Monday, January 12, 2015

A chilling African perspective

Yesterday I translated into Dutch a poem by an African poet and learned about the almajiri... I must admit I have also been thinking about the 200 girls boko haram took and cannot possibly imagine their life, if they are still alive... We know also about the horror of Baga.
A friend of mine, Arlette, has lived in Senegal for almost nine months and she told me about the marabouts forcing the young boys to beg... So I recognised the cruel fate of the boys in the poem... I guess it is a sad Pan-African image. I hope that once the translations are published in Dutch that tons of people will get the education I am getting by doing this work. I gain a deeper understanding. The news isn't just a snipped of news but another injustice, another violence from one human being to an other.  I learned from a friend that in Nigeria, the casualty figures from the past 72 hours run as high as 2000 dead and countless injured, several people now refugees in their own country. I guess this is what the mass murderers want, for peaceful people to be speechless. It is obvious that Europe is in shock at the barbarity of this outrage in Paris. The far right xenophobes will make some gains no doubt and there will be repercussions on otherwise innocent people, that is the human reaction to outrage. What I hope emerges from the ruins of the world as we knew it to be, is a better awareness of the evil now roaming the world. It seeks to kill inquiry, humour, pleasure and dissent. It has no sense of proportions for, if the four terrorists in Paris had access to an atom bomb, we all better believe that they would have used it. The same is true for the ones in Nigeria and Sudan.
That reason and balance will win eventually, my friend is sure of. It may take some time but reason will prevail. My friend has gone back to reading Karl Popper (The Open Society and its Enemies) and is actively campaigning for a change of government (the  president went to a wedding this weekend).
The poem I referred to:

In Sokoto‘s kitchens, ecstasy staggers the pulse
With rare legumes, ricemeal, cabbages and roasts.
Outside, suya, peppered over with panache in the false
Light of paraffin lanterns where every evening boasts

Fresh kills and the kindness of instant noodles
Served garnished with lettuce and a choice of eggs.
A youth, almajiri, receives a serving of tea and huddles
With the waiting troop, all standing on spindly legs

And their chatter continues into early morning
Going over happenings and also boko haram.
There is no consensus, a few cigarettes burning,
And each hoping to be the famous last Imam.

One does, out of that horde, become
The priapic king of that harmattan evening.
He won‘t tell the story; he has made it home,
His store of memories, his final swan-offering.

A desert‘s diaspora whispers in scattered gardens
Where plants like kept women swoon with watering
And the aseptic present bearing dark burdens
Conspires to kill the renegade seed. There is muttering

In the wake of vanished arbors, the plains
Playing dead like Sahara‘s volcanoes. Windborne
Charms are balms to the earth‘s perpetual pains,
Her stripping and rape, her hope forlorn.

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