PRESENT BE

The present always becomes the distant past. When Martin Luther put up the 95 theses, that was for him in the present. For us today it is the distant past. When Judas betrayed Jesus, for him that was the present; for us today it is in the distant past. When the artisans at Igbo-Ukwu or in Nok made their bronzes, that was for them the present, the most modern moment they knew. They could have never guessed what the future would be. But for us today, their present is the distant distant past.
Even such is time.
Today will one day be the past, the distant past, and be forgotten. Another day will be the present. Everyday another day. Only the present matters. The present is the only thing that Really IS.
Live in the present, from day to day.
Move with the present, from day today.
BE the present, every day.
Be present in every moment.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije

DO AFRICANS BELIEVE THAT AFRICANS CAN INVENT?

We have to make our own world, because there is little space for us in the world others have created, out of their own ingenuity, for themselves.

So what we need is to create in Africa an African system that supports research and invention from Dream to Done Deed. What we need is to awaken the strong sense of the need to create our own world, a new world. A desire, the unquenchable thirst and unslackening desire to do this or perish. It becomes our racial focus, and the essence of the DNA we pass on, henceforth, from Generation to Generation. Our black spirits will come ready-made with the natural Urge to do this. We will be born differently from today. Born to invent.

But…: Do Africans believe that Africans can invent? Do Africans who feel the spirit of invention and innovation stirring within them have the guts to sacrifice their whole life to it? Are there financiers and patrons ready to support them to the bitter or sweet end?

If all you do is extract natural resources and minerals from the earth and the waters, and sell them unprocessed to others, then you are just a glorified miner. Now, today, as oil revenues dwindle, the call is sounded. Any mathematician can do the arithmetics and work backwards from the finish line. It is the point in time when our oil becomes worthless and our ability to invent and innovate becomes the only natural resource we have left. Untapped?

Yes I made the the jump from oil to inventions; whereby the popular wisdom proclaims that the alternative to oil bears another name: Diversification. But… Diversification Alone Is Not The Answer! It is only an interim puffer, but not the guarantor of survival. Only the fit survive. The fit are those who have trained the power and ability to create the future.

But…: Are African governments, think tanks, traditional institutions and financial institutes really ready to chart and push this course and pour all their resources into creating a new world, their own future? Do Africans believe that Africans can invent?

If we simply diversify from Oil to Solid Minerals, we will make the same mistakes again because not only are the underlying methodologies unaddressed and unchanged; nor the corruption issues in terms of persons, institutions and systems unammended; but, most importantly, the fundamentally flawed ideology that drives and guides our concept of nation-building, people-building, capacity-building – whatever you want to call it – remains the most entrenched and in-built weakness that we carry with us from generation to generation, from century to century. It is an ideology that supports a taker-mentality as opposed to a giver-mentality; it remains a receiver-mentality as against a creator-mentality; it stays a past-deifying and present-indulging mentality instead of a future-engineering one.

But it is better to produce the future than to reproduce the past. What our so-called education so far has not done for us is trigger the creator-gene. Systemically, deeply and deliberately. En Masse. The discoverer-Complex has yet to be activated within the context of African Culture, Upbringing, Orientation, Foundational Thinking that later guides investors, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and every citizen. We are talking about the Survival of the Species here.

The human being, in the end, respects only intelligence. Not just articulated intelligence, but intelligence that has yielded action and tangible form. The human species‘ only hope for survival and expansion, right from time, and for escaping extinction, has always been innovation and invention, i.e. the practical application of intuitive perception and intelligence. Thus, humans finally only respect those persons and groups whose ingenuity or depth of perception leads to discoveries and inventions that continue to move humankind forward. The urge to move, physically, mentally and spiritually, and to defend gained territories, is a deep evolutionary expression of primal survival instinct.

Therefore: Africans had better start believing that Africans can invent and that Africans SHOULD invent. And start pouring all their resources into making this a reality. Otherwise, the future which is being currently invented and designed by Non-Africans, for Non-Africans, will have no place in it for Africa and Africans. Or the place that will be reserved for us, we will not like it, nor possess the power and ability to change it. It will be worse that the days of Slavery and Colonisation. It will be a depth of systemic powerlessness and denigration not yet seen in the history of humankind. Because, if you don‘t make anything, you‘ll never own a thing.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

THE SHELL

The sun was setting at the back of the ocean. I could see it from the beach where I was standing. I stood on a risen shoulder of sand, a few paces away from the edges of the sea where the licking fingers of the waves, rippling and splashing, drew back and forth, and back and forth.

The setting sun itself was of the utmost beauty. It was like a magical shield full of life and light, its fire subdued but radiant, warm and red, the beginning of seven colours and a million and one unnameable hues.

They stratified the wide ocean into homogenous groups and, riding on the waves, transferred the sea of water into an ocean of colour. Every wave was a house of tonal creativity. Every cloud above was a surrealistic masterpiece, briefly floated upon the skyscapes of our hearts. Catch me if you can.

Transfixed, I stood, gazing out at the setting sun.

Normally, on the west coast of Africa, looking south, the sun sets, when we face the Atlantic, on the right side of the ocean. But sometimes a curvature of coastal line, a geographical comma, nature changing its mind, like we all do, produces a long stretch of beach where, standing as I stood upon the risen announcement of hilly sand, I, gazing ahead, gaze straight into the setting sun.

And the sun was a stone, nay, actually it was a shell, a little white shell glittering in the sand just beyond the tips of the reaching fingers of the sea.

You should have seen this shell. There was something about it. It glittered white in the orange sand and seemed to be a stranger. More than glittering, it seemed to glow. My imagination conjured up pictures of master craftsmen in the merrealm just off the West African coast of the Atlantic, leftovers from Atlantis. Silver-bearded, golden ebony, nobly finned, hardworking merfolk, shaping and polishing. Then I thought of gently swaying mermaids, wiser than the wisest housewives of yore, with nimble fingers, moulding, weaving, shaping and polishing. And one of them had formed this shell and polished and polished it until it shone.

Then she had flung it out.

The sea was jealous. It had hardly been in possession of this shell, this beautiful white shell that glistened so beautifully in the sand beneath my gaze on the beach. Now the ocean reached with even longer fingers for the shell, my shell.

For, as soon as I laid eyes on this enchanting, pure white sea shell a few paces beneath me, just beyond the rolling waves, I knew that she, the beautiful mermaid who had made it, had made it just for me and had waited for me to appear on her beach today and then flung it out to me.

But like in all things in life, I also had to fight for it, I had to carry out an action which symbolically or really encapsuled my recognition of this thing’s worth and my need for it, my claim to it. That is to say, I had to walk down the risen shoulder and snatch the shell away from the reach of the sea’s licking fingers and possess it.

But a cloud bunched up against the sun for a moment and I remained there, squinting in the direction of the veiled Settingsun until it had been unclothed again.

Then, with a spring, I alighted Risen Shoulder and walked towards the white shell glowing in the orange beachsand.

The wave was faster, and it came without warning. I guess the sea was afraid, that was all. When it saw me move, it knew I would take the shell and keep it with me forever. Seas, being deep, always know such things, for they rest in the depth of heart. So it mustered up all the strength it could gather at such short notice and lunged at the shell.

In Creation, everything happens within the boundaries of space and time. Nothing is instantaneous, as long as it is a process, a development, a translation from one part, or one form, of space to another. The space here can be innerspace or outerspace. By outerspace I mean the physically tangible and, even if only to an extent, measurable, however vanishingly small it is, and by innerspace I mean the conceptually graspable, however large.

If a thing changes position in space, it also does so in time. There is nothing that does not take time to happen; not even light is that fast.

This means that between the ocean’s beginning to summon up all the strength available to it at that moment and its lunging at the shell, moments must have been bypassed in time by both the ocean and me.

If I had not dallied in carrying out my decision, by remaining there squinting at the cloud that had bunched up before Settingsun, the ocean would not have had a chance because the distance in time it had to traverse in order to overcome the inner and outer spatial distance between it and the shell would have been too long. Its time was too short. Had I moved.

I, however, remained there on Risen Shoulder, gazing thoughtfully at the temporarily veiled sun, thus allowing the ocean, who had read my intention, to prepare for me.

And it did.

For the wave was faster.

I was three steps away from the glittering white shell when it was suddenly swallowed by a swift and smooth beaching wave.

The wave was also a mocker, something like a teaser.

It retreated slowly, slowly into the sea. If I moved just a little faster, surely I would overtake it, thought I. A little faster … faster … further out … further in … I was in the sea. Suddenly I saw the shell again, lunged for it.

I did not realise how deeply in I was until it was too late, I slid in the wet sand, the water was above my forehead. I do not know how to swim. I began to drown. I fought, I grasped, gasped, swallowed, choked, drowned. I heard voices. I heard the ocean’s roar.

I thought I felt a hand, a delicate hand, a firm grip … I could not be sure. I passed out.

In how many seas, rivers and lakes have I drowned? From how many been rescued?

The strong hand was still holding mine when I opened my eyes. I was lying on my back in what looked like a garden. The bare walls were trees side by side, green with pulsating life, the red sun had been replaced by a white one whose blue light hurt my eyes and warmed my heart.

The hand was strong. I turned my head to the side. It was a woman whom I did not know. She was wearing a milky white sleeveless wet gown that clung. Her bare arms were slim and chocolate brown. The strong fingers that enclosed mine were long and fine, the kind of fingers only paintings have.

All in all she was slim, with slight and graceful curves, delicate in appearance. Her face … she did not have the beautiful features of a model, she had the beautiful features of a loving friend, yet I knew her not. Her lips were full and soft, and curved into what looked, oddly, like a proud smile.. Her nose was round and flat, open, a negro nose. Her face was oval. Was she the sun? I could not see her eyes, it was covered by her hair, braided, beaded and woven, which clung heavy and wet to her head, hanging down like a curtain across her forehead and eyes, down to the bridge of her beautiful nose. With her other hand she opened the curtain and hung the braids behind her ears. As she did this, our eyes met. She was starring at me worriedly. It was a strange experience.

“Not yet,” she said, with strong emotion, “You can’t go yet.” I did not hear her voice, because her lips did not move. I only heard what she said.

When I woke up, I was lying on the beach with the white shell in my hand, and it shall be my sign and my memory of your promise. It was dark. The beautiful red sun had set, the orange sands had changed colour, grey was its name now, this beach. We had journeyed through time, and space had changed. But one thing remained, unchanged, even up until today: I’ve never forgotten her proud smile or her face or her eyes or the worried, very worried, look in her eyes.

“Why not yet?” I had asked her.

“Because I’m waiting for you on earth in the future, and we’ve not met yet. We have work together to do.”

—————-
che chidi chukwumerije.
—————-

ART IN ALL ITS FORMS

Art in all its forms
Is the thief of time
Stealing from the past
Sharing with the present
And the future
Like Robin Hood
For time is wealthy in memory
And, like Shylock, reluctant to give.

An evening song will reawaken your life’s morning
A painting will view like déjà vu from lives unremembered
And a poem will whisper your life’s story back to you.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LOVE TODAY

When you see the future
It becomes the past
And the future becomes again
Unknown to you
To spend your life exploring your future
Is to spend your time scrutinizing your past
It is to miss all the joy and pain
The moment holds for you.

There is only one future
The result of what you do today
There is only one past
Tomorrow it will be today.
Love me today. Make a new tomorrow
Hope is my crystal ball
I see your heart aching for laughter
And laughter after laughter.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

MISTY PAST

On the way to Falkenstein
I knew you were mine

On the way from Falkenstein
I knew you were mine

But when we stood side by side
Upon that castled immortality
I knew only that the great divide
Yawns yet ‘twixt longing and reality

And if we true will call this meeting our last
Then, woman, never lie away our past.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LINEAGE

Look at the palm of my hand,
My lineage has run riot –
Griot! Take note!
For the palm is the root of our land.

Tapper, come down
from them high
intoxicating dread locks,

The Elders on the ground
Can see beyond the highest tree.
Tapper, come down
And tap your roots instead

Look at the palm of your land.
Before you boast, ask yourself if you really know
The back of your hand.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije
(PALM LINES)

SURVIVAL

How many will survive when the drones
Say Hello
When a young lady, barely out of
School, is fingering somewhere a hidden button
And a closed-minded kid, for whom
The world is a distant myth
Sits for ours masturbating a joystick?
Their message is a drone
Their package death faster than the
Speed of sound –
How many will survive when the mad
Men on the other side also get their hands
On the deadly secrets of death?
How many will survive to teach tomorrow?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.