“Even though I feel Like the oldest twenty-eight year old I know…”
Ten years ago today, I had just returned from West Africa. I enrolled for IB and was pondering on an Extended Essay topic. It was my French teacher Mr. Banzi that informed me that Léopold Sedar Senghor had passed on. I guess he did it because I told him about Sénégal and how that Land of Téranga had been my home intermittently for over a half a decade.
One thing led to another and I ended up writing my Extended Essay on Senghorian poetry exploring the famous concept he coined: “La Négritude”. The next year, I presented my work at a Conference held to celebrate the life and times of L.S.S organised at Alliance Française. To date, I consider that presentation and the warm welcome it recieved to be one of my most defining and memorable moments ever. At the time, I was doing two things which I considered to be of absolute importance, firstly I was paying homage to a great African scholar and public figure and secondly I was in a sense pledging my loyalty to that soil on the westerly most tip of the continent that witnessed my metamorphosis from childhood to adolescence.
Suffices it to say, I still feel a strong connection to Dakar. Quite natural, considering she was my first, in more ways than I can explain.
Sentimentality aside, the commemoration of 10 years since Senghor’s death for me is an opportunity to think back and reflect on the course my life has taken, while trying not to regret things too much.
I know the journey is far from complete so this is just a pause.
One of the dreams that I continue to silently harbour on this long journey is that of the Extended Essay one day sitting side by side with a Ph.D Thesis by yours truly… inch’allah.
Before I sign off, allow me to share one little poem by Senghor. A poem I crammed while in Junior High School just for the sake of passing exams but when I went back and studied it during IB and even now, I came to terms with just how powerful it really is. Senghor was a man who spoke fondly of his native Africa and his home country of Senegal, both when he was at home and more so when he was away in France or elsewhere. He relies quite heavily on personification as a stylistic device throughout his writing and in many passages, one finds him likening Africa and Senegal to a woman, a love, a wife, a mother, all wrapped in one. He speaks of Her ‘blackness’, Her beauty, Her warmth, Her eternal love for all, Her Culture, Her Civilisation, Her decolonisation…
Nuit de Sine
Femme, pose sur mon front tes mains balsamiques, tes mains douces plus que fourrure.
Là-haut les palmes balancées qui bruissent dans la haute brise nocturne
À peine. Pas même la chanson de nourrice.
Qu’il nous berce, le silence rythmé.
Écoutons son chant, écoutons battre notre sang sombre, écoutons
Battre le pouls profond de l’Afrique dans la brume des villages perdus.
Voici que décline la lune lasse vers son lit de mer étale
Voici que s’assoupissent les éclats de rire, que les conteurs eux-mêmes
Dodelinent de la tête comme l’enfant sur le dos de sa mère
Voici que les pieds des danseurs s’alourdissent, que s’alourdit la langue des choeurs alternés.
C’est l’heure des étoiles et de la Nuit qui songe
S’accoude à cette colline de nuages, drapée dans son long pagne de lait.
Les toits des cases luisent tendrement. Que disent-ils, si confidentiels, aux étoiles ?
Dedans, le foyer s’éteint dans l’intimité d’odeurs âcres et douces.
Femme, allume la lampe au beurre clair, que causent autour les Ancêtres comme les parents, les enfants au lit.
Écoutons la voix des Anciens d’Elissa. Comme nous exilés
Ils n’ont pas voulu mourir, que se perdît par les sables leur torrent séminal.
Que j’écoute, dans la case enfumée que visite un reflet d’âmes propices
Ma tête sur ton sein chaud comme un dang au sortir du feu et fumant
Que je respire l’odeur de nos Morts, que je recueille et redise leur voix vivante, que j’apprenne à
Vivre avant de descendre, au-delà du plongeur, dans les hautes profondeurs du sommeil.
– Léopold Sédar Senghor
See you in August.
It feels like the month of May Day literally blew past. This is probably why:
Workwise: I’ve been working with Government since the beginning of the year and it’s gradually gotten more and more demanding, challenging but also more interesting. I was lucky enough to find the one government agency that specialises in the one area of law I’m most passionate about and after I shook off the newbie label and got to handle real matters, it’s been down-hill ever since.
But I’m now at a cross-roads. The plan wasnt to settle here. The plan was to get here, get all what I needed and get out… six months, a year..max! Thereafter, the plan was to move to private practice. The corporate world with its sleek offices, flaboyant wardrobe and mega-shilling clients. Well, it’s not so clear what the plan is anymore. I could spend an entire post telling you all the awesome perks of working in gava i.e. the endless work/training trips both locally and abroad (I’m yet to do the abroad ones but I’m *this* close), the countless meetings/conferences/workshops (these may seem like idle stuff but for me, this is where theory meets practice, lots of sharing of ideas and experiences, brilliant for eager beavers in the field like moi) and ofcourse, the flexibility, as in we have fixed hours, we have clear performance contract targets so how you spend the rest of your time thereafter is entirely up to you… this would be the most ideal environment to pull a work/study thing especially for me who’s dreading that LL.M workload. SO all in all, the only advantage private practice has over gava is the pay. And I know I have a responsibility to my housemate and my bro to chip in financially to the household running costs so.. yeah, its quite the pickle. This one firm is really keen on having me start next month so I have until next week or soon thereafter to make up my damn mind.
Heartwise: My heart is fine, thanks for asking. Okay, I’ll open up. Just a little. My heart’s hiding. It must. And since you asked, here’s why it’s hiding. It’s June. Her birthday is coming up. Dont even know why that matters anymore. I’ve already told my heart to MOVE ON. And we agreed it would but alas. Maybe it has something to do with next month marking a year since the break-up? Who knows. Anyways, my heart has had its share of good moments. Mostly through surges of testostrone and ego-stroked adrenaline. Sometimes all it takes is to strike up a conversation with a stranger and have them say something about your eyes or for a female friend to compliment you on a shirt, or a scent or a blogpost or something and just like that my heart comes out of hiding and smiles. Then quickly goes back in again. I still do not have balance. I still do not have peace.
Healthwise: I’m fine too. Kinda, sorta, maybe. It’s just that I cant remember when was the last time I soaked a teeshirt with sweat or had my lungs feel like they going to burst out of my chest, or felt my muscles burn – that good burn, that-workout-firmening-burn. I dont even know when exercise routine went off the tracks but it has. The only courts I go to these days are the ones where you bow when you walk in and you bow when you leave. I am aware that its only a matter of time before its starts to show and although I get PLENTY of exercise in other ways, I desperately want to go back to my regular basketball routine.
Spiritwise: My spirituality is orphan. It ran away from its Catholic home and has been roaming ever since. Had a major fall-out with the Baha’i community that had taken me under their wing so we’ve both opted for silence. Buut, at work, there’s this lady. She’s almost my mother’s age. I share the office with her and she’s a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Boy oh boy, she is relentless with the whole trying to get me back to christianity. She’s waay more persistent that the mormons who once tried to get me to join their faith. The absolute height was when she came with issues of their magazine “Watch Tower” in FRENCH!! Because she overheard me talking to my bro, and she caught a few french words. Unbelievable. It’s been weird at the office but I’m hoping she’ll give it a rest eventually. Today, she caught me staring at her reading her little prayer book or hymn book or pocket bible and she quickly asked me: “V, do you pray?” “When do you pray, V?” “You do remember how to pray, dont you, V?” Aii, I give up. lol.
I know there’s lots I’ve left out. But it’s a new month, so I’ll try and come back on here and fill in some of the other stuff as time progresses.
In the meantime, if you bump into me walking around Nairobi somewhere headphones and all or cruising along in Rusty (who is bumper-less at the moment.. long story), I hope something positive comes to mind.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
– 2 Corinthians 6:14
So there you are, half-way through
some Kenchic kuku porno na chips a sumptuous meal with a very attractive looking sister and all through the date the conversation is flowing until the issue of religion comes up. Personally this has always been my Achilles’ heel. I mean it’s hard to control a first impression created by telling someone that you’re sort of in-between faiths, that you’re exploring your spirituality, that you believe in God but you dont want to be necessarily be tied down to any one religion.
Not having a church you go to every Sunday is apparently as criminal as not owning your own set of golf irons and having a club membership locked down somewhere and using expressions like teeing off, putting and hole in one. Yes, I know, I’m going to hell and with my luck I’ll probably be ironing designer shirts for eternity.
So aaaaaaaaanyway, my boy G who upto this point fully identifies with my religion issue, was telling me earlier how he’s had an unfortunate streak of dating saved women. And so, we ended up discussing why saved women insist they would not consider having anything to do with you unless you’re saved. What sort of thing is that? Men are men, saved or not saved and if you think that dating or even marrying a saved man will guarantee you peace and happiness, then by all means, go right ahead. But dont even dare make it seem that I am less of a man or not worthy just because I’m not saved. Men ought to be judged based on their own strengths and weakness, their qualities and flaws and not solely on the basis of who or what they believe in!
That being said, I must admit there is something absolutely to die for in those women with deep religious conviction, and don’t necessarily rub it in your face but you can just tell they’re content in their spirituality and religiosity, waiting for The One whom God has pre-chosen for them. And until that One comes along, they’re happy laying in wait.
Something like this…
Mode: Vive les examens
As D-day draws closer and the rumours about ‘leakage’ spread like bushfire from all quarters, the school was yet to release the final exam timetable. Until today, that is.
So it was with utter shock and amazement that I saw this tucked away in today’s paper while riding shotgun in my kawaida Karen-bound
school bus mathree:
My only gwan in all this is why our “headmaster” had to go ahead and publish the exam timetable in the newspapers before informing us about it or atleast putting it up on the school notice board first!!!
Excuse my french but.. uhm.. WTF?!
Back to the books… 3 more weeks to go.
Now playing: Big Boi ft. Janelle Monáe – “Be Still”
This picture was taken over the weekend at the K-Rep Building opposite the French School along Argwings Kodhek. It depicts an Indian man with a sad look on this face, appearing to be talking to a motorist in the car park of the previously mentioned premises.
This is not my first encounter with this man.
About six months ago, Kipepeo and I were sitting in her car in the Sarit Centre parking lot talking when she notices an Indian guy standing on the sidewalk infront of the car. He looked like he was waiting for someone so we ignored him until she asked me whether I thought the guy seemed okay. I hadn’t really looked at him before and when I did, I could see he was crying. He was actually crying. A grown man. Crying. The Indian guy realised we were both looking at him and then timidly approaches the car we’re sitting in. The passenger-side window was already rolled down so he greets us. He’s still got tears in his eyes. Kipepeo responds to his “hi” with a “hello” and that’s when he blurted out:
“I don’t know whether you can help me. I’m having a really big problem”
Apparently the story is as follows: he was kicked out of his Indian community because he went off and married a Kalenjin woman. They had three daughters together but one of them died recently due to heart complications. His problem? He doesn’t have enough money to bury his daughter. He showed us a creased photo of his three little mixed-race girls and couldn’t hold back his tears as he narrated to us the story of how he’s been trying to raise money for the burial of his little daughter. In the process of us asking him questions, he told us that his wife and himself are currently unemployed so they have no money to pay for the burial and they have no relatives they can turn to for help. Kipepeo was so moved by this crying Indian man’s story that she reached into her purse, pulls out the money she had and gave it to him.
I just sat there.
Fast forward to today when I’m walking back from Yaya and I see the same Indian guy pulling the same stunt on another innocent victim. What the picture does not clearly show is that the car actually had a couple in it, a man and a woman much like when it was Kipepeo and I. I stopped and observed the Indian guy for a while and I could see he was putting on the same show as he had done before. And it was at that point I whipped out my camera (‘smokey’… yes, it has a name and ‘it’ actually happens to be a ‘he’) and decided to take a photo of it all. The sun was kinda bright that afternoon so I couldnt really zoom in well on that Oscar-winning performance by the Indian guy.
As you can probably tell from the tone of this post, I dont believe that Indian guy’s cause is genuine at all. I had my doubts six months ago but seeing this just confirmed those doubts.
If his cause was at all genuine, he wouldnt go around begging as he’s clearly been doing, moving from Westlands to Hurlingham preying on well-wishers in their cars asking for “assistance”. He doesnt look unemployable to me, does he? Imagine if all Kenyans dealt with their ‘problems’ the way he’s clearly chosen to deal with his own? Assuming his story is actually real, begging is a waste of precious time and is conduct unbecoming of a breadwinner. I refuse to believe he has exhausted all his options and was left with no choice but to go around begging.
On the other hand, if this is all just one big scam to get money out of people, I take off my hat to him. As an up-close witness to his past performance, I must say he’s quite good at what he does.
Now playing: Nas ft Lauryn Hill – ‘If I Ruled The World”
I am typing this knowing full well I have nothing meaningful to blog about other than the fact that we have all made history as Kenyans by voting on the proposed new constitution of Kenya. As we speak the vote tallying is still going on but I’m pretty confident that the popular ‘Yes’ vote will carry the day.
And now, I shall bore you with the mundane details of this historic day. I promise never to do this again but only for today, just humour me.
Mood: Chilled out
Public Service Announcement: It is NEVER okay to refrain from any form of exercise for several months and sporadically decide to hit the gym and then play ball directly afterwards. It is not okay. Dont do it.
That is all. For now, atleast.
Regular blogging will resume henceforth.
**NV hobbles off to bed – sore joints and all – knowing full well that he’s a heavy sleeper and a single muscle cramp in the wrong place could potentially kill him.**
Now Playing: Common – “Nag Champa”
I started typing this post on my phone after spending the better part of Saturday night at Nyayo Police Station in Nairobi West… yup, it’s been *that* kind of weekend. Allow me to share, from the beginning, if I may: