The Secret Black Hole of Religion

“How can you tell me Christianity is the one and true religion, when it is one of the religions with a dark past? Do not think I do not know what I’m talking about. I have done my homework by reading and studying much about what I’m talking about. If you doubt me, you can do your own research to confirm what I know already (well…that’s if you have the patience to read books. I know most people don’t read that is why they perish for lack of knowledge). The Christian religion is the most fragmented and divisive in the world. Christianity, compared to other religions in the world, has the bloodiest history in the history of mankind. It has destroyed so many lives and invaded so many lands in the name of Jesus. The name of the first slave ship that brought Africans from the Motherland to the Americas was called “Jesus.”

You tell me Christianity is the truest religion there is but let’s break things down here. How can you tell me the Christian faith is true when it has so many denominations, and these denominations can’t even agree with each other? This is just crazy. Under the Christian umbrella, you have the Catholic church, the Protestant church, the Anglican church, the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the Lutheran church, the Mormon church, the Eastern Orthodoxy church, the Nestorian church, the Coptic Catholic church, the Apostolic church, the Presbyterian church, the Paulist church, the Episcopalian church, the Anabaptist church, and so on. Gosh…I can go on and on. It’s just crazy. Now, according to the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there exist roughly 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012. That is up from 500 in 1800 and 39,000 in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025. Hmmn…this means Christianity will continue only continue to divide more and more.

Currently, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is formed every 10.5 hours, or 2.3 denominations a day. God is not a God of division and confusion, but of unity and oneness. For a religion, which claims a divine origin, to have so many denominations or “duplicates” of itself does “not” stand on a solid rock. Something is definitely wrong wrong such religion. Just think about it. How can a religion which is true so many denominations like this? Trust me, the truth does not have duplicates to it. The truth is always one and original. Anything that is true cannot have carbon copies of it. The fact that the Christian faith has so many denominations like this means it CANNOT be a true religion. It is a false religion. Even Islam has divisions of its own too. There is Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Sufi Islam, Ahmadiyya Islam, Ibadi Islam, Qurani Islam, Yazdani Islam, and so on. Islam is not as divided as Christianity, but division, nonetheless, is division. Division is division, and there is nothing good about it. In Heaven, there is no such thing as division. What replaces division in Heaven is unity. It is only on Earth that such nonsense division exists.

Okay, back to Christianity now. Next, how can you tell me the Christian faith is true when its holy book, the Bible, has so many versions to it? I mean, how can a holy book, which is claimed to originate from God, have so many versions? Does that make sense? There are so many Biblical versions and they are all different and conflict with one another. When it comes to different Bibles, there is the King James Bible, Amplified Bible, Good News Bible, Coverdale Bible, Mormon Bible, International Standard Version Bible, Lamsa Bible, and the list goes on and on. Once again, this is just crazy. According to my research, which can be confirmed, there are hundreds of different translations of the Bible. Now, this is super crazy. Hundreds of translations of one holy book? Wow…it doesn’t make sense at all. All the Christian denominations have a particular Bible that they read. Catholics have their own Bible. Protestants have their own Bible. Mormons have their own Bible. It’s just crazy.

Other weird things about Christianity is the number of Christian churches worldwide, which to me, seems like money-making, private enterprises. What I mean is that the Catholic church – which is the first and oldest church – is the global headquarters of all churches, while other church denominations are like “subsidiaries” scattered across the planet to generate greater profit. Think about it. If a business/company wants to compete globally, reach out to the global target audience (customers), and market its product to generate greater profit, what do you think that company, which does not have foreign offices must do? Of course, it needs to open up foreign based offices, factories, and businesses to do that. This is what companies like Apple does in China. Apple and Nike products are made in China, rather than America.

What the church did many centuries ago is what big corporations are doing today. Apple success can be attributed to the church. When it comes to “expanding business interests” and winning souls or winning “customers,” the church is number one. Okay, the church, from the very beginning (just in case you didn’t know) is a business. I’ve done my research on this. Based on my research, I discovered there are more than 3.7 million Christian congregational churches (businesses/branches) in the world. WOW. We are talking about 3.7 million churches in the world. That’s huge. One has to wonder if these churches are “really” in the business of “winning souls for Christ,” or “accumulating more cash.” When you dig deep into the dark history of Christianity, you’ll figure out the answer in a flash. I mean people really need to start thinking outside the box.

The world is changing and most of the lies our religious and political leaders have been feeding us with are coming to light. Thinking outside the box will not kill you. Thinking outside the box is rational, logical, and sensible. If the Creator never wanted you to think, you wouldn’t have a mind to think and calculate things. The fact that the Creator gave you a mind to think with, means you are allowed to think for yourself and not let corrupt authority control your thinking for you. If you must know, “all” religions, not just Christianity alone, have dark histories to them. All religions are divisive. All religions wage wars and shed blood to grow and expand themselves, which is quite logical, considering the fact that no thinking human would embrace anything new outside of his or her conscious circumference. But does it really make sense to impose religion by force, which is what most of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – has done for millennia? These three religions have caused so much wars, death, and destruction on Earth beyond measure. The destruction caused by these religions continue up to this day. It has not stopped, and may never stop, until people wake the hell up. Hundreds of millions of lives have been wasted because of these three religions.

If it is true that these religions are from God, would God really want to spread religions by force? Is it necessary? Wouldn’t God want people to accept a religion naturally, rather than forcefully? What happened to free will? How can God give man free will and at the same time act like a dictator by literally “forcing” a religion down our throats? I hope I’m making sense here. You cannot give people a choice and deny them that choice by imposing your “own” choice on them. It does mean any sense at all. God does not operate that way. Why aren’t people thinking? Like I said, there is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Religion does not permit free thinking. This is a FACT. But must a person live his or her entire life not thinking outside of the box for once? Most educated people cannot fight or free themselves from the mental chains of religion. It has a strong hold on them. As far as I’m concerned, any doctrine, or philosophy, or religion which prohibits free thinking cannot be from a pious God. It must be from the devil. Belief systems, centered around ignorant and blind obedience without questioning authority, is based on mental slavery.

Yes. That is what religion is all about. It was created by a few elite people to mentally enslave the minds of people. Physical slavery is bad, but mental slavery is much worse. When someone has control of your mind, you become a property, a slave of that person. The only way to free your mind from religion is to learn to think outside of the box. The best religion is not religion itself, but love. Loving one another like yourself is the best way to live. There is no contradiction about it. Love does not contradict itself. Love is what it is. God is not concerned about religion because God never gave religion to man. Instead, man gave religion to man. Evil men created it to control the sheep (the masses). After death, God will not be concerned about what religion someone practiced. A clean mind, clean heart, and clean hands is what God will look at. Religion is irrelevant to God because it is man made. Wake up, humanity. Free your mind. You are created to live free, not in chains. Wake up, people.

By Adebisi Atitebi

Adebisi Atitebi., based in the United States, is a writer, poet, philosopher, and historian. A ardent truth seeker, Adebisi studies and writes about global politics, esotericism, conspiracy theories, history, and religion.

Brain Drain in Africa: A Cursory Look at Statistics

Africa is dying a slow death from brain drain; the emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa’s development.

Brain drain is also known as “The human capital flight”. It can be simply defined as the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country. Brain-drain can have many reasons, for example-political instability of a nation, lack of opportunities, health risks, personal conflicts etc. Brain-drain can also be named as “human capital flight” because it resembles the case of capital flight, in which mass migration of financial capital is involved.

“Data on brain drain in Africa is scarce and inconsistent; however, statistics show a continent losing the very people it needs most for economic, social, scientific, and technological progress.

The UNECA estimates that between 1960 and 1989, some 127,000 highly qualified African professionals left the continent. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Africa has been losing 20,000 professionals each year since 1990. This trend has sparked claims that the continent is dying a slow death from brain drain, and the United Nations recognition that “emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa’s development.”

Brain drain in Africa has financial, institutional, and societal costs. African countries get little return from their investment in higher education, since too many graduates leave or fail to return home at the end of their studies. Throughout four decades, Africa has been losing its best and brightest, with the implications of brain drain on human resources, institutional capacity, and health/social services.

The challenge now is to mobilize these brains and to get appropriate gains from them for the sustainable development of African countries. Efforts to stem Africa’s brain drain focusing on repatriation strategies were discouraging.  Studies have shown that repatriation will not work so long as African governments fail to address the pull and push factors that influence emigration. Moreover, the relationship between African governments and the African Diaspora remains a major barrier to finding solutions.

One potential solution to this problem affecting Africa is virtual participation. Virtual participation is participation in nation-building without physical relocation. It also shows promise as a means to engage the African Diaspora in development efforts.  The opportunities and conflicting pressures in conjunction with globalization demand new forms of governance that better respond to the needs of an emerging global society. For the public sector, it means changing the role of the State and searching for improved governance systems that, while ensuring peace, stability and respect for human rights, are geared to increased citizens’ participation and better service delivery in a rapidly changing environment. The time has come for the international community and African countries to consider the best prospects for attaining sustainable development through globalization.”

In Aphonse Mekolo and Valentina Resta, Governance Progress in Africa: Challenges and Trends (DPADM Discussion Paper, 2005).


Richard Oduor

Nairobi, Kenya

What are the effects of brain drain and what can Africa do to limit the number of its intellectuals running to greener pastures?

Why are some of the most celebrated African writers based in the West?

Why do most critical African writers work and live in the West and what can be done about it?

This discussion prompt is part of the ‘What is the way for Africa?’ Series you can contribute by sending your article to

My Life, Religion, and Other Things

The sages have died with their words frozen like molten lava hugging the mountain side. The brightness of their wisdom shines but the slippery rock is a curse to the feeble-limbed. The spiritual way is clogged by religious dogmas and cults trace the vague fences of veneration. I was once a pious child, following in the footsteps of my Christian parents. I did my Catechism but fell afoul with ‘Who created me’ answers because of their inadequacy to capture my young mind. But parents are angels, second-hand gods with arms that guide like the meandering banks of a river – and so I did my Baptism and the Priest shot me a “Richard”, then Confirmation and the Bishop christened me ‘Maccarius’ among a plethora of ancient names parried about to be clasped. I comfortably became a black missionary mirror, albeit a minor.

My African roots, as regards religion were not as strong as I would have liked at the time of birth and subsequent indoctrination into Christianity – I was but less that a decade old. But the ancestors blessed my birth, and made me an African by default: a soul; a gentle soul hidden beneath the great cloud of consciousness. My African name is ‘Oduor’ loosely translating to a boy born in the wee hours of the night (around 4.00 A.M in the morning). African names have actual meanings. I became a Christian, yes. But my seriousness with the church ended with the rituals. Well meaning rituals meant to captivate my ‘savage soul’ to serenity and obedience. Yet though the spears thrown at Catholicism have risen into the stationary phase, a clear mind may view its dogma’s as intimately closer to the primitive religion of the ancients. But if one has to uproot the monster, one has to appreciate that what Christians perceive as the Holy Book did pass through the editing hands of the Council of Bishops.

I was very different from your average 15 year old boy growing up in the village. By 16 years I had read the Holy Bible from cover to cover and developed the canny ability of knowing exactly where a verse fell. To this day, I maintain a reasonable textual mind picture of the Bible. You’d also find me with a book on religious philosophy. One of the oldest books that I keep even to this day is ‘A Short Defense of Religion’; a controversial pro-anti religion philosophical treatise that opened my eyes to the beauty of knowledge at a very early age. At that age, my mind began its comparative analyses of fundamental religious problems and the tendencies of modern science. I wallowed into criticism, and new criticism, Kantism and New-Kantism.

I began my walk with phenomenal writers such as Hume, Stuart, Mill, Auguste, Compte, and Locke. Du-Bois Reymond reminded me that ‘we are ignorant and shall remain ignorant” (Ignoramus et ignorabimus). Spencer came forth with agnostic positivism and tried to separate it from agnosticism, in as much as he affirmed the reality of the unknowable or in other words affirming ‘the existence of what nobody can know’. This was a far cry from what the early church had held: Gnosticism. Too bad I also disregarded Thomas Aquina’s Ecclesiastes pounding of “seek not the things that are too high for thee” in Summa Theologica.

I bathed with Reason, glorying in the fact that man’s knowledge is derived from phenomena and sat on the rocks of Science because physical, experimental, empiric science relies greatly on the principles of reason. Science introduced me to the principle of causality and crowned me a free man.

I’m a sucker for information, yet that does not imply that I condone insensible barrage or cock my ears to illogisms. The truth is that I’m always impatient with stupidity, and may take active step to close such a tap – as soon and vile inconsistencies begin to trickle. But one who hunts never stops until the hunted is found. My inquiries into the fundamental problems did not stop with the Bible; I took an interest in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism knowing quite well that they represent the mainstream paths of organized religion. To this day I read the Holy Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita, in addition to countless documents of religious significance such as the Satanic Bible, the Kolbrins, hundreds of esoteric and occult publications, ancient religions, papal publications, incisive Islam scholars such as Sayyid Qutb, as well as Upadeśāmrta and Śiksāstaka and what they have to say about Krsna.

You may not call me a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Judaist or any other religion that exists in the planet. I’d prefer you call me none – for I am but an aspiring sage with a torch in a dark forest searching for a lost sewing needle with nothing but a candle. As my years grow, my torch has been getting brighter and brighter and my walk sure-footed. I see the black for what it is and refuse to place neatly pressed white garments on mud.

You will not call me a self confessed atheist either, because I’m not one. I view atheism as a form of intellectual laziness: an inability to pierce the membrane of obfuscation.  For me knowledge remains an endless ocean, so vast and wide, so deep that the destination –though shining like the morning star – still lies far ahead. I glory in my journeys and I have no desire of reaching the end. But along the way, I have developed an understanding: a secret that has been kept from the eyes of those who seek not. These secrets that dot my path are my signposts to full illumination.

Each day, I’d put stacks of newly acquired knowledge on the old heap, until a time reached when I had to dig the very roots of these bodies. Naturally, I retreated into my self; for that is the only way a man can judge all that he imbibes. The self holds the searing blade of judgment. The Self, also analogized as Soul, is the essence of Being. The self is the ‘I’ and in there lies the fabric of meaning. Cleaned of influences, except the very cardinal guideposts that a man can use to judge his surroundings, the self holds the key to unraveling the mystery of human existence. Then, I realized that the world is a sphere of symbols and every symbol radiates differently.  Symbols rule the world. Symbols rule your mind. Symbols are the slaver’s tool for mental indoctrination. Learn the symbols. Dig their roots with the intense concentration that a squirrel invests in digging the cassava. I will talk about this comprehensively in a later writing.

Do I believe in God? Does God exist? Well, that’s already one too many questions for such a short piece of jumbled snippets me. One thing that I know, though yet to prove empirically is that there exists as a source of Light and that source is God. Anybody who seeks spiritualism knows that even the most brutalized and savage man practices certain identifiable moral and ‘religious’ ideas with regard to the beyond. Even the most stationary beings in the greatest cauldron of civilization draw certain remnants of instruction from a Source. These elements point to a source of eternal energy, albeit without the twisted strands of religiosity that has muddled the Way ever since its ejection from the tormenting womb of existence.

This Source is not necessarily the Christian God, the Muslim Allah or Yahweh – for these bodies of knowledge are incomplete mere specks of the full illumination of the Supreme. Unfortunately, these bodies have human stains and these stains are black blots on the purity of the Supreme. I firmly hold this view because I am a free thinker, but one with a purpose. This Supreme is not necessarily as being as espoused by my Christian brothers. My God is nothing but a Super Soul just like my Gita says. My God is one, just as the Koran says, but rather than being a slave, I’m but a fragment of the Super Soul. I have a little God in me, for it is through that channel that the pure energies of existence flow effortlessly from the full, to the fraction. I would have written my conception of God at length but I have to talk about other things as well.

I draw inspiration from the world. I draw inspiration from me; from my perception of the world; from my contemplations. One of the biggest living influences in my way of thinking remains Professor Noam Chomsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In him I find the meaning of meanings and the door knob of analytical philosophy. Recently a worthy friend, Dr. Shujaat, told me that my poetry is different, that my poetry has the potential to inspire change in the world. Now that was a noble gesture. Not that I don’t hold my writings in high esteem, far from it. Poetry is the language of gods. My activist stands have recently been upped by Dr. Claudette Carr (University of London), another incisive intellectual that draws me to her works principally because of the wealth of technicality. A Zimbabwean poet; Tendai Tagarira, now in exile, for being too critical of Mugabe’s regime is a new acquaintance that is proving to be a ‘brother in the fight’ as well. I have never met these individuals personally, but the world has since become a ‘global village’ and we sip from the same pot of knowledge.

I have other influences. The patience and love from my family, the intimacy of true love: honeybunch, the verve of Hisia Zangu Family members and strings, ‘the four beads that form the secret necklace’ (they know themselves), and the hundreds of people I talk with, chat with, discuss with everyday. It is from these beautiful flowers of humanity that my poetry sprouts. Surely “the bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” A quote from ‘Illusions’.

Well, I’m no big shot. I’m just 28 years old and my best still hangs ahead of me. I’m a writer, but it’s my ‘other’ profession. It doesn’t ‘put food on my table’ so to speak, but I have an oath with literature; with poetry and literary criticism, though I have never been in a Literature class. I’ve never been in a Philosophy class as well. All my writings are products of personal study and imagination. I hold my imagination dear and just like D.G James in ‘Skepticism and Poetry’ I believe that “the vitality and energies of the imagination do not operate at will; they are fountains, not machinery”.

How do I know so many things? Some friends ask me. I’m a research guy so I read virtually everything that has been published; a good number of books and journals every week. From genetic engineering to business design systems, from ordinal regressions to climate change and global warming, from East Asian studies to neocolonialism in Latin America, from African culture and symbolism and canonization in modern African literature to heteroskedasticity in STATA, from cultural imperialism to nanotechnology, from Darwinism to religion. Such reading means that I find links between bodies of knowledge quite easily. Understanding, even the most complex of texts, has become rather easy. I encourage all my friends to read a ton of books every day. Books are the only miracles that the world needs.

The world is a funny place. We’ll continue with our search, trying to unravel the past. To quote Billy Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ out of context, “the fact is, we don’t know. Don’t have any idea. We don’t know when we started doing many of the things we’ve done. We don’t know what we are doing right now or how our present actions will affect the future. What we do know is that there is only one planet to do it on, and only one species of being capable of making a considered difference. Edward O. Wilson expressed it with unimprobable brevity in ‘The Diversity of Life’ “one planet, one experiment.”

Have we succeeded in unraveling everything we need to know? Not really. “We are at the beginning of it all. The trick, of course, is to make sure we never find the end,” Bryson said. The journey is the reward, not the destination. There is no destination in life. Death is the end of searching, not the destination.

So why do I have to write these long discussions?

Let me write my life while I live.

And always remember,

“The world is your exercise book, the pages on which you do your sums. It is not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense or lies, or to tear the pages.”

Richard M. Oduor a.ka. Richie Maccs

Poisoning the Broth: Eurocentric Notions of Urbanism in Billy Kahora’s ‘Urban Zoning’ By Richie Maccs

Kahora’s ‘Urban Zoning’ is a basket of seedy characters alternating between two ideologically distinct zones. Though wonderfully woven, it is not protean enough to trigger any intense controversy. It neither calls many minds to intense activity nor salt the festering wounds of Africa’s supposed literary obsequiousness. Not that it should. It’s a unique story, a neatly crafted story, but not a very unique story. It’s every urban youth’s story. But with the hundreds of intimate twists that tell Nairobi’s tale daily, one can be certain it will lose its allure a few months down the line. It will be pigeonholed by the great majority of uncritical readers.

The story’s informing spirit is blasé and commonplace, and will not sharply divide critics. For this reason, it will be an old abandoned well before long, and very few miners may find it necessary to go down the pit – shovel in hand and mine for scattered bits of literary significance. That said; there are a few miners who’ll forever recognize the significance of ‘Urban Zoning’ as an important crystal in Kenyan and African literature.

It has become the norm among scholars, rather than exception that every single piece of fiction written from the oppressed world must also be viewed through the mirror of post-colonialism. In post-colonial literary discourses, urbanism; as a phenomenon, is associated with a distinct use and control of space. Urbanism mediates relations of power, and as such, it is often represented spatially. Spatial relationships give us an insight into the intrigue between actors, their indulgences, and the nature of their bonds.  The title ‘Urban Zoning’ is specialization of locality.

Kandle is the Africanization of a European word ‘Candle’ without shedding its symbolistic coat. It is abduction on one hand, intermingling in the middle, and defacing on the other. The name bears the very shades of hybridism that paints cultures across the world. It is a deliberate cultural morphing but the very act has two sharp edges. On one hand, the creation of the name justifies the Eurocentric notion that Europe holds the purest culture and that it is Europe’s imperial or neocolonialist’s right to infect other cultures with bits and pieces of itself. On the other hand, the creation of the name accepts the inevitability of hybridity and holds cultural purity as a fallacy. Ideally, that simple art in characterization confirms that new cultures, new words, new meanings can be created through cross breeding or loaning of cultural components from the colonized or the colonizers culture. It surprises me not that the name Kandle leaves us in a state of ambivalence, for the simple reason that hybridity never resolves the tensions that exist between its conceptual polarities.

The character Kandle, is a “self-styled master of The Art of Seventy-Two-Hour Drinking” and a slave to two Zones. There are windings in the short story that don’t seem to add anything unique or particular as far as the characterization is concerned. Apart from Kandle, all the other characters are one sentence descriptions. Not that Kandle characterization is impregnable. Far from that. In fact, Kandle is not developed at all, there’s very little he does that can be completely linked to his character. All his actions fall in the boundaries of the Good Zone and the Bad Zone, albeit through his self induced drunken dreamy states.

Far from Kandle and the Zones, I also view Billy’s voice as a small voice in history that never shies from being corrective to both colonialist and bourgeois-nationalist historiography. While mainstream historians and some literary gravediggers may view the subaltern past as a genuinely dead object, Billy resurrects the memory lines of the past. In a laudable feat, Billy’ bottom occupies the seat of an academic observer, and acts as a bridge of understanding that extends the past to present. He is an egalitarian scholar and his work presents the subaltern past as contemporaneous. To echo the words of Stephen Derwent Partington;

…  instead of being a writer who in his texts creates the stereotypically metonymic hero of ‘the African short story’ – or a writer who might be celebrated by Western critics as such – Kahora is himself something of a metonym, and his whole texts metonymic; that is, he is a generous writer whose work, due to its innovative intertextuality, its willingness to creatively refer to earlier writings, brings to wider critical attention not only the wider NewGen that he seems to belong to, but also the ghosts of fine Kenyan and wider African writers who went before him, whose texts resonate inside his texts.

Thus, in the absence of a bridge of understanding that extends from one historical epoch to another, because no gap exists between the past and present, Billy’s Urban Zoning reminds us that the present can only be understood by understanding the past. Being contemporaneous, the past is viewed from its own perspective as a subject, not an object. The story reminds us that history is never more compelling than when it gives us insights into oneself and the ways in which one’s own experience are constituted.  Just as Kierkegaard once posed, “why bother to remember a past that cannot be made into a present?” Billy Kahora talks about the present but underneath, is his belief in one of the paradoxes of history; that it is impossible to draw a chart of the past without imagining a map of the present and the future.  Kandle’s history is a map of specific predicaments, unique predicaments that neither repeatable in time nor space.

Urban Zoning is a triumph of the realistic over the romantic. The heavy and descriptive narrative has produced a national-historical time, so much so that a typical Nairobi day shines detailed in the passing time. It presents a national vision, albeit a bleak one, of the microscopic, elementary, perhaps random trolling of everyday life in Nairobi that reveals the profound history of its locality, the spatialization of local time, and a creative humanization of this locality. The randomly selected terrestrial space and characters is transformed into a place of historical life for Nairobians. For instance, though seemingly set in the earlier decades, the author presents us with a vivid picture of a typical Tom Mboya street on a rainy day (a bedlam of blaring car horns, screaming hawkers, screeching matatus, and shouting policemen. People argued over parking spaces and haggled over underwear).

The visualization of time confirms that the past occupies a necessary place in the present – and the necessary future as well – if a continuous line of development was to be charted. The national time is thus concrete and visible in the chronotype of local, in particular the graphic aspects, from the beginning to the end. The historical surmounting, which is in essence the doubling of past and present, is intensified through narrative synchrony as a graphically visible position in space. One could grasp a pure historical time in the narrative and fix it on the present through unmediated contemplation. The present becomes a consistent process of surmounting the ghostly time of repetition. A good example is a sentence such as this: “a fat woman came at him from the corner of Harambee Avenue, and just when she imagined that their shoulders would crash into each other Kandle twitched and the woman found empty space”. Thus, by its very nature, Urban Zoning presents a national time-space which is fixed and unchanging. The same applies to urban time-space since it is a microcosm of the national time-space.

In a way, this presentation perpetuates the Eurocentric painting of Africa and African spaces as unchanging. Its people are still viewed as savage, its cities burrows and alley hoods, its problems are still the same, and stories of triumph against adversity are still viewed through the romantic mirror. Despite the defilement of Africa and the degradation of its natural resources for hundreds of years – the earsplitting bang of Africa being the next frontier in development is the echo of economic conferences and discourses. It is unfortunate that African leaders have willingly swallowed this blatant deception for the sake of Foreign Direct Investment. The truth of the matter is that for Africa to become the West’s idea of a successful frontier in the capitalist race, the next round of exploitation of African people’s and spaces must begin. Everybody knows how bitter are the sweets that capitalism hands to the world’s poor and suffering masses.  Those are the same sweets that ‘the next economic miracle’ talk will hand Africans.

Obsession with whiteness and white attachments to superiority, though quaint, litter the story. We are invited into a catatonic reverie of ‘rugby-memory land’ through the symbolic doors of the Limara advert girl: an obvious allusion to the delusions of popular media culture and their pervasiveness. Note ‘Stirlings’; a high school rugby club in Lenana School. The jumbled imagery that ensues in the paragraph does not help the reader to find the path. Though certain images are juxtaposed, finding relationships between them is an arduous task. The same ‘jumbleness’ is played on Kandle’s fear of physical contact and supposed encounter with homosexuality. Nonetheless, it represents certain inconstancies within the Zones. There are no pure experiences with well defined boundaries; each zone operates on the swaying threads of ambiguity. Even ludicrous, is that these experiences are used as a justification for his hunt for ‘peri-urban pussy’.

The old geezer; Guka, in Kandle’s disciplinary case obviously worships the British, particularly one Mr. Purkiss who taught him ‘the meaning of duty’ and representations of respect based on ‘Mister’ titles. However, it deteriorates into a mock trial because the brown envelope has been passed below the cards. All the good cards and the bad cards are spread on the deck and the players while away, changing the rules of the game with the strength of the wind. Integrity.

Though being a creative force, ‘Urban Zoning’ does not liberate Africa from the literary shadows of misrepresentation. In fact, it bathes in the same pool, particularly with regard to its portrayal of Africa spaces. Just like many other African writers, Kahora’s short story suffers from the generalizations, distortions, and simplistic interpretations of African reality that has continually been sponsored by former colonial masters and tutored elitist Africanists. This was Okot p’Bitek’s observation way back in the 1970s and sadly that seems to be the trend even in the 21st century. A closer look at hypothesis of constancy in Nairobi becomes even more interesting when one decides to map the story’s good and evil on the historical (political, economic, and social) development of Africa in general and Kenya in particular, in the post independence period.

Can ‘Urban Zoning’ offer us anything other than Eurocentric tunes of urbanism? Maybe not. The short story feeds our obsessive focus on urban social theory and drives our attention away from developing novel perspectives on ‘ordinary cities’. It drives us not to an appreciation of the complex and variegated forms of urbanism in post colonial Africa that may exist outside the western parlay. Quite annoyingly, we are locked into Eurocentric discourses that bank on stylized contrasts between modernity and tradition, and the gleeful association of progressive urbanism with weak social ties and the emergence of the blasé. One wishes that the award winning short story, certainly Africa’s few best, would give us a fresh narrative ruptured by accounts which explore the diverse ways in which sociability is constituted in the city – including processes that invoke the re-invention of tradition.

Kandle, on being informed of Jamo’s death in a car crash, fails to recall acquaintance. He does not recall the Motherfucker from Karen, he does not recall Jamo Karen. He does not recall Jamo Breweries and his knowledge of Jamo has to be inferred from a closely related strand of immorality. The dad’s action following Kandle’s “Maiyo! Maiyo! Maiyo!” sexual rides with Atieno s even more baffling. “He also handed him some condoms.” and said “Let’s have no more babies,” knowing pretty well that his concentrated horniness may fall on the older, motherly Kikuyu woman. So much for the breakdown of family ties and moral instruction in urban spaces! The celebration of weak social ties and the emergence of the blasé are self evident.

“Fucking African,” Kandle said. “What time is it?”

Okay, I know it’s getting late and I need to conclude my writing.

Some leading theorists on regional modernities argue that globalization destabilizes identities and disrupts local spaces. Is Kandle a victim?


Richard M. O. (Richie Maccs)

NB: This story is one of the five short stories shortlisted for CAINE PRIZE 2012

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