Ways in Which Nairobi Half Life moved me. An open letter
I read all the time that WE ARE ONE. Sometimes I practice this truth. Most times I forget. I let the cares of my life, my struggles, my hustle, my dreams, my desires drown me in the sea of self. Inevitably, a drowning person will fight to break to the surface, and on these forced trips to breathe in, I find there is more to life than self. My problems and cares are not the end all of reality.
Tonight (as in last Thursday 22nd Nov 2012) was such a night ( I was a little afraid of the EMO that is this blog so I been hesitating. But I’m over myself now)
I just got back from an all-important strategy and planning meeting. So full of well-intentioned and self-serving ideas for how to further promote my ideas. Then I went to watch Nairobi Half Life. I agree, I am late to the party. Never you mind that. This blog post is directly because I am moved to my core (spoilers alert. If you have not watched it..I'm about to say some things so stop)
First, I am moved by the sheer brilliance of the script, of the actors, the directors, the makeup, the set design, the soundtrack. I sat in the movie theatre and ached. This is what art looks like when its real and its for real. Art is raw. It is sincere. It is light and intense simultaneously. It is true and we know it because we instinctively connect. This is why they say art is powerful. I sat there completely immersed in this movie that 'me' did not exist.
I became Mwas. Even now I taste the bitter sweet headiness of chasing a dream. Mwas made me remember how many times I am so naïve, so clueless, so fearless. Mwas made me think of those decisions & actions I refuse and fear to fully own because of the mess I made, and yet I cannot take back because of the mess I made. In those moments I was watching the movie..and indeed in this one as I write this..I think of all those people who come up to me/facebook me/write me an email saying they want to sing but don't know what to do next. They want my help but I hardly know what to say or do. Sometimes, I make suggestions- voice classes, choir, BGV for a band, intern for a musician. Most times, I feel terrified to say a thing. I am no saviour. I have no answers. I can't fix anyone’s life. Often, musicians at all stages of their career ask me to let them play at Blankets & Wine. Some are good- they get in. Some are bad. Some just need more time. Some I can't see how to schedule alongside what currently exists. Then comes the dread! I cannot bear to say these things to them. After all, who the hell I'm I to say these things? I have been dropped off a national singing competition. I have been thrown off stage by a marketing director who hated my songs after the first min. I have sung off key on stage. I have had an audience stare at me in confusion. I have had my heart broken and my confidence shattered a hundred times. And I became better for it- eventually. But I never forget the way it feels when you're at the bottom and just trying to catch a break. So, I say nothing. I spend endless hours second guessing myself..what if they are the next Sauti Sol or The Beetles? What if I am missing something? I'm I missing something? I hardly ever really know. My life feels like an elaborate guessing game. Mwas- a boy from 'nowhere' and with nothing but his heart on his sleeve took me all the way into the very centre of mine. So, first up..this is for every rapper, every singer, every instrumentalist who ever asked me for an opinion or a chance. Every one of you who has had the idea to share your dream with me. Please know I heard you. I recognize you. I carry that part you shared in my being. You affected/affect me because I am like you. Longing for the same things you do: expression, acceptance,validation,fame&fortune,hapiness,mastery,legendary status. I too spend endless hours seeking for direction, guidance, gigs, lyrics, melodies. I battle the same fears: what if I don't make it? I'm I good enough or any good at all? Is this it? Will I ever get to the end of this rainbow? To every one of you that has felt hurt by my feedback or worse, felt ignored by my silence- please forgive me. People- you and I included- only do what they think they can, based on what they think they know. And just like me, your dreams are valid. Your hope is real. And the best I can say is if you determine that its meant to be..then even the gates of heaven could not stop you.
In the meantime between now and your big break..the world will shake you, but it cannot break you.
Then there was Oti and his whole crew. YOLO. Living la vida loca. Going down a road whose end is guaranteed. Thug life. And there I was. One with them. I have never robbed anyone let alone killed anything bigger than a cockroach. But my father was murdered at our gate while driving in from friday evening mass, minding his own business. So Oti takes me there. I see Oti being so reckless with his life, high on the power trip of a gun. Of course, there was no other way it could end right? You live by the gun- you die by it. So why do I flinch when he is killed? I flinch. I did not want him to die like that. I have no problem with death-its a lifetimes guarantee(literally) but what a wasted life! What a broken heart for Mwas, for Oti's family, for life! My dad..he lived an amazing life. His life was full. He was fulfilled. He found his place on earth and I am sure he found his place in the stars. But what about Oti! What about my dads killer who was naturally gunned down in a most dramatic and traumatic police operation!What about these lives and all other lives attached to theirs! How funny that even as I remain connected to my dad in death, I would -just for a moment thanks to Oti- be connected to my dads killer too. And what poetic justice that I would think these thoughts and feel these things on my fathers ten year memorial. Ha! (AGAIN this was meant to be up last Friday morning)
I was Mwas. I was Amina. I was Oti. I was part of the cast. Part of the crew. Part of this mad, massive story/reality. Part of each singers/drummer/poet/instrumentalists dream. Part of my father. Part of his death and its circumstance. I was situations, decisions, cause, effect. I was me. And I was not me. And I was more me. I was all-we.
How perfect Nairobi Half Life is! How perfect life is.