ROOTING, LOOTING & SHOOTING

Coming home to roost

I was in Trinity Church, listening to a reggae sound system. The church had been deconsecrated some time before and given over to the local citizens as a rather inadequate community centre and a fair-sized music venue. The occupants of the graveyard had been removed but it seemed that some of the ghosts had resented this and got their revenge by buggering up the electrics and the sounds as often as they could.

Nevertheless, although it was situated on the edge of the city’s Asian quarter, it was also close enough to the black neighbourhood for them to comfortably share it with the white indie scene. The atmosphere was relaxed enough for both parties to mix if they wished.

So I’m probably a little stoned and had a couple of pints before getting there. Listening to the obligatory invocations of Jah Rastafari, it occurred to me how appropriate this all was. So-called ‘Christians’, like those who erected this building, had kidnapped these peoples’ ancestors from Africa and enslaved them in the West Indies to make this city rich. Now their descendants had come to reclaim their property in the name of their version of that patriarchal deity they’d been forced to believe in.

Not only that, there’d been a riot here not long since, caused, as usual, by the cops. This had resulted of course in a little looting. I’d recently read that that word came originally from the Bengali word for ‘steal’ that we learned from the troops levied from that part of the world to fight for the British, as we forced the Chinese empire to keep tolerating the recently nationalised drug smuggling industry selling opium to its subjects. They’d looted their way up the coast and inland as far as Peking in the name of ‘free trade’.

Now the looting was done by the great great grandchildren of those slaves, while the opium – refined, thanks to European chemists, into heroin – was fucking the brains of the great great grandchildren of the slavers. Yes, the chickens had really come home to roost. I smiled and started dancing.

RA 14.8.16

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