A highly intelligent Zimbabwean journalist Charles Mukondo was contracted to conduct a workshop for journalists by Lowveld Media (a division of Caxton). Of all the things he uttered, which most made perfect sense I picked a single worthy advice. He said that he pities the journalists who are driving in their own cars to and from work because they miss on good stories from unrestricted sources. He couldn't have been far from the truth.
Now, as I was chilling in this taxi I overheard an interesting conversation. The two women, who must have been in their late forties were discussing beefs, family feuds. The first one was saying, 'it's not easy when people from the same family tree are fighting because that makes it awkward for the children who might be fond of every aunt and uncle to choose sides'. I thought, now this is what's good about public transport, after all the taxi wars and road blockades. I wished that the Palestinian and Israeli leaders were with me in the taxi to learn a thing or two from commoners about how modern-day Shemites are not making any sense at all to us not coming from their tree.
Then the other woman retorts, 'yeah, you know, who's going to win such a battle anyway, especially given that you both ask for divine intervention from the same source (authority). You have a common ancestor who you inundate with requests for retribution against his/her (excuse this 'his/her' - African languages don't segregate based on sexuality) own grandchild'. Soon, there was a unanimous nodding in the taxi. For me, somewhere in the back of my mind I was yelling 'bull!'. Which ancestor, who might have been killed in a family squabble will be able to mediate between same families? Come on, let's apply our intelligence coupled with a little bit of science. Those poor souls are departed helpless and so they can't be helpful.
Irrespective of being intoxicated by the levels of ignorance I listened further though and picked some wisdom between the articulation of the subject. They said that it's like when two branches of the same tree are entangled, resulting in one suffocating the other and the 'victim' requesting the roots to deprive the intruding stronger one of water. 'How do you kill your own branch without feeling pain?' I was impressed. I know old African folks are intelligent and if they applied that energy to trying to find a substitute for Brent Crude instead of chasing shadows all the way to a dark cave they sure can save the world from global warming. If they took Richard Branson's challenge they could become Sterling millionaires.
There was something that also came out very interesting about the belief system of African people. In the normal way of believing there is always various forces that compete for human subscription which results in the world being as messed up as it is today because we can't tolerate diversity of beliefs. The old saying of 'what goes around comes around' is still very potent as a nucleus of many a folks's psyche. Karma, which is attributed to Oriental or Hinduism belief systems is still central to how many communities still perceive acts of divine retribution. When the Twin Towers finally came crumbling down in 2001 many people thought it was karma (kinjeti in Japanese) playing itself out. Something to remind the US that its slogan of 'IN GOD WE TRUST' is not worthy of the coin and paper it's written on. 'That's the way the cookie crumbles', 'chickens come home to roost', 'those who sow a storm will reap a whirlwind', 'what you do unto others will be done to you', etc. I think the one about 'chickes coming home to roost' was also used by Malcolm X when asked about the death of JFK. The one never mentioned on 9/11 was about how ancestors played a role in the destruction of the pride of US Monetary hegemony. Where were the ancestors when 9/11 happened? If any ancestor can claim a hand, which one would it be given that people from almost all races perished on the day?
AFRIKAN BELIEFS II
Continuing on the women's uncensored taxi conversation, what I figured to be the underlying claim was that some ancestors are stronger than others. Before we can assume this to be fact or fiction we need to contexualise it within the whole wide world since there are allegations that we all have an ape as a common ancestor. Let's look at neighbours India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers that have gone to war against each other so many times I forgot to count. They are still fighting a silent war far from BBC's Panorama programme in Kashmir.
How does spirits play a role here when two nations so similar - and yet so different, and which worship the same god go to war against each other? For a ready example we'll look at the time when Iran and Iraq fought an eight years border war that ended in a draw (I wonder who was the referee). In times of war they call a draw a stalemate, even though we know that they say the first casualty of the first bullet is the truth.
Both countries' majority populations kneel down facing the east and pray to mighty and Most Merciful Allah. They both rush to Medina (Saudi Arabia) for a pilgrimage every year. For eight long years they pounded each other with every conceivable bomb from their arsenals and often banned chemical weapons. For eight years their common God never appeared to be mediating between His children. For eight years Germany supplied Iraq with dangerous nerve gases to add to its lethal illegal arsenal. For eight years the Republican administration in Washington DC turned a blind eye to the violation of sanctions and arms embargoes by German companies. For eight years the United States of America also supplied Iraq with satellite generated information about troop concentrations and movements, especially the feared Iranian Revolutionary Guards and defenceless villages. For eight years Britain supplied Iraq with five to ten day weather forecasts to assist in the deployment of the chemical weapons, which are weather dependent. For all the eight years they fought, tens of thousands died, the United Nations became paralysed, France supplied Iraq with jet fighters to drop some of the bombs because all the Western countries did not like the Ayatollahs ruling Iran, especially after toppling the Western backed Shah and occupying the US embassy for over a year.
My point is; where was the ancestors of the Iranians when they were gassed to death by Iraqi Republican Guards? Where were the ancestors of the Iraqi when Iranian Revolutionary Guards were inflicting damage on members of the Iraqi Regular Army? You can't say for eight long years both countries never called for divine intervention which brings me to my main point; what role do defeated people play in helping those still standing? I'm brave to say none.
AFRIKAN BELIEFS III
There are times when I don't care who is propagating a certain ideal that's unscientific. Many times I've heard respected scholars and artists like Zola (Thembinkosi Dlamini) plus a million other ignorant folks giving shout outs to their 'idlozi'. Fuck your idlozi if it can't save you from smear by a Sunday tabloid. To hell with it because your idlozi is your faith, it's the result of digging deep within yourself and harnessing that courage to find the god that is within you. We are all armed with an arsenal of godly characters inherent in us, which due to our fascination with drugs and alcohol often drown in our weakness. That's why other beliefs emphasize purity and fasting because it's only then that you can find the greatness within since it won't be suffocating and drowing in your debaucheries and cocktails of liquor and drugs. If you doubt this, ask Mahatma Ghandi (regular dry fasts - where you don't even swallow saliva but opt to spit it out) and Jesus Christ (40 days of fasting before being tested by his brother Lucifer)
A highly informed rapper once yepped that if you claim that you are great and that you master telekenis - that you can move things with your mind - go the extra mile and move your mother out of the 'hood with your rhymes. Same thing with your idlozi, give it a test and see if it will pass.
If you believe you can move a mountain without touching it, you can without any outside help. Without a pastor walking on your last ten rand note and lying to you that he can get you promoted while he quit teaching because he couldn't get himself promoted to become a school principal. How the f*&k can you believe that? Telekenisis (the ability to move things) does not require an ancestor but plain faith. I'm most often disappointed on my people's belief system.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but can anyone tell me why can't the ancestors of the Shonas and Ndebeles of Zimbabwe save them from the iron-fisted Robert Mugabe? Ian Smith oversaw a brutal regime until the Lancaster House Agreement, not idlozi freed the Rhodesians from the frying pan straight into the fire called Free Zimbabwe. This whole ancestor bull is plain laziness, when people don't want to go out there and change the world or pick their poor ass from the gutter they always plead that they are waiting for divine intervention or idlozi. And rain does not come - still we are waiting - and inflation reaches 500% - still we are waiting for idlozi - and elections are rigged - still, but now we run to South Afrika. Where is the idlozi as the magumaguma steal everything from the fleeing Zimbabweans?
When slave trade finally ended, the slaves, who were mostly originating from Africa were set free to discover Liberia and other countries in the Carribean. All those years of toiling in different countries, the glorified ancestors never lifted a finger to free their children from the grip of subjugation until the same slavekeeper decided it was enough. Can we now say the American Civil War was started by the African ancestor?
Hell no, remember that whole argument of America refusing to pay slave reparations because they never rounded up any slave but were sold for a fee by the chiefs? Those chiefs later dying while their subjects were sharecroppers in Mississippi and those slaves kneeling late at night to request the same muthafuckas who sold them to free them from slavery?
There were times I wanted to dispute this story until the last days of Charles Taylor when US Marines went on-shore in Monrovia after weeks of sailing offshore. After just few hours spent in Monrovia reportedly 13 of them were diagnosed with malaria when they went back to their warship. Now tell me, who sold the slaves to the Americans? Common sense says that it could only have been the only person who couldn't suffer malaria even after spending many nights waiting for the merchant ship because he has developed resistance. The African chief who later became an acestor that the slave will appease to save them from the Massa.
AFRIKAN BELIEFS IV
Like I said there are times when I don't care who champions a lost cause. You can start your own Kara Heritage Institute and fill it with recycled wisdom from the Pharaoh Ramses or Socrates era but I pick a dent on such wisdom, which is presented as pure I will magnify and expose it. This whole guardian angel/ idlozi/ ancestor worshipping stuff does not work for me. I'm not alleging it doesn't work for Ntate Mathole Motshega and Tata Credo Mutwa but I'm just coming out to declare 'from where I am it's plain gibberish'. I've got friends who've been appeasing their dead fathers and grandparents for years to give them work and they are still as unemployed as a 95-year-old today. They have spent so much money on Mageu while they were starving, only to spill on the grave and hope for miracles.
Everyday we deal with stories of human evolution and creation. New planets being discovered so many years after we finished colouring the ones we know. We try to entertaim evolution but wonder why have we suddenly stopped mutating because Humphrey Bogart looks like Colin Moss while Moss also looks like Napoleon Bonaparte. On the other side is the story of creation but then one wonders why if I filled a huge empty crater with water, after about six months I will find fresh water fish (catfish) in there without having physically introduced it. Where will the fish come from?
So, I'm not going to take it lying down when someone attempts to appease my optimism by saying that life began in Africa and later tell me to worship the dead. If that is African wisdom and life started here, why are we having difficulty selling such 'truth' to the world. Geography says the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Basra (Iraq) and if it's where life began then it was not in Africa but in Persia. And in the name of respect I fail to ask further questions because the wise man will beat around the bush and start by telling me what happened since Before Christ, for a simple reason that I can't dispute because I was not there.
One of my intelligent friends recently picked a bone with High Sanusi Mutwa for allegedly telling 3Talk host Noeleen Maholwana-Sanqu that a dog (mongrel) is an important African ancestor. That dogs were, and still are a central component of African ancestry. The friend said, 'well, I might not be classified wise because I've never read a scroll or clay tablet but I felt that Mutwa spoke bull'. Maybe Mutwa was right, maybe he spoke gibberish, maybe the barometre of wisdom is the ability to say something new everytime you open your mouth. Maybe we are victims of small minds that can't comprehend the bigger truth.
I remembered Mutwa reliably informing former talk show host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle that the high levels of child sexual abuse could be directly attributed to the legislation of gambling post '94. He related a tale of how in the US Mid-West during the slave trade, the son of a slave owner would always seek a woman slave and rape her from behind if he lost a game of poker, believing that such an act will rid him of bad luck. Mutwa was certain that the men who were busy raping children were chronic gamblers who wanted to cleanse themselves of bad luck.
I never believed him then, I don't now. My argument was if that's the case then the US state of Nevada, where Las Vegas is was supposed to be the raping capital of the world, which it's not. Five - four - three - two - one - OUT!