My favourite subject at school, aside from English, was History. It’s the one subject I always aced effortlessly. I had the ability to recall dates and events like a story, and essentially that’s what History is, one long ever-changing story.
For me, the most fascinating thing about history is how it repeats itself. People don’t ever seem to learn from the mistakes made in the past. Just look at George Bush Senior and Junior... same office, same fuck ups. The similarities are undeniable.
Sometimes, I wonder if History and Karma are related to each other... long lost cousins intertwined with fate, carried by the winds.
I had similar sentiments a few months ago, when Hosni Mubarak was digging his claws into the state’s coffers and holding on for dear life, determined not to leave and step down as the President of Egypt. And back then, I thought to myself:
Dear Islamic Dictators of the World
Have you not read about Moses (AS)? Do you not know how this story is going to end?
"What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs." (Qur'an, 10: 91-92)
Ah, Moses (AS)... my all time favourite historical account remember.
What I find even more intriguing about History and its lessons is that it’s not only exclusive or reserved to a select elite few. Sometimes the lessons we have to learn do not appear in any Historical text book. Sometimes our lessons aren’t huge grand miraculous gestures. More often than not, our lessons are in the mundane monotonous details of life.
For instance, I’ve heard accounts from women who endured decades of torment from their vile-wicked-excuses-of-human-flesh called Mother-in-laws, yet they are no different in character to their own Daughter-in-laws and some are in fact, even worse. Sara is an example of such a woman. She even admitted to it one day while she was having a cup of tea with her neighbour. However, she doesn’t see the unnecessary pain and anguish she causes for her daughter-in-law and rather views it as a rite of passage. She suffered for three decades and she doesn’t see why another woman should get it easy.
Then, there are those people who had the misfortune of being raised by abominal parents, and eventually do or become the very thing that they hate without even realising it. Zena hated everything her mother was... she hated how her mother continuously insulted and degraded her. It made her feel insignificant, worthless and miserable for most of her life. And yet, she does the exact same thing to her daughter, because that is all she knows.
And what about those people who grew up poor and destitute, as is the case of most non-white South African’s , who now look down upon those who have not. Tahir grew up with absolutely nothing. There were nights when he went to bed hungry, gazing at the stars, dreaming of the day he’d make it big. That day came in his late twenties, when he’d made his first million and celebrated with a huge party where he held bragging rights for most of the night.
Then one day, upon exiting The Sheikh’s Palace parking lot in Rivonia, where he racked up a hefty bill comparable to the GDP of a small country, he met a beggar asking him for any leftover food. Still high from the evening’s soiree, Tahir was not only dismissive but rude and arrogant to the man, chastising him for his pitiful state. In less than a year, the world faced a global economic crisis and spiralled into an unforgiving recession bringing down hundreds of corporations and businesses. Almost overnight, Tahir had lost everything, including his house and 4 luxury cars. It was utterly devastating, and today he often recalls that man in the parking lot that night.
As people, we often become consumed with our own lives... victims of History repeating itself... sometimes knowingly but most times unwittingly. And most times, the Oppressed become the Oppressors until they’re oppressed again. A vicious perpetual cycle it is. And still, we don’t learn, do we.