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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Africa steels her daughters

So, a bunch of us were challenged to write a reply to the short story Africa Kills Her Sun by Ken Saro-Wiwa. http://anaesthesia4aesthetes.tumblr.com/post/16721726862/ken-saro-wiwa-africa-kills-her-sun  It was a great story that everyone should read and sadly prophetic too. I wrote up a reply and here it is, but if your choice is between this and the original, please read the original. linked here; http://anaesthesia4aesthetes.tumblr.com/post/16721726862/ken-saro-wiwa-africa-kills-her-sun

Dear Bana,
I have thought of you too, often and long. On dark nights when hope was nothing but a memory, a fling I once had with a faceless stranger who moved on to the true love of his life leaving me down in the dregs. I am not the girl who you wrote this letter to, life is too cruel and strange to allow any of us to continue untested and untried all that’s left to us humans is to remain forever untrue.
A few years after we met I became a prostitute; I thought I could be amoral and divorce the act from the emotion demanded by it. Once a young man came up to me, he was obviously lost and he sat there as we finished and his face was blank. He asked me my name and I told him one. He tried to talk to me and I could tell he was one of those people who believe that sex leads to truth, that the conversation had after is the only true time of fish in golden ponds. It hurt me that I couldn’t give him this; it hurt me that I couldn’t give it to myself. It’s not that some people choose to be prostitutes it’s that life chooses some people.

This is why I can’t judge your life doesn’t give us all choices. Not here, not anywhere. When we knew each other I had such high hopes for you, I prayed the war wouldn’t kill you but it seems like life did or Africa did long before the bullets cut you down.

This letter seems pointless even more an exercise in futility than the one I got from you but I always said I would reply if you wrote me. Happiness is found more in memories than in actual moments. It touches me that you would remember me at what may be the most important time in your life as the clock ticks slowly and more surely than it ever has before. As time approaches clad in the black, dusty shoes death can gift it. It makes me sad but it makes me happy in a way that I can’t explain. It’s as if with all the misery surrounding me now life only means something when am morose, it’s morbid but it’s all I have.

Before me stands the picture you asked of me. I can see the sculpture in my mind’s eye. He is as I had imagined you would be. Bent over his stick clutching to it as word clutches to truth, sure that faith ingrained in its fibres will be enough to lead it anywhere. I can see how the sculpture stands now and I added some details to your description. I can see a pond and fish playing at your feet, I can see you surrounded by golden rays of sun as another day arrives to say hello to the Dark Continent. It can be as you would have wanted it.

The thing that makes me saddest is that I could keep a promise to your friends but not to you. I cried for Jimba and Sazan and you. I read the newspaper the day after you died. They reported your shouting at the priest, a sensation, a scandal, a soul to hell they said when it was just that all the words you had spoken rang so true. I saw your friends beside you and I cried the tears of a young woman, tears born of a young love.

Your sculpture can be as the girl you wrote the letter would have had it but that is not me anymore. It is not only her sons that Africa slays and it is not only in the eternal night that we can lose ourselves. I am glad that you turned to me as a shelter from a world that I couldn’t shelter myself from. I am weathered, withered and grey. A bitter old woman before her time and bitter old women cannot give way to sentimentality, not in a world this hard not in a place this harsh. I am sure you would understand for what is my taking of the money except just another bank robbery? It’s not that I have to explain it to you but there is some taste of the bitterness of life in why I needed the money, the day I received your letter was also the day I received the news that I was pregnant. As I wrestled with that Sazan’s words rang through me. And this is what I need the money for I will not give this world another son or daughter who turns into you or me. A life lost before it is lived, I will not.

I read about the official who stole 7 million. As you lay asleep, eternally a-slumber it came to light that he had stolen a lot more. Our electricity grid, the beacon of hope in all this desolation was a myth. It has disappeared as so many things do into the gloom. Africa kills her Sun but leaves it so much harder, colder and darker for the rest us. And the worst thing is that even the best of us are still the worst of us.

Your epitaph you will get. That much I can give. I am sorry for the rest but while Africa kills her sons she steels her daughters.

Yours, Zole.

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