Or, Wild Flowers
We are living in a time when we're reminded in new ways each week how much we are connected. Whether it's a nation that's traditionally very Catholic giving women the right to seek abortion up to 24 weeks or an old empire flexing its muscles. Finding out that over half the wheat consumed in Kenya comes from Ukraine and Russia (and all the other ways it’ll affect the country) while dreaming of a time with reproductive justice everywhere people with uteruses live was quite the way to navigate a week that felt fast and slow.
On Saturday, two friends and I went for a book swap and it was a uniquely disastrous event that was saved by having each other - the dramatic exit we made was only possible because one of us had the presence of mind to concoct a story on the spot. We started late (1515 or so, the poster had a 1400 start) and the organiser claimed she'd take us to a secret location. Reader, the secret location was Central Park which anyone who likes parks can tell you is closed. We had
a discussion an argument about going to ADD's park (practically impossible because universities have been vigilant about letting anyone who isn't a student or faculty on campus since the Garissa attack) and we three ended up suggesting Jeevanjee Gardens (we could even have gone to Michuki Memorial Conservation Park, considering our original location) which we escaped from. I can't quite figure out what the worst part was - the lack of planning, the super late start, the low information (it seems the unspoken thing was to bring Kenyan books), the ease with which folks without books carried on. It made me miss the World's Loudest Library (WLL), which I haven't been to in ages for a host of reasons but which executed the concept seamlessly. [Insert Big Yellow Taxi]
There's obviously a part of our patience that was tied to our desire to build or expand a community of fellow readers and I hope that we'll have it in us to try if such an opportunity arises again. Note to self to carry a shuka or leso so we can sit on grass. Note to organisers: the Museum grounds and Michuki Memorial Conservation Park (which are contiguous) are open and free to enter and Arboretum charges 65/- for entry. No more of Saturday, we beg.
Last week I went on a family oral history trip out of the city with Mama Mike. It was wonderful spending time with older people and being surrounded by love that I didn't have to negotiate. As with every Kenyan gathering, politics showed up in certain ways and I left there with lots of questions about how we negotiate the contradictions that are ethnicity (that day, for instance, I'd heard Kenya's president on Kikuyu radio speaking in Kikuyu and welcoming Kikuyus from what I like to call the Kikuyu diaspora - Lamu, Kitale etc - with no acknowledgement of why it exists) while maintaining a loyalty to ethnic groups. It's a doozy that I wish someone who loves and respects Kenyans would write about. Better yet, send me readings!
I made progress with my Jitsi date buddy read - we're halfway through The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo - and finished The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. I'm queuing up blog posts for when the ranking is announced so I'll share them with you. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro continues apace and I intend to start Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead and The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers this week (yes, I haven't started either of the chunkers) as I revisit Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi on audio.
Last week also saw the arrival of When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo which I can't wait to get into. A hardback from a publisher feels like a special moment and I may just start a section on the shelf if the good times keep rolling ☺️
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!