Monday, March 4, 2013

The Man Who Would Be God

Amen Ra. Who says he's not God?

'You can't preach that here.'
I met Pablo Fajardo, AKA Alexander Hamilton, AKA Amen Ra (in chronological order) the other evening in La Plaza del Chorro, where he stood in the chapel doorway preaching in his powerful, stentorian voice about god to a few bystanders, who were ignoring him.

It turns out that Ra, who said he was born in Colombia in 1973 and adopted by a British couple, but ended up somehow in Houston, Texas, believes that he is God.

He even says so himself - and who should know better?

"I am God," he declares, loudly and fervently.

Ra told me that he was born Pablo Fajardo, his adoptive parents renamed him Alexander Hamilton (one of the U.S.'s founders and an advocate of big business) and that he named himself Amen Ra. I'm not sure when he realized that he was God.

Unless he really is God, Ra also has a slightly exaggerated view of his own role in the world. In Houston, he says he protested against the war in Iraq - and singlehandedly stopped the war. That was why, he says, he was expelled from the United States. I suspect that U.S. authorities would tell a slightly different version of the story, perhaps involving crimes committed by a non-citizen alien. Ra told me that he had had some trouble with the law, including stealing a Nintendo game console. A non-citizen who commits felonies can be deported from the U.S.

He seemed paranoid. Ra believes that here in Colombia the rich and the government are prohibiting him from expressing himself, getting a job or having a girlfriend. It all has to do with Colombia being a 'republic' rather than a democracy, he explained. Or, perhaps there is something to what he says. After all, both the U.S. and Colombia claim to respect free speech rights - for anybody who can afford to buy their own newspaper or television station.

Thanks to a monthly allowance sent by his brother, Ra rents a cheap room near the Santa Fe red light district and appears to spend his time preaching.

Soon after I spotted Ra preaching in the doorway of the chapel of El Chorro de Quevedo plaza a policeman walked up, displayed a set of handcuffs and ordered him to stop, under threat of arrest. It occurred to me that I should stick up in his defense. After all, he's got a right to talk, no matter how crazy, and he wasn't doing anybody any harm. But it crossed my mind that the police's response would be 'What's a gringo doing sticking his nose into this?' and ignore me. Now I think my justification was an excuse.

In any case, I stayed quiet, which was wrong.

And just perhaps there is something to what Ra says about society wanting to quiet people like him. After all, his speaking, for all of his unlikely ideas, carries a real power. And, maybe just perhaps he is really is God. Just try to prove him wrong.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

Not a God, but the next president (dictator) of Venezuela perhaps? ;)

Julian and Audrey said...

I went to high school with Alex. Wild

Miguel said...

He's gone a long way since then, it seems.