I’m not sure who is doing it – Kafka or Tony Bonani Miyambo – but someone has stuck their fist in our gut and is turning and turning it.
This feeling of pain, revulsion and self-pity is experienced as a collective, because, when he is done telling his tale of the ape “Red Peter’s” journey through inhumanity, we, as one, jump to our feet and deliver Miyambo a rousing standing ovation.
We are so delighted that the agony has ended, for him and ourselves.
Miyambo is so far gone into his ape that it takes him two encores to return to his human identity, to douse the red fire in his eyes.
There are tears and sweat.
Red Peter’s experience from being shot and captured in the wild, and then enduring every manner of human torture – cigarette burns, alcoholism, being held in the smallest cage are but a few – we teeter along with him on the edge of his primal scream for freedom from this on one side of the blade, and on the other his ascent to outshine his captor’s knowledge system, language, culture and, ultimately, human rationality.
It is disturbing, nay, excruciating to watch Miyambo’s apelike behaviour, his craving to return to use all fours, his twirling hand gestures never giving up on his desire to be back brachiating, all the snorks, and grunts, the swinging on hind quarters, as his story is told in the most erudite and gentlemanly style.
We are horrified, mortified, and so filled with dread, that I wonder why anyone bothers to pay the ticket.
Is it because we cannot bear to watch animal cruelty, or is it that the vissitudes being wreaked upon humanity by political, economic and class elites absorb our rapt attention? Are we humans, the broad mass, the next to be predated upon by the one percenters, sent to wage war and be slain by the thousands in the pursuit of dubious gain, or worked to death by the oligarch’s of capital?
These thoughts fire up my neurons, and I rise to join Red Peter, Miyambo and Kafka in their struggle against captivity, torture and exploitation.
It is a question of which world do we wish to inhabit, the wild forests of Red Peter or be driven like pigs to the slaughter.
And as we take the suicidal mass descent into a world of climate chaos, joblessness, no medical net, will we not be whipped along by those few uber rich who control our medical aids, pension funds, insurance policies, and state grants, who have already barricade themselves in their mansions on the hill, giving themselves the best chance when the tipping point is unleashed.
I am with the ape, here.