Kuna hadithi najua bout Kwanzaa, a pan-Afreekan narrative that not only I but many others have been rediscovering with our healing rituals. Jana iliulizwa, where is umoja? na leo hadi kifo, ninajichagulia kusoma na upendo with akina baba na mama wa Afrika kama Sobonfu Some na Malidoma Patrice Some, hii hadithi imetoka kitabu yake…..

The Elements of Ritual

Ritual is the most ancient way of binding a community together in a close relationship with Spirit. It is a way of communicating with forms of consciousness en beings from countless dunias ( worlds). It has been one of the most practical en efficient ways to stimulate de safe healing required by both de individual and de community. Ritual has always been de way of maisha of de spiritual person because it is a tool to maintain de delicate balance between body en soul. In a tribal community, healing of de kijiji happens in ritual.

WHAT IS RITUAL?

Every time a gathering of people, under de protection of Spirit, triggers a body of emotional energy aimed at bringing them very tightly together, a ritual of one type or another is in effect. In this kind of gathering people primarily use nonverbal means of interacting with one another, thereby stimulating the life of de psyche…..

There are two parts to ritual. One part is planned: people prepare de space for de ritual en think through de general choreography of de process. The other part of de ritual cannot be planned because it is the part that Spirit is in charge of. The unplanned part of ritual is a spontaneous, almost unpredictable interaction with an energy source. It is a response to a call from a nonhuman source to commune with a larger horizon. It is like a journey. Before you get started, you own de journey. After you start, the journey owns you (en it ain’t over till it’s over).

Certain events move us irresistibly toward ritualised behaviours, for example de loss of a loved one, a major accident, de witnessing of a violent death, or a natural disaster. When such an event happens, no observer can predict people’s actions or logically explain what goes on, because the people affected by de event act without conscious control. Any emotional frenzy, to de extent that it is orchestrated by Spirit, has something ritualistic about it….

It is important to recognise what ritual is not. It is not repetitive or compulsive behaviour, like having a coffee or a cigarette in the morning. Nor is it an everyday formality, like greeting another person with a handshake, hug, or kiss. In day-to-day life, when you go to a public place of business, you are expected to stand in line if you find that others have preceded you to de same place. Ritual is just de opposite. It is gathering with others in order to feel Spirit’s call, to express spontaneously en publicly whatever emotion needs to be expressed, to create, in concert with others, an unrehearsed en deeply moving response to Spirit, en to feel de presence of de community, including the ancestors, throughout the experience.

People’s psyches are very drawn to ritual because it’s a place of high ecstasy. What happens in ritual is not unlike, what happens to people who ingest drugs. Ritual is a place of safe ecstasy, but with no undesirable side effects. This is one of de reasons why indigenous people love ritual. They spend the majority of their time planning for ritual, doing it, en recovering from it.

It is important to distinguish between ritual and ceremony……from an indigenous point of view, ceremonies are events that are reproducible, predictable, and controllable, while rituals call for spontaneous feeling and trust in de outcome…it is a time of unplanned, unforeseeable, yet orderly disorder. By contrast, in ceremony there is a potential for boredom because de participants pretty much know what’s going to happen, in ritual the soul en de human spirit get permission to express themselves.

What to Westerners are rituals appear to indigenous people as instead ceremonies. Among the most visible expressions are de varieties of church practices, from Mass to processional celebrations…The problem with these ceremonies is that over time they begin to lose their attraction, since they happen in de same way year after year. They do not have the essential ingredient, spontaneity, which to indigenous people speaks of Spirit.

Ofcourse, de same words said in de same way over time do help many people in de West feel connected to Spirit because the very repetition reminds people of de thousands who have gone before who said de same words en so must have gone through a similar experience. But the presence of Spirit is marked in African vijiji in just the opposite way – by releasing emotion spontaneously rather than by providing a container for emotion through familiar words.

When most Westerners think of ritual they are more likely to connect it with words such as empty, old-fashioned, irrelevant, and boring than with words such as transforming, essential, challenging or healing. Ritual continues to engage the passion and commitment of indigenous people because it stimulates their creativity and their emotions. Most of all, they continue to do ritual because afterward they feel changed.

Doing ritual heals people, reconnecting them to the ancestors en to their own deepest purpose. Because ritual is so deeply connected to our human nature, anytime it is missing there will be a lack of transformation and healing. If a culture does not draw from ritual, its members will do something else to fill de gap because they have to heal. In the absence of ritual, Westerners turn instead to therapists, self-help groups, or, at a more destructive end of de spectrum, to alcohol and drugs.

Ritual is a dance with spirit, the soul’s way of interacting with the Other world, the human psyche’s opportunity to develop relationship with the symbols of this world en the spirits of de other.

SYMBOLS: THE DOORWAY TO RITUAL

Symbols are the doorway to ritual. Just as our bodies can’t survive without nourishment, our psyches can’t sustain themselves without symbolism…

The symbolic and the spiritual are not far apart. In fact, in Dagara, there is no word that directly translated as symbol. There is no word for symbol other than the word Spirit, because there is an assumed indivisible connecshun between Spirit and symbol. Beings that live in other dimensions are so intimately linked to us that they are referred to by name. They are no considered mere metaphors or abstract representations of intangible concepts. These beings simply live in a different time/space continuum en perceive us as much as we perceive them.  They refer to our world as the Other world en see us as spirits, which is why they are interested in us. They are living, as it were, on the other side of de page of our reality.

The Western view of different planes of existence may be helpful in understanding what I yam referring to here. Another bridging image is the notion of fields of energy in quantum physics. In quantum physics, the understanding of matter as transferable to energy suggests a flexible attitude toward the nature and limits of de visible and material world.

For the Dagara and other indigenous people, it is inconceivable that the human mind could capture something that does not already exist somewhere. The human capacity to imagine is an example of our connecshun with remote fields of energy…….

How is this visionary ability connected to ritual?

In the indigenous mind, one reason people do ritual is that they do not want to repeat history, dealing constantly with unfinished business from the past. The appeal to the ancestors through ritual is based on an understanding that catastrophe happens when you fail to seek their guidance. So in some ways, doing ritual is like preventing the self from falling into destructive patterns. The symbolic spiritual realm speaks to the psyche the same way that a travel guidebook speaks to the conscious self – it confirms our locashun. Human beings need these reminders on the journey of life; they are the billboards of the psyche……

WHY RITUAL?

In summary, why is ritual important? As much as our body requires food for nourishment, our souls and spirits require ritual to stay whole. It is as if without the spirit being nourished in us, the body pays for the consequences. The food of the psyche is symbol, and it is through ritual that our spirit is fed. Because human beings are spirits at our core, it is natural for us to remain mindful of our true spiritual identity.

Ritual is necessary because there are certain problems that cannot be resolved with words alone….Complex problems plague and cripple entire communities; by actively involving the members of the community in seeking solutions based in ritual, a community can achieve a deeper solution than words and rhetoric alone can provide. Breaking the spell of circular arguments through the powah of ritual is one of the areas where indigenous people can provide effective help to the West.

[these multi-media excerpts of Chapter 7 ya The Healing Wisdom of Africa, you can do anyting you want with these hadithi. Share dem wid others, forget about dem, get vex, laugh bout it, au revise, cry…. but don’t say in years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.]

 [Siku ya jumapili, katika hadithi ya kwanzaa, ilikuwa ya ‘umoja’, na kila siku inafaa tujichagulie ukweli wa desturi na mila yetu, habari ya leo ni ujima. Hadithi ya the q_t werd yanaweza kuelezwa na haya nguzo saba ya kwanzaa, kwa hivyo…..in the spirit of bredrin en dadas in solidarity,

we (as in the colour spill productions team behind the doc in the works on dis’ blog en others….. ) are cooking, writing, en sharing in grassroots/gift networks,  the next week through to the last moon of the year of the tiger, in dedication to kwanzaa  en (mo’ of) our Afrikan stories,…]

Siku ya pili ilikuwa Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah)         Self Determination

“To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”

The second Principle of the Nguzo Saba is self-determination. This too expresses itself as both commitment and practice. It demands that we as an African people define, defend and develop ourselves instead of allowing or encouraging others to do this. It requires that we recover lost memory and once again shape our world in our own image and interest. And it is a call to recover and speak our own special truth to the world and raise images above the earth that reflect our capacity for human greatness and progress.

The first act of a free people is to shape its world in its own image and interest. And it is a statement about their conception of self and their commitment to self-determination. [Frantz] Fanon has said each person must ask him or herself three basic questions:

       1.  Who am I?

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/59505


       2.  Am I really who I say I am?

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/59500

[….between the lines are many mo’ of our stories of struggle for pan-Afrikan liberation, of  how folks been harvesting indigenus en diasporic resources across space and time ]

To mark the attained ‘pseudo’ independence on the eve of 9th December 1961, Mwenge wa Uhuru (Freedom/Uhuru Torch) was placed on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro by Alexander Nyirenda as a symbol of freedom. Here, I wish to argue that, the ritual of placing the torch and the annual Uhuru Torch race (Mbio za Mwenge wa Uhuru) represent Nyerere’s admiration of the performing arts and its role in shaping people’s consciousness towards a common goal.

The establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Youth could be traced to 1962 President’s Inaugural Address. In this speech, Nyerere outlined the roles of the ministry, including facilitating the process of enabling Tanzanians to regain their cultural pride (Nyerere, 1966, p. 187). In the same speech to the parliament, Nyerere indicated his concern on how colonialism dehumanised Afrikan arts. His speech became the blueprint of Tanzania’s ‘cultural policy’ and led to various art reformations. This included the ‘institutionalization’ of National Art Groups (NAGs).

The aim of institutionalizing NAGs was to fulfill Nyerere’s quest for the renaissance of Afrikan-ness in the arts and culture (Bakari and Materego, 2008).

The institutionalized groups included the National Ngoma Troupe (1963), National Acrobatic Group (1969) and National Drama Group (1972). These groups were designed to act as a model of performing arts in Tanzania.

For example, the National Ngoma Troupe had 30 artists recruited from the various regions in Tanzania, comprising of both musicians and dancers (Lange, 2002, p. 55). It should be noted that the process of building a national culture through theatre groups dates back to the birth of TANU in 1954 when Hiari ya Moyo under Suleiman Mwinamila participated effectively in creating a national theatre (Semzaba, 1983).

From the beginning of TANU formation, decolonization movement started and Hiari ya Moyo was forced to put forward nationalism and liberation concepts that is, to fight against colonialism and (cultural) imperialism.

Amka Msilale (Wake up, don’t sleep) was their first recorded performance in 1954.

Amka Msilale (Wake up don’t sleep)
Msiwe wajinga mu Tanganyika (Don’t be stupid, you are in Tanganyika [territory])
Tanganyika ni mali yetu (Tanganyika is our property/wealth)
Tukidai tutapewa (If we demand it[back], we’ll be given)

 

(Semzaba, 1983, p. 22)

The multiplication of NAGs trickled down to the village levels. The process did not only end with the establishment, but also facilitation of their existence which were meant to be the foundation of the national artistic pride. These groups performed in political rallies, state banquets and meetings at all levels. Members of the NAGs were state employees. Since the state subsidized most of the costs and paid for their monthly salaries, the groups were not allowed to charge or receive extra payment for their performances. The focus was on the promotion of national unity and on echoing state’s Ujamaa policies. One of the positive outcomes of such initiatives was to make theatre an active activity at various levels of the society (Mlama, 1985, p.103).

The union ‘ritual’ between Tanganyika and Zanzibar of 26th April 1964 pictured above, can be referred to as another artistic performance.

Nyerere mixed the soil of the two countries in addition to the common approach of signing the treaty that is, the exchange of the Articles of Union.

The costumes and the process of mixing the soil symbolised how Nyerere valued and treasured arts and his belief on the content of traditional theatre.

Mwalimu, as Nyerere commonly known, also produced various pieces of theatre works. It should be noted that, in his mission to decolonize theatre, Mwalimu at various times, translated the so-called famous Shakespeare plays in Kiswahili. According to Rubin and Diakante (2001, p. 301) the translated plays were Julius Caesar as ‘Julius Kaizari’ (1968), Macbeth as ‘Makbeth’ (1968) and The Merchant of Venice as ‘Mabepari wa Venisi’ (1969).

One of the explanations of why Nyerere translated those works could be that by unfolding what was within the ‘famous’ English based theatre – The Shakespeare’s – he could add value to people’s theatre and ‘regain their pride’. He believed that Kiswahili readers could better understand the content and context of the Shakespeare’s plays and have an opportunity to compare African/Tanzanian and foreign/western theatre in the process of regaining their pride. Secondly, for Mwalimu, it was important to promote Kiswahili as the language of theatre (Rubin and Diakante, 2001, p. 302). Thirdly, perhaps it was a way of proving to the world that what the majority were glorifying as holy literature, a simple person – a proletarian (as he preferred to call himself) could read, understand and even translate. In fact in his 1962 speech to the parliament, Nyerere lamented how the European education dwelled more on teaching people how to dance fox trot, waltz and rock ‘n’ roll. He asserted that this made educated people unable to dance traditional dances such as gombe sugu, the mangala, kiduo or lele mama whereby some have not even heard about them (Nyerere 1966, p. 187).

Looking at how Mwalimu translated the works, one has to read between the lines so as to get a sense of his inner motive. For example the The Merchant of Venice could literally be translated as Mfanyabiashara (or Wafanyabiashara in plural) wa Venice. The word mabepari (bepari in singular) means capitalist(s). Perhaps after reading the book, he realized that the merchant behaviours could not be differentiated from those of the capitalists. In addition, it might be that he wanted to concisely deliver the point home since, being a self-proclaimed African socialist (Mjamaa), he was anti-capitalist. As noted, he purposely used the plural form of the title as opposed to its singular ‘merchant’. It can also been observed that the years when he translated the works that is, between 1967 and 1969 reflects the promotion of the then dominant ideology – Ujamaa. Perhaps he wanted to emphasise it to people. All these translations and initiatives indicated, arguably, his stance against imperialism and its various manifestations. He saw imperialism as the cause of misconceived African history and arts.

Mwalimu was also able to link his Ujamaa philosophy with fine arts. The famous Makonde sculpture known as Dimoongo by Robert Yakobo Sangwani was renamed as Ujamaa in the 1960s after The Arusha Declaration of 1967. The sculpture Dimoongo demonstrated a Makonde strength or power. Looking at the way the sculptor had been able to construct one person at the bottom supporting others and how those who have been supported support themselves as group, translated itself to Mwalimu’s idea of Ujamaa (Erick, 2009). It is said that it was Mwalimu who renamed it to Ujamaa after seeing its structure.

The Tanzanian Coat of Arms as one of the national symbols represents the artistic creativity contained in other symbols such as the flag, national anthem and the Uhuru Torch. It is moulded to embrace the warrior’s shield in the midst of elephant tusks mounted on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. One can also see the man on the left and the woman on the right, standing in balanced postures on the sides of the warrior’s shield with cloves and cotton on their feet respectively. The warrior’s shield has the Uhuru Torch, Tanzanian flag, crossed axe and hoe, spear and water sign. All these symbolises the beneath motto of Uhuru na Umoja (Freedom and Unity) – this is a title of Nyerere’s (1966) book. It is important to notice the demonstrated warrior’s shield which depicts various historical battles for freedom. The man and woman reflect the respect for human equality regardless of gender, colour or any other social aspect.

As pointed out earlier, the establishment of the Ministry of Culture was the earliest post-independence initiative to fight against cultural imperialism. According to Ngugi:

Cultural imperialism in the era of neo colonialism can be a dangerous cancer because it can take new, subtle forms. It can hide under cloaks of militant nationalism, calls for dead authenticity, performances of cultural symbolism, and even under native racist self-assertive banners that are often substitute for national self criticism and collective pride in the culture and history of resistance (1997, p. 18).

As Ngugi explained, it is evidently that Nyerere knew the consequences and magnitude of cultural imperialism and he took measures to overcome it. He believed that a people’s language was an important factor in this struggle. He devised subtle modalities to absorb imperialist influences in theatre. The immediate approach was to provide artists with the theme of their performances i.e. Ujamaa. Since artists looked at Nyerere as a national and international role model, they could easily transform his actions and decisions into theatrical works. The philosophical speeches and arguments which Nyerere preferred to deliver probably were among the ones which influenced the artists.

The other theatrical landmark was the birth of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in 1977. This was the merger of TANU and Afro Shiraz Party (ASP). After the birth of CCM, Hiari ya Moyo made a composition titled Leo Sio Sherehe Tunaanza Chama (Today is not a ceremony, we are inaugurating a party).

Kufa kwa TANU na Afro (The death of TANU and Afro [ASP])
Sio kufikiwa kwa Ujamaa kamili (Is not the attainment of Ujamaa)
Wametimiza yao waliyoyaweza (They have fulfilled what they could)
CCM lake ni kuendeleza (CCM has the responsibility to take over)
Kwenye Ujamaa kutufikisha (So as to reach Ujamaa)
(Semzaba, 1983, p. 26)

This was the time when we were told chama kimeshika hatamu – party supremacy. Therefore even artistic works especially songs and performances by the NAGs were geared towards party supremacy and the promotion of Ujamaa. Mlama adds, “the ideological intention behind the promotion of these groups [NAGs] resulted to the development of a theatre for propaganda which … is an attempt to domesticate the theatre to serve interest of the ruling ideology” (1991, p. 103).

Despite all these efforts by Nyerere, there was no defined socialist cultural policy (Mlama , 1985). The 1962 and subsequent speeches were taken as part of the art/cultural policy. The so-called policy was based on the state officials’ statements. It thus was taken for granted that the growth of culture would go hand in hand with the success of Ujamaa:

This argument ignores the fact that the economic base and the cultural superstructure determine and influence each other and cannot therefore be separated. It also ignores the fact that while the country is waiting for socialist culture to come it is under constant exposure to the influences of capitalist and imperialist culture which is part and parcel of the imperialist struggle against socialism. There is a tendency to think that the war against imperialism is only an economic one, and a failure to realise that imperialism is fighting the war against socialism both economically and culturally (Mlama, 1985, p. 5).

Unfortunately, the ministry or department which was designed for arts and culture shunted in several places since 1962. By 1995, the ministry or its culture component has been shifted in about 11 ministries and offices (Askew, 2002, p. 186). This movement has been taken to mean lack of seriousness about matters which have to do with culture especially arts (Askew, 2002; Lange, 2002; Lihamba, 1985b; Mlama, 1985). Instead of working on a clear cultural policy which could comply with Ujamaa, the responsible ministry for culture was busy sending groups to perform in party-state meetings and functions. This is partly due to the influence of Ujamaa ideology and party supremacy. Giving several examples Mlama confirmed that this puppet attitude has resulted into the art of parroting (Mlama, 1985, p. 14).

To protect the party supremacy, Radio Tanzania – Dar es Salaam (RTD) and the National Music Council (BAMUTA) ended up in direct censorship which was done by cultural officers at all levels (Mlama, 1985, pp. 14-15). Mlama noted that “such control betrays a misguided view of the role of art in ideology. Art can be critical and yet contribute positively to ideological development. Parrot art does not contribute to the socialist construction because it does not analyse problems and point out solution” (1985, p. 15).

Although Mwalimu was an artist, fond of art and a good teacher, he was not lucky enough to nurture his fellow politicians especially in his party to appreciate art out of political propaganda. Nyerere speeches were misinterpreted to mean sending a group of ngoma to the airport or to the national stadium, dancing on the harsh sun, negotiating to show themselves to the guests of ‘honour’ while security officers are busy strangling their movements and tempering with their emotions even before they start to perform. It was on the same time of implementing Nyerere’s ideas when political slogans like kazi si lele mama (‘work is not a dance of lele mama’) which directly abuse arts came up (Mlama, 1985 p.17).

Mwalimu’s love for the art was not spared by imperialism either. The proposition to re-structure the economy through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) necessitated the downsizing of state expenditures. Apart from other artistic and political challenges of the NAGs, the government could no longer subsidise them by the end of the 1970s. The focus was to repay debts through the withdrawal of budget allocation to social services such as theatre and ‘ploughing’ towards development, modernity and universalism i.e. complying with neoliberal policies.

Thus it is important to emphasize that the project to build national culture through theatre was dismantled when the state had to downsize its expenditures according to IMF and World Bank neoliberal conditions.

“Throughout the country, government-owned institutions were either scrapped, had to curtail their activities or were later privatised. Cultural troupes owned by such organisations ceased to function” (Lihamba, 2004, p. 243). At the end, “liberalisation policies pursued from the early 1980s made theatre a commodity for sale like any other” (Rubin and Diakante, 2001, p. 304).

The state dissolved NAGs and instead, formed a National Art institute in 1980. This institute was situated in Ilala Sharif-Shamba in Dar es Salaam, in the current National Art Council (BASATA) premises. In 1981, the institute was transformed and shifted to Bagamoyo and became Bagamoyo College of Arts (BCA) and currently it is known as the Institute of Arts and Culture, Bagamoyo or TaSUBa (Makoye, 1998, p. 95).

To ensure sustainability of art, Nyerere created opportunities for artists to produce and survive on their own. Despite the fact that there was no clear policy, in his speeches which were mostly translated as policy directives one could sense his idea, creativity and passion for art. He established Nyumba ya Sanaa in 1974, positioning it in the middle of Dar es Salaam. He believed that if it could be efficiently utilized, it would reduce the artists’ begging syndrome to donors and the state, which enslaves them. It is surprising to note that even Nyumba ya Sanaa has been one of the places the state want to privatise while at the same time struggling to secure funds to build other places of the same nature in Bagamoyo (Naluyaga, 2009).

The ‘Zanzibar Declaration’ of 1991, which replaced the Arusha Declaration (1967), could be regarded as the ‘marketisation of arts’ like any other product (Rubin and Diakante, 2001). Artists, who are supposed to compete in this market, were not well equipped to cope with the changes in terms of competition and producing quality works. Art education could be one of the state’s supports to assist them. The 1997 Cultural Policy’s clauses 2.1.2 (p. 4) and 6.2.5 (p. 19) stated the necessity of introducing arts (music, fine art, sculpture and the performing arts) as examinable subjects in both primary and secondary schools. It was not until 2008, when the government implemented such provision.

Although the outcomes are yet to be realised, a number of challenges could be identified. Students are being oriented in the English language which prevents them from understanding arts as a simulacrum of their culture which is mainly reflected in the Kiswahili language. Insufficient teachers, teaching and learning materials are some of the other challenges (Mmasy, 2009). One might question what was the responsible ministry getting prepared for? (…)

[ http://zanzibardaima.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/union-of-tanganyika-and-zanzibar-african-initiative-or-cold-war-rivalry/ ]


      

 3.  Am I all that I ought to be?

These are questions of history and culture, not simply queries or questions of personal identity. More profoundly, they are questions of personal identity. More profoundly, they are questions of collective identity, based and borne out in historical and cultural practice. And the essential quality of that practice must be the quality of self-determination.

“To answer the question of “Who am I?” correctly, then, is to know and live one’s history and to practice one’s culture.”

“To answer the question of “Am I really who I am?” is to have and employ a cultural criteria of authenticity, i.e., criteria of what is real and unreal, what is appearance and essence, what is culturally-rooted and foreign.”

“And to answer the question of “Am I all I ought to be?” is to self-consciously possess and use ethical and cultural standards which measure men, women and children in terms of the quality of their thought and practice in the context of who they are and must become – in both an African and human sense.”

Practice Kujichagulia every day!

SOURCE: “The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family Community & Culture”
by Maulana Karenga, University of Sankore Press, Los Angeles, California, 1988, ISBN 0-943412-09-9

Na siku ya umoja, ilisherehekewa, mara ya kwanza….On this day, in 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga began the first observance of Kwanzaa.

 There are seven days in the Kwanzaa Festival. Each embodies a different principle.

The first day of Kwanzaa is called UMOJA which means UNITY. 

[hadithi kama] Rosa Parks, with her courageous defiance of segregation on a bus in Alabama  in 1955, ignited a comprehensive, UNIFIED movement of African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama that spread across the country consuming the vicious vestiges of legalized segregation that kept much of America in virtual chains. For 13 months, the Black citizens of Montgomery,  completely abandoned the bus system and walked, and drove each other, back and forth to work day after day after day, until the “authorities” capitulated.

 (…..)Also, during the Civil War, Sojourner Truth, after escaping from bondage on the Underground Railroad, returned to the South, over a dozen times, to lead bands of her fellow African Americans to safety, without thought of her own safety and well-being.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s many of thousands of Cuban soldiers fought, and many died, in SOLIDARITY with the liberation struggles of Africans in Mozambique, Angola and Namibia. Today, as then, thousands of medical personnel and technicians are hard at work helping to better the lives of the people in the Motherland.

Michael Manley, as prime minister of Jamaica, never hesitated to make COMMON  CAUSE with the peoples of Cuba, and oppressed peoples around the world, no matter which  powerful nations objected to his actions.

Kwame Nkrumah, one of the foremost proponents of Pan Africanism, did likewise, putting into actual effect the doctrines of Marcus Garvey who believed that Afrikan peoples are, ultimately, one nation (……)

Source [ http://theafrocentricexperience.com ]

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are called the Nguzo Saba, which represent the living practices which helped and inspired our Afrikan ancestors to endure oppression…..

 

[between the lines, are many mo’ of our stories spilling betwixt communities of practice in villages en di’ global urban pan-afrikan matrix, hadithi kama……

 

77. On bling culture, one seventeenth century visitor to southern African empire of Monomotapa, that ruled over this vast region, wrote that: “The people dress in various ways: at court of the Kings their grandees wear cloths of rich silk, damask, satin, gold and silk cloth; these are three widths of satin, each width four covados [2.64m], each sewn to the next, sometimes with gold lace in between, trimmed on two sides, like a carpet, with a gold and silk fringe, sewn in place with a two fingers’ wide ribbon, woven with gold roses on silk.”

78. Southern Africans mined gold on an epic scale. One modern writer tells us that: “The estimated amount of gold ore mined from the entire region by the ancients was staggering, exceeding 43 million tons. The ore yielded nearly 700 tons of pure gold which today would be valued at over $­­­­­­7.5 billion.”

79. Apparently the Monomotapan royal palace at Mount Fura had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. An eighteenth century geography book provided the following data: “The inside consists of a great variety of sumptuous apartments, spacious and lofty halls, all adorned with a magnificent cotton tapestry, the manufacture of the country. The floors, cielings [sic], beams and rafters are all either gilt or plated with gold curiously wrought, as are also the chairs of state, tables, benches &c. The candle-sticks and branches are made of ivory inlaid with gold, and hang from the cieling by chains of the same metal, or of silver gilt.”

80. Monomotapa had a social welfare system. Antonio Bocarro, a Portuguese contemporary, informs us that the Emperor: “shows great charity to the blind and maimed, for these are called the king’s poor, and have land and revenues for their subsistence, and when they wish to pass through the kingdoms, wherever they come food and drinks are given to them at the public cost as long as they remain there, and when they leave that place to go to another they are provided with what is necessary for their journey, and a guide, and some one to carry their wallet to the next village. In every place where they come there is the same obligation.”

81. Many southern Africans have indigenous and pre-colonial words for ‘gun’. Scholars have generally been reluctant to investigate or explain this fact.

82. Evidence discovered in 1978 showed that East Africans were making steel for more than 1,500 years: “Assistant Professor of Anthropology Peter Schmidt and Professor of Engineering Donald H. Avery have found as long as 2,000 years ago Africans living on the western shores of Lake Victoria had produced carbon steel in preheated forced draft furnaces, a method that was technologically more sophisticated than any developed in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century.”

83. Ruins of a 300 BC astronomical observatory was found at Namoratunga in Kenya. Afrikans were mapping the movements of stars such as Triangulum, Aldebaran, Bellatrix, Central Orion, etcetera, as well as the moon, in order to create a lunar calendar of 354 days.

Source: http://www.whenweruled.com/articles.php?lng=en&pg=40 ]

THE FOCUS OF KWANZAA

Annual Kwanzaa observances serve to reinforce manifesting the principles of Kwanzaa, as a way of life, on a daily basis – by reflecting on the past, in order to understand the present and plan for the future. 

Kwanzaa centers around seven (7) principles, with particular emphasis on the social, political, economic and cultural needs of Black people

[ na hadithi kama…

84. Autopsies and caesarean operations were routinely and effectively carried out by surgeons in pre-colonial Uganda. The surgeons routinely used antiseptics, anaesthetics and cautery iron. Commenting on a Ugandan caesarean operation that appeared in the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1884, one author wrote: “The whole conduct of the operation . . . suggests a skilled long-practiced surgical team at work conducting a well-tried and familiar operation with smooth efficiency.”

85. Sudan in the mediaeval period had churches, cathedrals, monasteries and castles. Their ruins still exist today.

86. The mediaeval Nubian Kingdoms kept archives. From the site of Qasr Ibrim legal texts, documents and correspondence were discovered. An archaeologist informs us that: “On the site are preserved thousands of documents in Meroitic, Latin, Greek, Coptic, Old Nubian, Arabic and Turkish.”

87. Glass windows existed in mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found evidence of window glass at the Sudanese cities of Old Dongola and Hambukol.

88. Bling culture existed in the mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found an individual buried at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the city of Old Dongola. He was clad in an extremely elaborate garb consisting of costly textiles of various fabrics including gold thread. At the city of Soba East, there were individuals buried in fine clothing, including items with golden thread.

89. Style and fashion existed in mediaeval Sudan. A dignitary at Jebel Adda in the late thirteenth century AD was interned with a long coat of red and yellow patterned damask folded over his body. Underneath, he wore plain cotton trousers of long and baggy cut. A pair of red leather slippers with turned up toes lay at the foot of the coffin. The body was wrapped in enormous pieces of gold brocaded striped silk.

90. Sudan in the ninth century AD had housing complexes with bath rooms and piped water. An archaeologist wrote that Old Dongola, the capital of Makuria, had: “a[n] . . . eighth to . . . ninth century housing complex. The houses discovered here differ in their hitherto unencountered spatial layout as well as their functional programme (water supply installation, bathroom with heating system) and interiors decorated with murals.” (…..)]

THE SYMBOLS OF KWANZAA

  1. MAZAO  =  THE CROPS
    These are symbolic of Afrikan harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
    ..
  2. MKEKA  =  KWANZAA MA(A)T
    This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
    ..
  3. KINARA  =  KWANZAA CANDLE HOLDER
    This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Afrikans.
    ..
  4. MAHINDI   =  CORN
    This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
    ..
  5. MISHUMAA SABA  =  KWANZAA CANDLES
    These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, the matrix and minimum set of values which Afrikan people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
    ..
  1. KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA  =  UNITY CUP
    This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
    .. [91. In 619 AD, the Nubians sent a gift of a giraffe to the Persians.]

 

  1. ZAWADI  =  KWANZAA GIFTS
    These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.

Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize the Afrikan value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Nubia, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and reinforce the Afrikan commitment to tradition and history.

[source: http://www.endarkenment.com/kwanzaa/index.html  

Context: reclaiming and harvesting the powah! Of pan-afrikan rituals in communities of practice]

 

Na leo (pia) ni habari ya ujima,

ase, ase…….

you’ll (never) believe that happened!!!!

Hadithi? Hadithi? Nipe hadithi? Nipe Mji…..

Made in Tdot

There’s a book I read called The Truth About Stories (A Native Narrative), written by Thomas King, that instantly became one of the touchstones in my (literary & spiritual) journey….I’ll tell you parts of his-story because he said that I could, and I quote…..”It’s yours. Do with it what you will. Cry over it. Get angry. Forget it. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you heard this story. You’ve heard it now.”

najua hadithi ya mumbi na nambi, oshun, oya na Yemoja, ya audre lorde na assata shakur, bell hooks na Brenda fassie, Cherie moraga na chan mubanga, dbiyoung.anitafrika en adhri zhina mandiela, dionne brand, Jamaica Kincaid, Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, Angela Davis, Bernedette Muthien, Field Marshall Muthoni, Mekatilili wa Menza, Mbuya Nehanda, Nana yaa Asantewaa, Nyabinghi Muhumusa, Wahu Kaara, Wangari Maathai, Philo Ikonya, Muthoni wanyeki,  Sylvia Tamale, Winnie Mandela..all the way to Zanele Muholi, and I know more than these 31 en some stories, the ones that I keep for guidance and (true) hope, that remind me that WE  are the ones we’re looking for, we have all the answers that we need, in our true true stories…..

(tukona) Soul.hadithi…….

‘in the beginning’ hadithi…..

Lakini kwanza, nitakuambia hadithi ya how the Q werd was born from the Truth about (our) stories (a pan-afrikan narrative). We were listening to others because we thought we didn’t have any good ones of our own, even though we KNEW different, that those ‘other’ versions were still our own, just diluted & distorted through centuries of retelling…..

and because so many hadithi have been made up about US (people) and corrupted for exploitative reasons, then we have to at least try and set the record straight, while we still have the means…but don’t get it wrong, this non-fiction ain’t no luxury, en its (not) a free show,

(i got this on good authority) the truth about stories is that’s all we are. The metis singer Andrea Menard reminds us of this in the first verse of her song ‘The Half breed Blues’

I was born the privileged skin

and my eyes are bright, bright brown

You’d never know there is Metis blood raging underground

let me tell you a story about revelation.

It’s not the colour of a nation that holds a nations pride.

It’s imagination. It’s imagination inside.

hadithi? hadithi? nitakuambia hadithi yetu….lakini kwanza nipe mji?

to be continued….

blogger’s note: facts. the falasha documentary was released in 1983, en directed by simcha jacobovici.

fiction. these are (some of) the stories of the Q werd. a (video) diary of….

house of israel

exile

what do you mean by political?

remember us…?

the open secret

mazel tov

Are these the real Jews?

Story by ANTHONY NYONGESA

“Make sure you remove your shoes when we arrive at the main entrance into Jerusalem. It is a holy place and if you ignore my advice, you will be doing it at your own peril. You will receive no blessings and probably be cursed instead”, the boda boda (bicycle taxi) rider warns me as I get off.

We are approaching the compound where Elijah Masinde, the legendary Bukusu leader, self-proclaimed prophet and founder of the Dini ya Musambwa sect, hid in the early 1940s to avoid arrest by the colonial government.

The place has since been turned into a shrine by the Judah Israeli sect, whose members believe they are the real Jews. According to the sect, River Chesamisi – one of the river that runs down Mt Elgon on Kenya-Uganda border – is the “River Jordan” and every member must be baptised here.

“God revealed himself to Africans in 1920s and told them they were the Israelites,” says Moses Wafula, the high priest and self-styled representative of the Biblical Moses.

According to Wafula, “spirits” have shown that Jesus was an African, not a Semite.

“His second coming will be in Kenya, specifically in Bungoma, which is our area,” he claimed during an interview in “Jerusalem”, the church’s headquarters near Chesamisi High School, about 10 kilometres from Kamukuywa shopping centre.

To get to “Jerusalem” from the Bungoma-Kitale road, you can walk or hire a boda boda at Kamukuywa shopping centre since there are no public service vehicles on the Kamukuywa-Chesamisi route.

The sect is among the many independent religious groups that sprung up during the colonial days as an alternative to the mainstream churches, which had banned polygamy and female circumcision. It still encourages polygamy.

The sect’s offices are built above a tunnel where Masinde and other Africans considered dangerous by the colonialists hid for some time before they were captured and jailed.  

Immediately after Masinde’s capture in 1944, the tunnel was sealed. But it was re-dug by the sect members in 1998 and turned into a basement where religious implements are stored. It is here that the head of the church, Binti Zion Sarah Nafula, mediates with God on behalf of her people.

“Elijah Masinde, one of the founders of this church, came here as the Messiah to spread the gospel but began engaging in evil practices before he quit to form Dini ya Musambwa (Belief in Ancestors in the Bukusu language), which was banned by the colonial government.

“Under the umbrella of the Anglican African Israel church, Masinde was one of the six members filled with the “Spirit” to speak out against the devil and the colonial masters and they would hide in the tunnel whenever the colonial officers came looking for them,” explains Samuel Wanyama, Mfalme wa Israeli (King of the Israelites).

Later, Masinde and his colleagues formed Judah Israeli, only to abandon it after a short while to form Dini ya Musambwa.

Wanyama says that Masinde’s deviation from God’s work to form Dini ya Musambwa was a rebellion not only against his followers but also against God, and that was why he ended up being captured by the colonial forces in collaboration with African chiefs.

“Unlike in mainstream churches, where members fight for positions in the church, God anoints us through Binti Zion (Kiswahili for daughter of Zion),” says Peter Wafula, the church’s Kamukuywa branch chairman.

Twice a year, the sect members, dressed in flowing robes and their heads bent in supplication, climb Mt Elgon, which is 4,321 metres high, to offer sacrifices to God.

“We sacrifice doves, lambs and bulls that have not yet started mating. That is what God instructed his people to do,” offers Wafula, the high priest. They are supposed to make the offerings every month but only do so twice a year due to financial constraints, says Wafula.  

Before they set off for Mt Elgon, they slaughter a lamb in “Jerusalem” and smear its blood on the religious implements that are to be carried up the mountain.

On their way to the top, they bathe in the “living waters”, a warm spring on the mountain side that is believed to cure diseases and ward off bad luck in the community.

It is at this point that Binti Zion reads out the names of the followers who will make up the heavenly kingdom. Those whose names do not appear have to wait and see if they will make it to the heavenly kingdom during the next pilgrimage.

After several days on the mountain, the pilgrims head back to “Jerusalem” where they are welcomed with song and dance. After the celebrations, a bull is sacrificed at a special spot near the church building set aside just for that purpose.

“Jerusalem” is always a beehive of activity, with tourists, historians, journalists and other curious visitors thronging the compound to tour Masinde’s hideout -turned – shrine.  

In addition to the shrine, several huts have been built in the compound to house homeless families, widows and widowers, spouses separated from their partners, and elderly people who have no relatives to care for them.

“Before we give them accommodation, we try to establish whether or not the person is telling the truth about their having nowhere else to go,” asserts Wafula.

“Since time immemorial, this has been a place of refuge, that is why Masinde and others opposed to the colonial rule travelled all the way from Maeni in Kimilili to hide here,” he goes on to explain.

Unlike in other mainstream churches, the Juda Israeli sect operates on a very strict code of conduct. For example, a woman is not allowed to speak directly to a man inside the church. “If a female church member has a pressing issue to put across, she has to ask for permission to speak and that request must be made while kneeling on the floor,” says Ezekiel Waswa, a church official, adding that this is meant to enhance discipline in women.

“Our church seeks to maintain African culture not just in attire but also in deed. In the traditional African setting, women respected men and knelt whenever a man was talking to them or when giving men something, say water or food,” he asserts.

In another notable diversion from mainstream churches, the priest is not allowed to face the congregation while delivering his sermons, which take place on Fridays.

“It is only Jesus who will face his followers the way he did his disciples. No one in the church should face the congregation as is the case in mainstream churches. Those that do so will be held responsible for the sins of other church members on the day of judgment,” asserts Wafula.  

So, while delivering the sermon, the priest walks between the rows of seated members – men sit on the right side of the church while women sit on the left.

When they are not on duty, priests sit among the congregation, but never at the front or back of the church.

“Ours is a case of doing things simply, as instructed by the Bible. We are out to serve, not to be served,” says Waswa, who usually leads the pilgrims’ procession to Mt Elgon.

The land where the church and other houses are built was donated by local people, who were captured and beaten by white soldiers to reveal Masinde’s whereabouts when he started crusading against colonial rule. Those who donated land include Yonah Mukanda, Henry Khaemba and Joel Namanguva – all now dead.

Surprisingly, although Juda Israeli is one of the oldest sects in the country, it has only a few branches in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia districts, and one in neighbouring Uganda.

Publication Date: 04/02/2004
http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=31&newsid=5459

blogger’s note: so no technically this story is not about elijah masinde. yes, it’s about judah israeli, en I assure you, there is a reason you’ve got to know about juda israeli if you want to know more about dini ya msambwa. so, if you’re still reading this story, then you have some background on a (supposedly) mysterious, elusive indigenous Afrikan religion, depending on who tells the story……like here’s another hadithi…..

2001-AUG-28: Kenya: About 300 members of the banned ‘Dini ya Musambwa’ (‘Religion of Tradition‘) faith group have refused to allow their children under five years of age to be vaccinated against polio. They believe that vaccinations are “ungodly.” They prefer to use traditional healing techniques. 

blogger’s note: en before you assume this is just history, read the truth in the signs, like in this hadithi…..

http://africanpress.wordpress.com/2007/10/15/scrambling-to-be-recognised-by-dini-ya-musambwa-kenya-sect/

The battle for the crucial Western Province vote has taken an unprecedented twist as Former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo scramble over a notable prophesy on Luhya leadership.

With the Local Government minister accused of having overlooked its relevance, the ODM running mate appears to have stolen the region’s political grip from the noose of Kombo. Now the Ford-Kenya brigade has embarked on a belated move to visit the shrine of the Dini ya Musambwa prophet, the late Elijah Masinde, to seek blessings and guidance.

According to the Masinde prophesy made over four decades ago, the leadership of the Luhya community was to come from Lake Victoria. The Luhya were also to realise the presidency through the community’s third leadership.

Despite earlier requests by the Masinde family to the Ford-Kenya fraternity for consultation over various issues, the leaders never turned up.

But the political equation has suddenly changed, with Mudavadi becoming the running mate of ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga, which has some bearing on Masinde’s prophesy.

Subsequently, Mudavadi last month visited Masinde’s shrine and held a lengthy discussion with the sect members and Bukusu elders, who endorsed him as the third Luhya leader.

They also gave him a baton as a symbol to lead the community.

But in a bid to restore their dwindling political fortunes, Ford-Kenya leaders plan to perform a ceremony at the shrine to appease the ancestors and seek blessings ahead of the General Election. Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi said Kombo had sanctioned him to prepare the big cleansing ceremony to ensure they remain politically relevant.

But Masinde’s family has told Ford-Kenya to consult with them before visiting the shrine.

The family spokesperson, Mzee Lucas Watta, warned that the party leaders were not welcome to the shrine.

“We have blessed the Orange family and given Musalia the baton to be the third Luhya leader. We cannot alter this and Ford-Kenya must be ready to carry its own burden,” said Watta.

At an elaborate ceremony presided over by a prominent elder, Patrick Chaka, at the shrine, Mudavadi beat Kombo to the game by sitting on the special stool.

The late Masinde Muliro and the late Vice-President, Michael Wamalwa also sat on the stool signifying their new role as leaders of the Bukusu and the Luhya community as a whole.

Dini ya Musambwa myths

But Ford-Kenya allied politicians are putting up a spirited fight to reverse this notion. They argue that the Masinde prophesy is Bukusu-specific and not for the entire community.

Reacting, Bumula MP, Mr Bifwoli Wakoli, said: “I am a staunch Catholic and do not subscribe to the myths and legends of Dini ya Musambwa, which is a totally different religion.”

While acknowledging the existence of an ODM wave that is “quickly spreading around urban locations” in the former larger Bungoma District, Wakoli says he is not sure whether it is linked to the Masinde prophesy.

Nonetheless, the Ford-Kenya parliamentary whip maintains that his party still enjoys massive support in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, Mudavadi is expected to receive civic leaders from Narc-Kenya and Ford-Kenya from Malava constituency on Tuesday.

The Masinde factor aside, ODM hopes to take advantage of Ford-Kenya’s absence from the ballot paper in the December polls to win the Bungoma votes.

Mr Kibisu Kabatesi, ODM Presidential Campaign’s Director of Communications and Public Relations, says Ford-Kenya supporters had expected that their party would remain independent. But its being “consumed” by PNU has led to confusion and apathy.

It is probably because of this that a splinter party, New Ford-Kenya, led by Cabinet ministers Mr Soita Shitanda and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi hopes to ride on the voters’ apathy by offering an alternative.

Although a member party of PNU, New Ford-Kenya leaders will field candidates independently. The trick may just work considering that the party’s name resonates with that of the original Ford-Kenya party.

ODM’s popularity in the region, argues Kabatesi, is partly hinged on this development. He points out at the latest Steadman opinion poll figures, which indicate an increase of five points from 66 per cent to 71 per cent in favour of ODM in Western Province.

“This gain has mainly been made in the former Bungoma District, as the other parts of the Province are solidly Orange,” says Kabatesi.

Published by API/APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.standard.ke

we have to start where we from.

change/ing our patterns is long term.

gotta use what we got.

share/ing our resources,

and this is not new.

we need to work on our own unity first.

 

so in the spirit  of  critically examining our gaps and tools,

here is an/other teacher,

one of my (revolushunary) guides in the path of story telling and teaching community.

 story telling for social change