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.