How My Mind Works
Belated Happy 56th Independence Anniversary greetings to my fatherland, land of my people, Zambia, on Saturday, 24th October, 2020.
I think and write, I write and think today thanks to the first-class education I received in Zambia of my time. All for free. My gratitude and humility are boundless. From initial primary school education in Lesotho and South Africa, my first encounter with Zambian school system in Lusaka was Grade 7 in 1976 at Olympia Primary School. I did Forms 1-5 in 1977-81 at Kamwala Secondary School. And I read for a Bachelor of Arts degree education at The University of Zambia (UNZA) in 1982-86. Further higher education in Norway took my thinking and writing skills to the next level.
If my writings make sense and contribute to stimulating thoughts and actions towards making this a better world, thanks to the above-mentioned countries the synthesis of whom I am, and I’m much proud of. If I write destructive crap, it is a reflection of my innate personal intellectual inadequacies. Nail me on the cross alone. Leave my lands, leave my people alone.
Until about six weeks ago, I’d always remain with an empty feeling of not having elucidated myself well enough to people when talking about my books. This had been the case since the publication of my maiden book, When The Mighty Fall – Rise Again Mindgames, in November/ December, 2015. The book is a fantasy memoir, or autofiction.
I couldn’t really figure out what it was exactly I was leaving out in my tellings about where I’m coming from regarding my narratives and presentation style. This was despite my conviction that I had been as revelatory as possible about my background and what I stand for in life.
Much as I had anticipated when I commenced with all this book writing adventure, I’ve had mixed reactions to the said book especially. Some have been very brutal in their condemnations. Positive responses outweigh the negative by far, though.
As an author, I only, I can only, and I want to write only about what I know. The latter being in real terms as I see and live through reality as a conventionally given constant construct of the objective world. Also being conceptual as I seek to make sense of reality at the subjective level; that way expressing my thoughts in various ways as influenced by my emotions. At the same time, my emotions playing themselves out in my imagination and fantasy expressive potential – my dreams – through my writings: my books.
On the other hand, novel writing may or may not be pure fiction conjured by my imagination or fantasy. Meaning that my novel stories may or may not be representative of me as a person and my values, as well as my visions of the world. Therefore, when I write a non-ambiguous auto-biographical piece, it is what it is: I’m writing about myself as I objectively know myself in relation to my existential reality and its imperatives. It’s the truth about what I know about myself as a natural and social being.
However, when I, for example, write my fourth novel and sixth book, Machona Mother – Shebeen Queen, from a woman’s perspective, the process and final outcome do not make me a woman in any way. If they highlight hints of some suppressed womanly aspects about me, then I’m not aware of that reality even if, indeed, we are all females in the beginning. Homophobes, take note.
What I’m aware of is my absolute sense of manliness and all that being a real man entails: warrior, machoman, top dog, alpha male. The book simply manifests the extent of my imagination and fantasy expressive potential as a writer:
- I create fiction.
- The fiction that I create doesn’t have to define my being.
- With the fiction I write, I push and break the boundaries of time and space; I push and smash social conventions boundaries without losing myself.
Which brings me to the point. In response to comments and queries arising from readers of my first book in particular, I’d liberally share my experiences, thoughts, and feelings about growing up in the extremely sexually violent, promiscuous environment of South Africa of my childhood days. Not as if much has changed at least 55 years on, though. My attitudes towards my relationships and sex with women are shaped by this background.
Given my sensitive and reflective nature, it goes without saying that chances of elements of my history playing themselves out in my literary endeavours are high, therefore. But I understood very early in my life that violence against women and indiscriminate sex are not my thing.
If I were gay, I’d as a matter of course write about both factual and fictional erotic stories as according to the nature of the narrative I’d be working on. When in my second book and novel, Machona – Emigrant, a pivotal character’s gay orientation emerges under dramatic circumstances, it’s because I know about homosexuality from a scientific perspective, platonic personal relations, and social prejudices constructs manifest in the politics of sex, sexuality, and gender.
The power of my imagination and fantasy expressive potential as a creative writer makes it possible for me to enter other people’s worlds to conceptually feel their needs for recognition, love, and protection. Much in the same manner as my needs are similar as a human being also. It’s called empathy. Without empathy, I couldn’t write the books that I write in the manner that they come out finally. I write with, and for love as a progressive social force. Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I miss the target. That’s the way love goes. Better luck next time.
The issue is that the erotica of When The Mighty Fall has upset some people so much that they’ve decided to unilaterally make misguided and malicious conclusions about my person. Others that know me from before at various levels of social interactions are so confused that they don’t know how to relate to me anymore.
Whereas I on my own as a child already began to form the picture that there was something not quite right about sexual violence and unrestrained sex across the board, it wasn’t until I was eleven years old that Bible Studies lessons at school brought it all home to me.
My family’s arrival at my Uncle, Mr OB Chilembo’s house in Lusaka, Zambia, was during the last week of much, 1975. Perhaps it was already on the very first day of arrival that I walked into a room with more books than I had ever seen in one place before. My cousin, Molly, then told me that the room was a study, or a library. For the rest of the year I’d spend hours in this private library devouring all kinds of books, magazines, and journals.
It was in the home library that I discovered the book The Perfumed Garden. If I am a misogynist, if I do not adore a woman’s rose, if I don’t think consensual sex is the most wonderful thing, if I’m a sex predator ever on the lookout for minors to molest, then I’ve lost the lessons and inspiration that I drew from this truly fascinating book. This book has made a lasting impression on me. The Kama Sutra was there too. But the former rules for me.
The Perfumed Garden helped me to appreciate more King Solomon’s poetry in praise of women in the Old Testament. King David and his son’s rape of another man’s wife and sister respectively reflected the extremes of lust-driven abuse of women and children by men in my township in Welkom, South Africa. Lust also led to extremes of brutality amongst men competing for possession of every beautiful woman in town. This has never made sense to me at all, no matter where in the world I’ve been or I find myself.
Where applicable, I romantically love women with all of my heart. But I’ll never force a woman to love me if she doesn’t. I’ll never fight rivals over a woman; either a woman loves me or my rival. No big deal. Competition is healthy. Defeat inspires my creativity, much as victory does. Every which way I rule. Simple existential elegance. Taking them one at a time when Cupid‘s arrow has struck, my women bring themselves to me, anyway. I ain’t no gigolo. I ain’t no Valentino. I ain’t never gonna hustle for no pussy.
The Holy Bible has numerous fantastic stories touching possibly the entire spectrum of ideals shaping ethics and morals the aim of which is to tame human primitive instincts. Ethics being the individual’s or collective’s sense of right or wrong as to own actions towards life. Morals tell of the good and bad that the world observes coming from the individual or the collective.
Another one of my favourite Bible stories involves Samson. This man was hot, hot, hot, hotter than Superman: he slayed a lion with his bare hands; he wiped out an entire 1 000-man enemy army, the Philistines, with only a donkey’s jawbone for a weapon! His girlfriend, Delilah, subsequently betrayed his source of strength to the enemies. Samson got captured. His eyes got plucked out.
His demise came when he used his last strength to push down two key supporting pillars of a large house in which were at least three thousand Philistines elites. They had gathered to celebrate their victory over him. At this point of the story, I never forget my then Standard 3 (Grade 5) teacher, Ms Tshehlana, singularly re-enacting the scene where Samson cries as he pulled down the pillars, “A ke shwe le Ma-Filistina/ Let me die with the Philistines!!!”.
With limited teaching aids in hard Apartheid rule times, Black South African teachers were compelling storytellers in their teaching methods.
I was an absolute nervous wreck for hours before I finally hit the Amazon Kindle “Publish” button for the very first release of When The Mighty Fall (e-Book version) on the night of December 6, 2015. This happened only after the Samson death story came to mind. I’ve been using the hashtag #IfIdieIdie since then.
If I in one way or another get to badly screw up in my writings and other things that I do, get judged and sentenced to death, if I die, I die. It is what it is. Simple as that.
If, however, I get judged and sentenced to death unfairly, hated for no tangible reason, I shall fight tooth and nail to the bitterest end, if need be, to protect my dignity and honour. If I have to put my neck on the line in the process, so be it: if I die, I die.
My dignity defines my sense of self-worth, my self-respect as I go on with my life and its obligations in society. Honour is about how society views my deeds in my interaction with it. Honour is approval, starting with the smallest expression of recognition and love from the first nearest person within my immediate environment.
In honour of, and gratitude to all who make my life worth living across the globe, I aspire to ever write with the highest attainable level of personal integrity as an extension of my dignity. Through my writings I can be anything and nothing at the same time. When in doubt, just ask. Have no fear. Suppress your demons. Swallow your prejudices. Me, I’m a free spirit. It is what it is. If I die, I die. But then again, immortality is mine. Ask Shakespeare. Try Harry Potter. Call Chinua Achebe. Read philosophy. In Norwegian we say, “Livet er herlig, Dere!” / Life is good, people!
October 26, 2020