By Mustapha K Darboe
God is black. The first man is black. But creation itself is black. So, superiority is black. At least several people like me think so. We are followers of messenger Leonard Howell, a man who brings Marcus Garvey’s prophesy to life in 1935.
Before Howell, the black prophet Garvey had told of the crown that would change the fate of the black world.
Some said he preached: “Look to the East and when the king and the queen are crown, then know that our deliverance is at hand”. Well, in 1930, both Raster and his queen were crowned.
Epic! It is only the Black God who crowns himself and his Queen at a time. We announced and affirmed the equality of men before Dr. Martin of America. There was though a difference in the narrations of the prophesy. Others said Garvey preached: “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be your Redeemer.”
Either ways, there was a king. But a king that defeated the Italians, Babylon. The prophecy though remains largely unfulfilled. The salvation has not come. “In the Abundance of water” we are still thirsty. Yet, we are no fools, as Bob himself knows. We blamed the Jamaican white colonial authority. We blamed Babylon. They arrested our messenger Howell on claims he had dementia.
Dementia is not a damn crime! They made sure the prophesy was not fulfilled.
Somehow, black people always have nice prophesies ruined by Authority!
In the Kombo South in Gambia, perhaps at the same time, a similar prophesy was hatched. This one by a Muslim cleric Sheikh Omar Futty. Futty visited the south of Kombo and became anointed. The sainthood of the man was achieved on a rock near the sea of Gunjur.
Unlike Howell, in his prophesy, we were not obliged to look to the East or West or South or North. We are simply there. We are in heaven. Like Howell, Futty also told us of happy days to come. But indeed some part of it came. A lot did not come. Yahya Jammeh made sure it didn’t. He took over the land and ruined the prophesy.
Over the rock, Jammeh built a cement structure. He cut our contact to the Heavens. Perhaps, the Gods in the Heavens could no longer see the place. They could no longer see us. They couldn’t hear us. They must be angry their subjects could be that stupid.
Indeed, somehow, black people always have nice prophesies ruined by Authority! Perhaps, that is why good Rasters are anarchists—we all are. We rebel until we can no longer rebel. We curse until we can no longer curse.
But I cannot give up. Not on the Gods and our people. If giving up is an option, Junkunda Daffeh would have given up on the people. Mborr, as Daffeh calls everyone including himself, believes heaven is in Gambia and Egypt. These are places where the gods hear the calls from Heavens. But this is true!
Even the anointed man of Touba, Serigne, had to come to Baddibu Gunjur before the Heavens hear his call.
But I could also give up. For a lot of prophets have forsaken the prophesy. Wrecks Sheriffo Bojang has, so did Alagie Yerro Jallow or Baba Galleh Jallow. Suwaibou has abandoned us. Ba Trawalley is tired— Samuel Sarr could only do so much. Even the younger prophets no longer believe in the prophesy. Saikou Jammeh forsake the prophesy. Wrecks Junior has. Even Talib Gibran does. They have abandoned the gods. These were the people cut for this job!
For me? I am young, ill-equipped. I am a karandingho who is not lettered enough. The Gods don’t know me either. But I cannot abandon the only hope the people have. Bills will not be paid. But people will not also hear their words through a third party.
Democracy, an invention of the black man in Mali, will die! I cannot forgive myself for letting Sundiata down.
Someone has to make efforts, especially now that most of the non-anointed prophets are competing for fame on social media. They do. Some are angry do win no award. Some are happy they do. Men before me did not understand fame. They know no award. Only service.
This new task of mine!
Frustrated, I visited the shrine last week—that sacred place in Gunjur. There, I stood on the rock, the same rock and looked up to heaven. Cold and silent. The South, the place of the prophets, I prayed.
There were no voices. There were no shades. Traces were wiped clean. No footprint. Just a bare rock with a mat on top of it. Perhaps, the gods have died! But was there a way of knowing?
Disappointed, I left for the village. I must meet the ancestors of the gods. Prior to my departure to the South, Junkunda had told me of the Darboes. “They own the place,” he said. It is not easy to understand Daffeh. It is difficult to follow his trail of thinking. If that is possible, I would need to borrow a brain to do that.
But perhaps, he meant I would be received well in Gunjur. But I was. I arrived in the company of my friend I affectionately call Kuu. Perhaps, everyone affectionately calls Kuu. At the entrance of the town, I met Omar Bun Darboe. Shortly, Lamin Jassey and Omar Touray joined us.
These were soldiers and me? Well, nobody. Junks said I am a journalist. That was the second day of my adventure. The first day, I was in Sanyang. But Gunjur was more exciting. I visited lands ruined by man.
Chinese and their fishmeal factories have taken over the land on which our prophesies were to be fulfilled. Mining companies dug the land we were to pray on. They took our sea, our fish in connivance with the Authority.
Babylon has taken over Gunjur as it did Sanyang. And before Sanyang Kartong. Before that elsewhere. This Authority! If Junks is right the gods have only two nationality: Gambia and Egypt. And now their own chosen people have their land taken away from them. The gods are angry.
But man is equally angry. “They destroyed our rice fields, destroyed our gardens. They are destroying our land,” said Alkalo Gikke Darboe. “Now they are removing the only sand barrier between us and the sea.”
As he spoke, I comfortably sat on a plastic chair in front of him. He is soft-spoken. In a calm tone.
“The Chinese, they said they have leased our land for 90 years. I don’t know with who,” said the man sitting on his right. Gikke looked at me, distracted. He knew I was puzzled. In Gambia, all lands belong to the state. But community lands are not taken over without engaging them.
“He is my son,” said Gikke, pointing at the man sitting next to him. I was now even more puzzled. This man he points at is as old as himself. He noticed I was confused.
Ahah, he laughed. “You are looking at him and me. He is not my biological son. I am talking about our family line,” said Gikke. It must be, I said to myself.
As he spoke, he beats the bits. Perhaps the gods were still there. Or may be, like me, he was trying to bring back the gods.
For about an hour, I sat before the man. His frustration and powerlessness was apparent. Banjul is stubborn or does not care. They don’t listen. Babylon doesn’t listen.
“When a container is full, it cannot take anything else,” he said, suggesting how damned pushed to the wall they felt. Berending, he said and paused.
He ran out of the right words to describe their problems. The land problem in Kombo South, but in Gunjur, is monumental. Yet no one is listening. Negotiations have been exhausted. They are now waiting for declaration of war.
Soldiers are stationed there, he points at the direction of his compound. Those soldiers have come to Gunjur since their land problems with Berending started few months ago. The problem has already cost one person his life.
Gikke gives up now—on both gods and man. At least it seems so. But he still beats the bits. He does not seem like someone who will lead his community into war. He does not seem like someone who will run either.
Banjul, clearly, does not care. Darboe’s expression went blank. I was about to leave. It was a second day of hearing stories of helplessness, of violence towards nature and man.
But the gods have grown indifference to their plight. So did the Authority. They don’t listen any longer.
As we bade farewell, Darboe offered to pray for me. From which gods, I thought. Perhaps, the strength of Futty or Howell is still there.
He did know they were betrayed by man. No one hears their cries. Women are raped. The land is raped. The ocean is raped. All over, everyone is raped.
The story in Sanyang is not any different. After my tour around their various sites, mining areas and fishmeal factory, I was appalled by what I saw. “It is a disaster waiting to happen,” I said. One of my 3 fixers, Ousman Sanyang, turned back and looked at me. “It is a disaster already happening,” said Sanyang, sternly.
The man in Banjul who is paid to watch over them, loots the treasure. The treasure he couldn’t reach or does not need, he unleashed the Chinese on it.
They cannot protest. The police suppressed even a semblance of it. The IGP does not know the common man. The IGP serves the shadow state, state captured by the capitalist. IGP is the modern-day version of the villains— the colonialists who arrested Howell. He too is anti-prophesy.
In their world, there are not ethical investor or a moral investment. There are only vampires. They drink blood and live and their prey die.
Long after we started off in our Benz, I looked at the South in the rear— I could still see the mosque built on our only telephone line to heavens.
People still pray. We are not though sure if the gods are still there. We do know that the Authority does not care.
We are to rebel but we know we will lose. They always win. Everyone voters entrusted with power, they bought from them.
May the gods come back! And the prophesy be restored.
“If dem tell you say I am clean, I am not buying it… Cas dem neva speak the truth, dem only lying it… Another hopeless mother will be cryin it fi see her son laying down ina im owner blood, dryin it and dem denying it… faayaa ago burn dem down….” Prophet Capleton.