I did not get a chance to watch much of the recent court proceedings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
It was by mere chance that I turned on the TV when the accused's mom was pleading for her son to be free. That was before the verdict by the jury in the case was reached.
Watching and hearing the plea on live TV was the most surprising to me in this particular case. I would have imagined that once it became clear enough to the accused's mom that her son had killed the children of two other moms, she would do the following according to the cultural norms of Guma.
She would look for wise leaders in the community in order to initiate proceedings to pay each mom in kind if she were to follow the cultural norms of Guma instead of letting the tragedy rot and turn the family into a rotten house. Through the wise leaders, she would send a message to each mom that the blood of her child is on the hands of the child that she bore, gave birth to, and brought up and that she is prepared to pay Guma in kind with assistance from family members as well as kin and kith.
Guma is a cultural norm that possibly predates Christianity, at least where it originated. It is invoked even today in cultural folklore across a wide region in Ethiopia.
I am not an expert on the cultural intricacies of Guma proceedings as much as I am not an expert on constitutionally sanctioned court proceedings. I respect and admire constitutional societies.
Then again, having heard some reports about this particular case, I can't help asking about the viability of Guma proceedings as an alternative to the constitutionally sanctioned court proceedings that eventuated in an acquittal of the killer of two other people.
I admit that in this particular case, I am biased in favor of Guma proceedings to the court proceedings that led to the eventuality of the reality. I am sure there are many adults that are equally baffled by the eventuality of this case after the court hearings and jury deliberations.
I also admit that my bias is compounded by a review of an ancient novel about a romance between a Meroe man and a Greek lady. It was also by chance that I stumbled upon the review that noted that ancient Greek culture takes the backseat to ancient Egyptian and Ethiopian cultures.
This particular case felt as if to bring what I had thought of in theory based on that particular review into a reality that the whole world got a chance to watch.
Based on my perfunctory understanding of Guma cultural norms, the aggressor would pay the aggrieved in kind instead of in life. Once that is done, as much as how tragic the situation may be, the families on both sides reconcile. This process may even lead to members in those families intermarrying in generations down the road, if not in the same generation. This may sound unimaginable. Then again, I fail to imagine how this cultural norm can be second to the enormous capacity of African Americans to forgive in the name of the Good Book even in the face of so many tragedies. Guma not paid in kind can turn into Guma paid in life, which often leads to protracted conflicts of the tribes on both sides.
Without having to look into Guma proceeding as a viable alternative to the court proceeding, it is not unimaginable to ask what meaningful redress the latter achieved in this particular case except using the constitution, taxpayers' money, court, and jury of the citizenry to leave forever an artificial wedge between the aggrieved and aggressor families. How is that artificial wedge between the two families to be overcome by the kin and kith on both sides in the event that they meet on Main Street or Wall Street down the road?
Guma proceeding rectifies the tragedy forever. The aggressor pays in kind and carries that badge for life instead of being locked away for life for an emotional outburst once upon a time. It is also not unimaginable to ask what meaningful redress is made by locking away a 17-year-old aggressor for life even when such outbursts, whether influenced or of free will, lead to such a tragedy. I have previously written about the value of Guma about a far more devastating tragedy.
The raison d'ê·tre for the acquittal is self-defense. Self-defense from the fear of death even though the aggressor was the only one in the case that discharged. If one is afraid to die, one is not living freely. This doesn't mean that one should be brave to go out and take oneself out. The braves are those that stand to defend the rights of others, which is what soldiers sign up for.
In this relatively short commentary, I can not definitively say if constitutional court proceedings or proceedings of Guma cultural norms have better viabilities in rectifying such tragedies on wider scales. I can only raise a question about the viability of the latter as an alternative to the former that the whole world got a chance to watch.
Good morning Harvard and Oxford. Can either or both of you present a Professor of social science worthy of professing who can study and definitively say if this ancient African cultural norm can, by any stretch of the imagination, be a viable alternative to addressing and rectifying such tragedies? If the answer is in the affirmative, it wouldn't take a genius to posit that the second renaissance may soon be headed to the gates of Harvard and Oxford. In that case, who would be the Poggio of this era that would dust off Guma of an ancient Lucretius in order to make it contemporary?
It is only human to ask for a viable alternative if something sounds amiss in the modern-sounding alternative. After all, what is literati society more than that which presents logical reasoning in writing? If one of them proves to be a better alternative, one can only say that one can't respect both progress and regress at the same time.
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