sugar, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, slavery, genocide, religion
Hopkin's "The Salt Road", despite being about another kind of plantation, stayed with me, soaking in. It made me reframe what is my country, from start up until now. The sheer scale of human suffering, what slavery *meant* in day-to-day lived experience. It's t@he power of fiction I guess, even more of fantasy fiction.
Sugar: Plant energy in its most concentrated form.
Cachaça: The same, but liquid, intoxicating, burning.
Tobacco: A ritual drug of attack shamans, commodified into a large-scale scam of addictive death.
Coffee: Introduced late, forcibly taken by the coloniser from Africa, also cleansed of religious significance and turned into the fuel of capitalist work ethic: no more staying awake to chant god’s name in Sufi devotion, but staying awake to work more for a fixed salary.
The common trends: Concentration. Concentration of power, chemically. Concentration of power, economically, socially, structurally. Refining power into powders, or water which is fire. Profaning of the sacred. Commodification. Lies.
Above all, machinery. These giant mechanisms eating indigenous land into cracked-earth deserts, chewing innumerable Black lives into bloody pulps, and outputting the powders for sale to Europe. Sugar. Coffee. Brazil.
The coronels hoarding wealth, absolute in their domains like dragons, the world's worst economic inequality, the same families in power, the indigenous genocide project still ongoing with covid policies. Rusty, sputtering, running out of wood to burn, the black magic machine still grinding lives.
(quoting something: "'It won't take, the blood of Jesus has power.' The exú-cult grandma laughed: 'Actual blood has more.'")
No wonder these are the offerings, the sacraments, the work tools of umbanda: coffee, sugar, tobacco, alcohol.
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