Chronofeminism

By Bayo Akomolafe, re-posted from Facebook (08.14.22)

I’m of the Yoruba people of West Nigeria and some parts of West Africa. We don’t think of time as an arrow of God flowing from a fixed past through the elusive present, and to an always fugitive future. That notion of time being a straight line is missing from our cosmology. Time is slushy. It’s not even cyclical. It’s slushy— it falls in on itself. It’s rhizomatic. And in this sense, the past is yet to come (to quote Karen Barad); the past is not yet done; the future has already happened. This notion of time is melty and trickly. Sugary and sticky. It is what allows us to face ancestry as a serious matter in civilizational endings. It’s the invitation for us to sit with the past—with the crack of time—and do other kinds of work there.

Continue reading “Chronofeminism”

A Break

By Báyò Akómoláfé, re-posted from social media (July 12, 2022)

With regards to climate chaos, I find that what is most needed in these moments is more than just political will, new solutions, techno-bureaucratic agency, amplified activism, green legislation, international compliance, indigenous participation, civic education, and intensified philanthropy. We need a break.

Some sort of ontological apostasy is required to compost the human agent, dragging him away from his centralized throne. Something that flashes up, trips up, and offends – like the shaman’s knife poised on the client’s arm. Something that enacts a pause – in the spirit of Wendell Berry’s invitation to consider that “the impeded stream is the one that sings”.

Continue reading “A Break”

The Time is Very Urgent – We Must Slow Down

By Bayo Akomolafe and Marta Benavides , a letter to deepen the conversation, re-posted from BayoAkomolafe.net

Recently, we were privileged to be part of a Global Summit organized by DEEEP (Developing Europeans’ Engagement for the Eradication of Poverty) and a coalition of activist organizations that includes CIVICUS, CONCORD and GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty). We gathered in the city of Johannesburg to consider what a different world might look like and, much more importantly, how we could collectively work together to bring about this world. We celebrate the amazing efforts of the organizers that made this possible.

Bayo Akomolafe (one of us) delivered the keynote address, in which he espoused a new politics of engagement, a new sort of activism for the times. On the heels of his passionate plea, we now write. We, members of the so- called Global South, now offer to you the gifts of our spaces – gifts we think are crucial to this beautiful conversation about a world our hearts believe is possible today.

Continue reading “The Time is Very Urgent – We Must Slow Down”

A Thorn in the Flesh

By Bayo Akomolafe, originally posted to Facebook (November 13, 2021)

I learned this morning about what some news outlets – referring to the stubborn persistence of the coronavirus despite the exertions of the global nation-state order, the pharmaceutical complex, and our increasingly medicalized lives – are haltingly calling “the fifth wave.” Time Magazine asks, “Is the Fifth Wave Coming?” (https://time.com/6117006/covid-19-fifth-wave/). USA Today, through its interviewed experts, writes – as if in response: Yes, and “we may simply come to call it winter.” From France to Pakistan, numbers are creeping up, new mutations are on the horizon, and worried officials with wrinkled foreheads are declaring that the virus is here to stay – no matter what we do.

Reading these reports, I was reminded of those biblical passages I was hunched over as an obsessed teenager – the letters of Paul, undulating prose cross-textured with a messianic lilt and soft humble whispers of self-deprecating awareness. I once delighted in reading the nomadic evangelist’s notes – often under warm candlelight, and was struck by the similar undertones of pathos and lamentation that entangles his letters to the Corinthians with this morning’s pandemic news. In particular, Paul’s passage about the “thorn in the flesh” came to mind:

Continue reading “A Thorn in the Flesh”

Other Vehicular Pathways of Prayer

By Bayo Akomolafe, a re-post from social media (August 9, 2021)

Growing up in an evangelical Christian community meant I was coached to think of prayer as a direct line to heaven – a telephone call I could make anytime I wanted. The problem was: God didn’t always pick up.

How does one make sense of that?

Competing theologies of prayer had different ways of making sense of divine rejection. God said no when we had not atoned for unconfessed sins, intoned one theory. Another theory presumed the pre-eminence of God’s Will, an intelligently composed plan so far-reaching in its consequences, so cosmic in its details, so wise in its objectives, that the only way an omniscient, omnibenevolent deity could ensure its completion was to lovingly reject our counter-proposals scripted in mortal and flawed ignorance. The clergy class therefore exhorted us to “pray in God’s will”: that is, to learn the details of this vast fabric of Being, and thread our petitions through the embroidery of this predetermined material. If the answer we sought wasn’t coming, we were to keep praying anyway (“delay is not denial”). The rumour that God worked in mysterious ways kept things fresh and exciting.

Continue reading “Other Vehicular Pathways of Prayer”

On Faith

From Bayo Akomolafe. Re-posted from social media (12/5/2020).

Yesterday, during an interview I quite enjoyed, the host asked me if I considered myself a man of faith. “Of course, I am a man of faith!” I responded. And then I proceeded to offer a reframed and embodied notion of faith that wasn’t necessarily tethered to bearded divinities and religious monocultures. What might faith look like if humans weren’t the unit of analysis? If it didn’t terminate at belief systems or cognitive leaps? A posthumanist faith?

Faith is the fidelity of entanglements. Faith exceeds the doctrines and the human-centric ways we – forced by the imperatives of institutions – have come to see them. It is how bodies come to meet other bodies, how bodies use or borrow other bodies and senses to respond to the creative challenges of a multidimensional reality that is never still – or how those bodies in excess of each other create new edges and experiment with new questions.

Continue reading “On Faith”

Other Fields to Open Up

By Bayo Akomolafe, re-posted from social media (October 10, 2020)

I come from the largest black nation on earth, Nigeria. You would suppose that having almost uniformly black skins means we live in a de-racialized territory of mutual wellbeing and abundance – like the fantastical world of Wakanda. You might think that such a country wouldn’t have problems with their police force, for instance. But racialization transcends our phenotypic fixations with, say, skin colour. Even within our corporeal homogeneity lies troubling cuts, lingering imperial legacies, haunted bodies, toxic institutions, and incarcerated imaginations. We are frozen in a colonial moment. We are not free.

Continue reading “Other Fields to Open Up”

One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands

BayoA timely message from our comrade Bayo Akomolafe.

I am very excited to share that my course, We Will Dance with Mountains: Let us Make Sanctuary, is now open for registration…

You can learn almost everything about the course by heading over to the course website now. Before you do, I thought I’d sit again with the nagging question (as I did when this year of shocking upheavals and seismic shifts began): “Why do a course now?” What is it for? What do you stand to gain?

In yet another curious instance of receiving answers long before their questions have been articulated, I heard the call to do this course when I spoke with an African American man late last year. He had written to me, wanting to speak. He felt he needed to share something with me. I honoured his invitation and got on a Zoom conference call with him. Continue reading “One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands”

Don’t Be So Careful

BayoBy Bayo Akomolafe (originally posted to social media on June 28, 2020)

Don’t be so careful. Don’t be so calculating about where you place your feet. Don’t be so logical. The beckoning horizons do not dip into a merciless abyss, from which nothing can be salvaged. You will not fall if you reach the abominable edges – where the ground stops abruptly; you will fly. Yes. There’s much more room than our fondest ideologies and contrived evidences could possibly apprehend. So, dance with the sensuous decadence that comes with knowing that you are larger than your containing spaces, that your most outrageous obsessions and drunken fantasies are just as inconsequential as the most popular fads and the most accurate heavens. And in the heat of your glorious performance, toss away those interrupting preoccupations with outcomes, with how you appear in the eyes of public scrutiny, or with how well you are doing – for you are not a crease in the fabric of things, you are the fabric of things…exploring the intense and forlorn beauty of a crease. Life is a dance, and dancing wasn’t invented for destinations.