Thursday, January 24, 2008

Savage Africa

An overcast morning out. Little mirror to the spring of joy that is in my heart.

Why is poetry of a sudden such a lift to my heart? It has not been so long that I have taken it up. But it is like a long lost friend that I have suddenly rediscovered.


Something has been on my mind the last few days.

I read this modern day tale of savagery and cannibalism and was repelled. Deep in me I found something that could not reconcile something like this with humanity.

I ate children's hearts, ex-rebel says

By Jonathan Paye-Layleh

BBC News, Monrovia

Milton Blahyi, a former feared rebel commander in Liberia's brutal civil war, has admitted to taking part in human sacrifices as part of traditional ceremonies intended to ensure victory in battle.

Milton Blahyi fought Charles Taylor's forces in the war. He said the sacrifices "included the killing of an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat."

There had been numerous rumours of human sacrifices during the 1979-93 conflict but this is the first time anyone has admitted publicly to the practice.

Mr Blahyi, 37, is better known in Liberia as "General Butt Naked" because he went into combat with no clothes on, to scare the enemy.

He is now an Evangelist preacher, who prefers to use the name Joshua.”

Yet, to my non African friends, I have to admit that Africa is a savage continent. A lioness, or lion, whose naked strength and grace hides mean streaks, able to turn with a vengeance on her own children to devour them.

There is little milk of human kindness in the need to survive. It is a furnace of necessity that is all consuming. And man, and woman, intelligent above animals, will always seek to do all that he or she can, within the limits and constraints of that intelligence.

The nightmare of Angola, now at some peace, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and of recent Darfur, Southern Sudan and Nothern Uganda. Kenya.

Survival, of the individual, is what matters to most. Ideals and ideas are no more than useless dreams of rags of riches to a street urchin.

What am I trying to do?

To rationalise, to bring into comprehension, to my bewildered mind, deeds which I have heard of, which repel me beyond understanding. They seem to go against the very grain of my being. Yet I am what I am. An African, and a human being, and if I cannot understand my people, I cannot dare to say that I will understand anyone else.

Savage Africa. You make my blood run hot and cold.


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