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Our Unsung Griot Has Fallen

Our Unsung Griot Has Fallen

Tse bohloko hadi feli (bad news never ends). Dr. Zulumathabo Vusumuzi Lefalamang Mocholoko Zulu has transitioned to the ancestral realm. To many South Africans who did not know him, the flyer circulating on social media announcing his death described Mkhulu Zulu as "a transmitter of the knowledge of the erudite African Ancients and a revered African scholar." I am curious which local scholars revere him, as evidenced by their scholarship.

It was fitting that his funeral featured Black Consciousness (BC) activist and essayist Veli Mbele as the master of ceremonies, along with fellow adherents of Africa’s Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), including Joshua Maponga, Ntsiki Mazwai, Lucas Moloi, Thabo Matsafu, and other traditional healers.

According to a media statement released on June 3, 2024, by the Zulu Family and the Organizing Committee for his funeral, it was stated that "After a brief period of illness and hospitalization, Mocholoko’s body grew weary, and he sadly transitioned on the morning of June 2, 2024, in Azania (South Africa). He leaves behind his daughter and son, Nomfanelo and Dumehlezi Moloi." My interest in Mkhulu Zulu’s wisdom was cemented by our family bond as Makholokoe. His burial service was held on Sunday, June 9, 2024, in the Orlando East Communal Hall, in his childhood neighbourhood of Orlando. Among others, this afforded his close childhood friend Vuka Tshabalala the opportunity to attend and pay a fitting farewell tribute as Amabhubesi AseOrlando.

Although the colony of South Africa is still preoccupied with its political future, amidst the euphoria of national elections and the discourse surrounding the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU), reminiscent of the initial one under Nelson Mandela's presidency from 1994-1999, it has remained perplexing to me how mute the mainstream media has been concerning the fateful departure of this gifted local ‘son of the soil.’ To unmute Mocholoko’s griot status, let’s turn to his obituary, which affords his voice expression.

Mocholoko’s Early Life

"I was born on August 17, 1961, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Throughout my life, I have lived in eight countries across three continents, stretching nearly half the globe. I am fluent in over eight languages. My upbringing was shaped by apartheid but surely transcended the confines set by it. My parents’ paths connected in Johannesburg as a result of the migrant labourer system. My grandmother, Josephine Zulu, migrated from KwaZulu-Natal in search of economic opportunities, while my grandfather, Hlathi ka Mfene, similarly sought his fortune after leaving the Eastern Cape. Their meeting in Johannesburg laid the foundation for my ethnically diverse family. I was initiated as Mocholoko, selected as a herd boy in the village of Matamong in the Eastern Free State, also known as Afrikaskop, tending cattle for the traditional architect Abram Mlangeni and the sheep of the traditional surgeon Nyanga Masangane. I am the last generation to acquire an indigenous knowledge system in a traditional African society in the village of Matamong. I was raised by two traditional surgeons, Ngaka Madisebo and Nyanga Masangane, who subjected me to extensive training in the domain of traditional knowledge."

Mocholoko’s Education and Training: Life in Exile

"In 1984, I earned my degree in Journalism and Professional Writing from an institution in England. Subsequently, I joined the SABC as a Television Journalist in 1985. I then joined the feminist organization Black Sash under the leadership of Sheena Duncan, where I served as a field worker in Botshabelo. Following a passionate and revolutionary poetry performance at the Women’s Liberation Conference in August 1987 at the University of Witwatersrand, I was exiled to Botswana. Arriving in Canada in 1989, I pursued further studies in Computing Science and Mathematics. I also completed a certified publishing program, specializing in graphic arts, printing, typography, darkroom techniques, desktop publishing, and more. For over two decades, I contributed to the technological landscape as a software engineer, working with well-known companies such as Bell Northern Research, Nortel Networks, Google Inc., Xwave Solutions, Gameworkz, Health Canada, and Montage IT Services. My innovative work in various domains led to the issuance of intellectual property certificates by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, particularly in fields such as cryptography, digital forensics, and therapeutic technologies like Thekwini Visual Canvas and diagnostic tools like Emofeel."

Mocholoko’s Life’s Work: Scholarly Accomplishments

"The above life experiences laid the foundation for my scholarly endeavours, which earned me a number of titles, including journalist, computer software scientist, patent holder, author, teacher, mentor, doctoral practitioner, research scientist, lexicographer, metaphysical scientist, cosmologist, and custodian of indigenous medicine. I am an avid storyteller and thus a preserver of ancient Afrikan knowledge and wisdom. I have published more than eight books and produced hundreds of unpublished manuscripts. These include 'Sesotho Dictionary of Mathematics,' 'A Woman in The Bush,' 'African Origin of Mathematics,' and scholarly papers like 'African Origin of Mathematical Teaching and Learning.' This list of publications also includes 'African Drum Telegraphy and Indigenous Innovation: African Contribution To Communication Science,' 'African Metaphysical Science and Decolonisation and Africography Research Framework: African Metaphysics of Research.' I have shared my gifts widely in my lifetime, contributing to the development of academic curricula and literature in a number of fields, including Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Climate Change, African Indigenous Architecture and Design, African Metallurgy: Materials Science and Engineering, Historiography of African Science and Technology, and African Ethnomathematics. This led me to hold various academic positions at various academic institutions on the African continent and in other parts of the world."

Mocholoko’s Return to Azania: Madisebo University, Madisebo Foundation

"Upon my return to South Africa, I founded Madisebo Foundation and Madisebo University—an independent institution dedicated to indigenous African teaching and learning. Drawing inspiration from the traditional Mophato school system of the Basotho ancients and incorporating elements of the modern Corporate University training model, Madisebo University represents a paradigm shift in education. Madisebo University’s mission is to train teachers as griot professors and knowledge engineers who teach and model the sacrosanct principles of the African origins of knowledge."

From the above summary of Mocholoko’s life story, which earned him titles ranging from 'journalist, computer software scientist, patent holder, author, teacher, mentor, doctoral practitioner, research scientist, lexicographer, metaphysical scientist, cosmologist, and custodian of indigenous medicine,' it should be evident why my opening remarks about the grave silence or ignorance across most nationwide mainstream media outlets regarding Mocholoko’s incredible accomplishments highlight how South Africans were robbed of knowing one of their unsung Afrocentric griots, sanusi’s, Imhotep’s, sages, philosophers, etc. In fact, I dare venture to declare that according to my epistemic calculation, Mocholoko had surpassed by far the Eurocentric academic rank of 'Dr.' Zulu. Even by Eurocentric logic, his erudite scholarship earned him the scholarly rank of full professor. It follows that posthumously, I salute him as an Emeritus Afrocentric Professor.

Camagu! Thokozani Makhosi!

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Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study (JIAS), University of Johannesburg.

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