Freedom Interrogations

But what do you know of the freedom that you seek? Do you think you will find it somewhere in the middle of the street between njugu za ten bob and knock off sunglasses? Do you think it can be mass produced? What do you know of this freedom beyond chanting slogans and sharing dreams?

 

I know that at night, while the world is sleeping, I go to the roof and listen to the stars. I know that I hear them echo the dreams of a sleeping city. That, we who transcribe our dreams have journeyed into each other’s dreams and met by the shores of the river of knowledge. There we have looked into the emptiness and filled it with further emptiness, like the Arabs we found it important to quantify absence. And, in quantifying absence we have stumbled upon a very apparent flaw.

I know that when a gun is held to your head, there are no secrets.

I know that a few weeks ago tires flared along Kibera station road protesting building on grabbed land. And that the building steadily continues to rise.

I know that in 1992 Kenya moved from being a single party to a multi party state. In 2002 from a dictatorship to a somewhat democracy. In 2012 from a somewhat democracy to something else. I know that 2022 is not that far in the future.

I know that freedom continues to be a place we imagine, like poetry or a mobile phone 100 years ago.

I know that, even though it seems to be standing still, we continue and must continue towards liberation.

I know that, when we are finally free, we will have to start again.

 

Explain to the committee what makes you the perfect candidate for this.

 

I’m not.

But isn’t that the whole point of the exercise? We are no freer than those we consider chained. And to imagine ourselves as freer is to imagine away the very reason we continue with the work and the labour that has been given to us. Chained to our illusion of freedom we continue to try to explain why we are the free ones, hoping that this insistence will further others towards a space of freedom.

As with most things, we could not be more wrong.

But isolation is a cage that masquerades like open space. It is easy to mistake loneliness for freedom.

It is easy to mistake fear for love.

It is easy to mistake lies for revelations.

People make mistakes.

So what does it mean then, to consider the weights that we tie to ourselves to make sure our freedom doesn’t alienate us from the other freedoms? It means, often, to remember that I’m not the perfect candidate. No one is.

(I still want the gig though)

How many different ways can you divide a path in 6 before it completely disintegrates? Back up your answer with relevant data/references.

 

Occam had a razor. This always baffles me because other people got theories, laws and hypotheses but Occam was stubborn. When approached by the board about his fantastic theory he politely corrected them, it wasn’t a theory – it was a razor. This is exactly what happened (no, it’s not). Does this discredit the validity of the fact that the simplest solution is often the correct one?

When I was a child (forgive me for not remembering what age it was, my childhood was way too much of a whirlpool for how old any memory is to matter) I threw some loquat seeds in the garden. A few weeks ago my mum reminded me of this as she talked about thinking of cutting down my tree. It had been so long I forgot that I planted the tree. Is the tree still mine? Or has it grown a life of its own? Does it suffer from a neglected teenage hood? No, silly, trees don’t have feelings. Except maybe when you touch a touch me not and it recoils in fear. Or when a sunflower follows the sun across the sky, hoping to be noticed. Or when, alerted to the sorrow in the world, the jacaranda falls making each path the path of royalty.

Last night, just before I fell asleep, I thought of a lover.  I often do. I haven’t learned how to put it off yet. Love is always a present, never a past. But there are many things that distract me. Like listening to India Arie and writing. Or, reading My Ngoc talk about pain in more ways that I had previously considered possible. Or going the roof and listening to the silence of a city that dreams of freedom.

Don’t you see? There is no path. Only life, and long forgotten dreams.

6 thoughts on Freedom Interrogations

  1. Oh Michael, you were right. I love so many things about this!! And not just the references I recognize (although I’m happy you’re finding solace in My Ngoc’s words and yass to “the path of royalty” line and the part about still wanting the gig and the part about being confused about love and loneliness and fear and freedom and the loquat story and the thing about loving in the present and alway

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