was up late, eating the dinner I thought I could forgo, thinking, talking to my
dad about Lingala, negotiating the terms under which he could give me some of
his music, watching old crime shows.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
I began to watch, video after video, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
most days I do believe I am quite the catch, being the so, very, exciting, witty
creature that I am.
there are days, you know.
are days when I choose to look, or at least find myself looking, at myself with
other, less forgiving eyes. And I see
things; the kind that make me wish that some of my circumstances would not be
as they are, things that make me see the gravity of certain kinds of lack; that
make me feel a deep, unsettling dissatisfaction. From the superficial to the
internal, from the financial to the more romantic aspirations, I am a being
riddled with unfulfilled desires; a being radically scared of what her
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, you see.
man is saying things, things about how we
should not accept the story people tell about us so readily; how we should be
bold about our story; our being, our identity; how we should loose ourselves
from enslavement and seek empowerment. And he is saying these things largely within
the framework of language; that not knowing our mother tongue but knowing five
foreign languages is enslavement, but knowing our mother tongue and then five
foreign languages is empowerment; how we should give African languages their
proper place, but, at 2:33 a.m., Ngugi is speaking this and something
altogether different in my life.
hear, I should tell my own story as I know it. I should use the yardstick
proper to me and not society to measure my ability and my possibilities and my
sheer greatness-es. That maybe I should
wear this skin, this life more proudly because I am ashamed only insofar as I have
been taught to be so. That shame exists
insofar as it is accepted.
so with a certain humility I will gain pride in that which I have been ashamed
of, as part of my wild, delicious journey of life, because this, after all, is
the only way it can be wild or delicious. A certain level of daring is required
to live life as boldly as people like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Wangari Maathai,
even the Mau Mau live or have lived; these people who make it a glory; a certain marker of character, to be Kenyan. It’s a release to those wild, delicious principles that
is the stuff of a nation, a movement, a life, of joy, of art.
certain refusal to deny yourself truth.
so…maybe I’m just saying that I'm feeling just a bit dangerous.
You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.
- - Wangari Maathai.