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Opinions of Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

End of Dilemma: The Tower of Babel


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—Part lV

Let’s leave Wole Soyinka and Yoweri Museveni behind for now and turn our attention to James Baldwin’s insightful essay “Stranger in the Village.” He writes of his Swiss experience:

“America comes out of Europe, but these people (Swiss) have never seen America, nor have most of them seen more of Europe than hamlet at the foot of their mountain. Yet they move with an authority which I shall never have; and they regard me, quite rightly, not only as a stranger in their village but as a suspect latecomer, bearing no credentials, to everything they have—however unconsciously—inherited.”

He writers further: “For this village, even were it incomparably more remote and incredibly more primitive, is the West, the West onto which I have been so strangely grafted. These people cannot be, from the point of view of power, strangers anywhere in the world; they have made the modern world, in effect, even if they don’t know it. The most illiterate among them is related, in a way that I am not, to Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo…the cathedral at Chartres says something to them which it cannot say to me, as indeed would New York’s Empire State Building…Out of their hymns and dances come Beethoven and Bach. Go back a few centuries and they are in their full glory—but I am in Africa, watching the conquerors arrive.”

This is it, the clincher! Undeniably, James Baldwin is Africa and Africa is James Baldwin, wholesale, for, incidentally, he speaks in the authoritatively-, mournfully-, and nostalgically-complexioned voice of Africa, of the Africa that never was, never is, never has been, but has yet to be! And that Africa James Baldwin calls for reforming from within. The great Peter Tosh respectfully called that Africa James Baldwin “Mama Africa.” Listen to it, the song! It is high time Africa James Baldwin wanted herself to come into her own. Africa James Baldwin’s nostalgic yearnings are psycho-emotional appeals to Afrocentric triumphalism—Afrocentric victorious consciousness, that is! “Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all other things shall be added unto thee,” said the visionary Nkrumah, the “universal African,” a global phenomenon.

The Africa James Baldwin wants to see her uterine churches and mosques release the people from the slavocratic claws of psychological slavery, and, so that, brothers and sisters, they will be free to produce scientists, mathematicians, men and women of letters, philosophers, doctors, epidemiologists, engineers, astrophysicists, professors, lawyers, historians, and so forth, not psittacine tongue-twisters or -speakers, and, certainly, not Christological and Mohammedological psychoanalysts, illusionists, or magicians. Our churches and mosques must learn to listen to the moral voice of Frederick Douglass.

In fact, this is the “unborn” African world to which the French teacher and Africa James Baldwin want to belong. Appropriately, the motherly nostalgia of Baldwin and Bob Marley share ideational synchronicity in the following Marleyian prophecy: “Africa, you’re my forefather cornerstone…Unite for the Africans abroad!” Yet the roots reggae poet Mutabaruka (“In No Good”) has some wise words for us and for our sleeping leaders. Interestingly, he, too, like Baldwin and Marley, also shares in the synchronicity of lyrical prophecy:

“Let me say it without any apology…It no good to stay in a white man’s country too long…I listen to the news and a black man’s child gets killed by the Ku Klux Klan…If you’re white, it’s alright…If you’re brown, stick around…If you’re black, get back…Are you (black) better than us?...When you’re there, you say “yessir”…When you go there, you say “a cup of tea, please”…When you’re there, you say “yessir”…When you’re there, you say “hey mate is getting laid”…Blacks in England, what is your plan?...Blacks in England check the time…Blacks in England find your land because it’s no good staying in the white man’s land too long…”

Captivatingly, Mutabaruka, like Baldwin and Marley, speaks in enviable liquidity of rhetorical ornateness, as you can all see. Indeed, his prophetic lyricism appeals not only to the sedentary conscience of the African Diaspora in Western cultural psychology, but also to the fluidized statelessness of the neocolonial mentality of continental Africa. In other words, he assembles both diasporic and continental African cultural psychologies in a creative nostalgia for ethno-racial oneness. How lyrically beautiful and prescient of him! But then again, as you may have already noticed, there is more to his lyrical inventiveness and sociopolitical consciousness: He imposes the sledgehammer of farcical critique on the corruptibility of Western culture and, whether directly or indirectly, calls the African diaspora home, continental Africa, to the sociocultural baptismal playfield of moral responsibility.

Don’t forget that he also draws our collective attention to our psychosocial and cultural hypocrisy in the West, the a-cultural “horrible” things we do in the West, which, otherwise, we won’t do in a typical African home. Respectfully, isn’t it sad that Mutabaruka is anachronistically “out of tune” with the sociology of contemporary African realities? Ironically, day in, day out, the African world asymptotically approaches the a-cultural West he so passionately criticizes. And as if that is not painful enough the erstwhile mutual exclusivity of African and Western cultures has assumed the material space of mutual inclusiveness.

That said, we can’t allow Mutabaruka’s responsible critique of the dangers of Western material culture to stand apart—uncritiqued—from the sociology of contemporary realities in his own Jamaica: Organized crime, drugs, gang warfare, police brutality and vigilantism, and corruption, are, to say the least, tearing the anorexic island into ghettoized social and political smithereens. Even more troubling, Jamaican African mothers bleach their children as young as one because the cultural psychology of colorism somehow defines or determines one’s stational rung on the long ladder of social mobility in Jamaican society: The lighter the skin tonality, the better. Therefore, we must call upon Mutabaruka to employ the lyrical gavel of critical balance!

It’s no wonder these anomic tendencies threaten to destroy the Africoid fabric of Jamaican societal cohesion, community responsibility, and mutual respectability for mores and for humanity. Actually, this is the sad legacy hanging on the weakened hyoidean neck of Africa after more than five hundred years of active historical, cultural, social, and economic intercourse with and prostituting for the West. After all, neither the West nor Africa is expected to remain cultural and social virgins forever. But the tortuous journey of our collective critique mustn’t end there, however. We all know how Western material culture and unholy spiritualism are destroying Africa. Corruption in Africa is proliferating like cancerous cells in the body politic. Corrupt African politicians collaborate with Western banking officials to secrete the people’s money in Western banks, monies, which, however you look at it, either fortunately for the West or unfortunately for Africa, are reinvested in Western national economies.

So, in the long run Africa becomes positively poorer and the West negatively wealthier. Analytically, this runs counter to the central thesis of Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.” In fact, it’s what the Eurocentric Africanist Godfrey Mwakikagile calls “Africa in a Mess.” This inverse relationship of economic bilateralism is unhealthy for and which must be critically addressed by Africa. The recent near-shooting death of a Malawian government official who threatened to expose corrupt officials by anonymous gunmen must not be tolerated. It must be the state’s responsibility to protect responsible journalists and whistleblowers from public calumny, official vigilantism, and social persecution.

Also, our Christological churches have becomes centers—“harems” and “brothels”—for the unbridled exercise of sexual psychoanalysis. Both sacred and sanctimonious “prostitutions” are encouraged by the so-called holy apostles of Christological psychoanalysis. Our usurious Christological churches have also become extortion rackets; churches are tearing families apart, destroying whole communities, the extended family system, and the institution of marriage itself. The recent Tema pastor who sodomized a 14-year-old boy and infected him with HIV is a good example. Particularly, the churchly business of individuating the African family has become a problematic preoccupation for concerned traditionalists and cultural purists.

Christological politicians steal the people’s money and go to their political pastors and evangelists to ask for holy prayers so that passage of the stolen money to the gluttonous bellies of Swiss and American banks goes undetected. Contrarily, Christological politicians, in turn, teach their spiritual political pastors and evangelists the intricacies involved in laundering cornucopias of tithes to Western financial safe havens—the usual demand and supply of “hand go, hand come.” Divorce rates are skyrocketing, yet our “pagan” and “polygamous” forebears who didn’t know Christ and Prophet Mohammed had relatively durable marriages than their modern Christological and Mohammedological descendants. Our churches and mosques have become laboratories and manufactories for “holy” lies and clinical centers of ignorance! Finally, some Christological pastors and evangelists secretly go to traditional priests—whom they perpetually attack from churchly pulpits as “pagan”—to scheme or beg for spiritual powers to grow their own churches, later even refusing to pay for the kindly services, until, readers, they are forced to do so by traditional courts.

We even kill each other with impunity using Western ideational and material inventions—the French “coup d’état,” firing squad, gun, Marxism, Christianity, capitalism, Islam, classism, individualism, Eurocentrism, reverse ethnocentrism (or inter-ethnic racism). No wonder genocidal documents used by Adolf Hitler and his inner core during the Holocaust were incidentally found with the leadership of the Hutu militias during the Rwandan Genocide! The reason we engage in Eurocentric tribalism is the basis for the West’s associating us with the politically incorrect label “tribe” and the tribalistic Northern Irish, Spanish-French Euskaldunak (a person from Basque), Serb, Croatian, Italian Mafia, Kosovar with “ethnicity.”

Maybe we may want to look again at Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks,” Dangarembga’s “Nervous Condition,” and Memmi’s “The Colonized and the Colonizer”! Fortunately, the archeological, historiographic, and epistemological work on Africa’s cultural and intellectual virginity is being presently undertaken by theoretical Afrocentricity. That day, that day, that day, the prophetic dreams of Bob Marley, of Mutabaruka, and of James Baldwin would coincide with the unitarian sociology of Afrocentric realities. The era of oppositional intra-psychological variegation in the African world shall be a thing of the past—of the history of dinosaurs and mammoths.

In the meantime, let’s come down to the earth of materialism from the abstractional lyrical heights of the Mutabarukas, of the Marleys, and of the Baldwins. We mean the material earth of “now”! Let’s impose the economic sledgehammer of “triage” on the execution of national priorities. Human rights questions related to phallic homosexuality, for instance, as we have said elsewhere, must be put on the back burner, at least for now, pending satisfactory execution of national priorities. To tease our questioning psychologies further, why don’t we submit the constitutionalism of phallic homosexuality to the consensus of plebiscite or referendum? After all, if an individual decides to dig his pundic nostrils with his big phallic toe, why must that be allowed to affect the smooth executable integrity of national priorities?

Finally, you may recall that we alluded to the Rwandan Genocide in our Ghanaweb feature piece “Culture, Respect, and Development.” Obviously, we didn’t look at the genocidal carnage from the point of view of intellectual property, economics, health of national (continental) psychology, race relations—that is, how non-Africans see us; of course, whatever happens in Africa happens everywhere, as well, except that the sociopolitical barometry of criticism assumes a different dimension of psycho-emotional hypocrisy on the part of the rest of the world when the “variability” of African humanity suddenly becomes a problematic “constant” in the equational fluidity of humanity!). Yes, we avoided answering the most important question of all: “How many Hutu and Tutsi scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, innovators, families, musicians, professors, doctors, teachers, political scientists, etc., died in that despicable genocidal bonfire?

In fine, this is where we reach the analytic cul-de-sac: No more wars. No more ethnic pettiness. No more Eurocentric tribalism. No more artificialized political boundaries. No more political thievery. No more political ethnocentrism. No more “female genital mutilation.” No more AIDS. No more malaria. No more childbirth. No more Idi Amin. No more Mobuto Sese Seko. No more Omar Bashir. No more Apartheid. No more Francisco Nguema. No more neocolonialism. No more slavery. No more tears of sadness. No more inferiority complexes. No more racial profiling. No more…

“Mama Africa…How’re you doing? Mama Africa…Long time me no see you…They took me away from you Mama…Long before I was born…They took me away from you…Long before I came on in…There’s so many things about you…Wondering where you are…They try their best to hide you Mama…But I search and I find you…In you there’s so much beauty…In you there’s so much life…In you there’s so many kingdoms…To me it’s out of sight…I’ve been waiting, yearning, looking…Searching to find you…I’ve been crying, praying, hoping…That I may find you Mama…You’re my mother Africa…You’re my father Africa…I’m proud of you Mama…I love you Mama…I’m proud of you Mama…I love you heavenly,” so sang the poetic vocal box of the great Peter Tosh (“Mama Africa”).

Why are our leaders hiding from the indicter voice of Peter Tosh and of Mutabaruka? Where are the leaders to deal with Africa’s “Tower of Babel,” once and for all, in order words, to make Africa James Baldwin a better place, not Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia,” for, finally, her, Africa’s crying and jaded sons and daughters and parents and grandparents and grandchildren and their friends, have decided to come back home to roost?

What is that Africa to us? And where is that Africa? Where are the leaders, we ask again, again, and again? Disappointingly, it turned out that they, the so-called Afropean leaders, our leaders, are buried deep down the Hegelian graveyard of the International Criminal Court, the Machiavellian Island of Eurocentrism!

Mother Africa, what is happening to you?

End of the series!

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