A Planet of the Six Legged Horses

Indirect metaphor

 James Cameron’s Avatar (2009 )can be considered as a part of a chain reaction response to the detrimental situation our planet faces due to carbon emissions. Its release follows hotly COP 15 (the United Nation Climate Change Conference 2009) a conference where the super-powerful countries, the developing powers as well as underdeveloped countries met to discuss and find solutions to the challenges brought on by climate change due to CO2 emissions.  The conference did not reach the satisfactory results on a global level in that the drafted Copenhagen Accord document was ‘taken note of’ and ‘not adopted’ by the participating countries. Not even legally binding countries to comply with it, the Copenhagen Accord document pledged that countries should keep temperature rising to below 2 Degrees Celsius. The closure of the conference saw a division between the leaders of industrialized countries, who were happy with the accord, and leaders of other countries and non government organizations who were opposed to it.         

 It remains to be seen whether the Copenhagen Accord will be adhered to in the not so distant future. The fact in this maze of power-play is that poorer countries will be the one’s to suffer from the results of carbon emissions, with Africa being at high risk

As a motion picture Cameron’s Avatar follows on the heels of works such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) as well as The Day After tomorrow (2004) and to a somewhat metaphorical sense the documentary An inconvenient Truth (2006) by Al Gore.

 Avatar (2009) takes the phenomena of invasion and colonization to another level, which may be termed inter planetary intrusion with intent to dominate and retrieve by any means necessary what belongs to the indigenous inhabitants. In the film we see human beings invade a foreign planet with the intention to mine its precious mineral – unobtanium. If the invasion was motivated by acquiring a new and distant planet to live in due to the earth’s inhabitable condition (in the future) then their invasion could be justified, doubly so if it is done with the intention to coexists peacefully with of the original inhabitants of Pandora. However with the hostility of Planet Pandora’s air to the humans, their invasion is geared towards acquiring the precious mineral located deep within the forest of the Na’vi People – the indigenous inhabitants of Planet Pandora.  The Na’vi native occupation of the forest represents an obstacle for the acquisition of the precious minerals, to which the Na’vi seems oblivious or ignorant.

 I See You

In order to infiltrate the social infrastructure of the Na’vi people in planet Pandora Avatars have been developed to stand in for the humans. They are infiltrating humanoids that look like the Pandorians except for the noticeable five figures whereas the Pandorians have four. The Avatars have been genetically engineered to withstand the un-breathable air of Pandora which is harmful to human beings. When Jake Sully’s twin brother dies in the line of duty his brother is brought into the campaign to acquire the mineral of Pandora by operating one of the Avatars. Having being paralyses in battle, the commander who is heading this invasion mission offers him a surgery that will restore his walking ability.

After a haphazard preparation for Jake Sully to acclimatize to the control of his avatar a team is assembled to go deep within the forest of the Na’vi to do research and negotiate with the Na’vi – the Pandorians. Accidentally separated from the team in the thicket forest while attempting contact, Jake Soley undergoes an epic transformation, enculturation, acquire empathy and affinity for the Na’vi people through Neytiri, A Na’vi maiden who rescues him from being torn part by ravenous beast in the thicket forest. This leads him, through his Avatar to take sides with the Na’vi in order to stop the capitalist Neo-planetary looting that is launched.

A battle between human firepower, driven by greed, and aborigines of Pandora driven by self love and acknowledgement of nature as Mother God ensues. The Na’vi unites different tribes, defends the forests and destroy the enemy. As a reward the protagonist’s soul is transferred permanently to that of his Avatar thus reborn  as a full Pandorian.  

 There is no distance in the Universe

 There is a safety valve in place to cushion Avatar from becoming another cliché film dealing with apartheid ideology on a global level. This element is that the planet is inhabitable to human beings – without the use of oxygen  masks they cannot survive in Pandora; henceforth the use of Avatars. Avatar reminds us that in the universe all is connected to the ‘Mother Earth’ and we are all siblings and are connected to her. By hurting the earth we are simply inflicting pain to our selves in the long run.

 This, what the film teaches us, is the philosophy of self consciousness and that of our precious environment. It is with this message that one can begin to look around with a heightened consciousness, a third eye, an intense appreciation. Such appreciation will make us aware at all times that whatever we do to our environment affects all in all, this way our actions are bound to haunt us in the not so distance future.

 Avatar is a metaphor that sets the tone for the new age struggle, the fight to keep the earth habitable. This is the new age struggle; we ought to find it in us as humanity to coexist with our natural environment, to be conscious that our actions will always haunt tomorrow, a fact that resonates across cultures and continental boundaries. This is the bar that Cameron’s Avatar erects before us.

 21 January

 © Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2010


Films referred to 

  1. Al Gore, A.A. An Inconvinient Truth 2006. Paramount Classics.
  2. Cameron, J. Avatar 2009. Lightstorm entertainment, Dune Enternainment and Indigenous Film Partners.
  3. Mostow, J. Surrogates 2009. Touch Stone Pictures 
  4. Dune Enternainment and Indigenous Film Partners.
  5. Derrickson, S (Dir). The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008. 20th Century Fox and Alliance Films  
  6. Emmerich, R.  The Day After tomorrow 2004. 20th Century Fox  




Interpreting Tshepo Mosopa – Artist/Poet collaboration

Idioms and proverbs have been in existence amongst our people before the introduction of the writing

Tshepo Mosopa

system as a form of teaching, guidance and knowledge transference. I use Idioms as a basis of my themes and make connection with the modern period that our people find themselves in.

– Tshepo Mosopa

Tshepo Mosopa


My eyes are dead like the sunken eyes of a skull

I victimized victim to victim

Collecting my keep for it is owed to me

By your flocks – the Mzanzians

You in whom I am disowned

With lack of employ

Bang my gun

I take

Ban my gun you wish

Think you can assert control over my destiny

My deeds

Do you?


Forget you not that you raised the monster in me like Kgori said forgot you to give I skill to survive

You preach pedagogy for the selected few

So I shall be friends with you, laugh at you

While I cut you from underneath

And put you in a state of paralysis never experienced ‘afore

While the world watches you in shame

I crime the monster shall discourage visitations unto this land

I keep zapping at your possibility for I not alternative not have

But there is a monster that haunts me

Is this a sign of guilt?

And when son/daughter ask

What daddy does for living

What shall the criminal say?


The land of molalatladi has sidelined me;

that is why this goes.

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009

Tshepo Mosopa


I had searched for a livelihood in your bosom

I went from pillar to post (like they say) in search of your sap

Trying to eek a livin’ o Mzanzi whom us all were promised

And now I bow in defeat

Of your Class divisions

Artificial Mzanzi

School went I but drop of nectar of what you ooze I am denied

Hunger contort my body into a suffo’


And survival tactics lack I.

I envy the northern ebony

Who grin in a skill

Who sweat by his own inspired efforts

For your former steering committee molded the present by ignorance Mzanzi

Forging my poverty by forecast and preemption

Entrapping me by denying me skill

So slave I

Are we to blame them or the present power controllers?

let us drop the question mark for no one cares, is there?

But if one out here cares there is a glimmer of hope

If one out there keep us in mind then there is a chance

But all of us careless; Then doom descend

Until then there is no strength to rise from the gutter

That has become the commonplace of the destitute

Acute it is now

For iron shap’n iron

As black downpress black

And Meno Masweu is justified

O the blackgeoisie give us hope in your dominion.

Will you?

Skill us

So that we can bake our own bread

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009

‘The work of the poet is easy, like a sponge the poet observes. In interrogation s/he oozes personified



– Mmutle Arthur Kgokong