“Voluntourists” in Africa are actually jihadists for the West who defecate all over the continent in every way that defecation is possible.
“Time to wake up, Africa. These sheikhs ain’t royal!”
Photo: Kalumbu Open Defecation Free Zone
Msinja is one of the holiest sites in Malawi. The others are Khulubvi in the South, Bimbi in the East and Chikang’ombe in the North. The first three are associated with the medieval Maravi kingdom though, now, only Msinja remains the heartland of the Chewa nation proper; Khulubvi is associated with the Mang’anja splinter Maravi nation and now the Sena too, from the south; Bimbi now also with the Yao from the east, but Maravi through and through; Chikang’ombe with the Tumbuka, like the Chewa, northerners from the heart of Africa if we are to believe the griots. All – but Khulubvi and Bimbi specially so still – are associated with rainmaking. It is an entire topic on its own: Schoffeleers’s Guardians of the Land explores traditional territorial shrines in this part of the continent.
Traditional Authority (T/A) – as the British called them – or Chief (more of a Baron perhaps, just less rapacious) Kalumbu is one of the guardians of the shrine. Chitseko or doorstop literally means “stopper.” If there is anything to unify Africa it is the simple ritual of libation, venerating the creator through the spirits of the ancestors. Too humble to approach the creator directly: typically non-western. We found the universe as it is – more or less – we shall probably leave it as it is – more or less – let’s just get by as our forebearers did while we pass through shall we? So long and thanks for all the fish. If there are any extras after we pass then all the better: cherries atop the icing atop the cake!
“If there is anything to unify Africa it is the simple ritual of libation.”
So, it has come to pass that an entire race is associated with open defecation zones. A sort of golden star to be worn by lesser folks, certainly a mass racial humiliation of sorts. Not the first of its sort, probably not the last. I don’t know what sick mind conjured this one up but someone somewhere is getting off on this. Where? Who cares? It should be a wakening call. A slap across the face. Time to wake up, Africa. These sheikhs ain’t royal!
The slur is so blatant that it is hard to imagine that it was unintended: taking the piss – taking the crap, in this case – out of our diminished status. The implication being that the other “villages” – the rest of Africa really – remain open defecation zones. Shitholes, to put it bluntly. Let us consider the historical record. Let us probe the historical account with an eye on hygiene. Without spending too long with Duck Duck Go, we are swiftly informed that the toilet first manifested itself in Africa. Thanks Herodotus, who documented that the Egyptians eased themselves inside the house in contrast with other peoples he was acquainted with, the Greeks, Assyrians, Persians and Arabians to mention a few who eased themselves in the outdoors.
So Black people, in Africa, created the first toilet. I would use the word invented, but that would suggest it were a big deal. (There have been many and much bigger deals, invented in Africa). If you want proof, and London, Paris and Berlin are on your itinerary, please pop by the British, Louvre and Berlin Museums. Right there behind the gold that christians took from pagans: BAM! A toilet! A water closet! Garde à l’eau!
A papyrus with PI to six decimal places. Those are big deals.
“The toilet first manifested itself in Africa.”
The villagers that I know – many, I am related to – have their homes usually at quite a distance from their fields. So what if they respond to the call of nature while tending to their fields and have a thicket to do it in? How do hikers in Europe and North America respond to nature on their hikes? B*mb*kl**t!
Obviously all sorts of types that are quite vocal at the moment will claim that they are personally related to Nefer-Titi. Personally and without equivocation. Not to be challenged, not if you don’t fancy a quasi-fatal accusation of being anti-somethingic. Thrice removed.
When we Africans lost literacy – it hadn’t been a mass calling and them scribes had let us down so considerably – we collectively abandoned intellectualism and turned against that caste: after all, what’s the point of predicting heliacal risings of the binary star Sirius with any degree of accuracy (and precessions of equinoxes too for that matter) but succumbing to sea and desert invaders? However, when we uprooted from the Nile and had to reinvent ourselves in the west and then the south, it was mere postponement of our trials and tribulations.
We can run no more as Dingiswayo’s protégé Tchaka wa Senzangakhona figured when the invaders bit us again from the Southern tip of Africa – the backside. Back to that topic.
We are used to such name calling. It is no stranger to us. We have encountered it before. It accompanied the maafa holocaust. It accompanied the mfecane holocaust. The European slavers needed to tell themselves (and their good folk back home) that they were doing god’s work. Shame 1.0.
David Lingstone and the sham saving-of-Africa-from-slavery pretext for colonization – a final solution – pretty much sums up Shame 2.0. No further explanations required there.
“Name calling accompanied the maafa holocaust and the mfecane holocaust.”
Today, the traffic continues: well-intentioned lighter folk full of ideas and ideals come to the periphery while able-minded and bodied darker types head to the core to feed the machine that keeps even the oppressed full of hopes and aspirations. Now, however, it is “voluntary.” Lies have replaced whips. Marketing lies that there is only one true way and progress is linear, as opposed to, say, cyclical.
Too arrogant to consult seemingly ignorant village elders, latter-day voluntourists continue in the wake of slavers and settlers to brand each and every novelty as an attraction to tick off their bucket lists. (I hope the creator has a bucket for them and their like(s)!). Or a deploration worth the invoking of R2P – the responsibility to protect. I wish capitalism would embrace the responsibility to protect mother earth.
The shame of rubbing-in repeated humiliations aside, core to periphery charity breeds a false consciousness. The type that Fanon warns us against. And it is not just that it is false. It is detrimental to peripheral self-actualization. Just as noblesse oblige breeds a middle class in opposition to the masses. The bigger the middle class the larger the extent of domestication.
Individualism’s rationalization of individuals helping other individuals becomes a head-in-the-ground excuse for not collectively addressing the root causes of inequality (back home, in the core). Thus, a rabid Trump supporter can become a caring philanthropist by feeding a third world village for a year, while destroying the planet at large and justifying police brutality at home. A variation of the “but I have a black friend” defence.
How long will the African 1% maintain the pretence that multiculturalism is working for us? How many Stephen Lawrences while we buy into a collapsing edifice? Do we need the skies to be torched before we admit that the short upstart pan-European experiment is doomed?
“A rabid Trump supporter can become a caring philanthropist by feeding a third world village for a year, while destroying the planet at large and justifying police brutality at home.”
Numerous historians and novelists inform us that the slavers thought (and some writers still do) or pretended that they were doing god’s work. Closer to now, Malawians are still taught that the British colonialists brought commerce, civilization and christianity. Well, today, NGO staff of all hues are still dancing to that tune: there’s something wrong with Africans and neoliberalism is essential to the solution. Jihadists really, but too blind to see that. Too much skin in the game to acknowledge it. Which is what happens almost without exception by the time many complete westernized university education.
Some needed a book (and literacy) to tell us that we come from the earth and return to the earth. Personally, I think the solution is to leave us alone. Maybe Africa will again do the globe a favor by restoring sanity to a world in overdrive to its own doom! By the way, water will soon be in short supply. Maybe it is time to reconsider those shrines.
Shame 3.0 is the fact that Africans abandoned a God in their own image – their ancestral religion – for another. How could we allow our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters to be raped in front of us; our sons to be taken away from us, and still adhere to the ancestral beliefs that seem to have betrayed us?
Yet how are the twin Abramic religions working for us, Africa, the world now?
Dear West, when an African villager defecates in the bush it’s because s/he possesses enough acres to do so without worrying about police brutality. It’s called freedom.
Indigenous people of the world, resist domestication!
Zanga Chimombo can be reached at z.chimombo(at)gmail.com
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