Monday, October 31, 2011

Wartime Peace

Survivors remember two thousand and seven,
entering hell having departed for heaven,
paying for assuming they were living among brethren,
dying for believing it's enough to be Kenyan.

Bubbles bulge in real estate
Importers fret over exchange rate
Inflation wreaks its faceless havoc
Satellites in the sky peep and eavesdrop
Pump prices peak nevermore to plunge
terrorists lurk beneath every hedge
Police in the streets patrol and apprehend
darkness dominates broadcast frequencies.
Judges try at home and abroad
Voters converge to voice concerns
Leaders 'consolidate' tribal blocs
Opinion polls aggregate the gist
Victims tire of polythene tents
Survivors remember two thousand and seven.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Everyone’s Star Wars

Conscience is like a cash crop. Watered, it grows. Its fruits are refreshing. Neglected, it withers and dies.

Unfortunately, neglect of conscience is easier than acquiring the humility it takes to maintain conscience. Whenever I am not listening to conscience, then Ego takes center stage.

Now Ego is a bad manager. You know, the boss who takes all the credit, and issues all the orders and generally works very unilaterally, the archetypal despot. “All that is worth doing had better center on me,” says Ego. “The universe does my bidding.” This mindset banishes rational and moral sanity into exile, and government ceases.

Ego is a bad lover. Whereas love is that which seeks to give rather than take away, Ego is a selfish-minded beast out to satiate lust – with the least amount of commitment possible. “No strings attached” is one of Ego’s wildly popular inventions. But there is a reason why when she start playing games he better put that woman first. Why? It’s very rational: if the beef deteriorates into an egoistic tug-of-war, the abundance of casualties will be unbearable even if I win. Ego, the ruthless warlord, cares nothing for me, his mercenary.

Ego is a bad advisor. “You alone are right. You must win,” says Ego, “No one else deserves to!” Thus am I conscripted into my own army, fighting in the war of me against the world, commandeered by Ego. Meanwhile the true war, the great controversy between good and evil, is lost from sight. Civil war seems to have erupted in my sector. For what cause? “Me?”

Ego is easy to obey, being both seductive and gratifying. Conscience is hard to listen to, its brilliant truth is also harsh and piercing. Natural man is easily pleased to pamper ego, even at the danger of destruction, and half-willing to kill conscience, and thus put an end to her hazard warnings, misgivings and inhibitions.

A war wages on every day in every living man’s life: Ego and Conscience campaign for our ballot. Good and Evil are always set before us, choice required on the spot. Ego dangles the carrot and flashes a bribe, while conscience stretches the finger of blame and points to the load of responsibility. In sum, these elections and referenda determine our fate.

{Prov. 5:22} His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

“Good over evil; Life over death”: Let this be your party slogan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth and Fiction

Philosophy can pass for nerdy talk in the age of Big Bang Theory. Philosophers are naturally a slick lot, using hard words to get away with exceedingly annoying levels of abstraction. They will work your wits into a knot with lofty normative edicts . Experiment: pick up any philosophy book and see if page one tickles your fancy.

If your intellectual mettle can withstand and understand the thick tomes philosophers like to publish, you are an academic trooper! The world brands thinkers like you with scholarly titles and distinctions - and thus gets you out of the way. A firebrand once co-opted into the hands of the powers that be is called 'just a torch now'. Ask one PLO Lumumba. In fact, if knowledge was applied indiscriminately (not exploited primarily for profit), the world would be much nicer. But inconvenient information is hid from view until the status quo lets slip otherwise or dictates the correct angle to view it from. But I digress.

The word Philosophy is Greek for "love of knowledge". In order to test this claim among its purported adherents, I took upon my shoulders the task of summarizing, simplifying and testing some noted philosophers' works. It all crumbled to hot air beneath some indelicate interpretation by yours truly.

The Crux of Darwin's Theory of Evolution (for Dummies):

"Your gramps was a worm.
Your dad an ape, your uncle a gorilla,
You're still not finished evolving
So your kids will be more human than you are
likewise their kids after them
So sit back and relax."

I think not. Where there is no knowledge, there is no love of knowledge. Darwin would have flunked my philosophy test. Zero percent. And a warning memo about his GPA.

On to the next philosopher, one Karl Marx, for this quote he would have gotten a patent for were he not preaching communism: "Religion is the opium of the masses."

Opium is illegal today in most jurisdictions. But if once upon a time someone could identify whole populations high on opium, who dare say that person was not their chief spokesman? Not me. It takes one to know one. Marx knew nothing of true heart religion. Besides, what he really was saying is "I need a bigger nastier high called politics. Politics is the crystal meth of the elites. I'm one of the elites too by the way, comrades. I'm a philosopher dammit!" 

Let him stand in the corner with his negative zero percent grade.

Alright now I'm pushing it.

In sum, there's only one complete true and comprehensive philosophy, in plain and accessible language: the Word of God. Check it out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liberal Gratification with Madame Anglais

The English language came to our dark lands riding upon the warships of colonial powers. Or you could say it arrived within the same suspiciously gift-wrapped package as other foreign and erstwhile unheard of 'pestilences' like smallpox and rinderpest (three cheers for the dawn of civilization!) Or you could credit missionaries with finding time to teach it to "natives" - at least when they were not demonstrating to befuddled onlookers the coital position later to be named in their honor. Whichever way, the thing is damn foreign.

I for one strongly believe that this hard fact excuses natives, and all generations of their descendants, who domesticate their English to fit their situation. Slang really is very necessary when first world talk enters third world reality. Don't mind that certain properly mentally colonized persons can't stand mongrel dialects being suffered to mate with pure-bred Queen's English, birthing bastardizations of speech which roll uncomfortably and ungrammatically off the tongue, and, to add insult to injury, colliding harmoniouslessly against them blessed eardrums - only to register nothing in the brain. Total havoc.

In my dictionary, which nobody has pretended to show any willingness to publish yet (surprise of surprises!), foolaroundability is one's natural propensity to forget one's place. For example, this venture of mine, a native proposing to fellow non-English speakers (passed TOEFL? No?) to do with English what they pretty damn well like, demonstrates my excellent grasp of foolaroundability, if I may say so myself. So employ me. Seriously.

Intelligerence: being warlike intelligently. Not, you know, like that native blogger lambasting TOEFL for the fun of it.

Joyancy: when you're so happy you're floating above it all. Seriously, how can "joy" just remain joy when we have "happiness" for happy? They say necessity is the mother of invention. You know, maybe because I'm a native, English avails scant joyancy when I consider all its rules.

If English was a lady, she'd be loose, and a multiracial herd would ever run after her exclaiming 'mama!' even as she hurried off to her next new tryst. Join the bandwagon soon, at least before I threaten to sue some publisher or other, following which my "Highly Flexible English Dictionary for Native Non-English Speakers" hits the shelves and shortly thereafter becomes required reading in all nursery schools and workplaces. Thus shall I make my fortune.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Long time no see straight

Gone are the days when ladies were required to comport themselves with poise while fending off approaches from fervent suitors who bothered to fake a dignified bearing. The 21st century's gat them chasin' that paper - both the ladies and their suitors.

So I had just found a three-year old apology addressed to me. I could have called The Ex: “Hey, remember that drawing book of mine you burnt, way back in 2008? I didn’t know you were sorry but now I know so it’s alright I forgive you.” But I foresaw all the ways that approach could backfire on me.

“Let me go beg her for you now,” offered Angela in a mock Naija accent, when I went to her room many floors above mine to accidentally describe the details of the fix I was in. “After all, she’s our wife.”
A happy couple splitting the work

She seemed to relish the prospect too. I was in luck, considering that I had set my hopes only as low as some good advice (like "Argh, it's been three years, forget about it!") I was all too happy to let Angela make the call. She had been my "lawyer" once in the past, and had done a good job. I think.

As Angela chattered on phone with “Our Ex”, GalPal emerged from nowhere - alright, from an inner room. (Impulsive catching of the breath.) On seeing me, glared daggers. I said hi: "How was rehab? Long time no see straight?" Rolling her eyes, she traipsed over for a spineless handshake. “You know what your problem is?” she said to me as she took a seat, “You’re too nice.” She sneered. "And too slow. Such a turn-off." If I thought my ego was taking damage, she wasn't finished yet. The bombshell: "Do you sometimes obsess about me, Antony? coz I saw your blog."

Angela laughed, betraying that she was no longer on phone. "He has a blog?"

I would have denied that the two had anything to do with my blog, which I didn't even have, but GalPal tore my would-be defense to shreds even before I got to it. "Yeah, in his blog I'm GalPal and you're Angela." She HAD read the blog. Why did I assume it would never be found?!

So I told GalPal rather obliquely that, in my blog, it wasn't her that I obsessed over, it was me.

"But I kinda get it," said GalPal, dismissively, "You like me; but you don't trust me, right? Too bad I don't give a eff!" (Accompanying hand signal.)

I patiently reminded her that she had already given a eff. "One night last semester."

That shut GalPal up, but at great cost. Before she could dream up a retort (tongue-tied by the awesome quickness of my wit as she was), Angela fixed us knowing looks after overhearing the foregoing, smiling like she had swallowed the cat that had been let out of the bag.


Having lost that particular verbal bout, GalPal turned her back on me and got real personal with Angela. Topics of discussion were carefully crafted to exclude me. It became as though I wasn't even there. I think it takes rare skill and a very cold heart to make someone feel like they are not where they actually physically are.
Absent? Present?

And time crawled. My own business with The Ex having been suspended, I couldn't help overhearing whatever else happened to be on the agenda. And they couldn't discuss weaves and high fashion forever. Eventually, GalPal got round to doing what she really came to do, which was apologizing to Angela for stealing her ex-boyfriend (anyone remember QezH?) from her. Strange apology to be making. By all appearances she was being sincere. Still, I nearly choked on a big lump of Incapacity To Believe Her Guts.

According to rules no one has written anywhere but everyone knows, (best) friends do not inherit the exes of (best) friends under any circumstances. It shouldn't matter that the said (best) friends are male or female; bitterness bites nevertheless. Guys just know how to stifle their choking gall better and can thus fake friendship as though it's all cool, when it's really uncool in our heart of hearts and we're waiting with wicked patience for the perfect chance to strike back with cold devastating revenge. Ladies will rub friends forever immediately and/or kill someone same time because that someone is their worst enemy who used to be their best friend. Betrayal brings out our worst inner beast.

Angela said exactly nothing at the end of GalPal's hazard venture. Just stared, blinking regularly. I considered leaving them to their privacy but hey, ringside seat, gimme a break. Besides, they might need a referee anytime now. And it only got more intense because suddenly GalPal cried real tears. And then Angela started crying also, but before she could forgive GalPal, she first unleashed upon her person what Kenyan journalists like to call "a string of epithets." GalPal nodded sheepishly through it all. When all bad feeling had thus been successfully exorcized, the two friends cried some more in each others' embrace.

Even though I said "Hm! Women," my eyes were a bit moist and I was happy for them so I clapped to advocate my happiness about their renewed alliance.
...if only there had been a vuvuzela nearby!

To those two BFF's, I had always been the witness of major events, or sometimes a disposable band-aid, and even a long-term crutch for their testy episodes. They are more like sisters if you ask me. Somehow I held a stake of a sort in their continued alliance.

While they were still hugging, I seized the opportunity to extricate myself from the emotional tangle, crept out while they sobbed, fled from embarrassing questions about the motivations behind my blog and never saw them again to this day.

As I walked down the stairs, I determined that I would talk to The Ex by my own initiative. Apparently, cautious, indirect people are a turn-off for ladies of this generation. They want us to BRING IT ON. Ask GalPal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Yellow Book

I keep journals. It all started innocently enough, when the sudden shock of going to boarding school while yet a senior primary ignoramus (pun intended) sent me on an adventure into myself. Today there's a wide variety of my old, filled-up journals, editions of which are scattered in the many places I've called home since senior primary, including this here blog.

One day I sat at a corner I like to call The Office and started sorting out things to burn later. You can bet that when you finish university, no one will have any use for your written and drawn in class notebooks nor your abortive schemes for world domination. So I was going to burn them. In the course of sorting the chaff from the wheat I came across The Yellow Book. It is a very old journal, which I started writing before I joined university.

The best thing about going through old journals is the opportunity to look back in awe or utter shock depending on how well thought out or shallow your views were back then. Then you can say "I know better now" or "I'm growing backwards mentally." In many ways, new realizations arise from looking at old things with new eyes. Most importantly, back when I wrote, I had absolutely no idea what would become of me afterwards.

As I sat at the Office, The Yellow Book exposed a lot of my naïveté and inexperience of back in the day. Plus a whole ton of idealism which, alas, I seem to have lost. Innocence is priceless I say. If impractical youths were given mikes they could do standup comedy without breaking a sweat. My ears were getting hot as I read the commitments I and a certain girl had made to each other, implicit though they were. Many pages on, I had started nicknaming her The Ex, believing I would only ever have one ex in my whole life. And if things went well, she wouldn't be an ex for very long. The Yellow Book made it very obvious that I really liked that girl. It was written by a younger me, who hadn't learnt to erect walls of pride and exclusion.

Before long the stupid book started working on my tender nerves, such that I forgot that I had taken a principled stance against love in more recent times. (That stance is elaborated here.) Suddenly, I caught myself exclaiming "What happened to you!"

Man up! exclaimed the alter ego, and I determined to burn the damn book, along with the unflattering marked exam scripts and brain-deadening class notes, but only as soon as I finished reading it. So I flipped through it some more.

Suddenly, a card I had never seen before fell out of The Yellow Book. The handwriting on it belonged to The Ex. She was apologizing, in unequivocal terms, for burning my drawing book. That was the main offense for which we had broken up.

The note could only have been three years old plus, and I was finding it for the first time! I was also bothered that she'd apparently read The Yellow Book (she signed off on the apology as "The Ex," complete with stinging quotation marks.) If she had read The Yellow Book in its entirety, and decided, on the back of information thus gleaned, to write me an apology, then I had real cause for some sort of embarrassment, even if the reaction was overdue by three years. 

major crisis scenario

Three years is a long time not to know that an apology even exists for something that you've been carrying the torch for. It would be polite to acknowledge receipt of it. I temporarily allowed myself to forget that nostalgia has been the undoing of many a youth. I couldn't help thinking, what if I had discovered the note on time? What could have been? The real question was: what if upon joining university I had not turned my back on the Yellow Book?

We'll never know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ODM and PNU shall pass away but FIDA will never collapse

I never thought the day would come when I would say this. Hear me out.

With great sadness do I declare that chauvinism is ingrained in the minds of men. Go to any male sports team's changing room at man-talk time and you'll get the picture. Go to any bar and listen. Put your ear to the ground soon after any woman declares her desire to vie for the top seat in the country. Expected findings: the only difference between individual men is the amount of training we have undergone in order to act and speak as though the "fairer gender" is equal to the "stronger gender".

For some of us, the training is as rigorous as sexual harassment lawsuits and restraining orders can get. Most of the rest of us simply avoid rocking the boat and get by agreeably. And therein lies the fatal trap: though we act enlightened, and know the science of the gentleman at a theoretical level, useful perhaps for conjuring up tricks on Valentine's Day, we do not otherwise believe it as completely as we should!

The usual gimmicks involving pulling seats and opening doors are not in themselves enough to fashion a liberated gentleman. Yet every mainstream relationship guru with a breath to breathe on the thing will harp on about the necessity of flowers too and then heave off about whispered sweet nothings being the key to her heart. But, alas, it isn't that simple.

To illustrate, if man was not half-expected to be a philistine chauvinist from the outset by default, the current frequency of "gender violence" would be a scandal of crisis proportions. NGOs wouldn't need to "spread awareness" about what is otherwise obviously unacceptable barbarism. And it wouldn't be quite so funny (as it seems to be today) if the occasional man was thoroughly beaten up by his wife or girlfriend, and sat on for good measure, because, in a truly fair world, one might as well beat the other instead, right? But chauvinism goes much deeper than the dry duality of beating or not beating the partner to ICU, nor even treating or not treating the mate to expensive bribes. Instead, it's a whole attitude, a mindset, even a fixation.

You know how, in the thin-walled apartments of nowadays, you sometimes overhear the neighbor "consulting widely" with his wife or girlfriend? That guy's never once dreamed of beating her, and probably never will.

See how widely he consults!
Humor me as I delve into the nitty-gritty. Sex, which is the central basis for gender in the first place, is a very powerful physiological and psychological experience. It even tends to emphasize and distort many accompanying emotions. And it strengthens the bond, even if that bond is "purely physical". Thus, for example, every break-up between sexually-active lovers is always heartrendingly hard, even if the stated couple eagerly wanted to murder one another (B_WTB has more on that here). Unfortunately, at the same time, the current format of the sex act is rigidly rigged to inflate the thoughtless man's ego with notions of dominance, and exponentially grow them, until they expel from his mind anything contrary. Sensationalist mass media and its first cousin, the porn industry, don't help prevailing impressions either. Once a man associates sex with dominance, his girl has a real obstacle to overcome in chauvinism. And men won't suddenly stop having sex to better appreciate the fairer sex; or what are they fairer for?

Sorry, that came out wrong.

Because of this major crack in our thinking, this refusal to acknowledge our chauvinism that stares us in the face, there shall ever be a hapless man, feeling victimized, thinking he did nothing wrong, looking lugubrious, standing in the defendant's box at civil court. And you can put your money on it.