regular blog of Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
justice for ordinary people
I've decided I've grown tired of protesting in the names of nations, because, ultimately, we, the citizens, the ordinary people, are simply mixed in with the rhetoric of politicians for effect. You only have to look at how athletes/footballers from Zola Budd (SA - UK), to Wilson Kipketer (Kenya - Denmark) to Gerald Asamoah (Ghana - Germany), to Chris Birchall (UK-Trinidad) have switched 'nationalities' to compete passionately for their adopted countries to realise that nations are just constructs to flare up people's passions towards causes espoused by - you guessed it - politicians. I mean I'm looking at this Lebanon - Israel - Palestine triangle and I'm thinking I don't thing anyone's hands are clean (although I do think Israel have more blood on their hands) so I feel a little odd about taking a placard and going out to protest for Justice for Palestine or Justice for Lebanon or whatever... I want my placard to read 'Justice for Ordinary People': I think it's sick that Israeli military commanders can be as young as 21 - the boys barely have a youth, and since they haven't really known pain they don't know what they are doing, and I think it's sick that they are ordered to fire on UN bases, families, and vital infrastructure by leaders who have just inherited bitterness from their fathers and have forgotten that what most ordinary people want in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and a dozen other war torn places is the ability to sit outside and stare at the sun without wondering when the next attack is coming... Anyway, that's my rant for the day. I had a brilliant evening yesterday at aromapoetry STAGE - some really fantastic readers out on the open mike, and the x magazine reading was great too. Although I edit the magazine, I only get to meet the writers at these readings and there's nothing nicer than putting a face to a poem :) - you can buy x magazine online at inpress books and you can read excerpts online at www.flippedeye.net/xmag. On my way from the reading I met my friend, SOAS Librarian Chris Gutkind (no jokes about all my friends having something to do with books, please!) who recently released a collection of poetry 'Inside to Outside'. I bought a copy off him, and although it's on the avant garde side of things and it takes me a while to digest those, I loved some lines like 'fire is happiest in unused matches' from the poem "Here" and 'they still look around listening for the sound of what-to-do' from "Inbetween". I also picked up Courttia Newland's new short story collection, Music for the Off-Key, at his fantastic launch, although I could only stop by for a short time because it was in London and a considerable distance from my bed... and we all know ordinary people need their sleep!