The Prophet

Every time I got something precious, the first thing was always the idea to hide it from the public. Everyone did. And the second was to actually hide it. This would ensure that you were the only one with access to it. The king. The prophet. Some big ass deity in an imaginary cloud.

The kingdom had those large cane plantations like your uncle’s bald. One day when chasing a hen for an aunt I discover a part of our plantation where there is the sweet short type of cane. Succulent and clean like myself. It is the type that cracks with a pop sound when breaking and doesn’t give a fuss when you ask to chew. We call it Palu. Pah-‘lu:. So finding palu in our own plantation is perhaps more that finding gold rivers in the 2016 Greece. Every bit of it. It is swag. It is fashion. It is discovery. The thing.

I am fascinated. I press my cheek on the stem, feeling the texture of palu. I even let the hen vanish in the thick growth ahead. If Auntie thinks palu is a joke let her come and chase her hen. I shuffle myself around the area, surveying the extent of the treasure. I grab one cane and break it just to confirm. Then I sit down to decide whether this heaven should get angels or not.

And so I nursed this small secret, often fighting that urge to chew cane because those crooks would discover my small secret, and I would be doomed. Yet I could not chew the bad cane.

It was only many months later that my secret lost virginity. There was a boy called Prayo at our school and he wore shoes with grey socks. His sister had a neat dress and spoke in flawless Swahili (I don’t even know how we tested flawless but it was always flawless anyway). So I wanted Prayo to mention me well to his sister and I had to let go this small secret. That was the only thing I could offer. And all Brians are fools. He ate my cane and didn’t mention me to the sister the following day. Nor the following week. Till tomorrow morning. Yet before it was evening he had exposed the secret to anyone who understood Swahili, and by the following Monday I was nursing injuries of a depleted secret. That is the week I almost stopped schooling because of the trauma.

I’ve seen people hide treasures. Campus guys hiding a Benson book on the shelf of recipes. Or guys ripping off the newspaper page where a job has been advertised. You know the sadist who rips off posters from the street walls? It happens and we must accept to live with it.

About two years ago I stumbled upon something. I don’t know what I was doing on the net. Obviously not ogling on YouTube for the xx. Then Google (see, it was even Google) brings the search results and I see this pdf file which rouses curiosity. I tap and it downloads. I open the file. Two words beam themselves across my screen.


The Prophet

I didn’t care that I had just spread my myself in bed for the night. The intoxication of the first line and the next, the introduction of Almustafa, the instant addiction threw me into the airs of Orphalese and I had to climb the city walls before my eye could blink again. Then when I was through, that very night, I decided to hide it away from humanity. Not even the temptation of a prospective brother-in-law could get this secret out.

But today I woke up, saw the New Year sun rising, thought, thought, thought. It ate my head and I ate pain pills. I thought. Then as I sat there thinking, I decided, to hell, why not? Why the fwakin not? I’m gonna share this.

Now I want to share my treasure.

The Prophet.

What, where, why, which, is The Prophet? Who is The Prophet?

Consider two things.

You live at a place called Punlxsypnmw. Okay, you are the candy generation – choose a better name. Call it Kisiwa. Kisiwa is an island in the Atlantic and thousands of miles away from the nearest land. It is a small community and every aunt knows every nephew. Then one girl makes it to the university mainland. Consider her farewell. Consider the people present. Consider the emojis they’d use to reflect their emotions.

Or consider a brother living among you. You love him and he loves you. Everyone wants his company because he is the guy whose smile you can fondle and whose laughter makes you feel fires. Now this guy is on the death bed. Going away. Malaria, flu, anything – but he is going away altogether. Now you are at the death bed and you just want to weep, only that that is waste of time because you again want to use his remaining air to learn. There?

I want you to read The Prophet.

Made by a porter who well knows his trade, The Prophet is a collection of (avant-garde) poetry (actually poetic prose) that touches and teaches lessons everyone would need in such a corrupted materialist world as this.

In Orphalese, a prophet has lived among the people for twelve years and it is now time to go back to where he came from. A ship has already come to ferry him and so the whole island comes to plead with him to remain or cry him bye. They descend the city walls and come down their castles. Everyone is here. The mad man is here. The old are here. The beggar is here. Poets. Farmers. Lovers. Then when they are certain he is going, and nothing will retain him, they coil their tails and ask questions.

Tell us about LOVE. Tell us about HOUSES. Tell us about JOY and SORROW. The farewell becomes a school from where Gibran pieces together words of the wise for his audience. Every answer is as short as is possible, yet contains enough for this year and the next. How Gibran manages to develop great thinking in every line, every word, every small idea; is the thing of the text. You don’t want to miss.

And just leave alone the motivational books. They are mostly about what you can get off the hands of others. Your motivational books are for people who watch soap operas thinking how the world owes them. Thinking how small they are because they didn’t get that grade in the exam. Or because Jack has begun cheating. So leave alone those. The Prophet teaches what you can get from yourself, and what the world can get from you. In fact I should like to know why this text has not been made a holy book. Isn’t there a religion out there without books to claim Khalil Gibran’s words, and the king himself as The Prophet?

Seeing the ship:

“The gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea. And he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul.”

About children, our Almustafa spake thus to Almitra:

“Your children are not your children/They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself/They come through you but not from you/And though they are with you yet they don’t belong to you…/you may house their bodies but not their souls/for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams….”

Men’s words. Women’s too. That is sterner stuff.

And about love, who should be loved and what love is, he spake:

“When love beckons to you, follow him/though his ways are hard and steep/And when his wings enfold you yield unto him/Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you/And when he speaks to you believe him/Though his voice….”

Men’s words. Women’s too. That is sterner stuff.

On joy and sorrow, spake he that was a dawn upon his own day:

“Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’/But I say unto you they are inseparable/Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed/Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.”

Men’s words. Women’s too. That is sterner stuff.

On giving, the prophet of Orphalese says:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions/It is when you give of yourself that you truly give/For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?/And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?/And what is fear of need but need itself?”

Men’s words. Women’s too. That is sterner stuff.

Of buying and selling:

“And before you leave the, market place, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands/For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully until the needs of the least of you are satisfied.”

That is the sterner stuff. That is the men’s thing. Women also. Tie together your world and let it show. That is how. How to do things. Split lines until they accept. Like a comb. Sterner stuff. I’ve read plenty of Gothic work but where do you find something like Gibran’s classic? Stands out. Omwami, why not grab a copy here or click below?

And you may remain with your sister with white socks.

Khalil Gibran – The Prophet

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