold himself. She could not explain to me why this man was hardly ever home.

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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

 

 

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