Eshu

Eshu

Eshu

When he is angry he hits a stone until it bleeds.

When he is angry he sits on the skin of an ant.

When he is angry he weeps tears of blood.

Eshu, confuser of men.

The owner of twenty slaves is sacrificing,

So that Eshu may not confuse him.

Eshu confused the newly married wife.

When she stole the cowries from the sacred shrine of Oya

She said she had not realized

That taking two hundred cowries was stealing.

Eshu confused the head of the queen –

And she started to go naked.

Then Eshu beat her to make her cry.

Eshu, do not confuse me!

Eshu, do not confuse the load on my head.

Eshu, lover of dogs.

If a goat get lost in Ogbe – don’t ask me.

Do you think I am a thief of goats?

If a huge sheep is missing from Ogbe – don’t ask me.

Do you think I am a thief of sheep?

If any fowl get lost in Ogbe – don’t ask me.

Do you think I am a thief of birds?

But if a black dog is missing from Ogbe – ask me!

You will find me eating Eshu’s sacrifice in a wooden bowl.

Eshu slept in the house –

But the house was too small for him.

Eshu slept on the veranda –

But the veranda was too small for him.

Eshu slept in a nut –

At last he could stretch himself.

Eshu walked through the groundnut farm.

The tuft of his air was just visible.

If it had not been for his huge size,

He would not have been visible at all.

Having thrown a stone yesterday – he kills a bird today.

Lying down, his head hits the roof.

Standing up he cannot look into the cooking pot.

Eshu turns right into wrong, wrong into right.

This is excerpt taken from

“Voices From Twentieth-Century Griots and Towncriers”

Book of the Month: Fateful Triangle

Fateful Triangle
FATEFUL TRIANGLE
The United States, Israel and the Palestinians
By Noam Chomsky
Foreword
Fateful Triangle may be the most ambitious book ever attempted on the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians viewed as centrally involving the United States. It is a dogged exposé of human corruption, greed, and intellectual dishonesty. It is also a great and important book, which must be read by anyone concerned with public affairs.
The facts are there to be recognized for Chomsky, although no one else has ever recognized them so systematically. His mainly Israeli and U.S. sources are staggeringly complete, and he is capable of registering contradictions, distinctions, and lapses which occur between them.
There is something profoundly moving about a mind of such noble ideals repeatedly stirred on behalf of human suffering and injustice. One thinks here of Voltaire, of Benda, or Russell, although more than any
one of them, Chomsky commands what he calls “reality”—facts—over a breathtaking range.
Fateful Triangle can be read as a protracted war between fact and a series of myths—Israeli democracy, Israeli purity of arms, the benign occupation, no racism against Arabs in Israel, Palestinian terrorism, peace for Galilee. Having rehearsed the “official” narrative, he then blows it away with vast amounts of counter-evidence.
Chomsky’s major claim is that Israel and the United States—espe-cially the latter—are rejectionists opposed to peace, whereas the Arabs, including the PLO, have for years been trying to accommodate
themselves to the reality of Israel. Chomsky supports his case by comparing the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—so profoundly inhuman, cynical, and deliberately cruel to the Palestinian people—with its systematically rewritten record as kept by those whom Chomsky calls “the supporters of Israel.” It is Chomsky’s contention that the liberalintelligentsia (Irving Howe, Arthur Goldberg, AlanDershowitz, MichaelWalzer, Amos Oz, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, ShlomoAvineri, Martin

Peretz) and even segments of the organized Left are more culpable, more given to lying, than conservatives are.
Nor is Chomsky especially gentle to the PLO, whose “self-destruc-tiveness” and “suicidal character” he criticizes. The Arab regimes, he says, are not “decent,” and, he might have added, not popular either.
In the new edition, Chomsky includes invaluable material on the Oslo and Wye accords—an unnecessary line of Arab capitulation by which Is-rael has achieved all of its tactical and strategic objectives at the expense of every proclaimed principle of Arab and Palestinian nationalism and struggle. For the first time in the twentieth century, an anti-colonial liberation movement has not only discarded its own considerable achievements but has made an agreement to cooperate with a military occupation before that occupation has ended.
Witnessing such a sorry state of affairs is by no means a monotonous, monochromatic activity. It involves what Foucault once called “a relentless erudition,” scouring alternative sources, exhuming
buried documents, reviving forgotten (or abandoned) histories. It involves a sense of the dramatic and of the insurgent, making a great deal of one’s rare opportunities to speak. There is something profoundly unsettling about an intellectual such as Chomsky who has neither an office to protect nor territory to consolidate and guard. There is no dodging the inescapable reality that such representations by intellectuals will neither make them friends in high places nor win them official honors. It is a lonely condition, yes, but it is always a better one than a gregarious tolerance for the way things are.
Edward W. Said
New York, New York
January 1999
(Click the link below to download the full pdf version)

Engaging The Sterile and Vicious Politics of Ethnicity in Nigeria (Africa)

 

Engaging The Sterile and Vicious Politics of Ethnicity in Nigeria (Africa).

One of the greatest challenges Nigeria and indeed Africa has ever grappled with since independence is the problem of ethnic solidarity among the various ethnic groups constituting the diverse ethnic makeup within the territorial boundaries of African countries. Prior to Africa’s era of independence ethnic loyalty rather than national loyalty became a sort of inclination African politicians often subscribed to. Unfortunately African politics tread this trajectory well into post-independence era, hence ethnicity becomes a very sensitive issue in African politics up to 21 century, because African politicians who ought to ensure unity and oneness among various ethnic groups making up the heterogeneous fabric of African countries usually exploit ruthlessly this difference of the same identity to guarantee and secure their own upward mobility in the political system. This emotional ethnic sentiment of the susceptible masses is usually awakened by the politicians when they feel the need for it to satisfy their own self-centered agenda. Which is why it not so uncommon to see politicians who are not articulate much less  competent hold public offices at the expense of those who could engender growth and development politically and economically through policies sensitive to the need of the people.

This sad state of affairs without doubt is one of the many legacies of colonialism, it grows out of the manner in which the colonist lumped together people of different kingdoms, empires, etc into one entity to perpetually vie for power among themselves and ultimately this crystallized into modern politics of ethnicity i.e a country segmented along ethnic lines and seldom act together since the segments perceived themselves as competitors rather than members of the same cause who shares the same identity. An illustration to understand better will suffice, in 1960 after independence Nigeria was divided into three (3) regions for administrative and political convenience putting into cognizance the size of the country instead of solving problems it ended up creating ghastly one. Soon the division took ethnic connotations Northern region Hausa/Fulani, Western region Yoruba and Eastern region Igbo. The full impact of this schism was not seen until 1966 when coup by the military headed by Igbo officer was considered an attack on the Hausa/Fulani dominated government by the northerners. Although the objectives of the first coup was to address the ills of the society it proved abortive as the effort was taken over by another military officer also Igbo. What follows next was counter-coup led by Hausa officer and pogrom against the Igbos in the northern region, attempt to solve this issue was also abortive and this led to war in the country 1967-70.

Ever since the country has remain divided along ethnic line despite numerous efforts to address or solve this problem. This vestige of sterile politics do manage one way or the other to rear its ugly head in the country’s political arena most especially in sensitive times among the populace. As prove, in the just concluded international lauded 2015 presidential election in Nigeria, the votes of the two major candidates did not really reflect national consent but rather ethnic consent and strategic alliance with the southwest which was the decisive factor. One of the major themes of the election was voting for candidate of one’s ethnic affiliation rather than voting for the right candidate, which was the reason why some people were subjected to ridicule, vitriol and slander because they voted candidate of their choice and apparently this candidate is not of their ethnic origin. Suffice to ask what does being a proper Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa/Fulani, Ijaw, etc mean? Does it mean subservience in the face of untold and unwarranted hardship because an inept leader at the helm of affairs of the state is of one’s ethnic affiliation? Or is it acquiescent to the diabolic misery of poverty? Does is it not defies logic to think the bitter pills of poverty are best digested when administer by mischievous doctors of one’s ethnic identity? In a country where ethnic sentiment has injured severely the political common sense of the electorate do we need not to consider our stand when it comes to deciding who get our votes and for what reasons?

What Nigerians (and Africans) must come to terms with is that a bad leader is a bad leader irrespective of his/her ethnic origin. What we must realize is that over fifty (50) years of independence we have had leaders from across the country that has served in various capacity yet we have struggle at every step to achieve meaningful development. Whilst majority of Nigerians struggle to meet ends need and aspired to break through the iron forged barricade of poverty the Nigerian politicians swims and flaunt their ill-gotten wealth they acquire through looting of the country’s treasury. To remain divided is to remain prey of the politicians who will forever continue to deftly exploit our differences.

Africans must act against these divisive tendencies if it must achieve unity on a continental scale. African unity has remained elusive and difficult because the component units are internally disunited. For Africa to achieve unity on a continental scale the first big step is to deal decisively with the impediment of disunity among the components making up the whole.

African View of Early Europeans

 

Since the 15th century when the Europeans established permanent contact with Africa, so much has been written about the various divergent accounts of earliest European contact with different parts of Africa. On the contrary, little has been written and lend credence to concerning how Africans perceived the Europeans on their arrival or first European contact with Africans, African perception of trans-Atlantic slave trade and fate of the captives carted away to plantations in the New World, on European ships via the Atlantic Ocean. Documented records of this period of contact between Europeans and Africans were written by Europeans from their own point of view and most times skewed and biased based on the fact that Europeans cannot wrap their mind around culture so different from theirs. So Europeans put to record some gratuitous things about Africans like referring to Africans as brutes, savages, and cannibals (which Europe later became obsessed with), and sometimes giving weird, funny and imagined description of Africans. Unfortunately these accounts were repeated on prodigious scale in many books around Europe which greatly contributed to how many Europeans perceived Africans to this day.

Here little attempt will be made to show how Africans of Central African region (Congo precisely) perceived the arrival of the Europeans and their impression of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

(The following is excerpt taken from the book entitled: King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Except for Affonso’s letters, the written record of these times still shows them entirely through white men’s eyes. How did the Europeans, beginning with Diogo Cao and his three ships with faded red cross on their sails, appear to the people living at the great river’s mouth? To see with their eyes, we must turn to the myths and legends that have filtered down over the centuries. At first, Africans apparently saw the white sailors not as men but as vumbi – ancestral ghosts –since the Kongo people believed that a person’s skin changed to the color of chalk when he passed into the land of the dead. And it was obvious that this was where these menacing white vumbi had come from, for the people on the shore saw first the tips of an approaching ship’s masts, then its superstructure, then it hull. Clearly the ship had carried its passengers up from their homes beneath the surface of the earth. Here is how the Portuguese arrival was recounted by Mukunzo Kioko, a twentieth –century oral historian of the Pende People:

Our fathers were living comfortably. . . They had cattle and

crops; they had salt marshes and banana trees.

Suddenly they saw a big boat rising out of the great ocean.

This boat had wings all white, sparkling like knives.

White men came out of the water and spoke words which no

one understood.

Our ancestors took fright; they said that these were vumbi ,

spirits returned from the dead.

They pushed them back into the ocean with volleys of arrows.

But the vumbi spat fire with a noise of thunder. Many men were

Killed. Our ancestors fled.

The chiefs and wise men said that these vumbi were the for-

mer possessors of the land. . .

From that time to our days now, whites vumbi have brought us

nothing but wars and miseries.

 

The trans-Atlantic slave trade seemed further confirmation that Europeans had come from the land of the dead, for after they took their shiploads of slaves out to sea, the captives never returned. Just as Europeans would be long obsessed with African cannibalism, so Africans imagined Europeans practicing the same thing. The whites were thought to turn their captives’ flesh into salt meat, their brains into cheese, and their blood into the red wine Europeans drank. African bones were burned, and the gray ash became gunpowder. The huge, smoking copper cooking kettles that could be seen on sailing vessels were, it was believed, where all these deadly transformation began. The death tolls on the packed slave ships that sailed west from Congo coast rose higher still when some slaves refused to eat the food they were given, believing that they would be eating those who had ailed before them.

As the years passed, new myths rose to explain the mysterious objects the strangers brought from the land of the dead. A nineteenth-century missionary recorded, for example, an African explanation of what happened when captains descended into the holds of their ships to fetch trading goods like cloth. The Africans believed that these goods came not from the ship itself but from a hole that led into the ocean. Sea sprites weave this cloth in an “oceanic factory, and whenever we need cloth, the captain… goes to this hole rings a bell.” The sea sprites hand him up their cloth, and the captain “then throws in, as payment, a few dead bodies of black people he has bought from those bad native traders who have bewitched their people and sold them to the white men.” The myth was not so far from reality. For what was slavery in the American south, after all, but a system for transforming the labor of black bodies, via cotton plantations, into cloth?

DEAD AID

Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa.

Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa.

DEAD AID

WHY AID IS NOT WORKING

AND HOW THERE IS

A BETTER WAY FOR AFRICA

Dambisa Moyo

 

Introduction

We live in a culture of aid.

We live in a culture in which those who are better off subscribe – both mentally and financially – to the notion that giving alms to the poor is the right thing to do. In the past fifty years, over US$1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. In the past decade alone, on the back of Live 8, Make Poverty History, Millennium Development Goals, the Millennium Challenge Account, the Africa Commission, and the 2005 G7 meeting (to name a few), millions of dollars each year have been raised in richer countries to support charities working for Africa.

We are made to believe that this is what we ought to be doing. We are accosted on the streets and goaded with pleas on aeroplane journeys; letters flow through mail boxes and countless television appeals remind us that we have a moral imperative to give more to those who have less. At the 2001 Labour Conference, the UK’s Prime Minister of the time, Tony Blair, remarked that ‘The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the World’, and that the West should ‘provide more aid’ as, thus far, amidst the multiple problems facing Africa, the continent had received inadequate amounts of aid.

Deep in every liberal sensibility is a profound sense that in a world of moral uncertainty one idea is sacred, one belief cannot be compromised: the rich should help the poor, and the form of this help should be aid.

The pop culture of aid has bolstered these misconceptions. Aid has become part of entertainment industry. Media figures, film stars, rock legends eagerly embrace aid, proselytize the need for it, upbraid us for not giving enough, scold government for not doing enough – and governments respond in kind, fearful of losing popularity and desperate to win favour. Bono attends world summit on aid. Bob Geldof is, to use Tony Blair’s own words, ‘one of the people that I admire most’. Aid has become a cultural commodity.

Millions march for it.

Governments are judged by it.

But has more than US$1 trillion in development assistance over the last several decades made African people better off? No. In fact, across the globe the recipients of this aid are worse off; much worse off. Aid has helped make the poor poorer, and growth slower. Yet aid remains a centrepiece of today’s development policy and one of the biggest ideas of our time.

The notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but have increased. Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most part of developing world. How this happened, how the world was gripped with an idea that seemed so right but in fact so wrong, is what this book is about. Dead Aid is the story of the failure of post – war development policy.

Step by step it will dismantle the assumptions and arguments that have supported the single worst decision of modern developmental politics, the choice of aid as the optimum solution to the problem of Africa’s poverty. The evidence is as startling as it is obvious. It will contrast countries which have rejected the aid route and prospered with others which have become dependent on aid and been trapped in vicious circle of corruption, market distortion and further poverty – and thus the ‘need’ for more aid.

Others before me have criticized aid. But the myth of its effectiveness persists. Dead Aid will offer a new model for financial development for the world’s poorest countries: one that offers economic growth, promises to significantly reduce African poverty, and most importantly does not rely on aid.

This book is not a counsel of despair. Far from it: The book offers another road; a road less travelled in Africa. Harder, more demanding, more difficult, but in the end the road to growth, prosperity, and independence of the continent. This book is about the aid-free solution to development: why it is right, why it has worked, why it is the only way forward for the world’s poorest countries.

Click the link below to download the full pdf version

( http://www2.fiu.edu/~ganapati/6838/02_15_10_Moyo.pdf )

 

The Fleshy Excess of Black Life: Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Eric Ritskes

Black life, Blackness, “Black holding on, Black making a way out of no way” is always in excess of the antiblack settler colonial state. And, in its excess, it is always threatening to the order and sense making of the state.

This excess is carried in and on the bodies of Black peoples, it is embodied and illegible to the state, unable to be incorporated into Whiteness, and is thus always present before, beyond and against the state. Blackness as excess is, as Alex Weheliye explains, a fleshy excess. It spills over and protrudes; it cannot be contained. It is always escaping. It is always already too much.

In each of three most recent cases of Black death to garner mass mainstream media attention – the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice – the bodily excess of the victims was used as…

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