KING OF PIRATES: THE TALE OF CAPTAIN HENRY BENJAMIN AVERY.

 

When it comes to legends of Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow is a favorite of most especially to those nouveau to the historical phenomena.

Others that get a notable mention is Black Beard alias Edward Teach who is reputed to have lit fuses on his whiskers to look more fearsome. Alongside him is Long John Silver though to the best of my knowledge he never made the rank of captain but his exploits and respect he demanded from his cohorts have lasted for eons. Captain Flint is reckoned as a brilliant strategist, and his prowess shines brighter than most other naval commanders, howbeit I find him problematic due to the conflict of his soul or being if that is what is left of the soul after some mass murders. The one true pirate in most connoisseurs eyes is captain Charles Vane; a former slave as a boy he rose to captaincy under the pupilage of Black Beard and was a right partner and adversary to Flint. Unlike Teach, he didn’t have to fake appearances of fiercenesses or even concerning Flint he accepted his role and personage as a career buccaneer of the high-seas, a vocation akin to a highway robber, a bandit.

Long before any of this characters both fictitious and real were born, an actual pirate had already made history and indeed written his name in the annals of the record books. His exploits were never to be topped to date, and he is probably the reason most of this other pretenders to the throne ever pledged allegiance to the Jolly Roger. Henry B. Avery was born on 23rd of August 1659, at the age of 34 years after leaving the British Royal Navy he was charged to the Charles II. A warship for merchants built in tandem with the king of Spain after whom it was explicitly named to harangue and harass French ships. The man of war docked at the port of Corunna in Spain following its tedious voyage down the river Thames in its maiden voyage. Here the crew mutinied as a consequence of unpaid six months stipulated salaries due to bureaucracy. Henry was elected captain although it is not clear whether this was a motivation for his active role in the treachery. Their plot didn’t win them friends at the port and as such had to flee and sought infamy in the Atlantic ocean. The ship careened in the bight of Benin and was razeed which is nautical lingo for the decimation of the number of decks and crew onboard a galleon. This misfortune was a silver lining in their cloud as they made repairs, many non-vital parts were discarded, and the FANCY as it was renamed was able to be upgraded and was now among the fastest ships in the seven seas. After pillaging supplies from ships heading to Europe from Barbados and beyond, captain Avery was able to convince the seadogs to make sail for the Indian ocean rather than the west indies. They sojourned down to the southern tip of Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Along the way, they ambushed a couple of ships which they added to their inventory. Henry was the de-facto commodore or rear-admiral of at least five ships and a crew of up to six hundred men when they finally lay in waiting for an ambush at the Babel-el-Mandeb or straits of tears between modern-day Djibouti and Yemen. The victims of their ploy were Muslim pilgrims coming from Mecca reputed to be carrying vast amounts of treasure with them. The first target was able to slip past unnoticed, but the privateers gave chase and caught up with them five days later, where they boarded and looted with not much of a resistance. The bounty recovered is said to be sizeable enough to buy the FANCY at least fifty times over. The second prey wouldn’t be a pushover, it was a massive ship with no less than eighty cannons commissioned by the sixth Mughal, the emperor of most of India sub-continent at that moment, dubbed GUNJ-i-SAWAI meaning ‘exceeding treasure’ but also known as Gunsway. Only three out of five of the fleet under Avery engaged, one of the other two spectated while the other had been abandoned for being too slow. The pirate numbers suffered major casualties, but as fate would have it, lady luck smiled at them when misfortune struck the Indian’s ship when one of the cannons exploded. Perhaps in the heat of the battle, the barrels and hogsheads expanded, and the projectile got stuck when fired. With the smell of gunpowder in the air and taste of blood in their mouth, the ensuing melee turned the odds to the attacker’s favor. What transpired next is a sordid tale of deprivation, as remnants of the GUNSWAY were tortured for days to reveal where they had hidden the wealth while some female passengers opted to jump overboard and drown to avoid being Sulley-ed.

Some reports indicate allegedly captain Avery was handed a relation of the emperor himself: a grand-daughter of emperor Aurangzeb was said to be part of the entourage coming home after Hajj. The illicit gains from this single 17th-century hunt were at least £600k, half a million gold and silver rials alongside other gemstones and valuables. The FANCY and her partners in crime most likely headed to Madagascar to the pirate-utopia kingdom that predates the more notorious one in Nassau, Bahamas, the GUNSWAY limped back to the Aryan subcontinent. The score and scourge by then were deemed even more reprehensible than that of the 21st century indigenous fishermen turned pirates of Somalia. The tally of what Avery and his 600 or so scallywags were to divvy-up is estimated to be worth currently 60-100 million US dollars when adjusted for inflation. The Human Rights abuses would also lead the British government to declare H.Avery as ‘ hostis humani generis’ or enemy of the human race. Subsequently, the first global manhunt and international arrest warrant ever were issued against him. Avery had beforehand purportedly given British merchant ships a secret signal that they could use to avert an attack by them, but the British India Company had seen trade volumes go down by 90% and thus had to pacify the ruler of India to not lose any more business. No longer welcome in the Indian ocean, Avery and his band of merry men high-tailed back to West Africa.

One of Bob Marley’s most famous lyrics is ” Old pirates, yes, they rob I Sold I to the merchant ships” from his ‘Redemption song’; Avery had been involved in the slave trade after leaving the navy prior to becoming first mate of the CHARLES II, before setting off to the West Indies they purchased ninety slaves whom they used as labourers and in that era was the most consistent commodity of trade, since they didn’t want to use foreign currency as it would raise suspicion. The French and Danes that had been conscripted before the escapades in East Africa had chosen to leave. The crew had received at least £1000 each plus other gemstones, but they had a £500 bounty on their heads. On arrival to Nassau, they bribed the governor with £1000 and left 50 tons of ivory, barrels of gunpowder and ammunition along with the vessel FANCY itself as a token of appreciation for not snitching them out to the British authorities.

For all their pettifoggery, Avery’s scoundrels were soon bored out of their mind with no one and nothing to spend their hard earned *cough* cash on in the sparsely populated Caribbean outpost. They chose to make headway to the United States, a decision that proved fatal for most of them but Long-Ben as Avery was also known as was able to escape to Britain. A number of his skeleton crew were arrested, tried and hanged. One in particular turned state witness against the others. According to Henry’s descendants or relatives, he died before the turn of the 18th century in 1769 A.D. in abject poverty and destitute at the age of forty years after apparently being swindled by unscrupulous jewelers and merchants. The Swahili people have a proverb that states ” pwagu hupata pwaguzi“, which translates to roughly mean a pickpocket will encounter a car-jacker.

“Look at me! I’m the captain now!.” ~ actor ABDI-RAHMAN BARKHAD in the film ‘Captain Phillips’ (2013)

Via Sir Alan

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SELF-ACTUALIZATION; An ode to Cristiano Ronaldo.

A standard measure of a mans’ worth is the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The closer one reaches the top of this pyramid the more accomplished or fulfilled they are. As one completes the five levels the more whole they are posited to be or feel.

The first level or the foundation encompasses physiological needs. These are physical requirements for human survival, which if not met the human body cannot function properly and will ultimately fail. These needs are approximately or fundamentally nine in total and include oxygen, water, nutrition, sleep, sex, warmth, excretion, mobility, and pain.

The next level is environmental needs. Growing up there were a lot of empty plots of land around our neighborhood which were adversely occupied. We tended to convert this lots to our playing grounds, and since they weren’t fenced off yet, I could join adjacent estates’ children in playing football. Sometimes we had access to the Adidas 1970 world cup Telstar design inspired leather bound sphere football replica but more often than not we would wrap newspapers into a globe then envelope it in a plastic paper bag or two and just for good measure tie a string around it in a mesh style fashion squeezing the contents so tight the object could roll in a straight line and actually bounce.

Telstar, Official 1970 Worldcup Football

The middle passage of this strata ranking is social needs. As a Kenyan, a majority of your childhood was spent in prison-like institutions called schools. In my particular penitentiary, intermittent breaks of academic learning were spent kicking soda cans and plastic bottles around in a game of pseudo football when an actual football was not available. We couldn’t carry a proper leather one to school since the older boys would deprive us of it and our parents would whip us if it got stolen or lost plus ultimately our innovative polythene bound orbs were banned by the principal.

We had variations of the beautiful game such as the one-touch, where if you scored by kicking the ball once you faced a new opponent, any more than one stroke and you were disqualified paving the way for a new contestant in your stead. Of course, some of the popular kids would get to break the rules but how they arrived to be so high in the pecking order is open for discussion.

Self-esteem is the penultimate stage, and I was lucky enough to have never had an acne breakout during puberty in the meantime gaining a deep bass in my voice in the process. My adolescent years were spent perfecting a three-point shot on the basketball rim my elder brother had fastened to a Jacaranda tree I had hoped my father would build a tree house for me on. At the only basketball court in my town, I always managed to reach 7 points in a game of 21, when men twice my age had to sit out the rest of the play for not doing the same once the leading scorer reached 11 points. My strategy since I was small was to get the ball, shoot from outside the D, after which I would sink the first free throw earning two more points then choose to either score one more point with the second free throw or violently slam the ball against the board in the hopes I could recapture it outside the D for another attempt at a three-point shot for an additional two points plus the requisite two free throws earning one point each bringing a total of five to eight points.

I took up swimming fervently in high school until the pool was drained and the renovations took more than a couple of months. I remember standing in the deep end of the empty abyss, eyes closed, imagining the natatorium filling up with water lifting me up. A hairline fracture I neglected under my right knee limited my professional athlete career although such an excuse didn’t stop polio-ridden right-winger and forward by the name Manuel Francisco dos Santos alias Garrincha from winning the world cup for Brazil in 1958. Perhaps it’s my lack of discipline that’s to blame. My tardiness to school ensured I ran a kilometer three days a week as punishment plus my annual valentine’s day ritual of a thousand sit-ups keeps me fit. One of the many older girls I’ve dated who’ve witnessed my sporting prowess used to tease me on how dirty I was in the lower primary by evening after a day of scrimmage football. I pray the athletic gene traits I’ve been told I possess are passed onto my future generations.

Currently, I’ve taken up cycling and will resume training on my 15-speed mountain bike once I purchase new tires to achieve at least 50km in one and a half hours. I will reward myself with a ‘700’ race bike with 27 gears or more that I see on tour-de-France. I plan to do this and participate in the tour-de-Machakos before it becomes an elitist event needing millions of dollars sponsorship from multinational corporations.

The final and highest phase is transcendence, where one becomes too much associated with excellence in a field that they inspire others to be of the same caliber, even if it’s not on the same genre of practice. This because success has a generic trait of sacrifice and postponement of gratification, in layman terms: no pain, no gain. Cristiano Ronaldo is an icon who at the age of twelve left his Madeira hometown for Lisbon city thousands of kilometers from friends and family. Two decades later he has won every major trophy and award bar one, the world cup. Mayhaps in a fortnight from now this statement won’t be, but nonetheless, with his Spartan-like livelihood, I won’t be surprised if he graces our screens and grass on the pitch in Qatar and America. As with all racehorse champions, we shall retire him to pasture as a pedigree stud. FORZA PORTUGALE!

Via Sir Alan.

Dangerous Muster

 

He racked his brains, from the moment they met, where they had been to, people they met. Any clue that he thought would be able to solve this puzzle. His brain lit up like a light bulb when he remembered the one place she had whimsically mentioned a couple of times. He had a good feeling about this one. He imaginarily high fived himself for his eidetic memory.

Quickly he picked his jacket, cell phone, wallet and left the house. He didn’t want to drive because he was not in the right state of mind. Ran to the nearest stage, got into a matatu and left for town. The lively matatu culture around him felt surreal. People boarding the matatu, others alighting, the makanga shouting, the driver blasting latest obscene Kenyan songs, all to him felt illusory. The makanga had to tap him twice when he was asked for fare and thrice to let him know he had reached CBD.

He was in his own world. As he boarded a shuttle heading to Thika, he realized that chances of her being there are subjacent. But a gnawing feeling that he might see her there was too immense. The closer and closer he got to the town, the more he catechized himself on her disappearance, him seeking her out and whether he should let her go. Then he recalled how she made him feel, her sarcasm, laughter, terrible jokes…her entire quirks and quiddities made him realize to breathe and live. She brought him a peripheral range of understanding of the world, her and himself that he hadn’t unearthed despite having a brain power than most. Yet in a transitory second he knew whatever the reason she had for abandoning the ship, was valid and him seeking her out would not make much difference. But his ache to see her, even it was one last time, won this battle.

He didn’t know the place, so he got into a cab and asked the driver if he knew the area. Luckily for him, he did. He was torn whether to go empty handed or not. Heck, he didn’t know how to act when he sees her. “It is what it is” he mumbled as the driver sped on.

The the weather was cloudy, cold and grey as if prepping him for bad news. When they got there, the gate-man didn’t allow the cab to go in. He paid, got out and asked the gate-man if he knew where Layla lives.

“Layla mgani? Hapa kwa hii estate watu ni wengi my friend” 

“Ummmm…Layla Amin?”

Blank stare from the gate-man.

“Ummm….babake alikua mkubwa pale Delmonte?”

“Ah! Si ungesema tu Amin wa Delo! Nyinyi vijana mnakuanga na maneno mingi hehehe. Hata ameingia tu saa hii kutoka sokoni. Nipe ID yako na uandike majina na numba ya simu kwa hii kitabu”

Relief with a tinge of anxiety kicked in as he wrote on. He was given instructions where Layla’s house was located. Like a man on a mission, he stepped forward and fast. He was in a high pitch fervor to see her. As he opened the gate to Layla’s house, he realized he was sweating. A quick wipe of his brows and a pat on his shirt and pants, he wished he had adorned an antiperspirant.

“She likes my smell anyway, hope that hasn’t changed.” he chuckled as he knocked on her door.

He knocked twice. No footsteps, no sound coming from inside the house. Hit harder, no answer. He twisted the door handle, and the door nudged open. He hesitated to wonder whether he should go in or not. As he stepped in, she appeared at the end of the hallway. His feet froze as her hands thawed and she let go of the cup in her hand, breaking into smithereens on her feet.

Silence…….

Via Nay Nay

Writing is all that is left – Part 2

2 a.m in the morning. I just got into bed after a hilarious one or so something hours of Zoolander (Dear God that movie is stupid!). I tossed and turned for a few minutes before accepting that I’m just not sleepy… yet. Then I remembered that the thing I craved most of all about getting a new laptop is the chance to do something constructive, or just active, with my insomnia. And, well, we all know that writing is my go-to. So here I am.

I don’t exactly have a topic I want to embark on tonight. To be quite frank I have no idea where I’m going with this. But God it feels so good to write!! It feels like… like I’m in another world if I’m honest. One where all my dreams are not only possible but are actually real.

Actually here.
In this world, I’m traveling to coast by plane. Not because I feel entitled and can’t ride a bus or anything, but only because I haven’t been on a flight yet. I get on that small gadget the Wright Brothers invented, and the beauty of this all is the excitement, the exhilaration of doing something new. At this moment, I totally understand what my buddy Richard Branson meant when he said, “Don’t ever lose the excitement of discovering something new.”
In this world, I’m sitting by the beach. The sun is not nearly as blisteringly hot as it would be in reality. The palm trees are more aloof than could ever be. There are laughter and shrieks all around, and I’m watching it all, smiling quietly as I write all about it. The little kids are running into the ocean and then scampering back ashore as the waves roll in. The lovers are walking hand in hand, probably on their honeymoon. The beach boys are shouting out all sorts of services they offer for a tuppence. It’s a typical day at the beach. I love every minute of it.

I get back there in the dark of night. This time, all is quiet, all souls are deep in slumber. All but the ocean, whose spirit is alive and ferocious. The only thing I hear is the crashing waves as they hit shore. Tide after tide after tide. I have to tell you, few things in this world bring out inner peace. The heart of the ocean is one of them.
In this world, I’m back home. Only, I don’t live with my parents. I have my own little apartment. It has a balcony with a beautiful view of the sunset. It has a small kitchenette where I make cinnamon pancakes when I’ve got cravings. There are paintings all over the walls- some made by me, some by actual artists (hehe, not that I doubt my skills) My loo has a tiny stack of magazines and novels (100% comfort as you do your business if you ask me) My friends won’t quit teasing me about it every time they come over) On the balcony, there are little pots of flowers. I don’t know them by name, but they make me so happy every time I sit with my coffee just gazing out. Among the flowers are a few herbs that Winnie said were good for me. Their scent, Lord their deep, earthy smell just gets me. That little garden makes me so proud. Maybe I should do a bit of spinach here while I’m at it.

In this world, I wake up each morning full of energy. Before I get out of bed, I remember my mantra; “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in Spirit, serve the Lord.” And that is what I am dedicated to. Each day I purpose to follow excellence because I know that success will chase my pants down. At this moment (the real moment), I don’t see that distinction is being a teacher. I don’t know that it’s a mentor. I don’t know that it’s an artist, a counselor, an agribusiness consultant. I don’t see that it’s all of these things, or that it’s none of them. What I do know is that whatever the combination, I am definitely kicking ass. When I get into my oh-so-cozy bed each night, I smile knowing that I have lived my mantra, and now I can rest.
In this world, the thing I see almost most clearly of all, is a moment such as this one. Whether in a coffee shop, trying a new variance of latte, or in a bus, on my way to Tafaria (I’m definitely going there soon) Whether in my office, on a lazy afternoon, or in my house, listening to Tanya Stephens. I’m seated as comfortably as I can get, I have this beautiful machine on my lap, this goofy smile on my face, and I’m typing. I amuse myself with little jokes I’m inserting. Sometimes I cry because the story is too emotional. On some days I even forget my laptop. So now I’m at Java, waiting for a friend, busy with a pen and notebook. I don’t know that I exist without writing, even the dumbest of things. I don’t know that I ever was not connected to this great lurrrrrve of mine. But the thing I see most of all, even without knowing how, is that my words shall impact people. And someday soon I’ll be the one getting interviewed (whoop whoop!)
So, back to 2a.m. Back to reality. My tush is a bit sore from sitting up. My eyes are starting to get a bit heavy. But my heart is doing a little dance in excitement. This is the first piece on this laptop. Hopefully the start of many. Hopefully the beginning of a legacy. Because these dreams, they remain nothing but… dreams. And who wants to forever swoon at fantasies when they could actually turn them into the real deal?

Via Maggie Mungai

Read Part 1 of Writing is all that is left.

ALL HANDS ON DECK!; ABANDON SHIP!

Loose lips sink ships is something I’ve heard said on one or more occasion thus probably why sailors hold a reputation of having the most vulgar and coarse language. They tend to be rowdy and are often involved in drunken bar brawls when they make port. Alongside being scandalous lovers akin to long-distance truck drivers, their devil may care attitude may be attributed to the fact that at a point in history almost a third of the crew on a ship was buried at sea. A dangerous occupation although one may argue a majority of them were on the run from terrestrial demons, perhaps all the fables of sea monsters did not point to the certitude that probably the devils were pretty adept swimmers.

A particular breed of sailors are the pirates of the Caribbean majority of whom were actually naval officers sanctioned by her majesty’s the queen of Britain government to loot Spanish vessels as privateers: a medieval trade war. On the surface, they seem a bunch of, but on close inspection, one finds that discipline is a core trait of the more successful companies, plus the benefits were equally shared in spite of rank as opposed to other official outfits that relied on wages thus spoils in the latter were skewed top to bottom.

The threat of violence is key to the code of honor among thieves. This is how criminals who by virtue are serpents are able to collaborate. It is not just the rudimentary use of brutality that poised one to higher ranks, but how far one is willing to go that is to say a scoundrel that merely used his fists to settle scores is less feared than one who resorts to cloak and dagger wars, but a more sinister villain has a clique so loyal as to do the dirty deeds for them without fear or hesitation. These sorts tend to be alpha males but even they from time to time get tested any glimpse of weakness doesn’t go unnoticed.

Aside from murder, a challenger to authority may be subjected to less fatal punishment or humiliation to humble them enough to be a productive adherent. Some crimes were punitive for example larceny, but acts of insubordination were remedied by flogging or starvation, maybe even shunning and demotion or rank.

One interesting, pardon me I meant horrendous form is keelhauling, where an offender was tied to a rope that was looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship and dragged under the ship’s keel( either of two parts: a structural element resembling a fin that protrudes below a boat along the central line; or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap). The culprit is either pulled from one side of the ship to the other, starboard to port perhaps or the length of the vessel from bow to stern if you like.

“mwenda tezi na omo, marejeo ni ngamani.” ~ KISWAHILI PROVERB.

The above-stated event resulted in a death sentence or torture so severe it permanently maimed. The bottom of the ship is covered in barnacles leading to lacerations and most probably drowning. Thus a sailor’s worst nightmare is a boat keeling over and a famous maritime quip after ‘shiver me timbers’ and snarling is the adage: the captain goes down with the ship. This is because his or her attachment to a man-of-war or floating bucket is supposed to be so strong that they were conjoined twins where one is buried in the other as a corpse and casket. This may, in fact, be in a line of the view that a commander must try all they can to win a battle while preserving the lives of his charges or in this case save the ship or ensure at least every person on board is off the vessel before they disembark. By so doing they retain the respect of their underlings, more so since persons sailing under the skull and bones black banner often tend to be damaged goods, neglected archetypes that lacked a father figure.

Of course, the opposite of losing a ship is gaining another one coupled with the promotion of rank to that of a Commodore which is bestowed on one with a fleet. What else would reward your second in command, a loyal first-mate than their own domain? My question to you is quite simple, are you captain of your ship yet? *BON VOYAGE!*

Via Sir Alan