It has been brought to my attention that certain of the female membership of the Church of Haile Selassie in England are upset over the use of the Emperor's portrait on the jacket of my book. They strongly feel that this is disrespectful to His Imperial Majesty and the Rastafari Faith because of the explicit content in my writing.
I was utterly gobsmacked, to say the least. I did not know what to respond to first: the fact that some people had actually taken offence at my use of the Emperor's image, or that they had arrived at a meaning of this that had offended them without first checking with me, or that they had the cheek to assume that I would give consideration to their sentiments when they had not been as indulgent?
To those who haven't yet read The Man who turned into a Rastafarian, I will quote from it the passage that struck at these women's sensibilities.
It was dark when they got to the township. From the car, they could see that all the lights in the house were off. Jessica delightedly opened the gate for him to park the vehicle. When he came out, they clung together and lurched towards the door. He let her go, so she could open it.
“Boy, I am so hard now I could open that door with it!” he gasped.
She yelped as she felt his manhood prod the cleft of her ass. She was laughing as she entered, snapping on the lights. She heard him unzip his trousers. When she turned round, he was hopping on one leg as he took them off.
She peeled off her own trousers and panties quickly, and stood there, allowing him a long appraisal of her naked lower body. He sucked in breath as he beheld silky, golden thighs, and a black sporran guarding purple labia, the dark fur glistening as her juices caught the electric light overhead.
“I still have my top on,” she cooed. He approached her. Jessica had expected him to be armed with one mother of a weapon. She was still to meet the man that matched Kudit in size and skill. She hoped her disappointment did not show, and she hoped he had some viable compensation to this, um, short-coming.
He was pawing her breasts as if trying to remove them. She hated it when they did that, but that seemed to be about the only foreplay all the men were capable of. Except for Kudit. He knew everything, hadn’t he written a song called The Rastafarian Kama Sutra?
She snapped back to the present tense, as she realised that Eugene had removed her top. He was still trying the mastectomy, first on one breast then the other. She was feeling really horny and he was killing the moment. “Fuck me!” she mouthed. “Fuck me hard!”
Seizing her hips, he turned her round. Oh, he wanted doggy style, did he? She laughed, projected her bottom towards him. She heard him open the condom wrapper with his teeth. She felt rough hands seize her shoulders, forcing her to lean over lower. She moaned as she felt him slide into her, reaching for the wall for support. He was slamming into her with quick, hard strokes, his nails digging into her hips. There was that animal slapping sound of flesh against flesh. She felt the pleasure rise towards her head, threatening her very sanity.
For a moment, her soul was floating out of her body, then it was suddenly brought back with a crashing sound. Grunting, she pushed back against him, desperately, but he had withdrawn. She whirled round to face him, puzzled, and saw his look of shame and regret.
“I’m sorry, honey,” he said in a small voice. “It’s never happened before.”
Men said that the same way women said, “You’re the second man I’ve ever slept with,” or “yours is the first dick I’ve ever sucked.”
“You got me started!” she began. “You can’t leave me like this!”
“Please, I’m sorry,” he pleaded. One hand worked the small, limp grub between his legs, and she realised that it was bare, and smeared with a viscous substance. She reached a hand to her own crotch, and saw to her disgust that he had left the condom stuck in her. Semen dripped onto the carpet. Clicking her tongue, she whipped out the condom, and entered the bathroom.
She reappeared, put on her clothes. He was still massaging his little member desperately, a look of incredulity and great discomfort on his face. She marched into the kitchen, and returned with a wet cloth.
“I’m sorry, honey,” he apologised again. “I don’t know, maybe it’s the idea of doing it in another man’s house!”
“This is my house!” she snapped. She went on her knees and began to clean up the mess on the carpet.
“Perhaps, if you, sort of, um, encouraged me?” he proposed nervously. She looked up at him, he tried to laugh.He saw at once that it was a bad idea. He got up quickly.
OK, so this is not quite bed-time reading for the children. The last time my mother heard me use any of the language above was quite literally the last time she heard me use any of the language above. This she saw to with the generous application of a switch stripped off the peach tree that grew outside the kitchen. But that was a long time ago, and not even she can entertain the belief any longer that I am naive and that it's the kids from the flats who put such ideas in my head. She knows she raised me right, and if these are subjects that I encounter in life, she trusts me to handle them with the right approach. I am a trained writer, I would not depict sex acts unless they moved the story forward.
I write not these things to shame you.....
I Corinthians 4:14
When I put the book together, I expected to offend some people. The Mugabe regime and its supporters abroad, yes. I would take it as a compliment if they got their knickers in a twist- I would be pleased if Kwabena went on the attack like he did with my sister Viomak. Non-Rastafarians from all walks of life, who would naturally be upset at anything that indicates that the Rastafarians thrive in Zimbabwe. But fellow Rastafarians? Especially over something as trivial as the description of a sex act!!!!
These women may not know it but it was the tradition for all books published in Ethiopia to have the Emperor's portrait on the jacket. This is the reason why I have one on mine, on a work that is being hailed by some as a milestone in Rastafarian literature. To construe any other meaning to the gesture would be ill-advised. It would be raising issues that should not be raised in the first place.
It must be noted that none of these women actually read the entire book.
So, no, I will not remove the Emperor's portrait as I believe that my book edifies the Rastafarian Faith.
One of the women pointed out that a similar book with the Prophet Muhammad's picture would cause an uproar. I think it deplorable if us Rastafarians should begin to model our outrage along the lines of the Islamic world's lunatic fringe, with the same selectivity and sheer lack of objectivity. How far would it go? An attempt to blow up the shops that are now stocking my book? Death threats? Because I am not backing down, not unless a resolution was made by a competent Tribunal of the most erudite of Rastafarian scholars declaring my display of the Emperor's picture to be improper.
Lionesses, put away your claws. There is nothing to fight about here.