Every morning, from way back when, I wake up with a song playing in my head. I have come to call it Pina ya Seporofeto. This morning “Bogolo Jwa BoModimo” as rendered by the St John’s Brass Band Choir was revealed to me. Itself not a strange occurrence, it is after all one my favourite hymns. But while I was in the bathtub touching myself, I decided to be woke and problematize it:
I was immediately reminded of a conversation I had with Luyolo and Mbuyiselo this past Saturday about this aner drinking buddy of theirs who suffers cognitive dissonance every time he comes across the reality that some of his black peers have never suffered in their lives – that they don’t know hunger nor have they experienced uncertainty about their future to a point that they don’t even know how to spell Nusfuss.
Now this drinking buddy is a very successful man by all accounts, and attributes this success to Jesus – who lifted him from the doldrums of society and raised him up to the higher echelons. Seemingly he bases his whole faith on this (I don’t blame him – this is how the gospel is preached in most cases: “Humble yourself in the eyes of the Lord; He shall lift you up.”). So when he faces someone who’s had no need for lifting up die hele ding comes crumbling down. To a point where he loses his cool and almost gets violent. Being the perverts we are, we have played a few experiments on him to arrive at this conclusion. It’s the saddest yet funniest thing to see.
The Christian doctrine, as currently constituted, is one for people who are suffering. I wager that it was not just the ass whopping and the barrel of the gun that saw black people take up the Christian faith, the African faiths simply had no answer for the kind of suffering wrought by slavery and colonialism. It was too tall a task – for as Frank Wilderson points out, blackening is a phenomena without analogy. Except maybe the innocent Lamb suffering on the cross.
In the movie Nymphomaniac, the autodidactic philosopher Seligman advances that the Eastern Church is a haven of rebirth, of “pleasurable indulgence” as Ethan Poe would have it, hence the use of the image of the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus, whereas the Western Church as a site of “violent discipline”, of suffering, hence the image of Christ on the cross is preferred. Well, we all know that here in occupied Azania we got our Christianity from the Western Church, thus our faith is steeped in suffering.
I too was suffering over the past two days; caught a cold on Tuesday from cycling the city in the cold night. It was as if my blood and bone marrow were replaced by the blue icy flames from Viserion. Every time I spoke my voice vibrated in the crevices of my head I didn’t know exist, and I could only move at snail pace to avoid falling. Wednesday I gave my body a chance to fight it off, it tried but to no avail. Thursday I decided to get some reinforcements: ginger, lemon, honey, aspirins and whiskey. By 7pm I was knocked the fuck out. Just before 4am I woke up to strip off the soaking wet clothes from my refreshed body. I had sweated the virus off. Before taking my bath at 7am Pina ya Seporofeto was revealed as Bogolo Jwa Bomodimo, therein I was particularly struck by the line “fa O rata O ka betsa, mme O ka fodisa.”
Is it possible that in my suffering that my Christian faith was suddenly – conveniently – restored? Is this exactly not what Marx meant in that ridiculously misinterpreted “religion is the opium of the masses” tweet (people don’t seem to understand that opium is a pain-relief drug)? Does this then not explain Jesus’ Freudian slip “the poor will always be among us” which properly read is ‘the poor MUST always be among us’? That es muss sein from the Son of Man is surely in anticipation of the bearded one’s call on the people “to give up a condition [suffering] that requires illusions [religion].” Left in the hands of the drinking buddy and his ilk, Jesus suffers an existential crisis in a world without suffering; which would explain why some of these Sunday Movement People are against Black Socialism. Without the poor among us, how would they measure their blessings?