Association of Zimbabwean saditional Environmental Conservationists
|Fundamentals of AZTREC
Cosmovision refers to the way a certain population perceives the world or cosmos, it includes the perceived relationships between the natural world, the social world and the spiritual world. It describes the roles of super natural powers, the way natural processes take place, the relationship between human and nature and it makes explicit the philosophical and scientific premises on the bases of which interventions in nature are made.
In the cosmovision of traditionalists in Zimbabwe, like the members of AZTREC there is a trinity of a spiritual world, a social world and natural world. The natural world contains the flora and fauna, the spiritual world contains the ancestral spirits and the social world contains the people, their spiritual and administrative leaders and other social actors. The natural world is expressive and meaningful in relation between humans and the spirituality. In the traditionalist philosophy the relation between the three is harmonious.
The African cosmovision particularly in the Zimbabwean context clearly shows that within the spiritual world there exist the out most super natural spirit (Musikavanhu, Mwari, Umulimu) God, the creator of the junior spirits. These junior spirits are delegated specific responsibilities which directly oversee all functions of mortal beings. The spirits are clustered into different sectors such as agriculture, mining, technology, health, military, economy and others.
From our African Cosmovision in agriculture, it is believed that people who discovered the crops and crop production were messengers/spirit mediums of the spiritual assembly sub committee responsible for and knowledgeable on plants and their values. Once somebody is born blessed along such talents he/she would demonstrate by harvesting and processing such plants for food and for people to follow. The spirit mediums would be given some rules and regulations which would be transferred to other people. The sub committee would lay out all the procedures that needed to be followed in order to guarantee good harvests. This would include such issues like what needed to be done before the onset of the rains, where and how to do it, who should take the lead on such events or rituals, what would be required during thanks giving ceremonies.
In Zimbabwe, the invasion by settler colonialists in 1890 marked the declension of the norms and value systems of the ethnic cultures. Due t o the sophistication of the indigenous peoplefs way of life the colonialists deliberately chose to mystify and demonise ethnic traditions and cultural ideals that nurtured and sustained the local people. Their procedures, rules and regulations were violated and their humanity devalued. The indigenous peoplefs practices and cultural actions were considered abnormally primitive and diabolic.
There was no effort to understudy the African cosmovision, to learn from and understand its qualitative nature and significance of the rituals and ceremonies performed punctuating the seasons. They chose to rate them as satanic. The colonialists undoubtedly knew that the Africans had their own ways of appeasing the spiritual world. Hence they strategically eroded the indigenous peoplefs beliefs, traditions and cosmovisions.
The entire African spiritual assembly, realizing that the indigenous people
no longer recognize the fundamental principles of life got provoked.
+ Chiefs were no longer organizing rain- making rituals and related traditional
+ Sacred places were defiled and turned into recreational sites.
+ The role of spirit mediums was replaced by Christian priests.
+ Spirit mediums were labeled witches. The role of chiefs was replaced
by District Commissioners, and that of innovative and creative agriculturists
was replaced by technocrats extensionists. The entire life style of an
African was subverted.
To reverse the situation the spiritual world had no option but to re - institute itself through a protracted revolutionary war across Africa. It should be understood that the wars of liberation was not initiated by any mortal being but by the spiritual world. All those people who took part in those wars of liberation whether as nationalists, combatants or collaborators were mere executors on behalf of the spiritual world.
The fact that non of the people who crossed the borders to join the liberation struggle had the blessing of his/her parents or relatives and that those recruits neither knew the routes to the training camps illustrates the super natural prevalence of cosmovision or spirituality in the natural/physical and human/social worlds.
I.K.S is the local community based knowledge, unique to a given culture
or society over many generations within particular systems. It is also
referred to as g the collective knowledge of traditional communities that
reflects the relationship between people and nature .Thus in reality I.K.S
is a technical arm of cosmovision.
It is important to realise that I.K.S is not just a set of information
that is in the minds of the people and that could be simply taped and applied.
Knowledge is partly based on the meaning that people attribute to phenomena
for instance what a tree is to a forester might be very different form
what a tree is to a traditional healer.
Indigenous knowledge covers a wide range of subjects such as agriculture,
livestock rearing , food preparation, education, institutional management,
natural resources management, health care and others. I.K.S is often not
recorded but stored in peoplesf memories and activities and is expressed
in stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, dances, myths, cultural values,
beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language and taxonomy, agricultural
practices, equipment, materials, plant species and animal breeds. People
are basically interested in I.K.S because it is part of their life and
is a valuable resource for endogenous development.
AZTREC views culture as the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior. It consists of language, ideas, beliefs, customs, taboos, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, artifacts, rituals, ceremonies, folklorefs and others. The development of culture depends on peoplefs capacity to learn and transmit knowledge to succeeding generations.
AZTREC views Gender as an individualfs self conception as being male or
female. It is a social construct that denotes socio-culturally determined
differences between men and women. AZTRECfs experience is that most of
the spirit mediums are women who are possessed largely by male spirits.
In the household the division of labor is naturally distinct. Women take
up duties relevant to household level. Men are the spokes - persons and
implementers while women take the responsibility of silent decision-making.
The spirit mediums, who are mainly female, communicate with the ancestors
dwelling in the spiritual world and disseminate the same information to
the chiefs (mainly male) who administer the land and the people. Thus the
spirit mediums play a pivotal intermediary role between the spiritual world
and the mortal beings.
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