Thursday, 20 May 2010
This month's poet is Philani Nyoni, a young Zimabwean law student studying in South Africa. Born in 1989 in Bulawayo, he won his first literary competition in 2007 and began his career as a performance poet with Zimbabwe Poets For Human Rights in 2008. His love of the Greek classics and epic poetry is evident not only in his chosen stage name, The Poet Pan, but also in the style and themes of his work. In this he differs from many of his contemporaries and contrasts sharply with the work of such poets as his fellow countryman Mbizo Chirasha (k!8) - contrasts, but also compliments. Where Mbizo bites like hunger and packs a bullet into his punch Philani's pen is gentler, seeming at first glance to be concerned with a world far removed in both time and place, but ultimately no less relevant to the modern African or world stage and no less profound. He is working on a novel and on his first anthology. It is a genuine pleasure to publish this whimsically titled example of his work.
OH WHERE ART THOU OH ACHILLES?
His torso was the envy of Apollo,
Where he walked no man could follow.
His chest was a breastplate of amour,
Smithed by the gods, and he found humour
In other men’s attempts at glory. A warrior fierce,
A man rejected by nature, a man without tears,
A breed of warrior unseen before
Whose every step echoed "hero."
But now where art thou oh Achilles? Where do you stand?
Do you not lie restless among those men who you would send
To Hades with your brandished steel?
Where art thou oh warrior? In the grave still
Or in the torment of shades? Where are you Achilles,
Oh son of the gods? You who like a syphilis
Of a kind infested the loins of Troy while Hector
Brave prince, tried to scratch away the new factor
In Trojan underwear brought about by Paris whoredom. You slew
The greatest warrior in the world. Who knew
That “valour’s minion” could fall to one man’s sword?
‘Twas great honour to those who could afford
To watch your amour gleaming as you carved
Your way through flesh. The only thing you loved
More than glory was obstinacy, so you fought
For ten years on foreign soil. You thought
You had gone to conquer, for glory, yet death
Found you a long way from home. No mirth
For you, no smile. You sold your life for
Glory yet, like all warriors, your victory
Was recorded as the king’s and the story
That tells the tale is sometimes distorted
To paint you as some kind of a retarded
Individual while the horror of it all
Is the knowledge that, when men fall,
Great or not, when man dances with fate
He leaves all he is and ever was at the gate.
This Poem Copyright of Philani Nyoni 2010
kushinda! looks forward to your comments and submissions. Enquiries are welcome, please write to artskushinda at gmail.com
Philani's poem, and work by Mbizo Chirasha, will feature alongside readings by Dumi Senda at Kushinda!Live events in North Wales during June 2010
Friday, 9 April 2010
LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER
this poem reshuffled cabinet
the rhythm resigned the president
its metaphors adjourned parliament
awaken sleeping patriots eating peanut in slogan darkness
rise dozing voters in the warmth of political acid
awaken struggle heroes in graves tired of wrong epitaphs and fake eulogies
awaken fat cats puffing zanunised propaganda burgers in slumber
rise green horns drinking much talked herbal tea of change
grandfathers of patriotism to bring back
truth drowning in potholes of grief
god fathers of change to bring back my vote choked in drums of new renewed
bring red hot charcoal to roast political bedbugs sucking our blood in daylight
bring a word scientist to burn the justified injustice in poetic sulphuric acid
this poem reshuffled cabinet
the rhythm resigned the president
the metaphors adjourned parliament.
i have eaten my poetry
i stuffed my metaphors for lunch
imagination my cool drink
empty bag of my stomach blowing tornado,
a gunshot passed through my chest
STINKING BREATH OF MY PEN
greasy propaganda apples for peasants
bourgeoisie for sweating corruption omelet
villagers for cassava and diet coke
streets for hip hop and toy guns
school uniform for PhD studies and bible for my daughter
wreath for saint valentine
roses for saint Paul
revolutions changed and revolutions unchanged
canister for fat breakfast
bullet for big supper
i am fasting the supper and breakfast
sun born with Vaseline on its forehead
moonrise with cancer on its breasts
tender skin of stars split by ghetto politics
kindas blowing condoms with lung wind
elders blowing balloons with broken hearts
another slice of politics
another rumble of hunger
another for the priest.
sweat drops, raindrops, tear drops
raindrops, teardrops, sweat drops
the breath of my pen stinks
Poems and Photo ⒸMbizoChirasa2010
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Welcome to k!7, where kushinda! introduces Tsepo Gumbi, a young poet and artist from Sharpeville, one of the most historically significant places in South Africa. He is in his own words 'a shy ordinary fellow who prefers his own space and enjoys the world of creative arts.' He is currently working towards completing his first anthology of poems, which he has also illustrated. Below I have chosen two of Tsepo's poems with their accompanying illustrations. I am struck first by the love in his words and the great empathy for women, then by the powerful resolve to live in joy and hope - might 'Rock Strong' and 'The Hope In Her Child's Dreams' be metaphors for South Africa ? I don't know, I have yet to visit Tsepo's homeland, I will let you decide, but I can not think of better wishes than joy, hope and love to you all this Christmas.
the hope in her child’s dreams
she sinks deep into emotions of despair
her fainting hope fading with invisible air
her heart grieves as she perceives
she bleeds her tears into an empty bowl
she cries her prayers to an open sky
a deaf god
her pleasure is soaked in a river of pain
her eyes, her shame
covered with sympathetic blankets of public pity
she weaves her comfort fabric with fantasy threads
she hangs her child’s dreams on a thin swing string
yet she hopes for a good life for this child
she takes refuge under a refuse bag
poverty greets her good morning with yellow teeth smile
each day she has to survive
hunger and starvation
but when the sun declines his light
the night rises and falls on the same poverty plight
and when tomorrow dawns
with yellow teeth smile
she has drowned even deeper into a misery tank
she cries her prayers to the open sky of a deaf god
for grace, but again the widow weeps in vain
the window of heaven’s door is closed
she is slowly swallowed by a swarm of gloom clouds
but she never ever abandons the hope in her child's dreams
she never did abandon the child and his crazy dreams
am her child
and the words of this poem are the dreams of my hope
the hope in her child’s dreams
the burden she never abandoned
i am the hope in her eyes’ dreams
women are rock strong
you strike a woman
you knock a hard rock
rocks never feel pain
rocks cannot cry
rocks wont die
women are rocks!
their brittle bodies are unbreakable
when love hurts
your heart hates
when your heart operates on anger
you can easily murder
when you love someone
you wont let them hurt you
if love can make you weep
what can stop it to make you bleed
victim of romantic violence
domestic silence destroys you
bruises don’t make a lady look pretty
a woman’s bruised face is like
a butterfly with broken wings
a beautiful rose planted in mud
a bee with rotten honey
Poetry and pictures copyright of Tsepo Gumbi 2009
Friday, 7 August 2009
Kisumu residents suffered some of the post-2008 election violence, artists like Willis are using art to begin to heal their community.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
But first - read k!5! Kingwa Kamencu is an upcoming young Kenyan writer, 1st prize winner in the youth fiction category of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2007 amongst other accolades. Kushinda! is honoured to be the first to present her latest short story, Muli's Great Day.
He pulled on jeans and a tee shirt and sat down to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. On an afterthought he sent a classmate going to the tuck shop to buy him milk, a chapatti and a samosa. The usual black tea and half loaf of bread would not suffice. “Keep the change bro, we’re on a roll!” he cheerily told his classmate. The other boy smiled lightly at the measly five bob.
Later, as Muli walked down the stairs of Hall 9, he imagined everybody staring at him, fascinated. They’d probably seen his story in the paper. A few boys greeted him in what Muli could only construe as tones of admiration and awe. He entered the custodian’s office where the 900 boys read the daily from. Leafing through it with about 10 others, he pointed at his story, proudly telling them, “Yeah, that’s me!” He remained there for an hour, pointing out the story to all incoming readers till he was sure he’d left a fair number to tell others on his behalf.
At midday he sauntered to town to buy his own paper. He stopped at the first newspaper vendors. “Two copies of the Un-standard please,” he ordered. “My stories are in it today...” he added for good measure. Unfortunately, the newspaper wasn’t there. Sold out, the vendor told him. Muli moved on to the next stall. Three hours later he was still without a paper. Apparently they had all sold out. Muli stood exasperated. “What’s happening today,” he asked, “why are they sold out everywhere?” The woman selling shrugged. “Hasn’t happened in a long time. Only happens when they carry very serious stories.” Muli stopped short, transfixed at her words. “Say no more!” he beamed and set back for school.
Was his story that good that the papers had sold out? “Can’t be,” he tried to convince himself unsuccessfully. “I shall not tell this to any one though” he vowed “or else they’ll say that I’m bragging like they always do.” And so tight-lipped and with the expression of a pained martyr, he returned to campus. Let them hear of the awards I will win for themselves. I will not be the one to tell them, he thought, referring to his literature classmates. He spent the remainder of the day huddled in his room, fantasizing about his next great story. This one would change the world for sure…
Fortunately, he missed the evening news. The news anchor was reporting on repression of media freedom. The top news for the day was: ‘Government buys out all Un-standard papers and sets them ablaze and raids media house’. Apparently the front pages contained an expose of grand corruption by top government officials. Police had bought up all newspapers in town that day and raided the media house to prevent them printing the next day’s paper which was equally ‘seditious’. Upstairs, Muli scribbled down more profound thoughts.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
the intrinsic beauty in our ordinary lives
"There is an inherent respect and admiration of artists in Africa as a whole for what they are able to do, even without understanding what they do in these modern times of Western domination of materials, production and market. For the African Artist's place has shifted greatly in the last 100 years, as African art itself has experienced an identity shift from a people's art with indigenous patronage to one which belongs to a world of universal expression and appeal - this is the inevitable result of schools and interaction with other cultures of the world. This has left the African people isolated from their art and their artists because of the very dramatic transition the continent has gone through."
"Artists have the ability to somersault into the new world with ease even though they have the same heavy demands on their lives as everyone else. Creative talent has not been valued enough in our societies and not used for development . A very unique political and economical situation has evolved where the artist is seen as a magician and a visionary, or as a trickster and a liar. Schools are not teaching Art the way it should be taught. This year's best student at our national University was announced to tremendous applause by the Vice Chancellor to an audience of about 1000 parents and graduates. However, when it was announced that this student belonged to the Faculty of Arts and Industrial Design a whole three quarters of the audience booed and deflated the whole experience. I wanted to scream. The African Artist therefore, and in our Ugandan society in particular, is alone and isolated."
Paintings by Sanaa Gateja
View more work by Sanaa Gateja online at kushinda!'s new website
when arts rise...
Monday, 23 February 2009
GULU - A CROSS CULTURAL REFERENCE
by Richard K
The bright sun moves down the cloudless sky yet another day
Over the desperate eye of an expecting soul,
Its ominous heat burning the earth to red ash
And the whirls gathering the ash into dust.
The wind has not won the fight
To drive the red dust away,
Neither has the rain come trickling down
To cool the boiling souls to hope.
The expecting eye wanders away
To seek the face of an approaching visitor,
The heart runs but the lips remain tight.
And oh, the silence!
The hardly covered bodies,
Their beginning-to-bulge bellies,
The scarcely-haired scalps,
The parentless kids,
The kidless parents,
The innumerable beads of mud shacks,
The numerable grains on infected floors,
The spectacle of searing hope under the Gulu sun!
Is it not a sad story?
The children are sick of the disdain,
The children wish to laugh again
And play and run home to warmth again,
But who has called their mercies forth,
And shaken their hands free,
To cradle the children to their breast
When they come running to them?
We are clamped up in an old van, about nineteen of us including the driver. The journey to the camps seems endless. I cannot estimate how long it took us to arrive there for I had completely lost the sense of time on arriving in Gulu. Keeping a watchless wrist to me is a habit that dies hard since I sometime fail to see the logic of dividing up the river of time or attaching numbers to it. However, the about thirteen kilometres road down to the nearest camp is rough and dusty, and seems to start right where the tarmac connecting it to Gulu town ends. One has to climb down a small depression that stands as a mystical demarcation between rustic and urban, galore and dearth, hope and despair. I deeply sympathise with those that have taken the road to the camps without the hope of return.
The van moves at a very slow speed on taking the dusty road as if afraid of venturing further down and, led by Dennis Kimambo in the words of some Alma mater lyrics that he sung to his high school bus driver, and in chanting some Kenyan matatu, hyped up whimsical we encourage the driver to keep pressing the accelerator ever harder. I am sandwiched between two beautiful Ugandan ladies and listening to one Joanita Nambi on my right who relates to me the challenges she is encountering trying to sell the ABC ideals of Roll Back AIDS , but I am not fated to concentrate entirely since the van keeps sucking in dust that has now almost suffocated us. The creaking sound of the old loose metalwork scares me and I am afraid that the chassis will give in under the pressure of our load as the van keeps coming down hard upon the bumpy road. My fears are almost consummated when Christina's car, in the dexterous hands of our friend George, fires fast past us leaving behind it a monstrous cloud of red dust that swallows us, obscuring almost everything, but luckily the van does not veer off to hell as I was fearing.
There are three modern buildings on the one side of the narrow pathway that deviates a short distance off the main road into the camp. One of the buildings is a pavilion with the resemblance of a mystical shrine while the other two hold the offices for charity and other welfare services. In one of the rooms an adult education class is in progress and I am worried lest we be mistaken for tormentors when we rush in interrupting, but George, swiftly as always, intercedes for the entire group in a translated explanation not only of who we are but our mission here as well. Outside a group of half-naked children - most of whom bear two shiny stripes stretching between nose and mouth, a trademark of an ailing infant population – mills around the building like disheveled scavengers milling around a feasting pride of wild cats. I want to sit for a photo with them but when I beckon to them to congregate some tall boys, (from whence they appear is a puzzle to me), with forbidding countenances warn them against what I conjecture as mixing with or bothering the visitors. Nevertheless I remain adamant until at last the children submit to my persuasion and Paul, Madi and I in turns seat ourselves for photos with the children, who cling to our trousers like they shall never let go. The children's eyes remain glued to the empty mineral water bottle that I am holding, luckily I manage to quickly dispose of it without their noticing.
Across the other side of the pathway, when we turn to look, the actual camp stands - a regrettable vista of a multitude of tiny thatch and mud huts that seems to extend ad infinitum . Charity and I are in front leading the group into the camp but we are halted to give room for George's vanguard. Meanwhile, Charity and I challenge each other to discover the purpose of an unroofed hut, much smaller than the rest, that stands on the camp threshold like a ghost some ten metres or so away from the next hut. I am utterly disturbed on tugging at the gaping door, not by the appalling stench that suddenly screams into my nostrils but by the mound that has formed through accumulation of continual defecations and the some-inches-deep footprints upon it that make it look like a large ghostly face, mockingly staring,that seems to have stifled the stench until the moment we peer through the door. The other huts are about the size of a soccer pitch center circle or smaller and each is just a few centimetres away from the other as if one would not stand up alone . There is however enough room for paths about the camp but the striking closeness of the huts has a rather profound meaning: the extent to which the magnetism of common social predicament has pulled the compact of the people of the camps tightly together. As we walk about the camp I note that much of it is deserted save for a few people, most of whom are old folks. These, like the children, are poorly dressed and look rather emaciated. One cannot help but notice their scantiness accentuated by the amount of grains (enough to feed a single hen for two days), predominantly maize and sorghum, drying on the floors. Outside another hut I notice a heap of cones of some local fruit (is it wild or not?) but I do not comprehend whence the cones come or what they are for until we nearby encounter some men - I am not sure if youthful or otherwise - who are gradually soaking in some intoxicating local flavour and when those behind us salute them the men mockingly intonate in some bad Kiswahili.
It does not takes us long to emerge on the other side of the camp where we find the shopping centre comprised of, as the rest of the camp, fabricated buildings of mud. The children, those who attend, are returning home from school and Njoki and Brenda lead the rest of the group in singing some songs. Sweets are bought for the children and some kind words are exchanged. I am finding the urge to have another puff irresistible and so I cross to the other side of the road, lest I set the grass thatched camp ablaze,to light my cigarette . Thinking about accidental fire attracts me to the consideration that I can almost hear the scarcely green grass cracking under the immense heat. I also re-examine my need to smoke while those children have hardly enough for dinner, but I succeed in consoling myself that it makes little difference if I, after all, puff out my stick now or not.
Much calmer than when we came we ride back in almost muted silence. I go straight to the lady who had fueled the desire to visit the camps and I find courage to express my most sincere gratitude to Christina and the LiA Centre on the one hand and the Charity for Peace on the other for the wonderful work they have done, and continue to do, for the children and the impoverished people. It is my hope that many more people will be touched by the spectacle of wretchedness evident in the camps and will be inspired to do something to improve lives there.
Words : Richard K, Kenya
Pictures : Digital and acrylic montages by Louisa M.J, Wales