Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vakio Milamina: Loved It Because It Gives You the Inside Scoop (Madagascar)

Vakio Milamina

Loved It Because: it gives you the inside scoop on the culture and politics of Madagascar. Soamiely is the rare Malagasy author who writes in (great) English about these things.  I lived in Madagascar for three years and often read Soamiely's posts on Medium but it was only once I was back stateside that I realized that he'd written two books (his other: Ambony-Ambany (Upside Down) is available to purchase on Lulu.com).  


Vakio Milamina (i.e., A Quiet or Smooth Read) lays out the authors thoughts on life in Madagascar through a series of very loosely related essays.  In particular, I loved "It's All Part of Growing Up" which is basically a 6 page rundown on the political history of Madagascar.  Other essays like "Fiadanana and Moramora" made me laugh--moramora IS the quintessential essence of being Malagasy (from a vazaha aka foreigner perspective).  It captures the incrementalism of progress (or de-evolution) and a peace with slowness that one notices even after only a few days in the country.  Perhaps most useful for any visitor/tourist is his essay "Our Unambiguously Ambiguous Art of Conversation" in which the author lays out why a Malagasy will seldom ever say 'no'.  If I had realized this early on I would have saved myself a lot of stress and frustration. But there's no reason to read just one essay--Vakio is the wonderful book that can be read in a single sitting or on a short plane ride.  You'd also be well served to follow him on twitter at @soamiely 


*One of my Reading Around the Continent books--the full list is here.
**See our 2017, 20162015 and 2014 Reading Lists.  
***Want to read more on Madagascar, check out my compilation of posts from our three years there here.  



NOTES:
18 reciprocity ingrained in Malagasy culture
21  why there is the cycle of Malagasy political violence: 2 options for presidents
22  'in politics I have no relatives'
40  art of conversation--not every saying outright 'no'
42  until society explodes
44-7  Embracing a culture of failure in policy-making
68-74  Great summary of Malagasy political history
79-83  fiadanana and moramora!
83-87  How to make change and progress
98  TNR airport 

The Warmth of Other Suns: Mandatory reading for every American


There's one episode from Isabel Wilkerson's stunning work "The Warmth of Other Suns" that illustrates the root of why this tome belongs on the reading list of every person that professes to follow Jesus.  Buried in the endnotes is a synopsis from a 1906 Raleigh Evening Times article that describe a courthouse that used a different bible for black and white witness.  The article relates the presiding judge's admonition to the sheriff when the wrong Bible was used to swear someone in--his advice to prevent future gaffes was to have a separate place where the "black" bible is kept to prevent future mixing.

This common practice in the Jim Crow south stunned me--how tragic for the Christian faith to think that the story of a savior that bucked against societal norms and laws--who gave his life for all men and women--who died for "jew and gentile" who broke bread with the dredges of society, who loved and healed the lepers, who ministered to prostitutes and implored his followers that true religion was to love the orphaned and widowed--how tragic that this radical good news was distorted, ruined and reduced to a reference tool to subjugate another race.

All of this reminds me of the Reverend Dr. Lockridge's famous 1976 sermon "That's My King."  In this era of #NOTMYlatestinjustice, Lockridge, who left Texas for San Diego in the early 50's (the final wave of the great migration), gives an affirmative message of who this King was who made ONE bible--ONE message for ALL men.



The fact that I can place Dr. Lockridge's move from being a Pastor in Texas to one at Calvary Baptist in San Diego amidst the final wave of the 'great migration' is a simple way that my eyes had been opened after reading only 77 pages of this 500 pages work.  Indeed, Wilkerson makes sure to point out the myriad modern day icons who were products of their parents' or grandparents' brave exodus from the South (e.g., Diana Ross, Tupac, Bill Russell and Huey Newton).

The strength of Warmth is due to the exhaustive research readily apparent in the more than 500 page history of the African-american exodus from Jim Crow south.  Wilkerson's narrative focuses on three people whose stories represent the plight of millions during the "great migration":  Ida May Gladney, a housewife/reluctant cotton picker who fled Mississippi in the 1930s to settle in Chicago; George Starling, a partially college educated orange picker/social justice agitator who hightailed it out of Florida in the 40s for New York; and Robert Foster, a sleighted Army surgeon who left a stifling backwoods Louisiana town in the 1950s for gold in California.  Their narratives emerge as Wilkerson weaves them into the larger history of the millions of African-Americans who gave up everything to begin their lives anew in urban centers across the United States.

Before the publication of Warmth some seven years ago, there had never been a definitive and comprehensive analysis (at least in the ethnographic sense) of these waves of migration that began following the reconstruction era as Jim Crow set in.  Wilkerson's book is significant because of the short historical space between 2017 and the enslavement (through legal means or socio-economic means) of a race of people.  Let the following statement sink in:

Just 77 years ago, in 1/3 of the US, killing blacks was not a crime.

Most of us have relatives at least who were young kids 77 years ago!  It's often far too easy to dismiss a movement today--#blacklivesmatter comes to mind.  Now while I don't agree with ever single tenet of that movement, reading this book opened my eyes to the historical headspace from which its leaders and followers are coming.  While the idea of the de facto legalized murder of a race seems a preposterously distant one to me today, it probably doesn't to many of the African-Americans in this country.  Because they have family members STILL ALIVE who endured it.  They know the history.

Much of the conflict in today's society would at least be softened if both sides took the time to know one another's history--their backstory.  Wilkerson has presented a gift to Americans--she has captured a fundamental piece of our history that before only existed buried in the margins of dusty newspapers and crumbling, fading memories of aging octogenarians.  By weaving the personal with the historic she has brought to life the brave flight of millions who sought a better life only to find roadblocks, but who fought on--hoping to give their children and grandchildren a better chance or at the very least the chance to bloom.


FOOTNOTE:
While were on the subject of dark periods in US history, check out this documentary on a very dark period in the 1930s when an estimated 1 million americans of mexican descent were forcibly removed from their homes and 'repatriated' to Mexico (at least 60% of these men and women were American citizens)! NPR article on "Repatriation"



For further reading:
 New Yorker Review of "The Warmth of Other Suns" 
 Author's Page
The Lynching of Claude Neal

My notes:































1915-1970
5 invisible language
7 hyphens
10 people who might not have been
11 first step without asking
21 lighter skin = better economic prospects
22  like all things beautiful
31  Colored parking spaces into the 1950s
33  Case system =a prison for all
37  reconstruction effects with sharecropping contrast
38  Plessy v. Ferguson
38  Stripping away of liberties following reconstruction era
39  Every four days someone was hanged or burned alive
40  Jim Crow laws
41  great quote on anti Jim Crow
43  both hostility and migration was driven by a new generation that didn't know slavery
45-6  beautiful writing on accents
45  white and colored bibles
48  divisive nature of Jim Crow
50  unfair childhood as preparation for caste system of Jim Crow
54  share cropping just another form of slavery--no transparency
58  Florida was one of the most repressive states
59  FL, TX, MS were the first to put in the caste system
61  FDR fails America with lack of intervention in Neal Mariana case
85  historical source of white/black wealth disparity
96  Link between sharecropping and northern business interests
117 'sometimes you have to stoop to conquer'
120 Clement-Dubois conflict at Atlanta University
131 1943 Detroit riots start of the shift to the use of the riot as an urban resistance tool
135 the taste of freedom in the North changes people
139 War make Florida black labor indispensable
152 prevalence of debt peonage into the 1940s
157 killing blacks was not a crime 76 years ago
160-1 WWI served as a trigger for the Great Migration, whose trickle started with 1890's Jim Crow
163  3 methods that the South used stem GM: economic blockages (tariffs), suppression of the information flow, perversion of the legal/justice system
175  to stay or go and 'let Jim Crow win'
179  Southern blacks as refugees--traversing long distances
186  3 celebs from Monroe who were part of GM
191  Civil war railway laid the foundation for the GM
200-4 unofficial travel guides: lack of safe stops traveling across country served as an impediment to movement
233 two LA 44 original settlers were black (in 1781)
240 slaves worked away for 2.5 years in Texas after the Emanciptation Proclamation was over, not realizing that they were free (Juneteenth day)
243  sister cities part in the GM
247  slaves 1st arrived in NY in the 1600s with the Dutch West India Company
248  Civil war draft riots help drive blacks toward Harlem utnil it became majority black
255  with integration, the rejection of black businesses by blacks who can use white businesses now instead
266  Jesse Owens: couldn't shake hands with Hitler but couldn't with US president either
269  Chicago settled by a black fur trader in 1779: Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
273  For most of US history, riots were actually carried out by disaffected white groups
277  blacks paid more in rent than whites, so they more people living in their apartments--they also had 'rent parties'
290  Northern blacks were hard on migrant blacks--in many cases harder than whites.  These migrant blacks might not know how to act 'appropriately' but 'their children will'
304  1st time voting in Chicago, blacks were courted by the democrats
320  Florida was the most violent state in the South
324-6  Early NAACP work
330  Robert was friends with Ray Charles--who himself was also a product of the GM
333  'slave market' for domestic help in the 1940s.  Lowest economic rung gathering on corners for white women to drive by and select
348  one of Ray charles' kids was named after Robert
375  Ciero riots
376  Neighborhoods didn't fail because blacks moved in but were already failing
387  King's northern campaign was a reaction to the GM
389  King reveals very hardcore but veiled racism in the North
398  hyper segregation
417  difference between immigrant whites and southern blacks





Ida Mae

Dr. Robert Foster





































George Starling
G

































































Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sleepwalking Land (Mozambique): Couto crafts a surreal tale about hopelessness but also about never giving up in civil-war era Mozambique

Sleepwalking Land

Loved It Because: Mia Couto has crafted a surreal, engrossing tragic tale of the hopelessness of life during the fifteen year long civil war that consumed post-independence Mozambique.  I went into this novel knowing little about Mozambique's history apart from a broad knowledge regarding the brutality with which Portugal ceded independence to its colonies.  

Reading this novel won't give the reader even a brief overview of the country's civil war, instead Couto focuses on pulling the reader into the pysche of those affected most by war--the ones not doing the killing--the women and the children.  Early on, Kindzu the narrator relates one of the most bizaree stories that I've ever read--his younger brother is forced to live in the family's henhouse bu their insane father, and then forced to act like a chicken--for so long that he eventually becomes one and disappears.  This type of magical kafkaesque storyline is repeated throughout Sleepwalking Land, as the oprhaned narrators (yes, plural) struggle to exist in a country that is dying under their feet.  The very idea of life turns Kindzu into a fatalist as he remarks at one point: "the best things in life are those that don't lie ahead"--meaning that pleasure and meaning can only be found in distant memories or in the most immediate present.  

Read This For More:
2103 Paris Review Interview with Mia Couto
2015 Guardian Interview with Author
Sleepwalking Land (2007 Movie is free with amazon prime)



*One of my Reading Around the Continent books--the full list is here.
 **See our 20162015 and 2014 Reading Lists.

NOTES:

15  Kindzu is the worst as pronounced by his mother

16  Mozambique likened to a beached dying whale

17  An Indian doesn't have black friends

20  Sincerity is a childlike virtue

22  Wish to be men of no race--men of an ocean instead

33  The elephant as a symbol of the dying land

35-43  Recounts surreal ocean journey and a dream-like conversation with his dead father

40  Desire and journey to become a naparama (witch doctor of sorts)

41  Mozambique's plight is blamed on the country forgetting its ancestors

53  Mozambique's fate is that of a mat: "History will wipe its feet on our back" 

60-7  Surreal Skellington episode on repopulating Mozambique

62  'dreams are letters we send to our other, remaining lives'

75  in the end we all yearn for connection

105  The cause of the war: to license robbery...'death was necessary so that laws could be forgotten'

108  narrator's role from the beginning: a dreamer of memories, an inventor of truths...a sleepwalker like the land where I was born

157  "the best things in life are those that don't lie ahead"

158  the solitude and loneliness of war: "that's what the war had done:  now, all of us are alone, the dead and the living.  There's no nation anymore."

176  cunning = hyena = death

192  "those who suffer most in war are those not involved in the killing"  it's the women and children




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Last Will and Testament of Senor da Silva Araujo (Cape Verde): Read It for a Melancholy Latin Take on Love in African Cape Verde

The Last Will and Testament of Senor da Silva Araujo (Cape Verde)


Read It Because:
This translated piece of Cape Verdean fiction is beautiful, sad, and meandering as it examines the life of a poor peasant boy made good as a successful business owner.  Senor da Silva's life unfolds in a non-linear, often-dreamlike fashion at times as we follow his life through the reading of his last will and testament.  The strength of this novel lies in its examination of  themes both broad and mundane. The author offers the reader a glimpse into the way in which the independence struggle affected the lives of the ordinary businessmen and local politicians as da Silva struggles to position himself to prosper however the struggle might end up.  Far more interesting, though, is the investigation by da Silva's illegitimate daughter (suprise!) into a mysterious (and perhaps fantastical) love obsession named Adelia.  As the details surrounding Adelia are slowly revealed, a melancholy shadow falls over the life of da Silva as he grapples with love, rejection and loss.   The reader is left to wonder: was Adelia actually real or was she a mad creation by a man unable to find his place in Cape Verdean society and life in general?

*One of my Reading Around the Continent books--the full list is here.
 **See our 20162015 and 2014 Reading Lists.

























My notes:

35  political independence struggles

37   identity within the independence struggle//Araujo finds himself changed after traveling abroad
39   positives and negatives of technology
42   dreams of service and global aspirations
80   people's pleasure of cheating the state of its money
84   on the weight of solitude
87-88    idealization of Adelia
91   enough to know you exist
92-3   "life is a naked woman" linked to his fear of impotence
95   no one can live in our pain
96   In Praia Branca--the people are all witches
98-99   'sic transit gloria mundi' --- 'thus passes the glory of the world' or 'worldly things are fleeting' his triumph over Adelia
103   nothing more challenging for a man than making love for the 1st time//also examines the idea of a memory stripping one bare
128   author's thesis on the culture of San Vincente
134   Was Adelia real?  She was never found...
137   Dona Chica denies him ever loving any other women
145   Araujo gets swept up in events and is afraid of his pasts
150   a sad lonely ending for Araujo--in essense, paying for his sins
152   last words: "watch out for the door Adelia"

Monday, November 28, 2016

Allah is Not Obliged (Ivory Coast--Cote d'Ivoire): Loved it Because It's Brutal, Funny and It Mentions...

Allah is Not Obliged

Loved it Because: Well it's hard to say that you 'love' a book about child soldiers but Kourouma has crafted a first person narrative that is brutal, funny, and which mentions your 'father's cock' (i.e., faforo) about a hundred times.  Allah is Not Obliged is the tale of a young Ivorian boy named Birahima who becomes a child soldier of misfortune--killing and pontificating his way across West Africa.  

The author is from Cote d'Ivoire but the narrative skips across the porous borders of its neighbors.  This is a decidedly West African novel...less about a country and more about a phenomenon--the rise of the child soldier.  The best portions of the novel are the quasi histories of the different countries--Kourouma boils down the essential tenets of the political and warfield battles in an easy to read and digestible manner.  Take his summary of Sierra Leone:


While all this corruption was going on and all these coup d’états were happening one after another, on the sly, people were plotting a bite-that-has-no-teeth (among Black Africans a nasty surprise is known as ‘that which bites but has no teeth’) against the corrupt scheming regime of Sierra Leone. Walahé! Completely on the sly, completely in secret. Foday Sankoh, Corporal Foday Sankoh was about to bite Sierra Leone using no teeth. Corporal Foday Sankoh introduced a third partner to Sierra Leone’s dance. Up till then, everything had been simple, very simple: there were only two dancers, only two underhand partners, the government and the army. If the dictator in power got too corrupt and too rich, there was a coup d’état and he was replaced by a general. If he hadn’t already been assassinated, the dictator took the money and fled without further ado. When the guy who replaced him got too corrupt, too rich, there was another different coup and someone else replaced him and, if he hadn’t already been assassinated, he did a runner with the liriki, the cash. And so on. Foday Sankoh fucked up this private dance when he introduced another whore to the dance: the people, the poor people, the Black Nigger Native savage Sierra Leonean bushmen. First off, who is Foday Sankoh, Corporal Foday Sankoh? Gnamokodé!  Foday Sankoh had to do was cut off the arms of as many people, as many of the citizens of Sierra Leone, as possible. Every Sierra Leone prisoner had his hands cut off before being sent back into the territory occupied by government forces. Foday gave the orders and methods and the orders and the methods were enforced. The ‘long sleeve, short sleeve’ policy was put into action. ‘Short sleeve’ was when you cut off the whole forearm; ‘long sleeve’ was when you cut off both hands at the wrist.

Were I teaching African history, these little snippets would be the perfect way to break up a dry lecture.  
*One of my Reading Around the Continent books--the full list is here.
 **See our 20162015 and 2014 Reading Lists too!

Links for Further Reading:
NPR: A Chatty, Pensive, 'Rude As A Goat's Beard' Child Soldier
Words Without Borders Book Review
The Guardian's Book Review: Welcome to the Jungle

My Highlights:
Allah is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma
You have 28 highlighted passages

First off, Number one … My name is Birahima and I’m a little nigger. Not ’cos I’m black and I’m a kid. I’m a little nigger because I can’t talk French for shit. That’s how things are. You might be a grown-up, or old, you might be Arab, or Chinese, or white, or Russian—or even American—if you talk bad French, it’s called parler petit nègre—little nigger talking—so that makes you a little nigger too. That’s the rules of French for you. Number two … I didn’t get very far

Number three … I’m disrespectful, I’m rude as a goat’s beard and I swear like a bastard. I don’t swear like the civilised Black Nigger African Natives in their nice suits, I don’t say fuck! shit! bitch! I use Malinké swear words like faforo! (my father’s cock—or your father’s or somebody’s father’s), gnamokodé! (bastard), walahé! (I swear by Allah). Malinké is the name of the tribe I belong to. They’re Black Nigger African Savages and there’s a lot of us in the north of Côte d’Ivoire and in Guinea, and there’s even Malinkés in other corrupt fucked-up banana republics like Gambia, Sierra Leone and up in Senegal. Number four … I suppose I should

‘This is simply another ordeal which Allah has sent you (an ‘ordeal’ is ‘a severe or trying experience intended to judge someone’s worth’). If Allah has ordained that you be miserable here on earth, it is because he has reserved some greater happiness for you in paradise.’

You don’t have to have been to the place of excision to know they cut something out of the girls. They cut something out of my mother, but unfortunately maman’s blood didn’t stop, it kept gushing like a river swollen by a storm. All her friends had stopped bleeding. That meant that maman was the one who was to die at the place of excision. That’s the way of the world, the price that has to be paid. Every year at the ceremony of excision, the djinn of the forest takes one of the girls who has come to be initiated and kills her and keeps her for a sacrifice. The girl is buried there in the forest. The djinn never chooses an ugly girl, it always picks one of the most beautiful, one of the prettiest of the girls to be initiated. Maman was the prettiest girl of her age, that was why the djinn chose her to die in the forest. The sorceress who was the excisor was

Bambaras are called different things like Lobis or Sénoufos or Kabiès. Before people came to colonise them, they didn’t wear any clothes. They were called the naked peoples. Bambaras are true indigenes, the true ancient owners of the land. The

Even if the man and woman getting married are black, and they both wear black clothes, if they never do sex together then it’s a white marriage—a mariage en blanc in French. It

The woman is always wrong. That’s what they call women’s rights.

Yacouba was badly hurt and put in hospital, but Allah made him better because Yacouba performs the five daily prayers every day and was always slitting the throats of sacrifices. Allah made him better because his sacrifices were fitting. (Among Black Nigger African Natives, if you say ‘the sacrifices were fitting’, it means you got lucky.)

Refugees had it easier than everyone else in the country because everyone was always giving them food, the UNHCR, NGOs, everyone. But they only allowed women, kids younger than five and old people. In other words I wasn’t allowed in.

But he never smoked hash. The hash was reserved for the child-soldiers, on account of it made them as strong as real soldiers. Walahé!

According to my Larousse, a funeral oration is a speech in honour of a famous celebrity who’s dead. Child-soldiers are the most famous celebrities of the late twentieth century, so whenever a child-soldier dies, we have to say a funeral oration. That means we have to recount how in this great big fucked-up world they came to be a child-soldier. I do it when I feel like it, but I don’t have to. I’m doing it for Sarah because I want to, I’ve got the time, and anyway it’s interesting.

Allah is not obliged to be fair about everything, about all his creations, about all his actions here on earth. The same goes for me. I don’t have to talk, I’m not obliged to tell my dog’s-life-story, wading through dictionary after dictionary. I’m fed up talking, so I’m going to stop for today. You can all fuck off!

The dictator Samuel Doe started off as a sergeant in the Liberian army. He—Sergeant Doe—and some of his friends were fed up with the arrogance and the contempt that the Black Nigger Afro-Americans, or Congos, showed for the indigenous people of Liberia. ‘Indigenous people’ are the Black Nigger African Natives ‘originating and living or occurring naturally in an area’. They’re different from Black Nigger Afro-Americans who are ‘descendants of freed slaves’. The descendants of the slaves, also known as Congos, acted just like the colonists in Liberia. That’s how my Harrap’s defines ‘indigenous people’ and ‘Afro-Americans’. Samuel Doe and some of his friends were fed up of all the injustice that rained down on the indigenous people of Liberia in independent Liberia. That was why the indigenous people revolted and it was why two indigenous people plotted an indigenous conspiracy against the arrogant colonials and the Afro-American colonialists.

They were very inconspicuous right up to the fateful day (‘fateful’ means ‘destined to happen’) 24 December 1989, Christmas Eve 1989. On Christmas Eve 1989, they waited until all the border guards at Boutoro (a border town) were dead drunk, a hundred percent drunk, then attacked them. They quickly overran the Boutoro border post, massacred the border guards and took all their guns. Now that the border guards were dead, the officers pretended to be the border guards and got on the phone and called army headquarters in Monrovia. They told headquarters that the border guards had fought off an attack and requested reinforcements. The army dispatched reinforcements. The reinforcements walked straight into an ambush, they were all massacred, all killed, all emasculated, and all their weapons were seized.


When you haven’t got no father, no mother, no brothers, no sisters, no aunts, no uncles, when you haven’t got nothing at all, the best thing to do is become a child-soldier. Being a child-soldier is for kids who’ve got fuck all left on earth or Allah’s heaven.



the UN asked the CDEAO to intervene. The CDEAO asked Nigeria to do humanitarian peacekeeping. (‘Humanitarian peacekeeping’ is when one country is allowed to send soldiers into another country to kill innocent victims in their own country, in their own villages, in their own huts, sitting on their own mats.) Nigeria


Prince Johnson was the third big important rebel warlord. He had exclusive rights over large parts of Liberia. But he was a prince, meaning he was a nice warlord because he had principles.



And for what? To make sure the new arrival isn’t a devourer of souls. Prince Johnson didn’t need any soul-eaters, he already had too many of them in his district. It was a haven for soul-eaters. (Black Nigger African Natives claim that at night Black Africans turn into owls and take the souls of their nearest and dearest and go off and devour them in the branches

And, even though Allah never leaves empty a mouth he has created, things were tough. Really tough! Faforo! He started out by attacking

Among the dead were three child-soldiers. Three of the Good Lord’s children, according to the saint. They weren’t friends of mine. Their names were Mamadou the Mad, John the Proud and Boukary the Damned. They died because that’s how Allah wanted things. And Allah is not obliged to be fair about everything he does. And I’m not obliged to say a funeral oration for these three child-soldiers.

battle lasted several days. The attack lasted so many days that there was even time to alert the ECOMOG peacekeeping forces, there was even time for them to get there. The peacekeeping forces didn’t keep the peace, they didn’t take any unnecessary risks. They weren’t bothered about details, they just fired shells at random, they fired shells at the people doing the

attacking and at the people being attacked. They bombed every part of the town, the natives’ quarter, full of Black Nigger African Natives, and the miners’ quarter. When everything was demolished, when no one was moving any more, not the attackers or the attacked, the peacekeeping forces stopped massacring. They picked up the wounded. The wounded were evacuated to their field hospitals. They drew up a report about the status of forces on the ground. That was their role, their mission, their duty. They ascertained that it was Johnson’s territory. Therefore Johnson was awarded control of the town and took over running the mines. The dead

Sierra Leone is a small fucked-up African state between Guinea and Liberia. For a century and a half, from the start of the English colonisation in 1808 right up to independence on 27 April 1961, the country was a haven of peace, stability and security. Everything was simple back then. From an administrative point of view, there were two only types of people: first, British subjects including colonial English toubab colonists and the creos, or creoles; and, second, there was the ‘protected subjects’, Black Nigger Native savages out in the bush. The creoles were descended from freed slaves who came over from America. Walahé! The Black Nigger Natives worked as hard as wild beasts. The creoles got all the jobs as civil servants in the government and managers of the commercial businesses.

And the colonial English colonists and the thieving double-crossing Lebanese pocketed all the money. The Lebanese didn’t show up until much later, between the two big wars. The creoles were rich intelligent Black Niggers who were a lot better than the Black Nigger Native Savages. A lot of them had law degrees and different kinds of diplomas like doctors. When independence came on 27 April 1961, the Black Nigger Native savages got the right to vote and ever since then Sierra Leone is nothing but coup d’états and assassinations and lynchings and executions and all sorts of trouble, a big-time fucked-up mess on account of Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds and gold and all sorts of corruption. Faforo!
While all this corruption was going on and all these coup d’états were happening one after another, on the sly, people were plotting a bite-that-has-no-teeth (among Black Africans a nasty surprise is known as ‘that which bites but has no teeth’) against the corrupt scheming regime of Sierra Leone. Walahé! Completely on the sly, completely in secret. Foday Sankoh, Corporal Foday Sankoh was about to bite Sierra Leone using no teeth. Corporal Foday Sankoh introduced a third partner to Sierra Leone’s dance. Up till then, everything had been simple, very simple: there were only two dancers, only two underhand partners, the government and the army. If the dictator in power got too corrupt and too rich, there was a coup d’état and he was replaced by a general. If he hadn’t already been assassinated, the dictator took the money and fled without further ado. When the guy who replaced him got too corrupt, too rich, there was another different coup and someone else replaced him and, if he hadn’t already been assassinated, he did a runner with the liriki, the cash. And so on. Foday Sankoh fucked up this private dance when he introduced another whore to the dance: the people, the poor people, the Black Nigger Native savage Sierra Leonean bushmen. First off, who is Foday Sankoh, Corporal Foday Sankoh? Gnamokodé!

Foday Sankoh had to do was cut off the arms of as many people, as many of the citizens of Sierra Leone, as possible. Every Sierra Leone prisoner had his hands cut off before being sent back into the territory occupied by government forces. Foday gave the orders and methods and the orders and the methods were enforced. The ‘long sleeve, short sleeve’ policy was put into action. ‘Short sleeve’ was when you cut off the whole forearm; ‘long sleeve’ was when you cut off both hands at the wrist.

The seven people were: the doctor, the generalissimo’s aide-de-camp, Yacouba, Sekou, Saydou, Sekou’s coadjutor, and me, Birahima, the blameless, fearless street