September 2009


So, last Sunday, jus a few days ago,I chose to go out and watch some films being screened at the AGO by the first Canadian Black Film Festival. As I said in an earlier post, I was late, and missed most of the first screening, which was apparently the best, it was also the only one mainly featuring continental afrikan perspectives. So it was ironic how this Afrikan daughta missed Africa’s daughters, a doc about 2 Ugandan girls and their journey to fulfill their big dream(s),

I did get to watch 2 full features and 2 short videos….all shot from different, yet intricately, connected black/afrikan perspectives. I got drawn to and identified intimately with one feature….the one about da kink in my hair and trey anthony’s journey with her co-actors and dynamic sistas over the past 7 years. It was the only feature that gave me hope for my future….where I got to see womyn reclaiming their power and re/learning how to bond, grow, share, and work together.

The first full length feature had to do with a bunch of sistas, but I had to restrain myself from leaving the theatre (en at one point early in the screening, couldn’t take it and went outside for a cigarette, in protest of what I felt to be brain washing/misleading subject matter)……..this film was also supposed to be about black women looking for and finding love….but these sistas apparently couldn’t get what they wanted, and all of them were trying to find their fulfillment in the Lord. ……this flick probably had the most deceiving title of all documentaries I have ever seen….though to be fair to the directors, they placed a blatant sign about it’s imposed ideologies in the title….right there with the sword…but still I protested.

This is not what I thought I was going to watch. …..but, in all fairness, I hadn’t read the program, my pal T. read edited descriptions of the films that we were going to see, or I didn’t pay attention to what s/he was saying….either way, I didn’t realise this was going to be a film about black Christian singles, woulda asked for my money back, but I got more than my money’s worth with Trey Anthony…so I guess maybe the festival coulda worked for many groups within our community….there was supposed to be something for everyone….maybe next year I’ll submit one of my own documentaries…maybe I’ll give a revamped production of the q werd….instead of juxtasposing it in relation to the L word….I could place it in conversation with soulmates instead.

Instead of bette, we could put another version of (real/live) Vanessa, director of Petra Alexandra Inc. – the sista who was a lesbian B.C……and then married a brotha (who turns out to be) on the down low, and finds her solace in god and the Christian holy bible….I know at least 26 other sistas who would give another version of reconciling their sexuality and spirituality, starting with trey.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t have asked for my money back…I was grateful for watching soulmates. It provoked me, inspired me to continue writing my own stories, filling the margins with my own images of love and natural/mystic beauty.

And really, if I am to be genuinely anti-oppressive, then I have to concede that religion is a personal belief, and as destructive and harmful Christianity has been to our own indigenous afrikan cultures…..if we were on a level playing field, we should be able to follow our own god/desse/s…..Jehovah, Jah, Ra, Allah(t), Yemoja, Asiis, Ngai, Were, Maat, Mami Wota, Idemile, Quetzacoatl or Sin…we should be able to give each other space to fill in the gaps with the symbols we feel are for us…

but….. It’s not a level playing field…and too many afrikans are holding on to Christianity, as if it’s the last bastion of our tradition, when there’s nothing these that reflects our memories, xcept it’s roots…and that’s the only part of that religion I’m interested in…it’s antecedents….because unlike Islam, it’s not a simple reversal, not a blanket revision, but a composite of contesting and evolving religions…a historical site full of collected documents and revised dates…the truth is in the palimpsest. In the remnants of great goddess…in the songs of Solomon, genesis & the book of ruth…it is in the new (testament) and the old….it is the dregs of herstory….the ancient concept of the trinity, and the holy spirit….it is (the virgin) maria.

If I am to be truthful, I’ve only come to appreciate the space for reflection that the film Soulmates provided, now that I’m a few days away from it’s watching. I felt dis/avowed in that film. I felt like Vanessa let me down, she was the only sista who came out about having any sort of sexual desire for other womyn….we’re supposed to assume that all the others are straight…mostly because most of them talk about their desire to get married to a man, about their hurts over black men rejecting them, about dating men ‘outside’ of their own race…..and not to mention, the statistics…they made it clear where I was..non/existent (not with god) invisible… the only thing ‘queer’ was the ‘alarming’ number of men who slept with other brothers on the down low, while also sleeping with women….this statistic was profiled right before the one about AIDS…..right before the comment about AIDS being a black disease….what could have the potential to be a radical subversion of stereotypes about gay men was instead a trumpet call of homophobic justifications for the reasons gay/lesbian=bad for our community.

I found it convenient for the film’s message that the only sista who talked about an experience with a brother on the down low, was also the only one who came out as having had same sex desire…although technically, she didn’t talk about her desire….only that she took on a lesbian identity, BEFORE CHRIST, that was then, and we are supposed to (want to) believe that now that she’s with the Lord, that is her past……ofcourse she would be a good judge if any to talk about the horrors of queer/nes…..the brothas was so smooth, he said all the right things, he proposed marriage in 2 months, and on their wedding night, well he didn’t even wanna see her body…….this was probably the most hilarious part of the film for me. Hilarious because I found relief in the fact that at least one person in the film talked about her lived experiences with queerness, acknowledged that it existed in her life and in her community…

But the power of particularity is such that my reading of the film is entirely my own……I don’t think the director intended to highlight Vanessa’s story (the one who was a lesbian BC) as a point of identification for black queers. But I got to take what I can, and if knowledge is objective, then there’s alot to be learned from the material…in the silence, in the fantasies of the womyn interviewed, in their achievements, in their loss, through the journey of their hopes and dreams.

What I chose to do was sit with it, I chose to concentrate on something else, an come Monday morning, after writing my critical summary of the duties of the body towards the sexual impulse (a critical chapter in one of Emmanuel kant’s books), I was much more thankful of the previous depiction of Christianity I had taken in. At least that one tried to show the particular experiences of new afrikans trying to make themselves whole and share love. At least, I made a choice to stay and watch the film…with Kant, I had no choice, this was the required reading for the essay due by me evening class. So I read it, and wrote a critical summary, in protest of his white/patriarchal/western ideologies….

I decided to write this critical review of Sunday, after having to listen to more about what our Christian forefathers devised as moral conducts for society….after reading Kant, I had to go through Aquinas, one of most influential catholic thinkers…..fucked up and repressed..if you want just 2 words….but this ain’y my school papers, so I can write about who I please…

And I’d much rather share what I enjoyed, like watching the journey of trey en her sista crew in da kink in my hair. At least that screening had people I know, womyn that had taught me and changed me for the betta…like d’bi young.anitak afrika. Loving warrior. Sistas that I considered role models, like trey Anthony…..that gave me hope in my future….that reminded me to share my words and make space for myself despite all limitations and obstacles…..

These were the womyn I identified with, that I kept in my treasure chest of the magic of possibilities. But you gotta see the documentary yourself, watch the TV series even, if you’re in Toronto, go to their productions….secrets of a black boy is currently running, and go to the anitafrika! Dub theatre @ 62 fraser avenue…..

this revolushun is live, it’s on the streets and in our homes.

it’s in this matrix and in the villages….

spread the word, it’s all afrikan people’s movements for liberation.

it is me. it is (in) my words.

it is you reading this. it is your response.

it is NOT silent.

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Far away,

in my (basement) apartement.

 

I should be transcribing, writing critical summaries of this week’s readings,

re-designing the curriculum for AO101 & the womyn`s circle,

I should be doing many things, but I just wanna write,

 

Right now, because what I really want is to be with ‘him’…..

En he (probably)  knows….

But (i don’t think) no-one else does…

 

but that’s my secret (no mas)

I love him. it`s true.

 

I don’t know what to do…..

haven’t actually mouthed those words in any thing other than my safe confessionals,

 

I figure i made a fool of myself already,

 But what can I ask/say other than the truth?

 

To one who can (probably) see through my heart and soul,

And understands the silence(s).

 

See I neva believed I could feel this way,

And most around me prolly wouldn’t think that I would choose a man,

I didn’t think that I would choose a man.

 

I’ve been preferring girls from a tender age,

I played with bois and enjoy good men’s company,

have a precious family of wise brothas,

 

but I was neva strongly attracted to any one of that group of our species…

the (biological) man….the masculine (or even feminine identified) man,

i just knew….

 

En then IT happened.

 

And I couldn’t reasonably call myself a lesbian anymore,

was neva fully comfortable with that term,

 

Neither was I bisexual,

was neva fully comfortable with those binaries

 

And I will never be straight.

So what am I?

 

Does it matter?

It did…and apparently,as far as the revolushun goes, it even matters to some of my comrades,

who i`m attracted to, who I fantasise about, what kind of family I want, how my desires affect my allegiance,

apparently, all this shit is important.

 

(so) I keep the disruption a secret,

Because it didn’t come to be (anything), and wasn’t….

because if you really want me to choose camps..

well then I`ll stick with my women,

just give me some sperm when I need it,

and I might even easily be a separatist.

 

but that`s only if you push me,

because what I really want is that revolushunary commune with all my brothas and sistas,

but my imagined revolushunary commune members,

they keep pushing me away,

what`s a revolushunary daughta to do

 

I still lust after the spirit, body and minds of beautiful  women of afrikan descent.

Uchandirasiya…

 

And this really all doesn’t matter,

Because now that I finally experienced the pain of (true) love,

I have opened my eyes to the beauty of many around me….

en her true true love.

 

To the love that I need to share with my world,

And the sacrifices I have to make along the way to make that happen…

 

I am on a mission,

As everyone is supposed to be,

 

My purpose is to rebuild our communities with the advice our ancestors, sages, and righteous warriors,

Commited to the struggle for afrikan liberation,

 

To the (vision of) united states of afrika,

To the reparations and repatriations due for black people of afrikan decsent…new afrikans.

 

Where is our land? Where is our freedom?

Where is that good education?

That you say we should have,

But hold eludingly beyond our grasps….

 

Leave us with the puppets on BET, and,

the strings of AFRICOM and structural adjustment programs….

 

leave us with neo-colonial regimes

en white washed institutions,

it`s hog wash,

that this is all in the name of development,

these are the changing faces of exploitation,

and  (post) modern lies.

 

we know different,

and so we choose a different path,

listening to ouréselves and our ancestors,

because our parents may have bertrared us,

and some of our peers may have already compromised their integrity,

colluded with the vultures for powers (that be) oppressive…

 

en we,

i, know different,

from the main stream and tel-lie-vishun,

so my love is more than just `the one(s)`

 

it is, many, people…

because mine is the path of the warrior.

 

We are the ones who’ve lived through all the sides of globalisation,

The catastrophic impacts of new world trade agreements…

Where most of our resources are still leaving the continent,

Starting with me,

But this time….

It’s different,

My priorities are quality education not just for me, but for all my people.

Good food, and clean wota.

I got that right now,

And I`m working for more,

working with the necessary people,

staying true to my politics and principles,

subverting my middle class privilege,

and throwing all the bread en wine outta the ivory tower

I feel like I I’m finally feeling/seeing/tasting the fruits of my sacrifices, 

(like a) phoenix/lioness on the rise.

 

 accomplished so much (en) yet  (it’s like) I’ve finally woken up to how much work I have ahead of me;

a lifetime of (revolushunary) possibilities.

 

Finally unpacked into my new home.

My (own) space.

 

Mixed emotions.

Old photographs. And the cloths of all my family and travel.

 

I did my laundry. Put the bed into the bed/room.

Took out my spices, my cups and my plates.

 

I also looked for my belongings.

The precious art/offerings in glass.

Magic, all gone.

 

After a year away,

I came back (home) to almost nothing…

 

En when I came back home I had

Almost nothing….

The clothers on my back,

In my suitcase…..

 

My lifetime in the destiny that I had met,

When I went back home….

 

I came back to find that everything about me had changed,

And Tdot was kind of still there…..

 

My people had moved on,

In their own directions….

 

En some of us still sought each other out….

I sought out (only)  a few..

 

 

Because I came back to find that my concept of home had radically changed,

It seemed I had to accept my destiny,

In Ifrica.

 

My father’s land,

The mother land,

 

Came back to find that our memories of love are all we have to sustain us,

En home is where the heart is.

 

I came back to discover that it was mostly I who had radically changed,

A place that I had tried to make home for 6 years,

Where I had first publicly come out,

En

Come into myself…..

 

Where I learnt the most about me,

Was in foreign.

 

I went back home,

En re/discovered community.

 

I made peace with leaving Nairobi,

Because as much as that is the longest/most endurable marker of home,

Where I grew up…

 

It wasn’t home,

Not where I wanted to be,

En neither was Toronto,

Or anywhere else I had never been to outside of Africa….

 

Because home was close to the equator…

 

Somewhere close to the horn,

And deep in the middle,

At the source of the nile…

 

That is where home is,

Where Fatima was born,

And kandakes ruled for centuries before Christ was born.

 

That is where I wanted to be,

In another place,

Not here….

 

Yet, as this story goes, this is about how I made (a) home this past weekend….

The moon growing to full,

More than halfway there…

 

I had a housewarming,

With 2 members of my chosen family,

My brotha en sista (of sorts)

T&T.

 

Opened my apartment up for the first time to visitors,

Other than the, other, spirit children,

En fantasies of my soul mate/comrade/partners….

Tried to make zucchini pancakes,

That almost backfired,

But they were tasty enough, after t. Took over the cooking….

 

I learnt one important lesson that night,

I should learn to stop following recipes,

And just follow my instincts,

With a lil guidance from teachers….

 

I’d made zucchini pancakes for the first time this year,

For eid…

And they turned out beautifully…

This time, on Friday afternoon,

I went searching the net for a good zucchini pancake/tamarind chutney/raita/recipe,

Although maybe the more important lesson from that was that I shouldn’t try and bend the rules so much when following instructions…

 

Sometimes when the tamarind chutney doesn’t call for yoghurt, it doesn’t call for anything milk based….sometimes it could just be as simple as boil, strain, blend and mix with fresh cut…..

And sometimes, it’s not that difficult to give a lil’ back, reach out to people you love, and tell them what you should…..

We met again today, went for the last day of programming of the Canadian black film festival, at the AGO…..I realised that I don’t really get out that much anymore, not since I’ve been back….I may even be getting anti-social…

More content to listen to the squirrels, the trees and the wind.

At peace, eating, reading and writing on the grass,

Watching the sun, the moon en the stars…..

More inclined to fantasise the places I’d get to, at home,

If only, I could get the money to sustain me while I do the work I need to,

For my survival.

 

As with almost everything else in my life right now, I was late for the screenings…

Slept in my new room for the 2nd night….I gotta say, I like this feeling of home.

The reality is that I am in the one place in the world that I can truly call home,

Sharing space with the one blood/kin of mine that loves me unconditionally.

 

And there were more (old) firsts this weekend…

I borrowed my first books of the school year from the library,

If there was a definitive moment that I could pick out as when I first really enjoyed the prospect of staying here longer than I want to, it was then….

When I slid my student card through the self serve book check out machine….placed those bar codes under the infra red and checked out the daughters of africa, dinka cosmology, the archaeology of knowledge & ancient nubia…..

Here I was, back again, checking out books again, that had nothing to do with the courses I was taken, not directly, probably not even in the view of the professor teaching the class…but they are important to my (life) learning…..and I had the privilege of taking them out (again).

It symbolised for me the ways I could subvert power and re/claim my own. I don’t think I had ever really appreciated those books as much as now, that I’ve come back…after finding my focus…here I was surrounded with a wealth of knowledge….after straying so far from the path that I found what I needed….and now, despite bureacracy’s attempt to keep me out…I’m still taking the lesbian studies course, and an extra philosophy of sexuality course to boot….

 

And I finally get a space of my own,

got good food (zucchini pancakes/tamarind chutney/raita/chicken)  in my fridge,

en a metropass.

 

Small/big things.

Lovely pictures, to remind me,

Got a laptop to work from and unlimited internet access,

Pages that upload in seconds,

And photos that actually get transferred from hard drive to site….

I wish I had all this in Kenya,

 

I wish I could have my cake and eat it too.

 

And really, like so many others have asked,

 

What does that (turn of) phrase mean anyway?

 

If I am to have cake, why wouldn’t I eat it?

 

Why wouldn’t I wanna have more access to resources in the place I grew up?

Why wouldn’t I prefer to live ‘at home’?

 

Why wouldn’t I seek to earn a living wage while engaging in activism and doing community work?

Why wouldn’t I wanna be able to marry the person of my choice?

 

Why wouldn’t I wanna have close access to the mountains (of the moon) and the (Indian) ocean?

Why wouldn’t I wanna get away in the forest(s) or the savannas?

Why wouldn’t I wannna grow old in a revolushunary village, with kings and queens, rebuilding healthy/loving/sustainable communities?

 

I wish I had, I wish I could, I wish I….

En yet I know I have everything I need in my life right now.

And I’m grateful.

 

Asante.

(not-so) ancient herstory

i’m (righteously) procrastinating on essays due on monday and thursday for my courses. as useful as they say halberstam, kant and pervse presentism readings are for deconstructing oppressive/hegemonic ideologies…i’d rather (intuitively) cfhart my own path to (our) ancient stories. i use the tools I have available……you tube is a minefield of (common) knowledge.

ANTI-OPPRESSION (101) WORKSHOPS

This is a working model (in a much condensed form)  for anti-oppression workshops being developed by MINORITY WOMEN IN ACTION (MWA) and MOYO WA AFRIKA (MOYO).

The workshops address the myriad of social oppressions in a general manner; as well as delving more deeply into the colonial roots of systematic oppression, particularly homo and transphobia, in the African context.

I’m sharing the outline, on this matrix, because I’m looking for folks interested in helping us develop the workshop itself and the training module for facilitators/peer educators. We have set up an advisory committee that will provide feedback and mentorship for the program’s implementation. We are currently recruiting (more) individual activists and relevant organisations to join this committee. Any suggestions?

The program is scheduled to launch in Nairobi in January 2010. If you have resources that you think would be relevant and useful, email me….

Section 1.      (Unpacking) Anti-Oppression (101)

  1. Unpacking (Anti) Oppression
  2. S.O-G.I : Sexual Orientation vs. Gender Identity
  3. Homophobia, Transphobia & Heterosexism
  4. Anti-indigenous oppression 

Section 2:      Colonial Roots of Systemic Oppression

  1. Interrogating the intersections of our diversity
  2. On violence & hate crimes: state sponsored violence
  3. R3: repudiation, reparation, repatriation

Section 3:      Anti-Oppression Models

  1. How (do) we do anti-oppression work?
  2. Tools for challenging homophobia & transphobia
  3. Legal frameworks: supportive treaty bodies & hr mechanisms

Section 4:      Decolonization Methodologies

  1. The Need for Decolonization
  2. OUR-stories: queer & trans positive (pan) afrikan cultures
  3. A  Note on reclaimed language

Section 5:      Integration of Knowledge

  1. Mapping Struggles for Social Justice
  2. Positive Space Campaign

Section 6:      Service Providers Toolkit

  1. Fact sheets
  2. Recommended readings & web resources
  3. Positive Space Campaign
  4. GALCK & Moyo brochures

Section 7:      Wrap-up

  1. Personal stories
  2. Q&A
  3. Feedback Forms

 

SECTION 1

(Unpacking) Anti-Oppression (101)

 1. Unpacking (ANTI) oppression: interrogating the intersections of our diversity

2. Sexuality: global perspectives

#Sexual orientation/Gender Identity: breaking down HLGBTTIQQ

3.       Homo/Lesbo/Bi/Trans-phobia: definitions & variations

#Hetero-sexism & Hetero-normativity: hegemonic ideologies in praxis

4.       Anti-Indigenous Oppression:

#Marginalisation of indigenous religions: religious fundamentalism vs. ?

 

 A.    (anti) OPPRESSION

We ask participants to name, define and give examples of the different types of oppressions. We distinguish between interpersonal and systematic oppression, giving examples of each.

Together we come up with a complete list inclusive of classism, sexism/misogny, homo/transphobia and heterosexism, ableism, racism, oppression along religious lines, as well as anti-Indigenous and colonial oppression.

(FOR EXAMPLE…) Racism:

-define various types: cultural/internalised & systemic/institutionalised racism

-how racism is perpetuated

-stereotypes & how they affect us

-Race: A Human Invention

 
*Interactive exercises: Line in the Sand Game

*Toolkit resources:

              Fact sheets that include all forms of oppression,

              and provides space for participant notes.

              Definitions & ‘Un’-learning

             Deconstructing language/rationalisation of (different forms of) domination

   

B.     S.O-G.I

We ask participants to name and define sexual orientations, including the different ways that people are attracted to each other.

Together, we explore the differences between sex & gender, and define gender identity, including the differences and intersections between sexual orientation & gender identity

 

 C.           HOMO/ TRANSPHOBIA and HETEROSEXISM

We ask participants to name and define the difference between sex & gender, sexual orientation & gender identity, giving definitions of HTLGBTTIQQ people.

Together, we come up with a comprehensive list of stereotypes, prejudices, and identities.

Homo and Transphobia are explored in a more in depth manner, with the different types being named and examples being given of each.

 

Interactive Exercises:

‘The Porcupine’ – participants brainstorm on stereotypes/prejudices about LGBTTIQ people

 

Toolkit resources:
*A fact sheet is provided for homo/Transphobia, heterosexiam and heteronormativity

 *Gender & Sexuality: The Politics of Transformation

 

 

 Section 2

COLONIAL ROOTS OF SYSTEMATIC OPPRESSION

 

1. Interrogating the Intersections of Our Diversity

 We ask participants to discuss the connections between systematic oppressions and what they feel might be the origins of these.

We make the links through a diagram and then provide a historical run-down of colonial history and tie in all the various forms of oppression. 

*A timeline/fact sheet is provided for this.

A brief question/answer and discussion is opened up.

 

2.       Violence & Hate Crimes

We explore and link historical and sustained forms of violence against marginalised groups and identities.

 

Section  3.

ANTI-OPPRESSION MODELS

 A.     HOW DO WE DO ANTI-OPPRESSION WORK?

We ask participants to discuss and suggest ways that oppression and the roots of oppression can be addressed/combatted.

We discuss conventional anti-oppression models.

B.      ANTI-HOMO/TRANSPHOBIA MODELS

 Tools for challenging homophobia & transpĥobia are discussed in length

C.      LEGAL FRAMEWORKS

 We discuss supportive treaty bodies and human rights mechanisms

 

 Section  4.

DECOLONIZATION METHODOLOGIES

A. THE NEED FOR DECOLONIZATION

We discuss decolonization as a necessary first step in anti-oppression work, explore ways to reclaim indigenous (particularly African) knowledge, economies, self-determination, resources and dignity. We provide stories/examples of traditional/indigenous African societies that were/are anti-oppressive in various ways.  

*A reading list with key quotations is provided to help start participants in their own research.

 

B.    OUR-Stories: AFRICAN QUEER POSITIVITY

 

We highlight ‘queer-positive’ African traditions.

 

*Interactive Component: QTYAC introduction en NOR stories

* Tool Kit Resources: Case Study: afrikan herstory research project (rahp)

 

C. A Note on Reclaimed Language: Kuchu/Shoga

 

Section  5.

INTEGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE

We discuss specific ways that people (participants in particular) can integrate these models and visions into their work.

We discuss how to employ anti-oppression, particularly anti-homo/transphobia, as well as decolonization frameworks in the everyday.

Participants given chance to discuss their work context, give their own ideas, and get feedback from facilitators and group.

A. MAPPING STRUGGLES FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

We explore the links among progressive social movements from a herstorical perspective.

B.  POSITIVE SPACE CAMPAIGN

Particular focus on African/decolonized models for queer-positive work. 

 

Section 6

SERVICE PROVIDER TOOLKIT

1.  Fact sheets

2. recommended readings & web resources

3. Positive Space Campaign

4. GALCK & Moyo brochures

 

Section 7

Wrap-up 

  1. Personal stories

Facilitators tell their personal stories of challenging oppression

      2.   Q&A

Participants write their questions for facilitators: anonymous 

      3.  Feedback Forms

Participants fill in assessment forms.  

eid mubarak

Ramadan in Review

 

It’s the last day,

moon’s light has emptied out and

the crescent will be upon us soon

 

As I write, I reflect, on the past month

re/vise my understanding of current events.

this is hot off the press of reality.

an alternative, lone account of the stories of (many) people and their struggle for Afrikan liberation.

 

Personally, in the past couple of weeks I have experienced a major turnaround in commitments and decisions. I have been selfish and brutally (self) honest in choosing the focus of my time. Ultimately, after all the struggles of deciding whether to stay, here in Toronto, or go back home, as I wanted, yet couldn’t foresee ably  survive without enough money to pay my living expenses, I have to admit to myself that it’s nice (feeling like I’m back) at home…….

I had to acknowledge my fears when I got here, and my weariness….the truth is, just one year of (trying to engage in) grassroots activism in Kenya, had me yearning to get away…..the longest, most endurable marker of home, in my memory, had radically shifted (in the landscapes of my political consciousness) and I felt like I was involved in building a completely different home.

My decision to stay was only formalised, when my course fees were paid, on Friday September 11th.

I had made my most important decisions though, years before, and now I’m just paying dues to the consequences of my choices. Ultimately, I am glad that I am here, recuperating and collecting the necessary resources to sustain me when I return…

For you see, as much as it speaks volumes that I am here, in the First world, as opposed to, there, in East Afrika……I am (still) committed to the struggle for Afrikan liberation, and in an environment of (feigned)  ignorance and the (empty) pursuit of illusions, I choose armchair activism over the click of a mouse on the latest on TIFF,  and the push of a button on remote control North AmeriKKKa….I figure, to do something is better than pushing the fear of helplessness away….

Yes,  I am frustrated  by my (seeming) inability to readily accomplish the (big) dreams that I harbour for revolushunary possibilities….I been questioning my idealism on an almost daily basis for the past year. What is hope for, if not for the dreamers? And what is failure, if not for those working to change (for the betta).

In attempting to fast in solidarity with muslims worldwide, observing the tenets of the holy month, I have had to critically self examine my own mis-steps and injustices, all the betta to speak about the injustices of others, and attempt to give back to (my) community.

So here’s my list to-be-noted-and-accounted-for….

  1. I started Ramadan, bleeding…I took this is a divine sign to postpone my fast, and my decision of whether to stay or return to Kenya this year….I’m going to end Ramadan, bleeding…and I take this as a sign to give thanks for coming to terms with my decision to stay. There has been alot of upheaval and there is lot more necessary coalition building to be done here in Toronto before I can safely return back home.
  2. I have radically shifted my position on many ideological issues. I no longer believe that it is necessary to work within ‘the system’ to achieve change, or wait for general consensus to experiment in alternatives, but…I know there will be no (real) revolution without (a) ‘peoples movement’.
  3. I am a hypocrite.  I have not worked as hard as I know I could to help others who don’t  have the fortune/privilege to enjoy the resources I have. I am guilty of denial and selfishness. I am redeemed in my eyes though, by the (self) knowledge that I have remained true to my politics and promises. At the end of the day, I gave what I could to help (advance the) movement, and I held back what I needed to grow and give more in the future……I am humbled by the (past years) turn of events.
  4. I believe that if all indigenous peoples of the world unite, there’ll be some radical changes. …for whether it’s Caster Semenya being brutally and poignantly singled out for sex tests or Samson Ojiayo being abducted by pigs in plainclothes uniform and released a day later without charges, the world will listen and respond. For Godwin Kamau’s fate is the terror of Guantanamo bay,  the poor wo/man in a Kenyan jail,  the escalating fear of the state (neo-colonialism) and the tunnels going to Palestine….it is the dubious deaths of  many (extra) ordinary mwananchi. I believe that (the Left) we need to work on our (own)unity first.
  5. I am a story teller. Technically, you shouldn’t believe a word I say, these words are not my own….they are the collected accounts of people I’ve encountered along my travel(s) around the world. These are the stories of comrades, sistas en brothas….en they are also my confessions. The mis-steps I’ve made along the way. I don’t know much, more than, my community. So I know more than many…because you see I am of different worlds…..fluent in the language of the under (world/classes) and our ancestors…..I am a spirit child. So you see I am probably best qualified to tell you (any afrikan) hadithi.
  6. I have failed in several projects that I’ve embarked on the in the past year. Not because I lacked the truth or belief in what we were trying to accomplish, but because we/I couldn’t transcend the (petty) politics of conflicting ideologies.
  7. I have succeeded in the one mission that I did come with to Kenya….and have come back again to Toronto as I promised (though I didn’t mean to keep the promise, I didn’t want to come back, I just didn’t have enough money to go on, en my familiar radical politics and revolutionary living practices weren’t sustainable in Nairobi, or anywhere else that I travelled to……my biggest fear….that the post election violence that broke out almost 2 years ago now….it’s just a harbinger…..it feels like we’re on the brink…….and there are (not-so) many possibilities…
  8. I’m not a muslim (not anymore). I’m not a Christian or Rasta (though I was raised in a fundamentally Christian environment and was baptised as an Orthodox..later I tried to reclaim what proselytised to be an afrikan liberatory religion en I couldn’t shake the fundamentalist abrahamic  version of partriarchy).
  9.  I try to fast in solidarity with muslims as part of my own process of reclaiming spirituality. I, use my intuition and logic in selecting teachings from disaparate religions to piece back a semblance of what I feel is indigenous (afrikan). Why do I have to explain myself? Because, especially in the month of September, I’ll get alot more questions about my religion, usually directly in response to disclosure that I(‘m trying to) fast. You’re muslim? I didn’t know you were muslim? It doesn’t matter anyhow, my religious belief is private….but my resistance to all forms of imperialism is public and holds through to the incorporation of spiritual matters into the decolonizing framework. So I fast, because, it’s a ritual derived from lunar calendars, and I am on the path of reclaiming (Great) God/dess.
  10. I am weary. But I’m not broken. The main issue that I’ve grappled with in the past month/year is sustaining activism. It seems I have chosen (what is a contradictory en) a formidable line-of-work, and as much as I profess revolutionary tendencies. I have (also) made major compromises in my life to be able to survive while rebuilding community. The biggest was coming back here…. when I came back to Toronto a few moons ago, I was scared that I was running away. I had discovered the depths of the work to be done and it was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t sacrifice my politics to engage in arm chair or career activism en because the biggest resource I had was myself. I gave my labour, and got alot in return. Just not money. That forced me to reflect on all the privileges that did sustain my activism in all the previous years. (middle) class. North American (big/foreign) university educated. Light skin. It all saved me in pernicious and (not-so) startling ways. Like when I was taking pictures of pigs trying to (illegally) arrest activists, and because they didn’t know who I was, this in-your-face, bystander….they let them go. But i wasn’t the only one taking pictures…en they mistook me for someone ‘other than’ who I was….en the way I was able to survive on 8,000 bob a month because I didn’t have to pay rent for that month, or the other month…….but as with all privileges and oppressions we experience….they are all subject to a statute of limitations (and change)……I was lucky I survived, worse could have happened, and I wouldn’t have had the money or the family to chip in. And I was privileged to be able to leave….and stay here, where I revise my strategies, and make the most of what I got….because I have to prepare myself…I’m still going back (soon).
  11. I’ve been experiencing (guilty) pleasure in the safety and nurture of folks who don’t think I’m crazy, idealistic and over ambitious maybe…and are able to give the time to working and finding solutions together. I’ve also been frustrated by where I seem to have placed myself, betwixt and between, movements…but where there is friction, there will always be more…..
  12. I have many dreams, and I’m putting them all out there, en why not? I (theoretically) want a functional/loving harem….en now that I’ve found (my) baby daddy, I want to have a child in the next 5 years…I want to grow old in a revolushunary village, with good food and clean wota, close access to the ocean, the savanna and the mountains. I want to be able to farm, en teach, without having to travel far. I wanna grow my own herbs. (and as I write some of my dreams out, I see too why I could be mistaken for a hippie…which I’m not). I want ‘the’ revolution to come soon. I’m preparing for it.
  13. Yes. I’m recruiting! Yes. We can!

Comrades and Friends,

Today I went to Industrial Area Prison to see Gordon Kamau Wang’oe and I think it is important that I share with you this. We talked and he narrated to me how they were arrested with Ojiayo at Ambassador Bus stop where they wanted to board a matatu after attending a bunge la mwananchi at Jevenjee garden. When he asked the officers to identify themselves they grabbed them and pushed them into  waiting vehicle. They then switched the volume of music full blast as they ordered them to stoop down. They were taken to an open field in Ngara in what looked like a school. He was removed from the car where they frisked him and took all his belonging which included a wallet that had fifteen thousand shillings. He was then laid on a pillow and a gun pointed on his head. They iformed him that they were creating a scene of crime. The Abductors/police wanted to know if he could raise one million in an hour. He was told to use his phone to call and he called his friend Mr. Ngunjiri and told him he wanted the money to buy a tender.  He called again to find out if Ngunjiri had found the money.  When Ngunjiri asked him if the tender could wait until tomorrow he informed him if he dosnt get the tender it could cost him his survival.

They also turned to Ojiayo and asked him what he does and he informed them that he was a human rights activist and if they were genuinely arresting them to take them to a police station and book them in the OB.  He was told to shut up or his head will be blown too.

They then bundled  them back to the vehicle and drove them for sometime. They said they would take them to Karen and kill them. When they asked what they had done answered that  they wanted them dead. ‘mumetusumbua sana’ later they packed at a place where Kamau came to discover later that it was Gigiri police station parking.  Ngunjiri called again and said he had two hundred thousand and wanted to know if they could take that and wait for the rest of the money in the morning.  Kamau asked them how they wanted the money to be delivered and they asked him if he had a wife which he answered to the afirmative. They said the money could be delivered to the wife and then they could direct her how to get the money to them. 

It was then that there was a message comming in from the Radio call they were holding and they all moved aside and listened and discussed. Kamau and Ojiayo were in the car with the driver.  They later came back removed Kamau from the car and took him to the police station.  It is then that he realised that they had been operating from the parking of the Gigiri police station from the time the car stopped.

The following morning he was picked by different police officers who took him to Central police station and he was informed that he will be charged at 2.00 pm.  It is only when he met the Human roghts Lawyer Hon. Muite that he was told that he was charged with being in possession of Bhang.

Several questions arise from this report.

1.    With the increase of kidnapping cases in the country, are the police the ones carrying them out?
2.    Is it possible to trace the arresting officers and investigate this allegetions?
3.    Can we trust the police?
4.    How did the arresting know that the activist had marijuana?
5.    What became of Kamau’s money?
6.    Who can answer this questions?
7.    How safe are kenyans if the law enforcers can abuct?
8.    How safe are human rights activists?

Friends and colleagues, this is very disturbing. Can anyone there try to unravel this mess?
 
Beatrice G. Kamau
Executive Director
Social Reform Centre (SOREC)

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