Imagine being born in a country in which you’re considered a slave — in the 21st century — because of who you are. Imagine living in a country where your true humanity, true history, true sense of self, is someone else’s inconvenience. And imagine being on a constant move – in search of safety – as a child, a refugee whose prospects of experiencing what it means to be a person with a state, a citizenship; exists only as a dream, a ‘beautiful’ dream whose possibility of fulfilment is itself a stress simply because of its impossibility.And imagine a chillingly debilitating possibility of one being a refugee for eternity; of living with the feeling that you’ll always be a ‘refugee’ and stateless. And imagine someone oppressing you because of the erroneous, interpretive biblical assumptions that you’re divinely punished; and the horror unleashed upon you is a godly pronouncement.
You’d think this isn’t pretty; or even sad! And sadly, this has been some people’s true state of affairs; a condition in life that, unfortunately, some still live in.And imagine being assumed unintelligent all the time until you open your mouth; being considered dangerous and violent until you smile to assure anyone present that you’re a peaceful mind and heart, and imagine being treated with flattering condescension and paternalism because you look a certain way.
For a war-child, living as a refugee and moving to a land where your look, and your look alone, is your humanity, is a great disservice to one’s sense of self.
However, what’s comforting for me is that the above disconcerting and seemingly fictitious human conditions have only done a lot to straighten my thoughts about humanity. They’ve made me a person whose brain is made of nothing but thoughts, lots of thoughts…eye opening army of thoughts (thoughtons if you like).However, these thoughts are always in constant belligerence with societal assumptions about me, the African Person. Of course the assumptions are imposed with historical and empirical support, and this makes the assumptions powerfully affecting. I have to defy these societal assumptions about the African person. But what power do I have as an African person in Canada, in the world? How can I shake off caricatures that have been in the making and enforcement for hundreds of years? Who’d listen to me even when I shout social MAYDAYS?
My silence is my natural state, supposedly. My actional, human errors are my nature. Indeed, my nature is what I do; not something separable from myself per se. So who’d listen to me? Who’d dare give me a chance?Perhaps I’m supposed to be heeded only when I feel sorry for myself; when I present myself as a helpless, despondent refugee! Only then does the world find a heart-warming story; the pious unleashes his godliness, and the capitalist becomes a philanthropist. Sadly, that is the required me. But no, I’ll not do that and I’ll not be that fellow, the fellow swimming in required, infinite haplessness. I’ll defy but still respect the world.
I have (and will continue to) put all these pollywogs (thoughts) twirling in my head to work.However, my thoughts are considered obscure, nonsensical, and incomprehensible. But then I smile, heartily! Their incomprehensibility is the very nature of their beauty, their therapeutic essence. Their helpfulness is one’s struggle to understand them. And I choose to be obscure! And this chosen obscurity has made me impervious to assumptions, inconsiderate assumptions about who I am, where I am from and what I do.
I’ve lived long enough in Canada to be a Canadian citizen; however, I’m still at the periphery of what makes the soul of Canada. I’m still a refugee; a curiosity inviting person. My Canadian passport is just but a paper to Canada. It’s a mark of citizenship, of belonging to the beauty Canada is. But no, Canada doesn’t think so. I’m still a refugee; an illiterate, violent, hopeless refugee. Still, I defy this status quo because someone inside me still believes there is someone in this society that will still believe me; someone who’d think my thoughts are not obscure; that they just need humble study. She’s humble herself down to a point of naivety to understand why I look the way I look; why I talk the way I talk; and why I don’t follow the best, the smartest and the industrious. Maybe I’m not obscure, incomprehensible for nothing!But why can’t I, like over words’ people, be explicit and simply understood. I don’t know. I don’t even know who I am. But perhaps I’m just lying.
I pour words into paper like water into a glass; a shiny crystal clear glass. I release thoughts and then twist them so intricately that their receivers are left scratching their heads as to what I meant. I rap my poetry so softly that listeners wonder. I write beautiful poetry, as Liz said, but I’m still obscure. I theorize with unorthodox edge that my readers stare with puzzling awe, thinking: “Who is this?”Who am I? Am I a rapper, or a poet, a novelist, a burgeoning publisher or just a ‘refugee’? Am I just a written off wanderer in a beautiful country, or a voice of the refugee child, a war-child? Am I just being antithetical to beautiful thoughts?
The more I write the more I feel fresh, alive and confident; and the more I become incomprehensible and obscure. My dark face and dark skin symbolize the condition with metaphysical dimension.Perhaps, I should rap my poetry and stop putting it into print. But no, I can’t do that. I want to be confident, to be alive, to be mentally healthy.
Who am I? I’m the waster of your time, the obscurity to be unravelled, the hidden pearl only valued by the ‘unraveller’ of the obscure.