I read the article with sadness.
It was intelligent and well-reasoned, the product of a brilliant mind. Yet, I could not follow the serpentine contortions of the logic as the writer of the article went from championing freedom to defending an evil he had fought all his life. He had received a call that was thousands of years old, first made by a chieftain riding through a conquered village who saw well-built youths in the midst of rebellious villagers and said, ‘Come, and I will make you slavers of men.’
I wondered at the current price of betrayal. Our ancestral traitors did not bargain very well and we have a history of selling out for peanuts. Today, our traditional rulers pacify their subjects for their monthly allocations. Back in the days of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, their more powerful ancestors bartered their slave stock for whiskey and gin, old hats, sheepskin gloves, bracelets, iron jugs, large mirrors, ‘gold’ walking sticks and the guns with which to catch more slaves. After a long season of slave trading, the British were industrialised enough to abrogate the trade. Not so the African traders. They never made enough to ‘retire’.
We still thirst after bling.
I wondered the price of a 21st century freedom fighter. For as long as empires were built on the subjugation of neighbours, it was necessary to hire supervisors of slaves. To call labour leaders, political leaders and opinion leaders from the subjugated people to turncoat into servants of power.
The immemorial contest continues. The oppressed send their student leaders and community leaders into the whorehouses of the powerful to negotiate better terms of servitude. They send their ‘intellectuals’ from newspaper warriors to social media influencers… only to have their growls drowned as they go from barking at the oppressor to biting for the oppressor.
Yet, the articulate voice is but a vent for the body; if a constructive voice is silenced, destructive fists may take over. I wonder what a seventeenth century copper bracelet and sheepskin glove will come to, reckoned in today’s currency, allowing for runaway inflation and sit-tight recession, and I hope – for their sake – that our modern turncoats take their blood money in fireproof bling.
For the sake of the fire this time.