The Princess Project: Freedom in Writing


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The third PPK Reading Circuit took place on the ninth of April 2011 at The Mug on Kaunda Street. We discussed Freedom in Writing.

A writer’s work embodies all kinds of freedoms; political, religious, moral, ethic and sexual. The questions that begged were, what was freedom and its expression in writing, and what was writing and its expression in freedom?

Freedom is the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints. It was generally agreed that freedom is freedom only when coupled with responsibility. Without responsibility, freedom becomes reckless and self-restraining and shackling.

An analogy was given, about all of us being born into a little cell. We have two choices; to break free of our own volition or to just stay put, serve our sentence and enjoy eventual freedom.

African writers of the sixties and seventies, writers like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, used their books to free the people from colonialism. From then, a cliché arose that to be an African writer, one must either write about disease and poverty, or about freedom and angst directed at the various kinds of colonisers.

In the meeting, it was generally agreed that such writing was relevant to the pre and immediate post-independence era. Africa is free in the sense that we have sovereign self-governing states. That is the argument anyway.

So we asked, are we as the new generation of writers free? Why are we still forced to carry titles such as ‘African Writers’? What do such titles mean to us? Do they free us or further shackle us? And what is our responsibility as writers? Do we free our minds, or do we free our readers?

It was pointed out that in freeing our minds, we shall free our readers.

In the end, we learnt that we condition ourselves to accept norms we did not create. Perhaps we need to question more, carry out our research well before we say things like “Africans don’t do that” or “We’ve always done things this way.”

We learnt that books are a preview into the human condition and as such, perfect characters do not or should not exist. Earth is not a utopia!

We also came to the consensus that writers have a lot of power in their hands. We hold a direct discourse with minds. With just a paragraph we can influence the thought of populations and generations.

This is one reason many writers have been persecuted by governments or gone into exile. This power can be counterproductive because instead of freeing it could shackle not only the reader but also the writer. John Emerich Acton said, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Writers should be careful not to box themselves or be boxed in by their writing. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our readers. For this reason, we all came into the consensus that it would be wise to invest in our writing. Gift plus skill is a potent combination.

Gideon and Wambui read excerpts of their own work, while Jackie read an excerpt from Stephen Derwent Partington’s essay titled Contemporary Vennyan Poetry, Circa 2010; a Manifesto, not for a Movement, but for a Moment in the History of our Kenyan Poetry.

It would be prudent to mention here that the success of the meeting was also courtesy of well-taken care of throats and a wonderful environment, Samosa and tea was in great abundance courtesy of THE MUG restaurant.

Click on this image to see more Pictures from the April Edition
*Definition of Freedom courtesy of WordWeb, the Free Online Encyclopaedia.

Before we wish you a great week ahead, allow a short recap of last week’s magazine:

Locations On Your Phone – @Chiira Maina’s Last Post on the PP(K). Chiira has moved on and we wish him all the best in his new life! We also welcome Norman Osodo who will be taking over next week.

The Other Woman & Other Stories by Grace Ogot – A Review by Stella Riunga

Emotions on Chronic City – With Nyambura Kiarie

Rahab Wangari – March Diva 2011 – An Interview with the IvoryPunk

Behind One’s Back – The Punk’s Twilight Zone

My Legacy – @MoAngwenyi with Society & Identity

Catch up with The Creekside Princess Episode – Every Word Part OnePart Two and Part Three. Part Four is coming your way this week.

We wish you lots of creative energy and good will in the week ahead!

The Worst of The Greatrnk


All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling – Oscar Wilde

 

One day I was doing what I do best, which is being busy doing nothing, and basically minding my own business when someone who loves my blog (that is what she said) and is good looking (that is what I am saying) found it wise to ask me what inspires my writings. I decided to answer her in the form of, not one, but three posts! Yeah, I am cool like that. These posts will focus on my behind the scenes or what was going on through my not so smart thesaurus when I penned them down. Today I focus on the posts that did not make it: The worst of The Greatrnk.

 

1. El Fifa del World Cup

The title was supposed to look like a soap opera title. The inspiration behind that must have been Chiira’s Inflated Skins vs. Air Heads. At that time, I was less than a million seconds old in blogging and the only blogger I knew was the guy I mentioned above. It was a day to the start of The 2010 World Cup. I think the post is humerous. I must add, as I did in the post, that the questions were asked and answered in a South African Tourism Website. I even added a poll for people to vote for the country they think would win the World Cup. Most people, apart from me, thought Spain would win it, followed by Germany and Argentina. I do not think it deserves to be among my worst posts.

 

2. The Stock Market: Types of Stocks

This was my first real post, after the introductory post. The research that went to this post was enormous but I did not share it in the post. In researching, I learnt a lot about The Stock Market. I had planned on writing more posts on the stock market but somehow, that was not meant to be.

 

3. Top Ten

After two months of blogging, in which I wrote posts that at times sucked, I was wise enough to know that the only way to get better was to read and copy from what I read from other blogs. Remember when I started out I only knew one blogger. By this time, I had stumbled on blogs by the queen of twitter in .ke savvykenya, the funny itsnowrc, the not so noisy on twitter but talented writer sheblossoms, anyiko (Before I made the huge discovery later on that she was a celeb) and a few others. This post was my all time Top Ten best blog posts I had read. I am sure some of those post are not in my current top ten anymore, but these bloggers are still doing a great job. This is the best way to say the five bloggers mentioned thus far were my inspiration and mentors earlier on.

 

4. The World Cup…….as I Saw It

There were just three matches left to the end of the World Cup. I wanted everyone to know that I had all along known England and Argentina would not win the World Cup. The team I supported, Brazil had been kicked out, and I blamed Dunga for not calling up Ronaldinho. We all know what had happened to Ghana. Much of the Ghana disappointment is portrayed in the post.

 

5. Where Did The Vowels Go To?

I love this post, and it beats me that people did not relate to it. Facebook had introduced the “see more” feature where long updates were half posted with the option of clicking on the “see more” so as to see the update. As lazy as I am, I could not, and still cannot, get my fingers to click “see more” and I kept thinking why people kept on writing long updates. There was also the issue of shortening of words such that words no longer had vowels, which still infuriates me. And of course, the worst sin of all: The Laughing Out Loud or Lots Of Love acronym. The guys who use it fall in my List Of Losers!

 

6. Participants of the Stock Market

Just as the first post on The Stock Market, I did massive research on this post. It was a continuation of the first post. When I wrote it, I knew I would continue with the subject, which has not happened ever since. If I am not wrong, the next installment was to look at how stocks are valued. Maybe one day I will post something to the effect.

 

7. Int or Duction

This was the first post I ever wrote, which was to mark my triumphant entry into the world of blogging. I was so excited. I was just free styling and ended up with no words to end it. I like the post, even though someone once read it, compared it to what I am writing now and duly informed me that I had come from a far. I beg to differ, I have always thought I am getting worse at this writing business, but that is a story for another day.

 

Have a look at the posts and tell me if they deserve the punishment that is The Worst of The Greatrnk.

 

THE DAY’S

Quote: I said to my girlfriend, “Do you want to see me pull a really ugly face?” She laughed and said, “Go on then.” So I grabbed hers. – Anonymous

Bonus Story:

Mugabe’s Chauffeur ran over a pig. Mugabe asked him to go and tell the ranch owner what had happened. One hour later, he reappeared, staggering with crampy clothes, an unzipped trouser and champagne and a cigar on either hand.

Mugabe: What the … happened to you?

Chauffeur: The ranch owner gave me this champagne, the wife gave me the cigar and their 19 year old eer….

Mugabe: My God, and what did you tell them?

Chauffeur: I just went in and told them that I am Robert Mugabe’s Chauffeur and I have just killed the pig!

 

 

The Princess Project: 1, 2 Step – There’s the Stereotype


Okay, so maybe I was listening to Ciara’s 1, 2, Step when I started writing this. But truth is, stereotyping is so easy. As easy as 1, 2, 3… Especially when there’s facts to back it up.

So anyway, I had a conversation with my mum this morning. Something along the lines of a conversation she might or might not have had 30+ years when she might or might not have contemplated marrying a white boy. Only this time around, it was about a Kikuyu boy who might or might not have been buzzing around my sick bed.

Ríu-rí, arúme agíkúyú ní-úí ní ta matakoragwo mena bata na mútumia wona ní-aingíra nyúmba?”(Something to the effect that Kikuyu men only really value and cherish a woman during the chase, but once she is a wife, and mother, the romance is gone.)

I laughed, and told her, “You know, even during the chase a Kikuyu, Embu or Meru man still does not value his woman. Otherwise, they’d keep promises, arrive at dates on time, and treat their women kind.”

“So why do you girls still marry men who treat you like that?” Mum demanded to know.

“Oh, I don’t know, mum.” I have definitely had my share of ‘not-so-good’ men. And true, the worst have been Kikuyu, Embu or Meru. But I really don’t think it’s all about the men. In the same breath I hope there’s a good man out there who just happens to be a Kikuyu, Embu or Meru man. And I think that there might be some men just as bad as the stereotype who are neither Kikuyu, nor Embu, nor Meru. God, I hope I am right to hope that that is the case!

My point is that as easy as it is to drop all the men into one basket, it’s also about how a girl views herself, how much value she tags herself with. A man will definitely treat you only as bad as you allow him to treat you.

If from the beginning you have shown him that you will let him break promises, keep you waiting, stand you up, talk to you abusively, push you, hit you… then that’s how he will treat you always. Don’t expect him to change.

On the other hand, if you hold yourself up with dignity (which does not at all mean that you should be stuck-up no fun bitch), then your man will treat you with dignity. If you demand that he keeps time, keeps promises, and you do so yourself, he’ll know the game plan. And if he deviates blatantly from the code of respect, you should value yourself enough to point it out and walk away sooner rather than later when there is already too much at stake.

So I guess the end of the conversation with my mum dropped the ball at the girl’s court. How do you want to be treated? Because he will live up to the Stereotype if you let him.

That said, here’s a recap of last week’s Ezine:

Every Word is still at Part One. We apologise for the delay.
Social Media Monitoring – Business & Internet with Marvin Tumbo
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Reading Room with Gideon Chumo
Sharon’s Story – Chronic City with Nyambura Kiarie
Smile – Poetry with @IvoryCherub

While we Live, Let us Live – Society & Identity with @Sheblossoms
The Miscarriage – Paper Mache with @Soul_fool

So, here’s to a great, creative, blessed week!

 

Arsenal Anonymous


By Justalffie

I am an Arsenal fan, now on a serious note, but a football fan first! There are many Arsenal fans out there but I can’t speak for them, I speak only for myself.

Now, after 6 years without anything to show for the “beautiful football” we (Arsenal fans) claim Arsenal plays, the question has always been:

“WHY ARE YOU STILL SUPPORTING ARSENAL?”

Let me sample several answers we (Arsenal fans) have been giving to this question for the last 6years:

1. We have a young team. NEXT SEASON they’ll be better! (Heads up my fellow Arsenal fans.. have you checked Messi’s age lately?!! And oh yeah.. Barcelona is a relatively young team too)

2. In Arsene we trust! (This is one of the more ridiculous reasons I’ve heard!)

3. We have fragile players so the injuries mess us up almost every 2nd half of every season. (Ok, this is a little true but an excuse nonetheless!)

4. Our defense, led by the “absentee” goalkeepers is our big problem. (Also true, ever since David ‘Didn’t See that’ Seaman, Jens ‘Angry man’ Lehman, Manuel ‘Aluminium’ Almunia, Lucasz ‘Flappy-Handsky’ Fabianski, Vito Manone, Wojciech Szczesny – the last 2 have given a good account of themselves but still.. ). This still is an excuse because greats like Barcelona & even Brazil are not exactly known for the defensive prowess now, are they?

5. A friend of mine, one of the best Graphic designers I know, sides with Arsenal (NOTE: HE CARES NOTHING FOR FOOTBALL), because, as he puts it, the Arsenal logo is designed better than most! Found this quite interesting, so let’s compare:

 

Big Four Logos

 
Now, 2nd & 3rd were so perfectly poorly designed you can’t even “pimp” it! What can you do to make that red imp lion with a pitch fork to make it look better? And a red & blue lion.. REALLY? HAHAHA!! Now the 4th is better, much better – a griffin … maybe emphasizing how they’ll “Never walk (or possibly even fly) alone”.

6. There’s also the “Arsenal credentials”.

  • Arsenal, the team that won the league unbeaten.
  • Boasts of having the only player, in Chamakh, to have ever scored in 6 consecutive Champions League games.
  • Arsenal, the only team NEVER to have been relegated from the top flight league in England (although as “Woolwich” Arsenal was relegated in 1913 but after being renamed “Arsenal” it’s the only team NEVER to have been relegated. More info here ).
  • A friendly match between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserves at Highbury on 16 September 1937 was the first EVER televised football match.

(Useless facts if you ask me but hey… it’s an Arsenal name attached to them!)

7. I know some people who were Arsenal fans because of Thierry Henry & obviously moved with him to Barcelona but since moving to the New York Red Bulls… let’s just say I doubt they even know the schedule of the MLS!!

8. Others just don’t have a clue!

Now let me speak for myself.

“WHY ARE YOU STILL SUPPORTING ARSENAL?

Before I answer, I’ll take you to the beginning. I’ve loved football since I can practically remember. Growing up in Eldoret, football was a common pass time activity for me. (Apart from the other seasonal childhood games – tin & wire toy cars- of course). And, NO! Not everyone from Eldoret can run or runs for that matter!!

For us, football was never about winning but the display of skill & finesse in how you play the game. It was more like And1 for basketball – almost purely about how much better you are at doing a trick than the next player.

I was good, really good at football & played with Collins Kisuya (now with Ulinzi & Harambee Stars [local players squad]. Now he was a tough one with a mean left foot!!

 

Collins in National Team duty (pictured left on the left). Right while still at Tusker Football Club

We always met to show off who can do the “around the world” trick better. For those clueless here, this is what you see greats like Ronaldinho (& me ha!) do… just Google the videos! My being ambidextrous was my advantage over him because he’s a pure bred lefty!

It was therefore only natural for us to love teams/clubs that actually inspire us to do more. Brazil stood out for us & even more so the Brazilian league. There was this program on TV back then “Latin Football”. Now that was just skill galore! So when it came to the EPL, we really didn’t feel much. Real Madrid & Barcelona made La Liga a more attractive option.

I initially liked Manchester United because of one man… Eric Cantona.

 

He had flare. But then something happened… OUCH!! & HAHAHA!!

Aggression seems to be a French thing… that happens to the best of them! Must be one of the 365 cheese flavors they have.. Maybe it happens on eating a certain flavor! HAHA! Remember this?

Then there was Gianfranco Zola who was with Chelsea (The club had their first major success in 1955, when they won the league championship. Next time they won a league title was in 2005… That’s 50yrs!! 6 years doesn’t look too bad does it? Hahaha!) Zola was just special- his skill & discipline was all a football lover like me would ask for!

Then Arsenal as a team, with names like Bergkamp, Overmars even Kanu just gave me a rush. They made football poetic for me. And that’s when it all started for me. I care little to nothing of History so what happened before then, titles or not I think not about.

So “WHY AM I STILL SUPPORTING ARSENAL?”

Well, Arsenal for me is like my favorite author; His works may never be bestsellers but they inspire me to read more and maybe even write myself! Arsenal inspires me. The others don’t!

Arsenal works as a team… that’s what all my coaches have always asked me to strive for – TEAMWORK!

All this is fine but winning silverware is as important right? I TOTALLY AGREE! And quite frankly I’m beyond frustrated that it’s more than likely Arsenal will NOT win the league again this year!!

So why are Arsenal fans not ditching the club? Why isn’t Arsene Wenger being fired? My theory is simple. PRIDE! No Arsenal fan will leave the club while they are down. Arsene Wenger (out of respect I suppose) won’t be sacked while down. Wait till Arsenal wins something… there’ll be a mass exodus! [I doubt this will happen either… Arsenal fans are too proud to do this!!] The idea is quit while at the top. A lot like what one of the greatest boxer did.

 

Rocky Marciano retired undefeated (49 - 0)!! That’s a man who knew when to walk away!

At the moment, it’s “Que sera sera.. whatever will be will be” for me!

Come rain or shine (though it’s been raining hard for 6years with nothing to give our trophy chest even a “glimmer” forget shine!!) I’m still an Arsenal fan!

 

Justalffie, the author of this post, blogs from In His Mind and The Alternative Focus.