Poetry 0 comments on Living in the Era of Trump

Living in the Era of Trump


Slowly the ink flows to the nib.

A few shakes in the air and it begins to write.

I am chronicling the Age of Trump.

As it begins, who knows where it will end.

But he’s given us a heads up.

To make America great again, by any means necessary.

What irony

Is this once again a case of the chickens coming home to roost?

What goes around, comes around and America has some

Superpower karma coming its way.

So what to do?

In this age of Kali Yuga, destruction is the order of the day.

But there is always a rebirth,

a New Life.

So let’s prepare for that.

What would that world look like?


I see it

I feel it

I wish to describe it.

Its infinite possibilities, focused on the development of a new way.

There’s been no era like this one.

This is the age of Donald Trump.

There’s been lots of name-calling and exposure of a lack of character.

And the question

‘Will he be running the empire between tweets’?

Everything is up for grabs.

Get ready for the corporate feeding frenzy.

As he lines up his prey.

No support for family planning and alliances with Russia.

We are heading for an Indian summer and problems with China.

The sun will shine on the corporate sector, turning the earth into a desert.

Capitalism needs fuel to feed its lifestyle.

So what would happen to the American mind if there were no power, no fuel, and no water?

It’s a powder keg waiting to go off!

But hold on…

Let’s not get traumatized with images of apocalyptic whoa.

This is our opportunity to shine, to define our times.

To be present with the challenges and strategic in our vision.

They say Rome was not build in a day.

So let’s take the long view.

It starts with you and me, challenging our energy positively.

I know at times it’s hard when surrounded by negativity.

We just want to burn a Trump effigy.

But my mother told me

‘You can’t fight fire with fire, you need a little water’.

You know water is feminine, right?

So you see the march on Washington DC?

Is Pussy power!

Should we be afraid, very afraid?

Absolutely not

This is the New World Order.

Take a deep breathe, place your hand on your heart and feel.

Feel our connection to each other.

Fell our inter connection, our co dependency, our global perspective.

Put aside geo politic borders.

Put aside physical appearances.

Put aside hierarchy.

Put aside gender, because souls have none.

This is the Kannagara tribe and our god is Love.

So, as you write your protest letters,

As you light up social media with your passion and your progress.

As you connect with the global community of like-minded soul-diers.

Fill your works with Love, positive intention and balanced thinking.

Be present with your feelings, so you don’t loose your humanity.

Which is easy to do in the era of Trump.

Don’t get it twisted.

We are going into battle, but it’s up to us to resist.

The race is not for the swift but for those who can endure.

We are going to another level.

Some will pout and doubt because they don’t have faith.

But who feels it knows it.

So let’s get organized, mobilize, strategize, advertise our opposition to his plans.

Don’t be a useless eater.

A sleeping consumer.

Wake up!

And smell the coffee, it’s a new brand.

Freshly brewed, not stewed.

By Ife Piankhi

©copyright 2017

Activism, Activities, Articles, Diarie



I fill my mouth with it. Never mind that I am lactose intolerant and in a few hours my stomach will be gripping and bloated. I will release gases and hope I am not in the company of others. If I am, I will attempt to hold it in or release it without making a sound. Impossible.

Every other person in Kampala has ulcers. It is a national epidemic that is not on the radar of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It’s all HIV, Ebola and now the Zika Virus. We are under attack from new strains of bacteria which are now resistant to treatment because of the antibiotics our doctors prescribe like sweets. One of the unfortunate side effects of antibiotics is that they are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill. All the good bacterial colonies in the gut die along with the bad. Doctors give you the pills in small envelopes with the name of the tablet (sometimes) and the numbers 1×1 or 3×1 written on them, to determine when and how many of these you should take. There are no instructions other than that. Maybe if the drug is particularly harsh on the stomach they would suggest taking them with food or liquids.

When I go to the clinic in Kampala I am not physically examined or asked about my previous health history. You tell the doctor your symptoms and he or she prescribes you antibiotic pills. We have this tradition of respect for  elders in Africa, so when we go to the clinic, because the person sitting at the desk calls themselves a doctor we are afraid to question or even ask for clarity on what is being prescribed and what the effects could be.

I believe this is what is leading to the problems with our stomachs. Bacteria that are either beneficial or at least not causing diseases are being destroyed, along with the bad bacteria, thus leaving us more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections that are becoming more expensive to treat. (Currently the American government, under the guise of copyright law, is attempting to stop African nations from purchasing generic pharmaceuticals which are often sold at a lower price).

The stomach, the site of intuitive knowing (trust your gut), is under attack.

In our gut there is something called the enteric nervous system. It is a sophisticated network of neurons, neurotransmitters, and support cells like those found in the brain. This network permeates the digestive tract from the esophagus to the colon, and “enables it to act independently, learn, remember, and as the saying goes, produce “gut feelings.” Think butterflies in your stomach or cramps or when you are nervous or upset.

We have two brains, and one of them is in our belly. They are connected like Siamese twins, and when one gets upset the other will too. The gut contains 100 million neurons — more than the spinal cord has. This means it is sensitive. Symptoms of ulcers include abdominal pain, anemia, bad breathe, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, fatigue or low energy, headaches or migraines, skin problems, premenstrual stress, sinus problems, sleep problems, weight problems (gain or loss).

It’s a debilitating condition which is caused by a bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) but also by a diet that is too acidic. While studying with Dr Llaila O Afrika, the well-known naturopath, I was taught that most of the foods ingested by Africans were acidic. We fry most of our food, combine carbohydrates with proteins, drink as we eat, eat a lot of refined flour and sugar, and take insufficient water, preferring instead to take soda or alcohol. No longer is our food our medicine. The belief is that if you are eating raw food, then there is something wrong with you. We are now medicating ourselves in order to numb our bodies. In order to be strong or appear strong we repress our anxiety, our depression and eat. It is common knowledge that women are experts at this one, and along with retail therapy we find creative ways to alleviate our stress.

I’m looking at a Ugandan population which is increasingly unwell. We are not exercising (the ritual of going to the garden to dig is what ‘villagers’ do). We eat large portions of food very late at night so that in the morning we wouldn’t feel so hungry.

As a woman living in Uganda I’ve been told I’m not authentically African and that I should learn to keep silent and observe more. To ‘hold water in my mouth’, to keep my opinions to myself and not share them with others because I will make people feel uncomfortable, even if I disagree or am curious to know more. My role is not to question but to blindly accept what is handed to me, because it’s rude not to. As African women we are meant to make people feel welcome, to give our time to everyone, but not invest in ourselves because that would be selfish. I believe those suffering with ulcers have a problem with anger and the inability to say no. We ingest the demands, protocols, and opinions of others but ignore our personal needs in order to keep the peace. This peace is the stereotypical image and behaviour of what makes ‘a good woman’. Meanwhile on the inside we are holding the tension of resentment because our words and emotions are trapped in our bellies.

The fear of violence, shame or guilt which traditionally would have ‘kept me in my place’ is contributing to the epidemic of ulcers. I don’t believe people suffering with ulcers are any different. Something is being repressed. Our second brain is reacting to eating habits that are resulting from our feelings of powerlessness. We are afraid to speak our truth.

The creative work that I do to empower youth and young women using the arts is essential to sensitizing us to the need for identifying and expressing our emotions in a healthy and productive way. To find the balance between self-care and the care of others is important. Repression of emotions leads to greater feelings of discomfort and disease in our communities. We need to provide spaces where we can express ourselves and stop seeking to control the reactions of others. Something is going on with our stomachs and we need to start listening, because the body has its wisdom.


Ife Piankhi is a poet, singer and creative facilitator currently based in Kampala, Uganda. She is an active participant in the creative industry of East Africa. Her works are available at www.ifepiankhi.com

All photos courtesy: Sunoj D.

Source: the foregarmagazine

Activism, Articles, Poetry 0 comments on Singing for the Heart Written by Ife Piankhi

Singing for the Heart Written by Ife Piankhi

Right now, with the growth of the creative industry globally and the culture of “bling” as perpetrated by mainstream artists, I think a lot of people think it’s a way to make fast money. It looks glamorous, being on stage, mingling with stars, having lots of money—which is a myth, there is always a price to be paid when signed to a major label—nice clothes, fast cars and beautiful men and women around you, but in fact it is a profession that takes a lot of commitment, practice and hard work.

I received an email the other day with a picture of an iceberg. The largest portion of an iceberg is underwater, which represented the rehearsal, and the smallest part being above the water, which is the performance that everyone sees but only represents a small percentage of what we do as vocalists.

The voice is a tool that has to be trained in order to get the best. Notable voice trainer Sam West recommends 30 minutes a day of vocal training in order to increase the capacity of the voice by building stamina through diaphragm control. Once you are a regular performer this training is essential in maintaining the voice, because it does get tired which is when strain occurs.

A lot of the singers I hear in Kampala have the potential for a great sound, but they don’t breathe properly.

Ife Piankhi<br>

When I discovered my intelligence in relation to how I learn, it turned out that I am musical, auditory and visual. In primary school I played guitar for many years but gave it up to pursue academia.


I never forgot how inspired I would become listening to different types of music and how singing in church would leave me feeling so euphoric. I would sing along to artists like Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Sade, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, The Blackbyrds, The Jones Girls, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Through listening to those artists I realized that being a good singer was about vocal quality (i.e. your unique sound), the message in your music and the quality of musicians you work with.

Vocalists also have to understand that studio recording is also a craft, developed through understanding the use of a microphone. I have watched—and performed with—some great artists, and I have come to realize that making it look effortless takes work and time.

The first step to singing is to believe you can. I sing because I love it. I started singing at home, and then in church, and then at events, but along the way it has become a livelihood which means I now have to maintain a standard of delivery, which I always honour when performing and preparing for gigs.

I remember once I went to a jam session with notable jazz guitarist Alan Weekes. I wasn’t prepared. I went up and tried to sing Weeping Willow in a different key to the original. Alan kept repeating the introduction and I just couldn’t find the key. I just stood there and ad libbed a little. I was so embarrassed.

Because of that experience, I decided to strengthen my ability to listen well. So I studied counseling and listened to different types of music and tried to break the sound into its components.

I think mistakes help one to grow and learn.

We can’t always be right. Sometimes we fail, but it is essential that we are able to reflect on it, instead of blaming someone else. It takes strength of character to admit it when one is wrong.

I realized that I needed to get to know my voice, to understand the signs of nervousness, fatigue and over-sensitivity. This is why I started to meditate. I can be sensitive to the opinions of others, and through meditation I’m able to create a little space between my feelings and my essence.

In a poem entitled Brave I have written “It’s alright baby girl, I just forget, sometimes I forget who I am”. What I mean by that, is that I am more than this body, thoughts or emotions. So when I remember my essence, I don’t take the performance so seriously—I can have fun with it. Meaning that I am free to get it right or to make mistakes. It’s liberating.

Warming up

Before I perform I visualize myself doing well. I imagine how I want it to go. Essentially, I am programming my mind. I warm up my voice a little with some deep breathing exercises, but I now know it takes two or three songs for my voice to warm up, which is when I can really express its range well.

Being an artist also involves a divine element for me, I feel that singing connects me to a higher power, which when I leave the ego aside I become a vessel for the creative. I’m not a religious person, but I realize that music like sport has a way of unifying people, which is what we need both locally and globally.

When Nneka visited Kampala last year she came with a great crew of musicians. We had a workshop where we created a collaboration song with Keko, Irene, Tshila and MC Flower. After soundchecking and hearing how they played, I sang a phrase to a riff they were playing. It became the chorus for Powerful Women. Later we went ahead and arranged it, so people also had a verse.

For me, this was the biggest confirmation of my singing and creative ability. In a very short space of time we had co created something wonderful together with a band and an artist which is globally known and respected for its content and innovation in music.

I want to be an artist who has longevity.

We all know artists who had a few hits and then disappear. As singers we have to know how to look after the voice, train it, and understand the industry—what motivates people in it. Ultimately you have to love singing, not just as a means to an end, but because it is how you express your uniqueness in the world.

Ife Piankhi writes poetry and music that advocates for the untold stories of Africa and the diaspora.

For Issue 034 Jul ’13 of Startjournal.org, Editor Thomas Bjørnskau invited eight Ugandan artists from different art fields to write an essay about the essence of art, all responding to the same kind of question: to sing/write/paint/write plays etc — what is it really about? This is one of the essays. 

Activities, Workshop 0 comments on Triple C

Triple C

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A monthly evening of poetry, visual art and conversation which aims to develop new audiences for both venue and artists
Triple C represents a new era of Ugandan Culture offering a space for the general public and artists to meet, interact, and discuss their work. There is also the added value of experiencing Ugandan coffee from different regions. Following on the legacy of events such as ‘meet the artist’ at the National Theatre, Triple C is an evening of poets (2) reading extensively from their work and Visual Artists (1) exhibiting their work in a non traditional environment. The evening will be curated and MC’d by Ife Piankhi one of Kampala’s finest performers and creative facilitators.

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Shedule for the evening:

Meet and Greet: Based on the speed dating concept, the audience will be encouraged to have conversations with different people on a topic for a limited time. Just like Facebook people will get the opportunity to interact and share ideas/opinions but face to face!
Readings from 3 Poets: Unlike Poetry in Session and Kwivuga, poets will have the opportunity to recite extensively from their work, explain the content and take questions. Both English and Indigenious languages will be read and encouraged.

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Exhibitions: Ugandan artists will be invited to exhibit pieces of their work and during the break interact with the audience as a means of promoting Ugandan art and the development of an ‘art buying’ culture alongside Ugandans very successful craft market.
Partners: Over the last 4 years Ife Piankhi has strategically positioned herself within the Creative Community in Kampala as a performer, creative facilitator and organiser. She will call on the support of organisations such as; 32 Degrees East, In Movement-Art for Social Change, Poetry in Session, BN Poetry Award, Laba Art Festival, Writing our World, Makerere University, Goethe Centrum, Alliance Francaise, Femrite, Bonfire, Kinetic Entertainment, Lantern Meet of Poets, Luminous Sorrels in order to put on an event which is well advertised, interesting and diverse in its content.

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Activism, Activities, Articles, Diarie, History, Poetry, Workshop 0 comments on Watch ‘Someone Clap For Me’ – Engaging Short Film On Kampala’s Burgeoning Poetry Scene By TAMBAY A. OBENSON

Watch ‘Someone Clap For Me’ – Engaging Short Film On Kampala’s Burgeoning Poetry Scene By TAMBAY A. OBENSON

68297_10151120489741417_293269089_nA side of Uganda (specifically Kampala, the largest city and capital of Uganda) that we often don’t get to see here in the USA, and which I hope you will appreciate…

Poetry has become something of a phenomenon in Kampala in recent times, just as much as the political turmoil that tends to dominate headlines both locally, and internationally.

In the below 10-minute short film directed by the Qatari filmmaker Luciana Farah, titled Someone Clap For Me, learn about this so-called “Poetry Movement.” 

This film focuses on characters like Medals, the Born-Again Politician, from whose poem the documentary title is taken, and follows the poets’ daily lives, weekly performances and numerous interactions with live audiences throughout the city. 

It was actually made via Mira Nair’s Maisha Labs in Uganda, which we’ve told you about before. In 2004, Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay!, Mississipi Masala & others) founded Maisha Film Labs – a Uganda-based film training initiative (not-so unlike the Sundance Film Festival’s filmmaker labs, or the IFP’s filmmaker labs).

The goal of the Maisha Film Labs is to give aspiring filmmakers in the East African country the tools & knowledge to tell their own stories through film, which would then help foster a self-sustaining film industry in Uganda and vicinity, that will support and represent the interests of local audiences.

I should note that the director of Someone Clap For Me, Luciana Farah, is expanding the short film into a feature, as I type this. In December, the Doha Film Institute revealed 27 projects that would receive grants, as part of its autumn funding session, and Farah’s feature was one of them.

So we’ll be watching for the feature version of the below short in the coming year or two.

In the meantime, here’s the short version:


music 0 comments on How to make money

How to make money


Last night a close friend told me that I was a house slave, wanting to work in the ‘big house’ and get the scraps off the big table. This was an analogy for my need for gainful employment , the regular monthly income. The security of knowing no matter how little I am getting in salary, I’m still getting something.
This conversation arose because right now I have to move house. I’ve located a house which is beautiful but more expensive. He tells me I should act ‘as if ‘ I have the money and keep my mind focused on attracting what I need, not on what I don’t have. It’s all very esoteric ,but does it work and am I really a house slave?
I am a mental person. A poet, a thinker, a creative and I have realized that the mind is a very under used resource. We spend most of our thinking time either in the past or worrying about the future. Seldom are we in the present . We also tend to be quite negative having those bad thoughts either about ourselves or others. So in total we tend not to be very productive mentally.
After having a conversation about the house I call the new landlord. I love the house but I can’t make 4 months in advance. To my surprise he tells us that he would accept 3 months. Wow this is great as I have 2 million already, maybe it’s possible to raise 1 million more. These are the times I have to remind myself how dynamic I am, well connected, creative but it’s a challenge, in my mind all I know is I don’t have that 1m.
In energetic terms this is what keeps people impoverished. When we focus on what we don’t have that’s exactly what is given back to us by our environment. Everything, when you break it down is based on atoms which are units of energy. So it really is an energetic equation. There is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activator System (RAS) which acts as a magnet drawing and scanning the environment for what we need, so it’s about us training our minds in a different way. The brain is not bound by time so when we visualize ourselves having or doing something it’s like the brain is actually having that experience. It doesn’t know it’s not real. So all we have to do is see ourselves doing or having the object of our desire. We have to act ‘as if’. Ok. now I have to shift my thinking to one of ‘yes I can, yes I will’.
Now onto the next question. Am I a house slave? If I’m honest , I do like security, I need to feel grounded. Even though work in the big house was just as traumatic there was a certain degree of comfort. But when I check myself again I realize that I’m also quite rebellious, I ‘m challenged by authority and prefer to be autonomous. So why do I always look for the Job?
I think it’s got a lot to do with fear of taking risks and possibly loosing. When you work for yourself you have to be prepared to try new things, to take calculated risks (as opposed to being spontaneous) and to sometimes get it wrong.
For most of us this is a big barrier to doing something different. We don’t like to get it wrong. I see it a lot in the students that I teach, they would prefer not to try which means they won’t fail. So I have to build their confidence, to let them know it’s ok to try and fail as long as they realize they will always learn something from the process. So maybe I am coming to a time in my life where I have to go out on my own and trust my skills and abilities. When I post on my facebook page I’m teaching myself what I most need to learn and in the process inspiring others. How hard can it be to depend on myself? It’s definitely scary but as the saying goes the journey begins with the first step.