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.