La colonisation avait pour objectif de nous faire changer de culture, l’indépendance… la vraie devait être un mouvement de renaissance culturelle. Après avoir moqué et ridiculisé nos culture, il fallait qu’on restaure nos identités perdues ou souillées. Nos pays devaient remettre nos culture et la culture en général au cœur de son projet de développement. Il fallait un volet culture pour chaque projet que ce soit la route, l’école, l’hôpital, l’entreprise… S’il n’y a pas de mot pour dire culture dans nos langues, c’est parce que la culture c’est nous. La culture ce ne sont pas les troupes qui vont accueillir le président à l’aéroport comme ils le faisaient à l’époque pour accueillir l’administrateur colonial, la culture ce n’est les femmes d’ambiance, celles là que les hommes appellent pour chanter quand eux les hommes ont fini de discuter de choses sérieuses, la culture ce n’est pas le spectacle d’un cabaret où le fonctionnaire qui a touché sa paye le 26 du mois se lève pour aller coller un billet sur les seins de la chanteuse… la culture c’est ces moments qui nous ont façonné voire engendré. Cette chanson de Cher Ami qui a fait que ma mère est tombée amoureuse de mon père et qu’ils m’ont mis au monde. La culture c’est le récit national celui qui raconte à nos enfants qui nous étions avant que le blanc ne vienne nous soumettre, la culture c’est raconter luttes de nos parents pour ne pas tomber sous la domination du blanc. les luttes pour rester nous-mêmes. La culture n’a pas de prix, la culture n’est pas une marchandise, voilà pourquoi tous les peuples qui aspirent à autre chose qu’à être des bouches et des ventres en font une priorité. Ils en font même une exception qu’ils appellent « exception culturelle » ce qui veut dire qu’on la traite comme une affaire exceptionnelle. Tout comme la société a besoin de politique, la culture a besoin d’une politique, la politique culturelle, c’est à dire l’ensemble des règles qui organisent le secteur comme l’administration qui a créé un statut du fonctionnaire, l’artiste a besoin d’un statut. Comme le fonctionnaire reçoit un revenu le 26, l’artiste a besoin d’un revenu. Comme le fonctionnaire a reçoit une retraite, l’artiste a besoin d’une retraite. Un pays qui a un peu de dignité ne peut pas laisser sa culture entre les mains de ce qui auparavant avaient décider de l’effacer. L’artiste vaut mieux que ces hommes d’affaires qui après tout ne sont que des Bayam Salam. Qu’ils achètent en Chine, en Turquie ou en France ils ne créent pas la richesse comme l’artiste avec sa seule inspiration transforme sa voix en dollars ! Et ils ne volent l’argent de personne. Il ne prennent la place de personne. C’est lorsque nous aurons mis la culture au centre du fonctionnement de notre pays que nous serons vraiment des gens libres.
Dear white friends, there are truths we must tell each other. On January 11, 2018, I published a text entitled DON’T TALK ABOUT US. https://bekolopress.wordpress.com/…/…/06/dont-talk-about-us/
I was addressing the Berlin Film Festival, which had certainly selected my film AFRICA, THOUGHT IN MOTION but had rejected two other of my projects, the series OUR WISHES about German colonization in Cameroon and MIRACULOUS WEAPONS about a black man sentenced to death in South Africa. I rebelled against this systematic cleansing of images that involved black and white. This image that all of you are obliged to watch is an image that is being cleaned from our screens. What do we expect from cinema? That it produces in us a certain comfort I imagine… That it hides the unbearable crimes that take place before our eyes? We filmmakers must all say thank you, Judeah Reynolds. Judeah Reynolds is the little girl who showed us what’s going on while we are busy watching the thousands of movies on Netflix that show us nothing. Judeah Reynolds deserves more than any Oscar because the essential mission of cinema is to show.
In this text at the Berlinale I asked why do you mind those films that ask the question « how are we going to live together », black and white…?
In fact what is happening here is what Sartre is talking about in the Orphée Noir, when he says that « Here are… standing men watching us and I wish you to feel as I do the grasp of being seen. For the white man has enjoyed three thousand years the privilege of seeing without being seen. « What is this cinema in which you cannot be seen? A cinema that doesn’t show. What is it? And who are these spectators who want to remain comfortable and are afraid of being « seen »? Isn’t a festival there to produce that « thrill » that Sartre talks about in order to start a conversation? When we’re talking about relationships, it’s hard not to mention Fanon, who feels that the encounter between the African and the white man has made the African sick. Even if he does not evoke it in this way, he also says in fact that this same encounter made the white man even sicker. While we think of the relationship as a therapy, one of the sick people tries to escape from it and very often poses as a doctor despite his condition.
How can we not see in this unbearable image of this white policeman coming in to kill a black man in front of our eyes, the image of a sick white man?
If tomorrow the conversation that I asked the Berlinale to have will one day be possible between black and white, it will only be because the white man has been caught in the act of committing a crime. And this flagrante delicto, which the French government would like to make impossible by prohibiting the filming of the police from now on.
I am happy to have challenged you, the Berlinale team, to demand this conversation which is the subject of my film MIRACULOUS WEAPONS and the series OUR WISHES. We have thousands of movies on Netflix that show us nothing. And yet we all watch Netflix. My indignation against the Berlinale came from a desire to improve « the relationship » in a world where we all have no relationship at all. I ended by saying that « Our world is sick with racism, for a better living-together therapy more than ever before, suffer a little that we too talk about you. » #miraculousweapons
Chers amis blancs, il est des vérités qu’on doit se dire. Le 11 janvier 2018, je publiais un texte intitulé NE PARLE PAS DE NOUS. https://bekolopress.wordpress.com/?s=berlinale+ Je m’adressais au Festival de Berlin qui certes avait sélectionné mon film AFRIQUE LA PENSEE EN MOUVEMENT mais avait rejeté deux autres de mes projets, la série OUR WISHES sur la colonisation Allemande au Cameroun et MIRACULOUS WEAPONS sur un noir condamné à mort en Afrique du Sud. Je m’insurgeais contre ce nettoyage systématique d’images qui impliquent blancs et noirs. Cette image que vous avez tous été obligés de regarder est une image qui est nettoyée de nos écrans. Qu’attendons-nous du cinema? Qu’il produisent en nous un certain confort j’imagine… Qu’il cache ces crimes insoutenables qui se déroulent pour autant sous nos yeux? Nous cineaste devons tous te dire Merci Judeah Reynolds. Judeah Reynolds est cette fillette qui nous a montré ce qui passe pendant que nous sommes occupés à regarder les milliers de films sur Netflix qui ne nous montrent rien. Judeah Reynolds mérite bien plus que tous oscars car la mission essentielle du cinema est de montrer.
Dans ce texte à la Berlinale je demandais pourquoi ces films qui posent la question de « comment allons-nous vivre ensemble » blancs et noirs vous dérangent…?
En fait ce qui se passe ici c’est ce dont parle Sartre dans l’Orphée Noir, quand il dit que « Voici…. des hommes debout qui nous regardent et je vous souhaite de ressentir comme moi le saisissement d’être vu. Car le blanc a joui trois mille ans du privilège de voir sans qu’on le voie. » Qu’est-ce que ce cinema dans lequel on ne vous voit pas? Un cinéma qui ne montre pas. qu’est-ce que c’est? Et qui sont ces spectateurs qui veulent rester confortable et qui ont peur d’être “vus”? Un festival n’est-il pas là pour produire ce “saisissement” dont parle Sartre afin d’engager la conversation? Lorsque nous parlons de relation, difficile de ne pas évoquer Fanon qui trouve que la rencontre entre l’Africain et le blanc a rendu l’Africain malade. Même s’il ne l’évoque pas de cette manière, il dit aussi en fait que cette même rencontre a rendu le blanc encore plus malade. Alors que nous envisageons la relation comme une thérapie, l’un des malades essaye d’y échapper et très se souvent se pose médecin malgré son état.
Comment ne pas voir dans cette image insoutenable de ce policier blanc entrer de tuer un noir sous nos yeux, l’image d’un homme blanc malade?
Si demain la conversation que je demandais à la Berlinale sera un jour possible entre le blanc et le noir, ce sera uniquement parce que le blanc a été pris en flagrant délit de crime. Et ce flagrant délit que le gouvernement français voudrait rendre impossible en interdisant qu’on filme désormais la police.
Je suis heureux d’avoir vous avoir “challenge”, vous l’équipe de la Berlinale afin d’exiger cette conversation qui est le sujet de mon film MIRACULOUS WEAPONS et la série OUR WISHES. Nous avons des milliers de films sur Netflix qui ne nous montrent rien. Et pourtant nous regardons tous Netflix. Mon indignation contre la Berlinale venait d’une volonté d’améliorer “la relation” dans un monde où tout nous même à la non-relation. Je terminais en disant que “Notre monde est malade de racisme, pour une thérapie collective plus que jamais indispensable pour un meilleur vivre-ensemble, souffrez un peu que nous aussi, nous parlions de vous.” #miraculousweapons , #ourwishes, #jeanpierrebekolo.
Posted on January 11, 2018 by Jean-Pierre Bekolo
This is the indirect message that the Berlinale, which is wrapping up its programme for the next festival, is sending to me as an African filmmaker. Indeed, of the three projects that the Berlinale executives asked me to submit, how is it that the two films that talk about « relationship » were eliminated? One would think that this festival, in addition to the other criticisms that have been levelled at it, positions Germany in the « non-relation » at a time when, however, in view of migration, this is more important than ever.
Why does the question « how are we going to live together » bother Germans? The first film commissioned by the Berlinale is precisely about the beginning of the relationship, the so-called « first encounter » between Germans and Africans; those first encounters that led to colonialism, when we know that we have not yet come out of colonialism; its title OUR WISHES. The second is about the relationship between whites and blacks against a backdrop of negritude and apartheid MIRACULOUS WEAPONS. The third is the discussion of African intellectuals in Dakar by Achille Mbembe and Felwine Sarr LA PENSEE EN MOVEMENT. You don’t need to draw a picture to understand which one interested the executives of the Berlinale, who cannot deny that they « love » the continent… but how do they love it? Because the comfort of the German public seems to be the editorial line, anything that would make them uncomfortable must be removed. The Berlinale would be comfortable with its audience when we talk about « us », when we tell our stories about Africans… without looking at them « white people ». The Berlinale, which also manages a financing fund for « world films » World Cinema Fund, thus influencing films upstream, confirms this line that insidiously tells us « Tell us about you, but above all don’t talk about us ».
In fact what is happening here is what Sartre talks about in L’Orphée Noir, when he says that « Here are… standing men watching us and I wish you to feel as I do the grasp of being seen. For the white man has enjoyed three thousand years the privilege of seeing without being seen. « What is this cinema in which you cannot be seen? A cinema that doesn’t show. What is it? And who are these spectators who want to remain comfortable and are afraid of being « seen »? Isn’t a festival there to produce that « seizure » that Sartre talks about in order to start a conversation? When we’re talking about relationships, it’s hard not to mention Fanon, who feels that the encounter between the African and the white man has made the African sick. Even if he does not evoke it in this way, he also says in fact that this same encounter made the white man even sicker. While we think of the relationship as a therapy, one of the sick people tries to escape from it and very often poses as a doctor despite his condition.
Beyond the many opportunisms to which we filmmakers are subjected, due to the need for funding and promotion, it is important that we denounce the drifts of practices in our sector that influence in one way or another the world we all want to improve, otherwise what binds us in this cinema community between Africans and Europeans despite asymmetrical economic power relations, the beers we drink in festivals or a certain idea of how we can improve « the relationship » in a world where everything ourselves is not related. When you know the amount of Western productions that talk about Africa, you can’t operate these small censorships on the basis of your small individual comforts. Our world is sick with racism, for a collective therapy more than ever indispensable for a better living-together, suffer a little that we too speak of you.
Applied fiction is therefore based on the principle that we live in a world where the course of life is written, acted and watched by men. It also includes the behaviour of those who do not know what is going on. Hence the first principle of what I call Applied Fiction.
1ST PRINCIPLE OF APPLIED FICTION
All human societies are made up of four categories of people: those who write what their contemporaries are experiencing, those who play what has been written, those who watch and those who do not know what is going on.
2ND PRINCIPLE OF APPLIED FICTION
The second principle tells him that anyone in a lower category aspires to move up to the category above. Thus, he who does not know what is happening aspires to become a spectator who only aspires to become an actor who himself would like to be a screenwriter. Men are always attracted in the direction of greater knowledge. Thus, he who does not know what is happening will evolve towards the closest level of knowledge, that is, becoming a spectator. The spectator will evolve to be an actor and the actor to be a screenwriter.
History having taught us that invisible screenwriters are not always honest and do not always work for the good of humanity, Hitler is an example of this, so there is a category to be created among the spectators who do not aspire to be actors but possibly screenwriters themselves, except that their scripts would only be critical re-readings of the scripts of previous or contemporary screenwriters. They are « viewders ». A bit like James Joyce re-reading The Odyssey when he wrote Ulysses. We could even go further by introducing the « screenwriter’s sermon ». By writer, I mean any person who holds a power that can influence the « dynamic architecture » of human daily life.
A WORLD IN FOURTH DIMENSIONS
Everything comes down to saying that the world has four dimensions: the conceived world, which calls on religion and morals, the played world, which is more in the realm of politics, economics and social organisation, the viewed world, which calls on art and science, and finally the ignored world, which calls on education.
THE COMMENTARY CULTURE
Our knowledge of the world and daily events is made through the media, so that they become an extension of our daily environment. It is the theatre of actors and spectators where the intermediaries are journalists. Having neither the time nor the means to dissect the available information in depth, we are content with a comment made by a third party. For example, we will not go and see all the films advertised in a newspaper, we will read the reviews and most often it will be all we will have left of those films that we have not seen but for which we will have had a summary report. If there were ten films that were advertised and we saw one, there would be nine films left, of which we would only have kept one journalist’s review. This is why the applied fiction writer does not just write his invisible story. He also writes the summary report or even the critique of his story, because that may be all that some people will retain.
TRANSACTIONS AROUND FICTION
The phenomenon we are witnessing in the stock market today is completely related to the stories that are told to the people who buy and sell the shares. We buy and sell based on a story we’ve heard. The phenomenon is all the more important as companies are becoming more and more virtual. The most speculative shares are those of internet companies because they feed only on fiction. We have also seen the phenomena of mergers or downsizing that are nothing more than stories that investors believe. Believing that they are following a certain reality, they actually create it according to the « principle of reflexivity ». The principle of reflexivity is a principle that is based on the principle that behind every action there is a reaction. In the same way as we act on the world, the world acts on us and lives towards it.
Applied fiction leads individuals to act according to the story they hear, but at the same time, their behaviour acts on the story that becomes reality. In the beginning, the story is neither true nor false, it is a story. We are beings whose need for fiction shapes the world we live in.
Fiction in one’s profession and therefore the lives of others is the way to reach the highest level. Thus, the company that will produce the best story will see its stock explode. Even the tramp who approaches you on the street is aware that depending on the story he tells you, he will get the part he wants. More and more scams are organised around fiction. They make you believe in banking transactions that will multiply your money.
What is most surprising is the disbelief of the people who believe in it. Who among us hasn’t yet been fooled by a bum? We have an insatiable need for fiction, and when faced with a story, we remain children. That is why fiction is a formidable weapon or protection when it is used in everyday life. We are witnessing another phenomenon, that of the history within us, which leads us to ignore the inevitable scientifically proven.
LIVING IN CINEMA
The survival instinct that manifests itself through commercial activity in reality as well as in the media pushes the human being to a new type of communication with what it includes (impatience, limited listening, body language…). What will be left of the human? Only the future will tell us if humans were able to adapt to the pressure of the conditions created for legal entities such as companies. The question we have to ask ourselves is, what makes this way of life such a great story? In my opinion it is not. At least, the story is simplistic and Manichean. There are no shadows, no complexities. « Predictable. » How can you qualify a person’s desire to make money? That’s why it’s important that a discipline like applied fiction has a place in our daily lives, so that we can be, according to the circumstances, the Cid taking off his glove to give alms to a leper (Barby d’Aurevilly), Raskolnikov kneeling before Sonia the prostitute (Crime and Punishment). Thus applied fiction aims to help humans to understand, understanding is loving and loving that which resembles us the least reveals the most of ourselves. Also our life will question society about the presence of evil in it and consequently about the responsibility of institutions. It gives back a romantic ambition to our life. In this way, the story of human life will perhaps escape the bad station novel that is proposed to it; a novel forged by the commonplace of the moment by substituting it for a sublime original work, telling a story that is literature. Proust vs. Delly, Tournier vs. Guy
of the Cars, the fight is uneven. Living the poems with actions and feelings of the characters evolving in his universe, instead of just writing or reading them. And to learn in a crisis, that instead of going towards greater clarity, towards the dissipation of darkness as Holmes would do, why not try to start from a clear situation, restore uncertainty, provoke the thick fog where certainties will disappear and the initial situation will be swallowed up. Undo the enigma in order to better redo it. Isn’t this the « magic » that man needs? Carmen and her « if I love you, beware » are much more relevant to crimes of passion than a coroner’s report or the expectations of a magistrate who may never have known passion.
Applied fiction considers all human life to be an enigma, it does not seek to shed light on a man’s shadowy areas as psychoanalysis does. For they are his strength.
Why did Moses, according to Freud, need to make God invisible? To make his story last for thousands of years. No image has lasted as long in the human imagination as the absence of an image. This emptiness gives free rein to the most important fiction, religious faith. Imagine the power of the « God is Great! » of Ayathollah Khomeini’s revolution. It may not be a story in the technical sense with a beginning, a middle and an end, but it is the very thing that is the origin of stories. Imagine how many people have recognised themselves in « the civilising mission of France! » The number of changed destinies, tragedies, happiness behind this projection into fiction. Wasn’t Lenin’s biggest mistake « socialist realism », the absence of fiction? A country writes its history by assigning itself a role, a mission, by celebrating its heroes. This is how new characters feel endowed with this mission and create the destiny of this country. It is great politicians who define this destiny, in short a story that their fellow citizens must live. Of that order. France eminently represents the analytical, revolutionary, secular, irreligious period of humanity, and it is because of its powerlessness even in religion that it is linked with this sceptical indifference to the formulas of the past.
FRANCE, A FICTION
It may be that one day France, having fulfilled its role, will become an obstacle to the progress of humanity and disappear, for the roles are profoundly distinct; he who has made the analysis does not make the synthesis. To each his own work, such is the law of history. France will have been the great revolutionary instrument; will it be powerful for religious rebuilding?
The future will know.
In any case, it will have sufficed, for its glory, to sketch a face of humanity.
Renan E. L’Avenir de la Science 1890 (Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1910.) P. 318
Or some other kind,
It’s only a step, but it is made by France; and, in a given time,
every step France takes, the world will take. This is so true that, when she makes haste, the world revolts against her, and takes her to task, finding it even easier to fight her than to follow her. Therefore France’s policy must be a guiding policy and always be summed up in two words: never walk slowly enough to stop Europe, never walk fast enough to prevent Europe from joining.
Hugo V. The Rhine. Lettres A Un Ami 1842 (Paris, Ollendorff, 1906.) P. 466
And when Brittany will be no more, France will be; and when France will be no more,
mankind will still be, and eternally it will be said: Once upon a time, there was a noble country,
sympathetic to all beautiful things, whose destiny was to suffer for mankind and fight for it. Renan, The Future of Science: p.221
WE’LL ALL BE ACTORS
Where does an actor’s character begin and end for a spectator?
How many times have we been in front of an actor who doesn’t know us and go towards him as if he were an old friend with a big smile? Or the fact that through a TV commercial, we are challenged and perform an act of consumption in the real world, makes it clear that we are obliged to consider the virtual world on the same level as the real world. This is the question that applied fiction tries to answer. The actor needs to occupy the space of applied fiction. This space is a mixture of the virtual and real worlds. It is populated by people who are alive, dead or who have existed only in the imagination of its creators. The first objective of a person wanting to exist would therefore be to be born. It does not matter how one is born. « Any publicity is good publicity ». To be a citizen of this space, one must mainly have been recorded, recreated or told by the media images, texts or sounds. The space itself is subject to the same rules as the actors. At a time when Hollywood is no longer satisfied with the cinematographic space to make its actors evolve, and when its practices rub off on other professions, it is important to question what will remain natural and spontaneous in our daily lives.
If the century that is coming to an end has seen the camera at one end and television at the other, with the satellites in between, develop as the main tool of applied fiction, thus making men from all over the world spectators, the century that is beginning will aim to make these spectators actors. A process that had already begun with the television remote control. This process will be further developed with the mobile phone on one side, our daily space on the other with its plethora of gadgets, all of which will be transmitted via the Internet.
The mobile phone would be a kind of remote control in everyday life that would allow people to help themselves by dialling a number displayed on a drinks dispenser, and payment would be associated with the telephone bill.
We can imagine other scenarios. A jacket made of sensors connected to a mobile phone would make it possible to send ultrasound (and therefore visual) information at a given frequency, for example to a centre recording data for each person. This centre would make it possible to monitor the health of all individuals. Which brings us to the main tool that has been at the very basis of human evolution: memory.
THE HOLES OF DEPENDENCY
We can also see the dependency that men have on the holes that are: eyes, mouth, nose, ears, sex, anus and skin. Let’s mention the products that the holes consume in bulk:
Eyes: television, movies, photos, computers..,
Ears: music, sound system, TV-cinema sounds, lyrics,
phones, walkman, computers…
Mouth: food, drink/alcohol, tobacco, drugs,
The nose: air, smells, drugs…
Sex: condoms, trimmings…
Anus: toilet paper…
Skin: water, cream, clothes, razors, jewelry…
The producers of everything that the holes consume « write » every day what
we live. The greater the competition and the more you master the science, the more important the hole conditioning is. For example, getting the eyes to look at only one type of image, the ears to listen to only one type of sound, the mouth to eat only one type of food etc…
On top of that, holes can be infected by air, food, sex, drugs, tobacco, water, medicines, television, religion (sects), writing, pictures… Today there are several industries living from these infections. To top it all off, what is written in this way for mankind is tragic in the Aristotelian sense of the word. Doesn’t he say, « A good story should arouse fear and pity? »
It is in this sense that applied fiction is part of all consumer industries.
The purpose of our life is not to create a story; it is to live because every life is already a story. Some are original, others are « remakes », déjà vu; others are a formula for life written by others. It’s not by chance that the first time you meet an original individual, you feel like asking « what’s his story? ».
The Post-Obama Racial Narrative
If there is one thing we are sure about with Obama presidency it is that it has definitely silenced black activists, intellectuals and artists. Despite the fact that the country’s racial injustice hasn’t change, black voices have chosen to lift the pressure they have been putting since the civil rights on the American government. I am afraid that after the 8 years of Obama in the white house, black voices and activism will rise again, proving that they were not fighting to improve their conditions, but that they were doing exactly what they criticize with “white people”; which is racial solidarity. Despite the fact that Obama is stressing out that he is not the president of “black people”, Black voices are making sure they aren’t heard in critiquing him… at least publically. After such a bias posture it will be difficult for them to continue the struggle like before. This is the reason why black intellectuals are in a hole, a black hole, a hole they might never get out of again. If more concerned are not raised such as Cornel West’s who says that Obama’s politics are more centrist than progressive and do not uplift the poor, calling the president a newcomer . . . who wanted to reassure the establishment and someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy, Obama would have therefore neutralized centuries of black struggle by producing duplicity in black activists and intellectuals because they haven’t been able to reinvent an appropriate racial post-obama narrative. And The Rev Al Sharpton’s criticism of Cornel West falls in that trap when he says that gThis is the first time in this country that we have an African American president. He is not the president of African Americansc The problem wefre seeing with too many older-minded people is you donft want the next generation. You want clones. And people donft have to be your clone to validate your sacrifice.h
The duplicity was also generated by Obama himself since his Keynote Speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Mass on July 27, 2004 when he used his family heritage by saying g\ letfs face it \ my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father \ my grandfather \ was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Pattonfs army, marched across Europe.” We see clearly that Obama uses his difference which includes the racial difference and his multicultural origins which includes specifically his skin-color among many other differences, meaning his blackness. And later during his 2008 election campaign, without voicing it; he is telling us how much “change” was coming. Or when he says “Yes, we can”, one can wonder who is “we”? If you ask who usually can’t? Blacks in general are generally those who are perceived as those who can’t! Obama also repeated the same thing in his speech in Ghana when he said “And here is what you must know: The world will be what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, and end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can — because in this moment, history is on the move”. Obama in this speech has forgotten or ignored that he wasn’t recalled like Nicolas Sarkozy by Africans like they did with the former French President in his speech in Dakar, just because he was considered a son of Africa. Because the America is now president has never been on the side of Africans struggling against oppression. America Obama is now president was on the side of the apartheid regime against Nelson Mandela. No young African believes that America will come and help whenever they are fighting dictatorship, unless it’s for oil or other interest. But they all applauded Obama because he is black!
No doubt Obama is saying to non-blacks gYes you white can put a black man in the white househ. And to blacks, he is saying gYes, you black people, you Africans, you who usually canft, you can!h
Despite the fact that very few people have seen no or little “change” in their daily life in almost 4 years. Despite the fact that black intellectuals who are very disappointed aren’t not saying what they really think, like Cornel West who said that gMitt Romney is a catastrophic response to a catastrophe, whereas Obama is a disastrous response to a catastrophe.h Despite all that, they believe they “have to” vote for him again… without asking him anything in return? The pressure of silencing all black voices can be seen in the attacks from other black scholars against Cornell West when he says that “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear for free black men.”
In the middle of all this double duplicity, from both black voices and from Obama himself, there are gwhite peopleh. The gwhite peopleh narrative is almost like an invisible ghost that is justifying the duplicity of Obama on one side and on black intellectuals on the other side. The White peopleh rhetoric didnft just succeed to take over Obamafs presidency; they also manage to cripple black intellectuals in their ability to challenge the system when it is working against them. But the reality is that gWhite peopleh donft exist! The same way gblack peopleh donft exist. If gWhite peopleh did exist, how come Obama got elected president? Obama would have never existed if gWhite peopleh were gWhite peopleh.
Like with land issue in Zimbabwé, the land being claimed is not the land taken a century ago just because the very semantic definition of land has changed in the meantime. Land went from being the land of the ancestors with its symbolic meaning to being a commodity producing wealth for the market economy. Therefore even if the land was given back it would never be the land that was taken in the first place.
Same with the gwhite peopleh semantic which is an old narrative created at the time of slavery and that needed to evolve with the dynamic nature of human interactions, history, politics and race. This kind of mental construct is what will have to disappear since Obama was elected by some white people also. Among what is called white people, there are Democrats for example, there are Republicans, and there are more peoplec And among these white people there are many who voted for him, and there many who are also disappointed by him. And those have been ignored at the same time by black intellectuals and by Obama himself.
When do human decide to change language? When the language they speak is not able to tell them anymore the world they live in. The language I hear is not telling me accurately what is happening. What happen to all of us to a point where we focus so much on people who don’t like us anyway and never will? Why can we be so surprised by the hatred of some Republicans and Tea Party Movement generated by the fact that a black man is in the white house? They are doing what they are supposed to do and what they have been doing throughout history. The problem is with us who forgot that these people existed, we are surprised that Obama is facing adversity from people who didn’t voted for him and who don’t want him there. Therefore on one hand Obama is busy trying to gain their love while black intellectuals are traumatized by why they see like if it was new. All this because they didn’t believe that “white people” could vote for a black man. White people didn’t in fact vote for Obama, Democrats did. Because a wordmaker is a worldmaker, the language has to change so that a new America can spring up from a new racial linga mantis – language of thoughts or mind –
Now that some “white people” have put a black man in the white house, can you still accuse them to be racists? No. And that’s the mental shift black intellectuals and activists have been failing to achieve since Obama is president. Because Obama’s candidacy was a kind of referendum where Americans had to answer the question if yes or no, they were racists, Black intellectuals need like Foucault in Les Mots et Les Choses to redefine their “white space”. They need to re-read the ” “white” visible marks put by God on the surface of the earth. They are now forced to form not only new racial rationalities but also all the knowledge deployed in grammar, biology, politics, technology and wealth. Black intellectuals have to create a new narrative from which the new racial discourse will emerge, new rationalities will be formed, new experiences will reflect and new activism be inspired.
Obama and black intellectuals have to start speaking that language of minds – linga mantis – that will first get them out of duplicity and then secondly allow them to state clearly their racial vision and the common project of living together like did the Frederick Douglas, MLK, Malcom X, Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela etc… What they all did was to develop a language of minds for all, black and whites to reject the unacceptable. Today we tend to accept the unacceptable. Some see in duplicity a form of resistance. How can someone who has to cheat on himself with his past and his future to survive the present resist without damaging his own being? This is requires a lot of imagination and creativity. It’s almost a matter of health, “public health” to get our brains out of the “prison of the present moment”. Our minds are all seeking that ideal space that is free from any tyranny. And if they don’t, anxiety and aggression will end up being the ultimate response.
Let’s take some time to discuss that linga mantis idea; language of thoughts or mind in relation to the racial question. Why race studies have to be in humanities rather than in science? Let’s call whatever science we are presenting here Mantism and let’s base it on some Lakoff’s theories, cognitive studies and neuroscience.
We know that one interaction between his body, brain and environment, is constructing an idealized cognitive model in an individual who lives a kinetic experience embodied in our bodily activities « prior to language. »
Mantism tells us that each person’s experience, education, culture and environment produces in each one of us a way of understanding the world.
Mantism is the system of thought which equates to almost a language that is unique to each individual. A language that everyone « negotiates » at all times with the language of the “other”, the “other” with whom we share an experience, education, culture, or a similar environment.
Mantism is far from being essentialism, functionalism, objectivism and « computational realism » (which considers the mind as a machine), there is not a transcendent spirit that could see the world from outside.
Why are people who voted for Obama disappointed with him? Itfs not because he is not able to deliver as such. It is because he got elected as a symbolic president. And as a symbolic president, he needs to be able to speak the symbolic language. Which he is not. It doesnft matter if he likes it or not, Obama is the first black president. And as the first black president he is a symbolic figure. And as a symbolic figure, he needs to master the symbolic language. But he ignores the symbolic language, he hasnft being able to use it to redefine Americafs hope and change as promised during his election; which is not in itself an issue. But where there a problem itfs when as a symbolic character he ignores the language of symbolism that would have kept in people the enthusiasm his election has generated globally, they feel betrayed. Obama has not being speaking that language, and thatfs the reason why his electors are disappointed.
During the 2008 election, Obama became not only the topic of dinner-table conversations all over the world. Like with superman, audiences globally through mass media were divided between those who participated as actors in the drama and those who watched and commented as the Obama plot unfolded. What was the global community watching? They have been following Obama’s transformation as a political hero.
And once a political hero, Obama has abandoned the mythological figure he embodied to win the election to become a Joe the Plummer of politics working hard to do it all for us while we haven’t being asking him that much. He has forgotten we were supposed to do it together and he was providing us with the energy we needed to wake up in the morning to go change the world… just because Obama is now president. The only thing expected from Obama as a symbolic figure was to feed as Jung says the symbolic life of Americans’ and all those who were crying that day. Because only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul – the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill – this awful, banal, grinding life in which they are « nothing but. » Everything is banal; everything is « nothing but, » and that is the reason why we are neurotic. We are simply sick of the whole thing, sick of that banal life, and therefore we want sensation. We even accepted wars; and even thank heaven, just because at least “something was going to happen” – something bigger than ourselves!
Life can be too rational; without symbolic existence in which I am something else, in which I am fulfilling my role, my role as one of the actors in the divine drama of life.
Obama overly symbolic as he is overloaded with symbols: black, mixed-race, single parent, African, Muslim, African-American, son of an immigrant, Peace Nobel Price etc. Most of these symbols are the symbols of ethe otherh. The gOtherh that is not galwaysh me. How come Obama has been since elected unable to speak that Racial Mantism?
Through these symbols Obama was able to embody for a lot of people in the country and outside of the country that figure that would feed their symbolic life. They could get up the next morning with a feeling of their great and divine responsibility; that they were the sons of the Sun, the Father, and their daily duty was therefore to help the Father over the horizon – not for themselves alone, but for the entire humanity. People’s life was all of a sudden making sense. People’s lives that were utterly, grotesquely banal, utterly poor, meaningless, with no point in it at all were different. The history was in the making, the feeling of bringing this country to the next level was there. The feeling that “I have to do that job of mine to make sure I bring my contribution to this grand vision…” was all around; lives will made more sense; makes sense in all continuity and for the whole of humanity. Obama was giving peace as people felt that they were living the symbolic life; that they were actors in the divine drama.
We are all definitely missing Obama symbolic language. We are more missing that language because despite the will of black intellectuals to support Obamafs second term, they are unable to keep that ghope alive!h Itfs about time for that Racial Mantism; a language that will help convey our thoughts and feelings; a language that exists outside of the actual language.
Above all, Mantism is supposed to provide a frame to what’s going on. Everybody is behaving strangely and no one is voicing what it is, what’s is actually happening. What they are saying in the media has nothing to do with what they are saying when they are among each others. And like any language, Mantism will be based on syntax and it is that syntax that will free Obama from the concrete world of things lead by Joe the Plummer.. Mastering the symbolic language would relieve the nation from the duplicity created by the new Obama paradigm.
If we are sure of one thing about Obama, it’s that he will be remembered as the first black president in the history of the United States of America. If he will be remembered as the president who did something else is still to be proven, which doesn’t mean he won’t be remembered for something else. But for the time being, what we are sure of is that Obama is the first black US president.
Being the first black president makes you a symbol. In a addition of being the first black, Obama’s origins make him the first many things: the first African, the first mixed race, the first immigrant, the first Muslim… – He doesn’t have to claim those identities or to any of these but his origins make people associating him with those identities. – In addition to this, the global new media made Obama campaign a global campaign with email solicitations to non-Americans for donations. A lot of people contributed to get the first black US president elected in a country where black were slaves? Why would they have done it if it was not all symbolic?
Obama is carrying all these symbols either he wants it or not. Why would Obama be given a Nobel Peace prize just after he was elected, before he had even done anything, if he was not a symbol? Another symbol, a black woman in the white house.
When you are a symbol it isn’t about you anymore, it’s about the projections of people and the reality has nothing to do with it. People see in you something that comes deeply within themselves. Most of the time they feel hope. A symbol has a therapeutic function for a society and can’t deny it to people. They need it and they can’t do without it.
In fact Obama has used it. He knew he could appeal to that and make people vibrate at that symbolic level. In his speech of the Democrats convention of 2004, he told people that America is great because he, Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan father and a Kansas mother could be standing in front of that crowd making that speech. Not only he used his uniqueness and difference but he also associated it with another symbol, America.
Can A Symbol Be Pragmatic?
After achieving the objective of becoming president, the rhetoric started changing from the symbolic rhetoric to the pragmatic rhetoric. People were now told Obama is not a world president, he is an American president. Obama is not a black president, he is an American president etc. Like if the symbols should remain at a discourse level for propaganda sake. While I believe that symbolism shouldn’t be only seen as utopia. There is a real symbolic language one can master and use on a daily basis and not just in speeches but in actions. The power of the symbolic language, the language of behavior has more potential in implementing change. Because that symbolic language works at the individual level using emotions as a vehicle, it empowers people and the more important, gives meaning to what we do.
Obama and his advisors are thinking the old way. They are seeing a politician as someone who exploits the people hopes and expectations to get there and once there he has to go for more pragmatic ends. And this is a mistake. As the receptacle of that many symbolic dimensions Obama has been wasting his symbolic capital because he doesn’t know the language. You can’t be that loaded and end up doing the same thing someone with no capital at all would be doing.
The world is a big book, human actions are loaded of meanings we can interpret. And with our actions, we can write our own chapter in the book. The question here is: how can Obama be a symbolic president? By being not a president that changes America but a president that changes Americans. By continuing to maintain the flame, the warmth everyone felt in his heart the day he got elected? He has to believe in that “energy” inside the billions of people in the world that were with him that day, Obama should use that to change something about this planet we all want to change for the better.
The same way Obama by running for president engaged America in a new narrative by asking them if there were ready to elect a black president? He needs to get them in a another narrative where they all have to be engaged. Thatfs how you bring the whole nation into your action. Thatfs what is a symbolic actions. To be an effective symbolic communicator, one has to know how to use symbols in order to send messages without necessarily using words. Politics loves symbols. Their suggestive value allows politicians to simplify and characterize the most complex situations. In France for example, president François Mitterrand since, assuming the presidency in 1981, he has often communicated more effectively with symbols than with words. Between 1981 and 1989, he used the following key symbols to strengthen his domestic political consensus: (1) the Pantheon, (2) modernization, (3) de Gaulle and the gaullist republic, (4) the grand projets (monumental architectural projects for the capital), and (5) the Bicentennial celebration for the French Revolution of 1789. The Socialist president’s adroit use of these symbols has facilitated a significant political transformation in France; the emergence of a centrist Republic. Which means that with symbols, one can achieve national transformation…?
Human culture is a symbolic organization of the remembered experiences of the dead past as newly felt and understood by the living members of the collectivity. The human condition of individual mortality and the comparative immortality of our species are most of our communication and collective activities in the larger sense a vast exchange of understanding between the living and the dead.
Language, religion, art, science, morality, and our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us, being parts of our culture, are meaningful symbol systems which the living generations have inherited from those now gone. We use these symbols briefly, modify them or not, and then pass them on to those who succeed us. Thus, in fact, communication between living and dead individuals maintains continuity of culture for the species. Secular symbols probably more often emphasize the living present; sacred symbols appear to be more concerned with death, with the past of the species and the future of the individual.
If Obamafs failure has been in mastering the symbolic language, how do one becomes a symbolic president? How can Obama become a Biggy Muldon depicted by Loyd Wagnerfs Yankee City? How could Obama feed collective representations while at the white house? How could the white house being run by signs loaded with meanings?
Besides Obama calling himself Icarus, when he said during the Democrat primary « I think we were flying too close to the sun, like Icarus. When you’re fighting for change, it’s not supposed to be easy. » Obama was seen as Sisiphus by Bill Cosby who said « I see Obama as Sisyphus in the first four years. And nobody would speak about the size of the rock, or the elevation of the hill. All you hear people talk about is what he didn’t do, »
If Cornel West criticism of Obama is true when he says that Obama is too worried about his legacy, it is clear that He didn’t choose the best direction to have a legacy.
Disoriented, we all are. The covid-19 has certainly confused the whole of humanity, but we Africans are disoriented first of all because the West, our compass, is itself disoriented. We Africans had found a simple recipe for life, to do stupidly what the white man does. It’s a kind of lazy posture, we must admit, what’s the point of looking when we know that the whites will look and probably find? We developed a posture I would say to be mean, a parasitic posture compared to the West. And when our ego suffered a bit from Western paternalism, we would fall back on the Chinese, sometimes on Putin… looking for alternatives to the Western compass.
Yet no one doubts that for very few generations the West was not our compass as Africans. But Africa is only called for help when our pride is wounded… to abandon it once our greatness has been restored… in our eyes after feeling humiliated or despised. Worse, we go to the African solution when it goes beyond the white. And this chronology is not innocent, starting with the white man and ending in Africa… why not the other way around.
What really disorients us in the case of covid-19 is that we have accepted science and therefore medicine as the only way to fight life against death. Because at the end of the day it’s all about healing, and African culture has integrated it well, the term « healer » is very appropriate. Does « medicine » heal us? That is the question. Or is it only through so-called western medicine that we are healed? Follow my gaze; I’m talking about traditional medicine, a term that is an abuse of language because traditional medicine is western tradition. Let’s talk about traditional therapy and therefore about traditional therapists. If we are here today and we have not disappeared over the ages, it is because what our ancestors did allowed us not to disappear. So it would be good in this situation of disorientation to be interested in traditherapy and its principles: the power to heal certain people, the relationship with the invisible and the knowledge of plants. And sometimes these three can work together.
Another thing that confuses us is the WHO injunctions. In other words, how is the practice of medicine, and therefore of traditional therapy, organized? Who can heal? In Africa we would answer, the one who has received the gift, the revelation, the one to whom we came to give it in a dream, the one whose hand has been consecrated, the one who has the heritage of the knowledge of plants. The vision of the translitherapist who sees the disease as a « transgression » is not incompatible with Western medicine, which would like the spread of the virus to be due to the transgression of hygienic measures. Evidently we see the emergence of more or less complex degrees of practice which also require more or less specialized experts.
In conclusion, the fact that Africans know that sick people heal in their own model does not necessarily mean that they doubt the science which has also proved its worth, but rather that they do not judge Bishop Kleda’s traditherapy, for example, on the model of Western science and pharmacy, because it could very well be that his potion heals, but rather that they separate the referents and follow each step in its own corridor.
Deboussolés, nous le sommes tous. Le covid-19 a certes déboussolé l’humanité entière, mais nous les Africains il nous déboussole d’abord parce que l’occident, notre boussole est elle-même déboussolée . Nous Africains avions trouvé une recette de vie simple, faire bêtement ce que fait le blanc. Une forme de posture paresseuse il faut l’avouer, à quoi bon chercher quand on sait que les blancs vont chercher et probablement trouver? Nous avons développé une posture je dirais pour être méchant, une posture parasite par rapport à l’occident. Et quand notre ego souffrait un peu du paternalisme occidental, on se repliait sur les chinois, parfois sur Poutine… en quête d’alternatives à la boussole occidentale.
Pourtant personne ne doute qu’à très peu de generations près l’occident n’était pas notre boussole à nous Africains. Mais l’Afrique on ne l’appelle au secours que lorsque notre fierté est blessée… pour l’abandonner une fois notre grandeur restaurée… à nos yeux après s’être senti humilié ou méprisé. Pire, nous allons vers la solution Africaine lorsque ca dépassé le blanc. Et cette chronologie n’est pas innocente, commencer chez le blanc et finir en Afrique… pourquoi pas l’inverse.
Ce qui nous déboussole vraiment dans le cas du covid-19 c’est que nous avons accepté la science et donc la médecine comme seul moyen de lutte de la vie contre la mort. Car au final il est question ici c’est de guérir, et la culture Africaine l’a bien intégré, le terme “guerisseur” est très approprié. Est-ce que la “médecine” nous guérit? That is the question. Ou plutôt est-ce uniquement par la médecine dite occidentale qu’on guérit? Suivez mon regard; je parle de la médecine traditionnelle, terme qui est un abus de langage car la médecine traditionnelle est de tradition occidentale. Parlons plutôt de tradithérapie et donc de traditherapeutes. Si nous sommes là aujourd’hui et nous n’avons pas disparu au cours des ages, c’est bien parce que ce que nos ancêtres faisaient nous ont permis de ne pas disparaitre. Donc il serait bien dans cette situation de deboussollement de s’intéresser à la traditherapie et à ses principes: le pouvoir de soigner qu’on certaines personnes, la relation avec l’invisible et la connaissances des plantes. Et parfois ces trois peuvent fonctionner ensemble.
Encore une chose qui nous déboussole, les injonctions de l’OMS. En d’autres termes comment l’exercice de la médecine et donc de la tradithérapie s’organise-t-elle? Qui peut soigner ? En Afrique on répondrait, celui qui a reçu le don, la revelation, celui a qui on est venu donner ca en rêve, celui dont la main a été consacrée, celui qui a l’heritage de la connaissance des plantes. Si en traditherapie, la maladie est la consequence d’une transgression, La vision du traditherapeute qui voit la maladie comme une “transgression” n’est pas incompatible avec la médecine occidentale qui voudrait que la propagation du virus est due à la transgression des mesures d’hygienes. Evidemment on voit se dégager des degrés plus ou moins complexes de la pratique qui exigent aussi des experts plus ou moins spécialisés.
En conclusion, le fait que les Africains savent que des malades guérissent dans leur modele amine non pas forcement à douter de la science qui a aussi fait ses preuves mais plutôt à ne pas juger la traditherapie de Mgr Kleda par exemple sur le modele de la science et de la pharmacie occidentale, car il se pourrait fort bien que sa potion guérisse, mais à séparer les referents et suivre chaque démarche dans son couloir.
A woman is waiting for a taxi with her mask on, a taxi stops with all the seats already taken, the woman gives her destination, the driver bends over to open the door for her. Before joining the passenger already seated next to the driver, the woman first makes the sign of the cross, then she gets in. A sign of the cross? Why a sign of the cross? Ah! The Corona! Fear of catching the Covid-19! This sign of the cross troubles me, I think of the lifting of the Prime Minister’s measures the day before, which in fact cancels the social distancing in public transport and therefore exposes more users to contamination. This sign of the cross leads me to ask myself all the questions about this woman. Could she have done otherwise? Did she have to take a taxi? Apparently so, because with the sign of the cross she’s saying, « I lay down my life for God. » « To the war as to the war ». I think of all those who pushed her to take that taxi; I imagine the boss for whom she has to go to work to feed her children, I think of the Prime Minister and all the lobbies and leaders around the government who took the decision to break the social distancing that is advocated by everyone everywhere… I tell myself that if she makes a sign of the cross, it is because there is no one in this world on whom she can still count not to catch the Covid-19. She is very conscious that she is the flesh and blood of Covid, thrown out to pasture as a shield against the economic and political risks that the powerful are running with this pandemic. It is for her and all those who will be victims of the decisions of the powerful who refuse to lose their privileges that I am making this post.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)