Futu: A Bantu-Kongo view of the Earth, plants and farming

Image source: theculturetrip.com

The night’s sky was graced with the presence of a full moon, the stars told their stories to each other; light stories of faith and hope. We heard their happy chatter through their luminescence as we prepared the courtyard for a night with Baba. We set the fire in the middle of eight stools arranged in a circle.

We were a family of nine, mother took leave of us earlier in the day to go attend to her father; our grandfather who was reported to have taken ill. So we spent the day on the farm planting and harvesting medicinal herbs with Baba our father, who used them for his herbal concoctions. He was the village’s herbalist; the means by which he earned a living as well.

We were his seven children born one year apart from each other. The night’s gathering was in response to our humble request to hear of the secret mysteries underlying Baba’s sacred profession. A request motivated by our long-term observance of the respect and dedication with which our father carried out his duty as a herbalist.

We sat in a circle, the fire burned where it stood in our midst and Baba took over the night…

“The Earth and all things therein is a mystery my children…” he begun, “…our ancestors regarded the Earth as a ‘Futu dia n’kisi diakanga Kalunga mu diambu dia moyo’, that is to say; ‘a parcel of medicine tied up by Kalunga for life on Earth’. We believed and still hold on to the belief that the Earth is not a dead pile of sand and stones, it is a living entity and once care and respect are not accorded her anymore, she will die off like any other living entity…”

“…According to the teachings of your Bantu-Kongo ancestry, the Earth as a Futu means she is a container of the secret mysteries of life. She is the holder of that energy called life. Everything mankind needs to make life and living worthwhile is contained in the Earth. There is no known disease be it physical or mental that the Earth does not hold a cure for, her gifts are made accessible to those who offer their sacrifices of kindness and reverence when dealing with her. The Futu can also refer to a pouch that usually contained sacred objects of its owner, this was conferred on their recipients by the scholars of your ancient Bantu-Kongo mystical schools. Your great grandfather always told me that; ‘the Earth is your mother, so make sure you pamper her…’”

“…I have heard you say among yourselves that such and such plant wields medicinal value of such and such potency and so forth, teachings from your ancient Bantu-Kongo heritage however did not indicate plants as sole carriers of nutritional and/or medicinal value. Plants according to your ancestral heritage are pipes used by Kalunga to draw specific ‘goodies’ from the mysteries of the Earth. Each plant bears a structural configuration that enables it to take from the Futu called Earth only that which Kalunga has purposed for the plant in question to draw from it…”. This is the point where I interrupted Baba to inquire who ‘Kalunga’ is.

“…Kalunga my son is the absolute, the source from whose bosom all life emerged. Kalunga is also a mystery, but the source of all mysteries…”

“…Since you are all keen on also knowing why I treat my work with high degrees of respect and dedication, I will close the curtains on the night by sharing with you another insight from your great grandfather. He said; ‘when you forcibly open a Futu that does not belong to you, you put yourself at risk of incurring the wrath of the mysteries contained within.’ And so I am not one who is interested in tasting of that wrath, for farming is a sacred act of assisting the creator in drawing to the surface, mysteries contained in the Futu, such that the hands that decide to co-work with Kalunga the creator must do it respectfully, in humility and with dedication…”

Baba respectfully thanked us for our attention as he rose in dignity and poise to take leave of us to play beneath the grace of the full moon, and most certainly debate amongst ourselves on all that we have heard, for how else could we have increased in understanding?

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: June 21, 2019


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