[Toot!] Index: 0.3
Communism Bit: On
Location: Job, of course, but written at home
I'm listening to what must be the strongest affirmation of love for the slums ever trapped on a music record, and I felt I should let these pictures out. I took these pictures, of a Kampala slum built upon shaky ground. Literally.
See that there house, the one to the left? I failed to get something against which to scale it. But believe me when I tell you it is so short that the clothes line over there ends at a level above its roof line. It is uninhabited, because it sunk into the ground after a while of habitation, and it was abandoned.
I walked through this slum and noticed that all the houses were short, most shorter than myself.
Or, see this one. The men standing next to it can give a sense of scale. Or the size of its doors. Or if you compare it to the newer one to the right. Or if you look for where the wall should meet the ground. It is sinking into the ground.
See that one. The woman, seated, is higher than the window. Standing her full (even though modest) height, she would be at the roof's level. Nobody builds things that short. That house sunk into the ground. It is still inhabited, because it was cheaper to move the door higher (even higher than the ventilators) than to move out. (It is also quite patched, to the left.) The newer one to the left—yes, people insist on building here, where the Curse is clearly working—gives all the scale we need.
This one, to the right. The woman seated in the door-way of the newer one to the left is at the same height as the door of the one to the right. It has sunk into the ground.
Need I go on? No. But will I go on? Yes.
Can you spot the one that has sunk beyond hope?
Some don't need a scale. The air around the house, the neighbourhood, tells you that this one already succumbed to the Curse and sank into the ground.
The one whose doors were raised and raised and raised until they were about to go through the roof, and migration was not to be avoided: the house has sunk into the ground.
I have more pictures, but that will be all, for now. The houses that sunk into the ground.
Now, if I were one of them idealistic, finger-pointing pharisees, I'd let fly with a line about how `this government' is `not doing enough' to answer `the real questions, the real needs of its people', and how that is a sign of `bad governance', and maybe something like `corruption' and how `appalling' the `state of public housing in this country' is, and how we have an `irresponsible housing ministry' in `this country' and the like. I don't know about you, but there is nearly nothing I hate like those kinds of things. Most of the government criticism I see is just someone trying to sound smart by subscribing to groupthink and `demanding action' from `this government' with carefully-chosen phrases that sound educated and accustomed to expecting better things from the government. It's all shitty pretence, if you ask me. These fake bleeding hearts don't give a fuck about how we be down in our ghettos, and their newspaper columns, papers, books, blogs, radio shows, et cetera are really just an attempt at sounding smart enough for the rest of us. If you want a perfect government, die and get the fuck out of here: there are no problems in Heaven. The rest of us will choose to see these things as our challenges, and act like it, rather than as government failures and sit and whine.
(It's not my theme today, but I may not get another chance to strike out at them, those pretenders who have more failures in their bathrooms than any government can make in a year, yet who still feel the need to become the Jesus who never errs and is therefore fit to judge a whole fucking government. News: no single person, not even you, can be smarter than an entire government, however flawed it may be. So shut up, please, I already know what you want to say, and no government is so homogenously-blind as not to have anyone within it see what you are about to reveal long before you are aware of it.)
:o) I get healed by a nice, long rant. It's like a shower at noon. Now, I can carry on.
From those pictures, you can see that this government is clearly, visibly, not doing nearly enough to answer the real questions, the real needs of its people. Of course this is a sign of bad governance (what with all that disease-level corruption). Nothing else can result in this. It's shocking how appalling the state of public housing is in this country. We are just cursed with an irresponsible housing ministry in this coutry. It's obscene.
These pictures have one thing in common (besides being in the same geographical location): the people who stay in these houses work the hardest in Kampala. The law of life is that ye shall of the sweat of thy brow eat (eeewww). Yet they sweat the most and eat the least. Those who sweat the least eat the most. It's hard to think of this stuff and not feel the blazing red Communist in you rise to the front. This stuff is worse than, say, apartheid, because apartheid, at least, had people protesting everyday. There were armed rebels, even. (I'm proud that my country officially hosted these gallant warriors of Umkhonto we Sizwe, when it became too perilous for the fight to be lower south. Amandla!)
What we have here is a Capitalist system that is just as bad, even worse, than the Sud Afrikaan "Apart-ness". We pretend there is no segregation problem between rich and poor, and yet? And yet we do have our very own "apart-hood". Some people are isolated by the Capitalist structure, they are given only enough to keep them alive to fuck and make kids. Those kids are carefully isolated to be turned into the next suffering class.
The worst nightmare of the Blacks during apartheid must have been waking up and finding that every country in the world had implemented apart-hood, and that it had become the _accepted_ norm. They wouldn't even have a Uganda to run to. But that reality faces the poor among us, the poor us, because the whole world is a Capitalist system, and we have nowhere to run to. (Cuba, North Korea, yes, but the Capitalists hate us, so they starve us and kill our women and children. They say different sexual orientations are okay, but different economic ideologies are bad—we should all be one `correct' thing: Capitalists.)
This accepted inequality has burnt the hope of the majority of us, down there. Not the inequality, but the fact that it is accepted. Many of us down there even accept our poverty fate, much the same way Blacks in some places are still convinced they are inferior. We are being sunk into the fucking ground by you Capitalists. Literally. Maybe they should wait for our Revolution? At least there are those of us who are not resigned to this fate, and we are willing and able to fight. If it's already a fight to just be alive, why not let it be a fight to become alive?
In the Mosaic Law, in the Old Testament, there was something called the Year of Jubilee. Every forty years, all property bought was returned, all slaves freed, all land bought returned to the previous owners. The point was to reverse the detrimental (even devilish) effect of Capitalism in that society. So, if you got poor for some reason, it would only be until the next Year of Jubilee, and then there would be a Revolution—backed by the Torah—to restore Communist sanity. (I find that the Bible is shockingly-Communist, for a book held in high regard by the diabolical Capitalists. Jesus' move with the fish and loaves, for one example, was a concrete Communist act: from boy according to capacity, to crowd according to need. Et cetera, et cetera. Even: from Jesus according to capacity, to humanity according to need.)
But this has already got too long.
The slum is built on a swamp, hence the sinking.
Trenchtown, the slum where Bob grew up, had a big trench from which the name comes. The patterns among sufferers wherever Capitalism won are quite stunningly-similar. From apartheid South Africa to the slums of Kampala. The suffering, the creativity, the eternity of the human spirit. Slums are inspiring, because the are the face of Survival. (Survival also happens to be the name of the album that carries the loudest protests against this self-same unfairness.)
I've run out of space and time, but here is some part of the inspirational song:
Oh, my head.
In desolate places we'll find our bread.
And everyone see what's taking place.
Oh, another page in history.
But I'm from Trenchtown.
Most of them come from Trenchtown.
We free the people with music.
They say it's hard to speak.
They feel so strong to say we're weak.
But through the eyes, the love of our people.
Oh, they've got to repay.
We come from Trenchtown!
They say, `Can anything good come out of Trenchtown?'
That's what they say.
Say, we're the under-priviledged people,
So they keep us in chains.
Pay, pay tribute to Trenchtown!
Just because we come from (Trenchtown).
Just because we come from (Trenchtown).
- Bob Marley (Trenchtown from the post-humous Confrontation album.)