The Sunday News
IN the last article, we sought to identify, based on excavated finds, materials that seemed to link Stonehenge with spiritual and cultural practices that still exist in Africa.
In particular, we were looking for cultural practices that were related to spiritual beings who in Africa go by various names such as traditional healers, traditional doctors, soothsayers, shamans, spiritualists and other various designations.
The professional field requires categorisation.
On the one hand, there are individuals that are spiritually endowed and are thus able to see beyond the material world and apply their spiritual gifts to look into the present, the past and the future.
On the other hand, there is another group of practitioners who concentrate on healing.
This group is equally endowed with spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts divine the nature of disease. Symptoms may point to similarities where the causes for the diseases may be different.
Divination may be resorted to pinpoint medication, may be applied with high chances of healing.
Divination methods of various types, all based on spiritual gifts, may be resorted to in order to divine the nature of sickness.
Rarely are divination and healing undertaken by individuals with no spiritual gifts.
It is the paraphernalia in both healing and divination that may bear evidence to the existence of spiritual individuals operative within a cultural landscape that, as we have argued before, is invested with expressions of spirituality.
There are artefacts that testify either to divination or to healing.
Once again, it is recourse to African Thought and cultural practices where professions of divination and healing take a spiritual angle.
It is these that we follow closely from the archaeologists’ work, cognisant that these professionals embrace a different world-view from that of the creators, builders and users of Stonehenge.
The one artefact that we turn to today is a wild boar tusk.
We are not here suggesting that where and when a wild boar tusk is excavated that is evidence of the existence of spiritual practitioners engaged in divination and healing.
We do that when several pieces of evidence have been found over and above the discovery of tusks of a wild boar.
It is important to unpack the underlying beliefs that lead to the use of a wild boar tusk. In some cultures, they may refer to it as a pendant.
Its use stems from a belief that there are malevolent forces that may be unleashed, forces that witches and wizards may target at identified enemies by means of remote control to cause injury, either material or spiritual and sometimes both.
An individual was targeted in several ways.
Totemic pronouncements, a specific name in conjunction with a totem of a targeted individual was one form.
No wonder Africans did not pronounce people’s names at night when witches are thought to prowl.
Genetic particularity was used to target an individual.
That particularity resided in various body items of a targeted individual such as hair, toe and fingernails blood, urine, faecal material, sweat, body grease, hair, skin, inter alia.
Genetics is not a recent discovery on the African continent. Witchcraft, an unfortunate term used to describe genetic manipulation, sometimes with harmful effects.
In order to counter these genetic onslaughts Africa was endowed with knowledge to counter the intended effects. It was a completely big field that spiritualists engaged in.
Fortification took place at various levels, making use of numerous methodologies.
A country was fortified and protected along the borders using fortification pegs (izikhonkwane).
Equally, a homestead (umuzi) was fortified and protected. Cattle byres (izibaya), huts (izindlu) were also fortified in order to counter the machinations and intrigues of malevolent people, the witches and wizards.
Individuals were also protected in many ways. Talismans make of skins were worn on waits, waists and necks.
The skin bags contained protective charms.
Symbolism came into play.
There were animals, trees and insects that were known to fight ferociously.
Some insects are targeters.
A bee can fly a long distance from its hive.
However, it knows how to fly back to its beehive.
Africans knew it was an insect they could use symbolically to target an individual. Do you remember the myths about Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi?
In this article, though focus is on a wild boar tusk. In addition to the wild boar tusk there are other animals such as a walrus and an elephant that are also known to possess an arsenal of fighting tusks that protrude out of their mouths.
Different communities attach different meaning to tusks.
On average, many traditional African communities perceive the tusks as “spears” for attack.
At the same time, what fights also defends. We may refer to the “container-contents” that we alluded to in an earlier article.
Some medicinal formulation has its power by virtue of the strength and power it is derived from. Animals, trees, and plants are recognised to possess differing-fighting powers.
What matters next is that such an efficacious fighting formulation should not be reduced by traits inherent in a container.
Where a powerful medicinal formulation is placed in a passive container, its power is reduced or minimised.
As a result, the African traditional doctors make use of horns of known fighting animals to serve as containers of medicines intended for fighting or countering targeted formulations.
A good example is a four-legged clay pot retrieved from the royal hut at Khami royal headquarters.
The anthropomorphic pot would have been a ram that is known to be a ferocious fighter.
Powerful medicines in a symbolised ram adds to augmented power.
Such medicine in a fighting ram was ideal in protecting the king.
Examples are animals such as the buffalo, eland, sable antelope, inter alia.
A powerful fighting medicinal formulation placed in a cow horn is being negated and its energy whittled down.
A cow fights but not to the same extent as a buffalo or eland bull. Horns have hollows which are used to fill in medicines.
This is true of a wild boar that African communities knew as a terrible fighter and therefore defender.
Poorly trained dogs sometimes get lacerated by the wild boat tusks.
African traditional doctors and diviners are known to make use of a variety of medicated horns, tusks, roots, plant stems, inter alia, in order to ward off malevolent forces from witches and wizards.
They wear these around their necks (izigqizo) and over their shoulder (imigaxo). This is particularly so among the initiates (amathwasa) who are more vulnerable as they are yet to be sufficiently fortified and protected.
Among the items that experienced traditional doctors and initiates wear are wild boar tusks. Obviously, something would have been done to augment its natural power.
Into its shallow hollow medicinal formulations may have been added. In the end, there is double fortifying capability.
With regard to the African traditional doctors, the wild boar tusk is used for their fortification and protection. A tusk fights back and, by so doing, it is protecting the wearer.
We are persuaded to think the wild boar tusk excavated at Stonehenge was used in the same fashion as happens in Africa today.
In the last article, we saw another practice, deriving from spiritual beliefs as unpacked in this article.
Fortification and protection were important considerations. Smudging, through the emission of smoke whose particles attach themselves to those of malevolent formulations and drive them out.
In fact, the subject of fortification and protection, in its physical and spiritual manifestations forms is very important and constitutes a broad field that is of course under severe onslaught from modernisation, urbanisation, western education and book religions.
Where we seek to understand the beliefs, philosophy and worldview of the ancients we need to put aside our current knowledge, the God of Science and get into the minds of the ancients.
Interpretation of ancient cultural sites becomes more objective, empathetic and nearer objectivity.