THE conception of God and the universe that is common within traditional Africa, notwithstanding the diversity of its peoples, is one of the matters addressed in a paper by Bowen (1969). The author of the paper, which is entitled “The Ancient Wisdom in Africa,” is white South African, and his prejudices are apparent. He describes a Zulu wise man thusly: “Mankanyezi was a pure Zulu, of the royal blood… he was a thin, tall man, light chocolate in complexion, of a distinctly Jewish cast of countenance, without a trace of the Negroid, with the exception of his snow-white hair which was frizzled” (Bowen: 114).
Except for his frizzled hair, Mankanyezi is not Negro! We see later why he discounts the Negro in Mankanyezi, for Bowen is preoccupied in the paper with imputing non-African, or at least non-Negro, origins to the ancient wisdom of which he speaks. Bowen describes this encounter with Mankanyezi:
[I]n company with a famous Boer hunter named du Pont, I met Mankanyezi near the Limpopo river. (No precise year is given, but from remarks earlier made in the paper, this would have been early in this century.)
“You go on a far journey,” he said, after some preliminary remarks.
“Only as far as the Zambezi,” replied [du Pont].
Mankanyezi shook his head. “Much further I think. You will ere you again see this river visit the Great Lake of the North (Lake Nyasa). To the eastward of that lake, you will visit the springs of another river, and there you will meet one of my elder brothers.”
“Indeed,” said du Pont, “if it should happen that we go so far, which is not our intention, how are we to know this brother of yours? I suppose he is not your brother in reality, but merely one in the Spirit, as you say all men are?”
“He is, as you say, not my brother in the flesh. I call him my elder brother because he is an Elder in the Family (Society) to which I belong, whose members are the guardians of the Wisdom-which-comes-from-of-old. There are many of us — one at least in every tribe and nation throughout this great land. (emphasis mine) We are of many ranks, from the learner to the Master, and to those Higher Ones whose names may not be spoken, I am a common Brother; he of whom I speak is my elder”.
We see from the foregoing the first point, namely that Mankanyezi belongs to a Society, whose members are the guardiams of the Wisdom which comes from of old, and moreover that the guardians of this wisdom may be found in every tribe and nation throughout Africa. However, there is more.
“But,” I asked in surprise, “how can you know this man, seeing you have often told me you have never travelled beyond the Zambezi?”
“I know him because I have often seen him, though not in the flesh. Often we have spoken together. Do you think the mind of Man can travel only in the flesh? Do you think thought is limited by the power of the body? See this, and try to understand.”
As he spoke, he pointed to a lizard which basked in the sun near by. Fixing his eyes upon it, he extended his hand, palm upward, towards it, and began to breathe slowly and regularly. In a few seconds, the beady eyes of the little reptile turned towards him. It took a little run forward, then stopped, its sides expanding and contracting, rhythmically. After a few seconds further pause, it again darted forward, and settled itself upon the old man’s palm. He let it rest for a minute, then slid it gently among the leaves, where it quickly concealed itself. He looked at us and smiled gently.
“That is witchcraft (ubutakati) perhaps you will say, and perhaps I sent an evil spirit to call the lizard to me. Or perhaps it is itself an evil spirit which serves me. If I tell you that my mind went out and entered its brain and our two minds became one, you will not believe. Some day, perhaps, you will understand.”
Over a year later, near the source of the Rovuma River, to the east of Lake Nyasa, we put up at a Native Village, and there met an old man (a Masai, not a Zulu) who greeted us as friends of his brother, Mankanyezi. From careful inquiries made by my companion, it became certain that this man and Mankanyezi could never have met. The one had certainly never been south of the Zambezi, and equally certainly the other had never been north of the river. Yet there was no question of their intimate knowledge of each other, a knowledge which could not have been gained second hand, for a thousand miles separated their dwelling places, and the tribes had no point of contact whatever.
From this we see a second point, namely that the guardians of this Wisdom-from-of-old claim mastery over powers of mind, in particular of telepathy, such that members of the Society, though never having met in the flesh, could have intimate knowledge of each other, as we see with Mankanyezi the Zulu, and his brother in the Society, a Masai. Crediting the truthfulness of this account, at least as to the facts rendered, the conclusion is clear that there are senses accessible to Man, beyond the five acknowledged by Western science, which allow, among other things, for thought to be transmitted, and received.
Later in the paper, Bowen makes reference to his having become a pupil of yet another wise old man, one Mandhlalanga, who attempted to teach him some of this science, but “circumstances arose which led to [Bowen] abandoning [his] studies.” Still, Bowen went on to recount from his “copious notes” some of what he managed to learn:
[T]he Brotherhood to which Mankanyezi and the others belong is called “Bonaabakulu abasekhemu.” (emphasis mine) … The name may be tendered in English as “The Brotherhood of the Higher Ones of Egypt.” (emphasis mine).” The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in the reign of the Pharaoh Cheops; its founder being a priest of Isis. It has as its objects the spreading of the Wisdom which comes from of Oldamong all races and tribes in Africa (my emphasis), and the study and practice by its members of what we call Ukwazikwesithabango, which means that science which depends on the power of thought. It is the only true science there is.” (Editor’s note: see image of Auset — Isis to the Greeks — at right, from a statue dating back to ca. 4000 BCE)
Of course the root word khemu, emphasized above, refers to km.t of the hieroglyphs, variously phoneticized as Khamit, Kamit, Kemet, etc., referring to what the ancient Greeks called Egypt. The implication is clear that the traditional religions (better, spiritual sciences) of Africa derive from ancient Kamit, and that this is a tradition that informs the spiritual traditions of the Zulu, as we see here. But as is also now well known, the spiritual sciences of Kamit also inform the religious systems notably of the Dogon, the Yoruba, the Wolof, the Akan, among many other African nations from the West and Central parts of Africa as well as the South. Diop (1981: 218) and Williams (1987) inform us of the waves of migration through which the Kamitic traditions were spread. Evidently there is a substantial gene-flow, not only the flow of ideas to which Bowen avers. The peoples already mentioned claim not only a cultural inheritance, but also genetic descent from the Kamau (The people of Kamit). Those of the Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu, are, as reported by Bowen, to be found in every tribe and nation throughout the great African continent, and indeed beyond. If the Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu brotherhood traces its origin to the reign of Cheops, it would predate the traceable lineage of every other religious tradition still extant, because it would go back to approximately 3900 BCE. The next closest tradition in terms of age would be Vedic tradition of India, which based on the Rig Veda, could be traced back to about 1500 BCE, and even the Vedic tradition would appear also to owe some of its spiritual science to Kamit. The earliest written parts of the Bible would have been written ca. 1000 BCE, based on a tradition dating back to Abraham, who would have lived one thousand years earlier, in about 2000 BCE. Moses lived about 1300 BCE. Chinese Taoist philosophy dates back only to about 500 BCE, as does Confucianism.
Indeed, Kamit is the fountainhead, not only of the extant traditional religions and spiritual systems of Africa, but also (i) of the major religions of the East, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism (the root word here, “Tao,” betrays its origins in its phonetic correspondence to “Tehuti” (Kamitic) and “Thoth” (Greek version)) and (ii) Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As to the latter “Western” religions, ben-Jochannan (1970) has amply demonstrated the Kamitic/African antecedents. As to the “Eastern” religions, I would draw the reader’s attention to the obvious points of correspondence between the tradition just sketched by Bowen, and what is popularly known of the Eastern religions: “Ukwazikwesithabango is “that science which depends on the power of thought” … and “the only true science there is” (see earlier) — as articulated by Mandhlalanga and reported by Bowen. Those who have read Chopra (1993) or heard him speak of “focused intention” would appreciate the fact that here is shared a core precept in common between the teachings of the Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu and those of Eastern religion. But in addition, Bowen reports the following other key point of correspondence — the doctrine of reincarnation:
Man is on a journey, the goal of which is union with the source of his being–the Itongo. To reach that goal he must first pass through all experiences the Cosmos affords, and must shake off all accretions accumulated on his descent from individualised Spiritual Mind into grossest Matter. To do this, he is born and born again (emphasis mine), for his physical body dies, as do his lower mental principles; only his higher mental principles which are akin with the Itongo survive individuality bestowed upon them at its opening.
While Kamit would thus appear to be the antecedent if not the source of all the major world religions, Christianity and Islam appear to depart from core Kamitic precepts. For certain, where mere belief in one or other doctrine is offered as the sine qua non of “salvation,” it departs from the Kamitic precepts, which emphasized the divine attributes with which God endowed Man, and the need for those attributes to be awakened through spiritual cultivation. [Note: To be divine, is not the same thing as to be God. The analogy that is often given in African spiritual science to explain this point is that of the relation between a drop of water in the ocean, and the ocean itself: the drop of water may contain all of the essential qualities of the ocean, but is of vastly lesser scale.] The “savior” lies within; it is not an external Christ-figure, mere belief in whom (emulation would be a different matter) is the necessary and sufficient condition of salvation. Likewise, the Kamitic concept of the devil is not essentially of an external entity with apparently God-like powers in eternal struggle with the Almighty, but rather that part of Man’s being that is in opposition to her Divine Nature, because not yet identified with the Higher, Divine, Self. This failure to identify with the Higher Self leads Man, in the exercise of God-given free will, to make choices that are not in accordance with Divine Law and God’s Will — thus causing pain and suffering for the violator and those she affects, as Divine forces ultimately act to bring the violator back into alignment with Divine Law.
Prophets and holy men and women from time immemorial have attempted to teach us how to transcend the lower, animal, part of the self, and attain to the divinity that is our essential nature, and the state to which we are on a journey of return. It is also what those of the Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu teach. I would not at all be surprised if the one born Yeshua ben Yosef (later to be known as Jesus Christ), a member of the Essenes, were not also a member of the aforementioned Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu brotherhood! That however is speculation. What is not speculation is that adepts exist on the African continent, and elsewhere, who, like Christ, perform what to the uninitiated could only be described as “miracles.” It is my proposition that in reclaiming our African spiritual heritage, we may also find a way to come closer to that which Yeshua promised. Did he not say “… you too can do as I do.”?