Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Idleness Outlawed

He'd decided to go even further than the communists
Who maintained that it was illegal to not have a job
The future emperor improvised with this novel twist:
The added condition that idleness would be outlawed

Thus "Idleness Outlawed" read the headline in Africa Report
The news intimated something akin to a kangaroo court
For idleness isn't disturbing tranquility or moving to cavort
Inertia, even Barthelby's, doesn't normally incite contempt of court

Thus the first of August 1966 was a date to remember
To paraphrase, always something new out of the heart of Africa
The Central African Republic government made laziness a crime
Punishable by up to a year in prison and a heavy fine

All was laid out in a decree emphasizing the "national duty to work"
The regime stated that healthy residents of both sexes - the young turks,
Between the ages of 18 and 55, must show evidence of working for a living
Or get the "or else" treatment, the unspoken threat of a Bond villain

The statute book stated violators faced arrest by "control brigades"
That would "scour the country in search of loafers" and those who strayed
Earlier, the President told government officials to "shake off their lethargy"
If they wished to avoid being fired, or transferred for defying authority

That literary man Bokassa, as history bore witness,
Hearkened explicitly to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
Fears of being transferred into the bush in Central Africa were not overblown
For indolence could prompt a journey to the epicenter of the torrid zone

This was, I suppose, years before he crowned himself Emperor
And before we started to hear the cannibalistic rumours
He had taken over months earlier in a coup on New Year's Eve
His countrymen were to experience dread they could hardly conceive

"Scour the country in search of loafers" and "shake off their lethargy"
The things that we have suffered in Africa, it doesn't bear scrutiny
The panache of uneasy phrases, the inventiveness of their euphemisms
The African leaders bestiary, rogues who heed the conqueror's catechism


tei-sleep

Idleness Outlawed, a playlist


A soundtrack to shake off our lethargy.
the military seize power africa report 1966-02-001


...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

See also: In Praise of Idleness by Bertrand Russell

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Writing log. Concept: July 9, 2020; March 29, 2021

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