We apologise to our long-suffering readers. We’ve been away for too long that we have no idea how to craft an appropriate apologies without sounding like clingy, readership needing, page-view counting blog. Which we totally are. But you see, the Nigeria’s madhouse effect is gradually beginning to reflect on our carefully maintained schedules and we’re also going topsy-turvy. Really, there’s been lots of fun activities going around in the past few weeks. It’s a combination of : million dollar rewards, romance in the banks, wars and rumours of wars, killing of the gays, and the most important of all—Big Brother Africa.
But of course, it’s no real concern to you what assholes are waging wars, and which farmer’s ox is gored as long as you continue to have your three square meals and DSTV subscriptions. After all, life is short and fleeting, and the essence of getting up at unholy hours and going to bed at unholier hours, commuting to work with the suffering of a martyr, is to be able to be as happy as as practicable in this up and down world. that agreed, why then do folks get all riled up over issues that, when all the cards are down, neither takes a morsel of food nor cancels their right to watch that sweet African Magic?
And this brings us to the story of Lilliput (and Blefuscu–which is unimportant) and the issue of the Lilliputian Big-Enders and Small-Enders. These names would sound familiar to those of you who actually sat up to listen to the boring drone of that damned literature teacher (we will pray for your wasted childhood) instead of fantasizing over the potential response to the love letter hastily scrawled on a sheet of 2A Onward Big Exercise Book.
But back to literature class, the aforesaid Lilliput and Blefuscu were two neighboring island “kingdoms” in Jonathan Swifts book, Gulliver’s Travels. (Insert appropriate expression of recognition here.) Now, Lilliput had been at war with Blefuscu for a while, principally because the trouble seeking Blefuscu encouraged and supported some errant Lilliputians who had refused to toe the generally accepted beliefs of Lilliput. You see, it is a religious belief of Lilliput that a boiled egg (yep, religion does talk about food) should be broken “at the convenient end” before it is eaten, so the scripture said. Traditionally, “convenient end” had been interpreted as the “big” end of the egg—until some folks decided it actually meant the “small” end of the egg. The Small-Enders eventually converted most people to this religious thinking and gained the rulership of the kingdom. But some die-hard Big-Enders, now the minority, would have none of that shit. They got reinforcement from Blefuscu and a series of religious civil war began in which “…one Emperor lost his life, and another his crown.” Yeah, it was that bloody, they took that egg-breaking business very seriously.
But you see, it’s easy to make light of this story when you are unable to apply it to current realities. There are lots of Big-End and Small-End issues that cause unnecessary friction in real, everyday life. Of course, it is proper to hold a belief and stick to it, but it is improper to force that belief on others. Even more improper: taking violence or the threat of violence in order to force that belief on others. Because, as someone said, beliefs are like big swinging dicks—it’s good to have one, but bad to wave it in someone’s face. Only a club, tribe, cult and other exclusive societies requires that everybody must maintain the same beliefs. But in a complicated, admittedly fucked-up world, such as we have today, beliefs have gotten to complicated and numerous that everyone had better share the damned space together or simply blow up the world in the process of determining which belief will survive and which one must die.
And that’s the lesson for today, folks: the world doesn’t belong to anybody. You meet stuff here, you’ll leave stuff here. And all the stuff you think you’ve built up forever can be blown off in the puff of a madman’s nuclear bomb in a part of the world you didn’t even know exists. But as long as you’ve got to share this tiny portion of Space with other people, history has proven that any attempt by any majority to dominate a minority for the purpose of forcing everyone to behave in a particular direction always results in disastrous consequences. So you see, it boils down to everyone having a peace out or everyone having a piss out.
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Today’s lesson begins with a flashback to pre-colonial Africa. For those of you who skipped secondary school history classes for bathroom sex, what is called Africa today was once a continent of several civilizations and empires. These empires and civilizations had fine standing armies, highly developed cultures, hypocritical religious creeds and even functional and corrupt bureaucracies–all without European intervention.
Well, those sneaky Europeans, having squandered their natural resources on inter-tribal warfare, decided to come and help themselves to some of the takeaway from the free-for-all party jam going on in Africa. First, they set up shop and started by trading for gold and other rich resources–when the profit and loss account didn’t satisfy them, they then moved to purchasing the people themselves. The Africans, nice folks that they were, obliged the Europeans. After a few centuries of, mostly, conflict free trade, it hit the Europeans that they were wasting valuable pounds and dollars buying human and natural resources when they could simply exchange their tenant status for that of a landlord and own everything: land, humans, and resources.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 gave birth to Europe’s follow-my-customs-or-eat-shit programme referred to in polite circles as “colonization”. But Africans weren’t taking any of that nonsense. It was one thing to trade, it was another to be governed. Across Africa, from Egypt to the Cape, the rallying cry was “Occupy!”. Well, not exactly. In fact, it was much more worse than any Occupy Protest.
As nice and commercially inclined as these pre-colonial Africans were, they were also fierce warriors and soldiers, defending their wives and property with the fury of a castrated celebrity porn-star. They honoured and even encouraged death on the battlefield (modern terrorists are mere copycats), and a woman who had lost sons or a husband to war was a proud one. Cowards were ostracized and anyone who was not prepared to die for his land was a bastard. But despite this solid patriotism, the Africans lost the wars for their land principally because of lesser firepower and the activity of the cowards and scoundrels among them.
While some Africans were busy physically fighting off and terrorizing the Europeans, others were preaching peace and acceptance of European customs and religions. These cowardly peacemakers were educated in European ways and history and given authority to govern their fellow Africans under the shadow of the established colonial government. Africans who kept fighting against the government and who tried to reclaim their land were killed off, exiled or locked up in jail.
In obedience to the laws of natural selection, the brave and stubborn ones died off with their brave and stubborn genes, while those who accepted European authority went on to become educated Christians or tolerated Muslims. And because whether cowardly or brave, people will always have sex, these cowards went on to reproduce their genes and today their descendants are spread across the country. Essentially, every post-colonial African today is a descendant of one of those cowards or scoundrels that refused to die rather than give up their authority. We are the sons (and daughters!) of cowards and scoundrels. Once in a while, though, remnant genes from the brave Africans show up.
Unfortunately, the now pervasive cowards-in-authority are always quick to wipe out such resurrections.