Skibereen,Strange fruit, Sunsets by Marvel

It is usually with apprehension that one starts a journey into the past. Not me, I was excited, exhilarated,eager. Smiling and waving. Happily and heartily. It has been a while, a very long time. That me is a memory.

I tried to walk past the dark places, dark as night, casting shadows to the edge. Vast as the Sahara, cold..and dark as Siberia. I have learnt from the Tuaregs and the Dolgans, there is happiness in dark places. Better described as gratefulness, thankfulness.

Photo credit: Peter Prokosch (http://www.grida.no/resources/2617)

While watching the ITV drama, Victoria, I came across a largely untold story about the The Irish Potato famine. Queen Victoria is portrayed as a conflicted monarch whose powers are subject to the Constitution. Whereas her convictions are that the English should send aid to Ireland, the House of Parliament thinks otherwise, thus her conflict. She cannot just sit and watch helplessly doing nothing. Even if she were just a mother, she would do something, the helpless cries of her starving baby would overwhelm her nonchalance.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.
Isaiah 49:15‭-‬16 NKJV

In one scene, one of the ministers uses the Malthusian theory as his philosophy and basis for not sending aid. It was nature’s way of checking the wanton and wayward ways of the Irish. Victoria is horrified and mortified. Leave us! Eventually aid is sent but it is too late, many have died including the Rector whose letters brought the suffering of many to light. Skibereen is a painful memory for those who survive the long journey to America, and for those who don’t, their suffering is a monument. Years later, a lady named Clara Barton, the first President of the American Red Cross, convinces the POTUS to add relief to victims of calamity to the Red Cross Mission. The Red cross flag becomes a symbol, a beacon of hope for not only the wounded but for all in need. Bob Geldorf and Bono, Irishmen choose to bypass intellectual arguments and do the humane, feed the hungry.

Jim Crow Laws. The lynching of a section of society who, overtime through a series of laws, became property. It was not enough to be forcefully removed from their homes and families, to travel across oceans in very inhumane conditions. It was not enough to strip them of language and any vestige of dignity and call them slave. They became property, were owned like any beast of burden. They were not a people. This was not enough. They created postcards, a keepsake. A Jewish teacher, Abel Meeropol in the Bronx came across came across a picture of a twin hanging and wrote the song. The song Strange fruit sang by Billie Holiday a melancholic rendition of the irony of the times we live in.

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Marvel has delighted our sense of adventure. Erik Killmonger listened to his father describe the Wakanda sunsets and his dying wish is to see one. Having lived neither Wakandan nor American, his life is inconsequential. He spent his life as a killing machine, waiting for his sunset in Wakanda. His body is scarred with marks for each kill. With each kill, Wakanda is closer. In Wakanda, after sowing seeds of discord, he has the platform to launch his ambitions. But the killing doesn’t stop. His ambition to repay the world for the suffering of the black people and alleviate their pain fades with the sunset. A sunset, he watches with his cousin, T’Challa. After the sunset, T’Challa opens a science center for Shuri in the same apartment block that Erik was raised. His first pledge in the battle for quality life.

Thanos begins killing half the population on all planets, so that those alive can live a better life. This because he witnesses devastation of his beloved planet. As he goes around collecting infinity stones to complete his snap of a finger mission, the Marvel team allies and foes show up in Wakanda to protect the last stone. He trip traps all over our galaxy singing his chorus, Half of the Lives must be sacrificed so that other half can have a better life. Thanos calls it mercy. He sacrifices Gamora for a stone so we are convinced about his beliefs. Well, I thought the keepers of the soul stone would reject her but Thanos gets the stone. We crawl on sans Gamora, soul-less. His wish- to enjoy the sunset, which Dr Strange predicts he will get in 14 Million variations, is fulfilled. He sits down to enjoy it, as Marvel heroes fade away with our hopes. After the sunset….

We are built for relationship, purpose and creativity. The notion that we may or indeed can find purpose in wasting is skewed. It matters not whether we find ourselves with a semblance of perfection after wasting away, all of creation carries innate evidence that the best version of ourselves is found in building bridges, new connections and harmony. The best investment of our lives is the application of our creativity to eliminate discordance. All other pursuits are vanity.

Hear ye, Hear ye, Thanos.