The Sunday Mail
Shingai Rukwata Ndoro Chiseling the Debris —
IN Swahili, a girl is “msichana” (“musikana” in Shona, from “musika vana”). When she becomes of marriageable age, she is called “mwari”.
On her marriage day, she is called “bibi harusi”. “Mwari” is also a fairly common first name among Swahili speakers in Tanzania and Kenya.
It means “young woman”.
In Kenya, “mwari” is a girl, while in Chewa “mwali” is a young woman reaching child-bearing age.
It can be noticed that this is to do with maternity, life-bearing ability and fertility. Deductively, this is connected with “Mwari” in Shona.
In Malawi (Nyanja, Chewa, Lomwe and Yao of Malawi) and Zambia (Chokwe, Ila, Luchazi, Mbunda, Luvale and Chewa), there is an initiation rite called “chinamwali” (‘domba’ in Venda). The girl or maiden is called ‘mwali’ (plural ‘anamwali’).
The initiation rite is for the coming of age for girls and a ceremony held in a secret place. This is where girls are helped to get through their transition to mature womanhood, sexual and maternal responsibilities that come with it.
The pre-marital initiation of girls is more than a sexual role. It is about them being their future as the actualisation of the Feminine Principle – conceiving, nurturing and caring through their sexual roles. Sexual education of the young women is given by means of symbols, riddles, songs and simulated action. They are also taught about responsibilities of marriage, observances associated with pregnancy and childbirth and parenthood.
From this narrative, it can be deduced that “Mwari” is the sexual creative power (life bearing ability and fertility). In Shona, it is “Mwari ndiMusiki” or “Mwari Musiki.””Kusika” is a Shona term for the procreative role and the organs of creation are “nhengo dzesika rudzi.”
We are all creatures of our parentage procreative role. Without our parental union, we would not have come into existence!
The Swahili word for teacher is ‘mwalimu’ (‘mwali-mu’), a role ordinarily associated with motherhood as the mother as a teacher.
In the Venda culture people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, the assumed source of life is called ‘Mwali,’ while the Shonas of Zimbabwe say ‘Mwari.’
This shows “Mwari” has to be defined in the context of the sexual creative power (life bearing ability and fertility) in human beings.That creative power is the conjunction of the masculine and feminine energies and bodies.
Why is there a relationship between the creative agency and the fertility, conceiving, nurturing and caring role of women? The attributes often associated with femininity and even motherhood are affection, conceiving, nurturing and caring. This feminine and motherly aspect of the life was and is still suppressed in organised religions.
The impersonal life force that is sexually balanced with a harmony and complementarity of opposites (Severity/Strength and Mercy/Kindness) was destroyed and in its place the masculine divinity of harshness, war, hatred, ego, vengeance, death and destruction was advanced.
The masculine Hebraic deity (El) was “strictly conformist, legalistic, tightly structured and exclusionist.”
Katharine M. Rogers in “The Troublesome Helpmate” advances an argument that Pauline Christianity (based on Saul/Paul’s teachings) is misogynistic just like the literalist versions of Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. She listed what she says as specific examples from the Greek Scriptures, letters of Saul/Paul of Tarsus.
She argues that the legacy of Christian misogyny was consolidated by the so-called “Fathers” of the Church, like Tertullian, who thought a woman was not only “the gateway of the devil” but also “a temple built over a sewer.”
Rogers also said, “The foundations of early Christian misogyny – its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction – are all in St. Paul’s epistles.”
Passages from Hegel’s ‘Elements of the Philosophy of Right’ are frequently used to illustrate Hegel’s supposed misogyny: “Women are capable of education, but they are not made for activities which demand a universal faculty such as the more advanced sciences, philosophy and certain forms of artistic production… Women regulate their actions not by the demands universality, but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions.” – G.W.F Hegel, ‘Elements of the Philosophy of Right,’ quoted in Lilli Alanen and Charlotte Witt, ‘Feminist reflections on the history of philosophy.’
In conclusion, Mwari, Elohim and YHVH (YaHoVaH) are all figurative terms for the human sexual energy and collective power of four human aspects: 1) metaphysical (sub-consciousness and consciousness), 2) psychological (masculine and feminine energies), 3) physiological (male and female) and 4) social (functioning of human society). A balanced relationship of these allows for creative, innovative and causative actions.
These are respectively related to Mind (Psychological and Behavioural Sciences), Life (Evolutionary and Biological Sciences) and Matter (Physical Sciences) and human collaboration (Social Sciences).
A human being is a bearer of an impersonal life force or cosmic energy. It is found within and around every human being and does not need human attention, supplication and submission.
Feedback: [email protected] or Twitter @shingaiRndoro. A gallery of previous articles is found at www.sundaymail.co.zw/author/shingairukwata