Why Azania Canvass?
When I was in High School, my teacher instructed us to compile a document that gave an overview of our culture (i.e. history, food, traditions, etc.). At that point in time, all that I knew was that South Africa had 11 official languages and they could be summarized as follows:
This group comprised of people who spoke isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele and isiSwati. Although there is a distinction between their language, culture and traditions in the 21st century, they were once one people group. This explains why their languages have many similarities and why they live so close to each other (they usually live in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and eSwatini).
This people group was dominated Pretoria and our class. This group comprised of people that spoke Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana. It did not make sense how people from Botswana, Lesotho and Limpopo spoke similar languages as their homes are worlds apart.
I was the only student in the class that spoke this language. I will admit, I was not the most fluent speaker as I grew up in Pretoria. All I knew was that this people group came from the land of Venda in Limpopo and it was its own country at some point. My dad always emphasized the fact that I may speak the language; but, I am not necessarily a from their tribe – I am actually from the Lemba tribe (imagine how confusing this was to a child)
This group was also a minority in the class. I could also speak this language thanks to the maternal side of my family being Tsonga speakers. They are the trend setters when it comes to color-blocking. If you ever decide to visit Giyani or Malumulele, please pay attention to the beautiful rainbow colored houses.
- The English
They are obviously from Britain and they managed to invade at least 171 out of 193 countries.
They were the people who came from the Netherlands and oppressed South Africans. We were not really given the full history in school regarding what they did that was so bad. You can still see the scars that they left because the generation that was oppressed still refuses to let the elections to go in their favor.
So, here I was, supposed to write a paper that gave an overview of my culture. All that I knew was that we did not eat pork and we are kind of sort of Venda but were also kind of sort of Jewish (my skin color was not agreeing though). So naturally, as a millennial, I went to google and YouTube for answers. Google didn’t help because the only Jewish history found in my searches related to the Jews that didn’t even look like me. As I could not find information, I submitted a document with information that I could not relate to because my history is not well documented.
One Sunday morning, a stroke of luck occurred when I tuned into SABC2 to a show called ‘Issues of Faith’ which explained my history from the Old Testament days of the bible. The show included people that actually looked like me and told the stories that I heard from my dad in my childhood. It all began to make sense. The down side was that the person that was exploring this history was white. It was a bittersweet experience. I was grateful that my history was finally being told but I was disappointed that it was told by a scholar who did not belong to the Lemba tribe
African history is not often documented and is not often told by the primary source. So, I started Azania Canvass to explore African history and to actually tell it in the manner that it was originally supposed to be told.