Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘animist tribes

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 243

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog opinions and events is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

Do I master my mother tongue?  Do I have one? I was born in a French colony in Africa (Rep. of Mali) and lived there to the age of 6 when I fell ill with a deadly disease and barely managed to survive.  Consequently, I must have learned to speak and write in French first, and most probably I was conversant in the Bambara dialect, since I was surrounded by Malian helpers and my closest “guardian angel” was a mute young man:  Thus, I might have learned sign language too.

Bambara is an oral language that was spoken by animist tribes in the current State of Mali with Capital Bamako.

The main barrier for formal Arabic language to become international is that the words have religious undertone and you can barely find significant words that you can claim to be religiously neutral and expresses your opinions:  Usually, expressions relate to tribal, and nomadic traditional life-style.

It is difficult to freely express your honest opinion in formal Arabic, simply because the words are coined in Islamic culture and connote religious meaning, whether you like it or not. The slang in every “Arabic” countries are filling the void and expressing the spirit and traditions of the Land

Amadou Hampate Ba (1900-1991) had said: “In the oral civilization of Africa, once an old wise man dies it is an entire library that closes.”

Trump: Prophet Mohammad crucified Jesus.

Chain working conditions? Serbian workers in a multinational electronic company in Slovakia: Up at 4:30, waiting in line to enter the factory, Not allowed to look right or left or even stoop, swollen hands, no sensation in the legs, relentlessly waiting for the next TV to be assemble for hours. Waiting in line to take showers, to eat, to drink, to going to WC, boarding the buses, all the time counting bolts, parts, counting the hours, the days… Line, chain work, sweat-shop factories

Wars, pre-emptive wars: Uncanny direct connections to Sovereign public debts of militarily weaker nations

Drop-shipping? For men of a certain demographic, the ads (which can also follow you around the internet, and occasionally sell counterfeit goods) might be peddling hipster watches;

For women, perhaps it’s classy lingerie. In many cases they’re the result of a peculiar e-commerce phenomenon of the moment. No physical middlemen or retailers, but nebulous on-line support scams pros.

Shopify is the 20,000-pound gorilla of the drop-shipping world, integrated with apps like Oberlo that enable sellers to offer up goods directly from AliExpress

The US Postal Service gets no more than $1.50—cheaper for Chinese merchants to ship a package up to 4.4 lbs from Shenzhen to Des Moines than it costs to ship from, say, Seattle.

USPS calls it “ePacket,” and it’s the reason it’s so outrageously cheap to buy goods on AliExpress, the giant e-commerce portal owned by Alibaba, and ship them to the US—a favorite route of many drop-shippers. The US website Wish utilizes the same shipping method. Amazon is great at it.

Perfect vicious circle. Saad Hariri PM was asked why the highway from Beirut to Jounieh is always congested. He replied because we have no public transport, because the plans for alternative routes are Not carried out, because… But who is supposed to plan and execute all the projects?

Shou? Lebanon has $3bn in loans that was Not put to use in the last 2 years and still paying interest on that sovereign debt. And Lebanon is going to Paris to borrow more debts?

Our Lebanese Prime Minister said that the foreign loans expected to receive in Paris 4 will put to work 900,000 people in the coming 10 years. Does he means to include too all the refugees residing in Lebanon? We Barely have that many available people to work.

Sudan’s economy relies 98% on its oil production.  China receives 65% of the oil production and Japan 16% and India 4%.  While the US was prosecuting its preemptive war in Iraq for 9 years, China and India were heavily investing in oil rich African States and exploiting vast regions by major rivers for industrial agribusiness and rice fields.  China was bartering oil for building infrastructures to exporting oil and the natural resources it is exploiting (as in colonial times).  Most of the regions for oil exploration and extraction are located on the bordering line of the prospected partition.

Sudan is bordered by 9 States; all border lines are makeshift borders that colonial powers of England, France ,and Italy drew on “virgin maps”.  The southern part produces 65% of the oil and the agreement is to dividing 50% of all oil production between the two States in 2005, even before the coming referendum. Currently, north Sudan is holding the purse, the locations of the two refineries, and the oil pipeline that serves the major port of export in Port Sudan.

The people in south Sudan are expected to vote on the referendum for either an autonomous or an independent south Sudan in 2011.  A peace agreement signed in 2005 between the State of Sudan and the southern separatist movements put formally an end to an open civil war that lasted 17 years, since 1987, and displaced over 4 million; it is estimated that 2 million perished, mostly from famine, diseases, tribal infighting, and military campaigns.

Sudan is a vast State, as large as the USA (excluding Alaska) but is barely as populated as Egypt, less than 50 million. It acquired its independence from colonial England in 1956. England ruled this vast colony from the Capital Khartoum and totally neglected the southern part; England kept south Sudan in order to securing the sources of the Nile River that start in Ethiopia and Uganda and empty in the delta of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.

Foreign media are disseminating wrong information:  They are claiming that the people in south Sudan are Christians and want independence from the Moslem north.  Fact is, most tribes in Sudan, north and south, are animists:  They respect nature, the seasons, the ancestors, and the oral traditions and myths.  The people in Sudan, north and south, have been impoverished and discarded by world communities for 5 decades; they are suffering frequent famine and were plagued by common diseases, and dying from curable illnesses.

If the people in the south decide for independence, the first critical problem to resolving is how the equitable sharing of 50% of the oil agreement can be planned, managed, and executed; the negotiations on the procedures is the main cornerstone problem and it might drag for long time without “independent south Sudan” receiving its due share.

China will make sure that oil production will resume unaffected by internal disagreements and deals will be made with the State of Sudan until “independent south Sudan” demonstrates that it is a reliable State to negotiate with.  How the State of Sudan will reimburse its massive military machinery debts from Russia and China if oil production is disturbed?

The people in south Sudan have no interest in a complete independence:  the history in the last forty years, for third world States that got their independence, demonstrated that the next two decades will be ripe for internal conflicts among the powerful tribes and that most of the oil benefit will be siphoned into private bank accounts and internal leaders receiving handsome bribes from international companies, doing business and plundering the natural resources.  South Sudan will be the scene of camouflaged mandated control and management by foreign nations and regional powers.

The people in south Sudan have interest for an autonomous region.  All the central government institutions in the Capital Khartoum could be duplicated in Juba (the de-facto Capital in South Sudan) for the smooth functioning of the central government in the south.

The State of Sudan, independent for more than 50 years, has already relatively well-oiled army, financial institutions, and foreign ministry that are ready for reform that would satisfy the requirements of a newly autonomous region.  I believe that voting for independence will be a major handicap for any further reforms in north Sudan.

Salva Kir, the leader of the south Sudan movement, has already set the tone for a major phase of terribly discontent with northern Sudan. He blatantly made a  public statesman that he will immediately open diplomatic channels with Israel.  The worst part in the statesman was the announcement that Israel will become a major commercial and supplier of war equipments and training.  Salva Kir thinks that inviting bears in his back yard is normal behavior from intelligent people.

Note:  Satellite pictures of Sudan shows that the line of partition separates the semi-desert region in the north from the greener equatorial region in the south.  If the people in south Sudan opt for independence then, south Sudan will be bordered by the Central African Republic on the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda in the south, Kenya, Ethiopia in the east.  It will lack any access to the Ocean and will need to invest heavily for infrastructures to exporting by sea through treaties with neighboring States.  Otherwise, south Sudan will be strongly dependent on north Sudan for exporting its oil production.  Maybe vast underpopulated countries such as Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Kazakhstan should be partitioned too for more effective management and equitable distribution of resources among all ethnic minorities.

My “Mother tongue”? Can formal Arabic become a universal language?

You hear frequently the question: “What is actually your mother tongue?”

You may be very conversant in many languages, and more often than not, you may write better in a language that is not your “mother tongue”, meaning you master the grammar, syntax, and technical terminology of the foreign language better than your “mother tongue”, and you feel more comfortable and readier to express your rational thoughts writing in this foreign language.

Does this mean that you are able to express your spirit and your culture in a foreign language?

This is the main role of slang:  You are using slangs in your “mother tongue” that connote deeper meaning and feeling than in any foreign language

Suppose that the other “foreign” party in the conversation is as versed in your mother tongue as you think you are, do you think that he may be able to express the same feeling as you feel?

Frequently, a slang word expresses a way of life that no longer exist because of the advance of modern life styles.

Does that mean we have got to be pragmatic and drop this word from our lexical, as if an expression must necessarily represent current real life?

Do I master my mother tongue?  Do I have one?

I was born in a French colony in Africa (Mali) and lived there to the age of 6 when I fell ill with a deadly disease and barely managed to survive.  Consequently, I must have learned to speak and write in French first, and most probably I was conversant in the Bambara dialect, since I was surrounded by Malian helpers and my closest “guardian angel” was a mute young man:  Thus, I might have learned sign language too.

Bambara is an oral language that was spoken by animist tribes in the current State of Mali with Capital Bamako.

Hampate Ba (see note) wrote that the Bambara tribes aided the French colonizers against the Moslem tribes in Senegal, until Islam became the main religion in Mali.

At age of 6, I was suddenly transferred to another continent and a totally different culture with, supposedly, a weather and climate better suitable to recurring tropical diseases.  I am left in a boarding school in the mountain and run by Christian Maronite monks.  The new formal language is Arabic, but the conversation is done in the Lebanese slang.

Six years later, I had totally forgotten French and barely learned formal Arabic.

I guess my lack of conversational skills could be due to this sudden shift in learning new languages with no proper transition.

My parents used to visit me one of every two summers; I used to spend summers with them as with strangers and never skipped an opportunity to run to my boarding school.

Another social and linguistic trauma was awaiting me.

My parents decided to close shop in Africa after Mali got its independence.  Now, my parents moved me to a French school in Beirut, run by Jesuits.

I had to repeat my year because my French was nil.  By the end of the year I was excellent in French writing and its grammar, but no better in conversing.

The next year, I was reading all the green and rose collections of French books, but none in Arabic.  The school taught us English three hours a week and I was very lousy:  A special teacher was hired to give me an edge in English at no avail or that’s how I felt.

I was good in writing formal Arabic and French but nil in any sort of conversation, excepting Lebanese slang.

Now, I can write in three languages Arabic, French and English, but I decided that English is my writing language:  I did higher education in the USA and lived there, on and off, for 20 years during my adulthood.

Obviously, I learned many US slang words and expressions and I know their meaning, but I would not dare confirm that I master the many slangs in the USA.

Anyway, I never acquired the correct tonality or the right emphasis on syllables:  Who can with 51 US States?  People recognize my French accent, though I don’t remember speaking French for more than 5 minutes at a time and with difficulty. Anyway, speaking in the US is a matter of sustained presence, since slangs keep changing, as their consumer products and services witness high turnover rate.

The Arab/Lebanese slang words and expressions are more natural to me:  I feel at home talking Lebanese, simply because I learned it a kid.  I never miss an occasion to reading Lebanese books that recount and describe the customs and traditions of the various Lebanese communities.

You would be surprised to realize that customs in the mountain regions are basically the same regardless of religion and history.

So, what is my mother tongue?

We all know that translating a slang is never even remotely accurate or capable of expressing the true cultural layers hidden under a slang word.  Unfortunately, we throw around slang words and expressions, simply because we overheard them frequently, but we are not versed in the true meaning of the word and its context that has a long history in our language and helped sustain our cultural way of life for centuries.

Confucius wrote: “First of all, a government should give priority to working on the correct usage of the terminology in the language.  If terminology is not widely correctly understood and uniform, discourse will be disorderly, orders are wrongly misinterpreted, and consequently, most orders stop being executed as intended.  If the forms and rituals are not conveniently stabilized then, social relationship are distorted and customs and rituals neglected, justice is not adequately rendered, and the kingdom is weakened.  Any new law must be enunciated in the clearest of terms and never proclaimed without thorough discussions, lest tyranny shows its ugly head”

A corollary to Confucius statement is that ancient and modern literature, written in a particular language, must be revised for the accurate meaning of words and expressions in their context.   A sustained massive education campaign to initiating newer generations to old manuscripts that reflect the spirit of the collective community must be taken most seriously.

Newer words and expressions disseminated as slang must be added to the language and their distinct meaning explained.

We have a problem with formal Arabic.

Moslem are taught the Koran and they memorize it; thus, they are far more familiar with the Arabic/Mecca language since they learn it as kids.

The other barrier is that formal Arabic words have religious undertone and you can barely find significant words that you can claim to be religiously neutral and expresses your opinions:  Usually, expressions relate to tribal, and nomadic traditional life-style.

Formal Arabic is inhibited by abstract notions that nomads could not appreciate: That is why you find Moslems giving preferences to Hadith (or what people overheard the messenger Muhammad having said) instead of the core religion principles and dogma of the Koran.

And, that is why formal Arabic never progressed to facing the challenges of universality standards in literature.   We cannot even expect the two dozens national Arabic slangs to keeping up with progress and changes since they all borrow words and expressions that are laden with religiously biased.

Consequently, “Arabs” who decided to write in foreign languages are sending the strong message that they do not want to be left out of universal civilization and fast transformations, especially the non-Moslems with positions and different life-styles.

It is difficult to freely express your honest opinion in Arabic, simply because the words are coined in Islamic culture and connote religious meaning, whether you like it or not.

The Lebanese who immigrated to Egypt at the turn of the 20th century did their best to enriching formal Arabic and selecting easier and nicer words.  The end result was just an advantage to Lebanese and Syrians writing in a pleasant language adapted to poetry, theater plays, and novels.

Note:  Amadou Hampate Ba (1900-1991) had said: “In the oral civilization of Africa, once an old wise man dies it is an entire library that closes.”  Hampate Ba spent his life documenting the stories, myths, and historical accounts of clans and tribes living in western Africa of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Fasso, and Ivory Coast.  He loved sitting around a bonfire at night listening to the “marabout and grios” telling their lively stories and taking notes.  He accumulated and  compiled vast numbers of documents that are still being regrouped and put in print.




March 2023

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