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A tribute to Sanusi Mutwa

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Just yesterday I was musing in the early hours of the day, before the dawn came, and in those last hours of the night when the navy blue veil of the night sky is speckled with stars, and constellations of stars glitter as diamonds on a navy blue velvet background, I stared up at the sky and soaked in the fresh quiet and undisturbed early morning breeze deep into my lungs, and looked up to the sky.

The early bird had not chirped its first note yet, it was still too early, and I believe he was most probably still sleeping on some tree’s high branch deep in the land of bird dreams. And so I stared at the sky with thoughts as numerous as the tiny bright dots of the stars of the early morning night.

I was thinking of the greatness of God, and I was thinking of a great man of God whose wisdom surpasses all limits and boundaries set by scholars and intellectuals on the true essence of humanity; I was thinking of Sanusi Credo Mutwa, the mystic that in his lifetime told the tales of a once Great Africa that could be reclaimed. And the mystic pointed the way into the wisdoms that could get Africa’s greatness back into the psyche of the people of this land.

What historians may not be familiar with is the fact that in Africa, there is a cross continental education system that has existed since before Pharaonic times. The statement is made by Dr Kykusa Kajangu in his discussion about the ‘superhighway of wisdom’, a system of knowledge that has been with Africa since the beginning of man’s time.

This system of knowledge is said to be so universal that all men who have been to its initiation schools across the continent can easily understand each other.

This, Credo Mutwa would talk about in his séances with the public when he shared the significance of these ancient wisdoms. The main reason he taught on the once greatness of the continent of Africa and its peoples by giving examples of our wisdoms as a people, was due to the simple fact that, in these late years, Africa is descending into the dark realms where war, starvation, drought, and disease ravage man and nature alike.

These sicknesses of the land of Africa are direct results of colonialism, an imperialist European system meant for the oppression and suppression of the collective African sense of unity (Botho, Ubuntu) that has existed since the dawn of the age of man. Colonialism came not only to plunder the continent of its mineral resources, it also came to steal and erase ancient wisdoms meant for the universal and harmonious living of all of mankind.
Without this knowledge, the colonial master knew that the African stood vulnerable and open to useless wisdoms that exacerbated the mental oppression of the African colonial subject.

In brief, colonialism came only to destroy the African’s sense of knowledge and being (for without the knowledge of self, the African would become a pliable tool in the hands of the colonist; the African would become a willing slave who had forgotten his own sacred wisdoms of knowledge).

As western slaves to this day, Africans will embrace any knowledge that is from the West if it has the label, and it does not matter whether the wisdom is dubious or has been ‘poorly’ recycled from existing African knowledge systems.

The African has been taught to forget who he really is, that he is less than what he really is, and should accept less than what he deserves by systematically taught knowledge systems of the West. Credo Mutwa’s wisdoms on various core issues teach the African to understand that the contrary is truer than the accepted; Mama Africa was once great and can retain her status only if her children are taught the right way on the indigenous knowledge of Africa’s aborigine.

During the colonial period, transmission by initiation, which used to take place on a great holiday and at regular intervals, sought asylum by going underground. The African scholar that discusses this issue as it is heard from Baba Mutwa, fortunately does not forget to mention that colonialism brought with it its own systems of politics and religions of division.

Are you a member of this or that congregation or church or sect has become the main questions with the advent of colonialism. That one’s essence as an African was not determined by these trivialities but by their humanness, has been pushed into the dark background, and in its place has been placed the monster concoction made of Christianising, conquering, and colonising Africa that promoted white supremacist thought and unsuitable patterns of living.

Europeanised and totally whitewashed and brainwashed, the African continent has been plunged into its current state of being (and anyone honest enough will acknowledge the fact that the Africa we now live in is frankly and diplomatically speaking terms, a little hell that might just sooner than later mushroom into a full-blown hell, that is if it is not already there humanely speaking).

Credo Mutwa cannot be limited to a given era and epoch, his wisdoms cannot be attributed to some ethnic group or affiliation, and the universal knowledge he gives is not limited by some European drawn borderlines on the face of the earth. Credo Mutwa does not belong to any given era because his timeless knowledge affects all of humanity.

He is of the rare tribe of mystics that teach the individuality of humanity; that human beings are at their core indivisible, for they are all children of one God (which the West vehemently denies to this day in various ways that include its colour bars and ethnic and racial classification of people and their systems of knowledge).

All of us are equal as human beings but, one could easily ask: Why are terms of separation so popular? Terms like greatest, best, unique, special, individual and others of their foolish kind are informally and formally promulgated on a daily basis on our various media by the depraved high priests of debauchery selling division disguised as success, and separation of universal and unifying human thought wearing the robes of religion, politics, education and modern medicine.

We are not these monsters the foolish seeks to describe us as, we are not slaves to a system that teaches servitude disguised as prosperity to those gullible enough to think that prosperity lies in the material.
I personally feel uneducated and I discovered this one fact reading the works of Credo Mutwa. Mutwa (Moroa> Motho>Botho/Ubuntu) is a term that defines the African, and it does not matter how the African looks, what texture their hair is, or what colour their eyes are.

The Batwa of the Congo and the Baroa of the Kalahari’s concept of God stipulates that God is…our unity. For our division births our shared hell (think and read of Africa’s colonial history and you will begin to understand). Divide and rule, the colonist said, and he made sure it stuck well into the post-colonial period.

In the past, our high priests taught of the beauty of our universality as human beings. The high priests of this day teach of the sad and corrosive spirit of self-aggrandisement at the expense of the well-being of others. Children are taught to chase dreams that are nothing but fickle pipe dreams disguised as the high lives of the rich and the famous, endless award ceremonies that contribute nothing but endless pieces of paper to be hung on walls in poses of eternal dormancy (for most of those certificates will never get you the life you first set out to live, if you don’t see beyond the ink on their paper into a world where real dreams are made), concessions to mundane and prosaic standards of living posing as contentment (‘just do the best you can with what you have,’ it is said by the mental oppressors, but what exactly do you have?), and an endless wait for non-existent heavens somewhere beyond the sky and the stars.

I choose to believe in the unifying spirit of the mystics of our land, whose knowledge and wisdom traverses the hills and the mountains and the valleys, and transcends the spirits of the open savannah and the deep blue seas of this here world.

We have to protect ourselves from knowledge of oppression, as taught in the daily mantras of the high priests of human regression posing as priests, teachers, politicians, academics and ‘professionals’ whose sole aim is to con man into malleable compliance with what they do not need. We need real knowledge and not this crass chaff posing as ‘education.’
In Indaba my Children, Baba Mutwa talks about how the priesthood had to go underground when the Europeans came into South Africa. Not only that, he states they were doing a practice that they have done before thousands of years ago with the Phoenicians.

In defining the essence and nature of the priesthood, and how the priests spread all over central and south Africa, he states in his 1964 word:
When the White Man came to Africa, bringing Christianity with him, the custodians of the belief urged the chiefs and chieftainesses of the tribes to resist the ‘Strange Ones’ and their alien creed.

But when the Bantu were finally defeated they did what they had done nearly three thousand years before when the Ma-Iti (Phoenicians) invaded the lands of the tribes: to ensure that the Great Belief would not die, they selected a number of men, and women, from every tribe and binding them by a series of High Oaths, they told them everything there was to know about the Belief…

Being vast in its scope The Great Knowledge was divided into many parts and subdivisions. Men were then chosen from different walks of life blacksmiths, woodcarvers, medicine men, and others from each tribe. None was expected to do what he or she did not understand, to take a knowledge without really knowing of its gist. Do we know why we learn what we learn like we learn it and where it will be used in ‘real’ life?

The African system of knowledge was (is) meticulous in its approach, for there is in every tribe the High Custodian whose duty it was (is) to continually to watch the Chosen Custodians ensuring that they had not forgotten anything, allowed nothing to leak to strangers, and imparted to chiefs and certain elders, and Indunas what they were required to know.

The Hidden Brotherhood was also there for all the Chosen Ones to Report to annually for additional checks, clarification, confirmation, and to receive new knowledge acquired in the meantime. This system described by Baba Mutwa could well get out us out of these miry and abysmal depths of time where colonialism left us to languish in endless squalor as a continent. We should use it as we should.

God chooses the mystics of time, and he grants men the opportunity to speak to them even when they have gone to the great unknown beyond one passes through at their point of death.

Our universality as Africans was well established long before the haughty countenance of the European in a Safari hat appeared on the horizons of time, come to teach us to forget our own sense of unity and its value to the continued sustenance of the existence of humankind and the planet.
Colonialism was begot of selfish greed and its plundering and pillaging ways have currently left the world with a lot of green in useless paper money.

All the green of the plant and the grass, and the moist of the spring water, is slowly fading away and, ignorant politicians and half-baked scientists air views without solutions on various media about ‘the state of the planet.’ I think we should return to the old wisdom; these new knowledges are nothing but detrimental. They are capitalist-farted greenhouse gases. And they teach nothing of Credo Mutwa’s Ubuntu, which we need.

He passed on in the midst of a plague, and the warriors lay him to rest in the soils of his fatherland in the middle of the night.
There were only warriors to lay this mystic of our land of Africa to rest, and the stars and the moon were the only audience when he was rejoined with the earth from which he sprung. It is a hard time we are in, and one of our libraries of wisdom just got burned down, and we can only wish he were here to guide us through the storm.

The only comfort is that Sanusi Credo Mutwa left behind a legacy of indigenous wisdom from which the future generations can drink. We shall drink deep from his well of wisdom. Tsamaea hantle, go well son of the soil, go in peace, pray for us, pray for the cure. We appreciate that we were able to spend a few moments in your presence around the fire when the age of foolishness’ winds began to buffet the African mind. We thank you.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Conclusion

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Last week I was talking about how jokes, or humour generally, can help get one through the most desperate situations (although it’s like taking a paracetamol for a headache; a much, much stronger resort is faith). I used the example of how Polish Jews, trapped and dying in the Warsaw ghetto, used humour to get them through day by day.

A similar, though less nightmarish, situation obtains in today’s Nigeria. Conditions there are less hellish than those of the Warsaw ghetto, but still pretty awful. There are massive redundancies, so millions of people are jobless. Inflation is at about 30% and the cost of living is sky-rocketing, with the most basic foodstuffs often unavailable. There is the breakdown of basic social services.

And endemic violence, with widespread armed robbery (to travel by road from one city to another you take your life in your hands) and the frequent kidnapping for ransom of schoolchildren and teachers. In a recent issue of the Punch newspaper (Lagos) Taiwo Obindo, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos, writes of the effects of economic hardship and insecurity on his people’s mental health.

He concludes: “We should see the funny side of things. We can use humour to handle some things. Don’t take things to heart; laugh it off.”

Professor Obindo doesn’t, regrettably, give examples of the humour he prescribes, but I remember two from a period when things were less grim. Power-cuts happened all the time — a big problem if you’re trying to work at night and can’t afford a generator.

And so the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was universally referred to as Never Expect Power Always. And second, for inter-city travel there was a company called Luxurious Buses. Believe me, the average Lesotho kombi is a great deal more luxurious (I can’t remember ever having to sit on the floor of one of those).

And because of the dreadful state of Nigerian roads and the frequent fatal crashes, Luxurious Buses were referred to as Luxurious Hearses.

Lesotho’s newspaper thepost, for which I slave away tirelessly, doesn’t use humour very much. But there is Muckraker. I’ve always wondered whether Muckraker is the pen-name of a single person or a group who alternate writing the column.

Whatever, I’d love to have a drink with him / her/ them and chew things over. I like the ironic pen-name of the author(s). Traditionally speaking, a muckraker is a gossip, someone who scrabbles around for titbits (usually sexual) on the personal life of a celebrity — not exactly a noble thing to do.

But thepost’s Muckraker exposes big problems, deep demerits, conducted by those who should know and do better — problems that the powerful would like to be swept under the carpet, and the intention of Muckraker’s exposure is corrective.

And I always join in the closing exasperated “Ichuuuu!” (as I do this rather loudly, my housemates probably think I’m going bonkers).

Finally I want to mention television satire. The Brits are renowned for this, an achievement dating back to the early 1960s and the weekly satirical programme “TW3” (That Was The Week That Was). More recently we have had “Mock the Week”, though, despite its popularity, the BBC has cancelled this.

The cancellation wasn’t for political reasons. For decades the UK has been encumbered with a foul Conservative government, though this year’s election may be won by Labour (not such very good news, as the Labour leadership is only pseudo-socialist). “Mock the Week” was pretty even-handed in deriding politicians; the BBC’s problem was, I imagine, with the programme’s frequent obscenity.

As an example of their political jokes, I quote a discussion on the less than inspiring leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. One member of the panel said: “Labour may well have a huge lead in the polls at present, but the day before election day Starmer will destroy it by doing something like accidentally infecting David Attenborough with chicken-pox.”

And a favourite, basically non-political interchange on “Mock the Week” had to do with our former monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever one thinks about the British monarchy as an institution, the Queen was much loved, but the following interchange between two panellists (A and B) was fun:

A: Is the Queen’s nickname really Lilibet?
B: Yes, it is.
A: I thought her nickname was Her Majesty.
B: That’s her gang name.

OK, dear readers, that’s enough humour from me for a while. Next week I’m turning dead serious — and more than a little controversial — responding to a recent Insight piece by Mokhosi Mohapi titled “A reversal of our traditions and culture.” To be forewarned is to be prepared.

Chris Dunton

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Insight

Reading, writing and the art of reflection

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There is a close thread that runs through what you reflect on, what you read and what sticks in your mind. It’s almost a cyclic process with regards to how all these processes unfold. Today, in this installment we focus on the thread between reading, reflection and writing.

This appears a bit cumbersome to explain. But let’s simplify it. Let’s begin with a beautiful poem which encompasses what we have so far spoken about. Here we are! The poem is penned by “Tachibama Akemi.” It goes:

It is a pleasure
When, rising in the morning,
I go outside and
Find that a flower has blossomed
That was not there yesterday.

Seemingly, the poem is simple. But, on close analysis, it reflects very deep reflection and thoughtfulness.

The persona, in an existential fashion, reflects all about the purpose and meaning of life and his place in the overall matrix of life.

The persona carefully reflects on nature. This is what makes all this poem rustic and romantic.

The persona thinks deeply about the blossoming flowers and how the process of the growth of flowers appears almost inadvertently.

It is a poem about change, healing, the lapse of time and the changes or vissiccitudes in the life of a person are reflected creatively through imagery and poetry. We all go through that, isn’t it? We all react and respond to love, truth and beauty.

So far everything appears very interesting. Let’s just put to the fore some good and appealing thoughts. Let’s enlarge on reading, writing and reflection.

Kindly keep in mind that thoughts must be captured, told, expressed and shared through the magical power of the written word.

As a person, obviously through keeping entries in a journal, there is no doubt that you have toyed about thoughts and ideas and experiences you wish you could put across.

Here is an example you can peek from Anthony. Anthony likes writing. He tells us that in his spare time he likes exploring a lot. And, more often than not he tells us,

“I stop, and think, and then when I find something, I just keep on writing.”

So crisp, but how beautiful. Notice something interesting here; you need to stop, to take life effortlessly and ponderously, as it were; observe, be attentive to your environment; formulate thought patterns and then write.

To some extent, this article builds on our previous experiences when we spoke at length about the reading process.

But how can you do it? It’s not pretty much different. I can help you from my previous life as a teacher of English Languge.

The most important skill you must cultivate is that of listening, close listening. Look at how people and events mingle.

What makes both of you happy; enjoy it. I am sure you still keep that journal in which you enter very beautiful entries. Reflect about Maseru, the so-called affluent city. So majestic!

How can you picture it in writing!

I am glad you learnt to reflect deep and write. Thank you very much. Kindly learn and perfect the craft of observing, reflecting and writing. Learn that connection. Let’s meet for another class.

Vuso Mhlanga

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Part One

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Don’t be put off by the title, esteemed readers; what follows has nothing to do with the Batman films. As you will be happily (or unhappily) aware, I am a big fan of jokes. There’s a common understanding that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, and this is true, but some jokes do need a bit of background explanation. Anyway. I like jokes and I like thinking about how they work.

Many of my favourite jokes have to do with language and the way we use it. For example: “I just bought myself a thesaurus. I similar it very much.”

Other jokes have to do with human behaviour and here it is important, out of respect for others, to avoid jokes that perpetuate stereotypical ideas about gender, race, nationality, and so on. I’m afraid the following joke does depend upon a stereotype (I’ll come back to that), but here goes, after a bit of background information.

In Lesotho you have an insect called a praying mantis — stick-like, bright green, and with great bulging eyes. They are rather lovable, despite the off-putting fact that the female practices insect cannibalism; after mating, she consumes the male. So, now you’ve had your zoological primer, here goes.

Two praying mantises are getting up close and personal. The female says to the male: “before we have sex and I bite your head off, could you help me put up some shelves?”

Apologies to female readers, because, as I said, that joke perpetuates a gender stereotype, namely, that women are good with a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush, but hopeless with a hammer and nails.

There are many jokes that are, as it were, much more serious than that. As I rattled on about in a couple of earlier columns, many of these are satirical — jokes that are designed to point a finger at human folly or even wickedness. In another column, titled “Should we laugh?”, I explored the question “is there any subject that should be kept out of the range of humour?”

Well, apparently not, if we take on board the following account of the Warsaw ghetto.

Historical preface first.

The Warsaw ghetto represents one of the worst atrocities in modern history. In November 1940 the genocidal Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Poland’s capital and herded them into a small sector of the city, which they euphemistically, cynically, dubbed the “Jewish Residential District in Warsaw.”

Here nearly half a million Jews were in effect imprisoned, barely subsisting on tiny food rations. An estimated quarter of a million were sent off to the death camps. An uprising against the Nazi captors was brutally crushed. Around 100 000 died of starvation or disease.

Not much to laugh about there, you might say. But then consider the following, which I’ve taken from the New York Review of Books of February 29th this year:

“In the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1941 Mary Berg, then a teenager, wrote in her diary about the improbable persistence of laughter in that hellish place: ‘Every day at the Art Café on Leszno Street one can hear songs and satire on the police, the ambulance service, the rickshaws, and even the Gestapo, [on the latter] in a veiled fashion. The typhoid epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is not our only weapon in the ghetto — our people laugh at death and at the Nazi decrees. Humour is the only thing the Nazis cannot understand.’”

To be concluded

Chris Dunton

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