HEY, I’M HUMAN

They say I make enemies on all sides. Sycophancy and hypocrisy seem to be the price of friendship and group play in a civilized, polished world gone corporate. Living analog authenticity has been replaced by plastic digital superficial smoothness. Personality is dead; long live the System.

But I refuse to be the servant of a System that serves only itself and not the human in me. Being myself is not suicide; surrendering to the System is the real suicide. Being myself is birth, is life.

Don’t kill yourself. Resist. Be it education, be it politics, be it diplomacy, be it the corporate world, be it religion, be it organised Sport – they all demand one thing: the compromise and capitulation of the true human being. The human Spirit. Thwart their plan. Resist!

In every aspect of life, deep in the fabric of our group existence, we have to change the System. And it starts when the individual human being comes back to life. Until you know yourself, you won’t know your real friends. They may be many more than you think, but you don’t know and they don’t know – because you are all afraid to be the first to drop the mask and say:

“Hey, I’m human. Are you?”

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

FAMILY

Is it those that smile at you
Or those that frown at you?

Is it those with the same blood
flowing through their veins
Or those with the same thoughts
springing from their hearts?

Is it those who want nothing from you
even when they’re there
Or those who always want something from you
even when they’re not there?

Is it really a bound tree
With invisible tangled-up roots?
Or is it an open sea
Rolling freely in all directions?

Does the departed soul really stop and turn back
Or does it hurry away into another life?
Are all those who call themselves family
There to bind or to free each other?

Is protection sometimes limitation?
Is liberation sometimes abandonment?
Is a kiss sometimes an embracing of betrayal?
Is severity sometimes an anchorage of love?

Only the sincere should read your inner book.
Only the sincere should read your inner book.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

INTERSECULAR

Like a cow
Eschewing its thoughts
The worship bells
Choked my throat
Penned me to my pagy leaf

Sunday mournings
Have my sins been so many?
Stop confessing guiltily
What you profess so
Guiltlessly.

Monday is the new Sunday.
If you want to meet God,
Look for Him on Monday –
On Sunday, Saturday and Friday He is far far away,
Tired of our hypocrisy.

-Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FAÇADES

When your friends frown at you, as you wonder what you have done wrong, remember that frowning can be a façade with which the supreme virtue in you masks its beauty, because of your envy or its love.

And when your friends smile, as you endeavour to smile along, remember too that smiling is the most convenient façade behind which the supreme vice in you can hide itself and remain undetected, unchecked.

And tears, even tears – our most sacred tears – cannot be trusted. For save when you cry to yourself alone, you betray. Friend, when you cry to me, you betray me, so long as you know why you are crying. And if you do not possess this knowledge, then it is your soul that betrays you. And you still betray me.

And, finally, there is Seeming, ah, Seeming… the supreme garment of all, which I weaved my very own self. Nothing is as dear to me as my Seeming, for it ensures that when I am with you I can feel at home without, at the same time, ceasing to feel completely at home with myself. Yes, Seeming is indeed the supreme garment, almost tending towards nature. Almost. If only it did not leave me divided amongst myselves – I cannot stand!

Façades. People hide behind façades, of ignorance or wisdom, of inarticulateness or eloquence, of bravery or cowardice. Human hides innocence and nakedness behind façades, for fear of being shunned by fellow human for being mad or simply different. We hide behind façades of which lying is barely even one. And the worst part of it all is that we have forgotten, forgotten going into hiding, forgotten who, forgotten what, we really are – and, in our gruesome attempt to belong, have finally become the façades behind which we die.

Think of a worse hell, and I’ll give you a clap.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ON MY FUNERAL DAY

THE MOURNERS came, with lots of noise and tears, crying their dry eyes out. No one stopped them. They were left to wail and weep, even though they made all that din.

And the merry-makers, theirs was even more dramatic, their lives are simple, they simply make merry. It does not matter the occasion which has brought them together. Their occupation is to sing and be happy, that is their job, their life. In large numbers they came out to lighten up the place, all three categories of them – the clowns, the eaters and the musicians – merrymaking from dawn until everyone else is gone.

And then of course my old friends, drawn out of the distant mists of childhood, reappeared with appropriately long faces. They murmured here and there about a few breaches of tradition but generally they held their peace. Rice and stew were very plenty, palm wine flowed as if the very trees wept, drowning their complaints in their throats; they left everybody alone and except for their ponderous thoughts nobody remembered their presence.

Two T.V. reporters with their camera men, a few newspaper journalists, a couple of ministers and princes, a former president, a galaxy of celebrities, a throng of socialites and a pride of leaders. Soon the whole place was turned from a place of solemn silence to something like the setting for a television talk-show. Who was going to be interviewed? The departed spirit? I chuckled; good that no-one heard me.

The few people who knew me well wondered at all the noise, all the crowd. Could I, who had so dearly nourished simplicity and quiet while still alive, have really wished my departure to trigger this breach of it? They tried to voice their discontent, but my relatives silenced them with the counter-claim that I had always said that everyone was allowed to do as they wished, and so they did not feel it right to disobey my injunction upon my departure.

Clergy of different religions dragged the aura of their history into my home and solemnly spewed prayers into the air, while everyone closed their eyes and kept on chewing their food. And the liars. They were everywhere, telling lies. The gamblers were gambling. The drunkards were drinking. And the lies the liars told were shattering to the core, for the liars had once been my friends.

But, with love, with compassion, my eyes did rest on one or two visitors in whose heart I saw pain at my departure, in whose eyes I saw the glittering pearls of true tears ever and again wiped away with a sigh. I was sad for them, I wished they could feel the touch of my hand on their shoulder, hear my voice as I whispered to them, I’m still alive.

But what can you do? Each person will react in his own wto death, the victor. Each, according to his or her nature, will bring their character to the fore upon your departure and, symphony or cacophony, there is nothing you can do about it, not anymore.

And so I did not stay there long. I had known it would be like this – who doesn’t? And I had made her promise, she who I loved, who I love, promise me, yes I had made her promise me that she would take my body away, far away. And far away, in the heart of the beautiful woods, she and the children we bore, now adults, and our closest closest friends, they stood in a circle around my body. And though they did not see me, they sensed me, sensed that I was there, standing too in the circle with them, our unbroken circle of love. Far away from the noise and noisy thoughts of the world.

One of them played a flute, and the flute was enough, and spoke the language of our hearts; and every thought they thought of me was a thought of love, and my soul was full. And my spirit sang.

And soon the body, old and tired, rested deep in the cool depth of mother earth. There was a prayer my love was praying, and that was when I heard it, the other flute, the heavenly flute, it came from far away, from high high above, gripped my heart, and I saw the way home. At that moment her eyes opened and her love held me one more time, then with a gentle whimsical sigh she let me go.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.y

AFRAID OF YOURSELF

I know a Girl
She loves to pray
And everytime we kiss
She runs away in shame

Because I don’t fit into her world
And she can’t look her leader in the eye
When I’m on her mind

Is your river flowing?
Should I… check again?

Breathing hard she runs far away
And in the distance we can pretend
That she’s stronger than Shame…

She’s ashamed of herself
For not being herself

Because she’s afraid of herself.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

START AGAIN

Start again
It was all a lie
Deceitful illusion
Full of grinning fools

Everybody looking worried
When a pin dropped
Yet nodding wisely their heads
When the world goes to war

They all fear the dawn
The end of the act
Wake up from your heaven
You’re living in hell

Just start again
Freed of illusions
Eyes opened wide…
And, yes, doubt the preacher too.

— CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.