“You know this thing about earth being the physical body of god and all that. I been thinking. Actually I needa tell you bout Mamarasta and Sista Boodycall.”
“Are those real people?”
Justice, Farleigh and Salem were aitting on Salem’s patio, already fairly trashed on Salem’s home-grown and the wine Farleigh had ‘borrowed’ from Beth’s collection.
“Yeah, they’re two fabulous, amazing womyn. I stayed with them in Kenya for a while. But the thing is, they also believed it. They had a whole quantum physics theory bout it; it’s a long story. But then you said something the other day that really got me thinking.”
“Yeah Fari. What you said bout the destruction of earth. Like maybe it’s not just an accidental side-effect of excessive living.”
“You mean the fucked up state of the world. You think it could be deliberate?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what Fari suggested. Guilt could motivate something like that. Specially if you consider the magnitude of what they did. I mean if we go right back to the beginning. The planet was in a state of harmony and beauty. It worked. What Adam experienced was the physical expression of god’s will to be alive. It was in balance.”
“Ho, Ice, you got me thinkin bout that the other day. I mean if you look at the whole universe, all the so-called heavenly bodies, they’re like atoms n stuff.”
“The whole big bang theory.”
“Yeah, so maybe earth is like the atom of god and the atom’s spirit is what was created into human form. I mean the name Adam vs atom.”
“You got a point hey. An maybe it was around for millenia taking on all the evolved forms, I mean like evolving bit by bit until it found the so-called perfect form. But I reckon all life is the atom’s spirit, the only difference with Adam being he was conscious of it.
“Anyway, I reckon that although the native people had to eke out a living to survive, Adam lived in plenty cos he could command the will of god. But the native people were not suffering at that point. They were living equally as well as any wild creature in its natural habitat, only having a bit more sus, and opposable thumbs, they had accumulated generations of knowledge on how best to survive. So I reckon they were comfortably well off in a simple, natural way.
“So the one thing Adam was not allowed to do, was have kids, cos obviously they would also have that consciousness and therefore also be able to command the will of god. Kinda like having everybody driving at once.”
“Yeah,” said Fari, “or maybe it would be like god having multiple personality disorder.”
“Hey! Anyway when Adam first became physical, his body was something new and somewhat alien to him. So the thought of doing ‘that thing’ was like ‘no fear’. But he was immortal and lived through generations of the local tribes. They must have been aware of him, possibly wary of him, most certainly in awe.
“So who knows how long he was there alone, just exploring and observing. Seeing in all life that nobody is alone. Only him. So anyway he eventually managed to persuade god to provide him with a partner. Someone more like him than the locals. He had to donoate some of his godly dna for that remember.”
“Oh yeah, the X and Y chromosomes and all that.”
“”Okay,” said Salem. “One day you must teach me about all that. Here Fari, your turn to crush.”
“So I reckon by the time Eve came along he had had plenty of time to get used to his body, even grow fond of it. In fact I’m sure by that time he was already just as much horny old goat as he was god. Only he was keeping the horny old goat in the closet, and, having little experience of human nature, he thought he could keep it there.
“I imagine they must have been quite a spectacle. I mean Adam had been there alone forever, in local terms, and now suddenly he had a wife. It must have been like the first soapie. Anyway I reckon they were good a whole, long while. Maybe it was millenia before they did the dirty.”
“Sounds like ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’,” said Fari, lighting up. “Even if I only watch it once a year, it’s like I never missed anything.”
“Exactly. Then one day the locals realised that Eve was pregnant. It was probably more of a big deal between Adam and god than it was between Eve n the locals. But I imagine they got forgiven. I mean it was just one baby, not a whole tribe. And maybe they were good again for a whole long time but being immortal, forever is a long time n no doubt they slipped again. And probably got forgiven again. An maybe after like twenty thousand years or so they actually had half a dozen or maybe even a whole dozen sons, or maybe more. And it would have still been alright except of course these boys were blond n beautiful while the local girls were dark n sultry. What can you expect?”
“So,” said Farleigh, “the sins of the father were re-visited on the sons and god’s multiple personality became a community.”
“Zigactly! So now there was a crackdown. The power of the universe lashed out. This everyone driving at once had to stop. The boys that were not satisfied with their own company, the ones that craved female companionship had to go and live as mortals. But of course they were loathe to lose their citizenship of eden so they all swore blind they would never do that thing.
“In the natural culture of earth’s people, if your girl got pregnant you went to live with her at her mother’s house in order to contribute towards the extra workload. But the sons of Adam and Eve had no culture. They just indulged themselves in pleasure and lorded it over the girls. The babies weren’t their problem, they considered themselves ruling class. Then they were told that if one of their girls got pregnant they had to ‘marry’ her. It was supposed to be a commitment to live according to the girls’ culture but they could tell the girls and their families were in awe of them, so it became a case of I will come and live in your household and you will all serve me according to the royalty I am. Even the girls were gullible enough to see it as a status symbol, having one of these sons to serve. This was the start of all empire building on earth.
“But not all of the sons were so. Some of them understood the hazards and implied repercussions of heterosexuality and restricted themselves to their boyfriends. Of course they all had both. They were completely in love with themselves. I mean the girls were gorgeous, but they themselves were divine.”
“Oh, yes,” Fari clapped his hands with delight.
Salem glowered at him. “So you think you’re god an I’m not.”
“No, but creatures native to earth are more truly god than the descendants of Adam. We just never knew it. We are natural creations; they are not and have no birthright to be here. But the romans always put us down. Native meaning belonging to the common herd was used as a dis-word. We were not of their class.”
Ice looked at his glass and then to Fari. “What?” He passed him his glass. Fari looked at the bottle and got the message. In the absence of Edie, he was the one who could most easily navigate the narrow stairway. He went downstairs and got another bottle.
Soon they were suitably refreshed and Salem was building another spliff. Ice was still holding court. “The whole thing of child sex slaves was started by the romans. For the purity of their souls they did not want to become fathers so they procured children for sex.”
“Who?” Edie stepped from between the rocks.
“Hey babe.” Salem did not need to stand up to put his arm around her and pull her into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek, before spotting his glass and downing half of it.
“Mmm . . . nice wine Salem.”
“Say Thank You Fari.” She leaned across Ice and pecked Fari on the cheek. “Thank you Mastafari, sir,” she teased. He stuck his tongue out at her and then pushed her jealously away from Ice.
“I’ve heard about you and your brother.”
Edie laughed. “But not this one. Are you still talking about the romans, Ice?”
“Yeah, I was just thinking bout the kids, y’know.”
“You, who says none of us should even have been born.”
“X! Edith. I was remembering reading Oscar Wilde when I was in England.”
“But he wasn’t doing that, with the kids, I mean,” objected Fari.
“No, I don’t mean like that. It was apiece he wrote while locked up in Reading Gaol. It was called ‘De Profundis’ and it was the most incredible piece of soul-searching or soul-baring writing. He was a christian and had studied the bible, original greek and hebrew and all that. He talks about how Jesus said we should learn how to live by watching the children. Already in Jesus’ time we had lost touch with our original culture. But children are born with the knowledge of it. We have to learn it back from them.
“But instead, the system, religion, is forcing the children into a mold of its own creation. Instead of adults learning from the kids, we’re forcing them to follow our own corrupted ways. You should see the brainwashing that’s going on in nursery and primary schools in Qwaqwa, in spite of our Bill of Rights. That is why we’re having a youth crisis world-wide right now. Did you know about that?” He looked at Fari.
“What does that mean. A youth crisis.”
“There’s a world-wide almost explosion of unemployed youth and they’re mostly not particularly interested in getting a job either cos the prospects are not good. And they are bored and restless.”
“That’s bad,” remarked Salem while Fari interjected, “Sounds like me.”
“I’m hoping it’s gonna turn out to be good for what we wanna do. If we can catch their imagination, there’s a lot of energy out there. But now I’m losing the point. There was a connection. This thing about Jesus and the kids. I forget. But I’m sure he was gay. I mean he loved kids. Even me I love kids but I don’t feel the need to have any of my own. But Jesus was always surrounded by this group of men, all of whom seemed to love each other very much. I mean the woman loved him too. But women have always loved the gay boys. It’s a fact.”
“Really?” said Fari while Salem interjected, “Oh rubbish.”
“But it’s true,” said Edie trying to worm her way onto Ice’s lap. It was getting dark and the stars were starting to come out. Salem needed to take a leak and get another banky from his stash. He stood up, dropping Edie squarely onto her brother’s lap.
“Let’s go inside. I’m jus gonna get some more ganja.”
“Sure,” Ice stood up with Edie on his hip like a baby. He pulled Fari up with his free hand. “Let’s go. There’s still another bottle?”
“Yes, but it’s red.”
They squeezed down the stairs, Edie having to relinquish her hold on Ice. When Salem came downstairs they were all sprawled on his bed and Edie was asking Ice, “But do you think Eve knew?”
“I mean she’s always the one blamed for everything but did she know. She must have known they weren’t allowed to, y’know, go all the way,” she rolled her eyes, “But did she know what would happen if they did. I don’ mean them getting thrown outta paradise. I mean long term; like how it fucked up everything. Adam must have known.”
“Ja sure. I agree with you. He must have known. At any rate he must have had a good idea of the consequences. I reckon they were just human, y’know, in that way. Like, as long as Eve was being good about it, then Adam found it easy to be good too. But Eve only had to be not good once, hey maybe it was even after a coupla hundred years of being good.
“And it jus happen that one day, she jus got fuckin horny, dawg. An when that happened Adam suddenly found it wasn’t so easy anymore. I can jus hear him ‘No Eve, you know we can’t do that. Slow down girl.’ Hey!” he shouted swatting at Edie. “I said don’ touch.”
“Huh? Why?” she was getting carried away playing Eve seducing Adam. Ice grabbed at his pants but she already had his fly open and one hand inside. Fari quickly put the bottle down. They had dispensed with glasses when they opened the last bottle. He lurched over Ice protectively, grabbing her wrists. He lifted her easily and dropped her on Salem’s lap. But before Ice could close the zip, Fari had his hand inside. Ice decided he was too drunk to do anything but take the line of least resistance. Meanwhile Edie had the bottle of wine which she was feeding Fari while trying unbutton Ice’s shirt with one hand. Fari tried to push her away.
“You’re spilling,” she remonstrated, licking wine off his chin. Salem grabbed her away and she pushed him down on the bed. It was only moments before they were all naked.
In the beginning it was Ice with Fari and Salem with Edie but when Salem started eating his favourite cake, he did not protest when Fari sucked his cock. Ice, spotting an opportunity not to be missed, quickly grabbed his fellow giant from behind. The ensuing ruckus should have brought the house down but as they were inside the mountain, there were only a few minor rockfalls. The fact that Salem’s bed survived intact was testament to his craftmanship.
Edie, not being as drunk as the rest of them, eventually found herself wriggling out from under three snoring men. She looked across at Ice wistfully, ‘One day my boet,’ she thought. She spied the bottle of wine, surprisingly still upright. She pulled on Salem’s big t-shirt and started making toast. ‘These boys,’ she thought. ‘No stamina. It’s not even nine o’clock.’
After finishing the wine and the toast, she made a spliff, more toast and a pot of tea. Then she woke Salem. He was somewhat disorientated especially when he spied two naked men in his bed. Then it all came back to him. He looked at Edie accusingly, “Wena!”
“Nna? I was still sober. It was you three that was all drunk n randy.”
“Ja, right. We was all drunk n you took advantage of that.”
“Hey, I’m still a minor. I could sue you all for watchacallit, testimonial rape or something. I was at the bottom of the heap. You was all on top of me. Do you know what that was like?”
“Mm. Sounds like Edie heaven.”
“Mm-hmm,” she giggled. He had a mug of tea in one hand and was shovelling toast with the other. Completely defenceless and still naked.
“Ay! Do’ do da’,” he cried with his mouth full. Quickly swallowing he added, “You gonna wake them.”
“Fuck it, man,” he dumped everything on the table, grabbed the spliff and pushed her up the stairs. Then when they got there he had to send her back down for the matches. When he finally got the spliff going he wanted to know, “What did they do to me?”
“I dunno,” she said, “I couldn’t see what was going on. You was between me n them.”
“Oh rubbish, your head was down there. You was facing them, I know you was.”
“I dunno baby, maybe I had my eyes closed. Was it bad?”
“Huh?” They were sitting on the lawn in the moonlight. “It was fucking fabulous,” he sighed.
Ice walked morosely towards Mombasa bus terminus. He had spent the last three nights sleeping on the beaches south of Mombasa. It had been just what he needed. The trip through Somalia and being sneaked over the border without a passport had been exhausting and hair-raising. Luckily his ‘pirate’ friends in Mogadishu had excellent connections and even on the Kenyan side of the border there had been someone assisting him to find his way to Nairobi.
In Nairobi he had made his way to the SA Embassy and told them his tale of woe. They were very helpful in an aloof sort of way. They had not liked the bit about sneaking over the border. It had still taken a week of backwards and forwards for interviews, affidavits and fingerprints and eventually a phone call to Beth. She had been great. They sorted his passport out and she sent him money.
As soon as he had everything, he headed for Mombasa and the beach. It had always been a major goal on his journey only he thought he was going to make it in six months, instead it had taken nearly six years. He had always had a feeling about Mombasa; that it was important for him to come here. He had spent a fabulous three days recuperating on the beaches but he felt that he should not waste any more time. Still, it felt like an anti-climax, being here and just leaving again.
He looked up and realised he was lost. He had thought he was following the same road he had found the bus-staion in on the day he arrived in Mombasa. But he should have passed it by now. He looked around him. There was a bookshop across the road. A bookshop! Okay, well maybe it was just a stationers. He crossed the road and went in.
“Can I help you?” A husky voice floated up from behind the counter on his left. He turned towards it and she stood up. “I was watching you across the road. You looked a bit lost.” She was almost as tall as him and although she was obviously African, she was as fair as he was dark. Her hair was not much darker and was piled on top of her head in a haphazard fashion.
Having never had much interest in women, Ice had no idea that a woman could have such a perfect body. He looked her in the eye. That was a mistake. Her eyes were like large pools of honey. Woman is not supposed to do this to him. He wanted to sit down. His mouth was so dry he could not answer her.
She smiled at him. “Are you alright?”
“Do you have water?” he managed to croak.
She pointed out the water cooler at the back of the shop. Thankfully he turned away. After three cups of water he felt brave enough to face her again.
“Hi. Sorry. Yeah, I’m lost. Oh, I’m Ice.” He put his hand out. She took it gently and looked into his eyes, smiling almost pityingly.
“They call me Sista-Boodycall.” That husky voice again. He felt his knees wobble but kept his cool.
“I’m looking for the bus-station.”
“Oh, it’s not far. Where are you going?”
“Home, I hope.” She looked at him. “South Africa, er, Johannesburg.”
“By bus?” She looked at him disbelievingly.
“Well, not all in one go.”
“Yeah, yeah. I haven’t stopped for forever. I left England like eight years ago.”
She looked at him strangely, blankly, as if she could not decide whether to believe him or not. “And you never carry any luggage?”
“Oh,” he shrugged. “Can I sit down somewhere?”
“Sure, come.” She led him off to one side of the shop where there were a couple of sofas and a small table. It was a very strange shop.
“I was carrying stacks of luggage. In fact it was a monumental burden. Then while I was in Somalia some enlightened person perceived my predicament and rescued me from it. Unfortunately he took my passport too.”
“They robbed you.”
“I don’t think it was ‘them’. I prefer to think it was some emlightened person.”
“Who perceived your predicament. I like the way you say that. I feel like I’m back at university. I presume that’s what you were doing in England.”
“Yeah. I left there in 2004. I don’t know why you bring it out in me like that.”
She laughed. “So what were you doing between England and Somalia?”
“First I lived in Spain. Fabulous climate. Serious. I travelled in Europe a lot but I kept my base in Spain.”
“What were you doing? I mean just travelling? For eight years.”
“I was exploring Europe studying the history of the holy roman empire and the older roman empire. It’s interesting stuff.”
“Are you doing a doctorate?”
He laughed at that. “No, nothing like that. It’s a good idea though. Maybe I should write a thesis or two. Actually I dropped out of University. My studies are private. I had a mentor, whose house I used in Spain.”
“So what was the point of your studies?”
“I just got intrigued by European history and when I started scratching it got more and more fascinating. I learned a lot about why we’re in so much shit.”
“We are? What shit?”
“Just the mess the world is in, like environmentally, politically, financially.”
“Oh just that,” she shrugged. “Do you have to leave today? Where’ve you been staying?”
“Huh? What? Why? On the beach.”
“In one of those expensive hotels?”
“No further south, just on the beach.”
“You been sleeping on the beach! Don’t lie.”
“Why not? I’ve got no luggage, it’s real warm, I’ve got a net.”
“Oh. I thought maybe you were a fisherman.”
“That would have been perfect, but I was living on take-aways and living on the beach was restorative.’
“Good. But I can see you don’t have to leave today. I want Mamarasta to meet you.”
“In the shop? It’s your own business?”
“This isn’t the real business.”
“So what’s the real business?”
“That’s up to Mamarasta to decide. I mean, if she wants to tell you, but even if not, still come and spend a day or two with us. It really is paradise. It’s about a hundred clicks south of here so it’s really not out of your way. In fact you can walk to the border from there. Do you have a passport now?”
“Yeah, thanks. I have a passport and a toothbrush. And I have cash, which is nice.”
“I’m going to close now to make lunch. It’s a bit early but,” she shrugged. “Mamarasta will be here for lunch. The nicer the food the more receptive she is. Come.”
They squeezed into the tiny kitchen at the back of the shop. Ice opened a small window and then sat on the sink to be out of the way.
“So how you come by the name Ice? You a rapper? I mean should I know you?”
“Me, I’m merely infamous in small circles. My real name is Justice.”
“So now you’re just Ice, oh.” She laughed.
“And me? Oh, Sista-Boodycall.” She rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m not blind, but who was brave enough to give you that name?”
“It was Mamarasta. Years back. Before she even was Mamarasta. We were at the same university. My real name is Bodicea.”
“For real. And what were you studying?”
“Mamarasta studied law. I was chopping and changing. First doing Biology and then Medical Science. I ended up specialising in Gynaecology and Obstetrics.”
“And now you’re working in a bookshop. Oh, except it’s actually something else that only Mamarasta can tell me about.”
“Oh, be patient.” She took the large bowl of salad she had just made and put it on the small table. Then out of an otherwise empty cupboard she took a home-baked bread, a chunk of cheese and a tub of butter. Rummaging in a cluttered drawer she produced a large serving spoon and some knives and forks. Lastly from a top cupboard full of recycled containers she took three ‘bowls’. Ice grinned. Suddenly he felt right at home.
She left everything in the kitchen because the small table, with the salad on it, was full. As they sat down again there was a noise at the door. Mamarasta let herself in.
Ice just stared. He stood up with this crazy grin on his face. She really, really was Mamarasta. There was no doubt of that.
She was tall. In fact she was exactly the same height as himself. He remembered that. But now she was as big as him as well. She had not been the last time he had seen her. And her dreads! She had always had the nicest dreads but now they had grown past her waist. She had been his best friend the first six months at university. Then she had disappeared. Her father was a Tanzanian ambassador and sometimes they had to move at the drop of a hat.
When he had known her, her name was Retha. She was a dyke. A beautiful one. Always looking after everyone. Anyone. No wonder she became Mamarasta. The bag of files she was carrying slipped out of her hand. She stared at him, her chin dropping. She was talking but no sound came out of her mouth. Unusual for her.
But Ice had already closed the gap and put his arm around her shoulders.
“Justice!” It was simultaneous, her voice coming back with a roar. Sista-Boodycall was flapping around shrieking, “You know each other? You know each other!”
Eventually they were all sitting down, calming down.
“So how did you find us? Did you hear about us?”
“I didn’t even know it was your place. I had no idea you were about to walk through the door. And your faithful girlfriend wouldn’t ell me what it is you’re really up to here.” That sent Mamarasta into peals of laughter. Then she wanted to know, “How did you get here, I mean did you fly direct from England or have you been somewhere else since?”
“No, I left England years ago. I dropped out half way through the second year, it’s a long story. Then I spent nearly three years in Spain. That was over five years ago. Since then I’ve been travelling through Africa, vaguely heading for Mombasa. For some reason I wanted to come here.”
“You don’t remember?”
“Remember what?” He looked at her uncertainly.
“The night I left. It was one of those urgent phone call in the middle of the night, catch the five a.m. plane – stories. He woke me straight away so I could pack. It hadn’t happened for years and I was fuzzy-headed. Only when we were on our way to the airport I suddenly thought of you and sms’d you.”
“What did you say? I don’t remember. I just remember you vanished.”
“What could I say? Eventually I just wrote ‘Meet me in Mombasa after you graduate.’ Mombasa being the one place I always wanted to live.”
“Yeah I remember now, you always used to say that. And then this morning I was feeling deflated. I had spent three days, three blissful days really, in Mombasa and had not really connected with anyone. So it was time to go home. I could not remember why I wanted to be here.”
“He’s been sleeping on the beach.”
“It was heaven. Why shouldn’t I sleep on the beach?”
Mamarasta shook her dreads at him. “You weren’t afraid?”
He looked at her. “A big girl like you afraid of spending the night on the beach.”
“Oh, I don’t mind; we’ve done that.” She looked at Sista-Boodycall fondly. Sista-B smiled and said, “But we never slept.”
“No, I could never,” insisted Mamarasta. “You are very vulnerable when you sleep.”
“Yeah, I guess. But I think my size scares most people off. Besides I always remind myself how many people sleep on the street every night all over the world.”
“You been sleeping in the streets, Justice?” Mamarasta gaped at him.
“Well maybe not in the streets. Usually with a tent or at least a mosquito net and mostly somewhere scenic. Anyway I got lost trying to find the bus-station this morning and when I realised I was lost, I was outside your bookshop. So I kinda wonder who was driving my legs here.” They had devoured the lunch and now Mamarasta looked at her watch.
“I’ve gotta run. Justice you gonna stay with us at least a week. I’m not inviting you, I’m telling you.”
“Yes mam.” She grinned at him.
“So can I tell him?” Sista-Boodycall asked.
“About RASTA? Sure, tell him. But he’s not allowed to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“About what he’s been doing. Cos it’s not fair if you hear it before me. Bye.”
Ice laughed and waved. Then asked Sista-B, “So, seriously, you’re called Rasta?”
“Yeah, the Rastas were always the underdogs. That’s who we’re working for. At least we don’t say that to the people who come to us; but they often say it to us. But it’s an acronym. We’re actually ‘Retribution of African Sisters: Tribunal Assembly.”
“Wow. So what is that? It sounds awesome.”
“The tribunal assembly is the gathering together of statements from African people from all countries, who have suffered human rights abuses. Retribution of African Sisters cos we’re asking the women to speak up and we, including our other partners, are all womyn. A lot of the complaints are about environmental destruction by foreign governments or corporations.
“We have already collected thousands of statements from more than seven different countries. Usually they involve foreign exploitation of our natural resources while the people, who by rights should own those resources, are used as slave labour by the foreign ‘investor’. The governments, of course, are all totally complicit so the people have no recourse to the law.”
“So who are ‘we’?”
“Well, Mamarasta is the founding force behind RASTA. She has two other partners who are also human rights lawyers and commissioners of oath. One lives in Zaire and the other is one of the most energetic women I have ever met. She has two law practices, one in Addis and the other in Khartoum. Then we have hordes of supporters in about eight different countries including Kenya and Tanzania. They’re mostly complainants. Those people we have taken statements from as well as some volunteers. They’re quietly spreading the word about RASTA. We’re keeping it very quiet until we’re big enough.”
“You sound pretty big. How long have you been going?”
“We started about seven years ago. Our aim is to make our debut when we’re big enough to open an office in every major town South of Khartoum. At the moment we could open in Khartoum, Addis, Kisangani and possibly Accra. Besides those four countries we have fairly large following in Nigeria, Niger and Zambia. Of course our two biggest communities are Kenya and Tanzania.”
“That’s impressive. You girls must have been working hard. Makes my efforts look kinda pathetic. What exactly do you do?”
“I run the office. That’s what this shop really is. When any of our many supporters find somebody else who want’s to tell their story, they’re brought to whoever is closest. Me, or Billy in Kisangani. She’s a bit shy, but very keen. Or they can go to either of Maia’s offices in Addis or Khartoum.
“They’re not actually running RASTA offices until we ‘come out’. They’re just collecting data and sworn statements. They’re both very good at getting all the info we need. I’m the database wizard. All the info comes to me. I have two huge databases. The biggest one is all our contacts Africa-wide. The other one is all the statements we’ve taken, keyed by the transgressors.”
“You go, girl! Hey, can I make us tea?”
“Sure. You’ll find everything you need through there, but the kettle’s here by me. I’ll plug it. The amazing thing is, although we’ve taken almost five thousand statements already, the number of transgressors is barely over a hundred. But there are less than twenty who are implicit in the majority of cases.”
“So what does Retha, er Mamarasta, do all day? I mean besides taking sworn statements.”
“Yeah. Those are sporadic and usually arrive in groups. So whenever that happens she usually postpones everything else until she’s dealt with them. I usually spend the first day or two prepping them for her. Her regular business is just as plain human rights lawyer. Mostly employment related or prison abuses. She has a huge reputation and wins most of her cases. Ah, thanks, that’s great.”
They sat drinking tea in silence for a moment.
“I was just thinking. We must close up and go fetch Mama at about four-thirty; that’s in about an hour. Then we drive home, and as I noticed, you have no luggage. Well you have your toothbrush and we can give you toothpaste but maybe there’s other things you need which might not be available in an all girl kinda domestic situation.”
“Good idea. Which direction should I take? All I want is a few toiletries and a cheap change of clothes.”
“Straight back the way you came, about two blocks down, on the same side you were walking. If you don’t like what you see in the first shop, there are many similar shops in the next couple of blocks. Walk around, but don’t get lost. It’s a long drive home.”
“Yeah. I wont. I’m usually pretty good. See you.”
* * * * * * *
Sistsa-B manouvered the mini-bus into a parking spot outside the courts. Ice leapt out seeing Mamarasta laden with files, two cartons of work and her briefcase. Carrying the boxes he realised that one was actually filled with groceries and a bottle of whiskey.
“Guess what,” she announced, climbing in the back. “No court for two days so we’re not opening shop either. We got ourselves two days off in paradise, peeps.”
“Yay,” said Ice. “Is that where we’re going?’
“Yeah,” said Sista-Boodycall, “why else would we commute so far. Mombasa’s fabulous. We lived here for years. But then we found paradise.”
“I can’t wait.”
“You going to have to. Mama believes in doing the speed-limit. At least when I’m driving.”
“Hey, hey, I only got two speeding tickets this year.”
“So far, but it’s only July.”
“Huh. What I want to know Justice, is which countries have you actually spent time in. Not just passing through.”
“Okay. I left from Spain. I had been living there nearly three years and I had a friend with a boat who was feeling adventurous, so he took me to Algiers.”
“You started in Algeria. That’s harsh.”
“The city was phenomenal and after some haggling I got on a convoy that was going to Dakar, via Mali. I left them at Reggane, still in Algeria. Altogether I was about six weeks in Algeria.”
“Did you go to Mali? I’m very attracted to the place.”
“I spent about three months in Sikasso in Mali. The friend I was staying with was driving to Addis so we travelled together. It was kinda like a pilgrimage.”
“Did I hear something special about that friend?”
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. His name is Bergen. I hope to meet up with him again one day.”
Sista-Boodycall turned to him, incredulous, “You’re gay!”
Mamarasta laughed. “You hadn’t figured that yet.”
Sista-B gave her a look in the mirror.
“What? Him too? Dropped his pants when he saw you?”
“No, just swallowed his tongue.” Ice blushed.
“Don’t worry,” Mamarasta consoled him. “She has that effect on most men, even women. Even one queen. We all thought she was the oddest lesbian.”
Sista-Boodycall laughed, “You thought.”
“So where did you and Bergen go?”
“As I said we spent three months at his place planning the trip with his family and the whole village. He has an old land-rover. A really old one. But he says Africa is riddled with them and you can always get parts. He’s a bit of a mechanic too.”
“So where did you go?”
“Okay, okay. We left Sikasso towards the end of 2007. We drove through Burkina Faso and stayed a few nights in Ougadougou. Lovely country except all the towns are called Ougadougou.”
“Oh, come on.”
“No, really. Well not exactly, but it’s very confusing. But the people were great. We were only supposed to stay overnight. Eventually they let us go again and we hit the road for Accra. That was the real start of the pilgrimage.”
“What was the pilgrimage all about? I want to know about that.”
“It’s a long story. Bergen . . .”
“Okay leave that. We can hear about it tomorrow. Just where you went.”
He looked at Sista-Boodycall. “Don’t worry about her. She interrogates everybody like they’re her clients.”
“Sorry Justice. It’s a habit.”
“We stayed in Accra just over a year. Then we passed through Togo and Benin. From Accra to Lagos we stayed in the van on the beaches. They were awesome but the pollution! That took us about three months. We spent about five months in Lagos, then struck out across Nigeria for N’Djamena in Chad. We got there October 2009 and stayed about six weeks. From there we never stayed long anywhere. Except this little lake in the middle of Chad. We spent two months there. After that we mostly just stayed overnight in places although there were some where we stayed a week or two.
“We travelled really slowly hey. By the time we crossed into Ethiopia it was July 2010.”
“And you shoulda been home for the World Cup. Did you stop in Khartoum?”
“No, we didn’t even pass that way. The places we stayed more than one night were Nyala, En Nahud, El Obeid, Kosti, Sennar and Al Qadarif. We crossed into Ethiopia at Gallabat and went to Lake Tana. It’s a huge lake and apparently the source of the Blue Nile. We spent three months exploring Ethiopia before going to Addis. It’s an amazing country.”
“Hey, welcome to paradise.” Sista-Boodycall swung the van into an almost invisible driveway cutting through a grove of palm trees. The sun was setting behind them as they drove through a glowing green tunnel with a circle of blue at the end. She pulled out onto a small patch of lawn. Only a single row of palm trees separated it from the beach. On the right, the roof of a 1970’s A-frame house poked up midst a grove of tropical fruit trees. Ice could see banana palms, pawpaw and mango trees and a couple of really tall avocado trees.
As Sista-B switched off the engine, his ears were overwhelmed by the sounds of many, many birds settling down for the night. He could not hear the sea but he noticed that the tide was out and there was virtually no surf.
Once they were settled comfortably in the living room with scotches and snacks, Mamarasta wanted to know, “The big question Justice.”
“Did you ever hear of RASTA in any of the places you went to, especially Accra and Addis. I want to know what kind of impact we’ve made.”
“I’m not sure hey. I never heard the name RASTA, but as Sista-B said, you’re being very discreet at the moment. However, there was one group I met with in Accra. What a fine town. They were mostly youngsters just out of school or still in. The only older dude was the one who dragged us there. Oh yeah, it was a youth centre.”
“A youth centre? In Accra. Did you meet a young girl called Neema?”
“Maybe. Not very tall, very compact. Very tomboy.”
Sista-Boodycall laughed, “More like riotgirl.”
“Yeah, yeah. She was one of the first people I noticed but until she came over to talk to me, I thought she was a boy. Have you noticed that about kids?”
Mamarasta looked confused, “That the girls look like boys?”
Sista-B laughed again. “I know what you mean. Like you have to wait for them to come to you.” Ice nodded.
“Yeah. I mean normally if I see someone looks interesting, I immediately try to get introduced or just go over and do it myself. But if you do that with kids they’re like skeptical, even suspicious. You can connect far better with kids by just trying to catch their imagination and making yourself accessible, y’know, like easy to approach.”
“So did Neema tell you about us?”
“Not exactly. After Bergen and I had said our bit, the kids were all very quiet. Next thing it was like an explosion as they all started talking at once, to each other and shouting questions at us. It was great. You could see we had hooked them.
“Then later, when I was talking to Neema, a group of her pals came to us and kept interupting her. They were telling her ‘Tell him about those women’. She just ignored them.When they kept on, she turned on them, saying ‘Can’t you see he’s a man. That’s a women thing. Let the men do their own thing.’ Or something like that. Bergen translated for me.”
“Who is Bergen? I mean, ya, I remember what you said, but is he a native Malian or where’s he from?”
“His mother is. His father is Swedish, extremely fair. And totally naturalised hey. At their home in Sikasso he was great. You couldn’t say he was a European. And the combination in Bergen is, I mean, yeah,” he looked at Sister-B. “He could be your brother.”
“Yeah,” she grinned. “That figures. My father is Tanzanian and my mother is a blonde French-Canadian.”
“Wabona! Then there was another time in Lagos. There was a dude I met who told me about his sister. She had been working at a petroleum refinery. There was some story, I forget, but he said his sister hooked up with some women who took her to Khartoum to lay charges, or something. I couldn’t get that, about going to another country to lay charges.
“Actually he wanted me to meet his sister so that she could hook me up with the address in Khartoum, but we were already on our way. I met him at the filling station as we were leaving Lagos.”
“That’s pretty good, I reckon, considering you’re a traveller. You heard about us twice in two years or what?”
“Yeah, yeah, it was probably even less than one year.”
“Justice, tomorrow I want to hear everything. What the pilgrimage was about, what’s your story you telling everyone, your whole story. But tonight I just want to get drunk n talk about old times. Sista-B is just making the fire. This place really is paradise. There’s a jetty on our beach and at the end of it is a fish-trap. You ever heard of such? Almost every evening it delivers up at least one fish, unscathed. If we don’t want to eat it, we just let it go.”
“Aren’t you a teeny bit afraid of sleeping on the beach?” he teased her.
“Oh no, but the house locks up.”
“I was thinking about tsunamis and rising sea-levels and stuff.”
Mamarasta laughed. “That’s how we got the place. We bought it at the end of January 2005 from the people who’d been washed out of it a month earlier. We had to do a bit of repairs but we got it for almost nothing. Let Sista-B tell you the story. They’re her friends. She tells it well.”
Ice and Salem were sitting in their favourite spot drinking tea with their spliff. Ice had just finished telling Salem the saga of how he had met Mamarasta and Sista-Boodycall.
“Fuck! I can’t believe you did all that.”
“Me either. N the crazy thing is, I’m going to do it all again.”
“Yeah. I agreed to meet them in Kisangani in October. There’s a big convention on about displaced peoples of the world. After the convention I’m going to stay on in Zaire giving Billy support and just talking to people again. According to Sista-B the people of Zaire are far more open-minded and keen for changes. The problem of North Africa is the effect of hundred of years of slavery. I’ve read accounts by travellers visiting the area now known as Togo and Benin and remarking on the wonderful civilisation they encountered. That was pre-slave trading. Another traveller to the exact same spot some three hundred years later was horrified at the sheer barbarism in the area. Getting Africans involved in selling other Africans is what destroyed our original culture.”
“And long before the slave traders plundered the West coast of Africa, the arabs were already doing it on the East coast. Hundreds of years ago the East coast of Africa was dotted with ports all trading with sailors from the East. Mostly Indian and Chinese. When the Portuguese rounded the Cape they did not bother with trading. They just plundered. Mostly they were looking for gold. When they saw the arabs buying slaves, they jumped on the band-wagon, going home laden with what they called ‘Black Gold’.”
Ice was amazed. “You know African history?”
“I read a couple of books. One was just a comic really. I’m interested in the history of slavery days. Crazy thing is when slavery was so-called abolished, it only happened in the west. The arabs who started it, have never abolished it. They’ve also never given back their colonies, not even in the token way that the west has. Because western countries have traded arab slaves and colonised or at least tried to colonise arab countries, the arabs act like they too are previously persecuted peoples but the very first colony in Africa was Abyssinia and it was an arab colony.”
“Yeah, because the arabs as the darky descendants of Adam were underdogs to the romans, so they found people darker than themselves, in Africa, to lord it over. It’s still one of the pitfalls of being an African. Arab operated human trafficking is still rife and western powers use them in order to procure their own slaves.”
“Exactly. So what about the Jews; how do they fit in?”
“If you read the jewish scriptures you will see that their contact with god/Adam dates back to before the fall. He still was the force of original love upon earth at the time that they made a religion out of him. I figure it was their daughters who took the blame as havin seduced his sons. That is why the romans persecuted them and the moslems despised them.”
“Yeah, and Hitler. Did you know that Hitler persecuted the gays as well as the jews? And he had the silent support of the churches of Europe. The two pillars of imperialism are the army and the church.”
“I didn’t know that. About the gays being persecuted by the Nazis. And both the romans and the moslems have this hang-up about sex and nudity and they both condemn non-reproductive sex. I’ve even heard of christians who believe it’s bad to have sex unless you’re actually trying to conceive. I saw a photo of an american couple, belonging to some obscure christian sect, with their fifteen children. The moslems are even worse. Their attitude is like, for the sake of the jihad we need many many foot soldiers.”
“Damn. And that’s morality – producing kids as cannon-fodder! But you’re right the whole nudity hang-up definitely goes back to Adam and his sons. They were trying to pretend not to be interested in women they considered ‘mere beasts’ or ‘she-wolves’ but their penis gave them away every time so they made laws of modesty to hide their lust. Isn’t it the classic depiction of them after the fall, hiding their genitals behind fig leaves? Doesn’t that just prove where the real snake and apple were?”
“An it was never African culture to cover our bodies. Traditionally an African man would never be ashamed of his erection. In all senses, we were proud to be counted as men among all the creatures populating the planet.”
“But the romans/moslems were never supposed to have populated the earth, that is why they are ashamed of their lust. It’s why the moslems started this whole men over women thing.”
“They were so hung up bout the sex thing but the ‘daughters of men’ had no such hang ups and were probably quite wild and wanton in bed. Actually I doubt in those days sex was confined to the bed as such. Anyway in order to contain the women’s lust they made ‘men over women’ god’s law. With the woman underneath during sex it’s not so easy for them to be wild and wanton.”
That cracked Salem up, totally. But Ice was thirsty. He tossed Salem the banky and took the tea cups. “I’m going to make some more tea.”
By the time he got back Salem had built an extra large spliff and was just lighting it.
“But the worst thing by far,” said Ice squatting next to him, “is what these religious cultures do to their kids. Because of their own guilt of sexual abuse of children, they deny their kids’ sexuality. But children are fully sexual beings. African culture has always acknowledged that. Traditionally we don’t interfere with our children’s sexuality. It’s their right just as it is for each and every person. The romans oppress it in their kids completely. They insist on childhood being a time of innocence as if it is the child’s right. Meanwhile they are enforcing it with heavy discipline making it the child’s duty.”
“I know exactly what you mean. I saw a show on TV, talk show thing like Oprah only it was a man. There was this really uptight white american couple with their twelve year old daughter. She had sent her friend, a boyfriend, a picture of herself in her underwear. On their cell-phones y’know. Next thing it was circulating the school. Poor parents were traumatised,” Salem laughed. “But the kid n her friends seemed to think the picture was quite tame. It was probably the kinda thing woulda made a cute ad in a magazine, only this was their own daughter and according to the father the picture was ‘highly provocative’.”
“Dirty old man,” remarked Ice. Salem grinned.
“And get this. The host’s point to the girl was that one day she would be grown up and want to become somebody with a career and this pic could come back at a crucial moment and destroy everything for her.”
“Highly unlikely except now that he made her famous on his show just possibly he’s destroyed her future.”
“Exactly. The parents even admitted, though without any acknowledgement of their own guilt, that she had low self-esteem and that they had been worried about her since she was little cos she had been openly sexual and they had had a hard time disciplining it out of her. They jus don’t see what they doing to their kids.”
“As my friend Obelix says ‘These romans are crazy’. It’s the proof that they’re not really human. They don’t fit in with the natural culture of the human race. We need to embrace our true culture as it was before roman ‘progress’ in order to expose the romans in our midst. Instead more and more of us are embracin roman culture, willingly enlisting themselves in the bottom layer of the pyramid. Constantly striving to raise their level while unconsciously they’re actually buildin the pyramid for the romans.”
Salem looked at him through dope-soaked eyes. “It’s getting cold. Let’s go downstairs, I’ll make us toast.”
“Hey, where’s Edie?”
“Aw she wanted me to go see a movie with her but I’m not into it. I think she went with Danny.” He stood up. “I jus want to get another lickle bag o weed n I needa take a leak.”
“Come.” They went and pissed off the edge of the rocks into the bushes. Then Ice had the honour of being the first person to see Salem’s secret stash place.
When they got downstairs Salem put the kettle on and started making toast while Ice made a little spliff to smoke while he made the big one to have with the tea.
“Check this,” Salem put his favourite Peter Tosh CD in the machine. “Fari gave me this old speaker. It’s dope man.”
‘Get up, stand up’ sang Tosh and the sound was mega-amplified in the small room under the mountain. Salem grinned and adjusted the volume. “Sorry. I’m used to being on my own here.”
“Hey, I don’t mind. You can play it loud if you want.” He passed Salem the spliff.
“Ta. Tea is ready, toast is coming. You can turn it up but so’s we can still talk y’know.”
“You hear what he’s saying? Everyone in the roman pyramid thing is a downpresser cos you start at the bottom but everyone wants to get to the top n the only way to the top is to downpress. But listen what he says at the end bout the pyramid collapsing. Listen.”
“They don’t want your money
“Cos the money’s going to get funny”
Ice lit the big spliff, “He wrote that like thirty years back, an now it’s happening. Western banks are crashing and we needa get out from under the pyramid before it fall on us. The only way to do it is to stop using money. Is that whack?”
“Sure that’s whack,” nodded Salem. “Specially if you own a bank or somethin. But it’s logical. Money has no real value. You can’t eat it. You can’t make warm clothes from it or build a house with it. When you really think about it, money is fuckin worthless stuff.” Salem cackled.
“Those Rastas, the Wailers, Culture, all of them; they knew stuff. I reckon it was the culture of the slaves they preserved. Most of the slaves, when freed, couldn’ wait to adopt the roman culture. ‘S the problem with too much of post colonial Africans too. But the Rastas believed in their roots. They were from many different, though mostly African, cultures. They had many shared experiences plus many many more collectively pooled experiences and from that they figured a lot of the truth about the downpressers.
“Even after slavery was abolished, even after Jamaican independence, the rastas were still treated as low-life because they refused to help support the roman pyramid.”
“Yeah,” agreed Salem, “the rastas always sing about the romans. They knew already that they were behind it all – global warming, commodity trading, media hype – it’s all part of their game of intellectual slavery.”
“It’s like this,” said Ice, “the human race is governed by three forces. In their daily life, like governing their choices, not like gravity or local government. The three forces that govern our thoughts and decisions are Money, Religion and Sex. But both money and religion are systems invented by the romans in order to oppress the peoples of earth.
“Only sex is from god.”
Salem looked at him, his eyes growing bigger as he realised the truth of what Ice had just said. Eventually, when he started breathing again, he released a huge cloud of smoke and passed the spliff.
They smoked in silence for a while. It was Salem who broke the silence. He looked across at Ice, who appeared to be miles away, and asked simply, “Will you stay tonight?”
Ice came back to earth, almost with a bump, only his feet could not seem to find the ground. “You bet.”
* * * * * * *
Light was just beginning to filter downstairs when Salem awoke. He looked around but Ice was gone. A pity. He found a tub of water still luke warm. He could not be long gone. Salem washed his face, scrubbed here and there then, wrapping a cloth around his waist, he went upstairs to check out the weather. His normal daily routine.
Only this morning he found Ice upstairs inhaling the international herb. “Hey brother,” Ice greeted him and passed the spliff. “Do you start work so early?”
“Nah, only in about three hours time. I just love this time of day. You?”
“God, no. Usually I’m only awake at this time if I haven’t slept yet. But with all the travelling and sleeping outside often I started waking early. Sometimes I’ve even enjoyed walkin round before anyone else is up.”
The morning peace was shattered by old Peter starting up the tractor.
“That ol’ fool. He does this every morning even though he never uses the damn thing anymore. He’s like an ol’ war vet who still cleans his rifle every day.”
“But aren’t you worried Ice , that everything you saying is actually justifying the religious hierarchies?”
“I mean by saying they descended from Adam who was god personified.”
“No, no, listen. Wait, pass me that newspaper.” Salem passed it and he started crushing. “Adam was not god personified. The whole planet is god. Every living thing is the physical expression of god’s will to live. The only difference with Adam was his level of consciousness. The rest of us were not unconscious but we were not conscious of god. And that was the way god wanted it cos that way the cosmos stayed in balance, everything worked in harmony.”
“So you don’t think Adam was god?”
“Just a splinter or a facet or aspect of god. Everything in the known universe is god.”
“Every natural thing.”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean. I just remembered something. There was this ol’ jewboy, a friend of Oldcastle, my mentor, who told me that according to the jewish scriptures, which are admittedly the oldest scriptures, the creator created a perpetual fabric from his own self. That perpetual fabric is the universe. That jus’ proves what we been saying.
“The thing about Adam, he was originally more spirit than physical and he was supposed to stay that way. Instead he and his lady love broke their vow of chastity and committed the Original sin.”
“I don’ reckon they were necessarily so chaste. They could have still been fucking all along.”
“How so and Eve never got pregnant?”
Salem gave him a look of pure disbelief.
“You mean he just wasn’t using her ‘apple’. Hey, yeah, why didn’t I think of that?” He passed the spliff to Salem. “Maybe that’s why they so down on everyone who doesn’t conform to their ideas of normal meaning right or whatever even any form of non-reproductive sex is considered wicked.”
“What are you muttering about, dude?”
Ice’s head shot up. “Bro? Oh, I jus’ reckon if that’s so then these righteous ones is blaming us for what happened.”
“Us gays n all the other perverts.”
“Well if they hadn’t got into all that kinky stuff they wouldn’a fallen. You see, they’re blaming us.”
“Hulle moere, man!”
“But I mean I can feel it, spiritually or whatever, the rightness of being gay. It’s like the power is in my penis. Don’ laugh. I’m serious.
“Once only I got into a relationship with a woman. I was about twenty n she like so fine n so keen. I mean,” he shrugged. “But from the start to end, I dunno, it didn’ last long. About three weeks of intense bonking followed by three months of tryna cut loose. But the whole time I’m jus’ feeling confused, powerless. Almost entangled in some hidden force.
“It’s never like that with a man. I always still have kinda control over my life. But some men even make me feel quite omnipotent. And I don’ mean cos I can manipulate them or cos they are weaker’n me. It’s when I’m involved with someone my true equal; we do stuff together, inspire each other. That’s when I feel potent.
“Only lately I feel like I’m poaching on my sista.”
“Hey, it’s not like we’re married. She’s still little.”
“How old are you?”
Ice gaped and then asked, “An you ballin my sista?”
“We-ell, ah, I’m well, ja.” Ice looked at him. Salem laughed. “Do you believe me?”
“About being twenty one, no, About ballin my sista, yeah.”
“Yeah, I’m twenty-four.”
“Even that’s young to be bigger’n me. I never stopped growin until bout two years back.”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty. And who else you ballin? You got boyfriends?”
“No, god, I mean I never . . . it’s like, I jus’ never met a gay nigga before. I reckon me, I’m a nigga. I don’ care who my father was, I’m a nigga. I’m jus’ not into that whole hairy, fairy scene, y’know.” He did the teapot. “I jus’ never thought I would meet a gay nigga, but Hey!”
“Yeah well dat’s me. Don’ ever listen to them that’s pushin this thing of ‘it’s not African to be gay’ shit. That’s them duppy romans again. You’ll always find a church behind that kinda shit. I can tell you what is African culture, and it’s the same throughout Africa, regardless of what country you’re in, what language you speak or by what name your people are known.”
“Cos that’s just segregation,” sang Salem.
“Everything you say man, it’s like Tosh speakin from the grave. He tells the preacher man straight, ‘You a ghost n you don’ know what life is really worth’.”
“Yeah, I remember that. An true African Culture don’ need this game of technology. It’s that very game that’s destroyed everything that was beautiful bout Africa. In true African culture, the whole family sleeps in one bed. Did you know that? It’s not our culture to hide in the bed n skotta. It’s not our culture to hide our body in case someone see we got a hard-on. It’s not our culture to feel shame bout such a thing.
“That’s a hang-up spread by the romans, and it’s the root cause of all male sexual dysfunction, which was never an African problem. But when I was by my ngunu in Q-double now, I went to get her some moriana at the pharmacy ka Setsing and every available space was either stocked with or advertising male sexual stimulants.
“Meanwhile all over the romans are building churched the size of barns and what the wealthy lying preachers are preachin is that prosperity is from god and poverty is punishment from god.”
“What? But I thought here in Africa everyone knew that poverty was caused by the greed of the downpressers.”
“What used to really upset my friend Herb, was that they preach it in the name of Jesus. It’s the very attitude to which Jesus was totally opposed. It’s called philistinism. The philistines were his worst. He was always preaching to people that they don’ need all that extra baggage. If you just look at the modern roman lifestyle, philistines, the lot of them. But nobody sees it. But I digress,” He giggled.
“The point I was trying to make is it’s not our culture to get stressed about our sexuality, or anybody else’s. That’s the roman guilt thing and they’re poisoning our sexuality with their churches, playing on everybody’s desire to beat poverty. What I realised travellin through Africa, even in Q-double, when we meet people living in poverty we should learn from them so that we too can know how to live in poverty. Poverty is really jus’ a roman dis-word for freedom cos their definition of poverty is people who don’ have more than $1 per day with which to support their pyramid. When they find people living comfortably off da earth, they say ‘Look these poor people livin in poverty. Let’s enslave them so that they too can afford all the trappings of so-called civilisation.’ The very thing that Jesus was preachin against n they all ‘christians’.”
“It was probably their guilt that poisoned the act of sex and created HIV.”
“Jus’ as it’s their technology poisonin Africa, cos their kids aren’t growin up in the same environment.”
“An before they came here with their progress an technology, all our waste was natural. It didn’ matter that we was dumpin on da river bank or anywhere cos whatever we discarded, jus’ decayed n fed the soil. There was no pollution.”
“My man, you gotta come with me. Now they blaming our cows for causin green-house gasses, but who’s eatin all our beef.”
“Besides the whole cattle hoardin culture started cos the europeans were comin with all kinds a wonderful excitin things to swap for fresh meat. Pity we hadn’ figured out how worthless those things were. We already had everything we needed, that’s why our culture had survived so long.”
“But we still haven’t learned Salem. Now the chinese are floodin Africa with worthless junk in exchange for our wealth. Why are we still doing this?”
“Ke nna le storie. Every time we import stuff that we can make here, we steal jobs from people here and when that stuff is the crap quality I’ve seen lots of lately, we jus’ plain robbin ourselves.”
“Yeah, yeah. And exportin is even worse. It’s what makes our food so expensive cos we competin with people what’s payin with euro’s n dollars. Have you any idea how much food Africa is exportin while there are Africans going hungry?”
“And the grain they send to us as food aid can only be eaten – you can’t plant it cos it’s sterile. Meanwhile the original seed as created they’ve squirrelled away somewhere near the North Pole where only they have access to it. They jus’ waitin for us all to die off!”
“You see, you not jus’ a pretty face. But I really wanted to tell you the rest of the Mamarasta story.”
“Ho, dude. I gotta get to work. But serious, I want in on your project; an I want to hear da rest a dat story.”
It was late and Danny was in a mood. His new girlfriend was the bees-knees but she just would not give it up for him. When he got home he was surprised to see a light on in his room. He opened the door cautiously to find Edie brooding on his bed.
“Hey li’l sista, whassup?”
“Come on.” He lay down next to her. He was horny as hell so finding Edie there cheered him immensely. She snuggled up to him and he could tell she was really down. He wrapped his arms around her. After a while she pulled away and looked at him.
“Remember that movie we went to see.”
“Ja, what about it?”
“Nothing. It’s just,” she shook her head sadly. “That was over a week ago, right.”
“Sure. What of it?”
“Since then Salem hasn’t slept with me. Not once.”
“Uh-oh. You think he’s found another girl?”
“I think he’s found Justice.”
“What kinda . . . oh, you mean brother Ice. You think your boyfriend’s turned gay. What would make him do that?”
“Oh,” she wailed. “It all started the day before we went to the movies.”
“I went to Salem’s after work and they were all there, drunk. Salem, Fari and Ice.”
“Well, it’s like we all landed up in bed together.”
“Edie! And you was the only one sober. Girl, you was taking advantage of them.”
She giggled but then sniffed. “But see what’s happened now.”
“Hey, you don’ need him. You know there’s plenty more where he came from.”
“I know Danny, I know. It’s just, he’s so fine.”
“You mean in bed?”
“Mm-hmm.” She gazed at him dreamy-eyed.
“You mean better’n me?” He pouted.
“Aw Danny.” She wrapped her arms round his neck.
“Come,” he said. “I hate to see you like this. I’m sure you just forgot how much better I really am.”
“Aw Danny, Danny.” She pulled his t-shirt up and kissed his titties. “Remember how we used to play when we was little.”
“You still little.”
“Seriously, Dan. You always told me I can do it with anyone I want and nobody I don’ want.”
“And you always said I must never say ‘I love you’ cos it will ruin everything.”
“Yeah, I remember. That’s it, ya told Salem?” She nodded.
“But you know what Danny, I love you for real.”
“My baby. I love you too see, but don’ tell.”
* * * * * * *
The worst part for Edie was bumping into Fari at work. It was like he blamed her for everything. He would not speak to her at all. She had tried a couple of times. When he saw her around the house he would either look straight through her as though she was not there or he would give her the filthiest look. At least he had stopped hissing at her. She had almost quit her job when he started with that. But lately, thankfully, he just did not seem to be around at all.
Beth could not understand what was going on with Farleigh. A month ago he had told her he was marrying Edith but at least he was over that. She was just happy that he seemed far more motivated and no longer spent his days draping a sofa somewhere. In fact the past week she had hardly seen him at all.
Of course Fari was discovering a whole new town out there. The place was full of gay cruising spots. He had even found a gay bar that opened at noon. One of his new friends had promised to take him to a gay student hang-out with a reputation for being the wildest spot in town. No girls allowed. He had finally found something to do with his life.
Meanwhile Ice was busy telling Salem the rest of the Mamarasta story.
* * * * * * *
“So they weren’t literally washed out of their house.”
“No. Just everything they owned except what was with them in the car. The house was smashed. I think it was the pull of the receding water that did most of the damage. The stilts supporting the house broke and every window pane was broken.”
“Wow. That’s like the whole front of the house.”
“Yeah. Well poor Jan and Jenny were happy to take whatever we would offer them for the place. They had had enough and decided to return to Canada. They really thought we would just demolish and build a new place.”
“Hah!” shouted Mamarasta from the bedroom. She was still in bed while Ice and Sista-Boodycall were sitting on the balcony with all the doors folded back. They had been there from sunrise a couple of hours earlier.
“You awake my love?”
“Mmm.” Mamarasta came out blinking in the sunlight, her dreads in disarray. “Morning Justice. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah. You were right, that is the most comfortable couch I ever slept on. This place is real paradise. I’m so glad you put the house back together again.”
“You should’ve seen it Ice. We really did want to keep the house. Besides the broken glass there wasn’t that much damage. Only it was lying on it’s side.”
“I couldn’t have organised it without you.”
“She uses my body shamelessly.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, first she made me put on my bustin’ boobies dress.” Sista-B giggled.
“There was this big building site this side of Mombasa, Justice. They had one of those huge trucks with a crane on the back of it. We just went there and asked if we could borrow it.”
“Shame, it wasn’t actually fair of us, you shoulda seen them. Nobody’s ever asked them, like that, before. I was choking back tears when I explained how we’d lost everything except the house, but we needed the crane to put it back upright.”
“They were fighting each other to help us. Eventually the construction boss and the owner of the crane jumped in our car to come and look. They had pretty much decided we were airheads, I think. But they really were very kind. I felt quite bad in the end you know, the way we were stringing them along about our loss and suffering when we’d actually been living miles from the beach when it happened. But Jan and Jenny had been visiting us at the time so we really did feel involved.”
“The next day the truck arrived with about twenty big men and a load of those big concrete blocks.”
“It was such fun, Justice. We were camping on the lawn. The whole environment was still looking totally shipwrecked and we were the stranded sistas. Within three hours they had built these huge pilings the house is now standing on while a few of the guys roped the house. Then they just did it. The roping was actually the hardest part.”
“They were amazing. They really knew what they were doing. Next thing the owner of the crane called his brother-in-law who owns a glass place. Of course glass was scarce so soon after the tsunami but he called us a coupla weeks later and delivered the glass for free. He even loaned us a couple of his guys to cut and fit it. We just had to pay them and feed them for two days.”
“You didn’t pay for the glass?”
“Nope. He said he had made his fortune with the tsunami. We didn’t pay for the crane either. It’s amazing how much renovation can be accomplished just with a couple of pairs of boobies.” Mamarasta whooped.
“You shameless hussies.” Ice grinned.
“So we took the money we had saved and donated it to our favourite human rights organisation. That’s how we got to have the bookshop/office. That was a big dilemma for us. The office used to take up more than half our home. It was just everywhere, in everything. So when we got this place we did not want to bring the office here. I’ve got my corner, you know, downstairs, but RASTA don’ come home.” Mamarasta grinned. “It’s so much better that way, for our clients too. I’m going to shower. Has Sista-B showed you our fabulous eco-electricity?”
“No actually. She mentioned you had solar-power charged batteries.”
“The beauty of the A-frame. It faces east so one roof faces north. There’s a huge solar panel mounted on it. Above our bedroom is a small ‘attic’ but it just houses the batteries. We can go five days without sun before losing power. In the years we’ve been here it hasn’t happened yet.” She disappeared into the bathroom.
“What should we do Ice? Would you like to go swimming?”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
“Don’ be long,” Mamarasta yelled from the bathroom. “I wanna hear your story when I’m outta here.”
“Come find us on the beach then,” Ice called back as they went downstairs.
* * * * * * *
Later they lay in the shade on the lawn while Ice told them about his experience at varsity and why he dropped out. “After that I really did not want to stay in England. But I did want to learn more about roman/european history. I still had one good friend left among the professors, Herbert Oldcastle, the English professor.
“I don’t remember him, but I never did English. Why were you doing English? I thought you were doing engineering.”
“He wasn’t my lecturer. He was my lover, but it was a very casual kinda relationship. He gave me plenty of fuel for my fire, I mean the whole roman/christian thing. He gave me loads of stuff to read. He reckoned he was a dedicated follower of Jesus but he would never become a christian because the christian churches were not even vaguely following Jesus’ teachings.
“Anyway he had a house in Spain on the Cabo de Gata. It’s about three hundred clicks east of Gibraltar. He hardly ever uses it but there’s a wonderful old spanish woman who housekeeps for him. I got to use it as a base while exploring Europe. I lived there for about three years n Herb used to visit seasonally. He’s like the original International Herb. He just used the house in Spain to grow his weed. It had a huge overgrown garden with lots of sun and a few stunning weed plants in strategic places. But buried behind all the jungle, but visible from the sea was an ornate conservatory where he grew his special plants. All these exotic ganja plants and some psychotropic cactii from South America. He wanted to start experimenting with growing mushrooms too.”
“Do you smoke, Ice?”
“Only whenever I get the opportunity.”
“Oh goody. I’ve got some very nice stuff from Malawi. I’ll make us one later.”
“So anyway, every time Herb came over he would bring me more n more reading matter. Lists of places to go an explore; old churches, small museums or just historical places. He would hook me up with odd jobs sometimes in the oddest places. He just had so many contacts. He was such a cool old man. He was in his sixties.”
“You talk as if he’s not alive anymore.”
“Yeah. It was just the greatest three years, until one morning Maria collapsed on the doorstep. I ran to help her. I’m just so glad I was home at the time. She had just collected the post and as there was a letter addressed to her, she had opened it immediately. It was from Herb’s lawyers. The old man had died of a heart attack. I found out afterwards he had been drinking at one of the student hang-outs at the time.
“I was lost. It was really sad, like I had just lost my father or something. Maria was great. I had run to her assistance but we ended up supporting each other back into the house. Then she called Ricardo, her younger brother. He was a fisherman in his forties, with a little speed-boat. He rushed over with a bottle of this powerful spanish red wine. We all got trashed together and I found out that Ricardo had also been one of Herb’s lovers.
“So, sometime during the course of the next few days, I decided it was time to go home. But I wanted to go overland through Africa. I wanted to see it for myself and meet people. I had no real plan or anything. I jus’ thought if I started talking to people, spread the knowledge I had accumulated, just maybe I could meet like-minded people and get something started.
“Ricardo was keen to be my ferry-man. Said we could do the crossing on one tank. Unfortunately when we got to Oran, which was the closest point on the Algierian coastline, they would not let us in. When they heard I was entering the country they insisted we go to Algiers which was really far. Ricardo did all the haggling and in the end he got his tank refilled so he could go home and organised another ship to take me to Algiers. Luckily I had had the foresight to get a visa before leaving Spain or I don’t think they would have let me in at all.”
“Justice! Obviously you must get a visa before visiting any country.”
“I don’t get that Rhetha. I’m an African. Why should I need a visa to go anywhere in Africa?”
“Yeah, Ice yeah! Why do we still have all these borders that were erected by the colonial invaders in the first place? It’s bullshit.”
“Hey Sista-B, you on my side. The reason we still have these borders is cos certain African people, that is those in government, are benefitting from them and the African Union is a bunch of roman puppets. Amongst all people you get the ones who crave power. African people are no different.
“But like you said, Algeria was harsh. I had decided I wanted to experience the desert while I had the opportunity. I even got to ride a camel. For three days! It was great but it was enough. I don’t think I ever want to ride a camel again.”
Mamarasta was in stitches but Sista-Boodycall just sat there wide-eyed.
“Anyhow, on the morning of the fourth day we got to a place called Reggane. It’s on the road to Mali but still about a thousand clicks from the border. I paid the owner of the camel and found a place to spend the night. The next morning I was jus’ kinda milling around wondering how to go from there when this beautiful man in an old landrover pulled up across the road.” Ice sat back and smiled.
“And then?” Mamarasta wanted to know.
“Well that was Bergen. He had just brought one of his father’s friends to Reggane and was about to drive back to Sikasso. He was a bit nervous of me at first. I guess, my size, and the fact that I had no definite destination made me seem a bit dodgy. But it was a long drive. Three days in fact, so we had plenty of time to get to know each other. He was so cool. Wherever we were when he had enough of driving, we just camped. The second day he let me help with the driving and the night before we sot to Sikasso we became lovers.”
“You lead such a romantis life, Ice.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Even romance, I mean just look at the word. It’s an invention of the romans to justify their on-going heterosexuality. It has no place in the real culture of the world.”
“No,” Sista-B was disappointed. “Is that true?”
“Sure. Romantic love is just lust with a make-over to look like love. It’s all bullshit I’m afraid.”
“That’s very harsh Justice. Don’t listen to him Sista; you know I love you.” Ice chuckled.
“But lust does become love after spending years together. Love is the family feeling; you two have been together more than long enough to feel that way bout each other. But actually it’s fine to be romantic, or in other words to be as romans, if you’re gay. Or as long as you’re not breeding.”
Mamarasta cleared her throat and looked contrite. Ice looked at her confused. “What? Don’ tell me you’re not just obese.” He grinned at her.
“Justice. I am not fat okay. I’m six months pregnant.”
“From where?” Mamarasta looked at Sista-B. Ice looked at Sista-B.
“I told you what I was studying. So I developed a technique whereby I could impregnate my girlfriend. The first like half a million times it didn’t work. But this time it worked!”
“Get real! And you’re sure she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Oooof.” He doubled over as Mamarasta thumped him. “Okay, okay. Truce.” He held up his hands. “So now you gonna get famous and become a millionaire.”
“No ways. This is our secret. Although we are planning to put my details as the other parent and see what happens. We were actually thinking of going to South Africa to get married, but we’re just too busy.”
“And, as both of you are female your baby has to be a girl.”
“Exactly. And so far, touch wood, I’ve had a perfectly normal pregnancy.”
“That machine in the corner next to the computer?”
“Yeah, it’s an ultrasound machine. I actually had a gynae practice for a couple of years, but that’s all I’ve kept of it. And my little bag of tricks. Mamaraste and myself are my only patients now.”
“You two are bloody amazing. I think definitely you deserve each other.”
“But I want to hear about your pilgrimage.”
“Oh yeah, well as soon as I told Bergen the story of my life, he was hooked. He’s into agriculture, especially alternative type solutions. He did a lot of preaching about it to whoever would listen. And he was friendly with these Australian dudes who were installing solar power wherever they could in Africa. Who did yours by the way?”
Mamarasta shrugged and looked at Sista-B. “You don’t remember? It was that guy from New Zealand. He’s been naturalised now and still lives in Mombasa. That tall, skinny guy, man. What was his name? Something odd.”
“Oh, yes. Bushy. He’s a real rustic but he knows his stuff. Actually he’s cool, just a bit of a loner.”
“I must put him in touch with Pete and Kenny. They’re just constantly moving around Africa every time their visas expire. They haven’t been back to Oz in more than five years. I like to try and hook people up like that.
“Anyway Bergen met them in Tahova in Niger. He was working on a wheat farm, teaching his alternative practices, when he bumped these dudes in town with all their solar gear. Crazy thing is they’d done an installation in Zimbabwe and the farmer had paid them in grain cos it was worth more than the Zim dollar. So they had sacks of Mabele and Bergen bought some from them and sowed alternate rows of mabele between the wheat.
“I don’ know if it was just coincidence but the birds and the locusts just skipped that farm altogether that season. And the people loved the mabele. They just threshed and ground the whole lot together and they said it made the tastiest bread.
“Anyway Pete and Kenny were in Addis at the time I met Bergen. They had scored a huge project so the Ethiopeans had given them a two year visa.”
“Yeah, they had really made an impression. Anyway Bergen had always wanted to visit Addis and they promised him an appointment if he made it there. So we decided to take a slow drive to Addis. Hah! Slow drive. We took nearly three years getting there.”
“What? His friends must have been long gone by then. How do you get to stay so long? Most of those countries will only give you thirty days, three months if you’re lucky.”
“Oh visa, shmiza. They only check it when you’re entering the country. As long as you stay outta trouble an keep a low profile nobody troubles you. And when you’re leaving the country and the visa’s expired, well you’re leaving aren’t you.”
“It doesn’t bother you?”
“Nah. And Bergen was great. Somehow he get’s like unlimited access through all those countries and he knows just how to talk to officials and when n how to grease their palms. He was the bestest travelling companion. Nothing phases him. We even broke down in the middle of nowhere in Chad. He got us towed to the nearest town by the first truck that came along; and within twenty-four hours we were mobile again.
“But yeah, Pete and Kenny had moved on by the time we got to Addis. Then January last year they were starting a new project there for six months. So just before our visas expired they appointed both of us and our visas got extended another six months. When we finished up we convinced the authorities to give us another three months for touring. Ethiopia is such a fascinating country. So I parted with Bergen in September last year. He headed back home and Pete n Kenny promised to visit him for christmas.
“Meanwhile I headed for Somalia. Bergen had helped me get a three month visa, but by then I had learnt some of his tricks, so when I got to Mogadishu I got it extended to six months.”
“Yeah. Anyway it was about to expire when I got robbed.”
“Oh,” Sista-Boodycall was disappointed. “What happened to the enlightened person who rescued you from your baggage?”
“Oh yeah. Heh-heh. But it’s true. Somehow with Bergen’s van to move around in I had collected a huge load of unnecessary junk. So it was kinda a relief. But my passport was a blow. I was so proud of it. I had so many stamps in it and you could see, if you took the time to figure it, how many times I had overstayed my visa. It was the only thing I was really sorry to lose.
“My friend Tamil rescued me. He advised me not to even try to sort it out in Mogadishu. Even he was impressed that I got my visa extended there. He reckons Mogadishu is a bureaucratic nightmare and that Nairobi was the best place to get everything done. So he spirited me away to his family’s village near a town called Buurhakaba.
“They kept me there for a month while they dressed me up and taught me how to behave like a local. Then one of his uncles took me on horseback to the next town where we stayed with his in-laws for about ten days. From there we got a bus to the town of Luuq. We only spent one night in Luuq and then we headed for the hills, literally. We spent nearly a week tramping the hills, eventually running into a bunch of total cut-throats. I thought it was the end; my bones were gonna rot undiscovered in those hills.
“But when they recognised my companion there was great festivity and back-slapping. They took us much higher into the mountains where they had a hide-out. It was like a village. There were at least fifty men and I saw about half a dozen older women. If there were any younger women they kept them well hidden.”
By this time Sista-Boodycall’s eyes were bulging and even Mamarasta was speechless.
“Wait Ice,” interrupted Sista-B. “Let me go get us drinks and we can make that spliff. But wait. I don’t want to miss any of it.”
“Yeah, please, all this talking has made me real thirsty.”
“And, my love,” Mamarasta called after her. “Bring that big box of crackers and all the dips n spreads n stuff. I’m really hungry now. What do you think Justice?”
“Yeah I could do with nibbles too.”
“No, no. Bout me gonna be a momma!”
“That is so fuckin insane, dawg. I jus’ never see you as like a baby person. I mean, yeah, you were always motherin’ everyone, but they were all big peeps. I jus’ don’ see you with a little baby.” He shook his head.
“You’re right actually. I’m not much of a baby person. But Sista-B will be the stay home mommy, not me. She started experimenting the other way, trying to get pregnant from me. But she was too subjectively involved. She found it too hard to have the professional detachmemnt she needed. So after quite a few non-starters on herself I eventually agreed to be her surrogate.
“I think I must be mad. I mean in three months time I have to give birth, you know, like a dog. But she’s convinced me that natural birth is much easier to recover from and besides she couldn’t do a caesarian here at home. We really keeping this thing as quiet as possible. But I’ve told her that’s it. One baby is quite enough. She’s proved it’s possible, no need to do it again. Just pray there’s no last minute setback and we lose the baby.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Ah here’s mommy2. Thanks Sista-B. Just pour me water first. I’ll have a scotch after sampling your smorgasbord. Mmm, looks good.”
They all tucked in but soon the scotch was flowing and Ice resumed his tale.
“So Balli stayed with us for about a month while I got used to being an outlaw. It was quite fun actually. After he left we packed up the entire village and moved much closer to the Ethiopian border. Except it’s like there’s no real border there. They used to tease me a lot in the beginning, asking me to guess what country we’re in, until eventually I twigged that nobody knows.
“We were moving on foot, spending a couple of nights at each stop while a small party checked out the way forward. Where all three countries meet, that is Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, there’s a small town called Mandera. It’s actually in Kenya, I think.”
“Yeah, Mandera is Kenyan. Kinda UN hang-out.”
“Exactly. The place is apparently crawling with officials but that’s where we were headed. So when we were about two days from Mandera we had to hole up for a coupla weeks while they monitored the activity there. I don’t know how long we wandered in those mountains but it was weeks. The crowd I was travelling with was constantly changing as one group would leave to take advantage of some opportunity and then another group would arrive laden with booty, mostly food and drink, or at least that was all they were showing me. Mmmm, that smells good.”
Sista-Boodycall smiled and passed him the joint. He inhaled deeply before continuing.
“Anyway, eventually they woke me in the middle of the night and told me, this is it, we’re crossing into Kenya. I was confused cos they’d told me the border was two days away. Then I saw they had a car. It was mind-blowing. It was an official UN vehicle. They gave me a jacket and a cap to wear and off we went.
“The UN guy took me all the way to the next town. It was called El Wak. That got me laughing. Anyway it was dawn when we passed through Mandera and lunch-time when we got to El Wak. He dropped me at the bus-station and took back the jacket and the cap. Then he gave me enough money to get a bus to Nairobi and to get something to eat. I was so giddy with relief I couldn’t thank the man enough. He jus’ gave me this cold kinda stare and tuned me, ‘Just watch yourself. I never forget a face and I wont help the same person twice.’ Then he jumped in his car and left.”
“So you got to Nairobi when?”
“It was twenty-seven June and I was robbed on twenty-four March. That’s four months. I felt like I had walked all the way.”
“And how long is your visa Justice?”
“Oh . . . er . . . thirty days.”
“So when we go back to town, Sista-B is gonna do you a letter of appointment. Just a three month contract. Then you wont have to run away too soon.”
“That’d be great. I could do with a bit of a holiday. But I can leave before the baby comes?”
“You big sissy. The baby is due late September. You can go whenever you want. You have been warned.”
‘It’s because of lust that dust doesn’t remain just dust.’