It is Monday morning , Buffalo America, and I am returning to the lab. I am returning from class where I have spent the entire hour daydreaming, wondering what life would be like if I didn’t continually have to assess the quality of the insult—why are there no credible papers on Bantu languages? It is not, they said with their smiles, that there are no papers on the Niger-Congo family of languages. But credibility is assigned as a formalist function from M.I.T. to California, and nowhere in that relation is there a Nigerian name. Or so the tabloids declaim.
I am strolling with Noyen, a delightful sort who immigrated to Canada from Uniben. She claims she has lost her Nigerian roots, but something about her ivory bangles and the unbuttoned first button of her executive attire reminds me of a woman I once knew, whose people “forbid paw-paw.”
“Come see my office,” she insists, and so I follow her upon the elevator and then on to the tenth floor. It is standing there, her office, like the objective of the Pilgrim. I progress towards the door and see a mirror.
“That’s your people, is it not?”
I look closely at the picture. It is a man in Spanish robes. He is dressed regally and could be mistaken for a Spanish royal. But he is black. And he wields a spear. And there is a bone through his nose…
“Er… Domingo did not have a bone through his nose” I point out to the young lady.
“It is the story that the Portuguese want to tell,” she says, “so that we can discover his original name. The Itsekiri are part and parcel of the Portuguese Royal Family.”
“Do you mean to say, then, that Benin Lords over Portugal?”
“Not only in their imaginations and sailor’s yarns, but in practical matters. The one with the story to tell is the one with the power. It is Benin today.”
Don Domingo. A man who was court’d by so many of the palace women, jealousy caused the intent of the business class to esteem the value of a man by the labor he could produce, not by his effectiveness in demonstrating, as Domingo must have done, the beauty of, as Fela put it to me that evening, the African concept. The cause of slavery was Don Domingo, but only because he was empirical proof, to the Vatican, that it was true what the Sanskrits said. There was a Smith deep in the Congo and his time was fast approaching. Slavery, the decree that sailed it out into the horizon, one mad man after another, captain and commanders of her Majesty’s bosom, was merely, then, a reflection of our hopes and fears. Liberty, too, then, must be a reflection of our peace of mind. What are our traditions?
They say a man named Ali-Emeka docked, from a journey in a Canoe from Kano when Kano was Pangeria, and brought twenty four sacks of cocaine with him. He was the Sun of the Pharaohs, they say, and had to leave Kano because his consumption of these substances had depleted the Sahara.
“First I built a hole in the ground, then I built a clay city to demonstrate why I built a hole in the ground, then I built a stone city to demonstrate why I built a clay city to demonstrate why I built a hole in the ground, then I built a mountain to demonstrate why I live atop Mount Everest. It is the tradition of the men and women of Nature. Zens and Zionesses, the philosophy of peace of mind is in ignoring the foolish and embracing the wise. It is why, AJAMOKIAGHAN, I have embraced you.”
Baba Zen said to me, when I asked why Shango was adjudicating this matter in Israel, if I knew the code of two.
“I have used the code of three to decipher Baal-Hanan of Agbor and the Maya and the Americans in the Bible. But the code of two is as unto Cain and Abel.”
“Even better,” Baba Zen said, “for the book of Genesis is that from which the oath of marriage is gotten. Would you not, my son, argue the case for your wife, Eve, when God calls?”
“It was the woman you did not give to me…”
“Indeed, indeed. The Europeans have always been meticulous, as we can see from their description of Hiroshima. In penitence, then, we should be very careful when we understand what Lucy is saying.”
“How can I understand the voice of a Kenyan woman?”
“Use Ifa” he said, “and your days will be long.”
There was little or no evidence to the contrary. The white man was not the devil, as Minister Farrakhan tried to convince me. He was a god. But so was I and the man whose image I was carving, as he sat quietly like a statue and moved his eyes softly. I followed his glare and found Oyo. We had met there, he said, before, and planned our resurrection. Now that the elders were on their way to the place they had discussed, I had no choice but to resurrect New Oyo. I just needed to know what our traditions were.
“What are our traditions?” I asked an Urhobo King.
“The Urhobo have no God” he told me. I bought my Agbada that day, three weeks before my thirty-first birthday, and suddenly became the toast of Ife. It seems that according to Yoruba tradition a child must choose the cloth he will be buried in during the year in which he is thirty. But what next would I do? If our traditions were not circumscribed in this book of the law, then we had no history. It is why I sought out His Eminence, Don Domingo, a statue in my pantheon, whose quietness told me in the solitude of Ife, that I would be buried with the Kings of the Kings of Oyo. I am the Bantu and you, Ogbeni Osha-Reh Mah-Zarine, are his messenger. Who, then is he who kemet? I did not wait for another from Nazareth. The Arab Nationalists were a group of Essene insurgents who, again, failed to demonstrate why King David was also the President of a Hebrew Democracy. Somewhere in Jerusalem lie the ruins of Greek civilization. He was called… Orunmillon.