Friday, March 19, 2010

The Beautiful Orange That Cannot Be Eaten

No matter how whole and ripe and beautiful an orange may look, if there be a tiny hole on its rind it is rendered unwholesome; all religious books are like oranges, no matter how much goodness they profess in whatever florid and flattery terms they may be said, if there be one word, one line, one sentence, one paragraph, that exhibits the slightest nonsense and which can be argued ratiocinatively in whatever form to be in opposition to the core values of life, then the whole text is rendered unreadable and unwholesome for how do we accept a supreme being that contradicts itself one percent of time, or a supreme being that exhibits human frailties of fallibility reducing his all-knowingness and all-powerfulness? The God I know is not confined within any book or text or philosophies; he is what remains after we have distilled all our weaknesses and our inadequacies and our inherent limitability.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pregnancy on the Road

To street children and children born on the streets

She squeezes herself
Between two speeding cars:
An articulator truck and a new model of Mercedes
Of course she does not know the make of car it is
Neither does she care what that means
But she does care enough to chase it
Waltzing among speeding trucks
To sell to the owner
A loaf of bread
Or even a screwdriver

She turns away onto the other lane
Her thoughts concentrated on the day’s commission
Could this feed her and her crippled mother
Presently sleeping in a makeshift hut
Built within a storm drain?

But the truck driver’s thought
Is not on her
For all he sees is an empty street
So he speeds
And speeds even faster
Before that Trotro switches into his lane;
Soon she finds herself beneath his tyres
Not speaking
Not seeing
Just plain silent
This has been her only language

Blood dribbles from every available orifice
Her legs splayed
Her head mangled
Her torso embraces the road in oneness
Not as lucky as her storm drain mother
Or may be luckier

The autopsy report shows she was pregnant
A month or two or one knew
The father? Another trader on the road
For in the evenings
He fights for a sleeping place for her and others
When the pavement becomes a bed
And she is obliged with many others
To pay him with her womanhood
Such is the content of the contract
Silently written and signed by them

She cares not the number of people he sleeps with
All she needs is her slice of bed
To hell with the currency in which it is paid

She has no name
She has no friend
She has no face
Her colleagues
Call her the bread seller or such and such seller
Whatever she sells at a time is her name

The other traders continue to sell
To fulfil a need in their being
But what blight fate awaits each
At every curve and turn?

Dedicated to all politicians and their kind who cheat the masses to enrich themselves.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

27. Praying with the Mantis, A Journey of Faith and Identity

Title: Praying Mantis
Author: Andre Brink
Genre: Novel (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
Publishers: Vintage
Pages: 275
Year of First Publication: 2005 (this edition, 2006)
Country: South Africa

Praying Mantis is a novel about faith and identity and the need to be in tuned with one's origins. It tells the story of Cupido Cockroach and his strife to convert his heathen-folks to Christianity and to God. However, this novel is not about religion.

In the beginning Cupido was a womanizer and a good hunter. He was also a good follower and friend of Heitsi-Eibib, his god. But he got converted to Christianity, got baptised and later became an acolyte and a preacher of the Christian god.

So strong was his faith in the new god that he physically beats up everybody who refuses to convert Christianity and remains hard-hearted. At the peak of his faith, he literally chewed and swallowed. a whole bible. However, the more his faith in the Christian god grew, the poorer he became. Whilst in the service of the Lord he lost his wife, Anna vigilante, and children unexpectedly. Later he was to lose his second wife and children. His second wife deserted him when he was posted to a desolate place, Dithakong, a place where he neither speaks nor understands the language, to convert his African brothers but was neglected by the all-white Missionaries in the Cape Town. He was neither paid, nor provided for and slowly he sunk deeper into wretchedness, lost all his congregation and became one with his desolate place. So deserted did he become and stronger was his faith that after losing all his congregation he began preaching to the stones and the dying trees. This he did until in the end he was rescued by his own god (after he has written a letter to god telling him that the end has come for him) and was carried away by an Arend, as his mother had promised him when he was just a child. 
This is a novel about the lost of one's identity. Cupido, after his baptismal, considered everything about his people as heathen and vehemently stood against everything they did, including those that he loved most, the moon festivals. Yet, in the end it was the discovery of his identity, of his roots and the showing of reverence to them that saved him from his sorry state.

This novel is a well-researched novel and even though it is a work of fiction, most of the characters in the novel lived and did most of what they were described to have done in the novel. The life and times of Cupido and the numerous letters he wrote to the Mission when times became unbearable, according to the author, are 'scattered through the numerous documents of and on the London Missionary Society in South Africa'. However, 'the most detailed account of his life to date is "The Life and Times of Cupido Kakkerlak" by V.C. Malherbe'.

This novel spoke to me on different levels: identity, faith, belief and many more. It is a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend

ImageNations' Rating: 6 out of 6
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Featured post

Njoroge, Kihika, & Kamiti: Epochs of African Literature, A Reader's Perspective

Source Though Achebe's Things Fall Apart   (1958) is often cited and used as the beginning of the modern African novel written in E...