Monday, 30 April 2018

Z is for Ze End!


is for

Leonard Karikoga Zhakata (1968 - ) - a Zimbabwean musician and singer with his 1994 smash hit Mugove, from the album Maruva Enyika, which propelled him to national stardom. 




Maiko Zulu is a Zambian musician, reggae artist, and human rights activist, well-known for his activism. Listen to his Reggae Zambia.





Also Zone Fam, a hip hop band from Zambia with Life is Good. Lots of choice today for the last letter of the challenge. Drink, sing and be merry for tomorrow we may diet. 



And an album called Zabalasa by Thandiswa Mazwai, one of South Africa’s award winner musicians, singing in Xhosa. 





This track called Hna (Here) from the album Zarabi by Oum el Ghait Benessahraoui from Morocco singing in the local Arabic dialect. I've talked about her and Here before for my previous A-Z too.




Ziwa Ruins - an archaeological site and a national monument in Zimbabwe located in Nyanga. Human habitation goes back here for 350,000 years, with hunter-gatherer peoples giving way to settled communities by 200 CE. The ruins that can be seen today are the remnants of a village dating to around 1500 -1700’s. These communities were skilled potters and iron smelters.


The archaeological evidence is actually layered both in time and variety, there are four different areas and periods represented. There is rock art here from the Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Stone tearracing and pathways, rock built enclosures and rock querns and gongs indicate that the later settlements were mainly agricultural. The site was likely abandoned when it could no longer support the growing population, around 1800. In the 1990’s an on- site museum was built - a collaboration between the Norweigian and Zimbabwean governments. It’s on the list for approval as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and less importantly, on my bucket list too! :)  


Zinjanthropus boisei – Remember Louis and Mary Leakey’s story? Olduvai Gorge? A fossil finding of a hominin skull by Mary Leakey in 1959 there changed the entire course of scientific thinking on human evolutionary history.

Because till then all hominin fossils had been found outside of Africa – in Asia (the Peking Man) and scientists and palaeontologists were of the firm opinion that all searches for hominin fossils should be centred in Asia. Although Darwin had quite stunningly predicted Africa to be the evolutionary birthplace of humans based on his studies of the African great apes a century ago.

But Louis and Mary Leakey went against popular thinking and worked in East Africa and in July 1959 it paid off big time! Mary found the final proof to vindicate Darwin’s prediction and their own belief. That fossil skull was named Zinjathropus boisei by Louis Leakey. Zinj was the ancient Arabic name for the East African coast, anthropus from scientific Latin meaning human, and boisei after their sponsor Charles Boise – so the East African Man Boisei in plain English.


The naming of fossils is a supercharged, weighty business – is the fossil directly ancestral to humans? if so it's classified as Homo. But if it is a cousin species and not directly linked, just human-like then it's either Australopithecine or Paranthropi - depending on the cranium size, and when it inhabited earth, Australopithecines are older than Paranthropi, both cousin species of Homo, both extinct.  Read more about the differences here.

Scientists spend entire lifetimes trying to pin fossils down on the evolutionary family tree. Louis Leakey thought Mary's fossil find was of a direct ancestral human, but there was insufficient evidence to back this claim. Zinjanthropus boisei was later reclassified as Paranthropus boisei by some, and as Australopithecus boisei by some others, and a firm consensus has never been reached. But we know that this early human species flourished for a million years, that’s four times longer than modern humans, and then splat! went extinct 1.2 million years ago. No-one has made out quite why as yet. Read more about old Zinjy here.


From the Safaris





~ Thanks for watching! ~

Books n Stuff



Zambia Shall Be Free – I have till now avoided the political writers of Africa, quite consciously, because I don’t think being a politician, good or bad, makes anyone a great writer. And a political autobiography is by definition a suspicious candidate in my book! because it’s 99% some agenda or other being pushed down my throat rather than the unvarnished truth, isn’t it? Why should a political leader need to write their own biography anyway? Let their publics judge them by their actions after their term! But ZSBF...I’ve got to write about it because... well, it was part of my childhood...and part of my childhood Africa...

Bear in mind that this wasn’t an ordinary Indian childhood pumped full of general knowledge quizzes and books, bang up to all current affairs through civics and political science lessons, through TV news and newspapers galore. This was a clueless childhood, rather teenhood, in remote small-town West Africa, supremely isolated from India as well as the wider world. There was no radio, no TV at home. My father got his newspapers at work, but he had subscriptions to Time and Newsweek, which arrived home with a lag so whatever I got from them were old hats by the time they got there anyways. I took a greater interest in the adverts and the arts/science/entertainment pages than the political news I have to admit, in fact kept cuttings of the ads for years together.

But somewhere in my peripheral consciousness, I was vaguely aware of the Vietnam war ending, Watergate, Thatcher’s coming to power (also the Labour isn't working poster!), the energy crises. The Emergency in India. The expulsion of Indians from Uganda – this was reinforced through direct evidence, because my father brought home one such refugee gentleman as a house guest one day, he was going from town to town looking for a job after having the rug pulled out from under his home and business overnight, I still remember the shock in my father’s eyes. I remember the first test-tube baby's cover story – Louise Brown, during 1978 summer.

What I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t a politically super-aware teenager. And yet, strangely - it seems to me now, I was quite clued up on what was going on in the Southern part of the continent. This was wholly because of my Literature teachers – they taught me the poetry of Soyinka and Senghor, and about Negritude, and Mine Boy, and Cry, the Beloved Country, they were young and passionate about both the English language and the political issues underpinning the works they were teaching. But no amount of passionate teaching could open me to ZSBF.

This book is the political autobiography of Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of independent Zambia – I disliked it intensely, it was boring, haphazard. But if you had asked me why – I don’t think I could have come up with a sensible answer then. I knew it was published before Zambia got its freedom. I knew that Kaunda had declared one-party rule just a few years before I had to read it as my mandatory non-fiction text. How could a person write about the power of democracy when struggling against colonial rule, and then declare one-party rule ten years later, once in position?! I was naive and stupid and stubborn as a mule.

I never read a word beyond what was required of me in the classroom that whole year. Then panic-read it in one session, staying up the entire night before the exam, reading less and oh-my-god-oh-my-goding more the whole time - the thing my teachers had told me expressly not to do. Fortunately, it is not a fat book. And fortunately, the literature exam had a lot of choice built-in, and my reading of the other texts had been close enough and sincere enough to get me a decent grade. I handed in my copy of ZSBF without ever opening it again, and it is the one book from my schooldays that I have no wish to reread. Not even for old times’ sake.

~~*~~



So here we are – at the end of the challenge – always a mixed feeling. Thank you to each one of you who’ve kept me company on this safari of reconnecting with Africa, I have enjoyed the trip more than I can express, so pleased that you came along. I hope you too had a pleasant time. And if you have completed the challenge, big fat congratulations to you! I’m off now for some much needed shut eye. See you later. 





Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2018

34 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your wide ranging approach to the challenge. I have learned, I have wondered, I have applauded. Loudly.

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    1. Thank you for being here throughout. Much appreciate the support.

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  2. Hi Nila - I think we're all delighted you join with us ... and give us such an educated run down of things Africa - always love seeing what you're putting up for us to read, and to listen to ... this year I will be back to listen to the music as I do other things on or near the dreaded square screen (rectangular to be accurate!) ...

    Wonderful was the Mugove video by Leonard - no wonder it was so successful ... such a great listen - cheers Hilary

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    1. Africa is a rich subject indeed, I had fun exploring. Thank you for your support this A-Z!

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  3. Lots of interesting information. The scientific community does spend a lot of time arguing amongst themselves. No doubt they'll reclassify that fossil again in the future.

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    1. The scientific community can be nitpicky sometimes :) Thanks for being here.

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  4. There's a reason they can't ever prove the jump from apes to men.
    You did quite well for Z! And made it to the end. Congratulations.

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    1. Thank you for the wishes. Africa has multiple items for every letter - A-Z is a breeze over there :)

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  5. Zillions of zebras - ahhhh! You Zoomed in on so many facets of Africa - your life, memories, feelings, music, poetry, writing, art, history, etc. Fantastic A-Z blog month. Thank you for sharing and for the safari. Absolutely the BEST! Zounds!

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    1. Thank you for your support for my A-Z! Much appreciated. Zounds is a great Z-word! :)

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  6. Hey Nila, you made it! Z is usually the hard one, but not when you have Zambia! I haven't had the time to read all of your posts, but I will gradually work my way through. So much to learn about Africa. You must have enjoyed the research. What are you going to do now? Write a book about Africa? I'd buy it for sure!

    Congratulations on a fantastic A-Z and for taking the time out of your busy schedule to exchange the odd email.

    Denise x

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    1. Hi Denise, Africa is seriously awesome - I love the research as you know :) the best part of A-Z...Thanks for your wishes and for the brilliant time this month at WEP. Great fun all round.

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  7. Although I was very political as a teen, I was also, like you, very sure of right and wrong and bad and good.

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    1. And Congrats on completing such an interesting topic.

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    2. Ya, teenage is emphatically not a time when one looked for any nuanced understanding :) Thanks for your wishes and the support throughout this month!

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  8. Hari OM
    A tuneful end to a wondeful series, Nilanjana! Am so glad to have connected with you and will be continuing to join you after this, for have enjoyed your 'company' enormously! It has surely been a marthon and we all deserve a rest. Congrats on getting here. YAM xx

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    1. Thank you! It's great to connect with you and the daily Vedanta fix :) Congrats to you too for a great series! Hope to keep in touch.

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  9. What a lovely and educational month! Thank you for all the music and the information and the interesting tidbits :)
    The Ziwa Ruins are on my bucket list too!

    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

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    1. Thank you for your support and for co-hosting, truly appreciated. Must also mention how much I enjoy each of your A-Z's these past few years.

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  10. Hi Nila, I really enjoyed the series that you presented. I've learnt a lot about Africa - things that I never knew even though I grew up on this continent. Thank you for the information, the music and the beautiful safari pics. Congratulations on completing the challenge on the same high note on which you started it. www.hesterleynel.co.za

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    1. Thank you for being here and for the wishes! It was great to connect with you over the A-Z. Congrats to you too on reaching the finish line.

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  11. What a genuine joy this series has been, and I think it's really appropriate and fun it's ended today with an array of music and a parade of zebras, bookending reflections on your own coming of age and the coming of age of the human species. Thank you so much for this month-long look at Africa you've curated. Well done!

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    1. Thank you Deborah!I'm glad you've enjoyed the series - I certainly had fun putting it together. Congrats to you too for an awesome A-Z!

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  12. I think my fave vid today is Hna - love the strings and how light the singer's voice is. Great posts this year - bravo!
    Best wishes,
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - Movie Monsters

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    1. Thank you for your visits and support. Hna is a brilliant track indeed - great lyrics too. Oum is an exquisite North African voice really.

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  13. You got my foot tapping which is quite an acheivement! Your video transported be back to the safaris I enjoyed in South Africa and Zimbabwe 18 months ago. Thank you!

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!


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    1. Zimbabwe is a place I have to get to! And I have to catch up with some of Rosey's doings as well :) Thanks for being here.

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  14. Congratulations, Nila! I enjoyed your Africa series immensely. Some days, I read but every day I looked forward to and enjoyed From the Safaris. You are right - we do not often think of disabled animals. Thank you for a great A to Z month!

    Emily In Ecuador

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    1. Thank you, Emily for your support of the safari section and my A-Z! :) In that trip I saw a blind rhino Baraka - who is in the Ol Pejeta shelter and being cared for because he's endangered obviously...but zebras are not and so the disabled ones go on without any help...don't expect the disabled animals survive for too long out in the wild. It's a bit sobering how dispassionate nature is about any deviations.

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  15. Cute title for this post, especially since your post included so many "legitimate" words you could have used in the title instead.

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    1. You always notice what no-one else does!! Applaud your eye for detail - I pulled together the confidence to use an 'illegitimate' word only because Africa had so many regular ones - half of which I haven't mentioned :) Thank you for the support this past April.

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    2. Well, thank you for giving us all a month's worth of posts that were worth reading... not that your posts are ever not worth reading. :)

      And thanks for the compliment.

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