The Matrix Redux: The African Version Scene IV
May 13, 2005 2 Comments
I really dug the movie. Especially the party scene in Zion which was a real kick and reminded me of the overly conscious cool of Brooklyn, New York.
I lived in Brooklyn for a few years and loved the Fort Green neighbourhood before it was taken over by mousy types from the backwaters of Iowa. In the good old days, it was filled with the kind of deliciously pretentious and yet cool kind of black person that I have come to refer to as an RRRR: Range Rover (driving) Rasta Revolutionary. This is a very particular type of young black person who has often done quite well professionally and yet is profoundly uncomfortable with his/her privileges and as a result tries to project a kind of progressive, left, revolutionary, mystical – you get the meaning – identity.
By day he works in an investment bank and by night soulfully spouts Sufi poetry. He can often be heard in coffee shops and funky lounges holding forth in angry tones on the subject of the ‘Man’ and the ‘System’. As the rare beers from Fiji – bottled in fair trade wooden bottles – flow, he is often to be heard making a never-to-be-achieved plan to become the next Malcolm X.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate such contradictions and loved my neighbourhood all the more for them. RRRRs, for those who do not know, are also known as The Senegalese. They are not actually people from Senegal though they are likely to speak of Goree Island with a painful catch in their voice; will have gone to FESPACO in Burkina (if you don’t know what that is, you are not Senegalese) and have a CD collection full of Youssou N’dour even though they do not understand a lick of what he is singing. Dreadlocks are preferable, yoga sessions compulsory, deep I-am-trying-to-find-me vibes seep out of every pore, while a trip to Salvador da Bahia in Brazil is always on the cards.
The Matrix post below is bit short, but I just run out of steam as I was going along. To return later, I hope.
Tree-Hugger Smith: The great Mzee. We meet at last.
Mzee: And you are?
Tree-Hugger Smith: Smith, Tree-Hugger Smith.
Mzee: You all look the same to me.
Tree-Hugger Smith: Why are you so angry? Have you ever paused to consider aid’s beauty, its genius? It converts poverty and death into wealth and purpose. I remember when you were a young Boi; you could have been The One.
Hear me, Mzee, I’m going to be honest with you. We seek title over African wretchedness. Your problems are now ours; they became so the moment we started solving them for you, which is of course what this is all about. Ownership, Mzee, ownership. All power emanates from contestation, from crisis: your problems, our power. Look out that window. You had your time. The future is our world, Mzee. The future is our time.
Mzee: You’re empty.
Tree-Hugger Smith: I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This Africa, this reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the futility, the misery. I feel saturated by it and scared of it and yet it calls to me. Everytime I stop at a traffic light, I cannot help but wonder if one of them will ‘jack’ me. Whenever I pick one up at Gypsy’s, I cannot stand the clash of my desire to grind them into my bedsprings and the fear that their diseases will grind me six feet under. I can taste your misery and every time I do, I fear that you shall somehow take it away from me. I hate you and I owe you nothing, NOTHING!
Mzee: Quick Boi, re-read Fanon and Conrad – with courage this time. Smith is Mr. Kurtz re-made for our age. He is ‘… an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and devil knows what else.”
Tree-Hugger Smith: Boi, are you listening to his ravings? I warned them, I told them over and over again, but they would not listen: never send a black man to do a white man’s job.
Mzee, left arm held rigidly at his side and the right pointing ahead so that it appears like a sword, charges toward Tree-Hugger Smith. His left arm makes a ponderous upward stab toward the already-dodging torso of Smith who focuses his attention to it. Smith is a blur of speed, head toward the offending arm, his face a rictus of fury. For a split second, his attention drifts from Mzee’s right arm which now starts a fast chopping motion to Smith’s vulnerable neck. The impact makes a heavy, meaty sound and Mzee’s arms cross, momentarily making the sign of the cross. It is the classic movement that accompanies the killing stroke that the matador applies to the bull in the corrida. Mzee’s momentum keeps him travelling forward and he slips behind and away from Smith. First blood has been drawn; Tree Hugger Smith now feels the measure of Mzee’s resources of anger and skill. But inside the red mist of his pain and rage he has detected a frailty in Mzee, a weakness disguised under layers of a righteous anger that cannot be sustained for lengthy periods.
Without Boi, Mzee will lose and so it is that both foes almost simultaneously turn toward him.
More coming up …