Festival of Hope 1 / 29 April 2020

Sinzo Aanza's Poetic Prose

There’s this story of a fellow with several faces

who comes from anywhere in town 

a man who is several men and who, thereby, is nobody

The events happened last night, this morning, this afternoon and are happening now

The fellow is happy because of who knows what and is returning home  

a smile on his face, cheerful gait, gazing at the sky, when suddenly he is stopped

Three guardians of order criticise him for not having worn a sanitary mask

against the virus, other passersby, the entire world that has broken down and the police who wants to be useful 

The first officer is wearing a mask, the second officer is too but it only conceals his mouth 

The third one isn’t wearing one 

He says that he is the police and that masks are for citizens 

he has been asked, by his superior officers, to ensure that citizens wear masks as opposed to 

him wearing one

The fellow said: on behalf of myself and of all those who look like me in my neighbourhood and my neighbourhood’s neighbourhoods, I protest!

He was thrown into the pickup truck and he was thrown into a cell filled with seventy bodies whose will was rotting away from rubbing each other’s despair and stupor 

and he was thrown into legal proceedings and he was thrown into illegal proceedings

and he was thrown into the media 

and he was thrown into the political discourse on civic-mindedness in a state of emergency

and he was thrown into the metaphor of what one must not become in absolute, conditional and relative terms

he was thrown into the gossip, the social debate, the political debate, the small talk and the street corner conversations 

But since the man seemed to indulge in his lack of civic-mindedness, since he seemed to enjoy being a rascal to everyone, some people found him somewhat charming and wanted to hear him out

The fellow said:

I refuse to wear a mask because I am an ordinary man  

Ordinary men are on the side of life, just as the bourgeois are on the side of death

It was said that he had rascal arguments that made sense, a sense, theirs 

It’s a rascal logic but nevertheless a logic 

The fellow saw it fit to add that a person wearing a mask creates a barrier between the world and himself

This, all the bourgeois men are accustomed to, it’s the very definition of their condition, they erect barricades between the world and themselves, between life and their self-concern, they lock themselves in death and then they can desecrate life

The fellow said that masks are like the graves in which the bourgeois from all over the world live,

he refuses to be moved away from the world to give himself reasons to do just about anything with life which fusses, jumps, dances, fornicates, shouts, cries, ejaculates, sighs, smacks its lips, rumbles, rustles, dribbles, stirs, puts itself to the test on the over side of the mask 

He says that when reasons to wear a mask appear, one must make the radical decision of drowning all the reasons and all the barricades which have led to the reasons to wear the mask, for the reasons to wear the mask are not the reasons of life, they are the reasons of death 

He says that all the happy mask-wearers must be stopped from doing whatever they want, from the rest of the living world, and from the rest of the mineral world and from the rest of all geology

He says that the reasons for the mask are not reasons, this is why it’s called a mask 

Those who wanted to listen to him and those who did not came to the conclusion that he is no rascal, he’s an anarchist, 

no, a guy in deep shit who immediately puts himself into the shoes of the ordinary man opposed to the universal bourgeoisie is a bastard

no, he’s a rebel, no, he’s a dreamer, no, he’s a boor, no, he’s an opponent, no, it’s an extended childhood, no, he’s an idiot,no, he’s a mind that the world saddens, no, he’s a sociopath, no, he’s a man of no ambition, no, he’s a poet, no, he’s bitter, no, he’s a drunk, no, he’s an ordinary man

There’s the story of this fellow who comes from who knows where and comes from anywhere

Sinzo Aanza, Babola, 2018. This photo is the choice to present a unique testimony of the 2018 Congolese elections. After two and a half years of civil and political protests to secure the organisation of the vote allowing the first democratic handover in the country’s history, the event is a historical turning point that Sinzo Aanza preferred to examine from the perspective of those who most needed this handover, those whose life and hopes had been weakened, wilted by the political regime about to leave or to renew its mandate through the figure of the dolphin — in the royal meaning of this word. These elections are thereby presented here as the epitome of the relations between the wealthy and the powerful in Congo, and the figure of the poor as that who endlessly provides.


Sinzo Aanza

Sinzo Aanza is a poet, a playwright, a visual artist and the author of a significant first novel Généalogie d’une banalité(2015), of several plays including Que ta volonté soit Kin (2018), of poems, short stories, and essays. His writing questions the political situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the image of this country that “has always belonged to investors, preferably foreign ones”. The exploitation of natural resources, the presentation of national identities and their abuse, and the construction of the image of Congo since the colonial period are themes that nourish both his literary and visual works. Sinzo Aanza is the artistic director of Yango, the Contemporary Art Biennale in Kinshasa.