La Sapologie

It’s not enough to wear a costume, pants, underwear, sunglasses, belt, shirt, shoes that could feed a Congolese family for two years. No it’s not. It’s not that he has to cheat, contraband, smuggle, steal in order for him to make his next purchase. No it isn’t. He has to flaunt it and make everyone stare and wonder at what they are looking at. Un sapeur. a Congolese Dandie. a member of the sapologie. A religion founded by the great priest Papa Wemba. One of the musical icons of Congolese Rumba, residing in Europe, he’s known for his expensive and eccentric tastes in clothing and for having instituted Sapologie and gathered a faithful following which is mostly constituted of men defining their manhood on their clothing apparel. Armani.Yamamoto. Cavalli. Gucci. Dolce & Gabbana. Ferre. Louis Vuitton. Whenever they meet, they throw at each other these brand names in a tug of war to prove, find their manhood.

Kinshasa. Brazzaville. Paris et Bruxelles are the four cities these aggressively stylish men who know no limits even jail sometimes to showcase their savoir faire and status through their clothes.

It isn’t enough for them to let their clothes speak for them, they have to convert every single doubter into a believer. They don’t dress to kill, but they dress to live the moment. They are groupies to these clothes. Ready to sacrifice father and mother for them.

Franscesco Giusti offers a glimpse of this subculture going back to the sixties.

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Gym workouts versus African dances

After some tear jerking comments about my weights from my dear and ever caring family( I later cried at night with a box of chocolate, kleenex and soap operas-ok maybe not that much), I had enrolled at the gym and I went there on and off for three years without seeing much change. One pound on and off. sometimes two, but nothing drastic to make my money worth. yes, I breathe better. have no more back problems. scare old white ladies because I’m now big and black, but that’s not all I wanted.

then I was fascinated by parkour and/or gymnastics, but I wasn’t about to squeeze myself in tights so I can go around runningand jumping. To be honest, I hurt myself just from watching him doing all those stunts.

Then I tried to step at my Congolese roots and the like of Fally Lipupa and Werra Son. Well, that’s all I did: Try because I was out of breath soon to keep up with these seasoned dancers who were swinging their hips right and left as if they were born and only lived to dance and I haven’t even touched on the dances move coming from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt that provide free cardio workouts without leaving your room.

I start to sound like those infocommercials that advertise a new product that will DEFINITIVELY make you lose those love handles! I’m just thinking that there are more creative ways to give yourself a good cardio by digging around the tried out cultural dances from around the world. It might involve some awkwardness, embarrassed laughter, but it will be definitively more fun than simply going for a run or biking or whatever. Then again, some will pass on this, others will have their lives changed forever. I’m kidding….not. maybe.

Let me know what you think!

What does an African creature really want?

I have never been able good at answering that question. I realize now that since I have been here in the US, that question keeps coming over and over. “What do you want, sir? Would you like some fries with that burger?”

“What do you want out life?” ” Which school do you want to go to?” “What degree do you want to do?”School Advisors and teachers.

And all I hear is: “You are god over your life. Decide now and make it happen. This is America, baby. Dreamers make it happen everyday.”

I’m a daydreamer. I have been daydreaming since I was a kid and when I daydream, it’s not so I can do stuff. It’s just daydream. nothing more. nothing less.

But I digress. One concept of life that I learned in an early age despite living an upper class lifestyle as a kid was that I wouldn’t always get what I want. Even though I resisted the lessons about self sacrifice and being responsible. My elders didn’t tire of hitting those lessons over my head to think family, community first and then you come second. Then all of a sudden, you find yourself in a country that emphasizes the need to place you as the center of your life when all you have learned so far is that your wants must include other people’s wants. Two things happen when you are faced with something that goes against your beliefs: You either buy into the new belief or if you dig your heels in and refuse to budge. Or third option you keep your belief and use some cultural makeup to blend in with the crowd.

So what does an African creature want? What every human want: respect, food, water, housing, love, lots, lots and lots of love. Love and not charity because these two for some reasons get mixed up every time Western society members speaks of Africans. Charity gives the person a fish, but love teaches the person how to fish and that’s what messed up with all these foreign aids directed to Africa. Am I saying that you shouldn’t send money for starving people of Somalia right now? Of course not, but money isn’t the only gift these humans beings treated worse than dogs deserve.My thinking goes like this: If I’m good for you to open your pocket, I should be good enough for you to open your heart.

I’m a hopeless idealistic. I know. How come paternalist foreigners are more interested in helping Africans while Africans with the brains and the deep pockets stand by? I don’t know. Why is the sky blue? Why the good ones die young? You can add your “Whys” here ad nauseam. Please do. Feel free.

What do you really want? Tell me. There’s a chance we all want the same thing, but never learned how to express it….

Music break

sit back and ask God why are you a Sunbathed child

ask why do you carry a Kalashnikov taller than you

ask why are they standing by when a river of pain keeps running by?

tell me that you can hear grown black men cry in those slave ships

tell me you can hear black young men scream in those jails

tell me that  our blood is red, that God doesn’t see color or gender

I want to know

I want to know that tomorrow will be brighter

that life will be easier

that men will be smarter

and I am not going to have to try harder…

Musings about writing

There are moments you sit down and wonder why am I doing this? Why do I day after day do the same ish and expect a different result?

Not today. Today I’m still thinking about the post by Chuck, what-its-like-being-a-writer, and how much what he said is true about my writing experience. Well apart from the expletives, I totally can relate to the feelings he talks about. It’s worth mentioning, that his raw, raunchy, gritty posts were too much for me to handle at first, but then I started reading past them to find those gems of advice about writing. He brings the hate or love in people and that’s unique.

I realize that what makes one a writer is the attention to language. Consider such a phrase: Writing is like having a mental orgasm that comes waves after waves. I just came up with that. I also can tell you that it’s inspired by my reading. Now depending on your social background, you might find this unnecessarily explicit or ingenious. You are right in both cases, not because I just want to have both sides of the argument but because I can have both sides of the argument. Writers do that a lot. they remain gray. Neither white or black. Only on paper of course. In life, they, like everybody else, make choices that makes them either white or black. I hope no one thinks I’m talking about race, because I am and I am not.

St Augustin of Hippo said it best when he said: “Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum est.” To make mistakes is human, but to persevere in them is diabolic. Light never clashes with light, but when it is next to darkness , you can see what’s light is all about. So far, I am a divided being. The christian and the writer haven’t reconciled, but they will one day.

As a writer, my aim is to produce writing that sparkle, shines so bright that it reveals and chases away all darkness. mmmmm, that sounds like a New Age statement. Yes, I’m idealistic. If I was pragmatic, I should have stayed in my science major and follow a medical career, but I am not anal enough, detail oriented enough to always split hairs between molecular and organic chemistry. I enjoy wordplay too much to be stuck on word definition and/or meaning. I like what feelings words could bring rather than the information they convey. It’s the difference between being an actor playing a doctor and a doctor being himself. Well, you could also say it’s the difference between an actor playing an actor and an actor being himself, but this could go on ad nauseam.

As a writer, it’s not about writing something, it’s about having written something. The only part of a trip that I like is when I have arrived at destination. The only part of a workout I like is when I’m done. There’s just no feeling like having written THE END on a project. That’s the reason I like flash fiction.

As a writer, I wish one day to have a gorgeous voice. Voice is what makes a non reader stops on his routine of doing whatever and listen to what you have to say because the non reader or those who don’t know nothing about the joys of reading experience can say: That guy or girl right there knows me or again that guys or girl doesn’t know me, but he or she just said something I never thought or heard about and I want to sit down a little to take it in.

As a writer, the big and small questions of life are always asked, even though it means not having the right answer.

Great writers are great listeners but the most vicious judges also because they know where to poke too. In order to bring to life realistically different characters, they have to inhabit someone’s else shoes long enough to know what they fee like.

I want to hear who has said, wrote, done something that has inspired you. That had left you wondering what has just happened to me. I was here, but now I’m there and it’s all because of such and such…

One last thing: We all are born storytellers, your life only makes sense or doesn’t make sense based on the narrative you tell yourself, you might not write it somewhere, but you have a script that you follow or don’t follow so yes writers don’t do much, but if they can write about you and they have never met you, they must be special then.

Let’s hear it!!

Where my boys at?

I lay no claim to fame

because all I want is a name

that no one can steal or borrow or frame

I want men to command and tame

While I remain today and tomorrow the same

pitiful, arrogant, egocentric and lame

Wannabe poet who can’t spell his own name

but wait, listen this will not be another promotion sale

I promise to rise and not fail

because if you are not the top male, you don’t mate

and males who don’t mate simply fade

because no one is waiting at the gate

to scold them when they are late

and remind them the date

when they are to meet their fate.

Let the record show that he came, he saw and conquered

for all the naysayers to say: I concur

he was the man, the male, the mate

no friend like him, no fighter like me mate.

Men

from boardroom to bedroom they perform

and if they ever lose form

they find themselves in the eye of a storm

like those old men in college dorms

like butterflies that remained worms.

 

Existential quicksand

What do you see when you look inside you?

Is it the Nature’s silence disturbed by a chirping bird?

There’s nothing like having an existential crisis now and then

like stopping by every burger place and indulging yourself with all sort of coronary disease causing food.

People poke at you

searching, probing, dissecting for that real you

that real you, you have never met yourself

that real you, you wake up every morning looking for

if only today was the day.

if only today God would stop playing hide and seek

and show himself so we can have our dual like the last two cowboys of the Far Far West,

I’m tired of cynics, atheists, theists, and agnostics,

the only god they have ever worshiped is their flesh:

eat, drink, pee, poo, sex and on and on they go

they are only secure in their insecurities

but they better at hiding them through rhetorical acrobatics

even though they have the same beginning and end.

Babies know themselves, but forget as soon as they learn to speak.

Man looks in the mirror hoping to catch finally the sight of  self

and Man sighs when Man sees an Image, but not the Subject.

Man finally gives it up and let the Other take over

the only problem is Man never answers when the call comes

because the Other has taken over

Man is a vessel

a vase waiting to be filled

or if you prefer a cubic pot to be filled

vase might to be too feminine for guys.

the important parts are the filling and the emptying

with every filling and emptying, you could see epiphanies closing in

it could be today or tomorrow

maybe today is the day God will show himself  and

we will have our duals like two samurais from the Far Far East.