In truth, you did not fully grasp all that was discussed. A week ago too, when you saw the poster that announced this event, you did not fully understand the theme. You decided to attend only because “Africa” was in there somewhere; plus it was open to the public and free.
The conference was not altogether useless, however. At least, it gave you a reason to re-read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Your copy is somewhere in your room, gathering dust. After the first and last time you read it, you never again opened it up. On that day of your first and last reading, your English literature teacher, Madam Nortey, asked everyone in your class what they thought of the book. You found it “interesting.” That was the word you used: interesting.
Today though, one woman presented a paper that sounded more to you like a praise song to the book: Things Fall Apart changed her life, she said. It set her on the journey to becoming a true African. All the while, you were as confused as you were fascinated—fascinated because this woman’s paper, her ode to Things Fall Apart, was so moving and very beautifully written. But you were confused because you’d read the book too and hadn’t felt and realized all these feelings, all these insights. It was this encounter that informed your decision to go home, to find your copy of the book, and to read it again.
After this very brief moment of reflection, you pull out your phone from your pocket and update your status on Facebook:
“At the conference centre. A very interesting conference on Africa just ended. #Africa #BlackAndProud.”
Yes, you end this post too hashtagging “Africa” and “Black And Proud”—as you’ve taken to doing in the last three weeks or so.
In the lobby, there are a number of book stands, and you move from one to the other, scanning titles. You are on your fourth one when you hear utterances being made by a man at the next stand. You think the things he is saying are interesting. So, even though your eyes belong to this stand at this moment, your ears belong to the one next to it.
“This is real education. Education for power. They don’t teach this in any university. Even the University of Nonsense. Yes, Legon is a nonsense university. And when you go to Winneba too, they say the University of Education. Me, I call it the university of Miseducation. All they teach in these our universities are colonised information. This is decolonized education, education for power.”
Colonized. Decolonized. These are variants of two words you’ve been pretty interested in lately. Now, this eavesdropping thing you’re doing just isn’t enough. You move to the next stand and see this interesting man. He is wearing a long sleeved batik shirt, neatly pressed black trousers, and a pair of very well polished black shoes. He is bespectacled and has no hair on his head. None whatsoever. Pinned on the right breast pocket of his shirt is an image of Kwame Nkrumah. And on the left, an image of Muammar Gaddafhi.
The interesting man is not vending books; he is selling DVD’s and posters. Among the numerous DVD titles on display are: IMF REAL SECRETS: A MUST SEE BY ALL. PASTORTRICKIANS. CIA COUP D’ETATS IN THIRD WORLD. IMHOTEP: FATHER OF SCIENCE & ARCHITECTURE/TECHNOLOGY. ISLAM, CHURCH & AFRICAN MIND CONTROL.
And among the posters are those of Bob Marley, Kwame Nkrumah and some other people whose faces you’re quite familiar with, but whose names you really do not know. “But whoever made these posters should have added their names,” you think to yourself.
A young man, obviously enchanted by the interesting man’s utterances, was making a purchase “Give me 2; the IMF one and the CIA one. I would have loved to buy more but no money, chale. I wish someone would lend me some money.”
“Go to the IMF? Or?” the interesting man retorts and has every other person at the stand—yourself included—burst into hysterical laughter.
“But seriously,” the interesting man goes on, “as for the IMF one, I wish I could get the chance to present one to the president. He would be shocked, I tell you. I swear when he watches this thing and realizes the real machinations of the IMF, he won’t go to Washington the next time he needs money.He would rather go to Obuasi.” You laugh again. Interesting man.
A group of students are at the stand now, listening to the interesting man and checking out his stock. One girl, who is neatly dressed and looks very much like the leader of the group, points to one of the CD’s and asks “Please, what is this one about?”
“This one? It’s about the lie they’ve sold to us that Jesus was a white man. Jesus was a black man like you and I.”
At this, you hear a girl murmur to her friend “These people who say such things, how do they know…that he was black? Why can’t we accept Him just as we know Him and not argue about His color? After all, what matters most is that He is our Savior.”
You think she is making sense. “But then,” came an afterthought “what about those people too who suggest to us that Jesus was a European man…they too, how do they know?”
Meanwhile, the interesting man was still talking to the neatly dressed girl.
“…that’s nice. Here’s my card, give it to your headmistress and tell her to call me. I want to say well done to her for allowing her students to attend an event like this, especially at your age. Keep it up and you will know the truth. By the way, my name is Prof.”
(Ah, Mr. ‘Interesting Man’s actual name is Prof.) The students left.
All of a sudden, it seems as if you’re the only one left at Prof.’s stand. “My friend,” he calls out to you “you’ve been standing here for a while. Do you need anything?”
“Not really. I just like the stuff you’re talking about. They’re interesting.”
Prof. laughed, then said “interesting eh? Buy some of these CD’s and you’ll hear much more interesting things.”
That was the prompt you’d been waiting for. You bought three of the CD’s on sale—all you could afford to buy if you wanted to get home.
“Great selection, my friend. You will see how they are using these religions to control us. And you will see how these so-called men of God trick people just like these our politicians, and chop their money. Bloody Pastortrickians.”
Prof. asks, “do you know about Imhotep?” You shake your head.
He shakes his head too “But I bet you know or at least have heard about Aristotle, Socrates et cetera. You see, this is what colonial education is doing to us. All these nonsense schools are teaching us Plato this, Herodotus that. And by the time you graduate you will be thinking the white man is a God because he created everything in the world, and black people useless, having contributed nothing to history and civilization.”
“They will never tell you about Imhotep, the father of scientific medicine and other things neither will they tell you about Akhenaten and other great African pioneers. You, you will see. Just go and watch. If you have fifteen cedis, add it and let me give you this one. It will show you more about our great ancestors of Ancient Egypt.”
At this point, you are quite overwhelmed.
“Here’s my card,” he offers.
“You should stay in touch with me for more decolonized education. Do not let anyone lie to you. The information in here is the truth according to real, proper history. Do not let anyone deceive you. My name is Prof.”
Your laptop is barely three months old. It used to be full of pornographic films. You would lock yourself up in your room—lest your parents come in and catch you—and feed your eyes on porn and masturbate till your hands ached. About three weeks ago, you decided—why though?—to delete them all. You ended up leaving only two, your favorites; perhaps because body no be firewood?
You are in a trotro on your way home. You are thinking about your laptop and whether or not it’s fully charged. You’re thinking too about how the coming days are going to be very much like those not so long ago days when you used to OD on porno: making sure your laptop is fully charged because—ECG and their dumsor dumsor, locking yourself up in your room because God forbid your father, a church elder, and your mother, leader of the church’s women’s fellowship, came in and caught you watching videos about trickster pastors and how religion is a mind control tool, and spending hours, and hours on your laptop—all under the pretext of studying for seemingly endless tests.
You are pondering on Prof.’s words. If they are indeed true, then ah, what a lie we’re living in this world. And if they are actually lies, then shame on him, another conman. If his words are mere fabrications then, Dear Lord, why is the obroni so blest, and your people, African people, Black people, so…
…ahhh, you just can’t wait to get home and dive into these waters of truths according to Prof.
Post image by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr
About the Author:
Full name: Moshood Balogun
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