I’m sitting in front of the computer trying to recollect all what I have achieved this year. It’s hard without my notebook. I have such a poor memory sometimes, so I tend to write things down. As a result I have many past notebooks collected in a box which I take out from time to time to reflect on my life’s journey. It’s surprising sometimes to see my aspirations and goals written down and to realize that some of them I have achieved. Others have not yet manifested but that I am on the way. I feel proud of myself. Especially when it seems that Life is just not going to plan. I encourage all of us to write our dreams down because otherwise It’s hard to see how far we have come.
This month I will be a panellist at the Bayimba Music Festival Kampala, invited by the Lantern Meet of Poets a group of young Ugandans who come together to critic and perform each others poetry. I feel honoured to be a sounding board for them as they strive to make poetry more accessible and appreciated.
But I’m frustrated, the discussion will be about the challenges to ones creativity especially when it comes to making a living. I’m talking about getting paid for ones art. It seems that organisers and venues want creativity but don’t want to pay for it, or they pay some artists and not others.
Babylon is all around me
concrete and steel,
right before my eyes.
Babylon is all around me
Confusion, I cannot see.
Extract from Babylon
by Ife Piankhi
I wonder how the freedom fighters; Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Walter Rodney, Toussaint L’Overture, Nanny of the Maroons, Paul Bogle, Yaa Asantewa, Nyabingi felt, when they realized they had to break the law in order to liberate their people?
We’re taught to be obedient. It’s a desirable thing. Instilled in us is a respect for authority, hierachy and all things Western.
Picture this…………..humanity lives in small communities of people who have enough land to feed the whole group. They make their own clothes and shoes. They have a borehole but no electricity.
They use use solar energy to cook with, heat their water and light their homes. They allow no plastic into the community. They meditate everyday, exercise and use herbs to heal their sick.
When conflict arises they meet in a heart circle and hear each others complaints in order to find a solution. They will talk until they reach consensus.
I’m coaching some of the child actors for a film being shot in Kampala called the Queen of Katwe. Its a success story about a Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi who learnt how to play chess and has since gone on to became the youngest African chess champion. Its a success story that we definately need because most of the people of the world still see Africa as the ‘dark continent’ full of hunger and disease. It is true we have those challenges but there are so many wonderful stories of people who have risen out of adversity to become highly successful people.
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been encountering issues of ethics. We talk a lot in Uganda about corruption and how it stops us from developing at a reasonable rate. But my question is what happened to the African Ethic so often spoken about by historians?
When I first started reading African history there were so many accounts of the ethics of Africans. The Ethiopians were seen as the most pious of races bringing religion to Europe with their divine stature. Kemet (now known as Egypt) had the system of Maat as its spiritual foundation and I think it did them well, because their civilization existed for over 10,000 years.
I don’t believe in coincidences, I think all things happen for a reason, even if at the time we don’t understand why. Everything has a purpose and a reason.
I realized that the other day after my bag got stolen by a boda boda rider that the events in my life are meant to encourage me to reflect on the quality of my relationships.
There is a saying that ” misery likes company”. You have those friends who seem to come around when either you or them have problems. Lamenting on the situation (often negative) but never coming up with solutions.
So now we begin again, I’m not sorry to see the back of 2014, its been a trying year for many not just me.
Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges, to fall, down but get back up again, to keep moving and learning from our mistakes.
I’ve touched and been touched by countless young people, who inspire me to be thankful, to stay strong even when it seems people are against you. I’ve learnt to listen more to my children, to receive their feedback and reflect on how I can be a better parent to them. This is not understood by a lot of people who see the youth as people ‘to be seen but not heard’. I want to hear from the youth more, I want to learn from their energy and perspective because we are living in very different times with challenges that humanity has not faced before.
So yesterday I was at home, you may as well say I was idle. I had nothing to do. I didn’t feel like speaking or interacting so I stayed in my room, read, watched DVD’s and basically spaced out. But in that space I realised how undisciplined my mind is, even after many years of meditation my mind can wander erratically. Its such a shame when I realise how much time I spend on these types of thoughts. Its such a waste.
Because I am a poet I try to change my mental vibrations through writing so I wrote the poem Escape, which honestly made me feel better. Creative processes always help me to find my balance. The death I speak about is the death of unproductive thoughts.
Drowning in the depth of my mental
Its hard to breathe deeply
I struggle to find my peace of mind.
Its shrouded in anxiety.
I want to die
then I wouldn’t have to straddle the middle,
masquerading as a strong African woman.
How will I ever find the balance I feel at times
When surrounded by trees?
Free from the urban market flows.
Noisy, polluted confusion over takes my mind.
Mystical levels lay beyond the living.
I believe I will find my peace of mind in the darkness
Its calling me,
come home, come now.