Tag Archives: fire

Narrator – by foot under the eye of the Cyclops


The first two days Luxembourg showed itself from its delightful side. I walked by a magical valley where I might have met elves and fairies. The people were nice and I imagined myself in paradise.

After this lovely meeting, I made acquaintance with Luxembourg as trolls country where hungry ghosts lived. The third night in Luxembourg there was a terrible thunderstorm. In the dark the flashes seemed to come from the eye of the Cyclops [1]. The lightning illuminated my path; the thunders rolled by the valleys. I had to flee, but there was no way out. Terrified I could only walk on. After several hours the thunderstorm disappeared and in a shelter I finally found rest. The rest of the night I heard the ticking of the rain. At dawn the rain stopped.

[2]

The whole area was shrouded in a thick fog and it was very cold in the early autumn. This world was new to me; I felt trapped in a grey dark underworld. I was looking for a way out. I saw nobody; I heard nobody. I was completely alone in a silent cold world. On my beard, my eyebrows and eyelashes were small drops. My clothing was cold and clammy. This night the Maasai God Engaï [3] had not brought me to life again. Was this the punishment for the night fire in the forest [4] that was lit by our militia in Kenya where we had killed the villagers with joy who wanted to escape from the fire?

[5]

After a half an hour walk it became slightly lighter; the sun rose: first very vague in the distance, later as an eye through the haze. This world was strange to me. I was still very cold. Later near Amsterdam I would get used to this weather type; I could blindly find my way in there.

[6]

On the left was a way uphill. I had to get away from this underworld. Tied under a ram Odysseus escaped from the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. Covered in woollen clouds I walked uphill out of this underworld. Slowly it became lighter and the greyness faded away. At the top of the hill the clouds in the valleys looked like the fur of a flock of giant sheep.

[7]

On the way up I escaped from this lugubrious underworld. The sun was shining at last; after an hour walk I was dry and warm again. Luxembourg showed itself from its fairy-tale side. Via the plateau I arrived in Belgium.


[1] According to Greek mythology, Zeus owes his lightning, and Poseidon his thrident to the Cyclopes. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclops. See for a brief description of the adventures of Odysseus with the Cyclops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus

[2] Source image: http://lb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnerwieder

[3] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[4] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

[7] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

Narrator – On foot through France 2


On my hike through France, I met many people. I stood out by my dark skin; there were no other Maasai/Indian walkers on our way. In the Jura, people were dismissive at first sight: I was strange, unknown and obscure. But almost all fellow walkers thawed by my smile and with a friendly greeting in the French language. The farmers were more suspicious. This is understandable because they had to defend their homes against a dark unknown stranger.

[1]

Eventually I met much hospitality on the road. With two fellow travellers I walked several days to the North. We saw several cairns as guardians along our path. At one cairn we decided to have our lunch. One of my companions wondered how many people had placed stones here. The other asked where the people were now. I replied: “In any case we are here”. Then we had to laugh. While I drank water, I was wondering where all the sages of the past remained. Suddenly I felt clearly that we were directly connected with the people who had piled stones here and with all sages from the past [2]. We lived our life directly in the footsteps of the others.

[3]

The next night I dreamed the dream that I regularly dreamed after the fire in the forest during the night where my fellow militia members and I had massacred a village. In this dream the flames came toward me together with the ghosts of the villagers. They started to engulf me. My skin was already blackened by the flames and I began to lose myself in the ghosts of the villagers.

[4]

At the moment they were threatening to devour me, I awoke; I was all sweaty and I breathed heavily. When I opened my eyes, I saw the Moon and the starry sky as reassurance. The night sky slowly brought me back to life as in the Maasai myth the god Engaï brought the Moon to life each night [5].

[6]

The night after the cairn, that dream proceeded in the same way, but the moment I woke up terrified, the sky was completely cloudy. The moon and the stars could not offer me any consolation. Everything was pitch dark and I heard only a quick loud painful breathing; my chest moved violently. Terrified I asked myself: “What breath is there? [7]”. First I thought that the breath of the ghosts of the villagers had come back to life inside me. Therefor I dared not stop panting because, I was afraid that my breath would be carried away with the spirits when they disappeared in the dark.

Slowly my breath calmed down and I came to rest. In the darkness I promised the dead villagers that from now on my breath was their breath. I promised that my breath – as long as I lived – would be a temporal home for them. Once I hoped to arrive home together with them. After this, the dream returned less often.

I was on my way to Amsterdam – my new home for the time being.


[1] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Maison_typique_du_Jura_2.jpg

[2] See also koan “Attendant Huo passes tea” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 60 – 62

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steenmannetje

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildfire

[5] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_sterrennacht

[7] This is the last question in the koan “Yunmen’s two sicknesses”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 46 – 50. See also: Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan, The hazy moon of enlightenment. Somersville: Wisdom Publications, 2007 p. 21 – 27

Narrator – back on earth


The fire in the forest [1] burned all night. The next morning it still smouldered; in the late afternoon the fire finally died. The nocturnal massacre on the edge of the forest yielded nothing. The smell of burned forest mingled with the smell of dead bodies and blowflies were everywhere.

At the beginning of the next moonless night I left the militia. I walked the whole night. I followed the destination [2] of my name Kṛṣṇa [3] – in that moonless night I escaped alive from hell and I evaded the death of Engaï [4]. Later I understood that a few months later the militia was massacred by the army of the country. Just before the first sunlight I discarded my uniform and weapon.

[5]

The next day I traded some belongings from the militia against clothes. In just over a week I moved to my mother’s pastures [6]. Through information of acquaintances I found her temporary residence.

[7]

She saw me at a distance and my younger brothers and sisters ran to me. My mother was so happy until she saw my eyes – dark and cold as the night. She saw in my face the fire in the forest, my movements reflected the hungry ghosts and she smelled the hell on my skin. I received food and shelter, but the next morning she sent me away with the words: “You took from the world, now you must give back to the world. Afterwards you will be welcome as guest.”

By foot I went to the capital. On the outskirts of the city I received a non-paid post as indwelling teacher on a school. During the hours I helped pupils with their work and outside school time I went to the library for study. My English and Sanskrit improved tremendously and I learned and practised the important epic stories so I could start as storyteller – like my father.

[8]

In the city I met the most beautiful men on whom I secretly fell in love. After a year I encountered my first love – so normal, so obvious, so salvaged. His name was Arjen; I called him Arjuna [9]. His parents moved from Netherlands to Nairobi for their work. Outwardly we were only friends, secretly we were lovers. His skin was much lighter; he studied at the University. I helped him with Sanskrit; He helped me with English, French and German.

Two years later we visited my mother. She greeted me as her lost son. All my brothers and sisters were so joyful to see me. A few days later my father came along and we were happy.

My mother saw immediately that Arjen and I were more than just friends. To protect me against the overwhelming forces that a love between young men evokes in her country, she sent me away to a city in a distant land where men may love men. In this way she bridged [10] the dilemma between her world order and duty and human action [11]. She called the name of the city: Amsterdam. A few days later I left. Never I visited my parents again, but they accompany me wherever I go.


[1] See for the fire in the Khandava forest: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm book 1 Section CCXXVII and also: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990,  p. 71 – 84

[2] In Sanskrit  nāmadheya means next to  “name” or “title” also “designation”. Source: Maurer, Walter Harding, The Sanskrit Language, An Introductory Grammar and Reader. London: Routledge Curson, 2004 Deel II p. 771

[3] Kṛṣṇa means in Sanskrit amongst other “black”, “black blue”, “dark period of the mooncycle” Source: electronic version of the dictionaire Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[5] Source image: http://ki.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunrise_over_Mount_Kenya.jpg

[6] In het Sanskriet betekent “nama” “weidegrond” (voor een nomadenvolk is dit een vorm van bestemming). Bron: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya

[9] Arjuna is one of the main characters in the Mahābhārata. He is one of the five brothers who live together with one wife Draupadi – the most beautiful and influential wife of her time – in polyandry. The five brother fight for their rightful share of the kingdom, for the honour of Draupadi and for maintenance of the world order. The name Arjuna means amongst others “wit, clear, silver”; one may recognise also “arh” in the name meaning “worthy, capable of”.

[10] In Sanskrit the word “yuj” means also “link, tie, prepare, order”

[11] In the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – Krishna – the charioteer – encourages  Arjuna to start the battle wherein families, teachers and pupils stand opposite each other in the warfare between world order and duty (Dharmakshetra) en human behaviour (Kurukshetra). Dharmakshetra consists of  Dharma meaning “place of continuous self/Self”, and  “kshetra” – literally: field. Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, to do or to act” and “kshetra” – literally: field.

Carla Drift – Culture


Via a reliable airport – where I bought a ticket on my temporary passport – I left Central Africa. I took a scheduled flight to North Africa. In North Africa, I travelled by public transport to Alexandria. I recollected my normal passport at friends. I stayed a week with them; we talked about the events in our lives.

Alexandria street view [1]

In the Alexandrian library, I carried out a small part of my desk research on sources for the reporting of this study trip on the causes and consequences of genocide in Central Africa. It was honour for me to perform this research in the Alexandrian library. The predecessor of this modern library was destroyed in classical antiquity by several fires. Many classic books from the Greek and Roman antiquity were forever lost in these fires. Research on my sources had amongst others the aim to give the lost lives by genocide in Central Africa a place in history.

Alexandrian Library [2]

I entered South Europe with a ferry. A train journey of more than a day took me back to the Netherlands. Here I could write my report during my recovery of a tropical disease.

Through my game of hide-and-seek during my stay in Central Africa and by my very causious return to Europe, no-one could easily link me to my research. I am still glad that I took these precautions, because one cannot be too careful with helpers of dictators, with arms dealers and secret services of various countries.

During this long trip, I organised the many impressions that I gained in Central Africa. Obviously I have already sorted out my research data, but in the plane, on the boat and in the train, the mainlines for the reporting of the study tour took a clear shape.

I decided to split the reporting of the events in four parts. The first part focused on culture or the behaviour of groups – perpetrators or victims – that were directly involved in the genocide. The second part covered the influence of individual behaviour of offenders, rulers and opinion leaders on the genocide. The third part described the influences on the excesses caused by organisations, bodies and countries outside Central Africa. This third part is confidential: it contains my findings on the impact of arms deliveries by traders and countries with political interests in Central Africa, on secret services with their sometimes obscure matters and the inability/negligence of international bodies. The last part of my report covered the potential legal liability of individual parties for their part in the genocide. During criminal investigation into the genocide, excavations were carried out and further research took place on the basis of my report.

Peace Palace in The Hague [3]

Before this study trip in Central Africa, I had looked upon cultures as a way whereby groups of people – including its individuals – live together en behave together. A culture was a “Modus Vivendi” of a coherent group of people. Obviously a culture changed over time, for example by changed circumstances or by migration of outsiders. But I had not linked culture with a living organization that – just like any living creature – was engaged in a “Survival of the Fittest”, as described by Darwin in “The Origin of Species”.

Origin of Species Darwin [4]

In the unfamiliar surroundings of Central Africa and on the basis of conversations with residents, I started to see more and more clearly that a culture can be compared to a living being that is always busy with survival. During the development of this idea, I noticed parallels in the history of the Western world.

In the first part of my report, I described that culture is endemically present in an individual, within a family, a village community, a tribe/group/people living in a coherent area. In Central Africa, the Nations as legal body were still in its infancy: the national culture was hardly developed. Cultures are a way of living together – a Modus Vivendi –, which provides stability and confidence. On the other hand, cultures struggle for survival and try to impose a certain behaviour to insiders; outsiders are convinced of the right attitude of a culture and – either temporarily or permanently – included in the culture or they are excluded.

Cultures are not static, they change over time as a language changes with the change of its speakers. A well-known and familiar mother tongue from a hundred years ago sounds strange/familiar to us similar as the way of living of people from a hundred years ago appear strange/familiar. Many of these changes gradually take place by assimilation or by organic growth.

A culture is not homogeneous and uniform. Within a somewhat extensive culture there is almost always a layering or stratification present. A culture also has internal tensions between mutual subcultures.

Sometimes, for example, by major changes – by a population explosion or by an important  development – or by very small coincidences during potential turning points – bifurcation points within the chaos theory – shifts can unexpectedly take place within a culture [5]. This rapid growth can cause stigmatisation, exclusion or destruction of dissenters within the own culture.

The discharge of the tensions can also take place by excesses against other (sub-) cultures. Usually cultures live in reasonable co-existence as good neighbours. Occasionally, there are differences of view that are made bearable by diplomacy, festivities, words, case law and treaties. Sometimes the tensions between cultures lead to eruption. The cause can be: a strong change in mutual relationships, a smouldering injustice from the past that manifests itself in a conflicts caused by a sudden incident. These eruptions can lead to violent outbursts. The Pax Romana around 400 a.d. in the area of the Danube is an example from the history with an ill-fated end. In Danube area, the Romans conducted a policy of divide and emperor where the favours were unequally divided between the separate cultures so that the mutual envy was greater than the tension with the Roman imperator. Once per generation, a culture was violently stripped of its wealth by the Romans and several of its allies. In general it took a generation before the culture could recover from this blow.

Around 400 a.d., the Visigoths were seeking protection close to the border of the Roman Empire near the Danube against the advancing Huns. the Romans did not allow the Visigoths to cross the Danube while another tribe was awarded this extra protection. The Visigoths seized this injustice as a reason to directly attack the weakened Roman Empire [6]. By the weakened position of the Romans – by, inter alia, internal divisions – the Visigoths were able to roam for many years in Italy and even to advance to the gates of Rome. In 408 a.d., Pope Innocent I was able to prevent an incursion in Rome by negotiation and a transfer of a large ransom [7]. Around 416 a.d. the Visigoths established themselves in the former Gaul.

Visigoths San Pedro Nave [8]

In Central Africa, the tensions within and between cultures were raised by internal tensions, changes in the relationships between cultures, elimination of the influence of the colonisers, artificial borders, population growth and decline and regular recurring drought. The new international order did not possess the power to intervene effectively.

This mixture of tension was in itself enough for the emergence of excesses. An unfortunate football match or an unfortunate election were sufficient for a violent eruption. But external influences enhanced the tensions and led to a catalyst for excesses.

[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliotheek_van_Alexandri%C3%AB
[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vredespaleis
[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin
[5] See also: Ginneken, Jaap van, Brein-bevingen – Snelle omslagen in opinie en communicatie.
[6] Source: See also: Heather, Peter, Empires and Barbarians – Migration ,Development and the Birth of Europe. London: Panbooks, 2010, p. 197
[7] Source: Norwich, John Julius, The Popes, A History, London: Chatto & Windos, 2011 p. 19
[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visigoten