M. NourbeSe Philip | from ‘ZONG!’

1B900E8D-7C53-440E-844E-5D33BD713EDF_1_105_c
M. NourbeSe Philip at Arika, 2013

 


Zong! attempts to not-tell the story that must be told yet can’t be told – the story of the Zong massacre in 1781 in which the captain of the eponymous slave ship throws overboard some 150 enslaved Africans in order to collect payment of insurance monies. Through fragments of words and phrases a contrapuntal rhythm of word and silence is created as the story untells itself.
Multilingual, multiethnic and multiracial, the globalised universe of the slave ship is a space of extreme contraction and restriction, it is rule-bound and closely girded and guarded by the law and religion. It is essentially a space of terror.


 

 

ZONG! #12

 

 

it

is said

has been decided

was justified

appeared impossible

is not necessary

is another ground

need not be proved

it

was a throwing overboard

it

is a particular circumstance

need not be proved

is another ground

is not necessary

appeared impossible

 


Oni Sanura Mashama Sigolwide Shamfa

 

 

 

was justified

has been decided

is said

it

was

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mhonum Ajike Odunmbaku Maizah Oku Lizige

 

 

 

 

Zong! #19

 

 

drowned the law

their thirst &

the evidence

 

obliged the frenzy

 

in themselves

in the sea

 

ground the justify

in the necessity of

 

when

who &

which

 

 


Gbolade Ololade Mapfumo Ngunda Dayo

 

 

there is no evidence

in the against of winds

the consequence of currents

or

the apprehension of rains

the certain of value

or

the value in certain

 

against the rest in preservation

the save in residue

negroes exist

for the throwing

 

 

 

 

 


Musa Baba Olufemi Muata Iyabo Noxolo

 

 

 

 

Zong! #20

 

 

this necessity of loss

this quantity of not

perils underwriters

insurers

of

the throw in circumstance

the instance in attempt

the attempt in voyage

the may in become

in

the between of day

a sea of negroes

drowned

live

in the thirst

 


Oriyome Fasuyi Olaifa Ekua Bobo Kobie

 

 

for

otherwise

the sure of verdict

in the want of action

preserve the soon in afterwards

the time in africa

to jamaica

now the question

falls

upon

enemies

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kusoro Moleye Namono Ufa Bilal

 

 

 

 

Zong! #21

 

 

is  being is

or

should

is is

is

be

being

or

been

is was

is

should be

or

have been

is there

 

 


Ayodele Oluwa Oje Olayinka Motayo Babatunde

 

was

should

was not

should be

or

have been

is there is

or

being

 

there

is was

is is

should

and

have been

there is

was

there

 


Ogunade Omotayo Yewande Abibola Sonubi Abeke

 

 

 

 

Zong! #22

 

lives own their facts

of spent lives

murder

market

misfortunes

&

policy

lying dead

under seas

facts own their lives

in circumstance

&

happening

in trial &

declaration

in the absolute

of rule

&

lord

in the absolute

of water

 


Muru Kakra Kolawole Kibibi Olabisi Usi

 

 

 

 

Zong! #23

 

 

 

was

the weight in being

the same in rains

the ration in loss

the proved in fact

the within in is

the sufficient in indictment

the might have in existed

is

the evidence in negroes

 

 

 


Moleye Maideyi Ibeyemi Nobini Olonade Bunmi

 

 

 

 

Zong! #24

 

evidence

is
sustenance
is
support
is
the law

the ship

is
the captain
is
the crew

perils

is
the trial
is
the rains
is
the seas
is
the currents

jamaica

is
tobago
is
islands

the case

is

murder

 


Kenyatta Mesi Nayo Yooku Ngena

is
justice

africa

is
the ground
is
negroes

evidence is

sustenance is
support is
the law is
the ship is
the captain is
the crew is
perils is
the trial is
the rains is
the seas is
currents is
jamaica is
tobago is
islands is
the case is
murder is
justice is
the ground is
africa is

 

negroes

was

 


Oluyemi Esugbayi Adubifa Ogunlesi Akua

 

 

 

 

Zong!#25

 

justify the could

the captain &

the crew

the authorize

in captain

crew &

could

could authorize justify

captain

&

crew

the

could

or justify authorize

could

captain & crew

authorize

 


Bomani Yahya Modupe Jibowu Fayola

 

the crew

the captain &

the could

the justify

in

captain

the could &

crew

in authorize

justify

the could

the captain &

the crew

justify the authorize

the could

 

 

 


Mulogo Tiwalade Onifade Solanke Wamukota Nsomba

 

 

 

 

Zong! #26

 

 

was the cause was the remedy was the record was the argument
was the delay was the evidence was overboard was the not was the
cause was the was was the need was the case was the perils was the
want was the particular circumstance was the seas was the costs
was the could was the would was the policy was the loss was the
vessel was the rains was the order was the that was the this was the necessity was the mistake was the captain was the crew was the
result was justified was the voyage was the water was the maps
was the weeks was the winds was the calms was the captain was
the seas was the rains was uncommon was the declaration was the apprehension was the voyage was destroyed was thrown was the
question was the therefore was the this was the that was the
negroes was the cause

 


Omolara Chimaneya Adekemi Oke Mowunmi Iliola

 

 

 

 

M. NourbeSe Philip | ZONG!
Wesleyan University Press 2008
Image by Alice Yard

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