Saturday, January 7, 2017

Farewell to Ajambene

by

Obododimma Oha



A philosophy for everyone, in my opinion, is that earthly life is a mission. That mission may differ from one person to the other, but the convergence is that we have to try to realise or discover that mission, work towards accomplishing it, and not squander our time (on other matters) undermining it. Of course, there have to be other matters! But they do not have to be such distractions that derail us entirely, making us lose focus. There are many of such distractions, some which we partly create for ourselves and some which other people create for us and sometimes deliberately use in getting us off our mission.

Things that happen in our environment or the condition of things in our environment may invade our minds and seek to destroy our stability. Indeed, our minds, as our fortresses, are perpetually under siege. It is our primary responsibility to protect our minds and prevent them from being captured and enslaved. Governments may come up with their policies that create disorientation and keep citizens always worrying about their welfare and the welfare of their family members. Employers may impose work conditions that place pressure on one’s already crowded mental life. Employers and governments and bosses may pretend to forget that they are dealing with human beings, not machines, and so may not care a damn about your mind and the fact that you have to try to protect it from external invasions, including the ones they launch. When they owe you wages and other entitlements and still harass you to keep coming to work or be dismissed, do they still see you as a human being with a duty to his or her mind? When governments come up with harsh policies that strangle the economy and still try to justify their actions, do they still regard you, the ordinary citizen who feels the negative impact, as a human being who needs a fairly stable condition (both social and mental) in order to pursue and accomplish your mission in life, as well as to support the noble missions of others? When they imprison or kill you for asking for better conditions to be able to pursue your mission in life or for others to be able to pursue theirs, does that not suggest that your mission is not their concern at all?

For institutions that try to cripple people and make their noble life’s missions impossible do not accept that those people’s missions are not less important than those imagined for the institutions. Institutional mission has to be reconciled with the missions of individuals in life. It does not necessarily have to be antagonistic to individual missions (or vice versa). Some authoritarian personalities that society are the curse of their societies or institutions commit the terrible blunder of thinking that they, as individuals, know and can actualise the collective institutional mission. The collective mission has to be negotiated, has always been, and could change somewhere along the line; that, still, as part of the negotiated mission.

Our attitudes to our individual and collective missions matter a lot. There will always be those actions and conditions that work against missions. The long story that is life has us as both its audience and its internal fictive characters. We are the tortoise and the other talking animals in the long, thrilling tale. The plot of that tale is made from our twists and turns, from our noble actions and duplicity, from our cowardice and our bravery.

Even in the tale, we need to be able to distinguish between the straight narration and other stylistic devices that beef up involvement and make the tale lively. There is the phase of the speech and there is the phase of the song. There is a moment when we have to sing our speech, too. There is a moment of the narrated action and there is the moment of the ajambene chorus. We cannot get stuck in the ajambene, at the expense of the unfolding action.

Mbe e jebe,
Ajambene!
Mbe e jebe,
Ajambene!
Jee jee jee jee,
Ajambene!
Jee jee jee jee,
O tulaa mma ya elu.
Ajambene!
O tudala ya ala,
Ajambene!
O jebe ije dike,
Ajambene!

Yes, the call-and-response unites us. There is a bond between the opening assertion in the story-song and the ajambene chorus. Actually, it is one utterance, shared by raconteur and audience. The journey of the tortoise is the flipside of the journey of our mission(s). We will throw up the machetes of our determination like the tortoise and walk the walk of the hero like him. We appreciate every ajambene as we dance our missions, dance to our missions beyond the ajambene chorus!

After uttering ajambene, we must allow the tortoise in the tale to go on with its mission. We must say farewell to ajambene to move on with the story of our missions! Those that stay on the ajambene when the story has moved on and has branched off at abanaano the crossroad would be perplexed about direction.

One has been listening to the tale featuring many talking animals in one’s village (physical and virtual), one’s country, one’s continent, one’s planet. One has been enjoying the ajambene of the individual and the collective. But it is time for one to move on with the tale within the tale, one’s tale inside the collective tale, one’s mission within the collective mission. Ajambene is good, makes the tale more refreshing, quite animating. But it could be a terrible distraction from the mission within the mission. Just as there is a point when ajambene is an important animation of the tale, there is also the point at which it becomes the shame and the shit. Dwelling on shitty ajambene makes one an ofoogeri who does not understand how to navigate the tale of life. That ofoogeri would keep dancing around ajamnene and would not know when others have shared nkụ ụkwa, the treasured fuelwood, in a biting harmattan.

One must say farewell to ajambene. One has not merely been on this journey as a mere companion to others who have the mission. One is not just here on earth to enjoy the fruit of that other person’s effort in making the mission a success. One is not a mere onyeburu the porter carrying luggage for the real braves travelling to success. One has not come to this ilo only for ajambene. One has a noble mission and must move on with it.