Monday, April 5, 2010
Parable of the Parrot
Parable of the Parrot
for Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and the Pan African Revolution
The king wanted parrots around him. He wants all his ministers to wear parrot masks. He said he had to do the same for the previous king. He only said what the king wanted to hear, nothing more, so he advised his ministers to do the same. In fact, they must encourage the people to become parrots. Yes, he wanted a nation of parrots.
Don't say anything the kings does not want to hear. Everything said should be music to his ears. And don't worry, he will tell you exactly what he wants to hear in his regular meetings and public addresses to the nation. Everyone will be kept informed what parrot song to sing.
No one must be allowed to disagree with the king. This would be sacrilegious and punishable by death. The king must be allowed to carry out the dreams that come to his head. No one else should dream, only the king.
In this manner, according to the king, the people can make real progress. There shall always be ups and downs, but have faith in the king and everything will be all right.
Now everyone sing the national anthem, the king told the people. There must be a chorus of parrots, a choir, mass choir singing in perfect unity. Let there be parrots on every corner of the kingdom, in every branch and tree. Let all the boys sing like parrots in the beer halls.
Let the preacher lead the congregation in parrot songs. Let the teachers train students to sound like parrots.
Let the university professors give good grades to those who best imitate parrot sounds. Let the journalists allow no stories over the airwaves and in print if they do not have the parrot sound.
The king was happy when the entire nation put on their parrot masks. Those who refused suffered greatly until they agreed to join in.
The state academics and intellectuals joined loudly in parroting the king's every wish. Thank God the masses do not hear them pontificate or read their books. After all, these intellectual and academic parrots are well paid, tenured and eat much parrot seed. Their magic song impresses the bourgeoisie who have a vested interest in keeping the song of the parrot alive.
Deep down in the hood, in the bush, the parrot song is seldom heard, only the sound of the hawk gliding through the air in stone silence looking for a parrot to eat.