Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 3rd, 2010

“The old wise man died; an entire library is burned”; (Mar. 4, 2010)

African author, Amadou Hampate Ba (1900-91) was born in eastern Mali and had said “In oral culture Africa, when an old wise man dies then an entire library burns with him”.  Amadou focused his life gathering all the stories, myths, and history of the tribes living in the States of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Fasso, and Ivory Coast.  In every tribe or clan, there is a few storytellers or grios entertaining people around bonfires in evenings.  The storytellers teaches children of the history and traditions of the tribe, of nature, and the changing seasons.  In one of his books he wrote: “Aissata told her son: “Learn to cover the material nudity of man before you cover by word his moral nudity”

Author and poet Wole Soyinka received the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1986. Soyinka was born in western Nigeria from the tribe of Yoruba in 1934.  During Nigeria civil war, Soyinka was jailed for two years in secrecy (1968-69); he wrote in jail “This man has died”.  In his speech at Stockholm during the Nobel ceremony and titled “Let this past talk to this present” he lambasted the philosophers and thinkers of Europe’s 19th century (such as Voltaire and Hegel) for accepting the principle of slavery.  Wole said “All who have the passion for peace must make a choice: Either they include peace in this modern world, bring it to rational situations, and let peace participate in the spirit of human associations or force Blacks in Africa to kneel in abject conditions and deny them human dignity.  There is nothing more pressing than suppressing racism and apartheid; their structures have got to be dismantled.”

Historian and Egyptology from Senegal, Cheikh Anata Diop (1923-86) published “Negro Nations and culture, 1954”.  He claimed that African civilization precedes Greek civilization that borrowed form and content via Egypt of Antiquity.  Colonial powers were ready to admit that the black skinned (from head to toe) and the frizzled hair Egyptians were no proof enough to claim that the civilization of Egypt of Antiquity was necessarily African. This awkward logic was necessary in order to colonize Africa as devoid of civilizations, rational people, and high spiritual capacity.  European Egyptology erudite went as far as proclaiming that it was “inadmissible” that Ancient Egypt in Africa was a Black civilization.  Diop book was published in several languages and the Blacks in the USA used it for renewal of their civilized roots.

Note: You may refer to my new category “Black culture/Creole” for short biographies and literary samples of Black leaders and intellectuals.

Part 2.  “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: heading to town of Asaymout; (Mar. 3, 2010)

Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walk alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon, crossing it from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

Pierre is now heading toward the town of Asaymout, an abandoned Christian village during the civil war because the neighboring villages are all Moslem Sunnis.  Two hours of marching amid squirrels, wood coal makers, and beehives.

There is a coffee shop by the dry river.  The next town is Sfire that has a school and a nearby ruin of a Roman Temple as shown by the guide-book.

Pierre sleeps in an abandoned house. The town of Sir El Donniye is in the valley but Pierre would have to retrace his step if he wished to continue south; thus he skipped this village.

In Douraya he met Halima and Nizar; the rooms are not connected: you have to get out to enter another room.  Water is heated outside and the toilet is Moslem or Turkish style at floor level.

Pierre learns that girls are married by the age of 14.  Pass the age of 18 girls are sent to Beirut for a second chance to get wed.  Nizar is the eldest of 18 offspring from the same mother; the father managed to marry another woman: Nizar has no idea how many half brothers and sisters are around.  Women and girls decline to have photos taken of them.

On the fifth day, Pierre let go of the heavy tent and left it at Nizar’s home:  he realized the tent will be of no use in tiny Lebanon where in any day of marching leads to many villages.

Hani, brother of Nizar, is a soldier assigned in south Lebanon; the time to reach his village on his rare vacations then he is about to rejoin his camp.  Hani told Pierre one the running myths in the region “the next small village was evacuated by its inhabitants because the sky rained stones because a church and a mosque were built side by side.”

The next target is the town of Ehden where he has to meet someone for a photo session planting a Cedar tree.  On the way he could vividly see the city of Tripoli on the sea-shore and the three tiny islands.

Pierre crosses the villages of Karm El Mohr and Bchennata on a hill-top. To reach the village of Souaki, Pierre had to cross a rickety bridge over a river. Many passerby warned Pierre that the only way to reach Ehden is by taking the asphalt road; Pierre avoids asphalt roads and he tried different wild trails to no avail: there are villages that cannot be reached unless you take formal roads.

In Ehden, Pierre sleeps at the municipality guest house and plants his tree and eats “mankoushi” before heading to his next target of Kannoubine (The Valley of the ancient Maronite Patriarchs and Saints).  Pierre recharges his cellular phone in Ain Tourine and discusses with a group of youth. It is routine for discussions to start with religion, especially with a stranger.

The purpose is to delimit the confession of the person and locate his origins in order to consider compatibility in mentality.  I tend to agree with Pierre that “Everyone has his religion; it is generally different by many ways from the religion of the group he adheres to”. 

On the trail, Pierre is surprised to see two wild horses. He eats cherries off the trees.  When he reaches Kannoubine the nuns first denied him access to the convent on the ground that doors are locked at 7 pm.

The nuns changed their mind at the pitiful sight of Pierre and let him in; the nuns bring him hot water, iodine, and rough salt to clean his blistered feet.  Then, they bring a platter of food.

Pierre sleeps in the nearby church of Sainte Marine. (To be continued)




March 2010

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