Or, Various Forms
I am at a loss about what to say this week - and not for lack of films, books, art to discuss. It’s just one of those weeks when it seems like so much has happened and one doesn’t yet know how to speak about those things. This is an attempt.
Yesterday night, I watched This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection (directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese) with Don. It’s set in Lesotho, an African country I’m sure I’ve never read a book from, and happens over the course of a few months as a village tries to push back against attempts to flood it because a dam is being built to supply South Africa with water. It was interesting to discuss gender, notions of development, the coercive power of states in the imperial core (and those that mimic them) with such a dear friend and now I want to read everything I can about the relationship between these countries.
States are such an artificial thing, and borders with them, and over the weekend I was reminded of that as I spoke to a man while I waited for the florist to assemble a bouquet for me. The florist and I are friendly and so I joked and told her I’d been away working on my MCA campaign. This prompted the man to talk about what possibilities exist for me in this context (an election year, in Kenya) among them “organising a youth group so [you] can be an intermediary between them and your local MP”. When I said I was a bit too old for that (a lot of men read my age inaccurately, which leads to them suggesting I act like the 25 year old I haven’t been for ages), I was told I could run for MCA, emerge second, and become a nominated MCA. And here I was thinking only of a seat on the local school board. Because of certain historical moments, some people lose their homes to dams, some lose their homes to “tribal clashes”, some are not considered knowledgeable about their political thoughts (this may just be patriarchy, who knows) and some live in countries in which they have little access to resources.
Money and borders are an illusion but oh what we go through as they’re enforced.
I saw some art on Friday - I Hope So, a retrospective of work by Sane Wadu at Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI) - and intend to go back (let me know if you’d like to come along) to revisit the work. Wadu’s work, especially from the 1980s, is an archivist’s dream for the way he explicitly tackles the themes of the time. It’s sometimes strange to imagine that there was a time when family planning was a significant part of government messaging but texts like these act as a reminder in a way I wish more contemporary books did. I love a DWM (Depressed Woman Moving through the world) book as much as the next person but I often feel like they’ll not do a great job of being artefacts of the time we’re living in beyond our mental states. One could even argue that they are artefacts of the interior lives of a certain sort of white woman - often Anglo, American, classed a certain way etc - but my Pomodoro is ticking down.
I finished A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam (read by Neil Shah) last week and I’m still thinking about it so of course I have queued up a podcast or two (I’ve only listened to this one so far). I also finished The Mermaid of Black Conch (read by Vivienne Acheampong & Ben Onwukwe, via Scribd - use Linda Barasa’s link for 60 free days) and was left feeling a bit odd - great storytelling, much to discuss, and still the empty feeling that sometimes follows a book. Lastly, I started and finished The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood by Krys Malcolm Belc - the first time I’ve read something from a non-binary person contemplating, sometimes wrestling with, what it means to be a parent, and the ways in which societal structures (among them the state) mediate relationships between people.
The goal last week had been to read just e-books. I barely looked at print with the exception of finishing the delightfully absurd People from My Neighborhood: Stories by Hiromi Kawakami (translated by Ted Goossen) and starting The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia. I also started We, Jane by Aimee Wall (read by Rhiannon Morgan) on Scribd which some BookTube faves enjoyed in 2021 along with Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art by Michael Shnayerson (read by Jonathan Davis) which reads like juicy gossip.
I went to the library over the weekend and the homies helped me choose the books I’d borrow (maybe this is something I could do more often, on Instagram maybe) which felt like being there with them. This week’s goal is to read the titles - Faces At Crossroads: A 'Currents' Anthology (Edited By Chris Wanjala) & Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear (edited by Stephen Jones) - and listen to more audiobooks, as one does.
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!