Those who are close to me will tell you that I’m Tupac Shakur’s fan, and those who love him like I do will remember his 1996 album called The Don Killuminati: The 7 day Theory, released under the alias Makaveli.
Throughout the week, ‘Krazy’ -a song from the album, haunted me. Lingering even now on my mind is a line on that track: “You ain’t gotta be in jail to be doing time.”
Made me think. Sad thoughts, alas, for I realized a whole lot of people among us are doing time, even though they aren’t in jail.
Think for a moment of men who leave their home every morning to go stand at a corner of that affluent suburb, begging for work. They have kids, wives too.
Despairing, they are willing to do anything to present that loaf of bread to their starving families at the end of the day. These men are cheapened to scroungers. They are doing time, even when they are not inside the high walls of a prison.
What of a family staying in a shack at this time of the year? What – as we sit securely in our warm living rooms having delightful dinner, wine and laughter – what kind of time do we imagine these people are doing?
We live in mansions, free from care, when we know villages know no flushing toilets. If it is not from the river where drinking water is fetched, taps are far. Our children play merrily in our vast backyards when poor people have a piece of land large enough only for a small shack.
We don’t care. We are heartless, and we have no sleepless nights building high walls of hell for others.
Poor people who stand in long queues in hospitals and clinics across the country, awaiting attention, are doing time. They could quite easily be swiftly assisted at nearby private clinics and hospitals, but such luxuries are reserved for you and I, not so?
They have no money, no work, and so they depend on (often) unfeeling government employees for help. These men and women do not need high walls of prison to feel like they are doing time.
This is also true for all women who are made to sleep with powerful men before they get that job, that promotion, or that business deal. In these women, the patriarchal and abusive system see commodities, objects of sex, ready to be exploited. Instead of us living in a society were men have as their foremost priority to protect and defend women (and children), we have men wantonly violating them.
They are doing time, these women, the pain of which a cold rapist in a prison cell near you is quite likely to rape again without experiencing it.
But this is true for a learner who, hungry and barefooted, walks to school only to find that the teacher, the very one who sleeps with young girls he is supposed to be fathering, is absent because, well, he was too high last night during the usual bout of decadence – having sex and drugs and alcohol, and so he failed to wake up in the morning to make it to school.
The time these young girls and boys are doing is consuming. It destroys children, and tears society.
This is true, we know even in our silence, for a young girl – or a boy, who gets raped by a family member and is expected to keep quiet about it.
In time the impact multiplies because all of us are just watching. It is none of our business, we say. We don’t have to stand at street corners pleading for our next meal because we have well paying jobs, our children receive quality education at private schools free of abusive teachers, we live longer and a lot gleefully because we have proper health care, etc.
But there is malice; darkness, in our silence, is there not? Our inaction renders us farmore treacherous, and it intensifies the time fellow human beings are doing behind the vast expanse of heartlessness this world is becoming.
This cold, cruel attitude we have towards others is perhaps cool, for us … but only until those who are suffering right in front of us can’t take the high jail walls anymore, and turn on us for survival.
Then, my brother, you and I will have our own jail walls quickly climbing right in front of our greedy eyes.
*Maruping is an independent commentator. Visit social media platforms for his material.
Ed. Welcome back your readers have missed you dearly!