The sight of men standing or kneeling in solidarity to protest the injustice and abuse of their fellow brethren should be a moment of pride. As always there are those who simplify this action to show of disrespect. Well, is the flag and anthem above protest? They both for stand and applaud freedom from injustice and oppression. This action has forced some to squarely face the imperfections of the place they are so proud to call home. And this is always a painful thing. Others feel that tainting the enjoyment of a most American sport with what they consider racial issues is going too far. Regardless of the motivation behind it they are really protesting a protest. This is the most American thing you can do. This is what makes America great.
This weekend I had the pleasure of showing some friends the sights of Southern California. I took them to places I frequent all the time and others that are must see for anyone visiting for the first time. The Griffith Observatory is one of those sights. We braved the infamous Los Angeles traffic then took a short hike up to top of the hill where the observatory is located. And it was well worth it for we were greeted by an magnificent view of Los Angeles. My friend said that it was amazing that all those tiny lights represented at least one person. It reminded me of how small our lives are in comparison to the vastness of what it out there and that is just the part we can see with our naked eyes. A humbling thought indeed.
The ocean tops the list of all the things that amaze and intrigue me. How it it seems to lie quietly beside us seemingly harmless. Vast and endless. Its power and might cloaked in calm. Then when it is disturbed it possesses a force we cannot fathom. Unleashing fury as it weaves a path of destruction. And when it is all done and after we pick ourselves up yet again, we frolic, feet in the sand all being forgiven and forgotten.
I am sure you have heard of the story of Kariuki and Shiru two children whose parents were farmers during a major famine in Kiambu. They had the misfortune of having a step mother who wasn’t very fond of them. As the story goes she convinced her reluctant husband to abandon them in the forest so they would have enough to eat. And after putting up not much of a fight he agreed. Unbeknownst to them Kariuki overheard this conversation and thought ‘that b**ch.’ He decided there and then that he wasn’t going to be dumped in the forest to starve to death so left a trail of crumbs of doma (arrowroot) on the way to the forest so he and his sister could find their way back home. Not a great plan since they were eaten by animals. Then these poor children end up being lured by a witch who intends to trap, fatten and eat them at some point. They manage to trick her into falling into the fire and return home with a fortune to find their father is now a widow and pining after them.
inspired by Hansel and Gretel by Jacob Ludwig Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm
My mother always says ‘this too shall pass’. When you have lived a life that has been been littered with devastating losses you know this fully well and you are grateful for it. I only wish the blissful moments would linger just a little bit longer.
I remember being around ten years old when my father took us on our first road trip. We piled into the Peugeot station wagon with our luggage excited about the adventure we were about to embark on. Our trip took us around Mount Kenya. We spent several nights in the towns that lay around around it, Embu, Meru, Nanyuki and Nyeri. In Nanyuki we spent one night at the Nanyuki Sports Club. It was by far my favorite stop on the trip. The colonial style brick buildings surrounded by vast manicured green lawns and golf courses were something to behold. At that time the area around it was covered in more dense forests and farmlands. It looked like someone dropped an English garden in the middle of a forest. Behind it was a glorious view of the snow capped peaks of the mountain. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
It is only in recent years I have come to truly appreciate my heritage. Moving to a continent where my identity was lumped into one group based on my outward appearance did not help. I remember scoffing at those who proudly wore their African prints and jewelry wondering why they would want attract attention. I was just weary of the questions often accompanied by the limited views of Africa and its inhabitants. So I stayed under the radar with only an accent to give me away. Then one day I got a real taste of it and I savored it. Surrounded by those who proudly owned their heritage I too started to appreciate it. At first it felt foreign, like an ill-fitted suit needing adjustment. It took some time but now I am on the inside and I see it so clearly. Oh, how rich and flavorful it is. It is a new day.
I love to draw and paint. Obviously you say to yourself this is an art blog. But stay with me for a moment. I remember the first time I held my Faber-Castell marker set my father had brought me from Germany. Those beautiful pens were a priced possession and I got so much pleasure from doodling. My father cultivated and encouraged art all through my schooling. Then I lost interest in high school instead taking up sewing and crafting. After graduating I briefly went to art school. Again my father pushed me to work on a series of paintings for an exhibition. It was so enjoyable and I had such a great sense of accomplishment. Then I decided to study fashion design in college. My journey has been very unsteady and I believe it is because I had to find the true purpose of my art. Self expression. I had fought it my whole fight. The finally I surrendered. A happy surrender. And I have my father to thank for that.
Last evening I had the pleasure of spending time with some friends in their lovely new backyard. It was an impromptu late summer barbecue. As the evening progressed we discussed all sort of things from food gardens to travel experiences. At one point we had a quite intense discussion about how we react to the plight of those around us. One of my friends said she would let it be known how awful she felt about it. Another offered to contribute money. We further discussed about how emotional reactions however heartfelt did nothing to change the situation for those afflicted. Someone mentioned how as a society we have come to a place where we think that somehow our sympathy compensated for our inaction. There were many examples given about how people stand by in self-imposed helplessness as acts of violence are committed against others. In the end all agreed that we would all endeavor to be more than just sympathizers.
The other day my sister sent me a funny little You Tube clip entitled ‘No one cares’. What resonated with me was the terrible recorder rendition of the music. In primary school we had recorder class that was taught by Sister Consolata. We would spend thirty minutes playing the recorder accompanied by her on piano. The sound was awful. Imagine twenty kids who hated the playing recorder and disliked the teacher who was both impatient and mean. Most did not care about the notes and just pretended to play. As the music reached a crescendo the sound was so unpleasant she would whip around her face all red with anger. We would hide our giggles for fear of retribution. Thinking about it still makes me giggle.