Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Important Participations

The participation could have been normal and without a fuss, but Africa's enemies, Sudan's enemies and the enemies of peace-loving countries wanted to try and turn it into a drama, to prevent the president from important participations.

— Sudan's foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour as quoted in Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir leaves South Africa as court orders his arrest to face genocide charges at ICC (Reuters, June 2015)
The boss is a Lion of Africa, you can't treat him like an animal
Denying him important participations is, quite frankly, criminal
Sure: trade sanctions, Security Council resolutions, and all the rest
But this new imposition is a bridge too far, he's quite upset

We all know his economic direction and commitment to reform
His policies have stood the test of time, the revolution moves on
You there, Madame Ambassador, don't give me that baloney about Darfur
When security arrangements and regional stability are what you care for

I don't see you picking fights with Vladimir of Russia
About how they dealt with their internal matters in Chechnya
Cross Mister Putin and you might get the poison treatment
Or the fruits of an exotic nuclear radiation experiment

To have him flee as if he was a warlord like Charles Taylor
For shame, he had to leave post-haste mid-bite and mid-dinner
He'd been promised a braai which, I understand, is a South African delicacy
One bite was all that he could manage before our team withdrew him hastily

So what if there was an early nexus with the Sheikh, Osama Bin Laden
We all make mistakes, you are lying in bed with Bonecutter bin Salman
And as for Al-Turabi, another Sheikh that thought he was a leader
Well, the boss taught him a lesson about the real meaning of power

Well you should know that there's something about Omar al-Bashir
That you've disrupted his jaunt to Johannesburg is a great slur
Recall, he who speaks with forked tongue is a master of statecraft
Quoth the proverb: When Allah created the Sudan, he laughed

No this won't do at all, I must say, on this point, let me be explicit
On pain of blowback, this your hasty decision you'll have to revisit
Recall when He of the Little Green Book was here, we held excellent discussions
I warn you: stop preventing the president from important participations

oau meeting africa report 1966-04-045 african unity reassessed wallerstein

Tracing some Fallen Angels

Omar al-bashir at trial

The Boss, a playlist

soundtrack for this complaint. (spotify version)
Omar al Bashir and defense minister

One wonders: will he have the last laugh?


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: Concept July 16, 2015; April 24, 2021

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


I have to say, ear doctors are the most unsympathetic lot
Awful people, they only prescribe a little rest and, maybe, time off
So quick to put you on a course of oral antibiotics
  and send you on your way
Uh-huh, yes the ear is inflamed, you've had your two minutes,
   the exit is that way

They have no bedside manner to speak of,
  it rather seems like a badge of honor
They never alleviate your dismay, it feels like they're ignoring your trauma
For if you find yourself needing an ear specialist,
  you're already in a world of trouble
You should know very well that it's now down to prayer,
  that's how the cookie crumbles

The pain is right there, your sinuses are going haywire,
  and you are going insane
It's way too close for comfort,
   there's no deadening the aural assault on your brain
Perhaps the infection is viral or your tympanum took a knock
Or maybe it's bacterial but you're still dealing with the aftershocks

Off kilter you're destabilized, you've just about lost your bearings
That's when you realize that you've well and truly lost your hearing
The doctor crinkles, or snaps their fingers right next to your ear
You didn't even flinch, the sound was lost, it plain disappeared

K Baka: Woman with calabash 2004

A Temporary Inconvenience

For a quite alarming number of times,
  I've woken up over the past decade
Having lost the hearing in one ear
  (the ear in question seems to alternate)
I've been told, in my case, that it's a matter of physiognomy:
The combination of poor drainage of my sinusoidal cavities
(Their perversely shaped contours apparently don't help things),
Small ears, and a latter-day propensity for prodigious production
Of earwax. These episodes of partial deafness have typically lasted
From as little as two hours to a few days - always longer than forecasted

The current assault on my middle ear, however, at ten days and counting,
Is pushing beyond the realm of temporary inconvenience
   - tensions are mounting
It's not just that I haven't been able to listen properly
  to the new José James album
Left to hearing his golden voice in muffled mono quite abases the glorious production
The sound, as if coming from a locked trunk
  packed with ancient manuscripts
Hurriedly buried in a desert backyard in Timbuktu
  - under Sharia law, that is,
Is painful enough, it's that, as the days drag on, I'm beginning
To contemplate what might possibly happen if modern medicine
And my body's defenses don't resolve things successfully.
The reality is that deafness will be my friend
As the saying goes, no condition is permanent
So I stew, and let that thought sink in wistfully

Incidentally, the album is rather ominously titled No Beginning, No End.
Perhaps it's in that vein that I listened blithely (with my good ear)
To a doctor cheerily informing me
  that my hearing will "probably come back", (when?)
And "most likely after a couple of weeks", (sigh, at least it wasn't a year)
Those hedging qualifiers were what I held on to - I was strangely elated,
Rather than the alarmingly lengthy time horizon she also contemplated.
I write, however, not to bemoan my lot because,
  obviously, things could be worse:
I count my aural blessings
  that I'm not yet appointed to end up in a hearse

The surprising thing,
   once you get over the bewilderment of sinusoidal oppression
And hearing loss, is that one is able to carry on living a quite full life.
Moreover, there's nothing like a temporary disability
  to make you rethink things;
People don't think enough these days, they move to action and half-step
I'm rather inclined to take the glass half-full notion to being half-deaf,
Heck, if you choose, strategically,
  where to sit in a hypothetical office encounter,
You'd avoid having to hear much that annoys you
   - and others would be none the wiser.
And ear splitting cries of babies,
   to take another example of occupational hazards,
Can easily become mere pantomimes, even hot air.
   You get to focus on what really matters.

wuddah-martey little drummer boy 1998


Listen, aural sensations are so very hard to give up
Count your blessings even when they're spouting claptrap
For sounds, even the most benighted,
  are truly a wondrous gift from the gods
Beyond their initial purpose of equipping most of us to defy nature's odds
To hear a baby's first cries, or to be lost in a lover's sighs
Think to your desert island necessaries,
   the music that heartens the soul
Visions may be first on my list,
   but the sound of When Doves Cry never gets old
Equanimous is my middle name,
  I trust that all will be resolved in due course
As a Ghanaian, I don't subscribe to the modern theory of buyer's remorse

Listen, a playlist

A soulful playlist underlined by the delightful sounds of José James. Try to catch him live if you ever can. He is the truth. Enjoy. (spotify version) See previously ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: April 14, 2021

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Backyard Bioprospecting

The birds have become positively giddy in the backyard
They seem to like the new plants that I sowed
But I just realized that perhaps it was the poppies
That were the present I shouldn't have bestowed

Beasts of burden, they start to flail awkwardly
Their movements are quite like a drunken sailor
Among the plants, you see them crashing around willy nilly
Even disturbing the squirrels along the perimeter

Initially I thought that it was some large nocturnal animal
That was laying waste to my poppies, leaving only the petals
But I started to observe the daytime routine of the birds
That had become the new repeat visitors to my house of cards

Altogether intoxicated by the sweet nectar
They were rather enchanted by the recent discovery
Of this new variant of the Gods' elixir
A taste of life, perchance to escape daily miseries

The packet of seeds I'd obtained before Amazon
Had brought that trade to a full stop
Was showing the potency of what could happen
When you reap the Wuhan crop


Punch Drunk, a playlist

Sometimes addiction is escapism, anaesthesizing the bearer from a surfeit of reality, sometimes it cannot be helped. A playlist on a loss of inhibition. (spotify version) I keep wondering if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ought to investigate the kind of controlled substance that has been elevating the minds of my backyard birds. Alternatively, a cartel might pursue a forensic examination. We'll see what the growing season provides next year.

poppy before their discovery

This tall tale is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: April 19, 2021

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Soul Insurance (Part 2 Enter the Claims Adjuster)

Adjudication begins... Part 2 of Soul Insurance

II. Enter the Claims Adjuster

Meanwhile, the claims adjuster had already started to make his way to the plains
He threw a few changes of clothes
   in the bag he used for this business
Laying waste to a people could sometimes be messy, as god was his witness
Other than the blood, it was mostly
   the tears of the widowed that left stains

Thus he packed a few extra pods of detergent,
   he placed them in a ziploc bag
He was trying out a new brand,
   the new formula Tide cleaned better, they bragged
He always carried spares of the latest creations
   that could pass through customs
These days regulations had been relaxed,
   and one could travel with these substances

For his luggage, he had decided to try out one of those sturdy bags
Plastic, lightweight, it was quite practical for the upcoming task
Wrapped with a little tape around it, whether cellotape or duct tape
It would be a good signal to all that it was now time for them to pack

Being rugged and functional, he was quite sure that it wouldn't split
Before he arrived at his destination, and gave the cease and desist
The bag could take being manhandled by the underpaid bag handlers
And its distinctive plaid was appreciated by many across the border

He'd used them repeatedly
   when dealing with those who lived in the torrid zone
Back then, the punishment of choice
   was merely being forced to leave one's home
This was an earlier time, what they wistfully called their lost decades
A little presumptuous of them,
   they had even given the bags a nickname

Nyame's claims adjuster sculpture

He would start in the east, Chwedru, between the sea and the lagoon
The Wan tribe were long accustomed, close companions, to misfortune
Hard working, sporting blank faces, some labeled them orientals
Beasts of burden, they behaved as if sleep was merely incidental

They were up-and-coming
   and constantly kept harkening back to their golden age
It was almost like a tic, this nostalgia for when they ruled the world stage
The faded glories of empires and dynasties, when they were number one
But for centuries now, they were second best, consigned to the utilitarian

If he had to adjust that lot,
   he could draw on their long history of oppression
And weigh that against their relatively recent state of exploitation
Their rise as the world's bread basket, home of the big tribe that could
Underestimate them at your peril, the song went:
   "Don't let me be misunderstood"

jo bag: ghana must go in South Africa

Nyame's direction was sometimes ambiguous
   and, in practice, hard to measure
Despite the terms of employment,
   the adjuster didn't care much for adventure
The exact nature of his adjudication was normally left to his discretion
He enjoyed his work, especially the nuts and bolts of the investigation

When you have an arrangement, as the gods did,
   incorporated as The Company
You were all but guaranteed to encounter a troubling lack of consistency
The body-soul duality was one thing, but try dealing with the complexity
Of the cosmology they'd now come to,
   and the aspects of their Holy Trinity

He knew that Odomankoma would advocate for humanity as a matter of course
But when Nyame was this displeased, normally all bets would be off
That left Nyankopon, who sometimes tempered the wrath of Nyame, his evil eye
He'd have to sound out Nyankopon before adjusting, his opinion would break the tie

He preferred working for conquerors,
   their catechism
was understood rather easily
None of the ambiguity of The Company,
   precise orders akin to the military
Black and white, there were no shades of gray
One wrong move and you would be made to pay

The organization of the gods' corporation
   left a lot to be desired, of course
But then, you could hardly complain successfully about the gods
That was a home truth acknowledged almost universally
For they might deal with your impertinence rather brutally

Although, there was always a loophole,
   there was the whistleblower provision
But, due to their being all knowing, it was hard to avoid retaliation
He remembered a previous agent,
   who had gone through the official channels
Without any fear that his very existence could be duly canceled

He'd lodged his complaint against, get this, Nyame of all the gods
The agent would later rue his mistake
   and wish he'd remained anonymous
The adjuster had never had to resort
   to testing the system like that poor sod
A betting man, he would never lay a wager
   in a game with those long odds

The adjuster had become a little jaded
   having to constantly deal with deceit
So he had inscribed the bag with his new monogram in a fit of conceit
GRIST was his new calling card, he would lay it out like a destroyer:

G stood for the gods that had now become his regular employers
R for the review of the scrolls that duly reported the malice
I for his inspections of the actual damage, their extent that is
S for speaking to the witnesses, almost all of whom were known dissemblers
T for the quiet talks with the gods after dispensing his brand of justice

The part of his job he enjoyed most was the tales of the witnesses
The lazy fictions they proffered, and the rare, rather great, inventions
Spun out of whole cloth these last, their patterns of exchange intriguing
But a leopard cannot change its spots, they'd ultimately fail at misleading

There was one thing the adjuster admired about the humans,
   their hubris couldn't be denied
They expected consistency, that every day the sun would rise in the sky
His mammy wagon arrived, it was on time, and left just a minute after two
The slogan at the top read Sea Never Dry. He chuckled, if only they knew

Sea Never Dry

The Claims Adjuster, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note, he means business. (spotify version)

Soul Insurance (Index)

A covidious folktale
  1. Ananse and the Chief's Scribe
  2. Enter the Claims Adjuster
  3. An Audience with the Linguist
  4. Pity the Mink
  5. Short Sale
  6. Excessive Liabilities
  7. Premiums Due
  8. Soul Insurance, a playlist
  9. Indemnity Provisions
  10. Full Circle
  11. Enforcement Actions
  12. The Die is Cast

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

Next: An Audience with the Linguist

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Writing log: Part 2 March 22, 2021