The epistemic circular combating the pandemonium of the secular
The concept of Afrocentricity categorically speaks of situating African ideas at the centre of other ideas
IT is early evening on Thursday at the National Gallery in Harare, soon the place is to be set ablaze by lined up performances and exchanges of the first session of the Hunhu/Ubuntu night. The stage is being set, sound checks going on, one or two comrades adorned in one dashiki design blending well into the tapestry of the many dashikis worn by the other trickling sojourners. Well, before beginning of the session, the house is becoming full — a reflective caution to the conveners of the forum to find a bigger space for the following episodes of the forum as it is anticipated that it will soon graduate to being a bigger platform for decolonising Harare through music, poetry, dance and re-living the values of Ubuntu/Hunhu.
The host reminds the house that the night marks a reclamation of the fundamentals of the density of Blackness as expressed through peace, love, unity, happiness and oneness. What a relief to the heart and a feeling of security that came with the announcement of the house’s safety from violence and agony which surrounds the city life in Harare.
The sanctuary feeling that came along with that kind of welcome resonates with the name of the hosting venue in the Gallery — the Sanctuary pub.
However, coming from work wearing my tie and jacket, I felt like a lost element in this space. Next time, it is strictly no tie and jacket. After all, the tie and jacket interfered with my reaction to the live commands of the mbira sound and the drumming which punctuated commencement and the ultimate knot tied to seal this event to its end close to midnight.
Flash-forward! The stage ( dariro) is now set using a circular decorum of the drums marking the boundary of the stage (symbolic of a sacred alter) and the sitting space of the audience.
The dariro (cycle/stage) marked out by the drums is symbolic of a moral, judicial and aesthetic structure of philosophical magnitude as it is usually repeated in almost all African architectural structures and aestheticism. The architecture at the Great Zimbabwe and Khami Complex (not ruins) is an apt description of the circular essence of African ingenuity and spirituality.
The African circle is an aesthetic structure, which deliberately situates the performer and the audience in one array of chants characterised by a lead and accompaniment. Here the point of synergy resides in the “call-and response” methodology of message conveyance. Hence, the continuity and oneness, which comes with the singing and rhythmic clapping in almost every African traditional music genres across the c ont i n e nt ’ s ethn ic divides.
Th is view is synonymous with the fact that a circle (dariro) represents a dare. The dare concept connotes legitimacy of the instructive call by those who have been chosen to lead. When they lead the song, the dance, the path or the court case, they must also wait for the response. Those regarded as the custodians of this “call and response” method are only incumbents of leading a process whose parameters are set out by the group and may be asked by the rest of the circle to pause, stop or they may be told to correct their lead tone, their movement, voice projections or lyrical arrangements. That is if it is not possible for the rest of the dariro or dare to affirm what they will have sung or said or done in lead.
The essence of oneness encapsulated in the dariro/dare philosophy also finds its neat woven structure in Africa’s liberation discourse. Thus when one reads Ngugi wa Thiongo’s I Will Marry When I Want , the idea “Harambe” (pulling and working together in unity) — is emphasised. The memoirs written by Azanian decolonialists from Steve Biko, Chris Hani and Nelson Mandela reminiscent of ANC slogans and their grounding on oneness and the shared dismemberment of the densities of blackness — from knowledge, power and being. Thus the epistemic trademarks of the ANC: Amandla ngawethu; iAfrica mayibuye. (Triumph and victory is ours; to this end the dignity of Africa shall be restored). Likewise, South-Africa’s national anthem (which once was ours too) speaks of a collective supplication of the Wretched of the Earth (To put it in Frantz Fanon’s terms) to be blessed as a family hence the opening verse of the anthem. Nkosi sikeleli’ Africa. Maluphakamiswu ‘dumo lwayo, Izwa imithandazo yethu… The song speaks of a collective call for Africa to be blessed by the cosmos having been a desolate symbol of Europe’s dismemberment and disenfranchisement catalysed through a deceitful process of civilising and Christianising the continent. It was through this process that our connection to the philosophical essence of the dariro/ dare concept was fractured. This gave life to the secular which is an idea masked as liberalism aimed at freeing the human from being accountable to a higher force of power and spiritual command. Even as one traces the structure and co-ordination of the Chimurenga particularly the second armed struggle one comes across the “Dare reChimurenga”. To this day, the modern political discourse benchmarked by symbolisms of circularity hence the reference to President Mugabe as the “centre of power”. However, what is worth noting is that for the centre to exist there must be a border which serves as parameter to guard the centre in exerting the power it represents.
This border is the people, this border is the group. To give a more comprehensive meaning, this border is symbolic of the party and the structures that define its dictates. This means that there is a correlation of the centre and the border (circle/ dare/dariro). In a speech delivered to the Central Committee in 1977, President Mugabe describes this correlation of the centre and the border as internal and external discipline framed on norms and maxims set out by the group:
“On a number of occasions, I have described discipline as having two dimensions — the external and the internal — emphasising that the internal kind of discipline was the more important of the two. Internal discipline is a state of order within a person that propels him to do the right things. It is a stage of individual development that resolves the contradictions within an individual. The pull to be selfish is counterbalanced by a greater pull to be selfless, the pull to drunkenness is countered by one to moderation, the pull to disobedience is negatived by that to obedience, the pull to sexual givenness yields to sexual restraint, deviation is corrected by compliance and individualism by collectivism.”
In this revolutionary sermon President Mugabe further preaches:
“The individual must comply with the order laid down by the group. Our group is the Party called Zanu. Zanu has an order, rules and regulations which make its system — the Zanu system of behaviour. When an individual cannot subject himself to discipline, then external discipline must apply. The Party must compel him to conform.” The contest of the circular with the
secular in an African context Therefore, it is this clash of the circular ( dare) with the secular (coloniality) which has made Africa and her people to be representations of ontological and philosophical bi-polar crisis.
As we try to reach a compromise between the circular and the secular who are diagnosed with identity crisis, self-hate and endless escapes from the essence of our being as described in Fanon’s seminal psychoanalytical projections of Blackness.
Supported by Homi Bhabha, Fanon’s work presents the rightful prescriptions of a wretched people’s desire to be post-colonial.
Guided by this approach, attempts to be post-colonial find lodgment in panAfricanism and to a relatively reasonable extent in nationalism.
This is why pan-Africanism adopts the circular ethos of a collective, shared and fraternal claim to being African and reclaiming the unity thereof home and abroad.
Therefore pan-Africanism represents the philosophical relevance of the circular and its fight against/with the secular — which in this case represents subtle deconstruction of architecture of humanity from the lenses of Afrocentricity.
As one may notice, the concept of Afrocentricity categorically speaks of situating African ideas at the centre of other ideas.
That means situating African value systems within a circular bordering cosmos because centrality in this case is provisioned by a circular imagination of the power defining velocities, currencies and densities of being — Hunhu/Ubuntu. ALTHOUGH a lot has been said about some companies which are taking their employees for granted, it looks like nothing much has changed and we are seeing the same situation where employees are being abused on a daily basis.
I think the Government should play its part by monitoring the situation in our industries and stop the suffering of people at the hands of these employers who are taking advantage of our economy which is not performing well to ill-treat these hard working workers.
Workers are not allowed to complain even if the salaries they are given at the end of every month cannot last for a week. Most companies will tell you that they are making losses even when it is clear that they are making huge profits. If you try to raise a complaint you are told your contract would be terminated.
Most employees are not permanent even though they have been signing contract forms for many years and I think this is a clear testimony that these companies are operating viable businesses.
Only last week we witnessed some massive demonstrations in Harare where bank employees felt that enough was enough and went into the streets to protest against the bank which had fired a worker’s representative.
I was disappointed to see that a reputable bank can fire an employee for representing the interests of the workers. I was however, very happy when the police allowed the protest to go ahead. I don’t even know where the trade unions are when workers are suffering like this.
Trade unions are busy these days supporting some political parties instead of standing with the abused employees during these hard times.
Most companies these days wait for the Government to give its employees 13th cheque before they pay their workers. Some of these companies which include parastatals have since been taken to court over nonpayment of bonuses. These companies must not forget that they are what they are today because of the same workers they are harassing.
Supermarket workers work from 7am to 10pm but are getting paltry salaries which are not even enough to pay for their rentals, bills etc.
The salaries cannot even pay for their daily trips to and from work. I am appealing to the Government to come to our rescue.
In the transport sector we all know that there is a lot of confusion where kombi drivers and conductors are given some ridiculous targets every day and are fired if they fail to meet these unreasonable targets. The employers must learn to respect their workers if our economy is to recover. Eddious Masundire Shumba, Bulawayo.