Chief Ifa’ Oje’ Won Yomi Abiodun
A Master Artist, Author, Poet, Philosopher, National Icon, Honorary Fellow of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Honorary Doctor of Letters (UTT)
Chief Ifa’ Oje’ Won Yomi Abiodun.
Friday, April 22, 2011
The barrage of contravening views that recently met deep seethed feelings expressed by Mr. Nizam Mohammed, all added up to another item in the spate of farces, even brazen falsehoods, meant to mask the impotence of present governing bodies, not unlike previous ones, to attract the political will necessary to effect the contriteness that meaningful change demands in order to make its appearance.
We need to be cautioned that further postponements on addressing those fundamental issues that are plagued with error, and under which any attitude toward critical analysis is put to subterfuge, will provide the catharsis for ultimate catastrophe. A tenacious practice has gradually emerged to embroil us in self-contempt, a malaise that has crippled conscience into a depressing pomp of monotonous masquerades, where we relish the mischievous thought of a “Rainbow Country” in which every creed and race finds an equal place!
The wayward literality of Mr. Mohammed’s statements must have stemmed from an ignition charged by an inner circle, a secret lodge which shot his confidence forward, blaring before a hypocritical public where his intentions per-chanced at being noble, at least in his closed corners, backfired, leaving him to be slaughtered. No love lost where there is no moral focus!
Fact is fact. He pointed out an imbalance in one of the most significant agencies of our socio-sphere –the Essential Services. But, his approach was either thoughtless on the abiding magnitude of other endemic ratios or rations, or, by dint of his newly found comfort zone; he simple-mindedly flexed-free in the pervading fiction of so-called change that could only want to further and stabilize the warranty of the pillage of the belligerent gain he and his ethnic tribe enjoy!
Should we face up to the irregularities that have virtually spawned a shadowy caste construct of uneven practices informed by exploitation, favouritism and greed, the virtue of a new, rounded stand may be aroused in us; but we seem bent to perpetuate the raucous bias that stultify the zeal to be fair, right and honourable. Face up to the fact: we live a lie, be it as a society or a nation, there is no WE –what manner of Citizen; what wife or husband or child of whom or what… When!
To put a cyclopean eye on one instance of imbalance where you urgently want the advantage for you and yours, while acting oblivious to the magnanimity of privilege you traditionally hold as a right, is the action of a shallow, loose canon of any man whose greed is without hilt, blind and deaf to the Global need for the reshuffle of wealth and responsibility.
Dire times saw 80% to 90% of the Essential Services, including police, teachers, postmen, firemen, carpenters, masons, laborers, steel-benders, dockworkers, painters, and all Civil Service workers –Africans at the brunt of administrational activities, supervised by expatriates! On the other hand, East Indians as well as Chinese, Syrians, Europeans and others, though in the minority, favored well in areas that opened them up to private enterprise that assured them the profitability of material wealth: ownership of land, property, business, merchandise and all manner of money making activities that were in their control! These facts are literal enough to be delved, in order to underline their significance as portents of disaffection that will not be pampered for long under bribery and other forms of debauchery!
It is the dawn of the sixties; the mood for Independence, away from Colonial dictates, rears its head. Eric Williams the Conqueror, champions the cause across belligerent tides of self-interests. Laying his bucket down in Trinidad and Tobago was no mean boast, but a declaration against the many temptations to jump ship and head for far easier domains and self-aggrandizement –a supreme example for us, if we were thinking about building a Nation! That was his vision. Collectively, we, probably had none!
But, even he, whose legitimacy as Father of the Nation could never be successfully challenged, did not fathom sufficiently the enormity of raw potential resident to the diversity of peoples convergent to this tiny hand of an island that would have had to be lifted from the flux of indeterminate frontiers into the inter-digitated folds of a single heart! His call to the populace to disown their Mother This or That was a grave error.
No public augury had stung our souls sufficiently into weaving a petition that spelled out a way to truthfully engage us beyond simply flattering ourselves with the idea of Independence; rather creating the “Languaging” that would realize us, our true destiny. Premature, his was an intellectual musing that did not consider the varying gravities of the conscience fields (with their specific values) of the people he wanted to lead to a unity –an ideal, he believed that could be democratically founded!
He should have known, a Father –yes! A Mother, we never forget! Surely, he missed or preferred to avoid creativity –the phenomenal task of finding an authentic way of unifying myriad pulses into a single homogeneous Heart, truly harmonized –a constellated entity! His was a short cut, dogmatically sharpened by the power of over-identification that often becomes mutated by immediacy and its power surge.
His cries were sincere: Education –Yes! Economic stability –Yes! Independence –Yes! Ah, how heady are the inscrutable ceremonies to which all our leaders and us ascribe! But, to support our rant, they spend, we spend and spend; every moment is a carnival –a blasphemous incarnation of the lie we splurge as life! In so doing, we never incanted an authentic profile of our inner most desires to discover ourselves, to cultivate self. We are at best, a culture of masks, murdering God from behind; we remain crumbs eating up crumbs!
However, specific to my concern here, is his wanton disregard for the already glaring anomaly –the African experience that entailed an obliteration of personhood and origin – its Motherland! He could barely see himself as a black man, enough to rally the cause “Brown and Yellow, Black and White” –the bannered emblem of his vision of “Our Nation” that left Black People flagging behind the best bid for leftovers!
Well qualified from the outside of the African experience, he was to become the avatar of a New Age. Dispassionately perhaps, but as such, he was only able to pull along his ghost tribe among the crumbs of a false appearance, without a Mother. Alienation became increasingly abysmal for those who had long lost the grounded idea of Mother –Mother Africa.
His naiveté increased the burden on the African community by seducing it into deeper compromise of presence if he ( he and Black people) were to be efficient and compatible in the national enterprise. Williams (“The Conqueror”) would soon find out that he failed to conquer those who had already conquered him, making of him the valedictory of his victim hood, where his tremendous skills of scholarship imprisoned him, excised from his Roots. His impressive and inspirational “Inward Hunger” was a kaleidoscopic abstract of neuroses that, up against great odds, succeeded at least with impassioned majorities laying down the foundation of a political thrust upon which, the ideas of all other parties were founded! Alternatives remain marginal, tempered never by ideological debate, but surrender to excessive incest, and compromise of all moral judgment to varying circumstance.
Orthodoxy of self betrayed, Williams is still the Man to beat; Mr. Robinson almost did; but Mr. Chambers, Mr. Manning and Mr. Panday proved mere casualties among others who will continue to follow, drunk or blighted, cursed by his memory, now abysmal, that sidestep the Race issue! No one to date is impassioned sufficiently to conceive a positivist attitude, free and fair, capable of coordinating into a popular vote, a philosophy of sound elements, coherent in determination to evolve an authentic national character from this mud pool of a Frontier.
Today, with overgrown wealth irrationately accumulated in the coffers of everyone else but the African who, in his uncanny existence kneels to favour on the little ground left him being threatened in all manner of degradation –perversion wrests at his soul under unrelenting siege as any further schema of take-over looms.
If only taken casually, cognizance will demonstrate amazing feats of our political, as well of our social criteria that conceal the nakedness of our reality –a reality that, on one side, an open rein allows extravagant mobility, and, on the other side, the roguery of constant spindrift that has paralyzed the African soul among indecision and the tottering quiddity of memory loss of his compass.
One may ask: who owns the Cargo, who is the Mule; who rides on high, which is whipped into the ground? What is the characteristic of inmates in our jails and asylums; who hug the pavements for pillows and crumbs among spit? Whose children are killing each other in widespread effort to find and to reunite with their ghosts? Who are the Doctors and Lawyers, the Magnates and Money Launderers; who control all Media of Communication, who are the Sponsors, the Weavers and Dealers? Who are the insatiable consumers? Who are the Pied, who are the Pipers?
That which we call Our Culture is one, descriptive of avoidance-syndrome where no assurance of settling the erratic impulses that characterize frontier audacities are seriously engaged. That, such as it is, the attrite conscience of the inheritors of the wasteland that followed, spawned by conniving strategies of Colonial praxis, still mirror the savage tendencies of survival of the fittest. The socio-history defined by an economic graphic clearly maps the grotesquery of absurd foundries that mask the ill will that has prevailed upon us, a malaise, compound of the maladies, we, each of us, has become.
Ours is a Culture of volcanic uncertainty. Crisis looms while we go after our insidious gains, Dog eating Dog. But Dada used to say, as long and as sure as the tides keep moving, the illegally buried corpse will rise on the shores of change –monument, tall to our misdeeds! To my mind, a call for Change, while admirably courageous, is seldom contrite enough to declare the truths upon which a disquisition finally settles the ménage of tortured souls seeking reparation from cold, frenzied systems that slowly, but impenitently found a new order, void of humanity.
We remain a Culture in the critical doldrums of Dread, stifled under the weight of inanity where the ploys of materialism have outdone the valor of moral rectitude. Mr. Mohammed’s insidious ness is as popular as “Doubles” the chieftest ingredient among the daily, curried forays tossed in the face of Afro-Trinidadians. Now, not later, is the time when meltdown should attend our folly, –a time to shut down our hypocritical smelters!
With the official status of “We Time”, the gravity of banalities have let go the reins to foisting hatred, if not at once checked, can initiate instruments to blatant warfare –All others up against the wrongly perceived African as worthless overload that must be further ridiculed by relegating him to a hapless lot of irrelevant, kiss-arse trash. The time is upon us to halt animosities that are un-forgiving and lay rooted in postponement of our collected responsibility to locate and resuscitate the dimmed integrity that will, alas, light the way to a New Approach to Nationhood which will otherwise remain a Dream differed to selfishness, and the surreptitious flavouring of sharing the cake that will ultimately draw blood. My friend, Mr. Mohammed should not be singled out as the only power seeking mischief-maker playing with fuses.