When kings forget their dreams


A long time ago in ancient Babylon, a king forgot his dream. He woke up one morning knowing he’d had a dream but couldn’t remember what it was. So he called the wise men, astrologers, sooth sayers and anybody with special powers to try and jog his memory. A young castrated, immigrant came to his rescue.

What happens when kings forget their dreams?
Bedroom portrait II
I have this recurring imagery of Africa. I see a fleet of Ferraris revving up and ready to hit the road hard and fast but right ahead of them are old rickety lorries that move at 2km per hour. Africa’s problem is not a lack of potential and intelligence. It is one of leadership.  Our kings sleep and wake up not remembering their dreams and so they go back to sleep some more. 

How many tyrants started off with powerful dreams but forgot them along the way and became the opposite of everything they once stood for? Many names, especially those of African leaders, come to mind. From the north to the south, from the east to the west, we can count leaders who forgot their dream along the way. Countries with soil and minerals valuable enough to feed continents have in recent years gone begging for food and shelter. I can still see images of young Zimbabweans being burnt alive in South Africa because their leadership had failed them back home.

I have seen countries that are 90% arid, barren, hot deserts become oases of beauty and grandeur. How many people have gone to Saudi Arabia and Dubai to look for greener pastures. The imagery of one finding green pastures on deserts is quite ironic in itself but it is a clear example of when kings can hold on to their dreams. Meanwhile, in rich Ghana, citizens connive with “perchers” to rob the nation dry, burying their schemes in technical financial terminology and legal lingua whilst the leadership snores away.

A few days ago, I was in Groningen for the second section of the Noorderlicht Photography Masterclass. 
Noorderlicht-2012-January-01
One morning I had to tell the wonderful Mr. Prust that for how cold his country was, they should have paid me for coming there in Winter. Of course, he ignored it as one more nonsense coming from me but I was serious. It is not okay to fly for six hours from a land that is rich in gold, diamond, oil, timber, bauxite, manganese, cocoa and a countless other minerals, into a country the size of a peanut that had to borrow some land from the sea. A cold country that only has… nothing… and be treated like a beggar at immigration. I can still see the face of the insolent young woman who sat in the Immigration booth at Schiphol.  Her attitude was very much “We don’t want you in our country”. 
View-from-Hotel-Arena
What she didn’t know was, I didn’t want to be there either. I wonder if she’d have believed me if I had told her 99% of Africans in her country would happily leave if they found greener pastures some where else. Most of them are victims of failed or failing states and would happily go back home if they hear things have improved. They have kings who don’t remember why they are kings.

When kings forget their dreams, their princes become beggars in strange lands.
When kings forget their dreams, their princesses sleep with anything that can buy them a loaf of bread.
When kings forget their dreams, their people sit on gold and beg for brass.

When kings forget their dreams… 

Comments

yeh said…
Indeed! This piece is very telling!
Nana Adomah said…
Powerful read. It's time to help our kings remember their dreams indeed.

Nana Adomah (Sankofa)
Africa's Daughter said…
i don't usually comment but dis post begs me to. It nicely summarizes all that many foreginers which they could say to express how they really feel about being abroad. It also speaks of the frustration we have towards our old kings...when Kings forget their dreams!!
SindieN said…
This is a beautiful, yet tragic post. Very well written and it strikes visuals with every word. Wow!
DIDI said…
A well told story..Interesting read..if only they knew..
Anonymous said…
A great genius you are. Never trade this talent for anything else you may have to dream again. Bravo.

Michael M.
@ Yeh, you're such a faithful follower and commenter on this blog. We should award you one of these fine days.

@ Sankofa, I like what you say about we helping our kings remember their dreams. You're right citizenry also have some responsibilities. Like they say, people get the leaders they deserve.

@Africa's Daughter, I'm glad you can relate to the spirit of this post. When our countries succeed, other countries will start treating us better. But is it fair to mistreat the weak?

@ SindieN, thank you for enjoying the post

@ Thanks DIDI, let's they remember they once had dreams and when they do, may they have the courage to live their dreams.

@ Michael, thanks for your encouraging words.

@ Kasandra, there's hope for Haiti, may the people never give up. They've survived slavery, they've survived tsunamis. They've survived earth quakes, they've survived terrible governments. They will survive this season too. Let's not lose hope.
catherine said…
just stambled on your blog today and i love everything about it!
liza said…
You have a great gift of storytelling. Have you written any books? When can I expect to see your book in a store?
@ Catherine, thanks for the kind words

@ Liza, if I had more people like you in my life, I would have tons of books to my name by the now. Thanks for the motivation.
chicafricana said…
I love this post, thanks for writing what most of us are thinking.
kwame g said…
Thanks Nana(KING)for the wise words. I love your photos too, they capture all the ingredients of a great continent. I will be keeping up to date with this blog and inform my colleagues too.

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