Check out the link above to watch a video we did for one of the poetry pieces from my upcoming collection. Enjoy and please share.
Dostoyevsky once said that beauty will save the world.Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn kind of agreed with him in his 1970Nobel Lecture. (that’s just an excerpt but it’s so worth reading.)
Beauty will save the world.
But what exactly is beauty? How can you define it?
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We shall find all precious substance,
We shall fill our houses with spoil–Proverbs of Solomon.
Perhaps the above Proverbs explains my own expectations for the June 2016 edition of the Goethe Institut facilitated event ‘Reading In Unusual Spaces’. But just like anything unusual, you just have to prepare for anything.
Curated by writer Tony Mochama aka Smitta Smitten of The Standard Media, writers and other literature enthusiasts met at the Goethe Institut on Satuarday morning 10 a.m. on June 11 2016.
We then walked over to Jevanjee Gardens where we were divided into groups of three. In these groups, we approached random people at Jevanjee inorder to share our love for literature. Since Jevanjee is synonymous with preachers, the organisers felt that some Proverbs of Solomon would be appropriate. I think we could have used other forms of literature too.
The first duo we approached said they were actually in a meeting so we moved on to another guy who was seated solo under a tree. He said his (Kibera) hood name was Wailer and boy! was he a sport. He even read some of the Proverbs out loud for us and explained their applications in life today. Wailer pointed out that he too was a reader. He also had friends who wrote but do not publish since they do not know where to go. He was at Jevanjee because he was waiting for his colleague so they could go for a children’s face-painting job just across the road.
Thereafter, we shared experiences, observations and lessons and one of the craziest ones I remember was from Tony’s group. They had found two men carrying suitcases and looking confused. Upon further enquiry, they discovered that these men were just about to be conned. They had been promised jobs in Kakuma, Northern Kenya in exchange for Kshs. 3,000. They did not doubt the job advert because ‘it was in the newspaper’. The person they were dealing with was still unreachable but they had been waiting there for him for a while already-ready to start their jobs in Kakuma immediately.
Some of the people we found at Jevanjee have smartphones too but none of them was reading as they waited, passed time in readiness for something else or smoked cigarettes. Why not read meanwhile?
Our next stop was the Imax Theatre where we read some poetry printed out by the organiser. ‘Priest accused of not wearing a condom’ by Paul Durcan was quite a discussion starter.
From here, we proceeded to Sabina Joy, a den where sex workers are available around the clock. Along the way, PEN-Kenya current president Khainga O’okwemba tried to derail us into International Life House for what he called an impromptu reading at some airline office. But Tony intervened before this happened.
On reaching the much-anticipated Sabina Joy, we were obviously so many that the bouncer became suspicious> She called the manager who intervened and we were finally let in.
But we were informed that they wouldn’t be switching-off the music since at 12 noon, they were already house-full. The camera people who had been following us were also not allowed in for obvious reasons. As soon as we were settled into one corner of the dimly-lit club, some guy grabbed one of the writer’s phones accusing him of taking photos. But Tony’s prescence was all it took for him to return it.
Over a drink, we continued to read in groups (inspite of the drama and the noise). To suit this special occasion, Potentash read an excerpt from her story ‘Confessions of a high class call girl’. Though I hadn’t come prepared to perform, I was asked to perform ‘my hottest poem’ http://bit.ly/1OkLGyK which I did, really having to raise my voice. This was quite a great voice exercise as one of the attendees cared to point out.
A walk towards the ladies washrooms and wow! The women lined up in wait was unexpected. They were all up and ready for business before lunchtime. I was informed that during the ‘washroom break’, I had missed some drama; a woman had gotten into a fight with a guy –even tearing up his shirt before security could intervene.
I have always been an avid reader, reading everywhere and anywhere I can so I did not have to be converted. I was happy that what we did generated the desired curiousity, which was part of the plan. I also met some really wonderful inspiring literature-loving men and women and had some incredible moments of inspiration and experiences for sure. Not what I had pictured/expected, but definitely worth my time.
The next Reading in Unusual Spaces will be held in Ole Polos.
I never stop being amazed.
When I was young, and wanted to run and run until I finally found a place in the world I felt alive, dip my hair in feral mermaid greens, creep into empty practice rooms and talk to the piano all day long, or just wake in time to watch the dawn shift into that singular, magical violet, the world made sure I was buried alive; pushed down to explore fierce underworlds. Spittle on the bus and fractured fingers, and later, blister packs full of soothing syllables to keep the lid on a boiling girl. These were the days of dial-up AOL taking wobbling steps toward the future, of borrowing an older girl’s copy of Romeo + Juliet and watching Claire Danes redefine the doomed romantic innocence I felt fluttering between my ribs; of plastic barbed wire bracelets and grimacing around smeared cherry lip gloss and…
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What strikes me about the variety of political leaders and those close to them who use or have used offshore company Mossack Fonseca to hide great personal wealth from the eyes of the public and also perhaps their spouses.
My first thought is this, who got hold of the information and leaked it. Probably we will never know for sure but it is interesting to note that neither the United States nor Israel are touched in any way by the release of these documents. When so many diverse countries around the world have ties to Mossack Fonseca at such a high level, it is unusual to find that nobody from the political level of either country has been using its services when so many others have. Also both countries often work together on hacking projects, so you can be sure that Mossack Fonseca had been guarding…
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By Keya John, Shiro Marima and Eudiah Kamonjo.
NOTE: This was group work done during a writing workshop facilitated by Tanja Duckers at the Goethe Institut on April 1 2016. The task was to come up with a story that includes the words ‘sunglasses, a rat and beauty queen’.
It’s the year 2000. Achika is seated on her bed, going through her tattered album. The creaking of her bed would match the instrumentals of Kenny Roger’s ‘Listen to the Radio’. At the back of one of her oldest and most prized photos, she reads something she had scribbled years ago, ‘Life only allows us enough time and energy to connect with a limited number of people’. Her smile is priceless!
The year is 1994.
She slides her sunglasses up and down her nose. She bought these heart-shaped sunglasses for three-hundred shillings during her first visit to Nairobi, but they had the feeling of making her feel like a beauty queen. They do not quite fit well, so she has to regularly adjust them so they sit nicely. Achika begins her nervous walk towards the river bank. The anticipation of the meeting makes her heart skip a thousand beats. She has only seen him once before-in church, playing the drums.
His name is Jones. He is on a bicycle, riding as fast as he can. His tall frame is bent over and there’s no stopping him. ‘Kwa mwendwa gutirme karima’ (On the way to one’s beloved, there is no hill).
All of a sudden, his bicycle comes to ma sudden stop. A rat has been caught in the spokes of his bicycle frantically trying to free itself. Threatening to interrupt this very precious moment of his life. From a distance, he can see Achika pacing up and down the river-bank, playing with flower petals. He picks up his bicycle, puts it on his shoulder and starts to ran. She senses a movement around her. She sees him; tall, sturdy, determined! Achika grabs her sunglasses and tosses them into the water. She races towards him and leaps into his arms as he abandons his beloved bicycle for his new beloved.
It’s the year 2000. “You surely cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to the person to realize your worth,” she continues to read her own words at the back of the old photograph.
“Achika, my love? Achika! Achika!”
She sits up, looking around, startled. He smiles and sits besides her on the bed.
The creaking intensifies.
(Some free writing)
Writing has always been a part of my life
Allowing me to dig deeper into my thoughts, soul and body
Allowing me to dream and to create
First my world, the way I’d like it
And then the world, the way I dream it.
Writing is an act of courage to me
Allowing me to talk about things or issues
In a way I wouldn’t speak them
Allowing me to listen
To the world around me, and in me
By writing, I go to places that
I ‘ve never been
Taste things I never have
Sing songs I’ve never heard
My writing allows me to seduce
To conjure up fantasies
To speak from the depths of the silent
To silence the uncalled for
And sooooo much more….
Its been a while since I did this, but its always so much fun… You should try it too-even just for yourself.
How about the hijab being liberating? How the touch of material can make a woman feel her own femininity, the pleasure of a love heightened -Yusra Warsama, Poet & Actor during her performance in Kenya.
I actually heard about the World Hijab Day (February 1st) on Kenyan radio yesterday. After seeing the call to experience the hijab for a day, here’s what….
I am a spiritual woman, not religious and definitely not Muslim. I have Muslim family members though. And while we do not agree on everything Islam teaches, I support hijab-wearing. But not forced hijab-wearing-only by choice.
And here’s the thing, I like wearing the hijab occassionally too. For me, its more than just about religion, it is culture (Very similar to the head-scarves we have always worn as Africans but can’t wear to some places of work today). It is beautiful too, even fashionable (When you see all the different types and colours available).
Here is to letting them be who they are because #iamtolerant and the world needs their difference, their beauty, their mystique.