The Memory of Odafe Atogun
Our sense of self is normally tied to a picture of what home is for us. To many of us, home is defined by a particular location and with reference to a particular group of people. Should any of these factors change, then our entire conception of home, and therefore, our ideas of self, risk being destroyed. Think Jende and Neni, the main characters in Imbolo Mbue’s Behold The Dreamers, losing themselves in the United States because the US is not Limbe. Think Isaiah Bolton in Yvonne Adhiambo’s Dust travelling to Wuoth Ogik to pursue the memory of his father. But what does it mean when the physicality and demographic of home remain constant, but neither of the two can remember the person? Is the person’s home still their home?
I must have been nine years old when I first heard my mother scoff with derisive laughter at my inability to speak Kigiriama fluently. Warning me and my brother, she said that a marauding gang of strangers had appeared on the streets of Mombasa, and that it was going around at night carrying pangas and randomly knocking on people’s doors to find out whether they could speak Kigiriama, or one of the other Mijikenda languages. With a grin, she added that the gang would force people to open their doors and greet them in one of the Mijikenda languages. Violence, she emphasized, would instantly be dispensed at those who gave incorrect responses.
African Women Writers: Part 4 of 4
To celebrate Women’s History Month, Enkare Review has been sharing profiles of phenomenal women writers on our social media pages here, here and here. We are going to share these profiles on our website as well. This is the fourth part of a four-part series.
As a small, largely informal, artist collective, it would be easy to say we’re too busy working, too busy creating, too busy staying afloat to engage in a deliberate or consistent manner with any Big Issues™ that are not Art as such. We could say that, in fact, it really isn’t our place. We could suggest that we should act ‘neutral’, and stay silent. That would not only be foolish, it would also be false. It would be untrue to our proper work as artists, curators, and citizens. In various ways, we participate individually in large and small battles against these Big Issues. However, we are still working out how that fight and commitment is best translated in our work as a collective.
African Women Writers: Part 3 of 4
To celebrate Women’s History Month, Enkare Review has been sharing profiles of phenomenal women writers on our social media pages here, here and here. We are going to share these profiles on our website as well. This is the third part of a four-part series.