chapter thirteen

"You wanna borrow Peter Tosh?"

"Anything, dawg, what you got?" Justice had come to borrow some music from Salem.

"I want you to listen to Tosh. They shot him dead years back. It's maybe cos he knew the kinda stuff you talk about. Wait." He put the headphones on and skip tracked a few times, then he passed them to Justice. He listened as Tosh sang,

"The lips of righteous teaches many

"But fools die for want of wisdom"

A few seconds later he was amazed to hear

"The rich man's wealth is in the sea"

He took the headphones off and looked at Salem. "I had forgotten this song. I was kinda into reggae in high school and while at Wits. It was only when I went to London that I got into the whole hip-hop thang. I remember wondering what he meant by that; bout the rich man's wealth being in the sea. But the man lived on an island. He must have seen it. US east coast garbage probably washes ashore Jamaica all the time."

"Yeah, but I think it's more than that. I think he also studied something in England. I know he spent time there. Probably studied music, I dunno. But like, who were the romans, I mean where did they come from?"

Justice lit the spliff he had just rolled before answering. "That's the thing, ne. Where did the romans come from? Most people think they're ancient history."

"'Cept the rastas. They always sing bout the downpressors as being the romans."

"Yeah I reckon the rasta culture preserved a lot of truth from their experiences of slavery days. It's like this, god made us, the natural humans on earth, but Adam made the romans. That's the whole crime that got him banished from paradise. The romans were never supposed to have happened."

"Say what?" Salem wondered if this man was not just another nut. The world is full of them but this man had said things that fit in with rasta philosophy, and he wasn't even a rasta.

"'Slike this. After life on earth had evolved into humans, the ultimate form, ha-ha, then god made itself into the image of man ie Adam. I reckon da point of Adam was so god could experience the whole creation thing. Anyway after some long time Adam got bored n wanted a wife so after much negotiations eventually he got Eve but with much caution, like No Kids, get it. I reckon like the forbidden knowledge was like Adam's knowledge of god was not allowed to be spread to the natural race of humans."

"Yeah,yeah. Wait. I have an idea, before you carry on cos everything you sayin is popping sparks in my brain. It's like this, I figure if there's any truth in religion, well not religion, they're all bullshit. If there's any truth about, I mean like if there is such a thing as god, it's gotta be earth. Serious.

"All this evolution that the christians are tryna deny, to me it justs proves we are all one organism that is earth. All life is like just earth's will to live. Which means you are no more nor less my brother than da tick on da fuckin dog man. Even da mountains and da rivers are like da bones n blood of god."

"Yeah! We jus da ticks on da fuckin god man. Woo-hoo! Yeah, yeah. It's like this, you're da dog n you wonderin what it's like to be da tick. So somehow you hi-jack one tick and use it to explore your own body. 'Snot gonna help if you go tellin all da other ticks bout da dawg.

"Imagine you take them on da guided tour and when you teach them bout da heart, they gonna build a mine to have blood on tap so they can relax and educate their kids."

"No, no, wait." Salem is wiping tears from his eyes. "'Ere gimme that. Eish it's gone out. You not even smokin it." He lights up. "It's like this. Like every species performs some function, like one of our organs. Now imagine you tell them all bout 'Da Brain' next time you got an itch you wanna scratch, yo fingers gonna be so hung up bout 'Da Brain' they wont even hear it.

"That's what's happened to people. We're also a part of it but we don't feel it anymore. So why? What happened?" He lights up again.

"Yeah." Justice leans back and drinks his beer. Salem passes him the spliff and he puffs it a bit and passes it back. "Yeah it fits. We weren't so much different from the other creatures before Adam. Okay we had extra skills and talents but at the same time we were pretty defenceless, lacking hide or horns n stuff. But our culture was like theirs. Animals don' pull shit on each other y'know. They don' tell lies or cheat. They don' have secrets. It's not because they can't, it's like a different consciousness. It's not like it's against their beliefs or something, it jus' wouldn' occur to them.

"We was da same. We had our ways of doing stuff. All species is like that. They were our natural ways of doing things, in other words we were performing accordin to the will of earth. Jus' like any wild creature. We were still very much a part of it." He drank his beer and Salem passed him the new spliff he had just rolled.

"So," said Salem, "Adam and his sons, they were not a part of it? I mean, definitely the sons. It makes sense that they should never have happened. And they knew they were not a part of it, so they decided they were better than it. Wait. What is 'it'? Fuck, I'm gerook.

"Okay, get this. The whole it, god thing has to be the planet. We are all part of it. But because they were more conscious than the evolved humans, they considered themselves better n us even tho they knew they were the product of Original sin.

"Yeah, that's why it's called Original sin, cos before that no human had done any wrong, but under the influence of the romans we've become a real wicked species." Salem cracked up.

Justice stared at him. "But that's exactly it. And when they saw how gullible we were, cos nobody had ever lied to us before, they invented religion. First the roman gods, that is the sons of Adam. Then Jesus came along and showed us how foolish we had been so when the romans saw what a huge following he had they declared him the son of god and replaced the roman empire with the holy roman empire. Which just proves how gullible we are. The people who founded the christian church were the same people who murdered Jesus Christ. Hey, hullo Edie."

"Hey Justice. Has JC been murdered?"

"It was along time ago," Salem kissed her on the forehead. "Sit. You look tired."

"Yeah, some people had a wild party at home, but I had to do the after party on my own. Pass me the spliff a bit. I'll make tea n toast jus now."

"Oh shit, sorry sista. I just came here to borrow some music and then I was gonna make a start on it. Um, that was about two hours ago. You relax. I'll make tea n toast. Salem make her another spliff, that one's kus."

Edie climbed into the hammock and made herself comfortable while Salem crushed and directed Justice around his 'kitchen'.

"So, Salem, how much of the moslem culture, scriptures, whatever, do you know?"

"Who me? Less than you. Isn't it you've jus' spent some years travelling through the moslem parts of Africa?"

"Yeah, yeah, but I just thought . . ."

"I know, my name. My father was a moslem. My mother was just a coloured woman. She used to say that y'know. If someone asked her if she was a christian or a moslem she used to get real angry and say 'ek's jis a kleurling!'

"He left us when I was about five. My mother was supposed to have taken on his culture and then they were gonna have a moslem wedding. He came back many times to try n take me away to grow up as a moslem. But then we moved in with my mother's brother. He was another oke. He was the leader of a radical gang and Mahomet was afraid of them. He tried to organise a rabble against them but when they saw what they was up against, they fled. I remember that day, hey. I was like nine or ten.

"We heard Mahomet's car coming up the hill. You could always hear that car from far. But this time it was like a cavalcade. We could hear it. Pops, that was my uncle, his father was indian. He didn' even look out the front. He jus dived out the back door and was on the roof in a second. He sticks his fingers in his mouth and whistles man, twice. Loud. Then he runs out the front door and by the time his feet hit the pavement, his cronies are armed n at his side.

"It was magic. Mahomet pulls up and his car stalls. As always. His cavalcade take one look an they don' even slow down. They jus drive straight past and take the first street outta there. So the whole gang close in on Mahomet who cant get his car started." He hits his forehead. "On a steep incline! Anyway he wet himself. They all said they could smell it. So what they did, they all pick up his car and turn it around and push it fast down the hill. His tyres were smokin until he realised he could jus drop the handbrake n get outta there."

"So where's your family now?"

"My mom passed away when I was seventeen. Then I stayed with Pops for a while but he was crazy hey and I was young. I left jus' before I turned nineteen. I dunno what's happened to him now."

"Where was that you were living then?"

"Woodstock, Cape Town. High up on the slopes of the mountain."

"People like Pops. I like to connect with them. They're often the natural leaders of the community and they're better in touch with what's really wrong, on the ground y'know. More and more I'm seeing that 'on the ground' is our true and natural culture. That we have to undo all the so-called improvements made by the roman paradigm."

"Ja," said Salem. "Improving on god. How can anyone think they can do that."

"Heh-heh. I left Spain bout six years ago and since then I've travelled through bout a dozen countries in Africa, more than half of them were moslem colonies. But what I found is the people like your uncle Pops, the so-called gangsters, were often my best guides. Also the elders in remote villages; they were great to talk to for advice and info on the real living conditions of the people. Most of the time I never had much money and twice in the last three years I never even had a passport. Here we go then."

Edie leapt from her perch and threw her arms around her brother's neck. "How did you survive? You must have been suffering, boet." Justice laughed and hugged her as she squeezed between the two giants to see the spread he had prepared for them.

"That's the crazy thing Edie. I hardly ever went hungry. Ever. I slept outdoors many times cos it was so warm you could. I always managed to rig up something against the mosquitoes."

"It's the same thing all over Africa," said Salem. "You get those people who are finally fed up with the law not protecting their rights, so they get together and fight back. I don' even mean rebel soldiers n stuff. I jus' mean ordinary people protecting themselves.

"When the downpressors see what's going on they send in their mercenaries. In the old days they called them missionaries, huh. Anyway these special mercenaries are not attached to any government forces, foreign or local. They jus' highly trained private people. Mostly they're chosen to blend in well with the locals. They mimic those ordinary folks who's tryna survive only they pull radical stunts to turn the world media against us. They have carte-blanche an they get paid mega-bucks for it."

"Yeah. That was exactly it. Listen."

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