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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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!
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:
Always carry your charger. Even if you think your phone is charged enough. Just put it in your bag.
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.
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.
Listen to people- useful information doesn’t always come through the channels you think.
Create the experiences you desire.
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!