I WAS NOT thought of yet. A wound in my mother had not formed yet. A wound in her mother had not been born yet. We were both not here, my mother and I, where we are now on both edges of love and contempt. I was eight, with a tongue quick enough to catch the secrets from slipping but also quick enough to spill them. She was twenty-six years old with a face growing tired of mothering and playing wife. But she was taught to always do her homework, as was I. Our democracy was four years old but walked like it was thirty. I had not known of it yet; I was covered in dust and eating up the streets for lunch when Lauryn Hill released her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I was sixteen and the album was eight when we met.
by Enkare Review
Uko wapi? On 05/07/2017, Naijographia, an exhibition curated by Bethuel Muthee, Mbuthia Maina and Jepkorir Rose opened at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi. In a text that accompanied the exhibition, BM says, “Uko wapi? This question and other variations of it are a part of daily conversations over mobile devices. To answer is to situate yourself. It does not have to be the truth. In some cases, the placement made is not of location but of circumstance, as some have been heard saying while driving, ‘Niko karibu na polisi, acha nitakupigia.’ Niko Nairobi and we are on the same page.”
Months later, BM and Clifton Gachagua revisit the question of ‘Uko Wapi?’ In his memoirs of Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk walks us through his city, introducing us to The Bosphorus and the huzun of the city. BM and Clifton walk in Nairobi, and try to locate themselves in Kenya, in East Africa, in Africa. Or they drink and write poetry. Or they hang out and talk about life. Or they sit down and live. Or they chill and be themselves. Or whatever.
I remember feeling like a non-Kenyan for the first time in my life on that dark night Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the re-elected president, a decision that has since been nullified in a historic Supreme Court ruling. The court found the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body charged with conducting elections, guilty of committing what it termed “illegalities and irregularities” that tainted the entire electoral process.
Hannibal now goes to church, the old patrons in the palm wine bar opposite the town hall knew, yet they were surprised when they looked out and saw Hannibal stepping out of a bus with other members of his church, shouting in tongues along with his fellow congregants and raining damnation on the heads of the latter-day Philistines who organised the New Masquerade Festival.