Disappointment -- No soul? LO12300

Mnr AM de Lange (AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za)
Fri, 31 Jan 1997 17:06:19 GMT+2

Ray Evans Harrell wrote in LO12213

> We also had a universal language done with hands. It was so precise that
> whole books were dictated in it before the EA learned the native tongues.
> We considered it "bad manners" to speak in another person's tongue. That
> language was their "intellectual capital" and they were the only one's
> who really knew what the words meant on all levels. If someone did learn
> another language they were supposed to mis-pronounce an obvious word so
> that the people who were doing business would understand that they were
> not mis-representing themselves. To do so could cause a war. We always
> took trade very seriously.

Dear organlearners,

Ray, thank you very much for an excellent contribution. We need more of
these to get rich on cultural differences. Why? I will return to the
answer soon.

What you have said above reminds me of our black peoples. White people
find them very noisy. Why do they speak so loud? It is a custom among the
black peoples! By speaking loudly a person indicates to whoever can hear
him that he is not contriving anything bad. In other words, the loud
speaking is a sign of goodwill. It is exactly the opposite what you have
described, namely silent speaking is a sign of goodwill!

Why do we need more on cultural differences? Suppose that we are indeed
emerging into new era of global civilisation. Also suppose that the soul
has a collective dimension. (I have mentioned in my response to Keith
Sandrock on his complex animal that we must thank Eugene Marais [author of
'The soul of the ant'] for one everlasting contribution - the soul goes
beyond the individual into its organisations.) Then it is possible to
explain why a culture is so important - it reflects the collective
dimension of the soul. It also to explain why it becomes necessary to
accomdate all the cultural differences in a global civilisation. By not
doing so, the collective dimension of the soul is denied and the powers
emminating from it. Thus a global civilisation will be doomed to a
premature abortion.

> The problem of culture is an interesting one. Have you encountered any
> traditional people in Africa who consider the English cultureless for
> having given away their language?

The Zulu people are probably the black nation of Southern
Africa best known in the rest of the world. We all are very
indebted to a wonderful book by the anthropologist
Eileen S Krige 1936 The social system of the Zulus.
Pietermaritzburg (Natal) - Shuter and Shooter.
It is an old book, but surely there must be a copy stacked away
in some library in your country. Read it to get insight into a
social system alien to the western world. I remember how I have
enjoyed that book, suddenly understanding many things peculiar
to Zulus. You will not enjoy the book for that reasons because
you and Zulus do not live together. But if you can get yourself
to read the book and have enjoyed it, please report back to us

The Zulu people are very proud, much more than any of the other black
peoples. (Yet in their own social system, humility and respect plays an
important role.) Many of them, having had a life long contact with English
as lingua franca, refuse to speak English or Afrikaans (the two lingua
francas of South Africa). Although they do not favour the English culture,
I do not think they consider the English people as downright cultureless.
My friend Ben G, who is an oracle on at least 15 black languages, also
know of no black nation/culture which behaves in that manner.

On the contrary, since the birth of the New South Africa, there is a
growing avalanche of black people who wish to 'anglocise'. They believe
that all other languages (especially Afrikaans and black languages) are
inferior to English and all other cultures are inferior to that of the
american negroes (Ebons?) as depicted on TV. It is very difficult to
understand the reasons for this avalanche because they are different in
different socio- economical levels. However, one thing is clear, this
avalanche and the entropy produced by it, is increasing the level of chaos
for whatever bifurcation which lies ahead. As if we do not have enough
chaos already.

Ray, the book by Krige is a must for you. It will sharpen your wits
immensely. Compare their social system (which is not at all socialism)
with capitalism. You will realise that capitalism, despite its many
advantages, has one major disadvantage - its destroys the fabric of
societies - it makes people socially disfunctional. The desire to make as
much profit as possible can be extremely destructive.

Unfortunately, the Zulu social system is now falling apart. The terrrible
violence in kwaZulu-Natal is one symptom of it. In my opinion, two major
factors contributed to it. The smallest community entity ('kraal'- a
number of houses placed in a circle) became disrupted by the immense
developing of squatter camps around urban centres (one of the consequences
of a capitalistic economy). Also, the formal educational system neglected
instruction in social organisation by fostering a curriculum typical of
the Western World. This means that a major section of the Zulu people
became socially disfunctional. This situation is now being cashed in by
warlords and political opportunists. If you again see on a TV channel or
read in a paper on the violence in kwaZulu-Natal, you will then understand
it much better. Apartheid is used as an handy excuse for this social
disfunctioning, but the real reasons go much deeper as I have indicated

The Zulu people (nation), like the Xhosa people, belong to a
group of nations called the Nguni peoples. On the other hand,
the Tswana people, the Pedi people, etc., belong to the Suthu
peoples. The difference between the Nguni peoples and the Suthu
peoples may be compared with the difference between the Teutonic
nations in the north of Europa and the Romanic nations in the
south, or the Slavic nations in the east. This makes our little
country as least as complex as the whole of Europe. Anyway, if
any of you are interested, there is also a book available on the
culture of the Pedi people:
H O Monnig 1967 The Pedi. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

I think that I can safely say that South Africa is the most complex
country in the world. Its peoples are almost as representative as the UN.
Throw in its animal life, its insect live, its plant live, its geography
and its geology, we have a pot from which anything can emerge. I think
that there are too few midwifes here who can prevent premature abortions
or the emergence of idolatrous practices. We need as much as possible
midwifes from the rest of the world to assist us in becoming a noble

> Consider the problem of style in expression of the deepest
> religious thoughts. The King James is not the same as the
> Hebrew.

I know what you mean. I have taught myself some New Testament Greek. When
Sundays in church the pastor reads from the Bible in Afrikaans, my native
tongue, I try to follow it in Greek. I am sometimes amased at the
different 'flavour' which I get by reading the Greek. When I find poetic
passages, I feel so sad that it is not possible to translate their rhyme
and rithm into Afrikaans, or English, for that matter.

Yesterday evening, during a bible study session of the book Relevations, I
observed a very interesting thing. At the sound of the seventh trumpet,
God answers the furious nations with his own (omecron rho gamma eta - I
cannot print the Greek letters directly - see chapter 11 verse 18, I
think). I had five bibles open before, one in Greek, two in Afrikaans and
two in English. Each translated that word differently! In my imagination I
could see the translators, worrying whether they should ever try to use
the literal equivalent - orgy! In other words, the seventh trumpet
announce God's final solution which will be like an orgy. I mentioned this
translation to the other students, all firm believers - and they were
actually shocked by my desecration for using the word orgy!

(Incidently, in that section on the seventh trumpet, we can find one of
the most beautiful references to our ecological responsibilities. See if
you can find it yourself.)

> There is an interesting article called "Shakespeare in the
> Bush" where an anthropologist took Hamlet to an African nation where she
> was doing research. She was sure that the themes of Hamlet were
> universal. What she found was that Hamlet told through the reality of
> the elders of her village was nothing like the English.

This is one way of doing it. Another way is to tell jokes, which are very
funny to people of one culture, to people of another culture. It seldom
produces even a smile. It may even become embarrasing or degrading! We had
such a furore in parliament near the end of last year on exactly this

This reminds me of another serious problem created in the New South
Africa. The time allocated to Afrikaans on TV has now been reduced to 5%.
The new ANC goverment is furious because the majority of Afrikaans
speaking people will not have anymore anything to do with TV, either
viewing it or paying licence for it. They do not understand that the soul
of the majority of black conscious programs get lost in a different
culture. Afrikaans people do not laugh when a black comedy program is
shown, just as it is the case the other way around. The present ANC also
believes, just like the NP goverment of the apartheid era, that continuous
brain washing will succeed - although they know that it did not succeed
during the apartheid era.

Ray, I have to stop now. I wish I had the time and space to comment on
your observation that "For the general public English doesn't mean
metaphor but concrete reality." This is one of the finest sentences I have
ever read on this list. Your observation is absolutely correct on one of
the most serious myths which ails our present civilisations. Will you
please treat us with a full exposition on this very sentence. (In my
viewpoint this observation is directly related to one of the seven
essentialities of creativity. I have named this essentiality
"open-paradigm". If you get the idea which I am hinting at, you can also
work that into your contribution.) I would love to read what your

Best wishes
- --

At de Lange
Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education
University of Pretoria
Pretoria, South Africa
email: amdelange@gold.up.ac.za


"Mnr AM de Lange" <AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>