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Scientifically speaking, at the moment of human conception, there is no telling what perfections or imperfections shall take place as the to-be-human-being develops until birth. Not in the least as the new human being steadily grows up into adulthood and advanced old age, if so destined. There never is any guarantee that the new to-be-human-being shall in fact be born, to begin with.
Depending on the genetic material quality of the sperm and the egg of the respective parents, children born can turn out to have and to be anything. Life is by default a game of chance from the start. Consideration of infinite other internal and exterior variables prior to, during the mother’s pregnancy and actual eventual birthing is crucial in this regard as well. Children can be born still. They can be born healthy and strong, weak and ever fragile, with or without arms or ears. They can be born with all kinds of everything and/ or nothing, including sexuality.
Sexuality is a manifestation of a neurological state of being; biologically determined, needless to say. Therefore, sexual orientation is not a choice, it is an intrinsic aspect of being human as naturally programmed in our genetical construct as living organisms.
To strive to change or work against human sexual orientation is as good as working against God’s work and wonders of her infinite creative potential and its expressions, both for the relative good and bad of human existence on earth. This has to hold true if indeed all born and unborn human beings are made by God in her own image. God cannot be God only for socially constructed “normal” people.
Discrimination and loathing of people whose expression of being goes contra man-made social norms essentially invalidate the existence and relevance of God. A God who “so loved the world that [she] gave [her] one and only Son, that whoever believes in [her] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It is clear that God is aware that there shall be those that shall not believe in her because of the imperfect, non-predictable nature of being human, whether made after her image or not.
Amongst other things, assuming that we are indeed manifestations of God’s creation, she imparted in us the power of will. Therefore, people can as per their natural prerogative choose or not to choose to believe in God and take the consequences. Some people will, vis-à-vis artificial social precepts, be defined or judged to be anti-God only because they cannot do otherwise but live according to the essence of their being what or who they are. That as nature, or God, designed and subsequently brought them out to life on earth.
A really genuine and benevolent God simply cannot intentionally design and give life to sexual orientation “abnormal” people to, then, punish them upon their expression and living of life according to their inherent compulsions.
In a perfect world, it can be predicted that the act of human sexual intercourse shall under “normal circumstances” take place only between males and females only. But normalcy in nature is a fluid reality that is scientifically verifiable.
To, in the name of God, deny people of the same sex the privilege to love one another and enjoy free, mutually satisfactory sexual intercourse in a free world is fundamentally an outrageously spiritually vain, anti-God endeavour. Even worse when it’s expressed in the form of parochial, archaic “it is not our culture!” utterance.
And then there is “Even animals don’t do it! Why should we allow it in our society?”
This takes the cake of ludicrous logic founded on misguided understanding, if any, of how nature really works: human neurological wiring and hormonal propulsion influencing behavioural manifestations have no direct correlation with that of non-human animals, that emanating from mutually incongruent genetical constructs and preconditions. Basic science.
Humans and non-human animals need to have a common genome in order to be socially and, by extension, sexually comparable, if not compatible. In the same vein, for example, lions and buffaloes naturally don’t socially or sexually mix because they are inherently driven by different genetic factors. On the other hand, be they straight or gay, humans of all races, colours, religions, and creed will always be socially and sexually attracted to one another as a matter of course. That as a given attribute of sharing a common and invariable human genome. Elemental science.
“Green people and magenta people simply cannot mix! Ever seen hyenas and giraffes mix together out in nature? It’s not racism. No, not at all. It’s just the way things are. It’s God’s plan, you know, my friend!”
If I really am made by God in her image, then, everything I do and stand for in my life is but a small manifestation of her stupendous wonders in the universe. If she made me a Human Rights driven heterosexual with passion for fairness and justice for all, including homosexuals, then I’m a happy, humble, and obedient servant. This resonates 100% with my innate being as scientifically and/ or Godly constructed man. What I preach here is the word of God, therefore.
Conversely, should God punish me for performing my instinctual human or social obligations as per her design of me, she can go to hell. Hell ought to be yet another one of her self-defeatist masochistic creations. It’s absolutely preposterous that God can create me, send me to propagate her words and deeds in the world, and then shoot me for carrying out her commands exactly according to her designs. Amen!
DECEMBER 05, 2019
Are you afraid now
Have I just
Pulled your illusory
Comfort zone carpets
From under your feet
Have I suddenly become
Your worst nightmare
Come to life
The abyss into hell
Spewing flames of
Splashing volcanic lava
All over your terrified face
Rolling down your
Your body frozen stiff
As if Sodom and Gomorrah’s
Pillar of salt
No, it’s not the end of the world yet
You are still alive
I burn you with my words
Salivary showers follow my speech
Not to give you comfort
But to moderate the heat somewhat
You mustn’t pulverize yet
I need you alive
You gotta hear what I gotta say to you
Even if yours are lead-soldered ears
Read my lips, nincompoop
Fuck ’n ’ell
You bet I am angry
I am fuck ’n furious
I’ve had more than enough
Of your dehumanization of me
Year in and year out
Over five fuckin’ hundred years
Not only do you continue stealing
Wealth of my land
You have made it your mission to
Eradicate me from planet earth
You decided to make me
Black and abominable
Whilst you took
My forefathers by surprise
And overwhelmed them with
Your uncanny brutality
I am a different ball game
In my time
I know you
More than you really ever cared to know me
How could you ever
When you’ve numbed your senses
To the suffering you cause me
To this day
Talking to you
Is like talking to faces
Of a desolate mountain
In the middle of nowhere
Crying in front of you
Crying in the middle of a desert
My tears evaporate before hitting the ground
The only thing your eyes see
Is the sub-human
Your sick mind has made me into
You don’t respect me
You don’t respect my humanity
You’ve emasculated my forefathers
You’ve raped my foremothers
So much humiliation
Have you subjected my people to
But now you have reached
The end of the road
Read my lips
Yes, I am one
Angry Black Man
My rage is wild
My rage is raw
I’ve harnessed all
The blood and thunder of my people
I shriek with every breathing cell in my body
To thrash your senses back to life
To awaken you to reality
Of my time
I want what is mine back
I want my humanity back
Things will never be the same for you
Your time is up
Shut the fuck up
You’ve said enough
You’ve caused enough damage already
My bitterness is five hundred years old
You can’t stop me now
You wanna hide now
I’ll search for you
I’ll find you
This world is mine
(19/ 11- 2019)
December 03, 2019
If some idiots start a nuclear war, then we are doomed. Good-bye planet earth. The same is bound to happen if climate change is not given the serious attention it calls for. That will be sad because I want to be here in the 23rd Century AD.
Beyond two hundred years from now monoracials, monoethnics will be relics of the past. The future belongs to a new composite race spearheaded by multiracials, multiculturals already treading the world today. In tracing their individual origins these people of the future will have their lineage points dotted all over the globe. These will be the true citizens of the world.
I want to be there then in order to see the true brotherhood, sisterhood of humanity living as one big pluricultural race. Perhaps I’ll have made a direct contribution, or my progeny will have done so. In this new pluricultural race, only the unlikely more intellectually retarded than today’s pure races ideologues, racists, white supremacists, regionalists, and tribalists will still be looking to define skin colours and other physical features to classify and to separate people. A futile exercise. As a collective, people of the future will be a complex set of an infinite extrapolation of possible cross generational genetic permutations. Whether or not they’ll be a coherent mass living harmoniously on the planet only time will tell. I want to be there in order to see this for myself.
The world had better start preparing for the future today. Writings of the future that I predict are already on the wall. The writings are filling up aeroplanes of the world, are on the highways of the world, are guiding footsteps across deserts of the world every day. They are traversing jungles of the world. Seas and oceans of the world are also witness to the pervasiveness of these writings on the wall about the inevitable pluricultural people of the future. No one can stop the tide.
The writings are in refugee camps; in detention centres and prison walls of the world. They are on apartheid walls that are erected on the face of mother earth. Treacherous barbed wire fences cannot dissuade enlivenment of the writings either: calligraphed in blood, torn-off clothing fabrics, pieces of human flesh, if not dead bodies hanging here and there.
Every act of tyranny committed today everywhere on the face of the earth emboldens every letter on the writings about the people of the future. Every international trade deal signed at any level simply shines more light on the writings. International trade in all its forms and components across the board grows exponentially every day. It constantly shrinks the globe, whilst signals of the potential and actual birth and growth of the people of the future are as clearly readable as the brightest night stars. The modern world calls this globalization, baby.
Globalization spreads goods and services across the globe. If globalization is about econo-political might, for good or bad regardless, it is because it is essentially about people with their needs and wants. Globalization draws people to domains of opulence attributable to gains from international trade and geo-political power.
As a tool for continued inequalities obtained from colonialism and earlier epochs, globalization facilitates exploitation of natural resources at the expense of economic development of poorer countries. This tendency continues to cause social unrests often culminating in protracted brutal civil wars. These wars can border on, if not actually lead to genocide of certain categories of people in the affected countries. The latter typically breed some of the worst despots in the world at any one time in human history.
The most resourceful of survivors in these troubled lands shall escape in search for safety havens and greener pastures across the globe. They shall follow routes leading to globalization powerhouses in the western world, or any other place on earth that has the promise of a better life. Any place that helps to keep hope aglow.
Whether in torment or existing on the bright side of life, people will always fall in love and procreate wherever they may find themselves in the world. Indeed, it is not always that procreation shall be an outcome of love. There sadly is a dark side to being human too. I intentionally choose to dwell on love here. Love is the power I aspire for in my looking into the future state and endeavours of humanity. May love forever reign supreme on planet earth.
As the world gets smaller and smaller, people of the world get to interact with one another ever more rapidly in all sorts of spaces and circumstances. All this creates fertile opportunities for cross-racial, cross-ethnic, cross-cultural love and reproduction to thrive over generations. This occurring as rapidly and as infinitely as humanity manifests its diversity as a species on planet earth. In our time, it can only get better and better. With or without globalization, no barriers of any kind can stop this trend.
Driven by magnetism of love and curiosity, and that of need for peace and abundance, human beings will achieve anything; they will go anywhere, including planets many light years away from home. The walls of Jericho fell, as did that of Berlin. The Great Wall of China is but what it is today: a fascinating feat of engineering. China wants to rule the world. Fools keep building walls and fences, they keep digging trenches and canals, they shoot people down, they keep coming up with all sorts of outlandish ideas to curtail people migration across the world. Outrageous. It’ll never work.
What a wonderful world the future has in store for humanity. White supremacists and other racial purists are fighting a losing battle. Wake up and smell the coffee, people!
Of course, where there is love there is the presence or absence of God. I am convinced that it’s God’s plan that monotheism shall allow love to disentangle it in parallel with the imminent major existential transformation and paradigm shift of the state of being human in the future. If religion chooses to remain static, then God is going to be even wearier than she is today. Which could just as well be as annihilatory as a nuclear war, or climate change let loose. Heaven forbid!
If we survive, I’m curious to see the face of God too in the year 2201. Amen.
Tel.: +47 925 25 032
November 14, 2019
REALITY IS I AM HERE, I LIVE, I LOVE, I DANCE.
I AIN’T GOING NOWHERE
“Winter is coming now, Simon. If you have any doubts about coming back to Norway you still have a chance of returning to South Africa, you know,” said Sofia.
“Are you sure you have no regrets about coming back to Norway, Simon? You still have a home in South Africa, not so?” several others remark this way many a time.
I live with no doubts. If I have any doubts, I don’t do it. If I do it anyway and get burned as a result, too bad. What’s done is done. If I die, I die. Closed chapter. If I don’t die, no regrets. I pay the price I have to pay, and move on; assuming that I can still breathe, stand, walk, and think.
If I can think, I can contextualize my feelings. If it feels right to do so because it’s turned out that I’ve really screwed up, I’ll beg for mercy if given a chance to do so. When I’ve been unfairly screwed and the perpetrator is cool about it, exercising their own capacity not to regret unjust screwing up of other souls, I leave them where they are. I never look back. I never go back. I’ll always find new playing spaces.
I’ll always find new playmates. We might play on until our dying days. We might wear each other out in the midst of the golden years of our lives when some shit suddenly happens: somebody gets screwed up somehow, another one bites the dust, whilst the other glosses in new-found glory at the expense of the screwed. It is what it is. That’s how we roll. Falling out of glory is like milk spilling out of a glass. I never cry over either.
Exactly one year ago today, I came back to Norway more shattered than I was when I left for South Africa six years ago. At that time, I watched with dismay as the success empire that I had built came crumbling down. Getting to South Africa soon felt like I had evacuated a sinking ship without any safety equipment to wear or hang on to. Because I’m not a good swimmer, I knew that the only thing I could do was to let go and allow the ocean to take me where it pleased.
If any creature of the oceans came to eat me, I prayed it would be a shark: agile, precise, in perpetual motion straight on ahead. In my naked least-to-no-resistance state of mind in the middle of the waters, I decided to play dead, though. I survived. I marvelled at watching the last vestiges of my extended empire go with the wind to places beyond my fantasy.
By the time my mother died I had been thoroughly humiliated for five years and three months in South Africa. She died a disillusioned mother of a once indomitable son that had come on the verge of falling into the dreaded pit of poverty that is the fate of the vast majority of Black South Africans. On my part, I had long read and understood her despair. I had already long made peace with the fact that her inability to help me to fix my world would slowly but surely kill her. It was not only about me, but my two siblings also. But I had previously been a pillar of strength for the family.
I know that in her old age, my mother’s fear of living in abject poverty ate her soul like cancer did body cells. So, I am convinced that her death released her spirit to a place of lasting peace and abundance. I know that that’s what she aspired to achieve during her life time, anyway. My fourth novel and sixth book, Machona Mother – Shebeen Queen, is inspired by my observation of hers and other mothers’ and wives’ lives in South Africa. Through this I reflect on the challenges of wifehood and parenthood in oppressive societies the world over.
On the eve of my mother’s burial, I was threatened with a bullet in the head. My torment in South Africa had come to a head. I had to leave. Three months earlier, she had in fact finally acknowledged that my future in South Africa was bleak. The only thing she could do was to give me her blessings, and I’d have to find my way back. I should leave whenever I could. She was laid to rest on October 13, 2018.
Eleven days later I landed in Oslo. In grief. Tired. Bankrupt. Homeless. Businessless. Jobless. At total mercy of other people and the state for the first time in my adult life. I received unprecedented overwhelming support and love. This gave me a refreshing new taste of humility in my heart.
Alas, I’m still shocked by the discovery that love has inexplicably diminished, if not vanished altogether in certain quarters. But then again, love is like milk: when it’s spilt it’s gone. No salvage. No cry. Like milk, fresh love abounds. Always. Spilt milk tends to be messy. Post-spillage clean-up is ever so necessary, therefore.
Left unattended to, spilt milk can go stale and stink. Poison. There is a poisonous dark cloud of love lost hanging over my head. Apparently, this cloud is at alarming speed spreading itself throughout the extent of domains that are crucial for my continued existence as a free and happy man of the world.
I now feel that the time has come for me to dissipate the treacherous cloud. Had I lived a hermitic life somewhere oblivious to the real world of real people, I really wouldn’t bother. My imperfections notwithstanding, as an ethically conscious man living in a morally charged world, I have no doubt as to my personal integrity in every step I make every day of my life. It isn’t just about my ego. I respond from a need to protect the honour and legacy of my late parents. Through the latter I reach out to my ancestral spirits throughout the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.
My own legacy matters too. It’s not just about me. It’s all in the name of the living of my people in the afore-mentioned part of the world, particularly my clans in Zambia and South Africa. I have in mind my bosom friends, my godchildren, my teachers, and colleagues all over the world throughout my life’s journey thus far as well. I intend to stay the course until my last breath on earth, which won’t be tomorrow. I’m here for the long haul.
My thoughts also go to all the people the lives of whom I have impacted before, I impact today, and I shall be allowed to impact in the future anywhere in the world: my raison d’être. It is my wish and hope that all the people falling into this broad category shall never feel shame, embarrassment, guilt, or fear at the mention or thoughts of my name, my deeds. My legacy.
I’m proud of my roots. I’m protective of my heritage. I value highly the love and faith of my confidants. I am in awe of the big religious and philosophical thoughts of the world that daily inspire and guide me in my search of liberatory enlightenment in the labyrinth of life. Truth must never shy away from me.
With the poisonous dark cloud of love lost hanging over my head cleared, the following shall be revealed:
- I have been unilaterally charged and convicted without a trial.
- I am not a sexual pervert. I am not a dirty old man. I am not a sexual predator.
- I am not a paedophile. Neither in practice nor by inclination.
- I am not a rapist. I am not into the habit of imposing my sexual power over women. I am not in the habit of taking advantage of sick, weak, and vulnerable women. I am not a sexual manipulator. I am not a philanderer. I shall never engage in sexual intercourse at any price, with anything.
- I love power. But I am not power-hungry. I am not a powermonger. The essence of my being is not defined by the power that I wield as attendant to the things that I do. For example, when I’m revered for being a 6th Dan Black Belt Karate Master, I don’t take it personal. I am nothing more than a conduit between higher knowledge and the people that my position empowers me to serve.
With or without Karate and its inherent existential and functional attributes, I remain the same original Simon Chilembo ever aspiring to be a decent human being each and every day of my life, my fallibilities considered. Karate does not define the essence of my being. It is but one mirror of many that reflect the infinite potential of the essence of me as a human being, a social change force.
I shall never fight for power acquisition and sustenance at any cost. But I shall fight with all of my life against deliberate malicious application of unfairness and injustice as tools and manifestations of power against me, my own, including the values that I stand for.
- I am addicted to love and peace.
- It is preposterous to seek to delete my existence in the historical developments of certain phenomena in my worlds. History never forgets. The wise will always query. Answers will have to be given, no matter how murky.
Having stated the above, I encourage anybody with any compelling evidence to contradict me to come forth and present their cases. This evidence shall be tangible, derived from real-life circumstances. It shall not be derived from ill-founded conclusions obtained from subjective misinterpretations of my literary works. It shall not be derived from malicious rumours about me either. Otherwise, people can just lay their weapons down and move on with their lives. We all deserve happily-ever-after living once love has found new hearts to entice. That’s the way of the world.
Character assassination claims and rumours about my person have been doing the rounds in Oslo and environs especially since the publication of my debut novel, When The Mighty Fall, in November, 2015. I feel strongly about these. Such that, in the unlikely event that it can be objectively proved that I am a molester, I will kill myself. That not as a manifestation of any suicidal vice about my character. Moreover, I will consciously choose to kill myself for my sins to save society resources and troubles of arrests, tedious court cases and all that goes with dealing with issues of crimes against humanity. It ought to be as simple as that, really.
I am not a fan of capital punishment. However, my abhorrence of sexual abuse, especially with respect to children, ignites the most primitive of my human instincts. Were I to be found actually guilty in this case, I wouldn’t hesitate to execute upon myself the ultimate punishment that my primitive instincts see as justifiable against child molestation.
I will publicly nail myself on the cross. I will invite the world to come and practice archery on my body until there’ll be no more flesh and bone left for an arrow to pierce. Then my corpse must be set on fire whilst on the cross. No funeral services. No urns. Let the wind blow the devil’s ashes away to places far away into outer space. No memorial services. Denialism of my place in history will be just fine, then: I was never here. I was an accident of nature. I was a figment of my imagination. I was just an illusion.
I say to my enemies all the time: you don’t know me.
Tel.: +47 925 25 032
October 24, 2019
REMEMBERING A WARRIOR GRANDMASTER:
JAMES BONAR NOBLE, SENSEI,
DECEASED August 11, 2018.
- This is a very personal tribute. It’ll describe a special relationship that I had with Sensei Noble during the years 1978-88.
- I write with the kind of clear conscience that he taught me about. Furthermore, I write with the have-no-fear sense that he instilled in me. I write with the selfless attitude that he demonstrated in working with me individually, and as part of the broader Karate collective in Lusaka. That said,
- I write neither doing anybody a favour, nor expecting any favours from anybody. I write out of the sense of devotion he showered me with. The kind of devotion I have for, and have striven to show to my own Karate students, has been an attempt at replicating Sensei Noble’s Karate-Do spirit.
- I have not had any direct connection, at any level, with Sensei Noble since I left Zambia, in June 1988.
- Situations and events that are necessarily going to be mentioned in this piece are done so to the best extent my memory serves me. Any inaccuracies arising I apologize for in advance. Names of people mentioned are also done so with but only the best of intentions, and respect. If any inaccuracies arise here, or any insinuated malice is detected, they shall not have been intentional on my part. For that, I apologize in advance as well.
In 1986-88, my relationship with my fellow senior students of Sensei Stephen Chan is at rock bottom. We were the core group of the recently formed All Zambia Seidokan Karate Kobudo Renmei, headquartered at the University of Zambia (UNZA) Karate Club, in Lusaka. The issues were around mutual misunderstandings vis-à-vis organizational and club leadership roles. They were also around stylistic interpretations, and expressions of our new Karate style, Seidokan.
My biggest sin, though, was to decide to unilaterally take on Zimbabwean, Jimmy Mavenge, late, under my tutelage. I had trained the latter, and subsequently graded him to Sho (1st) Dan Black Belt in Seidokan Zambia Karate. The goal had been that he would, upon his return to his country, take Karate to the people, de-racializing the sport in the country in the process.
I was, inwardly, a devastated man during that time. One day, after briefing my mother about my difficulties with my Seidokan Zambia colleagues, she says, “Why don’t you leave these people, Buti? You cannot fight them alone; there is no need to. You can always form your own club, can’t you? Do that, for your own peace of mind, man!”
“Sure, ‘Ma, forming a new club is not a problem. But, you see, taking them individually, these people aren’t too much trouble, really; they are all driven by group power. However, I still have one person I think I can rely on. That is Sensei Noble. If I have him on my side, then, all these people can go to hell. However, should he side with them, then, I’ll quit.”
Jimmy Mavenge’s rebellious Black Belt grading took place during the middle of the second half of 1987, if I recall. The Seidokan Zambia Black Belts I had invited to witness the event weren’t, of course, willing to be part of the grading panel. That included Sensei Noble. They decided to take up positions on the mezzanine in the UNZA Sports Hall. So, I carried on solo.
In superb fitness state, his former guerrilla mutinous spirit tuned high, Jimmy ran through his gradings’ required routines like a possessed man. He passed with flying colours. Awarding him his diploma, I took my personal black belt off me and passed it onto him.
From the mezzanine, Sensei Noble exploded, throwing his arms up in the air in exasperation, “Did you see that? Did you see what he has just done? Now, it means we cannot annul this grading!”
Before he would turn and walk away, Sensei Nobles’ eyes and mine met ever so briefly. However, I didn’t see the intensity of negative emotion I had expected. His facial expression radiated a sense of wonder that I had seen many times at training with him before. At the same time, it was like he was saying, “Sorry, Semmy, but you are on your own now!”
And, I thought to myself, “Well, this is it, I’ve lost my trusted ally! But I ain’t quitting before my job is done. I owe it to Jimmy to help him make a smooth transition into Zimbabwe. And, I have to use the 1987/ 88 academic year to revamp the UNZA Karate Club (UKC).”
The club had almost collapsed following the squabbles of the senior Black Belts. At some point, only Jimmy and I would turn up for training. When he left for Zimbabwe, a few weeks after the gradings, I was left alone.
I do not recall if I ever did get to have a formal position in the then Zambia Karate Federation (ZKF) Board of Directors cabal. But I got to coach the Zambia Midlands Karate Team in 1986-88. That meant that, although the Zambia Seidokan deliberately excluded me from certain events, Sensei Noble and I would often meet in connection with our ZKF work. The Sensei was the active patron of the ZKF, then. In the ZKF domain, our relationship was as amicable as ever.
I shall take the writer’s prerogative and postulate that I have sat 10 000 miles with Sensei Noble in his car; all in ZKA related training and administration matters in Lusaka, and between Lusaka and Kitwe, in the Copperbelt Province. That would also include a trip to Harare, together with the Zambia National Karate Team, in 1981.
Sensei-Student bonding does not take place on the training floor. In the dojo, the Sensei and his students just want to kill each other, whilst, at the same time, the former’s job is to constantly remind the latter that “life is good, people. Love it, preserve it!”
Although I had no idea of it at that time, my Sensei-Student bonding with Sensei Noble took place in those 10 000 miles I’ve sat with him in his car.
“You have upset many people, Semmy. Stephen Chan Sensei is not happy with you at all. You have infringed upon Sensei Chiba’s territory. No good, no good at all, Semmy!” Sensei Noble said to me during one of our trips. This was sometime in early 1988, about six months after the Jimmy Mavenge gradings scandal. By then, I had already been to Harare to check on his progress.
I responded, “I’m well aware of that by now, Sensei. That withstanding, the work that Jimmy has already done since he got back home is amazing. It’s one of those occurrences that, to be believed, they have to be witnessed personally. I’m, now, even more convinced that we did the right thing.”
I went on to explain how Jimmy had started to train children and youth at Harare’s Mbare township, where the not so fortunate people lived. He had also started to teach Karate at an orphanage run by a close friend of his. All for free. On the other hand, Sensei Chiba ran a private dojo in the city centre, catering for the paying middle class, predominantly white. Efforts to reach out and pay a courtesy call to the senior Japanese sensei had been futile.
“Alright, Semmy Sensei, I will give you that one. But the others don’t know what you have just told me. We have to do something about this, then.”
I’m not quite sure now, but I have a vague recollection that, not long after I had left Zambia for Norway, Sensei Noble did drive out to Harare to check on Jimmy. On the trip, he had taken along one of my absolute meanest detractors. The rest is history.
While giving him the report on Jimmy, what I did not tell Sensei Noble was that my work with the former was, in a large measure, influenced by his off-the-mat teachings.
Sometime in the first half of 1979, tensions at our former Trinity Karate Club had become extreme. A point had been reached where either Sensei Noble or the bunch of new young lions Sensei had to go. If I recall, it was after the last training session that he would lead at the club, that he offered to drive me home to Chelston. The latter is nearly 20km on the opposite part of the city, in relation to his residence at the Andrews Motel, about the same distance away from the mentioned reference point
“You see, Semmy, everybody wants to lead. But people don’t realize that leadership is something you grow into. I’m really not sure if those guys are ready to lead the club. However, they want it, so they can have it. My conscience is clear, I have taught them only the best of Karate available in the country, if not all of Africa. If they now feel they know more than I do, fine by me. They’ll soon find out that real Karate is not found in books. Books guide. They don’t teach. Lasting knowledge is learned man-to-man,” Sensei Noble said.
He continued, “People don’t know that I have nothing to prove. I have no need to want to prove anything. Do these guys want me to break their bones to prove that I am stronger than them? Do they want me to jump and fly like a teenager to prove that I am a good Karateka? Rubbish, if you ask me!”
The Sensei was in his forties at this time.
With his left hand, pointing at his head, and tapping on his left side of the chest, Sensei Noble went on, “The point is, Semmy, I have it all in here. I can’t fly, and I have no desire to, so you know. But I can teach you how to fly. By the way, as from this coming Sunday, and subsequent ones, until further notice, I’ll be teaching special classes to interested Brown Belts and above. That’ll be at the Evelyn Hone College. We start at 9 o’clock. Feel free to join us.”
“Oh, thank you, Sensei, I’ll be there. Of course!”
“I know that public transport is a problem on Sundays. So, don’t worry, I’ll come and pick you up. And, do, please tell your parents that I’ll bring you back home safe afterwards, okay?”
“Yes, Sensei, thank you! You are very kind.”
“A sensei is like a father, Semmy. When you are good, he’ll be good to you. Always remember that!”
One year later, Trinity Karate Club was in such leadership crisis that it had to close down.
Indeed, my work with Jimmy was a well thought out venture. I did it with love. I believed in the man and the cause he pursued, in that regard. My conscience was clear: I had no pecuniary, nor power interests; I was simply doing what my heart told me was right; I believed I had acquired sufficient knowledge to empower Jimmy to shake up the then racist Zimbabwean Karate establishment, and it worked; although I felt no need to prove it, I knew that I was strong and skilful enough to give anybody a good fight should the situation degenerate to that level. I would have been just too happy to break an enemy’s bone or two, actually. All this I had learnt from Sensei Noble’s way of Karate.
I do not recall how long the Sunday morning training sessions lasted, but it was many, many Sundays. True to his word, Sensei Noble would come and pick me up from, and take me back home. No complaints. No demands. Just training. I used to find it strange that this man, who also taught children at the Lusaka International School on Saturdays, did not take even a Sunday off in order to be with his own children and wife.
More than twenty years later, Martin Rice, a very special, Sensei Noble’s younger protégé from Ireland, is visiting us in Norway. Naturally, we begin to talk about our experiences with the legend. I mention the Sunday sessions, and the lengths to which our grand Sensei went to accommodate me.
“But, Simon, on those Sundays, after dropping you off at your home, he would, then, come home to me for another two hours of private lessons!”
Sensei Noble’s devotion to the Zambian Karate community that he raised single-handedly, at least in the Midlands, up until the 1980s, has made a lasting impression on me. That he even had the extra capacity to work with the select few of us in the manner that he did touches the softest of my emotions to this day.
There has been a time I asked Sensei about his level of engagement in Karate. He replied, “Well, Semmy, funny that you should ask. You know, once the spirit of Karate gets into you, it consumes you. But, each time you see the good things Karate does for people, and, by extension, society, you can’t stop it. You can’t live Karate half way. You can’t teach Karate halfway. People will come and go. But you have to be there all the time. One day, a student of your calibre, Semmy, walks into the dojo, and you, then, know that there is no way you can let this talent down. And, so, you just give and give. It’s such a joy, Semmy. My family understands that Karate is an important part of my life.”
Back in Zimbabwe on a normal civil servant’s salary, Jimmy no longer had the kind of cash he used to have whilst on his diplomatic tour of duty in Lusaka. He couldn’t afford to pay for my visits to him. I visited him twice during the first half of 1988.
In his humorous way, Jimmy had a brilliant idea, “Shamwari Sensei, you mean after all these years together you haven’t learnt even just a bit of diplomacy from me? Soften yourself, be nice, go down on your knees and ask the Seidokan Zambia people to sponsor your trips here. We have already crossed the Zambezi, anyway, and Seidokan Zimbabwe is here to stay. So, they better work together with us now!”
I had already started to make my own money then, “No, no, no, Shamwari Sempai, Senseis sponsor themselves and their students, you see!”
Through working with Sensei Noble, I learned that a Sensei must be self-sufficient. A Sensei that depends on sponsorships and donations cannot do his work effectively.
On a drive from Kitwe to Lusaka, Sensei Noble is cruising at between 140-150km/ hr. A Mercedes Benz overtakes us like it was a bullet, and soon disappears from our sight up ahead. Perhaps 15 minutes later, we approach a road accident spot. The Merc had overturned. It had rolled several times, apparently. Totally wrecked.
“Yes, that’s what you get when you drive at a speed like that on roads like these, Semmy. Karate teaches us to always be aware of our surroundings in relation to the actions we wish to undertake. From that, we can calculate and predict likely outcomes. I knew that that car wouldn’t reach Lusaka, driving at that speed,” Sensei Noble spoke wryly as he drove past the accident scene. We would learn later that the driver of the Merc had died on the spot.
The grand Sensei has told me that when he first came to Zambia in the early 1950s, he had only the amount of pocket money a fresh university graduate from Scotland would have in those days. Not much. He landed somewhere in northern Zambia, somewhere around Lake Bangweulu, if I’m not mistaken. To pay for his hotel stay there, he offered to hunt game for the establishment. That’s how he started off in Zambia, a place he had come to with no intentions of living in permanently.
From that experience, he has said something like, “You see, Semmy, as you get older, and you start travelling the world, you’ll soon discover that there is more to you than who you think you are: your race, status, education, and the like. You’ll find that you get to places where none of that counts. So, in order to survive, you have to look for solutions in things that you never even knew about before. That’s how a Karate man’s mind works. Just like people fight differently, you can beat anybody with the same techniques, but adapting them to the kind of man attacking you. That’s how life is, the essence of you does not change, but your attitudes can, and have to, according to where you are, and the circumstances you find yourself in.”
I applied that Sensei Noble’s philosophy in Norway. Whilst in a place I was not supposed to be, for an act I was not supposed to commit, a colleague saw through me, “You Simon, I know your type. You are a survivor. Don’t tell me that you are a Massage Therapist because that’s a career path you had planned all along. I know you are good at what you do, but you chose to study Massage Therapy out of survival pragmatism needs, given your life circumstances in Norway. You are cut out for greater things, and I know you know that!”
Yes, Sir, I do. But until the greater things come my way, I’ll do what I gotta do to survive here and now, as per my Sensei Noble’s teachings.
Whilst in Harare with the 8-man Zambian National Karate Team, in 1981, I was singled out to join Sensei Noble as he joined two other Zimbabwean senior Black belts (whites) to tea at the home of a Japanese diplomat. I do not remember the name of the diplomat. Present were also the dreaded Sensei Chiba, and two other Japanese Judo Sensei. I was a not so sophisticated, little 20 year old schoolboy, then. But the grown up, senior Budo masters were real nice to me. I recall Sensei Chiba advising me to use whatever nature provides to train with, if I cannot go to the gym. “If you do not have a punch bag, there is always a tree to punch!” he said.
Driving back to our hotel, Sensei Noble said, “You were highly honoured today, Semmy. High-ranking Japanese don’t just invite any strangers into their homes.”
“Hoss, Sensei!” was all I could say.
An aspect that is not spoken much about is that, in his pioneering work of opening up possibilities and teaching black Zambians Karate from the late 1960s, Sensei Noble was, actually, treading on thin ice. That’s because, in my view, that was a time of numerous state coup d’états across the African tropics countries. White mercenaries, whom the media romanticised as Martial Arts experts, led many of these coups. “Mad Mike” Hoare is the first name that comes to mind here. A reliable source has disclosed to me that there were concerns that some of Sensei Noble’s Karate students could be enticed to join the lucrative (for those who don’t die!) mercenary bandwagon. So, relevant Zambian State Security organs closely watched him, and the whole lot of his prominent senior students.
I am sure that there are many others in the Zambian Karate fraternity who’d concur with me that Sensei James Bonar Noble gave us, individuals, and the collective much more than we could ever ask for. He, like other ordinary mortals, was not perfect. I, for one, am not in a position to cast any stones. Unfortunately, by the time the roses in my garden bloom in the spring, I’ll have relocated to another abode.
My heart felt condolences to the Noble family in Lusaka. The same applies to the Zambian Karate fraternity, if not the nation, for the coming to an end of a life of an illustrious service to the people through the Martial Arts. Many of Sensei Noble’s students and their own protégés continue to tread upon the selfless path of humility, giving, and devotion that he started. Their impact is felt across the cross-section of the Zambian society. Some are also forces to reckon with in various parts of the world.
Sensei James Bonar Noble may be gone, but he shall never be forgotten. His legacy is just too deeply engrained in the psyches of many of us. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
August 13, 2018