M. NourbeSe Philip | from ‘ZONG!’

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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! #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

 

 

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

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