“But there is no one left to turn on the stars …”
“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
“The Revolution being fought now is a revolution to win the minds of our people. If we fail to win this we cannot wage the violent one.” – Karenga
Waking up this morning, I had planned to begin by re-reading the ‘Summary of Critique of the National Development Plan, March 2013‘, as well as part of the tome National Development Plan, 2030.
Today, I woke up with my mind in a rather chatty mood. The usual routine is to begin with a reflective or meditative attitude of Thanksgiving, giving thanks to the Creators (God, Amathongo, the Ancestors ) for the breath of Life. Then more often than we should, we find ourselves on our phones, scrolling through social media or websites for news and peoples views on what’s the latest this or that. The initial reason for picking up the phone may have been to check the time or update oneself if there are any upcoming events, but what usually happens is one may find oneself absorbed in an unfinished conversation that took place a day or two ago. Such are the distractions, self-created, of social media.
The debate that captured my mind this morning had something to do with Culture, Afrikan culture to be specific, as well as the crimes that are committed in the name of it. At about the same time, I happened to be re-reading some notes I had written in 2014 on the subject of Black Power; from The Black Power Revolt, 1968. I had highlighted the words of Leroi Jones ( Amiri Baraka) as well as Maulana Ron Karenga.
The words of these two Afrikan American cultural icons were very inspirational and urged one to refocus more effort at playing a more significant part in bringing about the Black power dynamic into popular culture. Baraka writes:
“WE want power to control our lives, as seperate from what American, white and white oriented people, want to do with their lives. That simple. We ain’t with yuall. Otherwise you are talking tricknology and lie conjuring. Black power cannot exist WITHIN white power. One or the other.”
This is what has really put me in a difficult position ever-since I first read it. I am an Afrikan, a Black man living in a previously and still predominantly white suburb near the port of Durban in EThekwini Municipality.
Like many post 1994 situations, we still see more white power than anything else around here. The economic conditions of black people have not changed much. While there are many people who have acquired new wealth and went on to move to more affluent suburbs and even built huge houses in previously impoverished areas such as Adams Mission, eNdwedwe and many others, these symbols of wealth are few and far between and they certainly do not mean that Black people have arrived at the economic, social, cultural liberation that was so long fought for.
Many of the blacks residing in these suburbs are caricatures or mimes of whiteness, they are Christians or Muslims, most of them cannot even tell you something substantial about Afrikan culture and their children know very little about the Afrikan continent as their educational curriculum is essentially Eurocentric. Many Black people today do not even like to be called Black because that makes them feel guilty by association, blackness is equated with lack, with ignorance and various forms of poverty. Precious few black folks have an appreciation of the cultural power that they potentially possess, and even fewer know anything about the Civilizational achievement of fellow Afrikans.
Amiri Baraka continues to write: “The politics and the art and the religion all must be black. The social system. the entirety of the projection. Black power must mean a black people with a past clear back to the beginning of the planet, channeling the roaring energies of black to REVIVE black power. If you can dig it???”
The Afrikan American icon speaks loud and clear and what he says is true of Southern Afrika too. This is partly why in my ideal world, Black power means the amalgamation and collaboration of thought and actions from the whole Black world. There are no borders and no segregation between Abantu Abantsundu/Abamnyama. Since most of our experiences and struggles against imperialism are the same, there should be little that comes between us in terms of cultural unity, a unity that is our only weapon against our extinction. Afrocentricity and Afrikology have given us many tools and many studies to equip us to win the fight for our lives. But we keep being distracted by politics,m disorganization and the disorientation that comes with our lives which are punctuated with all manner of violence.
This brings me to the matter of the National Development Plan 2030, as well as the summary done by COSATU in 2013.
There is a part in the summary, ( Draft for discussion) that reads: “The NDP proposes too many low quality and unsustainable jobs: the target of 11 million jobs by 2030 is based on a plan which is unsustainable, relies disproportionately on exports, and particularly SMME jobs, as well as jobs in the service sector. If the plan is followed, it is highly likely that many of these jobs won’t materialize, and those that do materialize will only be of low quality. The plan conceded that it is based in the creation, particularly in the first 10 years of low paying jobs, as opposed to descent work. It fails to pursue the NGP ( National Growth Path ) / IPAP ( Industrial Policy Action Plan ) vision of re-industrialization the economy, with manufacturing at the centre…. The NDP vision is based on the acceptance that high levels of inequality will persist until 2030.” –
This bleak scenario is partly what pushes some of us to advocate for a Cultural economy. This paradigm shift places culture and the arts as part of the socio-economic work that must be invested in with adequate urgency. We believe in industrialization and the inevitability of technological advancement, but we know that it is important to prepare the minds and souls of the labour that will take Afrika forward.
Esoteric Africa Masterclass: Afrikans In Science Fiction
Facilitator: Menzi Maseko
Organisations: Green Ankh Works/ CineCulture / Mercurial Africa
Dates: 30 September 2017 (?)
Venue: Mangosuthu University of Technology (?)
- What is the purpose behind studying Esoteric African works?
- Which subjects did you do in high school and which institution did you start crafting an understanding of the facts and myths behind African cultures?
- How long does it take to gather information about Afrocentric characters to help heighten the environment they are surrounded by?
- How does Esoteric African study help influence the work black filmmakers create a world in a film believable?
- How do we create a solid voice in the industry that is young with regards to the Science Fiction genre?
Life is a collection of Stories, some stories are well told and available for all to hear and see, while others are seldom told or told falsely. Afrilka as the cradle of Humanity possesses some of the most ancient stories. Before there were the great legends of the Pharoahs and the ancient Egyptian/Kemetic Goddesses and Gods, there were mythological tales of the Creators of the universe.
They are still known by many names, but very few of us know the power and significance behind those names. It is in our own interest to search for those ancient stories and retell them with the benefits of new technologies, mediums and Artistic expressions.
Afrika is a land of many contrasts; perhaps we should simply call them contradictions. Many of these contradictions are not Self-Created, in other words, we as Afrikans have not invented much of the confusion and states of poverty we exist in. One of the most pervasive questions that come up in various sectors is the one concerning Afrika’s wealth. The Rastafarian revolutionary Artist best known as Peter Tosh puts it this way: “Africa is the richest place / yet still has the poorest race.” The Artist puts it as a statement and not as a question. In other words it is a matter of fact. But what is the cause of Afrikan people’s poverty? Surely there is a level of dysfunction or a serious discrepancy within our systems or our institutions.
We all know about the colonial and apartheid history that ravaged Afrika for centuries, some may say that the legacy of these evil systems continues today but the slavery is now in the minds and even Spiritual lives of AbaNtu/the Afrikans. The challenge we now have is Freeing ourselves from Mental, Systemic as well as Institutional slavery.
In this presentation we shall deal with Esoteric African systems. There may be many definitions to this term, but we shall choose to simplify it, hoping that we shall have more opportunity to delve deeper some other time.
Define: Esoteric denotes something that is hidden or concealed. Much of what I will mention is not new yet the essential and scientific value of it is un-explored. Esoteric Africa then is the knowledge of the hidden treasures of Afrika’s wisdom. Afrika’s knowledge is concerned with healing the person and the Earth from Within. We see ourselves as Ancient Spiritual beings, Divine beings having a human experience. The quality of that experience depends largely on how much we Know about our True Self.
We will utilize the multi-lineal methods that have been used by Afrocentric teachers, Pan Africanists, Black Consciousness scholars and activists as well as Healers from various Afrikological disciplines. The essence of Our Presentation is akin to a Healing Process as well as a Rebuilding process. We are healing from thousands of years of brutal detachment with the Land and the Ways of our Ancestors, Esoteric as well as exoteric traditions that ensured that we are still alive this very day.
As children of Afrika we shall begin with acknowledging our Ancestors and the Tree of Life. We Shall also Acknowledge our predecessors and present ourselves according to the values of Ma’at or UBUNTU. Ubuntu/Ma’at is what connects us both socially as well as cosmologically.
An Outline of Afrikology
An Outline of Afrikan Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Afrikology is essentially an Afrocentric methodology that incorporates various schools of thought towards creating a logical framework for the research, study and promotion of Everything Afrikan. Afrikology with a K is uniquely used by specific scholars who place Afrika and Afrikan women and youth especially at the centre of all solutions. In the words of professor Dani Nabudere:
“African scholars must pursue knowledge production that can renovate African culture, defend the African people’s dignity and civilizational achievements and contribute afresh to a new global agenda that can push us out of the crisis of modernity as promoted by the European Enlightenment.”
In keeping with these words of wisdom, the Institute of Afrikology continues on its mission to: “Provide an Afrikan Centred system of education, incorporating a practical approach to Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Afrikan Renaissance, Health, Organic Farming processes and in-culcating the philosophy of Ubuntu.” – Menzi Maseko, Rock ‘n Rule, 2016.
- Opportunities and Challenges Posed by Afro-Futurism
- Much of Afrikan knowledge is Oral and Customary. It does not take such a long time for an Afrikan child to imbibe and restore their sense of Afrikanness.
- As Long as the impediments and social constructions such as religion and colonial education are limited or eliminated, it only requires a knowledge of Self, Family line and choosing a Discipline to focus on.
- The Technological era presents great opportunities for learning as the internet has opened communication channels, one can download PDF’s from various Afrocentric teachers from Marcus Garvey, to Empress Afua to Ra Un Nefer Amen and Credo Mutwa, one can even join groups on Social Media where some Esoteric knowledge is transmitted through Animation and Meditation and Yoga classes.
- Filmmakers who are Afrocentric are few and far between but those that do exist remain part of the Documentary, Animation/Comic and Social Media platforms, but there is very limited number of Fiction/Science Fiction makers due to structural and budget constraints.
- Esoteric VS Exoteric Knowledge
- What are the phenomena that are known and measurable?
- What are the hidden phenomena that can only be subjectively and contextually experienced?
- What are the types of knowledge that should be Open to Public and Which Ones should remain within Afrikan Secret Societies and Initiation schools.
- Scope and Relevance of Afrikan Esoteric Concepts:
In everything we do we must evaluate the Need, Necessity and Value of it in today’s terms. How does knowledge of Afrikan systems help us to Create Better Lives, Better Arts and Sustain Ma’at or Ubuntu in all that we do?
- How does Esoteric African study help influence the work black filmmakers create a world in a film believable?
Afrocentric study is essential and enriching to filmmakers who are keen to develop a appreciation of Pre-colonial Afrikan knowledge. Many books by Black science fiction writers exist and many of them contain excellent and researched materials from the Global Afrikan sources.
- How do we create a solid voice in the industry that is young with regards to the Science Fiction genre?
The key is to develop reading and critical thinking skills. Reading material or books and digital information developed by Afrikans must be made available from primary schools to institutions of Higher Learning.
- The Orisha or Santeria System/ Candomble in Brazil
An outline of the concepts of the Yoruba originated Divinity system and its Global scope.
“THE IMPORTANT CONCEPTS OF ASHË, and IWA PELE. There are two concepts that are vital to the core beliefs of Santeria.
The first one Is Ashe (also known as Ase, Ache or Axe). It means very simply life force. “
Ashe is generative energy that Olodumare has blessed us all with. It is energy; breath, life force and we cannot exist without it. Ashe gives us the power to create and the wisdom to see things through. Without Ashe there is no life.
Iwa Pele, means in essence good or gentle character. For Santeria followers, initiated as priests or not, It is important to grasp the meaning and entity of Iwa Pele. Living with good grace is what gives us a purpose in life. As spiritual beings we are responsible for living the best life that we have been blessed with.” – https://oshunschild.com/2013/11/08/making-ocha-and-the-initiation-procedure/
- The Concepts of One God or Creator With Many Names and Attributes
“There is only One God. Like many modern religions, Santeria followers believe in just one God, the Creator known as Olodumare. It is neither a Polytheistic nor a Pagan religion, nor an animistic one. The reason why there is confusion is that many refer to the Orishas as Gods. Strictly speaking, the Orisha are not Gods but aspects of Olodumare that are manifested in the natural world around us.
It is thought that there are hundreds of Orisha, but there are some that are more popular in Santeria than others. Amongst the most well-known Orishas are Elegua, the trickster deity. Respect is paid to Elegua before any other Orisha. Ogun, the blacksmith warrior and Ochosi the hunter. They are collectively known as “The Warriors.
Yemaya, The Mother deity that rules the Ocean and is the mother of us all.
Oshun is the deity of the sweet waters and is also the patron of all that makes life worth living, the arts, music, love and sweetness.
Obatala is the King of the White Cloth, the Owner of all uninitiated heads and stands for wisdom, patience and justice. He also reminds us to respect our elders.
Shango is the King of the Drum, a deity who was once a King of Oyo. His Domain is Thunder and lightening.
Oya is the Orisha that guards the gates of the Cemetery; She is also Queen of the market place. There are many many others, all who have equal importance. Each individual is thought to be a child of one or other of the Orishas.” –
The Inner and Outer Life of Initiates and Believers
Dress Code, Hygiene and Sex:
White is the emblem of the iyawó and it must be worn for one year and 7 days after initiation; this is both in public and at home.
We Shall Explore How Various Afrocentric Divinity Systems Have Many Things In Common and How these Esoteric Symbols Have Permeated religious practices Globally. The Orisha System has a lot in common with Ubungoma which we shall also explore.
Female iyawós wear for the first 3 months a shawl, skirt, bloomers, panties, stockings, brassiere, undershirt, slip, long or calf length skirt, shirt with sleeves and no cleavage showing, white closed shoes, handkerchief and hat.
- Important Studies and Research Regarding Afrikan Spirituality
These days there are many scholars and writers interested in the revival of Afrikan spirituality. But there are few names that come to mind, such as Isanusi Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, Dr Mdende, Dr Malidome Some and Shekhem Ra Un Nefer Amen and Dr V.V.O. Mkhize, but I shall mention the work of two lesser known researchers.
A study of literature on the essence of ubungoma (divination) and conceptions of gender among izangoma (diviners)
By Winifred Ogana; Vivian Besem Ojong Post-doctoral student, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
UBUNGOMA: “Literature highlights some personality traits are more apparent in females as compared to male izangoma. Among the Zulu a diviner is expected, first and foremost, to uphold high moral ideals. To this end, it is befitting for isangoma to be in ‘a state of light and purity in the profane world she lives in’ (Ngubane 1977: 86-87). A diviner is expected to espouse these attributes always in order to play the vital role in linking the living and their ancestral spirits. In illustrating the importance of upholding above-average moral values, the author observes that the diviner’s attire, which includes white strips of goatskin, are permanently strapped over her shoulders and breasts. In Zulu culture the colour white symbolizes good, but can also signify extraordinary goodness or power, which izangoma enjoy if they remain upright. Lee (1969: 140) offers a similar explanation when he says: ‘ Possession imbues an individual with social status, since his or her ways are clear’”
We shall also explore how Ogana and Ojong deal with matters of Gender equity and Power in their work.
Here is an extract from their Abstract:
In South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, the isangoma (diviner) remains firmly entrenched at the apex of the hierarchy of African traditional medicine (ATM). This review article raises two questions. The first interrogates the essence of ubungoma (divination), while the second focuses on gendered notions in this line of work.
The latter question probes four issues: why izangoma (plural for isangoma) are mostly women; whether these females possess disproportionate power as compared to their male counterparts; and whether such womenfolk possess their power by virtue of being female or izangoma per se. The fourth aspect addresses sexual orientation of ubungoma.
Plausible explanations for these questions were gleaned from a scanty – albeit fascinating information – collated through a literature search and personal communication.
Female izangoma were found to have attributes that outclass their male counterparts. This review also interrogates the manner in which African beliefs have been represented in literature. Western epistemologies have tended to misrepresent the realm of African beliefs by dismissing them as mere superstition. Alternatively, they create boundaries of intellectual segregation by treating African beliefs as cognitive false consciousness. In contemporary South Africa this form of misrepresentation has not deterred Africans from seeking the services of izangoma.
Keywords: Ubungoma, Divination, Izangoma, Divine, Initiation, Indigenous Knowledge Systems
At the beginning of the 21st Century most izangoma (diviners) among the Zulu in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province are almost exclusively women. Despite being female in a patriarchal society, the female izangoma remain at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of African traditional healers in the province.
Interest in the gendered nature of ubungoma originated from the findings of an earlier qualitative study, where among a sample of 10 izangoma, only one was male.
Over three decades ago, the World Health Organization (WHO 1978) officially acknowledged the importance of traditional health, recognizing its holistic approach encompassing the environmental, social and spiritual aspects of illness that biomedicine does not always take into account. In South Africa, among reasons for the reluctance to endorse African traditional medicine (ATM) earlier is that indigenous systems were, and still are, equated with negative practices such as witchcraft (Green 2005).
Nonetheless, in contemporary South Africa, ATM is gaining popularity as the prohibitively high cost of allopathic medical care coupled with expensive pharmaceuticals pushes patients to seek the services of traditional healers (Kofi-Tsekpo 2004). It is for such reasons that he dismisses the frequently touted figure that 85 percent of Africa’s people use traditional medicine, observing instead that the figures are much higher and continue to rise. The popularity of ATM can also be explained from other perspectives. In 2004, former Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge acknowledged that traditional health practice had defied easy definition in legal terms (South Africa Government Information 2004). Hence, she borrowed the following definition used for ‘African Traditional Medicine’ from World Health Organization’s Centre for Health Development. African traditional medicine is defined as:
The dearth of information underlines the fact that while gender has become a major research focus in African Studies in the past two, men have rarely been the subject of gender research. If anything, the study of masculinity on this continent is still in its infancy (Miescher & Lindsay 2003). Hopefully in future, interested researches will fill this lacuna – “http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1011-76012015000100004
Winifred OganaI; Vivian Besem OjongII
The FUTIURE NOW:
In Conclusion we must take a brief look at the Future of Afrikan Esoteric Knowledge …
Tricksters and Animal Fables. Many African myths feature a trickster. The trickster may be a god, an animal, or a human being. His pranks and mischief cause trouble among gods, among humans, or between gods and humans.
West Africans tell many tales of a wandering trickster spirit known as Eshu among the Yoruba and as Legba among the Fon. This trickster is associated with change and with quarrels; in some accounts, he is the messenger between the world and the supreme god.
Animal tricksters are often small, helpless creatures who manage to outwit bigger and fiercer animals. Anansi, the spider trickster of the Ashanti people, is known throughout West and Central Africa. Tortoises and hares also appear as tricksters. In one such tale, the hare tricks a hippopotamus and an elephant into clearing a field for him.
Other stories about animals show them helping humans. The San Bushmen say that a sacred praying mantis gave them words and fire, and the Bambara people of Mali say that an antelope taught them agriculture. A popular form of entertainment is the animal fable, a story about talking animals with human characteristics. Many fables offer imaginative explanations of features of the natural world, such as why bats hang with their heads downward or why leopards have spots.
Green Ankh Works in Collaboration with Mercurial Films and CineCulture is delivering an in-depth Master Class on Esoteric Africa, Afrikology, Afro-Futurism and the History and Future of Black Science Fiction …
Are there any stories that particularly influenced these novellas?
I started writing Binti when I was in a deeply bothered state. Much of the Binti series came from personal struggles, narratives, and imaginings. I can’t really name any novels that were a specific influence.
When I look back, I can see flashes of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in Binti. The character of Nausicaä has a lot of similarities to Binti: both are agents of change and mediators. Binti, however, is far more nonviolent. Also, some other elements from the graphic novels and animated films found their way into the DNA of the Binti trilogy. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, and my love for that series and world helped me find the courage to write my own space opera. Lastly, there was a cartoon I loved from the ‘80s called Galaxy High. It was about an intergalactic high school. I loved that cartoon.
In 1995, Butler received a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation—becoming the first science-fiction writer to do so—which allowed her to buy a house for her mother and herself.
“I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure.”