by Jota Mombaça

In Jota Mombaça’s journal entries – less a dystopia than a poetic description of the status quo – the hierarchy of the world above and below materializes. In secrecy, in the labyrinths of tunnels, accompanied by sadness and constant losses, those present have to rely on their instincts, therefore holding on even more to community.

NOVEMBER, the 21st 2021
WE LOST EVERYTHING AGAIN. This is the third time this has happened since the time has come. The days are long, almost eternal. We walk indefinitely through the tunnels, we have been thrown out from everywhere, always in the shade, always together. Down here, the vibration of the world can be disturbing. There are those among us who still dream of returning to the surface, some dream of taking the world back and restoring the integrity it seemed to have had before. There are also, among us, those who mock the nostalgics, insisting that the world, after all, has never been wholesome and that somehow we have always been here.

We have always been here, indeed. The tunnels which we now live in were made by the first ones of us who traveled through this territory – enslaved people, fleeing from the lashes of those who claimed to be their masters. Over the years, the paths have been opening up and multiplying, like an underground labyrinth, an ancestral infrastructure embedded in the earth under the white feet of those who, by the force of their weapons, have imposed themselves as masters of the world.

It is dark in here. We often lose sight of one another, so our senses are sharpened. We have learned to communicate by touch, by smell, by the sound of our breaths, by the vibration that passes through our skins and reverberates in each and everyone. We also read the tunnels this way. Every aspect of this unusual geography speaks to us. The humidity, the smells, the sound of the creatures that are also here, just as that black, almost purple light that from time to time emerges from a deep place of the earth and floods everything, illuminating it all without becoming visible. Whenever we lose everything, the light comes and enters and stays our bodies, as well as in the very structure of all tunnels.

“To lose everything” is the expression we use when one of us dies. We stop saying “die” because, after all, we have all been dead since the first bomb... and even long before, since the very first slave ship, when our lives were all marked as part of a single undifferentiated mass of death-in-life. As the living-dead, some of us like to identify as Zombies. We are, in fact, Zombies because, strictly speaking, we are neither alive nor dead, but also because we descended from the warrior Zumbi dos Palmares. In the happiest hours, when our hearts quiet a little and we can feel small sparks of life burn everything inside us, we like to imagine that Palmares is here and that on the opposite side of all apocalypse, there is a Black life that manifests itself and vibrates and shines like that light that rises from the depth every time we lose everything.

“We stop saying ‘die‘ because, after all, we have all been dead since the first bomb.”

NOVEMBER, the 22nd 2021
WE ARE TIRED. We no longer know how to count the time because, here below, nothing ever dawns. I am writing this desperate journal while pressing my left temple with my fingertips, looking for some sign or telepathic event that will allow me to pass on anything about us. I’m not asking for help. Most of us refuse the idea of being saved, for we know that the world – or at least the world as we know it – holds no hope for us. What I seek when I try to tune my mind to any other mind up there is a way of disturbing the peace that buries us, to invade the pacified consciousness of those who live above us and to shake it with the pain that we are made of.

We are tired and we are also furious. There are moments when we desire so firmly the abolition of all things done through our social death that we feel the earth to start trembling around us. We then hold hands, refusing the fear, in order to wish together that the earth finally vibrates their apocalypse this time.

“We are tired and we are also furious.”

NOVEMBER, the 23rd 2021
THE BLACK LIGHT LIGHTED THE LABYRINTH OF TUNNELS ALL AT ONCE AND WE, TOGETHER, WE MADE EVERYTHING VIBRATE AROUND US. We are tired of always losing everything. It will be needed to take something too, to cut the world. This time, it was the oldest warrior. She had been sick already, mumbling against our condition, sad, deeply sad, but still haughty in her own fury, raised to her own anger. In tribute to her, this time, after losing everything, we made something remain, as if the pain that passes through us had finally reached a point of overflowing.

We held hands. Around the sleeping body of our old woman, we made a great shudder come. Some were afraid that the earth would collapse upon us, but deep down we all wished for some form of collapse. The shuddering earth vibrated beyond the tunnels, and we felt the waves of fear come to us from those who over these years have made us exist in fear. It was an attack; we were catching up. We radiated with a sorrowful fury, and we felt that the more we shook each other’s hands, the more we became intimate with the earth around us.

Stunned by our own power, we also swayed, shaken by the shudder we were generating in their world, frightened by the materiality of our own power, with its ability to affect, so directly, the structure of their world, the health of their world, the architecture and grammar of their world. We were there, bound by a force that came precisely from the gathering of our fragilities. We were weak, broken, and we had lost everything so many, many times ... Somehow, from that labyrinth of tunnels under the earth, we were operating an earthquake against their world. In fact, it suddenly seemed like we were about to break their world into pieces forever.

Until an exhaustion came and fell upon us and upon the earth itself. Our hands loosened and we began to fall, one by one. The labyrinth of tunnels remained intact. For a moment, we all wondered, silently, about where and how many we were. How deep, how at the heart of everything had we ended up?


“We deeply hope that the world as it is given us ends.”

NOVEMBER, the 24th 2021
WE DEEPLY WISH THE WORLD - AS IT HAS SHOWN ITSELF TO US - TO END. And this is an indestructible desire. We have been subjected to all forms of violence, fecundated in the impossible shade of all social forms, condemned to be born dead, and to live against all structures, at the opposite core of all structure. We deeply hope that the world as it is given us ends. And that it ends discreetly, on a particle-level, in the catastrophic intimacy of this world-deprived world, this world that even the earth itself rejects. These words circulated telepathically among all of us, not so much as a thought, but as something vibrating from the body, in the flesh of the tunnel, from our old woman, from us: we deeply wish that the world as it is given us ends.

The black light, which had flooded all and with all intensity, gradually slipped through the corners of the labyrinth, bathing our body, and sinking again into the depth. We were there for a long time, cooking together with the earth. Little by little, as our bodies regained access to our legs, we decided to split and move through the labyrinth of tunnels, trying to capture the repercussions of our attack, and study the implications of what we had done.

As I walked, I remembered a phrase I had learned shortly before the morning of January 1st, 2012, “May the victory reward those who have made war without loving it.” I felt the memory of it rebounding from the walls of the tunnels, and it vibrated with all the people who accompanied me. Nothing vibrated in response. We continued in silence, studying the labyrinth. Everything seemed oddly calm. We were alive.

We would live.

This text is a fragmented version of Mombaça’s short story “The Time Has Come, In Which The Lights of This Epoch Were Lit Everywhere” (c) Jota Mombaça, 2019