The Scary Truth About Pesticides

Why should we be concerned with pesticides? Aren’t there plenty of checks and balances in place to make sure the public is safe from harm? With the processes companies go through with Research and Development plus registration with the government, do we really need the additional burden of further research when we have so many other things to worry about?

If the public knew the scientific history of pesticides along with the powerful political and economic battles raged surrounding them, Americans would be aghast. The truth about these toxic chemicals is shocking yet these liquid, granular and powdered poisons lurk everywhere. In the air we breathe, in the products we use and in the food we eat. Not only are these contaminants incredibly toxic but the scariest part is they are pervasive to the point that it is almost impossible to completely avoid them. And the worst part is that the motivation for all this toxicity is monetary.

First of all, a brief history of pesticides… Man has been fighting against bugs since time began in the form of personal comfort (bed bugs, mosquitoes, etc.) and for destructive capabilities (crop damage, termites, etc.). Early preventive measures against insects included using plants and herbs for repellency and began to transform once Man discovered chemicals. The greatest shift in pesticides came after the engineering and scientific explosion of information generated during World War II when nerve gas was perfected.

Most synthetic pesticides on the market today are based on post war nerve gas technology. Scientists discovered that certain chemicals affect brain function and are therefore referred to as neuro-toxins. The effects can be immediate death, targeted to specific functions like digestion or reproduction to cause eventual death, or they can be slow, long-term effects on a cellular level that manifest over a period of time.

Because these neuro-toxins are synthetic, human bodies are not able to metabolize them. These substances enter a human body either through digestion, absorption or inhalation and remain in the body just like plastic will sit for centuries in a landfill. The human body does not have the capability to excrete them as they are not a natural substance so they accumulate in our tissues, in our cells, and in our organs.

So how exactly are we exposed to these chemical toxins? In an average day, Americans are bombarded with pesticides – often unknowingly. Exterminators apply odorless, colorless pesticides in public spaces like office buildings, schools, malls, theaters, grocery stores, etc. on an ongoing basis. As an example, your child’s school could have been treated in the early morning hours to make sure there is adequate drying time and then your son or daughter sits on the floor during circle time wallowing in the odorless fumes of pesticides.

The food we eat is full of pesticides. The most recent figures show that in the United States, more than 877 billion pounds of pesticides were used on crops in 2007 which represents almost 3000 pounds of pesticide per person. These pesticides are NOT just applied to the outer skin of crops which can be washed off – they are often put in the soil which then enters plants through the roots and becomes systemic meaning the pesticide is now inherent in the structure of the plant. You cannot wash that away! Unless you buy strictly organic, you are eating these pesticides.

What is causing this madness? In a word – money.

Obviously a farmer wants to increase crop yield so using pesticides can help make that happen. In theory, there is nothing wrong with a businessman trying to increase profits and I do not fault a Farmer from doing what he or she is assured is the best solution. But here is where this changes from ‘providing for your family’ to just plain wrong…

Farmers are smart people educated in the functions of farming which takes a great deal to balance well. Soil conditions, weather patterns, planting, harvesting, pests, weeds, crop rotation, micro-nutrients, and irrigation are just a sampling of what a farmer must juggle to take a seed to harvest. Each of these areas is broad and complex and produces a multitude of consultants and experts that Farmers rely on for the latest in technology and research. When a chemical company produces the latest, greatest, strongest and most capable pesticide for less money requiring fewer applications, a Farmer will be pleased. The Farmer improves crop yield and the chemical company sells more product. Everyone is happy, right?

Not so fast… What about the long term? What does this pesticide do to the crop that absorbs these toxins through the roots to infiltrate the cells of the fruit? What happens to the soil that is infiltrated with these synthetic chemicals that may take hundreds of years to breakdown? What about the unsuspecting parents buying this fruit and feeding it to their children who then ingest the pesticides to be stored in their tiny little bodies forever?

Well the long term IS manifesting itself in the form of disease – neurological based diseases such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s; and degenerative diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, and Diabetes. Birth Defects, Learning Disabilities, Depression and other Mental Health issues are all indisputably linked to pesticides. One of the most obvious cause and effect stories of pesticides and their potential damage is quite recent – the Department of Defense has admitted ‘The Gulf War illness is tied directly to the use of chemicals including pesticides’.

And now for the scariest truth about pesticides – they generate obscene profits which in turn buy enormous political influence which then protects the industry from scrutiny.

Political power for the wealthy is nothing new nor is it solely a problem in the world of chemical pesticides. However, we are dealing with the general public health which in the minds of many elevates the responsibility of government agencies to act wisely. To assume that government regulation means something is safe is incredibly naïve. Big chemical companies have enormous clout as well as extremely deep pockets to absorb any fines or fees associated with minor misdeeds like falsified data. Examples are numerous and the trend continues.

So should we be concerned about pesticides? ABSOLUTELY! And what is a Regular Joe to do about these pervasive poisons?

Get educated and demand answers. When and what do they spray at your child’s school? Is this organic or conventional produce? What are the ingredients in this product I am buying? And most of all – spread the word. An educated consumer is a powerful force to reckon with – and your future and that of your children depends on it!

Pursuing A Degree In Political Science

Political science involves studying how the existing systems of government and other regulatory bodies operate and interact with the country, citizens and other organizations. Students who major in this subject can pursue a number of different careers that cover a broad range of industries. This can also be a major that is part of a larger career path leading to a position in business, management or media studies.

Academic Qualities Needed For a Political Science Career

Political scientists must have a love of learning and a strong educational background. The ability to communicate both verbally and through written documents is vital. A well-rounded education that involves a second language and high grades in history and social studies can also go a very long way in college.

Community Involvement

Most colleges and scholarship programs will want to see a strong involvement in the community or a great interest in public affairs. This can mean keeping up with current news stories, understanding local issues or actually participating in the civic systems of a city or state. It can be beneficial for dedicated students to join some of the junior branches of political organizations that are related to personal interests.

Finding A Scholarship

Political science scholarships are available through governmental bodies, activist organizations and some educational institutions. There are several programs that give scholarships for high school students that give awards to those who are living in a certain area or who can help to diversify a particular workforce. Most scholarships will want the student to explain exactly why political science is of interest and what is providing inspiration for a potential career in public service. Many of the programs are seeking to support students who want to become a civil servant or work in the non-profit sector. Some larger institutions provide scholarships to students who want to use their education in order to perform research.

Political Science Jobs

Most of the individuals who graduate with a degree in political science work for the federal government in one capacity or another. This can be as a politician, a campaign aide or as an administrator for a specific office. A large number of graduates find work in scientific institutions performing research and polling. These same scientific institutions often act as a consulting service for politicians, businesses and other industries that need to understand social trends. Some graduates are also able to find work in the education sector. These jobs range from teachers to college administrators.

The Key to Higher Learning

(A look into music and its effect on brain development)

Music brings to each person their own unique experience and emotional response. For each of us enter life with music. From the sound of our mother singing lullabies to the final funeral march; music is a constant in our lives. Have you ever wondered why music is playing in the grocery store, the dentist office, the doctors’ office, and elevators? Why do people feel the need to bring in music that does not relate to their business? Is it that music provides something to our state of mind? I believe that music has a direct influence on our actions. Music impacts who we are and who we will become.

Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself. ~Henry Ward Beecher

For over fifty years, the link between music education and brain development or intellectual growth has been researched. Several studies have shown astonishing results establishing that music does play an important role in who we become. Music helps “unlock” the learning potential in our brain which is needed to enhance our knowledge. Music aids in developing communication skills, strengthening memory, enhancing creativity, increasing self esteem and social skills, developing perceptual motor skills, increasing learning capabilities, healing the body, providing sensory integration, and motivating or increasing productivity. Music is a part of shaping each and every person’s life. Music does influence us.

The following research supports the theory that music not only can be calming, but also assists in regaining the ability to focus and attend to tasks. This new found attention is what brings us to a higher level of learning. Therefore it is important to include music in the daily activities of children and teens. Music can be a very beneficial tool in every classroom for behavior management, as well as keeping children on task, opening them up for further learning. This is our children’s key to success.

The Mozart Effect:

According to Don Campbell (1997), the power of Mozart’s music came to public attention in 1993 when Gordon Shaw and Dr. Frances Rauscher, and their team at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory in Irvine, founded “the Mozart Effect”. Rauscher and Shaw hypothesized that listening to a specific music would produce a short term enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning skills. They chose a particular Mozart sonata which had natural sequences of patterns and symmetries. These patterns actually match the internal structure of the brain. The study of thirty-six undergraduates from the psychology department proved an increase in spatial-temporal reasoning skills. These college students’ IQ increased by nine points after listening to music of Mozart. Although the effect lasted only ten to fifteen minutes, the relationship between music and spatial reasoning skills was evident. The theory developed that listening to Mozart, whose music has a mathematical complexity, will make you smarter. Dr. Shaw and his research partner, Dr. Frances Rauscher furthered their studies by proving that keyboard lessons given to pre-schoolers, over a period of six months, also increased their spatial-temporal reasoning skills by 34 per cent more than pre-schoolers who did not receive the music lessons. Furthermore, this effect would be long term. Dr. Gordon Shaw was quoted as saying, “Mozart’s music may warm up the brain. We suspect that complex music facilitates certain complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities like math and chess.” (Campbell, 1997, pg.15-17) Media termed the results of these studies as “the Mozart effect” and the public grew increasingly interested. Hence, further studies were promoted.

A follow-up study was conducted by projecting sixteen abstract figures, similar to folded pieces of paper, on an overhead screen for one minute each, for seventy nine students. The students were tested to see if they could tell how the items would look when they were unfolded. Over a five day period, one group listened to Mozart, another to silence and another group heard mixed sounds, including music, short stories and dance pieces. At the end of five days, the Mozart group scored sixty two per cent higher while the silence group increased by only fourteen per cent and the mixed group increased by eleven per cent. The scientists suggested that listening to Mozart helps to organize the firing patterns of neurons in the cerebral cortex in association with higher brain function. (Campbell, 1997, pg.15-17)

Again in March 1999, Neurological Research published Dr. Shaw’s study reporting that second graders who played the piano scored twenty seven per cent higher on proportional math and fraction tests. (Campbell, 1997, pg.180-181) The connection between playing an instrument and higher grades in math was confirmed once again.

Another study at Bolton Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was conducted to challenge the “Mozart effect”. This school was populated with students who averaged an IQ of ninety two among the second and fifth graders. These children had few advantages and not much extracurricular stimulation; as well seventy per cent were poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The principal hired a quintet for three years to play for the first, second and third graders for two to three half-hour sessions per week. As well, classical music was played over the school’s intercom system in the halls, library and lunch room. After just three weeks, the first grade teacher noticed a difference in her students’ ability to listen. After the three years, eighty five per cent of the students who had exposure to the classical music tested above grade level for reading and eighty nine per cent tested above average for math. This study further acclaimed the incredible impact that music has on children’s learning abilities and academic performances.

Media attention provoked continuous studies. Mozart’s music was known to improve attention and performance in students. Was this increased attention and performance due to the fact that Mozart’s music opens the ear to listening, not just hearing? Listening is an active skill, while hearing is passive. I believe that the theory of the Mozart Effect lives with the awakening of our listening abilities – the ability to concentrate and focus. Once we develop this skill, we are capable of increasing our learning potential.

However, my interpretation is that if we expose children to music, whether as a listener or a player, it is good for the brain. Music stimulates a creative thinking and active listening that can only lead to true learning.

Multiple Intelligences:

Within the essence of true learning, we must realize that we have various strengths working together to reach our potential. Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, created a theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. His theory suggested that the traditional measurement of intelligence, based on IQ testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposed eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

Linguistic (word smart)
Logical / Mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
Interpersonal (people smart)
Intrapersonal (self smart)
Bodily-kinaesthetic (body smart)
Musical (music smart)
Spatial (picture smart)
Naturalist (nature smart)

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. This theory acknowledges that some students may not be verbally or mathematically gifted, but may have an expertise in other areas, such as music, spatial relations, or interpersonal knowledge. Teaching and assessing learning in this manner allows a wider range of students to successfully participate in classroom learning. This suggests educating the whole person. In Fowler’s (1990) article, Gardner states, “As important as intelligence is, character and vision and responsibility are at least as important, probably more important”. This, once again, validates teaching to the whole child.

We all use different forms of intelligences combined for optimal learning experiences. However, it is important to note that we may have a higher level of one intelligence than another. These intelligences form our strengths and weaknesses of who we are. Since we all learn differently, music may provide an area in which some students may excel in – an area where they experience a sense of achievement. Music can complete the process of educating.

The intelligences can be linked to each other through developing various skills. Making music helps children utilize, develop, and strengthen several aspects of intelligence. Through listening to music, singing, playing an instrument, our minds gets excited about learning. This, in turn, equates to stimulating young children’s abilities to develop acquisition skills. Turner (2004) also states that singing improves verbal and linguistic ability and promotes communication skills and self confidence. Words and music are linked together because children are acquiring skills in both language and music at the same time. Singing also relaxes children, enabling them to breathe deeper and more frequently, feeding their brain with oxygen, and boosting their sense of well-being. (pg.111-116)

By connecting sound, movement, speech and interaction with a musical component, it is possible to activate and integrate more of the brain than with any other educational tool. By drawing to music, speaking in different accents (the musical quality of language), rapping spontaneously, and becoming aware of both the active (playing an instrument or singing) and passive (listening, imaging, or using music in the background) aspects of music, children can improve their mathematics, language, coordination, social and personal skills. The use of multiple forms of intelligence allows them to integrate and harmonize as well as use their brains to their greatest potential. (Campbell 2000)

Therefore, students who are involved with music in any way, create a positive influence on their overall intelligence.

Brain Activity and Development

Many questions have arisen about the effect that music has on brain development. We must recognize that music has an influence on our brains. It is interesting to note that several studies have acknowledged that musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain.

Trainer (2005) explains that different aspects of music, such as pitch, tempo and timbre, are analyzed by different neural regions. Listening to music starts with the brain stem, the cerebellum, and then moves up to auditory cortices on both sides of the brain. Trying to follow along with familiar music, involves additional regions of the brain. The Hippocampus, our memory center, and the subsections of the frontal lobe, particularly the frontal cortex, are all stimulated. The frontal lobe is associated with planning, self-control, and with perceptual organization. Tapping along with music involves the cerebellum’s timing circuits. The cerebellum is involved in emotions and the planning of movements. Performing music involves the frontal lobes again for the planning behaviour, as well as the motor cortex in the parietal lobe. The parietal lobe is associated with motor movements and spatial skill. The sensory cortex provides tactile feedback when you have pressed the right key on your instrument, or moved the baton where you thought you did. Reading music involves the visual cortex, in the back of your head in the occipital lobe, which is responsible for vision. Listening to or recalling lyrics invoke language centers, as well as other language centers in the temporal and frontal lobes. The temporal lobe is associated with hearing and memory. All areas of the brain respond to music.

Studies continue to show how music influences brain activity with both long term and short term effects. However, further consideration confirms that music effects how the brain develops.

The brain is a very complex organ of the human body. Due to the size of the female pelvis, the brain cannot grow to its full size until after birth. The brain will continue to grow, at the same rate as prenatally, for two years. A process of myelination, which covers the brain’s nerve pathways with a fatty, insulating substance called myelin, enables nerve pathways to improve their performance. As each section of the brain myelinates, that section becomes functional. Interestingly, the auditory nerve in the brain becomes myelinized prenatally which allows babies to hear before they are born.

Studies have shown that fetuses can sense sounds approximately between sixteen to twenty weeks. By the time the fetus reaches twenty-six weeks, they are receptive to music. As well, fetal heart rates slow down nicely in utero when they experience music. (Turner, 2004, pg.41-42) This factor substantiates that babies seem to relax in response to music. With this in mind, some delivery rooms will have relaxing music for both the mother and infant during the birthing process.

As the baby grows and the brain continues to develop, the baby forms perceptions about everything in its environment. Learning occurs through movement and emotional associations; both which music is involved. The continuous brain growth accelerates in the seventh year when the skull expands. After this, the child will start a two year growth period in the auditory area. During this growth, fine discrimination in hearing and producing sounds are developed which makes it the ideal time for music. (Campbell, 2000, pg.189-190) It is within this time, between the second and third grades, children develop more complex skills – listening, processing visual information, and coordinating movement in the brain.

Orff explained, in a typical analogy drawn from the natural world, “It is at the primary school age that the imagination must be stimulated; and the opportunities for emotional development, which contain experience of the ability to feel, and the power to control the expression of that feeling, must also be provided. Everything a child experiences at this age, everything that has been awakened and nurtured, is a determining factor for the whole of life.” (Campbell, 1997, pg.186)

The auditory pathways continue to develop from the ages of nine to eleven, which enhance speech and listening. This is the time when the corpus callosum, the bridge between the left and right sides of the brain, completes its development. Studies have shown that musicians have a thicker corpus callosum which is more fully developed than other people. This validates the idea that music enlarges existing neural pathways and stimulates learning and creativity. As well, the plenum temporal, located in the temporal lobe of the cortex, is also more developed in musicians. This is the area of the brain that is associated with language processing and sound categorization, which suggests a perceptual link between music and language. (1994, Music of the hemispheres) Although, listening to and creating music is primarily a right brain function and learning is primarily a process of the left brain, music links the two halves together. When the two hemispheres are linked together, this connects the memory retrieval mechanisms which enhance learning capability.

Therefore, music does influence brain development and allows for learning to advance to a higher level.

My Own Mozart experiment

Through researching the direct effects of music on the brain, I decided to do my own research with the help of my son, Richard*. The theory of the Mozart Effect particularly intrigued me.

Richard listened to Mozart for fifteen to twenty minutes each night before bedtime. This fit in nicely with our normal routine, as he usually had one hour of reading and listening to music before bed. So, Richard started reading for one half hour and listening to Mozart for one half hour. As well, on occasion, we would play Mozart in the morning during our morning routine before school. I wanted to see if I could see a difference in my son’s behaviour, interest and focus. This research does not have quantitative value and is solely based on my own opinion. Since I based this research on “Mother’s intuition”, my goal was to remain objective.

After a period of three months, I felt that Richard appeared to be more tolerant and more interested in talking in the morning. Previously, our morning routine consisted of my continual persistence in keeping peace between brothers. It had always seemed as though Richard consistently woke up on “the wrong side of the bed”. However, he changed to seem more pleasant and more conversational during the morning. He no longer reacted with an angered response instinctively to teasing.

I also noticed that Richard seemed to more attentive and in control. I believe that the Mozart music has a calming effect which allowed Richard to “slow his thoughts down” and think before he does or says. I also believe that this effected his willingness to listen – which I believe is the key to learning.

My findings are purely subjective. I cannot be sure what cognitive effects that this has had, but I will continue to play Mozart during the mornings. Although, I cannot be sure as to what effect it has on him; it certainly can’t hurt.

Conclusion

Educating children is essential for their growth and development, and music aids in this process.

Music is part of our lives long before we ever take a breath. It is a part of the exquisite universal harmony. It is there – created for us and created by us – to feel, to hear, to enjoy, to treasure through all the moments, hours, days and years of our lives. Our only hope is in keeping the beauty and splendour of music alive is in the legacy we leave our children. (Scarantino, 1997, pg.143)

Music is a necessity, as is music education. It appears that brains are designed to process, appreciate and eventually create music. Music reaches the depths of our brain and body through unconscious systems. Music education, then, is the nurturer of consciousness. It encompasses emotions, politics, cultures, and all dimensions of human life and creates a dynamic world – a world that is full of possibilities.

Music education has a multi-modal nature which reaches all learners. A school that promotes music education may be the happiest and healthiest school of all. Therefore, we must advocate for music education continuance in our schools. For we truly recognize that music is not only part of who each of us are, but music allows us to become who we are. Music education assists all who have the pleasure to experience it. We can say with a sound confidence that music education is a sound approach to advancing our children’s’ learning potential. For music education not only aids in increasing our children’s’ intelligence, but it also allows us all to become well educated. It has been proven that music education promotes higher learning capabilities. Hence, music education is indispensable and the key to higher learning potential.

Oral Literary and Historic Echoes from the Novel, Bound To Violence, by Yambo Ouologuem

Malian writer, Yambo Ouologuem’s most famous novel Bound to Violence first published in 1968 satirically portrays Africa before and during colonial subjugation whilst assessing the role of local overlords who in league with Arab slave dealers, sold their subjects into bondage. After winning the prestigious French literary prize, Prix Renaudot, Yambo received much media attention, being widely reviewed, appearing on T.V. shows and being interviewed and featured in many prominent publications and with the book being translated into numerous languages. .

Despite allegations that it contained materials drawn from other works, Bound to Violence has been widely read and acknowledged as a wonderful book which this writer himself affims makes quite a compulsive as well as a gripping story though with too horrible revelations to make.

Born in 1940 in Bandiagary in the Dogon country, in Mali to a ruling class family, Ouologuem, the only son of a land owner and school inspector, quickly learnt several African languages and gained fluency in French, English and Spanish. After matriculating at a Lycee in Bamako [capital of Mali] Yambo went to France to continue his education at Lycee de Charenton in Paris and then continued his studies for his doctorate in Sociology. Upon returning to his home country in the late 70’s he was made director of a Youth centre near Mopti in central Mali where he remained until 1984. He has led a secluded religious life in the Sahel ever since.

This novel, his first and only, has been widely hailed as the first truly African novel. ‘It fuses legend, oral tradition and stunning realism in a vision arising authentically from black roots.’ He draws on the history and culture of the great medieval empire of Mali in which Nakem was central in the 13th century, and dominated onwards by the Saif dynasty, whose rule was characterized by ruthlessness marked with bloody and tragic adventures. After a brief, violent fresco depicting Nakem’s past, the story moves into the 20th century with the Saifs still in power. But when the French arrive as colonizers, they unwittingly become puppets in their astute hands. But still these native rulers continue to dominate by shadowy and occultic means.. Scenes of violence and eroticism, of sorcery and black magic appear as natural parts of human activity there. From this frightful and horrific background emerges the book’s main protagonist, Raymond Spartacus Kassoumi, the son of slaves who was sent to France to be educated and groomed for a political post which could well be the next step to his becoming another puppet to the Saifs.

Ouologuem goes on to show how the ancient African emperors, the Moslems, and finally the European colonial administrators were responsible for the black African’s ‘slave mentality.’ They produce’negraille’ a word coined by Ouologuem himself to indicate this servility. His skepticism over the potential for liberation through struggle was also pronounced.

The first part of the novel compresses the history of the first seven hundred years of the Nakem Empire starting from around the year 1200 A.D. with brutality, violence, oppression and corruption,. Slavery iwas also widespread there with ‘a hundred million of the damned … being carried away. This went on along with :’ Cannibalism: ‘one of the darkest features of that spectral Africa …’

The Arabs had conquered the land [settling over it ‘like ……and the common black] man … suffers for it. Religion – Islam -is abused in order to consolidate and keep power. It ‘became a means of action, a political weapon.’

The brief second part captures the coming of the whites at the close of the 19th century. The empire is ‘pacified and divided up by the Europeans, with the French controlling whatever remains of Nakem. Hope that life will improve is seen as:

Saved from slavery, the [negroes] welcomed the white man with joy, hoping he would make them forget the mighty Saif’s meticulously organized cruelty.

But the exploitation continues unabated as each side uses the blacks to suit their own ends. The Saif remains influential and powerful even under the French administration whilst the subjugated commoners still have little chance of living tolerable lives.

Much of the book, contained in the third section titled ‘Night of the Giants’, is set in the first half of the twentieth century where horrific incidents such as the Saif’s indiscriminate wielding of whatever power he has left, lots of ugly violence like the Saif’s curious assassination technique through trained asps proliferate.

Shrobenius adds another dimension to the exploitation. Learning lately about Nakem, he comes there to buy relics, masks and other cultural artifacts. The Saifs themselves contributed to spreading this exploitation and fraud by making up stories and selling whatever cultural legacy can be procured. Tons upon tons more are thus donated towards the further spread and intensification of what became known as ‘Shrobeniusology’. This explicitly shows the mechanism by which the new elite came to invent its traditions through the science of ethnography. Later after Shrobenius has popularized African art in Europe many others came to purchase pieces. No originals now left, Saif had slapdash copies buried by the hundredweight and then dug out later and sold at exorbitant price.

Saif made up stories and the interpreter translated. Madoubi repeated in French, refining on the subtleties to the delight of Shrobenius, that human crayfish afflicted with a groping mania for resuscitating an African universe – cultural autonomy, he called it, which had lost all living reality;…he was determined to find metaphysical meaning in everything…African life, he held, was pure art. Then,’…henceforth Negro art was baptized ‘aesthetic’ and hawked in the imaginary universe of ‘vitalizing exchanges.’

Then after describing the phantasmic elaboration of some interpretative forgeries by the Saif he announces that ‘…Negro art found its patent of nobility in the folklore of merchantile intellectualism..’Thus comes the exposure of the network of fraudsters starting from Shrobenius himself, the anthropologist, as apologist for ‘his’ people; that swallows enthusiastically and unquestioningly these exoticized products; African traders and producers of African art, who understand the need to maintain the mysteries that render their products as exotic; traditional and contemporary elites who require a sentimentalized past to authorize their present power. All of them are thus exposed in their complex and multiple mutual complicities.

‘Witness the splendor of its art – the true face of Africa in the grandiose empires of the Middle Ages, a society marked by wisdom, beauty, prosperity,order, nonviolence, and humanism, and it’s here that one must seek the true cradle of Egyptian civilization.

Ironically, all this earns Shrobenius a two-fold benefit on his return home. He mystified his people well enough to get them to raise him enthusiastically to a lofty Sorbonnical chair. He also exploited the sentimentality of the coons, who were only too pleased to hear from the mouth of a white man that Africa was the womb of the world and the cradle of civilization. The ordinary blacks thus gladly donated masks and art treasures by the tons to the acolyte of ‘Shrobeniusology’.

Ouologuem then goes on to precisely articulating the interconnections of Africanist mystifications with tourism and the production, packaging, and marketing of African art works.

An Africanist school harnessed to the vapors of magico religious cosmological, and mythical symbolism has thus been born: with the result that for three years men flocked to Nakem- ..middlemen, adventurers, apprentices, bankers, politicians, salesmen, conspirators – supposedly ‘scientists,’ but in reality enslaved sentries mounting guard before the Shrobeniusological monument of Negro pseudo symbolism.

Already it had become more than difficult to procure old masks, for Shrobenius and the missionaries had had the good fortune to snap them all up. And so Saif – had slapdash copies buried by the hundredweight or sunk into ponds, lakes, marshes, and mud holes, to be exhumed later on and sold at exorbitant prices to unsuspecting curio hunters. These three-year-old masks were said to be charged with the weight of four centuries of civilization.

Ouologuem in this way forcefully exposes the connections in the international system of art exchange, the international art world, and the way in which an ideology of disinterested aesthetic value – the ‘baptism’ of ‘Negro art’ as ‘aesthetic’ meshes with the international commodification of African expressive culture which requires the manufacture of Otherness . [ Appiah, Kwame Anthony]

There is Raymond Spartacus Kassoumi, a child of poverty who takes advantage of French schooling and achieves academic success through advanced studies in France. There also he experiences failure . He discovers the particularly inescapable long reach of Saif. On his return home his thoughts of a triumphant return were broken by his discovery that he and his country were again being manipulated by the ruling Saif.

Some hope however comes from the brief concluding section ‘Dawn’. Abbe Henry, the hunchback priest obsessed by the tragedy of the Blacks, half-crazed with the christian duty of love is humbly beautiful as the despair of a Christian soul is now a bishop. The last section consists almost entirely of a dialogue between Abbe Henry and Saif, both philosophical discourse and power struggle. This Saif appears vanquished, but Ouologuem reminds us:

one cannot help recalling that Saif, mourned three million times, is forever reborn to history beneath the hot ashes of more than thirty African republics,

Using various elements of oral literature Ouologuem enriches the narrative in exploring a wide span of African history to establish how Africa was like before and after the onslaught of the Arab and European slave dealers and colonizers. there

Oral literature enriches the texture of Ouloguem’s narration thus giving it its vivacity, its uniqueness, its semblance of authenticity and its immediacy. Given the wide span of African History explored encompassing well over 700 years from 1202 to 1947 the narrative method has of necessity to exceed the bounds of the conventional. The narrative thus reads like an epic oral tale told from a communal point of view. The reader thus feels as if he is listening to a tale being related by a Griot which starts like a legend being told in the village square:

Our eyes drink the brightness of the sun and overcome, marvel at their tears. Mashallah! war bismillah!… To recount the bloody adventure of the nigger… – shame to the worthless paupers – there would be no need to go back beyond the present century, but the true history of the Black begins much earlier, with the Saifs, in the years 1202 of our era, in the African Empire of Nakem, south of Fezzan long after the conquests of Okba ben Nafi al-Fitri

The figurative expressions as ‘our eyes drink the brightness of the sun’, the frequent interjections and exclamations in the middle of sentences and the religious incantations give the work its distinctive oral Griot-like timbre. In reading, we could easily imagine ourselves listening to the emphatic and dramatic delivery of the story teller. Through his incantations and his comments interlarding the tale, he shows his emotional reactions to the details being narrated, thus giving us the illusion of being part of an audience keenly listening in the village square with our attention being drawn, as it goes on, to particular details. This effect could best be seen in how our attention is drawn to the way the black commoners are ill-used:

They promised their serfs, servants and former captives that, pending the hostilities which the neighbouring tribe was no doubt plotting, they would be ‘looked upon – hear! – as provisionally free and equal subjects.’ Then, once peace was restored among the various tribes, for the war had failed to break out – out – hee – hee – the same notables promised the same subject that after…hum…hum…a brief’ apprenticeship of forced labor, they would be rewarded with the Rights of Man…. As to civil rights, of them no mention was made. Halleluyah.

The interjections throughout this passage are tinged with mockery as well as scorn. The reader is thus alerted to the insincerity of the promises.. The narrator’s dismay is captured in the closing exclamation: ‘Halleluyah!’

Ouologuem then invokes the lofty and grandiose style and tradition of the African chronicler, the Griot.:

How in profound displeasure,with perfumed mouth and eloquence on his tongue, Saif ben Isaac al – Heit endeavored to mobilize the energies of the fanatical people against the invader; how to that end he spread reports of daily miracles throughout the Nakem Empire – earthquakes, the opening of tombs, resurrections of saints, fountains of milk springing up in his path, visions of archangels stepping out of the sunset, village women drawing buckets from the well and finding them full of blood; how on one of his journeys he transformed three pages of the Holy Book, the Koran, into as many doves, which flew on ahead of him as though to summon the people to Saif’s banner; and with what diplomacy he feigned indifference to the gods of this world: in all that there is nothing out of the ordinary.

In this grand sweep of a sentence Ouologuem gives force to the eloquence of Saif ben Isaac al- heit whose ‘profound displeasure’ allied ‘with perfumed mouth and eloquence’ mobilized the people to frenzied and fanatical onslaught against the invaders. Through parallel structures and repetitions he also shows the prowess of the Saif in spreading a propaganda of terror to further give vent to the furore of the people in attacking the invaders.

Ouloguem also creates the impression of narrating legends based on factual historical occcurences. This is through his constant recourse to historians and griots as suggested in: ‘ Afterwards, wild supplications was heard from the village square…Then pious silence and the griot Kituli of cherished memory ends his tale as follows .’and ‘The consequences of his audacity are related by Mohamed Hakmud Traore descended in an unbroken line from griot ancestors and himself griot in the present-day African Republic of Nakem-Zuiko.’ The impression is thus often given of a teller sifting through the various details from various sources to get at the kernel of the truth. Many a time he would indicate this by either naming the various griots and historians concerned or by merely introducing them as ‘according to one version’ ‘in another version’, ‘still others claimed that’ and so on. His inability to get one authentic report on Isaac al – Heit is explained thus:

At this point tradition loses itself in legend for there are few written accounts and the versions of the elders diverge from those of the griots, which differ from those of the chroniclers.

Through his comments and religious incantations, the narrator conveys the impression that he and his audience share common norms and values. A shared ancestral background is also alluded to through his frequent recourse to such phrases as ‘our era’

Ouologuem repudiates the negritudinist glorification of Africa’s past by portraying it as an unending cycle of violence, greed, debauchery and exploitation, as reaffirmed in the title Bound to Violence and in this extract from an interview of Ouologuem by Linda Hiecht:

….black people in Africa were oppressed. He has enemies too among what they all black aristocracy, and the black man never was a Negro before the black aristocrat sold him as a slave. It was the black aristocrat who made black people become Negroes. If you look at the entire history, you find there were three stages of oppression: blacks oppressing blacks, Arabs oppressing blacks,and whites oppressing blacks. Look, it took me a lot of courage to write this book which is about oppressors who were my own family and I did my best to be as universal as possible.

Ouologuem’s position is then unlike Armah’s anti-negritudinist. For he holds Africans as much responsible for the indignities they suffered as the foreign forces,Arabs and Europeans. Thus, he neither idealizes nor endorses either party. His African world has no political system. Traditional religion too seems absent here. Everything is left in a state of chaos and turmoil with the rulers using people at will. The system of justice evident in Two Thousand Seasons could not be seen here. Ordinary people are continually being misused by the notables. Immoralities of the worst kinds are widely practiced. The history of Africa is thus shown as one unending flow of violence which in turn kept them under such dread that they were scared stiff of even rebelling. Thus Appiah’s submission that it is a repudiation of national history makes much sense though perhaps it could be more apt as a denunciation of racial or continental history.

RELATED ARTICLE:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Looking-Back-Through-2000-Seasons-of-Slavery-of-Africans-by-Various-Other-Races-in-Ayi-Kwei-Armah&id=990966

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Appiah, Kwame Anthony , In My Father’s House

Ouologuem, Yambo, Bound to Violence, translated by Ralph Manhein, A Helen and Kurt Woolf Book, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, New York, 1971

Palmer, Eustace, The Growth of The African Novel, Heinemann

Educational Books , London, 1979

Wise, Christopher[ed], Yambo Ouologuem Postcolonial Writer,Islamic Militant, 1999

‘De l’histoire a sa metaphore dans Le Devoir de Violence de Yambo Ouologuem ‘

By Josias Semajanga in Etudes Francaises, vol 31, no1,etc[1995]

‘Fiction and Subversion’ by A. Songolo in Presence Africaine no 120 [1981]

Interview of Yambo Ouologuem

‘Ouologuem’s Blueprint for ‘Le Devoir de Violence” by E. Sellin in RESEARCH IN AFRICAN LITERATURE 2 [1971]