Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Extracts from “On the Africa Bus” by Abimbola Lagunju – The Drivers of the African Bus

The Drivers of the African Bus

The First Driver
Do you remember the first driver of the bus? The one that drove us out of our shrines, right into the desert sun, away from any shade. Yes, the one from Ah-Rabe-yah! He damaged our sight beyond repairs, burned out our retina…….
The driver hacked off some stubborn heads

And did we learn anything from this experience? No! We thanked him for his service, and gave him a parting gift, an eternal gift in a little bottle. A piece of our mind to play with when he is bored or feels threatened by draughts of westerly winds. Touched by our largesse, he gave us orders at the pain of death to adopt his creed, his sun, his language as ours, to keep the names he gave us, to keep our own gods under lock and key, imprison ourselves in dome - tories, think in his letters and mumble broken syllables.
He moved into shadows of the sun when the second driver arrived from the snow. He could not melt the snowman.

The Second Driver
And the second driver! The slave driver! The senior gardener of Eden. The man of God who knew by sight, by phenotype, and later by genotype, the legitimate sons and daughters of Adam. And he knew his bastards too. Made when his God was looking away. Ham came from nowhere, and entered the loins of Adam through Noah! An abomination! Ham the harm. Error of creation; the worm and his descendants, deserved nothing but enslavement for contaminating history, for darkening the blond sun.

Holy Driver
He taught us many things! He taught us to call him master! He forced us to call him massa. We cowered, that was the first C ! He taught us cowardice and fear; then mounted on our backs. And while we cowered and wondered, his “….civilization kicked us in the face,…and his holy water slapped our cringing brows[i]” He fragmented our shrines with the “… monotonous rhythm of paternoster…,”[ii] undid our minds, and then he taught and taught! He taught the natives! He lifted the dark curtain from the eyes of the savages!

Four hundred years later the second driver got tired of us. God and conveyor belt overtook his mind, and he gave the keys to the third driver.

The Third Driver
The third driver!
He cockroached himself into our midst. He colonized us body and soul.

The third driver and his thieves

 We fought him with our loud silence. We fought with our submission. We gave him everything we had but our hope.  Fed up with us, he fled the bus. He handed the keys of the Bus to Jonscariot, our own man at “independence” and jumped out or so we thought. Before he jumped, he unleashed the market forces in our midst to decimate us.

Market Forces


The Fourth Driver
AN Jonscariot, our fourth driver is one of us. In his previous life, A.N. Jonscariot was a cart driver. A village cart driver. He then had another name, a name with a meaning: “the son of thunder who brings good tidings.” A good man he was. He loved his family and his neighbors. He took good care of his horse. He was normal, our “normal” until he changed his name and jumped into this contraption.

Now, we don’t know him anymore. Sometimes he drives the contrivance, our bus like a cart. Sometimes he apes the driver from Arabia, other times, the European drivers and many times, he is a combination of the four. A hybrid, neither here nor there. Neither carrot nor cucumber.

The Fourth Driver - Our own A.N. Jonscariot

Is ANJ really one of us? ANJ has always been a good apprentice, a good student of his previous masters. He diligently learnt from the previous drivers, his masters. He learnt everything by heart. If ANJ is really one of ours, it is by color only. ANJ has bleached his genes, his DNA and his mind. ANJ likes to ape his masters. He loves their way of life. He lives by their standards. He now wears blue contact lenses.

ANJ is real bad news! Bad News our ANJ is. Just like his masters. Since ANJ took over the bus from his masters at independence, he has diligently continued his inherited tradition of wreckage. See how bald the tires are! And he says he just bought them only last week ….brand new. Lately he has been saying democracy will repair the bus! Democracy! He just painted the word on our bus. In red and blue. He even calls himself Democracy sometimes. And sometimes he says he is the father of democracy of our bus.

Democracy!  From where did he get the name? He likes big colonial words, our ANJ does!  He borrows words from everywhere, and from his colonial master in particular. Important words and phrases. Toxic words. Industrial phrases. Terrorist sentences. Letters of mass murder.
Toxic Words

ANJ is adept at borrowing. He borrows words for himself, in his name. He then maims us with the words, and while we hold our heads in confused agony, he speeds off to borrow money and other valuable things in our name for himself.

Jonscariot is toxic. A virus. More dangerous that the former three drivers combined. No mind. No head. No plans. We are in historical trouble!

[i] David Diop – The Vultures. A poem.
[ii] David Diop – The Vultures. A poem.

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