Monday, February 24, 2014

12 Years A Slave To Soap


By Biko Agozino

Lupita Nyongo’s character in ‘12 Years A Slave’ reveals to us why people of African descent obsess about cleanliness. The enslaver was about to beat her man and fellow Oscar nominee, Chiwetel Ejiofor, for daring to try and protect her when the lecherous white man wanted to abuse her for not being at his call and beck, but Lupita's character confessed that she went to Shaw's plantation to borrow some soap in order to clean herself after working all day in the cotton fields, picking five hundred to six hundred pounds of cotton, day in day out and smelling so much she made herself gay. The way she begged the white man suggested that she was cleaning herself for the jealous enslaver, knowing that he was fond of raping her - which was perhaps the reason why the white wife refused to give her any soap, unlike the others. What does the soap scene in the multiple Oscar-winning movie teach us especially when no white person in the movie was ever seen having a wash while the Africans were scrubbed repeatedly as if they were inherently dirty?

In chapter 12 of her best selling book, Tapping the Power Within, Iyanla Vazant stated: ‘I have a confession. I am and have been for quite some time a “soap whore”. This shocking self-mocking confession detailed her obsession with soaps of all kinds and smells, including a single soap that cost $35.00 and overburdening gift soaps that filled her house and made her to beg friends to stop giving her more soap gifts after her attempt to become a home soap-maker. She told readers that Mother Mary had given her a spiritual bathe with cold water, raw eggs and lemon for scrubbing and scented warm water. There was no mention of soap in that recipe but for some reason, her addiction to soap led her to believe that soap was a part of any spiritual bathe until she gradually cured herself from that obsession.

In the conversation between bell hooks and Cornel West, Breaking Bread, they wondered why people of African descent are obsessed with cleanliness. In her self-help book for black women, bell hooks observed on page 80 of Sisters of the Yam as follows: 'If that white world told us we were dirty and ugly and smelled bad, we retreated into the comfort and warmth of our bathtubs... and remind ourselves that "white folks don't know everything." Olaudah Equiano highlighted this in his interesting narrative in which he pointed out the unhygienic habits of his white captors, during the trans Atlantic voyage, in sharp contrast to the strict rules about washing hands before a meal and sweeping the surroundings clean in his Igbo homeland.

Today, Africans remain enslaved to soap and we wash sometimes multiple times a day with ‘medicated soap’ in order to be washed as white as snow, according to a Christian hymn. Some black women mash up the medicated soap to apply to their skin as a bleaching cream and some in Southern Africa use soap for what is called douching of the private parts because it is alleged that their men like ‘dry sex’. Europeans, on the other hand, are notorious for their reluctance to bathe with soap – they would wash their faces and under their armpits in order to conserve the hot water and save money on heating during the winter – and they tend to stink up the elevator with the smell of garlic. Nine of the ten celebrities who are said to smell awful appear white and the main reason is that they rarely take a shower and do not use deodorants.

Recently, I was visiting my family in Nigeria and one of my nieces was miserable. I asked the older niece what was wrong with the two-year old baby and she removed her diapers to show a nasty pealed bottom that was red like raw meat on her otherwise lovely dark ebony skin. I was told that the baby’s mother had taken her to the best hospitals but that the dermatological prescription was ineffective. She turned to herbalists who gave her some concoctions to apply to the rashes but they did not appear to work either.

So I asked them what soap they wash her with. They told me with a sense of pride that it was medicated soap. I told them that the soap was the cause of the rashes and that they should stop washing the baby with soap for her body to heal naturally. They laughed at me as if I was dumb. ‘Huh!’ They cried, holding their noses in mock disgust at some nasty smell supposedly coming from my body. ‘Professor does not wash with soap O!’ They jeered at me. Fine, I told them, let us do an experiment and if it does not work after two days, you can go back to medicated soap. Well, after only 24 hours, the baby was better and in 48 hours she was completely healed by being washed with only water!

They started looking at me as if I am a magician but I explained to them that there is something known as the hygiene hypothesis which states that the more obsessively we wash with antibacterial soap, the more likely we will attract bacterial infections on the skin.  As soon as you start washing with only water on most days, your skin will glow and people will start wondering what cream you are using. You can still use soap once a week, like shampoo, but not daily or twice a day as we Africans tend to obsessively do. The wife of a cousin in the US cried over the phone that her new born baby had lost all his hair and that the prescriptions by the doctors left his skin dry and scaly. Wash him with only water, I said. He was healed instantly too.

Iyanla Vanzant traces the connection between a bathe and spirituality to ancient Jewish traditions and to ancient Rome and Greece. She also traces it to the belief among the Yoruba that Yemoja – the Goddess of the sea salt water – and Osun, the Goddess of the fresh water streams are linked with cleansing bathes. The Japanese use their bath-tub for soaking only and use a shower to wash before the soak with bathe salt but with no soap.

What is not commonly known is that the first time a bathe was mentioned in the Bible was with reference to Pharaoh’s daughter going to the river Nile for a bathe and finding a basket floating with a baby in it (Exodus, Ch. 2). Prior to this, the references to washing in Genesis were references to the washing of hands and feet as cleansing rituals. Subsequently, Liviticus Chapter 15 commanded the people dozens of times to ‘bathe with water’ in order to heal the sick and purify the body, a practice that Moses obviously learned in ancient Egypt.

The only times bathing with soap was mentioned in the Bible were to emphasize that no matter how much soap they used, their iniquities would not be washed away. See, for example, Job 9:20, and especially Jeremiah 2:22 which states “Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.’

Beloved people of the world, the great unwashed poor who are despised by those suffering from affluenza, rejoice for you can save your scarce money by not obsessively buying lots of bathing soap. Wash with water for better dermatological health. You will notice a clear difference within 24 hours and in two weeks, your skin will be spot-free, itch-free, odor-free and radiating light. Your eye-sights would improve naturally too for the active ingredient in soap, Potassium, K, is a highly inflammable chemical that has no business anywhere near your eyes.

This is one of my discoveries in the technologies of the self that I documented in my book, ADAM: Africana Drug-Free Alternative Medicine. I have tried several times to access NIH grants to clinically trial this powerful health technology that is completely free of charge but the grants-officers mock my grants applications and even order me to withdraw my applications rather than just reject them as is normal. What are they afraid of? That the hypothesis may be supported and soap industries may collapse while the people enjoy greater health free of charge?

People should feel free to try this health technology to care for their skin free of charge and if it works for you as I am certain that it will, please send me your testimonies to be documented anonymously. I appeal particularly to women who insist on washing their ‘essential parts’ with soap daily without realizing that they are drying up the natural oil that lubricates those parts and therefore they are exposing themselves to bruises and making themselves vulnerable to infections. The same goes for men who have developed crutch itch from soap residues especially in Africa where most people in rural areas wash with half a bucket of water that is not enough to wash off all the soaping that is repeated sometimes multiple times a day.

NGO teaches AIDS patients how to make soap to help them

In many parts of Africa, HIV/AIDS researchers give out free soap as an incentive to get people to participate in their research. In prisons and immigrant detention centers in Europe and North America, one of the most valuable commodities are soap rations. Some NGOs specialize in collecting used soaps from hotels in Europe and North America, they melt them and form new soap bars that they distribute to those smelly Africans with the good intentions that paved the road to hell. Let my people wash with water, as the Good Book says, that they will be healed!

This may be part of the reason why people of African descent are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. Maybe AIDS stands for SAIDS – Soap Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is known that almost every AIDS patient also suffers from nasty skin rashes. What if millions of AIDS patients try my recommendation of washing with only water and they get healed of all those rashes but also their immune system recovers free of charge? I hope that everyone who benefits from my cost-free discovery will send me a donation to support my further research into the drug-free health technology for the cost-free healing of the nations.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Africana Forgiveness

Here is a part of my message to St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church on Forgiveness, Sunday, February 9, 2014: v=SZ--EiUaoS0&
You can find the rest by searching for Biko Agozino on YouTube. Let me know if you have tips on how to zoom in to profile the speaker more closely and how to amplify the audio.

Biko Agozino

Monday, February 10, 2014

Long Live Stuart Hall

On Stuart Hall - My Publishers once asked me:

'Whose achievements would you like to emulate within your own field?' I answered:

"That will have to be the great Stuart Hall. Here is a black man from Jamaica who has only a first degree in English but who transgressed disciplinary boundaries by becoming a Professor of Sociology and in the process helped to create a new discipline, Cultural Studies, while remaining a public intellectual, ever so critical and ever so committed to community engagement. Interestingly, while I was doing the field work for the book on Black Women and the Criminal Justice System, I heard Hall on the Open University television broadcast, deconstructing the poem, Tiger, by Blake, and I was transfixed, watching this brother that I had not met but wished that I could meet. Lo and behold, the very next morning, who do you think that I bumped into on Kilburn High Road? The great man himself, looking very ordinary and pedestrian. I started to holler as we used to do in Nigeria, Prooofff! Prooofff! He smiled and asked me what I was doing in London, he must have known from my theatrical accent that I was another Third World native like himself. I told him my research topic and he said, ‘that must be very challenging’. Exactly my own feeling even though some colleagues tried to discourage me on the ground that a man would find it difficult to do research on women. They would ask me to change my topic to black men or to corruption in Nigeria but my guru, Hall, saw where I was headed and he invited me to his home nearby to discuss my research. He asked if I had a pen to write his phone number and I said that I would remember it any day. He gave me the number and walked on and I rushed into the shop nearby to borrow a pen and write it down to be double sure. When I visited his cramped study with books everywhere. He asked me to explain my perspective and as soon as I started to talk about black women facing race, class and gender discrimination in the criminal justice system, he pounced and told me that I was talking about articulation. But, excuse me, from what I know, articulation is about the modes of production and all that. Yes, he said, but you can abstract it and apply it to social relations as well. He gave me a 1980 UNESCO book on race in which he has a chapter on race and class articulation and I have never looked back theoretically."

Long Live Hall, Long Live the theory of articulation, disarticulation and rearticluation!