Sunday, April 24, 2005

Just Because…

From Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow :

"whales don't sing because they have an answer, they sing because they have a song."

Art for art's sake. Music beyond just lyrics. Word collages. Deeds defiantly beyond reward. Heart-gut-soul-felt expression. Why do we so frantically seek answers when the questions often tell us all we need to know?
Squinting straining searching for something deeper than what we plainly perceive…when we may in fact find that in simplicity lies the greatest profundity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Reading past writings, I realize the nature of the prism that I look through. And though it would appear to be formed by my experiences and my existence…I find myself occasionally doubting whether it is actually I who put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. The descriptions and situations somehow do not seem real, genuine. However I am writing what I know. This leads me to question: am I so removed from the environment and cultural space that I claim to be a part of?

I had the privilege and handicap of going to private school. Privilege is what would be assumed and while I did receive a valuable education, it was one that was often very removed from the context that I lived in. However, it was difficult to see that then as the set expanded far beyond the school fences. I went to school with people of all colours and over 40 nationalities. Initially, race was not an issue in my mind. As I grew and woke up, I started to question: in a predominantly black nation, why are there only 6 black girls in my class of over 100 people? Why do we learn mostly British history? Why would most people rather take French than Kiswahili? Why isn’t Kiswahili compulsory like English is? Why are there only two Kenyan teachers in a staff of over 40? Why are my classmates shocked that have to put oil in my hair when oil in theirs is an indication that it needs washing? Why am I self-conscious around the skinny ass-less girls? Why do people assume that the boy that I like is the only black boy in the class when Indians and mzungus like each other all over the place? Why do the Lenana boys at the rugby match yell angrily at me and accuse me of thinking I’m white?

I found myself in a little bit of a quagmire. I wanted to be around more people who were like me (i.e. black) yet I was afraid and intimidated, worrying that they would see me as somehow phony and not accept me. But that seemed the only direction to move towards now. I could no longer live in blissful ignorance. The life I was living was a constructed bubble that would one day soon inevitably burst leaving me susceptible to situations and realities that my psychological immune system had no idea how to handle.

A profound assumption lay in my quest. I presupposed that skin colour was enough of a basis for us to all relate. Indeed I found that it was all more complex than that. Class constructions, ethnic backgrounds and that ridiculous ever-popular Nairobian question, “what school did you go to?” were factors that determined the make-up of social groups.
And I slowly started to see the fruitlessness of it all. It is difficult to seek solidarity in sameness when at every level, it seems to be in people’s nature to differentiate even further. I set forth new criteria to determine those who I would spend time with. Criteria that had nothing to do with things that we do not choose ourselves such as: colour, tribe, nationality, economic background. For these may greatly affect, inform and influence our existence but they do not exhaustively determine our personalities, our character, our Selves.

Unfortunately, I am still left here where I began, doubting my own authenticity. Why? There seems to be an unspoken code that decrees that true revolutionaries know intimately the pain of suffering. They are better believed when they are direct victims of the system that they rise up against. They seem to have a patronizing contempt for those who haven't struggled as they have. Those who speak against the system that, at some level may have allowed them advantage, are seen as frauds. Why is this so? A true revolutionary has a mind that is open on ALL sides! Therein lies the difference between rebellion and revolution. Those who rebel today will tomorrow gladly live the life of those they rose up against. Those who revolutionize uproot the very fabric of the status quo and weave a stronger tapestry whose intricacies exist for the benefit of all.

Perhaps I use the word revolutionary too freely. Some may criticize me for attempting to wear shoes that are too big. However, the idealist and optimist in me believes that we should all see ourselves as revolutionaries. I’ve observed that a lot of people have so little faith in themselves and their abilities that they render themselves stagnant, useless and ineffective before they even try. Imagine what a great constructive force would be awakened if more people started to believe. Death to defeatism, life to action!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ashes and Snow

I experienced an amazing exhibition today, Ashes and Snow. Photographs, a film installation and novel of letters by Gregory Colbert. He documents animals in their natural habitats interacting with human beings. Beautiful, spiritual even… the truth.

As you watch the film, excerpts from his novel of letters are read. An adaptation of Mizuta Masahide's haiku "Barn Burnt Down" that I found especially profound…

"Ever since my house burned down
I see the moon
more clearly"

Things (physical, abstract, emotional, mental etc.) that we construct with intentions of keeping us safe and secure, often shelter us from experiences that will bring us growth and bring us closer to the…TRUTH. When your house is burnt down, your comfort is removed and denial and deference cannot exist much longer. Clarity is restored.

2 sites:

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Neuro Linguistic Propaganda?

Yesterday, a friend of mine was explaining how he was changing his NLP in order to deal with a romantic relationship that he was having drama with. I was initially a little disturbed that people are looking to science as a way to deal with things as irrational as emotions. So I began reading up on Neuro Linguistic Programming and where I can see how it can be effective in the realms of the workplace and productivity, I remain skeptical about it’s success in several other areas. A website ( makes the following claims:

“NLP techniques and processes help us to understand ourselves and others, and to produce new, and more effective ways to:
• Attract the right person for you
• Create ideal relationships
• Advance your career & make more money
• Increase motivation and energy
• Create your desired self-image
• Communicate to produce the kind of results you want…

It allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors, as you desire, and gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of well-being.”

Now being as its methodology is based on duplicating excellent behaviour, does it not make us question what exactly is “excellent behaviour?” In some situations, it is possible to empirically determine ideal behaviour but in others it is a more subjective judgment that should not fall prey to any “standardized” thinking. Is this not just more of that self-obliterating intolerant kind of thinking that keeps most people satisfied (and complacent!) that they are “normal”?