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

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Analysis - With Richard Run­yararo Ma­homva

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.

President Mu­gabe

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