Sunday, December 26, 2010
Burton Sankeralli’s Of Obeah and Modernity is an interesting read. While on one level thick with the drivel of a mind saturated with philosophy it can as well be seen as a rich dark brownie: every nibble if explored reveals a soluble morsel comprising the bitter and the sweet.
The title Of Obeah and Modernity sets up a juxtaposition of the value of tradition lodged in a far away place with the immediacy of the material world as forged by Westerners. Its not that black and white though as an understanding of the world is the work of any who has the time to embark on it.
The oral tradition of Africans which holds the wisdom of the people inward is measured against the trope of the printing press leading to technological developments that in his reading leave the world in no better a place.
For him it all begins with a journey to the start of it all. One obscured by history itself which he suggests is a process and not a product. South Asia as well figures quite prominently and is implicitly placed as an influential and even parallel reality.
While the book does require some knowledge of African and Indian religion it as well acknowledges the hegemony that has denied many this knowledge.
He becomes a suitable griot as he is as well clearly of this time and in his style provides enough of the irreverence and whimsy that is the result of the overload of modernity that underscores the importance of the text.