Knowledge of Life*
By Credo Mutwa
We must accept one simple fact:
The Earth, or any other planet for that matter, is a living, breathing organism.
A planet means life. Before you can have a planet, you have got to have life and planets are living bodies, they have got to be. Even those which are seemingly dead like the moon were once alive and still have a chance of becoming alive.
The universe is possible. In other words, the universe is a great possibility, where anything and everything has the right to happen and will. Nothing is impossible; nothing is unhappenable, because creation is not a static thing. It is an ongoing dynamic thing which keeps on happening.
First of all there are forces which act on matter the moment it is extruded into our universe, because matter is not native to our universe. If matter was native to our universe, it would not form spheres and spheroids like it does.
There is absolutely no reason why stars should exist, why planets should exist and why these heavenly bodies should be round. A flat planet, a disc-shaped world is possible, but it has to be a sphere. Why? Because while it is still in a liquid state there are forces which attack it and force it to defend itself, like a drop of water on a hot stove. If you open a pot and moisture under the lid falls onto the stove, it forms tiny globules which spin very rapidly and spin and spin, faster and faster, as they grow smaller and smaller.
The same applies to matter in the universe.
Matter is on the defensive out in space because there are forces that force it to come alive. The galaxies run away from something. The stars around galaxies form spirals which are spinning rapidly away from each other.
While these galaxies are spinning away from each other they are actually unwinding. In other words, they are receiving matter from somewhere and pouring it into our universe to form globules that we call stars.
Eternity is neither purposeless nor wasteful. Those stars are created to have planets, to nurture and cherish living things. A sterile universe would be a contradiction in terms.
This is what I believe:
We are alive, because the Earth our Mother is alive. We move, because the Earth our mother moves. We have got skins and bones because the Earth our mother has got a skin and has got bones. This we must accept.
Many times the earth has undergone great upheavals which have resulted in the extinction of many animal species, but somehow life keeps on coming back, like a boxer who cannot admit defeat, life keeps on flowing right back where it’s been expelled before.
Life came back and back, because life is essential to the universe. Life is important to eternity. Life does not mean animals necessarily. It can mean stars. The stars are alive. The stars are aware of existence. The stars will sometimes take evasive action when attacked. It is all there in front of us.
We affect the future, all of us, in many ways. The future is not necessarily a linear direction. Like I know that tomorrow the sun will rise and that it will rise in the east and set in west and that in between that time space things will happen good and bad. The future can be influenced. As a man walks down the street he is influencing the future. As a man enters a building he is influencing the future. As a man meets a man, or a man meets a woman, or a woman meets a woman, these people are influencing the future, no matter how small they may be, no matter how insignificant.
The future is something that must happen, but how it happens depends largely on us. It depends largely on the cosmos and on the planet on which we live.
The future is a consequence of deeds done, perhaps thousands of years ago, or hundreds of years ago.
The coming of the New South Africa is a direct consequence of Van Riebeeck landing at the Cape coast in 1652. If that landing had not taken place there would have been no need whatsoever for the events we see happening now. One event leads to another.
The future is not unshakeable, it is not unshapeable. There are even now, even as we are speaking, men and women in hidden places, who are actually working hard to change your future and mine and that of the whole world. The moment a person murders a leader and replaces that leader, the future gets changed.
In African traditions we say that no matter how the future may change, that other future that should have happened, is still there.
When we honour the so called spirits of our ancestors we not only pray to people who once lived in this world, but we also pray to those people who should have lived on this world and were never born, because of certain events that happened at that time. We also honour those people who were born in the past, because to us African people, time is not a forward march. Time can be a sideways march and a backward march as well.
A person can die now and be re-incarnated in the past. A person can die now and be reincarnated in the future. A person can die now and be reborn in a world which should have happened, but never did. We believe that the future is a path of many worms and we human beings briefly follow the path of that worm and then we are briefly diverted on the path of that worm and so on.
The future can redouble on itself. The future can stop happening for a while. For example, there is a future for which the Zulu people were planning for hundreds of years, a future which never happened, but which was very, very close. The Zulu people, including our kings Shaka and Malandela, were trying to forge a huge empire based on trading.
Value of Culture
Culture is the first thing that one human being recognizes in another.
Imagine please, two very, very savage human beings, they so savage that both of them are practically brain damaged. They have been in so many fights that their skulls are out of shape because of all the blows that they have sustained.
These human beings are out foraging meet in the bush. They watch each other very suspiciously because human beings are ruled by fear. These two human beings observe each other. This one watches what the other is doing, both looking for an advantage to climb into each other.
One has got property the other one wants. One is planning on removing this other one from being a threat to his life. These human beings are aware that in a straightforward fight they are equals. All of a sudden one human being sees the other doing something strange… The Moon rises is the east and this human being sees the other human standing up and raising his hands in adoration to the moon.
‘This ugly man knows my mother? He knows the round one of the sky? He lifts his hand to the holy one who changes, who dies and is born again and dies and is born again? This one must be my brother.’
These human beings found that they both share a common belief that, that round object is holy to both of them and this human being will want to find out more about this other one and instead of killing each other; these two human beings will start working together and will discover more and more similar things about each other.
One day when they are out in the bush one will take off his loin skin and start urinating and the other will look in curiosity and find that… ‘Hey! He had something cut off just like me.’ He will start looking at this other man as a brother not as an enemy to be killed and eaten.
Culture has saved many a nation and has doomed many a nation to perdition.
When strange vessels were seen clumsily scudding their way towards the shore, groups of red men looked at these strange wooden vessels. They looked at the strange sheets of cloth which bellied above these vessels and they saw a familiar object painted on these vessels, namely a cross.
They immediately recognized the cross as a sacred object because they knew it.
Instead of attacking the iron-clad strangers and driving them back into the sea where they belonged and so changing the whole history, the poor Red Indians welcomed the Spaniards because of the cross they saw painted on the sails of their ships and they welcomed their own deaths and that of their children.
What history doesn’t say is that culture played an important role in unifying humans in the past. The Romans attacked the Celts. They invaded and destroyed Celtic culture, or so they thought.
Celts saw in the Romans much they had in common. The Romans were a people who adored the warrior ethic. The Romans were a nation of warriors like the Celts. Although Romans would like to believe otherwise and other people would like to believe otherwise, the Romans had much in common culturally to the Celts and the Celts discovered this.
What happened then was a typical colonial ploy. The Romans began destroying native Celtic culture, assisted by the very Celts, but what was happening was that the Romans, while destroying Celtic culture, were being Celticised themselves.
Romans, ever thirsty for new truths, found exciting gods in the Celtic pantheon and adopted them. For example, where the Romans worshipped Juno, they now started worshipping not only Juno but Matrona. A Celtic Juno accompanied by ecstatic dancing. What were the Romans if not lovers of spectacle?
They adopted Matrona’s religion stock lock and barrel, just as they had done in North Africa, where they adopted Jupiter Serapis and the Romans even adopted Celtic gods and made them part of their religion. They adopted for example the god called Mabon, the Celtic god of youth. They adopted the god called Endobel or EndoBelinus. They adopted many Celtic gods and Celtic attitudes.
Whenever nations rub shoulders they exchange culture and they exchange those things in their respective cultures with which they can readily identify.
Why Is Africa’s Indigenous Religion Still Being Suppressed?
The people who want to rule Africa, they are afraid of our religion.
They are bitterly afraid of the African religion, because the African religion is a sharing, mother-honouring religion.
Western civilization is trying and I say trying, to become a male machine which is geared to crushing the female in every nation. If we were to allow the female within us to gain the upper hand, we would start feeling with our hearts and stop feeling with lower parts of our bodies.
The Red Indian in America, carefully obliterating traces of his campfire and combing the ground to leave the earth the way he found it, he is honouring the female side, the mother side which preserves.
The moment we Africans start bringing back our mother religion, we would be a very, very, very difficult people to exploit.
One day when you return, if I’m still alive, I would read to you what the first colonial government in South Africa did.
They went all out to destroy the lobola system, as a prelude to bringing our people under their control. They went all out to destroy our love of the woman and our respect for her. Lobola is a female instituted institution. It is not the buying of a woman. It is the honouring of one’s mother and the mother of one’s wife and sharing wealth with members of your wife’s family.
Under western society the female side of the human race is called the ‘dark other’. Every effort is made to obliterate it and to destroy it utterly, because if we allow the female side our existence to take over, there would be no chopping down of trees, there would be no pollution of rivers, there would be no abuse of women, no exploitation of little children.
It would knock several pillars of western civilization flat and the whole ugly edifice would collapse.
We need to act now. We need to start now and create a movement that will move forwards as well as backwards.
Backwards to correct the mistakes of the past. Backwards to rewrite many histories that have been wrongly written. Backwards to a re-understanding of Africa as a spiritual as well as a physical entity and forwards using that knowledge as a propellant to drive us into the future.
We black people must take four steps backwards and eight steps forward and in so doing, survive. We must do exactly what the Japanese did, we must re-examine ourselves.
After the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after they had surrendered to the Americans, the Japanese did a great re-think and they took several steps backwards and then they took a hundred steps forward.
What did the Japanese do which was so good?
Under Japanese military tradition, all children belonged to the emperor. All children belonged to the state. The emperor could command people to go to their deaths. The emperor could command a father to massacre his children, but under the scourge of defeat the Japanese took one major step backwards. They took the step by restoring back to the parents, the parents’ children.
No longer were Japanese children playthings of the Mikado. No longer were Japanese children pawns of the military. Family values torn apart by war and militarism were restored back to the Japanese and from there, Japan was unstoppable. Germany did the same thing. During the Hitler years, German parents suddenly found themselves thrown out into the cold. Hitler took their children and regimented them. Family life became subordinate to Nazi philosophies and policies.
German people could no longer control their children. A child could inform upon its parents and get them sent to the firing squad or to the labour camp. When the Germans were trying to rebuild their nation after Second World War, they began a long process of restoring to the German parents authority over their children. The Nazi party had fallen, leaving a great vacuum and the Germans had to act once more to restore their children to themselves.
In South Africa at this moment, black children are completely out of control. Parental authority is non-existent. Children knife each other to death right inside schoolyards and in classrooms.
Our children are now lost to us, thanks to the ideologies of the Nationalist party and the ANC both, because the key to dictatorial power in any nation is that you must first tear the child away from its parents and turn that child into a storm trooper to serve your own purposes. Our children were so used, both by the Nationalist party and by the ANC and other organizations.
The time has come now to restore the dignity of the African family, to restore the black child back to its parents; to restore the extended African family, which can be done without disrupting the high-tech life in which we live.
We must, we must, we must restore family values back to our people otherwise we will breed a nation of civilized thugs. We must restore the African family.
We must restore the dignity that our women once enjoyed, because our women were robbed of their dignity by the colonial powers, when the traitorous preachings of the Apostle Paul, so called, were used to justify the oppression of black females by black males.
An African traditional marriage was a partnership between the cattle-keeping man and the grain-planting woman, an equal partnership. The man was the protector of home, who often died on the battlefield, or out hunting. The woman was the preserver of the home. In her resided the laws, the rules and regulations that made the nation what it was.
The clattering lords of the Middle Ages wearing leather and linen, wearing armour and smelling of horse-shit did not worry much about silk. They worried about steel and battle-axes and about maces and pulverines. Who nudged them from behind, so that men like Da Gama should sail round the Cape, getting seasick all the way until they reached India, God allowing and Saint Joseph. Who wanted spices? Hmm?
It was the women.
The woman wanted to preserve meat, so that his lordship could have a good piece of venison whenever he wanted it. Fridges had not yet been invented. Spice was there to disguise the stink of the venison when it was beginning to spoil, so the big lord could eat in his beard until he died of stomach poisoning later.
We forget they were being nudged by their women. History is really a force driven by the women. Whether an elephant, or a nation somewhere on the coast of Spain, History is female. If you listen to the great stories of our forefathers, there is always a woman who starts a major war between two tribes. Helen of Troy has many similarities to stories in Africa.
History is female and the females can put it right, given the chance. Bur so deeply entrenched is the anti-female philosophy in western society, that I don’t see that happening voluntarily. Men want to be on top. A drunken husband will insist on driving the car even though it’s going to crash into a Putco bus. The man wants to stay in control or he feels he’s not a man.
Don’t be deceived. Africa is being manipulated towards her own destruction. The Third World War… There won’t be such. The Third World War has already begun and Africa is the victim.
Women Currently Face Many Social and Ecological Nightmares
The entire fabric of western civilization has to be changed, by war if necessary. This oppression of women is a new thing. This disrespect for the female is a completely new thing.
Let us have a look what history has got to say. Contrary to what many people think, the woman has been the prime mover in many historical events.
It started during the industrial revolution when factories became so dangerous that men saw it in their interests to quote ‘protect women’ unquote from that danger. It started from the time of Oliver Cromwell, when Christian preachings were used to justify the burning of women at the stake and the cruel oppression of women.
You cannot free the women while books like the Bible still exist. The Bible, both the new and the Old Testament, is bitterly anti-women.
Again and again it speaks about the sinfulness of Israel in worshipping the queen of the sky and the host of heaven namely, our lovely lady Ishtar, she of the uplifted skirts and her friends the Annunaki. Thank you Dr Sitchen! (Here Credo refers to his friend Zecharia Sitchen, author of The Earth Chronicles)
Somebody has got to keep fighting, so that once more the baton is restored to the hands that used to wield it. In olden Ireland, in old Britain the woman was the boss. In ancient Crete the woman was the leader.
In old Africa the woman was the leader. Traditional history tells us that all tribes with names which begin with Ba. BaKongo, BaPende, Bayayi, BaNtwana, BaYaka, BaNtu, all of them were originally founded by women. The sound Ba is feminine.
I think that women are disrespected, because they are feared, period.
Ideologies become discredited, as they become exposed for the frauds that they are. Not so long ago hundreds and millions of people were slaughtering each other in the name of communism and democracy in Vietnam. Great numbers of people died during the Second World War, destroying each other in the name of Nazism and god knows what.
Today these ideologies have become discredited. Communism has temporarily broken apart, but not died. No philosophy born of the human mind can ever die. Communism is alive and well and undergoing a change.
During the interim three forces are going to come forward: religion, ethnicity and gender. There is another force which is in the offing and this will be the force of the environment. We are going to have men and women fighting and losing their lives destroying great factories great installations. They will blow up dams and destroy cities in the name of a cleaner world.
People think that nuclear bombs will be used in the fight between ideologies. Never! They will not, because these ideologies are really two sisters lying under the same blanket. People will use the nuclear bomb and other hideous tools of mass destruction for racial reasons, ethnic reasons and religious reasons.
The entire fabric of western thought has got to undergo a sea change. We are too obsessed with indoctrination and not with guidance and education. And what you call education in this sense is really the indoctrination of children.
Look at how education becomes a stupid dead end. A goal is placed in front of a child. Pass your matric and you are home free boy. This child moves heaven and hell itself to pass matric. It passes matric and then… dead end. Endsville. The vehicle stops.
The child is now a robot without a purpose. Whereas, if a child was to receive education from its mother, it would be an ongoing education, because women herself is continuously learning, whether she likes it or not. The man thinks he knows it all, but the woman is continuously learning whether she likes it or not.
If you look everywhere, even in that land of America, you will see that black education is in total chaos, black colleges, black universities, black schools, are cesspits of violence and destabilization, but you never hear that in Taiwan or Hong Kong or anywhere in Japan. I know I have been there. The black man in England, in America and in Africa, the whole of it, is being denied a chance at education. Universities are being used as staging posts for revolutionary activity. The result is that blacks receive a semblance of education. This is as true here as in the bloodied streets of Alabama.
Modern students go to acquire degrees. Once they acquire degrees forget everything. We would not find the number of functional illiterates who’ve been to schools and universities. Instead of benefiting from the highest education, people emerge from universities knowing nothing.
I am all for the preservation of my people’s knowledge, but knowledge buried in the electronic womb of some computer is worse than useless. It is there until that computer becomes obsolete, then no-one will be able to access it.
What I think should be done as a matter of national urgency is that places should be created where the knowledge of our people should be brought out, kept alive and disseminated among our educational institutions, hospitals and industries. We must make knowledge available to places and institutions where it will be used directly.
It is all very well an information super highway where people will access African knowledge to ease their boredom and briefly open windows to worlds they don’t know, before slamming them shut.
We must have schools were dedicated men and women who would make this knowledge alive. You cannot describe copper smelting into a tape recorder; you cannot describe wood carving and all the rituals. Knowledge is something someone must see and experience personally directly.
There are places here in Eastern Cape where groups of white people are living in forests, carving African drums. That is the way to go. Knowledge is practical.
Our forefathers gave us practical knowledge. If you store this knowledge in a computer it will die, because knowledge appeals to all of your senses; the sense of touch, sense of hearing, sense of smell and of seeing. How do you preserve the knowledge of basket-weaving or traditional pottery? When a traditional potter prepares to make a pot, she has to eat a lump of clay. How will you describe the taste this woman experiences?
My grandmother taught me that if I wanted to create a knife hard enough to cut through a crocodile skin, I must use cowhide to harden that knife, by wrapping it in cowhide, putting it inside a clay pot filled with sand roasting the pot on the fire to case harden. If I wanted to know if the metal was hard enough, I had to take the clay pot out of the fire with a long tongs and smell the carbon getting married to the steel. In our presentation of our culture, we lose many things if we simply write about them, admirable though these things are.
European culture lost a lot, the moment people started writing about it.
Culture is a practical thing; there are things you cannot describe.
How does the blacksmith know when the iron is ready to be formed into a wheel for a wagon? He feels by the way the iron yields when it contacts the hammer. We should by all means create places where our people’s knowledge is preserved, but they must be living places where practical aspects of this culture are nurtured and kept alive.
If we make this knowledge available we must reward our people, for knowledge must be relevant to people’s lives. Knowledge must be made relevant. People who know must come out in great crusades.
Our medicines should be used not just recorded.
I saw a renaissance must begin. It must not be the trend afro activity. It must be the real thing. We should go the whole hog. We must go for the real thing.
Knowledge which is useless to people is criminal. There is a lot of knowledge buried in the universities, huge chapters of South African History.
We must have a renaissance in South Africa, because during a renaissance a people discovers it’s true greatness, it’s true potential, it’s true power. During a renaissance people who should have become destructive, people who should have become evil, actually become good, as they get caught by the whirlwind of rebirth.
What proof do I have of this? I want you to look please at Michelangelo Benaroti, a squat, heavily muscled, monster of a man, with a broken nose, who used to brawl his way through the streets of his native town. This man would have ended up on the end of a hangman’s rope had he not found his true vocation as the greatest painter and sculptor that the renaissance had ever seen.
Look at another man Benvenuto Cellini, a duelist who killed several men with his sword. That man would have ended up under the executioners axe, had he not discovered his great talent as a goldsmith and a sculptor. Leonardo da Vinci, Ademitsia Bruneleci, Barnabada Modena, all the shining lights of the European renaissance.
Why can’t we Africans produce people like that? We can and we will, if given the chance but there are forces that want to dim our people’s greatness. There are forces beyond Africa that have conspired to extinguish the light of the greatness that was once Africa.
I shuddered when I learned that there was once a time in remote history, when my people sailed the seas. I shuddered when I stood facing a huge stone head, in a city park in Central America and I looked up at the African features, so wonderfully detailed upon that stone face. Africans had sailed to America, thousands of years ago and had established empires there.
My wish is that my people should once more return to their greatness.
I grew up in front of some of the greatest black men who ever lived. I grew up practically on the lap of the most educated men who ever existed, John Langalibalele Dube, a man who told me, way back in 1934, that I should write books; man who instilled into me a love of the written word.
I grew up in the great hut of chief Manzolwane Cetswayo, a chieftain who was a son of the great Zulu chief Cetswayo and who regaled me with stories of the glory that was once Zululand. I grew up seeing other great men, like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Abdul Rama. I saw Shembe, a man who had founded one of the most powerful religious sects in Natal. I saw Professor Matthews, Z.K. Matthews. Even to this day, my footsteps sometimes direct me towards other great men and women not only of the black race, but also of other races.
I sat upon a fallen pine tree side by side with a great wise man of the Mohawk tribe, called Richard Rainbow, in faraway America. I sat on a chair facing another great man across the table, Mr.Thomas Banyaca, another Native American shaman and leader, in North America. I shook the wrinkled hand of Ms Lillian Two Bears. I held the gentle hand of Ms Morning Star.
I have met many men and women. Some of the men, who became great leaders in Africa, were once friends of mine. Dr Hastings Banda, so small that you could practically put him inside a bag and carry him away. Stanley Kamao later known as Jomo Kenyatta, one of the greatest leaders in Africa.