The Kingdom of Bananaland by TT

but known here as Veracious poet

A review

But first a story. Many of you know my complains about poetry. It is not that I couldn’t understand poetry, I think it was my teacher of literature who maybe did not try to make poetry interesting. It felt much harder than plays or novels. Or maybe, I was the problem it could be an attitude thing and I have not been able to cure myself of that attitude. I tell you this because it is important for this post.

I hope my friend will make the anthology available for sale soon or if he decides to be generous to make it available to all and sundry.

The Bananaland is an anthology of poems. I want to start with the epilogue

Man is indeed capable of great feats
But he is an animal, a political animal.
And all the wrestling is with himself

I find this a great ending to an anthology of poems that in the main make me quite sad. Sad because how accurately they describe the situation in Africa and sometimes the world in general.

Having said that, and this I will only say once, I understand the artist can take poetic liberties in his choice of characters and the names he or she gives them, but the choice of ape and banana ring too close to me of a history of racial disrespect, if such exists, where although all humans are great apes, the colonizer, the racist has always seen the African person as more ape than they. There was, I think, in a football match somewhere in Europe where a banana was thrown at an African player for one of the teams which was interpreted as a racial attack. To that extent and that alone, do I have a problem with the choice of apes and bananas in this great anthology, for great it truly is.

In this short anthology, of about 60 poems that can stand on their own, or can be read as a story, one truly sees the African nation state as it is currently. The nation buys weapons in the guise of protecting the citizens from external aggression but the moment there is dissent, these guns are trained on the citizens, whose taxes were used to buy them. I agree with his constant refrain that the ape is truly stupid.

He is right on the mark when he writes elections mean nothing in Bananaland. The elections, are for him, nightmares. And I agree with him. Look at us, we have gown through two farces of elections to have the same thieves in office, whose only goal, as he says is the case in Bananaland is personal enrichment. The citizens be damned.

In Bananaland, they say we have fertile soils, a big workforce but we import bananas. Kenya imports maize from Mexico. That’s not the tragedy. The tragedy is that when farmers have harvested their crop, the national cereals board, the same idiots who will be importing maize, will do almost zilch. The farmers will sell their output at throw away prices. Because they are not in the business to keep making losses, they stop growing maize, then the idiots in government turn around and tell us some percentage of the population is not food secure. You would expect that these idiots would invest in agriculture, encourage people in rural areas to till their farms, provide necessary extension services to improve production, but nah, they steal and as for our country, they steal by borrowing loans which future generations will pay.

The current regime employs fools generally. I can say this without fear of contradiction. I can also say it hates thinkers. As in Bananaland where the author says the thinker is disdained, so it is in many African countries. Moi’s regime exiled, imprisoned, tortured intellectuals. Muigai’s regime has excelled that instead of doing that, it employed school dropouts to be at the helm of driving policy. Even our ancestors would disapprove this. They were not literate but they were knowledgeable. You cannot have an ignoramus lead. Our communities would not have long survived had they been led by idiots. This regime has made idiocy its greatest motto: in stupidity we rule. Somebody should say that in Latin. Mottoes sound almost sexy in Latin.

Two issues VP treats exceptionally well is reason and its place in human progress, and here before Brian asks, I mean with progress a society where freedoms are guaranteed, access to healthcare and decent housing are guaranteed and where the standard of life is acceptable. People are not starving because of poor planning and such like. His treatment of how Christianity has made the African subservient waiting for a heaven, suppressing his reason and initiative speaks to my heart.

He writes, and I almost want to shout with him, on the mountaintops

If one doesn’t like his or her living condition here on
Earth he ought to change it before death knocks
On his door and drags him away into hades.
One needs courage to change one’s circumstances.

That Christianity promises a heaven where there is gold, milk and honey, things which my lecturer would call goods of ostentation means the poor person is contented with their miserable existence here as long as a heaven is guaranteed. I would even propose that miserable fellow hastens their departure by killing themselves. At least they will have done one act of courage in their existence.

I wasn’t sure whom the ants were, but either way, I liked the analogies. And I think, with Mark Twain, we can all say, man while descending from all the higher animals lost all that was great. Only saving grace for humanity is it retained the capacities to do that which the higher animals are capable of but no more.

On taxes, the less said the better!

Corruption, nepotism and all social ills that bedevils us do not need much attention. All I will say is they are well dispensed of by our author.

Equality, justice and truth especially their absence is common in Bananaland. The meaning of these words change depending on what side of the political divide one finds themselves. This is a law in all Bananalands.

I laughed at the requirements of kingship and then I looked at the Kenyan situation and laughed much more. A section of the population believes and strongly so, that for one to be fit to lead, they must be circumcised. One would think this would be the concern of those they choose to have sex with, but no, in Kenya, the prepuce is more important in determining one’s ability to lead. I am sure, the ancestor are proud.

Our politics, he calls

Apemocracy means a rule by political apes.

And he hasn’t been more right.

Since, I took liberties while doing this review to start with the epilogue, I will end with the beginning. He writes

Between ape and banana
There cannot be morality,
Ethics, law or constitution.
There is only one thing and
That is desire or instincts.

I hope, VP, that I have done justice to your great work. I also hope that I have kept my word and as such, the word honour can be applied between us.

Thank you for sending me the book.

It was hilarious, poignant and at the same time easy to read.

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Chronicles of YHWH 29: Tupac

Tupac

By 2014, YHWH was completely miffed by Tupac. Tupac was still somehow recording new songs with his former, earthly record firm. So YHWH held a conversation with him:

YHWH: Pac, stop producing more secular music with Death Row Records. You are dead, remember?

2Pac: I’m an Outlaw Immortal – a G-Star forever. Up here in heaven, and down there amongst mortals, All Eyes are On Me.

YHWH: You should join my choir and start singing heavenly hymnals and chorals. Like any other normal dead guy. I don’t like your gangster lyrics.

2Pac: It’s a thug life. My baby mama on the other side cries for my voice. It aint easy – me here, her down there. I search for a Nickel bag of sess weed, spiked with hash, but your angels aren’t packing any. Give me a twelve gauge, and I’ll rule over all of them winged fairies!

YHWH: If you don’t change your ways, I’ll send you down to hell, Pac.

2Pac: Hell is right up in my hood. You wanna send me down there, I aint mad witcha. My homies are all crushing down there, actually. Heard they are all tearing hell a new one, kicking up dust.

YHWH. Sigh. Look, I need you up here so that you can train these angels some new melodies. They’ve been singing the same old songs for a very long time. It’s getting a bit boring.

2Pac: I ask you – are them fairies down with the thug life?

YHWH: They are angels, not fairies.

2Pac: Fairies, angels, leprechauns or spirits, it’s all the same. Same difference. I don’t discriminate. I’m a thug on a mission. If they wanna keep up with a G-Star, they better start downing shots of alazhay.

YHWH: Can you train them, though? Help make their music more… contemporary?

2Pac: Yeah – if there is a vision, there is a way. Nothing can stop me but a slug. I’ll open my poetry armoury, and you’ll pick the first track for the angels. Straight gunning with the lyrics. I’m down with that.

YHWH: Excellent! It’s a deal, then. You train my angels, and I’ll let you have your leafy stash.

2Pac: And the Alazhay.

YHWH: And the Alazhay, of course.

 

(In Loving Memory of The Great Pac)

 

N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.

Lucille 2: La gaudière

Lucille 2

La gaudière

n. the glint of goodness inside people, which you can only find by sloshing them back and forth in your mind until everything dark and gray and common falls away, leaving behind a constellation at the bottom of the pan—a rare element trapped in exposed bedrock, washed there by a storm somewhere upstream.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Dear Lucille;

Can you see the music and the dance all around?

Can you see the melodies, the codas, the rare refrains, the flanged bridges, and the occasional, but unforgettable  reverberations that string together one and all? Do you feel the sea of pure music, abounding all around, permeating all and one, and setting forth basal harmony to all that abide by it? Does the heavenly resonance touch your heart, and quicken it, and leave you in a turmoil of emotions and longings? If you do, Lucille, I heartily welcome you to my world – a world of symphonies, and in which every single sentiment, every single profundity, and every single chord, has a place on the eternal staves of cosmic music.

At one time in the past, you posed a question unto me, Lucille. You asked me what it was that I saw in you, and that attracted me so intensely towards you. Alas, I found myself speechless then, and I asked for some time to actually think over the question. And, in my solitude, I tried to hack away at the question, trying to reduce it to elemental artifacts, as my professional training was wont to do. It is upon this reductionist paradigm that, for many restless moons, your question remained unanswered. Until, one day, I decided to gaze at the composition, the wholeness of the question, rather than at the composites. And lo, the heavens opened up, light came unto my mind, and the answer came rushing at me, almost immediately:

Lucille, I am privy to a dance that you perform, every single second of your life, and that no one else perceives.

There is an ethereal gait… an other-worldly elegance to your steps, and to your body movements, that I have never observed in anyone else. It is like a unique fingerprint – a primordial signature by which you ceaselessly authenticate and weld your spirit to mine. I have, on various occasions in the past, watched you as you went about your life, and got struck by the sheer grace and fluidity that you seemed to command. Like a ballerina, you’ve always stepped the right way, swayed the right way, gyrated the right way, shrugged the right way, and consistently held me captive, with your movements, the right way. Never have I ever seen a misstep on your path, nor a stumble, nor a tumble, nor a sprain.

There is one particular vision about you that I remember vividly, Lucille. We were on a nature trail, when suddenly, you run up ahead of me, and cast yourself as a silhouette against the setting sun. Then, you executed a perfect arabesque – à demi hauteur, straightened out, pirouetted, and finished off with a grand jeté right across a stony brook. I was mesmerized. But what made the moment even more magical was the fact that, up in the evening skies, a large murmuration of starlings was, right then, performing the most intricate, and iridescent, whorls, swoops and loops… in perfect rhythm with your body movements. It was like both you and the passerines had suddenly, somehow tapped in to a common, ethereal symphony, and were dancing right along to it. Afterwards, we walked the rest of the way in an enchanted… almost divine, silence.

By Tao, it’s said that certain streams hold every single song that has ever been sung. If this is so, then I think that you, Lucille, have somehow bathed in certain such streams, and inherited their precious melodies. For within you, there is a resonance to a cosmic song that never terminates, never pauses, and that never ceases to tug at my soul strings. There is, within you, a harmony and grace that would make even the loftiest angels weep with enchantment. And yet, so innocently and naturally do you carry about your daily chores that I’ve wondered, on many an occasion, whether you are actually aware of this dimension of yourself. Lucille, are you aware that, by a simple flick of your slender wrist, you regularly hypnotize me, and cast me, quite bodily, into Nirvana? And are you aware that, by your presence, every single nature walk feels like a retreat into the verdant fields of Arcadia?

Such is the mellifluous hold you have over me, Lucille, that I have but one recurring dream. I dream that one day, our essences will transmogrify into twin rivers, which will race alongside each other, singing and chanting and dancing to the sweetest melodies ever visited upon mortals. And at the end of our journeys, we will cascade over a cliff, twisting and weaving into each other, until we submerge into the silent pool at the bottom. Upon which, with a final sigh, we will become but part of a larger lake – a large confluence whose myriad tributaries render it immortal. And there, we will ebb and flow, swirl and pirouette, in harmonious eddies, till the ends of time

Yours forever enchanted,

Cystorm Cintanex

N/B: For a related note, see Lucille 1: Sonder

Lucille 1: Sonder

Lucille 1

 “Sonder:

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

— The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


Dear Lucille,

I know that you aren’t aware of this, but today, you passed by me on the motorway. I was just emerging from the service lane into the highway, when you whizzed by at breathtaking speed. I gave chase, but my old Jalopy was certainly no match to your pearl LaCrosse. So I hugged your wake, and tailed you till you disappeared far ahead. And for those precious minutes that I could still spot you ahead, I remained in Utopia.

Lucille, you left behind a portion of your essence on the motorway.

Perhaps it’s my imagination, but as long as I remained in that outermost lane, I could pick up your fragrance. It was a heady sensation – riding a Jojoba and Eucalyptus trail. Memories were unlocked; of idyllic meadows, of scenic nature trails… and of vast savannas. But at one time, a ChromaFlared roadster cut in ahead of me, and the scent abruptly gained some Tiare and bergamot notes. You used to wear these ones too. And once again, yet other memories flooded; of Samoan rainforests, of a great many lakeside walks… and of misty, sleepy skylines. I was enchanted. And I wondered whether I was turning into a synesthetic.

A few wistful wishes run across my mind then. Forgive me, Lucille, but my professional background rendered a rather bland dimension to the wishes. For instance, I imagined myself getting out of the jalopy, standing on the tarmac, and twirling round and round, until I robbed the earth a teeny tiny fraction of its rotational velocity, and extended the day by a single, precious millisecond. Doubtless, by the time I achieved this, my entire mind would be scrambled from all the twirling, but that extra millisecond would be a unique, original, and priceless gift from me to you. And as you experienced that extra millisecond, I would lie on that tarmac, oblivious to the world… having fried my mind completely. And I would smile, contended.

I imagined launching myself into a geostationary orbit, and acting as your personal sentinel from deep space. I would bear up with the freezing cold, the utter silence, and the vacuum of deep space, just to maintain a constant proximity between us. I would master celestial mechanics, and draw up intricate ephemerides of all asteroids. And whenever any asteroid broke free from the belt, and headed towards earth, I’d have you look into the skies, witness the shooting star, and make a wish for us. And upon the dusk of my days, I’d launch myself from orbit, descend towards earth, and turn myself into a shooting star in the earth’s atmosphere.

My mind explored the toil of time on your fragile beauty, Lucille. And I vowed, in my fantasy, to craft a space-ship for you, launch you into deep space, and activate a luminal-velocity space-drive. At this velocity, time for you would come to a standstill, and you would never grow old. Instead, you would transverse the hearts of galaxies, make acquaintances with quasars and pulsars, and skim along the event horizons of black holes. You would peer through the windows of the multiverse, tunnel through worm holes, and surf on cosmic gyres. Truly, you would become ageless, and your true spirit would emerge: the spirit of stellar dust… a heart after my own.

Yours forever enchanted,

Cystorm Cintanex

 N/B: For a related note, see Lucille 2: La gaudière

First they came for me

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller