Even in a society such as modern as America wisdom is passed on by the elder generations to the younger ones. These sayings from experience people guide the youth even today. Not only do they help guide the younger generation they also give a window to the culture and mistakes of the past. Baho! By Roland Rugero uses the concept of sayings as the a form in his book. The form that it is typically utilized in is the title of each chapter.
Baho! Is a story about the hardships of an African village in Kayna Valley. The main conflict in the book revolves around a trail by mob of a mute man who is believed to be assaulting a young women. This trail serves to bring up the changes in the society while also showing how the village tries to hold onto the past. This tug and pull of the last is shown through the first chapters title “The past presages the future,”(1) this quote is demonstrates the overarching theme of the story which is the past and future are connected. How the village tries to keep or change this connection to the past varies.
Within the mob trail of the assault the saying shows the theme of the chapter and how the past connects the future. The saying is “Even if the evil doers acts alone, the fault falls on the entire family,”(33) this idea of connected village teachings is both used to hurt the societies culture as well as bring back preserve other parts. This is seen by the men getting challenged by the women for also sexually harassing women almost claiming that the men failed the accused by not teaching him how to treat women. At the same time the women of the village start to realize that the past treatments of there gender are wrong.
Overall Baho! brings into question how much the past is involved in the present. This idea should make us all think about how the saying are parents and grandparents shape us and who we are. Displaying that even are culture isn’t so different that the past cannot effect America in the same way.
Image found on https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nkwRPqJCL._SL500_AC_SS350_.jpg
William Gibson a famous science fiction writer once said ” If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn’t a nation.” (William Gibson)
In the novel Tram 83 written by Fiston Mwanza Mujila we get a peak into this country of situational laws Gibson talks about. Tram 83 is a novel following the mundane adventures of Lucien a writer from the country and his brother Requiem the underbelly king. The novel contrives its name from the bar that the entire unnamed city state seemingly revolves around Tram 83. Within the text it is easy to see the harshness of living within the city state through the rules that Requiem tells Lucien throughout the story. These rules not only show the difficulty of living in the city state but also serve as a way for Mujila to comment on how Africa isn’t doing well as a whole.
“RULE NUMBER 23 : every day is a pitched battle. As soon as dawn breaks you wonder what you’re going to eat, and then, with the sun you reintegrate the cycle of the city state.” (Mujila 82) This rule sets a tone for the social commentary of the difficulty of living in the Africa as a whole. Living is compared to that of a “battle” or a war to survive. Something as basic as eating isn’t guaranteed in city state, which is social compared to the whole of Africa. This idea and rule is reinforced from an earlier mentioned rule “RULE NUMBER 34: Watch out for hunger! Toddlers barely weaned, have been known to take entire trains hostage. ” (Mujila 46) While the train hold up is in place to be funny it is also to show that hunger is so vast that not even children are unable to escape it. This rule serves the author point in that Africa is in need of help and that living is closer to that of slow death.
The one rule that seems to rule over the rest is “RULE NUMBER 67: the mighter crush the mighty, the mighty defecate in the mouths of the weak, the weak sequestrate the weaker, the weaker do each other in, then split for elsewhere.” (Mujila 32) This sets the tone for the novel and Africa in general. Power is what matters in the City-State. Power is money or some form of monetary wealth. In a region where the system is set up to be equal to that of a food chain that it is difficult to see an escape from the current social paradigm. The City-State and Africa have become closer to an ecosystem of animals, by Mujila comparison, then to that of a civilized country.
Through William Gibsons quote on could easily see that this nation is a nation of rules not laws, and by Gibsons idea we as readers can see that this nation is soon to fail. Mujila observes his as well and writes Tram 83 and its rules to inform the reader that Africa right now needs help to get out of the survivalist cycle of dog eat dog world mentality. Through these rules that Mujila constructs perhaps more people will understand and the fragility of the African nations currently and through this education break the cycle that has been constructed in Africa since colonial times.
Hercules Strangling the Nemean Lion by Peter Paul Rubens obtained from https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/178555?position=11 located at Harvard University
Zelda’s Theme by System of a Down Retrived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFUYLf8EdII
As seen in the photo, the beautiful song by System of a Down, and the main character of Yuri Herrera’s novel Signs Preceding the End of the World Makina they are each hero’s destined for greatness. The picture shows that of legendary hero Hercules slaying a what seemed to be immortal lion a task that all thought impossible. While the song from System of Down weaves a tale of a young boy saving a princes in a classic video game. Both of these stories are well-known and heroic in nature with both beating the odds and becoming chosen heroes. What I will be arguing is that Makina is put on the same plane as these iconic legends. This idea of Makina being a hero is shown by her actions but also the sureness in her victory.
Within the text Makina is seen to be untouchable and almost unhuman in her strength and presence. The text lets us into her mind saying “You are the Door, not the one who goes through it.”(117) This idea of door and thresh hold reminds me of the old saying if doors don’t open for you build one. Both of these mean similar things, while one is relying on the world to give opportunity the other is making their own destiny. I would go so far to say that the true meaning of this quote is that destiny works for our character meaning that she is predetermined to be unable to fail her quest. This is equal to that of other great heroes that can overcome impossible tasks because of their heroic status.
Other things show the deterministic quality of the world, in that are hero will succeed. Some of these qualities could be easily missed. The lack of waiting or perhaps more aptly put the perfectness of timing is almost unbelievable. Multiple passages of the books mention this idea that the story and stage have been set. In the first meeting with Mr.Q he is described as “As if he had been waiting for me”(151) and even claiming “In the end you will find your brother”(151) both of these quotation have in uncanny feel that the actions of our main character have already been decided. These sort of sure statements put in the future tense are commonly seen in heroic stories. This can even be true in the Zelda’s Theme song By System of a Down saying ” Now the children don’t play but they will when Link saves the day.” ( quote begins on 0:16) It is the future tense and sureness of WHEN link saves the day and WIll FIND your brother that has the striking similarity to each other.
overall it is the utilization of future tense that really give the heroine of are story Makina that heroic inevitability and closeness to her. I believe this further enhances the other points of Yuri Herrera’s work and serves to give the story more power.
What do you guys think? Do you believe that Makina is a chosen hero equal to that of the hero of time (link for you non-nerds out there) and Hercules?
Damien Sapien II Literacy in Translation September 26th 2017
Utopia is a book written by Ahmed Khaled Towfik talking about a very near future where the top 1% of Egyptian society is living in a gated community with all pleasures. While the rest of the 99% live in worse then poor condition creating a world of people that are more animal then human or in some cases more god then human.
Within the middle of the book two utopia teenagers sneak into the poor cites in order to capture and touch one of the lower class back in utopia. These two Utopian’s get caught but then rescued by a member of the poor (described as Others showing the lack of humanity they have). This Other is named Gaber and he has been shown to be the most human in the book through his actions to save the Utopians saying “I don’t want bloodshed. I don’t want people killed That’s the sole proof I have that I am still human”(104) through this the audience gains some connection to Gaber that he still has some of his sanity and humanity .
This Humanity is juxtaposed to the Utopian male who gives him the fake name of “Alaa”(75) . While Alaa isn’t directly spelled correctly it phonetically sounds like Allah which means God. The Utopians are very obviously compared to God through this quote. The likeness to Utopians being godly is all over the place with there limitless pleasures and even being said that they have “Transcended accident and illness”(20). This pseudo immortality again elevates Utopians to a deity like status.
The deity like status creates a fissure in between the Others and Utopians and through this divide it is shown that from such immense presences and power they are even brought to godlyness by the Others Gaber’s even admits ” The problem is that I myself believe that he [Alaa] is better.”(118) This shows the theme that maybe part of humanity is having something more powerful then you and through such the Utopians could have transcended humanity, that is tell the great equalizer happens, Death. That is a topic for another time though. Thank you for reading my blog I hope you enjoyed it.