Micro 0331:

Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a son, the first seed of her womb. When he was placed upon her breast, tiny and wrinkled, the weight of her hopes and dreams descended upon him. The crooning of family and friends who laid eyes upon him bolstered her hopes and she built formidable castles that gleamed in the Sun. Images of welcoming and feasting burst before her in glorious array; she the matriarch of a vast sea of sons. Maybe one beautifully lithe daughter, her splitting image, suitors lined up and clawing at each other to marry her. She envisioned adoring grandchildren racing through the corridors of her castle, their bubbly giggles rebounding off solid walls, full of the vigour of youth.
She basked in the praise showered upon her and bloomed in the validation given to her. She had a son.
She had not prepared herself for fear or desperation. She had not seen Death stealing glances at her precious bundle, it’s long greedy fingers reaching out of the veil to caress his cheek. “Mine,” it had whispered, sending a chill through the room that settled in her womb, scorching it with frozen heat so it would never bear another soul.
No one knew.
He brought a young girl home, “My wife…”
The castle gleamed, no one knew.
“You’re not welcome anymore, my wife…”
The castle dissolved into the image of a small cottage. She could not have forseen.
“You cannot see them, Mom. My wife…”
“I’m unwell, Mom. My wife…”
The cottage crumbled into dust that sailed on huge gusts of winds, scattered, and were lost.
The cold earth slips from her hands, dropping hollowly onto the cedar box. “My son,” her wreaked voice croaks.
“My son,” Death corrects, a fixed smile upon a terrible visage, a friendly hand intertwined with the woman her son had called, “My wife.”

African Literature on Facebook

A few weeks ago a dear friend asked me if I could help admin a page on Facebook.



It has taken over my life! I LOVE IT.

Our little family has grown by leaps and bounds, and the people who have joined and are actively participating in discussions surprise me with their passion every day.

Africans have long been accused of being the bane of African Literature. We are accused of not reading it, not buying it, not supporting authors, not selling it, not distributing it… we are the reason it is not as successful as literature coming from other places.

The problem is we have believed these lies about ourselves, which is a pity.

While it is true that it is difficult to sell books on the continent, the reasons are not as clear cut as everyone would make it seem.

  1. English is a difficult language. The objects and verbs come in weird places in a sentence. But imagine interpreting one book in 55 different languages for just one country!
  2. Authors understand their audience and their point of view. It is difficult to sell a story to someone from the West unless it tells of war, of poverty, that explains some strange quirk of the culture they come from. This is not interesting to audiences in Africa (generally speaking). There is a reason why Nollywood is such a huge industry. Here are stories that the local population understands. 
  3. New books are EXPENSIVE and understandably so. Turning trees into paper is an expensive project, printing can be expensive too.  By the time all the expenses are tallied, the book agent, distributor, printer and publishing house get paid (oh wait! We haven’t counted the author and illustrator) the book is too expensive to purchase.

Africans are thirsty. We want to know, to read, to understand. What is someone from Zimbabwe thinking about something we’re all concerned about in Nigeria? What about the bruhaha over the other thing that happened with president so-and-so? How is the government in Mogadishu going to deal with the minerals they just found in  Seylac? 

We want to know and it is evidenced by the sheer number of people asking to join the group on a daily basis.

I hope someday they will all know, it is my honor to serve. Come and join us!

When it is good to be a woman

The past few days have been almost whirlwind like. Finally, one of my projects is complete and I’m proud to share it with anyone who thinks things like these are totally cool.

In doing the research I needed to compile my super duper list of African authors, I came across the story of an Algerian author.

Yasmina Khadra (Arabic: ياسمينة خضراء‎, literally “green jasmine”) is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul.
Moulessehoul, an officer in the Algerian army, adopted a woman’s pseudonym to avoid military censorship. Despite the publication of many successful novels in Algeria, Moulessehoul only revealed his true identity in 2001 after leaving the army and going into exile and seclusion in France. Anonymity was the only way for him to survive and avoid censorship during the Algerian Civil War. 
The irony of this is completely incredible!
For those who have not had the privilege of studying African literature, many authors from the 70’s were very vocal about corruption and the state of their countries. They were subsequently jailed, killed or forced into exile. This was about 10 years after Europeans decided it was time to stop fighting so hard to control people and give them their independence.
Almost every author I know who was sent into exile was a man and in reading Moulessehoul’s short biography, I see why. Maybe the words women wrote were not considered quite as powerful, or subversive. Even today women struggle trying to get their voices heard. They write and speak and invent titles meant to instigate others and force them into conversations about issues they find important.
On the other hand we have a man, using a woman’s name, in order to say what he wanted to say.
I wonder if this is still where we are. Ignoring female voices because their words do not weigh as much as a man’s words would. Maybe not.

Micro 0122: Silence

http://kellcandido.deviantart.com/art/Sweet-angel-of-death-306560833

Sweet angel of death, by KellCandido

It is silent here. Not ‘absence of noise’ silence. I can hear the Movement, slow and unchanging. I can hear crying. Someone is wailing. And yet it is silent, like laying still under dead earth where you cannot hear the sound of birds or the voices of family that just threw dirt over your body.

It is silent here. Not quiet, silent. Like the grungy scepters that hunch over unsuspecting children featured in artists imaginations, we hunch over our wards, watching and waiting for their transition to this place. Somehow we chose them, in a time whose memory has faded, having been exposed to the endlessness of this place, yawning and horrible, swallowing purpose and every feeling of love.

Someone is wailing in the distance. The sound struggles to reach me through the thick silence, finally squeaking past in a soft hoarse gasp. Whoever they are, they made it here. I resent them. I resent her.

The time for her transition is near, but sentiment and obligation stubbornly tie her to the flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bone. She does not know. How could she? It is a trap. She does not know. Nothing she can do will stop the painful tear that will bring her here, to the place where sentiment is going to trap her and she will learn hatred. Then she will forget hatred and learn to forget.

I’m locked here because of foolish words etched into the memory of this ether.
“I’ll be watching over you.”

She is my last one, my last promise.
Die.
So I prise her fingers.
Die.
White knuckling to life.
Die.
One by one.
Die.
I must get free.

Old Poetry

Because I’m feeling it today.

walking

For Your Love

I see you, Dark Chocolate
Swinging your hips to the throom throom of this foreign music
Your skirt so short, my imagination is unnecessary
Your titties jiggling in your dress like the many eyes trying to keep up with them.
Know that I love you, no matter what
That the tears of your pain and loneliness stain my pillow.
I know if I fell in love with you
You could shatter my soul with your passing interest
And the sweet succulent love I was encased in
Would pass to another.

Hey there Tangy Caramel
Swinging those dreadlocks to the beat of my heart
You have me arrested in those wide brown
Deep pools of cinnamon chocolate.
You cling so steadfast to the notion that your voice is drowned out
You yell so loud, to be heard, to be remembered
I love you sweet Caramel
I hear your words, golden drops of honey
Reverberating in that beautiful throat.
I cannot let my heart be swayed
Your passion would drain me completely
Overwhelm me till I am just a shell of the woman I used to be.

Tall glass of sweet dark Ebony
Strong long legs strutting to your own internal beat
Polished like well worn wood, reliable, sure
Your essence is so fragrant wafting behind you
Every eye stretches completely as you Tyra stomp by
Your beauty prostituted for the attention
Of the least of people.
I adore you, dark coffee, filling my senses
With your soft and tender embrace.
Don’t you dare touch my skin
I’ll be tingling forever with the memory of you
And ache to be touched again…

@ndungi2012

Micro 0119: Welcome

Welcome.

Your mother told you not to join a gang. But here you are, foolish rebel. You have romanticized this moment but it is not going to turn out the way you think. You need to stop watching movies. There is no information in there that will tell you the truth. We live hard lives, we are not friends, you will not be receiving fringe benefits for a long time.

We are a serious organization. It is not our fault that the ‘authority’ call us a gang. We do what we want, when we want it, regardless. And don’t you go “regardless of what” -ing me. REGARDLESS! That should be enough, you lazy sunzabee… Now look what you made me do.

That scared look you have donned is not going to help you either. My emotional armour is tighter than your little brother’s briefs and cannot be penetrated by pathetic looks. Mcccchhhheeeww. So stand up straight, and look into my eyes.

First order of business: Today you thought you would be attending some kind of briefing. This is not to be so. You were brought here by someone who hand picked you from a throng of admirers of our work, and some seriously twisted parents who want to make a little money off you. A rival gang has challenged us to a duel at 51st and Juma Avenue. We are not cowards and we will not be put to shame. You will be sent to battle on our behalf. Do not return until you are victorious. If you are unable to achieve victory, be sure to perish in battle. There will be no sympathy for survivors.

Line up against that wall. I will be handing your weapons to you in a just a moment, as soon as Yunia stops crying. Wipe those tears, foolish child. No one wants to be here as much as you do. And yes, George, you have to fight. No way to get out of it.

NO MORE QUESTIONS.

What do you think this is? Chatterbox time. Look at my face. My I-am-not-playing face. Remember it.

Take only one package from the top of the pile (thank you Cissy), the small bag is to be worn against your hip. All the packages go inside and your weapon is worn against the side of your chest for easy access.

What is it George? Are you old enough? For what? Fighting? You think you can stop the inevitable? You think that you have earned the right to question the laws put down… hold on…

The vehicle is here. No more time. Line up!

Enjoy your day at school.