Blind Peer Review

Blind Peer Review: or, the tragic life of imprecise prose
1. I am writing to ask for some references on papers on homosexuality/homophobia in Africa, partly out of my own interest and partly for teaching. I was able to review your paper on "Re-Thinking African Homophobia". 2. Unfortunately, we are unable to publish your work, for which we hope you will find an appropriate forum. 3. With regards to mechanics, for example, the numerous sentences in need of stylistic attention and sentences with awkward transitions to quotes (in both grammar and syntax) suggest a work that is still in the draft stage, and represents oversights that are a distraction to the reader. 4. Again, word choice and prose leave the argument unclear 5. The first 11 pages need to be reshaped -- and perhaps condensed -- to present an organized and clear thesis and critical/theoretical blueprint for the analysis of… Read More...

terrain & terroir

What bodies are being produced as Ugandan? What spaces as public spaces? What intimacies as possible intimacies?
Shhhh. This writing is really about the latest anti-queer legislation in Uganda. Don’t tell those looking for an “African’s view” on the matter. Though, truth be told, since this is being written in fairly standard English, if using improper U.S. spelling, it is automatically disqualified as genuinely African. You know it’s Genuine African because of the Subtitles. Softly. Softly. (we don’t want them to hear us) * I have been reading Stuart Hall. He uses “terrain": The interrelations between feminism, psychoanalysis and cultural studies define a completely and permanently unsettled terrain for me. ("Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies") The problem of ideology, therefore, concerns the ways in which ideas of different kinds grip the minds of masses, and thereby become a ‘material force’. In this, more politicized, perspective, the theory of ideology helps us to analyse how a particular… Read More...

Reporting

It’s difficult to feel intimidated by maize-eating police. Here, in their space, there’s an at-homeness to police bodies and postures.
David Mwole Kimaiyo C.B.S D.S.M. Inspector General unsees you A colored photograph hangs in a small office. Far above eye level. Positioned so you notice that it might notice you but will never see you. This is familiar. It happens in restaurants all over Kenya. Wait staff are to be unseen. Service to the state is lofty. The state is above all. The Inspector General, C.B.S. D.S.M., serves loftiness. In this space, he is king. You are in his house. You are too flustered to check if his image hangs in every one of the small reporting offices. And, anyway, unlike those who work here, who seem to wander in and out of rooms at will, interrupting whatever reporting and recording of statements is underway, you do not have such freedom of movement. The door to the small room remains… Read More...

#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...