This Little Love We Carry In Our Hearts

Posted: December 2, 2014 in Essays

credit: Glenna Gordon


Credit: Glenna Gordon

There is this love, of mine, which is a kind of petrichor. I know her because she is real and innate. She rips off a part of my esophagus like a craving. She is photographic. She is an act of memoriam, an invisible epitaph. This little love, I carry in my heart, is guided by my conscience and with eerie strength that is almost mimicking how a pauper keeps currency in her pocket.
James Estrin’s Bringing the Nigerian Schoolgirls Into View is like that little love. Glenna Gordon’s photography that that essay lives off is a necessary attempt to rescue memory from being a graveyard. The hurried significance is to break the cycle of legacies of long absences. They are not report cards. They are not hand-outs. They are more than what the failure of the intelligences of language projects. Emmanuel Iduma puts it better – . . . photograph’s essence is to ratify what it represents; no writing can give that certainty, because it is the misfortune of language not to be able to authenticate itself- in Trans-wander.
Captivity by Teju Cole fails in a way that Glenna Gordon’s photography strives for success. It is not a failure of Teju per se; it is that of language. To think of it more correctly, Captivity is those photographs’ soundtrack. Captivity is a dramatic fiction inspired by true events. Fiction breaks Hooke’s Law; photography consolidates it. When Teju’s imagination is exhausted, Gordon’s photograph extends that narrative. It is this that thickens the love affair of these two works.
Gordon’s meta-poetic metonymy construction is both ghostly and actual. It is about presence-in-absence. It is about showing without telling. In its vagueness is what your imagination should fill.
I identify with the irony and contradiction of the photographs. The portrait of Hauwa Mutah’s dress attracts me for selfish reasons. The text besides it explains that she aspires to be a biochemist but her favorite subjects are Geography and English. It reminds me of my biochemistry degree and my life, and what I am doing with it. It dawns on me that I could have been her and she could have been me. It is like that.
Douglas Yakubu’s journal is a love story. I like her courage to record her story. It is a communication between her and a boy who says, she ‘’ is the remote control of his life.’’ She is 16 years old.
These photographs reveal to us the humanity behind the ‘’numbers’’ or ‘’Chibok girls.’’ It is a call. The photographer had to find a way to show us their humanity. The correct answer lies in what Gordon’s genius is – metonymy. Those artifacts breathe into the spaces. We feel the abducted girls’ presence. Their love. Their humanity. Their lives. And beauty.
Wole Soyinka asks as a premise for From Chibok With Love – What do religionists really want? I imagine Soyinka’s interrogation is about love for religion, in certain regards, the love of (religious) extremism.
It is that same love that should compel us to interrogate the social construct labeled religion. It is not enough to accept intent or (in) action as sitting on the lap of religion or by what the perpetrators call it.

14th, December, 1908.
Leo Tolstoy wrote a letter to Tarak Nath Das. It was a response to two letters sent by Das, seeking Tolstoy’s support for India’s independence. In Letter To A Hindu, Tolstoy writes about his belief in the natural law of love as espoused in the world’s religion. He advocated for peaceful, non-violent protests and strikes. He also spoke against pseudo-religion and pseudo-science.
To answer Soyinka, the good professor, religionists want what humanists want. True religion is peace. Is love. Is tolerant. We must be bold to speak against pseudo-religion. Pseudo-science. And all that that is inhumane. We must interrogate religion; test it like any philosophy or ideal. Religion should not be the metaphor for the absurd. Truly, anything that is anti-human does not deserve to exist. This should be our little love to humanity.


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