I met total pandemonium when I returned from work today. Women were crying and wailing and throwing themselves on the ground, the way only African women know how to cry and wail and throw themselves on the ground. Some of the older women were fainting. The men gathered in small clusters, their countenances serious and foreboding. Many of them were drunk and the vacant, zombie-like expression on their faces gave an inkling of their state of stupor. The drunkest among them were hitting their heads against any solid material and tearing off their hair. I was alarmed. I raced as fast as my hunger- ravaged body would carry me. I emerged panting like an asthmatic patient. A neighbor held me long enough for me to catch my breath and told me that Dela, Yaw's eldest daughter, had been knocked down and killed by a speeding car. Yaw is my best friend, remember?
No, it was not a 'hit and run' affair. That's the car over there. Yes, the red Ferrari, gleaming like it'd just came out of production line. And that's the driver over there, the neighbor pointed out. Yes, the beefy, fat-necked, pot-bellied Lebanese, chewing gum and looking so unconcerned. If I'd accidentally killed a chicken, I'll show more emotion than the Arab who had just killed my best friend's daughter was displaying. And why is he holding a pistol like they do in gangster's movies? The neighbor explained that he came out of the car with the gun already in his hand, apparently to warn the people against entertaining any funny idea. Dela, the neighbor continued, was still breathing some life when they got to her, but the Arab refused her space in his car. "Obroni's car was more precious to him than the life of Dela," the neighbor broke down, cried and wiped tears from his eyes.
"Find a taxi." The murderer instructed the people, they told me. How do you find a taxi for an emergency in a ghetto where the only rickety jalopy plies once in about an hour. The wailing continued unabated. Many of the women were crying and rolling themselves on the newly-laid asphalt and many more were shouting abuses in glossolalia. And who's that black girl holding the Arab as though her life depended on his body heat? At least woman instincts should move her to display more emotion than her apathetic companion. Her mascaraed face was rolling over the whole 'show' as though she couldn't comprehend what the hullabaloo is all about.
So, Dela, the daughter I never had was dead. She's like a daughter to me - Yaw's children are like mine, even if I'm too poor to shower them with gifts. Dela is (was, O God!) a pretty thirteen year old princess. I call(ed) her princess and she was my god-daughter. Pretty and comely as they'll ever come. She's been killed!
My neighbor told me the circumstances under which she had lost her life. Her mother, Yaw's eldest wife, sent her daughter to buy some gari so that they can soak it, add twenty cedis groundnut and have their first meal of the day. She'd to cross the new road. The devil also put a speeding car on the road at the same time. My neighbor vowed that the car must be going about two hundred miles (let's divide that by two) and that the driver was holding and speaking on a Mobile phone while a trollop was hanging on his neck. Many people vowed, on their honor, that, on coming out, they saw the Arab zipping his pants, implying that the lady must have been doing something to his manhood (perhaps fellating him), in a car traveling at hundred miles with the driver speaking on a phone! Dela was a victim of our new noveaux rich! Dela breathed her last on the road, close to her father's leaking shack. She was still holding dear to the gari, as if to ensure that her family only meal in the day was not snuffed out like her life.
I asked to be taken to see the body. I don't like dead bodies. I don't know if I am too much of a coward, or if my constitution is just not favorably disposed to inorganic anatomies, but there is no way I could avoid saying my tearful bye-bye to my god-daughter. The body was wrapped in a cloth that must have been white - Dela's blood had soaked it. Seeing the little girl smashed head, I promptly fainted. Concerned neighbor rushed me to the only Pharmacy in our ghost-town (a ghost-town is a ghetto within a ghetto).
None of my neighbors is rich enough to pay the five thousand cedis 'consultancy' fee. What is there to consult on a man who fainted from shock? They found one hundred and fifty cedis in my pocket. With that they bought some paracetamol and forced about six down my throat. Another concerned neighbor rushed for his half-drunk akpeteshi bottle. He threw about half of it down my throat. I bleated like a goat and came to. I have suddenly become the new object of concern. "I am fine, thanks." I said and staggered to my feet. When my drowsy, (and now drugged and drunk,) mental faculties remembered Dela, my tear-duct gave way - I soon joined the women and started shrieking like a banshee.
Life in our ghetto is hard enough to live already without an Arab coming to snuff out the lives of our little ones. No one among us own a bicycle; the road was tarred to link the two posh suburbs between which our slum was sandwiched. Why do they have to drive so fast? Are they afraid that we're going to waylay, molest or kill them? No, we are too busy minding our own business. We begrudge no one not.
Aha, there come the law and order men, now. There were two of them. Their famished appearance did not inspire much authority, though. One held a rickety AK-47, the other carried a baton. Government's agents are bound to take charge of things. The Lebanese did not appeared awed by their arrival. At the approach of the police men, some of the women gained enough confidence to moved closer to the car, some of them started rolling on its fine exterior. The Lebanese got furious, "Hey, Hey, don't come near my car." He bellowed with contempt. He took out a kerchief and started wiping the places where the women touched as though their very hands had defiled his altar. Slapping one of the policemen on the back, his tyrant's voice bellowed, "Hey, are you not going to do anything. You're allowing the monkeys to destroy my car, ehn?" And this is 1997 Africa!
The older, more fragile policeman took a combat position, charging the women with his baton. There were howls of pain as the stick impacted skulls, bones and buttocks. The younger policeman, cradling his AK-47 like a toy, busied himself admiring the expensive car. He touched, felt and smelt it. Giddy with admiration, there's little doubt that he'd have kissed the car if asked to. The Lebanese seems to like it he smiled condescendingly. Satisfied with a job well- done, the Lebanese called the older policeman into his car. Few minutes later, they emerged. A satiated smile was dancing on the beast's face. The policemen didn't even make any attempt to disarm the murderer!
Our chief, (yes, there's a chief even in our ghost-town,) took unsteady steps towards the older policeman, "Aban.," He began but cut short by a savage outburst, "Get back, get back. Who asked you to open your bloody civilian mouth?" Baton flipped in the air and made impact. Our chief was snuffed out like a cheap candle. There was more wailing as people rushed to revive him.
Satisfied with his conduct, the older policeman took out his charge-sheet, "You, you, you," he bellowed pointing to three of my neighbors, "Come and give your statement." The men were stupefied. There was profound fear written on their faces.
I couldn't take it no longer, "What are you charging them for?" I cried out. A baton made contact with my skull and my legs gave way. I was added to the list. We were charged with affray; insulting and attacking a policeman conducting his official duties; threatening misbehavior; destruction of property; general incitement; incitement to riot; constituting general public nuisance; breach of public order and we were frog-marched to the police station.
It could true that we need foreign capital and expertise to develop our 'under- developed' economy, but would someone kindly tell me what expertise and what capital can we gain from a stateless people like the Lebanese? Where in the world has Lebanese capital and expertise developed anything? What can we learn from a people whose own country has been torn apart by tribal and religious strife? Charity, they say, begins at home. If Lebanese are capable of developing anything, shouldn't we expect them to develop their own country first.
So in the name of 'development,' we've turn ourselves into a groveling dog to be raped by any jackal from Euro-America, Asia and Arabia! Because we have so little respect for ourselves, we allow the Euro-Americans, Asians and Arabs to come, mess up our economies and scandalously mess up our women. Go to any beach in our land, what sight beholds us except foreign pot-bellied grand- daddies messing up our daughters.
Oh, they're paying them. With our money, they are paying to rape our daughters and saddle us with the health bills! Let the truth be told, how many Euro- Americans, Asians, Arabs came to our land with their own money?
Because we have surrender our sovereign power to foreigners, they can come and do whatever they like to us. We are too weak to protest - if even we care, that is. We are cowed by the presence of the 'Masters.' How many patriots are writing, singing, painting (doing anything) to denounce this second enslavement of the Black race?
If Lebanese are here to help develop our economy why are they establishing only hotels and fast-food joints, or is there a single Lebanese factory anywhere in this land? Do we need Lebanese to sell us Korean dog-chains, Indonesian mosquito coils or Indian matches, as we see them do in their retail shops that dotted our lands? Mention any shady business, you'll find them there. Let's face reality, these guys are blood-sucking vampires; economic parasites feeding on the weak and the gullible. They will buy foreign exchange at any price -what do they care if our currency becomes worthless in the process?
Yes, they are Africans too. Their fathers and mothers were born here, they will tell you. Hybrid, that's what they are. At the sight or smell of impending trouble, they always align themselves with their Indo-European brethren. They are instantly transform into foreigners as happened recently in unfortunate Liberia (their role in starting and sustaining the tragedy in that country is well- documented). Yes, they always keep a foreign, preferably a European passport, for emergencies like that. Since their 'investments' are always minimal, they have little to lose if they fled our shores.
Since the Cambyses and the Hyskos, destroyed our original civilization in Egypt, the Indo-Europeans have had us on the run. They've being destroying all that we build. The 1440s were just another chapter in the long history of the destruction of the Black civilization. When the catholic pontiffs divined that the enslavement of Africans was in the service of God, slave ships descended on Africa like a swarm of locust. One hundred million Africans (our best and brightest) were uprooted to build the wealth of their 'New World.' Three-quarter of the numbers (about seventy-five million) lost their lives in the so-called middle-passage. We have hardly recovered from that catastrophe when the long-nosed jackals sat at a conference in Berlin to sunder our societies. Fine geometric patterns were drawn and called 'countries,' to satisfy the imperial caprices of Europeans. Let no one tell me about any holocaust. Let no one insult me with a cry of the 'greatest crime against humanity.' At least, 'they' get their compensation and their apologies. The colossal crimes against Africa remained unrequited until today. No one has deemed it fit to apologize to us. We lay prostrate and everyone is trampling upon our prone bodies.
Oh, yeah, they were on a civilizing mission. We're the objects of scorn because we do not learn our history. When a Roman General got to the Anglos, he was so appalled by the savagery of the people that he doubted if he could make a successful slaves of them. There were empires in Africa then. The Anglos are what we call British today. When our fathers were building empires, the Anglos still thought that bathroom were satanic devices! Today, they are going around the world, glorifying themselves as the pioneers of civilization. I do not write this to deride the British; history is my witness. Their scholarship\leadership would want us accept that they are 'developed,' 'First-world,' while we are 'underdeveloped,' and belong in the 'Third-World.' Our humiliation is complete because we use their terms without even feeling a pain!
It is time we start asking for a New\Fair deal. How do we get into the position whereby we are poor while the foreigners are having all the money? The land is ours, so are the resources underneath! We have the gold, the oil, the diamond, the ores, and the timbers. They are supposed to be buying our products. How do we end up being indebted to them? My questions are simple because, no thanks to my ill-education, I am simple-minded. What type of hanky-panky is going on that we end up being debtors to whom we are selling our precious resources?
Yes, they are meeting to relieve our debt burden. Each and every time they come out of their 'Paris Club,' 'Group of 7,' 'IMF,' 'World Bank,' meetings, our debts are ballooning! We are said to be owing US$300+ billion. Where in Africa do we find projects worth this amount or are we to believe that Babangida, Mobutu Sese Seko, Eyadema's corruption have consumed this staggering amount?
How did we end up owing this money? How much did we borrow and how much have we paid back? In demanding their pound of flesh, the shylocks have a on grip on our throats, suffocating the little life left in us. Our hospitals have become glorified dispensaries. Our education system have collapsed. We have created two economically-unproductive classes (the mass of poor illiterates are too weak to be economically useful to our societies; the new noveaux rich class are into speculation and not production.) Economic orthodoxy dictated by Adam Smith Fundamentalists has wiped out our middle class - the only class capable of lifting a society out of economic morass. Market Forces Economists have succeeded in creating an entirely new species of sapiens - IMF SAPIENS
We cannot do anything. Our very lives have been SAPed out of us. We gave no trouble to no one. We no longer even bother to protest. God is up there and he'll intervene on behalf of his children - we only have to re-double our prayers - more candles, please. We stay in our ghettoes, our ghost-towns, where our economic means dictated that we stay. We wake up in our wretched existence, eke out a living from our SAP-induced woebegone world. Drink ourselves silly to mask our miserable reality. We live (pardon me, exist) just for today. We have lost the most important reason to live - HOPE. What's there to live for without hope.
Yet, we keep drawing breath - until that's subjected to the regulations of market- forces! And now, they have to chase us into our hell and snuffed the lives out of our kids, and we are powerless to do anything. We cannot even mourn the way only poor people can mourn - by wailing, shrieking because the rich cannot stand the sight and the sound of our sadness. Baton and AK-47s are used to protect the criminal that terminated the lives of our daughters! We, the victims, are the very ones the agents of 'law-and-order' are maltreating.
Oh, Ancestors, are you up there? Wake up! Look at the mess your children have made of their lives! The oppressors came, they raped, exterminated, pillaged. It took the AK-47s of Neto, Cabral, Kimathi, Machel and the mighty pens of Nkrumah and Azikwe to get the imperialists off our back. They are back. Oh, ancestors, they are back. Once gain, they have successfully taken over the management of our affairs. Or what in our land belong to us today? Our oil fields, our gold and copper and diamond mines have been given back to the rogues. We do not produce what we eat - market forces dictate that we have to import British mad cow. We do not eat what we waste our labor producing - SAP has ordained that we must only produce for exports. We control nothing. Yet, we are happy - We have a flag to show for our independence and museum pieces for our 'armed forces' to march and celebrate our sham freedom. When we die is even controlled by the MASTERS! They can give enough money to one of our ex- convicts to start a 'civil war' in our land - a la Liberia
The Holy Books say "Love your neighbors, like yourself." That's all that was asked for us. No one told us to love our neighbors more than ourselves. Why is it that those we invited to dinner are having the center table and eating the rare- ribs while we are on the floor eating the crumbs! Why are those we invited to sleep sleeping on the bed, while we are on the floor! Or, fellow patriot, when was the last time you saw a starving Euro-American, Asian or Arab on our street? Does anyone of them live in any of our numerous ghettoes? How do Africans always manage to end up in a lose-lose situation? Time for some soul-searching, patriots!