Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Part-1: Preserving an Idea

This is an interesting photograph from contemporary Central Africa. These salesmen are selling their faux Western clothing wares; jeans, big t-shirts and the like. The photographer said that they were all very pleased to explain to him that they were "real niggers" who had all the latest hip-hop styles for Africa. It may seem, at first glance, amazing that any African would be pleased with himself for being a "nigger". It might startle one to think that contemporary American culture could so easily trump African sensibities. It might surprise any sane person that such an injurious word, that so easily escaped the vitriolic mouths of racists, could find a home on the revered continent of the Maroons. We who fought to preserve every taste of herb, every sacred drum beat, every nuance of culture that we could inject into a foreign tongue.
We are apalled! We who created secret societies in order to honor our ancestors' memories; are apalled! We shall put a curse on the deaf, dumb and blind. Those who are deaf to the muffled cries of our mothers and fathers. Those who are dumb and numb to the sensations of a collective soul. Those whose eyes are veiled to the brilliance of ideas preserved without books. Those are the accursed, the damned. After centuries of dreams. After centuries of memories. After centuries of yearning to be like them, now we can finally travel back through the middle passage to discover that they no longer exist.
Yet, my people know. My island people know that which they always knew.
The great undiscovered land of ideas that we preserved without books.