Fezekile Futhwa 

Imaginative Literature

BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS

I write what I like and I like what I write.

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Let me start by paying homage to a great son of the soil, Bantubonke Steven Biko; the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement. It is his brilliant works that has left a spark in my heart. It is his fantastic title "I Write What I Like" that has inspired so many an Afrikan people.

The greatest revolutions were not sparked by military coups, but by the power of words. The written word is the most powerful weapon in the hands of the colonised.

Freedom of expression is a basic human right, excersise yours.

I am a writer, poet and historian. I see myself as a custodian of my peoples' culture and way of life. My mind continually questions the way things are and wonders about the alternatives. Similarly, there should be alternatives to reading material. If you don't like what you are reading, there should be many other choices of what you can read.

Freedom of the press did not guarantee us freedom of ideas, unfortunately. The South Afrikan press is full of no ideas. They all report about the same thing the same way, that is not choice. There is no variety. The South Afrikan media is shockingly biased and sectorian. Media houses take sides in the politics of today, at the expense of objective reporting.

The same way that I worry about higher education. Something must be fundamentally wrong in studying an Afrikan language in English, taught by an English Professor, advancing English thought and world view! This is what I see at the University of South Africa(Unisa). Yet Unisa has had many black vice chancellors since the dawn of democracy. Is it not a misnomer? That Afrikan languages prospered during apartheid, but are marginalised during a democracy?

On basic education. How does one expect best results from school children when the basis of child growth are seriously compromised? Home language, read Afrikan language, has been neglected for school children in public schools in favour of English. The result is the inability of school children to read and write properly. Why? Because, whatever your reasoning, you cannot take away the importance of mother tongue in personal development and advancement. Bring back good quality education for our children, teach them their language appropriately and the right standard. The standard of teaching Afrikan languages has dropped significantly, most Afrikan language teachers are not competent in the languages they are supposed to teach.

Arts, culture and sports have been dropped in public schools; for no apparent good reason. The result are school children with unbalanced lifestyles. Is it any wonder that schools are riddled with so many problems? From drugs, alcohol to ill discipline. What have they been replaced with? Nothing.

Let's be ware of the kind of society we are creating in the name of democracy and human rights.

I am inspired by the likes of Bantu Biko, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Franz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Thabo Mbeki, Julius Nyerere, Joshua Nkomo, Jomo Kenyatta, Nnamndi Azikiwe.

Marena a rona: Wetsi Moloi, Moshoeshoe wa Mokhachane, Hintsa ka Phalo, Shaka ka Senzangakhona, Maqoma, Moorosi, Mofumahadi Manthatisi, Sobuza, Moletsane, Phohole and others. Africa has remained largely our property through their efforts.

Literary greats: Ngugi wa Thiongo, Chinua Achebe, KPD Maphalla, LS Booysen, SM Guma, KE Ntsane, Eskia Mphahlele, Credo Mutwa, Pudumo Mohapelwa, JM Lenake, JJ Moiloa, SK Mqhayi, TJ Selepe, CLJ Mophethe, NS Litabe, PT Maboea, S Sefatsa, M Mahanke. All classics come from these great sons of the soil, although many are yet to be recognised for their work.

Young writers of my time: Eric Miyeni, Siphiwo Mahala, Angela Makholwa, Zukiswa Wanner, Kgoebetli Moele, Thando Mqolozana, Sello Duiker, Phaswane Mpe, Dr Kopano Matlwa, Diale Tlholwe, Nape 'a Motana, Sihle Khumalo. The list is endless.

Self publishing pioneers: Dr Nokuzola Mndende, Vusi Moloi, Madiela Chitja, Gaoretelelwe Molebalwa, Tsepo Gumbi, Duduzile Mabaso, Vuyokazi Yonke, Luzuko Gongxeka, Zwelibanzi Tshabalala, Andile Mngxitama and many others I forget to mention. You are fantastic, you have taken the challenge head-on. You have chatted a new course for young writers of today. Main stream publishers now have a course to worry.

How can I forget pioneers of our traditional music in its various forms. Through you, our music was introduced to the world, and in many cases the world became hooked to your wonderful sounds. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Witsiesoek Mambazo, Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens, Platform One, Mpharanyane, Babsy Mlangeni, Steve Kekana, Stompie Mavi, Ringo Madlingosi, Phuzekhemisi, Nothembi Mkhwebane, Busi Mhlongo, Apollo Ntabanyane, Chakela, Tau ya Matshekga, Puseletso Seema.

And our legends of sound: Marriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, Dr Jonas Gwangwa, McCoy Mrubata, The Movers, The Elite Swingsters, Dorothy Masuka, Thandi Klaasen, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Lucky Dube, Paul Ndlovu, Oyaba, Rex Rabanye, Pops Mohammed, Selaelo Selota, Sipho Gumede, Themba Mkhize, Zim Ngqawana, The Manhattan Brothers, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Condri Ziqubu, African Jazz Pioneers, Johny Mokhali, Lazarus Kgakgudi, Baba Mal, Oliver Mtukudzi, Moro Beya Maduma, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo.

While at it, why not discuss the list of African inventions? This I believe we must talk about and make noise. So many of our inventions have been disappropriated and claimed by those who not deserve the recognition. If I were a government in Africa, I would make sure every student who ever enters school knows fully well what has been invented by the people of Africa and Africans in the diaspora.

This list shows beyond any doubt, that it is possible for Afrika and its people to rise above our painful past and build something great. Young people of today must be taught the true history of Afrika and its people. The youth seriously lacks positive messages from their historic past. Many keep asking what has Afrika done in the history of the world. Teach them their history so that they too may know what Afrika has done in global politics, economics, finances, science and technology. We are duty bound to re-tell the correct history of our people, since the colonisers have told us their version of history; which masked the true events. Having done this task, we should also hold Afrikan leaders to account for their actions. Many have done more damage to their countries since they took over political power. In my view, these should be publicly rebuked and removed from office. They are holding us back from turning Afrika around. Sadly, some of them used to be our heroes during the struggle for liberation. They are riding on past glory to loot our resources. Vuka MAfrika!

Afrikan academics whose work shines the light on the ways of my people: 'Mabokang Baatshwana Pheto-Moeti, Moruti William Tsiu, Ntaoleng Belina Sekere and others whose work I have not been fortunate enough to read. Education should be a means to understanding our own and a tool to advancing our society. Those who are educated and yet frown on their people and their past must be shamed. We sent them to school so they may find solutions to our problems, not to turn their backs on us. Education in Afrika must be to create a cadre of intellectuals who are passionate about solving our problems. Academics who do not innovate nor produce knowledge relevant to Afrika and its people must be put out of the system. We don't need them. Research and development must be our priority at all times. The money we waste on luxury vehicles from Germany and private jets must be used to fund our own research centres. There is no other way.

The economic plight of Afrikans and Afrika remains largely untouched. The economic landscape has remained largely the same during and after colonialism. Afrikans are consumers and the subject of donor funds. We need a revolution to change the face of commerce in this country. The balance of power is extremely one sided and dangerous.

Writing, I am afraid, is highly political. Politics govern every aspect of our daily lives, so it is impossible to write without ever being political. However, Afrikan politics are very shallow and disappointing. All political ideas on the Afrikan soil come from elsewhere, mainly from Europe. Does this mean our political leaders cannot think of original ideologies relevant to Afrika? Afrika remains a highly volatile region politically because of this. Political ideas from the West have failed to work in Afrika, yet I see no Afrikan scholars proposing new ideas on politics and society to be tried out. Afrikan solutions for Afrika's problems. This sentiment was true then as it is today.

I Write What I Like because I Like What I Write. Perhaps you too should Write What You Like, that would be a revolution.

Revolt!

Revolt,
Against the National Democratic Revolution.
For nobody seems to know what it means,
Or what they mean when they say:
This the time for the democratic revolution.

Revolt I say.

When comraderee is the order of the day
Over competence and service delivery
When intellectual excellence is shunned
And relegated to the dustbins of history
For the comrades are the rulers
And intellect has no place in their midst

Revolt we must.

Comrades are wasting our children
Education takes a back seat
An injury to one is an injury to all
Slogans and mind sets
Manufactured to keep the black child in the doldrums
By agents of doom and gloom

Revolt black child.

When today "umshini wam"
has become a national treasure
Shouldn't we be teaching our children better slogans?
Slogans that will enhance our race
Take us several paces ahead
Building a future for our young
Them on whose behalf we are ruining a future
With stupid slogans and rhetoric
All in the name of comradeship

Phansi, with the National Democratic Revolution!
Phambili with education phambili!
Phambili with the intellectual emancipation
of the youth
Umzabalo is about our success as a race
About the education of the youth
To uplift and develop our society
That is a revolution
Revolt black child revolt
This is a revolution.

Camagu.

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