Is it Justice or Just Us?

0B6CE532-C612-4F2D-9C33-60A09F5BB706When we see the current climate of the people in Baho! by Roland Rugero, it shows the taut and seething alertness that has become part of the routine. So that when Nyamuragi was just trying find a bathroom to pee, he becomes the scapegoat for the sins of community they committed even before the war that’s been used to pass off the rape as a tactic for the enemy. The first image foreshadows what happens in the past:

“Tucked among Hariho’s hills, Kanya has bravely weathered this dry season’s sweltering onslaught…” (1)

This symbolizes the violation of women, which is a distortion of the Western mythos of original sin to shame their voices into repression, as the community has become hostile. It’s funny, in that it’s really not. This has come full circle out in our own society as it reels from the many allegations and accusations that are not reputed, but often tried to be passed off as something that can be brushed off, the boy-who-cried-wolf mentality that resonates to those who have affected them personally.


Or werewolf as it were…

“The owner of a white necklace doesn’t acknowledge its whiteness.”

It makes me think about how identity is erased whether individually or a community, it’s easier to ignore if you can’t attach a face to them or empathize. It’s easier to focus on their own plight than others, allowing for the men who want hang Nyamuragi not acknowledge in their complicity in their indecency, their sins being seen but not show with a harsh light. Which is why Nyamuragi does not care for humanity,  because the scars have dug deep, physically and mentally, while he personifies food as his community instead of the actual community around him as it has his base desire met:

“Nyamuragi fears the past! He loves the present, which is why he loves to eat. Nature’s flavors on his lips, the communion of being: his tongue and dishes.” (23)


In a context of mistrust, the barriers are there to impede, halt, or just blockade communication as Nyamuragi disdains the relationship with the community. Because once trust is lost, it’s hard to get back or at all. Any supposed apologies become a token for the inherent betrayal of a people who are suppposed to protect and raise him.


Language: The Art of Manipulation and Deceit in Regards to Gender Relations

9AFB0DEA-2829-49AF-BEDE-8507ABE42E48The divide between Nyamugari and the people of his community boils down to not understanding the each other, or rather, one side is unwilling to listen. In Baho! by Roland Rugero, explores the theme of language as a barrier. It’s no longer something that is used to communicate freely and efficiently, but to shore up a reputation that’s on the brink of crumbling. It is illustrated in the men’s “caring” attitude, in that it wasn’t the girl’s emotions and feelings that were put into consideration, but her value as an object/property and her value would have dropped drastically if she had been raped. It sends a message of flowery words hiding the true intent of the patriarchy in this community.

Recent events have come to light in Hollywood’s seedy underbelly, the unwanted and terrifying sexual advances of men are now being exposed for the disgusting acts they are. It was often the women’s fault, that they were “asking for it” or they “shouldn’t have been wearing those clothes, they’re so provocative,” when in reality they were just there to have fun with friends, not be groped by strangers. Though its funny (not at all), to see how these men aren’t even sincere in these apologies, like Al Franken who had many accusations levied against him said:

“I’m going to try to learn from my mistakes,” he told reporters here. “In doing so, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. I want to be someone who adds something to this conversation.” (Fandos, The New York Times)

But if they were sincere in their apologies, wouldn’t he not be in such a compromising position in the first place? It doesn’t seem that it was the case, like with Charlie Rose as he said:

In a statement, Rose said he didn’t think all the allegations leveled against him by eight women were accurate but felt he “was pursuing shared feelings” and now has “a profound new respect for women and their lives.” (Klein, The Washington Post)

It comes across as self-serving and manipulative, just obliging the public what they want to hear, but not really giving any real substance. It makes you think how really, the events of Baho! only show the inherent failure as a society to show that we are progressive, that the things we value are nothing more than objects, rather than the people they should be thought of as. Have we actually grown as a race or have we regressed back to cavemen?

Going Belly Up: The Politics of It All


What are your needs vs. what are your wants? It is often the wants that crowds our mind when we think about this, the necessities of survival are an afterthought. The politics behind these necessities are unseen as it is the underbelly of it, knowing that it paints are picture of rawness to these unfortunate circumstances.

In Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, he writes a narrative of the reaction to the political turbulence that has come in the wake of independence in the Congo and its effect on day-to-day life as two men try to navigate without drowning in the desolation, desperation, and desecration of their community and their morality. It is through the body imagery that convey this writhing and hungry side of this politics.

Food is a luxury/commodity that has become scarce in its sustaining force to this community, no longer a human right. The people have become second class citizens, stealing has become a norm in order to just get food on the table. It is illustrated in how Mujila described how a woman has:

“…realized she could only survive in this hardboiled town thanks to her vocal cords, and had attempted the impossible, with such dedication that she made it through.” (Mujila 161)

But the people have also become their own undoing in that they are now the commodity to be sold, whether it be manual labor or prostitution, it shows how much little value they have other than cheap things to be bought and sold are appallingly low prices. Not only that but:

“Ah! Well we don’t go walking without purpose. We dig, we delve, no downtime for us! It even depresses me that individuals who are supposed to be busy indulge in this activity that offers nothing in return!” (165)

It creates a hostile environment where the competition is more than a little fierce but survival of the fittest as losing means you might dies from starvation. It forces the reader to face this unseen/uncertain future, barely making it through the day in a desperate bid for survival. The rhythm of their toil has become a subtle melody in their life.

Because the environment does not allow much empathy or a humanity aside from the rawness of it, the prostitution and the pleasures of it are minute and fleeting fantasies trying to be reality, but ultimately give us their bright and fake promises of happiness if only to get something more than this provincial town.

Blinders Are For Horses, Not The Truth


Why is it when people perceive an injustice, they suddenly don’t sense it as it doesn’t affect them and “it’s not their problem” anymore? Often times it’s something that’s passed to another person or community.

For example, Puerto Rico is part of our nation, and yet, aid sent to them is just appalling or not close enough to be of help. It’s like a grudging thing. Why must it be like that? Why do we have to pray for them? Why can’t we just give them the aid they NEED? Why do reality stars who have no stake in it, have to be the ones to be decent?

To that end, I have no answers.

Or the hostile environment that is oft times part of being an immigrant in this nation, when this nation was founded by the immigrant’s journey as it was wonderfully illustrated in Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But this apparently has a large price.

Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World illustrates the poignancy of the immigrant’s journey. The harsh disdain of people who aren’t born here and just want to make a living.

We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your door steps with our dust, who break you barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by the neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We, the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians. (Herrera, p.99-100)

This honestly made me choke up, it made me remember the times it wasn’t as blantant as the cop in the book. I remember my mom talking about when she was CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at a nursing home and just because she spoke another language to my aunt who was also working there, that she was written up and would have been fired if they continued to talk in Pangasinan (a Filipino dialect), because they wanted to know if they were being talked about or bad-mouthed. At the time, we weren’t as established here, so it was important for my mom to have that back-breaking job.

Why can’t we be more decent?


Does Death Knock?


Often times it’s the litte things that makes us think about the morbid, whether squishing cockroaches or learning about burial rites in anthropology class, it’s a dark subject to raise. Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia definitely makes us wonder whether it’s a subject to be revered or reviled as his protagonist “Alaa” makes a mockery of it by doing anything and everything to make himself feel “alive” by doing all the reckless behaviors. He doesn’t really understand the concept though, as he romanticizes the act/moment by “hunting” people called the Others and saying that suicide is just not dramatic enough to follow through on. I suppose being a Utopian makes him feel invincible, as he hasn’t died yet. It’s especially poignant when he sets the scene of this “utopian” dytopian world he lives in with Wilem Dafoe dying in Platoon above his headboard.

He doesn’t think of trying to kill, but when faced killing chickens, it has become a task of monumental proportions. Though that can be attributed to having not done any manual labor in his life.

He cheapens the value of life, thinking it’s another prize to find. A trophy to hang on the mantle like some moose he’s been hunting for months on end. But I guess people think of humans as the biggest/baddest animals in the hierarchy.

If you look into the Abyss and the Abyss stares back at you?