Further,

It’s not as if there are things that have captured the essence of living outside the boundaries of an existence that was imagined for you, but without any form of consultation. It would naturally lead to a situation where you felt, not trapped, but unable to explore. In having an imagination given to you there has been little time that you have spent inside your own imagination.

Many words to say that you should probably have thought of this a lot earlier.

But you didn’t and you’re beginning to realize that that’s okay too. That you will get to things in your own time, at your own pace. That the race makes it seem like the only thing that matters is the finish line. That the race ignores everything but a certain form of progress. That “eye on the prize” often means ignoring a lot of the journey, involves a lot of undwelling and unimagining. This is information that we had gathered but not given out for reasons best known to the leaders of the pride.

Even if she has

raised the bar

they still reach the booze

and grab a few drinks

when she’s not looking.

It’s pretty straightforward then, at the end of the day. The multiple intergers that have to be weighed against the variables that are pegged on the current space between your mind and infinite wisdom can be reduced to a simple derivative of now intersparsed with instances of persons within a certain context outside themselves. This is not something that has baffled anyone. If anything, this is one of the things that most people agree upon but, in agreeing on it they imagine that the answer that has then been arrived at must be universal. That somehow it need to be that for everyone x is equal to three baboons, a banana and a slap in the face. What they don’t realize is that for many people x will be the suns rays bursting through crack in the ceiling. For others x will be a trail of sugar ants stealing from the remains of last nights dinner.

That x, by virtue of being a variable, will vary.

17 times 7

can only be a problem

if the 7 have been thinking

together.

“every tree has a hidden root”

- Saul Williams

But you already set your eyes on searching for the square root of zero. The question was written once on the reverse side of the blackboard of class. Because it was on the wrong side they didn’t know how to rub it and, even though you did, the question entertained you – so you never told them now. Slowly you have begun to realize that they also knew how to erase the words but they saw that they fascinated you – so they left them there for you to read. They left the question there so you could try and find an answer. You still remember the riddle. “I am known by the bumps, no one has seen me.”

So you’ve gone around chasing the bumps. Trying to understand the bumps. Bumps, to you, add to the equation. There are ripples in a pond. They are trying to control the bumps but you want the children on the shore to stop throwing stones. Already the number of rocks in the pond have displaced so much water that there is thought of renaming it a puddle.

At lunch time

everyone is expected

to gather under the

old tree.

Don’t be late.

This has led to you managing the effects of bumps. This has led to you fighting the disease. But every day you sit in a corner, and keep thinking “wouldn’t it be so much better if we weren’t sick?”

Third Woman Reports Alleged Assault By Tony Mochama  

Mochama sues Shailja Patel and Professor Wambui Mwangi for defamation

Nairobi, Tuesday March 24th, 2015

A third woman has reported Standard Group journalist and PEN Kenya Secretary General Tony Mochama to Nairobi’s Central Police Station for alleged sexual assault. The alleged assault occurred on September 21st 2014, at the National Museum, during the Westgate Memorial Service of Storymoja Hay Festival. The OB Number is 74/17/3/2015.

Mr Mochama was investigated by the CID, for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel on September 20th, 2014. The file has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The alleged assault occurred at a lunch meeting at the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi. The meeting was to discuss the business of the Africa Poetry Book Fund with the Fund’s founder, Professor Kwame Dawes, who was visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival.

A second woman reported alleged assault by Mr Mochama to Central Police Station on October 31st, 2014, under OB Number 49/B1/10/14.

Police are urging other victims of alleged assault by Mr Mochama to also report to police stations in the jurisdictions where the crimes may have occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes under the Sexual Offenses Act.

Mr Mochama has filed a civil lawsuit against Ms Patel and Professor Mwangi alleging defamation. Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness) said: “This is a desperate attempt by Mr Mochama to silence victims and witnesses of his alleged crimes, and to create a chilling climate for free speech in Kenya. It will fail. Victims of sexual violence have every right to publicize their experiences and to seek help. Free speech is protected under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution.”

The woman reporting said: “I didn’t report the assault when it occurred because I had serious concerns about personal, social and professional repercussions. I’m reporting now because I believe Mr Mochama will continue abusing women unless stopped by the law. I don’t want any other woman or girl to suffer the same experience.”

Storymoja Hay Festival Director, Muthoni Garland, said: “That some of these alleged assaults happened at Storymoja events is so painful to hear. But it underlines that we all share the shame and must be part of the solution, particularly the need to promote enforcement of the hard-fought Sexual Offences Act. For taking the incredibly brave step of reporting the assaults to the police, I really commend Shailja Patel and the two other women who have come forward. It is not a lightly-made decision given the public interest and its potential to damage reputations.”

Cidi Otieno, Convenor of CCI (Coalition for Constitution Implementation) said: “Nothing can compensate our sisters for the violations, the stripping of their personal sovereignty, the theft of their privacy and dignity. They and their families bear lifelong costs – personal, professional, social and political – of reporting the crime. Their constitutional rights to freedom of movement and assembly, pursuit of livelihood, and full participation in public life have been, and continue to be, violated. Sexual violence rips apart the fabric of Ubuntu. The charging of Mr Mochama will not erase his defamation, threats and graphic insults to our sisters on his media platforms. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards dismantling the culture of impunity for sexual violence. The Constitution that Kenyan women fought and died for must now deliver its promise of full humanity for women and girls.”

Issued by

  • Centre for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW)
  • Coalition on Violence Against Women
  • Coalition for Constitution Implementation
  • Kimbilio Trust
  • The Co- Convenors of the Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
  • The Kenyan Ambassador :- Africa Unite Campaign
  • Betty Kaari Murungi, High Court Advocate
  • L. Muthoni Wanyeki, political scientist

Contact:

Wangechi Wachira

Executive Director

Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)

Cell. 254722314789

wangechi@creaw.org

 www.creawkenya.org

Needs More Data

“kuuliza si ujinga”

- Wahenga

One wonders what they were trying to hit at in this phrasing. It seems so absolute. Of course asking is not a form of stupidity. In fact, it seems a fact so mundane that the immediate response is “why did they even bother to say that?”

Trudging through uncomfortable waters is something that many people do not know what to do. There are those that stomp around, those that stand still and ponder before finding the most effective way. Those that move carefully, adapting their paths depending on the choppiness of the water. Those that begin to backtrack. Those that fly. Those that drown.

Those that drown.

There will always be those that drown.

It seems oddly instructive. As if offering a direction. As if speaking to a private thought. As if saying “this person has asked you a question. You think it is stupid. It isn’t.” Of course this is one of many ways to think about something as simple as giving direction of honesty to questions. This if, of course, to assume that a large number of questions come from a place of reaching for understanding. And reaching for understanding is something that should be nurtured, be cultivated.

 The real problem, then, is the splashing. The displaced waters that then counteract with the navigation of the others. The trick, as with any good dive, is to find a way not to fight with the water but to use it to get you to the other end. To use the natural flow of the water to carry you to your destination. The problem with this is it starts by trusting the water.

And no one wants to drown.

 Was there an epidemic of unanswered questions? Is it that there was a flurry of questions that had since been asked and not answered? Must all questions be answered? No. Must all questions be addressed, no. But asking, at its core, is not the problem. Baada ya kufafanua haya yote kuuliza si ujinga. Kutoskiza jibu ndio ujinga.

(how then do we create a space where questions can be asked in a way that doesn’t impede listening?)

This is the question that plagues us. How do we move towards a shareable space. The idea, we’ve been reminded by many many people who have read many many more people is to create a space that can be shared by all parties within the space. This is easier said than done because the factors that need to be considered in creating a space of that magnitude are as many as there are individuals. All we can do is add factors to the shared question. All we can do is share the question. This doesn’t mean that we find an answNer but it does mean that we add data to the question. Because there’s no such thing as an unanswerable question, only a need for more data.

Still they forgot that the only way is to learn how to swim. Still the water was imagined as a violence when water is just water.

And no one wants to drown.

 

Sighcastles

There will always be

questions

but, increasingly,

he has been

reminded to find

a care that

listens.

One time too many is only a problem if the notion of one too many has been internalized to stand between the space created to separate nightmares from reality. Nightmares are something that we are meant to wake up from.

(dreamers know what I am talking about).

The real problem is that they are okay with your dreams

And not with your nightmares.

 (but what’s life without a little danger?)

But you don’t like your nightmares either.

If anything you have tried to explain that your nightmares scare you the most. That your nightmares have had your flinging yourself from the highest points of the highest buildings and hoping no one will catch you. That your nightmares are a blade and a bleeding. That your nightmares are an image that cannot be written.

She let out a

scream. Barely audible

 to anyone but the others

who were screaming.

She knew it wouldn’t

help.

But it gave her pain

company.

So you learned to dream in silence.

But it is not the nature of dreams to suffer silence gladly. So they left and you had nothing but nightmares. And you don’t understand why you can’t just go looking for your dreams.

“But no one’s saying you shouldn’t do that.”

Person

But the problem is everyone is.

And you don’t know how to tell them they are.

So instead you sit in a corner and write up many different ways to say one thing. Hoping one day it will get through or, perhaps, it will be heard. Or maybe you just know that there are many others like you out there. Maybe what you really want to do is remind those that dream in silence that time has come to speak. Maybe what you really hope is that if enough of you speak a listening will be forced. Because maybe all you want to do is dream.

And for dreaming to be okay.

But till then you

gather sighs

to build a sighcastle.

So every sigher

can move in.

Unlearning

You’ve spent your life asking glasses to be rocks because the idea of fragility is one that sits uncomfortably with you. Because it is your nature to bash things against walls and because you imagine that because you can handle a bashing everyone can.

None of this happened because of anything you did. In fact you are the least to blame in this quest but, in a way you also hold the highest blame.

But you don’t know this.

So you have spent a lot of your life wondering why people can’t understand that the things that, to you, seem very fundamental. You don’t understand that there is nothing wrong in being a rock but, in being a rock you break glasses.
This, of course, is information that you know. Or that you once had but have since forgotten.
One wonders if you are a rock. Or if you are a glass that has then gathered rocks around itself. One wonders if the rock that you imagine is only a reflection of the things you have chosen to see, missing the things that are unseen, and, in being unseen are unthought of.
This is all fine and dandy when discussed in the abstract but harder to apply because, whether illusion or not, you are a rock (or you believe so which is what really matters) and it is the nature of hurtling rocks to break glass.

But you love speed, don’t you? The rush of the wind giddy with excitement, leaving everything behind is something that you not only love but have come to desire. The moments of pause to consider any glass that may be in the way have slowly began to outweigh the value that the glass could have had and now the broken glass has began to piece itself together.

That scares you.

You’ve never been good at kintsukuroi and having hurtled for so long that you can’t imagine the sensation of standing still you imagine hurtling as a way of being, of seeing, you imagine that learning has to be a destruction.
You know this, you are trying to unlearn this. Except unlearning is a learning of its own and the only way you know how to learn is to destroy.

So you sit and wonder, “there must be a better way.”

Trajectories

You don’t ask people to stop taking care of themselves, you ask them where it hurts. But Warsan Shire has told you often that it hurts everywhere. The words you have reblogged, shared, tweeted, written, thrown, kicked and pulled around are only made through the idea of a single cell surrounded by two pencils, a phone and a missed appointment.

Standing on the corner of a decision and two algorithms is hard enough if you do not have to give out flyers to everyone while you’re at it. Being firmly grounded in reality is hard enough without having to explain yourself to everyone who you meet. It’s easier to have your context understood. It’s easier to navigate through life when people know your history.

It’s easier to navigate through life when you know your history.

Except maybe if your history is one of violent erasure, removal and exploitation. Except maybe if your history is a history of pain. When the whip’s crack still echoes fresh in your muscle memory. When guns have been used to point you in the direction of life. When the image in the mirror is an image that you have seen over and over again.

“five suspected gangsters were shot down”

“my boys exchanged fire”

“these niggers are violent”

“no pets or blacks”

Except maybe if your history is one of violent erasure, removal and exploitation. Except maybe if your history is a history of pain. When they have seen you as an object for years and exploited your body for their sexual urges. When the phallus has been a prerequisite to be human. And you don’t have one. When the image in the mirror is an image that you have seen over and over again.

“another girl was found on the side of the road”

“you’re asking for it.”

“make me a sandwich.”

“you’re over reacting”

Except maybe if your history is a history of violent erasure, removal and exploitation. Except maybe if your history is a history of pain. When they have told you over and over that you don’t exist. That you aren’t possible. That this person you are is a phase, can be cured, is a disease.

“when did you first know?”

“you really have sex though?”

“we don’t get that in Africa.”

“but the bible hates it”

Except maybe if your history is a blend of violent histories, mixing up to create a person who is in pain and the cause of pain. Except maybe if you are yourself.

But you aren’t.

On truths

“you’ve spent a lifetime in silence, scared that you’ll say something wrong”

– Emeli Sande

“These kids want something new I swear it, something they wanna say but couldn’t coz they’re embarrassed”

- Childish Gambino

The idea of speaking one’s truth is always one I’ve been wary of. In fact, I’d probably argue that I’ll always be wary of it. Truths collide. And truths, being so closely tied to the self are more often than not imagined as communicable. We protect our truths because we don’t imagine that they are sufficient. We protect our truths because we don’t imagine anyone will accept them.

In effect, this means that speaking one’s truth becomes an action of laying one bare. An action of putting the self on the line. Putting the self in the line of possible violence.

That’s scary.

That’s very scary.

So we keep people around us who, we believe, are speaking truths. We wait for them to give us permission to speak our truths. We pick our cues off them. Is a certain way of being allowed? Is a certain way of being accepted? In our minds we don’t understand it. But we don’t care. We’d rather not try to figure it out. Instead we look for reasons to invalidate uncomfortable truths. We see the big buildings, but we don’t see the deaths. We see the industry but not the industrious.

The problem is that a truth, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Any further ignoring of this truth is willful.

(but this is neither about the will nor unseeing)

Inside a dark room a candle flickered. Somehow it was not that there was an idea but that the idea had taken over the space. As if somehow a presence – except not.

Not yet.

 

But truth,

at the end

of the day,

is just a

five letter word.

 

So we hide it. We put the truth behind complicated multisyllabic dated artforms that were invented to represent emotions. We make it so difficult to imagine within the frames of stark because we are afraid. We are afraid that the world is out to get us. Afraid that we know too much. Afraid that we know too little. Afraid that we are inadequate.

 “Still,

somehow,

she heard

me wrong.”

 – Dude

I’ve never understood how people communicate. Half the time I walk around asking myself “what do they even mean by that?” I spend large chunks of time in my head trying to figure out what people are talking about. Because many times conversations are metaphors. Because many times we’re saying a lot more.

 (Most other people seem to have this down somehow. I’m not sure how, I’m quite jealous.)

Her hand, steady at first, was now shaking. She lifted the paper off her desk. Holding it up to the flame. She began to read.

 Still we don’t know what we mean when we say these things. Instead we agree that certain combinations of words and letters mean something. But we agree in different ways. Our groups, our circles all settle on different meanings, different contexts (what’s life without a little fun?)

 …happily ever after.” She finished, slowly crumpling the paper.

But at the end of the day we have to survive. We have to live somehow. So every day we wake up, hoping it will be different. Hoping that somehow, we’ll get it.

(a shoe falls from the rack

he is unbothered

it’s not

making

more

sense)

 

Instead it gets more confusing.

 

Darkness. A thought wanders “now that I’ve burned the last page of my manuscript, how will I see my future?”

 

 

 

perhaps  

“hip hop ni culture ya love usisahau, pole kukuambia sikuchukii – nakudharau.”

- Nyashinsky, tuendelee

 It’s always been too much though.

At least that’s what you’ve always thought.

The magic you have inside yourself has always been more than you can handle. Your understanding larger than what you understand. It’s always been a problem – knowing too much. It got you in trouble often. That day, when you told off the other guy who did that thing to that person. That other day when some other thing happened as well.

Somehow it has always been there.

And you have been aware of its presence. Its warmth has been in illuminating inside your core for a very long time, burning you up from the inside. You in a battle with yourself trying to contain and trying to survive. You would just have let yourself shine to begin with, but you have been told that your shine is not valid. You have been given reasons to keep that box locked. You have been told that unleashing your shine will be a violence to the earth. You have been given analogies and stories about the danger of opening. Of revealing. You have been told that Pandora had a box. You have been told that closets have skeletons. You have been told not to open the door at night. You have been warned against opening.

Your burning skin continues to flail at the opening of this pot. Umekalia mdomo wa sufuria na sasa wafikiria kuhusu mdomo wako kuhisi joto. Wachomeka. Wamekupeleka kwa madaktari, na wakakupatia madawa.

But it never took away the pain, did it?

The pain was still there.

“niliona mahali ya kupita nikapenya”

– Esir, Lyrical Tongue twister

You have grown to know it. To understand it – maybe not to understand it. Maybe to be more comfortable with not being able to understand it. With knowing that you won’t ever fully know it but there are ways to be that are kinder to it. Ways to be that let you ride through some bits and crash through others. You look for these ways, you are always look for those ways.

(you have always wanted to be free, but you are not sure what freedom means anymore)

 

“nataka tu kuwakilisha hiphop culture”

– Nazizi, Nataka kuwa famous

Sometimes you hid it inside a plea. A just. A simplicity. You knew they wouldn’t understand it, so you tried to make it as simple as possible, as basic as possible. You were just looking for a way (while it was not a way to live without it, it looked like a more manageable way to live with it. It was a place that would allow you to take your ass off the sufuria for a bit if only to breath the cool air. It was a place that would make you less uncomfortable. Like the feeling of living inside the parenthesis for too long and forget what the main story was about, as if somehow there is a main story. As if somehow these words are anything more than pictures we have assigned to sounds because light travels faster than sound and we are too lazy. And too predictable. We need to end in a final way it is rarely that some one ju)

Maybe you romanticized this place. It is definitely a possibility. You have always had this problem. You’ve been a dreamer and you have been told not to dream. You have been told that the idea of being able is not even to be imagined. That you can’t.

And that’s the scary part.

And the voices everywhere keep screaming “what if you can’t.” But deep inside you it is boiling and your tongue is melting the ice that they had built around you, beginning to form the initial phase of the first step in creating the ideas behind formulating the words that might just form the question “but what if I can?”

crossroads

Somehow it has become easier to just not discuss the details of your plan. The blueprint, you understand, was made years ago by the people who forged the stars into droplets of pasts that were untouched by human fingers. this created universes that existed parallel to the thought of breaking down human existence to omena and sosa. The simple clarity of the idea carries with it the notion that the dark side of the moon existed before the pink Floyd album.

But even that, you realise, is beyond light.

The problem is, in order for this plan to work, you need to find a way to walk into the centre of the sun without getting a tan. They have told you that it is not possible. They have reminded you that, despite how often you tighten the reigns the ship that you are riding in will not survive the gravitational pull of six dwarves and a broken pencil.

You know they are right. You have seen victims crawl back, pieces of lead buried deep inside their shoulders. You have heard the dwarves laughing on their way home, singing their triumphant song long before they have even had a single thing to drink.

Kwa maana imeonekana una uwoga huwezi jua ni namna gani utapata haya maneno. Zaidi ya hayo kichwa ni chombo cha kubeba Uwezo wa mwanadamu. Labda ni rahisi kuunganisha maneno na fikra bila kuongezea chumvi kwenye supu ya ubinafsi. Na hiyo ni kusema the things that bother us can only be as large as the space between our index fingers and ideas of a self.

7 reasons to exist imagine our silences as ways we speak our consent. You have touched your tongue to the glass and it is stuck, leaving behind traces of bacteria that you swallowed when you first tasted the juices that she served you that night in her apartment.

You wish she gave it to the dwarves, that they could colour the tips of the pencils blue. Instead, you are left talking in colours that they have never seen, nor mind to see. You have sculpted music that they do not know where to place in the palaces of their imagination.

So now you sit in silence, thinking. Wondering if it will be easier to just launch your ship.

being there with (again)

In the absence of truth there is confusion; the essence of truth.

– Reggie Watts

 

In truth the whole idea of truth has truly revealed to us some very true things. This follows certain notions that we had since been led to believe turning themselves on their heads. This remains to be something that we know, but do not understand. Which is odd because these are not things that we are incapable of understanding. Instead we resign ourselves to functionality. We fold, bend and break in several places/ways to inhabit a space of unimagination. We have been unfathomed, and it is towards this unfathoming that we decide to work.

This, of course, is a source of confusion for many many people. To several people the path to unimagination is paved by too many instances of violent erasure that it becomes unbearable. To these people it is unimaginable to be unimagined.

 

This is a cold war, you better know who you’re fighting for.

- Janelle Monae

 

These kids want something new I swear it,

something they wanna say but couldn’t cos they’re embarrassed

– Childish Gambino

 

Something made us imagine that we had to go back to find this thing. That the answers to the present lie rooted in the past. This, of course, was partly true. The idea of a present without the context of a past is silly. Now is only a culmination of everything since. And, without knowing since, we can’t truly know now. What we forgot is without seeing now we cannot know now either. So we went back, looking for traces of past selves in mirrors, mirrors on the wall. Forgetting that we will never be fair. And in never being fair, that will never be a fair question.

But it is still a question we are forced to grapple with.

“hawaamini spider web zikishikana zinaweza kufunga simba”

- Rabbit

“You are surrounded by love, participate”

Afrolicious

 

 

… but what happens when we look up, around, sideways, down? What does it mean to try to see? And, in seeing, what does it mean to imagine? And, in imagining, what does it mean to be there and to be there with?

How do we stay engaged?