Saturday, May 31, 2014

#YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen

Yes, indeed, "we also need to teach our sons to respect women". Many a times I have heard mothers and grandmothers tell their sons/grandsons "kidume..."; "mtoto wa kiume..."; "dume la mbegu..." and so often wonder(ed) to what extent women also contribute to the entrenchment of patriarchy, simply defined as a system of domination of women (and some may add 'weak(er)' men) by men.

"To Resist What Persists" ought to be dialectical as there are (some?)men who also try hard not to do those things that are painfuly shared in #YesAllWomen but, alas, they also end up being so discouraged by (some?) women who want "kidume"/"dume la mbegu" as if in order to be a 'real' man in this world one has to be 'macho/sexist' and so forth.

Sadly, it is the way of the world and, ironically, Toni Braxton's heart-to-heart song He Wasnt' Man Enough sums it all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Resist What Persists

To Resist What Persists

Diana Kamara

It is not the first time someone walks to me and say: “What kind of a revolutionary are you? You don’t write, we don’t see you on political platforms.” And I ask myself: “Do they even know what a revolution is?”

They may be right, there seem to be a revolutionary spirit in me that is subconscious. Since being a revolutionary is a concept not bound to membership in cults and parties, I consider myself one (not to blow my own horns though).

When someone said it today that he does not think I am revolutionary enough, it reminded me of a moment at a hair salon when I was a student. On that day I had given my hair a treat by going to wash it at the salon instead of washing it at the hostel. It was long, a lot and so curly after being washed. On my right side there was a girl I used to see around campus and she pulled her eyebrows together, looking at my hair and wondered “Why such long hair? What are the weaves for?” So I gave her a blunt smile to shut her up. You can’t count hair but you could tell hers wasn’t so much. The chemical had exhausted the hair instead of relaxing it. Short, falling off, heat-traumatized brownish hair. As I quickly scanned it, I think it was begging to be on my head where it would eat natural oils every two days, a hot water bath at most after fourteen days and untouched on Sunday to relax after being stretched for the whole week. Too bad my head can only accommodate my hair.

I was more surprised than angry. For the first time someone did not see beauty, nature and Africa in my hair! I had not cut my hair for three years and I was now a finalist. My mind rolled back to the freshman days at Chuo. Tell you what; laws written are laws broken and laws unspoken are laws that govern. Usually as first year girls coming to Chuo, most of us have hair that were natural or exhausted but at least in fashions we desire and afford. We start going around town and every third person you see is a woman with a weaving. You board a shuttle and the girls laughing loud have contrasting shades of braids, the gender course professor has a few hair clips and when she turns you can still see hair peeping out of the clips at the back of her head. No wonder when we graduate some people are even embarrassed of the pictures they took during the first year. There is that visual pressure to confirm to the ideal appearance of a Chuo girl. All around you is hair hidden or hair exhausted.

The visual pressure is raised and raised by advertisements, media and social media. What we forget is that the women we see in adverts are paid to make us pay to have something like what they look as having. Those we follow in the media have their own ways of raising money to have the elaborate hair dresses and styles which look fresh and attractive. With the little loan money hair cannot be a priority.

This is when we need to lie to our parents if they can support us, get boyfriends who can pay us to pay for the hair we want. I have seen girls worried about their hair than their books when it rains. I remember my friend’s roommates complaining about a desa which was not worth more than a thousand shillings. They read it in turns and hence forced to discuss the notes before exams. They were all surprised I occasionally went to the library and made my own madesa because I was not satisfied with the lecturer’s notes. And I was surprised that each of them had five thousand plus money value on their heads.

My hair keeps generating incidences and stories to date. Some of the people maltreat me and sincerely apologize when they find out that I am not a student. Others have recommended that I should upgrade my hair and dressing so that I look like a real university lecturer (while am just a tutorial assistant!) and people will respect me. I ask myself: respect?

Ah, respect me like they respect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for riding on the “The first African Female President” donkey in her elaborate head dress, delicate pearl and expensive clothes? The same respect the first lady receives as she appears in Kitenge to receive award for “fighting for women” because of her marital status? Maybe they mean the same respect special seats female Members of Parliament (MPs) command while getting in the way of feminism and democracy? They will respect me for admitting to hate my hair and submitting to the visual pressure of the ideal woman who goes with trend she never creates.

We take for granted the heavy weight word revolution and not knowing why there have been so many revolutions in the world and only a few lived long enough to be meaningful. A revolution is not people shouting, rioting and taking media coverage. It is not a light trend that can be spread in social media and forgotten all about like people will forget the snow white of the year, Lupita.

It is never ‘just hair!’ It is a step forward or two backward in the revolution. It is hair, boutique clothes, Italian shoes, original lipstick and designer perfume. My hair is how I want to present myself and represent my identity as a young, elite, conscious African. I will not surrender to the woman who leaves at a billboard her smile held by fear for age. I will not shake hands with neocolonial notions of I am only beautiful if Hollywood blesses me so. I beg to differ with those who still see women for the hair and beauty, not the brains to reject assumptions that come with the hair. I take an alternative point of view when it comes to being a revolutionary. It is the ability to resist what persists after the day of the revolution, the hour of liberation, the minute of transformation and the moment of new temptations. 

Official Opening of Bookstop Sanaa Art Library

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tanzanian in Writivism Short Story Prize Longlist

"Nyachiro Lydia Kasese is a twenty-two year old Tanzanian. Having been raised in four other African countries she is multilingual. She studied Industrial and Economic Sociology at the University of Rhodes. She currently works as a writer and journalist, among other things, in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. Nyachiro was part of the 2014 Writivism Mentoring program and her longlisted story is Inside Outside" -

Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Launch: Run Free by Richard Mabala

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Masaa Matatu na Mwandishi Mabala - 17 Mei 2014


Taasisi za Soma: Leisure Culture and Learning na Kitabu Nilichosoma” zinazojihusisha na kuhamasisha jamii kujenga utamaduni wa kujisomea vitabu zimeandaa mjadala ambao utawakutanisha wasomaji wa vitabu na mwandishi nguli wa vitabu nchini Richard Mabala.

Richard Mabala atatoa mada kuhusu tasnia ya uandishi wa vitabu nchini. Kwa wapenzi wa vitabu na tasnia ya uandishi wa vitabu kwa ujumla, hii ni fursa adhimu kujumuika na Richard Mabala na kujifunza kutoka kwake.

Pia kutakuwa na mjadala kuhusu kitabu chake kipya cha RUN FREE kilichojinyakulia Tuzo ya Burt ya Fasihi ya Kiafrika. Taasisi za Soma Book Café na ‘Kitabu Nilichosoma’ zitatumia fursa hiyo pia kuwazawadia vitabu washindi mbalimbali wa mashindano yao yaliyopita.
Kitabu cha RUN FREE kinazungumzia changamoto zinazowakabili vijana hasa katika kuchagua njia waipendayo katika kutimiza ndoto zao za maisha. Tumemwalika Masoud Kipanya (kwa nafasi yake ya uchoraji) na Antony Mtaka (kwa nafasi yake ya udau kwenye riadha). Njoo uzisikilize simulizi za mbio zao za maisha na za washiriki wengine kisha nawe ueleze uzoefu wa mbio zako! 

Siku: Jumamosi tarehe 17/5/2014

Mahali: Soma Book Café ( )

Shuka mataa ya Morocco. Rudi nyuma hadi hospitali ya AAR. Kisha fuata barabara inayokwenda Chama cha Wanasharia wa Tanganyika (TLS). Hapo utaliona bango linalokuelekeza Soma Book Café. Kwa msaada zaidi kuhusu ilipo Soma Book Café piga 0653619906/0785014070.

Muda: Saa 4.00 Asubuhi hadi saa 7.00 mchana.

Thibitisha ushiriki wako kwa namba zifuatazo:

0653619906 (Ado Shaibu)
0785014070 (Soma Book Café)
0717577517 (Seif Abalhassan)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vitabu Sokoni

Chanzo: Mtandao

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mapambano Dhidi ya Kutawaliwa Akili


Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Heshima mliyonipa leo imefungamana na kipindi muhimu katika maisha yangu. Mwaka elfu moja  mia tisa na themanini  na nne nilialikwa na Chuo Kikuu cha Auckland, New Zealand, kutoa mihadhara mine kuhusu Siasa za Lugha Katika Fasihi ya Afrika. Wakati huo nilikuwa nikiishi London, baada ya kulazimika kuishi nje ya nchi yangu kutokana na udikteta wa serikali ya Kenya. Pamoja na Wakenya wenzangu,  ambao nao walikuwa wakiishi uhamishoni, na pia watu wa mataifa mingine waliokuwa  wanatuunga mkono, nilikuwa nimeshughulika na siasa za harakati za kupinga ukandamizaji nchini Kenya.

Tulikuwa tukifanya kazi mchana na usiku ili kuwaelimisha na kuwahamasisha watu wa mataifa mengine duniani kuhusu yaliyokuwa yakitendeka Kenya –  nchi ambayo nchi  za Magharibi  zilikuwa zikiisifu kuwa ni mfano  mzuri wa demokrasia na utulivu katika bara la Afrika.

Kwa hivyo, ingawa nilikuwa nimeukubali mwaliko huo wa Auckland, miezi mitatu kabla ya kusafiri kwenda New Zealand, sikuwa nimeanza hata kuwa na fikira yoyote kuhusu mihadhara hiyo, na sikuwa nimeandika hata mstari mmoja! Sikuwa nimepata wakati wala makini ya kulifanya hilo. Nikaanza kubabaika: Nikazungumze nini? Nianzie wapi?

Miezi miwili niliyokuwa katika Chuo Kikuu hiki ndiyo iliyoniokoa! Nilikuwa nimealikwa hapa kuwa Profesa kwa muda mfupi. Mambo mchanganyiko yaliifanya ziara yangu hiyo hapa Bayreuth kuwa ni mahali muwafaka pa kupatia ilhamu. Kwani hapa kulikuwa na kazi iliyokuwa ikifanywa  kuhusu lugha za Afrika, na fasihi iliyotokana na lugha hizo: 

Kulikuwa na “Iwalewa-Haus”, iliyokuwa ikiongozwa na Ulli Beier – mtu aliyefanya kazi muhimu kuhusu Fasihi ya Afrika iliyoandikwa kwa lugha za Ulaya. Ulli Beier alikuwa ni mmojawapo wa waasisi wa vituo vya waandishi vya Mbari huko Nigeria; na pia mhariri wa jarida lililoitwa Black Orpheus.  Jarida hilo na vituo hivyo vilikuwa ni miongoni mwa asasi zilizotangulia kuchapisha maandishi  ya waandishi wa Afrika yaliyoandikwa kwa lugha za Ulaya,  katika miaka  ya Sitini ya karne iliyopita. Na asasi hizo mbili zilichangia katika kufanikiwa kwa Kongamano la Waandishi wa Kiafrika Wanaoandika kwa Kiingereza, lililofanyika Chuo Kikuu cha Makerere, Kampala,  mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na sitini na mbili.    

Lakini jambo muhimu zaidi lililonitokelea hapa Bayreuth ni lile la kuwa karibu na Jumba la Masrahi laTamasha la Bayreuth - jumba alilolijenga Richard Wagner. Msije mkanielewa visivyo! Chuo Kikuu cha Bayreuth hakikunipa tiketi ya kwenda kwenye tamasha la kila mwaka katika jumba la opera. Bali niliambiwa kwamba mtu ilimbidi kununua tiketi miaka kumi kabla, au awe ameirithi kutoka kwa bibi au babu yake.

Lakini, kwa nini Wagner? Kuna nyakati chache katika maisha yangu ya uandishi ambapo ilinibidi kupata ilhamu kutokana na muziki wa kutoka Ujerumani. Baina ya mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na sitini na tano, na mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na sitini na saba, nilipokuwa Chuo Kikuu cha Leeds, Uingereza -  ambako ndiko  nilikoiandika riwaya yangu, A Grain of Wheat -  nilipokuwa nimekwama katika uandishi, nilikuwa nikijikwamua kwa kusikiliza sehemu ya mwanzo ya “Fifth Symphony “ ya Beethoven.

Safari moja nilimwelezea habari hii dereva wangu wa teksi huko Marekani, anayeitwa Danny Durant. Hapo hapo, nikagundua kwamba kumbe alikuwa ni mpigaji mahiri wa fidla (au vailini), na pia nikafahamu kwamba alikuwa akielewa mambo mengi kuhusu historia ya muziki. Basi tangu wakati huo, anapokuwa ananiendesha kutoka Irvine,  ambako ndiko ninakosomesha, na kunipeleka  Los Angeles, ambako ndiko ninakopandia ndege ninaposafiri, mazungumzo ya Danny Durant huwa ni kuhusu muziki kwa jumla  - lakini hasa kuhusu ubingwa wa muziki kutoka Ujerumani, na muziki wa Bach. Kwa sababu ya mapenzi yake ya muziki, Danny pia anajua habari nyingi mno kuhusu maisha ya kimuziki ya Leipzig, ingawa hajapatapo kufika huko.

Miaka mitatu iliyopita - tarehe kama ya leo – mimi niliuzuru mji wa Leipzig. Lakini si kwa sababu ya kwamba Richard Wagner alizaliwa katika mji huo, au kwamba alikuwa mwanafunzi katika Chuo Kikuu cha Leipzig, bali ni kwa sababu ya Abdilatif Abdalla, mmojawapo wa washairi maarufu wa Kiswahili duniani.
Abdilatif, ambaye kwa miaka  kumi na tano alisomesha Lugha ya Kiswahili na Fasihi katika Chuo Kikuu cha Leipzig, alikuwa anastaafu. Na Chuo Kikuu hicho kiliandaa kongamano la kimataifa la siku mbili kwa heshima yake. Nilipokuwa huko Leipzig nikasikia kwamba kila Jumamosi huwa kuna aina ya tamasha kwenye Kanisa la Mtakatifu Thomas, ambako, karne kadhaa zilizopita, Johann Sebastian Bach alikuwa akiongoza kwaya. Nikayakumbuka mazungumzo ya Danny Durant kuhusu Sebastian Bach. Lakini Jumamosi hiyo walikuwa wanapiga muziki wa Vivaldi. Hata hivyo, nikasema , “Haidhuru!”  Kwa vile Danny Durant alinielezea kuhusu Kanisa hili, nikajiambia ni lazima nilizuru.

Pamoja na Abdilatif;  na kaka yake, Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir; na rafiki yetu, mchapishaji vitabu, Walter Bgoya; na Khamis Ramadhan, aliyekuwa akipiga filamu, tukaelekea Kanisani. Tulipofika, Kanisa lilikuwa limeshajaa tele, na sehemu yote ya mbele ilikuwa imeshakaliwa!

Kaka yake Abdilatif ni miongoni mwa mashekhe na viongozi maarufu wa Waislamu nchini Kenya. Alikuwa amevaa mavazi ya Kiislamu – kanzu na kofia. Tulipoingia kanisani na kutembea masafa marefu hadi sehemu ya nyuma kabisa ya Kanisa ili kutafuta nafasi ya kukaa, nilikihisi kihangaiko na wasiwasi uliokuwa umewatanda wale waliokuwa wakitutazama tulipokuwa tunaingia. Hatimaye, tukapata nafasi karibu na sehemu alipozikwa Bach.  Kidogo nilijihisi sikuwa na utulivu moyoni mwangu nilipoona kwamba kiu yangu kuhusu Bach ilisababisha fazaa na wasiwasi kanisani. Shughuli yenyewe ilipomalizika kwa salama, nilifarijika! Tukatoka nje, na kupiga picha karibu na sanamu la Johann Sebastian Bach.

Sikuuhisi msisimko kama huo kuhusu Wagner nilipokuwa hapa Bayreuth mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na themanini na nne. Lakini miaka miwili kabla, nilipokuwa bado niko Kenya, nilitaka kutumia Ride of the Valkyries, ambayo ni sehemu ya opera ya Wagner, The Ring Cycle, katika tamthilia yangu ya pili niliyoiandika kwa Kikikuyu, Maitu Njugira; yaani “Mama, Niimbie”.
Hebu fikiria: Wagner akishindana na ngoma za kiafrika, katika tamthilia ya lugha ya kiafrika, inayoigizwa na wanakijiji  nchini Kenya. Lakini, hilo halikufanyika. Kwani serikali iliizuia tamthilia hiyo kuigizwa katika mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na themanini na mbili – mwaka ambao nililazimika kuishi uhamishoni.

Kwa hivyo, mkusanyiko wa mambo haya matatu - mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na themanini na nne, Bayreuth, na Wagner – yalinikumbusha yaliyonikumba Kenya miaka michache kabla, kwa sababu ya harakati zangu na mapambano kuhusu Lugha – ambayo ndiyo iliyokuwa mada ya mihadhara yangu huko Auckland, New Zealand.

Wagner akawa ni kiungo baina ya Limuru, mahali nilikozaliwa; London, nilikokuwa uhamishoni; na New Zealand, nilikokuwa ninakwenda. Kwa hali yoyote ile iwayo, ukweli ni kwamba ni wakati nilipokuwa hapa kwenye kijiji cha St. Johannis, Mei 15, mwaka elfu moja mia tisa na themanini na nne, ndipo nilipouandika mhadhara wa kwanza, ambao baadaye ulikuwa ni sehemu ya kitabu changu maarufu cha nadharia, Decolonising the Mind.     

Katika kitabu hicho nilijishughulisha zaidi na uhusiano baina ya mkoloni na aliyetawaliwa na mkoloni – uhusiano ambao matokeo yake yalikuwa ni lugha za Ulaya kuyatawala maisha ya bara la Afrika kiuchumi, kisiasa na kitamaduni. Wakati wa mapambano dhidi ya ukoloni, Waafrika wa tabaka la kati walizitumia lugha za Ulaya kuwa ni mbinu za kuzipa uwezo lugha za Afrika katika mapambano hayo. Lakini baada ya uhuru kupatikana, tabaka hilo likafanya kinyume na hivyo: likazitumia lugha za Afrika kuzipa uwezo lugha za Ulaya.

Wakati wa mapambano dhidi ya ukoloni, Waafrika waliokuwa na elimu walikuwa ni wasasi katika msitu wa lugha za kigeni. Baada ya uhuru,  wasomi hao wakawa ni mateka na mahabusu katika gereza la lugha za Ulaya. Tunalofanya sisi wasomi wa tabaka hilo ni kuikusanya elimu na maarifa yetu na kuyafungia katika majumba ya makumbusho na makavazi ya lugha za Ulaya. Hii imekuwa ndiyo hali ya kisomi ndani na nje ya Afrika.

Katika makongamano ya taaluma za Afrika, nimepata mara kadha wa kadha kuuliza swali hili: Ni wasomi wangapi kati ya waliohudhuria, ambao wamepata kuandika angalau maandishi mamoja kwa lugha yoyote ya Afrika? Huwa hakuna hata mtu mmoja anayeinua mkono! Maana yake ni kwamba maarifa na ujuzi wetu kuhusu Afrika  huwa yanapitia kwenye kichujio cha lugha za Ulaya na misamiati yake.

Labda hoja yangu hii itaeleweka vizuri zaidi tukiliuliza swali hili kivingine: Unaweza kumpata Profesa wa Historia ya Italia, au Utamaduni wa Italia, ambaye hajui hata neno moja la Kitaliani? Au kumpata Profesa wa Utamaduni wa Ujerumani na Historia, ambaye hafahamu Kijerumani?

Mamlaka za kikoloni, kama zilivyokuwa hapo zamani, huenda zikawa haziko tena barani Afrika; lakini Ulaya inaendelea kuyatamalaki mabongo. Matokeo yake yamekuwa ni kuzikumbatia kwa nguvu kabisa lugha za Ulaya, na kuzikana lugha za Afrika: Kuukumbatia  ugeni, na kuukimbia uzawa wetu. Hii ndiyo hali ya bara la  Afrika hivi leo.

Kwa hakika, tatizo hili si tatizo la Afrika pekee  bali ni tatizo linalotokea  kila mahali palipokuwa na utawala wa kikoloni;  na pia ni tatizo la walionyimwa uwezo na nafasi katika jamii. Msingi wake umechimbwa kutokana na dhana ya kwamba lugha zinaweza kuhusiana kwa mujibu wa viwango vyake tu. Yaani twaweza kusema kuwa ni mfumo wa kilugha wa ki-Darwin , ambapo mwenye nguvu humvamia mnyonge ili apate kuendelea kuishi.

Fikira ya kwamba lugha yangu na utamaduni wangu ni bora kuliko wako, inaonyesha kama kwamba ndiyo hali iliyoko duniani, licha ya kwamba kuna huo unaoitwa utandawazi. Sina haja ya kuzungumza kwa urefu kuhusu historia ya maumivu na uchungu – kwa mfano, mauaji, au mauaji ya halaiki – ambayo yanaweza kutokea iwapo tutazitazama lugha na tamaduni kwa mtazamo huu. Hata hivyo, mahusiano baina ya watu, vikundi vya jamii, na rangi za watu, au maeneo mbalimbali ya dunia, yanaendelea kutazamwa kwa mujibu wa vyeo na daraja. Baadhi ya watu wanaamini kama kwamba lugha zao ni lugha takatifu, yaani ni lugha anazozungumza Mungu. Lakini, kwani ni lazima lugha ziwe na uhusiano unaotegemea viwango na daraja zao?

Lugha na tamaduni zinafaa zihusiane kimtandao. Mtandao unategemea mfumo wa  “Nipe, nikupe”. Sawa na mfumo wa daraja. Daraja linalotumika huwa ni la kuwavusha wa huku na kule; si la kuwavusha watu wa upande mmoja tu. Likitumiwa hivyo, halitakuwa daraja tena.

Kwa hivyo, tuendelee kujenga madaraja baina ya lugha na tamaduni mbalimbali, bila ya kujali ukubwa au udogo wao. Na hili linahitaji kuziendeleza harakati dhidi ya wanaotamalaki mabongo ya wengine. Nimepata bahati ya kuwa na mimi nimo katika harakati hizi. Na harakati hizi zinaniunganisha na juhudi za mamilioni ya watu wengine duniani wanaopigania haki za lugha, kwa msingi wa kwamba kila lugha na kila utamaduni una uwezo wa kutoa na kupokea. Mshairi wa Kiingereza, John Donne, alitunga akasema:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A very part of the main…
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee

Twaweza kusema maneno kama hayo kuhusu lugha na tamaduni mbalimbali: Kwamba hakuna lugha au utamaduni ambao ni  kama kisiwa; zinategemeana. Kuzifanya lugha chache zikatawala na kuzidunisha lugha nyingine duniani ni kama kuichukua okestra ya Wagner ukaipunguza ala, na kuzibakisha ala chache tu za aina moja, na zenye sauti zinazofanana. Kifo cha utamaduni na lugha yoyote kinaidunisha okestra ya binadamu wote duniani.

Ikiwa heshima hii ninayopewa leo na Chuo Kikuu hiki kitukufu itasaidia kuikumbusha dunia kwamba mapambano ya kupigania lugha yanaendelea, basi naipokea kwa shukurani nyingi. Kwani uhai wa kila lugha na utamaduni duniani unaitajirisha okestra hiyo ya binadamu.

Ahsanteni sana.  

[1] Jina lake ni Danny Durant.
[2] Hotuba ya kupokea Digrii ya Heshima ya Uzamifu, Chuo Kikuu cha Bayreuth, Ujerumani, tarehe 5 Mei, 2014, iliyotolewa kwa Kiswahili. Imefasiriwa na Abdilatif Abdalla kutoka Kiingereza.

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP