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How The Black Man Became God’s Mistake, A Review Of Kanyinsola Olorunisola’s Chapbook By Micheal Ace

“Why do you think only things foreign to your body make it beautiful?” That was the question I asked my sister this morning. She did not respond and she did not look at me; perhaps she didn't want to see something different from what the mirror tells her. Who cares? I asked again. This time, she dropped her makeup kit on the bed and turned, “How do you fit into the world being who you are when everyone knows your body is made of dirt?” I watched her strip herself of everything black and walked out into the world with an identity that’s not hers.  

With the third look at the thematic concept of this collection, I’d say this work couldn’t have taken the writer more than three month or four to finalize. But yet if you are not extraordinarily careful, you’ll spend a lifetime on the Intro alone. What do you do when you see your reflection in text? You sit, worshipping the imagery.

The importance of knowing the origin of this war as portrayed in WEIRD INTROSPECTIONS UPON SEEING THE PORTRAIT OF KUNTA cannot be overemphasized.

“our fathers have the secrets to winning this war,
but they long died selling us to the white man,”
- Page | 5

Here, the writer makes us realize how the war started, proving that it’s as a result of the misdeeds of our forefathers who ignorantly, perhaps due to lack of education and enlightenment, took the wrong steps, which eventually makes us children of two cities— one borrowed, one deserted. And without much analysis on this, it’s evident in the way a typical black man sees his skin, and also the way he worships a white man thinking he’s closer to being the image of God than he does, even when countless of his countrymen have died in the hands of racism.

“when I kill my first chicken,
the knife grazing against its throat,
i think of our brothers slaughtered
across the borders, their heads hanging
from their necks, a savage mockery of the American Dream.”
- Page | 11

Kayin further established the fact that even though slave trade has been put to halt in most parts of the world today, the idea hasn’t really gone extinct, and its replica is the exact way a white man sees a black. He thinks he’s God’s first attempt in making human, and of course the worst— His mistake. He thinks everything within him is darkness, and no amount of light can put it out. HOW TO RUIN A FIRST-DATE has something on that.

“Tell her that you are a boy from a lost country, that you
have been looking for love across borders and she is
your latest attempt to escape the edge of brokenness.”
- Page | 12

The making of slave is all about engineering, it comprises learning, unlearning and relearning. And this is the exact way our father’s minds were torn out, remolded into believing what is not about their existence and consistently teaching these things until they finally accepted who they wanted them to be. It takes a process. It takes years of psychological expertise. And to totally unwind that, it will require the same process, otherwise called reverse engineering.

Kayinsola in his artistic didacticism and brilliance also brought the renowned Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre into the picture, celebrating his relentless effort at using his style of music to preach the gospel of revolution. He went ahead to state his dissatisfaction about the great man’s legacy on the edge of ruin with his genre of music being corrupted by modern day musicians.

Afrobeat was my love but it became something
unrecognisable, its mouth full of the wrong
languages [it now has a name for each of its many frivolities]
an accomplice to the lustful swaying of sweaty bodies
crashing into one another and birthing a nation of desecrators.”
- Page | 14

Lakunle Alara as Kanyinsola eulogizes himself in the collection did not stop at that, he further reveals the late musician’s zeal in making things right again, perhaps continuing from where he abruptly stopped. The being of a revolutionary is more than the circumstances in his environs, it’s more than what his state of mind or existence can alter, it’s quite greater than passion, it’s in the blood, and it’s what he carries about, dead or alive. And this is what happens in EXCLUSIVE…WITH FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI.

“he begins washing my head with his lathers of music,
says men like us must learn to be like water,
chains cannot break water, boats cannot sink water,
so that if by chance they come again to conquer us
in our own fatherland with their mother tongue,
we must become a river – may they never walk on us.”
- Page | 20

In my country, we are all crossdressers. Yes! That’s enough tragedy, because, in Kayin’s word, we dwell in bodies not our own, we give our children languages which do not know how to make home of their tongues. But looking at things from the writer’s point of view, I think what split his heart into two unequal halves is quite more than this.

“What makes an ocean of my
eyes is the unsuspecting manner in which
we wear this monstrosity with a dangerous
swagger, how we have trained our tongues
to only sweeten at the taste of lands which
will never see us as anything more than
just another consequence of conquest.”

Conclusively, I think it’s high time the black man began seeing himself as the perfect reflection of God. The white man has done much into making us think black is dirt, and evil. But in reality, there is more to celebrate and adore in Africa than there is in other part of the world, only if we’d stop believing whatever is made of black is hackneyed.

Kanyinsola, with the description of himself from the height and width of this collection, is an unrepentant lover of his being and taking that away from this context is setting a conflict between the creator and his creation.

After reading this collection, I look at the mirror every morning, hoping not to see my light skin, but a dark one, bringing me close to believing I’m made of black, I am everything God is and I am what a white man sees on the screen and hates his body.