“Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Emma, you from the country. Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Emma help me to pull these weeds.
Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe.
We are all slaves. Slaves to society, our families and our day to day jobs. In Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila the characters are all enslaved one way or another. For instance, Lucien is enslaved by the publisher’s expectations, “’I want you to rework the text from scratch. Twenty characters, that’s too much for your stage tale” (Mujila 97). Lucien is held captive by the publisher’s words. He knows without his endorsement; his book will not get out to the public.
The young girls in the novel are enslaved to Tram 83. This can be seen in the continuous parrot like comments of the girls asking for their money from those they do favors for, “Tip…Tip…Tip!” (Mujila 97-99). Without this they would just be sex slaves. Which in a way they are? The young girls are forced to have sex even when they are really not interested in the man, this is seen in the way that Christelle leaves the publisher, “When he awoke, the girl was gone and he found himself bare naked on a crummy bed in a derelict hovel close to the Cabu Bridge,” (Mujila 100). She has sex with him because Requiem tells her to. She finds no pleasure in it, it’s just a job.
But Christelle isn’t the only one forced to do things she doesn’t want to do for money. The workers of the mines are enslaved by the Dissident General and his anger. This can be seen in the way the Dissident General uses the mine’s resources, “The dissident General ruled supreme over the City-State. He owned outright twenty artisanal diamond purchase and export houses and was a shareholder in nearly all the firms run by the tourists. He sold off the mining concessions, or sometimes even gave them as gifts to whomever he liked,” (Mujila 106-107). In this, it is obvious that the mine workers are not workers at all but slaves. Forced into labor for wages that are continually cut. Forced to mine resources that they never see again.
Mujila begs us to ask ourselves, are we slaves? If so, to what? Or rather whom?