From The Basement with The Gimp


The pain I go through while indulging my master is back. I pray for a quick return of winter as that is what sent my master to some places I do not know, in search of warmer weather. In his absence, I engaged in some things I would rather not fully disclose… All I can say is that I learnt several new skills, including how to deceive the surveillance camera system he had installed to watch over me in The Basement and, most importantly, how to pick the locks confining me to the cage. I got to enjoy freedom… Freedom from my heartless master… the freedom to sit on his big chair, and to stretch myself across his bed… that was my brief winter experience of liberation. Now the spring has set in and the master is back.

Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

You must therefore excuse me if I pray for a quick arrival of another winter. If it comes, (that is if global warming hasn’t done away with it all together by then), I would love to venture into his library where I saw some books I am longing to read and maybe even eat. One such was by a great woman called Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Why this book? Because I didn’t finish reading it… I suspected the master wouldn’t have missed it, but the possible punishment that would be unleashed onto my shiny body held me back from pinching it for my cage. You know, my master is like a small child with too many toys… he would ignore all the others and demand the whereabouts of the missing one.

The poems in this book struck me. Was she writing them for me or for my master? Then a few days ago, as I dropped into deep memories of what that caged Gimp [Bird] would sing, I found myself staring at the lovely fish swimming in the tank across from my cage. Were they swimming in joyful freedom, or were they attempting to break out? I got to wonder why we contain the fish in artificial glass at all, instead of letting them free in the rivers, lakes, oceans and seas. Oh bloody humans, we just want to feel in charge.

But what would happen to the glassed-in fish if they were allowed their freedom? We humans would argue that some other bigger fish would probably feast on them. Yeah, so it is fine to contain them where we can watch them wag their fins. That is human nature. Just take a look at what we have done with our own freedom in the last twenty years. Or let me not go back that far: in the last six months, even.

First we lose an entire jet-load of humans and cargo (Flight MH370), then we pretend to be keen on finding it and we trawl the oceans with big boats and sophisticated machinery, all to no avail. Then we lose a few hundred girls in the west of our continent. Please don’t let me get started on the search for the missing girls: send in the specialists, send in the army, send in the politicians, send in the parents, send in… the list goes on. Next we jail some journalists in Egypt whose only crimes were to inform the world about the questionable ways of our rulers – not leaders…

In our attempts to outdo each other, some religious groups we seem to like decide to kill members of another group we do not seem to like so much in Central African Republic and of course that is just ok. But we humans miss something; while we’re competing against one another, other organisms start taking up their positions, and with that, something called Ebola begins to strike. We cannot even see it, but we are ready to send in the infantry division of our best-trained soldiers to engage it. Airlines cancel flights to the already-affected regions while governments employ x-ray machines at ports of entry to identify carriers before the unseen organism(s) can sneak through our borders.

But here is what really got me wondering what the hell is wrong with us humans! While travel advisories are being issued to those intending to land in and around the Ebola affected areas, more than 300 people from Gimpyland decided to defy these advisories so they could seek some miracles from the hands and mouth of one self-proclaimed prophet, Temitope Balogun Joshua (otherwise known as T.B. Joshua, for those who cannot pronounce the first two names as fast as their wallets should open) of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations.

We all know what happened a week or so ago: the building, which claimed to be part of the church came down. It is tragic that so many people looking for miracles had to die, and The Gimp’s heart bleeds for them. What I cannot however understand, and nobody has been able to make me see, is how this should be the responsibility of the two governments involved. The governments that may not even have been made aware of the departures to and arrivals at Joshualand in the first place? Or is there something The Gimp is missing here? Was the trip of the 349 Gimpilanders sponsored and endorsed by the two governments without our knowledge?

‘I last talked to my brother or sister or aunt or mother… last Friday shortly before the building collapsed. Why did it take the government so many days to tell us they had died?’

I know every life is as important as the next. But listening to relatives of those who had sought the miracles offered in Joshualand, there were things that bothered me… ‘I last talked to my brother or sister or aunt or mother… last Friday shortly before the building collapsed. Why did it take the government so many days to tell us they had died?’ Excuse The Gimp’s naivety here, but they themselves should surely have been the ones informing us of their relatives’ deaths, not waiting for the governments to do so?

Well, when it is convenient to and for us, we believe the government should know everything about us… but in this case, as sad as it is, the relatives appear to have had more information from the beginning than the two governments did. None of the relatives are even talking about the Ebola virus that is rapidly gaining roots in the region, but they maintain that some jets should be scrambled in order to fly them to Lagos to help identify the bodies… Well, that’s the cost of freedom.

As the late statesman Nelson Mandela put it: “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” The freedom to do whatever we want without seeking permissions of our governments... The freedom and freewill that drove 349 Gimpylanders to Lagos in the belief that their ailments and sins would soon be a thing of the past. So if we meet a snake instead of the hoped-for miracles, why should that be the responsibility of anyone else? Why should The Gimp as future taxpayer be compelled to foot the bills now?

The decision of the governments of the two countries to help should not be taken as an entitlement, but as a gesture of good will. The relatives of the 349 should play their parts and convince other Gimpylanders (past, current and future taxpayers) why we should put our own mountaintops and freedom walks on hold to attend to someone else’s freely-chosen path that went wrong.

But what do I know, ain’t I just The Gimp from The Basement.