Africa & Beyond

And Racism became King

Those were the days. It was in the final days. And those days were pregnant. History has seen such days before. They were days before catastrophe made a landfall. They were ominous days. Days, filled with portents. Signs and omens battled for places in our sun. Seers of all shades saw tomorrow. Oracles of all persuasions received premonitions. Voices of various wildernesses writhed in foreboding and unease. Even the elements warned us of ourselves.

Of the impending doom!


They were days of infamy. Epoch defining. They were such days that catastrophe wakes up, and decides to accept our invitation. Those were such days, when a society, decides not only to hang itself, but also to commence its own cannibalization. When an age decides to begin its own immolation, on the funeral pyres of its self-inflicted idiocy; when an epoch or a civilization rises from its delirium, and decides to commit suicide.

They were catastrophic days!

As catastrophic as on that day, on those valleys of Pompeii. On that foot of Vesuvius! On that fateful day, when nature decided to ignore the fact that we placed our mouths near her anus; and farted. She decided to avenge our foolishness in a historically significant manner. She rose, passed gas, and entombed a society in eternal fossilized immobility, with the molten magmas of wrath.  On that day, darkness fell upon existence, like it did on the firmament of reason today. Those were the days that virulence became pregnant with obscenity. And atrocity, borne on the wings of racist atavisms, ascended the tribunes of authority, to be crowned with the diadems of power. On that day, and on those plains of decision, we spat on good sense; and our values promptly disinherited us.

If such days happened on the outback of irrelevance, we wouldn’t have taken notice. But in the centers of significance, it becomes a quake of seismic proportions.

America decided for a fraud!

Having come a long way, it was a dirty slap on all the progress we essayed to eke out, inch by dogged inch; as we marched through the thickets of savage barbarism, to the thresholds of civilization. Having spent millennia, masturbating to the pornographic worship of war and slaughter. We, who slept millennia away; prolifically darkening history’s face with our iniquitous notorieties and refined savageries. We, who wasted evolutionary time ensconced in the bosoms of epochal barbarism. We, who raped history with our ample celebration of destruction, are suddenly about to become footnotes to either a divine comedy or an ironic tragedy.  We, who spent centuries creating the Other. Enslaving him. Raping him and his posterity for sordid gain. We, who recently got out of those bushes of inhumanity, where we have been defecating good sense; though some feces of inhumanity still trailed our robes; decided to go back to those malodorous lavatories of irrationality. We went there to seek out the worst and the most insane of us, and crown him with those responsibilities meant for the sanest of us. And as the word became flesh in the incarnation, the lunatic asylum incarnated as a power center. We, on that day, handed the buttons that may summon us to heaven or to hell, to a court jester; imprisoned in crapulent subservience to his pathological ego.

America elected an infinite bigot to her most important office!

We easily forget. Our amnesia was total. The fall of Rome was not an event. It was a process. Rome; that city of seven hills. The mistress of Italy. The eternal city. This empire of Caesars and senators. This land of orators and statesmen. This clime of conquerors and Generals. The playground of imperators and legions. This testament to human civilization, crossed the Rubicon of self-created implosion, in moment after decisive moment. It was not a gigantic leap. Those ones could have been arrested. They were small steps. Taken individually, rather insignificant. Small decisions taken in variety of settings. Small omissions allowed leeway. All came together to debauch an old empire, already creaking on the hinges.

This Rome was already creaking on the weight, of its own contradictions. The legions have been stretched across vast territories. Bloodlust was canonized as state policy. Gladiatorial shows consumed lives, both animal and human. It was a dress rehearsal. A dress rehearsal not only for the unparalleled barbarism that was the persecution of Christians, but for its very own self-cannibalization. The irony becomes so very unsettling when one realizes that the rule of Rome under Emperors or Imperators…was the best the world had ever seen. Wherever the Romans held sway, settled law and order prevailed; there the Pax Romana-the Peace of Rome was in evidence[1].  That was the irony. This Rome immolated her ethics on the altars of expedience. The pretty lady sealed her doomed.

Just like in the days of yore, the Rome of today took decency to Golgotha; and had her crucified in between two band of rogues; one Republican. The other Democrat.

And just like the Rome of yore, we did not get here by accident!

We crossed seven rivers and seven seas, to get to these mountains of reckoning. We met ghosts of our past, and the oracles of our future, as we made our way through that maze. We waded, knee-deep across lakes of old blood, we spilled on battles of plunder. We stepped over the Other, we created to bear the brunt of our neurosis. Like on that day on the Plains of Marathon, we faced our nemesis. Before we could gird our loins for battle, or polish our arms, the jeremiads prophesying our defeat became an orchestra. It rankled all ears with eerie interlocutions. The orchestra belched symphonies of fear, dedicated to our doom. Funeral dirges to our failure rent and colonized the air. We hoped for a victory that would send our best runner to announce the good news that we are at least free. He ran the race of, and for our lives. He expired at the gates of our consideration. He was bound to expire. As he bowled over, succumbing to the lethal summons of his exhaustion, he uttered a word. We thought we were free.

But his message was ominous! Our salvation has been postponed. Infinitely!

In hostile imaginations; those realms of nebulous chasms, which we are not privy to; uncanny fairies of perfidious hierarchies, signed certificates warranting our decapitation. They realigned our stars. Our ruins; bound to be mourned by generations to come. We escaped savagery in our pretensions. But remained savages in our dreams. Just like Galeano had it. And as it would forever be in every ‘Harem Nights’; we, and our pretenses to civilization, remained ‘virtuous gentlemen, monogamous in their wakeful hours and polygamous in their dreams’.

Plato may have warned us eons ago. Kings must be philosophers.

Wise men!

We ignored him in Nero. In Caligula. In Commodus. In Hitler. In Pol Pot.  And so many other historical scoundrels. We totally ignored him in Trump!

Mountains in popular imagination, or subsisting metaphors, have been symbolic scenes of transformation. So also, podiums of discourse, or rostrums of debate. Be they the hills of Beatitude, Mountains of Decision, or the Plains of Doubts.  Be they Sinai, or Golgotha! Mankind has always come away from those peaks, clutching tablets that speak upliftment.  Moses came away from such a mountain, clutching a tablet inscribed with a Decalogue that told us to be good to our neighbor, and to the other. Jesus the Nazarene, set the table of Beatitudes on one of those elevations. He taught us how blessed they would be; who are poor in spirit. Who mourn! Who are meek! Who hunger and thirst for righteousness! Who are merciful! Who are pure in heart! Who are peacemakers! And who are persecuted for righteousness sake! King told us his dreams about an America, where his kids would not be judged by the colors of their skin, but by the contents of their character.

But on this day, arose an orange-haired Nebuchadnezzar, who judges people, not by the content of their characters, but by the color of the skins, by the creeds of their faith, by the gender of their humanity.

He, whose name was Blessing; filled with an audacity of hope so rich; rallied and convoked inspirations, from the reservoirs of strength. He electrified us with hope. He told us that, YES. WE CAN. He spoke about this attitude, as a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation. He saw it as that aspiration whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through darkest of nights. For him, it was a song on the lips of immigrants as they struck out from distant shores. It was a political Beatitude like never seen before. On those mountains of decision, America chose hope over cynicism.

But in this cycle, as America ascended those mountains of decision once more, she rolled out the rostrum for the banality of hate. Orgies of racism were celebrated in pathological forms. Our political forums became amphitheaters of scurrility. The hate we hid in our basements escaped and became mainstream. We called our retailing of hate; as telling it the way it is. Our press gave us a ringside seat, as an apology of a man, mocked disabled people to our chagrin; abused women in a chilly celebration of misogyny, while his supporters clapped; and elected to defray the legal costs of anyone, who would outdo himself in physically assaulting anyone, who dared exercise his fundamental right to protest, in his rally.

On that day, many of us embarked on the conversation, on how we are going to convert the Hudson to our own rivers of Babylon, where we should sit down and weep; remembering the Zion of civility that were the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.

Was this the America that Lincoln’s foresight caressed? Was this the America of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream? Is Lincoln not throwing up in his grave? Is Dr. King, not having a nightmare from inside his grave?

In Trump’s campaign, America convoked all the primeval fault-lines. She saw the worst of America. A garrulous snake’s oil salesman, hoodwinked a populace beaten to pulp by economic hardship, ignorance, and inferiority complex masquerading itself as racist, or misogynist stances. Not to be outdone in superlatives, this land of superlatives, went to the polls to elect a superlative tax evader, a consummate con-man, and a scoundrel to her presidency.

In fact, the only sane thing that can be said is that in 2016, America elected its original sin into the White House! The United States swallowed a pestle on 11/9, 2016. She will now have to sleep standing upright.







[1] George Guest, The March of Civilization, Ibadan, Spectrum Books, 1979, P.57

Post Comment