01 November 2011 ~ 13 Comments

Why history is written in flesh

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tumblr ltok4k8gMr1qc9yu4o1 500 Why history is written in flesh

Aiste Lei ©

I believe in the sixth sense, not in a ‘seeing dead people’ way, but the sense of shift, that feels the brewing zeitgeist of future generations. The things that they will understand, that our generation can not. This is what activism and creativity alike ought to explore.
Can one set of people understand what the previous didn’t but not that which they did?

There can never be lasting fundamental change, it is in our collective DNA to forget, remember, forget, remember.
It is more interesting to strive to understand this pattern, and to discover that we have been here before; and that we will return. This cadence of human history is quite wild; meaning it isn’t convenient nor effortlessly understood.

There was a time when precolonial history was contemporary Africa. This is the Africa I strive to understand, but the closest I will get will not be through intellect but through emotion. My emotions drive me to know the stories that are omitted from history, the daily reality that had no agenda but that of living. Let me be clear about this one: What I’m saying is that the precolonial written history of Africa is predominantly written by male historians about male Africans. Ironically, this implies in many ways that the potent insight into African history is in its ‘herstory’. It is less polluted and convoluted by battles of power between genders and races. What was the context of women’s lives in Africa, in trading, in agriculture, in arts, spirituality. Who were the women that sought to emancipate their husbands? That saw fertility as power? What can they tell us about Africa that male-dominant history is uninterested to know?

I (accidentally) met a shaman recently, he told me that I am ahead of my time, which of course was a generous idea for him to embed in my consciousness. Yet he was mistaken. I’m behind my time. Whilst others are talking about postracism, postfeminism, postmodernism post this and post that, I’m decades and even centuries behind, trying to understand the beginnings of human confusion. If I reach any ‘post’ state it will be from traversing backwards around the circle.
This does not intend to be an inward rumination into the mind, by the way, because nothing bores me more than the overdose of thought that Descartes and his ‘age of enlightenment/reason’ peers introduced into the world. Thought that is absent of emotion is unbelievable dense, it’s academic in the truest meaning of the word.

But, if there is a sixth sense, and if it is about feeling rather than thinking, can we feel that Africans have never been passive participants in the making of the modern world? Did you read my post about African witchcraft and western psychology? Do you think it was possible for our European brothers and sisters to arrive in Africa and not be impressed by our knowledge, or that of other non-Europeans? When the global south was rich (c 1500 backwards) the west was poor. Today, the roles are reversed. In the future too, they will be. The ‘reversal of fortune’ theory is present throughout the mythology of humanity. History cannot be understood in fragments. If all we look at is dysfunctional modernity we will not understand how to get out of it.

It is more rewarding to understand life through emotion than intellect. Each and all speaks the language of joy, love, sorrow. When your lover hurts you, does he or she own hurt? If you can feel (and not think) the answer to this, then you no longer will be afraid of being hurt. When someone serves you happiness, be grateful, let it lift your spirits by all means, and then kindly decline. Brew your own happiness, only then can you decline another person’s serving of pain. We are co-dependent, you and I, marvellously so, but the only destiny is within you. You are history, present day and future.



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