Entry by P. Kofi Baah-Arhin
And he sent them out, one by one
When Jesus had called the Twelve together,
he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons
and to cure diseases,
and he sent them out
to preach the kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He told them:
“Take nothing for the journey –
no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.
Whatever house you enter,
stay there until you leave that town.
If people do not welcome you,
shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town,
as a testimony against them.”
So they set out and went from village to village,
preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
Going to Guatemala brought me full circle to my origins. Immediately we exited the airport building to the street just in front of it, throngs of people – some constituting themselves as welcoming groups, others as taxi drivers seeking passengers and others peddling their wares – give notice of the resilient vibrancy of the people a visitor is likely to see in the country. Like most buses and popular public/private transportation in most West African towns and cities, the buses of Guatemala carry loud inscriptions on their bodies, externally. In Ghana, private passenger buses/trucks are called “tro tro”. “Travel and see” is one such familiar inscription on a side or back of a “tro tro” in Ghana. “Travel and See” seemed like the mission we were tasked with to Guatemala where huge mostly brightly adorned and ornately decorated individuated big ex-American school buses abound. Almost everything I saw was instantaneously familiar and simultaneously contrasting.
Happily for me, we got two “spiritual leaders”, a man and his wife, to bring me up to the speed of earth. Mayans, an ancient people, of whom I had read of as a child in Middle school in Ghana, had built cities
and pyramids and an empire. Just as my ancestors had. Sadly for me, like the Mayans of Guatemala, only ruins exist as reminders of the creativity and sciences of the people. Like my folks, living and contemporary Mayans are spiritual and pour libation to invoke our ancestors. We both believe in a common One God as creator of all that is. In both Mayan and Ghanaian/African contemporary neo-religiousos regard our spiritual practices out of their ignorance and seek to suppress such. In both cases, the obvious destroyer and oppressor is of European geniture. In both cases, it is easy to see the ease with which neo-religionists were colonialists who sought to build their empires solely through the destruction of our empires. We have been pillaged. Our natural and human resources exploited. Our persons enslaved and dispersed at the convenience of the foreigners who now seek to eliminate even our languages. “We have been ‘buked and scorned”. And made to feel “sometimes as a motherless child” as a result of our tendency probably naively to welcome and nurture foreigners and strangers in our midst whom some of our mothers found hungry, famished and looking emaciated during their voyages “of discovery”, and Naase Anta and her sisters of old brought them home from the bend of the Niger River and said of them: “pity the poor white man, No mother has he to give him milk” the same white man was he who said: “give me your child so I can teach him my ways” and now says: we are heathens and our spirituality is ‘idol/devil” worship so kill it. So, the government the foreigners, like the Dutch Boers of apartheid Azania colonized/subjugated as South Africa, formed with the complicity of big money multi-national businesses who now “know not Joseph” have waged wars, one of which lasted for over twenty recent years whose effect has been to eliminate, as in wipe out the culture, the teaching and writing of Mayan languages ALTHOUGH it uses the Mayan sacred bird as a current national symbol even on the money of the land appropriated from the Mayan people. SNAKE BIRD.
So what? We saw a resilient people. Loving and ready to give of their last and be hospitable to even us. I
believe Jesus would be proud of our host families as well as the souls that eke a living peddling their wares/crafts at the Central Park in front of the Roman Catholic Cathedral while Some mothers and mostly fathers daily flee their families with ephemeral hopes of gaining work and sustenance to care for their families in numbers of eight thousand mirages a day from Maya Guatemala to cross the deserts of Mexico and thence into the USA where some of my own immediate folks had sang “Oh Shenandoah I long to see you, away deh rolling ribah ‘cross deh wide Missouri. Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter”. See James Robeson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_QsVrUtLvY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bytFrsL4_4
So what if UNICEF in Guatemala recommends to balance the budget of Latino Guatemala tax must be increased/raised on people over 60% of whom are either in disguised employment or unemployed or unemployable in their own homeland? Is there no end to oppression from any corner? UNICEF is a United Nations agency! “La lala la, suffering in the land.” Jimmy Cliff, a Reggae Musician.
“Only we the living can build the monuments that will tell our story” indeed. May be a younger generation “will understand it better by and by.” Nevertheless, it looks like it is very easy to point fingers and/or to refuse to learn from others. Looks like the government and some of the people of Guatemala are yet to hear of decolonization or Mandela and the end of South African apartheid. Else, will there be an end to “man’s inhumanity to man” ever?