I have known loss. I have known grief. Immense loss that makes you forget how to grieve because the sadness and helplessness in the face of so much death turns into cold anger at the many forces that created the conditions for the death of your beloved sisters and brothers. Because death in the Third World, in the heat of the neocolonial state, isn’t the doing of a god who sits over the destiny of man, but the works of a conglomerate of states and corporations who extract, destroy and destabilize on a continual basis. The Neocolonial state is not a state in the classical definition of that term, but a subsidiary of Capital and Imperial interest. Caught in this hustle, death takes on a political meaning and a revolutionary fervor abounds the soul of the child of the Neocolony.
Remembrance of death quickly leaves the realms of a religious pietist calling to having a sense of urgency before forces more powerful than you.
I am not a spokesperson of any revolutionary process, I am just one who has known pain and grief in such a way that I have to become scientific about it and to forever live knowing that we die, not because a god decides so, but because the very basics of life that sustain human cells are being depleted in my part of the world to feed the greed of another collective of humanity. Whether we will just complain to a god or confront the material wickedness in high places is something for the terrified, beautiful people of the Third World to decide — and they’re deciding everyday, far from the gaze of the neocolonizer and under the nose of the comprador agent of imperialism. We today are invoking another order of ancestors who already created an ethic of being and a program of action that will create a sovereign people who will live long and prosper when the final bullet leaves the smoking gun. But the focus of this essay is to be a reminder, an offering to my people to remember death and how it will continue till we rise up and seize ours and create a newness that won’t look like a cafe for blues men but a brightly lit, afrobeats, sensational black folk joy type of setting.
Memento Mori (remember you will die) is a concept the ancients employed to make themselves better. To have a sense of urgency before the time comes to become an ancestor for your descendants. When a human being is confronted with her mortality, she is at once a serious being and a disciplined force against the tirades of a lazy life. How do we employ this today progressively to create the mass organization that will understand the sense of urgency in revolutionary practice and to save millions from the death that comes with a nonchalant attitude to material overthrow of the reactionary forces in our lands? It’s not hard for people of the Third World to contemplate death, cuz like I said, it’s all around us. Loss is just another cousin, another brother and a best friend. It dances its way in our life on a good summer day and a gloomy rainy evening. Its presence is that of a guest that overstays his welcome. Today then we must use the omnipresence of impermanence to hasten the process of revolution. To organize, knowing death is on our heels and the heels of many of our beloved folks.
Recently I was confronted with one such loss. It sent me into the depths of confusion. I lost clarity for a bit, but like all epiphanies that visits the mind that wanders, I was jolted into clarity once again. I set forth to use that loss as a catalyst for revolutionary organizing. Knowing that visitor might soon knock on my door and forever to be bounded to the dust of all origins. The work of the revolutionary in relatively non-revolutionary times is to create conditions that will qualitatively sharpen and deepen the contradictions of oppression by organizing quantitatively the masses of our people. In such times, everything, from the morbid to the moribund, must serve as an inspiration and an impetus, not a catalyst for paralysis. Righteous indignation must be a weapon we yield in such times. We must be angry at what forces created poor healthcare, bad education, bad roads, malnutrition and the likes of those issues that kill our people. But anger isn’t enough, we ain’t no liberals. That anger must be turned into contemplation of what must be done. It must lead to questions whose answers will be material, not abstract.
We don’t have the luxury to just grieve. We must recognize that we are losing that very human privilege to the commercialization and commodification of everything deemed sacrosanct to the human being. Capitalism doesn’t recognize our humanity because it’s busy reveling in our dehumanization. And the tides won’t turn by moralizing, but through creative action that’s pinned in a theory and ideology for the liberation of the people. We must avenge our deaths. We who have died for everything and everyone. We who can’t grieve too long cuz we are slaves in wage plantations. We who are the expendable, the discardable, the pushed out and hated by power.
We are the ones who must light the fire, catch the lightning and run with it to the fullness of our salvation. Remembering we will die and that we're gonna leave generations of our descendants here, we must refuse the annihilation of the human. In our refusal must be an unequivocal clear manifestation of our rages, dreams, aspirations and wishes in the form of an organizing force that will destroy parasitic capitalism and its minions. Our revolution must be hastened and urgent. It must have no place for petty quibbles and useless rhetoric. It must center the death of us and the life that’s possible for us in a classless world.
As we reflect and self criticize may we learn the art of dying by becoming selfless and to discover our lives, deaths and afterlives in the liberation and freedom of the billions of our people. And to remember their beauty, tenacity, righteousness, brilliance – and may this be where we draw our inspiration and guidance from in the form of a mass line. When we win, we all live to see better days, and when we lose, we will still go on living, building and learning. Knowing we must and will eventually triumph, heralding forth the great shining glory of what it means to be human in the age of the dehumanized. Let’s advance forthwith then, comrades, factoring that time is not on our side – but we can seize it. Carpe diem!