I keep revisiting a photo album containing pictures of the Paa Ya Paa ruins after the fire in 1998. Maybe it's because I was thousands of miles away, on the receiving end of an international call alerting me of El Nina and her wrath, when it happened.
The phone call that put my fears to rest; the news that Baba na Mama were okay, that Baba had been hospitalized for smoke inhalation because he kept running back to retrieve some of the gallery's permanent collection of over 500 works of art, produced in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The record of contemporary East African art from pre-independence to the present.
Do I wander through remembrances path perhaps because I need (here's the tired word) closure? Or is it simply because I have been slow to recognize the unquestionable life-force embedded in the photographs?
Look at the strong facial features that survived. They intrude upon the darkest places of the heart.
Baba's lifesong still emblazoned on the front: DO NOT COPY. COPYING PUTS GO...
...And in the many years that have softly gone by, I grope instinctively to a higher purpose, to remain whole in my search for invisible stories, the truth that will set me free.
DO NOT COPY. COPYING PUTS GOD TO SLEEP.(Copyright © Elimo P. Njau 1961-2009)
How profoundly alive is the century old farmhouse? A capacity for originality still resonates to this day, even with a new main gallery reconstructed; while much of the original stone structure remains on site, a pile of rubble that continues to speak to the value of tradition, of honour, and integrity.
Pole pole nitafika.
Copyright © Hana Njau-Okolo 2009. All Rights Reserved.