(Some may consider the conclusion heretical, but this is not meant to offend the religious sensibilities of any.)
Earlier, the spirit of Patrice Emery Lumumba had spoken to me concerning the politics of the Congo and I had assumed that my duty was merely to relay to the world, what a more politically astute Lumumba could have done differently in the Congo. I could never have known how wrong I was. Read on:
"You living souls like to say hindsight is 20/20.The grateful dead also have their cliches. In the grave, they are fond of saying hindsight is 100/100. It has been over two decades and some years, now since my death and many assume that perhaps, I have had a lot of time to regret my mistakes.The thing about death is that you meet a lot of souls out there, some good and some bad, some granted in various degrees, the gift of knowledge, though most are not so privileged. Believe me, unsolicited advice comes a dime a dozen and if it were possible, one would in fact be in grave danger of being advised to death. I met this fellow once who had a measure of knowledge " Machiavelli, I believe his name was. Like so many, he did not know in absolute truth whom I was. He knew of me only as Patarice Lumumba, just as you also know of me by that name, for that is how I had chosen to reveal myself to the world, at least for the time being."
" But some grace had been granted to this Machiavelli fellow. He knew about how Satan had came to me while I had been in the flesh, but he never knew the reasons why the devil had tormented me so mercilessly. Perhaps, he merely suspected I was in fact one of the Avatars, those also known as the gifted ones. How wrong he was, for I am much more than an Avatar, but it has not been granted to any man to know this secret. Anyhow, it appeared the peculiar form of punishment prescribed for this fellow was that he roam the underworld, looking for lost princes and causes to advise. What better lost cause could he had hoped to find than mine? I guess I was his hell. He was inexorably drawn to me and I, in turn, to him. And as could be expected he severely reproved me for not taking up the offer Lucifer had made to me."
" Ah, poor Lucifer, never had a being been created so perfect, never had one so high fallen so low, yet, had I taken up his gift, bigger still would have been my own fall. For a price, a dark path had been laid before me. All the tempter had asked of me was one quick bow, yet I had turned him down, angrily putting him behind me."
The words the Apparition spoke to me were lost upon me and I had not a clue what the Ghost was going on about. Lucifer, temptation, bowing, secrets?â€.
What was the meaning of these words.... I was quite unprepared for this, on unfamiliar grounds and I wondered if ghosts, through the trauma brought on by a horrific death, were capable of losing their minds. I fervently prayed in my heart that the power to read thoughts was beyond the ken of ghosts. Thankfully, it appeared this boon was granted to me, as the Phantom somewhat returned to the earlier theme of its story.
"Right from the onset, naked power and deception was the name of the game in Belgian Congo. In fact, in forty years, nothing has really changed, even as I speak these words to you, the rules of your world have not changed at all. As a man, I didn' t understand it then, but I now do, perfectly. I could have taken up the offer of Lucifer. I could have dealt deceptively with my adversaries and I would have prevailed."
"But how! Sir", I blurted out: "Considering the mind bogging arsenal of brute forces arrayed against you; the United States of America, the United Nations, Belgium and a host of their Western allies. How is it you assert that you could have prevailed?"
I paused to choose my words carefully, wondering if it were possible that things could get any stranger than they already were. Still, I had to know what the Specter in his words of a moment before had actually alluded to, why the references to secrets?
" And what, exactly, do you mean by not taking up the offer of Lucifer? Or what exactly do you mean by how you have chosen to reveal yourself? Afterall, we already know you for who you are"
Lumumba' s ghost gave me what can best be described an empty smile; one that didn' t quite reach the eyes.
"Do you really know me for who I really am?."
Ignoring my latter questions, he simply continued, addressing the former part of my question.
"How could I have prevailed considering the awesome forces arrayed against me, you ask?, I want you to understand that the situation was quite straightforward. At its simplest level, the multiplicity of forces arrayed against me could be narrowed down to two categories: internal and external. Consider that the strongest chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The nature of the external forces, the Western power and the internal forces, my African rivals arrayed against me was analogous to that of a virus and a host. But in and of itself, even the most pathological virus is quite useless on it' s own, having no developed reproductive mechanism; it requires the agency of a host organism in order to reproduce."
"Cut off the weakest link, that is, the host, in the supposedly impregnable chain and the house collapses like a pack of cards. Viruses and scavengers will always exist in nature, and in the comity of nations, it is apparent that providence has for some time condemned the Western Nations to play the role of the virus. Unfortunately, I grant, there will also always be hosts. It may not be in one' s power to kill the virus, but it is within one' s will to pursue and maintain a healthy environment, to minimize the viability of hosts within one' s community. Thus, in this way, one disables the most putrid effects of the virus. Now let me enumerate the hosts and how I would have dealt with them".
"There was a path I could have taken and had I traveled this dark path, I would obviously have appointed Joseph Kasavubu as President again."
I gawked in amazement, puzzled by the twinkle of merriment I saw in the eyes of my spirit narrator.
" You would what?" I gasped.
"Yes, you heard me correctly! There is a truism taught by those who follow the doctrine of Machiavelli : Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Yes, I would have appointed Joseph Kasavubu as President, and then promptly killed him."
My heart skipped yet another beat and my flesh crawled. " And then killed him?" I asked, straining for breath".
The Ghost yawned, obviously amused at my naivety.
"Yes, death by a plane crash, not too ghastly, not too bloody, something sharp and sweet, like that arranged for that foolish fellow, John Garang, who came complaining to me a short while ago'¦ or by a cup of tea like that planned for the other rich fellow who was bitterly belligerent the other day, I forget his name, something like Abacha or Abiola, a Nigerian, I believe; Oh so many Nigerians in the outer world'¦'¦ or'¦ a car accident'¦.. take your pick. Of course, I would then immediately declare a month' s mandatory mourning period, followed up with lots of speeches, statues and an immense state funeral. I would even have put up a stamp or made a coin in his memory."
I was appalled!
"Sir", I began , "I am disappointed. Two wrongs don' t make a right; surely you could find a better way! What happened to your much-vaunted purity, your sense of decency and your inner strength?"
The Shadow laughed sardonically.
"But remember that for some reason I did not do this"
"However, you' ve got to understand that men like Joseph Kasavubu are of no positive consequence to the welfare of the African, in the larger scheme of things, and are better off dead. Totally devoid of virtue, absolutely lacking in vision, utterly selfish, completely self absorbed, irreversibly corrupted and corrupting. With the demise of this category of men, the world immediately becomes a better place. Had their mothers aborted them before they were born, so much trouble would have been avoided."
"By the way, your country Nigeria, appears particularly cursed with plenty of these same kinds of men, mostly in high places. Beware of those men. Now, a much more problematic concern to me would be my next adversary".
The ghoul suddenly snapped its fingers. Swiftly, magically, we were transported to a new location away from the evil forest. I knew not how or where but it was apparent that this new location was a desert distinct in it' s desolateness. We were possibly in the Sahara desert or some ethereal or astral replication of it. After all, the mystics, I have heard, say as above, so below or vice versa.
Pointing to what appeared to be an image of a shallow unmarked grave lost in the sand, the ghoul said
"Behold", the eternal place of torment of a betrayer as ordained by the Absolute ."
The Absolute? I was puzzled. But at the same time elated. For buried deep inside me, as in most men, was the desire for knowledge of the mysteries of life. Here was my chance to ask questions that had tormented me for as long as I could remember. At last I hoped, perhaps my quest had come to an end, finally, I would learn the truth, I would know for sure the nature of God, the purpose for existence
"Do you mean to say, that a supposedly loving and kind God exists who torments men eternally when they die?"
My spirit companion answered.
"Yes and no. There is a great deal of misconception about the nature of God in life. But so it is in the afterlife, though this may come as a surprise to you."
" People in life, expect all mystery to be cleared up once they die and are surprised to find that this is not the case. Hence the futile attempt by those who are still alive to contact the spirit of those dead for the purpose of gaining some sort of knowledge. Often, this is just a waste of time. Believe it or not, even in the afterlife, ignorance persists and there are therefore so many ignorant spirits and only a few wise ones. However, you may believe what I am about to tell you now, so now listen very carefully as I speak words of knowledge onto you. "
"That which is not comprehended by the mind, but by which the mind comprehends. Know that to be God, God is not the being worshiped of men in their minds."
"That which is not seen by the eye, but by which the eye sees. Know that to be God. God is not the being worshiped of men by their vision."
"That which is not heard by the ear, but by which the ear hears. Know that to be God, God is not the being worshiped of men in their hearing."
"That which is not drawn by the breath, but by which the breath is drawn. Know that to be God. God is not worshiped by any that breath."
"That which is God, him neither men know nor are able to teach. That which is God, different is he from the known and different is he from the unknown, so have you heard from the wise"
"Yes, understand that, that which is God cannot be absolutely known of man, but only known in part. Therefore, your knowledge of him is incomplete and will always be incomplete and fraught with many hameful misconceptions, mistakes, wrong teachings and doctrines"
"Therefore, that which is God is not in need of your worship or adulation O man. Neither is he in need of your Zakat,"
"Therefore, that which is God is not in need of your fasting, neither is he in need of your five prayers or nine, or your pilgrimage to any holy land".
" And if God were man and he were hungry for food, no animal would be unfit for his consumption. In fact, he may be particularly fond of pork."
"Neither does he ask you to honor any man or prophet as his specially anointed. Or as his servant."
"And most importantly, do not fight for God as he has not asked you to do this. He does not need your puny hands to win his wars, nor your unclean mouths to utter his fathwah."
""And your God is most certainly not one God, but as many gods as he pleases to be . And his prophet and religion is most certainly also not one, but as many as he pleases them to be"
"Most of all, know that, that which is God , he is most certainly amused by man, telling God how to be a God."
"As in life, so in death. A God may exist, but he torments no man. However, rest assured that, yes, indeed, men are tormented, not by a God which they knew not when alive, but by themselves and the consequences of the actions they undertook when they were alive."
"Hence one that lived his life on earth totally ignorant of the spiritual principles of life, does not become wiser merely by being dead. So it is useless to try to consult the dead for advise about God or the mysteries of life. Being dead does not make one necessarily wiser than in life concerning the inscrutability of the answers to the mystery of being. I cannot teach you about God, nor tell you of the meaning of life. However, I can tell you this"
" As in life, so in death. Many of you who are yet alive falsely believe that death inexorably confers rectitude upon those of us who are dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a man lived his life on earth, so is he in the afterlife. Hence one gave himself over in life to utter worthlessness is also of no use in the afterlife. One who was ignorant in life does not become enlightened by death. Therefore, anyone who was unworthy of exaltation in life, does not become worthy of reverence simply by becoming dead"
"What then, say you is the purpose of life?"
" I shall tell you what I know and I ask you to believe this, not because I am dead but because, your spirit agrees with what I am about to say."
"A man is truly great, not because of the vastness of the armies he commands, nor for the host of riches he acquires. A man is truly great, not because of the lands he conquers, nor by the fame of his name. The true purpose of life is service."
"The worthy man is that one who does not strive to be first, but is first to strive."
"The man of purpose is that one who does not seek to be first, but is first to seek"
"The man who does not seek to be served but seeks to serve. Such a one has no need to conquer another, for he has mastered the greatest adversary of all, he has conquered his own soul"
Before I could ask for further clarifications, the Spirit abruptly cut short the teachings relating to things of the spiritual and returned to the subject of the political quagmire in the Congo. For reasons I could not explain, I, who could by some account be reasonably considered a neo-nihilist, scarcely concerned with the metaphysical quests of life or death had become enthralled by the Spirit' s tale of the spiritual. Slightly perturbed, I could not help but feel I was being set up for some kind of test. I listened
About Moise Tshombe:
"Now Moise Tshombe would have posed a more interesting challenge to me, had I lived, after I might have gotten rid of Kasavubu by following the darkness. Obviously, the problem of proximity would have been a major concern to me. By killing the fool, Kasavubu, I would have little or no hope of enticing Tshombe to my side for quick dispatch, so I would have played the pacifist fool."
"For the moment, I would let him go, knowing fully well that he who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind. Moise Tshombe, by unleashing a coup would have sealed his own fate. By seizing the tiger by the tail, he would invariably had ended up in the belly of the tiger. How on earth did he think he would have coped with his unruly rabble of an Army?"
"Even now, I do not know for certain how genuine the break down of Belgian authority in the army that precipitated the Katanga rebellion was. However, rather than taking on Katanga, at least for the moment I would have ingratiated myself with the Belgians, mending all fences. I would have outwardly shown all the signs of bowing to Belgian authority. Once apparently safely ensconced in the arms of Mother Belgium, I would have set a thief to catch a thief."
I laughed at the prospect of a Lumumba kowtowing to Belgian authority.
"But would this have worked? Wouldn' t the Belgians have seen through this ruse?" I asked.
The spirit began with a wry smile;
"You are yet to fully understand my nature or to comprehend who I am. Yes it would have worked, for those forces beyond your comprehension would have made it so. For a bow, the tempter had so assured me. "
" Anyway, you have to understand the psychology of the times. The Belgians could not believe the African to be capable of calculation and viewed him as an innocent man-child, incapable of guile. Even today, there is the widespread belief in the '˜Noble Savage' , the unclothed primitive of the fable of Tarzan. Having bought into a mass culture of delusion, based upon perceived superiority of the White man and the innate inferiority of the Black man, not only would it have been possible for me to have done an about-faced turn; in fact, once backed into a corner, it must have been expected in Washington and Brussels that I would have fallen prostrate before the superior White man, shamelessly begged for forgiveness like a runaway slave cornerned by his masters. It is likely that I would have been accommodated as a neutered uppity, much like your modern day run of the mill African leader."
"However, assuming the Belgians had not outrightly accepted my apparently penitent self alone, at worse, they would have hedged and backed two fractions, that is backed myself and the breakaway republic of Katanga. What did they have to lose? Heads or tails, by backing both sides they would have won irrespective of which faction came out tops. But given a choice between an unstable coup prone Katanga, with all its inherent instability, and a legitimately elected but seemingly neutered Lumumba, with a pro-Belgian affinity, its easy to guess which side would have ultimately won the day in the long run."
"For forty days and forty nights while I was in captivity, this was the dark counsel. Had I partaken of Iblis, he who refused to bow, but was not shy to demand a reversal of the natural order, I would never, repeat, never had openly revealed my contempt for the Americans and the Belgians."
"Neither would I have openly antagonized the UN or any of the Western powers, not at least till I had the barrel of a gun of my own. I would simply have awarded them mining rights in Katanga. Devoid of Belgian backing and having unleashed a coup, Tshombe and Katanga would have fallen like a pack of cards and I would have been triumphantly called upon by the UN to restore order in the Katanga. All contingent upon the pain of slavishly adoration of the American and Belgian ambassadors"
"This was exactly the hand of played so expertly by Mobutu Sese '" Seko . The hand that I had rejected. From where do you think Mobutu obtained wisdom? Once he agreed to become an American and Belgian poodle, their erstwhile mentors sold out the Katangalese and their rebellion was effortlessly crushed. I could have played the hand of Iblis.
"Wait Sir," I protested, "Is this the only way you could have held on to power in the Congo? Surely there must be a better way! Could you really have done this?"
"Ah! But that was the surest way to power at that time and the way taken by my second greatest enemy and second worst betrayer of all, Mobutu Sese Seko, the self-appointed warrior who said that by virtue of his own courage and will, went from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake. But actually it was by the will of Lucifer, working through his agent, that he went on to become the fifth richest man in the world, leaving poverty in his wake. O!, How my beloved Congo has suffered."
Yes, the Congo had suffered, I reminisced. But getting rid of the local rivals was one thing, ridding the Congo of foreign interference was a different thing entirely I thought. I was about to put my thoughts into speech when as if reading my mind the Ghost interrupted.
"Some say that by the ending of the cold war, your world has become a better place, I say no, on the contrary, your world has become a far less safe place. In my day, it was possible to play and be played by the two opposing sides of power and as surely as night is followed by day, you could count on one thing, that is if the Americans said "Yes" to anything, the Russians were compelled to say "No" to that same thing. If you do not believe that it is possible to play the Americans against the Russians or vice- versa, read the story of my good friend Siad Barre of Somalia in order to truly know the meaning of flip-flopping."
"The Russians would have been the key"
"You see, once I had dealt with the hosts for the virus in my environment, once I became master in my own house, I would have invited in swiftly invited in "advisers " from Moscow. Eventually, I would have found reasons to be dissatisfied with my erstwhile Western mentors. Yes, the Russians would have been the key I could have used to lock out the Yankee "
The Ghost and I contemplated each other in silence. Moments passed with neither of us speaking. Even though I had been offered clues through out this discourse, I felt there was something being held back from me. What it was, I couldn' t quite say, but somehow, I couldn' t get rid of the feeling. I certainly no longer believed that a recantation of the events in the Congo was the real reason I was brought to this place. There was a bigger revelation I had to discover. Then a gem of a thought began to crystallize within me; the idea grew stronger. I had initially thought I had fully grasped the reason why I had been summoned to this place. Now, the light of enlightenment slowly began to shine in my eyes. Now I knew in part. And the Ghost knew that I knew in part.
"Ah'¦. Now my task here is almost done. I see you have almost comprehended the reason for my summoning you. Yet, when you wake, you will forget. Such is the fate of men. Everything I have told you, could have been my actions acting as a man, a mere fallen man had I listened to Lucifer. My story could have had a very different outcome."
"But because I am more than mere flesh, only one possible outcome was ordained and I had to be faithful, in spite of my great temptations which Satan, doesn' t really change; bow down to me, worship me, I will make you king of the world, he promised. Such filthy promises, still, it almost worked you know and yes, let me assure you that had I done things differently, had I bowed, I would have succeeded in ridding the Congo of all my enemies. However, this route was not really open to me, the price would have been my soul.
But for a moment, assume that it was. Assume that I could have harkened to the voice of Lucifer and became fully mortal, the danger and obvious question would be, having initially started out with a ruse, a faking of subservience to Western powers in order to consolidate myself in power, would I then have latter been able to muster the guts to deliberately take the hard path and set my face against my '˜mentors' ? Or would I along the way realize it would be easier and safer to become a puppet in deed and in truth?"
"I could have become the monster that was Mobutu. That monster was my dark side. And the dark side of all men."
By now, I was prepared. I asked the question which could no longer be put off.
"Who are you"
The Spirit nodded as if in approval, as if I had passed a test of some sort.
"Truly you are blessed, for you have been inspired to look beyond the evidence of the eye. Flesh and blood did not inspire you to ask this question, but it is by the Spirit of the one who sent me that you have been led to ask. "
"Now that you wish to know, who truly, the one who lived and was known as Patrice Emery Lumumba was, It shall be revealed onto you. I shall no longer hold back from you the great truth as I see that you are fully and capable of understanding. Now listen to the great truth I am about to reveal to you"
"I am not just Patrice Emery Lumumba, though that is the form I took while I was on earth in the Congo. I am who I am and I can be whatsoever I want."
"I am known by all names in all lands, by all people of all races, in all tongues and in all times. Two thousand years ago, I worked the earth by the banks of the Galilee. Walking upon the waters, I taught the fishermen not to cast their net for fish but to catch the very souls of men."
" From the wrath of Herod, I fled, but in the fullness of time, I was called out of the wilderness of Egypt. "
"Raising the dead, healing the sick the Nazarene they called me. Gentle as a lamb, I came to set men free, yet for my reward, I who bore the wrath of Pilate' s justice and at the end my companions were two thieves."
"Listen well O son of man, while I teach you wisdom and learn."
"The son of men did not know me then, nor have they really known me very well, for they said that I came for some, yet not for some."
"Never, ever, did I or could I have forsaken some, never , ever, did I or could I have chosen some, never , ever did I or could I have favored some, above others".
"Comprehending all, yet incomprehensible to all, I am always there for all. But especially in times of trouble, at the darkest periods, when men call upon me, I come even closer, appearing amongst men concealed in human form. Such is my kindness towards every race, every nation, every people, as there is none special to me above others.All are equally special to me. Therefore know that;"
"Siddharta , they called me, long ago, in the land of the Himalayas, by the river of Rohini"
" Shinto, was the name, again and again, by which I was known in the land by the people of the rising sun"
"Ahuru Mazda, in shifting sands, once upon a time, the son of men, in desperation, made suplications"
"Massim-Biambe, the Omnipotent creator, spoke they of me, in hushed tone in the forests of the Congo"
"In the name of Abassi, for long had mothers comforted babes without reproach."
"On more than one occasion your people rightly knew me as Olodumare, the unapproachable, the unknowable. Displeased with this, therefore, in the darkness of the night, shrouded in the magnificent of mystery, I secretively descended amongst them, once again presenting myself as a man. "
"Alas, the Avatars, the wise old men amongst the people, caught a whiff of my rope of silver.
" Reverently, they taught the children and called me by the name : Oduduwa."
"Therefore, know that as long as man needs me and cries out onto me, I will come, again and again, will I come, so long as the children of men call upon me."
"Make no mistake about it, my death was no accident. It was ordained. I could have taken the easy way out, I could have succeeded in life according to what you son of men consider to be success. But I willingly and knowingly choose death. I did the will of my father who sent me. "
"Although just like the other time, in a moment of weakness, I once again prayed that the cup may pass me by. "
"Then,I was led like a lamb to the slaughter and my last words, exactly as I had spoken two thousand years ago was again "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do".
"I was in the world but the world knew me not. They did not see beyond the color of my skin."
"In the form of Patrice Emery Lumumba, I choose to come, once again to the Congo, when the stench of inhumanity filled my nostrils and I saw the tears of the oppressed. I took on flesh and lived among men but was unknown for who I truly was."
"But I did not come to conquer land, my kingdom is within the human soul, so instead I came to conquer the hearts of men. And I succeeded"
"But all men are corruptible and once I made myself man, I became subject to the temptations of Iblis. I was indeed sorely tested but was not blinded by pride and did not doubt my own fallibility as a man, even though I really was not a man. I do not expect you to understand this mystery."
"The saying what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul is very true, but it doesn' t become apparent to you who are alive, until it is too late. Just as the saying that youth is wasted on the young, is true, so it is with life. Often times it is wasted on the living. The price of success in your world is truly the loss of one' s soul. In life, had I succeeded in besting my enemies, gotten rid of my rivals and consolidated myself in power, I could not have retained my crown and my true nature which has been kept hidden from you up till now. Consequently, I would have lost my place by the side of my father."
"So why did I come to your world as Patrice Emery Lumumba and why did I do what I did? Find the answer in my next words"
"Is it not written that greater love hath no man for his fellows, than to lay down his life? I did what I did out of love for my people, to remind you that you also are the chosen ones, never forgotten, never forsaken. You are to remember that in the likeness of God are you made and never to look for your salvation in the likeness of man. Associate yourself directly with me, look not for inspiration from the West, East, North or South. Your help will come from within yourselves and from me."
"I came to show the way, to lay down my life to prove that it is possible to take the hard road, the one notoriously not taken by many otherwise promising young rulers of Africa who start out well but end up taking the road of Lucifer, gaining the whole world , but eventually losing their souls. I came, to show that a leader who lived personally contented, a life of plenty, but who died for nothing after an apparently successful life without leaving a lasting legacy of inspiration for posterity is less than the lowest slave that every lived or died."
"I came so that your African leaders of today, may have the courage and the inspiration to understand that it often the duty of a leader to have to live an unhappy life, and always to die for principle's sake, an impecunious, ignominious, apparently futile hero's death, even never to be sure that posterity would smile kindly upon one' s legacy."
"And above all, I came because by my life and my death, I have given inspiration to the hopeless, power to the powerless in a way the princes of this world will never understand, just as they did not understand two thousand years ago."
" Just as they believed they had merely killed a lowly carpenter's son, once again, in their pride and blindness, they also believe they have merely killed a misguided African leader."
" But truly, truly I say unto you, they know not what they have done. My name will forever be a rallying light in the hearts of the oppressed and by my death; life will come to millions upon millions more."
"O son of man, mark my words and hear me well as I reveal a prophecy onto you. "
"It may not make sense to you now, but believe me when I say unto you that another two thousand years from this day, the evil of this world will tremble and worship at the mere mention of the sound of my name."
" The world shall then ask, how can this be? Did we not kill a mere man? "
"The name of Patrice Emery Lumumba shall be know in the same light as that of my previous incarnations, the other sons of God."
"And in the fullness of time, by the name of Patrice Emery Lumumba, in that latter day, the sons of Japheth, longsuffering, shall at last have been reedeemed and shall then become the envy of men and the beacon of light amongst all sons of men."
" Then the purpose of he who sent me would have been fulfilled"
" Now who, say you am I?"