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Eyieunotoo Nabaya: Something to hope for

My first blog posto on soko’s website is finally here!! Hurrah!! Its about Ojiko and I hope you all love it.

As well I have been involved in a shoot for a Canadian fashion designer known as Laura Siegel. I am very proud of the work we did. Many thanks to Eric Gichanga, Praise Santos, Tony (our super talented driver who doubled up as the sound and lights guy) and the soko artisans- Mary Wayua and Veronika.

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Mary and Veronica

 

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Eric with baby Joshua

May I also take this opportunity to introduce the most welcoming community I have ever visited. Here is to the wonderful ladies of Eyeiunoto Nabaya. They opened their homes and hearts to all of us. Welcoming us with songs, wonderful tea and beautiful jewellery.

I spent the day trying out various ladies adornments. How I wish I took more photos wearing  their jewellery on. Hopefully the belt I ordered will arrive soon. I have always wanted one ever since I went to Doldol and met a lady making one. They take up to two months to make and are very expensive to make. But boy are they worth the price. The maasai women’s hand manship is world class and they only use the best quality beads. Truly handing you over a heritage worth remembering.

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As well, as the jewellery, I feel deeply connected to the group because of our shared values- community, cultural values and environmental sustainability. The leader of the women’s group, Agnes has extensively travelled attending conferences and advocating for the maasai community in these harsh times of climatic change.

And most importantly, we share a home with the good women. I only met them because I met one of their junior elders, Emmanuel through my constant hikes on the Ngong hills. The Ngong hills are a special place of inspiration for me, I literally grew up in their shade.

Doing a shoot at the community was a blessing for me because now I can truly show the world why I am so proud of maasai culture which i grew next to. The land is still as I remember it growing up. Though now the town of Kisamis is growing and many people in the community are selling their land.

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#Feb13protest

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I wasn’t at the protest today. My heart was torn between telling a story of struggle we cannot yet see or going to one where the struggle is more agitated.

But the truth is, I do not yet have the courage to protest so violently.

Many thanks to all who took the courage to go for the #FEB13PROTEST!! We all owe wonderful people like you the freedoms we currently enjoy. And you protest against those who are slowly taking them away.

We are not a country that easily recognizes and pays respect to those who really deserve it. Because people like me, privileged and unconscious about the privilege, don’t really understand anger. You don’t really have a reason to have rage when everything goes smoothly.

We never heard what the reverend had to say nor did they let Boniface Mwangi talk, on TV. And news is the god of all that goes on for us. Our eyes are stuck on the TV and we have forgotten to look and understand the world with our own eyes.

People like Boniface Mwangi scare us. Where do they get the energy to be so brave?

When we meet our members of parliament, most of us round our shoulders and stoop low, calling mheshimiwa, while we bitterly call them thieves in our hearts. I wonder what they do to avoid meeting Boniface….A pigs blood bath showed them what they really are.mpigs

Photo from here.

Most of us won’t have the courage to protest. I wasn’t there for this protest either.

Nor I guess would I have been a woman of courage like Mekatilili Wa Menza, nor any of the women generals during the struggle for independence nor been a woman like Wangari Maathai.

Througout history, courageous people have stepped and taken the worst, to fight for the freedoms and privileges we enjoy in Kenya. We should at least remember these brave souls and say thank you.

The media did a great injustice in how they choose to report the protest. Find out more for yourself here. This is a dropbox link with all the protest placards and Reverend Njoya’s speech

 

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Its a beautiful world

I wrote this post a while back and for some reason never published it. Oh well. enjoy.

My brother has a painting we love to discuss. We put it in our dining room because it matched the color of the wall. This must have been about a year and a half ago.

Maybe he did not know what he was doing when he painted it, but he created a masterpiece. We are always discussing that painting. Every time we do, we come up with a new meaning to what we see. The painting always provokes us to discuss it and once we do, we always find something new to understand.

Right now, as we feel the impatience of waiting for the elections to be concluded, the painting offers me something. It makes me feel as if we are so concerned with our little world we have forgotten about other things in the wider universe.

I just discovered something amazing today. That there exists, at about 4,900 light years away, a system with two stars that revolve around each other. Well, I already knew that. The shocking thing is that the system has a planet that moves around the two stars (suns). I can’t help but try to imagine how beautiful it would be to have two sunrises and two sunsets. And to revolve around two suns. What would the seasons be like?

Other places have even more stars in their systems. And a whole load of wonderful things are happening out there. Out there being on the earth, in your neighborhood, in the big big universe, in the anthill near your house…..everywhere.

The painting communicates what I have said beautifully. 

Let’s think more deeply about this place we have been born into. Well, I suppose as an artist I have a duty to contemplate these things and communicate them back to you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Touch deep!

I have been thinking of late, about how some people touch us so deeply they reach out of the grave long after they are dead. In Lybia, they want to bury Gadaffi from their memories. I think you cannot bury such a man. He touched them too deeply. A lot of times in a bad way. Still they will have to acknowledge the presence of his ghost.  REF: National Geograhic February 2013

In Ancient Egypt, a new ruler would try to do the same if one of the previous rulers was a strong personality and threatened the security of his throne. He would get artisans to chisel out that certain ruler’s story from the walls of the temples. It doesn’t work. At long last the truth will prevail if the story must be known.

It is only now that I have realized how far national geographic magazine has affected my life. I have become critical of what they write as well. I can now discern the emotion of a writer. The guy who wrote about Lybia hated Gadaffi. He called him the god of ugliness.

I am reading about Nelson Mandela as well. They keep telling us what a hard man he is. But he is too much of a god in out eyes. I wonder what the writer would call him. The god of freedom? Him and Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi and Obama. Sometimes it looks as if it is the same person to me. Their message is the same in many ways.

It is funny that I should think about such things in the morning.

The mere challenge of trying to raise money to Amani Isntitute has taught me so much. When I need inspiration, I look up to these men because, they overcame challenges that people never thought humanity could overcome. Perhaps if it wasn’t for William Wilberforce and Lincoln fighting slavery and Dedan Kimathi leading off a guerilla war in Kenya, I would not have had the opportunity to be who I can be.

No!! It is not a perhaps, it is a certainty.

So while people might disregard them, we owe them our lives, literally. Some people deeply touch us even long after they are gone. They are the heroes we are supposed to emulate.

If a man was evil but touched you deeply, you should still his story so that we can avoid doing evil deeds.

Anyway, we deeply touch each other, we should be conscious about that touch so that we can be kinder and nicer to each other 🙂

 

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On Money Making

This year, I have made a commitment to making money. Not getting rich but just being able to use my skills to feed myself.

A good thing I did was to attend a class on creative entrepreneurship that was being offered by the GoDown Arts Center. My heartfelt thanks to all they taught me in ten weeks. However, going to class is not the real test. The test of reality is in using what I learnt to make money for myself as an artist.

Maybe I have OCD for doing research first. Maybe I am too cautious. However, before I plunge into things, I also tend to do some reading first. And today, I am engaging my curiosity on money.

I have read a little on the history of capitalism and a bit on economics. One of the things that has caught my attention is the boom and bust (bubble) cycles of the capitalist economy. They are normally caused by people speculating on a stock or a product or on a certain sector of the economy.

As more and more people speculate, let me use land (there is a real estate phenomenon in Kenya), the prices keep going higher and higher. At some point the price is not sustainable and the bubble bursts. Greed is what drives the prices up thus blowing the bubble to be bigger and bigger. And the thinking that you can get rich quick without breaking sweat.

Read more about the history of bubbles and what happens when they burst here. Reading this will help you learn why you should research on what to invest your hard earned money on. For me, this stories emphasize what I have always believed. That you cannot reap where you have not sowed. Even if you do not lose money, it corrupts the soul and many undesirable things start cropping up in your life. These are excess of consumerism which I define as buying things you don’t really need.

The seed of thought that got me to the above information was that I am curious about capitalism and what I suspect are its roots in Babylon. There is something very disturbing about doing things just to make money for its sake. That perhaps explains why Babylon has had such a lasting association with negative things. Never mind that those guys had other beautiful things about them.

I have been looking around and have seen signs that things are not going so well in Kenya. For example, I believe the real-estate boom is a sham. Most of the houses being built flout many common-sensical rules on making houses for human beings to live in ( Even if it is an office you spend time there, no?. And they are so ugly anyway. I already complained about that here so let me go on.

The other thing is the emergence of what I call the plastic culture. There is too much plastic going on. There is the real plastic that is chocking our rivers, that our cows and goats are chewing along with the grass (upon which we proceed to eat the meat and thus consume) and makes our public spaces very dirty.

And then there is the plastic personality. This is best shown by something we all know. The plastic smile. It means our interactions are only skin deep. It means we somehow lose our human side.

For me, let me say this on record as an artist, it means soul-less art. It means making music that does not seek to transform but to merely entertain. And it cannot get better than what the American art industry is giving us. Emotionless junk art that is done as art for the sake of art. (Yeah, I said).

So, in a way, it is a caution to myself. Even as I yearn to make money (as an artist), let me not just make money irrespective of any negative impact my activities might occur to the rest of society. And I guess I will have to start waking up earlier than I have been, spend lesser time on leisure and to be more disciplined.

As a result, I have another resolution for my year. To greet the sunrise every morning.