Uprising looms

Uprising looms

Chaos is a little understood fact simply because it is often conveniently ignored when fortune favours one side and is uncomfortable for the other at a given point in time.

It may seem as if the occurrences of the moment will pass and nothing will ever come after this, but the fact of the matter is that chaos is looming on the horizon. The beginning of a violent era comes in bits and pieces, with the opening of each new scene getting more violent until the point where the extended climax will be felt by the world for some long and painful while.

We have had the two world wars, and we have had many other mini wars in between, from Korea to Zimbabwe to Vietnam and Sierra Leone. The beginnings of all these wars began as a mild case that became more abrasive with each passing day. There is the annoying sound of the pandemic in our midst at this point in time, and the hunger the lower classes of society experience is making them lose all sense of law and its related order with each passing day.

Order never prepared anyone’s table, and the hungry will never listen. As sure as Bob Marley’s Them belly full lyrics, the chasm between the rich and the poor is soon bound to be the cause to the next war. We have been hungry for far too long, and we have come to a point where political lies mean nothing to us. 

When Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali wrote his poem on general uprising a couple score (40) years ago, heinous systems of racial segregation, and the oppression of the majority by the minority were at their prime. Many of the struggle stalwarts got their freedom and got into the stilted positions political office grants them, but many of them forgot the promises they made in the lobby speeches. What we see instead is the frenzied feeding of the elected politicians the positions of power grant them. A large section of them seem all too happy to fill their bellies and those of their allies without regard to the suffering masses.

Those masses that got them to those positions of power are left forgotten as pawns in political wars they never begun. The youth of this here world enlist in armies to fight for some vague ideology disguised as ‘glory’ and ‘honour’: then they are forgotten as soon as the last bullet flies through the air and shatters the skull of some unfortunate unknown soldier.

This is what we see in these days of the Coronavirus pandemic where the masses are expected to comply with the strict safety measures when the reality is that they go to bed hungry. They do, but there is however no sense or sight of commitment from the government with regard to the covering of the basic needs of the masses. Silent at the moment, the masses however do not consent to the noncommittal manner in which some of the rules are installed by governments. 

The pattern of the history of mankind in the world reveals that wars are started by kings and generals, young men and women go to these wars and come back in body bags, or with minds lost from shellshock and the horrendous conditions on the battlefield: then peace is made and the youth are forgotten as new governments are formed. This is the pattern history follows in a continuum, a lesson repeated as rote from which the youth never learn anything; for they fall victims to the vainglorious lie that, “It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country.”

I do not believe that the youth should blindly believe what they are told at the behest of some political lie like they still go on to do these days. The old Latin phrase dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori (it is sweet and glorious/fitting to die for one’s country) is an inhuman lie irrelevant in the current circumstances of the world. Instead of fighting their father’s wars, the youth of today should learn that the reality of the day is that we should rally in unison instead of scattering into divisions bent on destroying each other.

Rather than go to war, the understanding should be that we have to fight against the upper class-created evils of poverty and unemployment, increasing poverty lines and abysmal gaps between the rich and the poor.

We should be focussing on how to deal with the pandemic in a manner that will ensure some semblance of comfort as the long days slowly drift by. Government should however not tell us to stay indoors without any type of support.

The reality is that one should not wait for death to come, and South African taxi associations this week made a bold move in resistance to draconian government laws and relief measures that have no regard for their livelihoods. All work to make a profit, because it is that profit which ensures there is bread on the table for the family. This means that governments should be wary of the effects the laws they hastily had to install with regard to the pandemic.

It is through the different large and small industries that the people make their living, government should be aware that these industries should not be rendered unprofitable for the sake of a disease breakout. As previously said, we have had worse plagues in the history of humankind; why then should we treat this one as if it is the worst of the lot? I personally do not think this is the worst plague we have had; the reality is that it has more media attention than all the others that came before it did in history.

Communication and media platforms have rendered the world a smaller entity than it was in the days of our forebears. Though necessary, these tools of technology have largely become tools of fear; the levels of fear at this point in time will render us more susceptible to error with regard to the virus than maintaining a spirit of vigilance when it comes to adhering to the safety measures in place to counter its spread. 

In the battlefields of the Coronavirus we valiantly fight based on empty promises by governments. There are only increasing levels of fear and poverty to come home to, and instead of focusing on the battle at hand, the realities of the day come to the fore. The fight against the virus is not some political party’s membership card and it should not be used as some political ‘trump’ card (forgive the pun) to gain political points as has been seen in the early days of the virus’ spread.

The biggest sin of mankind is not lack of knowledge, but the error lies in possessing knowledge and choosing to be indifferent to the reality/ies of the day. The poet does not choose to be indifferent to the worries of fellow beings, for he can see that the numbers and the figures the statisticians present are merely tools of control for the foolish and the gullible. These are the type of individuals that will let someone con them into believing that the numbers and figures are significant and salient to their wellbeing.

I know political lies, and I can see through them as a poet should, and I believe none of them. There is the reality of the disease’s presence in our midst, but it comes with other social realities that cannot be ignored for the sake of adhering to the preventative safety measures against a treatable condition. It will be a long while before the medical fraternity comes up with a vaccine, and hunger and starvation will go on to increase in the meanwhile.

It is therefore safe to assume that we should focus on fighting the pre-existing realities to better our chances in the fight against the virus. 
That we should go on to play the pawn in wars we did not start should be done away with as Wilfred Owen taught. Any type of war is an evil that plagues humanity and it finds place in human society only because it changes faces as an actor does on a stage, and many of us do not realise we are at war because the popular war is that of bullets and guns and casualties. The war against poverty and disease is not seen as war but a struggle we can live with, but who can in essence live in discomfort because someone presents such discomfort as temporal?

Why should one spend the most productive years of his or her life outside or without access to the means of production and still consider such a state alright? This to me is war in a form we do not acknowledge as war, but this does not change the fact that it is war as defined by a paper on Wilfred Owen’s poetry, which succinctly states:

No area of human experience has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war. In war, people can face many contradictions like hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred-not only for the enemy but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind.

The soldier of the modern-day war is he or she who conscientises the world to the sad realities that plague the world and human society. Inequality, poverty, unemployment, disease, endless strife, social terror, selfish self-interested pursuit for wealth and others, are some of the private and public wars any self-respecting individual cannot ignore or choose to be indifferent to. That an English soldier wrote the best poetry about the travails of war from the battlefields of World War One does not mean that the current state of affairs, circumstances, and experiences are any different from his.

The only difference is in the terrain, but the enemies are still similar in character and form; they are only different in garb, for where one wore military tunics with brass buttons and drove around in a jeep, the current enemy wears tailored suits and drives around in cavalcades.

Both preach that the young should join their wars for power, with the sweet promise of a better future if one hangs around to clean their plates and pick up the crumbs from their dinner tables. Siegfried Sassoon, the man who can be credited as being the man who greatly influenced Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden and other war poets speaks of the ever-changing metamorphosis of war in a statement made to the war ministry of the time:

I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest…
The war upon which we entered as Africans for freedom and liberty those many decades ago has now become a struggle for meagre resources and the conquest of one ruling class with resources over the other lesser fortunate classes without resources. One soon realises that the exalted speeches of the politicians do not actually match the realities of the moment; one has to howl like a Ginsberg to make the world aware.

The politician has a mother in patriotism, but the poet finds a mentor in the reality of the moment.
That one should follow a strange hope that some day all things will be fine, is reminiscent to one believing that burying one’s head in the sand will curtail the fury of a sandstorm. We cannot ignore the fact that the reality of the moment demands total confrontation of the facts: indifference to the fact of the moment never solves any problem, but it instead foments a concoction of troubles that the world will find hard to solve, that is if the world can solve the full force of a current pandemic in explosion.

It is a futile effort if what affects society and the individual is treated as a private issue as has been the case since the start of the pandemic’s spread to the present day. Rather than fight wars we did not create and do not understand, we should today rather spend our time ridding the world of the malady that is now upon us as the human kind. It has been said (in the Chaos Theory) that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a typhoon on the other side of the world. An issue that began as a few Coronavirus cases in the Far East ended up affecting the entire world negatively.

The autocratic tendencies of the speculators and the decision makers are dependent upon the fallacious premise that only those in positions of power have the clout when it comes to establishing the balance of equilibrium: it is not only a given sector of society that holds the right to own and to decide when all of us are affected.

The little battles between small sectors in society could soon spiral out of control if the autocratic authorities and the panels of ‘experts’ keep on maintaining their condescending stance when it comes to addressing problems associated with the Coronavirus. We should understand that this is not a political war at the end of the day; politicians and experts should reserve their ‘expert’ discussions to the parliament and the boardroom if we are to survive the pandemic.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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