An image came to my mind. Not an image I constructed on my own, but that which gradually builds after an expanded moment of silence. It's the image of a path, not really a straight path, but a set of dots that I'm trying to link, one to another.
It was two generations before my father's, that began a series of amnesia, in which I have inherited and now struggling to remember. Willingly or not, I can do nothing else. When I dance I get flashes and I remember, but this remembering escapes me as soon as I stop dancing...
But I have to remember, though I don't know why I have to, what will be the object of this remembering? Perhaps to see if, in answer to the question 'who are you in the world?' with my great grand father – that Owu warrior – in mind, I'd say without qualification, ‘I’m a descendant of warriors'? Or to determine if, to such question I could reply that I was someone else's property, the matter on which someone else exercised right of arrogation, the object that in the hands and mind of another once received the form of a thing.
...Then, what is this thing,
and why must this thing remember?
An anxious flight from boredom? A desire to be free from oneself and from one's pitiful existence? What is this theatre other than that of a long finger that stops, looks around, points and pokes at somebody – anybody blameworthy – pours out its feelings, and returning to contact, presses, wounds, crouches and chews up, swallows, digests and... Excretes?
Yes! Excretes, this filthy excrement is what remains of this long probing finger, loaded with our blood line, through this excrement we know what have murdered us, it is the compressed sum of our evidence, the age old seal of that arduous process of digestion, without which, all would remain hidden forever.
What else might this remembering be, other than the disguise behind which I maintain an intimate relation with my excrements, which eventually enters into the sphere of understanding?
Remembering is knowing, and we cannot forget what we know.
Not out of some moral duty or a call for vengeance.
It is simply not at our discretion to forget, that's how we are created. We live today in order to remember and to know, and indeed with total certainty. It is our forgetfulness that makes it impossible to fashion a clear and original self. It's a crises that has lingered for too long, this God forsaken crises that has destroyed an entire value system, a system that was once built on our ethos and myth, on the stories we told ourselves of our origins and destiny.
I muse naturally and shamelessly, especially now that In my dark nights, in my hunted search amongst alien faces, I see, rather than hear of their tales, I see their gloomy faces all around me, but only as so many theatrical masks bearing their various roles, those of the war lord and the tyrant, the wolf and the lamb, and these whole constellation murmuring quietly in melancholic nostalgia: departing from Pa Onikeku, who bore Soyinka, Akintoye, Akinpelu my grandfather, Okesanjo, Babayemi, Ogunsolu, Adelani, Odusola – Okebambe, Okedele – Olugbaye, Olugbenro, Oludiji my father, Gbeniyi, Amoke…
Where have they been for so long?
What face do I attach to what name?
To what role do I attach what mask?
And to my cohort Kolawole, Foluso, Adebimpe, Olushesi, Olusanjo, Abosede, ... Olalekan, Omobola, Adebayo, Adeola, Adetola, Abolore, Omobolanle, Olatundun, Adedayo, Adeola, Adedoja...
To work and pray, to live and to dance in no particular order, it doesn't matter which happened first, my body still remain my spade, and if I look backwards, it is solely to look ahead, if I stare into my body, I see solely into their travails.
Their names dropping to my ears with a weary spattering, like rain drops from a passing cloud, which has long ago exhausted its force: Aderemi, By now I dread it would be your turn, for this is how everything they did and everything that was done to us will have any meaning.
Here, I am left alone, standing here now, to finish up from where they left me, and that explains why I have so much déjà vu, all my flashes of recognition are merely recognitions leading towards their recognition, and whatever I do or manage to point out, will only become but a recognition within me, that will lead me back to my dotted path...
...This is a QADDISH for a destiny that may never be fulfilled.
Unless I can remember what they've forgotten, my body kept telling me that there is something to remember. That discovery, I've made as a dancer.
I must remember in order to know. That I can't remember, then someone should feel shame on our account, if they have gone so far as to create a new man of us, then somebody – anybody shamefaced – must feel shame for us and not be ashamed of us.
Because as far as I'm concerned, if I were to set off from my privileged memory, sanctified and, indeed, consecrated at the black mass of humanity, then gas would start to leak from putrid asses, and guttural voices would croak,
"One of them is springing up again"
Perhaps the last survivor from the lineage of Owu warriors, whimpered.
And the tumult of a world once collapsed would rise again, and after, a gentle drizzle of surprise will fill the air, a smell of shame and that of guilt will overtake somebody – anybody guilt-ridden.
"They are not all dead after all"
Indeed, there is still life in me, I am still here, though I no longer know why nor for what purpose, perhaps by pure chance it is that my body still remembers, that is, I'm the chosen one, chosen to be an accomplice to our sticking around, as I was an accomplice to my coming into this world of inherited amnesia in the first place. Then, to again add to the shame and guilt felt through our sticking around.
But I suppose that's all, nothing more that I am aware of.
I stick around and therefore I am.
I am. The metaphor through which you represent the origins of your own norm, that metaphor through which you develop a self-image, and integrate 'this image' into a set of signifiers, asserting what you imagine to be your identity, and on which you erect your penis and simultaneously dominate and defile.
Since I am the remains, that fissure between what you are, what you think you represent, and what you signify.
Then I simply become part of your imaginary significations, that is, 'something invented', it is one of those significations, that paradoxically becomes necessary, because that ‘invented lie’ plays a key role, both in the world you constitute for yourself, and your apologetic concerns and brutal gaze towards me and my progeny. The question now altered – To be or to be nothing?
Well… 'I am' ... just being, without thought, like a tamed warrior, just hanging on without a need to justify my being here nor there, then it is left for you to give an account of me, in the same way you give account of the psychic life of an animal.
You have exhausted all you could, through a process of domestication and training, to bring me to where I can perhaps enjoy a fully human life... an object of curiosity, where my otherness has been entirely rationalized…
But I cease to take part in your world, for as long as it remains foggy as to who is a human being and who is not, so if you are not human, what are you? What human relationship could one have with the damned one, on which it has not been possible to confer the attribute of humanity, either in the past or presently?
I surely do know how these matters relate to the relation between freedom and bondage. The idea that I share a common humanity with you, long posed and still poses a problem.
…My flesh already has the same meaning of being a flesh, typical in general for all, therefore 'I am' merely because I am, and this simple immediacy constitutes my truth, and I attach no purpose to my sticking around either, nor seeking to turn this pure chance of existence into a song of triumph.
However silent, however discreet and underground, the only genuine victory one feels after losing so much, and nothing else left to lose. The only possible triumph one could feel is in the miracle of one still being alive.
Hence. I stick around, therefore we are.