The 48hour Film Project: Nairobi Edition
Taking part in a worldwide effort to highlight up-and-coming filmmakers, Nairobi-based creatives were given just 48 hours to make a short film. Drawing a genre out of a hat, the participating teams made 7 minute-long shorts incorporating a given character, prop and line of dialogue.
Above is ‘Dead Wrong’, the winner of the Best Film - Audience Choice, Best Writing, Best Editing & Best use of Character awards. This film will go up against films from around the world to compete for the ”Best 48 Hour Film of 2014” title.
Other participating African cities were Cairo, Cape Town, Durban, Gaborone and Johannesburg.
love brown people doing brown things
AFRICA YOGA PROJECT:
Africa Yoga Project is a grassroots 501c3 Not-For-Profit Organization that has introduced thousands of students in Kenya to the practice of yoga, as well provides educational scholarships, job training, food stipends, temporary housing and health services.
The poject offers financial support to 38 teachers in exchange for teaching yoga in the communities of Nairobi providing a healthy, motivational venue for young adults to engage with their community, build support systems and change lives.
Mum. I will say. Muum? I will say. It grooves so easy, a breath, a noise out of my mouth, mixed up with her breath, and she exhales. My heart gasps sharp and now my mind screams, sharp, so so hurt …
(A lost chapter from One Day I Will Write About This Place)
11 July, 2000.
This is not the right version of events.
Hey mum. I was putting my head on her shoulder, that last afternoon before she died. She was lying on her hospital bed. Kenyatta. Intensive Care. Critical Care. There. Because this time I will not be away in South Africa, fucking things up in that chaotic way of mine. I will arrive on time, and be there when she dies. My heart arrives on time. I am holding my dying mother’s hand. I am lifting her hand. Her hand will be swollen with diabetes. Her organs are failing. Hey mum. Ooooh. My mind sighs. My heart! I am whispering in her ear. She is awake, listening, soft calm loving, with my head right inside in her breathspace. She is so big – my mother, in this world, near the next world, each breath slow, but steady, as it should be. Inhale. She can carry everything. I will whisper, louder, in my minds-breath. To hers. She will listen, even if she doesn’t hear. Can she?
Mum. I will say. Muum? I will say. It grooves so easy, a breath, a noise out of my mouth, mixed up with her breath, and she exhales. My heart gasps sharp and now my mind screams, sharp, so so hurt so so angry.
“I have never thrown my heart at you mum. You have never asked me to.”
Only my mind says. This. Not my mouth. But surely the jerk of my breath and heart, there next to hers, has been registered? Is she letting me in?
Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this. Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear.
“I am a homosexual, mum.”
This is the right version of events.
I am living in South Africa, without having seen my mother for five years, even though she is sick, because I am afraid and ashamed, and because I will be thirty years old and possibly without a visa to return here if I leave. I am hurricaning to move my life so I can see her. But she is in Nakuru, collapsing, and they will be rushing her kidneys to Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, where there will be a dialysis machine and a tropical storm of experts awaiting her.
Relatives will rush to see her and, organs will collapse, and machines will kick into action. I am rushing, winding up everything to leave South Africa. It will take two more days for me to leave, to fly out, when, in the morning of 11 July 2000, my uncle calls me to ask if I am sitting down.
“She’s gone, Ken.”
I will call my Auntie Grace in that family gathering nanosecond to find a way to cry urgently inside Baba, but they say he is crying and thundering and lightning in his 505 car around Nairobi because his wife is dead and nobody can find him for hours. Three days ago, he told me it was too late to come to see her. He told me to not risk losing my ability to return to South Africa by coming home for the funeral. I should not be travelling carelessly in that artist way of mine, without papers. Kenneth! He frowns on the phone. I cannot risk illegal deportation, he says, and losing everything. But it is my mother.
I am twenty nine. It is 11 July, 2000. I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five. I have never touched a man sexually. I have slept with three women in my life. One woman, successfully. Only once with her. It was amazing. But the next day, I was not able to.
It will take me five years after my mother’s death to find a man who will give me a massage and some brief, paid-for love. In Earl’s Court, London. And I will be freed, and tell my best friend, who will surprise me by understanding, without understanding. I will tell him what I did, but not tell him I am gay. I cannot say the word gay until I am thirty nine, four years after that brief massage encounter. Today, it is 18 January 2013, and I am forty three.
Anyway. It will not be a hurricane of diabetes that kills mum inside Kenyatta Hospital Critical Care, before I have taken four steps to get on a plane to sit by her side.
Will leave a small window open the night before she dies, in the July Kenyatta Hospital cold.
It is my birthday today. 18 January 2013. Two years ago, on 11 July 2011, my father had a massive stroke and was brain dead in minutes. Exactly eleven years to the day my mother died. His heart beat for four days, but there was nothing to tell him.
I am five years old.
He stood there, in overalls, awkward, his chest a railway track of sweaty bumps, and little hard beads of hair. Everything about him is smooth-slow. Bits of brown on a cracked tooth, that endless long smile. A good thing for me the slow way he moves, because I am transparent to people’s patterns, and can trip so easily and fall into snarls and fear with jerky people. A long easy smile, he lifts me in the air and swings. He smells of diesel, and the world of all other people’s movements has disappeared. I am away from everybody for the first time in my life, and it is glorious, and then it is a tunnel of fear. There are no creaks in him, like a tractor he will climb any hill, steadily. If he walks away, now, with me, I will go with him forever. I know if he puts me down my legs will not move again. I am so ashamed, I stop myself from clinging. I jump away from him and avoid him forever. For twentysomething years, I even hug men awkwardly.
There will be this feeling again. Stronger, firmer now. Aged maybe seven. Once with another slow easy golfer at Nakuru Golf Club, and I am shaking because he shook my hand. Then I am crying alone in the toilet because the repeat of this feeling has made me suddenly ripped apart and lonely. The feeling is not sexual. It is certain. It is overwhelming. It wants to make a home. It comes every few months like a bout of malaria and leaves me shaken for days, and confused for months. I do nothing about it.
I am five when I close my self into a vague happiness that asks for nothing much from anybody. Absent-minded. Sweet. I am grateful for all love. I give it more than I receive it, often. I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch.
I am a homosexual.
Elsewhere on the continent, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment.
NAIROBI — Binyavanga Wainaina has a hangover. Last night friends gathered for his birthday party, which turned into a coming out party, because Wainaina, one of Africa’s most powerful modern literary voices, had just published an article entitled, “I am a homosexual, Mum.”
On a continent where secrecy defines the gay experience and where a majority of countries outlaw homosexuality, coming out is a rare step for a public figure. Wainana’s piece, first published on Saturday, is being shared widely across social networks. “My dear @BinyavangaW writes a piece that springs open the prison doors of the heart,” tweeted Nigerian-born writer Teju Cole.
The timing of Wainaina’s coming out was a mixture of the personal and the political, and anything but accidental.
“Of course my friends knew, but I had been toying with how useful it would be to make a public statement for close to eight months,” Wainaina told GlobalPost on Monday, as his declaration of homosexuality picked up traffic on Africa Is A Country and Chimurenga Chronic, the two African websites where it was first published.
Last year Wainaina — perhaps best known abroad as the author of the satirical essay “How to Write About Africa" — returned home to live in Kenya after a prolonged period of international nomadism and began to feel “a certain falsity in the way I lived my life,” he said.
Wainaina struggled with the relative ease of being clandestinely gay while surrounded by his artist friends in cosmopolitan Nairobi, while elsewhere in Africa homosexuals faced increasing oppression.
Last month he went to a close gay friend’s memorial in the western town of Kisumu and learned that the friend’s Christian family had been rejected by the church due to their son’s sexual orientation. Yet the young man’s parents had accepted their son’s homosexuality and even welcomed “half the queens in Kisumu” into their home to celebrate his life, Wainaina said.
Added to that were oppressive new anti-gay laws in Uganda and Nigeria. Ugandan parliamentarians passed a law in late December making “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment. An early draft proposed the death sentence. Nigeria’s president last week signed a law imposing 14-year jail terms for homosexual acts.
“There was the anti-gay bill in Uganda first, but the Nigeria one! Nigeria is a country I go to — I was there three times last year — it is a place I love, it’s like a second home to me,” said Wainaina.
“It’s hard to imagine any more repressive law of any kind anywhere in the world. It’s just the most terrible thing,” he said.
And yet Wainaina does not believe the war for gay rights is being lost in Africa, even if some battles are.
“It seems like doom and gloom but my feeling is that the law is a reaction to a thing that they know has traction,” he said. “And that’s a good thing. There’s no way to put that shit back in the box.”
Wainaina has little time for the trite argument that homosexuality is “un-African.”
“The idea that there is no such thing as gay in African culture is a mixture of an inherited Victorian puritanism via the first churches, mixed with sloganeering and fear,” he said.
Wainaina had been mulling his coming out for the better part of 2013. He said that on New Year’s Daythis year he was “one tweet away from just saying it.” Instead, he chose to write his coming out in a short essay styled as a “lost chapter” from his 2011 memoir “One Day I Will Write About This Place,” which won a coveted recommendation from Oprah Winfrey.
He wrote the essay during a couple of feverish late-night hours on the eve of his 43rdbirthday, Jan. 18. “I was very giddy the whole time writing it, very happy,” he said.
The result is heartfelt, raw and honest.
“Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this,” Wainaina writes. “Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear. ‘I am a homosexual, mum.’”
Openly declaring his sexual orientation is both brave and potentially powerful, given Wainana’s reach. He has taught at Bard College in New York State, was awarded the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, and won acclaim for his brilliant “How To Write About Africa.” His smart brevity has earned Wainaina a growing Twitter following, and last year Foreign Policy included him in its annual Twitterati 100.
Wainana believes his honesty will be embraced in his home and in other African countries. “People who live in societies where you are being lied to a lot value truth,” he said.
Wainaina is set to become a still-louder voice for gay rights, a struggle that he sees as part of a wider defiance, an effort to break apart “the very, very hardwired restrictions that were imposed in 1885” by colonialists and which “are very alive in every facet of African life.”
“I want to be part of a generation of people in Kenya and Africa who change [Africa] to be accountable to itself,” he said.
FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom. Set in Kenya, Somalia and South London, these stories are imbued with pathos, passion and linguistic playfulness, marking the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.
Praise for FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN
'Fantastic writing. I am most highly impressed. I've read some of the stories more than once and saw in each one of them plenty of talent everywhere - in every sinew and vein.'
- NURUDDIN FARAH
‘There is nothing more humbling than good writing except when the author is fiercely beautiful and ferociously generous of heart. That Diriye Osman should possess so much talent is only fair in light of his goodness. Read this book.’
- MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO
‘The characters in these fairy tales are displaced in multiple, complicated ways. But Osman’s storytelling creates a shelter for them; a warm place which is both real and imaginary, in which they find political, sexual, and ultimately psychic liberation.’
- ALISON BECHDEL
‘East Africa. South London. Queer. Displaced. Mentally ill. My excitement over Osman and his writing comes, in part, out of delight at the impossibility of categorization.’
- ELLAH ALLFREY, The Telegraph
‘At a time when homosexuality is still illegal in most of Africa, and barely features in contemporary African fiction, this book is a welcome surprise. In sensual, erotic, explicit stories, Osman writes about young gay Somalis whose identities are shaped as much by their sexualities as their cultural origins… Osman is a courageous writer but he is also an original one. His language is peppered with Somali words and crafted with all the concision and riches of poetry. At a time when African writing is on the rise, Osman stands above the crowd.’
- BERNARDINE EVARISTO, The Independent
‘One of the great joys of reading is finding books that detail experiences not often seen in mainstream literature. ‘Fairytales for Lost Children’ by Diriye Osman is a raw collection of short stories about the queer Somali experience. These are often stories about exile from family, from country, from sanity, from self. Osman works well within the fairytale tradition. He uses patois and slang and rhythmic cadence to tell these stories in the only language they can be told…the power of these stories is undeniable.’
- ROXANE GAY, The Nation
‘A series of poetic vignettes that utilize personal history, national trauma, vernacular, and linguistic sound patterning as texture, this book weaves together personal narratives of queer refugees—from the mother of the lesbian Somali daughter who casts her dreams into the ocean on paper and bits of rock, to the trans woman nurse in the psych ward who manipulates the medical industrial system for her own safety, to the desperate drag queen femme boy who slides on those first silk stockings, this book follows them all… ‘Fairytales for Lost Children’ is a must-read for anyone, displaced or not, who has suffered the blessing and curse of coming out as queer in a world not ready to receive it. Texturally beautiful and tonally gorgeous, Osman has created a dark world of language and culture that every lost child can find themselves in.’
- JULY WESTHALE, Lambda Literary Review
‘Osman’s triumphant first book is a testament to just what can happen when a queer person gets up, gets out and gets something. Though his characters face plenty of painful challenges—homophobia, anti-refugee prejudice, mental illness—Osman’s stories are suffused with the possibility of joy and pleasure, whether in the form of sexual awakening, gender exploration or in learning how to stand up for yourself. Ultimately, his fairytales are affirmations of why life is worth living, even for the lost. The book’s final story, about a gay Somali-Jamaican couple living in London, concludes: “We own our bodies. We own our lives.”’
- JAMESON FITZPATRICK, Next Magazine
‘Set in Somalia, Kenya and London, these stories are concerned with identity, self-realization, displacement and the bonds of family. Osman’s vivid and intimate style brings to life narratives rooted in his own experiences as a gay Somali.’
- EDEN WOOD, Diva
FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is available via the following links:
a four man anti poaching team is tasked with guarding the ol pejeta conservancy’s four remaining northern white rhinos. with only eight left, it is the world’s most endangered species. located in the laikipia district of kenya, ol pejeta conservancy is also the largest sanctuary for the black rhino. fewer than four thousand are estimated to remain.
the rise in asia’s middle class has meant that demand for rhino horn has soared, with prices on the black market exceeding that of gold and cocaine. with an increase in poaching in ol pejeta, the anti poaching team now provides twenty four hour armed protection for the rhinos, and has developed a close relationship with the animals.
poachers will track rhinos from helicopters, darting them from above and then hacking off the horn and part of the face with a chainsaw. the animals are often left to suffer and die. the rhinos seen here were found wandering in unimaginable pain, but with timely veterinary supervision remarkably survived. the rhino in the left of the fourth picture, however, had a four week old calf who, without his mother, subsequently died of dehydration.
to protect the rhinos and deter poachers, veterinarians will remove much of the animal’s horn. the rhino are anesthetized, and suffer no trauma. the horn is not like an elephant’s tusk, and will grow back in a few years.
Breaks my heart. Humans are such awful things.
These men are heroes and some of the best mankind has to offer
How do I join their cause
When asked what they would make a film about, the women of the Nyamonge neighborhood of Chiga village in Kisumu, Kenya said, "Netball. We always see African women as sad and poor. We want to make a video about something we love."
These women are multidimensional. Some own small businesses. Some farm, sell dried fish, make breakfast breads, sell fabric and scarves, or sing for a living. All of them are mothers and most are caregivers for orphans in their own home. They are leaders of water committees and microfinance groups. Their ability is infinite and inspiring. These ladies don’t mess around.
Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential
Learn more at: http://www.mamahope.org
A woman undergoes an eye exam at a temporary clinic set by the Center for Eye Health abt 217 mil of Nairobi, Kenya.
The organization is running clinics for 5,000 patients using the app Peek Vision, doctors can give patients a full exam using a smartphone.
The phone conducts cataract scans and basic eye tests, and uses the phone’s flash to illuminate the back of the eye for signs of disease.
More at —-> africanstories.tumblr.com
Nigerian-American photographer Brad Ogbonna recently travelled to various parts of the continent in collaboration with Studio Africa on a project making music videos for African artists exploring their heritage - Olubenga in Lagos, Spoek Mathambo in Johannesburg, and Faarow in Nairobi.
Brad got some amazing shots as he accompanied these performers around, taking behind the scenes photos as part of a series he produced called ‘Places’. Above are a few of those shots.
images sent in by: vice/studio africa.