Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A History of Civilisation; Yeah... Ofcourse it is

Today I attended my first lecture in History of Civilization, which I was supposed to take in first year but I would have rather shot myself, figuratively at least, than sit through that. Unfortunately I could not avoid it any longer so I walked into the class after my Italian class had ended, that was an event on its own but alas that's a story for another day. I walk in and take my seat in the third quarter, which is the ideal location, too far for the lecturer to read my face when I lose interest but not near the guys who have no interest in being there. A man walks in twenty minutes before the class is scheduled to start and walks slowly past where I was so I say hi; what can I say, I'm nice. He says hi and walks to he front, turns out that the man is the lecturer.

I won't get into a discussion of the other students because the lecturer was more intriguing. One of the first assumptions about a man who lectures on history is that he would be an atheist so when the man said he was an atheist I wasn't exactly shocked. It made him a little more interesting. He mentioned how history tends to be written by the winners but in our class we would try to look at all bits of information and question everything, within reason and time frame of course. I was in. He also mentioned how he would like us to be involved in the discussion which for me; a combative Christian was like Christmas coming early. Lastly he mentioned how he would not give us notes until after the exemption exam. I add this because in my entire time at CIU he gave the best reason for this. He said "you writing the exemption is you trying to prove to the university that you know the contents of this course and don't need to attend it, so why should I give you notes when you, those who will write the exemption exam, claim to know the contents of the course." To say the least I was impressed.

Then came the bones of contention and this my one reader, in the immortal words of Agent Smith "brings us to why we are here". I will explain the issues first then my issues with the issues next. So firstly he mentioned how human or hominidae life began in Africa. Evolution and climate change necessitated the need 'for some' to migrate from one area to another till completely evolved humans were all over the globe. He also mentioned how survival of the fittest meant weaker genes got eliminated, giving the example of zebras with genes that caused them to be slower eventually died out because they were, surprise surprise slower. Lastly he mentioned that tribes and early beings could not be referred to as Civilisation because they did not have all the things that encompass life and living e.g art, alphabet, culture, style, etc.

Issue one: Life begun in Africa + Migration 
Firstly I completely agree with the idea that history is defined by the victors/winners. And this little fact is a major part of why I disagree with this first bit. The reason for the migration was that those creatures that had begun to evolve went in search of better and more. This is a major paraphrase but the principle remains true. This kind of thinking subconsciously sends the message that those who remained were not as good or evolved, i.e Africans. If history is written by the victors, which we know it is, then history is there to benefit those who would wish to plunder "the shackled continent". After all those that remained were lesser than they that moved on in search of more and better but I will come to this more in issue three

Issue two: Weaker genes or traits dying out
What is the determinant for weaker? Or better? Is it about desirability on our part or ability to survive in harsh conditions. It can't be the former because desirability depends on trends and styles that change ergo it must be the latter. I disagree with the latter by virtue of the fact that animals that could be characterized as weaker still exist. They, for all intents and purposes, could have and should died out millennia ago. Sloths still exist. Sheep still exist. Goats still exist. Chickens still exist. SHEEP STILL EXIST. If any creature should have died out because of survival of the fittest it would be sheep. These are creatures with a male population a lot less than female which means those that actually put up a fight are less. You can't tell me that we evolved to realize the value of domesticating sheep before pretty much every canivore within a 5km radius of the sheep population wiped them out. Keep in mind the assumption is we took millennia to get that civilized. 

Issue three: Early man cannot be counted as Civilisation because they lacked certain elements to their life and living
This is just flat out insulting to Africans. The view of one people group as primitive has been a plague of the historians since the beginning of the field of study, especially since there are few historians who are natively African. Historians in the "orthodox" sense if the word. Our art, music, heritage and culture have been seen, and in a lot of areas are still seen, as primitive. This is mainly because of a failure to understand African people from an African perspective but the thing is that throughout history we have been the losers. Therefore Africa and Africans cannot help but be seen for the majority of their history as uncivilized simple because they are poorly understood. Even a lot who claim to understand end up sounding condescending. History paints Africa badly because we to a large extent have been on the losing end of world history, the his cannot be reversed or refuted. The trouble is the history of origins is excluded from this debacle and this is a huge travesty.

There are definite solutions to this. The main one for me would be scrapping such a line of thought completely but that's not what I'm here for, and it's a losing battle. I'm just talking about my day in class with a lecturer who I found very interesting and the thoughts the class provoked. Shame I might never see the man again because I have every intention of passing Friday's exemption exam. But if I do not, look forward to or dread more from my conversations with the very interesting Mr Nesip

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Before the Morning

Would you dare, would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing
Because the pain that you've been feeling
Can't compare to the joy that's coming
Hang on, you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
Because the pain that you've been feeling
Is just the dark... Before the morning

These are the words of the chorus of before the morning by Josh Wilson. It's one of those songs for me that I like for a period of time then forget it exists just to rediscover it a couple years later and it makes so much sense again. I was scrolling through my list of albums to find a song to listen to the other when I came across this song in Josh Wilson's self-titled album. And it brought back so many fond memories of 2009 but it did more than that; it made me realize that I was really optimistic for the future. Not in a Bob Marley "Every little thing's gonna be alright" kind of way or a singing on your balcony to the backing of birds kind of way, cow that might be a bit awkward, right?! I was optimistic in full understanding, as far as that can go, of the future struggles.

Let me break down a few of the problems before I break down why I'm optimistic. I am Zambian and have every intention of living and working in my home country for the foreseeable future. However things in Zambia are not exactly rosey, the economy isn't looking good, there is an energy crisis, jobs are supposedly hard to come by. That and a couple more issues. There is also uncertainty about my own future; university is close to being over and the real world awaits with its troubles and responsibilities and I will have to face that sooner rather than later. That's a chunk of the iceberg but this isn't about the dark, it's about the morning, so let's get down to that.

Just one more bit before what I'm optimistic about. It's all well and good to be optimistic but why should one be optimistic? Why am I? I'm optimistic because I am seeing a thread that begins at my faith and ends everywhere, in all I do. I'm not sure if it's correct to say it wasn't there before but it is definitely really strong now. I am a Christian and I believe in the God who created the world in six days, rested on the seventh and sent his son to die for the sin, salvation and redemption of his people. You might say "yeah, sure thing. But what has that got to do with anything?" It has to do with EVERYTHING but this is more clear in what I am optimistic about. So let's get down to that.

I am optimistic about my working life. Not in that I think I will become the richest man in Zambia, I don't care about that. Or that I will revolutionize Zambian architecture, I kinda care about that. But it's more, I'm optimistic about my career because I see it as an opportunity to share my faith, my life and my God through my work and work ethic. We all show things about us in how we go about certain duties and tasks and I look forward to showing how my God has changed me n the way I operate. Strictly speaking that reason is 50-50 with my survival as a reason to work. But there's more

I'm optimistic about my relationships. Unfortunately in this day and age, my one reader, your mind immediately went to a romantic relationship. Two reasons why this cannot be is that I don't plan on having multiple romantic relationships and the other is if I limit myself to the one normal relationship I miss the point and importance to the life mission. I'm optimistic about my relationships because they are the other avenue through which I show the the world my faith, my life and my God. Everyone who sees me and gets to know me should see the light of God in me and I am looking forward to showing more people that. I look forward to my siblings, parents and extended family seeing it. I look forward to my employers, workmates and potential employees seeing it. And I look forward to my wife to be and children to be seeing it. BUT THERE'S MORE

I'm optimistic about my ministry. Now, now hold your horses, don't get ahead of me. I am not saying I feel a call to any sort of Pastorate but there is more to ministry than being a pastor. If I were to paraphrase I would say that I am optimistic about my serving God through the church directly. I feel there is more that I can do, I feel like the guy with the two talents and the boss is on a trip, I want to spend it and be spent with it in service of the boss. I want to run and use the energy of youth while I have it. I want to learn both from the bible and from my elders so that when the moment comes for me to pass on knowledge I will not be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal

You see my optimism stems not from an inherent belief that I will be awesome at all I do, it stems from a belief that if I serve God and glory in his service he will be glorified in my service of him. My optimism doesn't come from a belief that I have this massive set of skills that the world hasn't seen yet and will set the world on fire it comes from a belief that I am a piece of charcoal in the hands of the greatest painter of all time, who lives outside of time, and by his grace he will turn this brittle stubborn piece of charcoal into a reflection of his glory. I'm optimistic because of him because I am dust. In my final few months in North Cyprus I am optimistic because of him