Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Once again this blog is being taken over by a guest post from N.M

There comes a time, in the history of a nation, when all its citizens are staring the devil in the eye. A time when only two extremes remain: the evil and the lesser evil. That moment when the majority is us and the minority is them. A moment, so widely imagined by the individual citizens it sounds cliché: The moment of truth.
As I write this, Kenya is having its moment. But who knows- a day being worth its weight in stuffed ballots- by the time this is read that moment will be long lost. Mummified into rheumy excrements of disillusioned chang’aa den intellectuals with radical tendencies.

Quick recap: First President of Kenya, Kenyatta is doing this. Second President Moi is doing that and keeping Kenyatta’s boys down. Oginga Odinga, perpetual oppositionist says out with Kenyatta today and out with Moi the next day. Moi says in with Odinga (Oginga’s son). But Odinga, quite a chip off the old block that one, says out with Moi: Kibaki Tosha!

Now Kibaki, has over all these years, never said in with this one or out with that one. He has, somehow managed to stay, in with this one, in with that one or in with no one, ‘but if it comes with benefits then you can call me Chief of the Opposition.’ When Odinga calls him to glory, Kibaki, seems to falter. He appears to have absolutely no idea what to do with real power. But that begs the question: did Kibaki even want to be President? Was all Kibaki wanted to reap the benefits of our political system without ever being an economic victim of it? Or did he merely spend all his life ensuring a future for his grandchildren that would lack nothing.
Whatever Kibaki’s aims have been all these years, he is now president. Everything he does, now affects millions. And Kibaki does no wrong. In fact Kibaki does nothing in a country that knows when the President has lunch. With details, and that he liked it and gave the waitress a large sum of money. The president as benefactor; grand old African man who receives delegations of women leaders on one day and names a street in a far away town that hasn’t been built yet after his third wife. Kibaki would have none of that in a country where people had only known of The President and never of the Presidency.

Kibaki, startled out of the fence he had been sitting on, seemed to have missed the manual: The Kenyan President’s first duty is to entertain the masses. To be a friendly despot who eats ugali with you one minute and you, with who knows. Kibaki appeared to stand above politics in a country where everything was held together by politics. Quickly the country, economic boom, smooth roads and all, slipped into anarchy. It took bloodshed and gun-boat diplomats to restore us to the political rhythm of our fabled island of peace.

Ironically, the deal that was struck to win our peace is also the tragedy of our times. It is an interesting time in our history when the leaders of past governments and the opposers of them all are in the same government. Thugs not of any shade of Luo, Kamba, Kalenjin, Gikuyu or whatever but- thugs! Thugs!- as we say. Incorrigible thugs whose self-interest goes beyond any that caveman society can find acceptable, but that we, who accept them as leaders of our tribes, seem to approve of.
Somewhat that deal achieved the political equilibrium best suiting the dynasts. They proceeded to align themselves into PNU for the Kenyattas and ODM for the Odingas. The Moi’s place at the table faced a crisis worse than Gideon’s political immaturity- a pretender to the throne, William Ruto. Daniel Moi had to stay on to raise his own tribe. If he founds it, it will not be called Jogoo. All this time, the mwananchi describes himself as Man U, Arsenal or poor.

It is a free for all at the top until Odinga forgets that the government is him and the immediate beneficiaries of Ambassadorships. It is him and the Kenyattas, Mois and Kibakis that he and his father once fought. Odinga joins his ODM tribesmen in attacking the Mois, the Kenyattas and the Kibakis.

All we are hearing now is Kenyatta na Passat; Odinga na mahindi; Moi na Mau. In the meantime Kibaki lurks in the background with a paw, if only placed there by inaction, in every one of those bowls. Mwananchi na njaa!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#PoBo #2

V. Old Bill says we are mere actors.

True. But he never says we cannot be writers and directors too

VI. It is meaningful to seek…

The artist’s primary duties are to his art and his politics. To find that equilibrium point where the politics don’t get in the way of the story and vice versa is what I consider most meaningful to seek. There are no Big-Bang moments when stories come into existence- they simmer through our everyday experiences. And because our everyday is, broadly speaking, inherently political then how can the artist ditch the political? You can spend all your ‘apolitical’ life carving zebras by day and as a dancing Maasai by night but bottom line is there is a political discourse- someone else idea of ‘art’- that not only underpays you but also orders your life. For me the difference between a Kitschden and a creative studio is the ability of one to feed off the politics while subverting it. One carves better and better giraffes while the other still carves giraffes but ones with albinism; with diamonds (that no one in Africa has ever seen) on the soles of their feet. …I don’t know, the dancing Maasai who fucks the mzungu and writes the book.

VII. The White Girl and the Savage?

Dude, that book doesn’t exist. Well, there were some 15,000 words or so. A focus group… and, uhm… auditions. Yeah, no white girls were harmed in the making of this film. I mean, of course that is the kind of thing I would say if I ever wrote such a film. But, frankly, with the text you imagine connections. What if somewhat the Savage never, really, wins? Is there a poetic justice ring to that ‘no white girls were harmed’ for the Hip Hop scholar meaning to compare your angst to that of Tupac? When it is all filtered through the discourses of Africa and development what are you: a poster boy for safe sex or yet another way to ‘other’ black masculinity? In the end, there could be something in there, digitally archived on the net that reveals the antagonism of our time. One jaundiced and probably ignorant view but a view expressed, nevertheless. …and somewhat, for me, that is the beauty of the internet.

Oh, but in the long run… long before he is dead, the artist is getting paid. He is after all still painting giraffes by day and working as a dancing Maasai by night. He remembers the face-off between Mahina and Patterson, in The Ghost and the Darkness, as one of the most poignant and political moments in Hollywood’s Africa. The last outing for a kind of African who power and its whitewash over history, rubbed off the face of the earth with a derisive noble savage. It is a scene after, Colonel Patterson, being in African for only a day and having never seen a lion before kills a lion with one shot and brings order to the place of killing that is Tsavo.

“You know, I also have killed a lion,” Mahina tells Patterson, recently Christened One Shot, “I used my hands.” Later on Mahina is killed by a lion. But Patterson kills all the lions are builds the bridge to the British exploitation of the East African mainland.

The lions are now at the Field Museum in Chicago, Colonel Patterson is celebrated in film and literature and the kind of African that declared him One shot, tamer of the African wild rules in place of the Brits. Mahina’s spirit, one hopes, still lives and though it carves giraffes to eke out a living, in the evening- before the wardrobe change into a dancing Maasai- he takes a little time off to carve gay giraffes.

Who is the Ghost and who is the Darkness?

Don’t know… there are all Africa types in that film, mercenaries, collaborators, fools, conquistadors {…}

Monday, February 15, 2010

#PoBo #1

I. Internet killed the toilet cubicle star…

{passage redacted}

II. I spent Valentine’s Day with two of my exes: pen and paper.

We agreed to spend a lot more time ménage a trois.

III. We were rebels, raiders of tombs that prison lost revolts…

{passage redacted}

IV. Not fighting souls but book adventurers. Knight Commanders of Idea.

Timi loved travel writing. Too bad he never read much of it. I always loved travel writing. But I never read much of it neither. Books weren’t there, not in the way they are, in my life now… I mean, I have picked up a decent library, now, been able to fill my space with books. Well, it is a minute space but for what, 30 books? That is the fucking University of Alexandria where I am coming from.

Coming soon: #PoBo.