Who can say why I disbelieveAll the make-believe only timeAnd who can say why I feel the needA new path to lead only timeWho can say why they tell the liesThe truth disguise only timeAnd who can say when I will healFrom the ordeal only timeWho can say why they insistA god exists only timeAnd who can say why I resistDon’t believe in myths only timeWho can say only timeWho can say when I will be freeLive as I want to be only timeWho knows what tomorrow will holdWhat will unfold only timeWho can say only timeNo God
first as farce, then as tragedy
I don’t want to be accused of impugning the reputation of the president and deputy president of Kenya by claiming they read anything beyond how to steal our money and security briefs on who was killed where by their security organs. Or which sector can they stuff or is it staff with their minions. Talking of which, I have never heard any of them cite any work. Nada. Nor have I heard them say anything that is worth quoting and no, I am not talking of silly things like mnataka nifanye nini or Ruto wept or security starts with you.
In 1875, Engels, in an essay titled On social relations in Russia, wrote, and I will quote it extensively because it almost applies word for word for our situation in Kenya.
It is clear that the condition of the Russian peasants since the emancipation from serfdom, has become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Russia … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1861 … The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by an Oriental despotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Europe, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire European reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.
If I were to rewrite the above quote to reflect what is going on in Kenya, it would read something like this
It is clear that the condition of the Kenyan worker (citizen) since the emancipation from colonial rule, has become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Kenya … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1963… The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by
an Orientaldespotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Africa, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire African reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.
That, my friends is the state of the republic as it currently stands and as I have said, our leaders don’t read. It is likely they will progress with their heads buried in the sand while giving us the one finger salute.
I want to write an ode to that man, my father, my teacher, my friend and my age-mate.
When I was born, or so I am told because I wasn’t there, in the sense of being cognition, my mother was still in college or had to go back to finish her studies and that is where the friendship began. The stories I hear are of him carrying me everywhere and all. I have not seen photos (maybe I should ask him for proof).
He was my teacher in every sense. You see, he taught in the school that I attended (just like mom) and his lessons started with training us on handwriting. Interestingly, my handwriting depending on the weather, has elements from both of them. But this is an appreciation post for dad.
In my repudiation or religion and questioning of cultural mores and norms, my father has been an inspiration. You see, when one an aunt of mine died at home, following the breakdown of her marriage, some of our uncles came and said, according to tradition, she couldn’t be buried in the home. He told them in no uncertain terms that they could wait for their sisters to die and bury them out of the home. His argument being that while my aunt was sick, she was living in the home, how would her death then mean she can’t be in the home and that was the end of the discussion.
On another occasion, on still cultural issues, when some of the villagers made a demand on him that he follows some practices, he told them unequivocally that he wasn’t consulted when these rules were made and as such, he is free to make his own. So yes, we try to make our own. Thanks to that man, my father.
My father has had a interesting relationship with the church. There are times he went regularly and times he seldom went. I can’t fault my parents for giving us religion. I think they had few options open to them given their fathers and grandfathers before had taken them to church, so it was only a matter of course that we too should go to church. Our conversation when I first told him of my atheism was to ask how I was going to teach my younger siblings about morality. To him, religion and morality were intertwined at the hip and it wasn’t possible to have morals and be irreligious, a legacy of Christianity, I think. At this point in time, I think he has made peace with my irreligion and I think he now knows his children and grandchildren need not go to church to be good members of the society, that religion is not the reason we are moral.
My father, he is a good man. The villagers can hardly go to him with gossip. If you are going to tell him so and so said anything about him or somebody else, be ready to say it in the presence of that person. Maybe he believes each person deserves a fair hearing before they are condemned.
Some of the hilarious moments I recall about spending time with my old man was when some fellow kept coming to him for money for tobacco, he told him he would buy him seeds so he has a continuous supply of leaves but this fellow didn’t want to do the hard work of waiting for his tobacco leaves. Or whenever someone inebriated came to see hi, his condition was they had to be in the same state of sobriety before they could have conversation. And this only meant one thing, you have to come back when sober.
Last year, my father threw a party to his friends. It was his 60th birthday and they were happy. For one, they were not going to a friend’s home to pass their last respects but to celebrate the joys of life. Some of my villagers were so happy that an old man (i think he qualifies to be old) can have a birthday party. It was a good time.
I wish him a long life and thank him for being that good man in our (my) lives.
I love him, my father, I do.
Made the following petition to the Tsar
- the right to vote;
- freedom of speech, the press, and association;
- freedom of conscience;
- separation of Church and state;
- equality before the law;
- freedom to form trade unions;
- the right to strike;
- an eight-hour working day;
- insurance benefits; and improved wages.
- They also demanded an end to the Russo-Japanese War, especially after Russia’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1904
These demands were made by socialists and workers
Something interesting in all radical and revolutionary work is the belief in the working classes to radically transform society for the greater benefit of everyone.
And don’t shoot the messenger.
If the GOP and Democratic party were to merge, what would be the difference in
1. Race relations
3. Climate change
in one of my many interactions on twitter, I was presented with the challenge of writing my take on on individual African’s religious commitments in line with philosophy as apriori.
Disclaimer: I am not a philosopher in the sense of having a technical training in philosophy, but I can philosophize (everyone is a philosopher) or so I tell myself. That while the challenge was to give my take, I will not limit myself to my own thoughts but will reference a few philosophical works I am familiar and finally, this can be filed under a work in progress subject to improvement or deletion.
Second, I give the genesis of this challenge or rather the context of this challenge. In his book, Trends in Contemporary African Philosophy, Odera Oruka notes
Philosophy is apriori and as such gains the liberty to evaluate science without losing its credibility as a discipline.
Which I think is limited only to the field of science and not religion. It is my considered opinion that philosophy was hijacked by the early church to defend its absurd position and to make absurd beliefs appear reasonable to a small elite that could not reconcile what they knew and talking donkeys or transporter fish or virgin births and resurrections of the dead.
Before we continue, we need to know what apriori means? Britanica defines it thus
A priori knowledge, in Western philosophy (does apriori change with region? so we have a different meaning when we talk about Oriental philosophy?) since the time of Immanuel Kant, is one that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience.
I a argue religious commitments, whether African or otherwise, cannot be apriori. I did not, for example, come to the belief in gods apriori but from deliberate effort from my parents at home and my school teachers during Christian religious (mis)education. In fact, I can confidently argue that if deliberate effort was not expended in giving us religion, we would be without one.
To make this point, I will reference two schools of thought; one represented by Samuel BAker that argues the African is without religion and the other by Mbiti who argues the African is religious in all things and point out in passing brief critics of either view. In Wiredu’s Blackwell Companion to African philosophy, Oladipo notes that to S. Baker,
Without exception, they are without a belief in a Supreme Being, neither have they any form of worship or idolatry; nor is the darkness of their minds enlightened even by a ray of superstition. The mind is as stagnant as the morass which forms its puny world.
the African has no religion. In response to which, Okot p’Bitek argued that such entho-geographers looked in the wrong places in their search for what constitutes African religion and philosophy. To him,
the oral traditions of a people, as expressed through their songs, dances, funeral dirges, and material culture,
are what constitute their philosophy of life. To get to the religion or philosophy of the African, one has to look at daily conduct of affairs. In looking for a metaphysics, these scholars were looking at the wrong places and are guilty of trying to impose certain ideas alien to specific situations where they don’t apply.
And in response to this negative thesis by Baker, John Mbiti, foremost among the apologists for African religion(I don’t agree with some of his works) responded thus
Because traditional religions permeate all departments of life, there is no formal distinction between the sacred and the secular, between the religious and the non-religious, between the spiritual and the material areas of life. Wherever the African is, there is his religion: he carries it to the fields where he is sowing seeds or harvesting a new crop; he takes it with him to the beer party or to attend a funeral ceremony; and if he is educated, he takes religion with him to the examination room at school or in the
university; if he is a politician he takes it to the house of parliament.
Again, Bitek one of the foremost critics to Mbiti, in his pointed out that the absence of a word for ‘‘religion’’ in all African languages means that there is no special compartment that the African calls ‘‘religious’’ that is separate from the day-to-day participation in the life-process.
Oladipo also argues that this argument by Mbiti is ‘‘uncritical assimilation’’ of Western conceptual categories in African religio-anthropological, and in some cases philosophical, scholarship. It is further argued that in African traditions, morality is worldly, that is, the people’s conception of what is right and wrong is a product of ‘‘their own moral perception or understanding or knowledge’ and has nothing to do with the gods there being no religious founders or edicts to be followed. It can be said African morality is practical and pragmatic.
In concluding this post, I posit this question by Okot p’Bitek (on christianity but I think applies to the other revealed Abrahamic religions)
How could a religion that has little practical value and also seems in some ways to encourage asceticism provide a philosophy of life for living in the African world?