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Showing posts from April, 2009

Our Reading Spaces

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These days my favorite reading space is on my front porch, in a fading white wicker chair, tucked in the corner. I think a mama bird is building a nest in the eaves of the porch. I try not to disrupt her early morning ritual on Saturday and Sunday, when I come out to read, and to listen to all of those songbirds singing songs of sunrise.

The two gold variegated Leyland Cypress trees flanking the entryway are running out of room to grow; but they look beautiful at Christmas time. And I like the way the two giants (Kibo and Mawenzi) dwarf the space, reaching beyond limits to a world of unlimited sunshine and red clay.

As a child, one of my favorite reading spaces was under one of the three large windows in our living-cum-dining room in the home that doubled as Paa Ya Paa Art Gallery.


Imagine what it looked like before the fire...

I also thoroughly enjoyed laying outside on a blanket under one of the many Jacaranda trees. I did not visit the Nairobi Public library much back then, as my h…

Passages of an Immigrant's Life

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Sunset in Freetown, Sierra Leone.


Sometimes

Life speaks a spontaneous language

at once personal, dynamic and formal.



Other times

Life dares to challenge it's sensitive students,

immigrants and their polite existence.



Most times

Life finds them elongated away from homelands

with the swift movement of time

a constant feature

moving them

through realms of expression

deeply involved in life

deeply involved in death.



At all times

Life speaks a natural language

rhythmically unfolding the story

of immigrants and their preoccupations

driven by an urge to live and

a will to survive aspects of their lives

they would rather forget

paths to permanent residence

defenses against permanent removal.



Then a loved one passes

far away in the homeland

in a world close to their spiritual habitations

where the traditional magic of

the village cock crow

echoes across the compound

and there’s never an end

to human drama and dance

where long, flowing fly-whisks

sweep the air and revive the spirit.



When a loved one passes

far away in t…

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

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As you may know, I serve as Vice-Chairperson of The Association of Kenyan Professionals in Atlanta, (AKPA).

AKPA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the wellbeing of its members, through the mobilization of resources here in Atlanta.

Prior to my current term, I enjoyed a two-year spell as Chairperson of the Education Committee of AKPA. The committee is charged with sourcing scholarship funds for Kenyan students, facilitating the professional growth of the students and supporting them in their transition after graduation.

I am often asked where I find the time to fulfill my duties as a mother of three, a loving wife, a full-time employee, and an active board member of a non-profit.

I respond by saying that I make the time. I watch very few hours of television; a few select programs here and there, the news, and of course important football/soccer matches. I joined a vanpool, and this provides me with two extra hours per day, during which time I read, write or …

Introducing Iyeoka Okoawo...

The Ultimate Betrayal

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("Saving For Old Age," by my father Elimo Njau, co-founder of Paa Ya Paa Creative Arts Center in Nairobi (in the 1960s and it is still standing today).)

It does not matter whether or not we are among those who let it happen.

We are all guilty. Actors and spectators. Eye-witnesses and plunderers.

We recognize each other in our indifference, our slow poison, our greed for power.

African First Lady So-and-so, Professor of this-and-that. We profess our concern for the enterprise and culture of Africa.

Tell me, modern day Judas Iscariots, what have you done with the joy and the power of the land?

Witness, as the people of Mayotte, voted to be recolonized by France.

A vote, of no-confidence in Africa’s independent future. The death, of a sovereign nation, the despair in a continent wrought by corruption, cruelty and brutality. A harbinger of future recolonizations in Africa.

It is my prayer that Africa is liberated from the human tragedy playing out, fashioned by the hands…

That AMBI. Is it something special?

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Come look at this face...

Come,

even closer...

Now, check the skin.

Not bad, huh?

I use AMBI skin cream,

And you are looking at skin AMBI helped beautify.

You see, AMBI helps get rid of blotches, dark spots...the works!
AMBI conditions and softens your skin too. And AMBIblends your skin into one beautiful glowing tone, all over...

That AMBI. It is something special!


Credits
Text: From Hydroquinone (skin bleaching agent) advertisement regularly aired on Kenya Television in the 1970s-80s.
Illustration: Watercolor by Hana Njau-Okolo (Feb. 2007)

Tuongee? [Thoughts?]

Kwaheri.

Mama Shujaa.

All content, images Copyright © Hana Njau-Okolo 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Unending Thanks

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There was another barrier that was broken on November 5, 2008; it was inspired by the momentous cultural one for the United States of America. It rode on the back of the far-reaching importance of the election of the first African-American President. And with it's embodiment of a new dawn, it urged an awakening and unleashing of uncharacteristic courage. The launch of Mama Shujaa!

Since the launch, I have redirected my focus from thinking to doing; blogging, disciplining my writing; creating a habit that will eventually bring into being, bits and pieces of my soul. What has lain dormant in the somewhat robotic existence that has obstinately guarded my immigrant life for so many years.

I am thankful for the astounding amount of dynamism in this blogosphere, a meeting point of diverse minds and collective voices. I am thankful for the generosity of spirit I have encountered. I am thankful for the inspiration.

Exceptional thanks go to everyone who has read and followed my blog from…