And then, of course, it occurs to me: “Who are you to say all this?” I mean: “Who are you?” And it is true: I am nobody. So how dare I tell the learned and wise how to behave. On sinner, take the plank out of your own eye! Tis true.

Public opinion

It is not due to envy that I caution today’s sheikhs and public intellectuals about their vast followings online. Some have tens of thousands, others have hundreds of thousands, still others have millions. And maybe that is a good thing: there may indeed be baraka in those followings and great benefit for the masses. Continue reading “Public opinion”

The blank cheque

Every spoken word has context. Nothing said endures in isolation. You can speak the truth, but still have an ulterior motive. You can be both good and bad, both sincere and insincere, depending on the urge of the moment. You can be both a voice in the wilderness and the wilderness. You can be both a hero and a demon. As the poet says: To good and evil equal bent, and both a sinner and a saint!

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To the one we wronged

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we drove you out of the religion. I’m sorry that we drove you from the path you once embraced with sincerity and passion. The one you once pursued with all that inner strength of yours, that forced you to sit at the feet of those you thought would guide you, enlighten your soul and raise you to great heights. I’m sorry that instead we trampled you under our feet, and slandered your name and spoiled your reputation everywhere we went.

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On white saviour complexes

As a youngster, at around the age of 15, I became interested in the field of sustainable development. An article in the magazine of a Sunday newspaper about life in Burkina Faso had particular influence on me. From that moment on, I was convinced that my future lay in working on rural projects in central Africa that aimed at alleviating poverty amongst some of the world’s poorest people.

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Weapons of mass distraction

Leave me, if you must. I will not rush to rehabilitate the reputation of a predator, however highly he is held in esteem, or however eloquent his speech, or however wise he seems. The silos have been opened, an assault has been launched, the incendiary payload delivered: distraction for the masses, in the latest skirmish to regain ground lost in battle. But I will not join this campaign.