The gods are not to blame

The gods are not to blame

Observation, that brief or prolonged moment where one takes their time to have a close look at an entity and to discern some of the unique features that determine its general and specific appearance and form.  This is the basic preoccupation of the individual that aspires to one day be named and considered to be a doyen in the craft of real-life and creative writing, as expressed in the various professions that have their basis in the aspect of life termed as being able to account with accuracy facts encountered and facts recounted.

It is at first a tedious craft if one does not understand the premise of Karl Marx’s argument that one first has to understand their hand to attain a certain level of comfort when operating in the various human acts of industry. Constant work and practice at any activity breeds familiarity, which in turn begets mastery when it comes to the performance of a given task.
We as a continent are fortunate enough to have more than four hundred years of recounted and written history, a history that reached its peak when the first fruits of the system of black re-education sprung forth in the forms of Olaudah Equiano, Tlali Moshoeshoe, Frederick Douglass, William Edward Burghard Du Bois, Thomas Mofolo, Marcus Garvey, Sol Plaatjie, and Frantz Fanon. These figures in their own unique and individual being became the voices of their generation’s preceding and following schools of thought.

Often isolated by their education and newly found knowledge they had read in the books of their erstwhile masters/teachers/re-educators, these figures from the first generations of African writers began to clearly define the exact (and often accurate) landscapes of African thought in the different spheres of social living as defined by the concept of the state.
Through such mediums as the novel, the newspaper, the theatre, and other multiple forms of media platforms available, the early writers observed, dipped their feathers/pens in the inkwell and put the accounts of their thoughts in ink on paper.

The stories they penned, however different their form and content, recounted the tale of human progress as it panned out or was wished to reveal itself to the differing individual characters existent in various communities across continent and the globe.
From different locations across the world and the continent, one would begin to think that the issues explored would somehow reveal themselves to be different, but the reality of the matter is that the same story is recounted in most of the writing from the early era, and now, close to 200 years after the actual penning of the works occurred, we are still discussing the same issues they did.
The reason for the lack of change in the story stems from the simple fact that some of the stories are told for far too long and they end becoming part of the human psyche, that the individual that encounters them on a regular basis for extended periods ends believing in them to the extent that they are the actual realities of the life around one.

Unintended (or intended), some of the most influential works of the different eras have in themselves risen to the status of being religions in themselves, becoming manifestos different political, religious or other forms of sects adopt as the guidelines.
It is perhaps right to do so, but it should not be done outside the confines of the self, that is, one should not follow for the sake of following ignorant of the fact that one is an individual living amongst other individuals in a given micro and macro community.

This means that one should not be offended by the views of others, that one should not impose their views on others, but rather that one should present their argument in case for argument to the point of consensus or amicable disagreement that results in concession or compromise.
I have always imagined the writer of old sitting down in front of a notebook or an Underwood, noting the details of the observations on subtle and prevalent realities within the communities they lived in or heard of. Their reality was different from what is seen in the present day, having its roots in the movement of commodities and ideas in their society.
Time was slower back then, with the telegraph, the telephone, short-wave radio, the Morse Code, and the postman being the leading forms of communication. Some were limited in terms of infrastructure, and others still were limited by the terrain, for example, Alexander Graham Bell’s contraption was limited by the length of the cable, and the letter’s delivery was determined by the distance it had to travel from the sender to the receiver.

This means that whoever views the world and is able to draw conclusions made from observations in this environment sees everything according to the speed which the existent measures of communication time move.

We live in an era slightly different from that which the early writers experienced, faster and more in real-time due to the resources afforded by the internet and mass-communication technologies.
Where they had to walk a 1 000 miles of library space to find a single book, the current writer attains more through just typing the related questions into their keyboard connected to the internet.
The art of the old penman/woman (political correctness!) is not exactly useless, it is actually a good point of reference for whoever wants to achieve a certain level of prestige in the craft of writing. One should first learn how to search for knowledge, and the methods of executing this task are found in the writings of old.

Unlike them, the current writer and wannabe writer have the benefit of such platforms as Google that actually shorten the length of the search to mere seconds.
Why the arguments of old should not be executed differently in the current setting where the levels of cultural and individual diversity have increased vexes my understanding.
I mean, the argument put forth should be that the execution of any given task should be within the conditions available to the executor at a given point in time, for that present may actually prove to be different from the past that begat it.

Where the forebears walked a mile to get to the well has actually (and in a lot of cases) been reduced to a few metres for the well has been reduced to the faucet on the tap.
Where hands and feet worked together to source the precious and life-giving liquid, only the fingers or toes now do the talking (as in the act of bathing or showering, or, sending a letter that has been reduced to texting on the phone in the present day act of communication) when it comes to accessing the basic elements of sustenance, of which drinking, eating, communication and the related are a part of.

At a village somewhere on the vast mountainous and flat landscapes on the African continent and the other parts of the world, a young girl and boy listen to the stories as they are told by the ancients of old in the form of folk-tales and recordings.  The two grow up to love some of the tales enough to memorise them for long periods or until they reach a level of maturity suitable enough for them to begin to draw conclusions on the possible meanings behind the stories.

One needs to understand first the immediate environments within which they live, for this makes it easier to contrast the world within from the perspective of the without.
This means that the sooner the individual understands the meanings in their folktales, the easier it will be for them to draw meanings from the stories and experiences they encounter in later life.
Loaded with historical memory presented with finesse in the tale, the story is the basis for one’s skill when it comes to the art of writing and recounting.

Far often than less, the tendency of the modern writer is to veer on an inside-facing trajectory when it comes to the analysis of facts to the point that they can be written or recounted.
There is not much wrong with this pattern of trajectory, but it leaves too much room for error due to the limitations such an outside influence may have in terms of adequate description, or lack in terms of required information to understand the inner ramifications of the entity to be penned or spoken about in the discussion/s coming in the form of a report, book, verbal account, or other forms of communication.

By: Tšepiso S Mothibi

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