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.
~ 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