As news of the Zimbabwean non-coup swirled in a dizzying splurge of opinion from celebrity thought leader types and their menacing minions. I sat and thought about social order and lamented the poverty that The people will continue to suffer as a result of not having command of military power in these times where crooks capture capitals. And also how this perilous nature of the transfer of power serves to enslave us to the ideals of revolutionary minorites who, have command of a nations fire-power and have old ties to old ways. I thought about the people of Zimbabwe and their art much of which I’m oblivious of, I thought about their banned artists and songs, Songs the people are singing. I thought about their flag and other flags with representation of animals on them, lions, dragons, eagles and the symolism of it all. But What of their flag, the Zimbos, why that particular bird? End thought.
Known as a stone-carved Zimbabwe Bird, the original carvings are believed to be that of the African Fish Eagle or Bateleur eagle. A representation of this stylised eagle is the national emblem of Zimbabwe, appearing on the national flag and coat of arms. Intrigued by it’s posture and focus and grace, I went digging for it’s meaning. Because symbolism serves only meaning… and so the seeker will find.
We must note first a brief meaning of birds in symbology. There is what is referred to as the “language of the birds”, a divinely inspired language or thought process that humans have the ability to channel. This language, it’s bearers may serve as a guide, towards a certain destiny. In alchemy, the language of the birds was considered a secret and perfect language and the key to perfect knowledge. The “good angel” and “Bad angel” on a person’s shoulder ideal has it’s roots on this principle. Birds usually represent prophetic knowledge and past or impending bloodshed. There is a power to ancient artifacts, masks, statues, a knowledge littered in myths that we forgot about along the way. And perhaps the mere presence of certain artifacts, amulets, statues and arcs, assists in the invocation of certain realities for a people.
The stone eagle became the country’s emblem and symbol of freedom because it linked the Shona people to their ancient ancestors. For hundreds of years the Great Zimbabwe ruins have been steeped in mystery. Some say the region is the mythical land of Ophir, land of boundless gold resource and an Outpost of the Phonicians. Great Zimbabwe is situated in the fertile and well watered Mutirikwi Valley, and it’s Shona history dates back to 800 AD. The Area was dominated mostly by the Karanga Rozvi people although there is evidence of the mysterious structure being occupied by other peoples/ tribes prior to 500 AD.
The Great Zimbabwe ruins are ancient proof of african civilisations with focus on permanent, non nomadic built environment, although the truth of what great Zimbabwe was is not confirmed. This proof of civilisation focused on the built environment is counter the narrative of African tribes only being nomadic pastureralists and Hunter gratherers whos only interest was temporary accommodation subject to the natural availability of resources. Different sciences confirm that the granite enclosures in Southern Africa served as a capital for the Karanga who worked with Gold, copper, smelting, creating and then trading on the shores of the Indian ocean. On these ruins, an adventurer by the name of Willie Posselt is accredited with finding the first Zimbabwe bird. A Stylised eagle carved of soapstone, it stood commanding it’s superioty over everything around it, landscape and the walls it rested on. But Mlungu, being Mlungu, hacked it from the pedestal and tried to sell it to the leprechaun of the Transvaal Paul Kruger, but leprechauns are only interested in Gold and not other fabled treasures… As a result the bird was Finally bought by Cecil Rhodes, who was prime minister of the Cape at the Time and a total thug sho understood the spritual power that existed in Zimbabwe. Historical record has it that after the first Chimurenga, Cecil Rhodes walked unarmed into the impi Barracks after it was declared that Mlimo (a spiritual Leader that United the Shona and Ndebele againtst the British South Africa Company) had been assassinated. Other spiritual leaders like Kuvuki and Nehanda of the Shona were also found and sentenced to death In this time. Is it possible that Rhodes was willing to explore other perhaps more spiritual forces to oppress the Africans in that region. Anyways, That particular bird that Rhodes was in possession of is said to be currently at the library of Groote Schuur.
Since Posselt performed his vandalism of ancient African artifacts, at least eight carved Birds have been found in sites around Great Zimbabwe. But there seems a misappropriate and very questionable distribution of the styled eagles statues amongst their locations. Six of the birds are kept in South Africa, one is in Bulawayo and the head of one is in Harare and it’s body in Berlin… yes, Berlin, I also don’t know why, but in such cases the answer is Always Mlungu.
So as we celebrate the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe from the clutches of the old eagle in all his wisdom and fault… and call for justice and peace in Zimbabwe, let us assist them in all forms and truly be neighbourly. As South Africans we have a duty of returning all the Soapstone Zimbabwe birds that have for so long found refuge in South Africa… This on the moral basis that these birds are the heritage of the descendants of the inhabitants of the land mass around Great Zimbabwe. We must learn in these coming times to intepret myth according to what they ancients we’re trying to teach…
The working class, for people perpetually busy with Something, have a fascination for legends and myths and even dedicate even their free time to the maintenance and observance of their own oppression… But the conditions of existence are as a result of myth and legend but it is real, but we participated in making it real. As I drift away. Shona Legend has it that peace will never return to Zimbabwe until all the plundered Zimbabwe Birds have been returned to their homeland. The departments responsible, of arts and Culture, international Relations should facilitate the return of those birds with haste, great celebration and of course, grace… The grace that they deserve. Shingirira Patierera pambiri na Chimurenga.