The Clever Men


The debates over the classes of “Clever Men” and their established roles within a clan have always been a mystery full of contradictions, controversies and myth. It is a well-established fact that the daily life of the Ka’bi peoples was governed strictly by superstition – creatures of very changeable moods, desires and expressions. They could display passion and loyalty like none other yet is exceedingly cruel within an instant, and then express a caring nature easily again as though nothing had happened – all within a moment in time. Given wrong omens, they could display the coldness of winter with eyes like daggers dissecting your mind like a slaughtered animal.

The outcomes of these deep-seated superstitions were many – varying from women never stepping over a man's possessions (a sign of misfortune) to occurrences of broken laws that would bring about death or being a servant of the “Underworld demons”. Then there were those who had few scruples in using such ancient superstitions for their own cunning advantage. These were the “Clever Men”. Their “quackery” was often a cause of contrived death in making one believe that an old enemy or jealous relatives had brought on a family death.

There is a matter of native law of which many are unaware - the reasoning for which was never fully explained. It must be recognised that ancient clan law proclaims "a life for a life" or equal punishment to fit the crime. This law unknowingly was the constant cause of great bitterness between white settlers and native clans. When a native was killed by a white man whether his acquaintance was known or not, native law had to be enforced by killing a white man no matter what his given disposition or acquaintance towards them.

Inevitably, the raping of a black woman was repaid by that of raping a white woman. Killing, injuring, or taking of native children was repaid in the same manner. The destruction of some ancient sacred place, tree or possession by a white man with intent or not, was met with the appropriate destruction of possessions and livestock replacing their dwindling food supplies. Many tragedies could have been avoided if time had been taken in understanding ancient traditional clan laws. Those that took to such pacts of understanding on land settled were notably near free of retaliatory strife. It was rare for such oaths to be broken.

Most Europeans today know little about these “vivid” lifestyles except for the well-promoted point of superstition that extended to psychic death. The greatest fear was that of revenged “bone pointing”. To be cursed in this manner was instant and non-retractable. The act (after consultation with a “Clever Man”) was performed by those seeking revenge; with personal harm in mind; or for the settlement of a long grudge. There were many differing rituals by various clans – the Ka’bi were no different (the ritual will not be discussed on this site). It can be said that kangaroo, wallaby or emu femur was used to create sickness and injury. Human bone meant death. Holders of such devious artefacts took great care not to place pointed bones in their personal direction or that of a close relative in fear that the cursed bones will pass on their sorcery to them.

Once the curse for an immediate death was chanted, the unfortunate victims would in due course, die at the period of the next full moon. The advent of time was measured by the cycles of the moon and in multiples of five according to the fingers of the hand. The intended victims were made aware of the curse by means of the “Clever Man’s” occult signs. Once aware of the cursing, the unfortunate victims would recluse themselves and wait for their moment of death. However, relief from the feared ritual was achieved where the perpetrator was identified. He himself became the victim through repellation of the curse back to the initial instigator. The victim in the first instance was then freed to continue his life unabated. The “Clever Man”, too powerful for attack, was left to continue his art.

Dhakkan’guini’s (edited) comments on such men were:

"… watch over everybody… they are boss men… see everyone and everywhere with spirit powers… Man’ngur, he fix body sickness with herbs and magic waters. Kgun’diri is special spirit man… teaches good things… he go places without moving… can sleep sitting up. Eyes will roll this way and that. Sometimes disappear into head to look into spirit… uses special magic… put spirit hand in body and make it shiver like cold. Bad spirits fly away pretty quick. He make dream medicine from sacred plants and sing good ancestor healing songs… you become well. No one knows much about them any more…”

“… like Kgai'daitchi who come and go - leave no footprint or shadow - just message. We see and feel their hands touching… Do big magic. Kgai'yadait'chi - he is invisible spirit man… called up from Underworld to make person sick or killed… comes and enters body… do bad things to enemies and bad relatives. He fix them up pretty damn quick… First Man’ngur like man. He come from ancestor spirits. Kgun’diri is bird man who fly down from Bi’rali in the Sky World. Man’ngur choose bad spirit man Kgai'daitchi with marked stone…magic powers to use and kill.”

“Kgai'dait’chi spirit sung up enters body. Chosen one becomes like dead man walking…during night when no one is looking… nobody knows who chosen one is… chosen one tells no one he is Kgai'dait’chi for he is then dead. Enemy or relative who find out will kill him first, and then his family, and then his relatives. Kgai'dait’chi chosen one never tells who he is. He becomes ghost-spirit. He comes and goes without being seen… Bad luck tell anyone you Kgai'dait’chi. You dead man by relatives… Kgai'dait’chi, he come and leave sign… everyone flee scared… not come back until safe… wears white feathers… says… Hey! Kgai'dait’chi, he watch you… this put shit scare into all bad persons… die very quick soon after. Kgai'dait’chi disappear so enemy or relatives cannot find and kill him."

From Dhakkan’guini’s narratives, we can establish that there were three classes of “Clever Men”:

  • The Medicine Man or Doctor (The Mann’gur) – His task within the clan is for the physical healing of the body with the aid of medicinal herbs, other “magic” concoctions, and amazing illusionary acts of curing perceived as “magic” deception. He was a “staged” healing magician.
  • The Spiritual Sorcerer/Doctor/Mind Healer, Philosopher, Religious Teacher, Soothsayer, Forecaster (The Kgun’diri) – His task within the clan is to teach his philosophies, mind and other healing, visionary, illusionary, educational states. He was a “spiritual” Guru/Psychologist.
  • The Spirit Man (The Kgai’dai’chi) – His “Clever Man” task (when chosen anonymously by ballot) was to administer punishment, justice and death as Underworld Spirits of similar names were sung up to enter his physical body. He was the Judge and Jury of those times. Justice in this manner was the sacred law of the clan. Regretfully, the victim could not win.

Despite all the European “abhorrence’s” of claimed “primitive” rules and punishments and their case for “A life for a life” – such laws prevented the cause for ongoing vendettas with catastrophic clan conclusions. If we considered the same judgemental actions in European society, the term "kangaroo court" is an apt description – such actions labelled “barbarous”. Perhaps we should look at our own systems of suitable punishments that no longer command respect – many crimes would cease out of perpetual fear – as would have occurred in Ka’bi lifestyles.

Modern “Kgai’dait’chi’s” in our European “judgemental” society hide behind decency, position and self-imposed power to achieve their aims by ridding themselves of any threat through the silent malice of innuendo and public devices for undeserved crucifixion. Those who inflict guilt and judgement without innocence being proven have the same bedfellows as the ancient devious “Clever Men” and their followers of such practices. How many innocents have gone to their deaths as victims of modern-day “Clever Men”? Times have not changed through the ages.

A sample from the Photo Gallery:




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