The H_ART BAND on stage for #FatumasVoice last night at Pawa Hub with Kenyan Poets Lounge made me think of the South African punk band #eVoid about which a journalist once said:
'...to flow like the untainted waters of a languishing African river in no hurry to find the ocean, where you will only merge with many other rivers and lose your distinct and evocative individuality'.
I'm researching for an article on poetry, performance and expression in East Africa at the moment, and have been out there and around looking for where it happens. I have already done so for a while, but more focused now and the weeks ahead.
To me there is poetry in the most simple things.
On the bottle cap of the konyagi. On the road signs. On the kangas. The daladalas, the bodabodas. In text messages, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates. On the mind of the wall painter let loose with wet paint in Stone Town. In the performances given by youth in Dar es Salaam, calling themselves names like Lyrical Lover or Black Fit.
It is free. It is live. It seems to be growing. Or maybe it has already been here, and is changing with time?
Do fill me in. And do check out Maneno Express here where initiatives and ideas will be shared, too.
If interested in the cultural setting of literature and poetry, of writers and poets, in Tanzania, have a look here, an excellent blog post by Amanda Lichtenstein.
It is not Bongo. It is me. Bongo is absolutely the same as when I left it 4 months ago. I am looking for change.
Women zigzag in traffic, dressed in threadbare kangas, washed over and over, wrapped tightly over behinds and fronts.
The sounds of swujsswujs are absorbed instantly by the hot tarmac when the mandazi sellers and coffee makers drag their malapa over surfaces sprinkled with sand blown in from the shores of the near by Indian Ocean.
An expression of reluctancy sits in the air. A strange sort of unwillingness to move forward. I know the minute I hear someone lift their feet, to move faster, it is a warning, that something has broken the cycle of peace.
Haven't you got any change? the parking attendant asks me in an insisting tone full of silent blame when he sees my 10-thousand shilling note.It is a silly fight, I should know better. But I cannot help asking: 'but are you not the one who should provide the change?'
I have no change. I have a bundle of crispy 10-thousand shilling notes from the ATM. But I have no change. It leaves us nowhere. It makes none of us happy. It makes me feel stupid that I turn to invoke halfheartedly that it is his duty to provide the small coins though I am fully aware that this is not how it works here.
Mimi na wewe hatutaachana says a kanga in Uhuru Street. 'Me and You Will Never Part'. It could be a kanga a woman wears to state the stability or love of her marriage? Could it also be read as a curse and a threat on bad days, and only as a blessing on the good days?
Today I felt Bongo stood still.
I drove down Sofia Kawawa where lorries and landcruisers blocked the road in more than two directions. When I reversed to get away from the madness my car was blocked from front and back. No one wanted to move anywhere. Another silly fight about the right to be first in the line to freedom.
Anger fumed. Horns pushed. My arm out the window signaling anything but forgiveness.
The person who who can hold back, wait, and not go full force forward is the one solving the jam. But one person is never enough. Change is not only about having your coins sorted to be able to make an exchange. It is not only about being the person who gives up his place in the traffic jam. It is about wanting badly to get things moving. And to be part of it even though you may not benifit straight away.
I wondered for a moment - and madness possibly did hit me today - if the kanga also could be read as an illustration of resistance towards too much change and as an illustration of Tanzania's position as a donor darling? A curse on a bad day - we'll never part, you are so stuck with us forever.
Tanzania still drags her feet reluctantly in the sense that it feels as if she hasn't completely realised that the most reliable change comes from within.
'Don’t tell me what I can and cant do, I can change the world'.
Listen to @JustABand's self-empowering song '#Usinibore' (should be) #Sheng for 'don't bore me!') Next time I'm in #Kenya I need to spend a bit more time with these guys - getting a proper interview done. They are so remarkably talented and different!