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There are names that leave our mouths and get stuck in our hair. They never really get to reach the places above ourselves, or out there. They’re caught in that web of tangled political, not-so-political mass on our heads. They just lie there quietly, being defined by texture,  by the strangeness of its ‘wooliness’ and the redemption of nappiness. They wait to be told of their afro-pessimisms or otherwise, or their self hate or self acceptance.

Other names never go beyond our skin. They’re confined by pseudonyms and labels that guard the falsehood that is believed. Some names are cut off the moment the leap from our tongues. They cannot sail on the wind to far off places, where all lineage survives to hear its many names echoed through time. Instead they fall to the ground, bleeding into the cracks as the dust muffles their thud.

The names that swathe our hips and dangle on our wide thighs. Those wreathes that throttle us and beautify our necks at the same time. Those leashes placed upon us for the pleasure of others, caress our bodies with a lusty yearning to adorn our graves. Those names they call us as they spectate our deaths every so often.

Then there are some names that breakthrough. They refuse to get caught up in ‘floating signifiers” and misinterpretation. They rattle the veins in our fingers longing to burst through and write themselves into existence. Pronounce themselves into life and the living. Sounding off of kinship across universes, meandering through space and time.

Names that are unwilling to be contained in well-structured sentences and the prudishness of the hierarchies of language. They sun themselves on wild poetry. Breaking the length of verses and disrupting meaning. They are found thriving in jumbled prose, in mishaps,  in conjured up styles of expression that bow not to  present dictates  hell-bent on binding them to vainglory.

We owe it to these names to lift them. The ones that fight to remain in focus, in the center. The ones that leap to the forefront with the killings of the innocents.  The ones that resurface with the death and displacement of the disposables. The ones that shadow the loss of young life and the abdication of the wisdom of age.

These are the names we need branded on our spirits. The ones we call out in our reverie beseeching them to remind us what it means to live for a future. We hold onto them to endure the impositions that smother our diversities.

We ask them to bind themselves to us, so that all other labels
cast our way will have no place within us.


Sally Kahiu © 2015

Written by Sally Kahiu
Sally is an Afrofuturist, art lover, poet and writer based in Nairobi. She ardently believes in propagating alterity and elevating knowledge systems of the ‘Other’. Her passion is demonstrated profoundly through her own poetry and prose. Sally is a researcher who loves, live music, Toni Morrison, recounting her daydreams and ice cream. Definitely ice cream.

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