Welcome to the New World


Meet me. I come from a land that has streets with no names. Well, the little path that goes from my father’s village to my mother’s village is called the little path. Was. The little path is no more.

My father’s father was buried by the path half way to my mother’s people.  He is no longer buried there; A government thief built a mansion over my grandpa’s bones. Our people did not name the streets of our village because they saw the coming of smartphones, e-mail and Facebook.

In the land of my ancestors, people don’t venture far from the earth. There are no mortuaries, when they die, they practically fall into their graves themselves. I have ventured far, very far from home. When I left home many decades ago, no Blackberry chats charted my way out of Customs and Immigration and into America’s issues. My parents put me on the path to somewhere and hoped that someday I would be back. I am still here in America. I am not going back soon. Today, I stare at the remains of winter in America; earth is frosting on chocolate cake. After all these moons, alien images and clichés stick to me, like white on rice.

Nothing stays the same. Not even in America. The changes make me dizzy and I obsess nonstop about the way things used to be. Here in my part of America, our drugstore no longer has human cashiers. The owners remodeled the store, and replaced humans with machines that talk to you. You simply walk up to the machines, scan your goods, pay and leave. It is very disconcerting;  I keep looking for the humans to return, I actually miss them. I know now that I love people and I cannot shake this cold unfeeling nothingness I get from interacting with a machine that proves its indifference with faux warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I am high on the possibilities and the opportunities riding on the strong backs of these new and emerging technologies, but I do wonder now if there are downsides to all of this. The world is becoming more and more shaped by a few powerful cognitive elite. We are struggling to deal with and adapt to the awesome force of these new technologies.

Books. Life is war and we were all born into a war that we did not ask for. And people write about life, sometimes it is mostly gory.  Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, they belonged to a certain era when one had no choice but to concentrate all of one's creative passions on one medium of expression - the book.  I read a lot of books, mostly about the condition we find ourselves as people of color in a white man’s world. However, I am first and foremost a writer of creative stuff, whatever that means. Lately though, I am known more as a book reviewer than anything else, which I find interesting, if not frustrating. I think that a critic's work in itself is creative work. We may not like it, but it is what it is. The critic clearly has a role to play and I would say we are in dire need of honest courageous tell-it-like-it-is book reviewers. Some people should really not be writing and they should be told that. Some writers are also full of it and they should be told that. Some works are fun to read and they should be celebrated.  I guess we are talking about books, which is a shame because in Africa we are steeped in the oral tradition. Some of the world's greatest "books" have been "read" to us in song by our ancestors. My mother is one of the world's greatest living poets; she has not written a lick. She would be great on YouTube. She would at least help to preserve one of our dying languages.

On Facebook, walls are colorful wrappers wound tightly around the new municipalities of ME.  Facebook is Falling leaves, hearts fluttering, forlorn, and drying on yesterday's clothes lines. People are waving hasty goodbyes out the windows of indifferent relationships. It is complicated. Life goes on. There are no nations as we remember them. We have fled lands ravaged by thieves preaching democracy. Soon a generation will come and in their history books they will learn about something called a check and the gallant art of balancing a checkbook.

Facebook. The new frontier has edged into our consciousness. America. Deep in the windy beauty of this land, the majesty of Nigeria, the land of my birth goes howling. Africa. We fled our gods, mean angry bloody gods foaming blood in their blood thirsty mouths wielding blood drenched cutlasses between steely teeth. Here in Babylon, alien gods kill us with the kindness of indifference. We retaliate by turning their plates on their heads, the stupid patronizing condescending gods. Africa. We fled her bloody windows for the kingdom of Facebook.  Every day children reject what passes for African culture today. They are not all mad. What is going on? Let’s talk about these things.

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