HOW ‘TWITTERATURE’ KILLS OUR LITERATURE AS CASH TALENT KILLS OUR TALENT CASH IN THE POSTWAR SOUTH SUDAN
Today, Sunday, October 13, 2013, is a great day for South Sudanese authors, book dealers and readers in Australia. Just because I could not make it this year to attend the maiden books/authors’ event, I had to just collect, correct and connect the following tidbits from my previous writings, say: essays from newspapers, poems from my books, twits and posts— all from my contributions on the so-called media; social media, vocal media, local media, glocal media and global media to make my presentation and representation felt among my fellow writers and readers in the event. Thanks to the organizers, especially Peter Lual Deng (Lual-Africa) of Africa World Books and Kuir e Garang for gracing the event, now being launched in Melbourne, Australia. Link: http://africaworldbooks.com.au
LITERATURE versus TWITTERATURE
Upon my Facebook and Twitter’s threats from friends and fiends alike, to write a ‘few words’ or they quit ‘reading me’, altogether, I was left wondering and wandering over which methods to cure their literary anaemia or my ‘cancer of words’, and pondering and pandering to my readers’ sudden change from their consumption of literature by mere presumption on ‘twitterature’.
Of course, having professed my literary wackiness and confessed my literal weakness, say ‘literary sickness or literary thickness’, which I prefer to call ‘cancer of words’, intended to be featured in the length of my terminology, sentences or paragraphs herein, I am put to test on this! And, mind you, it will spend me equally the same span of time – and moreover at the expense of my literary style and taste – to shrink my ‘rioting in writing’ to 140 characters of the ‘Gospel according to Tweetosphere’, or 140 words according to readers’ sphere on Facebook from a 1400-word essay on my weekly Weakleaks, or 14,000 words on one of my upcoming poem books, or 140,000 words on my future novel or auto/biography. There is a conflict here; in fact, a conflicting loyalty. This is captured in my letter to ‘Dear Ready Reader’, part of the Preface of my poetry book, The Black Christs of Africa, thus:“However, on the one hand, I owe again a sincere apology that a great number of the poems, plus their introduction which you are now reading, may not make sense to a great number of readers, not to mention of leaders, especially those South Sudanese brothers; those pseudo-news browsers, who turn their pages very fast: either – of course – they have not got used, or because they want not to get used to today’s other world standard of reading culture, especially this written Afro-culture.
On the other hand, they owe us an apology that they are unwilling to resort to reading agro-culture, whose economically returning toil is in turning the soil – very vast – by burning the oil very fast. Disguised idleness, be it in digging with metal tools or rigging with mental tools, is as sinful as an adulatory act of adultery, if not idolatry. It is just this that this latest apostle of poetry (Jon) absconds, which the Letters’ Apostle of Gospel (Paul) seconds in his epistle to Corinthians and Christians: that a new creed of greed and idleness are forms of idolatry, and to Thessalonians, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Similarly, to the ‘salonians’ (frequenters of saloons or salon idlers), if anyone will not read, neither shall they reap.
Lo, we go…!
Lo, we go…!
CASH TALENT versus TALENT CASH
Whereas what I call ‘cash talent’ is a situation whereby one gets easy cash (physical money) to buy talent, ‘talent cash’ is the opposite thereof. It is a situation in which one uses one’s natural ability or national capability to acquire money (cash). If ever you have been to or in Juba, capital of the ‘Reap-public of Source Sudan’ (for-give me this pun for fun), you will not ask for illustrations.
(For instance…in a veiled reaction to my e-mail reply from Taban lo Liyong…)
“However, what I found out during my six years of a hide-and-seek game with a ‘real publisher of books’ was but a real publisher of names; of names of those who have already published books. Since I did not have any name yet, to be published and sold, I just landed on a printer handy, a real publisher of words. In the truest sense of the word, this is the real publisher of books; one who looks at the book of a writer and not the writer of a book. Therefore, if I were a president of the ‘Republic of Literature’, I would make that a ‘Republican Decree’ to publish not the literary pedigree but the literary degree in every manuscript.
Lo, we go…!
Let note not be taken for granted that printing bureaucracy is the only hindrance to writing democracy. There is the Side B of this injustice—funding. It took me barely five years hunting for 5,000 dollars to print this work as it takes my fertile-ground colleague merely five months to bag 500,000 dollars to buy a hummer and another hot car and fly to Palm Island in Dubai, and also do buy there for vacation with a girlfriend. One lunch time in a Juba restaurant, I eavesdropped one of such characters audibly broadcasting without self-restraint, “Ya zol, they want 5,000 dollars for the tyre and repair of my hummer!” This poked me to jerk my head violently and mumble to myself silently,
“Oh my God! That exactly is what they want for 3,000 copies of my poetry.”
In the process of building the nation, the Phase II of our liberation struggle, I compared the values, in terms of public consumption, of his rubber wheel in the vehicle with that of my rougher will in the book and just bled in the heart. Where really do they get this money? With this question, I was consciously poised by another question a friend posed to me, “Where really do you get all these words?” He wondered of about or above 77,000 words in this single-authored anthology. Of course, there is no twofold gift; literal wealth and literary wealth cannot knock at one’s door hand-in-hand, one must usher in the other.”
Lo, we go…!
WHY TALENT IS ABUNDANT BUT REDUNDANT IN SOUTH SUDAN
Blame Game: “The majority of our new leaders spent half of their lifetime fighting in the bushes. Upon independence, the rebel commanders became ministers and their foot soldiers were converted instantly into bodyguards, security operatives and other government support staff. They are a different category from the youth who went to refugee camps and other settlements during the war and who attained education either in the West, East Africa or North Africa. Now we have returned home…as if to clash with the old guard! The old guard fears this new, better educated, contingent. Because of this fear, the leaders now lock out the youth and persecute those who protest.” ZAM Chronicle…link: http://www.zammagazine.com/chronicle-2/24-south-sudan-pioneer-john-penn-de-ngong
“That aside, for that matter, the real subject matter as seen from the title means that there is no usefulness in our youthfulness if we begin to follow the examples of our uncles and brag around with the feathers of our fathers. If we leave our own potentials and cooperation as leaders of this country, both of today and tomorrow, and begin to dance to the tune and adapt to the tone of our elders, who cherish their African traditional philosophy of leadership by eldership, then we are turning our future from boom to doom.” WEAKLEAKS: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-youth-of-the-south-used-less-hence-made-useless
In one of my many projects that I have been writing to no avail in South Sudan, I had this to say, which I posted on my ‘The Text Collector’s’ literary blog, as follows: http://thetextcollector.wordpress.com
“Following the independence in 2011, there is an urgent need and demand to excavate the hibernating wealth in the surviving postwar generation of South Sudan. This must be done through education, now that the said war has provided enough raw materials for a ‘bush rush’ or writing as a business. That is why, over the last six years, we (at USTASS, our talent spotting and supporting organization) have been agitating for those who are less ‘uncled’ in the position of free oil money to join hands not in an opposition for money but in a creative hunt for an alternative run for one’s survival during these times of the austere economy in South Sudan. And the best way out is not to riot but to write; to write pretty petty things for a living, the best way to access that money from any austerity authority in South Sudan.
However, there is need to fight that colonial legacy, which is still instilled in our minds. Of course, in the pre-colonial and colonial era of error, the Sudanese children and youths used to invest their talents in traditional recreational activities as passed on by their older generations. Popular native talents such as wrestling, mock fighting, hunting, chanting, dancing, etc. were solely communal and non-commercial. These experiences later translated into civil wars in the wake of slave trade trailed by foreign domination and exploitation from the Turks, the Egyptians, the British and the Arabs in that historical order.
For over half a century, the Sudanese youths, especially in the South and the marginalized areas of the Sudan, have dedicated or wasted a great deal of their time and talent in their successive wars of liberation and, alas, are now wasting their time in excessive woes of freedom libation. The worst part of this legacy is lack of documented records since our past was dominated by crude literature, in USTASS’s literary concoction, ‘illiterature and orature’ (illiteracy and oral tradition).
Again, upon the declaration of the Southern Independence in 2011, which saw the south separate from the north of the Sudan, there is talent rush to excavate the hibernating wealth in the surviving young generation of South Sudan. The tools for exploiting this are the youth themselves through their own efforts to search and research their historical backgrounds and literary foreground, but should not be without technical supports from their talent scouting organizations, non-governmental and governmental organizations.Obviously, the problems facing talent programs in South Sudan remain lack of access to funding, especially at a small scale and grassroots levels. Well, there are funds, but they do not reach the roots of the grass down there. Given sufficient support from the government, donors through NGOs, multinational companies and national businesses in South Sudan, then the talent promotion individuals and organizations will easily achieve their goals of spotting and supporting talents in South Sudan through their Yearn-Learn-Earn method and ‘Fun for Fund’ or’ Pun for Fun’ programs. This would only work if opportunities were availed on natural abilities and national capabilities.
Going by the current statistics of literacy rate, idleness and laziness in our ‘baby nation’, there is no money in writing, singing or sporting in South Sudan today. Both able-bodied and able-minded youth have been accustomed to the belief for relief that, after all, there is no need for taxing one’s brain when they can just do the taxiing on the flakes of fertile soil underneath their feet and the texting about the lakes of versatile oil beneath their field: all these for minting cash on! However, the oil being thousands of kilometers deep in the heart of the earth and the soil being the skin thereof, how do we extract cash out of them now, right now? We need knowledge. We must yearn and learn in order to earn.
Nevertheless, we know this country, for the last six years of the Interim Period, which has indeed been an extreme period, of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), that is still a compressive peace argument, is now independent but predominantly dependent on a cash cow that grazes in the south but is still milked in the north. Therefore, we want to promote technical knowhow, not tactical know-who. We want to enhance talent, which is latent. We want to ignite this latent talent into gallant talent in order to develop our youngsters into young stars.
To achieve this, we need to collect, correct and connect every individual energy into a very indivisible synergy. In this way, talent will no longer be abandoned or redundant, but will be abundant in a redone dent. In short, we need you as badly as you need us in the process of our nation building.
WHAT IS TALENT?
To give a true definition of a talent, I can first ask you to sing, speak, dance or even cry it. Or do you not know that even crying has talent in it? Or the professional mourners would not make money. Oh no, I seem to be telling the truth inside out. This is the hardest question in my literacy philosophy. I cannot define it, I can just find, just as Maya Angelou puts it. “…talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.” In the same poetry book of mine, talent is a result of mystery, which goes like this:
“I cannot hoot but can only hone my own horn that my speed and speech of composing these poems were due to my having been well groomed in the classroom. No. It was due to having been well confined in the clash-room; from the clashes within the world within me and within the world without me. I was just able to literally find and divine – not yet able to literarily divide and define – the moods, tones, themes and styles in me as in the poems.”
This also is summed up in this talent anthem (Poem 210) from the same source:
WHAT IS POETRY
This is just the follow up of the what-is-talent question above. Poetry, which is music in writing, is a genre of literature that gives out the best one’s talent. Back to my first book, this is my take:
“I am giving you a rare book; a real book of surreal news. Of course, sure real news is not when a dog bites a man but when a man bites a dog. So is poetry.
Paradoxically and parodically, it is when a person (teacher) turns a dog into a god by reverse ‘goth’ spelling, or when a parson (preacher) turns a God into a doG by adverse gospelling.
Analogically and logically, poetry is to pottery, or a poet is to a potter as a poem is to a pot; you can notionally mould it—it can emotionally maul you—into several amoebic shapes and heaps.
Poetically and politically, it’s a practical game. Just as pottery is all about peeling and moulding the mud, poetry is all but feeling and moulding the mood.
Literally and literarily, it is like poverty— pinching, pitching, itching or etching its victims. It is my professional confession that as a pauper can make a good pot, the poor can make a good poet.
For example and by sample, confirm this confession from Mr. Paupular (popular pauper)’s Poem 278, and a poor man’s Poem 132: Money, Money, Where are you?
Additively and addictively, there is pun for fun: this way; pun additives for fun addictives. It also can be interpreted not only as pun for fun but also as pun for funds, and fun for fans.
Painfully but gainfully, these poems reported themselves to me while I was in hibernation; that is, by the time personalized insecurity and synchronized poverty put me under house arrest. For a project to stop gainfully, it must start painfully. Lo, we go!
Am I a stereotype or a hero type? One fact I do rely on in art is that no piece of literature is deemed a hundred-percent of a zero or a hero value. So I leave it to you my judge to either trivialize it, ‘tribalize’ it, or otherwise. Lo, we go…!
Is it a trivia or juvenilia? I wonder if I am giving you pure trivia or sure juvenilia. Bearing in my mind that what I am presenting my readers and leaders of literature with might either or neither be trivia (collection of nonsense) or juvenilia (collection of youthfully useful stuff), I am determined not to fail you to hail me.
Lo, we go…!
“Then, I mean John Donne of the 17th century was purely anglicized whereas John Penn of the 21st century is poorly anglicized – say, surely Sudanized – in terms of age and sage. I was taught poetry, born before I was born, to creatively reproduce it, but have thought to produce modern poetry. By this, I am trying to evade chances that may lead me to invade somebody’s work of art, that is, literal blunder for literary plunder. Since “Art is not a handicraft, but the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced’’ as Leo Tolstoy still believes it in his grave, I suppose, we must re-invent in this Millennium of ours the additional wheel of art dynamos and circumvent the traditional will of literature dinosaurs. That is to say, no copying and pasting for the modern literarily literal gentlemen from the mediaeval literally literary ‘Gentile men’, whose descendants are dependants upon the pleasures of plagiarism, even today, in the name of conventional writing.
It should be noted, however, with positive rebellion, that as scientists are struggling freely clued to golden indicators of their scientific art, artists are straggling strictly glued to olden dictators of their artistic science. In the all mighty name of the creator of creativity, this repute, I dispute, I refuse, I diffuse. Amen! Lo, we go…!
Bitterly in this mandatory motion, I dispute this predatory notion in the name of Poetry, which is automatic, not mathematic— it has no formulae; like the war-time roads of southern Sudan, seemingly impassable to drive on but not impossible to deliver on. Of course, as from my mental computer through my metal computer onto these pages, poesy is supposed to flow, to flow from the conscience of the transcendent paths of the poemusicians of the present day; it is not supposed to follow, to follow the transient paths of the poemagicians of the ancient past. As if this is not clear, yet. A poem is a literary commodity driven in socio-spiritual autos; namely automatic, automagic, automusic, and its pilot is called poet, and its road a reader. So a poem can be acquired by internal feelings or inquired from external peelings. Therefore, I am a poet if my works treat my reader with tough feelings, but a poetease if my works tease my reader with rough peelings. Lo, we go…!
To recap it, a poet, as from Latin ‘poeta’, French ‘poete’ and Greek ‘poietes’, means maker or creator; in other terms, a producer, not a reproducer. A remote creator, like God who just called, “Let there be a world,” and there was, a poet just calls, “Let there be a word,” and there is! That is why I turned down many choices of request and tuned down many voices of inquest, like Prof. Lo Liyong’s recommendation to first read other poets before writing my own. I was aloof to implement this complement because a poem is, as mentioned elsewhere here, as unique as one’s physique. It is an integral part of the human psychique state, and by far an internal eruption against external irruption or interruption, which is an emotional vulcanicity that I can only feel from its motional velocity; that I cannot define with promotional felicity, and that I cannot derive from complicity by duplicity, a modern hidden literary complication by duplication. Lo, we go…!”
As I always say, I cannot conclude, I can only include, by repeating this lines: “Therefore, if I were a president of the ‘Republic of Literature’, I would make that a ‘Republic Decree’ to publish not the literary pedigree but the literary degree in every manuscript.”