Do not destroy Credo Mutwa’s contribution with gossip

2020-04-07 21:45

This is a rebuttal to the unfortunate piece published in City Press on Credo Mutwa by Thato wa Magogodi.

There is a growing trend to write lies about the dead in the hope that no one will defend them since the dead cannot speak for themselves.

To begin with, no one doubts the importance of criticism of public individuals for the works they leave behind. But let’s separate criticism of their work from personal attacks.

The former is a sincere effort to contextualise a person’s contribution but the latter is born from a sense of mischief – to sully the deceased’s name.

I take serious offence to the assertion that Mutwa foresaw the assassination of If it is true that he foresaw the assassination of Chris Hani by Janusz Walus but did not warn him because Mutwa was anti-communist.

The suggestion that Mutwa did not help a fellow African because of a European ideology (communism) is in itself a bizarre attack, given that Mutwa was one of the most Afrocentric people.

Mutwa has left behind a luminous legacy. He did a great deal to add to African mythology, pharmacopoeia, knowledge of Bantu law and medicine.

Mutwa was not anti-European in the ordinary sense of the word, but anti-monopoly of religious archetypes. He did not believe the European religious rites were the only rites.

To say such a view manifested as anti-communism and a refusal to supplant the spiritual needs of African communists is untrue. This implication that Mutwa did not help Hani misappropriates a man’s legacy with no cause.

It is more of a character assassination than a sincere criticism of a literary body of work.

I also take offence to the suggestion that Mutwa did not support the 1976 student uprising because, again, he was essentially anti-communist and the uprising was influenced by communists.

A fanciful theory

As already stated, there is no evidence that Mutwa refused to assist any African because they were communist.

To also advocate that Mutwa should be criticised like Robert Mugabe is equally troubling.

While Mutwa empowered people’s minds for freedom, Mugabe reduced Zimbabwe from a bread basket to a basket case.

It is only pan-Africanists who blindly refuse to treat Mugabe as human rights abuser and despot. Zimbabwe has been mortgaged to China and there are serious questions raised by economists whether the country will ever recover from Mugabe’s policies.

You can’t compare the criticism of Mugabe with the respect Mutwa garnered by offering unsubstantiated personal attacks.

If these accusations are not rebutted they will spread like a wildfire and assume a life of their own: an unfair epitaph for the dead.

Mutwa has left behind a luminous legacy. He did a great deal to add to African mythology, pharmacopoeia, knowledge of Bantu law and medicine.

Mutwa was the first to support the claim that my people, the Lemba tribe, are of Jewish ancestry by offering a deeper understanding of pre-colonial Africa.

Even though people associate Judaism only with whites, Mutwa demystified this thinking, using a combination of scientific archaeology and oral traditions.

On this matter, Mutwa did not merely offer DNA evidence but something even greater – King Solomon’s sword as well as other physical relics from the Great Zimbabwe as further proof.

He also argued that the VaVenda have Jewish ancestry.

To destroy Mutwa’s contribution with gossip is a serious distraction from the momentous work he has left behind. Magogodi’s article taints the picture of a life filled with love for South Africa, which was Mutwa’s legacy.

May he rest in peace. Qhawe, silwane Ka Shezi.

Ken Sibanda, is a South Africa-born American constitutional law expert, a Lemba from the Siyagalala clan. He is the author of the science fiction novel The Return to Gibraltar. He lives in New York.

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May 31 2020