Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Because my life is a movie.

Before attempting to write a novel (which ended up as 20 chapters of a fantasy world I cannot believe I thought up) and illustrating an alphabet book when I was 5 (which does not count, seeing as it was just illustrating, and, camaaaaan. Everyone knows the plot of those alphabet books. So it doesn't count. So eliminate the first sentence and go back to Before attempting to write a novel...), and blogging, and scriptwriting, and literate but not particularly interesting prose, and college essays for other people (I really need to start making them pay for that), there was (drumroll) poetry. Poetry is and has always been, my first love (sorry, Boyfriend #2.). Poetry saw me through an adolescence that was much easier than I thought it was at the time (leave it to a hyperactive, dramatic teen to exaggerate), and a high school/culture shock experience that was way harder than I was willing to deal with, except through words (let's just say, if I was an animal, I would be an ostrich. Ok, wait. Or a cougar. *WINK*) I have been writing poetry since I was maybe, 8 ('The author has been writing poetry since the age of four.' So boring. So last year. 8 sounds like maybe I had something to say, instead of the alphabet.). I would write words and out them to song (in later years, I realized that the first song I wrote - I use the word first tentatively - sounded almost exactly like 'Kiss de girl' from Disney's The Little Mermaid) and my mom would show me off. Fun times.

I am going somewhere with this. Afer high school, I rather fancied myself a poet, and begun to attend Open Mics, spoken word thingies, and read Kwanis in a bid to prove my artistic know-how. People think I cut my hair because I'm an artsy artist/modern-day hippie (you don't wear underwear ONE TIME and they brand you. As in?), but really, it's just that I don't like hair. (I could wax lyrical here, but I've done that before, here, so I won't again) So I performed at a coupe of thingies, and then decided I don't like how I perform, and that my poetry is waaaay better read than said. And that was the end of that.

So, along the line, I realized that not only do I not like how I perform poetry, I don't like how other people perform it either. Really, I think it sucks. I hate how they force rhymes, and try and be all deep and Black American and Def Jam and shii (may I never fall into the abyss of such pretentiousness, and if I ever do, may I at least make it look good), and think that EVERY DAMN THING needs to be a poem (it really doesn't. It's not blogging. HA!), and...ugh. There are very few Kenyan poet recitals I enjoy. Kennet B is good. I like Manjoro. Wanjiku Mwaurah...Geneiva Arunga...anyway. The point is. I think its a badly constructed farce to help Kenyans believe they're more cultured than they think they are (much like Blankets and Wine, as Biko would say).

Don't even get me started about Kwani. That book. *shivers* It throws me into a frenzy of denial and simultaneous shock about how much I did not like any of those books. I thought they were cliche, in the terrible way that African writers can be when attempting to depict the DARK CONTINENT (can you see the sarcasm dripping from those words? I hope you can. I can. Because I wrote them.) as a bunch of poor, unfortunate souls (The Little Mermaid, again) living in a vapid wasteland of poverty, disease, and death, then throw in how savagely sexual we's a convoluted mess. @Abbakidenda offers a tutorial on said subject on her facebook, from Binyavanga Wainaina's book:

How to Write About Africa

#1. Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

You might want to read this as well.

Kwani irritated me to no end. I could not even finish one. Or the other ones I subsequently made a valiant effort to read.

On to the point of this post.

I was at a dinner party (I sound SO VERY COOL to me) and someone says to me "Well, tSN, you're a writer (how I LOVE it when people start sentences like that. VALIDATION! I AM WORTH SOMETHING! LOL),...have you read Kwani?" My instantaneous and immediate - nearly involuntary, really - reaction is to roll my eyes. They asked, "What do you think of it?" So I go on and on and on and ON about how presumptuous and cliche and classless and beneath me it is (basically everything in this post). She lets me finish, and then turns to another guy there who was listening to the conversation and goes, "K, which story in Kwani was it that you wrote again?"




  1. lol! Oh Abby! For the record I think Binya's piece is a lesson in exactly how not to write about Africa. And I think that's the point he was trying to make (read: satire). It's quite an awesome read... Here, watch the video

    In related news, I agree. Spoken word is tiring- at least the way I hear it in Kenya. Fake accents colored with mother-tongue influence and hip-hop wannabe deep lines... *off to take a nap* but it has its saviors. Same could be said about bloggers (don't even get me started...) #okimdonethanksbye

  2. Woman. COURSE it's satirical. Hence the reason I included it. :o)

  3. Yea, was a little surprised. Sounded like you hadn't even read through it. Ok, I'm easy now. #iLike (yea iDid!)

  4. Woozie had a Link up on how Africa needs real writers. Writers Who can paint a picture of the modern African life that is now:that we live in. I have been guilty of writing those kind of stories. Let to believe by other writers and literature that only such are the stories people want to read. I have learnt, I am learning and hopefully I will be an example.

  5. haahahahah of course it's SATIRICAL. SMH. This is too funny! Kwani stresses me, JohnnyK used to try and get me to read it. Siwezi make. Kenyans try to hard, too many gotsta be's. I can't handle it.


  7. ditto abba... I personally love spoken word but the repetitiveness of it by kenyans has made it lose its lustre.. Poetry is definitely better read.
    and found this line very hilarious, lol (you don't wear underwear ONE TIME and they brand you. As in?)

  8. I totes :-) agree with this post TOTES :-) :-) :-)

  9. @D.od ONE TIME!!

    @kaimuri LOOOOOOOOL. Welcome to the dark side.

  10. A convo Doreen and I are having:

    I was asking whether you're trying to say that all African fictional writers have an intrinsic obligation to perpetuate a particular ideal of Africa while they are writing their stories... And isn't it stereotypical to believe that the panelthat administers the Caine prize are biased to a dimunitive view of Africa?

    Reply:No. I am saying that they shouldn't. I'm saying portray Africa as the Africa you live in, not as the Africa you want to win a prize because of all the poor people. Also, would it not appear so? That they bias based on how many savannahs and deaths are in your manuscript? Also, I didn't limit it to the Caine prize (who said anything about the Caine prize? Oh you mean the article. Just an example, that. You know. :D)

  11. i picked purple hibicus from a shelf and left with it just because it had a kwani label.and to me it was an awesome read.i read this blog as i was on my way to pick her a 2nd novel from the same author and am loving Half Of a Yellow Sun.and if kwani made me stumble upon a great author hey i got no negative feedback...though your blog is true

  12. Because of my folly? Kick a kitten when it's down, why don't you.