[re/posted]scribbles from the den

When the idea was first hatched to put forward South Africa’s candidacy for the 2010 World Cup, it seemed a far-fetched dream. And when FIFA actually awarded the tournament to South Africa, it was, in the view of many, a gamble destined to fail. However, after six years of turmoil, controversy and acrimony later, South Africa is finally set for the 2010 World Cup tournament.

For the next month, (legitimate) concerns about the financial toll of the tournament on South Africa’s economy, the absence of concrete benefits for large swathes of the South African population, or about FIFA’s stifling rules will be put on the backburner as the world enjoys the beautiful game.

Dori Moreno

Dori Moreno is one of those unapologetically afflicted by ‘World Cup Fever’:

I have been waiting for the World Cup to arrive ever since the announcement was made that it would be hosted in South Africa. It’s difficult to get excited about something happening so far into the future. But now, the World Cup is upon us, and in just 2 more sleeps, South Africa will face Mexico in the kick off game of the 2010 World Cup. And South Africa has woken up and is alive with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

 ‘Today, the Bafana Bafana team took to the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg in an open top bus. South African fans came out en masse to celebrate and get a glimpse of their national team. The vibe was indescribable and when the Soweto Marimba Youth League played the national anthem, I confess to being moved to tears from the sheer emotion and energy of the event.


‘I think even the die-hard pessimists out there will struggle not to get caught up in the positive energy that will carry us all on a cloud for the next month. To everyone out there, I say, ENJOY! To all the visitors to our awesome country, feel it, live it and fall in love. It’s time for AFRICA!!!!’

Jeanette Verster’s Photography

And talking about the June 9 ‘United We Stand for Bafana Bafana’ parade organised in Sandton to encourage South Africans to show their support for their national team, Jeanette Verster publishes a colorful picture essay that vividly captures the national excitement.

Brand South Africa Blog

Brand South Africa Blog hopes that the unity and patriotism demonstrated in the run-up to the World Cup will last long after the tournament:

‘The past few months have been an incredible sight. Road works, bridges being built and the most spectacular, the giant eye which watches over all of us from the entrance to the V&A Waterfront. To say I feel proud would really be an understatement, although true. Undeniably through all of this is the tangible feeling of patriotism, excitement and unified spirit in the air.

‘Flags, Zakumi’s (official World Cup mascot), soccer jerseys everywhere makes me feel that we can unite as a country, evident in the progress made.

‘*** I love SA ***

‘The feeling I hope for South Africa is that we stay this way long past the end game is played. Everyone is watching and can see that through working together and progress, we can be pushed into another league and be part of a set of countries people all of the world would like to visit sometime in their life.

‘So, Bafana, we are behind you 150%, make us proud and do your best.

‘Visitors to South Africa, our country is beautiful, take the opportunity to visit places off the beaten track you’ll be pleasantly surprised and p.s. don’t forget to shop!’

Constitutionally Speaking

Even as the excitement builds up, there is anger just beneath the surface over a number of (FIFA-inspired?) decisions which do not benefit South Africans. One such issue is the apparent blanket ban on public gatherings in many municipalities for the duration of the World Cup. Constitutionally Speaking argues that:



‘If this is true, it would mean that parts of South Africa are now effectively functioning under a state of emergency in which the right to freedom of assembly and protest have been suspended. This would be both illegal and unconstitutional. Other reports have suggested that such orders were indeed given, but that the police are now backtracking – probably because the police have realised that they are breaking the law and that the order, in fact, constitutes a grave breach of the law and the Constitution.

‘It is a sad day indeed when the police itself become a threat to our democracy and our rights because Fifa and the government want us all to behave and shut up for the next month and to forget about our democratic rights.’

Scribbles from the Den (and betwixt en between the lines: a video diary of the ‘Q[/t]’ werd)

Scribbles from the Den takes us back 20 years to a memorable World Cup game which is now part of the football folklore and which credited to have changed the World Football Order in favor of African countries:

‘Exactly 20 years ago on June 8, 1990 at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium in Milan, Italy, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, “a humble team with an insignificant past” to quote the Miami Herald, defeated Argentina, the star-studded defending World Champions led by Diego Armando Maradona, in a thrilling Italia ’90 World Cup opening game that came to be known as the “Miracle of Milan”…



‘The victory over Argentina was merely the beginning of Cameroon’s Cinderella story which came to an end only after England ousted the Lions in an epic quarterfinal game that is also part of World Cup folklore. Cameroon’s brilliant run in Italia ’90 in general, and its historic win over Argentina in particular reverberated around the world and changed the Football World Order forever…

‘The aftershocks from that memorable Friday afternoon at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium would be felt years later first with FIFA increasing the number of African teams taking part in the World Cup from two to five, then with the “browning” of European leagues which opened their doors to players from the continent and in the process unearthed African football prodigies such as “King” George Weah of Liberia, Same Eto’o of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Cote d’Ivoire.’

Up Station Mountain Club

As the football fiesta goes on in South Africa, Charles Taku, a lead counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, wonders whether Africa has any reason to celebrate as many states turn 50:

‘Africa is sick; very sick indeed. It is safe to state that at 50, there is nothing to celebrate. Rather than celebrate, Africa should be engaged in a moment of soul searching to find out where we went wrong and to generate ideas about how to resolve the myriad problems afflicting the continent…



‘There is no gainsaying that Africa is a victim of its colonial heritage. It is also true that many African problems are self inflicted. For that reason, according to Peter Schwab, Africa is its own worst enemy.

‘As Africa enters the second half of the century, there is a compelling need for it to eschew all pretensions to celebration and to use the opportunity of the moment to search for viable solutions to its plethora of problems. Our collective failure enjoins us to do a lot of soul searching at this point of our history rather than celebrate a failed past in anticipation of a bleaker future. Africa and the black race in general need to take their destiny into their own hands once again. Time has come for all black people of this world to invoke the spirits of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, CLR James, the Osagyefo Mwalimu and others whose mere mention of name give us the inspiration, courage and hope to start all over again, in seeking a path of glory they once laid out for us.

The time to build and improve on what they started for our collective survival in a mercilessly competitive world is now. Waiting for dictators that preside over the destiny of most of the continent at present to pave that path to glory is simply foolhardy, if not suicidal.”



Kumekucha

Kumekucha explains how he believes the ruling elite plan to rig the August Referendum for the proposed new Kenyan Constitution:

‘Folks I am afraid that I have more bad news for you concerning the new constitution most of us are yearning for. Let me start by confessing that for a person with my years of experience I was rather naïve to believe that those who own Kenya would ever allow for an electoral system that they did not have any control over. The truth is that the so called “tamper-proof” electoral roll has already been tampered with and non-existent voters introduced. And since it is NOT the same electoral roll that we will go to the general elections with, the only conclusion is that the intention is to rig the August 4th Referendum.

‘The game plan by the powerful owners of Kenya is for the NO camp to catch up with the YES majority so that the difference is around 20% or less. What will then happen is that NO will win with a very slim majority. Enough to deny most Kenyans what they are yearning for so much that they can no longer sleep too well. Those wh o have read the document and realize the sweeping changes it will bring into the country and the deadly blow it will deal to impunity.

‘What really scares me is that so far these powerful forces have been able to get things done through the NSIS and have even influenced the judiciary to make certain bizarre rulings. To me that is evidence enough that they are quite capable of going ahead with their well laid plan even as the president tires himself crisscrossing the country campaigning for a new constitution.’


BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dibussi Tande blogs at Scribbles from the Den.

 

blogger’s note: in this countdown to the ‘official’ (biggest) pan-afrikan holiday, we’re going to not only (re)vision where we’re coming from, giving thanx for the legacies en sacrifices of our ancestors, our people, en the future we’re preparing for,

but also, interrogate where we’re at NOW, like with-in (myself) en OUT, communally with all the gaps and dis-unity, (en ALL  the intersections, betwixt en between)

(like) dis’ hadithi ya the prosecution and imprisonment of steven monjeza na tiwonge chimbalanga is (pure) madness,

a ‘living’ example of the convoluted ways that we have internalised ‘foreign’ ideologies en  turned to attacking en criminalizing bredrin en sistren for misguided en oppressive reasons,

like it’s all a part of the master plan?

forgive them father, they know not what they do kinda song?

nigga(s) please, let’s jus’ stop hating (ourselves en) on each other!

if it were all that simple to reclaim love for ourselves with the preach en human rights speech no?

with papa malcolm’s anniversary jus’ one day gone, and ALD just 4 days away, (more than a few) big symbols of  all the labour that has gone into the freedom we DO  have,all the more reason to give thanx for en share stories of peace, and (of) the people willing to fight for it, by any means necessary!  afrika huru! ase o….

21 May 2010

UN human rights chief says sentence on Malawi gay couple is discriminatory and sets dangerous precedent

GENEVA – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Friday that the prosecution and sentencing of 14 years imprisonment with hard labour for a Malawian gay couple, imposed by a court in Malawi on Thursday, is “blatantly discriminatory” and sets an alarming precedent in the region for the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as groups that support them.

“I am shocked and dismayed by the sentence and reports of the treatment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga while in detention,” Pillay said. “The law which enabled the conviction dates back to the colonial era and has lain dormant for a number of years – rightly so, because it is discriminatory and has the effect of criminalizing and stigmatizing people based on perceptions of their identity. If this was replicated worldwide, we would be talking about the widespread criminalization of millions of people in consensual relationships and the rampant violation of privacy.”  

 “Laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation are by their nature discriminatory, and as such are in apparent violation of a number of key international treaties and instruments, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights*,” Pillay said “Unfortunately they still exist in quite a number of countries across the world. The trend should be towards getting rid of them, as is the case with other forms of discrimination. Instead, some countries, including Malawi, seem to be heading in the opposite direction.”

 The High Commissioner called for the conviction to be repealed and for the penal codes criminalizing homosexuality to be reformed.

 She said she was also concerned that this case appears to have stimulated a marked deterioration in official and public attitudes in Malawi, not just towards individuals perceived as being homosexual but also towards organizations that speak out about sexual orientation and related issues, including ones doing vital work to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS.  

 

“I fear the reverberations of this decision, along with the recent attempt to bring in a new draconian bill aimed at homosexuals in Uganda, could have severe repercussions throughout the African continent,” Pillay said. “It will inevitably drive same-sex couples underground, and if this trend continues and spreads, not only will it mark a major setback to civil liberties, it could have a disastrous effect on the fight against HIV/AIDS. So, in addition to the serious moral and legal ramifications of this decision, it raises intensely practical problems as well.”    

The High Commissioner dismissed the argument that non-discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation is a cultural issue. “It is a question of fundamental rights,” she said, “not one of geography, history or disparate cultures. The protection of individuals against discrimination is pervasive in international human rights law. Why should it be suspended for this one group of human beings?”

(*) Article 2:Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status. Article 19:All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have the same rights. Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another.

Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

Click here to visit OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org

OHCHR Country Page – Malawi: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/MWIndex.aspx

For more information or interviews contact: Rupert Colville at + 41 22 917 9767

I give thanks for El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (aka. Malcolm X), for (t)his birth (to)day, en for tomorrow, for the fruits of the work that not only (baba) Malcolm but so many other of our ancestors have done in liberating themselves en ‘other’ (people)s…

 

I give thanks for African Liberation Day (on May 25th), which is (depending on one’s ‘politics’) the biggest holiday of the year for (all) Afrikans, or more like, should be…. afrika moja!

Dis’  litany of love (en survival)  is embodied in ‘our’ symbols of resistance and the struggle of ‘everyday’, it explores the ‘other’ pieces of (where we) coming OUT from and embraces those ‘intersections’ in our diversity that (should) remind us we are all (from) one (Mama Afrika)….

so I give thanks for the work that the warriors of Blackness Yes! & Blockorama do to maintain positive & safe spaces for queer & trans folk of Afrikan descent, and for the folks who continue to do what they can to transform  not only themselves, but our communities for betta….

Like (in) dis’ litany of  pan-Afrikan realities sent out a moon ago, from (some of) the ones we’ve been looking for…ase.

April 19, 2010,

Dear Pride Toronto,

Thank you all for attending the community meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 to discuss the proposed move of Blockorama. At this meeting you were able to see the passion our community feels for Blockorama. Our communities came out Tuesday to support Blockorama because it is created by and for community, with a deep sense of ownership by the community. We would also like to thank you for your letter, dated April 15, 2010.

Since 1998 Blockorama has been a party at Pride where black queer and trans folks, their allies, supporters and people who love them came together to say no to homophobia in black communities and no to racism in LGBTQ communities. To say Blackness Yes at Pride – loud and proud. Pride Toronto’s inability to lead on racism in the LGBTQ communities and homophobia in black communities sends a strong signal to black queer and trans communities and their allies everywhere.

We have built Blockorama out of love, through sweat and toiling. For 12 years, we have claimed space, resisted erasure, found community, shared memories, built bridges, embraced sexuality, and found home. Blockorama is not just a party or a stage at Pride. It is a meeting place for black queer and trans people across North America- Blockorama is the largest space of its kind at any Pride festival on the continent.

Black queer and trans communities have been central to the diversity of Pride. At the same time Pride Toronto as an organization has continually marginalized those communities. It is indeed those communities that enable Pride to be the celebration of sexual life and freedoms that we all cherish. Pride Toronto’s inability to recognize its own constituencies is not only sad and disappointing it is indeed politically naïve and damaging to the still necessary struggles around sexual freedom in our city, province and country.

It has been incredibly frustrating to have our concerns regarding the space for Blockorama at Pride be not taken seriously by the arts and entertainment manager at Pride. It is very unfortunate that communication seems to be an issue for Pride Toronto, and that so much institutional memory has been lost through the many transitions that Pride has gone through over the last 2 years. We are glad to have begun a conversation about how to rebuild our connections with Pride Toronto.

Based on the feedback we have received from our communities following Tuesday’s meeting and what was offered through your letter, we are prepared to accept the following:

1. A full stage and infrastructure in George Hislop Parkette on Sunday July 4, 2010. This infrastructure will include power, insurance, tents, tables/chairs, toilets,
garbage removal, insurance, permits and fees, security, tech costs and labour.

We assume that the other site requests previously made available to us (pizza and water for volunteers, barricades to which we secure our banners, etc) will, although not mentioned in your letter, still be made available to us.

2. A reciprocal commitment from Blackness Yes and Pride Toronto to respond to emails with 48 hours of receiving them and to check in with each other (by phone or email) at least twice per week from now until the end of the 2010 Pride Week Festival.

3. We agree to your request for programming information to be provided to Pride Toronto no later than April 21st. In fact, we had already submitted this programming information before receipt of your letter.

4. We agree to the request for information for the Pride Guide to be submitted no later than April 21st.

We will provide you with:

o A 100 word intro blurb;
o Two 50 word blurbs for artists’ spotlights;
o Any photos associated with those artists in high resolution (300 dpi);
o A 100 word blurb about Blackness Yes and a relevant photo.

5. We are committed to and have always adhered to Pride Toronto deadlines for
information on Site Logistics, Tech, Press etc. We request that any changes to deadlines be given to us in a timely fashion to avoid any delay in information sharing.

6. We are happy to re-join the coordinators committee for Pride. We will send 2 delegates from Blackness Yes to each programming committee meeting as often as is manageable. We recognize that although some other programmers may be paid for their time, we are a volunteer-based committee. We welcome the opportunity to become reengaged with pride committee activities!

We are not able to accept the following offers at this time:

1. It will not be necessary for you to provide us with a Stage Manager for the weekend. We have a Blackness Yes member who will advance the show with the artists and ensure that the stage operates in a timely fashion.

2. We accept your offer to fund the previously agreed upon budget of $5000 for the Sunday stage. We also request that as in previous years, Pride Toronto cover the travel and hospitality fees of artists from out of town who are appearing on the Blockorama stage.

We feel that it is unfortunate that Pride chose to cancel stage-based programming in George Hislop without any consultation with the programmers who program that space. We understand that this decision has resulted in the re-allocation of the funding for this stage to other parts of the festival, thus now requiring Pride to find an “additional” $20,000 to create the stage in George Hislop. With proper consultation and collaboration, we could have worked together to both keep the needed funds for Blocko in the budget, and helped to save costs overall.

Your offer to program 2 full days in George Hislop Parkette is unfortunately not possible. This is not a viable offer as you have specified that you do not plan to cover any artist’s fees for Saturday programming. Although we welcome the opportunity to develop 2 days of programming, we cannot do so without money to develop this programming, and the suggestion that we do so is surprising. We welcome the opportunity to discuss options for 2 days of programming with adequate budget in the future.

Pride Toronto should not consider running programming for which local artists are not paid for their time. One of the wonderful things about the festival is that it engages artists and helps support the development of artistic practice in Toronto by paying artists to perform. Blackness Yes cannot consider developing any programming that would result in artists not being paid for their time and efforts.


We would like to request the following:

1. We request funding to rent a temporary floor for in front of the stage – something that can be used on the grass to facilitate dancing, to provide a less slippery and muddy experience for participants, and to deal with the regular rain flooding and seeping that we experience each year in George Hislop Parkette.

2. We thank you for the opportunity to commit to the George Hislop space for both the 2010 and 2011 festivals. However we can only commit to 2010 at this time. We would like to set a date to begin working together shortly after Pride 2010 to find a more suitable long-term home for Blockorama.

3. We note that in 2002, Pride’s entertainment budget was $31,040; and the Blockorama stage received $2500 or 8% of overall entertainment budget. This year, Pride’s entertainment budget is has increased to $335,027, yet Blockorama is received only $5000 or roughly about 1.4%. We would like to know why the proportional allotment for our stage is shrinking despite increased money in the entertainment budget?

4. We support the use of the stage on Saturday by other community groups and we encourage one of the 4 paid programming staff at Pride to outreach to some of the communities currently not represented at Pride to help program the stage. We feel strongly that artists fees should be paid for any artists that play on Saturday’s stage.

We are concerned about the steady removal of community involvement from the structure of Pride Toronto over the past 2 years. As an independent committee programming a stage at Pride, we recognize how far Pride has to go to ensuring that it’s programming is reflective of the diversity of Toronto. We encourage and support all community groups currently marginalized by Pride Toronto, and/or the larger LGBTTI2QQ set of communities in Toronto.

There are many other communities that should also have Pride Toronto’s full commitment and engagement to develop relevant programming at the festival (First Nations and Indigenous people, LGBTTI2QQ people who are Deaf and those with Disabilities, and many many others) and we encourage Pride to connect with and engage these communities. We are disappointed that this year has seen communities pitted against each other – competing for stage space and funding at Pride.

It is also very unfortunate that Pride has distanced itself from so many of the communities that helped build the LGBTTI2QQ activist movement. Racialized queer and trans people, many of whom were street-involved, working class and poor started both the Stonewall and Compton Cafeteria riots that kick-started the “gay liberation movement” in North America. It is on the backs of racialized and working class queer and trans people that mainstream queer organizations like Pride Toronto have been built.

Yet for many of these same people, Pride is now an inaccessible space, one that is not representative of them in any way, shape or form. Many of these revolutionaries that began the riots would not be able to afford the beer gardens (or this year’s Prism main stage party) that have become the cornerstones of the Pride festival.

We wonder if they would be banned from the parade for carrying posters that make people uncomfortable- posters calling for an end to targeted policing of Trans people, calling to an end to systemic racism and homophobia, and demanding the right to sexual freedom and the right to self-identified gender expression. These words of resistance have consistently made certain people uncomfortable, but they have been crucial to the struggle for liberation and self determination of LGBTTI2QQ people.

Blackness Yes is committed to creating a space by and for Black/African Diasporic queer and trans people and all of their allies and supporters at Pride. Blockorama will always remain a political space for resistance and celebration, and we stand in solidarity with so many other groups that have been left out or forcibly excluded from Pride. We will also work to produce a Blockorama that returns to its roots. A Blocko organized by and for a supportive community that has been dancing, laughing, loving and eating at Blocko now for over more than a decade.

Thank you,

Blackness Yes!
Blockorama Coordinating Committee

Tessa C. Duplessis
Mykell Hall
Nigel Holbrook
Abdi Osman
Nik Redman
Syrus M. Ware
Kyisha Williams
Akhaji Zakiya

yesterday (en today), in typical ‘alice in wonderland’ fashion,

 I re/connected with 6 (+some) afrikans that I met randomly in my travels ‘downtown’, around my ‘old’ hood(s)…. [4 dadas, (a gran) mama/s, en a brotha from Uganda].

all with werds of love, peace en conflict(s), en (the struggle for)  unity, no mention of the world ‘cup’ in our reasonings…

lakini, hii hadithi ni ya akina dada na mama wa afrika so why shouldn’t we (be) question(ing) the ‘musical’ controversy of (sasha fierce vs.) shakira vs. Freshly ground vs. K’naan as the official mascots for what has become an epic gathering of (the world) masses? (my two cents, why not pull another ‘Michael Jackson’ act &  have ‘all the stars’ perform together?)

 

Why shouldn’t we also be questioning our allegiance to ‘popular’ consumer culture that does little to alleviate the status (quo) of the masses (other than provide a soundtrack for escapism)? 

If we put as much energy in(to) revitalising the Organisation for African Unity, as we did into arts, sports, war (en) our education, then we could [read as: would] reasonably attain the U.S of Afrika within a decade, EN  have all the entertainment we want to occupy ourselves with, au siyo?

Why wait for (vision) 2030? we already know (more than) the basics of where we’re coming from, (more than) enough symbols to inspire a(n. Anti-imperialist) pan afrikan renaissance……

 [read the crux of the “Q” werd as ‘others’: according to anti-capitalists, it’s capitalism,  orthodox ‘mainstream’ feminists may posit it as white supremacist.partriarchal.imperialism…others still, like black nationalists, have conjured ‘back to Africa’ movements and afrikan feminists should technically invoke Mama Afrika herself…. the bigger point is, the crux of this hadithi all depends on where you’re at….hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji….]

 “…A Pan African movement is therefore an indispensable prerequisite to the struggle for a second liberation. However, as we already noted, the African bourgeoise class which inherited the colonial nation-state has proved a complete failure in terms of genuine development. It merely sees its mission as that of maintaining and preserving the inherited system and therefore the status quo. That is what Economic Recovery Programmes (ERP)  really mean. That is also the objective of Structural Adjustment Programs: to rehabilitate the colonial structures. That is why (Frantz) Fanon noted that the phase of this class ‘in the history of under-developed countries is a completelly useless phase’. After it has destroyed itself  ‘by its own contradictions, it will be seen that nothing new has happened since independence was proclaimed, and that everything must be started again from scratch’ (1963, p.142). It therefore means that if the Pan African movement is to spearhead the struggle for the Second Liberation, it has to be rooted in a different social strata, the strata of the popular masses who bear the burden of SAPs, re-colonization and deepening under-development. Therefore in the words of Walter Rodney in his contribution at the 6th Pan African Congress: ‘The Unity of Africa requires the unity of progressive groups, organisations and institutions rather than being merely the preserve of states’ (1976, p.34). Let the people take over if African unity is to be genuine and permanent…..[from Conditions for Africa at Home by Chango Machyo w’Obanda

These ideas are not new, I heard (read as) learnt them from many Pan-Africanists en anti-imperialists of diverse brands. Preaching love and doing the best that we can to practise the change we see with/in en around us….

we KNOW when we’re on the right path, in the right place, at the right time, when everything happens jus’ so, en there is peace with in/side.(en) Out.

Our communities and collective well being that so many agitate, dream, theorise en organise about are all that we have…so what does having everything with/in to bring the change we need mean, if not everything, kitendawili?

Tega! betta late than neva!

hadithi? (hadithi?)

give me a song of freedom, kama nyimbo cia dini ya msambwa, ifa, mau mau,

(na) nipe mji……

Blogger’s note: hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji? Nilirudi nyumbani, coz home is where the heart is, en I was blessed to learn (more) from babas (of Afrika) that spoke (big) love en truth, like Amilcar Cabral, Baba Tajudeen, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dedan Kimathi, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Elijah Masinde, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, Ngugi wa Thiong’o,…there are many kings (in the Q werd)….this post is from one of them……..

a non-fictional short story by Onyango Oloo

http://demokrasia-kenya.blogspot.com/2010/04/yes-from-apathetic-facebook-20.html 

 Claire M is a beautiful, ebony complexioned, twenty-something petit-bourgeois British accented Kenyan employee of a certain tech firm who commutes daily between her middle class neighbourhood in Nairobi’s east end and her posh upscale office in the capital city’s west end.

She is also a very good friend of mine.

Vivacious should be her middle name, so effervescent is Claire’s good natured spirit.

We met purely by happenstance about two and a half fortnights ago.

There she was, slightly after ten in the pm, sitting next to me on the Number 33 matatu on a Furahiday, Embakasi bound.

A spontaneous conversation sprung up in a matter of minutes and within days we were certified Facebook friends who turned out to be residing within mere hectares and baby wails of each other.

A few days ago, I hooked up with her and one of her girl friends for an evening after work beer sip upstairs at the Verandah, across the street from the Stanley-the old Cameo cinema for old Nairobi hands.

In the course of our random chat, she casually mentioned that she had seen my status update on Facebook urging Kenyans to vote Yes come the Referendum on the proposed new constitution.

“I am NOT voting and YOU can’t make ME!” she declared with an air of finality which startled me, being totally unexpected.

I didn’t even know she had seen my earnest online constitutional exhortation in the first place.

“Remember the last time in 2007, I woke up very early in the morning and voted for Raila and look what happened! We Kenyans started killing each other! Over WHAT? I am NOT voting for ANYONE! And you can’t FORCE me!”

Yawa Maembe”, I tried to butt in, gently pointing out that this time around Kenyans were not voting for anyone, just for the long sought after constitution, twenty years in the making and stained with our blood, sweat and tears.

“Well, the only person I will be voting for is the Man Upstairs. And in case you didn’t know, the world is COMING TO AN END. All the signs are there.

Have you looked at

Jay-Z’s latest CD?

Or wondered why Beyoncé Giselle Knowles calls herself

Sasha Fierce these days?

How about that thing with Kanye West and Taylor Swift?

or Rihanna’s new outfit?

There you go.”

Let me hasten to add that Claire M is perfectly SANE and quite intelligent, in case you were wondering.

At this point she reached deep deep into one of those humungous mobile ward robes that women call handbags these days

and fished out a slim volume with a silky, smooth, soft, shiny glossy black cover featuring a smiling handsome African man on the cover.

The booklet was captioned He is Coming.

I think the author was referring to the world famous dreadlocked Holy Nazarene nicknamed JC, but the image was more reminiscent of one of those Nollywood hunks that litter our television screens and have taken over our DVDs these days.

“You see this?” she said, thumping mercilessly on the poor innocent book.

“It is all in HERE. Tell him Sheila!” she said, turning to her bemused best friend who had been staring, wide mouthed, as this delirious conversation unfolded amid quaffs of this or that variety of Kenyan malt product among the trio of us.

“I am not particularly religious”, I offered, meekly.

“The last time I stepped into an actual Church to formally worship was waaay back in May or June 1982”, I explained, shocking Claire M, who was not even conceived back then when

Shalamar,Ray Parker Jr, Odyssey, The Whispers, Kool and the Gang, Lakeside,

and the Gibson Brothers ruled the world’s disco floors with their curly kits, afros, box tops, bomber jackets and tight jeans-the future Retro/Old Skool gear and wear of decades to come.

Earth, Wind and Fire

“You mean you DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD???!!!”

Reluctant to start another raging, never ending Kenyan sectarian edition of the Crusades right there at the Verandah-a veritable den of iniquity if I ever saw one- I carefully skirted the religious inquisition, side-stepping a possible urban, nocturnal lynching at the hands of an irate, determined and capable potential Kenyan female executioner by reverting back to the need for a Yes vote among all Kenyans with a functioning brain.

“Well, like I said, WE are NOT voting, are WE, Sheila?” Claire M hissed defiantly, turning to her hapless bosom buddy for solidarity and assurance.

“And you can write that on that BLOG of yours! And tell the WORLD that Claire M said SO! It is NO for ME and THAT is THAT!”

“Are you SURE????!!”

I tried to verify, knowing how far around the world the Kenya Democracy Project blog travels these days.

This morning I got an update from my Neo website counter which informed me that the blog had reached 11,950 cities in 186 countries around this

Blue Marble.

“Yes! And I am waiting to read it!”

So Claire M, in sunny Nairobi, here you go.

You did insist and demand that I put your views on this blog of mine.

And I am sending you a link via my Facebook wall so you can read this on your mobile phone my Kenyan digital sister. I will also email you the URL so that you can carefully jot down the put downs and rebuttals for our next Verandah soiree.

My generation and this Twittered, Digged, RSS Word Pressed Facebooked Twenty First Century Viral Marketed Kenyan Generation of Claire, Sheila and Co. Ltd are Worlds Apart I tell you.

It is like Mercury and Uranus.

Back in the 1980s-Yes, when David Onyango Oloo was still a deceptively innocent looking, fresh faced, slim, twenty something student cum political prisoner and not this bloated twenty first century Kenyan Rip Van Freaking Winkle with sprinkles of salt on my head and chin- it was a badge of honour among the Kenyan youth to be political, to be conscious, to be democratic, to be patriotic, to be militant, to be vigilant, to be a voter.

These were the days of Daniel arap Moi and his side kicks like Okiki Amayo, Kariuki Chotara, Mulu Mutisya, Jackson Angaine, Ezekiel Bargentuny, Sharrif Nassir, Philip Leakey, Stanley Oloitiptip, Krishan Gautama and John Joseph Kamotho.

The days of one party rule.

The days of detention without trial.

The days of the one finger salute.

Not that finger you are thinking of.

The KANU one finger is what I am talking about.

The days of silence, the days of terror and the days of fear.

The days of Fuata Nyayo.

The days of KANU Tawala, Tawala.

The days of fake peace, counterfeit love and non-existent unity.

And also the days of defiant university student demonstrations and courageous lecturers’ symposia.

Not to forget fearless editorials.

The era of George Anyona and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The hey days of Willy Mutunga, Al-Amin Mazrui, Micere Mugo, James Orengo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The political coming age of the Njeri Kabeberis and Mwandawiro Mghangas.

Some university students declared in public kamkunjis that it was time for Kenya to be ruled by Marxist-Leninists.

Others were abducted off trains to be charged with sedition because they had dared to draft in their hand written chicken scrawl, earnest essays about the role of youth in fighting for democracy and justice in this country.

Still others were thrown down flights of stairs by angry secret police torturers for celebrating the attempted overthrow of the Moi dictatorship.

Back in those seemingly long forgotten days, Kenyan youth, Kenyan students, Kenyan post-independence patriots yearned passionately to kick the status quo’s hind quarters swiftly, repeatedly and viciously.

Back in those yesteryears, Kenyan students and youth spoke out loudly in protest when spooky sycophantic fascist neo-colonial comprador politicians led by our current septuagenarian head of state wanted to declare Kenya a de jure one party dictatorship.

And back then, there were no cell phones, leave alone the internet, forget email accounts, scratch Messenger, ICQ, online forums, chat rooms, Facebook or Twitter.

Back in that recent technological Stone Age, when you spoke of a telephone you was either referring to an old gloomy looking black contraption which had a PADLOCK firmly attached to it or a relative of the same intimidating device trapped in an outdoor cage, looking like a forlorn statue which required you to feed it with numerous coins if you wanted to talk to anyone for a few hurried minutes- at the top of your lungs, obliviously unaware that science and technology had already carefully considered your vocally needs to communicate clearly and therefore taken care of the volume and modulation functions in that teleinstrument.

But we were MORE networked and pumped up those days-politically speaking that is.

If there had been a proposed draft constitution waiting to be passed as the country’s supreme document, Kenya’s militant and patriotic youth would have already formed kilometre long queues, snaking around entire villages-urban and rural- to vote YES, YES, YES! months before the actual referendum!

What a contrast that generation of mine is to the apathetic, blasé, cynical, bored out of their skulls, hip hopping techno Kenyan chini kwa chini ohangla wiggling genge kapukaring smoked out dazed raggamuffins of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten who have more passion for Arsenal and Man U than for freedom or socialism; Kenyan youth who know more about the subliminal Satanic sub texts in Rihanna’s latest dress than which reproductive rights side to take on the raging debate about where life begins; Kenyan youth who can recite the last 98 minutes of the last episode of Lord Of The Rings or the 23rd Season of Sex in the City verbatim from their photographic memories while being totally clueless about the actual contents of the Bill of Rights in our new constitution; Kenyan youth who can tell you the exact alcohol percentage in a bottle of Kingfisher or Smirnoff Red, but totally blank out when you ask them about what percentage women of seats have been allocated in the projected Senate chamber.

Do I sound harsh, bitter, angry, judgmental?

You tell me.

Forgive me for this Cardinal Sin of having seen Better Scenes for Kenyan Youth in this very country, in this, my very own pays natal.

But frankly some of us, aging grey beards, the Kenyan youth of yesteryears, expect more, much, much more, from our younger siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, and for some of us now delving into our fifth decade of existence, our own sons and daughters.

We expect them to reap the harvest of our blood stained youthful endeavours for a more democratic dispensation.

We expect them to be more emboldened about defending our social justice gains.

We expect them to be more conscious than us, their prehistoric predecessors.

And yes, Claire M, that is why I expect YOU to VOTE YES for the new constitution come the referendum.

And I am talking to you too, Sheila.

But first, you have to register as voters my two Kenyan sisters.

And you can do it electronically these days you know.

So Claire M, there you have it.

You did ask me to write this, didn’t you?

Onyango Oloo

Nairobi, Kenya

 blogger’s note: braap! and those are the confessions of an angry afrikan baba, I hear where he’s coming from, those are my peers he’s talking about, apathy seems to be/coming a hall mark of our generation, but if you know where to look, then you will find those youth fulfilling the mission of their times…

 The truth according to makmende is……

blogger’s note: this is a spoof of a spoof of very serious matters. It is definitely not to be taken as the gospel truth of afrikan liberation, then again what is the truth of our freedom?…..FUN.damentalism na hadithi that affirm OUR power….

the beauty about stories is that WE re/tell them, en we change/d them, en we can re/vision almost  any parts  we want.

 The crux is (in) manifest.ing the truth en re/build.ing with others, much easier said than practised.

Like, all jokes aside, I love where Makmende comes from ( and if at this point you’re still wondering who makmende is, then this post isn’t for you), I love that he’s one of our own, a uniquely urban Kenyan (Afrikan) meme, en a super hero by most accounts.

But, seriously, what would makmende really do to the ‘bad guys’? and just who are the ‘bad guys’? and if Hitler’s having a near makmende experience, then shouldn’t Bush, Raila, Kibaki, Pattni, Kiplagat, en many many ‘others’ jus go hang themselves with tissue paper?

Because we sho’ as hell working hard on exploiting en breaking so many more of US down in private en in public, much more it would seem than figuring out this whole damu ni mzito kuliko maji thing….a concept that’s rendered alien when we deny kin/dred…..

what’s funny, sad, en much deeper than we can imagine are the connecshuns we share through our relationship to Afrikan/ness…..in the end, just a band, for all your hating on the ‘queers’ among us, you’re jus as bad as my ‘girlfriend’, a new Afrikan, (Goddess knows I love, respekt en admire her but she also has this divisive notion that she was taught) like many others  who insist that what they REALLY  are is African AMERICAN……to each their own, but  the question remains, what to do bout our own ?

is it really just enough to rewrite the script of white supremacist ideologues  with hateful/misguided beliefs of another flavour?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, these are the responses of an angry  Afrikan woman……one who’s laughed at en being inspired by the makmende videos, but who is definitely NOT  satisfied with the caricatures drawn of me en my sistas………I am NOT  Abscondita, Britannia Zimeisha, or one of Godfrey’s Laydayz, so technically I really don’t have no place passing judgement on their representations, I would love to hear THEIR  stories…..and I am definitely not (bigger than) makmende, so I submit to the power of the people speaking through griots, messengers, teachers en  facebook & youtube ratings.

All I have is a request, dear just a band, hadithi? Hadithi? Kitendawili? Would you tell me another story?

Like the true true legends of…..

Coz I love where you’re going with this, I been on this path many times before, so I suspect where we’re liable to get lost in the forest of black  nationalism & neo colonialist regimes. Do you think we may be missing the mark on the heart of the matter? If it’s love for our cultures, then is it really manifest? Do we even have to go across the oceans en use foreign scripts for our own purposes, are we not rich enough with our own?

From one (urban) Afrikan to another, do you think that (all jokes aside) WE are the problem?

I know there are so many more stories that we have, we know that we’ve denied many of them, even our sheng, the very language you use to re/tell makmende’s story, is divided along class/tribe lines, we all  KNOW the markers, but are we really manifest.ing our true true powers? is the current version of makmende really the best we can do?

If there’s many more pieces that I’m missing to the story about makmende’s  return, then please tell me me those bits, boss,  coz you got me hooked, but there really is plenty of fish in the ocean, so I’m prepared to swim with dolphins, en even on the back of a whale, anywhere to get to paradise….en I would prefer ogun or shango’s story any day to your (version of) makmende

a warrior by any other name

As many props as I give to the kings (en queens?) of just a band, I am still that ‘angry’ Afrikan woman who is NOT satisfied with the ‘latest’ picture, en is willing to work with my bredrin en sistren to change it, all the betta for us to build solidarity with……..

by any means necessary

so dear just a band, do you think you could change the script, to start just remove the ‘ushoga’  is the cause of our downfall parts……it’s a strategically homophobic en sinister connection that you’re drawing between sexuality and  the destruction of the ‘oppressors’, one that divides even comrades en families.

I am not Makmende’s enemy, yet in your video you try to make me one, and in your pieces, the enemy was supposed to be white supremacist ideologies, or was that just a matter of false advertising? Askyua mutha black militants en black sahara are really a big big joke, na tena, ka wahenga, nauliza je, hii ni ungwana? Again, is makmende really jus a spoof? will the ‘real’ revolutionary please stand up?

you see, Makmende is real because (s)he comes from the people, en dear just a band, not one person or group can  have  a copyright on makmende….so, I may not be able to take all your jokes, I may be taking this whole makmende goes after hitler thing too personally, and  too seriously, I may need to chillax with the whole defending queer rights thing…..but if I don’t name my anger then who will? En if you don’t take it seriously then who will?

Why even waste our time repeating the oppressor’s lies? Kitendawili? Mavi ya kuku ni….? and it don’t matter how much honey you pile on IT en laughter that you produce from IT…..what’s not true is…..new, en ushoga is as old as mama afrika herself…so why not just focus on what we need to re/member (about the ways of our ancestors) to move forward, en share some of OUR true true stories……

like the kinda shit that you just don’t have to make up

Dear just a band, we have much more in common than many would assume…….the beauty of makmende, is like the purloined letter, it’s an open secret that only a ‘nairobian’ can truly appreciate, en that all Afrikans should be able to translate…. makmende IS  bigger than just a band, congratulations!  You have achieved what you wanted en worked for…revived a legend through the creative use of media………now what?

makmende oh

What will makmende do next?