We know that mankind have one destination
Which is to fly which is soar
High above the trees
Be the king of all he surveys and sees
Mankind pushing out here
Struggling out here
With one breath of life
Searching for higher
Doh mind the road might be rocky or steep
We not going sleep
We not sticking
—Wrong Chord, 12
They call it Arrival Day but do we ever get there? When we get on the boat and cross the waters, leaving behind everything we know and love, what do we meet on the other end? When we arrive are we welcome? Do we have a right to belong here? Who decides that for us? And where here is, anyway? What is the place that we call home? Whose right is it to call here home? What of other Indians who were here long before Columbus got a case of wanderlust? Who celebrates this arrival? Who is happy to see more migrants? Who is willing to share what little they have. Who will learn to eat my food and sing my songs and dance the dance of my gods? Who will believe the hype that the other is bad? Who will go to great lengths to keep from mixing up too much?
We have arrived. At some place where some are more equal than others.
We have arrived at a time when the race paranoia should be dead and gone. Should be. If not for political manoeuvres and hand-outs so meagre that the almost forgotten sting of the $17 million pappyshow Summit opening gala comes back like heartburn from mother-in-law. We have arrived at some kind of purgatory where death stalks the innocent and the guilty with equal ferocity. Where smelter plants grow big and poisonous and those who were lied to about receiving nonexistent jobs come to confront the reality of ecological disaster on their doorsteps. We have arrived at a place of great sadness and shame.
Sadness for those who celebrate a day that others act like they greatly regret. Shame for those who look like me but do not act in my interest.
We have arrived like never-see-come-sees to the top of our interchange, to take pictures at how fast we can get to our uncharted destinations. We have arrived at nirvana. Where a temple would see no problem with cutting down a 184-year-old samaan tree, because not even for the pantheists is the earth sacred anymore. We have arrived at no integrity and no accountability and no solidarity. We have arrived at Presidents and priests close enough to God to absolve themselves. We have arrived at the conclusion that this place is not worth fighting for, so we devote all our energy and attention to far more important things like who wins the Champions League or which big lawyers are fighting over which young attorney.
We have arrived to a place where everyone is unwilling to ask the questions or seek the answers. We have arrived so we think the journey is at an end. That we don’t need to confront the past. The places that we came from, the place that find ourselves in now, what we will leave for children. We have arrived and now we get on with the business of living. Of loving and dreaming, of creating a whole new world. With old ideas that do not fit our present realities. We have arrived at institutionalised racism and a dictatorship that used to creep but must be having a Star Trek moment because by Jah it seems to be hurtling at warp speed.
We have arrived but for some it is time to leave again. To arrive at some other place, to reshape some other identity. We have arrived but don’t know the difference between legacy and longing. Between culture that lives and customs that change to suit the place, the climate. Where bhajans can be played on pan and Mama Osun hails Ganga Mai in the sweet waters that run through these hills. We have arrived but do not yet understand that douglarisation is as much intellectual as it is physical. That we celebrate Arrival Day because at some point we were all brought here. By force or by choice.
Nothing is an accident and perhaps the universe has conspired for these arrivals so that we can confront what we left behind and how we will build what we have here.
We are still arriving. This is not the end of the journey. We still have a long long way to go.