What do you remember?
As a Historian, a lot of my scholarly work is dictated by the need to remember. To remember the what, the how, the why and more importantly the who. The sad part about history is that more often than not, it is the conqueror’s history that we are made to remember. And this his-tory is often that of the man. But where do the other stories go?
Before watching this play, I had not quite conceived of what it would be like to displace our toxically patriarchal anecdotes of the making of our nation. How do you narrate the story of women when the people that publish their stories only believe in the gospel of men? But never doubt the power of art to do exactly that. So, a huge thanks to the entire team and cast of Too Early for Birds: The Brazen edition for doing exactly that. And a long overdue appreciation to the women we poured libation to. We honor you. And thank you for paving the way for us.
Micro-histories do matter and these women’s stories are the epitome of why it is important to remember. I will be sure to name them. And repeat their praises. Over and over again.
To the women:
Mekatilili wa Menza: Thank you for making the long walk and reminding us that resting is for the dead. So as long as we are breathing, let’s keep fighting.
Wangu wa Makeri: Thank you for your bravery. You are the embodiment of the strength of the feminine form and what these bodies can do when we choose to believe in the power they hold. May we allow our fellow women the graciousness to live out their complexity.
Nani?: An unnamed heroine whose tale we will keep sharing. This is the other story of the legend of Luanda Magere that we never get to hear of. The story of the woman who gave of herself to save her people. Indeed, history may have taken your name but we will make sure it never takes your essence.
Philomena Chelangat Mutai: The Lioness of Nandi. The path of leadership is a lonely one but the path to leadership for a woman is a dangerously lonely one. Erased, harassed and abandoned but you never stopped fighting for your people. May we remember why we are here and continuously commune in the sisterhood that upholds our being.
Zarina Patel: Who died and made you king? That is literally her response to every chauvinistic man that thought they had a say in her decision-making. Feminist, theorist, intersectionalist, activist, you are what it means to live out your beliefs even at the cost of your familial roots.
And lastly (for now) Field Marshall Muthoni wa Kirima: If there is something to remember here is the fact that even within the Mau Mau, si Wanaume Pekee! You are one of the women who made it possible for our independence to exist. Your sacrifices have brought us here. May we continuously strive to finish the work you began. Not yet uhuru is the battle we now take up, but because of you, we can.
I hope that this movement does not end here. I hope that we continue to sing the praises of our women and raise them in their goodness. I will do my part by archiving more of their stories. So be on the look-out for my upcoming project based on this. Until then. Repeat these stories. Name them. Sing them and believe in the power of storytelling.