Culture Interruptus

independence dayThe English language has been the adopted (forced) communication methodology of an enslaved people as Bob Marley said “stolen from Africa, brought to America”. Languages of the ancient Africans, not written but passed on by the words, and stories of the Griots, and storytellers, and repeated as legends about the origins of the universe, the movements of the stars, kings and kingdoms, wars and conquest, and lineages, are now forgotten. The chain has been broken. Culture interruptus.

The principles of pride, rituals of family, village life, ceremonies of adulthood and responsibility, all lost on a single boat ride to a system of hell. A loss in the traditional beliefs of gods responsible for different aspects of the world, transformed to a single supreme person named “Massa”. The holder of a whip, manacles, the controller of food, shelter, and sexual relations; an omnipotent, omniscient, but not all-good foreigner.

A new language was instilled/enforced to communicate with the new gods’ regime and laws. African cultures and values died a sudden death; and we all learned how to disrespect each other; to disrespect a brutally enforced law; and nightmares and terror at night that slowly squeezed the African values out of everything but our souls; leaving a lost civilization. We might as well have disappeared like the Mayans.

In a very simplistic way English has consonants and vowels. In saying our alphabet, consonants need some impediment or modification of our air flows using natural means like throat, tongue, teeth, and lips, and less frequently chest, air tubes and larynx. However, on the other hand, vowels are free-flowing air, without impediment, and for the singers they constitute the sound of the end of a passage or song that can easily be sustained (like Whitney Houston or Barbara Streisand).

Free-flowing “A,E;I;O;U; are the sounds heard in classrooms where young children are learning the English sounds and variations in an attempt to allow them to take part in a global economy based on capitalism and entrepreneurial visions that signal a way to measure economic growth, and the creation of wealth with the majority of the transactions being undertaken in English.

I am writing this on Emancipation Day 2017, and I paused to re-evaluate the use of carefully chosen acronyms, and their ability to drive positive or negative emotions and directions. Terms like UN (United Nations) but still in turmoil; UNDP with little development to show; WB a bank for the rich to control; ACID a term for the police sworn to protect, serve, and reassure; GOJ government of Jamaica (for some not all); and the list goes on.

AEIOU! After Emancipation I Owe You! Is this the sum total of the ambitions of a proud people taken from the cradle of life, to a new world of poverty, mendicancy, and nevermore to chart our own course because we have forgotten our past? The people who rejected and sold out Marcus Garvey for the “do nothing for yourself; vote for me and I will look after you” political promises, now turn to the new gods that have replaced “Massa”.

We owe everyone that will lend us money in exchange for our patrimony. We exchange everything we have now or in the future for the proverbial “mess of pottage”. Guns fire louder than songs in church; communities fear the few; pastors preach of eternal salvation but forget peace on Earth and goodwill; politicians fight each other for a seat in the Massa’s Kingdom on Duke Street. There they make laws that empower themselves and enslave the possibilities of our people to chart a new destiny.

The concept of “young” is no longer related to age but perception. “Young” politicians do not necessarily imply persons with new ideas, while some “old” politicians have minds that anticipate the future (sometimes based on an ability to remember recurring themes and previously failed actions). There is wisdom in knowing your history, as current and future events can be equally disruptive as the past. Something as simple as Coca Cola has possibly revolutionized the world in a greater way than Communism.

If I am in any way on the right track, then revolution is a process that requires balance. It is a time for new ways balanced by known previous outcomes; it is an understandable destination couched in the belief of past achievements; it is social cohesion couched by the failures of the past social experiments; it is a consistent belief that innovation and invention are constants. It is a belief that we can rule our destinies by the supremacy of actions over mere words. It is the concept not couched in the often misunderstood violence of a revolution, but born in the concept of “re-evolution” or rebirth.

AEIOU! After Emancipation Independent Of You! Consistent failure to grapple with our own development must require new roads, thoughts, actions, and purpose; if not, we position ourselves for the madness described as doing things the same way but expecting different results.

“The rich man’s wealth is in the city; destruction of the poor is his poverty; destruction of your soul is vanity; do you hear? I and I, I want to rule my destiny; Destiny, mama look from where you call me; I want to rule my destiny.” Written by: Donovan Germain; Mark Anthony Myrie; Stephen Michael Marsden; Lowell Dunbar.

Haile Selassie as quoted by Bob Marley: “Until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior; is finally and permanently, discredited and abandoned, everywhere will be war”.

Powerful words elegantly and simply delivered for the ears of the Homo sapiens; the thinking man (and woman). The ancients called those sayings prophetic and some listened while others perished.

My beloved Jamaica, despite claims to the contrary from so-called leaders from all walks of life, we are at war; we are engaged in a local struggle for good over evil. We have to figure out how to spell and act Independent. Or will we simply continue to be In-Dependence.

 

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