Biography 05: Mysterious Africa the History of the Cross

A mystery that has fascinated African’s for thousands of years. Seen in cross section, this rather dull looking crystal shows a cross like pattern in it. It shows a pattern of the kind that our people of olden days used to call the perfect cross, or the cross of the sun.

Before I tell you more, I wish you to know that the thing known as a cross was not brought to Africa by missionaries, knowledge of the cross in its many forms, was here in South Africa from the remotest of remote times. It was already known to the mystics of Africa long, long before the Christian religion was established in Europe, and further more, the various types of cross were used by African healers and mystics for either good purposes, or evil ones. Africans believed that the cross, either made of wood, ivory or metal was a powerful object, possessed of great magic, capable of unleashing powers of healing, or renewing or powers of destruction and killing. There were three types of cross that Africans used for healing, there was the T-shaped cross known in Western mysticism as the tau cross, then there was the proper cross of the kind we are told Jesus was crucified upon. A cross with a long stem and short arms. Then there was the unsaid cross, known to white people as the Ankh, which many western thinkers wrongly assume to have been only known to the ancient Egyptians. This ankh was actually known by our people as the knot of eternity, or the knot of eternal life, and it was used even by Khoi San people, for purposes of healing.

The greatest users of the ankh, were the almost extinct Khoi Khoi or Hottentot people. The Khoi Khoi said that the unsaid cross represented their great sun god, Heitsie-Ibib. The zulus, Xhosas and the Swazis and other Ngoni speaking peoples of South Africa also believed in a sun god, who died each evening to be reborn again each morning. Who died each winter and was reborn again each spring. They believed that this beautiful son of God the Father and God the Mother whom they knew by various names, had lost his left leg in a savage fight against a terrible dragon, some say a gigantic crocodile which walked on its hind legs, its rear legs much, much longer than its fore legs. The symbol of this handsome God of the sun, this hero God and bringer of peace, was also the unsaid cross, Which the Zulus called Mlenze-munye. The Swazis knew him as Mlente-munye. The name Mlenze-munye or Mlente-mmunye mean the on legged one. The one with one leg. And incidentally, when Africans saw the cross which missionaries often hung around their necks, they immediately recognized it as the symbol of the eternal God with one leg who dies and is born again forever and ever. And they respected missionaries as messengers from this God. Which is why in some part of Africa missionaries were called a name which is also one of the many names of the African sun god, namely Muruti, which means the great teacher, a name by which Twana speaking, Owambo speaking and Sotho speaking people still call missionaries to this day.

Our people believed also in what they called the perfect cross, the most powerful cross of all. This was a cross that had all its four wings of exactly equal length. The cross of the kind that white people call the Celtic cross. A cross which is often imprisoned within a circle, with all its wings of exactly equal length, our people used this cross, drawing it in its many forms, healing some of the most horribly diseases to which the body is prone. Before a person was treated for cancer, the herbs, the powdered herbs which were to be used in this treatment, were first laid out on a piece of clean springbok skin on the likeness of the perfect cross, then spoon after spoon, they were taken and poured into a clay pot which had been blessed several times. There were forms of the cross, which unlike these which I have briefly described which were used for healing, were used for extremely destructive purposes and one of these is what the white people call the Saint Andrews cross. The X-shaped cross which even today we find teachers in mission schools using to mark a wrong answer written by a pupil in his or her exercise book. Africans believed that the X-shaped cross possessed great powers of evil, and they used it to put curses upon people. It may be of interest to you to learn that when a Xhosa person from the Eastern Cape, says that you are crazy, you are mad he says, “Uphameene.” And the literal meaning of this word is, “You have a cross put upon you,” across which has made you cross witted, mad. In ancient times and even modern times, when a African artist, woodcarver or decorator of any kind draws a cross, he or she must take great care to only draw one of those crosses that heal and not to dare to draw, carve or render in beads, one of the evil crosses, because Africans say that the first person that gets affected by a negative engraving or a negative drawing is the artist himself. And the first person to be affected by a positive drawing or a positive engraving is the artist himself or herself.

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