Vivian Uchechi Ogbonna
There’s a saying among the Igbos that a person who asks for directions does not lose his way.
Frankfurt: January, 2001.
“So, you want to travel all over Germany before you get there?”
The porter was burly, his English heavily-accented. The girl beside me had called his attention to my ticket. Glowering, he said I should have disembarked at a previous station from where I’d board the train to Bielefeld. I started to explain but his look scalded me into silence. I shrank into my seat, certain I was lost in this bleak, distant place. I gave him a hundred Deutschmark note, he inspected it and, seeming satisfied, issued me with another ticket. Other passengers feigned a lack of interest in the altercation, their gazes either fixed ahead or on the scenes outside the windows.
I am in Kaduna, finding Binyavanga. Northern Nigeria is a complicated entity, a blurry image in black and white, and Kaduna is the epicenter of that complexity. Kaduna used to be a city of one people, one identity, but we stretched and stretched Kaduna till it became a city of parallels and faith an identity. I have not been to this part of Kaduna, the Christian part, for more than a decade now, since after the bloody crisis in the early 2000s.
by Richard Ali
For Troy and Chibuihe
I’ve got pigeons in my roof
a friend was robbed the other day
in Nairobi, gun shoved to his ribs
— of law books, money and Arundhati Roy
by Leah Kanda
If to collect photographs is to collect the world, as Sontag writes, then humanity, through the presence of the Internet, has built quite the collection. Writing in 2011, Guy Horton observes, “What we see in the images of architecture encompasses all our spatial memories, whether actual or false.” It is important to note that Horton is speaking about the images of architecture, rather than the architectures themselves.
Walking down the streets of Nairobi, one is made to wonder at the arrangements of different architectures, at the conveyance of emotions in the architectures, at the presence of patterns in these architectures. A child’s first kindergarten lessons are in patterns; in lines and circles and zigzags and then mutations and combinations of the same. One then asks whether the omnipresence of the patterns in Nairobi’s architectures is an ode to the patterns one encounters when still a babe, to the beauty of these patterns, to the simplicity of these patterns.