Yesterday, disaster struck. My Better Half and my son went to the cinema and saw “Pride” last night – they had gone to see Timbuktu which he will be reviewing on the radio tomorrow, but Timbuktu was sold out so they saw “Pride” instead. They saw Timbuktu this evening.
Last night, when she got home she first told me how good “Pride” was and then told me that something terrible had happened – I thought Israel !!?? – those were her exact words on 911 when she got home carrying two shopping baskets – I had my headphones on and was listening to a rapturous extended Arthur Rubinstein piano solo on MEZZO, but it was the weird expression on her face and her mouth moving, opening and closing like a fish mouth in an aquarium, only that there were no bubbles and that got me to take off my headphones, only to hear her ask, “Have you heard – something terrible has happened in America!” – something terrible has happened in America – so I switched to CNN immediately ready to confront the devil himself if need be, lo and behold – saw an aeroplane zapping through a skyscraper like a knife through butter- in the midst of raging fire, smoke and brimstone, thought, Lord Have Mercy , the mofo Russians have finally ATTACKED!!! – thought that was merely the first wave of the Russian luftwaffe
The world has not been the same since..
But yesterday was not 911, she had only lost her wallet – “With your bankcard and ID card?” – and yes, she had got the bank card stopped – but I myself had to dial the police for her to report the ID card and this morning we are told that the thief or thieves whoever they are have taken out Kr. 20,000 the maximum they would take out on the bankomat. So I got to telling her that if only she had stayed home with her House Negro, nothing of the sort would have happened.
Feeling more than a little sad about the minus 20,000 in her account, the family economy being just that much poorer and so I’m consoling myself with
time for me to start earning some cash offering some English language services on behalf of Her Majesty’s grammar….
Same procedure as every year James. Once upon a time one of my best friends from school days was James Braithwaite, now late, turned out to be a maths genius and a good guitar player too, along with his older brother Julian, for “The Golden Strings” – Cecil Blake was on vocals then, Dennis Stefanopulos on bass, Mcfoy on drums. I last met James who had just completed his honours maths course in Durham which is in the North of England -met him on a plane between London and I can’t remember where…
Madilu System La Bonne Humeur
At home yesterday, some James Baldwin, I went through
Jimmy’s Blues – selected Poems by James Baldwin - a slim volume (63 pages) published by Michael Joseph (1983 edition) starting with
Song (for Skip)
Munich, winter 1973 (for Y.S.)
The giver (for Berdis)
3.00 a.m. (for David)
The Darkest hour
Confession (pages 37 -44)
“Le sporting-club de Monte Carlo (for Lena Horne)” …and “Amen”
Some days (for Paula)
Conundrum (on my birthday) (for Rico)
Christmas Carol (Saul, how does it feel to be Paul?” (Pages 50-55)
A lady like landscapes (for Simone Signoret)
Guilt, Desire and Love
Death is easy (for Jefe)
Mirrors (for David)
…reminded of some of the philosophical questions raised in Allen Polite’s poetry, from time to time
as I engaged some of the thoughts in those seventeen poems…
Ruminating slightly: Re- The House Negro and the Field Negro – are there any in Sweden?
It’s really the sort of question that has to be addressed “to whom it may concern” – and I ask the question consciously, because despite all the talk about integration or assimilation (side by side with multiculturalism) I’ve observed that with a great many of the first generation immigrants from Africa, barring acclimatization, one of the cardinal sins is to become “Swedish” – to prefer potatoes and blood-pudding to the daily diet of rice, pounded yam and the leafy varieties of spinach such as contumley, drenched in palm oil. If he or she is deemed to have become “too Swedish” he or she surely earns the title “uncle tom” and they (the uncle toms) come in many different stripes, shades, shapes and sizes…
The equivalent sin, in colonial Africa is “to go Native” – leading in some degree to being ostracized by the White Colonial community. Anthropologists doing field work usually descend through the acculturalization process of “going native” most rapidly. In any part of Africa or Asia, I find myself impelled to going native instinctively and without any difficulty whatsoever. (“Where there’s a will there’s a way”
Many years ago I visited my Cameroonian friend – an austere patriarch & very Africanist sort of fellow, to my surprise found him doing the washing up – to this day he’s still trying to convince me that the place of the woman is in the kitchen and that he himself – God forbid – he (a great big, strong man of distinguished African lineage like him, he was most certainly not doing the washing up when I arrived, he had only been washing his hands under the tap…
XU Xin vs MA Long in Kuwait
(Next month they meet again)
is also one of the world’s top players
you’ve probably heard about too, but not in connection with table-tennis…
Imagination creates the situation,
And, then, the situation
Creates the imagination
It may, of course,
Be the other way round:
Columbus was discovered
By what he found. (James Baldwin)
Sweden has changed so very much – mostly for the worse. Asking you for “membership card” and all, at the clubs. One of these days I must begin to tell in short episodes what Sweden was like in the good old days of the 70’s, 80s, 90s of the last century, when Pa Demba was king!
Re- The House Negro and the Field Negro
Kunta Kinte aside, it took the Brothers and Sisters of Black America more than two hundred years of self-consciousness to evolve from calling himself “Negro” to the point of political self-discovery and self-awareness in the crucible of the United States of America, and arrival at the more appropriate, honorific title of “African-American”. As Malcolm said, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock – Plymouth Rock landed on us!”
As far as “house” and “field” are concerned, by self-definition, I normally consider myself “Jungle” – that is, neither “house” nor “field” although nowadays, I spend much of my free time at home and sometimes deprecatingly, in a modest mode, I refer to myself as “The House Negro” – not “the White House Negro”, certainly not ( too self-elevating) in spite of the sadistic nightmares I have of Lars Vilks in some kinda Islamic State torture chamber, just a very ordinary, humble House Negro who is mostly, always at home. Not Sekouba Bambino, just the “house bambino” or as some of the ol’ Creoles would put it, the “hos pikin” and that’s what I tell my friends, that I’m the House Negro – always at home, in the house (cooking, cleaning, doing with all my guys from Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, what Kotoh B thinks is greatest when Don Keller (good feeling) does it with some electricity, with some of my Congolese icons, what everybody in Europe, Africa and the rest of the world was doing with Jimi Hendrix et al, a few decades ago; but what does Kotoh B know about guitar? Piano? Violin? Reading music? Can he even rap? Has he ever heard of Paco de Lucia?
Yeah, as I was say-ing, cooking mostly for my own survival, gone, long gone, are the jungle days of having servants, chauffer, gardener, night watchman, dogs, monkeys and now most of a man’s days are spent on the camel’s back, so to speak, although, truth be told, I’m no ascetic…
Now, a new term has just popped up in my current environment, the younger generation calling themselves “Afro-Swede” when just “Swede “ would do – would be enough – as it says in many a passport, Nationality : Swedish – not “ Afro-Swedish “ they want to be exotic, add a little funk to the Swedish flavour – but who knows, maybe in another two hundred years or so, if they’re still black they’ll be calling themselves “African-Swede” and as you know (or do not know) some colour- conscious peoples sure like to go out of their way just in order to create unnecessary problems for themselves when there need not be any, but they add “ Afro” to “ Swede”, so that people start asking “Where do you come from ?” – and if they answer “ Sweden” and give the correct name of the hospital where they were actually delivered / popped into this world – then they get another question – “I mean, where did you come from originally (like some original sin) and over here it cannot be said that Plymouth Rock landed on us because although we may be catching hell now and then ( racial disrcrimination from the devil and some of his best friends , Plymouth Rock did not land on us and you can safely surmise that most Afro-Swedes arrived here voluntarily and that very few if any, were kidnapped kicking and screaming, and brought here from homeland also known as (Mother Africa, unwillingly, in chains, to work on any cotton fields or sugarcane plantations. But Ah! The power of the Swedish woman! Sometimes the mystery of arrival in Sweden and or permanent residence or permanent shipwreck is connected with – cherchez la femme as in that Paul Simon song
“Well, I told her I was lost
And she told me all about the Pentecost
And I seen that girl as the road
To my survival”
Just later on the very same night
I crept to her tent with a flashlight
And my long years of innocence ended
Well, she took me to the woods
Saying here comes something and it feels so good
And just like a dog I was befriended
I was befriended”
The Swedish woman can make even the most tropicalised jungle brother start hollering, “I was a free man in Paris”whilst she sings “help me!” and in time, lo and behold he does not know how because of that Swedish woman/ or women he could bear spending forty long winters so close to the North pole – or even more than the forty years, the length of time Moses spent leading his stiff-necked people through the wilderness, on the way to the Promised Land. But then again in the Holy Bible we are told, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Of course, the summer has something to do with this. In the summer the formerly tropicalized African feels that he is almost back home in Africa, ” the sun’s so hot” – the Negro “forgot to go home”.
… You get it? He hangs on to the summer up till the end of September and well into the autumn almost up to when the dreaded winter is at his doorsteps, still hopefully singing song number four: “Summer’s almost gone”
In the bad old days of Apartheid, when somebody here in Sweden asked me in what I thought was a hostile manner, “Where do you come from?” – in a way that I sensed was opposed to the idea of me being here – just to draw the line, not the Mason-Dixon Line, but a personal red line, a personal nuclear threshold red line, I would say, ”South Africa” or Azania” thus making myself quite clear on any impending issue by inviting them to talk about Apartheid or racism with me, if they cared to have such a disputation with somebody who was in a bad mood, although I couldn’t imagine the most hardened criminal telling me to go back to where I came from, if I said, “Apartheid South Africa!”
Another feature is (and I don’t know whether or not the brothers and sisters from North Africa also call themselves “Afro-Swedes, but whether or not the first generation Afro-Swede in particular has his umbilical cord buried in Angola, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe – he tends to be that ( homeland self-definition first) and “Afro-Swede” second – it cannot be said of him or her what Richard Pryor jokes about the African-American that he thinks, “that niggers are the best of people who were slaves, and that’s how they got to be niggers ’cause they stole the cream-of-the-crop from Africa and brought them over here. And God, as they say, works in mysterious ways, so he made everybody a nigger…he brought us all over here — the best — the kings and queens, the princesses, the princes, put us all together and called us one tribe: Niggers.”
You probably don’t know how sensitive, sensitive people ( House, Field & Jungle) are about the word “nigger”. Very sensitive. Righteousness. Dignity. It’s ok to yap about Freedom of speech versus Art & blasphemy and all that, but it’s a word that should be used with care – especially by people who do not belong to the special species known as the Black Nationalist Move-ment or the Zulu Nation. In measured tones, the son of my loins advices me to be careful how and when I use the word…
James (earlier studio version)
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