#mybodymyhome (iii)

Rebeka Njau’s The Sacred Seed imagines that Kenyan women can create and inhabit freedom, justice, and healing.
First published in 2003, a year after Daniel arap Moi had left office as second president of Kenya, Rebeka Njau’s The Sacred Seed imagines that Kenyan women can create and inhabit freedom, justice, and healing. The novel is set in a time of toxicity: It seemed a demon had entered the minds of many people, filling them with venom that made them consume sordid stories of slander which they gleefully vomited out without blinking an eyelid. Everywhere one turned people were gossiping maliciously. Like flies attracted to a rotting carcass, men and women buzzed around each other with malice and ill-will instead of tackling the poverty and disease which stared them in the face at every street corner, on every village path. As the city stank with mountains of uncollected garbage, the rumour-mongers’ stink of malice polluted towns, villages, and… Read More...

red dots

A trail of small red dots connect Tyna Adebowale’s body of work.
A trail of small red dots connect Tyna Adebowale’s body of work. In the exhibition space where I encountered it, the red dot stood out most vividly against the stark white of “I Am What I Am / I Am Who I Am,” raised white letters against a white background. Visible, at first, as texture—the words become clear as one approaches the work. Seen from a distance, the work is a brilliant white background marked by a red dot—the text is illegible. As one draws nearer and reads the text, one notices the red dot that lies to the left of the complete text. The red dot breaks up the visual field of white against white and hints at what lies outside this declaration: the blood-producing violence that haunts this sotto voce declaration. Also, perhaps, the blood-producing violence against which… Read More...

#mybodymyhome (ii)

The moment when a feeling enters the body is political. This touch is political.
The way you felt when the chokora reached for your left breast in the street, held it, you in your checkered school uniform and bag, socks and shoes, the breast barely settled in to it seat on your chest, he sooty and blue, coated in unknowable filth. Daylight could not shield you, and time does not, nor does silence, telling, returning or not returning to the place. --Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, “The Way You Felt Remains” The moment when a feeling enters the body is political. This touch is political. --Adrienne Rich A friend tells me that babies who are not touched enough—with love, with care, with compassion—fail to develop the capacities of care and compassion. Another friend discusses being touch-averse, saying, “I wasn’t always this way.” After too-many years of giving away touch—the too-casual hug, the too-casual kiss, the too-casual holding,… Read More...

#mybodymyhome (i)

Pursuing Freedom Dreams
Wiathi is my mother’s word. It is a word she repeated so often that it might be called talismanic. A word she’d repeat to me at night, when we were alone, in those still moments when world-altering revelations emerge. A word she fed me, carefully, constantly, relentlessly, because she knew—as mothers always know—that I would need it. That I could build a world around it, shape my dreams through it, imagine a somewhere else, not here, because of it. Wiathi means freedom or self-determination. My mother learned this word as a girl in colonial Kenya. She gave me this word under Moi’s tyrannical regime. I claim it for this moment, for the worlds it opens, for the dreams it sustains. I claim it for #mybodymyhome, a campaign against sexual assault. I hear my mother’s voice whispering, “wiathi,” feeding the political… Read More...

Change of Place: Kasarani-Gaza-Ferguson

How, I wonder, do the disposable survive?
I may find that a change of place is nothing safe —Melvin Dixon Geographies stitch together, overlap, unmake the distinctions we trace in atlases. We learn to name place, to designate space, to assign fixity to scenes and sites of unmaking. Perhaps the only truth that remains is: “this used to be (called).” Let me start (again) with “this used to be (called).” Moi International Sports Complex (MISC) was built to host the 1987 All African Sports Games. Kenyan historians agree that the Moi regime became increasingly repressive following the 1982 coup. As noted in the Report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, In the aftermath of the coup, members of the Kenya Air Force [who led the coup] were rounded up and transported to prison facilities and other locations where they were tortured and subjected to inhuman and… Read More...