Monday, 25 March 2013


Chineke himself might not have gotten over Achebe's work  
Nairobi has its verve; its energy and flow. One has to be sentient enough to feel it. This is the East of Africa. Coming form the West of Africa my mind has always tried to understand this city I have now visited at least close to a dozen times. The Kenyatta Airport always seems to exude some confounding serenity. I do not know if I must ascribe it to the times I get into that city: mostly dawns. But I get the feeling when I use the airport at other times.

As the city parts its lips as the car throbs in the driving has my heart in my ears: Nairobi driving is a course in derring-do. These streets took the life of my compatriot and sublime cartoonist Frank Odoi
I know you caricaturing away with your deft pencil. And the weather. The soothing very cool winds that I encountered have a pampering effect. One remembers Accra's searing heat about which no one official outfit is giving us any explanations. Of  course government has more pressing matters to explain like dough for a pilgrimage to Israel; bungled letterheads yada yada. Tweaaaaaaaa as my elders will say in Obosomase and Mampong Kontokyi.

Nairobi's streets do not glitter that much from automobiles' shiny bodies like Accra's. Accra is the car lover's blinding paradise. I mean I saw Toyota Corolla models that you will struggle to find in Accra's scrap dumps. And then the right hand drive has a way of jarring my West African left hand drive orientation. The matatus(trotros) are a sight; pock marked with very well made grafitti and heaving with music at high volumes and crammed with bodies. The Kenyan authorities could do well like Accra's with a better public transport system I guess. Who cares? Signs of the elections are everywhere; posters haggard from the elements peer from the battered walls. As the election petition at the highest court takes on a life of its own and captures the attention of Kenyans life goes on. I like that. The laughter is there; the frank banter; the politeness and also the despair over a very beautiful country that can go very far. I mean Kibaki was given a tractor and very well bred cows by the army as his farewell gift; Madam Kibaki got a dinner set that needed almost a unit of soldiers to carry(I watched the newsreel on Kenyan Television). My Kenyan colleague called it ridiculous: the poverty is vivid on Nairobi's streets as the poor huddle about in over-sized wind breakers and literally prowl the streets.Somehow I feel there is some 1960ish order in Nairobi as the city mutates under the sway of cranes. And on their TV I think they leave Ghana's in the shadows. The quality of their anchors; the studio setting; the quality of the stories; the pace; the energy; the alertness and consciousness(the Kenyan and African perspective is in evidence). If Ghana Television generally(with the exception of say VIASAT 1) is lard Kenyan TV is boiling soup!!!!! And the newspapers keep my attention: I mean I find it difficult throwing them away after a thumping read.

And then Achebe(the Kenyan Daily Nation's cartoonist eulogises him in the drawing above) passed. For three days(and still counting) the tributes have poured in. The Kenyan establishment has had its go through Odinga's piece which appeared in the Daily Nation. Kenya's literary scholars have offered perspectives of Achebe's value to the African and global cannon. I have not been drawn to Achebe like other African bards like Ayi Kwei Armah. But I should return to him given the accounts I have read. In the way in which Achebe has been hailed I reckon Senghor will roll in his grave over his infamous: reason is Greek,emotion is Negro. In the maw of materialism's onslaught in Africa Achebe in death has shown that this continent has ALWAYS been the home of great thought. I pause but only in suspended animation like the Eneke bird because "men have learned to shoot without missing their mark and I have learned to fly without perching on a twig."Thank you Achebe!!!!