On originality and authenticity

On originality and authenticity

Each and every passing era in the history of man’s time is marked by events, achievements, failures, storms, wars private and en masse.
All of these events occur in a manner profuse or subfusc, but no matter their level of sublimity or mundanity, there is one aspect that tells them apart of all the others that occur within the same era or epoch; their level of authenticity and their quality of originality.

There are a thousand speeches in the name of gaining power political, religious and otherwise, but only a few orations shall stand out and be deemed exceptional due in part to the manner in which they were delivered from the rostrum, the depth of their rhetorical logic, the charisma of the orator, the effect they had on the audience that had the time to listen to them, and their passing on to the ears of those that never heard them in person.

Oftentimes, the legend that stems from the speeches elevates them to the sweet yearned status of them being regarded as timeless masterpieces in rhetoric; masterpieces that are quoted as everyday speak seven generations after they were delivered from the podium that may still exist as a ruin or as nothingness that has been transformed into something.
We may not know for sure if Julius Caesar did exist, but Mark Antony’s words have been repeated in different forms and grammar by different orators that consider themselves competent public speakers whose sole goal is to impress the masses at attention or in audience.

The original owes its essence to the simplicity or the complexity (if there is such, for the argument could be that its complicated nature is only seemingly so because it has not been figured out yet) of the creator. It is original only because it is as close as possible to the intentions and the thoughts of the creator in form and purpose.
It is original only because it leans close to the primary pattern at whose core lays the purpose. That purpose may be to deliver salvation or to thrust humanity into the hands of perdition; the original has often saved humanity from the clutches of ignorance and made them see the light, and on a few occasions, that same original character or form has plunged humanity into extended episodes of strife.

The words of Bob Marley and Steve Biko gave rise to an age where humanity became aware of itself as an entity that could bring peace, and this was good, for both men believed in the original philosophy that gathers human society into one synchronised unit: communalism.  The words of their predecessor, Adolf Hitler, plunged the whole world into a world war based on a perfidious but well-known human fallacy of character, as stated by Dale Carnegie in his How to Make Friends and Influence People; the human quality (flaw) of character that tends to lead to an individual or community believing they are better than others: often expressed as blatant racism.

That Alexander Pope wrote in Essay on Man, one of the quintessential statements in the poem state, “the proper study of mankind is man . . . ” was no accident for, in truth, the understanding of the macro necessitates the understanding of the micro first, that is, one can never hope to understand the bigger picture without first understanding the smaller picture or the components that all add up to make the bigger picture. As previously mentioned, the original is only as true the originator thereof; for it draws form, inspiration, and purpose from the intentions of the originator.
That the term original is commonplace does not mean it is understood, I can safely guess that, in the commodification of the term by the capitalist markets of the world, the world and the understanding of its true meaning were lost to the world.

It has now become so commonplace that it is used to define the utterly fake oftentimes (as in the sale of popular brands on the illicit counterfeit markets). That the fake “original” is rising in popularity is largely attributable to a “fake” mindset in the consumer sector of society.
The truth is that the craft that goes into the making of the original has lost all of its sense, largely in part due to the now common pursuit for instant gratification.
The original often takes a long time to achieve, for it requires careful introspection on the part of the creator to determine the purpose, the final outcome of which is presented as a tool for humanity to use in the process of progress.

Another aspect of the original is that it lasts long, for the creator’s intention is that it bears the brunt of the ravages of time, to allow it enough time to complete the intended task.
When Levis Strauss invented the worker jean (overalls), the primary intention behind his design was to make work-wear that would outlast the unfriendly conditions at the goldmines or at the rivers where prospectors panned for gold.

The environment demanded the kind of clothing that would not only last long, but it also necessitated clothes made out of a material strong enough to allow the worker to carry tools and to put gold dust in their pockets. The need to carry extra material that would put strain on ordinary pants led to the invention of the rivet, which added further strength to the jeans.
Put at strategic points of strain on the jeans, the rivet Levis Strauss and Jacob Davis patented in 1873 became the signature component of the popular blue Levis jeans, and other companies followed in their footsteps.

The original design lasts until today, because it is in every way authentic, that is, it follows the original idea that the creators got from observing the conditions within which they worked and through it created the solution. Authenticity draws its form from originality and an entity is deemed authentic if its beauty is relative to the primary aim and the basic purpose for which it was intended, that is, it serves its function satisfactorily and by its definition reveals the art in the original.
The two concepts of originality and authenticity do not just apply to commodities and inventions, but they also apply to every other aspect of human life. A child is born, and is a beautiful creature that bears resemblance to the original (parents).

How that child pans out in life is largely dependent upon the process of socialisation (the adoption of the behaviour patterns of the surrounding culture by the child through lore, interaction between peers and elders), and it is this process that ingrains each individual’s appreciation of the aesthetic rules and which conditions them to know what is of value to the entire society or community within which they grow.

A child raised in isolation of primary society is likely to end up antisocial, that is, they are prone to behave in a manner that the society does not understand (because in a large part, they may be behaving in a manner that deviates from the known aesthetic patterns of such a society).  A society is composed of the individual as the basic unit, followed by the family, then the community. For these three units to operate smoothly there should be rules said and unsaid, taught and instinctive working in synchrony to ensure that the governance of such a society is possible.
Without this symbiotic process of interaction between members of a given society, or the assurance of constant adherence to the original rules that govern it, such a society is bound to fall into divisions that culminate in strife and chaos.

The Basotho were originally divided clans on the run from the assegai wielding impis of Shaka Zulu. Bound together by the diplomacy of Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele as taught in the wisdom of Morena Mohlomi, the different tribes and clans together formed one nation that was strong enough to fend off endless attacks from marauding bands and armies from other nations (including colonialism).
This is due to the simple fact that the different tribes stuck together as a nation under one king; for this was the original idea behind the formation of the Basotho nation.
The aesthetic value to the formation of this nation lay behind their finding commonality despite their difference, and the use of Sesotho as a common language of communication stamped this sense of aesthetic commonness through language amongst the Bakuena, Bakhatla, Baphuthi, Bataung, Batebele (?), Bakholokoe (?), Basia, Bakhooa (?) and other clans.
The original idea of being one was expressed in the acceptance of the different customs and traditions each of the different clans practiced in the privacy of their own homes.

Marriage and lebollo (I choose to defer from the common reference to this sacred rite of passage as merely being a traditional medical practice, for it is worth way more than this mundane definition in terms of its magnitude in the passing on of knowledge) made the people even more common; for a Motšoene could marry a Mofokeng and the child born from such a nuptial union would thus mark the beginning of a new era where the two clans that were previously separate united as one family and in-laws.

Come the era of politics, or, to be more exact, the epoch when the African began to associate being western with being complete and smart, the original ideals that formed society began to be questioned, and the questioning was goaded on to a large extent by the same colonialist who had put the chains of slavery around the ‘native’s’ neck.
The dawn of the age of education meant that the Mosotho found being him or herself an undesirable end.

The thethana was replaced by the petticoat, and the tšeea lost its place on the loins to pantaloons. In second-hand capes, top-hats, and unshod feet the first generation of those who lost their sense of aesthetic value and traded it for new ideas that were originally not theirs but those of their oppressors stare back at me from those monochrome, black and white, and sepia toned photographs from an era gone by.

I am tempted to think that what they are wearing was probably from the chests (trunks) of their masters (and those frayed coats smelt of naphthalene probably), and that they got to wear them because they were ‘favoured’ over others.  What they probably did not know is that this was the usual colonial ruse; to divide the local so that they can become pliable tools to reach the colonist’s intentions.

The native in the pantaloons and stained shirt began to think he was better than the native in the loincloth, and what he did not know is that he was in the process forgetting those aesthetic values that rendered him an original and authentic human. Being something other than what he really was the African is over the passage of time continuing to be fascinated by the values determined by someone other than themselves.  This means that the African is but a mere copy (a poor one at that), a figment of the wishes of the old colonial whose wish was to divide so that he could rule the land and to steal of its treasures and other miscellaneous objects of value.

The wish of the old colonial has been rendered a command for, the African has become individualistic in their outlook, nepotistic in their association, condescending in their interactions with their fellow citizens; all these done in the name of sounding sophisticated, ‘connected’, an ‘expert’ of some cheap sort lacking in substance.
The politics of the land are working hard to see to it that we are divided (‘polarised’ if political correctness is the goal, but it is never mine anyway), corralling once-common citizens behind party colours whilst the country goes on to be looted, the original sense of commonness continues to be eroded, and the credo of Moshoeshoe oa Pele goes on to be insulted by the spirits of self-servitude and self-righteousness blowing in the air.

I will never wear a blanket (and have never worn it in my sensible years), because the blanket was never ours in the first place. It was Victoria’s and now its Louis Vuitton’s. Ma-apara-kobo a matle (beautiful blanket wearers)? Whose blanket?  How unoriginal this authentically European creation. Lekupa la ka le kae? Where is Morena Moshoeshoe oa Pele and his beautiful philosophy of oneness due to our humanness despite obvious difference?


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