Saturday, December 20, 2008

Letter to Santa from African Child

Dear Santa,

I am 7 years old and live in a little village here on the Dark Continent, which become even darker after gold and diamonds and other valuable minerals were discovered in the last and the previous centuries. Prior to all these discoveries, pious looking men came in their flowing black robes with a Holy Book describing the Great Father in Heaven who would look after us. They said if we accept this Great White Father, whose Son died on a cross, we would be lifted out of our misery.

However, many of our Elders and other ancestor-worshippers say there was no misery or hunger or war or sickness. There was no AIDs or syphilis or other dreaded diseases before the white fathers in black robes came. They say our people lived by a strong moral code for tens of millenia. Peace and harmony existed between the tribes.

But many of us chose to believe the white men in black robes who called themselves 'Father'. We learned to read the Book and believed in the Father and the Son. And we also believed in the Holy Ghost, Who we had known for millenia. Soon the carriers of the Book invited other white people to come and help us. They said they would help us retrieve all the treasures beneath the Earth which the Great Father in Heaven had given us. Our ancestors told us to leave them alone, but many of us trusted the white men because of the Book and we agreed. Soon even more came in their wake. The new ones brought iron wheels and iron horses and lots of guns. They said the guns were there to keep evil spirits away. We believed them.

It has been more than a hundred years since the white fathers in black robes came, but we have seen no peace or happiness. There is only mayhem all over the Continent. They said it was the evil spirits which lived in the gold and diamonds which was causing the problem. They told us that they would help us by banishing the gold and diamonds to their own countries, where they would lock up these evil spirits disguised as gold and diamonds in special vaults from which they could not escape.

The fathers who came here told us we should not believe in Allah, but in the great Heavenly Father, who sent his only begotten Son to redeem the world. I don't understand why since we have left our Allah, this White Heavenly Father has disinherited us. After all, we didn't put his Son on the cross to die. That happened in your part of the World. Why is He angry with us? Why did He put evil spirits into the gold and diamonds, which were the gifts He sent to make us rich and happy? It's more than a 7-year old can understand.

Our fathers trusted the new people, while we lived in more and more poverty. They brought more guns and they brought new toys that blew off your hand or foot. They called them land-mines. They said these land-mines were there to pacify the Gods after they removed the evil gold and diamonds from other mines in the land.

Then again, in the last century, oil was discovered on our continent. We thought that the Great Heavenly Father was happy with us again. The fathers who brought the Book had told us, more good people would come when new treasures were found. And it was so. New good people came. They are called investors and corporate entrepreneurs. They told us that this oil was another curse on us but they could deliver us from this black ooze that came out from the ground. They said they will send engineers who know how to get rid of evil spirits who live in the bowels of the earth. But in the process of removal, they left much of it in our rivers and on our farm land. Now there is more misery. We don't have water to drink and we don't have unpolluted land to grow our food on. They said they will send specialists to help us, like the World Bank and the IMF, who are great wizards that the Heavenly Father only gives to those who worship Him.

The reason I'm writing to you, Dear Santa, is there are stories going on around here that you are now the New Messiah and deliverer of glad tidings. That every person in the countries in the West where you live believe in you for their special gifts. The children sing your praises and wait for you.

Dear Santa, I'm only 7 years old and I don't know things about politics or corporate embezzlement or stock markets. I've only known the dump where the local expatriate community dumps their garbage. We find scraps of old bread and other dirty food that their homes, hotels and restaurants throw away.

I know its far for you to come here on your sled with Reindeers. I don't know whether Reindeer can even fly where there is no snow. But maybe your corporate sponsors who consider you their greatest mascot can lend you one of their flying machines which we see overhead sometimes going to our big cities, where thousands of us live in the slums and toil in the factories for a pittance. (Sometimes those flying machines drop leaflets saying we should be wary of enemies who call themselves communists. They say these lost souls don't believe in the Great Heavenly Father. So we have kept ourselves away from them.)

While we are waiting for the World Bank and IMF wizards to do their magic, all I'm asking for Christmas, is a fresh whole loaf of bread that has no dead flies and rat droppings like the pieces of bread from the garbage dump. Please, Santa, let me feel your compassion until I can get the courage to believe in the Great Heavenly Father above again.

Anticipating your kind gift, your new admirer on the Dark Continent,

"John" (The name given to me by the local Book-carrying Father)

P.S. I believe lots of people in your land have also given up on the Great Heavenly Father. According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, 25% of Canadian people don't believe in God anymore. At least they still believe in you.

P.P.S. If it is not too much trouble and not too heavy for your sled, could you also bring two bottles of clean water. The inexpensive supermarket kind will be fine. My brother has diarrhea and needs good clean water. We don't have a chimney for you to come down, because we don't have a house. My family sleeps under a tree. I imagine its a Christmas tree. Could you kindly place the gifts on the other side of the tree from where we are sleeping, because if any of those bottles fall, they might hurt us. There is already too much hurt and pain. God bless you. Ooops I'm sorry, may you bless you.

Essay #388. Written Dec-15-2008.
© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

The New (Godless) Reality

In August 2008, the Toronto Star reported new research on belief and dis-belief in a supreme creator. Alarmingly, 23% of the population of Canada does not believe in God anymore. There were no statistics for the US. Also, none for the UK, Europe or the entire Western world. But a 23% atheism rate for a so-called Western Christian country, does say something for what portends for the world to come.

When did this happen? How did it happen? Or even, why did it happen? Are very relevant and important questions to be asked because Canada is a Western and a strong Christian-based country. If research ever showed that even 1% of the Muslim world didn't believe in God, it would send shock-waves throughout the Islamic world.

Where did things really go wrong? Admittedly, there are more Christians in the world than Muslims, so they can afford to lose a few. But the Church is a very powerful and wealthy institution, with more missionaries, evangelists and Bibles in distribution (and more being printed) than there are in the Muslim world. Is there a new reality emerging? How much has materialism to do with all of this? And where are the answers going to come from? There is now chaos and mayhem all around the world. It is every man for himself and God for all. If there is a God.

Islam has the answer. It is growing rapidly without missionaries, evangelists and Qur'an's. But is anyone in the West interested?

Essay #385. Written Aug-21-2008.

© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wall Street's Own Animal Farm

Angry shareholders are taking matters into their own hands. The brokers they trusted made the shareholders go broke. Now investors are saying that the system is broke and needs fixing. But Wall Street is in denial and is telling investors all is OK and if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

The Bull is gone. Disappeared. The Bear is having babies and there's no room at Wall Street to house them all. President Bush says he has appointed watch dogs at the SEC. But one of the watch dogs had to go, because somebody blew the whistle. A little birdie told the FBI about some previous dirty linen. But not to worry, the SEC has some new dogs now. I hope that the SEC does not become a Secret Expense Currency institution. It would be like putting the fox to watch the hens.

Wait. What's that powerful stink? Maybe there's some skunks hiding somewhere around here. What are all those animals with the sharp teeth and the prominent dorsal fins? Don't tell me that there are now corporate sharks in the sewers of New York. I thought it was an alligator that people claimed was in the sewers. Whatever. With so many animals around on Wall Street, I don't think America has to worry about a shortage of entertainment for a long time. Maybe they should start their own Animal Farm? It may help them bridge their cashflow issues until the bull comes back.

If they are looking for more animals, they can ask Martha Stewart for her goose, that the corrupt CEOs wanted the government to cook. Don't forget the greedy pigs. They're the ones that caused the problems in the first place. And don't forget the dirty rats who always seem to hang around where ill-gotten gains are to be found.

Pity George Orwell is not here to see this Animal Farm.

Essay #123. Written on Dec 10, 2002.

© 2002 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

Forgive Us, Our Mother, Africa

Oh Mother Africa, a hundred millennia ago the All-mighty Creator breathed unto us a soul and you gave us birth. And with your permission and blessing, we left to people a world of continents. Some were very cold and severe and some were warm and beautiful, but all were welcoming of life. We remained abroad for long. We thrived and evolved into a myriad of shades, shapes, looks and sounds. We built civilizations and we developed new forms of knowledge. We did not know war or hatred in those early days because there was always another frontier for us to explore. We learned to trade with each other and create more wealth for all. It was through your blessings and early lessons, Oh Mother Africa, that we were able to achieve so much.

But then things started to go wrong. Some places where we lived started to get crowded and our knowledge slowly turned to knowledge of war and disharmony. We fought with our neighbours, forgetting that we were brothers and sisters from a common land. We grew stronger in our knowledge of weapons. We developed new ways of conquering other people. We built tanks and ships, so we could have superiority over others.

Soon we returned to you, Mother Africa. But we did not come in peace. We came back armed with knowledge of destruction. We took our brothers and sisters into slavery, out of our pride and prejudice. We coveted their lands. We took what our brothers and sisters gave out of naiveté and we took the rest by force. We partook of the brew that Cain drank when he slew Abel. Pride allowed us to learn the devil’s evil ways. We polluted the earth with our false knowledge. It is knowledge not for life, but for death and annihilation of the entire planet. We developed material superiority and technological know-how so that we now mock God with our worldly power.

While we were gone, our brothers and sisters in Africa, sustained you. They developed languages of love and beauty and songs of heavenly praise. While we were slowly sowing the seeds of our own destruction, you gave birth to other souls, who remained with you, dear Mother Africa. They were succoured by our Heavenly Father, who sustains all new little ones and gives meaning to life and love, with a myriad of cultures and languages and sustained them throughout the millennia while we were away.

But armed with arrogance, pride and prejudice we schemingly mocked your loving soul. We humiliated and oppressed our brothers and sisters. We brought sadness and loneliness. We have pride in our hearts. We have not conquered our own lust that we brought back to your door from our conquest of other continents. We came back at you with much maligned thoughts. We, your first born, were away learning hatred, war and vengeance. We sold our souls to the devil and when we came back, we mocked you, our own Mother.

How will you forgive us, dear Mother? How will you forgive us, dear Mother of all the world’s children, who now stand at your door? How will you forgive us, Mother Africa?We brought to our brothers and sisters concepts that were alien and immoral. We brought the concepts of war and spoils of war. We brought the concepts of wealth and immoral behaviour. We brought concepts of greed and selfishness. The concepts of how to take by force from those who have not or who have little and to give it to those that have. We shunned the teachings of great teachers, like one who came two millennia ago. We rebuked him and tied him to a cross. We shunned good advice. We belittled the elders of this continent. How will you forgive us, Mother Africa?

We set ourselves up as Kings of the Earth to exploit our own brothers, who welcomed us back and called us their long lost brothers. We looked down upon their color and said ‘we are of gray clay and you are of ebony’. We said, ‘how can we be brothers and sisters?’ Little did we know!

How will you forgive us? We are still filled with pride from alien concepts, which we find hard to release. How will you forgive us, our Mother? How will you bless this bewildered entity, who knows only how to hate and alienate? Forgive us, Mother Africa, and pray for our souls that we may truly repent before we destroy all that God has created. We beg forgiveness, Mother Africa. We pray you forgive your lost children, your eldest children around the world, who now need your help and guidance, dear Mother. Please, we pray, come to our rescue. Show us how to repent. Take us back to your bosom, Oh Mother of all mankind!

In the scriptures, the Lord said to the Children of Israel, ‘be ye then like the children of Ethiopia, that I may call you My own.’ Do not forsake us Mother. Please take us back to your bosom and call us your own.

Essay #382. Written on 28/06/2008

© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

Please Standby, God

We know You are getting impatient with us Lord. We see it with the increasing ferocity of the hurricanes and the anomalies in social matters --the economy, religion and in quite a few other spheres. But as a Great Nation founded in Your name, we ask that You standby in case this very great nation needs Your help. You know Lord that we have always done right by You. And we still use Your logo on our dollar bills and our nickel plated coins.

We know You are angry with us because of the sub-prime fiasco, where millions of poor pensioners, widows and innocent working men and women got shafted by our famous Wall Street bankers and brokers. But I’m sure You know its now something that is happening world wide. But we assure You, we are definitely on Your side.

We are aware that the literary circle and intellectual class has been writing all kinds of stuff about You being dead and so forth. But that’s the literati, not us. We, the leaders of this nation, still command the greatest military power the world has ever seen. Even in space, our presence is invincible. We believe in You. There are, as You are aware, lots of new powers arising around the world, who threaten us. But we are very capable of taking them on because the proud, the few are still with us. We know that You are with us.

We know You are losing patience with us, Lord. Lately Your franchise has, like some of the fast food franchises, been slipping. We realize that the Sunday attendance at Your fast soul-feed enterprises are not doing too well. And many have decided to close shop because they can’t pay the rent. But much of this has come about because of modernization. There are too many distractions for people and it is hard for them to attend Your franchise services when Hollywood, Disney and Las Vegas are so much more entertaining. I don't wish to tell You what to do Lord, but You could consider updating your franchise model. After all, it has been over 2000 years since it started. Those Fire and Brimstone preachers just aren't what they used to be. I don't like making too many exuses Lord, but there are still some subtle communist influences at work in this country. Our intelligence agencies are working night and day to rout this out. But as You know, with changed laws and lack of enthusiasm by people, we are unable to produce the likes of McCarthy to help us.

We also have to deal with the double threat of those hook-nosed anti-semitic semites. You know who we are talking about, Lord. We don’t want to mention their names, because they might just pull the plug on us. You are aware that they have invested most of their ill-gotten petro-money gains in our fine money-losing financial institutions. Its a good balance --their money going in, ours going out. There is a certain beauty about the symmetry.

But working with them is like playing with a double-edged sword. The one side is money and the other side is religion. They do like Your logo, don’t get us wrong. We mean these guys really love the green stuff that our machines produce night and day. It gives them power to keep their women locked up behind harem doors. Well, that’s their personal choice. But now that they have us in a money dance, they talk to us about their God. They call him Allah. We’re sure you know all about that.

Well they are intimidating our nation. They say that their Allah never dies. He lives forever. They say He created the heavens and the earth in a flash of thought. They say it didn’t take him six days of hard work, so much so, that he had to rest on the seventh day. They say he is alive and is all-knowing. This is scaring the bejesus out of the evangelical community from whom this great nation gets its moral support.

But now some of the evangelicals are getting bogged down in doubt, just when they should be confident. They are saying that it is our immoral behaviour that is causing all these problems for us. They say Katrina was not an anomaly, but a direct result of the violation of Your laws. You know very well we wouldn't do anything to disappoint You, Lord. And You know how much we still trust you. Otherwise our money would not have Your famous logo that says “In God We Trust”.

The real problem makers behind all this are those bankers and brokers who master-minded the take over of Your franchise by creating new financial vehicles. They say the Greenback is not as powerful as their junk bonds, CDOs, ABCPs and other vehicles that have captured the imagination of stock markets all over the world. They claim that the Green Back is old-fashioned and like You, Lord, is dead. Even the glittery yellow hallowed metal from which the exodus Israelis fashioned their Golden Calf is now in hiding, fearing it will be hunted down next.

Please standby, God. Things are looking rough and we may still need You. Walmart says we should not worry, everything will be OK. But we still put our trust in You.

Essay # 374. Written on 12-May-2008.

© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

Too Many Wolves at World Bank

Isn’t it ironic that the last two outgoing presidents at the World Bank were both Wolves? Before they came to this mislabeled institution, there were many wolves at the World Bank, but they were not called Wolfensohn or Wolfowitz. The World Bank should have been called The World Political Crooks Bank, because more money went into the pockets of crooked politicians, than went to the people it was supposed to help.

The World Bank is not the only organization with wolves running the show. The other sheepskin garbed entity, The International Monetary Fund (IMF), should not bask in self-piety because they haven’t been mentioned so far. The IMF should have been named the Irresponsible Maniac’s Fund or perhaps even Irregular Money Fudges.

In the Third World, there’s always a wolf at the poor man’s door. That is, if he has a door in the first place. Most of the poor live on the streets, especially in Asia and Africa. The garbage dump is their local Zellers or Walmart. It is also their McDonald’s or Burger King. They are happy to find scraps to eat. The wolves are luckier –there’s always the poor they can eat.

Nothing has really changed since the Wolfs left. In fact, it is worse now in the Third World. The two visible Wolfs, like the other wolves at World Bank, took their orders from donor nations –especially the G8, now the G10. Corruption is just as rampant as it always was, maybe worse. There’s always a loan for a huge useless project. Loans to buy nuclear power plants, which nobody wants in the West, are readily available. Want to fight a neighbour? Loans for arms are readily available. But don’t try to buy nuclear arms, that’s a no-no. Also don’t bother to ask for money for new energy technologies or micro-lending. Everybody knows that micro-projects are helpful to the poor, but they aren’t scalable, so why bother? Micro projects are for fools and dreamers. Alternative energy programs are growing fast in the West, but its not for you, if you’re a Third World country. Corrupt Third World leaders and politicians are still getting stronger with ‘chai’ money. This ‘chai’ does not come cheap. Wheat and corn prices are now double what they were a year ago. If the West does not wake up, the same wolves in sheep’s clothing will come to feast in the West. God’s justice is not sleeping. Jesus said, “I will come like a thief in the middle of the night.” I think Jesus is watching and listening very closely.

Essay #358. Written on 10-Mar-2008

© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Moti, The Untouchable's Dog, Wants Name Change

Hello God,

This is your humble creation, man's best friend, making a humble imploration. You know its nearly 8 years since I have been entrusted to your humble untouchable family on this disgustingly dirty street corner of Mumbai. I sometimes wonder what this is all about. You know, Lord, the people and dogs in America don't really have to think about meta-physics, I mean all this Karma and rebirth and after-life stuff. I mean, those people in the States and their dogs really get to live it up. While, here in Mumbai, my Master's family and I go hungry on many days.

What is my Karma that I am holed up on this street corner for the past 8 years? Don't get me wrong Lord, my Master has been more generous and kind to me than all those priestly and God-loving Brahmins who treat my untouchable Master like that four-letter word that starts with 's' and ends with 't'. I know you love us because you have given us a sixth sense to know and see things that these haughty Brahmins will never understand. In Hindi, they call me kuta, a four-letter word that they consider as disgusting as that other four-letter word. Why do we have to endure all these things, Lord?

In Europe they call me dog. A three-letter word that nearly resembles your name, Lord. Only, you spell it backwards. Our names are so similar, it's no wonder your name gets kicked around so badly these days. Some even say you don't exist anymore. But you are lucky, they don't see you. It's only your name which they kick around. But with us, they really kick us around physically. What is the meaning of all this, Lord?

I know that the Jews respect you because they call you Jehovah, a six-letter name. The Muslims respect you with their five letter name for you. And the Zulus have a 12-letter name for you, which they express with the utmost reverence. They call you Nkoziphezulu, meaning the King-Who-Lives-Above. But I think you and me, we need new names.

You know I've seen how these so-called civilized people respect long names. Tell them there's an anaconda behind them and see how they jump. Now there's a real seven-letter wake-up call. What about 'terrorist behind you!'? That's what scares the be-Jesus out of everyone today. Semantics aside, Lord, we really need to change our names to get more respect.

Have you noticed Lord? These days people don't even lift your great Epic, the Bible, to see what you're all about. The Preacher on a Sunday morning, will read a couple of passages from your book and stop in fear of boring the few attendees sitting on the pews. Yet those same people all run to buy a new book about a new person. They say he is a Hairy Porter. He must look like a shaggy dog or a Yeti. In any case, they buy these books even for their children. They read them on the buses, on the trains, on the planes and even at work! They spend hours reading these books and never seem to get tired. They have even made movies from these stories. I don't know whether your Grand Vazirs inform you of these things.

The people say that you sent your only beloved Son to Earth about 2 millenia ago, but you had to call him back because the Romans got this posse together and deputized all the informers. But I believe He couldn't make an easy escape. You see now Lord, why we need a name change? Not one like Hairy Porter, although that name sounds quite scary. But not scary enough to scare the be-Jesus out of them. Maybe something out of India, like Ayoghurkhali --it means here come the Gurkha's. These fierce, brave-unto-death warriors scared the likes of the German army in World War II. Maybe something like that, Lord. Please find names that also sound reverent. Maybe like Mahabharata, it sounds so reverent. Also, please let me know how on Earth could a Hairy Porter have become more famous than you, Lord. This really bothers me. Lord, I leave it to you to decide when to change our names. In the meantime, your name God and my name Dog, suits me fine.

Yours truly,


P.S. And look after yourself, Lord. Because after what they did to your Son, anything is possible. If anything happened to you, your opposite name sake is finished.

Essay #380. Written Jun-10-2008
© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.