The Critical Eye

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten: "Oh @#$% Now What Happens?" Moments of 2009

Listed below are some key 2009 moments when these individuals probably uttered the words "Oh @#$% now what happens?" to themselves:

1. Tiger woods as his wife reached for the golf club.
2. The former Governor of North Carolina -Mark Sanford- (In Argentina) when he
realized the jig was up.
3. Kanye West after interrupting Taylor's Swift's speech at the Video Music Awards.
4. The Underwear bomber as his crotch caught on fire.
5. The National Enquirer reporter assigned to Michael Jackson when he found out he
was dead.
6. Joe Wilson after he shouted "You lied!" at President Obama in Congress.
7. William Gates Jr, after the cops put the handcuffs on him for talking smack.
8. Chris Brown after he was done beating Rihanna.
9. Dick Cheney as they wheeled him down to witness Obama's inauguration.
10.Serena Williams after she was done cursing at the lines person.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I kicked my self again, for not having sent out Christmas cards in time, nor having bought you or you a gift, I caught myself mid stride and recognized that my best gift will require no money, no long lines in a store. I realize that God gifted me with something special. The ability to reach deep into the rushing torrent of blood in my veins, skimming through capillaries, veins, and arteries to give voice to life.

So my gift to you, won't require wrestling any soccer mums to the ground, nor battling some trench coat clad teenager for the last Wii. I have avoided the long line at Macy's, and circumvented the cars vying for a parking spot at the mall. No my gift to you; I give from the lazy, loungers comfort of my living room couch, laptop on blanket, hot chocolate in tow. You will not be able to wear it, or play it on your new IPOD or I-Phone.

Fond as I am of the myriad of presents Christmas brings, I recognize only too often that we must now learn martial arts, aggressive driving techniques and even new insults during the holiday season. The antagonistic shop-aholic tone that permeates the air is palpable. What are you getting? What do you want? Where is it on sale? Retail marketing blitzes have become the new air of the season. Even the beauty of snow has been deemed uninviting, because it is seen as an interference with the ability to shop.

It has become shallow, this Christmas spirit, real shallow. The march to de-Christianize Christmas is taking root as kids want more from Santa Claus than they do from the Nativity story. Not to be undone, the Churches have ratcheted up their church activity to match the cacophony of sales and early bird specials being offered by stores. Between the shopping and church mandated activity, what should be a restful time now feels like a week preparing for the Olympics.

I still haven't got to your present have I? Well, that's the tricky part. You see, your expectation is probably high. You're wondering what it is I will replace with those IPOD speakers you were expecting. What about the IPOD shuffle you had your eye on? That would be nice. Unfortunately, you will get none of these from me this year or any other. See the true meaning of Christmas for me has soon become the acknowledgment that I am an anti-shopper. I have joined the rebel alliance against the malls, leading logical raids on distant planets such as home and couch. I have enlisted the help of other aliens species such as myself whose main cause is; "the debunking of retail foolishness."

So, as you deftly rip open your wrapping and dive into the folds, looking for your gift, I hope you find this; "That Jesus was born around and about this time, many years ago, That whoever this Jesus was, He became special enough that several days in mankind's calendar were dedicated to something related to Him. His impact was so noticeable that even other religions had to acknowledge His relevance. Come to think of it, whole civilizations have made their way of life around His word eventually naming the day after Him."

My present to you is that somewhere along your walk in this life, you will encounter the comfort and peace that knowing brings. That your days no matter how happy, can be happier. That your burdens no matter how heavy, can be lighter. That the story in the birth, is a reminder about rebirth, symbolic, as a whole in its simplicity, yet overwhelming in its completeness. That in your definition of Christmas you will acknowledge the futility of carnal gratification and secure the suppleness of spiritual rejuvenation. That, is my gift to you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vick's New Contract

While reading this, you may find yourself trying to determine whether I have a problem with Michael Vick. You will have little reason to support this, nor will you view my stance on fighting pit bulls as being different from his prior perspective. Threatening the earning power of millions of dollars for the sake of fighting dogs, borders on madness. By the way, if you are an animal lover, this may not be the story for you.

Reading today's newspaper, I am reminded that capitalism still rules. For Michael Vick, this prior statement bodes well, he will replenish his coffers and return to the standard of living to which he is accustomed. To the PETA guys, it is another reminder of why the notion that fish feel pain, only resonates with the fish. It has been reported that Michael has been awarded another contract by Nike. In essence, he has been redeemed. He has paid his debt to society and is making amends for what was, on his part, a bad decision.

You will not find me casting any stones. I applaud Michael Vick for taking his punishment like a man and coming back to the sport he loves. He has proved that fighting Rover against Tiger, will not define his legacy. He has again, been placed in a position to participate in the sport he has lived for. Quite rightly, he deserves the opportunity to recover from what in his case, was a bad decision.

Nike, in my opinion, have shown the clear nature of the cannibalistic and opportunistic attitude we see amongst leading companies. It is this very same capitalistic zeal that sheds some light to the country's current economic crisis. Okay, I exaggerate but it really writes well. Win at all costs, make money any way possible. This is simply an opportunity to increase sales. Would such an opportunity fall to the average convict? Of course not, many of them could not obtain a job with Nike. This is not an exception exception. They have determined the marketability of Vick's story and in so doing, have realized that the "Road to Redemption" book will be bigger than the rise to fame article.

There is a certain heroism in the broken and beaten warrior returning from battle. This symbolism is biblical in nature. Take for example David; he is embraced as a picture of triumph even as he suffered travails of woe and cave life. The vagabond lifestyle he led as he hid from Saul's men. He was an inevitable star. America likes the vision of a bruised and battered soldier, who is worn from battle, limping his way home to collapse near death in the arms of childhood love, only to rise up again and fight. Michael Vick has risen again and he is fast becoming a hero to the many.

America redeems. You just need to apologize. We are very much a society that practices selective forgiveness. If one takes ownership, apologizes, it is possible to then move right along. For those that are famous? This can mean signing a new contract. The dogs associated with this tale will probably never ask Michael why he got them bitten every weekend, some even killed. Nike doesn't remember and really doesn't need to. You see, going forward, Michael has apologized and is making amends. I believe he has seen the folly of his ways, and will become the man he was meant to be. We are all allowed a second chance, in Micheal's case it's worth millions.

So I applaud Michael Vick for his triumphant return. I am a little more skeptical however about the company that sees this tragedy as an opportunity to sell sneakers and apparel.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Symbiosis

I spent a little time of this past vacation week watching "The Queen of Trees" a documentary about the Sycamore fig trees of Kenya. The documentary focused on the symbiotic relationship between the fig tree and fig wasp. A tiny little wasp whose whole life cycle is indelibly tied to the fig tree seasons. The fig tree has developed a unique relationship with the fig wasp, critical to either species' survival. Wikipedia states that the term symbiosis (from the Greek: σύν syn "with"; and βίωσις biosis "living") commonly describes close and often long-term interactions between different biological species. The term was first used in 1879 by the German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary, who defined it as "the living together of unlike organisms".

The fig wasp is tiny - neither threatening nor large enough to warrant concern. It is unique in that each species of fig wasp pollinates only one type of fig tree. This is a key aspect of the relationship, a co-evolution that has manifested itself to ensure that neither survives without the other. The fig wasp pollinates the fig tree and in turn, the tree provides a nesting ground and incubator for the fig wasp.

Watching this relationship, I understand more that as a species, we have lost our ability to live in any mutually beneficial relationship with other species. We have used dominion to increase our own conveniences at the expense of all other species. While on vacation, a knock on the door brought a warning from the neighbor's son that a bear was going through the trash at the dumpster (an example of how we interject negativity into natures concert). Our waste has become the bear's food source, circumventing his natural instinct to hunt and gather for himself, thus rendering him a garbage forager. Not built for this purpose but forced to adapt to this unnatural manipulation of the environment, he finds new ways to survive. Not to sound like a conservationist, but it is clear that we have crossed into natures 'no man's land'. The only symbiotic relationship we seem to nurture well is with bacteria, which we harbor as they, in turn, help us digest our food.

We have harnessed energy so as to extend daylight. This has given us more hours to manipulate our work day and created innovative ways for us to work harder. We are reaping fossil fuels at a rate faster than can be replenished. We have driven numerous species to extinction or near it and still fail to recognize that we were made to be a component and not a determinant.

Having spent some time in a serene environment, surrounded by God's beauty, one can't help but become acutely aware of each breath. The co-existence of everything as it is meant to live becomes clear. The deer grazing in the forest; the horse fly buzzing around the mare's flank; the hedgehog waddling his way up the slope; all part of a singular purpose. Nature expends its energy surviving for seasons to become energy for something else. We are the only species that has worked diligently to escape this reality. We build coffins to preserve our remains, and use chemicals to preserve our dead; as if the decomposition of our bodies does not have an ordained purpose.

The fig wasp pursues its life purpose with an unstoppable determination. Similarly, the fig tree provides nutritional support to a myriad of creatures that in turn attract and provide nutrition for others. This is all part of the connection and the symbiosis of life. Human inability to live in harmony with nature may be the cause of many of the things that we all say our grandparents never suffered from; Alzheimer's, stress, depression, anxiety, precocious puberty, Anxiety, ADHD, ADD, STD, DVD, CD, and MP3 - to name but a few. I may not have clinical evidence to support my conclusions, but looking around at what has become of a world void of a connection to nature should convince you of one thing - as a species, we're a mess.

The fig wasp has other parasitic wasps that take advantage of its labor and lay their eggs in its nest. Many of us have people in our lives who bring similar opportunistic negativity. They provide influences that detract, distract and detour us from our purpose. In the fig wasp's case, even these parasites serve a purpose in this grand symphony. They ensure that fig wasps don't overpopulate. Many fig wasp queens are born with these parasite larvae already eating them alive. Nevertheless, fig wasps pursue their purpose with resolve and single mindedness, even under sentence of death. Their reward, is the perpetuation of two species. The fig wasp has inspired me to rethink my walk with nature, to accept the negativity as a part of my personal growth. I am recognizing that the larvae of negativity from birth through youth sit ready to burst out and ultimately destroy me. However, every purposed life leaves a footprint. It is our choice to decide whether it will be positive or otherwise. I choose the former.

Like the fig wasp, I too want to achieve that singular purpose worth dying and risking my life for. I want what would - on the surface - appear to be a meaningless existence but, upon reflection and inspection, show itself to be a life filled with a small deposit in the birth of a great big tree that will live for hundreds of years.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Change

In his book, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho says, "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." The tide and flow of every breath is a step in the process of human change. Like many things, change is to be expected and embraced. For many of us though, we resist it for the sheer fact that familiarity makes us feel safe. Bathed in the embrace of its sameness, we shy from the signs that flash out new directions.

This comfort zone, this place of refuge, is the very thing that blocks the blessing for many of us to move into new possibilities. We stand in the quagmire of familiar circumstances, suspicious of unclear possibilities. What is missing in our lives is an acknowledgment of the stages of change to which we are inexplicably tied.

Embracing these changes, these constant shifts, is what develops a defined life. Following a strand of change from one end to the other; creates the intoxication of a sustained generational history. Every change is a loop in the tapestry. It becomes the defining fiber for each line of DNA; an entry in the annals of humanity.

So, as I sit atop this mountain overlooking my land, I see the shifts in the scape of life. The peaks and the valleys, the eroded cliffs and the dense forests. I recognize the hill paths well worn from the soles of constant use; the deadly ledges from whence I almost fell. I acknowledge the lakes that have pooled together with tears of my loved ones. I see the barren fields and the burgeoning gardens.

The paths we must all take are not encumbered by human order. It is the conspiring in the heavens that creates streets and intersections. The GPS of life becomes moot for lack of destination and yet for every man, the destination is a lock - death. Therefore, the shifts and tides we find ourselves in, move us closer to this pressing inevitability.

If you were to be thrown into the current of a strong flowing river, controlling your path or destination would be futile. You would have to submit to the demands of its flow. Life is a river current of certain stages. Somewhere in the middle of the rapids, we need to let go and just keep our heads above water. For in this resignation, we find the peace that carries us firmly to our destination.

That's God for you; bringing you to your dreams through a raging torrent, asking you to just "Let go and let God". So, I rewrite Paulo Coehlo's statement with this conviction, "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes God inevitable."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Age of Innocence

I watch as a little boy places his action figure on the table in front of me. His eyes are fixed on the action hero. I can't quite hear what he is saying but I can tell that he is in deep dialogue. He stretches the plastic man's arms out and from one of them extends a sword. I hear a slicing "whoosh" escape his lips.

I am seated on a black leather couch a few feet from his father who pays him no mind and continues to manipulate his Blackberry. I make a reference to how we are all addicted to our Crackberries and the father nods and chuckles. The little boy acknowledges my interruption with a slight gaze but then gets back to his play. He lifts the figure and begins to trot around the waiting area. I can see that he intends for his hero to fly. The whooshing sounds give it away.

His action man flies not too far off the ground in swooping movements. Occasionally his head comes dangerously close to a table but never quite hits it. There is some invisible battle being fought here. The frequent manipulations of the arms and sword indicate a furious engagement that only he can see. He is intense about his endeavor and oblivious to my scrutiny. As I watch he comes back to his father and indicates that his sword is dislodged. His father breaks from his Blackberry task and offers his assistance in reestablishing the hero's weaponry.

Content with his renewed armament, the boy places his figure on the table in front of me and begins an epic battle. As the battle rages on in his mind, I begin to marvel at his freedom. He is totally disconnected from the activity around him. Here we are in a gymnasium lobby, he waiting on a sibling, me waiting on my daughter who is in her Tae Kwan Do class. Unlike the little boy, my mind is racing with the responsibilities of adulthood; work, mortgage, car notes and all the other things that make being a grown up cumbersome.

I keep my gaze on this little boy and feel the envy creep slowly through me. A life without the burden of tomorrow, the freedom of a spirit that enjoys only the moment. I try to reconnect with my childhood memories. Of playtime with Alexander Smith as we loaded sand into the backs of toy dump trucks. I recall building roads in the dirt and padding down the loose dirt with water; my times with Kitu Singh and his sister Emma, whose teeth are credited with the scar over my left eye.

The little boy in this waiting room represents more to me than nostalgic memories. He is the epitome of freedom and covering. His father sits protectively, engaged in his own activity, his occasional look keeps watch over his offspring's ministrations. The son, surrounded by the comfort of this protection, continues his play unconcerned. I envy this, never having had the comfort of a father of my own. Never having known that protective feeling of a man's influence over my youth.

This relationship between this boy and his father is about as close a human feeling one can get to understanding our relationship with God. One can truly only be as nonchalant as this child when one lives in the knowledge of the covering and protection provided by someone willing to face death and danger on your behalf. I never had a father that felt me important enough to press through his challenges to embrace me. The feeling of abandonment that I claimed I never felt, has manifested itself in my adulthood like a carved Greek pillar in a museum.

So as I sit here watching this boy, I am taken back to my own fears, hurts and hang-ups. My nothingness in the expanse of a life built on the insecurities of no God-figure. My disconnection from an integral shape-defining relationship that could have charted me on a different course. His "whoosh" brings me back into the moment and I smile at him. He looks up at me with his brown eyes and asks, "What is your name?" I hesitate and respond, "Soneka Kamuhuza," and as the words leave my lips, immediately realize the fallacy. Unlike this boy, whose father sits guard, I have never taken on my fathers identity, nor felt his comfort in my life. He has left no memories of innocent playing on my pages, nor created a shield around my life.

Yet oddly I am drawn to this moment, this innocence, this freedom. In this boy we all live vicariously, playing free, in our own little world, believing without looking, knowing deep inside our hearts, that we are protected.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother of Mine!

It's for the forty four hours and forty six minutes
of labor you persevered
For the pain and anguish I saw you endure
Shouting out in anguish, as we waited for her

The sheer magnitude of your patience
as I watched your tears
Knowing that even as you pushed through
these were moments of your deepest fear
It's for staring down death without a blink
Taking needles in places I would never think

It's for never calling me names
even when I wasn't sincere
For taking my male frailty and inadequacies
and holding them secure
For giving a sense of purpose when my path was unclear
Calling me a champion when the loss was near

For that last push that brought her some air
Letting her little voice recoil in a hushed room
As if screaming, "I am here!"
My very life blood, joined with you in cell
I honor you now, I sing your song
I stand at your parade, saluting your part

For giving her life, and both of us a new start
My name, your name, my life, your life
Through the annals of time
For standing stoic in your morals
and unbending in faith

Your voice and manner unwavering winds
Never changing unlike seasonal friends
Pray tell my love what more to come
A puzzling story, I'm sure to some
I honor you now, Mother of Mine




Soneka K. Kamuhuza Copyright 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's in a name? (Africa)

A friend of mine has been hounding me for about a year and a half to watch a movie called Sankofa. She insisted that I needed to watch it. She believed that my sensibilities would grasp the depth of the message meant by the film-maker. She stated that there were several people she had shown it to who didn't get it - much to her frustration.

So, after finally acquiring a copy, she handed it to me last week, just in time for the weekend. Actually, she handed it to someone else - her boss - who felt it necessary to try to hijack this shipment that was meant for me. After a few threatening phone calls, the Sankofa DVD was delivered to my office.

Not intending to have anything too heavy, we sat down to watch the Sankofa DVD Saturday night. We usually pick a light hearted movie for Saturday nights, well, as we learned, Sankofa is far from that. It is the journey of a modern day woman who returns to the past to experience slavery on a plantation. The cinematography leaves much to be desired, however, the critical components of this movie build like the crescendo of an engrossing symphony. Once started, you will be forced to chase it to its end.

The rape, abuse, physical and emotional assault that follows is reminiscent of slave movies already seen. However, Sankofa carries through it an underlying message of identity and heritage that is subtle yet loud in its depiction. It is a story told from the perspective of Africans having never lost their identity in the midst of slavery. Those who sought to carry their traditions and heritage through generations. Their strength, found in communal traditions, acts of initiation and refusal to assimilate, empowered them. What culminates, I will not reveal, as I encourage everyone to watch it for themselves.

Sankofa's underlying tone shows the calculated method with which generations of Africans systematically lost their identity and took on slave names. Sankofa displays an intimacy with Africa to which the movie Roots, alludes. It careens full speed to a cataclysmic end that can be the only conclusion to a life of sadism, death, lies, abandonment, cruelty, hatred, terrorism and despair. In the midst of this, remains this component of a name. What is in a name?

Mine is Soneka Kamuhuza. A very distinct name. Well it's unique for this hemisphere, a dime-a-dozen in Zambezi, Zambia. I once rode a bus in Zambia, somebody called out to a Soneka, and half the bus answered. That burst my bubble. See, among the Lunda, Soneka is about as common as John is to the English. In America, I'm about as unique as Barack Obama. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. In Sankofa, I realized that the allegory was in the identifiable characteristics of strong African connections being countered by a terroristic effort to break that very bond.

To be named Toby, Henry, Mark as opposed to Kwame, Tesu, Ade was the beginning of the slavery brainwashing process. In essence the most critical part of the integration process was to lose your name. The slave would be beaten until he accepted his slave name. It would be his disconnection from who he was, his acceptance into who he was to become. So for over four hundred years the perpetuation of dissolution and separation has been perfected to what is now seen in African-American culture; Jones, Yokum, Sisko, Todd, to name a few.

A generation of people exist as if adrift at sea, with no port in sight. The slave masters game plan has come to pass. The very connection that Sankofa bridles with in its energetic scenes; the volcanic aspiration of self that Sankofa pulsates, is now lost. The silent fart of a distressed identity emits slowly from the bowels of a festering cultural myopia, all held together by a society with the runs. These frequent bathroom trips only help to highlight the stench that now emits from what is left of our hard earned freedom.

Somewhere, in the midst of all this cultural atrophy, I believe Sankofa rises as if to remind the many African-Americans who remain adrift. "Look East. Look to where the sun rises each morning. Remember a land where the sun is seen first each day by your people. A land that your ancestors called home. A land where they were free. Africa, mother Africa."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's just Salmon!

It was my wife's birthday this past Saturday and so as is tradition in our house, we celebrated the whole weekend. My daughter had a grand plan for her mother's breakfast in bed Saturday morning. So as she and I drove back from our first day of celebration Friday night, she announced that we did not have all the ingredients for the gourmet breakfast. Ever the dutiful father, I redirected and headed to the local supermarket for the much needed ingredients.

As my daughter navigated us through the store, she would occasionally grab a recognizable item and either toss it into the cart or shake her head as if disappointed. We finally found ourselves at the fish counter and she pointed triumphantly at Salmon. This was her grand ingredient, smoked Salmon. Not any type of Salmon, but the Alaskan kind. The Discovery channel, swimming upstream, being caught by bears kind, yes, that kind.

Never having been keen on Salmon as a food source, I have not purchased it. My girls on the other hand, enjoy Salmon burgers on occasion. So as we selected the Salmon, I noticed a pattern, the price. The price to weight ratio for the Salmon was extremely intriguing. It felt like I was holding a piece of paper napkin and yet the price said $8.99. Azheni's insistence on Salmon as a key ingredient swayed me to invest in this daylight robbery. In this case SuperFresh Supermarket was robbing me at night, so it was nightlight robbery.

The next morning as I helped prepare the breakfast, I discovered that I had invested in four slivers of smoked Salmon, for the grand price of $8.99. That's almost two bottles of cheap wine, a case of beer, two chickens (not Purdue), or four loaves of bread. Now for $8.99 for parts of a fish, I reckon the particular fish should have swam from Norway to Alaska, navigated its way up an electrical dam, given some fishermen directions, stopped in Canada to give a concert and then committed Harakiri in a gesture of honorable death.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Wanna Be A Man

I wanna be a man
Not just any man
But one who can walk in the halls of my ancestors
head held high, shoulders straight, proud face,
with an enduring smile
A man whose legacy permeates the ages
whose name brings joy and respect
remembrance in stories
I wanna be a man
Not just any man
But one who breaks the cycle of abuse,
neglect, pain and suffering that has become
the imprint of my yesterday
The defined steps that I once embraced
inevitable and claimed as necessary
with ugly rights of passage that have
indelibly become my swan song
I wanna be a man
Not just any man
But a man that exemplifies good values, stoic morals,
emulates humility and speaks truth
A man that reviles deceit and lies, stealing and cheating,
anger and pain
One that can stand on a hill, survey his land
A man in whose legacy lives the inheritance
of a generation
I wanna be a man
Not just any man
But a man with wind in his back
and pep in his step
A man whose words resonate with the delivery of saints
The verses of servants and the countenance of God
One that can hear the murmurs of Isaiah's prophecy
The lamentations of David's lyrics
A man that delivers his sermons on a podium of grace
I wanna be a man
Not just any man
But a man of value, teaming with purpose
A man whose life shouts "Glory!'
Resounding echos of success on the pages of life
One whose chapters are filled with substance
A page turner in the library of family history
I wanna be that man
Lord, make me a man

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lingerie in Saudi Arabia

I just read that women in Saudi Arabia have decided to boycott lingerie shops. One would immediately think that this was related to some religious issue. I must warn my usual readers, that we are going where no man has gone before, into the ladies department. One small step for me, a giant step for you. I must also warn you that some of you will be moving to Saudi Arabia.

Here is the declaration; "Only men can work as lingerie salesmen in Saudi Arabia." There it is, out in the open. Let's get out of the way of the mass migration. Men everywhere are packing their bags or getting ready to line up at the Saudi Arabian embassy. Stop, before you reach for your phone,or line up for a work visa; there's a catch. There is currently a huge uproar in Saudi Arabia, women are flabbergasted and embarrassed at being forced to endure this shameful experience. On my behalf I wonder how long this has been going on, and why I didn't know about it sooner.

Okay men; ever wanted to get a job at Victoria's Secret? No? Ever thought about it? All the married guys are backing away slowly. Okay if you were single and had the resolve, would you apply? I don't think there's a man's man alive who is completely comfortable in this environment, no matter how much you like lingerie (I need to be careful here). So how does this happen in a country that has not given women equal rights? Furthermore, barely allows them to show any skin in public. Lingerie being sold by men?

I know that in America there would be no discriminating against any male who applied for a job at an intimate apparel store. Yeah, right! I can imagine telling all my boys at the pool hall about how I made my quota in brassiere sales over the weekend. "Hey Bernard, have you seen the latest design in thongs? The D-cup straps are made quite hardy!" No, I don't see it. How these men have survived in a macho driven culture like Saudi Arabia is beyond me. This in a country that won't allow women to drive in public? Someone buy me a drink.

I am trying hard not to make this a religious discourse. However, I am quite confused and unable to understand the hypocrisy. So the next time you're in Victoria's Secret, feeling awkward about escorting the wife, get really involved in the process, it might come in handy in the future.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kibaki has only one wife

I just finished watching the press conference by Kenya's President Kibaki in which he quite emphatically states that he has only one wife. As he makes his grand oratory, his wife stands very nonplussed at his side, glaring at the crowd. It is quite clear that whatever these Kenyan reporters have been saying about her husband's extra-marital affairs, is being taken very seriously in the Kibaki household.

Her chest pumps very visibly as her husband speaks. You can almost see the fumes escaping from the top of her head as she slowly stews in her anger at the audacity of the reporters.Her husband is delving into the family tree now and making it clear that his four children are the only ones sired by his loins. He reiterates that any acknowledgment otherwise, is fallacy. She glares from side to side at the crowd as if daring anyone to speak.

At the feeble end of his statement, the President invites questions. The silence is deafening. Yet even in this comedy of situations, this embarrassment of state, a brave soul speaks up and asks a question. The President's answer seems inadequate as Mrs. Kibaki questions the origins of the reporter's employ. His answer doesn't satiate her as she berates the reporters for making their lives a misery by spreading lies. She invites more questions.

The air is heavy with the anticipation of her next move. Her heaving chest continues to pump and her adrenalin builds. She threatens that not only will she sue, but informs us that she was tempted to visit said newspaper and put a hurting on the reporters. This act, she reminds us, would be much like the one she performed when she beat up the last reporter who said something about her.

Her 'blood lust' satiated, she turns to walk away with the President. As the doors open on their exit, this visibly old and angry woman, casts a very daunting shadow on the presidency of Kenya. It is quite evident that her influence is strong enough to cause such a stir, such a public humiliation of a Presidency. President Kibaki seems quite harmless compared to her. If indeed he does have children out of wedlock as well as another wife, I think that Kibaki has much to fear.

So I applaud Mr. Kibaki for single handedly dropping the stock of African Presidency by at least another twenty five notches. He and Rupiah Banda of Zambia are poised to become the next great act, much like Abbott and Costello.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Confess

I was supposed to stay respectful and calm
Not try to turn on the charm
But I couldn't
Okay, it wasn't that I couldn't
I wouldn't

See, I thought about it for a minute
How I always want to play
like I'm still in it
But the game has changed in so many ways
Folks doing things
we can't even say

That's the irony
of this life battle
Ain't too many folks
believing in being subtle
It's in your face philosophy
Yes, that's become the new policy

Boys can't be boys anymore
Seems that girls
decided to even the score
What once was petting
has gone extinct
Our sex, now foreplay I think

Girls aggressive as men
Acting dainty treated insane
The world wearing no shame
Even as a generation goes
unclaimed

So how has it come to this?
This now passionless face
that delivers a Judas kiss
With no emotion shown
Not even amongst this ecstatic throng
It all doesn't belong

Like a thief in the night
The void has come
To separate and shuck
Those that dare to be upright
From their obvious plight
I say
the void has come
To strengthen the brethren
for this final run
as they make their last dash
into heaven

We know it is time
For us to claim the song
Wait for the resounding note
of that impending gong
To those who have waited
this long
That find solace in God's apron
There can be nothing less
than to come meekly and confess


Soneka K. Kamuhuza 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New York Post Cartoon

America the great! It is only in this country where a cartoonist could even think of first, drawing such a cartoon, second, sending it in to his publisher, and third, having the paper publish it. I am down on the floor with laughter at how this would be dealt with in a third-world country. The mere thought of it, brings pain to my head.

Short of being buried in a desert up to your head with a few scorpions and hyena's surrounding you, you would not even dare show your family the cartoon. Out of fear for their own safety -at your stupidity- your own family would turn you in. I dare Mr. Sean Delonas to fly down to Zimbabwe and draw Mugabe. Forget about drawing him as a chimp. Just give him big lips and see what happens.

Try publishing this chimp inference in Libya under Gaddafi and let's wait to see what would happen. My bet is that the whole staff of the Post would be eating through straws for the next three months after getting familiar with the butt of an AK47 repeatedly. Mr. Murdoch would be made to repeat his apology on live television, every day for a year while visibly losing teeth at each taping.

I think that the true insult in this cartoon is not that it was done at all. It's the fact that even in the warranted apology, the New York Post fails to simply do just that, apologize. An excerpt of their so called apology follows;

"It shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says. It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period. But it has been taken as something else — as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize. However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past — and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon — even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."

You see, this type of self righteous indignation is the very reason we have risen up to vilify the Post. The prevailing fallacy that you can hurl an insult, veiled as intelligent humor borders on injury. Somehow we are expected to forget the history of black people being referred to as monkeys or apes and then in true Jedi-mind-trick fashion, ignore the inference.

To have this type of gall is amazing. I can see you being carted away in a nondescript vehicle in Guinea with your family wondering whether they will ever see you again. Mr. Delonas trying to shout, "I'm innocent!" as a boot mashes his face to the floorboard. That, my friends, is how it would jump off in an African country.

There would be no marches, no calls for apologies, no talk shows, no letters. Just a truck load of paramilitary officers sent by the government to come and shut you down and beat the living crap out of every single person associated with this cartoon and rough up your general staff. So for all you folks at the Post, who played a part in this and then had the audacity to 'somewhat' apologize? Remember, America is great! Oh my, America is truly great!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Your Song - For Vuyi

Can I write you a song
I hope you'll sing along
It's not a sad song, or a long song
It's a love song

Long has this melody played
Not too loud, you've often said
For the rhythm makes its refrain
In your love zone, stops to strain

Can I write you a song
I hope you'll sing along
It's not a sad song, or a long song
It's a love song

Never ending days
Holding hands through grassy ways
Gates opened wide, morning music light
Your song 19, Hardcastle tonight

Can I write you a song
I hope you'll sing along
It's not a sad song, or a long song
It's a love song

No one will know
The fellow they often show
Was not the one you knew
Nor the lover you've come to know
With the dog that helped him grow

Can I write you a song
I hope you'll sing along
It's not a sad song, or a long song
It's a love song

So here we are grown
Child of our own
Not having known
Anything but each others glow
And in the midst of it I know
That if it wasn't for you
I would have died
Like many I knew

Can I write you a song
I hope you'll sing along
It's not a sad song, or a long song
It's a love song

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mugabe Beat Down

If you're like me, you've had enough of this buffoon. No, I'm not a Zimbabwean, nor do I have any business interests or otherwise in Zimbabwe. The only thing I have is a few friends from that country and most of them live in America. Good for them. However, if you are a normal person of African descent, you too are fed up. I mean what exactly is the world putting up with this foolishness for?

It's not correct or proper for a man of Christian sensibilities to suggest for someone to take out a President, but this guy has just go to go. His latest act of foolishness has flabbergasted me into writing this call for a 'beat down'. I know calling for a beat down would be just wrong. After all, it's been decades since the civilized world sanctioned such acts (yeah, right, wink, wink!) So since no one can pull the trigger, I suggest a good old fashioned whooping.

You see, it's time for this generation destroying, country killing, people dispersing, inflation creating, syphilitic megalomaniac to go. I'm not talking about peacefully either. If you haven't realized it, Mugabe knows he has gone to that place, the point of no return. That's that place where you either die in power or arrange with an Arab country to take you in (Mobutu Sese Seko & Idi Amin). He is not in a position to back out gracefully. There is no escape, death, his only option.

Mugabe has done that which no other African president has been able to do without either wearing a bullet or running for the border. That's rule for close to three decades. Even in brokering a deal with the opposition, he continues to show his arrogance. CNN reports the following;

"The incident happened the same day that other MDC ministers in the new unity government took their oaths of office. The swearing-in eventually took place but was delayed, the MDC said, because Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party wanted to appoint more ministers than they were allowed in the new government."

The gall of the man. It has become quite clear that this man, has lost his marbles and he and his cronies believe that the land belongs to them. The coalitions that pulled power from Ian Smith and his minions are long gone. Abel Muzorewa and Joshua Nkhomo are long forgotten in this tale of freedom fighters. These ZANU fossils have hijacked this nation and made it their purpose to wring every conceivable vestige of national self respect from its citizens.

I can no longer talk to any of my Zimbabwean friends without asking when they are going to get the guts to take this guy out. I know, I know, the bible says, "Thou shall not kill". I can assure you that there are a lot of biblical stories in which despots were treated with great malice. Mugabe is of particular concern. I apologize to all my Christian family, but that turn the other cheek thing won't work in this case, he would probably shoot you. This is not a man that has shown a preclusion to negotiations or being level-headed.

Mugabe deserves a simple beat down. So I suggest three midgets (vertically challenged folks) with fresh Mulberry branches, standing over him, beating the inflation, the razing of people's homes, the sheer economic incompetence, and the need to remain in power out of him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Audacity of Success

We attended an event staged by the Bithgroup (www.bithgroup.com) today. This is an engineering and technology firm created by Bob Wallace (CEO)that is located in Baltimore Maryland. His company has become a minority business leader in the local community and he, a notable figure. Today's event, held at Centerstage on Calvert Street, was primarily a networking opportunity for businesses to meet and share possibilities.

Central to this event was the presentation of the Ssese Principles. These principles are "business and wealth creating wisdom embedded in the Holy Bible." Lord knows with the economy being the way it is, we can all use a little help. It was a grand affair with some very notable and influential people from business and political circles in attendance. Okay, this is where my story stops with the newspaper and intellectual talk and starts with the audacity part.

What we basically walked into was a sermon. Bob Wallace proceeded to spend close to an hour breaking down ten of the key points that make up the principles. Each of them tied to scripture and how when entwined and purposed, they are life and business changing paradigms. I watched as the Caucasian gentleman in front of me started to squirm. His female companion would occasionally glance at him, as if gauging when to reach out and grab him as he tried to bolt. Maybe she was looking at him as if to say, "Just say the word Jim, and we are outta here!" What ever it was, it looked painful.

Bob delved into how God's word is an integral part of the fiber of business building. He illustrated the importance of changing ones perspective on the ownership of wealth -it all belongs to God. Now most people of faith have heard these concepts. They are the bedrock of prosperity dialogue -as it relates to sowing seed financially- in the kingdom. However, what makes this double audacious, is the fact that Bob Wallace has the 'freedom' to speak this way to his audience. That's why this article is titled, "The Audacity of Success."

What I saw on stage, is a man who is not apologizing for his belief, but standing firmly on the promises of his God. He is willing to talk as if on the pulpit to a crowd made of people who may or may not believe. He attributes his success to his beliefs and illustrates how changing the concept of kingdom building -from himself to God- changed his life. Through scripture Mr. Wallace shows how God's word clearly speaks to us about sowing and reaping.

That my friends is the audacity of authentic living. The ability to recognize ones minutia in the scope of universal greatness. The realization of how you are not even a speck on the dot of a letter in the book of the galaxy. Here stands a man, who has recognized that in order to reach his full capacity, he must indulge fully at the table of God's grace. The key paradigm's that he discussed were familiar to all the Christians present. We heard, giving, sowing, and reaping, but not quite like this, not in such a venue.

So as my friend continued to squirm, I listened to this great man of God, hold his revival. I begun to understand slowly that when you are comforted by your belief, swimming in the acknowledgment of divinity, you can be this audacious, this arrogant. You can walk like Jesus into the temple, overturn the tables of the money collectors and the merchandisers. You can sit with the pharisee's and show them that their logic is faulty. Best of all, you can give all the credit to God unashamedly.

Somewhere, in the back of Bob Wallace's head, he has simply reconciled these facts; There is a God, he is sovereign. In the scope of universal creation, I am nothing, not even a speck. Why would a God of such magnitude ever forsake me?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It isn't working!

In a recent conversation with Vuyi (my wife), I was extolling the cultural dynamics of marriage in Zambia. Understanding these dynamics is critical as it allows one to understand the degenerative cultural state that can manifest abject emotional numbness. This numbness best describes a typical Zambian man. I may hear some Zambian men object as being characterized as numb, but key to my theory is a generalization that lays in a certain group of men that permeate our society. Unfortunately these men are everywhere you go in Zambia. So forgive me the generalization, if only for the sake of maintaining a point of view. As I was saying in my conversation, as I drove on I-95 in Maryland, I found myself telling her how; even in a male dominated society with a misogynistic view towards female empowerment; marriage seems to work for Zambian relationships. Some will consider the word misogynistic a bit harsh, especially given the fact those many Zambian men consider a philanderer someone with a badge of honor. This love for women, they would say, is diametrically opposed to this view of female hatred. I will explain.

I cannot see how in a society that is rampant with an HIV/AIDS pandemic; primarily spread by heterosexual sex, men cannot consider themselves misogynistic. In an Advert charity article it states; “HIV has spread throughout Zambia and to all parts of society. However, some groups are especially vulnerable - most notably young women and girls. At the end of 2006, UNAIDS/WHO estimates that 15% of people aged 15-49 years old were living with HIV or AIDS. Of these million adults, 57% were women. AIDS has worst hit those in their most productive years, and, as families have disintegrated, thousands have been left destitute. Desperate people will inevitably turn to risky occupations - such as sex work - or migration. There is a saying among women in Zambia: "AIDS may kill me in months or years, but hunger will kill me and my family tomorrow".

The impact of AIDS has gone far beyond the household and community level. All areas of the public sector and the economy have been weakened, and national development has been stifled. As Zambia's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper acknowledges, "the epidemic is as much likely to affect economic growth as it is affected by it." According to the Zambia Business Coalition, 82% of known causes of employee deaths are HIV-related and 17% of staff recruited are to replace people who have died or left because of HIV-related infections. (http://www.avert.org/aids-zambia.htm)

As you can see, these statistics show that the disease is spreading at an alarming rate in a small country with a population of nearly nine million that does not have adequate health care. The majority of the reported AIDS deaths are due to a lack of medication for the usual opportunistic diseases that accompany a depleted immune system. So this alarming death rate continues to go unacknowledged by many in the population as it grows. The –my marriage is fine- myopia that has so permeated our women, causes many of them to sentence themselves to death as they succumb to the knowledge that husbands are unfaithful and endangering them through continued sexual relations. Asking a husband to wear a condom or take an HIV test would be unconscionable, while dying is permissible and acceptable. As long at the death certificate does not mention HIV. None of them do, they usually read, “Cause of death: Unknown.”

Back to this conversation with my wife; I pontificated about how women had for so long played second class citizens and accepted their dutiful subjugated position. I concluded my ten minute diatribe with, “It works for them.” Her quiet and well thought out response was, "But honey, it isn’t working. How can it be when thousands are dying, children are being left as orphans and grandparents are raising babies? Does that sound like something that is working?”

Now ain't that the truth!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Again

You've kept me up again tonight
With that nagging pain in the back of my brain
That incessant hum that grows to a din
Where we know that sleeping is out
There will be no easy repose, no midnight respite
And the phantoms have come in disguises of shame
To this fountain of dreams which lays in sinister doubt
Wrapped in obvious sight, is a decimate plight
Born of evil travail in a perilous night
You've kept me up again tonight
Noise loud as a plane, like thunder again
With it drowning the sound
of my hearts deepest cry
You've kept me up again tonight
Your bandits are rife
stealing dreams without life
Somehow I know this ain't right
No good will come from your sinister plans
Your plodding will die like a footstep afar
Your memory less than the words of the heartless and dead
You've kept me up again tonight
And though you may stand at the crest of this place
Claiming victory after fighting unfair
You will never win my heart
Nor gain any fame from your games of mistrust
For your name is unknown and your face is displaced
You've kept me up again tonight

Would They Come?

As you toil through your days, knee deep in slop
Surrounded by the filth of others decay
their decomposing ways
As you flick your pen about
in dutiful disdain,
playing your part in life's play as if a marionette on display
Do you pause to wonder,
Would they come?
As you meander about, a busy little bee
flitting here and there
on errands of glee, a sumptuous feast of endless routine
Yes that report is done, and no that needs to be redone
Seemingly content and yet ever so waning from continuous weight
and the fervency of hate for these meaningless tasks
Do you pause to wonder
Would they come?
Consider it stark that in fact your life
has become that which you abhor
A meaningless grind for the merchants of grime
who seldom stop to ponder
Their forked tongues flick about,
as they meet in their broods
to chart their next agenda
All the while counting change
which they made off the sweat
of life's poorest wanderers
Do you pause to wonder
Would they come?
For after you've bled from the vampire load
toiled with the buffalo yoke
Carried the giant weight of the whale's carcass
and trudged through the snow
their prize on your head
blood dripping down your face
With buckling knees and arms weak from disease
On your twenty sixth mile of the marathon's run
As you drop at their feet and present them their prize
Through your dying eyes as you look at your death
Do you pause to wonder
Would they come?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The "Mixed Race" President

I am about to put a huge dent in this farce that seems to be emanating from people's mouths. If I hear one more person say that Barack is not black, I'm going to start swinging. It's quite amazing though, that this has even become a point of interjection. I wonder if this would be a dialogue if let's say; he was profiled on America's Most Wanted. Would the host of the show say, "We're looking for a Mixed race man who fled the scene?"

Now that Barack has ascended to the highest office in the free world, it's quite apparent that there are still some that cannot quite accommodate a black man in the White House. Otherwise, it would be very simple to acknowledge that not once, have you called persons born of Negroid and Caucasian descent anything, but black. Anytime something that is scandalous, criminal, depraved or unsightly occurs and it involves said persons, I can guarantee you the media and public would call them Black.

So forgive me my malaise, my utter dissent. Forgive me for the acid reflexive heaving that seems to rack my body when I hear this buffoonery. If you lived in South Africa or many of the other Southern African countries, you might get away with calling Barack "Colored." You see in those countries 'colored people' are actually generations of Africans who were initially the off-spring of a mixed union and have chosen to propagate amongst their kind. I know that all this clinical talk seems very detached, but hopefully you get my point. The term is also used to describe anyone who has White and Black biological parents.

Mariah Carey is Black. Don't tell her though, she may think otherwise. Regardless of what folks want to call her, she has been treated that way since she was young and it is how she is identified. Halle Berry is Black. Her mother may be White but I can assure you, she was never treated White in any school. These are all successful people who may have described themselves otherwise at some point, but are recognized in society as being of African descent. Quite simply, drops of Negro in your lineage, make you Black. Michael Jackson is Black. Don't tell him. No, seriously, don't tell him. We could get into semantics about how much Black really makes you Black, but we don't have that much space nor is it what this article is about.

So back to Barack, who all of a sudden, is being hijacked by all the "non wanting a Black President" folks with delusions of grandeur. All through the election, the fact that there was a possibility of a Black President created quite a stir in the American Hinterland. I'm sure Billy-Bob and John-Boy didn't use politically correct terms to describe Barack either. He wasn't being described as an African American, nor was he called Black. I leave you to fill in the blanks. At this time you can gather that any pretense on the part of this "Mixed Race" label has been revealed for the fraudulent behavior it is.

Leave Barack alone. Calling him mixed as if to meet some socially acceptable criteria doesn't fly. Using labels that we are aware don't quite describe the culture of our environment, won't fly either. Arguing the point so that it makes you feel better, isn't the ticket. Just accept the fact that a brother is in the 'Hizzou'. Uncomfortable maybe to some, but get used to it. No, it's not a 'mixed' brother in the White House, just a plain brother. Must be hard to try and call a President what you called him before, isn't it? Try the 'En' word now and see what happens. Try it with any of us. I dare you to try it on Pennsylvania Avenue and see how it pops off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Shoes

I was going to go to the national mall today, but decided against it. It's not the cold that discouraged me. Not even the fact that trying to get down to Washington today is more like trying to get to heaven. You see half the world is watching right now as Barack and Michelle Obama make their way to become the forty-fourth President of the United States of America and first lady. This is beyond historic, it's an out of body experience. I feel like someone has been playing Jedi mind tricks with us and somehow we will wake up and realize, "He's not the President."

You see in the midst of all the pomp and circumstance of today. All the fanfare, music and regale, will sit George W. Bush Jr., watching as Barack is inaugurated. It is quite possible that there will be direct references to him in Barack's speech. The camera will pan to his face quite a few times as he listens to historic words. In the middle of all of this, I can hear a small voice saying, "Throw shoes at Bush!" As he sits there, thinking about where to put the archive of "Great moments in Presidential speeches" from David Letterman's show, in his future library; I can envision his sly smile.

It's that borderline smug smile, that I am sure has irritated many. The lack of contriteness on his part during his farewell speech resonates. He is still grasping to the illusion that somehow, he did us favors with his political decisions. He leaves the country in a recession and the middle of two wars. Yet the speech writers found it fit to have him tout that he did, what he felt was best for the country. When Ronald Reagan made his acceptance speech in nineteen eighty one, he spoke of the highest inflation in the nations history. Without saying much, it landed squarely at Jimmy Carter's feet, as the camera panned to his face he kept that famous Jimmy Carter smile. George better not be smiling.

Back to the significance of this moment. Yesterday, before my daughter went to bed , I read to her, Martin Luther King Jr's, "I have a dream" speech. As I begun, I tried to imitate his voice and resonance. My daughter looked at me in the eyes and said, "Daddy, use your own voice, I like it better!" I thought about that and realized, I like Barack's voice. It is Barack's voice that we will be holding our breath to hear today, His words, that will hang in suspension in the cold morning air of Washington DC. As he talks, his every word will be recorded for history, his gestures, inflections and mannerisms analyzed. This moment will be reminiscent of the March for Freedom. The word's "Let freedom ring," seem to be the most appropriate at this time. So no, I am quite sad I did not get to go to the National Mall.

So back to why I did not go to watch the inauguration live. You see it's too cold to go shoeless. Yes in the midst of all the festivities, I might get tempted to throw my shoes just like the Iraqi journalist. It would be a futile effort because there are so many people there, that they have closed off the national mall. So I would be way in the back, throwing my shoes at innocent people and things might get ugly. So there will be no clips of W. ducking again. No need for a delayed response by the security agents as I reached for the second shoe. Okay, okay, so I'm just bashing them, for allowing someone to actually have the time to throw two shoes at the President. They should have been on that Iraqi as he initially reached down.

So as Barack Obama reaches the conclusion of his speech today. As he looks around and sees Dick Cheney sitting in a wheelchair with a strained back muscle (signifying the infirmity of this administration). As Barack looks back and sees George W. smiling that quirky smile of his; I think he should slip his shoes off on the sly, reach down quickly, and throw one at Dick 'Haliburton' Cheney and the other at George 'Recession' Bush. I don't think the agents will even move.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Death of A Country

IN 1993 I WROTE ABOUT THE ZAMBIAN SOCCER TRAGEDY.............

Imagine loosing all the Red Sox players. No more Rocket, Pena,Vaughn, Fletcher, Greenwell, nothing. All gone. All at once. The budding Charlotte Hornets, pride of North Carolina. Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning primed, ready for the playoffs. Beating Boston, then gone. All in the blinkof an eye.

On April 27th, 1993, a military plane carrying 30 passengers crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon. John Starks head-butting of Reggie Miller during the Knick-Pacer series received more media attention. The crash killed 18 of Zambia's top football (soccer)players as well as the hopes and dreams of 8 million people. The tragedy can be likened to the Peruvian plane crash that eventually became a movie. The difference is, no one survived. In Africa, death is viewed with reverence, so you can be sure there will be no movies.

This was the team Zambians felt would; for the first time in its 29 year old history; take itself and the rest of the country to the world cup. The blend of international and local players was perfect. Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, Johnstone Bwalya, Kenneth Malitoli and Gibby Mbasela are the internationals that make-up the fulcrum of the team. I speak of them in the present tense because they, unlike their comrades, will play again. Local players like Derby Mankinka, Timothy Mwitwa, Samuel Chomba, Efford Chabala (once voted Africa's best goalkeeper) and Eston Mulenga all perished.

Most of the players came from humble beginnings. As kids they walked the streets seeking papers to wrap up and make into balls. They played football barefoot late into the night. Their play was a means of ignoring the growling in their empty bellies. This scenario epitomizes the beginnings of many "third world" players. From dust fields to plush greens, reaching the World Cup is the dream of every ompetitive soccer player. Our dust field, barefooted players were taking us to the World Cup, we had little doubt. In a country where the average man spends his time figuring out how to get his next meal, there is little that can equal the loss. To fully comprehend this,one must understand that football is the main form of recreation in Zambia.

It is the avenue with which the daily rigors of basic survival are forgotten. All political, social and economic differences are put on hold. The country unites. Brothers and sisters with one goal, "cheer the boys".Yes Africa has problems. People are starving in Ethiopia and Somalia,brothers and sisters constantly dodge bullets in South Africa, dictators,uneducated leaders, corrupt governments, large scale poverty, disease and other grave problems too numerous to mention. Africa also has many questions. Is the West perpetuating our plight? Are we being taught table manners and not how to grow and cook food? Has there been a systematic plan to target us for destruction? How much more of this forked tongue, double standard super power alliance garbage is necessary before Africa can get real help? We recognized all the questions but, like a cult, were oblivious to them as we watched our team progress along the ladder towards the World Cup.

We were oblivious to discussions of reparations for descendants of slaves, social and economic impacts of the slave trade, western influence in African politics, the prosecution of those that assassinated Patrice Lumumba and conditional aid. All we could see was the inevitable berth in one of the World Cup groups. We didn't have illusions of grandeur. We would not win but at least we would be there. As the dust from our drought ridden land rose around us, we ignored the little fingers of our children prodding us,innocent eyes begging for sustenance. Like avid baseball fans during the penchant race we were glued to the television, beer in hand. We answered all questions without once taking our eyes off the screen. After all we didn't want
to miss the "Bwalya pass" that set-up the goal. Similar to basketball fans not wanting to miss a second of Micheal Jordan's 54 point performance, we ignored our wives. Our love-lives suffered. We put aside our hunger. We had our football and we could taste the World Cup.

The Zambian team following became a cult. Born of a need to vent frustration, our cult believed that the team could conquer all. We could see the promised land. The team, young and vivacious, led us on. The cult gained fervor after an exemplary performance in the Seoul, Korea Olympics. The highlight of which was, beating Italy 4-0. Yes, this was our triumph. "Our boys" had beaten the hunger, colonialism, apartheid, illiteracy,violence, disease and neo-colonialism, if but for a moment. We cheered them on. They were representing us. Each deft move, each goal was a personal
victory for each Zambian. In their triumphs each of us won a personal battle.Our cult leaders led us in the pursuit of a little gold cup that would bring with it an unimaginable national achievement. But alas, the ugly hand of fate reached out.

Two generations of players were lost. Godfrey "Ucar" Chitalu, coach,once the most feared and revered striker on the African continent died in the crash. He in the 70's, was what Abedi Pele', Nii Lamptey, Charles Musonda and Kalusha Bwalya aspire to be. Usually double marked by opposing teams, he was difficult to contain. As a player, he had led the national team to the finals of the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations competition. It was the countries hope that his leadership and that of Alex Chola (the first Zambian professional player) would lead us all the way. We lost these men and more, all in the span of seconds.

Our dreams were lost in those few seconds that it took to extinguish 30 lives. Never in our history had there been a tragedy of this magnitude. It also could not have come at a more inopportune time. A state funeral, a week of national mourning with the burial of the players, officials and crew at Lusaka's Independence stadium closed the chapter on Zambia's greatest tragedy. But our dilemma is just beginning. We can't pull out of the cup.This would not be fair on the nation, our fallen heroes or the players that are still competing.The rebuilding process has begun with the new team playing a few local matches. We have also received great support from Denmark and England. Denmark offered an all expenses paid training session England, a
professional trainer. Even with all this help, many of us do not feel as deeply about the new team. We find it hard to have similar expectations of them. So excuse us if our attention; to our qualifying for the World Cup; is wavering.

We are now more cognizant of our children prodding us. Their faces are coming into focus. The grumble in our bellies is becoming prominent. We can hear the voices of our wives as they shout " you never listen to me". We have no excuse to buy beer instead of food. Our televisions are off and we must now pay attention to what the kids are doing in school.We want to blame someone for the crash? Who do we blame? God? What restitution will we find as we now turn to face our daily nemesis survival?
Will the two month grace period requested by President Chiluba of Zambia for the rebuilding of the team bring with it a respite from our daily torment? Will this rebuilding translate into a more focused national agenda? Does the West plan on standing by as Africa is ravaged by all imaginable forms of problems? We do not expect handouts but just like there was an inherently strong show of force in the Gulf (protecting oil); we expect similar muscle flexing to the cascade of problems that plague Africa. We shall continue to point fingers until those responsible for creating and perpetuating our problems make a concerted effort to help or, the grumbling in our bellies becomes less noticeable.

As if adding insult to injury, FIFA denied our request to postpone the first games until September. We would not get a chance to breath. Stories have begun flying around our country about the condition of the aircraft. We hear it was faulty, was not pressurized and had numerous mechanical failures in it's history. If this is the case then "our boys" should not have been on that plane. The government has set-up a trust fund for the families of the players and yet what they really should be doing is paying out of their coffers.

After all, it was a government plane and with the capitalist ideas that have become inherent in our system, families may just up and sue for all it's worth. "Hey, that's what I would do". But then again, this is unheard of. We grieve because our dreams have died and all that is left to us is anger, hunger, despair and the rantings and erratic behavior of uneducated politicians.