December’s Warmth

Your words have dried up
You give infinite answers
it’s like you have no soul in you
you can’t sustain your breath for long
it’s like you’re holding onto a crumbling stick,
cautiously
the same way one would be reticent
in spite of a brimming tension

Your questions remain unanswered
It’s like you’re walking in a mist
or perhaps you are the mist itself
You have blood stains in your cough
It’s like this might be your last Christmas
you miss the days of old
and the gone era
you still brim with confidence
amid the tiresome rounds you make daily

You have been asked to speak louder,
be bold and articulate your sentences
it’s like a rebirth or a renaissance
learning how to take steps all over again
you have dreams, lost letters and broken hearts
it’s like you take a sojourn in people’s minds-eye

You reflect on the past
And continue to walk with fervent hope
It’s like your future is already written in the stars
So you’ll forever take refuge in your dreams
and carry on like never before

Why African Literature ?

Over the past couple of years, I have spent a big chunk of my reading-life, reading and even sometimes re-reading books authored by Africans. This has got nothing to do with me being over-patriotic or too nepotistic but rather in a nutshell as a means of self-rediscovery, or in other words rediscovering my African-ness. I have gotten much enthralled along the line and the relish with which I jump unto my next book or at an opportunity to buy quality African books at a bargain price has grown fervently if not dramatically with time. The question on why African literature is important, is one that has lingered in my labyrinth of mind for quite sometime and I find this medium offered by afrikult requisite to word my thoughts on this very topic.

A couple of months ago, I chanced upon at my local library “The African Trilogy”, a compilation of three novels written by the late Chinua Achebe, namely Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease and Arrow of God. I once again jumped at this opportunity and borrowed the book, even though I had already read all the three novels, separately on different occasions. One would ask why would I decide to read novels I’ve already read. The introduction of this trilogy by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie somehow answers this question. In her introduction, she clearly re-emphasizes on the legacy of Mr. Achebe’s writings, the opportunities and the priceless inspiration he has inadvertently given to writers like herself. She further reiterates that “the strangeness of seeing oneself distorted in literature – and indeed of not seeing oneself at all was part of my childhood. My early writing mimicked the books I was reading: all my characters were white and all my stories were set in England. Then I read Things Fall Apart. It was glorious of discovery. I did not know in a concrete way until then that people like me could exist in literature. Here was a book unapologetically African.” African literature arguably is a journey to self rediscovery and the mannerism, diction and sometimes proverb-filled nuances are a spectacle to behold and this relay how exhilarating African literature is and sometimes the only option left is to read the story again.

Literature is a very indelible compartment of a community’s culture. It plays a huge and formidable role in the way of life of a particular group of people and that is exactly what African literature does. It holds the fibre of the society together. The themes of African literature mimic in every sense of the word the true Africa, they may differ from country to country or from sub-region to sub-region but the stories’ african-ness is always noticeable. African literature brings into light, the daily life experiences of the average African, from various angles and through different nuances which can be as blunt as it can be. These stories can be either real or fictitious and each of the aforementioned has its own sparkle it brings to the whole piece. African literature therefore portrays through the eyes of a native to the outside world what the real Africa is all about, our dreams and innovations, our successes and challenges.

More over, African literature serves as a means of education and entertainment. A new word has even been carved “edutainment” and that says it all. African literature began since time immemorial, from our ancestors telling folk tales every night, while children sat around log fire to get the elephant share of the story till today where every potential idea is being properly documented. It educates us on various aspects of our heritage and the state of affairs of our continent, pointing out categorically to the everyday issues. The imaginations and nostalgia birthed after reading these stories are simply priceless and our creative impetus are being further enhanced.

As culture is integral to the existence of a particular group of people, so is African literature very indelible to all and sundry. The best we can do as a people is to continue to patronize African literature and this will obviously help both the established writers and the up-and-coming writers not to give up on their trade. With all that said, I cogitate also that we make good use of the available materials and platforms that we are very much privileged to have in this generation.

To end this piece, here’s just a line from NoViolet Bulawayo‘s debut novel We Need New Names, “he doesn’t tell Aunt Fostalina she looks good, like I’ve heard other people do; he tells her she looks like sunrise” and that’s the kind of spark African literature brings to the conversation. African literature will forever be as important as ever.

COVERED DISTANCES

cold, in the mist, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched

across street-signals
meeting hedges
and,
greeting hallows within,
along tram-lines,
left when right,
and right when left

in the fog, no movements
within, beside, infront
maybe only above
not certain,
roads, unused
nor is a bicycle lane, untouched
in the covered distances

The Sudden Rise of The Indian Expats – How And Why Everything Seems To Augur Well.

It has taken me quite a long while to tame my repertoire of words into this piece on the sudden rise of the Indian expats in faraway lands. The magnanimity and blunt truth of the matter relay findings that may be mutual but very much indelible in so many ways. Within a period of two years, I have been able to study, analyse and digest the business-minded lives of the Indian expats or to a very farther extent Indian (im)migrants here in Belgium. As a study case, I chose Antwerp, due to a lot of contributing factors. My findings may come out as very frenetic but interesting to my readership.

To begin with, Antwerp is a cosmoplitan city in Belgium, to be more specific in Flanders, which is basically the Flemish speaking part of the country. Antwerp is the capital of the Antwerp Province. It’s by far the most densely populated city in Belgium, with more different nationalities than any other city in the country. It has grown over the years since the days of Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte to become a great and lavish port city. Great cities also do attract investors, and as result the demand of  an effective labour force surges high. The case of Antwerp is no exception to this analogy. Antwerp doubles up as the biggest diamond hub of the country or even to a farther extent, in Europe. Over the years, (im)migrants and expats have plunged into the country and made their way into the city, dating as far back as in the late 60’s up until today. These (im)migrants are now part of the fibre of this city making it a success story. The (im)migrants who I can now refer to as ‘citizens’ of Antwerp are predominantly Morrocans, Turkish, Congolese and other minorities.

Antwerp has also a very strong Jewish population who in one way or the other culminate to the success story of the local economy. The diamond sector is predominantly ran by Jews. As the years blur into decades, there has been a changing phenomenon as to those in charge of the diamond industry. There is currently a very high number of Indians running the diamond industry. And this brings into mind, the question of how the Indians are good at trade.
There are many factors that has contributed to this success story of Indians in faraway lands, making noble exploits. Disputably, capitalism seems to be a major factor catapulting their surge.

Capitalism – Their capitalistic overview is something that can’t be begrudged. Anyone who opens up a business or begins a trade is literally bent on making gains with the aim of either sustaining his/her business or expanding it. This is the same overview that these Indians share, but they add a midas’ touch to it which at the end help them make tremendous inroads towards their set-targets.

Aside capitalism, there are a couple of other factors steering cautiously their cruise amidst all the financial crises that characterize today’s global trade. Sheer determination – They are very determed and driven to succeed at all cost. This adrenaline is then passed on from generations unto generations. And such a lubricant empowers them to help sustain and expand their businesses throughout the course of time.

Steadfast and Imaginative – I may say that their steadfastedness goes hand-in-hand with their foresight. They are very imaginative and are therefore able to undertake the rightful and concrete working practices. They learn from previous mistakes and as a result offer no room for another mistake. Their forecast of the success of their businesses might seem incomprehensible but they are able to follow each and every rubric they have drawn with utter diligence.

Arguably, there seem to be other factors and mechanisms contributing to their success story, but all that I would like to reiterate is that these Indian expats or (im)migrants are on the right path and as a result they are worthy of commendation.

AMSTERDAM

As the warm ambiance gradually descends into my being
have I been soaked into fairest realms of mankind, perhaps
To delve into a serene melancholy
have I been graced with uttermost receptions
May the seriousness within my eyes
bring me back once more to your fervent embrace

As I sail through the crossroads
amid the water lilies that flower
no language border
May the test of time seek solace from your compassion
Whenever it sees men who wield below reproach
And encounter women with gritty egos
In your fairest embrace do I forever yearn to be