Work is really tough and I have mad nerves (I don’t want to say anxiety because I don’t want to misappropriate it). But because I promised Zandi, and convinced Bestie, I have to go for the film festival. Zandi picks me up and I can’t stop talking. She is really understanding. She even asks if I need a minute before going in. I decline, say I need the distraction and we get in.
We missed most of the 2 films that were showing: Looking for Langston and The Watermelon Woman. I am mostly there for the panel discussion so I don’t mind. The discussion is centered on ‘the artist in the quiet revolution’. I like the phrase, ‘quiet revolution’. I can feel that I will enjoy the conversation. The moderator is Jackie Karuti. She looks cool. But I still don’t have glasses so I can’t tell you exactly what her face looks like. I know, I know. I am going to get glasses Sharon. The panelists are writers and visual artists. Awuor Onyango and Faith Wanjala, who we met at ‘27’ and Kiprop Kimutai and Troy Onyango, both writers who are new to me. If people can be new.
‘All art is propaganda. It comes from deep individual experiences. My art is forming itself into a space in which… I state what I am trying to believe in and people who agree invest in it…and that’s the point of propaganda, to get people to believe. It’s a quiet revolution. In a world that feels so lonely, a lot of people can connect, mobilize and have conversations. I often felt like I was alone. I am not shouting in the corner of the streets…I am asserting that through my art. “
“I think art is created from a solitary place. There’s a solitude to it. The intention is to make your writing a shared experience. If you were sincere & honest I believe that that will be revolutionary. It allows them to feel new feelings. To see new thoughts.”
‘Revolutions aren’t quiet. It’s meant to make a radical shift that can’t be ignored. I agree with Baldwin: An artist’s role is a lover’s role… A revolution can’t be quiet. It’s an oxymoron.”
“Existing as an artist in Kenya is a revolution” Jackie
“All my identities are highly relevant. It’s important to claim these identities that are used to place you at the margin. It becomes powerful. “ Kiprop
“Claim your label but control your own narrative which is much more important.” Awuor
“I contain multitudes. You can’t label all those multitudes for other people’s comfort. It has to be for you.” Awuor
“People say the person who has done this is queer, so this art must be queer. We need to question what queer art is.” Faith
“I am easier to work with. I find myself able to bring out what I am thinking. I find nudity more vulnerable. It’s freeing. I see the art more coming out as bold.” Faith
“There are so many layers to who I am so it’s not enough for me to say there are black people here so I am safe. I constantly have to create spaces where I am safe. “ Awuor
“I constantly have to question: who is it I am talking to?” Awuor
“I imagine art as a conversation.” Troy
“Can you fight and be at the same time? How are we going to do this without actually expending ourselves? When will we live? “
-Someone in the Crowd Whose Name I Didn’t Get
“I am here talking about my queerness in my context and that means that you too can do the same” Awuor
The Out Film Festival( See schedule here) is happening at the Goethe Institute till 2nd December from 5pm. There are film screenings followed by nourishing and insightful conversations. Once again, being in the presence of my family was edifying. I am greedy. I want more spaces like these, where I can listen and be a part of conversations like these. I am in awe of beings who are speaking their truth in boldness and in clarity, of beings who are creating spaces through their art, bodies, words, activism and more for conversations on acceptance, equality and the personal struggles that many of us can’t voice. I do not take for granted the locus of privilege that I accommodate. I am grateful to witness the quiet revolution happening among us.
Thank you for reading and emailing me and trusting me. And nominating me!! We are nominated for the Ubunifu Award in the coming Upinde Awards. As I said on my IG this is the best birthday gift ever. I hope in one way or the other, awards or no awards, this will be a space where you can be free.
PS: My birthday is on Friday SO tell me happy birthday and give me lap-dances because I am sexually deprived(jk). THAAANKS.