“In Western media, Africa is too often represented as a violent, destitute hellhole in desperate need of Irish rock stars, American film actresses, and Norwegian NGOs just to remain upright. But the continent is undergoing a renaissance. It’s programming software, making movies, designing clothing, and creating music that is equal to that produced anywhere in the world and frequently exceeds it in quality and creativity”.
The above introduction are not my words but exactly how I feel. Thanks to Curt Hopkins for inspiring this piece below.
I also found the following collage to represent my precise thoughts:
These are the scribes of an alleged deranged and drunken beast. What is this beast? It’s the biggest antelope in Africa! It’s the eland and it’s genus name is the Taurotragus. Here is a little Eland I saw at Animal Kingdom, Orlando, FL just the other day:
You see in Zimbabwe, we believe certain animals represent our tribes and ancestors. We communicate to them for guidance and direction. Paralleled with Christianity, our relationship with the mysterious totems is paramount to survival in modern day Zimbabwe. It’s rare to find a brother or sister who’s values are not influenced by at least one.
As a former British colony, and unfortunately formerly known as Rhodesia, the sacred cultural considerations of what is modern day Zimbabwe was diluted by the white settlers led by Cecil John Rhodes. They brought temporary riches, merciless trading, Christianity and an acrimonious tension to the local customs and culture rooted in the continent. You’d have to read “Things Fall Apart”, by the ever-revered Ivy League, Nigerian Professor at Chinua Achebe. He passed away, but every time I re-read this book, I learn something new.
Now you know what the fuss was all about when “Cecil the Lion” was slain in Zimbabwe last year. It’s baseless protection of a beast that is capable of eating people. I wonder where those folks are now? It’s hilarious to think a wild animal caused so much social media fracas when we have multiple, teething humanitarian issues affecting our world today. Wake Up!
Nonetheless, from my research and intuitive reflections, many Africans were initially confused, but I imagine that when the dust somewhat settled, African customs and Christian beliefs made peace. I say this because when you meet me, you’re talking to an Afrocentric Christian, his flaws laid bare, displayed, his pride for his faith and profound respect for his ancestral values and beliefs. SonofGuruve emanates from the African village where I never physically grew up, but our regular family visits created an indelible mark on my conscience and psyche.
It’s difficult for some of my Western friends to comprehend, but I find similarities in several cultures here in the United States. For example, native Americans I have met on business trips to California or New Mexico share similar beliefs. They revere their ancestors and totems as much as I fear and respect mine. I thought to myself how we are all similar than we’d like to recognize? Answer at your own peril.
So back to this beast. My family beast is eloquently known as Eland and translated Mhofu. It’s one of the several animals or symbols represented in the Shona tribe. As a Shonaman, when I walk into a room, a scholarship banquet or a party, I love that friends don’t necessarily call me SonofGuruve. They call me Mhofu.
My brother is Mhofu. My Dad is Big Mhofu and so are many of my real friends, former friends and associates. Mhofus don’t all get along and this is expected of any group of people. I can expand on this on a later post or a whole book, but not today. Examples of these tribal representatives are Lions (Shumba), Monkeys (Murehwa), Hearts (Moyo), Fish Eagles (Hungwe) and many many more.
I always chuckle because I think it’s super cool to have an alias as an individual who represents the born-free, New Age Africa or firebrand millennial diasporan and confident cultural chameleon. Being a Shona tribesman can be tricky in the westernized world that is rapidly diluting Mhofu principles. I hope a book is written for the firebrand millennial reader to understand and digest his identity more clearly because even in this age of WhatsApp and FaceTime, ancient old traditions of oral tradition are evaporating.
I’ve been talking about this New Age African phenomenon for years and it finally descended upon me to informally announce this school of thought to a group of African Studies professors in Charlotte, NC. I was invited into the banquet of the National Conference of African Studies and shared a table with probably 100 years of educated African studies professors. We discussed my culture, African travel, and some of their curricula. I told them what was missing; the New Age Africa. It’s then I realized I have to do more research, but would have to ask my good friend, the future Dr. Shingi Mavima and Old Georgian, to verify my assertions. He’s a philanthropist, poet and part of the reason I am inspired to write here at SonofGuruve. We went to high school together fam.
So who are these New Age Africans? I’ll focus on the ones I know very well. They were born in post independent African countries and are living what I call the African dream. Some are business owners, educators, and solicitors in their native land. Next are the ones in foreign countries pursuing noble professions and while they probably can’t vote in, lets say America, they know more about America’s political landscape than the average American citizen. They work for Google, Facebook, Wall Street Banks, start up firms in Sydney and some are artists knocking on Hollywood’s thick impenetrable door.
An example is my former 8th grade crush and longtime friend, Sibongile Mlambo. She’ll be featured in the movie “Honey 3” shot in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s such a pleasure to witness how many of these New Age Africans have carried themselves into heir upper twenties and early thirties and now rapidly becoming trend setters in their respective industries. You can see the trailer for Sib here:
I started writing this blog post because I couldn’t sleep one night in April. The soundproof spare bedroom of my fellow friend kept me up and as my mind thudded in the silence, I had to scribe a piece about New Age Africa and my reflections of the Mhofu tribe I mentioned earlier.
It pains me a little that Mhofus and other Shona tribesmen have a long way to go when it comes to marketing ourselves. If you’re a Shona tribesman or Mhofu clansman reading this, pause. Before you get offended, let me expand.
In the diaspora, I meet may different people of all walks of life and nationalities. When you are from Zimbabwe, you largely settle on being called Zimbabwean and if you’re a liar you say South African to avoid talking about your country’s economic plight and struggles. A stark difference I have detected is with my illustrious Nigerian brothers and sisters.
Instantaneously, when you meet a Nigerian, it doesn’t end there. A further dissection occurs when you have to acknowledge and ask whether they are Igbo or Yoruba. There are many other tribes there, but clearly those two are marketed and shared well in this world. I envy this and love it at the same time.
Special Shoutout to my first Igbo friend, Ife Chukwu. I watched his Igbo characteristics bubble over the years at Bearcat College in South Carolina. He was an older pal, but definitely an unapologetic African prince who brought fear to many opponents on the soccer field. My hope is that if as a Mhofu, when people learn that I am from Zimbabwe, they ask whether I am Shona or Ndebele.
To end this post I wanted to provide you with the top 14 qualities needed to be an honorable Mhofu man. I’m clearly not accomplished in 100% yet but I thought it prudent to share what I ought to be when o grow up.
Next time you meet me, you have a choice to call me SonofGuruve or more importantly Mhofu! Peace be with you, reader.
- Top 14 Mhofu Characteristics:
- Never stop learning until you die.
- Define clearly in your mind what you think success looks like and spend a lot of your time pursuing that vision.
- Stay positive even when the chips are down and when all looks lost
- Learn from your mistakes and make sure that you do not repeat the same mistake in your life.
- Especially at work do not get involved in gossip. If you have to say anything about someone in his/her absence make sure that it is something nice about that person. If you have negative views about someone, keep that to yourself.
- Be on time ALWAYS.
- Never send an e-mail in anger or in haste. Read it over and over and make sure it accurately captures the essence of what you want to say. Words disappear into thin air or memories fade. If an email is not deleted, it is permanent evidence against or for you.
- Things are not always what they appear to be. Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend although most will be. Similarly if someone does not talk to you often enough, it does not necessarily mean that they do not like you.
- Keep reminding yourself about your good side and also aim to improve your areas of weakness.
- Have an annual plan in life and identify the things that you want to achieve and link this to what I wrote in 2 above. It does not have to be many things, maybe 2 or 3 things, but they must be important milestones in your life.
- Show RESPECK but not fear to your peers and superiors.
- Learn to LISTEN carefully to ever thing people say. Sounds simple, but we do not always listen and sometimes miss key messages in the process.
- Honor your promises.
- The words “thank you” or “please” should be an integral part of your language.
It’s time for bed now.
© SonofGuruve 2016