Confessions 3

If we believe the priests, we shall be persuaded, that the Christian religion, by the beauty of its morals, excels philosophy and all the other religious systems in the world.

Baron D’Holdbach

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. …[This] convention protects them, and so they proceed with their blather unwhipped and almost unmolested, to the great damage of common sense and common decency. that they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly. Nor is there any visible intellectual dignity in theologians. Few of them know anything that is worth knowing, and not many of them are even honest.”

H. Mencken

My first confession was a story of how I became clever, saw the light and left the faith I had been brought up in. The second confession (very Catholic, if you ask me) was a short story of the past. Then there was reflections on Christianity and finally about atheist experience in Africa.

This posting is about what I have become.

A great amount of care was taken to make me a Catholic. It was taught in school as fact. I went to catechism school. Went through the rites, participated actively in church activities and generally without reflection. It didn’t occur to me to question the truth of this religion I was brought up in. Did I have doubts, yes, but not about the truth of the catholic doctrine. I worried a little about whether I would go to heaven or hell. And the book of revelation (the few times I read it) didn’t help matters in this front with its small number of the chosen ones.

When my faith began to wane or maybe I had lost, I read a lot on arguments for god and why they failed. I read on authorship of the bible, on the existence of Jesus and even on miracles. All this reading led to one conclusion only, revealed religions were a scam. I read a little here and there on Islam and even the Gita.

Does Christianity or any religion for that matter deserve the attention we give them? Is there any good in wasting years trying to demonstrate that religions are all false, that their claims are contradictory and many times impossible? Is there any truth in the claims of Christianity? Is there a way to verify any of it? Is it any more true than the religions my forefathers had believed in? If it had been true and was ordained by a god, why did it need violence, deception, evangelism to spread? Was it important that we, everyone, had a religion or believed in a god(s)?

I am at that point in my life where I can say theism is false. That the supernatural claims religions make are baseless. It is not important that one believes in a god(s) as long as one lives well with others. Be kind. Be useful. Life is simple.

Africa interests me. African religion and philosophy more so. How my forefathers lived, what they believed in and how this knowledge made life in society and community possible. How did they face calamity? Death? Disease? And in times of plenty and bountiful harvests or hunts, how did they celebrate? Now this is interesting stuff.

Talk of gods and miracles bore me.

Hell doesn’t interest me. Heaven is a scary proposition. Vicarious redemption is abhorrent. And the gods? They don’t exist. We make them all the time. The raw material needed is a sick imagination and a people gullible enough to believe.

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Drawing the family tree

I am currently involved in two researches, no actually three when you think about the thesis dissertation I am working to complete and graduate University this December.

The first research was suggested by a good friend, a historian, and in in the line of that book Mary pointed me to ( The Darkening Age). If you have read that book, you know the extent to which the Christians destroyed artifacts of the old religions.

In the same line, I would want to find out

  • how far did mission Christianity try to capture or delete previously sacred landscapes in Kenya?
  • how did my/our forefathers respond to such desecration of religious sites and knowledge?

I am calling for help on this from the universe 🙂

My second area of research isn’t informed by the first one but is an idle curiosity. I am researching on my family tree. I have information up to my grandfather 4 times removed. I also have a bit of history on the eponymous father of the clan Onyango son of Ogiri and I want to trace the line both forwards from him to me and backwards to any of the early Luo migrations into Central Nyanza.

Here is where you come in. If anyone from Asembo Kanyikela reads this and has information that would help me in reconstructing this tree, backwards especially, say something in the comments or reach me on the contacts page. Help yours truly satisfy this idle curiosity.

 

 

consider the fork

by Bee Wilson

Many people think of technology only as involving computers, cars but I repeat myself, robots and such ignoring such things as tool making around cooking- cutlery, pans, cups, pots, spits- name it, that humanity has been in the business of improving since the first man/ woman learnt to cook and serve food to more than one person. The changes in how we cook, eat, store food and all examples of technological change.

And this is where the book by Bee comes in. She has set out on a journey through the evolution of technologies for cooking and eating. Have you imagined who it was that discovered it was possible to boil food? Is this technology intuitive? But beyond that, imagine making a vessel that would withstand heat from fire and not disintegrate because of the water at different temperatures? How much ingenuity was employed in coming up with such a vessel? What thing in nature gave itself to them as an example?

Or think about the first person to light a fire or happen on a fire, and use it to roast food. It is one thing to happen on or light a fire, it is another to think it can be used to make food delicious. It must have taken a lot of trial and error to arrive at the point where we know almost instinctively how to make a good bbq.

Think about the cutting appliances from the different continents and how these affect the way we eat. Of how the Chinese cut their food in cubes suitable for eating with a chopstick or the way of the Europeans where food is served with a thousand appliances, included among them, is a knife that can’t cut gruel! And the anxiety this brings: did I use the right fork? Am I holding the knife properly?

How do you use your microwave? Is it just to defrost and warm food or do use it to cook? How do you measure the potions in your recipe? In a cup or using a weighing machine?

Do you use non stick pans and pots to cook or are you like me who relies on good old stainless steel pots? Or is your pot lined with enamel?

More interestingly, for me, is has the apparatus you use to cook changed what is in your diet? Are there things you don’t eat now because the method or the appliance you used to make it has changed? Or have you introduced new things in the menu because the cooking appliances have been refined allowing for greater possibilities?

Since Bee’s book is concerned mainly with what happens in Europe and just a bit about of Asia, I am interested in the knowledge of how our ancestors cooked, what they ate and all. I know for a long time there were pots for different foods, for storage, for refrigerating water and all. Maybe I should visit the museum to see if these artifacts exist somewhere.

Another question of interest to me, is how much kitchen technology has changed in African homes, especially in the villages where electricity penetration is low, and liquefied petroleum gas is not abundant. Has the construction of the hearth changed to be more economical and efficient like the one at our home (note to self: maybe take a picture next time you go home)

And maybe, the final question, can we, even given the fact that our literature is mainly oral, develop recipes from what our parents made? Are there such special recipes? You know, the Italians have their pasta, the Brits their beef, the Americans their obesity pies.

Contra Larry

There is the popular phrase

“Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

which when applied in this case means Africa must tell her stories. As long as our stories are told by others, here the western media but this could be the case also with the media in the Arab world, we will always come out badly- which has been the case for ages- but then telling a different story when there are glaring dysfunction is not helping our case. It is in this view of the hunt that my country man attempted to tell the story of Africa.

The article has generated quite a bit of heat since its publication. There are quite a number of people who agree with him. There have also been those voices that opine the piece lacked nuance and there are those who think the reporting is flawed. For those disagreeing with the post, the main issue is that it is not supported by facts, paints a glossy picture while ignoring the glaring structural problems in Africa.

There is a tradition in the west, exemplified by Hegel when he wrote

Africa must be divided into three parts: one is that which lies south of the desert of Sahara–Africa proper–the Upland almost entirely unknown to us, with narrow coast-tracts along the sea; the second is that to the north of the desert–European Africa (if we may so call it)–a coastland; the third is the river region of the Nile, the only valley-land of Africa, and which is in connection with Asia.

and continues to say, the negro

“exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state and has no knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual Self.

To him therefore, the African proper, to use his phraseology, is not a subject of history.

We spend so much time responding to the descendants of Hegel instead of challenging the systems at home that oppress us with support from the western governments and their mouthpieces- journalists and media houses with bases in Africa.

It does seem to me that Larry’s article is no different from Mbiti’s African Religion and Philosophy where he attempted to to assimilate African thought to western categories, not for consumption by Africans, like this article, but for consumption of those who had removed Africans from the stage of history. I don’t think we have to justify ourselves to anyone.

Well, we have banned the use of plastic but done shit on the part of solid waste management. In many urban centres in Africa, close to 50% of all generated solid waste is not disposed of properly. There is a lot to do at home instead of wasting time telling our stories, flawed as they might be to an audience that may really not give a rat ass about what we do. Or how we do it.

Europe or the Americas are not trying to defend themselves to anyone. We know most of it is racist and some of them wear their racism on their sleeves. We know there is a homelessness problem in NYC and other cities across the US. But it seems their elite take these for granted. It is, for lack of a better way, taken for granted that to be white is to be.

Africa must work for us first. The western press, for all I care, can say all the shit they want. Our governments must do all the must to make the African proud of his place in the world. No amount of story telling will do this if we still die from preventable ailments, have no access to sanitation, weak financial markets and all.

But for those who want to tell stories, or as they set the record straight, it’s a free world.

on why we need social infrastructure (parks and recreational facilities) in Nairobi

Public parks and recreation facilities are any and all buildings, lands and waters, including roadways, recreation equipment, structures and the flora and fauna therein, owned, leased or operated under the jurisdiction of a county or public institution as a park or recreation area and open to the general public for park or recreation purposes.

In Nairobi and other towns, majority of the residents live in slums and informal settlements where there are no parks or recreational spaces which harms the residents and creates substantial costs for the nation as a whole.

The benefits of parks and recreational spaces include but are not limited to

  1. public health benefits
  2. quality of life
  3. environmental benefits
  4. economic benefits
  5. social benefits etc.

If you are wondering why I am writing about open spaces, wonder no more. On Sunday I happened to find myself in a space an entrepreneur has created as a children play area and was astonished at how many parents (thank goodness there were as many fathers as there were mothers) had taken their children to play and I realized how much our planners, developers and counties have failed us in provision of places for rest and recreation.

While I laud this particular business (wo)man, I noticed also that they have opened themselves to a million and one lawsuits. And the county as a licensing agency would also be liable in the event there were any accidents. There is not one equipment on that site that could pass as safe for children’s use but I think the parents would rather a place for their kids to play than nothing

a mama pushing her baby on a pushcart

the only safe equipment was this inflatable whatever

even this one was not safe

the less said the better

parents and children having a good Sunday

And in other related news, yours truly had a great Friday evening with friends where we did a demonstration of how hell fire would be and other interesting things. All the furniture is made by my friend who played host.

demonstration of how some of you will burn in hell

if you rotate this photo, I asure you, you will see your gracious host

we had a sermon by candle light just before we tossed those who were to burn into the furnace

the miniature version of hell

And in very interesting news, my other friend has a farm in Nairobi and we visited.

from here, we got very fresh vegetables. watu wa nairobi you can all eat all the sewage mbogas you want, as for me and my family, we will eat organic

the yoghurt from these cows was delicious

i have not seen healthier hens in a long time

when I have nothing to say

So there is this image I saw on Twitter and I think I can say a few things. The first thing is that every generation almost always lambasts the next generation for infractions real or imagined.

ON clothing, this is what Montaigne had to say (and before you go on about argument from authority, no I am not quoting him as an authority on dressing I could as well have quoted Mark Twain who says clothes maketh the man)

Had we been born with a necessity upon us of wearing petticoats and breeches, there is no doubt but nature would have fortified those parts she intended should be exposed to the fury of the seasons with a thicker skin, as she has done the finger-ends and the soles of the feet.

And maybe some people were born yesterday, but we know that many peoples from different nations went about their business naked. The morbid obsession about nudity is in my view, a problem of the Abrahamic religions.

I have lost several phones over the years and each loss has been different. On one occasion my phone was stolen while i was in traffic and talking to a friend & it had contacts even of my enemies which I had not backed up. I have been unable to talk to these enemies since. I don’t know how or where I lost my virginity but I think people are usually more concerned with the virginity of women. That is what is traded. It is their bodies that are controlled. Not a man’s body.

I must have missed the memo that required people to drink or smoke. But I have always known to fit in certain groups, people have always had to do certain things. So maybe, the problem is not the society but the groups the author of this is in. He or she can be easily cured by changing groups. He could join a church choir for example and have holy sex 🙂

I know nothing wrong with a bathroom. Take photos wherever you feel great, even if it is in a coffin. This life is once only.

If temples are not places of socialization, why eve go there?

“If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods”, said Shelley, “knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.” I think it is this simple thing that explains why worshiping a god, that every reflecting mind acknowledges does not exist, has become difficult.  At the same time, one wonders why a wholly perfect being would want, command or even desire worship?

If it was true that lies have become a reality only in the 21st century, there would be no world wars or slavery because these depended on deception for their execution. Or how do you justify the Inquisition? Was it not based on lies that they, the Inquisitors alone, had the correct way of worship, that is, the possessors of true religion.

While I am no woman, I think no one wants to get HIV/AIDS or get pregnant left right and centre.

It is possible the pizza hut is next to your block and the ambulance or police or fire department is several blocks away. It is sensible the pizza guy will get home quicker, plus you need your pizza hot. But this is not just a 21st century problem. It is a problem of how governments and societies allocate public goods.

As to people becoming toxic, how do we explain the killing of Socrates or the excommunication of Spinoza? Was it not a result of intolerance? But then, I think history is not the friend of this author.

If the question of money and family had not been a problem in the past, it is unlikely the philosophers of the past would have spoken about it. A little browsing through the archives will yield such sayings from the 15th Century monk who said all rich men are thieves.

There is the story of the prodigal son in the bible. It is really a matter of irony that the person who authored this BS quoted the bible at the end but forgot this story. And unless evidence is adduced to the contrary, people have been sex for as long as humanity has known how to fuck.

Caesar, that murderous general played with the minds of his armies and led Rome to a civil war. I don’t know what this person is on about.

I will end here by quoting Mark Twain extensively on human nature. You can disagree with it, but I find it quite hilarious. He wrote

“I regard these Laws as established. By the terms of the Law of Periodical Repetition nothing whatever can happen a single time only; everything happens again, and yet again, and still again — monotonously. Nature has no originality — I mean, no large ability in the matter of inventing new things, new ideas, new stage effects. She has a superb and amazing and infinitely varied equipment of old ones, but she never adds to them. She repeats — repeats — repeats — repeats. Examine your memory and your experience; you will find it is true. When she puts together a man, and is satisfied with him, she is loyal to him, she stands by him through thick and thin forevermore, she repeats him by billions and billions of examples; and physically and mentally the average remains exactly the same, it doesn’t vary a hair between the first batch, the middle batch and the last batch. If you ask, ‘But really — do you think all men are alike

then continues to say

Yes, I answer, and Nature repeats those. There is nothing that she doesn’t repeat. If I may use a figure, she has established the general intellectual level of the race at say, six feet. Take any billion men and stand them in a mass, and their head tops will make a floor — a floor as level as a table. That floor represents the intellectual altitude of the masses — and it never changes. Here and there, miles apart, a head will prefect above it a matter of one intellectual inch, so to speak — men of mark in science, law, war, commerce, etc.; in a spread of five thousand miles you will find three heads that project still an inch higher, men of national fame — and one that is higher than those by two inches, maybe three — a man of (temporarily) world-wide renown; and finally, somewhere around the circumference of the globe, you will find, once in five centuries of waiting, one majestic head which over tops the highest of all the others — an author, a teacher, an artist, a martyr, a conqueror, whose fame towers to the stars, and whose fame will never perish, never fade, while time shall last; some colossus supreme above all the human herd, some unmated and unmatable prodigy like him who, by magic of the forces born in him, turned his shoe-hammer into the scepter of universal dominion.

Now in that view you have the ordinary man of all nations; you have the here-and-there man that is larger-brained and becomes distinguished; you have the still rarer man of still wider and more lasting distinction; and in that final head rising solitary out of the stretch of the ages, you have the limit of Nature’s output. “Will she change this program? Not while time lasts. Will she repeat it forever? Yes. Forever and ever she will do those grades over and over again, always in the same proportions, and always with the regularity of a machine. In each million of people, just so many inch-superiorities; in each billion, just so many two-inch superiorities — and so on; and always that recurrent solitary star once in an age, never oftener, never two of them at a time. “Nature, when pleased with an idea, never tires of applying it. She makes plains; she makes hills; she makes mountains; raises a conspicuous peak at wide intervals; then loftier and rarer ones, continents apart; and finally a supreme one six miles high.

Ignorance in the information age, I think, is intentional.