Mphakhwe Chiefdom and the Chief:twists, turns and tales of life of chief dog in the Chiefdom.

In the Mphakhwe Chiefdom, the Chief’s dog is chief dog; and tradition is that when a Chief’s dog is cast adrift by the Chief; it’s no longer chief dog. It’s a dog that once belonged to the Chief, once had the status of a chief dog; but now banished from the Chiefdom by the Chief. The Mphakhwe Chief is reputedly helpful and generous to his dogs as he is customarily merciless to banished dogs. Banished dogs can growl for the Chief’s merciful attention as they want; but the Chief has a notorious, albeit, admirable reputation for not reversing his decisions.

This is largely because, so informs the tales of what happens inside the Mphakhwe Chiefdom, before the Mphakhwe Chief decides to banish his dogs from the Chiefdom; the dogs are repeatedly warned – sometimes mercilessly whipped – to keep steady in line and ungrudgingly loyal to the Chief, the Chiefdom and its demands and tradition. The dogs in the Chiefdom must be loyal to the extent that, if the Chief so decides, for his own personal entertainment (pleasure), to drive a pike up the any dog’s bottom; that the dog must take it up with unshaken calm and without complaint.

However, the world is organised in a strange way such that nothing in it, and certainly in life, is ever that certain as to be so accurately predictable. The Mphakhwe Chiefdom is conscious of that; and as such, the Chief makes exceptional allowances to the Chiefdom’s tradition on decisions. It’s the Chief’s exclusive prerogative; but at a cost on the Chief’s chiefly reputation and – by extension – the Chiefdom’s pride and carefully crafted and cultivated reputation.

The Mphakhwe Chief is also aware of the danger posed by stray dogs. The Chief, in his chiefly wisdom and experience, is well aware and knows that banished dogs from the Chiefdom can easily become dangerous stray dogs. Banished dogs from the Chiefdom, if and once turned stray dogs, pose great danger to the Chiefdom. The Mphakhwe Chief, in his chiefly wisdom and experience, knows and fully understands the energy and resources needed and expended to fight stray dogs.

Applying Cost-Benefit Analysis, the Mphakhwe Chief, concludes that;

(1) the cost of reneging on his decision is far less than the cost – energy and resources – expended to fight dogs banished from the Chiefdom and turned stray dogs;

(2) the benefits are greater than sticking to his decision.

Consequently, it’s not uncommon – and therefore not surprising – when the Mphakhwe Chief reverses his chiefly decisions and allows once banished dogs from the Chiefdom, back to the Chiefdom but certainly and strictly not back as chief dogs. They’re simply dogs in the Chiefdom although without the official Chiefdom title of ‘chief dog‘. Chief dog is a special designation, once lost; it’s never gained because it’s the (the expression of the) Mphakhwe Chief’s confidence in the chief dog. But once that confidence is lost, irrespective of why and/or how, the chief dog automatically loses the Chiefdom title and all the entitlement of ‘chief dog‘. The Mphakhwe Chief takes ‘chief‘ away from the dog; and the dog is simply the Chiefdom’s dog.

The Mphakhwe Chief uses his confidence in chief dogs as a currency; the value of which, is predicated on – and derives from – the fact that it is and must be granted only once. When the Mphakhwe Chief loses confidence in a chief dog; it may result in the chief dog being banished from the Chiefdom; mainly to safeguard the value of his currency, that is, confidence in chief dogs.

But if the Mphakhwe Chief reneges on his decision and allows a once banished dog from the Chiefdom, back to the Chiefdom; it’s not that the Chief has regained lost confidence in that dog. It’s that the Mphakhwe Chief, in his chiefly wisdom and experience, has – applying Cost-Benefit Analysis; and considering that the cost of reneging on his decision is far less than the cost, that is, energy and resources expended on fighting dogs banished from the Chiefdom and turned (into) stray dogs – concluded that; (1) it’s better to have and keep that (previously banished) dog in the Chiefdom than risk to have it turn into a stray dog; and (2) the dog will be running the Chief’s ad hoc errands in the Chiefdom, sometimes outside the Chiefdom.

Independence, a goatherder and a shepherd

A goatherder and a shepherd do not and cannot have the same experience for the obvious reason that both herd quite different animals with different temperament. A goat is not a sheep, nor is a sheep a goat. A goat is a goat. A sheep is a sheep. A sheep shall be a sheep and treated as sheep until it is proven, in legalese speak, beyond reasonable doubt that it has, with the generous help of time and a touch of nature’s magic or man’s ability to play the creator with genetic modification, eventually become a goat. However, for that to stand a chance of happening, time (alone) would neither be enough nor the solution. But it’s an essential part of both the process and the solution. It would be an essential input in the process of finding a solution – the output: sheep turned into a goat.

A goatherder and a shepherd, however, have something vital in common: they both have herding experience. They both, like any herder, have tales to relate to, tales to recount; but not the same tales. Although, admittedly, the tales of both a goatherder and a shepherd might be similar because the subject: herding experience – is the same. And the objects of the tales: goat and sheep, are quite different; hence, the likely acute variance in experience between a goatherder and a shepherd.

Goats and sheep have characteristic differences; and this is an important factor in the way they are both herded and therefore a defining factor in the experience between a goatherder and a shepherd.

Goats and sheep have rather different flocking behaviour. Goats are rather more independent in their behaviour and movement. But over all, such independence is dependent on the will and not to forget or naively undermine the whims of their herder; the degree to which the herder will allow them to independently roam around and graze. That, in itself, is dependent on other factors, such as the size of the herding area and, importantly, the independence of the[ir] herder from external forces and/or influence; which is unlikely given the inevitable interdependence necessary in the realm of the universe.

So, while goats are naturally independent (minded) creatures; their independence is dependent on, rather heavily, and consequently curtailed by the independence of their herder: the degree to which the herder is dependent on or independent from external forces and/or influence. Even if goats are allowed by their herder to roam and graze freely in the[ir] designated grazing area, free from the[ir] herder’s watchful eye; it would be spurious for the goats to claim to be independent from their herder’s reach and control. Their independence is to the extent, the herder defines and permits them.

Goats, as naturally independent creatures they are; can be as independent as they want, however, and for as long as it’s within the parameters of independence as defined and permitted by the goatherder. Goats, with their independent nature, have no agency over their independence in their designated grazing area. The same is true of and applies to sheep, with only one exception that the sheep characteristically move in flock and hardly move independent from each other’s movement. This is the genius of the sheep. Although they’re falsely but widely characterised as “dumb” creatures, they’re not. Far from it, they’re intelligent creatures, conscious of their weaknesses/vulnerability and environment. They move in flock to protect themselves from danger.

In a narrow sense, the independence of goats and sheep is dependent on the independence, will and whims of both the goatherder and the shepherd. In a broader view, their independence is not independent from the limited or lack of independence of both the goatherder and the shepherd, and the necessary interdependencies in the universe. While goats, out of naivety, can boast to sheep about their independence to move separate from each other – not in flock as sheep do; their independence is as restricted as that of the sheep by the goatherder whose own independence is not as the animals might admiringly and naively imagine it is.

Both the goatherder and shepherd are as independent in their role and their environment as, and to the extent their environment is interested in their animals. That is, to the extent goats and sheep are of value to the goatherder’s and shepherd’s environment. And to the extent that environment is influenced and/or controlled by external interests and forces.

To the extent, and for as long as, goat meat and goat cheese taste different from sheep meat (mutton) and sheep cheese; and to the extent, and for as long as they attract a craving from (the) insatiable external taste buds; the independence of both the goatherder and the shepherd and their animals will depend on their ability to supply and maintain a steady supply of goat meat, goat cheese, sheep meat and sheep cheese irrespective of the pack of fierce dogs each has to protect their animals. Whether the dogs bite or simply bark, is of no consequence to the craving of external taste buds. The external craving and taste buds are not bothered by the fierce growls of the dogs surrounding the herds.

The independence of the goatherder and the shepherd, therefore is intricately entwined with the ability of the goats and sheep to serve and maintain a steady supply of their products to external demand. Goats and sheep, therefore, owe their independence or lack of it, to the craving and demands of external taste buds for their products.

However, the independence of goats and sheep, is made more precarious when the goatherder and shepherd develop the same external craving and taste buds. The hapless animals face a vicious double prong attack: domestic demand and the avarious external demand.

The mouth, for instance, cannot, in its wildest dreams, claim to be independent from the demands of the stomach. Nor can the extreme end of the alimentary canal claim to be independent from the mischief of an avaricious mouth.

A fish that manages to secure its independence from a shark’s reach but finds itself in a fisher’s net, even if the fisher decides to spare it from his plate and keep it safe within his reach; the fish cannot, in all its foolishness, claim to be independent of the fisher’s taste buds. If it does, it’s indeed a rare kind of optimistic fish. Its “fishness” must be closely examined.

Fundamentally, there’s more need for the goatherders and the shepherds and certainly the fisher, to question the narrative of independence than there’s need to celebrate, for example, the dangerously misleading illusion of independence of sheep from the unrevealed intention of the shepherd.

If Africa is the goat, the sheep; who is the goatherder, who is the shepherd?

European Tribes and AfricanTribes: Speaking Tribal Languages.

When Europeans speak, rather disparagingly, of ‘tribal‘ Africa, they either do so with dishonesty or out of inexcusable ignorance of the concept of a tribe and, particularly, Europe’s own tribal formation based on the concept of “nation”. Europe’s nation building was based on a tribal concept. It was a tribal formation through and through. European nations are tribal nations and therefore each European nation represents a European tribe, each with its own tribal, a.k.a national language and customs.

When Africans speak European languages; it never occurs to them – hardly do they realise or few do – that they’re speaking European tribal languages the same way they would speak their own ‘tribal‘ languages, for instance, Igbo, Yoruba, Wolof, Dinka, Nuer, Bari, et cetera. The European, through colonialism and the colonial indoctrination and the process of African mind falsification the European called – and subsequently, the African calls – ‘education’, got (in many ways coerced) Africans to speak his tribal languages by undermining African tribal languages, reducing them to abominable ‘dialects’. The African has, ever since, felt overly proud and prefers (in most instances) to speak European tribal languages to speaking his/her African tribal language(s).

This is mainly because the African, by and through the process of indoctrination and African mind falsification called ‘education’, has been thoroughly ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) to believe and confuse speaking European tribal languages for ‘education’, ‘civilisation’ and ‘modernity’. Consequently, the African, to demonstrate his/her ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) status, will feel no shame speaking European tribal languages at home – in Africa – while speaking to his/her tribe.

While, on the other hand, the European still largely reviles speaking African tribal languages and treats with utter revulsion the sound of African tribal languages whether at home – in Europe – or indeed, when spoken to (and/or addressed) in African tribal languages, even more strangely, whilst in Africa. European superiority, developed out of colonialism, hence, ‘colonial‘ superiority, makes the European, while in Africa, expect to be spoken and/or addressed to by Africans in his/her European tribal languages.

However, the African is proud to have prime time news at home broadcast in European tribal languages; mainly treating this as a mark of ‘modernity’, ‘progress’, ‘development’ – not to mention ‘education’; while relegating his/her (African) tribal language programmes to fringe programmes. While the European, in a few European countries where this is applicable, has introduced news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages; but as fringe programmes on low budget. Terribly under funded, which demonstrates their place in the pecking order of news programme importance and value and, unsurprisingly, almost exclusively run by Africans; not Europeans. But strangely, the African still speaks – and will want to convince himself/herself, and others – of his/her ‘independence’ from European colonialism be it in thought, governance and economic management and/or independence.

The day European national TV and radio channels will allocate prime time news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages, have their nationals sit back comfortably and listen without inundating them with angry complaints; should be the day the African, rather than celebrate ‘independence‘ and/or European normative modernity, reflects deeply on the importance of language: as not merely a medium of (mass) communication but also an essential instrument of power and influence.

African independence is a hoax: to understand how independent or not, an African country is, simply find out in which language its most important national document: the constitution, and other laws of governance are written.

Economic arguments aside; to critically understand the magnitude of colonialism in Africa, one only has to consider the language in which laws – national governing laws – in African countries are written. It is obvious that each African country writes its laws in the language or, where it is more than one, languages it has decided as the official language or languages.

Evidently, and commonly, acceptable official languages in many, if not all, African countries are colonial languages, hence, reflecting their colonial past. National governing laws are, therefore and understandably, written and applied in official languages. Why colonial languages are – and remain – the generally accepted national official languages in many, if not all, African countries is that African countries and their governments maintained the colonial education and administrative systems they inherited from the colonial regime at the time of the so-called (African) ‘independence‘.

What is disturbing, however, is that while national governing laws in many, if not all, African countries are written in national official languages – predominantly colonial languages; a significant majority of ordinary citizens who cannot and do not speak and/or understand such languages, are (often) expected to obey laws written in such languages. They, therefore, have a double burden: their inability to speak and/or understand the language in which the[ir] laws are written; and the inability to understand the law itself.

They are often, unsurprisingly, punished for disobeying and/or breaking the law; yet it is mainly a consequence of their inability to understand the law because it’s written in languages they do not understand. And when they are brought to court, they are tried using laws written in languages they cannot and do not speak and/or understand. They need someone to translate and interpret for/to them, both the law and the language in which it is written and being applied on/against them.

Evidently and the fact of the matter is that African countries and Africans are not and cannot be truly independent if their national governing laws – laws of national governance – are written and applied in their coloniser’s languages. To claim otherwise, is to be blissfully disingenuous to none but oneself; because language is an instrument of power. It’s a tool and medium of communication; and communication is central to power. In which language you communicate; particularly your intentions, objectives and goals, you also inevitably communicate and reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

If African countries have to write their national governing laws in a foreign/colonial language; or indeed, feel the need to translate their national governing laws into foreign/colonial languages, not so much for the benefit of their citizens but largely for the benefit of foreigners; they are far from independent. They are, consciously or not, demonstrating their – and indeed, this is an undeniable form of – dependence.

The French have their laws written and applied in the French language: their national language, spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by all French nationals. The British/English have their laws written and applied in the English language: their national language, a language spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by every British/English citizen/national. The German law is written and applied in the German language, which is the national language spoken and understood, at least, on a basic level, by every German citizen/national. This is the same across many European countries, perhaps, with the exception of a few. The citizens/nationals may not understand the technicalities of the[ir] national governing laws; but at least they aren’t strangers to the language in which the[ir] laws are written. That makes it much easier to understand the law if (it is) explained and interpreted for/to them than if it had to be translated, at the same time, from another (foreign) language into their language.

If an African head of state/government has or feels the need to give an interview or make a speech/address an audience in a foreign/colonial language than in his/her own (national) language; that in itself is indication of, foremost, underlying social challenges. But most importantly, it indicates that such head of state/government and his/her people aren’t independent. It’s not about trying to accommodate others, that is, foreign audience. That’s false and it’s a silly excuse.

The French president, for instance, speaks (in) French while addressing foreign audience, whether at home or on a foreign mission even if he’s fluent in other languages. The same is true with British Prime Ministers, German Chancellors and Russian presidents and other national leaders speaking to and addressing foreign audiences both at home and on foreign missions. They will have translators translating their speeches for the benefit of those who do no speak and/or understand their languages. This is about power and influence; exerting and demonstrating power and influence. But equally important, it’s about national pride and language is the ultimate medium of expression of national pride.

On the other hand, however, only African so-called ‘leaders‘ speak their colonial languages not only to foreign/colonial audiences while on foreign missions with a sense of pride in their fluency in the colonial languages, mainly to show off to their foreign/colonial audience their mastery of the colonial languages; but also to their own citizens at home even though a significant majority cannot and/or do not understand them. This is largely to create an impression of superiority and therefore remind their citizens of their inferior social status; because usually fluency in colonial languages is synonymous with – and tends to be a measure/an indication of – one’s level of ‘education‘; which, in itself, is a colonial measure. This pathetic colonial mindset has done and continues to do so much social damage in Africa.

Colonialism in Africa: There are two kinds of colonialism in Africa.

There are two kinds of colonialism in Africa: 1) European colonialism and; 2) African colonialism. The most historically prominent and notorious is European colonialism which preceded; and gave way to African colonialism through what’s conveniently called “independence“. European colonialism bequeathed its colonial (administrative) structures to Africans who agitated for independence and to free themselves from the oppression and repression of the European colonial system through independence and liberation struggles.

Having inherited a European colonial administrative system, post-European colonial African administrations (governments); as a consequence, and perhaps inevitably, operated (within) a colonial framework. This meant that for the Africans who demanded and fought for (their) independence from European colonial oppression and repression to operate a colonial administrative structure; they had to adapt themselves to the colonial system. It meant, they had to take on the attitudes, mannerisms and generally the behaviour of the European colonialists; from whom, after all, they had learned through clerical and administrative apprenticeship and (job) roles.

Indeed, many Africans who occupied government and other administrative positions were former colonial clerks. They had worked and served in the colonial system as administrative clerks, in one way or another, and therefore had inevitably internalised colonial administrative attitudes. It was inevitable and little surprising that Africans in power: state and government power; and having inherited and operating (within) a colonial administrative system, feeling above everyone, would quickly transmogrify into a colonialist mindset and become the new colonialist class.

For the new African colonialist class — the African in power, both state and government power — to achieve its colonial aspirations and objectives, to maintain its new found socioeconomic and political status; it had to maintain and resort to applying (the) colonial (security) force and brutality. The European colonial military and police was the embodiment of colonial force and brutality in Africa. It is this combined brutal force that, in fact, enabled the European colonial administration by acting as a provider and guarantor of its fundamental security.

The European colonial military and police in Africa beat and brutalised the bloody living daylights out of Africans; keeping them away from interfering with — and out of the way of — the colonial agenda. This calculated and organised European colonial brutality on Africans; administered with maximum force, without the slightest shred of fear of consequences from its victims — the Africans (natives); served to keep Africans in their place, meek and obsessively submissive to colonial rule.

With African colonialists in power, and having inherited and maintained, for the same purpose, the colonial administrative structure; it’s therefore not surprising that majority of the African military and police today, are as brutal as the European colonial military and police.

The more things change, the more they are the same.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

“The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonial countries, on the contrary, the policeman and the soldier, by their immediate presence and their frequent and direct action maintain contact with the native and advise him by means of rifle butts and napalm not to budge. It is obvious here that the agents of government speak the language of pure force. The intermediary does not lighten the oppression, nor seek to hide the domination; he shows them up and puts them into practice with the clear conscience of an upholder of the peace; yet he is the bringer of violence into the home and into the mind of the native.” The Wretched Of The Earth, Frantz Fanon