Tag Archives: Kenya

I watched ‘Rafiki’, Kenya’s (previously) banned Lesbian Film

rafiki

Firstly, I LOVED Rafiki. It is a beautiful narrative where every character is someone we all know, or have been at a time in our lives—maybe still are at present. Gossips, self-appointed moral justices, heterosexual perverts, desperados, hypocrites, adulterers, fornicators, individuals. We’re all in there really. It follows the tragic love story of Kena and Ziki, two Kenyan girls whose fathers are competing candidates for political office. During the opening credits, members of the audience hollered and cheered at the screen at what I assumed were recognizable faces, possibly friends. I didn’t mind it. I thought it remarkable that for once I found myself in a theatre where it was plausible that the actresses/actors on screen could have been sisters, husbands or neighbours to any one person in the room. But I do feel it should have stopped there.

Though the love story contained many components of most love stories, it was obvious we were watching something different. Not because Kena and Ziki were particularly extraordinary in any way, but more so because members of the crowd made it a point to vocalise the two women’s attraction. I was silently disheartened by the eruption of murmurs occasioned by Kena and Ziki’s intimate moments; an intense study of each other’s faces or the intoxication of their physical endearment. What should have been a privilege to witness was so easily interrupted by what I assumed was discomfort, or perhaps an audible study of the unusual. In truth, I found the clapping that met the end of the movie perplexing. I could not understand how so many members of the audience who had made such an effort to remind us of their presence, responded with an act of praise. Where had the respect been—the appreciation for moments that belonged to Ziki’s quiet stare or Kena’s conflicted desire? I feel strongly that we owed them our silence and attention, not our commentary. Given the delicate nature of what is many peoples reality in countries where being homosexual can get you killed, for an hour and 23 minutes we owed them the floor.

There is this horrible scene in the movie where the two women are mercilessly beaten by a mob of bigots upon being discovered kissing in their safe-place, having been followed by the nosy gossip and her daughter who instigate the attack. The next scene has them sitting on separate ends of a bench in a police station, visibly bruised and bleeding. Two police officers watching them jokingly ask which one of the two women plays the role of the man in their relationship. When their parents arrive to pick them up, Ziki’s father slaps her across the face and scolds Kena, before ordering his daughter to get into the car. I cried. I don’t think I’ve cried in a movie house since I watched The Lion King back when I was still in single digits. I found myself wiping runaway tears from my cheeks, though I managed to hold back most of them.

It was the rejection these young women faced that resonated with me most. They no longer qualified for the comforts of human decency, all because of a personal choice. Attitudes in this country have a way of making you feel like you have to live on the brink of apology. I’m not a member of the LGBTQIA+ community but I no greater reflect what prescribed human symptoms are championed in this land, and I certainly could not rely on a vocal majority to countenance my personal Unkenyan declarations and preferences. Kenya’s patriarchal standard has written implied laws for love and care, the same way it writes scripts for women to read from. It’s no wonder why our order of the day is not building a country we can all be proud of—it’s condemning a different flavour of love and humiliating human beings for being human beings. Is love not as per the one who does the loving, and made beautiful by the one who is looking to be loved in that exact way? Why can’t it be the choice we are all at liberty to make without fear of condemnation or prosecution?

I don’t know why there was so much talking during that movie but it reminded me of a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

“The beast at the bullfight is the crowd.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I’m done. I Forfeit.

sax

Most girls want someone to call daddy; to be the truest reason he continues to find God in her mother’s eyes, to be the fruit born of immeasurable love. He will set the tone for all men in her life. If he is a great man, all other men will fall short of greatness. If his desires control him and result in reprehensible conduct, he becomes the standard of her expectation. If he is absent altogether, she will look for his presence in her own reflection. But the power such a man wields over the vulnerable babe must be earned by his unconditional love. It must be bought in his promise to always protect her; paid for by his toil and commitment to provide for her, until such a time as she can do so independently; granted by his oath to put her before himself and all others, ripping feathers from his own back to strengthen her wings, so she can fly high above the stars. She must become the breath he takes before the beat.

I believe my father’s first love is Africa. He believes that: “East Africa will be a single, viable federation one day”. Days after that, he believes that all fifty four States will finally begin to covet unity and make it the goal. He believes that Kenya can change. That people born of the soil can be free. His soul is bound to the life of the continent; his heart beating in time with hers, his convictions owned almost entirely by his desire to see her soar- to see her win.

I moved to Kenya to ride the wave of my father’s love for this place. I wanted to fall as deeply and as passionately for this part of earth as he has, to better understand his motivations. So I could see as he does. I wanted to find in the soil my own direction and celebrate a path constructed for me by my heritage. I wanted to taste the blood of slaves in the fruit raised from the ground where their bodies lie, and marry the struggle they left me to inherit. I wanted to hear revolution on the streets and record the evolution of black- a new unshakable freedom.

1g1qb7

Something else my father is taken by…jazz. I grew up on soft jazz, African jazz, African house, soul music and R&B. Like my father I fell in love with jazz and even harder for soul. As a teenager he played the trombone and harmonica, so I wanted to play the sax. I wanted to play it to make him proud and to give him something to celebrate in me. Pretty soon though, I learned to play it for myself. I would come home after a day of school, put a jazz CD into the sound system and blast it with the blinds drawn; playing along wherever I could make out the notes by ear. It was how I talked myself off the ledge- how I convinced myself to let another day meet me at the door. Just play, and hear something louder and more palatable than reality.

I thought moving to Kenya would be as easy as listening to jazz. I had already mimicked my father’s taste in music; surely I could mimic his affections. As easily as he persuaded me to learn about Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Dedan Kimathi, so easily could he teach me to love the land I am meant to call home. But Kenya is not like playing the sax. It is not the comfort I come home to at the end of a hard day that anaesthetizes my mind and soul to ease the pain. It is the poison that makes every move hard. I can’t be creative here, I can’t live creativity here. I have found foreign in home- an alien to my father’s love. Richard Wright to Ghana.

It was Jamhuri Day (Kenya’s Independence Day) on the 12th of December. But we are not free and I’m tired of hearing of a potential that not enough people seemingly want to realize. Sadly, I can’t be bought any longer by my father’s beliefs.

This is not my home. I’m not convinced this is where I’m supposed to be if I can’t be the version of me worthy of life.

We all have to know when to walk away.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Diaspora Diaries: How do we justify burning a child alive?

Repost from: Chathe and Ebra 

15833357951_e38463a015_b

Fire by Matty Ring

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa

Leopard

The determination in his eyes,
The strength in his demeanour ,
The stealth in his movement,
The flawlessness that is his appearance,
He is exactly what is intended;
He is beauty and he is beast.
He is. He is.

DSC_0738

Managed to capture this early in the morning.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa

Sunrise

DSC_0148

My dad woke me up to see this sunrise. It’s like an alarm that commands the earth to recognise the heavens. It brings with it new hope, new dreams, new love and simultaneously carries forward the baggage we willed to leave behind the day before; like a bearer of bad news ushering in a sequel to yesterday’s misery. But what I admire is its strength. It breaks the binding chains of night to end the lions’ hunt and enhance the birds’ song.

DSC_0127

Like the rising sun, I must break through the night and see the dawn of each day as another opportunity to try again. I can’t just move on, I have to move strong. I must end the hunt of my demons and beg the presence of what is good in me. I must live, I must love, I must become my very own- my sunrise.

DSC_0116

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Africa

Above ground.

As I took this picture I wondered; if birds did not need to feed off the ground, would they spend their lives in flight searching high above the earth for heaven?

DSC_0467

2 Comments

Filed under Africa

We’re screaming over here! Is He listening?

DSC_0631 DSC_0131

Occasionally, I wonder why it is I believe in God. Often it is my resolve that I would see no point in existing if I lived by a belief that humanity is the highest point of authority. I then close my eyes and scare myself at the thought and possible look of a Godless world- where man and beast have been equalised and let loose at each other. When my eyes finally open, I cannot ignore the realisation that for some of us this is truth. Sometimes man is beast.

Being African, outside of Africa I always felt an implied obligation to defend her against the stereotypes; the poverty; the corruption; the weak institutions; the inequality; the bribery; the tribalism; the ignorance; the brokenness; the struggle; the poaching; the economic divide; the blatant disregard for the law; the inhumanity; the oppression; the sub par quality of education; the danger; the loss of hope; the loss of life. But being an African in Africa for the first time in many years, I realise now I have no defence. I wake up and look out and my first thought everyday is- surely if God knew of this He would have done something. Surely if He saw the suffering, He would end it. I wonder, has God forgotten about Africa or has he chosen to abandon her? Did we do something so despicable or unconscionable to deserve the lives we lead; to be regarded the way we are? Did we not fight hard enough to stop our own colonisation, division, pillaging and enslavement? Did we not suffer enough fighting for our freedom? Where was God then and where is He now?

In Kenya alone you can buy a judge, bribe a policeman, massacre your own without so much as a slap on the wrist and still call yourself a leader. Are these not acts of the uncivilised, selfish, greedy and oppressive? Is this not the work of the beast? If so, where does this leave man? More importantly, where do we seek God?

10 Comments

Filed under Africa