So there are no perceptible limits in your daily dealings with analog or digital media?
It is an affirmation of the internet as a real space, where nkisi can exist and its power can spill over into the real world and the lived experience. It’s a new dimension. I don’t think humanity understands what we’ve created with the internet. You know, it’s accelerated time. If you look at it from a Moore’s Law perspective, it is accelerated faster than we have as a society. We are dealing with a state of perpetual war, collective trauma, collective amnesia on a global scale, right? And, in South Africa, we’re dealing with issues like gender-based violence and high crime rates and serious corruption in the government, and it’s like we’ve created these advanced technologies that are more advanced than us. Technology is evolving faster than people, evolving faster than the humanities and psychologies, and most of these are evolving faster than the law. It’s developing faster than our government, faster than our civilization. So what does that mean for the future? At the moment we are in the Internet of Things, and we’re shifting into the internet of the body, it’s sort of like we’re already cyborgs. Our phones are like prosthetics to us. And me, I would put a phone on the same level as a nkisi. Both of those things for me are the same interface, in the sense that they store information and that they connect two different spaces together. We’re in different time zones, different climates, land gradients, values, but somehow we’re able to connect right now. Nkisi has the same attributes in the sense that it connects the spiritual world to the physical world and the physical and the spiritual world is very different from the physical world.
So technology dreams of being magic.
Nkisi doesn’t use a battery or coltan or cobalt mined in Ghana. It uses these elements that we use as sangomas (healers or fortunetellers). We do use coltan and cobalt and quartz and gold. And those are some of the materials will even put inside of the nkisi into its stomach because of problems, because of this connection that we want to create between these two worlds. It is might as well be a phone in a way. The mentalistic point of view that came from Europe when Africa was colonized; the scholars, like, looked at Africa and they took for granted our belief as Africans and objects of power, and they took it as proof of our savagery, barbarism, and primitive state of mind; as evidence of our early stage of development, you know. But it was a fallacy, because from my experience dealing with these objects and these interfaces, I realize their nkisi are so much more advanced than even the traditional medicine we use now in Africa. In that whole process, the practitioner or the witch doctor doesn’t even touch your body or give you any medicine to take through your mouth. All of it happens through nkisi.
The nkisi takes the medicine, gets the incantations and and puts nails in it. You leave it behind; it never touches your body. This is advanced technology, from my perspective. I’ve seen real evidence in my life. When I was a child, two old women came into my grandmother’s house, into her yard, and one woman was injured. She had bruises on her face. And I wondered, what’s happening to this lady? I snuck and followed and listened through the window. And what was happening was this lady was barren. Basically, she couldn’t get pregnant. Her husband was beating her because she couldn’t get pregnant and this was embarrassing her in front of the village. She was desperate to get pregnant, and came to my grandma. My grandma touched her belly for a moment and lifted and told her to go home. And the next year, when I came back to my grandmother’s house around the same time, this lady walked into the yard, this time not with bruises and marks on her face, but with a baby in her arms. So my belief in magic and in the power that Africans have and a power that has been overlooked, and I feel like a power that’s rising again right now. With the chaos that’s happening elsewhere, Africans are stepping into their power, and I think these artifacts are advanced technologies.
What Saint-Simon and August Comté created when they created empiricism was grounded by Kant’s findings that only empirical science could produce reliable knowledge. That is the war we’re fighting. Who gets to create knowledge? What knowledge is accepted? Animism was thrown out the window and everything as far as our history was relegated as foul. This, in my own personal opinion, is wrong. Comté is wrong. I don’t even know how to pronounce his name, but he’s wrong. His law of three stages is wrong in Africa; we have four stages based on the dikenga cosmogram, which consists of four points symbolic of the four positions of the sun. We call it the four moments of the sun. The four points and quadrants are divided by a vertical (mukula) and horizontal (kalûnga) line. The four points are assigned ontological meaning: musoni (rebirth), kala (birth), tukula (life), and lastly luvemba (death). All living things go through these four stages, in fact, dikenga is believed to be the energy of the universe, the creative force behind existence. And there is a global philosophy that dominates academies, dominates our schools, philosophy departments, and humanities departments. It’s heartbreaking to be relegated to fantasy and a myth when something is real for you.