Slavery, War and the Environment

I’d never like to be politician, leave alone get involved in politics but the other day I found myself thinking; ‘How would life have been for me if I was born during the age of slave trade?’ Given my stature and demeanor, I would have probably survived any onslaught for many reasons. First I stand 5’7″ tall which MC Hammer’s calls “shoulder-height” (listen to his rap “can’t touch this”). This means that the length of my bones are optimal for excellent muscle development, in short translated to mean that I am of the stronger variety :-). Secondly, I have uncanny survival instincts translated to mean that I am not planning to DIE anytime soon! Not from a big mouth anyway! I would silently obey the shackles to my feet and tread diligently the straight and narrow that lead to eternal slavery.

These two traits alone would surely ensure that I make it past the “selection process” if you like, and assuming that I make it across the seas without dying from seasickness, malaria or plague, I would make an excellent slave, revered by his peers as the epitome of loyalty and hard work. In fact, I think many “masters” would scramble for me (swishing my black hair). I will probably not waste the chance of getting married to Potiphar’s wife or Lupita for that matter, if the Bible stories and movies are anything to go by.

I will live happily every after….. or not, based a set of choices I make and how well these choices resonate with my earthly masters. Well, to be quite honest, slave-life must have been a bit tougher,and not a simplistic as I want to make it. I unravel it as though it was in the 21st century of high-speed internet, twitter and selfies tagged #slavetings but truthfully, it is nothing to laugh about.

War on the other hand is as old as human society. I like it when people put it beyond themselves to be savage. War begins in one’s mind with a conflict of self, the idea that you have two opposing views at war within yourself. In the Bible Paul annotates by saying that “Those things that I wish to do, I do not, but those things that I wish not to do, that, I do”. War can escalate to “words” which we may be more familiar with where two or more people have a brief or not-so-brief vehement exchange.

Pregnancy is not a male thing but let’s not go to war about it, explore the world, your country – Makagutu, Eric, De Yuppie, Pechee & other cyclist

Cyclists particularly have a knack for this exemplary behavior where we’ll shout at the top of our voices, profanity or otherwise, to drive some sense into anybody who may be flouting the rules of the shared spaces. You can see this in action with a number of activists as well, whether local and global, agitating for ideological, political, environmental, social or even economical revolution.

Then, we have ideological war as we understand it today. Countries, states, regions, religions, etc. pitted against each other in bloody battles that never seem to end. Heavy machinery is employed.

Prior to the agrarian revolution wars accounted for the industry of swords, chariots, bows and arrows, etc. But by the time we got to the Vietnam, the sophistication of guns, missiles, tanks, bombs, land mines, jets, chemicals or anything that could inflict death, DECISIVELY, took over. The prime objective? Expunging societies, nations, people, ideologies and cultures. War in itself allocates more power to the powerful and extirpates the weak… a corroboration of “survival of the fittest” theory. Only that this time it’s instigated.

This is where in line with Mordecai Ogada’s famed words “calling class to order”, comes in. One of the greatest wars we continue to face in world today, certainly in Africa, is depravity of mind. Our minds have been so distilled by western way of life, that we no longer believe in our own ideals, we don’t even KNOW our own ideals. For instance, look at francophone countries under the puppet strings of France who provides them with a currency (CFA) that they manage through their central bank in terms of stabalizing the region. They flock their markets with French products and even endorse presidents in the name of LOVE. What’s that? Then again if you come from a country that was colonized, read your name again and tell me where your cultural identity lies. In a foreign name? For heaven’s sake them missionaries “took away” our God almighty in the name of idol worship!!!

What this means is that we no longer enjoy the independence of knowing who we are, being who we are and even capable of living authentic lives. We have our lives strung around western-generated goals that are lofty, unattainable in ways and then we have to depend on their “expertise” to reach them whether through education, donor aid, training and affirmation. Yet, we have always had the answers. Who’s agenda are we running then?

Some conservationists of our time that I know who are thinking different (right to left: Salehe from TZ; Karim – Kenya; Mercy – Kenya; Louisa – Kenya; Vincent – Kenya, Josef Garvi – Niger, Sareme – Ethiopia; Razingrim – Burkina Faso;

Conservation in Africa is broadly based on western ideology of building agrarian societies, which catapulted colonizers to build empires beyond their boundaries by “discovering” Africa. Africa gained but also blatantly suffered a good deal from civilization as nature, cultures, society and people were pushed aside for their lack of knowledge “vegetation climax” theories and “optimal stocking rates” have been asserted in the management of natural resources.

While scientific advances have an important role to play in studying socio-ecological societies, they are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to the management of natural resources in our society today. Local people have the mind and knowledge to live rewarding lives within their societies. They know how to coerce the land to produce food and fodder, store water in natural crevices which they retrieve during the drought, they know which roots to eat when there are no leaves on a tree, and even know where to go until the drought season blows over.

We are mentally enslaved if we think that our educated arrogance can serve the local cows with eternal fodder through our systems of mathematical antagonism. We are rude to think that western ways are better than our eastern and southern experience. We start bloody battles by pitting community against another, neighbor against neighbor by empowering the powerful to rule over the poor with endless greed. We totally ignore the peril of the people and put ourselves before others. More than anything, we totally ignore the fact that our actions will severely persist on our environment now, and for almost always.

Slavery and war have one thing in common, they steal minds of society either through displacement or removal. They also tend to assert one man’s ideology over another. “My way or the highway” kind-of-thinking! Don’t let them give you a number and take away your name.

There is no solace in living the life of another man.

This is your world, be the change!!

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