“Do you mind?”

Nairobi Kenya

Don’t mind me.

My ears are being nurtured by rampant debates on socialites and celebrities from across the seas, being tuned to the most viewed and reviewed and liked and shared and thumbs upped and favourite and commented on, to rumours and hearsay and fantasy. I remember what the voice of reason and concern sounds like, but even now all I hear in that voice is our parents, and I flinch when we hear about responsibility and collective action and sacrifice. These words do not fit in my ears without strain, without force, and though I have trained myself to hear them, I still don’t listen to them.

Don’t mind me.

My jaded eyes are the product of frustrated and bitter public sector teachers who faced tribalism and nepotism and extortion to be posted to my overcrowded and underfunded school, and realized that there was no need to open my eyes to the promise of my own power, and ignite in them a flame of seeking and adventure in an education system that was purposefully designed to sterilize my individuality, cripple my imagination, inhibit my self-expression, and foster a deep terror of authority figures.

Don’t mind me.

I lost my voice screaming at men running around on a patch of grass kicking a ball. I lose my voice when saying the truth could mean going back to the shame and depression of looking for a job. I can hide our words and meanings in emojis and abbreviations shooting across DMs and status updates and wall posts. Speaking truth to power is my one-way ticket to being isolated and excommunicated, to being on the fringe and not part of the trend, to being a lone voice against the cold wind rather than a small murmur amidst the warm and huddled masses.

Don’t mind me.

Once my senses were hypnotized, my direction was next. I translate revolution as the next catchword for a savvy social media advertising campaign. I understand nationalism as the pride we feel when one of us shines on the world stage, when we show others and not ourselves just what we can achieve. A patriot for me is a trigger to a hazy memory of a documentary of a person who had a street named after them after they were assassinated.

Don’t mind me.

Once my senses and direction was lost, then came my reality. I lost track of whether the world on the screens or the physical world around me is not only the realer one, but I don’t know which matters most. My wires are crossed. The world behind our world, behind the filters of my prejudices and artificial tribes and indifference, moves on in an emotionless inexorable pull through space and time.

Don’t mind me, because I don’t mind.

I am part of the mesmerized revolution. I need space and time that the world and history cannot afford me. I fight the uncomfortable, alien spark that is battling for a space in my heart, the spark in the eyes of hazy figures whose statues and books beckon me towards imagining and creating a new future. I am the young Africa, the shifting sand, the change in the tide, the gathering storm. I am the inheritor of soil, of rock, of the droughts and the floods, of promise and misery. I am waiting for a time that is happening right now.

I took a look at my mind.

The silence in the space of reason and reflection is deafening, but I want to hear what it has to say. The sight of the truth is blinding and terrifying, but I don’t want to blink. The sound of my voice is weak and trembling, but the steel grows with each truth I speak. Being pulled through the past by guilt and denial, I am now propelled into the future with purpose and anticipation. After fighting the acceptance of an uncomfortable reality that I could not accept, I have surrendered and offered myself to carry my load, to take a leap of faith into the abyss of history and the future and challenge and savour each moment as it comes.

Do you mind?

AuthorBinagwaho Gakunju

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