Archive for May 2011 | Monthly archive page
Reading and writing are two activities I absolutely enjoy. And with the Kenyan Reading Revolution moving closer and closer, I decided to share my thoughts on how I began writing and why I love reading so much.
[P.S The KRR is an attempt by StoryMoja Publishing House to bring together 25,000 Kenyans at Nyayo Stadium on June 16th to break the Guinness Book of Record of 'Most people reading together simultaneously in one location']
Read my post here
the letter your mother couldn’t write.
by warsan shire
if you’ve inherited my heart
then don’t be ashamed
of how desperate you sometimes feel
or how you stain sheets and shirts
that you are sopping wet
a walking haemmorhage
curious hands in the shower
the first menses of a young girl
a virgin writhing on a bed
you are on fire
you are like your mother.
so how could i ever talk about sin or damnation
when you have legs like creaking doors?
you welcome ghosts home
so i know you will know hell intimately
men who like to punch women in the face
who tongue kiss girls who look like their mother
men who hold you down, face in the mattress.
daughter with a soft body
the hardest ones will fall for you
and you will usher them in
seek out their sharp edges
and by the time they’ve finished
you will be bloody and sore
teeth marks on your thighs
your torso a burnt house of worship.
habibti, you do not deserve it but
you will be loved in fragments and fractions
until you no longer look like yourself
until your mouth is just the shape of his quiet name
oh my little girl
rip him out of your body
you come from a long line of women;
hawa who doused herself in petrol
ayan who pulled out her own teeth
khadija who fell asleep in the river
forgetting is the hardest thing in the world,
We’d reached the end of the tour and were to walk a bit up the road and catch a bus back to town. But before that, one of the girls on the tour was also researching on slum tourism and asked us to fill a questionnaire.
She later told me how three American girls had said how disappointed they were about the tour. I guess they had expected to see ‘ugly scenes’, ‘a place that reeks of despondency’. Hmmm, not enough dirt I guess [so dirt is good]
In any case, it was my turn to share my thoughts. With a camera trained on my face my pal asked me to assess the whole thing. This was the moment of truth, was slum tourism bad? Was it morally or ethically correct?
The truth is, there is no simple answer. I’m glad that I came to Kibera and saw such uplifting projects that I would otherwise not known about, but the manner in which I got to know about them is what bugs me. Especially as a Kenyan.
And while Western life is not as oh-lala as one would imagine, for them a slum is a very foreign idea/experience. I do not fault them for wanting to see, hear and understand what it is. I just take issue with the term ‘tourism’.
Even though we didn’t experience jeering or snide remarks I would not blame the people of Kibera if they had. We looked so freaking ostentatious; long-lens cameras and the like. It was very obvious that we we’re there to see them, our living museums.
So in that sense, it is very wrong. Poverty chooses no one; nobody seeks it out. Tomorrow any of us could wake up with nothing. Should we then expect to find a camera trained on our faces? A herd of eager faces peering into our shacks?
Sure, the kids were the most bold, saying ‘how are you’ and sticking out their hopeful palms. And Caucasians will forever be thought of as moneybags regardless of how much they have in their pockets. Because, truth is, how did they get here? Europe is thaaat place over there, somewhere.
But after all is said and done, I think this particular tour focused on the positives. We saw people helping themselves, others and making a difference in the community. I am proud that this ‘slum tour’ took that approach.
And as for me, I can honestly say that taking the issue of slum tourism aside, I was ashamed that I had never been to Kibera. Despite my earlier explanations, I realize now that I had blocked it out of my mind. I was so focused on me, me, me and the things people in my ‘zone’ were into that I forgot that my other brothers and sisters needed my help.
Let me be clear, I do not say any of these things in a condescending manner. I just want to help restore people’s dignity in whatever way I can. I have finally met ‘The Common Mwananchi’, what am I going to do about his/her problems?
So I guess it’s time I broke my boundaries because I definitely have a family, a project and business to conduct there.