Road to Shashamane
Fourteen chapters 202 page story sequence to my first novel ‘Sufferiation Street’.
After the Natty Dread youths have been expelled from the original Shashamane in Sufferiation Street, they go to the basics. It’s a vast reclaimed agricultural land where they are encouraged to live like their ancestors. It’s a repatriation call by the preacher. The city is congested with robbers and thieves. Polluted with rich man’s works, poisoned by politicians and blasphemed by the hypocrites. Here they have a chance to start pure life and practice the religion of their ancestors.
Experts in food crop science, technology, physics, astronomy and basic education are brought in at first to give the youths ‘book wisdom’. They are replaced by religious Elders from the Caribbean, to teach them, ‘spiritual wisdom’. History, cultural polemics, spirituality, mysticism, equality, politics, etc etc, is expounded with a fanatical zeal, so much so that a mix-up in ideologies comes in. every elder attempt to outdo the other. And breakaway cults and sects spring.
Izzie sticks with the Preacher (he’s attracted to his ideals) Ten Ten becomes a follower of Elder Naftali, he of ‘free the African mind’, Sue identifies with Queen Sheba. King Dave, now recruits ganja lovers and there’s a big ganja plantation growing in the hills, and supported by the area MP Keroro wa Keroro, the Shashamane Farm is bountiful with products. Sista Nice is rehabilitating former twilight girls, everything looks all right, and they are even envied by the local nomadic tribesmen.
But when ‘chicken merry, hawk de near’. This time round, is it the ideological difference that bring down the beautiful Shashamane, or the narrowness in the interpretation of the Dreadlock’s utopian philosophy of back to Africa, back to the roots and culture ideology?
The experts give ‘book wisdom’ to the youth when they were not working in the farm.
**P12 on astonomy
“So you say, if I want to know more about astrology”, a young student asked, in Ten Ten’s class, “I must nuo lots of mathematics and physics?”
“You mean astronomy, right?” the expert professor corrected.
“Whatever. Is that the study of the stars?”
“It’s the scientific study of stars. Astrology is more to do with star gazing.”
“My dream is to visit the stars like the Americans and the Russians.” Proclaimed Ten Ten.
“If you have the resources you can visit the moon, but not the stars. As I have said, the nearest star is four light years away-the distance the light will travel in four years-no mean achievement,” the expert asserted.
“My friend Irie Priest wished to be jetted into the space when he died.” Ten Ten said.
“Is he dead?”
Yes he died, but not departed yo no say.”
“If the scientists could invent a way where one could travel in time, wouldn’t we be seeing people from the future or even visit our grandfathers?” another asked.
‘So who knows whether we have people from other parts of the worlds?”
“Are we the only ones in the universe?”
‘Is there life out there?”
The quick succession of questions volleyed at the professor made him wonder in amazement whether the not-too-clever class was benefiting from his daily lectures.
**P14 on abortion
“…In ladies – only class, an expert in obstetrics and gynaecology had happily given a lecture on female health when the class got hooked in the issue of abortion. The ladies, mostly teenage to early twenties, listened attentively, as the she gave the bare facts. She showed them some extraordinary photographs of foetuses in the womb, only a few weeks old, frowning, smiling, and one was sucking his thumb.
‘At least a thousand abortions are carried out in the country daily and one-third of maternal deaths and half of gynaecological ward emergency admissions are abortion-related cases. It’s always a private affair and the law can not stop it. Instead, it increases the rate of unsafe abortion. Abortion is normally secretive and rarely would a woman go public after performing it. They do it privately that walking in and out of the mushrooming abortion clinics, as if nothing happened.
Those who have aborted are tormented by their conscience for a morally minded human being cannot agree to such a crime and sin, just visit the wards and get the figures. At least two in every 10 patients are victims of incomplete abortion. Many are admitted there after performing abortion else where…
Brenda got nervous and tense at the mention of this. It brought vivid and sharp memories when she woke up to find herself laying on the gynae-couch, too weak to turn and staring up on the ceiling which proclaimed in bold inscriptions; ‘Unwanted Pregnancy? Abortion is not the solution!’ and the crudest of instruments displayed. She was wondering whether she would survive or even conceive again.
She had been admitted with a ruptured uterus and intestines. She had been unconscious and there was every evidence that she had tried to terminate her pregnancy using a sharp instrument. But she denied it. She said that she just started bleeding while seated.
Her mind then came back to the present.
‘Many victims die either during or after abortion. The poor especially, cannot afford the cost involved in having a clean termination of pregnancy. They go to quacks in back street clinics in dirty environments…’’
**P22-5 But the Experts are dismissed and Bredrin Elders from the Caribbean brought in to teach ‘spiritual wisdom’. King Dave introduces the real owners of Shashamane.
“…‘The people you see before you,’ began King Dave, ‘are now going to take over the running of Shashamane. The experts have been asked to leave, since their services are no longer required’.
There was a murmuring at the reaction of this, but Kind Dave went on ‘if the experts can convert and join us, no problem, but from now on; the elders, run the show, these are bredrins straight from Jomyeka. They have been on the background of things, and since Shashamane, a true black country has materialised, then they have emigrated. You shall address them as elders, nothing less, for that is what they are.
Together with the Preacher, Queen Sheba and I, we shall be the twelve elders of Shashamane indeed representing the Twelve Blessed Tribes.
Each of the elders stood and bowed. They were called by their symbolic names, starting from King Dave, himself called Judah, the preacher Joseph, elders Reuben, and Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simon, Levi, Issacher, Zebulun and Queen Sheba, Benjamite- they are here because of all the sisters and brothers in Shashamane. they would now officially teach and inculcate the knowledge of the Most High.
Then first Elder Reuben tall and dark with long braids of locks, over fifty years judging by creases and white hair perhaps north of fifty, came to the pulpit, his two hands touched the podium as he assumed the most solemn look, studied the congregation and spoke with a hoarse voice.
‘Greetings in da niem of da Most High Jah.’
“Yes, sire! I Come, teach you ’bout culture. Dis be Black History Month all over de world. Open de songs of Rasta and turn to hymn number 427.”
The congregation turned to the Rasta hymnal Book and sang solemnly.
‘Black ma story, African story
Not his story That we never read
From edu-cyeshion, to civilisation
From astrology, straight to biology
Black my story, black history
What we want to see, is African liberty
Teach me teach me teach I n I African teacher
A man feel it, I always early, I never absent-
Dats why I not go siddon as backbench
Natty like to be bright and bright, so bright ’
They joined their voices again in another song, equally about the black man’s history.
Ma heart is still in grief when I remember wo oooy!
How dey taken off ou’ parents from dey homeland; uu yee
Shipped to every corner of dis eart’ wo hoo
Bounded in chattels and chains like dem tief yee
Dey would be striped wid many stripes by de masters, yee
If dey would not do jos’ whad dey are told, yee hee
It really grieves ma heart to see- it’s pure brutality
Whenever I recall my history, it really grieves my heart to see
How they treated all our fore fathers in the days of slavery
Slavery and brutality, dats all dey nuo, wo wo yee a yee
The sad song made him to assume a solemn mood; almost preachy atmosphere as he condemned the perpetrators of the historical tragedy.
Slavery and brutality that’s what they nuo.. wuu yee.
‘Una stop mek sing like yo sick!’ He stopped the congregation. ‘We Cyan sing Jah Music like dat!’ he angrily denounced. ‘Our story is weak – painted by de white. Reggae is repainting this image. Wot is da meaning of reggae? Why is it a soul rebel? We a rebel against de oppression. Reggae militant’s bent revolves around dat theme. Rege means rags or ragged clothing. It means a quarrel- querulous music of resistance by dem suffering from working – class.
It is founded upon de rhythm style, wid regular chops on de back chest, played by de riddim guitarist and di byess drum. It’s a spiritual vibe, and recurrent themes include di praise of Jah, lamentations of poverty, social injustice and resistance of oppressive regimes.
Dis music is from uol ska’ and Mento, two forms of Jomyekan folk music which combined elements of 1950s Rock and Roll setting the pace for the reggaevolution, which saw the emergence of bredrin Wyeilers. Dey popularized Jah music wid dey mind-bending conscious lyrics of hope and freedom. Its supremacy was acknowledged when Exodus was named the song of the century.
Shaka Zulu warriors, Niabinghi rebels and Mau Mau fighters with their dreadlocks were fighting for freedom. Reggae fights for our rights. Mek we chant down Society- Yohuro Africa’ he declared.
‘Yohuro’ they shouted back
Freedom!’ they declared excitedly
And with such atmosphere they sang the next hymn from de song of de Rasta.
We refuse to be what you wanted us to be,
We are what we are, that’s the way, it’s gwan to be
You can’t educate us for no equal opportunity
Talking about ma freedom
Equal freedom and liberty
Yes, we’ve been trudging on a one way- rebel, rebel!
We’ve been taken for granted
Much too long- rebel!
Much too long-rebel!
Babylon system is a vampire, vampire,
Sucking the children day by day
Say Babylon system is a vampire
Sucking the blood of the sufferers
Building churches and universities
Deceiving the people continually
Look out now
Tell the children the truth
Common and tell the children the truth
The mood became more exciting as the bredrins and sistren swung and heaved. With Natty Bongo’s instruments, they meant every word and filled each beat with their hearts out.
‘Sing in de Scaba-Deba Dung riddim’ encouraged the Elder to let congregation transpose -and they did exactly that,
African teacher, is a part of I n I culture, culture
Teach me teacher, teach I n I culture
Natty Dread we go to school
But we never finish, not until we
Reach upon de style of African teacher
All right …
They then sat down again in the Turkish carpets as they waited patiently for the elder to go on. Izzie’s forehead was full of sweat as he looked up to the fan, which was whirling speedily upon his left.
‘Africa is the mother of creation’ he went on. Civilisation started in Africa. Hidden from me I was never told. The ancient Egyptians were not white as such men from me I was never told, and so was prophets like Moses but Esau Israel were black.
I will give yo copies of the Black Nation, which marked this Black Month, and has published a list of the 1000 greatest men and women, those enduring icons in the eyes of the black community. The top three places has gone to Jesus,. Reverend Martin Luther, and Malcolm X-they all of when fight for justice and who were cut down by unjust deaths. The devil did not get any top three positions because as we all know he is a white baldhead man! You know what a mean? Let dem not cheat us! In da Bible, Jesus is described as dark skinned but through out ‘his-story’, the Whiteman has presented him as having blue eyes, thin lips and blonde hair- a crazy idea. Why is he great? He never wrote a book, never recorded a hit, song, never made a movie, never sought political office, nor did he have his own website – yet he remains a major figure in world’s leading religions. Garvey, the fourth in the list said Jesus was black because he called every body brother, he liked Gospel music and he couldn’t get fair trials. Fifth and sixth are Mandela and Mohammed Ali both of whom rebelled against the Shit – system and prevailed against overwhelming odds.
Steve Biko, Shaka Zulu, Haille Selassie, Kwame Nkrumah, Kunta Kinte, Bob Marley represent a mood and Kenyatta, Hannibal and Senghor represent an era. All these icons convey something bigger than just themselves…”
P39 Ten Ten’s new found freedom.
“…But Ten Ten still wanted to get close to his mentor, despite his odd life. When he got to seventeenth birthday, the excitement of standing on stage in the vicarious glow of Naphtali’s presence made his teenage chest beam all the faster. So he left Shashamane and joined Naphtali’s band wagon at Mt Zion republic to further his musical skills and as a fellow revolutionary.
He moved into Mt Zion and began too to develop a strong interest in the Rasta concept of Egyptology and African Spiritualism. And it was not long before the ensuing discussions on religion with Naphtali that gave Ten Ten what he had been looking for direct personal access to his mentor’s affection.
He fondly relished how they used to call him the professor because he was learning about Juju, Obeah, Voodoo, and African Magic. He still believed in it. He thought there was a lot of truth in it. Because of that, they became very close as he found out of reasons to explain why African was the way it was.
**P45 but Elder Naftali confuses him..
Mt Zion because like war zone. Everyone was fighting and Ten Ten could not understand why Naphtali wanted to live in that kind of environment. They had looked on him as a god. They could not understand why man they worshipped so much, why his organisation was so disorganized. He told Izzie that he was thinking of leaving Zion republic as it was now getting out of control.
The move Ten Ten fact rejected by Naphtali, the more he had something to prove. The more he saw through Naphtali’s public persona, the more he understood he must reject Nathalie’s private lifestyle. He left Mt Zion shrine for Shashamane once again, vowed to stop smoking Marijuana, and instead, devised a rigorous personal routine, which entailed hours of working on drum guitar and strict diet.
He understood all this to a necessary polices, because he wanted to be somebody whom people believed; because he wanted his words and his music to become part of Africa’s cultural consciousness; he wanted to be greater than his mentor was.
But he knew that he had to do it his own ways. He knew that if tried to be like Naphtali, he would be the same as him-and he wanted to be bigger than him. He’d been on tour with him several times and he knew that, whatever Naphtali was giving to audience, he could give more. Of course, the elder would be annoyed, and everyone around him was disappointed. For a long time the elder was fighting them because of him. But he had to do it. He tried enlisted Izzie’s support in vain.
The cost of Ten Ten’s personal epiphany was two long year-spell of silence with his family and clan, especially between him and the Elder. But, still by the end of Naphtali life, their lines of communication would be reconnected. But whatever his mentor’s mental state, Ten Ten maintained that he had always loved him. Nor does he doubt that the Elder in his own way always reciprocated those feelings.
**P44. Izzie goes to the Preacher’s tribe.
“…Izzie man went into the order of Joseph – the preacher. He became a disciple of one G. Out of the twelve elders; the preacher’s family was the smallest- a dozen youths. This did not bother The Preacher nor deter him from his work of the kingdom. He knew that numbers did not matter before Jah. That many would be called but even fewer would be chosen. Preaching was no longer confined to the temple alone. Now that they were away from the big city and all the Shashamane were already ‘growing’ in the spiritual kingdom, One G had extended his gospel of Jah to the nomadic tribes, the indigenous groups and the neighbouring ‘heathen’ people.
The preacher found the young man Izzie handy in his mission abroad. After conducting the early morning service at the temple, he would take the bunch of his boys, give them spiritual education and then off they went to the heathen lands to convert them. Izzie’s group would bring to him five converts and that is why he liked the lad.
Their areas of concentration were within the farm where the brethren and sistren re-dedicated their lives to Jah and re-commitment themselves to Rastafarian beliefs, and without the farm in the neighbouring native tribes. This was the area where the preacher, the leader of the tribe of Joseph, really concentrated. As much as old members were reaffirming their faith, new members had to be reached and found too.
The neighbouring nomadic tribes scattered across the plains were aloof and indifferent to the new community. They wondered why normal people would leave their land and settle in another man’s motherland. Even before the preacher had established contacts worth them, already a white American missionary had come and settled amongst them. They ate his biscuits, drank his juices, gulped his canned beef and wore the clothes he brought; but did not succumb to his antics, nor converted to his new religion – The Sect of Many Waters. Nevertheless, they just kept to their animals and their way of life.
Onward Christian Pilgrims
Marching unto Peace…
The familiar lines of the song had been changed because “Soldiers” sounded more war like to the nomads. He had also replaced “Good Christian Men Rejoice” with “Good Christian Friends Rejoice” for fear of feminist backlash. Truly, the missionary was very sensitive.
P46ff. they make a spiritual journey.
“…Izzie liked all these. He had sort become very zealous in matters religious. It became part of him. He asked so many questions and got so many answers. He remembered the pilgrimage to the Biblical Holy Land where the ‘Burning Busher’ the place where Moses saw the bush burning, without being consumed by fire amazed him.
One of the elders, Simeon, who had accompanied him and the preacher, asked them to remove their shoes, for it was a holy place. Simon, since then, has been walking barefooted until his soles have huge cracks. He threw his Rebooks and Nike since they symbolized Babylonian bondage. He wore skin, ate honey and locust and inorganic food as well as encouraging others to do the same thing.
They went to Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Mt. Sinai and River Jordan. Once crossing the Jordan Bridge, the Preacher stopped to look down the river. An Israeli soldier came close by.
‘Hey!’ he ordered! What are you looking at?’
‘I am looking for the twelve stones?’ the preacher said.
‘What twelve stones?’ He puzzled soldier asked.
‘Don’t you know your history?’
‘Ooh come on now! My mother believes in that stuff!’
‘Too bad’. The preacher declared.
‘Why too bad?’ the puzzled soldier asked in bewilderment.
‘Because if you knew what they represented, you would not be in the mess you are in now.’
The soldier cocked his gun ready to shoot and ordered them out before he shot them.
They also visited Mt. Horeb where God’s prophet challenged 450 false prophets to a duel. They walked in the wilderness for forty days so that Simeon’s feet hardened and cracked the more. With his nails outgrown, his beard and hair unshaven, he looked more of an ogre than a human being.
Before they left Jerusalem, they were impressed by the evident devotion and piety of a Jewish man was praying before the Wailing Wall, the last remnant of the great stone rampart that King Herod built to protect his famous temple, which was nevertheless destroyed in AD 70.
‘Do you pray here everyday?’ the Preacher asked.
‘Everyday, I come before these holy stones and pray for peace,’ the man said, ‘For the peace between Arabs and Jews, for peace among the communities, and for peace of the world.’
‘And are your prayers answered?’ Izzie eagerly inquired.
‘Nah.’ Growled the Jew. ‘I might as well be praying to a brick wall.’
They left him alone with his cynical smile and proceeded on.
‘This is Masada’ the preacher announced, at their last day of the pilgrimage.
‘Dis ya place bredrin Blondie sang of old?’ Simeon asked and hummed the tune.
‘Sit by di Dead Sea
And rise up wid de birds from di East,
and clean up ma sins while di birds si-ing
I’m gwan a walk up to di top of pillar of sacrifice
Coz I know nou life ain’t no dice
Yes I know nou life is a sacrifice
witness di rising sun from Masada
‘Bless me eyesight! Simeon shouted when he saw a dreadlocked Israelite.
‘Ow yo feelin’ over dere?’ he greeted.
‘Irie bredrin’ came the reply
The smell of ganja came in whiffs and Simeon could not hide his joy. ‘Ya smell it?’ He said to the preacher.
‘Yes, sire!’ replied One G.
‘Smell it? Cool smell.’
‘Yes, man’ Izzie agreed.
The Rastaman was sitting keeping watch over bottles of dark substance labelled ‘Roots wine’ a large notice of indifferent lettering announced the contents of the drink and its mostly aphrodisiac and healing properties.
‘A cyan sell yo some ting? He said.
‘Yes man, give I a spliff mek yo rizzla a gwan’
Simeon said. ‘Is it di ital Callie from de virgin land? He asked after taking it subtly.
After smoking it, the preacher agreed that the smell was good as the taste. They then went to the Red Sea, visited the mountain crossing where the children of Israeli had followed as they were pursued by the Egyptians. They visited the Giza pyramids and other places too.
Izzie was amazed by the remains of the legendary Axumite Kingdom, one of the most powerful kingdoms on earth established between 200 and 100 BC. The legendary Queen of Sheba had reigned in the region eight or nine centuries earlier, and the Old Testament tells the tale of her journey of king Solomon’s court in 980 BC with 700 camels loaded with gold, ivory and other gifts. Izzie saw her bathing pool and substantial remains still visible.
The preacher informed them with relish of a mystic; ‘the kingdom stretched into parts of the Arabian Peninsula. This is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.’
They saw massive obelisks among a few tangible remains of the past glory of Axum, an area lying in the shadows of the Adowa Mountains where emperor Menelik II defeated the Italians in 1896 – ‘the greatest modern victory of an African army over European force.’ He declared to the dazzled Izzie.
‘Africa us great’ Simeon assured. ‘The united states of Africa, I have a dream of Africa. Di western countries should return to the continent all the treasures that they had stolen! Tourists, scientists and researchers go and look at these African treasures at museums and pay money to see them, this money belongs to Africa.
Countries that insulted Africa and treated African as slaves should offer an official apology for all the human and material losses that they inflicted. we should have veto rights in the 15 members, security council where only five permanent members can block resolutions?’
All these impressed Izzie; The fact that if Africans spoke with one voice, they would be able to defend and safeguard their collective interests in the third millennium. That the whole wide world of Africa was becoming increasing conscious of the imperative need to strengthen its continental organisation and to rekindle aspirations of its people for further unity, solidarity and cohesion in larger community of peoples…”
P49-50. Repatriation Elder Levi.
“…Back in Shashamane, the talk of repatriating the bodies of Marcus Garvey was in the air. Ten Ten and other dancehall artists were already composing music to that affect; the used to sing
‘I cyan overstan’ why Garvey a guo be buried
in a church compound!
what a subversion of Garvey’s core being!
what he believed and what he taught and preached
dat di last ting him could ave wanted
Garvey should not be buried by di shit-stem
he died fighting
ruling elite dat dey fought till their last breath
family members who opposed dey vision and
An elder Levi especially was very vocal in the move. He vowed one day to dig up Marcus Garvey and other heroes. He influenced Ten Ten to make a vow also to speak to the family of late Bob Marley to exhume the prophet’s body and bury it in Shashamane. He was heard saying from time to time, inside and outside the temple.
‘Religious friendship is bigger than social friendship. Religious friendships challenge familial ties. Our family members need not believe in our ideology and beliefs. Our family may be opposed to our vision of the society we should live in. we have heard of fathers who disown their sons or daughters who are activists, so that they can save their business from powers that be. We have known family members who urge their activist daughters and sons to apologies to the regimes that have oppressed them.
I have asked Release Religious and Political Prisoners Pressure Group, and the Natty Bongos to sing at my funeral the famous Rasta anthem;
‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds…
How long shall dey kill our prophets?
While we stand aside and watch’
For activists who do not practice Christian faith, they run the risk of some family member saying that they converted to Christianity on their deathbed and I’ve some church clergy confirming that lie.
The time has come for a Rasta to struggle against the dictatorship of the family, clans, systems, ruling groups and their fellow traveller when it comes to their burials.’
Ten Ten dismissed the lies that his Prophet Bob Marley, who lobbied for the Jamaican government to legalise ganja, died of the same. He dismissed as ‘malicious allegations’ that ganja was the cause of his death; that after smoking it for a long time, he developed brain cancer. He extolled him as a defender of the helpless in society. He vowed to use his music to lobby for Bob’s remain to be brought and buried in Shashamane.
During that year’s Bob’s anniversary day the ever voices Levi, was interviewed and had an international press release;
‘You say sir that Ethiopia is a mystery of God…’ began the interview.
Levi quipped, ‘Which have been kept in silence through times eternal. The earth’s the Lord’s and the fullness there of. Ityopia is the spiritual homeland. All human beings originate from Ityopia-dat’s science, dats not some kind religious rhetoric. Dats fact. Dis why Ityopia’s significant coz dats where all of us came from’
‘So who owns Bob, Ethiopians or Jamaicans”
First, Jamaicans, and den fans of reggae across di world, as part of world heritage’ he explained.
‘Does it matter if he’s Jamaican or does it not?’
‘No, it does coz he’s a product to a particular cultural experience- growing up in rural Jamaican, gwan to Kingston, Trench Town, meeting di oppression of classicism, racism and di whole weight of struggle to survive, and therefore you get sense of survival and di urgency to succeed in the Jamaican experience which become generalized because the people in di globe have picked up his message; ‘get up stand up for your rights’ as universal struggle for emancipation.’
‘So how do you regard his family’s decision to rebury him in Ethiopia?’
‘Dat’s repatriation to ancestral homeland. Rastafari movement, whenever, even in Africa, is di fundamental principle. It’s a philosophical commitment to the nation dat one is in exile in the Caribbean, in America, Europe, all dis is Babylon. And di home for de African in di Diaspora is in di continental mainland. If Rita is, right that it was his dream then it is compatible with Rastafari philosophy. Dat’s just a small conflict between nationalism and Pan Africanism. Repatriation is must.’
All those who cared to listen were always treated to the slow background music of the legendary song ‘Exodus’ to motherland in a Diaspora rhythm.
‘Movement of Jah people
We gonna walk di creation
Open you eyes, and look within
Are you satisfied?
Wid di life you livin’
We know where we are goin’
We know where we’re from
We a leavin’ Babylon
We a goin’ to our fatherland.
Another brother Moses
Gwan across di Sea.
And this made sense to their ears-that Africa was for Africans-home and abroad!
**P64ff. Elder Gad.
“…The fourth elder Gad came to be known as a cultural ambassador. His teachings and talks centred on keeping the cultural issues alone, what he called ‘the repatriation to Africa as the return of the native’s come-back to take up leadership roles Africa leaders had abdicated.’
…‘The oppressed and the exploited of the earth maintain their defiance?’ He said. ‘Liberty from theft but the largest weapon wielded and actually daily unleashed by imperialism against that collective defiance is the cultural bomb. The effect of a cultural bomb is to annihilate a peoples’ belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland’.
Describing himself as a courageous African mind and patriot, Gad went on to say, ‘imperialism presents itself as the cure and demands that the dependant sing hymns of praise with the constant refrain, ‘Theft is Holy’ indeed. This refrain sums up the new creed of the new-colonial bourgeoisie in many ‘independent’ African states. We have to respond to this through resolute struggle. The people have to speak the united language of struggle contained in their languages.
They must discover their various mother tongues to sing the song;
‘ A people united can never be defeated
Africa had great queens we know
Search her history and it will show
If you know not from whence you came
You are doomed to live in shame
Talk about the great Queen of Sheba
Ruled From Arabia to Ethiopia
Fell in love with Solomon
Brought forth Selassie’s fore father Menelik
Almena rode in troops and horses at war
Conquered enemies near and far
Great Queen of the Hausa land
A woman as capable as any man
Enzinka of Angola
Fought the Portuguese as a guerrilla soldier
At age seventy she was still on top
Portuguese fought Enzinka dey could not stop
Cypriano of Jamaica ruled the Caribbean
When an Englishman came, all she did was keep him back!
When we were children, we thought Cleopatra looked
Exactly like Elizabeth Taylor, now we are wiser
And understand, Cleopatra was really an Egyptian’
The elder then was in full agreement with most reggae dancehall music stars like Ten Ten about the inseparability of political action and action of singing. His ‘words of wisdom’ and ministry testified in John Keat’s words, his abiding ‘anxiety for humanity’ has in truth epic passion, and martyrs himself to the human heart, the main region of his ‘song’ and ministry.
Later in the temple when most of the elders had spoken, Gad had been most vocal with the newfound unity in Shashamane. As the Preacher remembered the word of ‘unity and working together’, he tried to understand these words and his ministry in vain. But that was neither here nor there-that was past.
‘We must never normalize divisions’ Gad said, between us, divisions that were created by colonial forces. How for instance, could a Kikuyu and Luo people have been traditionally enemies when they have never even shared borders?’
He wondered ‘Africa is currently enslaved by the burden of economic debts to the rich nations of the West. The slavery of 17th century has been replaced by the debt slavery of the 21st century. Shashamane and Africans must build unshakable and unwavering unity. We have to liberate ourselves from this modern–day foreign enslavement.
‘This is the unified message I have to consistently try to preach. Language and the need for Africa to recovery its memory through a reconnection with African languages. That has been my primary message. I would like to reconnect with cultural struggles of Shashamane. I think this is where I can contribute most.
The Shashamane spirit is not dead, go to India, go to Malaysia, to the Philippines, among people who are struggling to change the economic and political bases of their lives and mention the word ‘Shashamane’ and you will see instant recognition. Those who destroyed Shashamane Shrine wanted to destroy what the Shrine stood for people’s empowerment and people’s enrichment. How can that die?
I look at Shashamane in the context of Africa and the globe. I have come to see even more clearly the meaning of Shashamane in the national, continental and global context. I was moved when some intellectuals in Asia around the concept of multiversity and multiword decided to bring out an intellectual newsletter of dialogue and information for progressive focus in the third world and named it Shashamane. Shashamane, rooted in the unity of ordinary, working people across ethnic, must see itself as part of East Africa, Africa and the world.
To return pride in mother tongue is a gospel we must preach. A good manner of present generation specially the youth, hardly speak or understand their mother tongue and this trend worries African scholars in the Diaspora. We must promote African languages because this is a crucial element of liberating the continent from colonial aftertaste…
‘Movement against All Odds’ will be a call for action by national, international, academic and corporate institutions and foundations to promote the continued growth and development of Africa’s languages and heritage and culture into the 21st century.
Shashamane will be a celebration of the fact that even in the most formidable barriers have not been able to eliminate African languages. Singing and writing in African languages goes back to the foundation of Christianity before it was expanded to the western world, it was there in Ethiopia. The Shashamane Language industry will be built upon such a background.
Let’s go back to the cultural basics and we shall be taking of celebrating the survival of language, the literature and wisdom which will ‘Survive against All the Odds and against Them’.
From then on Elder Gad became the language political activist. He would go to the parliamentary public gallery to lobby for the total nationalisation of local languages and the ban on English as an official language. He even had debates on the parliamentary precepts hoping to get the attention of the lawmakers. Once they met with Keroro wa Keroro a cultural activist and local language protagonist. This is what the press liked most to feature in their news item.
“V.S. Naipaul has said of black literature that once it has made its profitable protests, it has nothing left to say”.
“Like Wole Soyinka, I have no hesitation at all in saying that because he had said a number of things discreditable in terms of the black race, and black self-regard, and self-esteem, so I have no apologies to make for singling out V.S.Naipaul-he is the unfortunate creation of the British establishment. He considers himself a British and they too consider him a proper Englishman”.
“So what is your view of the debate over the language in which African literature is written?”
“I advocated and still advocate the use of Kiswahili as a common language for Black Africa. Because for me, Black Africa is a nation, is a tribe, is a community. In spite of all the various cultures that exist there, Black Africa is an often neglected entity which exists in it’s own right, and constitutes a nation.
I don’t believe in going back, and elevating a local language. The function that a language serves, at the moment, whether in Ghana, in Nigeria, our indigenous languages, those function are perfectly legitimate. The promotion of literature in those languages is absolutely important there I no question, no dispute at all about that. But in addition, I believe the solution to this question is to have a common language, like Kiswahili for Africa…”
P88ff..soon they have a voice in parliament to bring out their message.
At a vantage point where Elder Gad was sitted, he witnessed another furore brewing when an assistant minister in the office of the president strolled into the chambers clad in a short-sleeved kitenge shirt and black trousers. The low-necked light blue shirt was chequered with grey stripes at the sleeves.
As soon as he took his seat, an MP shot up to seek the guidance from the speaker on whether the assistant minister was decent enough to be in the house. The matter caused a major uproar and the assistant minister Prof.Maji Marefu, was ordered to got out immediately and dress properly. Consequently, a number of questions he was to answer from the floor were deferred.
The speaker wondered ‘What heroism MPs find in dressing improperly.’ The professor, defended himself, arguing he was dressed in the national dress. The speaker sought to know who had declared the shirt a national dress, where and when.
The professor quickly explained that the ministry of culture ‘went through a very elaborate process to determine what our national dress will be. Therefore, here I am in the national dress’
Said the speaker: ‘It is the opinion of the chair that if that will be our national dress, then the ministry needs to go back and think very hard.
Culture assistant minister said that indeed the professor was in the national dress – only that he is not wearing the whole set!’
‘Mr Speaker sir, I know there will be occasion to debate this, but what the professor is wearing is the national dress although it is not the complete set’ said the minister, adding that his ministry is already writing a paper to the cabinet and ‘which will eventually land in the house’.
However, this did not placate the speaker who called the minister to order and said the house was repulsed by the professor’s casual look and therefore described him as ‘stranger.’
‘You can’t even go and teach a standard seven class in that attire’. The speaker said. ‘It is so casual!’
The speaker advised the ministry of culture that whatever national dress it designs, it should ‘make sure that it makes sense’
Another assistant Minister came to the defence of his office of the president counterpart. He asked the speaker whether we, Africans, in order to think that proper dressing is the ‘British mode of dressing’
But was promptly dismissed by another MP who argued that the issue was not about dressing British but decency.
A visibly uncomfortable culture assistant minister pleaded with the speaker to reserve the members comments on the national dress, expressing fear the speaker’s ‘Point that has been made so firmly’ would prejudice debate on the national dress when it is brought to parliament.
The speaker retorted ‘Who allowed you to decree that is our national dress? Who told you it is a national dress?’
The minister pleaded the remarks ‘being made from the chair my prejudice this debate when it comes to the house.’
However, the speaker stood his ground, telling the minister that he appeared to be missing the point, because the issue before the house was not about the national dress but decency.
‘By the way, I am also an African’ declared the speaker, ‘There has not been any declaration of a national dress. I think that whatever you people do, including the honourable professor, you should at least come to the house with something that at least shows decency and seriousness. And I have no option but to kick him out of this honourable House for embarrassing all of us.’
Keroro wa Keroro joined the fray clad in a Mao Zedong Chinese suit and from time to time speaking in Kiswahili, which he was stopped promptly by the speaker. He stood on a point of order to criticize the very clothes he was wearing.
‘Mr Speaker, this suit of mine is Chinese – made, and I do not know the intentions they had when they decided to invent it. I’m sure you must also be wondering why you are putting on robes that make you look like Santa Claus although its not Christmas time.’ he mused, adding, ‘We want African made clothes. In my opinion, the dress the professor is wearing needs to be worn by Africans and I do not see why we are against it?’
But at this point, the speaker got irritated and dismissed him saying it appeared the house was wasting time dwelling on the issue. However, he congratulated Keroro wa Keroro for dressing properly.
However, opposition MP stood on a point of order to say he was not impressed with professor and supported MPs who had expressed outrage with the ‘improper and inappropriate manner of dress.’
‘His chest is exposed,’ said the opposition MP. ‘By any standards, that would not be our national dress. Even if the ministry of culture declared it a national dress, we would reject it in this House because it is indecent.’ he asked the professor to be shown the door ‘to leave us to discuss business.’
‘The speaker ordered the professor ‘to go put on something that will make your colleagues happy and impressed’
Keroro wa Keroro, angered, pointed out that the professor was slated to answer ‘important and pressing pending’ questions from MPS and wondered who would take over that responsibility.
The speaker replied: ‘May be he did not want to answer questions. That is why he came dressed like a dude. He has never dressed like that before.’
Finally, North Area MP recalled that at one point, Keroro wa Keroro was thrown out of the chamber for dressing in a similar fashion, then, the MP said, the speaker had ruled that the house was awaiting a report by a ‘certain’ committee set up to look into the matter. He asked the House be informed of the team’s recommendations.
‘A trend has now started where the chair will start chasing MPs out of the House’ complained the North area MP.
The speaker was not about to give in the matter; ‘While we wait for whatever dress code will be, you certainly must dress decently – whatever the case, it is through the eyes of the chair…’
Oh, colonization! Thought Elder Gad from the public gallery, as the debate on decency raged on. We are still paying a heavy price, even after all these years. We seem unable to move on, leave on history behind us and just get on with things. New books like Britain’s Gulag and Histories of the Hanged, have disturbed our old wounds, have rekindled the demands for reparations for ancient atrocities, but that is a debate for other people. His concern was at a different level – about the colonization of peoples of our minds.
P105ff. Elder Manasseh –Reparation advocate.
Elder Manasseh, whom the authorities described as, ‘The poverty reduction swindler, who made million(aires) in compensations,’ founded the Mau Mau Original Trust, a body that represented veteran freedom fighters, and would collect funds that would meet the expenses in a compensation suit against the British government. Each veteran had been promised millions of shillings for the loss of property during the Mau Mau war. Further more compensation for torture they were put through.
The Elder who had already filled the suit in London against the British government for the atrocities they caused during the struggle for freedom and also taken his case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague where the British accepted liability right then, the elder was applying political pressure to force the British to pay.
All the documentation was complete and were on the final stages of raising the necessary resources filling the writs had already been done. The ad hoc committee was taking advantage of recently crafted Freedom of Information Act in Britain that will allow access to formerly classified information about the British governments in Africa, especially relating to the time of colonization.
The elder had no doubt that the information they had was irrefutably incriminating and the veterans definitely had a case against the British authorities. So far he had over five million signatures purporting to be of the veterans who where abused in those years of colonization.
During the Independence Day in Shashamane, colonial issues were revisited by two very important historical figures. First was by the only Indian who decided to stay on after the elders expelled the others. He had been an authority earlier on and was very vocal on the compensation of Indians in the African Diaspora. The second was by a former British soldier who had changed camps, renounced his British citizenship, and remained in Africa…’
… But things took a turn for the worse when the trio were accused by the authorities of fleecing the veterans millions of shillings as registration and disappearance of the payments made to the three becoming a scandal. They were arrested and faced the accusation of extortion and collecting millions of shillings from victims. The Elder and the Indian law Expert denied the charges but the British, some claimed, had been tortured, changed his story, and denied ever having any association with the Elder and the Indian, nor having links with the Mau Mau Original Trust now linked with the scandal of the Mau Mau Compensation Fund.
The following was his statement released to the press that exonerated him of the crime, which eventually made the authorities to drop the charges and cleared him of either having any intention to perpetrate and incite peaceful citizens-just like a Turk denying Armenian holocaust- or spreading propaganda. He further distanced himself from the activities of the two accused.
P115ff. Elder Issacher.
In Shashamane, true to the Christmas spirit, there was a celebration-their way-or rather the Elder Issacher way! First there was dancehall music and some skits where the ‘good Old Joe’ smoked weed. So did the Magi. So did the Shepherds and everyone else in the stable.
Among his dislikes, Elder Issacher hated the small talk and pretended piety, which characterize cocktails, funerals and religious service – he avoided eating and drinking specially being the end of the year, the festive Christmas superstitious unction in which people wallow to mark events whose historicity taxed his intellect. For even the nomadic preacher knows that Jesus was not born on 25th December.
‘A Rastaman cyan eat on dis dyei because he has to fast’
Issacher told the youth in the temple, ‘Dis festivities and celebrations are pagan which we must conquer with godliness. Constantine, Caesar and other Gnostics baldheads imposed them as birthdays of Sol Invictus a god they worshipped alleged after their conversion to Christianity.
Sol Invictus is Latin for ‘the unconquerable sun.’ He was the Roman carnation of a series of dying and rising salvation sun – gods worshipped throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond to the west up to Gaul known today as France, Hyperborea or Britain and across the Great Sea in Mexico, and to the East up to the Indus, Ganges and Hwan- Ho systems.
… Because it is totally mystical, the birthday of this chief god The Sun – means nothing to us.’ He repeatedly declared to the nomadic preacher.
The Elder himself could not all the date because despite years of intense searching – had not yet found the flesh-and-blood Jesus. But if he could tell the nomadic preacher that, for the early Orthodox church and for all the early Christian Church, the day of nativity was January 6.
As one who loved to find things out, Issacher figured he would try and see how the quiet miraculous birthday of a carpenter’s son in Middle East got tied up to the whole snow and evergreen tree image and this is what he found. And he had come up with so many facts and figures to put on the nomadic preacher table…
… Wasn’t it time the locals Africanized the whole Christmas affair?
And because of all this the elder was not amused by the illegitimacy of the big Christmas fuss.
And to make his point home, he had invited the nomadic Preacher after the rehearsal of numerous plays to be staged and mock his Christians under his direction and production. All the actors chewed Khat as they performed the in weed smoke infested hall…”
P120ff. Elder Zebulun. The veritable prophet of doom.
“…The other one Elder who was vocal in religio-theological issues apart from the Issacher-nomadic Preacher -and played a major role in closing down Shashamane history was Zebulun. Later he would bring his radicalism to the temple and this conflicted with the traditional Preacher’s semantics.
He agreed along Preacher’s unity of religion attitude. He idealized Shashamane’s collective yearning by pursing antipathetic Final Rewards and Last Day stance in order to convince people that the end of time had come. Salvation then became the people’s longing.
When the Rastafarians back in Jamaica distilled all the existing divine forces into a single force called Jah, the contemporary religions called them a cult. Yet these Rastas had merely Africanized the one Creator whom all humanity had worshiped ever since Zep Tepi.
Rastafarianism, which reflected the primordial oneness of all world religion, was in better position to reconcile all the holier-than-thou sabre rattlers of ‘the day’. That was what he called fundamentalism. World’s religions had created divisions. Rastafarianism was fundamental and had nothing to do with racial, gender, class and sectarian jingoism and bigotry like worlds sects…
… Gone was the selflessness of the long robe – clad, the equality of the elect, stringent communism, which would have dismayed even Marx by its insistence on abject poverty, and sharing of consumer goods.
Christianity had institutionalised the atomistic individual who went to church in his ‘Sunday-best’ but ‘Monday to Friday-worst’ demeaned people in slavery, wage labour, war, colonialism, and now, ‘globalization’ all in pursuit of private wealth.
Where worship had been a holistic way of life – requiring above all, goodness in governance and wealth disposal-now it was reduced to liturgy and empty piety.
Such rules taken completely from European paganism – were imbibed by African priests and still demanded as the ‘Christian way’ of doing things-yet Marcus Garvey long advocated an African Church divested of all Europeanised characterised by traditional cultures.’
What Zebulun rejected was not Jesus, that inimitable teacher of righteousness – but only the betrayal of his Syrian righteousness, only the use his name to maintain Africans in slave conditions in order to enrich Europe.
To Africans Jesus was, in fact, to bring him back home, to rediscover the commune when was once-ever since Zep Tepi – the spiritual hub of every African tribe.
‘Whoever said that the European traditions grafted onto the church were what Jesus ordained-but was silent on the communal significance of Golgotha is the real betrayer of the Christ and uttered his name in vain….”’
P130. The end of the times.
As attested, religion and insanity were good religious in the mind. Occasionally one impinged on the workings of the other and the two may produce a volatile result. The mind was apt to go down some wrong way in its search for meaning.
As predicted by One G that Shashamane being the true homeland of the bredrin and sistren would be persecuted, Elder Zebulun saw a vision of the ‘fullness of time’ where he envisioned the end of the world – or and again- perhaps his world. When the police raided Shashamane as predicted, that seemed work on many peoples sanity, coaxing all the crazies from the woodwork and brought with it a twitchy hybrid of spiritualism and sentimental obsessions.
Thus, Zebulun’s ‘Tomorrow Cancelled’ cult sprung up in Shashamane. The bredrin and sistren were urged to prepare for the end of the world and the movement offered an escape route from what they believed to be the Armageddon. They were told that they no longer needed to work as the end was coming to pass.
During that time of Shashamane’s upheaval and uncertainties, the people sought the charismatic and powerful Elder Zebulun since their traditional preacher was too faint hearted to satisfy the wilder kinds of spiritual hungers that attracted at that- the self denial and regimentation of cult life that was said to soften up for the kill.
For while the preacher allowed the people to live inside history, giving sacramental expression to their spiritual longings, Zebulun strained to escape from history through the reconstruction of Zion and a vision of the utopian Ethiopia.
In the waning years of Shashamane those who sought a special kind of spiritual nourishment – those who sought answers to some questions One G could not provide – those who sought reassurance that ‘the kingdom was indeed nigh’ were being thrown out into the margins of spiritual life where they were chewed up by the meat-grinder of the strange phosphorescence.
Zebulun’s followers at their worst believed that a comet seen in Shashamane which made changes times and states, believed that the astronomical oddity sighted by their elder represented to them a harbinger of worse things to come. They acquired a kind of psychosis that played at the drama of the last days and it flourished when Shashamane life was no longer seen as ascendant – their principle argument was: why strive to work and the world was ending tomorrow? Why strive to acquire property while you would leave all behind you?
They were shadowed by glimpses of enemies – the police raid at their temple confirmed their worst fears that the world had come to an end. Anyone beyond the fringes of Tomorrows Cancelled cult or those who dared speak against them were deemed antichrist, the 666 the Gog and Magog against believers that had to be exterminated. Paranoia became his principle instrument of discipline.
Before the raid, the select followers had to be stopped by the from sacrificing a virgin. They had developed a rigid system of discipline where husbands were supposed to give up their wives and vice versa and all young virgins were supposed to belong to the Elder.
They sat about destroying what they had, did not want to acquire more, did not want to work and waited patiently at the temple for the end of the world. It never came.
‘Our seven years of classroom
Here on planet earth
Is finally coming to conclusion’
That was elder Zebulun’s theme song at the temple, impressing upon all the thousand fanatical followers who had gathered at the temple and the drama unfolded, himself on the spotlight not just because he had an idea whose time had come, but the very means to the end itself.
…And so Elder Zebulun opposes the Preacher and joins King Dave in the mountains for the liberation of Shashamane.
“…He likened him to the church all over Africa-blinded by dogma – condemning millions to early grave by forbidding them to use condoms, even when one partner in marriage was infected with HIV, and continued to ban its flock from using contraceptives, even when it was clear that families could not afford to support the children they brought forth.
And the Elder organised his supporters to withdraw into the bush to fight for their rights as they called it. They were joined by King Dave’s men who were at loggerheads with the traditional Preacher as they were more of guarding the ganja plantations at the hilly beaches, which the Preacher had declared assets of Shashamane Farm and pressed for its free use by the bredrin and sistrin of the farm. And the sectarian militia sprung up…”
King Dave’s ganja plantation goes international.
“…Outside the hot Farm, the incredible happened to the cool, serene and beautiful beaches that rocked the peace of the Shashamane.
A young Italian man sauntered along the sandy beaches kicking and picking sand. A can of beer in his hand, he whistled his favourite French tune.
Une kilometre a pied
Ca use ca use
Une kilometre a pied
Ca use les suoulier
After a few days stay in Shashamane, he had learnt to say Mambo Vipi and exchange niceties with the locals. But he loved his beer most.
One day in the dead of the night, the police and the anti-narcotic squad raided a dingy joint. They seized a number of drug dealers, commercial sex workers and idlers…
…Male and female prostitutes competed for white tourists. Small boys hooked the older white women while old men went for small girls – the small boys became hot cakes. The morning of the night started at around 10 pm. sometimes boyfriends would encourage their girlfriend to go out with white men and then proceed to shave the loot.
But what flourished most was the deadly international trade in drugs. Flood gates were open for the sake of the dollar as drugs, arms trade, prostitution and other evils, small and big, turned Shashamane beach into a haven-most owned and managed by Italians in connections with Elder King Dave, sold drugs to customers from Europe and who found Shashamane a safe hiding place from those seeking them out for criminal activities. With big money, they could slip through the police dragnets and judicial systems.
While the drug dealers in beaches, did a roaring business, King Dave, boasted daily from his Shashamane’s ganja plantation base of his invincibility. He became the untouchable, no police officer or judge could touch him. His cheek knew no bounds. Just like his late right hand man elder Naphtali of the Legalise Marijuana campaign, he was known to threaten and even slap journalists and senior police officers.
He was being protected by some powerful individuals up there…”
P140. Keroro wa Keroro, the area MP and the voice of the people, defends Shashamane youths when the authorities blame them for lawlessness.
Four days before the drugs were seized; the CID director dispatched twenty-five commandos airlifted to Shashamane by an MI-17 Russian made, 27-seater police helicopters. A gang, unknown to the police that had been training in the forest, shot down this chopper.
Investigations led more officers to be sent in the forest and hilly areas only to reveal that a gang of youths had been trained on military techniques, were planning to start violence in parts of Shashamane, and caused panic, in the tourism industry.
This looked like an organised militia and was blamed on irresponsible politicking, run away youth, deserters from Shashamane, unemployment, political uncertainty that had provided a fertile breeding for the war, animosity and the rebellion.
A confrontation followed between the police and a group of more than 1000 youths intercepted on the outskirts of Shashamane as they allegedly prepared to attack police stations. Skirmishes broke out as the police exchanged fire with the youth, leaving many dead and scores either arrested or injured.
The area up Keroro wa Keroro downplayed the tussle, describing them as normal thuggery as opposed to militia group as alleged by the police.
The local residents around Shashamane found it difficult to get either milk or bread after 10 a.m. and most thought the shortages were normal but little did they know that the items were being bought wholesale by the gang leaders and delivered to the youths in the training camps in the forest.
The MP claimed that the existence of the gang was a fabricated and a creation of the police. He suggested defensively that since most parts of the country were ‘burning,’ there were certain people who wished to portray Shashamane to be on fire too so that his constituency could be seen to be falling.
But the utterances put him n a collision course with the police, who wanted him to furnish them with more information on what he knew about the youths.
He also added some traditional aspect to the saga when he defended the youths saying the local herdsmen and nomads were known to carry knives while in the village so it was wrong to arrest a person carrying a knife or a machete in the village in the name of flashing out gangs. He said that Shashamane residents were victims of circumstances and that those allegedly found in the forest were from outside the constituency…”
P150. But Keroro wa Keroro has other hidden agendas besides benefiting directly from the tussle.
Keroro wa Keroro always hoped to use the militia for his political gain. That was why he encouraged an assured King Dave of his blessings. However, king Dave being what he was, made events to overtake the MP, and he lost the control of the uprising and in addition, his bid to overthrow the government backfired. King Dave had other motives-especially now than all the Zion Train taxis had been impounded in the city. The government was upon his neck and the minister of culture was missing in action, he had no bigwig for protection except to hang on Keroro wa Keroro, who gave them arms, and organised logistics on government’s positions, especially the raids to police stations and the navy barracks for supply of arms. Many political commentators saw the MP as having ambitions to be groomed as the next culture minister or better still the state security docket, after the incumbent resigned prematurely-an unheard of in these parts of the world. He therefore played the patron to the Khat business from the plantations in the Shashamane hills.
Almost no one in the government would challenge the notion that Rasta encouraged the youth to use force in order to spread their religion. For many days, this had been the perception-or perhaps one should say the fear-of a movement that was on the defensive, both culturally and now militarily.
Crime, violence, chaos, and thuggery was prevalent in those parts of the country. Suspicions by the authorities always pointed to Shashamane but there were no conclusive evidence to that effect. There was always a bitter and sustained struggle from the group claiming that they were wrestling political independence from their colonizers and oppressors. The nomads, most of them Ityopians, and an unknown uprising fought together as the government monitored the situation and stepped in from time to time.
Unknown to the authorities, Natty Revolutionary Uprising Front-NRUF, continued to push westward and eastward to stretch their “Shashamane Empire” as they claimed having failed to do so in the noble task back in the larger Farm. The government forces together with Ityopians and the Uprising met repeatedly in battle-with the NRUF having the better of it as they controlled the mountainous and hilly terrains and used them as their frontiers and fortress.
Enter Elder Zebulun and his clan of Baldin Rastas after their expulsion from Shashamane and the number of the rebels doubled in number as they joined NRUF of King Dave whose youths were merely to protect their interests- mainly Khat, ganja plantations, beach villas and arms and drug trafficking trade. When they combined their forces therefore through common interests, NRUF became an organized force to reckon with, with Elder Zebulun and King Dave as warlords…”
P169ff. the situation degenerates.
The politics of Shashamane had to come to symbolize Martin Luther-Elijah Mohammed struggle. King Dave and the preacher both claimed to liberate the youths, one by armed struggle and the other submission; the other elders had their modus operandi too, and the noble Shashamane degenerated into a conflict of interest zone as each party aspired for the total control of souls without success.
Brazza found himself released from the world of order for the first time in his thirty odd years of existence. The world out there for him had been rough. He had failed to get a decent job even after qualifying as doctor. He had lived harshly with his relatives who had always mistreated him-taking him as an extra burden to feed, clothe, and shelter in the high cost city.
The countryside offered him a refuge. The hills, the rocks, the trees and down in the river did not compete with him. He dominated the whole landscape as far as the eye saw. He was on top of the whole creation, ruling as his Maker had decreed, chewing khat and smoking marijuana-such a simple life was to him the epitome of his existence-what he thought he had missed all his life, denied by the society-the stratified society-that had decided to put beings where they had not requested to be in the first place.
To balance this inequality they had to fight. Putting offensive on the neighbours and disappearing into the forest and hills, which protected them. Besides the two elders had visions from the Most High-good ones-which appeared to them from time to time and guided them on war strategy. Until one day when sometimes these visions would contradict and cause big differences in the interpretation. Things would look unpleasant in the forest as the politics of Shashamane was brought in some fighters became hard to control as no logistical strategy was communicated.
During the last day of the Repatriation Week, there had been unusually heavy police presence in the hills and the surrounding areas. They had encountered one another in the past and often the police would in one way or another retreat. This time though, they looked determined to hunt them down, as they looked disorganized. Their resistance could not last for long and they went underground attacking and retreating in small pockets. Though the army outnumbered them, they were not about to surrender yet.
Then to break the camel’s back, word went round-exodus; ‘movement of Jah people from a lesser war to a greater one-that he who ran away would live to fight another day!’ King Dave had been caught in a heavy fire and his whereabouts unknown even by his closest lieutenants.
Brazza became like the proverbial frog, which liked water; but not when it was boiling. He fled with his group of fighters up the mountains where they would find shelter in the caves. That was the night of fire down the hills in the direction of the Farm, lighting the completely dark face of the earth, frying and roasting, hot like in its belly. They got themselves captured when they went to investigate the inferno…”
P178ff. Ten Ten, as with most of the youths, is caught up in the inferno.
“…When Sue’s mother woke up to comb her hair in the mirror before her dresser, every morning, for the past few days, she saw in that mirror beside her sleep-softened face, the blackened face of a burnt young man- a photograph clipped from a newspaper and taped to her mirror. What she did not know was that it was the picture of, “Ten Ten chained to his hospital bed,” as the caption, read, had seen worse images than all she had seen in her entire lifetime of forty years.
All she could see in the photograph was the smudged triangle of a face from his eyelids to his lower lip. The rest was bandages. She could not see the expression on his eyes. The bandages shaded them. The story headed ‘Man burned for a second time’ began, “why does God hate me?” the chained Ten Ten asked from his hospital bed. “When the flames engulfed the entire building, I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it! I said, ‘No! God could not do this again for me!’
He was in the burn ward, in serious condition. She did not know even if the young man would live. He had been burned before. Three years earlier by flaming gasoline explosion at the infamous Mount Zion-Elder Nahpthali’s residence. For months, he had been having his body restored and his face remade in dozens of operations. He had been a boy and then a burnt boy. He had already been stunned by what could happen, by how life could veer….”
**P185. when Shashamane falls into ashes, Sista Nice goes back to streets to peddle herself.
“…It crawled with shadowy characters. Most had bloodshot eyes-the exemplification of those who had graduated from the life’s school of Hard Knocks. No pretentious tastes there-cheap liquors was the standard drink. A stranger bought her a drink and she distilled a self-brewing friendship. Most of the patrons there were now the young professionals who went to Asia for Higher education. Others were civil servants drinking away their golden handshakes. The rest were the street-wise operators of Sufferiation Street’s underbelly. One had to be tough mohine or an adventurous cookie to venture there.
Across the street-she avoided Paradiso- too many bitter memories-and edged past Ras Biggie club up the 30 winding upswept stairs where Papa Shaq-a dingy joint that swept her into time capsule back to the hedonism of five years earlier.
It looked as if it hadn’t survived the status quo onslaught-it aspired to bridge the generation gap with the concept of two clubs under one roof separated by a sound proof door-one could dance from one floor that played rhythm and blues to the other golden oldies for the old guns.
It was definitely a popular place-if the many revellers she hunted were anything to go by…”
“…Thereafter she hit the road again-two street girls keep themselves warm as a dozen street families still awake begging for anything.
The dark green banana leaves proudly display Khat placed on the table by the traders, who by example, are chewing excitedly and chatting out their cloud nine experiences. She could not afford Khat everyday nowadays-she had only fond memories of her hey-days high life when she was young, entertaining more than ten clients a night, chewing, drinking and partying. Two girls were kissing inside the telephone booth as she ponders her next move. She knew the older girl-a sugar mummy preying on young girls-a Sexploiter, she gave twenty shillings to be kissed and fondled in her private parts.
Brenda was chewing away deep into the night. Collecting the Khat that had been thrown by the chewers in the veranda and chewed excitedly. She let out a piercing shrill from time to time. The cold beat her bare back but she seemed comfortable as she danced to the dancehall riddim coming from Da Chewing Nest-the pub where the chewing patrons were hanging out.
It was a Chewers’ Paradise as it was housed on canopied extended balconies and open verandas. Attention was paid to pay-satellite TV to colour regimes, comfy seats, waiter behaviour, and ambience to accommodate the chewers’ tastes whose numbers kept increasing because most clubs avoided the chewers ‘mess’-litter. It had no dancing floor-chilling out there was more geared towards drink-chewing than dancing-without a cover charge, a club with a dancing floor could attract idlers when income was pegged on chew-drinking – they sold Khat too in the several freezers.
Her next stop was Nkrumah Road’s Johnnie Cool. The client was predominantly non-African and the music classical rock. She was easily singled out. There was tight security and a well-built man roughed her up. After a brief exchange, another bouncer, who was a bit reasonable, allowed her in to burn her money and luck. Nevertheless, she got the feeling that she was unwanted especially from the cold stares, she got from the call girls who were part of the changing face of the city’s nightlife.
In there were of two types-the warrior type like her, who spoke in sand peppery voices, frequent in sleazy downtown holes but sneaked sometimes there, and chic, baby bottom skinned twenty-something who considered this their territory. She surveyed closely and drew a thin line between a college, working class and a modern career call girl. Their mannerisms, sense of fashion and language were subtle and more or less the same.
Unlike her-referred there to as riff ruff counterpart-they never made a move on a client. The older and more ingenious ones were no longer predatory about men. They even made client booking from their phone books in between analyzing the La Liga, Seria A, UEFA champions League, English Premier League, Carling Cup down to Division One and F.A…”
“…The crowd danced along the lyrics as the youths visibly encouraged by the apparent popularity elevated his jigs with some dancing acrobatics. Willy Walla monitored the situation from his perch of Big Brother screens upstairs looking for trouble makers-not that he expected any as the peaceful fans listened to the message and meditated upon it. Ten years ago would have been different as roots reggae was identified with the ghetto poor and so the well-to-do kept off. To worsen matters, hooligans who were not genuine Roots and Culture lovers invaded the reggae halls.
The wildness and the ghetto mentality of the revellers was “a ting fi dem dyez” as he put it, and Paradiso tried to attract the working class and mature people with their families by charging a higher entry fee to lock out the ruffians. The late King Dave’s policy of giving free access to every sorts of roughnecks had caused chaos in the name of Ras-Tafari.
However, this acceptance of reggae into the mainstream music society was long overdue; the gradual facelift came because of Paradiso’s weekly shows. During the absence of Shashamane youth, the clubs shows topped the music ratings, and then other clubs realized that there was a niche that wasn’t catered for. Suddenly even the up market ones started to play reggae.
Mix mi down mr op-yare-tor mix mi down
Mix mi down in a style n fashion.
An upcoming Nasty Dread was on the stage ‘warming da mike’ in readiness of his ‘tru blakk’ jigs.
Na falla fashion fi regae-holics
We a burn da flame lighter in da air
Fire burn da wicked Baby-wrong
Da men who sleep wid adda men
We go a fire-burn da wicked
Dem wicked a gwaan, dem gays,
Rootsman cut short the youth man’s performance after getting security alerts from Willy Walla-that the song was controversial-elsewhere the homosexuals had rioted, protested and demonstrated wildly demanding apology for ‘the sexual harassment’ of minority groups-it discouraged them from seeking information about HIV/AIDS. Rootsman ingeniously displaced the youth:
Yout en yout, I bring to yo announcement. Are you feelin’ Irie?”
“Yess-sire! We a feel irie” thundered the fans.
“Give me my pocket Bible, from my leather jacket coat…,” he asked a bouncer.
“It says in Mark 11:26 and I read. If you are heavy laden-if you have dem da burden of R and B music, if you have hip-hop burden, blues, jazz, name it, and you are tired of these, mek you come to Da House of Jah-Paradiso, and you a guo gyet Rootsman and Willy Walla, and dey will give you de rest” He paused.
“Do you wa-an a re-est Jah people?”
‘Then listen to da dra-aa-mm en byeee-zz, da sound system, from da one and only Willy Walla…a play you da new riddim in town! We a only play da latest…syek I bredrin!”
Willy Walla played the new rhythm to the jubilation of the fans.
‘She jos a ning’i ning’i nang’a nang’a’ the music went.
“Dis ya music”, he cut in, “dis a brand new riddim in town, Jah people, jos like da reggae-on-da-river-riddim, watch dis ya riddim-Jomyekans a guo watch it-it a guo go till da top of da chart” he made his prediction.
She jos a ningi ning’i nang’a nang’a
She love a fuss a fight…
“Come again ma selector, Un a play me da riddim from da top!” said Rootsman. “We lead and others follow. Da riddim yo a hear it fi di first time. We a play di new tunes-not songs-others will play yo after you have listened to it. Yout en yout, trust Paradiso-da House of Reggae-syek I rait-a-nou!”
The enthusiastic crowd danced and sang along to the sound system. Willy Walla let the music play a while and then mixed it expertly with ‘let-da-music-play’ riddim and this enchanted the revellers wildly as they danced only to the drums and bass.
Meanwhile Rootsman was negotiating diplomatically with Nasty Dread to make him understand that Paradiso did not play separatist/segregation lyrics. He was ready with another hit in no time.
“Who dey?” Rootsman emceed. “Who-o dey, tell me say youth!
“Eshu-elewa! Ogoo-gogbo!” chanted Nasty Dread.
“Yes sire, ye ye ye. Lord a mercy wooy! Mek we hit da botheration riddim”.
The yout man came again in he stage.
Wa a bo-thera-tion wot a gwa-an
Mi no waan no dibi dibi
Dem a bleach dem a bleach
Dem a bleach dey skin
Dey a look fi brown
Dey a look fi white
Dem a bleach dem a bleach
Dey a look fi pale
Africa dey no bleach no soil
A land of milk and honey
America dey a bleach wid jik
A land of milk and money
“Yes sire”. Rootsman cut in yet again. “syek I rait-a-nou, lovers gyet fi ready-in come Love-volution wit ya dance hall lovers rock riddim..”
gyal a way o go a gully fi?
Haffi get di gyal yah
A cyan love-volution fi yo
Cool down di pyace likkle gal
Tell me say hush darlin’
Likkle byebi duon fi cry
Am gwaan a tell yo why
A love-volution… love-volution…
The lovers who had been waiting for this moment filled the dance floor. Willy Walla watched from his perch enjoying the new rhythm that had set ground for the unprecedented acceptance of reggae music-as it changed the negative image. The new style was about love and the positive ways of the world, which the upper class identified with. Moreover lovers-rock and dancehall were reincarnations of
Love themed roots and blues music in a mixture of soft reggae and slow jam format. Love-volution popularized them by recording copyright versions of numbers by famous old blues artists.
“Lord a mercy woo-oyy” Willy Walla said, “Rait-a nou… in come Lady Katosh, featuring our very own Roots man.”
The couple took to the floor and danced like nobody’s business.
“Yaga yaga yo” Roots man said.
“Woo yoo yoo.” She began.
“Woo yoo yo” thundered the crowd.
“Woo yoo yoo’ she asked again looking at the crowd who were now wild with cheers.
“Woo yoo yooi yoi yoo”
“Woo yoo yooi yoi yoo”
“Wo yoooo-o” Sister Katosh asked in her turn.
Na waan did tell yo fi roam di street
But dat is wen di music is so sweet
Da music so nice yo dont waan fi di mornin’
Da music so right you doh cyare fi di dawnin’,
Ow does it feel…
[2 b updated with the conclusion]