Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, the second president of South Africa [June 1999 – September 2008], delivered this self-penned speech entitled “I Am an African” on May 8th, 1996. During this time Mbeki was serving as Vice President of South Africa under Nelson Mandela’s post-Apartheid Presidency. The occasion was the passing of the new Constitution of South Africa. VP Mbeki’s speech, delivered on behalf of the African National Congress, captured the political mood of the moment in South Africa:
I am an African.
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.
My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter-day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightning, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.
The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld.
The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of the day.
At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito.
A human presence among all of these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say – I am an African!
I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape – they who fell victim to the most merciless genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and independence and they who, as a people, perished in the result.
Today, as a country, we keep an inaudible and audible silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit the horror of a former deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a cruel occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not and never to be inhuman again.
I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still part of me.
In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part of my essence. The stripes they bore on their bodies from the lash of the slave master are a reminder embossed on my consciousness of what should not be done.
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandhlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as Ashanti of Ghana, as Berbers of the desert.
I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena, The Bahamas, and the Vrouemonument, who sees in the mind’s eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk, death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in ruins.
I am the child of Nongqawuse. I am he who made it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold, in the same food for which our stomachs yearn.
I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition for that human existence.
Being part of all of these people, and in the knowledge that none dares contest that assertion, I shall claim that – I am an African.
I have seen our country torn asunder as these, all of whom are my people, engaged one another in a titanic battle, the one to redress a wrong that had been caused by one to another and the other, to defend the indefensible.
I have seen what happens when one person has superiority of force over another, when the stronger appropriate to themselves the prerogative even to annul the injunction that God created all men and women in His image.
I know what it signifies when race and colour are used to determine who is human and who, sub-human.
I have seen the destruction of all sense of self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what one is not, simply to acquire some of the benefits which those who had imposed themselves as masters had ensured that they enjoy.
I have experience of the situation in which race and colour is used to enrich some and impoverish the rest.
I have seen the corruption of minds and souls as a result of the pursuit of an ignoble effort to perpetrate a veritable crime against humanity.
I have seen concrete expression of the denial of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious, systemic and systematic oppressive and repressive activities of other human beings.
There the victims parade with no mask to hide the brutish reality – the beggars, the prostitutes, the street children, those who seek solace in substance abuse, those who have to steal to assuage hunger, those who have to lose their sanity because to be sane is to invite pain.
Perhaps the worst among these, who are my people, are those who have learnt to kill for a wage. To these the extent of death is directly proportional to their personal welfare.
And so, like pawns in the service of demented souls, they kill in furtherance of the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. They murder the innocent in the taxi wars.
They kill slowly or quickly in order to make profits from the illegal trade in narcotics. They are available for hire when husband wants to murder wife and wife, husband.
Among us prowl the products of our immoral and amoral past – killers who have no sense of the worth of human life, rapists who have absolute disdain for the women of our country, animals who would seek to benefit from the vulnerability of the children, the disabled, and the old, the rapacious who brook no obstacle in their quest for self-enrichment.
All this I know and know to be true because I am an African!
Because of that, I am also able to state this fundamental truth that I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines.
I am born of a people who would not tolerate oppression.
I am of a nation that would not allow that fear of death, of torture, of imprisonment, of exile or persecution should result in the perpetuation of injustice.
The great masses who are our mother and father will not permit that the behaviour of the few results in the description of our country and people as barbaric.
Patient because history is on their side, these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines.
Whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be.
We are assembled here today to mark their victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their own definition of what it means to be African.
The Constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our African-ness shall be defined by our race, our colour, our gender or our historical origins.
It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, Black and White.
It gives concrete expression to the sentiment we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the people shall govern.
It recognises the fact that the dignity of the individual is both an objective which society must pursue, and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material well-being of that individual.
It seeks to create the situation in which all our people shall be free from fear, including the fear of the oppression of one national group by another, the fear of the disempowerment of one social echelon by another, the fear of the use of state power to deny anybody their fundamental human rights and the fear of tyranny.
It aims to open the doors so that those who were disadvantaged can assume their place in society as equals with their fellow human beings without regards to colour, to race, to gender, to age or to geographic dispersal.
It provides the opportunity to enable each one and all to state their views, to promote them, to strive for their implementation in the process of governance without fear that a contrary view will be met with repression.
It creates a law-governed society which shall be inimical to arbitrary rule.
It enables the resolution of conflicts by peaceful means rather than resort to force.
It rejoices in the diversity of our people and creates the space for all of us voluntarily to define ourselves as one people.
As an African, this is an achievement of which I am proud, proud without reservation and proud without any feeling of conceit.
Our sense of elevation at this moment also derives from the fact that this magnificent product is the unique creation of African hands and African minds.
But it also constitutes a tribute to our loss of vanity that we could, despite the temptation to treat ourselves as an exceptional fragment of humanity, draw on the accumulated experience and wisdom of all humankind, to define for ourselves what we want to be.
Together with the best in the world, we too are prone to pettiness, to petulance, selfishness and short-sightedness.
But it seems to have happened that we looked at ourselves and said the time had come that we make a super-human effort to be other than human, to respond to the call to create for ourselves a glorious future, to remind ourselves of the Latin saying: Gloria est consequenda – Glory must be sought after.
Today it feels good to be an African.
It feels good that I can stand here as a South African and as a foot soldier of a titanic African army, the African National Congress, to say to all the parties represented here, to the millions who made an input into the processes we are concluding, to our outstanding compatriots who have presided over the birth of our founding document, to the negotiators who pitted their wits one against the other, to the unseen stars who shone unseen as the management and administration of the Constitutional Assembly, the advisers, the experts and the publicists, to the mass communication media, to our friends across the globe – congratulations and well done!
I am an African.
I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa.
The pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, and of Somalia, of the Sudan, of Burundi and Algeria is a pain I also bear.
The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.
The blight on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of human affairs leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair.
This is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned. The evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.
Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!
Thank you very much.
For years, many prophesied that December 21st, 2012 (12/21/12) on the western Gregorian calendar would usher in the biblically-forecast time of the Apocalypse (‘lifting of the veil’), because this date marked the end of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar cycle of 5,126 years. New Age thinkers seized on this date as marking the end of the Age of Pisces (aka the Christian or Common Era – CE) and the beginning of the Aquarian Age (aka the Golden Era); the transition between the two characterized by an “End Times” season of cataclysm and transformation. Festivities commemorating the December 21st, 2012 event took place at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala, and other Maya civilization countries such as Honduras and El Salvador.
Today is 12/21/12 in the Horn of Africa [see calendar conversion link]. Comprising the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti, the Horn of Africa is so named because the map of Africa’s easternmost extension resembles the profile of a rhinoceros horn. The name “Maya” in the Ethiopian Semitic language of Amharic means “a lens that helps to see further.” Given the tumultuous events that are unfolding in this Gregorian calendar year of 2020, perhaps the 12/21/12 Mayan calendar prophecy is that lens which would help to further our seeing of this same date when interpreted on an ancestral African timeline. Time-space agendas, frequencies and eschatological beliefs attached to calculations of “2012” on the Gregorian-calendar have created a competing Eurocentric timeline… mainly to uphold the matrix created with stolen knowledge from ancient Egypt/Kemet.
“Know the world in yourself. Never look for yourself in the world, for this would be to project your illusion” [proverb from Ipet-Resyt – the southern sanctuary of Amun-Mut of ancient Egypt]. In Hindu mythology, “Maya” means illusion. The western Gregorian calendar which currently regulates most of the world’s affairs was introduced in 1582 CE by Roman-Catholic Pope Gregory XIII; superseding the Julian calendar which had been implemented in Europe by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE. Both these and other calendars were revisions of and successors to the ancient Egyptian calendar as the Roman Empire gained in its control of space and time, constructing the threshold that brought humanity from “BC” to “AD” 2,020 years ago...
If hindsight is 20/20, perhaps the eschatological beliefs that failed to manifest the prophesied Apocalypse in 2012 was a revelation of “Maya” in the Hindu sense? After all, the Gregorian time-space narrative was constructed with Jesus in the starring role as humanity’s crucified savior whose return to earth was scripted as a triumphant and apocalyptic Second Coming. The image of Jesus – which was a central propaganda tool in this globally-proselytized Christian program – is said to have been modeled on Cesare Borgia, the “illegitimate” son of Pope Alexander VI. Jesus’ birth as God’s divine son was the purported fulfillment of Angel Gabriel’s announcement of Madonna Mary’s impending immaculate conception/virgin birth which justified pivoting the world from “BC” to “AD” on the Euro-patriarchal timeline. According to scholars of the Ethiopian timeline which is a sabbatical period “in arrears” of the upstart Gregorian one (saba in Kiswahili means “7”… also see sabbath) – though both trace back to ancient Egyptian calendrical calculations and ‘savior’ narratives, this Divine Birth-day creates the key point of divergence on the Africa-centered and matriarchal timeline…
Upon the inner walls of Ipet Resyt – “the southern sanctuary” built for God/dess consorts Amun’Re/Mut known today as the Luxor Temple in Egypt – lies the 1350 BCE origin of the biblical ‘Annunciation.’ According to John Anthony West [click picture for video: link @ 1:17:20], surrounding transcriptions of the communication depicted taking place between Amun’Re and his consort goddess Mut indicate that in this conversation Amun’Re is informing his beloved that she will give birth to a divine son/savior. Their conversation is furthermore linked to the ancient Mysteries of Ausar-Auset-Heru – aka the “Holy Trinity” – and their various challenges against the shadow, Set (predatory god of the wilderness, chaos, violence, foreign oppressors, illness, perversion…) aka biblical “Satan.”
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Horn of Africa uses a calendar identical to the Ethiopian one for its liturgical year. On the Eritrean Ge’ez calendar, New Year is referred to as Ri’se Awde Amet (“Head Anniversary”). Enkutatash (“gift of jewels”) – the Amharic word for the Ethiopian New Year – occurs on September 11th of the Gregorian calendar, except for leap years [e.g. 2020] when it occurs on September 12th. The Ethiopian Enkutatash tradition comes from a time when the Queen of the South (aka Makeda or Sheba) was showered with gifts of jewels (enku) upon her return from Jerusalem where, according to legend, she visited with King Solomon. This visit purportedly resulted in the Queen of Sheba’s pregnancy which began Africa’s Solomonic Dynasty.
In 1920, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. prophesied: “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned; he shall be your Redeemer.” Before declaring a man ‘King… Redeemer… Messiah… etc.,’ in African oral traditions, his would-be constituency will first “wait to see how he dances!” For the Rastafari community in Garvey’s native Jamaica, the 1930 coronation of Haile Selassie of the Solomonic Dynasty as Emperor of Ethiopia – the sole African country to have ‘danced with the devil’ (Set) & resisted outright European colonization – was seen as a fulfillment of Garvey’s prophecy. Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael – hence the Ras-Tafari designation and belief in him as the prophesied messiah, Jah Rastafari aka Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
2019 (Gregorian) closed out a historical 400-year period of slavery… a biblical period [Genesis 15:13] that was noted in legislation and celebrations as an “End Times” of sorts… Africa’s “Year of Return.” 2020 has been epic and Apocalyptic in its challenge for human consciousness to ascend and rise out from under the veil – the predatory, elite-run 3D-matrix of containment [slavery… apartheid… colonialism…] called “Babylon” in Rastafari biblical reasoning and parlance. Such “Revelation” in BaNtu thought would return humanity to unity-conscious living under the traditional philosophy of “UbuNtu ~ I am, because we are…” A proverb from Ipet-Resyt (‘the southern sanctuary’ of God/dess consorts Amun’Re/Mut) instructs: “The kingdom of Heaven is already within you; if you understand yourself you will find it… As within, so without.” Euro-patriarchal appropriations of such ancestral wisdom, & their systemically racist institutional applications are being rejected globally in this current 2020 Apocalyptic season of revelation, judgment, & return… UbuNtu ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Emperor/Empress Lion-energy furthermore signifies the mastery of one’s life-lessons – bringing ’20/20′ clarity of the world within, & thus ending karmic cycles in the world without through those who do the necessary shadow-work that neutralizes Set and restores Heaven-on-Earth. In this regard it is fascinating to note that Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael – aka Emperor Haile Selassie aka Jah Rastafari aka Lion of the Tribe of Judah – was born on July 12th, 1892 and transitioned exactly 45 years ago today… on August 27th, 1975. Both dates straddle the astronomical Lions Gate [July 26th through August 12th] when examined with the Gregorian calendar-as-placeholder. According to the Horn of Africa’s Ancestral timeline and ancient Nile Valley Mysteries, today – August 27th, 2020 Gregorian – is the actual 12/21/12… ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Amun… ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ May[a] we see further…
August 8th, known as the Lions Gate, has been revered for several thousand years as the date that marks the peak of an influx of high-frequency energy onto planet Earth from the star Sirius, which is in its closest proximity to earth from July 26th through August 12th – the full period of the Lions Gate opening or Galactic New Year. Second in brightness only to the sun, to Ancient Egyptians this star was revered as their “Spiritual Sun” and referred to as Auset’s star Sopdet – Spdt, meaning “she who is sharp.”
The Lions Gate is the annual season when Spdt comes into her most pristine alignment with Re [the Sun], Geb [the Earth], and Sah – the Hunter constellation identified with ancient Egypt’s King Ausar – called Orion in Greek. During this cosmic portal, Sopdet – the spiritual Sun – emits an ancient activating energy so powerful as to cause the annual inundation which has sustained Nile River Valley communities over several millennia, whilst spurring the collective ascension of human consciousness throughout earth – the land or house of Geb/Keb. The August 8th peak of the Lions Gate is when Sopdet is said to perfectly align with the shaft from Queen Auset’s Chamber within the Great Pyramid of Giza, in concert with that from King Ausar’s Chamber aligning with Alnitak, one of the three stars of the Hunter constellation’s belt. Known as the “3 Wise Men” or the “3 Sisters,” these three stars form the cosmic blueprint from which the complex known as the Pyramids of Giza were built.
“As above, so below… As within, so without” are codes which remain key to Kemet’s ancient Mystery System. Thus, the Nile River represents the Milky Way (called Maziwa Mkuu in Kiswahili, meaning ‘great milk’) on earth ‘below’ as in heaven ‘above’. Two lions are said to hold open this magnificent time-space portal, one of which is represented by the Great Sphinx whose figure is an earthly representation of the constellation of Leo and a key piece of the puzzle of relationships within the Milky Way galaxy ‘above & below’. Lying on the west bank of the Nile river, the Great Sphinx is poised with its tail to the west [where the sun exits] as it faces directly east towards the sun’s reentry. The Lions Gate [7/26 – 8/12] opens within the astrological season of Leo, adding to the influx of regal energy from the alignment between Earth and the Universe’s Galactic Center, which reaches its peak on 8/8 over African soil. It is a powerful reminder of Heaven-on-Earth’s potency, symbolized ‘within & without’ through the quintessential Divine Love that exists between cosmic Hunter Ausar and his earthly Gatherer, Throne Queen, and Spiritual Sun – Auset.
According to the mythology of Ausar-Auset, in a jealous bid to usurp their Heaven-on-Earth throne, Set murders King Ausar, dismembering his body into 14 parts and scattering them in the wilderness [African Diaspora] so as to prevent his resurrection and return. Set the antagonist is god of chaos, foreign oppressors, violence, perversion, illness, and the desert who caused Egypt to be widowed of the gods and humanity to be trapped in his false predatory matrix. After widow Auset searches the wilderness and manages to retrieve and mummify only 13 of her husband’s mutilated body parts, it is up to Heru, her posthumously/immaculately-conceived son with King Ausar, to become the Warrior who avenges his father’s fate and restores divine order to the kingdom by defeating Set…
Pyramid texts speak of Heru as the Great Lion: “Horus who comes forth from the acacia to whom it was commanded: ‘Beware of the lion’. May he come forth to whom it was commanded: ‘Beware of the lion’.” [Pyramid Text 436a-b]
Africa’s Acacia tree, which is sacred to goddess Auset, has long been associated with ancient mysteries including the secrets to life, death, healing, sustenance, and resurrection – hence their organic ties to matriarchal goddesses. Linked to the Akashic Records, the astral ancestral library where everything that has or will ever occur is recorded, the Acacia trees in Heliopolis were thought to have been the birthplace of the very first deities. Heliopolis (called On in Lower Egypt), was the ancient worship center of sun-god Re whose celestial boat was made of Acacia wood in its hind parts (palm wood in its fore-parts). The mythologies of Ausar-Auset are Heliopolitan in their derivation and orientation, e.g. the reference to Ausar as ‘the one in the tree… the solitary one in the acacia.’ This saying was based on the version of their story in which Auset releases her husband’s body from a pillar in Byblos that had been fashioned out of the tree which enclosed the coffin King Ausar had been tricked into entering as Set’s ploy to usurp Egypt’s throne. Symbolizing the immortality of the soul in Freemasonry, the thorny acacia tree otherwise represents Ausar’s backbone, depicted as the Djed Pillar in this particular mythological account.
Trees act as resurrection portals and/or gateways between worlds in ancient Egyptian Mysteries, such as the Sycamores (associated with goddesses Nut & Hathor) through which Re rises as the Sun each day from the east: “I know the two sycamores of turquoise between which Re comes forth, when he passes over the supports of Shu to the gate of the lord of the east from which Re comes forth” [Book of the Dead: Ch. 109]. Auset & Nepthys were regarded similarly as “the two Acacias.” Thus, these Mother Trees act as do the two lions which hold open the portal for the “Spiritual Sun” Sopdet to rise as the consort of Sah during the Lions Gate season, in order to usher forth the blessings of the Galactic New Year with the annual inundation of the Nile River. Their child, hawk god Heru-Sopdu is referred to as “Lord of the East,” thus presaging mythologies surrounding the Ausar-Auset-Heru trinity as key personifications of spiritual motifs that connect us organically to our higher selves… “As above, so below.”
“As within, so without” is a principle that plays out in the eternal relationship that exists between Ausar-Auset, their love representing a Heaven-on-Earth divine order, which is interrupted by the chaos that Set’s predatory rule brings, i.e. until Heru is able to successfully accomplish his Hero’s Journey and restore Ma’at/UbuNtu… unity-consciousness. For Africa, the earthly source and staging of these love-as-salvation narratives, Set is representative of a false matrix built on slavery, colonialism, apartheid & neo-colonialism which has in-formed the external elite-run global systems and misled most of humanity into a profound sense of isolation, alienation, disconnection, & disorientation. Heru – “[the Lion] who comes forth from the acacia…” [Pyramid Text 436a-b] – thus has his work cut out for him.
Again, in this case the acacia reference represents a fascinating organic matriarchal portal between worlds for Heru as the prototype of humanity’s savior-figure [translated into Christian scripture as the savior “Jesus”]… one that does not entertain predatory or parasitic relationships of dysfunctional dependency [read “slavery… apartheid… neo-colonialism…”]. Deep inside Africa – home to the regal lion – the acacia tree itself has a characteristic dome-shaped canopy due to the way indigenous giraffes graze, which they have to do carefully because the acacia senses this feeding activity and releases tannin, a defensive poison that can kill from the overgrazing of its leaves. The acacia then emits ethylene on the wind, a chemical that alerts other acacia trees to preemptively defend themselves against “predators” by producing tannin also. DMT, a hallucinogen associated with spiritual experiences, is present in various species of the tree such as the Acacia Nilotica.
The Lions Gate represents so much to so many, especially during this dramatic period of humanity’s ascension in 2020 (Gregorian timeline). Feline power, highly revered in Kemet, is front and center as the astrological symbol for Leo and also as the identity of an ancient Egyptian annointed as “Opener of Heaven’s Door.” Among her other titles, Goddess Seshat – “Foremost of the per-Ankh” – is also known as the “Panther Goddess” and “She of Seven Points” in reference to her highly emblematic dress and crown, respectively. Her 7-pointed crown, not unlike that of America’s Lady Liberty, is actually symbolic of the overthrow of 3D systemic oppression. Her panther-skin dress returns our consciousness to humanity’s African source and the need to descramble and purge predatory Victorian-era matrix codes that have morphed into parasitic neo-colonial arrangements which have imprisoned the human spirit and its potential. These and other ancient unity-conscious codes [UbuNtu] are key to human ascension & Heaven-on-Earth reparations... “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee…” [SoS 6:13] “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” [Rev. 3:11] Blessed Be… ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
A song of adulation, love and fear
No one loved him better, no one better sacrificed
She gave her angels that summer night
Destiny and love don’t always go hand in hand (Hand in hand)
As the world lay waiting like an embryo in a womb
She gave her angels that night in June (She gave her angels)
To watch over him till she returned – her man, her lover, her son
Her father for all these things he meant to her, she felt it right
She gave her angels that summer night [Repeat: 2X]
- Songwriter/Artist: Prince Rogers Nelson (as )
- First Released: 29 January 1998 – Crystal Ball album
- Fan Music Video by VDJ Vivacity …“This is a beautiful Prince song and definitely deserved a full music video beyond the snippet performed on Muppets Tonight.“ (LINK added by me 🙂 …SEE ‘She Gave Her Angels’ Muppets footage @ 17:42)
On May 25th (“5/25”) 2020, two recorded events made headlines in the African Diaspora. Both were horrific in the degree to which they were racially-charged and played out from the standpoint of white privilege and callousness against black lives. One was a blatant attempt to provoke a potentially dangerous police-confrontation against an innocent bird-watcher (Christian Cooper) in New York’s Central Park; and the other which demonstrated that potential when George Floyd lived his final 8m:46s under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Unfortunately, such occurences as these are not uncommon, and the long list of African victims goes back to the era of slavery whose evils live on and play out in toxic ways from that unexorcised and overly-policed space which nonetheless claims to be the land and home of the free and brave. Officially commemorated as Memorial Day, May 25th – the date of these occurences and America’s unofficial start of summer – is, perhaps ironically, also observed as African Liberation Day… Read More
In no other place on earth were deities so closely associated with their trees as in ancient Egyptian mythology and eschatology, Trees of Life upon which an external god later attached “forbidden fruit” as his rationale for humanity’s exile from Eden. Trees in ancient Egypt were revered as sacred, and regarded as the organic dominion of ancient female sky deities whose role included facilitating the passage of the soul [ba] into the afterlife. The sycamore [nehet] became perhaps the most important of Egyptian sacred trees which include the date palm; acacia; and persea or ished tree. Although male deities were mythically connected to sacred trees and the wooden coffins that transported them to the afterlife, they were never identified with the trees themselves. Often planted near tombs, the sycamore represented the womb to which the departed were returned, sometimes in coffins made from the wood of this Mother Tree. Goddess Hathor and Nut in particular – as anthropomorphic Mother Trees – were depicted connecting the worlds: heaven/underworld… above/below… within/without… now/hereafter… Read More
April 21st marks the anniversary of a day, four years ago, when Majesty and Divinity fell uncharacteristically silent. I learned about this after hearing their voices on a hauntingly beautiful music track that I’ve only recently discovered. I’d been drawn by the title of the track as I waxed nostalgic about the teenage version of me who’d walk several miles between my family home in Spring Valley to Kenya High during holidays just to play one of my school’s pianos for an hour or so. Granted that was less time than it had taken me to get there on foot, but I had the return trip to consider. Along the way, I’d pass by the Chiromo campus of the University of Nairobi where I’d always feel rejuvenated by the lush greens and natural habitation of the adjacent arboretum…
Arboretum, the moving piano piece in question that Prince recorded in his atrium at Paisley Park, is the 10th and final track on his 25th studio album entitled One Nite Alone… Released by NPG Records on May 14th 2002, Prince thoughtfully noted, “Ambient singing: the doves – Divinity and Majesty” in his Album Credits. Prince’s beloved pets are heard and warmly felt, presumably from their cage on the balcony overlooking Paisley Park’s sky-lit atrium as the artist performed & recorded his composition. At the end of Arboretum, the sound of heeled footsteps on an uncarpeted floor come through, painting an image on my mental screen of the artist walking away from his piano, perhaps retreating to a more personal recess of his creative complex that has now become a museum in suburban Minneapolis…
Chanhassen (said Minneapolis suburb) is a First Nation name in the Sioux language of the Dakota, meaning the tree with sweet sap – or sugar maple tree. Arboretum (trans: ‘botanical garden devoted to trees’), may well have been Prince’s musical alignment with & nod to the Minnesota city of his residence. Inspired by this thought, my memories meander between Nairobi Arboretum & western Kenya’s Kakamega Forest where I wasn’t an unfamiliar presence. I remember rhythmic singing suddenly breaking out from the perches of Red-eyed Doves (Columba semitorquata), which made me want to celebrate in dance each time. [Ref. Dove #2 in Lynette Rudman’s video below: #1: Tambourine Dove; #2: Red-eyed Dove; #3: Ring-necked Dove; #4: Mourning collared Dove; #5: Laughing Dove; #6: Emerald-spotted Wood Dove; #7: Namaqua Dove].
I’d like to imagine that my late father, a zoologist who specialized in the study of bats, would indulge my efforts to do due diligence to scientific inquiry [*ahem!]… albeit in service to these belated musings on the environs of Paisley Park and its mysterious, dove-loving nester. Speaking of which, in his first hit from Purple Rain – the 6th studio album that was released on June 25th, 1984 – Prince may creatively have been going for the ambience of Zenaida macroura [*cough!] – aka Mourning Doves. Now every time I hear the haunting and sad cooing sound for which this ubiquitous species is named, I think When Doves Cry…
Majesty and Divinity simply “stopped talking” after Prince crossed over, according to his sister Tyka in a 2016 Today show interview. Upon realizing this, Tyka instructed the Paisley Park staff to “play some Prince music” for his pet doves in order to help bring them out of their mournful silence. Just wow! Mother Nature’s collective consciousness is a font of endless fascination, particularly for me as a somewhat quirky expression from humanity’s African source. From his space in the diaspora, Prince was tapped into this same source on levels I’m only now beginning to appreciate. Beyond his music, there’s coded mystery in the architectural choices of the artist’s Paisley Park nesting and creative space that awaken my own epic memory. There are the pyramid skylights on the main building… the separate yet connected ‘Egg building’… and even the address itself…
…7801 Audubon Road is Paisley Park‘s street address which for me recalls renowned ornithologist John James Audubon. Born in Haiti in 1785, Audubon was noted for his paintings of birds, over 1,000 of which were documented in his book, Birds of America. The National Audubon Society was founded in his memory in 1886 to focus on the preservation and study of birds.
But beyond their zoological details, birds are profoundly symbolic as winged messengers who navigate the skies and/or heavenly realms. Doves in particular symbolize love, hope, peace, gentleness, inner initiation, the Holy Spirit, eternal life… In the biblical Song of Songs there are several dove references in the communication between the Shulamite and her Beloved’s conjoined Spirit. One of the references that I visit time and again is: “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set” [SoS 5:12]. In the pre-biblical Auset-Ausar-Heru mythology of Kemet, Goddess Hathor – “Lady of the Southern Sycamore” – used milk from Her sacred tree to restore sight to Heru after one of his epic battles against Set (usurper of Ausar’s heaven-on-earth throne). Heru – a precursor savior-figure and defender of his father Ausar’s throne (depicted as Auset’s crown) – is himself portrayed as a falcon-headed god. *******
“ARBORETUM”… The messages that a gently-played piano and a well-placed mic cause my quirky African ears to hear in 5D+… The ambient coo-ing of Majesty and Divinity, who raise homing frequencies into realms that cloak ascended masters from far too many robotic eyes & ears… “Don’t get lost in the forest,” Mother Tree entreats, long after his retreating footsteps have become silent… He ventures forth with the sweet sap of other trees which cause 3rd-eyes to open & soulful consciousness to reign like Purple… “Yo Twenny/Twenny, W’sup!? DJs R droppin’ beats like mad Grand Mixers @ homie’s joint. We jumpin’ time-lines… 2012 Party Override!”
If I could be the Red-eyed Dove’s lyricist during these roller-coaster times, my words to its rhythmic song would be: “I. Am! B’Cuz? …We. Rrrr!” Nothing fancy. Just a cultural mantra that takes me back to Mother Nature’s embrace & the free-quency of the great “I AM.” Throw some dance-floor swag up in that Song of Songs, like back in the day 😉 Old-School-style...UbuNtu, the guiding narrative of our 5D+ uni-verse: “I Am because We are!” In order to move forward on our S/Hero Journey, Sankofa adds that: we must first recover & reclaim that which was forgotten, lost or stolen. ❤ ❤ ❤ So Keep Your Vibrations High, Dearly Beloved ❤ Don’t let ‘the elevator bring us down’ ❤ Know that U R Majestic and Divine ❤ Let no one take Thy Crown [Rev. 3:11] ❤ ❤ ❤
“Only the black woman can say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole …race enters with me.’” [Anna J. Cooper, 1892] Dr. Anna Julia Cooper was born into slavery on August 10th, 1858 [d. 2/27/1964]. An activist during her life, Cooper triumphed over race and gender barriers to become a prominent scholar, educator, author, sociologist, and speaker. She received her education at St. Augustine’s University (NC), Oberlin College (OH), Columbia University (NY), and the University of Paris (Sorbonne) where, in 1924, Cooper became the 4th African-American woman to earn a doctorate with her Ph.D. in history. Author of the 1892 book A Voice from the South, which became a classic black feminist text, Cooper is often referred to as the Mother… or Matriarch of Black Womanism. Read More
Andreas Woods aka Kwaw Imana, the mathematics-major Morehouse class of 2000 Valedictorian who would go on to get a Ph.D. in Egyptology, used this moment in the Morehouse spotlight to explain why he rejected the Cecil Rhodes Scholarship for himself. Morehouse is an all-male HBCU. Rhodes’ legacy is that of an avowed white supremacist, reported pedophile, architect of apartheid, & agent of other colonial chaos in Afrika [i.e. ‘Set’ of Kemetic mythology]. Rhodes remains buried in Zimbabwe [colonial ‘Rhodesia’] since his death in 1902, while Britain erected an altar to Rhodes in the form of his statue at Oxford University in 1934! Reciting a poem by George Tait entitled I Am A Black Man, Kwaw Andreas Woods Imana – like Heru [‘Horus/Hero’] in Kemetic mythology – aligns the struggle of Afrika-descended manhood within the knowledge industry against its complicity in codifying and perpetuating systemic racism. #RhodesMustFall Read More
[CLICK TITLE BELOW TO LINK TO ORIGINAL 2/11/17 POST]
Ta-Nehisi Coates rewrote the map of Wakanda. Of all his work on Black Panther and related comics, the new map impresses me the most. It is, while not wordy, the most literary action. While seemingly nonjudgmental, the most political. He de-anglicized some of the place names and outright removed those with – at best – unfortunate connotations, such as the Primitive Peaks and what is listed on earlier maps as Domain of the White Gorillas (Mostly Uncharted). He concretized Wakanda’s six major cities, in opposition to earlier versions of “mostly uncharted” or generic “Woods” surrounding a centralized city that counts.In passing, this might not even register with the average reader. Some people jump over extras, anyway, but more than that simply don’t sight-read everything and put it into an orchestrated context with a story set in the place a map is illustrating.
People do not often interpolate place names, nearness to waterways or distance from agriculture as even purposeful decisions made by an author. We do not consider it when we know the map is a fiction of a fictional place. We don’t question it when we know it’s an engineered clarification of a real space. And, to be fair, we really aren’t taught that we should, or taught how we can.
Sidenote: Coates and Stelfreeze are talking to something like seven different completely-formed and articulate audiences with every release of Black Panther.
Our primary introductions to maps probably presented them to us as objective and inarguable. It would feel different if a person went around naming everything and claiming it, in real time before us, as theirs or belonging to this ally, etc. Walk up to a local and go, “This thing you call _____ is now _____ because that’s my language and this is about me and what fits well in my mouth,” and the sense is very different than when it’s been done quietly, beforehand, without our witnessing.
The authorship of a map is usually entirely erased by the time we peruse it. That there was an author is obscured from us, in the case of real maps, so they will have the power of truth, and in the case of imaginal lands, so they have the power of conviction. To read a map without questioning the choices of labels, boundaries, or distortions is to be as colonized as the land is as the map is drawn.
We grow up reading maps and we spend year after year in school, most of us, learning cultural ecologies in History, in Cultural Geography, World Cultures, what have you, and yet, don’t consider these systems and narratives to have an angle. We expect the explanation of city life in Italy or rural life in Uganda to be as objective as the multiplication tables in Math class. We extend this to maps of fictional locales the same way we do not anticipate the math or science in a story will be false unless it highlights its falsity.
Sidenote: Anecdotal facts couched within otherwise pure fiction are still treated as objective truths by many in any given audience.
A smart author and in this case I am considering all major contributors as authors, visual artists, wordsmiths, anyone making a significant choice in regards image or text. Of course, not all comics – not all of any media – is up to the nominal authors, and sometimes you’re tasked with something, as Eliot R Brown was. A former technical artist and designer for Marvel, the first serious effort at a map of Gotham City was Brown’s first work for DC. And, it was a work where revisions seem to have piled onto revisions to the point where the work may be said to have lost any cohesive authoring, and not really, even, a steady hand stitching the piecemeal together.
In fact, the map as it has been published and republished/reused (in movies, advertisements, comics, etc) does not line up with the final version that Brown turned in.
Further down the control-scale we have the map generated for Marvel’s Age of Apocalypse, which just knocks out South America and the Middle East as “Atrocity Zone” or just irradiated wasteland, but also gives us San Francisco, Dallas, and Chicago while the “Human Settlements” in Africa (which, in comics scenes, plenty of exoticism and nonsense) are given no names or clarification.Sidenote: A cognitive map is a mental representation (and thereby a useful distortion) of the relative locations and attributes in a spatial environment. All maps of Wakanda, in print, are representative of cognitive maps.
The anglocentric nature of the map, that the only details are given over to the United States and to England, even in an anglophone comic, seems to run contrary to the intent of a map of the world, illustrating a world issue. It’s a serviceable map, but barely even that. And, even some people who worked intimately on the comics seem unsure how the map really came to be what it is. While the Gotham map may lack an authoritative author, it has authority, while this map does not even have that.
I mention these, primarily, to show the strength of the authorship and cohesive intent of the Coates and Manny Mederos map. But, divers hands or not, cognizant expressions or not, all of these maps are subject to the purviews of cultural ecology, behavioral geography, psychogeography, implicit history and the privileging of information and assumptions. Just because the Coates and Mederos map uses the phrase “political geography,” right on it, does not mean it has more of a political geography than those generated by cartographers or authors who did not use the phrase.Not intending something is never the same as not doing something. Intent does not govern effect. Warrior Falls and Black Warrior Creek to the east of “Mostly Uncharted” and north of Primitive Peaks, no matter how well-intended, had certain effects back when that map of Wakanda was created, and it has different, and perhaps more sharply-felt-by-a-wider-audience effects when considered today. Knocking out all of South America as “wasteland” and leaving Australia completely off your word map has effects. The AoA map isn’t a map of the world, but a map of an embarrassingly childish American perspective of the world. The Gotham map is articulate and full, and its use by storytellers as a settingSidenote: Cultural ecology is the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments. But, in fiction, the near-opposite occurs, and social and physical environments are adapted to primary characters and prefigured plots.
All maps are representative of cognitive maps. Presence and repetition, familiarity and novelty encourages our reflex perceptions and tells us our left from right, our uptown from downtown, why Australia is a continent and why Europe is one (and why some people expect Central America to be one). Maps aren’t topographies and geography. Maps, illustrate.
How we describe worlds describes us. What we accept, how we engage with maps, with the cultural and political ecologies drafted and concretized by authors can define us as readers. When I refer disparagingly to aspects of some of these maps, when I question or beg questions, I am not trying to insult, or even accuse the cartographers and authors. I am grateful for their good work, and for them having done it. Having done their work, the maps are – in many significant ways – no longer about them.