Saturday, January 15, 2011
Ce-Ce and Farai Chisango are the Ben HaMelech/Bayna Amlak, the King’s Sons
“What is your book about?”
“It is about a sister and brother team of private detectives who are Rastafarians.”
“Detectives? I-man nuh deal wit’ detective an’dem kinda t’ing yuh know!”
This response, and its many variations is characteristic of what passes for wit in some circles of the Rastafarian community. Apparently, one cannot be a Rastafarian and a detective at the same time. To those who articulate this bizarre hypothesis, a detective is an instrument of Babylon, spying on the people. Therefore, a novel that depicts a pair of Rastafarian detectives must be part of a nefarious conspiracy to infiltrate the Rastafarian movement with detectives spying on every one.
Obviously, any one who makes this wild claim has never actually read any of the Dread Eye Detective Agency novels. It is likely that such people can read properly at all. What is disturbing is that once such a claim is repeated on the internet, it can be taken up by those seeking further knowledge of the Rastafari culture and faith.
Why can’t Rastafarians be detectives? Do we not have the same desire as the rest of the human race to see communities enjoy peace and security? Do we not have the same intellectual capacity to investigate crime and bring offenders to justice?
I submit that the empty vessels repeating this absurd piece of pseudo-intellect are part of the Western lumpenproletariat that, by some strange twist of irony, have managed to establish themselves in the public eye as representative of the Rastafarian community. Not willing to work, blaming the “system” ad nauseaum.
It becomes more disturbing when one hears a Zimbabwean youth with dreadlocks repeating the same line: “I-man nuh deal wit’ detective an’dem kinda t’ing yuh know!” in the same accent. But then, he is just repeating what he has read, what is widely available to any one seeking information on Rastafari.
My heroine, Ce-Ce Chisango, tried to join the Zimbabwean police and was turned down because of its policy against dreadlocks. I don’t think there could be anything more contemporary Rastafarian than facing a type of discrimination that should have gone about the same time apartheid was lifted with the attainment of majority-rule in 1980, and finding an alternative route in life. Ce-Ce represents all that is good about the Rastafarian identity; she is educated, she has survived a bad marriage, she is accomplished and beautiful. If I could raise a daughter, I would want her to be like Ce-Ce. For anyone to see anything bad in that is strange.
There are police in the Bible. Many readers would have missed them because they are not called police or detectives in the Scriptures. They go by a rather curious name.
Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son- II Chronicles 18:25.
In Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, Roland de Vaux notes “ The expression ben hammelek, ‘son of the king’, is, however, used several times in contexts which seem to imply that it does not mean a son in the proper sense” He cites several other Biblical references and concludes, “None of these men appear to elsewhere as a member of the royal family. It seems therefore that in these four instances the title ‘king’s son’ denotes an office. This conclusion is perhaps confirmed by two discoveries in Palestine, one of a seal, the other of a stamp from a signet-ring: both have a proper name, followed by ‘king’s son’ in the place where other seals mention their owner’s office. These officials were not of very high rank; Yoash is named after the governor of the city and in three instances out of four their intervention is connected with prisoners. Probably, therefore, the ben hammelek was a..... police officer. The explanation may be that this officer was perhaps chosen originally from among the king’s sons.”
As it turns out, I can actually corroborate this observation with one of the culture of Zimbabwe. Today, the various traditional leaders tend to have their enforcement officer from among their own sons or grandsons or nephews. I remember one time when my grandfather came to the city to ask my older cousin if he would take up the post. Even the modern police are referred to idiomatically as “vana vamambo”, literally, “the king’s sons”. How many have queried the origin of this expression without realising that it has comparisons in Old Testament times?
It is this heritage that Ce-Ce and Farai Chisango draw their inspiration from. The King whose sons they are is His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I. It is the Rastafarian ideals of justice that they uphold. It is the desire of the Rastafarian people for a society where the powerful are righteous and the weak secure that guides them.