Salone’s More-than-Soyinka Arises – Mohamed Gibril Sesay!!


August 10, 2015 By OSWALD HANCILE

Sociology professor at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay, in his 2015-published book,  ‘This Side of Nothingness’ (Publishers: Sierra Leonean Writers Series & Karantha Publishers – ISBN: 978-99910-921-7-1) has marched courageously into a literary minefield, unleashing  those thoughts  that could earn him the laurel as the most courageous African writer ever. Ever!!  As Gibril turns a microscope on the minutiae of that overpowering human sexuality  which typifies the crammed Fourah Bay, in the Eastend of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he was born and bred, he taunts the hypocrisy of the learned elite of his country who are inclined to ‘do’ but never to publicly confront the lewd practicality  of their human nature.   Gibril uses literary sophisticated language glossed with poetic cadence that swooshes, oscillates, and gyrates from Greek mythology to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; with liberal doses of the Quran and the Bible; and, ambitious dashes of Temne and Krio without italics or single quotation marks –  as if Gibril were challengingly  saying, ‘English is a mish-mash of many languages, and I hereby inject Temne and Krio words into what is now The Universal Language; and you must accept them’.  Gibril’s literary audaciousness is visible in the  book more in his handling of ‘God’ from Christian and Islamic perspectives, and that is what I would stick to in this first of the serial in my review of Gibril’s book.

Man used to sacrifice humans to ‘God’; now, ‘God’ eats humans

Read, and, listen to the ‘beat’ of Gibril’s sentences on ‘God’: “But I must continue the story of our neighbor’s child, the one as handsome as Anabi-Yusufu.  His father was a party to his gruesome murder.   The father was poor and also bad; so when a politician told him he was paying huge sums for body parts to make election juju, this bad father gave his son.

“This is Ikemefuna in the forests of Sierra Leone.  And when the child cried ‘father’ this bad father drew his machete and cut the innocent child down, much like Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

“Deities, gods, goddesses, in Things Fall Apart, the holy text of African literature, there is a story about some deity of Umuofia that demanded human blood.  History, fiction and divine myths are replete with man-eating gods.  From Aztec to Ur, the gods demanded human sacrifice.  But civilization steeped in the myths of Emperor Constantine has put an end to that.

“Who is Emperor Constantine, asked Younger Brother.

“So you don’t know Emperor Constantine, O history shallow youth…: He was the Roman emperor who was converted to Christianity and put the power of the state behind a particular way of looking at Christ.  It is civilization steeped in the assertions of that emperor that put an end to manwoman eating gods in what they now call the West.  So now we have god-eating menwomen; god-flesh deifies the masses during mass, what a change of fortunes! (Page 7)…”

Read that again, “history shallow youth”, and, worse, what about history-bereft adult?: Christianity was made powerful by the temporal power of a Roman emperor; and, many of Christianity’s rituals were taken from the paganism of the Roman Empire.   Pope Francis, and learned Catholics, do know this; but, the new fire-eating evangelists do not know this.   So, would Christian fundamentalists seek vengeance on Gibril for striving to unmask their ‘Christian ogogu’ in the presence of the fervent believers of African Christian youth especially? It also could mean that “The God/ess” is the gluttonous richest countries of the world – over-eating the planet earth, and as Climate Change shows, committing collective  slow global suicide.

 Would Gibril be forced to drink the ‘hemlock’?

There is a parallel in what could happen to Gibril in the pages of his own book: “All about those pages you’d be stained with the smuts of my words, like how they say Socrates’ words muddied the brains of Athenian youths.  The Athenians forced Wiseman Socrates to take hemlock for it.  Forced.  Well, not exactly, Plato said Wiseman Socrates refused to escape; that Wiseman Socrates said it was impious not to submit to the judgment of the Athenian masses, that for Wiseman Socrates the voice of the masses was the voice of the God/ess, vox populi vox dei.

“Shiyor, me nor buy that nonsense, said Younger Brother.

“Why? I asked.

“Younger Brother replied, if the masses voice were the voice of God/ess, then the darkness of their lives would have long become light.  Is The God/ess voice not an irresistible command?  Look it up in the book of the Holy Ones: Let there be light and there is light.  But how many times have the masses in this mandamn place said let there be light, but no light reply.  Me nor buy that nonsense, the voice of the masses is not the voice of  The- God/ess (Page 9)…”

 God is BOTH male and female – “The God/ess”

The drama in Gibril’s book is largely one of a dialogue between ‘himself’ and Younger Brother – who could symbolize the majority of gullible youth lapping on Christian and Islamic beliefs without critical minds.  It is also more than that.  Gibril raises the quintessential philosophical question of ‘God’: is ‘God’ male or female? With intellectual pugnacity, Gibril is resolute: God is BOTH male and female – “The God/ess”; and, according to Gibril, ‘God’ could even be a ‘it’. Nearly all the lettered religions in the world have always posited ‘God’ as masculine. White man!! But, Gibril, versed in the knowledge of the awesome vastness of the cosmos and its hundreds of billions of galaxies and its probable trillions of planets; its Black Holes and Dark Matter; and the profusion of life on planet earth even after three mass extinctions… has to conclude that ‘God’ CAN’T be male; no male is capable of such fecundity! It is woman that begets life; babies.

 “…(is) The-God/ess around..?”

Gibril’s was born in one of the most famous Islamic homes in Freetown; and is learned in the Quran; but, his apparent swipe at how Islam is being practiced in his country is also a caustic criticism of the Islamic world generally, and could not get him visiting Afghanistan or ISIS-Syria in his life time.  Read Gibril: “Muck on gowns returning from the mosque, also called the masjid, the place of prostrations, the place of putting your foreheads on the floor and baring your nape to the Lord.  ‘Here is my nape, O Lord, I submit it to your majesty; it is yours to trample upon.  I am not even looking, I believe in the lovingness of your foot; my eyes are on the earth, I have faith on the benevolence of your trampling; my forehead on dirt, I reckon you may yet spare my nape the dirt rushing in from the dirt part of my origin’.

“What is the dirt part of our origins’, Younger Brother asked…

 “The dirt of the world are waves lashing the walls of The God/ess’ house, which as you know is us; we are temples of the Lord.  But, the dirt is also us; we rush in with our slime anytime the doors of the temples of the Lord open, staining The God/ess’ carpet beyond purification.  The- God/ess every second changes hisherit carpets, only for the new generation to do unto the carpets what others had done unto them, like parents like children.  Like Adam like Eve like Cain like Kabil…..Like Sodom like Gomorrah, like Hamana like Judas… like Pol Pot like Saybana Sankoh

“Somehow, The Preacher replied, The-God/ess’ favorite color is green; the people of paradise wear green robes and recline on green couches.  Paradise is resplendent with all shades of green

“What about blue…..

“The Preacher replied, those colors are fictitious; go closer, you’ll see they are not blue at all.

“Younger Brother looked at Preacher with eyes the color of boiling palm-oil and sizzled, ‘Close range and afar are different.  Reality afar and reality at close range are different.  Perception at close range may be fiction to the person further away.  At close range everything is dark; the eyes see nothing when something is very close to it

“The othertime, yea, it was on a Friday, we were inspecting a guard of dishonor mounted by beggars at the entrance of the mosque.  Younger Brother looked hard at the festering sore of a mendicant and asked, ‘is The-God/ess around’ (Page 12/13)….”

In those lines Gibril lampoons hypocrisy; slams at the Islamic religion that appears blind to “…a guard of dishonor mounted by beggars at the entrance of the mosque…”.   Is this line a criticism of the manner of prayer in Islam or the Islamic prayer mode that has been used as a psychological weapon by Islamic tyrants to keep their majority subjugated: “…I have faith on the benevolence of your trampling; my forehead on dirt…”.   I wonder whether Gibril would be performing a Hajj soon to Saudi Arabia with these lines published in his book, “The-God/ess’ favorite color is green; the people of paradise wear green robes and recline on green couches…” – for the flag of the Saudi Arabia which is the cradle of Islam is “green”.   In political-color-sensitive Sierra Leone, there is likely to be applause in ‘green quarters’ when the very powerful AND ‘red Gibril’ pens these words: “Paradise is resplendent with all shades of green”: could it mean an ominous ring of disloyalty?   The provocative and thought provoking Gibril chides us that “….. Close range and afar are different.  Reality afar and reality at close range are different….”.  Gibril’s “The Preacher” preaches that “colors are fictitious”.

I have told Gibril that I am first in line to ‘mutate’ his book into a full length film to reach out to the majority youth in our country, and Africa who would benefit the most from it.  As Gibril makes mirth of rebels in our war years with rebel being a proper noun – ‘Rebel’ – and as he writes about brothel-type sexuality, I perceive that he is rebelling; and he aims that his book would be a primer for intellectual Rebels of his generation. Clearly, Gibril has out-Soyinka-ed Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka!!  (To be continued).