Even in the village, I keep to the back paths- The Road not Taken! (Now is that your Frost or what? How would I know; literary pursuits went out with big dreams.) I see the local lads sitting on stones, tree stumps, anything. And they wait- just like in the city- wait and talk. It is ten o’clock in the morning all ready so there might be no casual jobs coming in today. You know no chance of turning that loose fifty bob. They are no where close to raising their quota of the mythical a dollar a day that their families are meant to live by.
So here they are. Yet another day… another missed dollar. In lieu of work, they wait. None of them knows what he waits for. Everyone waits because everyone else seems to be waiting. The Administration Policemen at the Chief’s Camp call it, idling with intent. “Intent to do what…?” I wonder “… intent to idle some more?”
And still they wait- wait for a half-life; wait for a shared can of Napshizzle; wait for a joint- wait to escape. There goes the neighbourhood: kids who can’t tell their dreams from a khat twig on the ground.
Clenched fists salute all around… “Gota Kizee… one love… Jah Bless I ‘n’ I”. .. Et Cetera. I perch on an ancient derrière deifying rock. Juu ya mawe! In the city, there would have been a used Kasuku can or the potholed macadam as an alternative pew, but in the village it is either the Hard Rock or the rusted debe. And the debe here has the legend, Italian Aid Fund. It must be a relic of a Bob Geldofish Christmas gift circa 1985. In the village, the vortex of time reels anticlockwise!
Yet they haven’t missed anything much in those two decades. What has changed, really, beyond the entrenchment of social stratification contrasted against a dearth of equitable means of attaining social mobility? (Note: Equity and not Equality. For those seeking a pigeonhole to thrust me into, I am with Max Weber and not Karl Marx.)
The Oligarchs have successfully thrown a feudal wall of self-perpetuation around themselves with the emergence of a ‘democratically elected Aristocracy'. The Petite Bourgeoisie have sold their souls to the Nobility for two dollar CDF contracts and the roads and school roofs that are due to them by right. They have become Knight Defenders of their leaders’ failures and wearing their armour of voter’s cards, they guard- often with their lives- the transition of the Baronetcies from fathers to sons… to wives; on and on to cousins of varied remove. But the Proletariats; the Proles are still hungry and fighting with the dogs- and eating the dogs at times- for crumbs at the foot of Dives table.
I always got one and a box of Rhino Kubwa matches! It is a conversation starter, a joint is. But most importantly, it helps sustain my Messianic Complex. I am the WAY…
“Got a LIGHT?”
“In TRUTH I got one…”
The weed and the alcohol is a portal through which these youths try to step away from the harsh realities of this world. It is a street sanctioned Escape Mechanism. Your world may frown at Escapism but for these youths, it is their only way of stealing glances at a good life. For one furtive moment, albeit in a one-dimensional fantasy world, one can be every thing they deserve to be. Escapism is a journey to the plane of lucid dreams where you become a doctor, a lawyer, a capitalist… momentarily, your dreams are realised and you are living life in Technicolor.
But the good life- particularly the Escapist’s simulacra of it- is like being with a mistress, sooner rather than later you have to put your stuff back into your jeans and take it back home to your frigid wife… ahem!... life, I mean.
A joint is to these kids like a ‘file’ and ‘wittles’ to Dickens’ Magwitch; it will cut away at their shackles and act as a Placebo of relief against the pulsating pain of life sans meals, past or present. It is their Holy Grail- perpetually they seek it. It is the blood of the Covenant that they drink, in a veritable Dark Mass, to celebrate their “freemasonry as fellow sufferers”.
Tings a Gwan na babylon fi yout’ man! is their mantra and they chant it as the Pillar of Smoke rises above the barren earth of their existence and leads them to the Zion Train of Escapism.
Kama takes a Herculian inhalation and blows long, ponderous whiffs on the joint as he watches it rapidly burn itself out like his ambitions. “So they have put aside a billion or two for the youth…” he muses.
“Great Expectations…!” they chorus eagerly reaching out for the joint as though those two hits are their fair share of the said kitty.
And they could as well take it- in their vaporous dreams that is- for in real life, they never will. I am cynical, yes. That because I have heard Parliamentarians clamouring to play Mr. Jaggers to these Great Expectations. Cynical because these youths have a self-serving politician for their Magwitch, and their Great Expectations will, in the end, turn out to be the Theatre of Broken Dreams.