#Review: Super Supa Modo

I closed my weekend out in style by catching the 15:05 screening of Supa Modo at Prestige Cinema with my siblings after church. Supa Modo premiered in Kenya on March 27th at the Nairobi Film Festival and has been hailed as ‘beautiful, funny and fucking flawless’ (yes, by me).

Supa Modo tells the story of a young girl (they never say her age but she looks about 10) from a small community called Maweni. She suffers a terminal illness and has been in hospital until her mother decides she wants her to stay at home. While at home, she develops a love for superheroes and decides to use her imagination to become one. She enlists the help of her family and the entire community to make a movie. Anything else I say from here will be too much of a spoiler so if you haven’t watched the film, stop here and go watch it.

Not only is it beautiful to watch (bravo to Enos Olik for the stunning cinematography), it’s also a great story. The writers do an excellent job weaving in humour, sadness and the tensions of familial relations. My favourite theme is the sense of community which is developed throughout the film. It’s shown through Jo when she asks her mother why she shouldn’t be concerned with saving her community. And most touchingly when the people of Maweni agree to come together and make a movie out of Jo’s imaginary superpowers. Jo is sick but they want to share her burden and ensure she doesn’t feel alone.

The writers also brilliantly problematise the idea of community through Mama Mwix who has to draw the line whenever she feels that the people of Maweni are overstepping their boundaries. Even though she was a known and respected midwife in the community, when she’s called upon to deliver a baby in the wee hours of the morning, she hesitates and doesn’t immediately take it up as her responsibility. I’m really glad that the writers gave a nuanced take on what it means to be part of a community, demonstrating how it can sometimes clash with individual desires.

Watch this film. Take everyone you know to see it. It’s on until April 12. Click here to see times and locations.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Two of My Favourite Quotes

I love a good quote! Both of my favourite quotes make reference to the sky- I love the metaphor of the sky which I associate with calm and the expanse and vastness of life.

Women hold up half the sky” – Thomas Sankara

Apparently, this saying has its origins in China but I first heard it from Thomas Sankara. Women hold up half the sky– and so much more. There are so many women in my life who hold (or have held) the sky for me so that I can experience a rich and beautiful life. I’m thankful.

The sky is too big for two birds to clash” – Anon.

I first heard this quote in the summer of 2016 when I was struggling through a dissertation and a separation from someone close to me. I had my eyes fixed on this thing that was clearly not coming back. This quote was a reminder- that there was so much more to look forward to- a whole sky! I could spread my wings and claim new things.

photo by Seun Roti and edit by Jebet

Last week, I got my artist sister-friend Jebet to do this edit on my picture (click here to see the original picture)- I gave the two quotes above for inspiration and I loved the outcome! Thank you Jebet for this art. Check out Jebet’s work on Instagram and Behance and get her to make an edit of one of your pictures! It would also make a great gift to someone.

Happy Easter, friends! Enjoy the break.

T

© Tessy Maritim

PLAYLIST: My Ode to Women Everywhere #IWD2018

Happy International Women’s Day, lovely women of the world. This day applauds women for the contributions they make to every sphere of life. I’ve curated a playlist of music to celebrate sisterhood, hustle, self-love and the general magic of women’s existence. Hope you enjoy it and carry the celebratory and introspective spirit of this day to every day of your life!

photo by Seun Roti

This is my hope for you. 

I’m wishing you life, and life in abundance. May love and joy permeate every realm of your life.

I pray you remember that each day comes with new beginnings and that you gift yourself the grace and forgiveness you so easily grant others.

I pray that you accept the love that is coming your way- and may it edify your life.

I pray for opportunities to open up to you- and may no structural oppression fashioned against you prosper. May you use the access and privilege you have to create room for women now and those that will come after.

I pray that you continue to pour into yourself wholly, that you have good health and that you enjoy the most exquisite experiences this world has to offer.

You deserve it all! Happy Women’s Day.

Tracklist: 

Suzie Noma- Muthoni  Drummer Queen

Holy- Jamila Woods

The Day Women Took Over- Common ft. BJ The Chicago Kid

He Loves Me- Jill Scott

Don’t Touch My Hair- Solange

Ain’t Your Mama- Jennifer Lopez

Suited- Shekhinah

Sorry- Beyonce

T

© Tessy Maritim

When Your Mind Says No

I’ve been wanting to scale up my video content for about a year and a half now. The desire was there but the ideas were not. So I just lingered over it, hoping that something would emerge with time.

That time is now. I’m proud to have figured out a style and vision that’s given me motivation to create more videos. Earlier in the year, I was making a big effort to convince myself why this was all a bad idea. I found all the reasons I was looking for- it’s going to take up my time, the ideas are boring, nobody will be interested in what I have to say etc.

For every idea you want to bring to life, there are things working against you. So, if you want to hold on to them and use them as excuses, they will be of service. I didn’t realise it but I’ve been sabotaging myself and feel really bad about it.

Now I’m focused on the creation process and execution! There are times where I’ve started filming and I’ve had to stop because my mind is working overtime to say no to my ideas. But we are overcoming. I’m making this happen. I’m trusting myself. I’m rooting for me!

Wish me luck and pray for me!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here. You can also find my videos on Facebook here.

Love to you and thanks for supporting me.

T

© Tessy Maritim

The 25th Hour

I was really keen to improve on my reading habits last year. As a student, I rarely read leisurely because I associated it with academic pressure. I tried to get as far away as possible from books in my spare time. Time outside my studies would be spent engaging with people, exercising or watching shows.

I only recently started using reading as a tool to relax. But then, where is the time? My days are super busy and finding time in the evening often seems elusive.

Sometime last year I started reading in the car on the way to work in the morning. And it became a habit. Soon, I found myself finishing books that were taking me months to read.

I’ve realised I don’t need to set aside a period to sit down and read. I can make use of the spaces in my day where I’m unoccupied:

  • on the commute to and from work/school
  • at lunchtime
  • at a cafe while waiting for someone
  • in waiting rooms
  • on a road trip (although if you get nauseous on long car rides like me, you might need to minimise)

The thing is to keep the book you’re reading in your bag so you can grab it whenever. Those 10/15/30 minutes of reading while in traffic add up and help you finish books. I rarely read at home. Most of my reading is done while out and about.

This approach has really helped me be more efficient with time in general- if you find yourself having no time, think about how to utilise your small in-between times. 10 minutes can be little, but it can also be sufficient time to advance many of the small (or big) tasks.

Nairobi, Kenya

Last year I read (in the order I read them):

  • Coconut by Kopano Matlwa
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Kitchen Table Series by Carrie Mae Weems
  • The Big Conservation Lie by Mordecai Ogada and Mbaria wa Mbaria
  • Dusk in the Morning by Kap Kirwok
  • Building a Movement to End The New Jim Crow by Daniel Hunter
  • Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge by Obioma Nnaemeka
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

On my list this year:

  • Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Wretched of The Earth by Frantz Fanon
  • Matatu: A History of Popular Transportation in Nairobi by Kenda Mutongi

What else should I read? Let me know.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Good Writing

Happy New Year, friends! I’m feeling very happy and relaxed. I had a really good December. And I left 2017 feeling light but grounded. You want to relieve yourself of the burdens that make the journey ahead heavy while still staying rooted in the things that give you clarity and a sense of direction.

I’m starting my year off finishing Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things‘. Heh- I don’t know what to say. It’s an exquisite book. Wonderfully and delicately written. I’ve always struggled to give an answer to the question ‘What’s your favourite book?‘. Now I have a response.

This year, I want to become a better writer. I really enjoy writing. I also think it’s an essential skill- to be able to communicate and articulate your ideas clearly. I’ve been trying to flesh out what it means to be a good writer and obviously there’s no universal standard. I’m not going to be Arundhati Roy. Or Chimamanda. I’m Tessy– and that’s all I’ll ever be. But there’s a gap between where I am and where I’d like to be and 2018 is about closing that gap. Or at least, moving as close as possible to it. Practice makes perfect, ama?

I’ll also continue to read. For new ideas. For fresh vocabulary. To see the possibilities and to push them. I think readers make better writers.

 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17) | Knightsbridge, London

I’m asking myself, what does it mean for me if I’m a better writer? Writing is how I express myself. Becoming a better writer is about making room to understand myself more deeply. For people who love me to understand better. To know what I think. To know how I think. To be honest. To document and capture a journey that sometimes feels unbearable. To read this and remember what I’ve been able to overcome. To see the distance traveled. To bear witness.

I’m approaching 2018 with deep conviction and intention. It’s going to be beautiful!

T

© Tessy Maritim

Before We Close

We’re wrapping up 2017 and what a year it’s been! My year has been guided by a deep desire to explore and expand. I’ve been excited to learn about areas not typically within my purview- Kenya’s problematic conservation principles, emergency healthcare courtesy of the film 18 Hours and lots of new music (which I’ve been sharing via my playlists here). It’s been great to be back in Nairobi permanently- I feel settled.

2017 was also led by an intention to be really active about the things I wanted to have in my life. I shared this quote by Akwaeke Emezi a while back and it’s been central to this idea:

It might not be advice per se, but I will never forget my mother telling me once how she realised that really, you are truly alone in this world. It was exactly how I was feeling and I was so grateful that she understood that stark reality. It sounds depressing, but it has helped me be self-sufficient, understanding that I am fundamentally responsible for myself and my well-being, and that never changes, regardless of what friendships or partnerships I may enter into. Centering on myself in that way taught me how to develop my own power, which I use to shape my world into one I want to live in” – Akwaeke Emezi

Being fundamentally responsible for my life has not meant I don’t engage or depend on other people. It’s just an understanding that I’m the only person accountable for my life. For all the things I desire- emotionally, physically, mentally, professionally, I’m responsible for: identifying the needs, establishing how to meet these needs and taking the steps to have these needs met.

I want 2018 to be the year in which I anchor myself more deeply. Since moving back, it feels like I’ve been catching and keeping up with so much. And although it’s been great, it’s also been terribly overwhelming and has made me feel burnt out at many points in the past year. In 2018, I want to focus on fewer areas but with some more depth. I also want to build better relationships with people across the board. I’m excited about this.

Some 2017 highlights for me that I’m carrying forward to the new year:

  1. Always carry your charger. Even if you think your phone is charged enough. Just put it in your bag.
  2. Be consistent. Try not to abandon the seeds that you plant with so much zeal, just because you get bored. Give them time to bloom! Water them, feed them, give them sunlight.
  3. Make a list of all your favourite things to do in your city. Or all the things you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had a chance to do yet. It’ll make things easy when you have friends visiting.
  4. Listen to people- useful information doesn’t always come through the channels you think.
  5. Create the experiences you desire.
  6. Plan for things even when you don’t have the resources. And then start with what you have. Just start.

Wishing you all a dope, exciting, special, rich, lovely and wonderful 2018!

T

© Tessy Maritim

Na Bado


28.11.2016 | photo by Poon

Celebrating one year since this glorious, gloomy day in Edinburgh- my MSc graduation. This was one of my best days in 2016. I had a really wonderful time after what had been a very frustrating week.

I think I’ve said this before elsewhere but my time in Edinburgh was so special. It shaped my world view and work ethic and I can’t thank my God enough. God took me there, looked after me and made sure I left with both my hands and heart full.

I had never considered a PHd. For a while, it had felt like I could barely manage being in the academy- the pressure, my goodness! It makes you feel small and insignificant. But towards the end of my programme, watching some of the incredible PHd candidates in our department, I wondered what it would be like to be on the other side- creating knowledge and influencing ways of learning. Aside from the personal interest, I take with great seriousness the need for more black, African, women scholars influencing world views and decolonizing the academy.

I hope to start on this journey in the future. But for now, I celebrate all that I am becoming. I will get there. I’m living and loving the space I’m in right now. Most of you know how much I was looking forward to coming home! I love being here and feeling first hand the currents that are driving the future of this country. I’m also in the early stages of a career that is stretching and teaching me so much. This is not to say that it’s easy and a joyous occasion everyday. There are some really difficult days- sometimes weeks! And it can be a mammoth task to get on with what I have to do. In those moments, I try not to look for an antidote. This is what life feels like sometimes. You just try to get used to it.

I’m looking ahead but once in a while it feels good to look back and feed off the energy of past accomplishments.

Thank you to my lecturers whose teachings still guide me to this day. Thank you to my friends- some of who I am delighted to still be close to. Thank you to my family, whose love and support has fueled me every step of the way.

And most importantly, to the God I serve.. I shine because of you. May I never forget that my strength comes from You.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Working Through

When work is difficult, it’s natural to feel like you want to stop. Difficult work requires the best of you and it’s not always effortless.

If you find yourself in a difficult space, struggling to push through and deliver what you need to do, it’s perfectly fine to pause. A pause doesn’t mean you’re quitting. A pause means you’re giving yourself the room to feel inspired again; the room for an influx of new energy to recharge you.

When it’s difficult, work through it, engage and confront the tough issues. There are things you won’t be able to run away from- because any (good) work will require you to reach far and wide and pull your best self in to action. I’ve found it useful to have quiet moments to talk to myself and ask the critical questions- What’s going on here? What are you not happy with? What can you fix? What’s the next step?

If you find yourself facing something big and difficult, find a way to unpack it- divide and conquer. It works every time. For me at least, anyway.

But it’s also necessary to realise when you should walk away from something big and difficult. You don’t have to work through every situation that comes your way. Sometimes, leave it alone.

I’ve said this before here– even the things we love to do are sometimes big and difficult. I’m learning the discipline of putting my head down and just working through the difficult things that come my way. It’s scary and sometimes very overwhelming. But I try to see the discomfort and pain as a process- shedding my skin and growing into something new.

One of my favourite songs on Sampha’s album, Process, is Plastic 100°C, where he says:

It’s so hot I’ve been melting out here
I’m made out of plastic out here

You touched down in the base of my fears
And that’s when your beauty appears

The analogy of the sun (or fire?) and melting plastic is poignant. Sometimes the things that awake our fears are vessels for the growth of new and beautiful in your life. I’m learning to not be afraid of the heat, the pressure- it may be good for me.

But, as mentioned earlier, I say this with a caveat- don’t burn out. Step back when you need to. Your life, your health and your happiness are far more important.

I’d also like to always remember that even the work I love to do will be difficult, stressful and exhausting. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the work is still worth it.” | Alliance Francaise, Nairobi

I hope you find your rhythm again and may things come together for you!

T

© Tessy Maritim

Facing A New Direction

 

For a time when I refused to look elsewhere.

 

My eyes were fixed. Fixated. Captured. I refused to look elsewhere.

It was gone, but I refused to look elsewhere. As if my gaze would make it reappear.

Your gaze will not make it reappear.

Your eyes will hurt. Your soul will hurt.

Look away. Or close your eyes, at the very least.

 

It’s gone, but you are here.

Listen- there’s nothing good for you there anymore. Look away.

Take your gaze elsewhere. Your eyes are not captives. Set them free, baby.

A new direction. A new bearing.

We’re looking for more. We’re looking for different. We’re looking for ourselves, again.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) | Eldoret, Kenya

 

Your eyes will stop searching. Your eyes will stop seeing the same thing in a different place.

It won’t follow you forever.

A new direction. A new bearing.

 

T

© Tessy Maritim