a society that has allowed itself to be used by outsiders and glories at that.
Thus Spake Mr. Round Square
Twenty chapter story set in the East African coastal city. Revolves around lives of the leading characters Izzie, Ten Ten, Irie Priest and Sista Nice pitted against King Dave and his henchmen Rootsman and Ras Willy Walla. All lived in the ghetto next to the sufferiation street, but fate smiled at King and now, powerful drug baron, and connected to a shady minister, uses his connections to exploit these innocent ‘rude bways’.
To cover up for their shady deals, his Paradiso Entertainment invites Rasta Preacher from the Caribbean. We meet One G of Bongo Natty Crew, a reggae band from the Jamaica, who acts as its bandleader and fiery Preacher. He comes to preach the message of One Love unaware of any underground movement that his hosts have. He’s sincere in his ‘Repatriation’ message.
There’s a huge following as most touts, idlers, jobless, matatu taxi drivers, school and college going students, mighty and low, and especially the poor are already Dreadlock Rasta. He takes care of their spiritual needs as much as King Dave and the Minister takes care of their physical needs. Shashamane Temple is born, and the youths become part of a movement of Jah People. Shashamane Holdings become bigger. More matatus and minibuses are bought and soon they are operating all over the city.
Problem comes in when the Preacher’s words of prophecy, that the youths will be persecuted by the ‘downpressor’ man comes true. the indoctrinated youths rise up-against poverty and unjust ‘society’ fighting for their rights. The Minister and King Dave are busy with drugs, smuggling, and extortion, as the Preacher is busy denouncing the unjust laws of the land. Soon the youths brush against the authorities and they are expelled from the city. True to the Preachers prophecy.
‘Yo man, ow yo feelin’ over dere?’ he whispered to his friend.
‘I man a feelin’ picky pinkie head you no say’
‘Easy skankin’ man.’
‘A guo feelin’ pinkie, eazy and crazy’
‘Jah a go say Irie Irie man’ said Ten Ten, between heavy puffs of smoke.
‘Whad-dat be man?’ he confusedly asked.
‘De syem wyei our grandfather a go feel when he a go smoke di weed in di Garden a long time ago you no say’
‘How him discover di weed?’ Izzie asked feigning ignorance.
‘Yes man after working in di gyaaden tirelessly, di man burn di weed and chaff as he sat down to rest. As di smoke of di weeds go up, di wind sent from di Most High drove di smoke to him nose. De man felt pinkie as you no say and worked even harder di nex dyei with de aim of burning more weeds. Dat way he discover weed and took it to di village Him sick baby take one spliff and ago heal of his ailment’.
‘Dat is a lot of cock and bull’ Izzie said as he dozed off.
Izzie was amused but he knew Ten Ten would go great lengths just to explain the origin of things. Just the other day he had attempted to justify why the tribes from the hills were the first people to chew khat a local stimulant after goats that were grazing there got excited and alert.
‘Yes man.’ He went on. ‘It a go be for the healing of the Nations. Irie Priest says it is written in de Good Book He has read it and saw di Holy Herb in every chapter the first leaves our parents cover their nakedness in Ityopia. Irie Priest she dey find weed in di grave of Solomon and Queen Sheba bring it to Africa for di Black man to utilize it Irie Priest smoke it all the time before he can drive di Zion Train and get his inspiration of di weed. See. We a go get no road accident except when he a go no smoke it…’
The narrative had no ending; he talked himself to sleep just like Izzie who was already deep asleep in the far away fantasyland. From the sky he saw a big joint of marijuana falling down. His hands stretched forth to grab it. He was scared but held it firmly in his trembling hands. Suddenly, lightning flashed forth setting it on fire. The gigantic spliff turned into a ball of fire and he found himself smoking it; one puff at a time until he found himself turned into a towering monster.
He started to laugh. He was suddenly in a large-scale ganja plantation and a huge bungalow in the middle of it. There was another flash of lightening from the South, which set ablaze the entire plantation. Before long, he was running for protection at the big bungalow as everywhere else was burning. Even his body caught fire as well. He tried fleeing but there was no use; he could not move an inch. He tried shouting for help yet no syllable came from his mouth. Everywhere smelled of smoke and flesh mixed with something like an expired incense. It was choking him and he desperately needed fresh air.
When he jerked awake, mosquitoes were working extra hard on his sweating face and his legs ached from kicking the hard wooden bench. He also found himself lying on the wet cold floor and one of the polythene walls was casually razing. He thought this was an extension of his dream. He sat instinctively.
‘Ten Ten get the fork up quick-quick. You five feet fool, look what business we have here!’ he cried.
He darted towards the street faster than a lizard nailing a fly as his dazed friend scurried for safety. Finding some more plastic and sticks they managed to put off the fire before it could engulf the remaining walls.
‘What happened? A little crowd of watchmen, thugs and the ladies of the night formed around the dead fire asked.
‘Keep off your noses’ Ten Ten shouted at them, irritated at their helpless-wait-and –see attitude as they had struggled alone to put out the fire. ‘Why didn’t you pee at it instead of standing?’
‘Or perhaps you thought we were cooking rice?’ Izzie added.
“Cyaan you hear dat Sister Nice?” one said to her drunken friend.
‘You bastardos! We know you very well; you can go and sleep with your mothers now that you have burned down your bedroom.’ the khat chewing and marijuana dangling in the corner of her mouth harlot shouted as they dispersed in the corner of the street.
Back in the shelter, dazed and the weed business out of their heads they threw away the burnt polythene papers and substituted them with others they had collected from the street in a bid to cover up the corners. This worked really badly as the owner would still recognize some inferno in the morning unless if he could ignore a huge blue giraffe in a busy avenue.
‘My dream was terrific too!’ proclaimed Ten Ten after listening keenly to Izzie’s version of his nightmare. ‘Like so many times before, I lay and turned in the bench unable to sleep. I was thinking about my life. Moreover, like so many times before it has always been a juggling act; what problems to address now and what problems to put off until later because it is becoming impossible to live this life. With a troubled soul, I drifted off into sleep only to be tormented in my dream, where a creature was confined in a cage in a me backyard.
Every so often, I had to feed the beast that was no more than a minor nuisance and annoyance. As long as I fed the beast, it remained quiet and still, almost dormant. But little by little, the beast began to grow. The more he grew the more he needed to be fed. Before long, the beast began to outgrow its cage and was pressing hard against the bars. One dyei when I had gone to feed it only to find the cage empty. The door had been ripped off because the beast could not stand to be cramped any more. Suddenly I was grabbed from behind and thrown into the cage. The beast quickly slammed the door shut and was already having me as lunch just when you woke me up….’’
P12-13 and beside the street is a slum:
“…Deep in the Sufferiation slum, next to the infamous street were men, women, and children struggling with life. There were, too, married men struggling to fend for their families, single women struggling to raise their large families, orphans struggling to survive, the overcrowded slums, with more people in an area hardly two kilometres square, had the largest proportion of the residents unemployed and stared at poverty in it’s rawest form.
So squeezed so tightly and congested so that if one spat, saliva would drop in the neighbours’ bedroom and that would be an active ingredient for a life-threatening quarrel. ‘Flying toilets’, a self-contained plastic bag filled with human waste flying at the speed of flying saucers were a common trend, especially when it made a tragedy landing at your doorstep or roof.
By any standards, any business that earned one more than a dollar a day and night or more was deemed very lucrative in this Shashamane underbelly slum. That is why most women sold Chwara, illicit strong local liquor and supplemented this earning with prostitution.
Only ten years before, the fourteen year-old Sister Nice missed death narrowly when a group of women from around ganged up against her, threatening to lynch her. They accused her of wrecking their families. Apart from selling her body, Sister Nice, now twenty-four, traded in the fiery spirits and ‘tap tap’ drugs.
She would befriend the men who came to her shack for the drugs and would end up having sex with them at the cheapest price. Her five-year-old son could not take it any longer and took off to the streets. She never bothered to go after him-in fact it was a relief-having all the time to warn him not to ‘stare’ when there was ‘bad manners’ in their one roomed shack.
She fell out with her “husband” of the week-they had a record-breaking meeting, marriage, and divorce in 90 minutes-of course both drunk and high on brown sugar. They had been solemnized by an infamous “priest”-Irie One, whom she later “married” in a come-we-stay-and-see-if-it-works arrangement.
In a day- and night too, she would entertain six to ten men and earn around ten dollars. But she would waste it on alcohol and marijuana. She then joined the thugs operating in the area, graduated to being a gangster, prostituted up her way into a bank robber and after missing so many bullets in her head, decided against a risky affair and went back to Sufferiation ghetto to full time peddling of her body…”
P36-9 ***Earlier in story, conflict is introduced between the Rasta Preacher and an American Tourist. Here is sample exchange on views about religion.
“…Some of life’s basic questions had answers if they were searched within. This was what the Preacher was thinking after reasoning with the American tourist. The tourist had been the most sociable and happy person. They had talked about their life’s aspirations, their fears. The difficulties the African encountered while living in the white man’s land and vice versa.
They dwelled their talk on man as a social being to racial discrimination, politics, poverty, diseases, drought, wars, the first, the second world, and other social ills that had been created over time. They had finally talked about God, the ultimate reality the beyond aspect and here their ideas of this Supreme Being had parted ways.
Even the religiously strongly opinionated overzealous dreadlocked man could not satisfy him.
“I do not think that religions make much sense” he had exposed. The dreadlocked man looked hard at him for sometime and kept looking below the clouds, before finally declaring; I do not think that any religion makes much sense either” he got the reply.
“That is what I declared first dude!” he quipped. “For example, from your religious point of view…”
“I said it is not my point of view or speculation-it is Jah Rastafari; it is also not a religion-it is a way of life…” the Preacher sternly corrected.
“Whatever! What is the purpose of that way of life? Why did God create us? To suffer here on earth?”
“I believe He did that to test us!” he answered.
“So your religion…ah, culture rejects the omnipotence of God? For otherwise what could He possibly learn from testing us that He does not know already?”
The dreadlocked man felt cornered, and searched for the universally accepted answers he was forced to memorize. “No, that is not quite it. Ah, Yes! We are created to worship Him.”
With a sly smile, the tourist inquired, “Then you must believe that God has needs and weaknesses…”
“Why else would He demand our worship? When a human demands our devotion, we label him a tyrant or psychopath. Do you hold that God has character flaws?”
Clearly, the Preacher’s head was then spinning in ill-defined questions and doubts. He groped for the clues from his childhood. It came to him. “Adam sinned, and his punishment was this earthly life!”
His adversary had the cool calculated look of one about to say “check-mate!” “Putting aside all scientific difficulties, it appears that you believe that God is unjust: for why punish all of Adam’s descendants for Adam’s sins?” he banged the armrest of his seat.
“That was not His original plan.”
“why not give each of his own chance. Do you also believe in the original sin?”
“No-no, no, of course not!”
“Bingo. The game is over!”
“We cannot really share our mystical encounters-it’s more of personal and experiential.” The Preacher defended.
“Not even on rational thought?”
“Then yours is just another religion; a religious option among more or less equal options” the tourist stung further.
“Reasoning can be communicated quite effectively. However, not spiritual experiences. It will lose it’s persuasiveness.” The Preacher concluded.
Accusations and counter accusations. God became a controversial subject as He was dragged into squabbles.
P99-106. **The Preacher’s burned with zeal and took every chance to campaign about Rasta philosophy even at radio stations listened by the majority of youths.
“Let’s listen to another song from ze play list. What is ze song sire?”
“Dis is Jah Kingdom, Burnin’ Spear.”
“Well listener, don’t touch zat dial, ze show is still on”
Na matter where we go
We a de Lion in His kingdom
Dreadlocks in His kingdom
Jah kingdom…yes Jah kingdom…the song played on.
“And again, let me aks you a question I’ve never aksed anyone, why don’t you comb yo hair, sire? Tell ze listeners why it boasts of little acquaintance with ze comb”
“Dreadlocks are part and parcel of de African culture. A knotty man is simply a jungle man, a countryman livin’ in de hills away from de ‘comb-society’. More significantly was de fact dat Rastas lived in de natural way up in de mountains and neither cut dey beards nor combed dey hair-de characteristics of African dreadlocks developed like those we see in de photos of Queen Niabinghi and de Mau Mau. Dreadlocks are cited in de Nazarite laws as part of spiritual upliftment
Ya do haffi dread to be Rasta, yeea
Dis is not a dreadlock ting
Divine conception of de heart
Don’t be afraid of Jah ever burnin’ fire
Trust in Jah fire and you’ll never get burned
De fire dat reigns over heat, air, and water
No water cyan put out Jah fire
Jah fire gwan a lift Rasta higher… another song played across the country.
“You have been accused by ze wider society of abusing drugs and substances. How do you answer your critics?”
“De Holy Weed is a true herb. It is de incense dat burns in I n I temple. This is not a drug and drug taking is not good. It is a pure herb, which should be taken to heal de body. True Rastas use it as a sacrament in spiritual upliftment and as part of higher meditation. It is a spiritual food and has to be blessed before one can tyek it.”
I’ve a likkle ancient tree
No ting is gwan a tyek it from me
It’s a herb of Sensimilla
It’s herb of sensimilla
I cherish it…
Irie Priest lit his weed. Rootsman followed suit. So did King Dave and the keen million listeners across the country must have ‘blazed de herb’. That explained why there was a lot of black smoke coming from the main taxi park
“May be Sista Binghi, your sweet voice reminds one of King David of ze wuol. What is ze meaning of Reggae?”
The Sista vomited out the answer she had been regurgitating for the last one hour.
“Yes Sire, reggae was born in de slums of Kingston. De sound went through different beats and stages throughout the Sixties-Ska, Blue Beat, Rock steady and finally reggae after a song ‘to de reggae’ by Maytals and Maytals.
Now reggae is a riddim-a music dat goes wit’ de heart beat. Music dat reveals you to yourself. It comes from your innermost deep self wit’ a message. Through it, de Rasta religion has been made known to de world. Reggae is an expression of faith, courage, and self-respect in de struggling for survival in dem people. It’s about weepin’ and wyeilin’, Sufferiation man, misery, hunger, and the bitter realities of hard life”
One ting ‘bout reggae is dat when it a guo hit yo, ya cyan feel no pyain” Black Moses chipped in.
“Yes sire, you feel no pain when reggae hits your heart because it is something born out of blood, sweat and tears of de slaves taken from Africa to de west to be cheated and abused. This cruelty and humiliation left deep scars, pain, and bitterness that became a deep inner rebellion and was passed from one generation to the next.
Music was the only thing they could hold that they took as their only cultural inheritance from African homeland. And through dis ya music, we have maintained our pride and culture. Dem people are conscious of de society dey livin’ in”
Uhuru chanted his favourite lines “music is music; if yo wanna bring music, play music. If yo a go feel ya wanna play music with music and if ya cyaan play music, feel irie!”
“We shall now listen to another track as we wait for your calls. Remember the number to call is, 771299.” The presenter said. “What is next on ze play list One G?”
“Four hundred years, Misty in Roots”
“Yes Jah people, for hundred of years now… it’s your chance to call. Just call 771299 and talk to ze Bongo Natty”
Four hundred years, you got to slave me down here
In misery only just captivity
You slaved ma fadder, raped ma madder
Killed ma broder
Later on I nuo dat de battle will be hot, yea
Four hundred years yo black me in tears
Nowhere to sleep no no food to eat!
How cyan I guo on when ya steppin’ on ma coat?
You whip me you cheat me yo even abuse me
Right now yo smilin’ to refuse me…
The phones lines went buzzing busily.
A caller was put through,
“Irie bredrin!” the DJ answered. “Who are we talking to?”
“Daddy K from Soweto. I want to take One G back to King Selassie. You said that he did not die, so what happened to this tribal warlord?”
“Jah a guo forgive you. He was a Rasta Liberator. Now de dyei he was announced dead, dem people saw him entering de temple and never came out again nor seen nor heard. He used to go to de temple every morning and evening.”
“And then whose bones were recently found and buried in the Royal Palace?”
“That is western propaganda to try and confuse Jah people” One G defended.
“Another caller on line” DJ said. “Irie Bredrin”
“Irie Crucial. It’s Ras Ken from Eastside. I wanna thank you people for shedding light to what the society do not like talking about and for the good work that you are doing. What you say is Rasta true. The Whiteman has really blackened the black race. Look at the World Bank for example, and the IMF, the money-haves, we cannot even breathe the fresh financial airs, the cool breeze of economic freedom never really blew to Africa even after fifty years of the so-called independence. May I pose to you what do you think is the way forward …?”
“It is a situation here in Africa land. We’ve been too long in slavery. Marcus Garvey has solved this imbalance by envisioning an autonomous Black state: the United States of Africa with its own culture and civilization, free from the white man’s domination. That is why we came back to our motherland to heed this call that Africans home and in the Diasporas should return to Africa, as they will never enjoy the respect as a people in the white man’s country. Africa is for Africans-home and abroad,” One G explained.
“This is Brazza calling. I want the Teacher to get me some straight answers to these questions.” Brazza hesitated. “Do you have the central church structures or leaders?”
“No sire, we believe dat everyone is equal”
“Is their heaven or hell in your movement?”
“Hell? No. This world is hell already. Africa is our heaven on earth.”
“”Your claim and elevation of Selassie into a god is plausible…”
One G shot from the chair as if stung by a bee with a ready answer. “He is de King of Kings and De Lord of Lords…”
Brazza was not giving up, “Selassie who died in 1975 and whom you worship as a leader of Black people was actually a Christian. Further it is not clear what he thought about your movement.”
“He was not Christian”
“But Ethiopian Orthodox Church…”
“Orthodox are not Christians”
“Let me pose another question about the two hallmarks of Rasta; dreadlocks you wear and the ganja you smoke. Do you actually believe that the Bible texts support…”
“Yes sire, no doubt! I said earlier dat these two practices are supported by the Rasta man’s interpretation of the Biblical texts, Levites should be pure and ‘they shall not make baldness upon their heads, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.’ Dreadlocks also symbolize the Rasta heritage and roots.
Pious Rastas smoke marijuana as an aid in meditation or for medicinal purposes. Jah ‘causeth’ in Psalms, ‘the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man”
“About Marcus Garvey, reliable and exclusive information paints him a picture of a sell out, a stooge and a Whiteman’s creation to persuade the blacks to leave the west. Your due glorification of him is incorrect to the Garvey that every body knows. Finally, how is it that you teach about love yet you hate the white man? Shouldn’t you practice what you preach?”
There was a long silence before One G could respond to any of these questions. Moreover, when he finally did he did not know which ones to begin with.
“For your last question, the Rasta man does not hate the white man. All we want him to do is to change his wyeis and redress the black man from the atrocities he has committed against him for so long.
Unless the caller is a stranger to the truth, he cannot call Marcus Garvey a sell-out. The whole wide world knows that from an early age, he was in the fore front fighting for freedom and justice for the black community as he pursued his goals along the UNIA motto”
A song played in the studio.
Come on African soldiers come on
Take up yo arms of revolution
De white man will tink we are defeated
Dey have lied and dey have cheated
But we won’t be defeated
Dis de moment we’ve been waiting for
We want peace but dey want war
One G cut the song and made his closing remarks thus: “Rastafari knows no defeat-only hope. Hope for de glorious moment to come when de new prophet shall lead dem back to Africa, back to their true motherland. Repatriation! You no say!
Jah send I n I as a messenger to teach dem yout roots and culture. We have moved to a hall where we shall be operating from: the Sufferiation Street Shashamane Temple of Jah. Come one come all and nuo more truths.”
“Thank you once again the Bongo Natties for your patience. Hope we shall hear from you again. And listeners, looking at ze clock on ze wall, time is against I n I, trying to disappoint I n I, but disappointment has been a great friend of mine- ka he never leaves me. Worries and problems massive this is ze crucial man sighing out, till tomorrow ze same time, same studio, same songs, and same man, Jah Guidance and Protection.” A song played in the background faded as the program came to an end.
So long, we lived in captivity, in de fringes of society
Existing in de borders of poverty, expectin’ dey charity
Come on African soldiers, all Africa must join as one
Let’s join the march for revolution
Guerrillas are protected by de people
Let de forest be the people..
P93-6**In chapter six, we get to see how the crooked minister for culture uses King Dave for his selfish ends.
“…The minister sat in his high-back chair. He was very happy with life more than the fat lazy cat his wife kept. One could almost hear him purr because the milk and cream had been flowing like in the proverbial land of Canaan. He was taking time to meditate over his planned next move.
The show had been most successful. The newspapers before him declared the show as a ‘big sensi-a-tion’, a term he had never encountered but believed to be equally sensational. This showed how his brains were superb and smart. Indeed, he was very clever-he displayed the good cards openly but hid the dangerous ones, to be played under the table. King Dave never beat him-he was always a step ahead as his association was a give-and-take; scratch-ma-back-and-I-scratch-yours. He took care of his interests and he in turn took care of his business. Talk of killing one bird with two stones to make sure it was dead.
He had come out as a personification of a new corruption frontier.
Still floating in the realm of the abstract, he had his name in almost every other Grand National scandal, which was likely to be forgotten soon, after a few scapegoats were put in jail while he, the fattest cat got off scot free to continue calling shots in the national politics.
He had made many people to suffer and get crucified for what they did not actually commit and colluded with the justice department. It was the lives of these individuals, whose bodies were subjected to unspeakable offences by police officers would be indelibly scarred; the ordinary people’s bodies, the unfortunate sites upon which the marks of these scandals would forever be inscribed.
One had just to ask him what policies he thought best for the nation and would be sure to get no answer. However, ask him about poli-tricks and you will be amazed at the gusto he will display in explaining. Always paying lip service, public relations, and his disarming smile. Yes! He had all the reasons to smile and feel satisfied. Less than a year in that office, and out of smiling all the time his face had formed heavy seams which fell from each side of the nose down around his lips as if they were suspenders keeping his mouth from falling.
Presently he assumed a very important attitude as he reread the news article and looked at the photos in one of the most important newspapers that had flamboyantly captured reader’s attention:
BAFFLING BONGO NATTY THRILLS FANS.
Reggae lovers yesterday treated themselves to rare lyrics by the popular Jamaican singer One G and his Bongo Natty Crew. About fifty thousand danced all night long to their favourite lyrics. The reggae crooner gave them their best. Unlike the previous fetes, the event had a VIP section where various celebrities and dignitaries watched the action as they danced to their fullest.
A full house packed event, it was not marked by unruly crowd behaviour by the reggae hooligan, dismissing the stereotype of bhang smoking mobs.
There were no hitches during the show. King Dave of the Shashamane Entertainment and which organized the event ensured that top security was the top priority in their agenda.
He said, “Insecurity had been a problem in the past. But yesterday the organizers had invested heavily hiring security personnel to police the entire area.”
The curtain raisers included top local artist, Cool Craze.
One G, born in St Anne Parish of Jamaica, has had a sky-high success and is currently riding high in international charts with his album ‘Zion Train.’ Bongo Natty has twelve albums and he has thirty-six singles to his credit.
Earlier on, the Bongo Natty were warmly welcomed at the airport and got a red carpet all the way to town. The mammoth crowd that turned up at the airport cheered wildly as the entourage wheezed past.
He addressed the clamouring peace loving reggae fans at Sufferiation Street and provided a free charity lunch to the starving poor children in line with his Street children Project run by Queen Sheba.
His next show will be in Street-Man public beach this evening.
King Dave said that these shows were not solely a Rastafarian affair. He called upon all and sundry to attend them and help donate to the special street children project .etc, etc.
There was no mention of his presence, his dancing with Sista Binghi nor their leaving together-showed that his press attaché had done his homework properly-not dragging in his name. He smiled satisfactorily at this deliberate omission and dialled a number.
“King Dave, please.”
“I am afraid he is not in rait a nou. Who dat be?”
“Da minister. Whom am I speaking to?”
“Oh what a wonderful surprise! This is his PA”
“O.K Rootsman, remind me again about the next three festivals.”
“Aaah…Let’s see. Mighty Meditations on two-August, Negus on twenty, and Burning Busher at the end of the month-date, yet to be confirmed.”
He ended the call and took out his mobile phone intending to call King Dave but resisted the urge and thought it better to call first a number in the Pakistani embassy about some delivery of some goods. First of August was the date scheduled. Moreover, smiled once more at the confirmation and then thought it wise now to call the King….’’
**P127-30. the Matatu (public taxis) had just been flagged off to start business on the busy roads. They were supposed to be different in the way they operated-standing for truth and fairness.
“…In a city of over ten million, fifty or hundred more taxis on the road were like a drop in the oceans. At the taxi park that night, most of them belonged to the Eastern routes 6, 7, and 8A, 8B Westlands, a few headed to Southlands where a notorious cartel controlled the route. At least five operated North of the city.
Five o’clock was still a rush hour as many people were going back home from work when the Zion Train stormed the bus stages. With most of the passenger opting to us clean taxis, they filled to capacity very fast. The crew had been warned by the Preacher not to play loud music, overcharge their clients, against over speeding and overloading. Most of these rules were broken as soon as they had been created. Therefore, it was not a wonder that none was observed even for the first night on the road.
And the night shift ushered in the day shift. There were no ugly incidences as had earlier anticipated. However, word had gone round and reached the wrong ears. A group of touts loyal to a cartel calling itself Mai Mai, clashed with the Zion Train touts especially in the southern routes and some of the taxis came back with shattered windows and windscreens.
The cartel normally collected some illegal fees from the owners who wanted to operate in their area. They had been disappointed that the Trains did not yield any fees because of their powerful connections. The fee was supposed to ‘protect’ the taxi against the unnecessary police harassment and unfair competition. On whose pockets this fee ended was another story all together as mainly the touts formed most of these cartels and their drivers bribed them to cause trouble when it was necessary.
Before the end of that day, the Zion Train crew decided to form their own. Many of them had initially belonged to one of the many groups and they already knew how to operate and since Zion Trains were their source of livelihood, they vowed to defend it. This worked well for them and simmered down the disgruntled group.
The people of the old have this saying that a monkey never forgot how to jump. This was Irie Priest and his friend Ten Ten antics on the road. Although they were still working for Abdalla, a larger umbrella now covered them and they liked the new arrangement where they directly answered to Rootsman. Their over speeding, overloading and other crazy antics prevailed as they aspired to beat their daily target and made quick cash for their orgies at night parties.
Apart from Sista Nice, there were ten other young and old women who drove and several others as touts. Sista Nice’s previos engagement as a getaway driver when she was barely on her twentieth birthday paid off-thanks to her brother who introduced her to the art of getting away after a bank raid. The other ladies had either been operating ‘one shot’ taxis which specialized in delivering call girls to the up market, or had just been carjackers and had to know how to drive out of necessity.
Izzie had a lot of common with Sista Nice; all of them struggled to survive the game of life. He knew that they would make a good pair and even strove to keep up to her regulations- one of them being to be very smart. They learned fast the ropes and when finally they were given the official road documents, they feared neither the police nor the road bullies who harassed the road novices. Another week on the road made them compete with the likes of Ten Ten.
The music was playing softly,
‘tyek up de man who shot de sheriff
coz he gat ta mek his music sell,
tek up di man woman no cry…
But before the artist could go on, Sister Nice stopped it. She did not like hate lyrics. Instead, she played ‘I shot da sheriff’ itself. It reminded her ‘dem dyeis’ as a get away driver when she would gun down anybody trying to stop her in her constant encounters with anti-carjackers police unit.
He always hated me
For what I don’t know
Every time I planted a seed,
He said kill it before it grows
Freedom came my way one day
and I started out of town yea
I suddenly saw sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down
I shot down da wicked man
Coz he was trying to shoot me down
Oh, no no I shot down wickedness
All around in ma hometown
He was aiming to track me down
They were in the infamous Sufferiation Street where it was a no-go zone but being early evening the police were not so much active as to arrest them. He even saw Mzee Ali’s boy and the old man sitting in the shed trying very hard not to sleep. Sista Nice parked shortly at Tumbo’s shop, Izzie came out pretending to call out for more passengers but dashed to Tumbo’s, and before you could say Manchester United, he was bargaining.
“Two halves Tumbo,” He ordered.
“The first thing that Tumbo noticed was the various denominations folded in Izzie’s fingers, characteristic of touts.
“I did not know that you work these days?” he commented as he wrapped two halves gum and groundnuts.
“Keep your ignorance to yourself bugger!” He went back shouting,
“Issich Namba Saba. Issich seven-seven,
Isilii blue-blue” he enticed the customers with the twenty-shilling offer and would increase the fare to thirty once they were inside. Sista Nice had switched to the ‘Dub show’ from the popular FM and it was asking the rich man to take into the consideration the plight of the poor.
Ease up de pressure Mr Man
Ease up de pressure on de poor ones
So much, pressure every dyei
When are we gwan a see di better dyeis?
So much pressure every dyei, uh yee!
When are we gwan a see our wyei?
Dem all dey wicked ness a guo fail
I cyan not stand fi see de tings
I see de people in pain and misery.
She revved the engine repeatedly so that the passengers would think that she was just about to go. Izzie shouted the more for East Leigh bound s who wanted to pay the blue note twenty bob and travel in the brand new Zion Train.
He handed her the half and they hit the road again as it was squad time; a time when one could not stick too long in the many road stages, otherwise they would lose the little passengers who were on a hurry to get to their destinations. She increased the volume of the music as another of her favourite hit was playing.
What a disgrace to human race, Sufferiation!
What a shame to human race, Sufferiation!
World power, some a dem a suffer, Sufferiation!
World power, black man dem a suffer, Sufferiation!
Sufferiation, uuhuu, Sufferiation, woi woi
Our man dey sufer, our woman dey suffer,
Children dey suffer, ooh what a disgrace!
She waved a two-finger salute to an oncoming taxi and its driver waved back. That meant that the coast was clear of any police presence. However as she was negotiating the bend, two traffic police officers waved her to stop. This was before she could warn Izzie to keep his head inside the taxi, before she could turn the volume of the music down with one hand on the wheel and the other on her mouth busy chewing the twigs.
She parked some twenty meters ahead and popped out armed with a hundred-shilling note and a disarming smile, bought her freedom.
“That son of a woman misled me, Izzie bway,” she bitterly grumbled at having to part with a much-needed hundred shilling. “See what he has led us into”
“That was the Baghdad Boy. He only wants trouble for us.” Izzie said as he sang in line with the track playing-but using his own words.
We a de Rasta ye yea yea
Ooh yea protected by the master
We find ourselves moving faster
Oh bloody Nile bloody river
So bow down yourselves mankindCoz you are lower than very
Take yourselves to the creator
Or else your troubles would be greater
We a de Rasta ye yea wow o yea
Our sins shall be taken away
Jah cannot abandon his children
Jah ago burn those who make de children cry
They say we are cursed but we’re not hey wow o wo yea
A passenger waved at them and she stopped promptly.
“Seven-seven?” Izzie opened the side door and ushered him in.
“Yes, the Airport p-please”
“We tyekin’ di route seven not six”
“Then left me get off”
“Do pay first, my good sir!”
“But I have not even travelled…” He panicked and Izzie liked that.
“No! No! No! Just waving a taxi to stop is enough reason to pay for the brakes, clutch, and the energy the driver has used for your sake and here I am making consultations with you. Do you think all this is free?”
“I have no extra money…”
“Just leave your good coat and you shall collect it once you get the extra money.”
He said with some menace that the man took out the five-shilling coin and paid him as Sista Nice who was struggling with the wheel listened to the conversation carefully.
“We don’t have a five shilling stage, Mr. Man; the least you can pay is ten shillings, the brake pads cost the earth and the sky, remember?”
He was on his neck again and the man took out a hundred shilling note.
“Now I don’t have da fucking change for such a big note.”
“I must get my money back”
“Then you have to come with us all the way to Issich to get your change.”
“Just take the five-bob Izzie man…” Sista Nice defended the man. “And advice him never to stop a taxi without checking the number. She stopped at the nearest stage and dropped the man. She saw Irie Priest ahead and flashed him. It was easy for her to identify him for all the Zion Trains had the same red, gold, and green bumpers.
“Oya! Oya!” Izzie shouted at them.
“Yes sire! Oya!” Ten Ten waved back with a twig of khat as they sped past in the opposite direction.
We gonna sing and shout black liberation yeah
We gonna clap and chant black liberation yeah,
She added more volume to the music bringing clearly the lyrics of the song. A pedestrian had been knocked senselessly by a hit and run car and the traffic were moving at a slow pace. The passengers cursed the delay. She moved to the other lane and came parallel to a private car whose driver she ‘knew’ as Abraham knew his wife Sarah and they had had a son. The man was with a woman and judging by the seriousness of their faces that must have been the true wife. She felt like Hagar…’’
**189-193 the Zion Train matatu taxi breaks all the known traffic rules.
“…Towards the evening rush hour, Irie Priest was trying to beat the traffic jam. The long queue that formed from the roundabout of the Airport threatened to delay him from making a quick kill. Only six passengers were heading to town – the rest seemed going back home. Ten Ten, chewing and his head casually outside was shouting ‘ Twenty twenty to town’
A school-going young man gave Irie Priest a Compact Disc, who inserted it into the system.
Worries and problems.
Ghetto yout no ready fi survive
But de system keep givin’ a bribe
De politician comin’ wid a bribe’ Irie Priest sang along.
‘Which CD is this?’ Irie priest asked Ten Ten.
The young boy replied that it was a mixture of latest releases – pirated of course.
‘Yes sire! It a go ride high on de Reggae charts’ Ten Ten added.
With full music blast, the Zion Train roared along the highway.
‘Wooi,‘ went on Irie Priest as he sang along,
‘As far as ma eyes cyan see
Dis a ya’ is in-a-devastation
De only ting dey cyan do is try to convince
Ten Ten joined in the humming as well.
‘So dem come from time to time
Taking human race o to
Whad dey call election
And dey move to IMF and odder
Nation leaving us in desolation…’
‘Please switch off the radio’ a woman desperately shouted from the back seat. She could not even audibly shout.
‘Worries n problems………..’ Irie Priest over sped past a patrol police
‘De city is congested wid robbers in tiefs
And all dem yout have nowhere to sit
N also I see dem eat out of rubbish heap
And cocaine and smugglers keep on roaming
The patrol man had caught up with them and waved them down.
Irie Priest reduced the volume of the CD and stopped just beside the busy highway. ‘Put two hundred in your hand.’ He asked Ten Ten.
‘Now you will have us arrested’, one of the passengers sadly said. ‘What are you going to tell him?’
‘that when I reached down to pick up my roll of ganja, my gun fell of my lap and got lodged between the brake and gas pedal, forcing me to speed put of control’.
Ten Ten came out to greet the traffic officer with the bribes but the officer ignored him when he saw only two hundred bob. He went ahead and asked Irie Priest to wind down his window. This he did.
‘Now why on earth are you over speeding and playing loud music?’
Irie Priest remained calm. He was playing cool because he knew that the cop wanted more money. He wasn’t budging. Quickly, the cop inserted his hand to the ignition key and confiscated it. He walked back leisurely bidding his time and also to give time to the duo to look for more money.
‘Use the spare key’ Ten Ten gave Irie Priest the key.
‘Just minute, let him disappear a bit’
‘He refused to take the two reds – he wants more?
‘He is in for a surprise’ Irie Priest said.
And to his shock, the traffic cop heard the car ignited and sped off before he could shout Manchester united. He gave them another chase.
‘And I tell yo a ya, yo see yout
O’ today, a dem man and woman
O’ tomorrow, trus’ me.
Give a ghetto yout a try
A nuo Babylon set a shitstem
Were your cyan get nuo work
Selassie I nuo…..’ Ten Ten was emulating the song of the CD ‘prostitution Selassie I nuo a ya
See dem yout dem hold on strong’
Already the 1800 cc motorbike was beside them again. Irie priest felt like hitting the motorbike against the car’s wall but decided against. He pulled again in the roadside, the woman at the back pleaded with the officer ‘arrest them, he abused me about my pregnancy,’
‘I am booking you in’ the officer swore at him once he was beside him. ‘Hand in your key immediately’
That’s terrific! ‘Ten Ten protested. ‘The last officer gave us only a warning!’
‘Don’t monkey with me you weed smoking bastard.’ The officer growled.
‘What do you mean I have been smoking-are you the trained specialist?’
The officer got angrier and turned his attention at the driver. ‘Now why were you over speeding and playing loud music?’
‘I was trying to keep up with traffic.’
‘Which ones? I have to take your keys and licence’
‘I know there is not other car around –that’s how far they are ahead of me.’ Irie Priest said as he wound up a small space in the window – a trap to further humiliate this bugger.
As soon as he cop let his right hand inside the dashboard, Irie Priest grabbed it and wound up the window once again. The officer screamed in pain at the ordeal he was undergoing. To add salt into the injury, Ten Ten prompted Irie Priest to accelerate. Funny, the officer had to run after the car for dear hand and dear life.
He was running backwards since the right hand was trapped. Ten Ten extended the joke further by opening the next right windows and stuffed the two hundred shilling note into the breast pockets of the officer as he sang along the lyrics-
Time to pay the piper, a Mr. Rip and Run Off
A long time you and your guy dem, dem a rob and a laugh…
The drama had attracted some curious onlookers and stared hard. To save face Irie Priest opened the window to the relief of the cop who held his right hand painfully. Obviously having forgotten all about the Zion Train.
‘O Whad a competition but Jah is my highest region’ another hit followed in full blast as Zion Train disappeared in the highway
‘Come and wash our sins away little children
Come and wash our sins away …… ay little children
So that your sins may be forgiven…..
You better love jah children yo yoo
Instead of trying to kill dem, yo yoo
Jah shall come wid vengeance
Yo cyan defeat him wid violence no-o
‘I wanted to be a cop but decided to clear my secondary school first’ Ten Ten proudly announced to whoever cared to listen.
The woman of the back seat was now in pain – labour pains.
She was screaming her head off, but nobody noticed anything.
Jah shall come so real and so right
Jah shall come so real and so right hee hee hee
Yo think everything is well…..’
It was only when a stupor suggesting a garbage heap and the flowing blood was seen, that one gentleman banged the roof of the Matatu and shouted at the top of his voice, that the passengers realized to their horror a woman giving birth at the back of the taxi. It was too late to rush her to the hospital because the baby was half born.
‘Mi God, wot a sin ting!’ Ten Ten was shocked as the taxi parked beside the road. There wasn’t any woman in sight. So men took over.
‘Dis is no ambulance’ said Irie Priest, rolling down all windows and turning on all the ventilators.
‘You are the cause – don’t blame her’ the gentleman defended to poor lady ‘ give me back my fare – I’m in a hurry. I’m late for work’
‘We are not in town yet’ said Ten Ten
‘So what I’m not taking this filthy taxi again’
‘You can as well walk the remainder’ Irie Priest suggested.
Ten Ten could not hide his disappointment at the woman ‘ Now see what you’ve done?’ could you not be a little bit decent? ‘
Being a highway passers-by were not there. The drama was heightened when whimpers and cries of the baby was heard.
‘Thank God the baby is out! Ten Ten wasn’t amused.
‘We go on with our journey. We can’t waste our valuable time –its rush hour, you know’ Irie Priest took to the wheel
‘Mum hold on strong, we shall get you to hospital’ the gentleman offered, thinking that the taxi would be good enough to take the mother and baby to hospital.
If you are paying the hiring fee, we will? Ten Ten said.
‘You are the cause of all this – your over speeding and the loud music! ‘
They were now in town and instead of heading to the hospital; they headed towards a different direction – to the car wash.
‘You know we are in business – we have to clean the car’ Ten Ten said sharply.
‘Can’t you people be a bit human?’ the other man suggested.
‘We don’t give a damn! How human were she, she was sleeping being screwed?’ Irie priest offended ‘ Besides we have to use money to clean this vehicle’ get out for all’ we care!’ He made good his threat and stopped at the next bus stop. The poor mother, her baby wrapped in her wrapper and a cardigan, alighted.
There wasn’t any taxi of the car wash. The reason was it was rush hour when passengers were more than the taxis and quick cash was being made. Irie Priest summoned all the wash boys to work simultaneously as the young chap-smoking weed was dancing and singing to the bass:
Baby-wrong yo dyes are numbered!
‘Babylon yo jump on ta fryin’ pan
Jump in a fire
Take on ta motor car you
Bounce in a trailer
You put on a big white suit
You walla in a mud man
Ten Ten was chewing impatiently as Irie Priest was supervising the cleaning, as he answered silly question from the wash boys, amid the laud music,
‘you don’t know deh yout of today’
What is dere in his mind?
Yo don’t nuo seh
Him a go be man of tomorrow
You cyan get satisfied
You always want more’
The beats went on; unaware of what was going on. Within no time to car, seats had been cleansed and cleaned and they were back on the bus stage looking out for more passengers.
‘Babylon you jump outa fryin’ pan
You jump in a fire
Babylon you take out de motor car
Yo walla in a trailer…’’
P244-47 there’s lawlessness. Ganjaweed (affiliated to Zion Train) cartel and a defender of African traditions clash with an opposing gang in Eastleigh, all in the name of purging society of evils, stripping women wearing trousers, and circumcising undesirable ‘elements’, killing spree, etc. but King Dave give a very moving press statement denying the claim.
“…King Dave with the Preacher called the press to discuss the allegation that Ganjaweed were responsible for the recent spate of Eastleigh killings. He was with the Preacher, who was also there to exonerate the Shashamane of any blame apportioned to them by the government and police that they had stripped three women. It was more of issuing a statement. The Preacher read the statement bravely to the glaring cameras.
‘The stripping of three women at Eastleigh neighbourhood was never coordinated by any body associated with Shashamane. The reaction of the police and government in large, is not surprising and hardly conceals the fact that they regard the unfortunate incident as God send so that they can wage their ongoing war against Shashamane – a systematic hate campaign against Shashamane adherents without much success.
Sad as the humiliation of the three women must be the government has not hidden its glee– ‘we are told you that guys were up to no good,’ seems to be the chorus of the gloat. I’m sure we all know that morality and the government do not make a strong alloy. When the government says that Mr. so and so is a bad man, many people are likely to believe the opposite is indeed the case.
The plight of the Eastlands trio, and the killings in Eastleigh has in effect elevated the government, albeit momentarily, to the moral high Ararat ground. It has provided some moral legitimacy to its propaganda against group perceived as threatening to established order. In fact the leadership does not really care about the plight of the citizen. If it really cared about women’s welfare then it would be supporting the Affirmative Action Bill and make the Castration Bill for rapists signed.
If the government really cared about security, it would immediately resettle the internally displaced people living as squatters because of tribal clashes, and by the way, why are some of the perpetrators of these ethnic violence still cabinet ministers, if the government cared so much about moral issues?
The reluctance of the Eastleigh three to record statements with the police, even after the generous tourist assisted them, might as well suggest their revulsion of the shameless politicization of their plight by the politicians. The three ladies’ families need justice not politics. And for the police force that only a couple of months ago could not be turned off by the nakedness of grand mothers as they charged them with batons at Uhuru Park Freedom Corner, it must seem quite ironic that it has suddenly become human rights conscious and sensitive to youth full nakedness.
The moral hypocrisy of the establishment is nauseating to say the least. No one begrudges the government’s strategies of fighting real and perceived enemies but for the sake of decency, one needs not seize on every individual and misfortune to make a political point.
For quite some time now, the anti–Shashamane Orchestration has been a voice in the wilderness. Despite repeated appeals by the security minister to the established churches and leading mosques to condemn Shashamane the majority of these God–fearing clergy have elected to keep their wise counsel. It is really out of frustrations that the minister’s solo – campaign is not gathering public support that he has now ordered the police and province administration to disrupt and prevent all our meetings hence forth.
The immediate consequences to that tall order to the police will be frequent street battles between the security forces and Shashamane spiritual forces defending our constitutional freedom of conscience, assembly, association and the right to our own beliefs. Our apparent tenacity and fearlessness on our part to take on the government had just begun even long before the Eastleigh incident occurred’. The Preacher swore.
His lawyer nodded and King Dave over murmured something which excited the Preacher as he wiped his sweating brow.
‘As the chairman of Zion Train taxi owners association,’ King Dave said as cameras turned towards him, and he daringly carried on.
‘The Preacher has just given background information useful in order to understand the politics of the anti–Shashamane campaign. All our touts and drivers are Shashamane, the Ganjaweed is an invention of the enemies of Shashamane. we all know that our rivals are unhappy at our success, but it does not detract fro the perniciousness of the humiliation that the Eastleigh three were subjected to by whoever – Taliban, Mai Mai or Hezbollah and members the courts of law are yet to find our boys guilty of this sordid acts of stripping and killing anybody.
To be sure, whenever is responsible should be condemned in the strongest terms possible, apart for being prosecuted and punished in accordance to the law of the land. However, I must say a word of caution is quite in order.
First, in a society of thinking people, the end cannot justify the means.
Secondly, under this country’s constitution, a person cannot be guilty by association. The import of this caution is that even assuming that the individuals who stripped Eastleigh three or unleashed violence were Shashamane adherents –the jury is still out on this one-the unfortunate deed cannot be a proper basis for the arbitrary mass arrests and violations of constitutional rights and freedoms of all real and perceived Shashamane supporters and adherents.
Facts, as my lawyer asserts, are sacred those who ignore facts reduce themselves into playthings of propagandists and hate – mongers. There are five facts that should not be ignored in the matter on hand.
First, although I am not given to deny actions of our members, we for one, as leaders, have categorically denied the violence was perpetrated by our membership.
Secondly, we are not just opposed to wearing of trousers by women – indeed some of our female faithful wear trousers.
Thirdly, the three people pictured by the tourist waving trousers, and the six others burning the mini skirts have been identified by our national coordinator, one Rootsman Skanking, and has positively denied that they are members of our movement – incidentally one has a Rasta – like name.
Fourthly, declared enemies of Shashamane and Zion Train by extension are opposed to the movement not so much because of our alleged primitive or immoral beliefs but because of the sneaking suspicions of our mysterious political agenda – if ever we have one.
Fifthly, the Shashamane as a movement could not have stripped the three nor perpetrated violence and therefore the individual culprits should be arrested and punished. My lawyer will not speak’.
He turned to the lawyer seated next, who concluded cleverly thus:
‘There is a streak of herd mentality that some people exhibit whenever confronted a phenomenon beyond their simplistic minds. Fear and superstitions are ate key characteristic of the lard mutuality such minds, I’m afraid, are incapable of comprehending reality beyond first order logic. To such people if the newspapers or the television, or even the government says Mr. so and so did this or that, they would take the allegations as gospel truth.
Such minds are impervious to healthy skeptism. And in the context of the Eastlands incidents, such minds cannot imagine anyone other than Shashamane could have done the killings and stripping.
Such minds have certainly forgotten altogether that three years ago, the country’s police planted an assortment of weapons on keroro wa Keroro, the opposition MP and his compatriots in order to justify fabricated treason charges against them.
Our intention here is to neither rationalize nor exonerate Shashamane from the plight of the Eastleigh residents. Our intention is rather make paths straight to the nation on the need to view complex matters in a sophisticated way.
For much as self righteous indignation is good for the souls at the furthest end of the moral spectrum, it will help for good citizens to guard against being orchestrated into a political climate that would justify widespread violation of human rights.
Whenever the powers that be are minded to repress some groups, they start off with a public vilification campaign.
Before the state’s university were purged of progressive scholars in the early years of second liberation, the political regimes orchestrated alarmist pronouncements about the existence of dissident scholars and ideologies bent on breaching political tranquillity in our island of peace.
In its wake, the crackdown of dissidents was preceded by orchestration of public fear.
The same was also evident war also evident during the clamour for political pluralism, followed by the suppression of Hamas guerrillas.
At the time when the country in facing a knotty political transition, the projection of Shashamane as a terrible movement could as well provide a cover for informal repression by pro-government militias. I conclude thereby saying that I hope these attacks on Shashamane shall stop.
They got up to as leave as the battery of journalists wanted to ask them more questions, which they did answer with; ‘no comments and polite thank you…’”
**P303-08 Shashamane Temple has been closed down by the authorities, accusing it of harbouring thugs. There’s been a riot. Irie Priest is among the dead. The Preacher is just from conducting his funeral. The anger generated by the closure, and the support from opposition politicians is enough to start a revolution. Although they are chased from the Sufferiation Street, it’s a fall-out between King Dave and the Minister that causes their expulsion. And not the movement.
“…‘I nuo seh bredrin dat I n I preach practical idealism, in dis ya rat race’. That was the preacher One G during the funeral of Irie Priest and six other Zion Train crew at the East-view cemetery, later that day. The bodies were wrapped in Rasta coloured linen, while the rolled-ganja coffin was draped in Ethiopian flag.
‘Cruelty of di oppressor man cyaan neither serve fair play nor decency to humanity. Jah Rastafari a go judge actions of man from di ya history. Dis is slavery of di highest order – bondage. Dey want our money, religion, culture and language. We must rebel – our hearts must rebel! Our souls must rebel. The revolution is a must. Let our souls be determined.
Bob a guo aks, “didn’t ma people before me slaved for dis country? Hatred yo reward for our love.’ we cyaan slave no more. We cyant be wot we a’ not bredrin. Dc Conquerin’ Lion shall break away every chain and give us victory again and again’
Bredrins of da fear not dat kill ya bwody. Rather be afraid for Him dat cyan kill di body and soul. Da bwody goes back to the soil. Ash to ash and from dust to dust. Dey kill da bwody of our bredrin but dey cyaan touch dey soul-its wid da Most High.
Let dem nuo say dat natty dread will take over. De Megiddo War will be won by de Natty Man – when de New Prophet shall lead us to Zion. All a we seh dat revolution is a muss! Freedom is a muss! – Even if we a go turn governments upside down besides our hearts. Me a tell ya. Da go-va-mient is just pina-lisin’ dem poor.
Knotty Dread man, a tell you, more fire, I man sight up earth today and notice dat people live in false pretence – majority of dem you nuo and I nuo seh, I n I haffi nuo suffer to be aware of sufferiation, so is not anger and all a dat, but is just a trut’ are a guo burst out o’ man like a river.
We have no white God. Dem seh en I never tell dem fi seh dat from time at. All dem tink mek and create I n I me tink fi us in a social classes. A tell yo bredrin and sistrin, social stratification is wickedness. Yo cyan divide dem people. Food, clothes and shelter have no politics.
We shall not be silenced fi police. We shall shoot at dey sheriff. We shall shoot at wickedness coz all aroun’ us in our hometown, dey are trying to track we down, whenever we a plant a seed, dey a kill before it grow. Selassie! I nuo dat’ the preacher went a fiercely.
The bodies of the seven were draped in a gold green red and black Ityopian material with the lion of Judah carrying a flag. The mass grave dug to around six feet deep and about twelve feet wide was ready to receive the bodies into the bowels of the earth.
The mourners numbering several thousands chanted out every word the preacher proclaimed. Most of them were touts and drivers of the so many taxis that had surrounded the whole place. Their strike had been extended until the minister budged or a compromise was reached. Music blared loudly from these mobile discos, drowning the sounds of the wailing and mourning chants. The Ganjaweed crew, who were now friendly and in cooperation with the other rival Hezbollah and Mai Mai, led the procession queuing to show their last respects. Ten Ten holding of Zion flag was chewing unexcitingly. Izzie and Sister Nice held the drapes to the Irie Priest’s body.
The preacher in his black funeral garb and a shepherd’s staff stood next to the bodies, waiting for the crowd to give their last respects. The ritual was the same. A twig would be thrown into the grave, or ganja seeds or both leaves and half smoked sensimilla. Some even smoked it, last way, and put the weed in the lips of the deceased. One daring youth even ‘blessed’ them by puffing the smoke into their faces and chanted anti-police sentiments to curse their actions.
The procession done, the seven were buried inside a bed of Khat twigs, smoke filled mass grave –a befitting style for the deceased – except of course Irie Priest, who wished to be rocketed into space, and grumbled that if Zion was minus these valuable twigs and leaves, then it would bore him to death. Ten Ten’s idea of the after-world was Ganja smoke – filled palace with demijohns of hashish.
‘We are persecuted by all and sundry. We a’ going to de hills! We a’ going to de bush. We are going back to our roots! De short time of tribulation and trouble will be followed by the great and final time, Jacob shall have trouble. But bredrin, after all de sorrow of de night, joy cometh in de morn and natty men hope to bring positive change –a revolution! We shall bring down the society’s shit-stem – we are going to de roots to bring down baby–wrong! Repatriation is a moss! Dis land of misery! Jezreel of di old Murderer! Yo kill I today yo cyaan kill I tomorrow.’
The Preacher ended his sermon looking very grave at the real and imagined grievances the Bredrin and the sistrin had been committed against. The mourners were so touched by the sermon and it was remembered later that he had really predicted their real persecution as two days later they were hunted down like farmers would hound wild hogs.
The entourage back to town attracted some spectacle. Loud blaring music matatus at high speed, full lights and ear piercing hooting; beat all logic that the minister had just recently tried to introduce. The stranded passengers who waved were left with a cocktail cloud of ganja smoke and engine fumes. Izzie and Ten Ten were sitting beside Sister Nice in the front seat listening to Mutabaruka.
Meanwhile yo dancin’ to dis music
And tryin’ to figure out its lyrics
Meanwhile yo drinkin’ an’ havin’ fun
Watch ot’ de revolution accord…
There was a sea of much humanity walking to and from the city looking desperately at the taxis passing all full speed. the shuttle buses could not satisfy them; the trains were always overloaded; private cars could not carry every Tom Dick and Harry – only those who could pay something. The ordinary citizen was the most hit by the strike.
‘Better be a part of de solution.
‘Dis might be de final confrontation
Better adhere to did reality
Dis is not do time to lose yo sanity
Coz ba de Ballot or de Bullet
Ba de Bible or de Gun
Any which way, freedom mus’ come!’
They were almost in town now. Sister Nice, apart from engaging the high gears just chewed the little twigs she still had in her pocket. She hadn’t been feeling well of late. At first she had thought that it was those days of the month, but when her sickness had persisted. Morning sickness-she wasn’t pregnant-dry cough and sweating at night. The diarrhoea, that came on and off, made her little head fly to jumpy hasty conclusions that all wasn’t alright with her.
Two days after the night out in the cold, had made her whole body develop rashes – perhaps from the million and one mosquito bites or insects – she couldn’t figure out which was which. She thought of the Preacher’s parting words. ‘Dere mus’ be a solution – a revolution’, and the music echoed those sentiments. she would too be part of the solution-she would go to the hills and not remain I the big city which had made her sick.
‘Now yo kill I today yo cyaan kill I tomorrow
Revolution for de poor; a change mus’ come
Izzie, taking thing easy as usual sat jovially chewing away his distress. The Shashamane shrine had been closed, cordoned off and their license revoked. his biggest worry wasn’t where he was going to lay his head for the night but his job and the new strategies ‘Baby-wrong’ had put in place. He didn’t concern himself much, just like Ten Ten sitting next to him, smoking weed, chewing Khat. They also listened to the revolutionary lyrics keenly.
Talking to you leftists and chaplains
Food clothes and shelter have no politics
The almighty creator belong to no religion
Ideology won’t bring about the solution
Now turn to Psalms in de Bible
And show me yo AK 47
And Ten Ten relieved too, the words of the Preacher directing them on their next course of action. He was a revolutionary and he liked evry moment of it-freeing the minds of his people-just like his had been freed and liberated.
‘Come mek we fight oppression
Come mek we find a solution
Come mek we fight down-pression
Come mek we start a revolution
Dere mus’ be… dere mus’ be…
A solution… a revolution…
They crossed Sufferiation Street and perked their taxis at Paradiso. The parking bay was full so they used the expansive field where the entire hundred-plus Zion Train big and small road machines lay.
All humanity was heading to the Uhuru Garden – to listen to the sermon by the Preacher, since their temple out of bounds. The Culture minister had promised them to sort out the issue personally with the police commissioner – ‘but until then, they had to think of the world’-to paraphrase the wise words of the minister….’’
‘this MSS looking for a publisher’