Saturday, May 21, 2022

First Class Compromisers

I was reading W. Arthur Lewis on consensus, compromise and the role of the African intellectual: Some Aspects of Economic Development (Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg memorial lectures at the University of Ghana 1968).

One strand in his thought that I keep coming back to is about restraint, something that would have been taken as anachronistic back then and altogether quaint today

It is remarkable what a difference just one or two sensible leaders can make to the whole temper of a country. Take for instance the following riddle.

The political temper of seventeenth century Britain was more violent and extremist than anything that has happened recently in West Africa. Anglicans, Puritans and Catholics were at each others' throats. One king was executed and another chased off the throne. An observer writing, say, around the year 1715, after the abortive rebellion of that year, would have described Britain as a violent country where consensus was unthinkable.

Yet from the middle of the eighteenth century, just thirty years later, Britain was being held up on the continent as the model of a politically stable society. What had happened in that interval of thirty years? Historians now agree that a major element, though not the only one, was the fact that Sir Robert Walpole became Prime Minister in 1721, and held the office for twenty one years. Walpole was a compromiser, who made it his business to conciliate all the major groups who were fighting each other...
1968 was a heady year and the tectonics affected Africa too, even beyond the military coups that had been sweeping the continent
My generation was an ideological generation. We had no use for compromisers. Our heroes were the men wedded to great principles, to socialism, independence, negritude or other great ideas.
The 20th century as the age of extremes
One consequence of our high emotional level is that ours has been the bloodiest generation since the 17th century, killing, or liquidating, as we now say, about 25 million people in the course of 50 years.
His prescription?
I think that what West Africa now needs is some first-class compromisers, who will bind up the wounds of their respective countries, and lay solid foundations for growth. They may not win our love or adulation, but they will certainly deserve our gratitude.
Now of course W. Arthur Lewis had more influence on economics than on politics, and Africa's lost decades illustrate fairly well just how little we listened to his like. Still, his keen insights do raise the counterfactual:

Do conversational politics just need better public relations?

The notion of first class compromisers appeals to me but, well, you go into your lost decades with the leaders you have. You go into a pandemic with the leaders you have (as the body count we have seen illustrates). And not just leaders, you get the political class, the economic interests, the media environment, the feckless and the opportunists in equal measure as the astute and the competent. Even with the best will and cultural context, you need a lot of luck.

Contra first class compromisers like Walpole, I'm minded of Orson Welles speech in the Third Man about the Swiss and the cuckoo clock, and perhaps an earlier zinger
Honesty hath no fence against superior cunning.

— Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
One can only hope that the first class compromisers of this generation of African leaders also have the savvy and luck to push their agenda through.

africa report 1966-12-040 third world investment gap this need not be the future george woods world bank

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022


Retinal hemorrhage, that was the diagnosis
If you ask me, I was on my way to psychosis
I just wanted to scratch my eye out to remove this damn floater
And to be rid of the piercing pain, it was akin to an electric motor
Spinning out of control, and tearing right through that eye socket
Without regard for all those plans and things I had on my docket
It was all I could do to not scream, "This is killing me, cease and desist"
I'm rather used to ellipses but this blind spot was rather an eclipse

The soul was duly darkened even as my vision was threatened
The pain was altogether unbearable and no relief beckoned
I must say, I couldn't suffer fools during that interlude, I was rather uptight
It's quite hard to keep it light when you literally can no longer see the light
I was curt and incredibly frank during those six months of blinding regress
When the obviously-misnamed, eye-opening affliction was my daily business
But there was no comfort to be had, I'd been told, just apply eye drops
Take frequent breaks, rest, the body will heal and, in time, it will stop

"You have an incredible tolerance for pain, why didn't you call me earlier?"
Now you tell me, I mentioned that I was in pain, and you ignored me, Doctor
I've been religiously applying those drops that you said I could buy over the counter
Do you really mean to tell me now that I might have gotten some relief much earlier?
"Well yes, there are any number of interventions that I could have prescribed.
Well, all is good now, you've made a lot of progress, that can't be denied.
We'll just take a look at things, keep using those eye drops on demand."
He quickly bade me goodbye, and I left his retinal consultancy stunned

Dear friends and family, it is a matter of some regret
That I belatedly explain why my conduct was so circumspect
True, during that time I was in considerable pain and rather upset
And, as I've explained, an unwitting victim of a doctor's neglect
It's cold comfort, however, and understanding will never quite offset
The feelings hurt and perhaps the frayed tempers that came with the mindset
But look, it was the loss of my sight, after all, what do you expect?

my scream for edward munch

Visions, a playlist

By definition a Visions playlist should simply be Stevie Wonder's incomparable album, Innervisions, first on my desert island list. However I'm trying to broaden my perspective so I offer this musical look at things. See previous sensory processes ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: April 14, 2021

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Quality of Life

The city's works department has been out and about
With strange contraptions leveling out the sidewalk.
It's surprising how much of a difference it makes in this concrete jungle.
We never realized how much smoother everything goes,
How much load one's feet and ankles were bearing
Dealing with nature's minor intrusions on our daily walk.
The little bumps would no doubt be treacherous in a wheelchair
And even to those without that affliction, we appreciated this duty of care.
We literally couldn't put our foot on what had changed for the better,
But, in short order, we came to realize
It's the little things; quality of life.



The landlord next door came upon the revived pandemic garden
Saw that it had weathered the Texas freeze that was our gift for Lent
Who'd have thought I'd end up being a neighborhood ambassador
In my guise as chief toli monger and amateur gardener
He decided to stop being an absentee landlord,
And resolved to keep up with the Ofosu-Amaahs
A fortnight later, we found him out front
Digging up a hole where there was grass
He planted a cherry tree to add a little spice
I can't wait for it to blossom; quality of life.

pandemic garden starting to bloom

pandemic garden starting to bloom 011

pandemic garden starting to bloom


I'm a happy pedestrian who lives for his daily walk
When it comes to commuting, I rather favor the train or the bus
Thus while it's been confounding to find myself working for a car company
I've been happy, during this pandemic, to behold the power of the bike lobby
All power to them, for where bikes get an opening, walkers invariably benefit
Against the almighty automotive industry, walkers tend to get short shrift
Years ago, I gave no mind to the mobility bond in those local elections
But my tax dollars, this past year, have certainly made an impression
And what a lovely path was inaugurated. A veritable trail of delight
Come join me, let's take a walk sometime; quality of life

boggy creek trail refurbished path

trail restored

revamped trail

quality of life

This sweet slice is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log: April 14, 2021

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Soul Insurance

A covidious folktale, call it a people's history...

I. Ananse and the Chief's Scribe

Once again, Nyame found himself displeased with all of humanity
Not atypically, the immediate reason was lost in the mist of time
But had something to do, he recalled, with a lack of integrity
Furious, he called upon the claims adjuster to deal with the crime

All the chosen tribes were agitated and concerned as he drew near
For the adjuster was known in those parts to be rather severe
He would bestow calamity freely, as if it was all part of the package
Enjoying his grisly work with a zeal you could only describe as savage

In the past, the plagues and famines he'd inflicted were entirely without reason
And, even in these modern times where we'd long eschewed hunger season,
Had been known to last for up to three years, devastating and hard to manage
There would surely be what the linguists now called collateral damage

Ananse saw the opportunity, in this upheaval, to make a quick buck
With these feckless humans, it usually paid to try one's luck
So many of their number had herd immunity to shame
That he saw it as an obligation to play a shell game

He made his way to Wiase, the hometown of the Usher tribe
Sidling along, as was his wont, and came up to the chief's scribe
"Tell your Okyeame that I, Ananse the Spider, have a solution to your problem
That, if you grant me an audience with him, I will endeavor to describe"

It was "a breach of protocol", the scribe said, "I pray you desist
For you must first make your representation to the chief linguist
One doesn't approach the chief's scribe like a traveling salesman
Peddling Schnapps and palm wine willy-nilly, and without a plan"

Ananse chuckled inside, these people and their bureaucracy
So fixated on minor things they rather embodied useful idiocy
Couldn't they see that things were urgent, that there was no time to waste?
Oh well, he could play their game, they could lie in their bed of disgrace

So he kept quiet, it always paid to keep a straight face
And disguise one's purpose, the watchword was dissimulate
"My dear Scribe, for my haste and lack of decorum, I must apologize
I can see clearly how my intemperent ways would leave you scandalized"

"Rest assured, I beseech you, I will not repeat my faux pas
Please accept as an apology this serving of foie gras
I would be doubly grateful, if you could direct me to the linguist
So that I can make a proper approach, I am only here to assist"

He made to also add a bottle of Schnapps as he handed over the package
A little liquor was known to lubricate things with these savages
There was a little contretemps as the scribe paused to assess his booty
And made a considered show of possibly requiring additional tax duties

At length, the scribe grudgingly acquiesced, although he feigned being rather fatigued
Viewed with Ananse's typically discerning eyes, you could tell the man was intrigued
He summoned a small boy unit, a cheeky youth, his man Friday
"Take this visitor back there yonder to the linguist, use the back way"

As he took his leave of the scribe, there was a rumbling in the distance
He asked the youth, Fifi, to explain the cause of the disturbance
It was the talking drums sounding the rhythmic cry, albeit rather unhurried
Considering the message that they were conveying: Observers are worried

Observers are worried

Tribes, Vibes and Scribes, a playlist

Incognito provide the soundtrack to the first offering from this folktale and people's history, the aptly named Tribes, Vibes and Scribes, a delicious slice of Acid Jazz released on Talkin' Loud when that label could do no wrong. In the vein of George Duke, Roy Ayers, and Stevie Wonder (quite literally with their cover of Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing), Maysa Leak's vocals meshed wonderfully with the instrumental tracks. Soul inflected insurance in prospect, a great meeting of minds.

Soul Insurance (Index)

A covidious folktale
  1. Ananse and the Chief's Scribe
  2. Enter the Claims Adjuster

Image by Tim Little

This folktale is part of a series: In a covidious time.

Next: Enter the Claims Adjuster

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Writing log: Part 1 March 21, 2021

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Humanity's Curriculum

Ever since its founding, Toli University has been home to a wide curriculum that explores humanity's bite sized triumphs and sundry failings. This toli monger has always aimed to deliver a dynamic conversation on education. Herewith a sampling from our course catalog

Guide to the CatalogHumanity's CurriculumCourse CatalogPlaylist

Guide to the Catalog

You might encounter whiplash when you embark on some of these courses.
This is as intended, our rigorous emphasis on minutiae and absurdity will trouble the soul.
Indeed, you may feel that some of these classes are incorrectly classified at first glance.
Rest assured that this folksonomie has been tested with thousands of students.
We guarantee perplexion and, of course, satisfaction if you stick with the curriculum.

Music is an integral part of our method,
You will often find a playlist that comments on,
Or advances the core texts that we study.
Some of our instructors even lead with the playlist
As part of their immersive pedagogy.
It lubricates the slices of life and leavens the hatchet jobs.
If all else fails, we suggest you listen to the playlist.
Shuffle serendipity has been known to impart peace of mind
And palliative relief to the modern condition of mankind.

We have found that a comfortable unease is best for a proper education.
Off kilter, dislocation sharpens the edges of the cultural memory knife.
Do feel free to sample the other offerings in our catalog of delights
They are often only one click away, a stone’s throw
No finger is equal, as the old saying goes.

Humanity's Curriculum

Humanity knows no boundaries, goes the Akan proverb
This is the season of migration to the land of concern
We mine the uncertain terrain of the torrid zone
Secure in the knowledge that no one stands alone
Probing the outer reaches of the liminal landscape during the journey
Always traveling light, this modern traveler, with bags at the ready

An exiled soul, a searcher in pursuit of word fugitives
Scribbling furiously, and engaged in crafting narratives
A mandate to challenge perceptions, and devise new grace notes
Social interplay and cultural observations are the favored antidotes
Established early, I staked my claim and purpose as chief toli monger
Charged by the muse to write further chapters for the books of Nima

Internally displaced, the ellipses and omissions are also necessary
The gaps have meaning, as all blind spots do, and add to the commentary
In this way, the skeptic's credo applies to the normalcy project
And draws a light on what we choose to remember and to forget
While I refine continuously, I pay my soul insurance premium
The course catalog: my jaundiced take on humanity's curriculum

equality rosewood park

Course Catalog

Earth Sciences and Biology

Social Studies and Etiquette

Law and History

Home Sciences



Government and Communication

Business and Marketing


Design, Aesthetics and Material Culture

Political Science


Rogues, Gremlins, and Parasites



lift your voice rosewood park

Operations Research and Game Theory


Social Anthropology

The Culture of Technology


Geography of the Mind

Modern Travelers


Nostalgia Studies and Culinary Cultures



Catastrophe Studies

African Studies

Labor, Capital and Office Civilizations

Grief Studies


Sensory Processing



Humanity's Curriculum, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. Registration in now open. ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log. Concept: February 28, 2021; April 14, 2021

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Goody Two Shoes

People who use the word stakeholders with serious intent
Said with a raised, furrowed brow of discernment

People who want to be there for you, to be your ally
And look, for all intents and purposes, as if they're about to cry

People who want to step out of their comfort zone
Who want you to know that you don't face this struggle alone

People who live to create that shared, teachable moment
Who need us to stand together, and face the challenge of the present

People who could never feel your pain, and are scared to transgress boundaries
Who recognize the terrible legacy, and those matters of historical iniquities

People who want to atone for the system's structural inequality
Who seek to address important matters of diversity and justice

People more liberal than thou, more ethical than thou
Who are more caring, more thoughtful than thou

People who are empathy personified
Who point to all the common ground you share

People who are similarly, if not more, outraged
Who are deeply concerned by the situation, and, above all, who care


I'm tired. Sometimes it's best to keep mum.

I see you. Sometimes it pays to just listen.

I hear you. You don't need to relieve your anxiety for my benefit, nor indeed for yours.

I'm tired. I can hardly summon up the energy to don the mask of concern.

I'm tired. The mask of civility I wear already weighs a ton.

This country will chew you up, drop you for nothing, we both know this.

Today's atrocity joins a long line of rank murder and injustice.

I'm tired. As you can see, my skin is no protection.

I'm tired. Rather it's the reverse, an oft fatal affliction.

I'm tired. And remember, my children have to walk in these same frayed shoes.

My friend, give me a minute, bear with me, Goody Two Shoes.

Just one moment, a little space. Please. Just a few minutes for mourning.

I'm tired. Internally displaced. It really doesn't bear contemplating.

relief by kristin willits

After the killing of Daunte Wright.

Tired, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. Musical relief of sorts. ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

See previously: Defensive Accounting

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Writing log: April 13, 2021

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Such Is My Asylum

Wordplay as balm for disgust
Language as defense mechanism
Wit as refuge from despair
Poetry as exorcism

hutton-mills green huts 1998

Poetry, A Playlist


The book is done.

This note concludes a second collection of toli, mostly poems written with furious intent over six weeks early last year. Hopefully it will escape hypertext into physical form sometime soon.

I call it Internal Displacement.


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Tuesday, April 05, 2022

The Torrid Zone

Journey with me to a far region of the mind
Ponder the daily reality lived by so much of mankind
There's no escape from these ongoing acts of violence
This disturbing tranquility we face, the rest is silence

Certainties were turned to dust, we learned, back there yonder
The quiet revolutions that were launched so quickly foundered
Despite the debts foretold, many enjoined in mindless speculation
With the inevitable result: functional defenestration

They were early to despair, those who keenly felt the weight of ideas
Swiftly disabused of the notion that the burden of loss would be shared
Justice was a mere concept, a quintessential abstraction
And freedom was a feint, a rhetorical misdirection

The suggestion was displacement to the heart of darkness
Secrets and lies, the new formula, method to the madness
Secret lives, newfangled norms, and forbidden encounters
Artful omissions, ellipses, the purposeful restraint of actors

Things fell apart as we entered the new normalcy
Of pulp fictions and the B-movie theory
We did well to wear our masks of civility
Even as our underlying emotion was incredulity

These were strange days full of chaos and disorder
Rituals from time immemorial upended in short order
The lunchtime heists of fond traditions would cause unbounded loss
Remember: the dark matter of communities lies in the least of us

Strange bedfellows, with impunity, were wont to make the road fearful
Their grim militias were unleashed, while their leaders stayed cheerful
Without restraint, they shattered all records in due course
The question remains: what paradise have we lost?

Useful idiots arrived on the scene with their wishful thinking
Causing confusion with their cacophony of prevarication
Meanwhile the codes of martial music were playing a grim drumbeat
As the tanks and the khaki men made their way into our streets

Whether to engage in the battle, ultimately, the choice is yours
Be mindful of a shadow's burden and the spirit's rhythm of loss
To survive the shell game of life, hew closely to the skeptic's credo
The alternative is to sing the inflation calypso and dance the corruption tango

Observers were worried about all this as you must understand
For absolutely everything turned out to be written in sand
But the muse wills what she wants, you made to follow her demands
All the while singing the old spiritual, the creator has a master plan

The indignity of the great game, soul insurance proved to be a fiction
The normalcy prohibition you faced informed the great longing
Your tribe was denied relief in practice, and even in their hypertext dreams
The great historian was mistaken about the end of the age of extremes

The cowboy boots of the colossus stood astride the dark continent
The scramble for black gold and trinkets destined to adorn the crown jewels
What was manifest was that there would be neither truth nor reconciliation
There was no forgiveness and love in this land, there were only resource actions

The elephants fought to standstill, it was a split decision
They decided on rewriting the script to resolve the contradiction
Things would be better for them if we got on with forgetting
Far better than reparations, they disdained the act of forgiving

It was your duty of care, you turned to social living to get out of the mess
Mindful as you were of the mosquito principle, you were determined to bear witness
The interplay of the conflicted legacies of men resounds throughout history
What we choose to remember and forget is the essence of cultural memory

For want of a bolt, you had close encounters with collateral damage
Where others feared to tread for fear of the noble savages
It was an obstruction of justice, there was no easy way to assign blame
Detached as you were from a land that had herd immunity to shame

You were left to learn by bitter experience the laws of grief
The writing was on the wall, no one was coming to give you relief
Unable to salve the wound, you would face the challenge on your own
Stranded as you were, the Gods bade you welcome to the torrid zone

Africke hath ewer beene the least knowen and haunted parte in the world, chiefly by reason of the situation thereof under the torride Zone; which the ancients thought to be unhabitable. Whose opinion, although in verie deede it is not true, bicause we knowe that betweene the two Tropickes there are most fruitefull countries.

— John Pory, 1600.

In his translation of A geographical historie of Africa by Leo Africanus
Yinka Shonibare MBE at Brooklyn Museum

Soundtrack for this note

Mountain of When by Amel Larrieux


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

This internal displacement is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: March 30, 2021

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Conqueror's Catechism (Part 6 The Heavy Mantle)

Part 6 of The Conqueror's Catechism (see previously)

VI. The Heavy Mantle

And for the putative opposition, the remedy is character assassination
At first. And then, if necessary, one can proceed to physical liquidation
A penchant for frequent reorganization to keep competitors on their toes
Call them sellouts and traitors, it's not really a trial, it's a show
All is left to the man of the people who wears the heavy mantle of populism
And accuses all others as petty bourgeois refuseniks, prone to vandalism
Shirtless perhaps, or with his sleeves stylishly rolled up, behold a man of action
Servant of the downtrodden and the common man, enamored of mass mobilization

Regimes, for their continued survival, require some amount of indoctrination
A few true believers will argue the total sagacity, the rhetoric of delusion
Chairman Mao had his Red book, Lenin had What Is To Be Done at the outset
Even Stalin, no wordsmith he, had his impenetrable doctrinal texts
Hitler, though, had a way with the furious speech, and even the dismal pen
No wonder Prince sang of 1999, we all needed the twentieth century to end
There is only a matter of degree between the rogue authoritarian
And the pinnacle of infamy in human history, the totalitarian

A roll call of emperors, dictators, and plain vandals have come and gone
Ask yourself where your present tormentors would stand in the pantheon
The enduring legacies of conquerors are often promoted
Indeed, the massive genetic imprint has long been noted
Of the famed Mongol emperors, scions of Genghis Khan
Awesome, none dared called them to their face barbarian
For fear of the dire repercussions of that insult
Nay, the great leader deserves a personality cult

Modernity imposes a triage on those who might reach the upper echelon
Dwindling numbers attend the closing ceremony of an era hopefully bygone
Of fierce warriors, even female like Boudica, or more like Attila the Hun
Nay, the Ming Dynasty is so called for being the last to rule over the Han
Los Conquistadores, El Supremo, with the martial outlook,
If all goes well, you can be known as He of the Little Green Book
In time, you can print the pamphlets to be shared of your empty aphorisms
I'll simply suggest the title, Dear Reader, The Conqueror's Catechism

talking drums 1984-06-25 why Ghana is not stable - Nigerian journalist's trial Rotimi

Conqueror's Catechism, a playist

A soundtrack for this note bookended by the cool ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs, and heavy on the reggae angle of things.

The Conqueror's Catechism

A few articles of faith
  1. To Loot Without End
  2. Droit de Seigneur
  3. The Dictator Dictates
  4. An Iron Fist
  5. The Ruler's Rules
  6. The Heavy Mantle
This piece went far beyond a haiku to become positively Talmudic in scope, hence the experiment in splitting it and dispensing over a week. Or you can wait for the book to put it all together... Do let me know how it went down.

I nominate this internal displacement for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

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Writing log: Concept: May 1, 2006; April 6, 2021

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Conqueror's Catechism (Part 5 The Ruler's Rules)

Moral flexibility... Part 5 of The Conqueror's Catechism (see previously)

V. The Ruler's Rules

Repression and brutality have their uses, these are the ruler's rules
These daily dealers of dread are known to dispense wanton abuse
The incredulity of mankind is the main target, per Machiavelli
Amoral despotism, in its prime, acquires an aura of inevitability
"I am your dreams", was softly proclaimed by Atatürk, and without irony
Similar gnomic notions are often heard. What, after all, was manifest destiny?
Neck deep and drenched in it, a dribbling of blood thickens the stew of iniquity
A meal best served with a side dish, an amuse-bouche, of unalloyed hypocrisy

There is an organizing principle for the conqueror that is rather radical
That is the notion that absolutely everything is transactional
The sense that in all things, it is all about the deal
Underlies the public relations they pursue with zeal
Summon up some scribes, and give them a mandate to make it all palatable
Some wordsmith can conjure up the right phrase, say, call you mercurial
A painter in times past, later a photographer for the transaction
Extol your charisma with words and image, power is its own persuasion

The rogue capitalist running rampant is a gilded conqueror landmark
That is, he who extracts labour pocketing the surplus per my poor man's Marx
An all too human extractive industry in the pursuit of rent seeking
To the socialist, what we behold is a case of government by racketeering
Oligarchs throughout history are venal, there are only minor distinctions
Per the critique, between the businessman and the oligarch it's only ambition
To separate the working class from the means of production and extract surplus value
The self appointed toll collector enjoys the fruits of the monopoly that accrues

By definition all gangsters heed the outlaw sensibility
For mobsters, this "thing of ours" defies authority
Submitting to square john's rules is not up for debate
The conqueror's endpoint in this mode is the mafia state
For every contract awarded, one must get one's cut
As to fulfillment, that is, at best, an afterthought
Bush's signal policy achievement concerned the importation of mangos
Follow the money and recall: it takes two to do the corruption tango

Omar Bongo meets George W. Bush

Conqueror's Catechism, a playist

A soundtrack for this note bookended by the cool ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs, and heavy on the reggae angle of things.

The Conqueror's Catechism

A few articles of faith
  1. To Loot Without End
  2. Droit de Seigneur
  3. The Dictator Dictates
  4. An Iron Fist
  5. The Ruler's Rules
  6. The Heavy Mantle
This piece went beyond a haiku to become positively Talmudic in scope, hence I'll split it and dispense over the next week. Or you can wait for the book...

I nominate this internal displacement for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

Next in Part 6: The Heavy Mantle

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Writing log: Concept: May 1, 2006; April 5, 2021

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Conqueror's Catechism (Part 4 An Iron Fist)

Disciplinary matters... Part 4 of The Conqueror's Catechism (see previously)

IV. An Iron Fist

As a matter of course, the ruler's rules always include looting
Backed by the overt threat of disembowelment, or simply shooting
The conqueror is said to govern with an iron fist
The implication is the perpetual cease and desist
A guiding principle and an early lesson learned
If you dare cross the founder, prepare for heartburn
Local funeral parlors have become a growing concern
Constantly busy, to dust you shall surely return

If you serve at their pleasure, conquerors can be quite affable
In person, by all accounts, most dictators are quite unremarkable
But give them an audience, give the man a microphone and he's gone
The same skinny man quietly sitting in the room can be transformed
He may love the performance but a leopard cannot change its spots
This family man will make you pay the price to show you who's boss
He'll be quite unafraid to impose an exacting reign of terror
To overcome with effort is the dictionary definition of conquer

To be governed by gremlins is no fun thing
So unpredictable are these beasts' whims
No matter how pragmatic you are, it's hard to keep up with their latest fashion
Quite understandably, there's no remedy yet invented for their lack of compassion
Nuance is not needed, and not to put a fine point on the situation,
Occasionally, you might face what amounts to functional defenestration
Dangling, face down, from the balcony, it's hard to disagree with their directives
Indeed the heavy hand of the conqueror engenders a forced change of perspective

There will be blood, that too is an occupational hazard
A periodic ritual cleansing, and the occasional massacre
All bloodthirsty patriarchs are well practiced merchants of tragedy
To remain at the controls, atop the commanding heights of the economy
To seize power, you break a few eggs to get the party started
Conquest is for the brave and not for the fainthearted
"All die be die", strategic killing has its uses, I guess
When cruelty is the point, its spectacle needs to be witnessed

Franco et le T.P. OK Jazz sing for Mobutu

Conqueror's Catechism, a playist

A soundtrack for this note bookended by the cool ruler himself and heavy on the reggae angle of things.

The Conqueror's Catechism

A few articles of faith
  1. To Loot Without End
  2. Droit de Seigneur
  3. The Dictator Dictates
  4. An Iron Fist
  5. The Ruler's Rules
  6. The Heavy Mantle
This piece went beyond a haiku to become positively Talmudic in scope, hence I'll split it and dispense over the next week. Or you can wait for the book...

I nominate this internal displacement for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

Next in Part 5: The Ruler's Rules

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Writing log: Concept: May 1, 2006; April 4, 2021