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Dreaming Yunhouse

My Father was the working title for Yunhouse, by The Author

I began dreaming of Yunhouse from

the moment of my arrival in Europe in

the middle of the last century. It was a

dream that would afflict my career

development. For a couple of

decades, after graduating with two degrees, I wondered through

space and time with a nagging existential itch that was

attributable to my psyche being wired into Europe-Africa mode. I

got relief from this itch by keeping diaries, millions of words,

thousands of pages, and dozens of volumes.

I approached middle age without a job that satisfied My Father’s

idea of earning a living. On one historic day, he asked what I

planned to do with my life. ‘If I don’t write I will die’, I said. He

paused for a long time, then he said: ‘If only we had known that

Whiteman’s schooling would turn our children into Whitemen…As

it is now, I don’t’s see any of myself in you. You have turned out a

bastard…The only thing traditional left in you is to ensure I have a

decent funeral”.

I felt hurt. Really, deeply hurt.My Father did not go to school. But he was – and still remains –

the person I most respect on this planet. He is the only role model

I can think of. So, how on earth could he regret his decision that

led to my growing up to be who I am?

The exchange with My Father helped focus my Yunhouse dream.

I took a critical look at European education. I stripped being

European-educated of its popular blessings: earning power,

material possessions, high status in society, and all that. Then I

saw the curses: the unresolved contradictions and conflicts

inherent in The Pacification Of The Natives as a process in the

colonisation of Africa. And this revelation: the much vaunted

Golden Fleece being pursued by European-educated Africans

was a Trojan Horse! The irrepressible urge to narrate this

revelation in full became the essence of the dream about a place

of interminable hot debates about Africa, Africans African-ness,

and associated emotions, notions, locutions or prognostications.

But, how could this dream narration be attained without resorting

to anti-colonial furore so loudly expressed in extant literature

about Africa but seemingly made redundant by the full continent

wide attainment of political independence? For instance, what

else can an African say about colonialism after the world famous

Nelson Mandela Option is deemed to have concluded the liberation struggle, and Africans are asked to sheath their swords

of anger, forgive the brutalisation, forget the dehumanisation, and

move on? Move on to what life?

I considered a narrative angle that used My Father to characterise

the generation that sent my generation to school. Imagine My

Father having gone to school and travelling to England to study,

how he would have been in a position to experience and observe

at first hand the undeniable conspiracy behind the colonisation

process. Armed with their language and knowledge of their social

attitudes, he would be able to directly engage those responsible

for re-engineering the destiny of his people. How would he defend


Predictably, My Father would vehemently challenge the basic

assumption that Africa was there to be taken by any non-Africans

who so desired. He would adduce arguments from first principles

of humanity: what of the humans (the Africans) who have lived on

this target continent for millennia, their history, their culture, their

traditions, not to mention their god-given rights to life aimed at a

destiny of their aspiration? The responses, explicit and implicit,

would come at him, loud and clear, wherever he goes, whatever

he sees, anything he touches, every sound he hears: What

African people? Non-Africans have been taking Black Africans for centuries, the Arabs moved millions across the Sahara Desert,

and lately Europeans shipped millions across the Atlantic Ocean.

These responses would no doubt sicken My Father. Even more

so when he points their implications at himself: does that mean he

too has been taken? He cannot answer because he cannot

believe the probability. He cannot believe the probability because

he cannot he cannot accept the possibility. He cannot accept the

possibility because it would mean shredding everything he holds

as the essence of the life as he has known and lived.

Feeling dejected, rejected and even ejected, My Father reaches

for his soul’s panic button: fight or flight! But…who are the

enemies?…where are they?…where is the battlefront?…flight

from where?…retreating to what destination? Too many things

are simply not adding up in this existential equation.

Typical of his generation, My Father hankers for his roots, for any

bits of traditional wisdom, to ease his anguish. He recollects the

event of his native community’s initial encounter with Europe. The

community’s Spiritual Leader walked out of the first ever formal

discussion with the first ever European person to step on their

native soil, because: “Dialogue with a total stranger is a total

illusion!”. And he spat. The pronouncement (together with the

spitting) has become an adage in My Father’s language. But the speakers of this language are undecided about the pertinence of

the symbolism in the fact that this iconic Spiritual Leader, straight

after dropping his pearl of wisdom, hanged himself. Had the

cause of death been suicide, African Spiritual Leader – of all

people – would have been denied the dignity of traditional funeral

rites. So the elders noted the cause of death as natural tragedy,

and it was so recorded in the community’s collective memory.

All pre-colonial African communities had Spiritual Leaders who,

without exception, expressed opposition and resistance to the

phenomenon of the appearance of the Whiteman. All the Spiritual

Leaders had the premonition that the European was harbinger of

an ill-wind that would blow away all things African. But now, as My

Father and his peers could clearly observe, all the social

relevance of the spiritual leaders are being deleted by Christianity,

and their institutions are being categorised by anthropologists as

medicine-men, mumbo-jumbo, juju, etc, etc, in the scientific

nomenclature for African purveyors of perceived superstition.

However, in the mind-set of My Father’s generation, there persists

a legacy of the Spiritual Leaders foresaw Africa being invaded by

strangers who were vectors of an alien cultural pathogen against

which Africa’s cultural immune system had no defence. The

manifestation of this virulent pathogen is that it chews up Africa’s past, compels Africans to a life that begins today, and infects

them with perpetual angst about tomorrow.

Being at the cusp of this transformation exacerbates My Father’s

anguish. In spite of himself, he witnesses how and why there is

not much he can do about the unfolding reality whereby he cannot

be the role model for his children the way his father had been for

him. He can only wish his children would live out their scenes of

this existential drama with less pain than himself. Hopefully, they

will have more to

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