"Where Did Our Ghosts Go"? asks the French antrhopologist Marc Augé ask in his recent book Nouvelles Peurs [New Fears], 2013.

Contemporary life is characterised by sequential intervals, by intense groupings, temporal proximities and finitudes of presence. These phenomena are moderated by a temporarily that resembles distance.

In the age marked by unprecedented possibilities to depart from home, to sojourn, and to venture even to the farthest reaches of the universe, it seems banal to question such distance. And yet, what substantiate the elective departures is the knowledge of being able to readily return. Here, returning means to reach again “freely” to the familiar ordinary: the scents, the landscapes, the liberties and safeties that constitute what one can call home.

The poignancy of the Distance alluded to here is then the tragic inevitability and inescapability of loss: a distancing to relationships unwillingly forsaken; affections from which separation is a violent act that leaves a wound for which there is no simple healing.

Distance is the antithesis to the prevailing cosmopolitanism. If the cosmopolitan ethos is formalised by the “freedom” to roam and to return, those in the margins through the intensity of distance are defined by the severance from familiarities through the denial of the liberty to remain, to rest, or to return.

This paradoxical endless ending compels a contemplation. This fragmentation generates communities of sorts, because it is unavoidably real for those who experience it. More than a thought, it is a condition. It’s like a constant state of falling but it’s not really a movement since you never get anywhere. Distance is encircling. This reality is then a place, a knowledge, a narrative, and above all, as averred by Olu Oguibe, it is a psychic space which is “lived” by those who inhabit it, those who must engage and wrestle with it because only by so doing can they come to terms with it. If this condition of ending is a fertile ground for creative imagination, it is so not because  it offers a choice but precisely because it does not. The engagement with an elsewhere is not a fascination but an individual (and by extension it grows into a collective) quest to come to terms with the fact of distance. Such an effort of engagement is an attempt to explain to oneself than to others, to shore up against one’s ruins. The practice of affiliation is a technology of the self (See Olu Oguibe, Exile..., 2006).

The distance is not so much about movement, relocation or departure, but about loss. Distance is a denial or an impossibility to return to relationships. It is the collapse of a world of relative certainties...”

The Orphans of Fanon, or The Rhythm of Life

So then, the Distance is not so much about movement, relocation or departure, but about loss. Distance is a denial or an impossibility to return to previous contacts and existing relationships. It is the collapse of a world of relative certainties.

Christopher Okigbo, the late Nigerian poet, maintained that "death is an exercise in Panafricanism". Writing in The Trial of Christopher Okigbo (1969), the Kenyan writer Ali Mazrui has dealt with the continuation, or the pursuit of practice beyond death. Mazrui fictionalised a transformative notion of the Herebefore and an eternal, international and inter-temporal After-Africa set in the Hereafter. "Are we the past, the future or indeed the present?", the protagonist asks. Here, Mazrui proposes a principle of simultaneous parallelism.
For, the Hereafter is for those still living. And yet, Hereafter, indicates a moment in the future. "Are the past and the future no more than different sides of the coin of simultaneity, derived not through linear derivation but in terms of parallel evolution?"

Such a condition of a Hereafter is an everyday psychobiological phenomenon of mourning.
In Aporias (1993), Derrida writes: "In an economic, elliptic, hence dogmatic way, I would say that there is no politics without an organisation of the time and space of mourning, without a topolitology of the sepulchre, without an anamnestic and thematic relation to the spirit as ghost, without an open hospitality to the guest as ghost, whom one holds, just as he holds us, hostage.” Here, Derrida speaks about learning to live with ghosts, or spectres, as a politics of memory, inheritance and generations.

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