Photography is supposed to be a window through which the audience can see he who presses the shutter button. There are shots I look at and immediately connect with the photographer; in such moments it feels like I would not have taken that particular picture any other way. Or at least that is what I think. Someone else might see something different, a different emotion might be evoked, a different memory perhaps. One can’t know for sure and this is excites me about photography. This, however, leaves me hanging too; do people see what I want them to see in my pictures? Are there any emotions, if any, which are invoked by shots that I take? Which emotions are they? These are the questions that puzzle me. Hoping that one day I will find answers, all I can do right now is to keep taking pictures wherever and whenever I can.
Just a few months ago I thought photography had to be 100% natural. By this I mean out-of-studio shooting; taking pictures of people out in the open as they interact with nature. I despised studio photography a lot because it felt a bit plastic; setting up lights, telling people to smile, the props, the makeup, I hated it all. It took quite some time for me to understand that it doesn’t matter if you tell someone to pause for a photo in a particular way, it’s what you choose to photograph that counts.
A few months ago I watched a documentary about Baudouin Mouanda’s Journey as he shot for a project of his. Baudouin is a famous Congolese photographer. In that documentary a presentation about ‘lost’ pictures was made. Briefly, the presentation was about how each photographer should enhance their ability to quickly take pictures or else risk losing out on great shots. I found this information quite useful so each time I pick up a camera I try to remember this with all hope that it will pay off one day.
I keep coming to the conclusion that being an agnostic is the only thing that makes sense in this world. Who would dare attempt to simply explain complexities such as nature’s beauty? There are plenty of theories that try to explain how things come about, but with us learning new things every day, and constantly updating ourselves, how can we be that sure about what we already know now? Won’t that change tomorrow?
The first day I saw her there was no sure way to know that we would be where we are right now. I don’t remember much of that day, just a couple of things, mostly thoughts I formed about her at that first sight. I remember she was so talkative! She went on and on about this and that, yappidy yapping about things that had gone down over the weekend at her home. I remember just sitting there getting slowly irritated by the sharp sounds that came out of her small, thin mouth. I remember thinking she would be a nice lay; that was at a point when I had deprived myself of thin things, things that are ‘flippable’, things I would do things to in different thing places. There this thin thing was, standing just next to me. I remember my brain went on a journey that day
A few years later and here we are; thin thing ready to be laid. Thin thing looking even thinner after thin clothes come off; this thin Ugandan thing was ready to be devoured and rightly so, see, when mother nature throws things like this your way it would be very ,very disrespectful not to per take in mother nature’s creations. Here in Uganda, when you visit one’s home and you are offered something to eat or drink, refusing that token is taken with all due disrespect. This son obliged.
They say trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. #HermannHesse
I find myself being fascinated by these earthly creatures; trees. They say if walls could talk, a lot of private business would be revealed. What if trees could talk? Ever imagined how that saying would go? These creatures just stand there, rooted into the ground, watching all that goes by. Watching how us, humans, come and go one by one, year after year. They watch burglars and thieves go about their nightly business. I for one think if trees could talk a lot of truths would be revealed about a lot of things we think we know. But who knows, perhaps this is the reason they don’t talk.
One of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking Gikuyu in the vicinity of the school. The culprit was given corporal punishment – three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks – or was made to carry a metal plate around the neck with inscriptions such as I AM STUPID or I AM A DONKEY. Sometimes the culprits were fined money they could hardly afford. And how did the teachers catch the culprits? A button was initially given to one pupil who was supposed to hand it over to whoever was caught speaking his mother tongue. Whoever had the button at the end of the day would sing who had given it to him and the ensuing process would bring out all the culprits of the day. Thus children were turned into witch hunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of being a traitor to one’s immediate community.
I took the extract above from a book I am reading; De-colonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiongo. I found this paragraph very interesting because I have gone through a similar experience. The only things that my experience and his do not have in common are the location and native language; everything else is exactly the same.
When this policy was announced to us we thought it was a joke and so we laughed it off as usual like the kids we were, but, it was no joke as we later found out. We go serious lashes for speaking our “mother tongues”. Why were they caning us for this? It didn’t make sense to me. We were supposed to speak English 24/7. Can you imagine that? Being forced to speak a language which is not your own as you look over your shoulder just to make sure your poor English does not get mistaken for a local dialect.
See, we lived in fear. The lashes were not too kind to our buttocks and the pain was literary numbing; my behind would swell up so much sometimes I had to seat at an angle or risk hurting the swollen portion. All those lashes were delivered so that we would be able to speak better English and yes, we spoke better English. We developed accents and joined the race of who sounds the queen’s words better.
We became Black English men and women; we purged our native selves, we spoke from our noses and raped our mother tongues beyond recognition.
What is the sound of thousands of Indians rolling their eyes?
This evening sitting in traffic, suffocated by a furious heat, I listened to the news on the radio. There is something odd about being alone in the bubble of your car, right next to someone else in their bubble, both of you listening to the same thing at the same moment. A shared experience expressed privately. As I learned of the identity of the alleged private developers who grabbed the playground of Langata Primary School, I joined thousands of other brown people in Nairobi snorting in their own air conditioned bubbles.
This was my inner monologue.
Seriously? Come on guys. Do they really have to be Indian!? Great. As if suffering through Brother Paul/Pattni wasn’t enough. Why do you need to go out and add another nail to the coffin that is ‘Indians are thieves and stealing this country.’ That’s like a Luhya going…
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain