The Odes to Mambokadzi: Reviving the idea of common good as a form of personal and political resistance; a way of connecting us to our past, the present and fostering a sense of care and community with future people.
While we are feeling the fear, pain and loss of living and navigating an age driven by hyper individualism, patriarchy, white supremacy, inherited institutions like capitalism and multiple demands on our attention, there is an opportunity to spark empathy, creativity and inspiration around feminist economies of care, our responsibilities to ourselves, others, our planet and future generations in this regard.
The Odes to Mambokadzi explore the revival of the idea of the common good as informed by the indigenous Bantu philosophies of Ubuntu, Hunhu, Tsoga and Uhuru. Derived from the Shona word ‘Mambokadzi’ – meaning queen, the small collection of odes features four lyric poems:
The Ode to Ubuntu: “Ubuntu is a concept centered around the communal belief system of a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. A prevalent phrase accredited to the philosophy can be found within Zulu culture that says “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” translated to mean that a person is a person because of others.”
The Ode to Hunhu
Hunhu can describe “the circumstances or condition of a being or thing at any given time.” Hunhu in practice is a way of being grounded in transformational values and beliefs.
The Ode to Tsoga
“Tsoga is a common word in the Southern African languages of Setswana, Sepedi and Sesotho meaning to be awaken and/or enlightened.”
The Ode to Uhuru:
“Uhuru is a Swahili word that translates to freedom and independence in English. “It is not yet uhuru” is a phrase that is often used amongst Sub-Saharan Africans to highlight the long route that those before us embarked on. Freedom is an experience, not a phrase.
In centering our collective feminist power, pleasure, care and leaning into the African philosophical thinking of communitarianism, these odes are a hopeful and radical address of transformative justice and give praise to a plausible bridge we can co-create from where in our current economies to a world where we can all enjoy our economic, sexual and political autonomy.