Hosted by Goethe-Institut, contemporary artist Michael Soi presents a series of 17 paintings celebrating women from all over Nairobi, bringing you different takes on the...
I was inspired to write a book on mothers and daughters by my own intense relationship with my mother—a strong Eastern-European lady who survived the Warsaw uprising in Poland during the Second World War. She is a very kind and generous woman, but also very controlling. I am 49 years old, married with three children, but I still feel the need to seek her approval!
To help me understand and deal better with my mother, I was curious to find out how other women coped with this complex, sometimes destructive, but usually rewarding relationship. My research for this work in progress developed through a website (www.mummydear.com) where I invite women to tell their stories. It has resulted in over 300 submissions from 19 countries, including the U.S., Canada and Australia. Thus far, Mummy Dear makes for fascinating reading and absorbing insight into other women’s mother/daughter bonds.
Various themes have emerged while editing the book, which I will be addressing in separate chapters. For instance, as the “Controlling Mother”, Daisy, a 35-year-old from Damascus in the States wrote: “My mother undermines me and tries to control through guilt and manipulation. If it wasn’t for five years of therapy, I would be ‘divorced’.”
And the “Demanding Mother”: “We have never lived up to her expectations. Whatever we give her, she always wants more,” responds Sally, a 49- year-old English communications consultant living in Bulgaria. Or the Mummy Dear website questionnaire offers up the purely bizarre as Nicky, a British lady living in France, submitted: “My mother spent my childhood telling me that she would exit this life as soon as she felt I was old enough to look after myself. When I was 18, my mother killed herself.”
However, it is cheering to note that many of the responses were very positive and there will, of course, be a chapter on “Celebrating Mother”. The following poem sent in by a 21-year-old student from England beautifully illustrates this theme: “I’d give this world if I could say, I’m going to see my mum today; to hear her voice, to see her smile; to sit and talk with her awhile. The hardest thing in life to bare; is to want your mum and she’s not there.”
When award-winning editorial cartoonist Gado went to France and saw Les Guignols on television, he realized that this was exactly what Kenya needed—a humorous and piquant puppet show. And believe it or not, Latex Satirical Caricatures have created a platform, The XYZ Show. It tackles dire political issues and spurs dialogue on corruption, all with a good dose of fun involved. The television show is inviting and unifying, and the humor is a welcome change of pace.
We tune into XYZ and tune on to a growing wave of national consciousness. Finally, our political deities are not so powerful; we are not so powerless after all. With characters as diverse as Kibaki and Obama, this season even boasts Mr. Wuu, a Chinese contractor and father of all Sino-Kenyan babies on Thika Road.
How does one find a balance between being the critical and the humorous? Brian Kyallo-Msafiri, the director of XYZ, gives insight into how a show so hilarious can contribute to building our nation.
In your view, what are the four overarching problems our country faces?
In my view, this would be endemic tribalism, corruption, poor governance and voter apathy.
How is The XYZ Show exploring this?
In the show, from the president to the Prime Minister, down to the common man, there are no sacred cows! No one is above the law or beyond reproach. We’ve had skits of the Maize Scandal, the Kazi Kwa Vijana Scam and the Education Ministry Money Scandal. This open satire has really changed how Kenyans view elected politicians and politics.
What do politicians say about the show?
Raila Odinga loved our Kigeugeu spoof of him. Presidential aspirant Martha Karua even gave us a surprise visit and took pictures with her puppet! I guess they understand that, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Did the post-election violence influence the show?
It actually motivated XYZ to come into the picture. At the time, ethnicity was a very sensitive topic to discuss. We tackled and broke down the fears that existed; we went all out and made fun of sensitive issues. Our skits played on cultural stereotypes and showed how unreal they were. XYZ debunked myths that influence our traditional voting habits. We encouraged conversation. Tribalism is still rife in Kenya. My hope for the upcoming elections is that the country will unite behind a cause and not a tribal chief.
What did you do during the Hague-ICC 6 hype?
In fact, season four is labeled The Hague Edition. We even introduced a Boy Band called Six2Hague—their name was spoofed from Boyz II Men. Six2Hague sang End of the Road! We did various skits with Ocampo and ICC judge Ekaterina Trendy flavor. In fact, Judge Trendy flavor made quite a show—she was even interviewed by Keff Joinange!
What future do you envision for Kenya?
I dream of a Kenya with one-hundred percent literacy! A country where we are self-reliant and do not have to rely on food aid, water flows into every homestead, and art and culture is our cornerstone.
The XYZ Show airs every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on K!SS TV.