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Liberation Struggle’s songs; our heritage!

By Paul T. Shipale
Last week, the South African Judge Colin Lamont ruled in favour of AfriForum, the lilywhite organisation that purports to look after the interests of minorities while it has championed the rights of one racial group, reported the South African weekly Sunday Times.

Judge Colin Lamont banned one of the liberation struggle’s songs of resistance, Dubul’ibhunu, (shoot the Boers) and obliterated pages from the South African history and heritage by equating the anti-apartheid struggle to apartheid itself that was declared a crime against humanity. Today is a song and who knows what is next? Probably denying that we didn’t fight and our independence was given on a silver platter?

The same Afriforum in whose favour the Judge ruled has fought for the preservation of the symbols of the grotesque policy of apartheid in complete disregard for the pain they inflict on others. This organisation has also spat on the efforts of reconciliation, said the Sunday Times. Thus, Judge Colin Lamont‘s ruling, trying to lecture us on our history and deciding that the song of resistance which was not a call to violence, constitutes hate speech and it should therefore not be sung in public or private functions, brings to the fore the issue of reparations. What has reparations got to do with any of that? You may ask; everything!

Let me begin by noting that reparation is not even mostly about money; in fact, money is not even one percent of what reparation is about. Reparation is mostly about making repair. Self-made repairs on ourselves: mental repairs, psychological repairs, cultural repairs, organisational repairs, social repairs, institutional repairs, technological repairs, repairs of every type that we need in order to recreate sustainable societies.

For the sad truth is that five centuries of exploitation have made our societies brittle and unviable. More important than any monies to be received; more fundamental than any lands to be recovered, is the opportunity reparations offers us for the rehabilitation of our people; opportunities for the rehabilitation of our material condition, our collective reputation, our cultures, our memories, our self-respect, our religious and political traditions as well as our family institutions; but first and foremost for the rehabilitation of our minds and the change it will bring about in our understanding of our history and not about money.

To start with, in retrospect, we allowed others to define us. To Africanize ourselves, we must therefore Afrocentrify our minds. For this reason, Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan, has led what has now become a mass effort to emphasize African contributions to the world.

His book “African Origins of the Major Western Religions”: first published in 1970, continues to be one of Dr. Ben’s most thought-provoking works. His opening sentence sets the tone for the well-researched and documented work. Dr. Ben says, “I shall show that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are as much African as they are Asian in origin, and in no sense what-so-ever European as the title, “Western Religions” suggests;” Dr. Ben shows how the “Mysteries of Egypt” were developed from the ancient religious rites of the indigenous Africans who once occupied the lands around the major great lakes of Central Africa and along the head-waters of the Nile River.”

Dr Ben also points to one case of literature in particular which will identify the Africans as the beginners of the civilization. This proof is housed in the London Museum that is holding artefacts of Egypt in a document called the Papyrus of Hunifer, used by Sir E. A. Wallace Budge in his translation as part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Papyrus of Hunifer. Quoting from the hieratic writing, Dr Ben says “We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon.”

“We,” meaning the Egyptians, as stated, came from the beginning of the Nile. Where is “the beginning of the Nile?” The farthest point of the beginning of the Nile is in Uganda; this is the White Nile. Another point is in Ethiopia. The Blue Nile and White Nile meet in Sudan. Then it flows completely through Sudan into what the Romans called “Nubia,” and then into what the Greeks called “Egypticus”; the English called it “Egypt” and the Jews in their mythology called it “Mizrain” which the current Arabs called Mizr/Mizrair. Thus it ends in the Sea of Sais, also called the Great Sea, today’s Mediterranean Sea.

In fact, according to Professor Louis B. Leakey’s hypothesis of mankind’s monogenetic and African origin, more than 150,000 years ago, beings morphologically identical with the man of today were living in the region of the great lakes at the sources of the Nile and nowhere else. It means that the whole human race had its origin, just as the ancients had guessed, at the foot of the mountains of the Moon. To corroborate this, Cheikh Anta Diop wrote a book titled “the origin of ancient Egyptians” in which he noted the Egyptian Race according to the Classical Authors of Antiquity.

To the Greek and Latin writers contemporary with the ancient Egyptians the latter’s physical classification posed no problems: the Egyptians were Negroes, thick-lipped, kinkyhaired and thin-legged; the unanimity of the author’s evidence on a physical fact as salient as a people’s race will be difficult to minimize or pass over. Some of the following evidence drives home the point.

(a) Herodotus, ‘the father of history’, -480(?) to -425, writes: “it is in fact manifest that the Colchidians are Egyptian by race ... several Egyptians told me that in their opinion the Colchidians were descended from soldiers of Sesostris. I had conjectured as much myself from two pointers, firstly because they have black skins and kinky hair (to tell the truth this proves nothing for other peoples have them too) and secondly, and more reliably for the reason that alone among mankind the Egyptians and the Ethiopians have practiced circumcision since time immemorial. The Phoenicians and Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they learnt the practice from the Egyptians while the Syrians in the river Thermodon and Pathenios region and their neighbours the Macrons say they learnt it recently from the Colchidians.

These are the only races which practice circumcision and it is observable that they do it in the same way as the Egyptians.” (b) Aristotle, -389 to -332, scientist, philosopher and tutor of Alexander the Great, in one of his minor works, attempts, with unexpected naïveté, to establish a correlation between the physical and moral natures of living beings and leaves us evidence on the Egyptian-Ethiopian race which confirms what Herodotus says. According to him, ‘Those who are too black are cowards, like for instance, the Egyptians and Ethiopians.’

(c) The evidence of Lucian Greek writer, +125(?) to +190, is as explicit as that of the two previous writers. He introduces two Greeks, Lycinus and Timolaus, who start a conversation. Lycinus (describing a young Egyptian): “This boy is not merely black; he has thick lips and his legs are too thin . . . his hair worn in a plait behind shows that he is not a freeman.”

Timolaus answered back saying: “But that is a sign of really distinguished birth in Egypt, Lycinus. All freeborn children plait their hair until they reach manhood. It is the exact opposite of the custom of our ancestors who thought it seemly for old men to secure their hair with a gold brooch to keep it in place.” (d) Apollodorus, a first century before our era Greek philosopher said “Aegyptos conquered the country of the black footed ones and called it Egypt after himself.”

How did the ancient Egyptians see themselves? Into which ethnic category did they put themselves? What did they call themselves? The language and literature left to us by the Egyptians of the Pharaonic epoch supply explicit answers to these questions which the scholars cannot refrain from minimizing, twisting or ‘interpreting.’

The Egyptians had only one term to designate t h e m s e l v e s : [hieroglyphics]=kmt=the Negroes (literally). In other words, on the purely grammatical plane, if one wishes to indicate Negroes in the Pharaonic tongue, one cannot use any other word than the very one which the Egyptians used of themselves.

In Egyptian, words are normally followed by a determinative which indicates their exact sense, and for this particular expression Egyptologists suggest that [hieroglyphics] km=black and that the colour qualifies the determinative which follows it and which signifies ‘country’. Accordingly, they claim, the translation should be ‘the black earth’ from the colour of the loam, or the ‘black country’, and not ‘the country of the black men’ as we should be inclined to render it today with black Africa and white Africa in mind.

Among the innumerable identical cultural traits recorded in Egypt and in present-day black Africa, it is proposed to refer only to circumcision and totemism. According to the extract from Herodotus quoted earlier, circumcision is of African origin and Archaeology has confirmed this. If we reduce the notion of the totem to that of a fetish, usually representing an obanimal of a species with which the tribe believes it has special ties; if we accept this minimal but adequate definition of a totem, it can be said that there was no country where totemism had a more brilliant reign than in Egypt and certainly nowhere where it could be better studied than in Africa.

This cursory review of the evidence of the ancient Greco- Latin writers on the Egyptians’ race shows that the extent of agreement between them is impressive and is an objective fact difficult to minimize or conceal. But we need to go back beyond Egypt, to the bones and other remains of Zinjanthropus Boisei about 1.8 million years ago. If you want to see it you can go to the Croydon National Museum in Nairobi, Kenya; there, you’ll see the Bones of Zinjanthropus Boisei. If you want to see the remains of “Lucy,” you can go to the national Museum associated with the University of Addis Ababa. The Twa and Hutu take us back into at least 400,000 B.C.E. (Before the Common Christian Era) in terms of artefacts. The most ancient of these artefacts, one of the most important in Egypt, is called the “Ankh,” which the Christians called the “Crux Ansata” or “Ansata Cross.” The Ankh was there amongst the Hutu and Twa called “pygmies” by British anthropologists.

For this reason, our liberation struggle songs, meant for resistance, should not be banned nor should pages from our history be obliterated. Our liberation struggle songs are part of our heritage. I vividly recall back in 1995, far away from home, singing one of these songs saying; “even if you try to lure us, entice us or persuade us (to join you), we believe in Sam (Nujoma, our Founding President and Father of the Nation) because he is the one we first saw with a gun (AK 47 gun) in the hand (fighting to liberate this country).

We are Africans, born and bred in Africa and we will bear our children in Africa, Namibia”. Thus, let no Judge throws away all the work our fore fathers and founding fathers worked for. Indeed, today is a song and who knows what is next?

We believe in National Reconciliation, but ask others to meet us half way and not ban our songs.

Disclaimer: These views do not necessarily represent the views of my employer nor am I paid to write them.


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