The wise old man, he said to me one day, "madness is to be celebrated." Let us, then, on my behalf, celebrate. He would have it no other way. We begin
Shango, god of poetry
I submit my pen to thee
With revulsion, let us smite your enemies
Scatter them with the wind
Flow through my soul and give chase
To the thief who stole creation
Then announce your name in glory
Shango, god of poetry
I submit my pen to thee
I defer to Yemoja
On matters of the heart
On matters of the deep, dark waters
Of the quiet
Of the silent
I defer to Yemoja
On matters of the heart
Who suckled me when I, a babe
Entered the world of spirits?
Who nurtured me and gave me rest
When madness finally arrived?
Who took my hand and comforted me
When loneliness was my lot?
When mortals had nothing to offer
But empty explanations
Of why their words, so profound
Could not contain the knowledge
Necessary to debrief my soul
To instruct my spirit
On why we, who must live in eternity
Must tread the path we do
To know that in the fury of the wind
And in the angst of the storm
This name which must not be heard by mortals
Is the name we must adorn
At the very center of our being
The point where life begins
The secret of the universe
I defer to Yemoja
On matters of the heart
For years, now, I have journeyed in the wilderness. I have lost my way. But I retain my sense of direction. I am headed home. I look around and wonder where it went, that fire that once pushed me to share the song I have to sing. I have, as Achebe informed you, a song to sing. I have sung it. It was heard by the spirits and they applauded. Now it is suggested of me to give an encore performance for the mortals. And I am trying. But I have lost my way. Yet, I retain my sense of direction. I am headed home.
Do you know the name of God? A man, a king, a master, he whispered it into my ear the other day. I shuddered because it reminded me of something that I was told never to forget. But I have forgotten what that thing is. The name of God. Tremble not with fear or laughter, for in these eyes is a city. If it is the truth that moves the cosmos, then it is from these hands that harmony prevails. If you feel discontentment, then I shall feed you chin-chin. Sugar does wonders for the brain, the psychologists tell me. And if the sugar is not good enough for you, then I shall reward you with roasted fish and palm-oil. But if you are content to sit in Jerusalem and eat unleavened bread, then I shall have no choice but to banish you from our kingdom, for, we all here love roasted fish and palm-oil. You must, in that instance, be a traitor, fighting vigorously for the rights of the Palestinians or for the establishment of Greater Zion. Wherefore, then, shall our own ancient kingdom be blessed with this zeal of yours? It is a question you would do well to answer.
Beset my way, Ogogoro
Sapele water, holy water of the gods
Lay claim to my salvation
Distance me from perdition
That stalks me like my shadow
Refusing my insistence
To tickle my belly for the love of God
Invoking an orgy of righteousness
That confuses the prudish preacher
Who, with the instinct of the beast
And the manners of the gentleman
Has forgotten, deep down in his African heart, that
In the moment of ecstasy
When the spirit rings forth in tongues
The orgasmic throes of the goddess
Produces the showers
That blesses his bountiful harvest
Of mild-mannered minions
And tender, loving sheep
Who, doting upon the word of their master
Will never hear the moans
That bring the goddess and her lover
To the era of fruition
Taunting the center of their being
And the source of their creativity
From these sensual pleasures they are deprived
For the love of God
Talent creeps up on the young before human eyes can see, and surreptitiously begins to toy with the destiny of children. The ears that recognize a blessed melody, the hands that recognize a blessed rhythm, the eyes that see a harmonious painting, these entities mature before the mouth can tell the story of the yearning within, making it all seem like a trick of the gods. For by the time the mouth finds language, the day is far too spent. A race against time begins. For, in the fullness of time, the song within will escape, and by whatever means avail itself for this singular purpose. This song, it is the meaning of our lives.
Udeze, show me your caterpillars, then do that trick you do. Tell me, once again, that if I close my eyes long enough, and you say your magic incantations, when I open my eyes I shall see those ugly creatures transformed into the most beautiful of the things that express the wonders of God. I will believe you, because I need to believe that it is your magic that does this thing. You are the one who keeps me believing in my people, in their ability to be of value, any value whatsoever, in a world full of geniuses that have oppressed the ones who know not that in truth lies power. Your genius is your magic. Your knowledge of the elements is your wand. I hear your name in the wind, Udeze, and the spirits haunt the trees, giving life to the limbs that protrude towards the heavens to proclaim the majesty of nature. It is from the trees that the spirits escape, inciting the crickets to rancor, and the birds to their high-pitched postulations on the philosophy of flight.
A sculpture appears suddenly in the bushes! It seems that one touched by the divine hand has found expression in bronze. The sculpture stands in a hollow space that blocks the sun, and dares the heart to wonder if it was an evil spirit that moved the artist to do this thing in so ominous an encampment, or if it was a spirit of destiny that urged the same. One cannot tell by looking at it, for it is quiet and shy. It is a sculpture of the god Shango.
It is a disgrace.
It is a disgrace. I can tell you this, for I know Shango. Personally. Shango is not a muscular, vicious, machete-wielding giant whose temper tantrums bring down the wrath of Olodumare. The tragedy of our art is that we are born without history. What we have not realized is that we live in an era. This is to say, and most assuredly too, that we were born late. The Jewish nation was born without a history at a point in its history. When tradition told the tale of Adam, Eve, Lillith and such the like. Tradition crystallized and emerged as the written history of a people who chose to align themselves with the God of their fathers. Who is the God of our fathers? We must be wise to the situation.
Ifatoba is grumpy. He is a rebel against Western Imperialism. Yet, in this regard, he has allowed his temperament to cloud his judgment. He uses Cowrie shells to divine the future, and prays to the Orishas to grant him health and wealth. But the philosophical basis of his argument will not stand when the light is shone upon it. It will not stand because he has not taken the time to fortify his argument with the madness of his own genius, such genius with which he is authorized to exist as a prophet of Olodumare, and not merely a priest of the establishment of those whose stagnation promotes the anger of the Almighty and divests divinity from the gods of the people until they come to their senses. When will my people learn? That in the art that was given us is the authority to advance the cause of the invisible nation of spirit children whose leaders know not where they are coming from and neither where they are going. I know where I am going. You may follow me if you wish. We will be in the wilderness but we will not stagnate. For I have lost my way. But I retain my sense of direction. I am headed home.
When the stars refuse to give direction, it is not because they have no energy. In the case of my people, it has to do with the moral caliber of those who would, in their greed, refuse to heed the instinct that called on man to celebrate power not abuse it, to seek the face of God, not the ruinous ways of dead spirits.
Tonight the moon is unexceptional And though the stars shine bright Their twinkle is lost in the blandness of the moment You have made your sacrifice Deblooded the slain beast Roasted its entrails on the fire of contrition The incense rises but fails to arouse The sensual nature of the instinct of me It neglects to inspire the thing which needs Escape from the shackles of this mortal body For, what you have presented As your largest thoughts A gift to Olodumare Would shame even the smallest priest
And so you want to be great. You want to be known. Is this not so? You wish your life to be validated, the purpose of your existence on earth affirmed by the consequences of your being. But do you know greatness? Have you what it takes? Will you yearn for normalcy? Will you pray to be divested of the curse of insight and the burden of knowledge? Will you wonder what life would be like had you not the ability to see the folly that is humanity? Will you lose yourself in the insanity that all great minds must endure as the lot of those whose souls were fashioned for a cause greater than the foolishness of the followers of dead philosophies? A wise old man once said to me, "madness is to be celebrated." Today we celebrate his madness in the forests of Oshogbo while awaiting the resurrection of his spirit, so that we might lead him into eternity, but only when his time comes. But you... you, I suggest you rethink your desire. Go home to your wife, dear friend. Sire children and live long and in the ignorant bliss of one who cannot see the depths to which humanity has sunk, the banality and disappointing level of maturity that is the animal to whom power was bequeathed as a prize for the utility of intelligence. Go home to your wife, dear friend. For the weight of greatness is for those who have lost the fear of living--living according to the principle of the light. In the light is the truth, and though it will set you free, you shall be assailed by the grief of understanding. Go home to your wife. Greatness is a lifelong commitment.
What is it that you love? Is it the art itself or is it the feeling you get from expressing your acquired knowledge in front of an audience. Does the buzz get to you? Do you feel euphoric and excited in the moment of passion, then depressed the morning after? Are you addicted to an audience? Is your song that strong? Curing an addiction to an audience is no mean feat. But it can be done. This addiction is deadly. It ultimately ends in disappointment. It is a tragic situation, when genius manifests within and just must be shared. It is the way of the spirit, the wit of the gods, to curse the blessed with genius. For genius must be shared. The morning after, new inspiration must be drawn from, another testimonial to the infinite riches of the spirit world must be planned for. In the final analysis, enjoy the moment. Enjoy it for as long as it lasts, for when the moment is gone it is gone. And it becomes a memory. Another in a billion memories that make up the world of the arts. Memories that tell the story of how we created massive edifices to the spirit of creation and how we shared a bond. Learn not to wake up depressed the morning after. Learn to live for the art itself. Sit with the spirits and impress them. In time, you will find that art is for art. But genius, it must be shared.
To the daughter of Yemoja, permit these lies and you will see the truth, embedded in the embarrassment of these eyes that claimed I thought nothing more of you when we parted. And though what we share is not hid from the eyes of God, mortals need not be burdened with the richness of our story. Those eyes, of God, pierce and conspire, tempting the one with the secret to reveal it for all to see. For the eyes of all are the eyes of God. In the interests of harmony we succumb to the bait and proclaim, to those we love, that something beyond the pale of mundane humanity is ongoing. Then we realize that it was a mistake to share. For the mortals, they do not understand. They charge and wonder if we have broken any laws. But how can we break any laws of the universe if all we have done is love? Assured by the hand of destiny, I seal the secret and wink in your direction. We shall continue our story another time.
*** Fire!!! ***
Toddlers surround me and cast their philosophies to the wind. The oppressive torture of knowledge is numbing and I consider the alternative. I might, too, have been one of them. Which is better? I wonder. To retain my bliss in the ignorance of zombied Africans, or permit my soul to endure this harsh situation that has placed me in the lion's den, pained to the core of my being because even the most basic of intuitions eludes these to whom I am beholden? Lost and without light, they litter the landscape of my dreams, until the goddess arrives to rescue me with the warmth of her bosom. How I love her, this one. How shall I have survived the madness of sanity without her affections? It is to her I owe this debt of my soul, and it is to her I will pay. And when the time is come to reflect upon the meaning of a life lived, it is with her I will walk into eternity and bid the dawn welcome.
A refined sense of humanity, the ability to contend with the fragrance of a rose, a pioneering aesthetic ability, a gift for intonation and harmony, these, foremost, are the hidden notions that define civilization in the minds of those who today seek to understand the value system that the world embraces as critical to being reflective of the God deity. Had my people built vast gardens, they would have been forgiven their lack of literature. Had my people concocted fragrant lotions, they would have been forgiven their lack of masonry. And yet, these same hidden notions are recent to our common understanding, having once lived in an era now past, submerged later on in the dark age of misunderstanding that shaped the currently primitive transliteration of eternal order within universal chaos that is the world's suggestion of what humanity is. No matter the cultural bridges we build between old and new, ancient and modern, if we cannot find the answer to the question of why these notions may have eluded my people, we may never be able to satisfy our inner recesses with the idea that, in fact, we are connected to our past.
I caught my boat just as it was leaving. My one-way ticket to eternity completed the ship's manifesto. Much had been made about those who would miss the boat. I was certain I would not be one of them. I was right. It took great clarity of thought and a moment of insight and truth for me to decide where my fortunes lay. My destiny, it seemed, was in my hands. And so with these hands I created a passageway into the future and pitched my tent with the ones who saw, as I did, that embellishing foolishness in no way makes it wisdom. I had come to be a wise man, for I had, in my youth, seen a great many things. And I had, in my youth, done a great many things. And of the things I had done and of the things I had seen, not one left within me an empty feeling--the feeling of having learned nothing from the precious experiences and discrete moments which, combined, make up the continuum that is life's journey.
I will confide in you, but this must go no further than our space. I have lost my will to accommodate narrow-mindedness. Harsher words come to mind to describe the thing which inspires my ire, but I have long since determined that exploring the depths of my displeasure with the inadequate use of the blessed human mind serves little purpose for me. The feeling is surreal, as though I was sent to this planet as part of a sentence for misdemeanor crimes against the universe. As though I was in exile in a strange land, living amongst a people who knew not the ways of my kind. The people of this planet have much to do to appreciate the depth of the universe. And yet, they spend little time in this regard. What is one such as myself to do? Convincing a stone of the futility of its ways might be an easier task than getting some of these humans to accept the fallibility of their arguments, for they shroud their inconsistencies with the ultimate human mystery--faith. Faith, as utilized by humans, is that expression of absoluteness which provides answers to the things unanswerable by a pedestrian application of the intelligence bequeathed all higher-order creatures of the universal order. It is the way out for those who have not what it takes to explore the finer nuances of our intricate system of existence in order to achieve the enlightenment necessary to gain access into the elevated realms of understanding. Real faith has nothing to do with the way in which it is applied by humans. Real faith is in believing that the eternal consciousness that will eventually be perceived by those who seek it is, indeed, conscious.
The boundless esotericism available to humanity within the graspable domain of universal laws maintains itself as a key to a finer appreciation of the nature of what, according to contemporary-speak, is understood to be the God concept. Seeking the truth in the universe of and about existence may well be a profoundly personal path that needs not dated and trite isms which continually reaffirm only that human nature is such that the pursuit of truth is and has always been instinctive and embedded in the deepest recesses of the human psyche. We need to understand why and how we exist. A disservice occurs when humanity forecloses any path towards the light of truth when new truths are discounted as belonging to blasphemous new-age ideologies. For, as in scientific evolution, spiritual truths gleaned from continuous exploration provide a clearer, more lucid picture of the totality that is our eternal existence. Where, for instance, would the world be today if the truth of scientific fact was consistently set aside as being anathema to the neat little way in which the world has been viewed? The solution is in progress, not stagnation. Religious institutions are dogged by the resilient egoism of their prophets, the great souls who, in the infancy of their spiritual being, contented themselves that the way towards the truth was found solely in what they had, as yet, discovered. Furthermore, faced with the power of legend, humanity seems fascinated with an age of glory long past during which the face of God showed itself upon the earth and of which a contemporary comparison might not yield the fruits of similarity. Humanity believes that the glory of the supreme light of the universe was, at one time, so powerful upon the face of the earth that, humanity now having declined and fallen so far, those who walked the earth in those times had discovered the ultimate truth of the universe. Alas, many clear-minded souls will confide that this is simply not true. As a matter of fact, the glory of the light of the universe may never have been so bright as it is today, but that is a matter to be handled at another time.
In shirking their responsibility to monitor and promote pure and true spiritual advancement, religious institutions will soon find that the truth-seekers will invoke the spirit of God upon the earth and leave behind those who claim to know the light. It is simply unbelievable that these finest of minds who have guided those who have indicated a willingness to come to the light over the centuries will, in these times, at the very least not explore the spiritual advancements that have come from the exploration of the universe by truth-seekers. It is to the detriment of these organizations and should they persist with these policies that have retarded those in their care who have invested much faith in their ability to provide perspective and truth, they will be relegated to the dustbin of universal civilization in as much as truth is all that matters. Even if there be only a hundred ones who find the light on this planet, the light will remain the light. No one put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to seek the truth and the light. No one put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to explore the natural curiosity about the universe that is found within all who have the intuition to know that life is a mystery. As such, what shall the excuse be when the truth is revealed and the light is shone in the middle of the darkness? Will the religious moan and cry and say that their leaders have misled them? Who will bear the responsibility for the state of utter backwardness that the planet earth delights in?
By this time in our era, the archbishops, fully versed in the art of universal journeysmanship, should be engrossed in attempting to explore with rigor the expanse of the universe in search of any affiliation that our kind has with other civilizations such as might have trod this path to enlightenment. Instead, they are engrossed in battles over homosexuality and sexual abuse. One can only imagine the sense of disbelief that a child of the light has, a child who has taken the responsibility, perhaps with others, of being representative of what in fact our humanity can achieve given the intelligence bequeathed to us as higher-order universal beings. It is not a pretty picture. But those who choose to continue the good work, to keep fighting the good fight, to continually expand the boundaries of our infinite mind, they will not be derailed by the nonsensical and childish affairs of a retarded cohort. It is a higher calling and it will be attended to.
The point is simply this, as science has found a way to regulate itself, so must religion. This is not to suggest that the scientific method is not appropriate for religious evolution, but being an area which requires quite a bit of empiricism to go with a healthy amount of rationalism, the human factor in religious evolution cannot be overlooked. The highest religious personnel on the planet ought to be the most experienced in matters of the soul and matters of our humankind. "Secret societies" and such, at this time, have taken it upon themselves to bring their initiates into something of an unofficial capacity as representatives of humanity, but the time will come when unity will have to emerge as the status quo. If the religious institutions are not allowed to join the mainstream of enlightened awareness on earth, there is the strong intuition that spiritual autocracy will pervade our planet, allowing a privileged few to determine the future direction of the planet. For the sake of truth and light, this must not be so. We are the leaders of the planet, and so we must lead the entire planet into the light. To do so, we must encourage religious esotericism so as to provide the gradations necessary to bring followers into the light. The problem, obviously, is with the intransigence of fundamentalists who view any esotericism as being "demonic" or inspired by "evil spirits." A greater problem exists with certain other religions which remain trapped in a time warp. How shall these problems be dealt with? Ultimately, the light is for those who are drawn to it.
Six years in the wilderness, and my ideology is not yet fully refined. Judging by the complexities that arise in attempting to understand the nature of us, I shall spend six more years here. They sent me here to be schooled, to fashion out a coherent concept that explained Africa. Six years, and what to show for it? Sadness? Joy? Contempt? Disbelief? These things and more, they haunt my auspices, commanding more than the reverence of my soul in as much as I am the soul of Africa. Six years.
Those without pride willingly accepted the verdict of a tainted history, written from the quill pen of the one whose arrogance was much to pity. This history, it was a trap--the first step into an abyss from which return was impossible. The abyss has sucked the finest minds of the continent and put to shame the gods of those who, with roaring voices, declaimed that the mystery of the elements was the mystery of their soul. Contend not, then, with the notion that I will succumb and fail you, Udeze, who has invested so much faith in the ability of Amon and his descendants to steer us into the light of civilization. We will find the truth. But we must seek it in truth. Then, and only then, shall you take your place at the table of civilization.
To the daughter of Yemoja, how shall I sing my song to you, oh vixen of the night? The thought of your embrace taunts my innards with shame, for I have, in my lust for you, dispatched of all who would lay claim to your anointing. I am, thus, all that matters. We must make merry and do so with haste, for I am haunted by the ghosts of those who, too, must be nurtured by your bosom. None shall deny me my moment of solitude with you. And in that moment, when our eyes meet, you shall see that far away land where we together shall depart for when the time is come. And when we meet again, let our dalliance suggest that it is because our love is infinite that I must always act, in my madness, and seize the solitude of you.
Shango, god of poetry
I submit my pen to thee
I defer to Yemoja
On matters of the heart
Surprise me, Udeze. Show me that Africa still has hope. Impress me with the depth of your love and the breadth of your wisdom. Instill in me the suggestion that your time is now. For in that task, you will save your people. For, your people cannot hide from the truth. It is knocking now at your door. Surprise me.