of the Dark Regions
By Ken Mulholland
Writers of the Dark Regions.
An article written for, and because of African Writers.
In this particular instance, the 'Dark Regions' can be defined as any place on Earth where writers struggle against exterior influences that threaten their abilities to write, distribute their writing, fraternize with other writers or even to have opinions that they wish to express through their writing.
Jackee Budesta Batanda. Mildred Kiconco Barya. Fungai James Tichawangana.
So it is, that even in my country Australia, our own indigenous population have struggled throughout the last two hundred years which have seen them invaded, overwhelmed, subjugated, dispossessed of their own territories and excluded (up until the 1950's) in population census counts, and in the case of 'The Stolen Generation', separated from their own families and dispersed into the wider white community, there to survive as best they could.
In the early process of such progress, their own traditional culture, folklore, mythology and art forms were looked upon as primitive curiosities or largely ignored.
Mazi Guinness. Gracious Changaya.
By the Nineteen Forties and after, some few of the white population of Australia began to recognise the potential inherent in the indigenous peoples. Over the years, as old traditions were passed on, largely via cave art and oral recollections, augmented by ritual dance and music as closely authentic to that of the past as was possible, it was realised that there lay a treasure trove of myth, legend, folklore and pre-history still untapped.
Steve Ogah. Blessing Musariri.
When sane heads prevailed, it was already too late. Much of the Aboriginal tribal society, it's various ways of life; its pre-white condition, memories, bush-craft, and the driving force of being at one with the vast Australian Continent in all its magnificent variations had vanished, to be lost forever.
This was a terrible breakdown. A tragic loss.
This was the last fatal echo of those early white invaders who had come from England, Ireland, Europe and Asia, convinced that their stamp of authority must supplant, suffocate and expunge all that had gone into the past fifty to sixty thousand years of occupation by the first peoples of the 'Great Southern Land'.
Of course those usurpers (some of them probably my ancestors,) had no way of knowing just how long aboriginals had dwelt in the lands they began to claim for themselves, and seemed to have cared little in their endeavours to dispossess the indigenous folk of their tribal grounds.
Gladys Namukasa. Uchechukwu Agodom. Adrain Ashley.
There is nothing new in this stance of the Invader. The same scenario has been enacted in many lands and many climes, in all times, around the world.
The invasion and subsequent colonization of Australia was one thing, the events that followed were another. Instead of taking History's example of the Romans, who also subjugated other tribes, countries and nations and then set about drawing them into the cultural and political influence of Rome itself, so that to be a Roman was a goal that many outsiders not only avidly sought, and upon attaining such status were then enabled to rise through the ranks even to the supreme and heady heights of Caesar, Aboriginals were dismissed as mere bystanders who could not take any useful place in the spreading communities of the newcomers. It is only in the latter years of the Twentieth Century that the Koori population, as Australian Aboriginals name themselves, have risen against the odds to heights that none could have suspected. Many have excelled in sport, art, music and literature to make their most valuable, most individual contributions. They are a truly magnificent People busy reclaiming their status as founders of The Sacred Land. They have already given their life's blood over generations and at last, they will come again as a force in the Country we can all share.
David Lukudu. Dennis Ezechukwu.
What was missing?
What was it, what is it, that still to this day dooms peoples around the world to repeat the same mistakes?
Part of the answer is that there isn't one thing, one single ingredient; because the question is too complex and demands so much to be resolved that any lone course of action could not completely avail.
Yet there is Communication.
True, it is of minor import compared to water, (the wellspring of all human life,) food and shelter; the three simple cornerstones of humanity, indeed of practically all life upon the planet.
These basics are embodied and ennobled in the beliefs of Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms: "Freedom from Wont, Freedom from Fear, Freedom to Worship, Freedom of Speech and Expression." Here I précis his words, but you get the general idea, and here we have communicated on a complex level.
Nyankami Atandi. Rais Nesa Boneza.
It has been postulated that the greatest difference between human beings and every other creature on Earth (excluding the broad family of apes) is an opposable thumb which enables us to utilize our hands in a way that sets us apart, yet others suggest that it is in the ability to communicate between each other that outstrips every competitor.
'I think! Therefore I am!'
But what is the good of thinking, and knowing we exist, unless we can communicate that very essence to another being that also 'Thinks and Knows' ?'
Monica Arac deNyeko. Eyitemi Egwuenu.
Here we move from the realm of apes with opposable thumbs to the realm of Human Beings with opposable thumbs, who think and communicate in ways far more superior than their distant ape relatives.
How did our early ancestors communicate?
Primitive speech? Primitive art? Primitive ritual, embodying dance?
All and more.
Tony Esezobar. Aniete Isong.
How wonderful is it that we can listen to music composed by another human being who may have lived a hundred or more years ago and spoke another language, and yet enjoy, be borne away, lifted on feathery wings and touched by emotions that send us soaring through the clouds of our own emotions. This is communication without language. How wonderful to gaze upon a painting by one of the Old Masters and see it as it was seen by the eyes of the painter and to feel the thrill of that communication back over the centuries before, when it was no more than pigment until the execution that transformed it into a work of art.
And perhaps just as thrilling and even more exciting, to watch dancers working at their business; the business of The Dance: ballet, folkdance, traditional dancing, dancing of the Dreamtime. Dancing that threads its way back through history and beyond; that reveals so much of the cultures of long ago.
Expression through the movement of human bodies.
In other words, Communication.
Steveria Kadangwe. Stanley Kenani.
And now, The Twenty-First Century.
Communication at a keystroke.
Communication around the globe.
That is, for those who can access it. For those permitted to access it.
For those prepared to dare the consequences of surveillance, censorship and possible punishment.
These are the Writers of the Dark Regions.
They can be found in Cuba, in Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Columbia, Russia and yes, Australia.
(And if you think writers from these regions are inferior, seek out a copy of 'The Prophet' written by the legendary writer Kahlil Gibran. Almost forty years later it still resonates in my mind and thoughts.)
They can be found anywhere in the world where the voices of the common peoples, the minorities, the impoverished, the oppressed are hidden away by the powers of forceful regimes; be they political, religious or military.
And each of these writers are striving with all their might and mein to be heard, to communicate, to tell their tales of oppression and suppression, of everyday life in places of war and famine, disease, pestilence and poverty. And through all that, of love and laughter and the simplest desires and needs of the basic comforts for themselves and for their peoples.
These are the Writers of the Dark Regions.
They deserve to be heard, to be understood and acknowledged, to communicate with us.
Chika Onuoha. John Oryem. Valentine Umelo.
Their passion should not go unnoticed.
In the AuthorMe article 'Writers Agendas', I recommended African Writers, and I again commend them to you The Readers. They are the beginnings of a new enlightenment. They are the forerunners of Writers to come. These African Writers seek recognition. They seek to speak their truths; their tales of mythology, religious convictions, history, their longings and yearnings, their abilities as Communicators.
They will lead a new convocation of writers from all parts of the world, inspiring more as they go so that these new writers will find the fortitude to bring forth their stories into the light.
All these writers will seek to open our eyes to what lies inside the 'Dark Regions' and amongst them there will be those who hold hopes of recognition and reward.
It is not feasible to offer rewards, nor even recognition, without the input of Readers.
Readers can make such things possible.
And Readers can do exactly what Writers are striving to do. Communicate!
Yes. You the Reader can communicate with these Writers of the Dark Regions.
I repeat, you can communicate with them. They are only an email address away. And of them, there are those who risk a great deal in such communication, and yet they are accessible.
They desire your interaction, your support. Your Communication. They may never attain the goals of riches and rewards, but without support from Readers in the world at large they will remain bereft of the spirit required to propel them and their fellow writers into the future.
Don't give a donation at the office, instead give a damn! Give an email of support! Yes you! African Americans, African Brits, supporters of all free writers whoever you are. And also all writers from other countries who consider yourselves in similar situations; make yourselves known! Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree and then add it to your key-board. A few minutes, a few key-strokes to AuthorMe.com is all that it takes. You don't have to say much: "I read your story. You are in my thoughts. Keep going. Don't give up."
"You're the Voice, try and understand it. Make a noise and make it clear! We're not gonna live in silence, We're not gonna live in fear!" These are a part of the lyrics of an Australian song written some fifteen or twenty years ago and they have the same impact now as they did then.
Help to show other writers from 'The Dark Regions' of all the corners of the world that, through your voice, they may lift their heads and speak their truths.
And again, Monica Arac deNyeko. Rais Nesa Boneza. Valentine Umelo. John Oryem. Chika Onuoha. Stanley Kenani. Steveria Kadangwe. Aniete Isong. Tony Esezobar. Eyitemi Egwuenu. Nyankami Atandi. Dennis Ezechukwu. David Lukudu. Adrian Ashley. Uchechukwu Agodom. Gladys Namukasa. Blessing Musariri. Steve Ogah. Gracious Changaya. Mazi Guinness. Fungai Tichawangana.
Mildred Kiconco Barya. Jackee Budesta Batanda.
No doubt I've mis-spelled or missed names. No doubt I'll be taken to task over this. No doubt I deserve it. And so do You, if You do not respond with a few keystrokes, a few moments of Your life. Read these writers and let them know Your thoughts.
The 'Writers of the Dark Regions' may only ever burst into the brightness of 'Enlightened Day' (however fragile and fractured that 'Enlightened Day' still is,) with the support and communication of we, who already dwell there.
Editor. AuthorMe Australia.