You will know them by their Fruit

We are led to believe that Africa is the bedrock of hope. Some days I know this, and some days I could never feel more at loggerheads with the very thought. Allow me to share this tug of war that at some point in time, in one way or another, has filled the hearts and minds of most African children. Let me start by saying that, there is much to be weary of. If you are objective about the matter, that is to say, objective about the African experience, you will see the personification of a Beauty consumed by the beasts within. Decade after decade, questionable (and some would rather, damnable) economic and political policies have continually stood firm against the right to joy and prosperity. And so, day in and day out, we are torn asunder by the inequality of this land, an inequality imposed by men on their fellow men (cue Thomas Hobbes, known henceforth on this blog as, The Genius.).

 

“I came into the world imbued with the will to find meaning in things, my spirit filled with desire to attain the source of the world, and then I found out that I was an object among other objects.”

Franz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks”

 

Is this what happened to our people? Were they underwhelmed by the prospects offered by endemic poverty? Did they, in that state of disillusionment, lose the essence of humanity? ‘Realizing’ that they, were objects, to be used, and abused, and as such, acting in like, made that vengeance much too vivid for all? The aforementioned excerpt was voiced by one whose attraction to African liberation burned brightly throughout his life. I would unfortunately offer that not many share this frankly idealist enthusiasm for political consciousness, and not many would be willing to entertain the measures he did. Despite this, his very works spoke to the fact that it is difficult to be an African and be a man of hope. And with a glint in my eye, I realize that the experience of being a child of this continent can be somewhat likened to the first few verses of Romans 5. With no doubt, the verses speak of a maturity that would be continually learned, again and again, as the peaks and plateaus of life showed themselves true. As one would unfortunately intuit however, this is not a “luxury” many aspiring politicians on our dear continent can afford.

 

This became all the more vivid after I had a conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago. This conversation in my mind is in fact entitled, “The State of the Kenyan Nation – WHAT KENYAN NATION?” She in essence was painting pictures of a day in the life of the Ngiturkana. It is a life many of us Kenyans think we know of, but in verity, could not even fathom. We are a shameful people sometimes. No matter. I shall proceed. She had gone to their little country on assignment and was filling me in on the life altering experience she encountered. Yes, I said THEIR COUNTRY. Let no one kid themselves into believing that Turkana is treated as part of Kenya; indeed its fate has most certainly and most recently been affected by the prospect of oil discovery but if we disregard this blatant greed, the root of abandonment still remains. As I digress. She spoke of a Turkana that I indeed, had never fathomed. I saw, figuratively of course, a land alive with beauty and promise, hurled into a time-defying abyss of hopelessness and dearth. The gravity of this absurdity very ironically was far past the very definition of “ironic” – I say this in very weighty consideration of the Devolution dispensation, and all it espouses to be. As the conversation progressed (and our disappointment grew more acute), we realized how the development of underdevelopment was still being actively perpetuated.

 

Now when I say men preying on fellow men, this is what I refer to. As long as there is no development of the Nation; the sacred development of that collective consciousness that draws Turkana and Taita alike nigh to an existence more sublime than the very present affliction, there can never be a State that rises to the occasion. Why? The State exists to make manifest that very consciousness; to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the indigenous man. And that is the SOLE reason any and every State would find itself worthy of the title. This has been the “conundrum” of the African continent. All throughout history, and unfortunately, the entire continent, ideals upon which a nation, a true nation is founded, have fallen prey to the greed within the State. This, in the African experience, has given birth to a “symbiotic” relationship of most disturbing proportions.

 

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

 

What can be said thence? What tears can be shed? Our fathers, uncles and grandfathers have burgled from their mothers, daughters and wives all for the satiation of  inferiority complexes  misplaced vanity . Some would suffice it to say that they have robbed them of their own dignity – please note that I used the word “burgle”. This is not used in pursuit of word play, neither is it used in an absence of metaphor. The people SEE this blatant thievery, KNOW of the abhorring practices of impunity – but what do they do? A myriad of answers would surface.

 

But on the other hand…

 

There are days I am filled inexplicably with hope. Watching the Burkinabe oust a man – all in the name of Thomas Sankara spawned rays, nay, waves of joy in a manner that words are much too shallow to express. But I must say that I do not logically experience this hope, no, I cannot say that I am hopeful because of pragmatic discourse. Pragmatic discourse has, time and TIME AGAIN, proven that we in essence, are creatures damned by the very self-defeatist habits that have come to define us. And yet, the feeling is as liberating as sun on my skin – especially after a cloudy spell. This priori, because that is what it is, remains, and is the manifestation of what WE, COULD BE. In my mind, it is the cornerstone upon which the liberation of the African people was envisioned; the momentous, and continuous realization of dreams painfully dreamt by our parents and grandparents. It is the voyage to a consciousness born of our own hearts, a consciousness shaped by the very beat of these hopeful hearts.

 

These may very well be dreams, maybe even mirages I hallucinate whilst gazing into images of Africa, believing I gaze upon our future. I am sad to say that the positivism directed at our future is massacred in its premature tracks; weeded out by the realities I face all around. It is a battle that faces far too many on our continent; a raging war between what we SHOULD feel; hope, tenacity, excitement – against what we all SEE and unfortunately encounter. I presume that this, is what Fanon may have referred to, and if one truly contemplates the easier feeling to rely on, the priori or the posteriori, it would most certainly be that which would pay the rent.

 

But we will be known by our Fruit, we will be judged by the experiences we allowed to define us. The people we allowed to speak our destiny to us, the battles and wars we failed to fight. Our leaders may be the Rotten Fruit, but we are the Bad Seeds.

 

… There is no such thing as Tabula Rasa: The Cycle of Spontaneity.

The past several days have been for me, a culmination of a life-long lesson that had been darting silently in the shadows, lingering wordlessly behind my ignorance and me. I wouldn’t want to say that the experience has been pleasant but, when the world teaches you a lesson I find that you never do forget it, and it thus sets in motion a version of yourself that forever negates whoever you may have been before the “life altering event”. Not that the “event” has led to a need for shock therapy however, it has forced me to perceive man and his nature;  is he inherently bad or, do we just need to spread a little more love in the world?  Think about it, and while you’re at it, take your mind on a little trip around the world: feel free to indulge the vast expanse of time that has provided us with an insight into human nature. I never wanted to believe this but, I think man has the potential for the sort of cruel tendencies that may never be completely purged by wonderful pure, simplicity. Think of the priceless innocence radiated through a child’s eyes into your very existence; the glimpse into their soul is instantaneous and thus, shaming to your own sinful one and so, no matter how many monks burn themselves in silent revolution against political inhumanity, there will always be monks beating up a clergyman somewhere else.

During my first semester in university, I took a class known as Social Psychology. I fear that the subject matter of the course pales in comparison to the sweet silent promises offered in the title. No matter, I learnt something that I believe is worth sharing: socialization, according to this class, is the basis for the erection of an individual’s psychological structure. The lecturer indulged various examples to prove his point and whereas the logic was very apparent, I wondered whether it can be accepted as gospel truth; this is why I brought up indulging your mind in the history of the world. Socialization encourages a certain degree of Utopia in that, positive socialization yields Mother Theresa, and vice versa could yield Issey Sagawa. More than anything, socialization emphasizes that a parent, as a primary agent of socialization for instance, may single handedly derail a child from being a sociopath: yes, yes, this is utter bullshit. I recognize that indeed, environmental factors (socialization really) can mold you into a being that you may have otherwise never been, but is the CYCLE of life truly THAT spontaneous? Please recognize the oxymoron – one that we like to propagate as truth so shamelessly. I wonder who, with absolute certainty, can be able to argue against the value of inherited traits, especially in opposition of socialization in determining the nature of one’s behaviour. I believe that one is guided in their adult life by a need to achieve and secure his own wants and needs, and this is the point of pointless life.

Life is Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short

Enter, Thomas.

Thomas Hobbes felt that man was well, a violent douche in the “State of Nature” and I completely agree. I never used to feel this way; it must be said that I believed it was Locke who had seen human nature in its entirety, that there is innate goodness, selflessness, humanity in the world, but now, I’m hard pressed to believe that he didn’t grab the wrong end of the Chicken vs. Egg debate. Acting from the point of personal interest is indeed the basis of human nature, is it not? This is why, methinks, realism is so robust today and it is why I must stand on the same end of the debate with Hobbes, albeit reluctantly. I recognize that Gandhi DID die for peace and that there are good intentions within noble men BUT, I am also cognizant of how depressingly sick and twisted many people are, and how innate it is (I mean, people can comfortably rape animals, old women and little creatures who can barely even own the title “girl” and be audacious enough to sleep at night).  If you sit down and truly think of the League of Nations and it’s inconsequential successor, the civil wars in the world and “goodwill” exhibited by the developed world in the developing world, you may recognize the selfish nature of men AROUND THE WORLD, THROUGHOUT HISTORY This, in my opinion, is not generally the curriculum in schools, or the teachings in homes and yet, nature, and a cruel one at that, always seems to trump nurture, no matter how pure it may be. This is not even about those nuns whose convent was discovered to be a host of all sorts of sexual and alcohol debauchery, but it does it add to the point.

I must state for the record that academia, even in my shallow understanding of it, can be much too theoretical to prove the things that really matter. However, on this point, I shall embrace it wholeheartedly. Hobbes’ belief that man is too selfish and self serving to co-exist with his fellow man in the absence of a leviathan, whose objective is to regulate the cruel nature of human organization and ambition may be harsh, but true. The Social Contract Theory is indeed one of the most profound attempts to explain human organization and the factors that influence that very same organization in what is in essence, a political system. As a side note, we could even thrive without the presence of governments considering just how bloody useless incompatible they are with their respective nation’s needs. You may be thinking that I am being a cow because, they are humans too and so, I can’t really judge as we are all so visibly flawed. That is actually my point. Another very poignant illustration can be read where the Jedi’s Council meets Plato’s Republic.

Why exactly is Robert Greene’s little orange and blue book such a success? I think we can agree it is not because he felt guilty about the underhanded and brutally selfish nature of the corporate ladder in the way Facebook feels about sharing decapitation videos for the sake of derailing people from watching them, you know what I mean? (The Facebook thing really is mind boggling, though) He wrote the 48 Laws of Power because that is indeed the body of work one would need whilst in pursuit of success in today’s capitalist world. There is no need to explain the logic behind it, human beings are just self important assholes. Why else are the permanent members of the UN Security Council incidentally the most powerful nations in the world? And why are they suddenly so friendly with the same Germany that was written off after Hitler’s little “suicide”? My point is, we will always be perversely self serving beings. In fact, I read an article that compared Locke’s and Hobbes’ differing ideals on rights that may make my point. The former believed that rights were inherent, even in the state of nature, whereas the latter believed that in the state of nature, as so sublimely illustrated by our much wilder compatriots in jungles that, such aspects are of no use unless there are institutions that can support these same rights, that is, man would basically descend into an oblivion of self serving mayhem. According to Hobbes, it is why the social contract was created in the first place.

I wonder if I’m being too critical because the Social Contract Theory was propounded in the 17th Century and it has insight into a verity that no one can deny today. Somalia is an unfortunate example. If I am being too critical then, why has socialization and the nurturing hand of humanity failed to rectify this? We are here today, harping about the same inherent selfishness that Plato talked of.

I will not say man is bad, even though I did mention it much earlier. I think we’re animals and we do whatever needs to be done to achieve any given end goal and because of the advancement of ethics, religion, “evolution”, we now realize there is something wrong with that, but, we can’t REALLY change. We never will. Will Somalia EVER achieve true stability, and I ask with my most sincere wishes of success in their pursuits on the table. However, facts do not lie.Their year old Prime Minister may be impeached before you finish reading this. Another question: why else do people always repent when they present themselves to the Almighty in prayer? Even in children, there are those whom an adult can see is just a little douche; the mean little boy who won’t share anything, irrespective of his mother’s hard smacks (if he is African).

Morbid or not, Hobbes’ gaped into your ancestors soul and ripped your heart out through your chest because, facts don’t lie.