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*Originally published on the author’s website.

One of the most famous Gĩkũyũ folktales tells the story of the blacksmith, Mũturi who had left his pregnant wife and gone to work in the smithy a long way from home. Smiths among the Gĩkũyũ organized themselves and worked in a lodge at a secluded area called Kiganda. Extracting the ore from the earth, literally from the hands of the ancestors, Ngomi, and Mother earth and fashioning it into spears, knives, swords and farming tools was considered high magic and was held with the same awe and fear as Ũgo or discernment.

The cult of working iron, Ũturi, among the Gĩkũyũ was a cult because things were manufactured that were necessary to society and not because it was possible to make them or that it was profitable to do so. They made sure that innovation and the making of things was a tightly controlled affair. So much so that joining the cult of smiths, was a complicated and expensive affair and any new smith was sworn into a system that controlled and put a caveat on innovation. This ensured a stable society that was not likely to be taken over by a runaway technology based on consumption and greed. Many of the secrets and initiatory practices are unknown to this day except to a few surviving practitioners and elect Ago.

This is why there never was an industrial revolution in Gĩkũyũland and similarly advanced cultures that put a cap on what technologists could be capable of doing with their innovations. Such sufficiency cultures are based on the making of necessary goods that meet their needs as oppossed to consumer based cultures of ever increasing production centred on the creation of most often dreams and pathological desires.

The creation of everything that the heart desires is an endless race in innovating and manufacturing novelty. This is the basis of the industrial revolution in the West and is what has swept throughout the world through the process of conquest and destruction of sufficiency cultures. As far back as 1968, world famous psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm wrote an insisive analysis of western technology in a little book, The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology. He stated that we still have time to make man the master of the machine rather than its servant. As we now enter the frightening tunnel of artificial intelligence and the likely cancellation of biological man through a fusion of the biological and technological, it is well to give pause and learn from the masters, the Gĩkũyũ Aturi. They did not do things merely because they could or to increase the GDP but to create a stable society. They answered with a loud YES! Fromm’s cry on page 137, “Is a stationary technological society possible?” An undersranding of this crucial aspect of technology is absolutely necessary for anyone calling for us to be the next Singapore or the next competitive industrial giant. We need to go back to where the river lost its course and I trace that point to where we were educated into the culture of the making of endless needs, (consumerism), and production based on the meeting of endless yearnings, dreams and desires.

Yes we can! not because we must, but merely because we think we can, is the cry of the devil tempting us into eventual self destruction.

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We need a re-education in the meaning of words like, adequacy, humanism, and love. The education we need is on the PUKING OUT CEREMONY, GŨTAHĨKIO of western education of wants and endless useless gimicry and gadgetry.

The education we need is the education into ADEQUACY, ŨKINDĨRĨKU. ŨIGANĨRU.

The Furnace where the Aturi fired their ore and did their magic. The design recalls the original furnace, the active volcano of our mother, Mũmbi and her heirs to the fire.
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