Mbantunyankompong is about God, the People. It is a cultural word agglutinated from Zulu — “Bantu” meaning the People. And from Akan, in Ghana, West Africa, “Nyankompong” means God, the Supreme Being. This synthesized concept also derives from two additional politicized sources, essentially.
As it follows, the term Bantu (Bawn-too) in Southern Africa became popular for the most well-known proponent of the Black Consciousness Movement, Steve “Bantu” Biko. So aside from basically meaning “the People” now you have it attached to an ideology, and a historical figure who not only helped found the BCM. He was instrumental in organizing the June 16, 1976 student protests in Soweto.
For these activities, Bantu Biko was killed by South Africa’s apartheid-era Special Branch. And for his work and his life, we honor him.
Then, the second part of the name has an equally dramatic basis. It comes by way of the Jamaica Maroons who held a compound off from British slaveowners. The Maroons called their site Accompong, devoted in the libations of African freedom fighting and culture. They had preserved this name from the TransAtlantic abduction of African people. Accompong was actually shortened from Nyankompong, of course. Following Haiti, Jamaica had one of the most important communities of resistance in the Caribbean, and deserves to be toured by anybody sightseeing in Jamaica. By putting the historical aspect of each of these derivative meanings into one revolutionary attribute suggests the holy and secular character of this name.
So now you put the whole two pieces together to understand what I am putting down on this here blog, Iyah. It’s time to try pursing your lips together like you might hum “Mmm” for something delicious. Say it. Mm-Bawn-too. Now say the second part aloud and make it resonate. …Nyawn-kom-pong. Now put it all together into one great sounding word: Mm-Bawn-too-NYAN-KOMPONG!
Today, the human world is composed of a vast interwoven social fabric which encompasses the entire globe. Our global interrelatedness ironically involves a vast political and economic gulf which divides people according to class and nationality. There are wealthy classes and empire nations, working classes and subject states. The class system keeps humanity divided, it prevents social mobility and stunts human development.
You may well ask, how? How is social mobility and human development stunted in the capitalist system? Most people believe that capitalism facilitates those things, that it has provided mobility where none before existed. Most people come to the capitalist centers to gain the ability to aspire in society. People flee Cuba for a better life here; they leave Haiti to enjoy the benefits of American democracy, all provided because of capitalism.
Yet capitalism was founded on exploitation. It was built on slavery and land piracy. We kno from history that it had no origins separate from that. There was no mercantile business that contributed to the phenomenon called capitalism. Today, press gangs mine diamonds, gold, platinum and coltan in Africa to sustain the world economy.
Wars have never ceased under capitalism; in fact, they have increased. The US cannot stop war; it can only continue to intensify conflict thru proxy political wars, wars for corporate finance, and its own hawkish intervention in international affairs. It contravenes US interests to cease violent conflicts when money can be made.
Capitalism will never again cure disease, because of the profit motive. So afflictions like guinea worm will never disappear as long as capitalism exists, altho the capitalist economic system has the ability to eradicate it. Just the water purification facilities in America’s beer distilleries alone could provide enough clean water for people all over Africa to end suffering from guinea worm. In the US, politicians and ideologues oppose providing health care even for their own constituencies. Therefore, we will not see any leaps in human development.
Our development as human beings, what is called “Ubuntu” in Africa, is undermined in capitalism. But in Ubuntu, humanness (formerly called “humanism” by revolutionaries), we strive to develop as beings, not as commodities. Our value is not estimated by our possessions. In Ubuntu, objects become secondary to our interrelatedness. The Zulu say, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” (“a person is a person through [other] persons”), emphasizing the interrelatedness of all humans. Nobody comes into this world alone. A community produced the individual, therefore personal concentration of wealth and power takes away from society’s collective dynamic.
Taken this way, Ubuntu is dynamic. Society becomes many times more vigorous and purposeful, filled with energy, and active and changing. Its ability to eliminate poverty and ignorance becomes its power. Its aspirations to eradicate diseases and violence take on a life of its own. These things gain objective momentum, while under capitalism the money-making goal maintained all social momentum.
Hence, the first maxim of Ubuntu asserts, “To be human is to affirm one’s humanity by recognizing the humanity of others and, on that basis, establish respectful human relations with them.” The second maxim says, “If and when one is faced with a decisive choice between wealth and the preservation of the life of another human being, then one should opt for the preservation of life.”
The third maxim — as a principle deeply embedded in traditional African political philosophy — says, “The king owes his status, including all the powers associated with it, to the will of the people under him.” Revolutionary organizers can recognize this in our own practice of democratic-centralism, and criticism/self-criticism. In criticism/self-criticism, everybody from the leadership on down is required to make a response to important, relevant issues raised in a formal setting by people and the comrades. No deflecting — shifting blame, dodging the question, or otherwise not taking responsibility — is permissible. Also, this practice is used to hone self-awareness, our collective focus, and our skills.
Democratic Centralism depends upon the practice of criticism/self-criticism to function. The greatest and most important body of any revolutionary organization is its congress. A revolutionary group must be directly linked to the masses of people thru mass organizations. These organizations accept the party leadership. They are linked to the party thru conventions, and should be larger than the party.
However, the party is different. It provides leadership for the express purpose of developing programs, campaigns and other activity which advances a platform that is broader and greater than the party itself. These activities move the community forward by increasing its awareness of what it can accomplish outside of the capitalist system, and prove how collectivism operates at a higher level than privatization. Now, we must take and apply this concept as part of our concept of humanism, as a wholistic new outlook.
While sharing is incorporated within Ubuntu, it is only one of the multiplicity of virtues within it. In the Ubuntu domain that we have transformed to relate to building a new society, all people are equals. All people are provided for and protected in every home; those who pass thru as travelers or migrants do so without expectation of payment. Nobody may be persecuted for being a stranger, for being different. Nobody may become isolated or shut out of society, nobody may suffer because their needs differ from anyone else’s. This takes us to a different level as human beings.
And so it is in the spirit of Ubuntu, freedom and a brighter future that I have dedicated this blog. I hope it live up to expectations and you have an equal responsibility to raise any criticism/self-criticism that will improve our humanness as we struggle to liberate this vast, interwoven social fabric of humanity from the beast of global imperialism. That is our aim and our revolution.
Pamberi ne Chimurenga!
IZWE LETHU I AFRIKA!