Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

Kenya

Early Days’ text-based visual object and sound object exist in a co-creational relationship with each other. One iteration begat the other’s next iteration until they were each whole and became also, parts of the whole.

Early Days

Artist Notes

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Transcript for Early Days by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

 

Tom Mboya (via AI Text-To-Speech): 00:00
Perhaps you will think me immodest if I begin by recalling the proudest day of my life. But I will begin this way, nevertheless…

[Continues at low volume. Upbeat Music]

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo: 00:09
Early Days, With Tom Mboya’s “Freedom And After”

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 00:14
My father knew in his own mind that we were Africans Africans Africans Africans, eye-sores to the Europeans. My mother late, he decided I was born to go to school. With complete power over us the missionaries insisted we must be free

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
must be patient

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 00:36
must be Christians to learn to read and write. To learn. What my father

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
wanted

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
for his children, payment for the way they punished us. So I was sent to a local mission school

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
to be converted, fully accepted

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 00:57
as one of them. I still remember how dry it was in the reserve where farmers could own lands, highlands, island, where farmers could own land. It was scrub and thorn trees, soldiers. Soldiers.

[Music transitions to humming]

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 1:21
Evenings, we merely ate and slept. There was no education.

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo:
there was no education.

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
The missionaries lived very simply and very tribally. I came to know their language and tribal customs to behave very much like them. By the age of 28, I was

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
enlightened

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo:
enlightened

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
known to be good. known to be good.

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 2:00
A teacher at a mission school with a wife and family, I became determined determined to have a better standard of life not a mud-and-wattle hut
with no sanitary facilities and no piped water.

[humming intensifies]

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
Traveling helped me

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
remember?

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
how we were bought.

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo:
how we were bought.

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
People made

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo:
made into

Tom Mboya (AI TTS): 2:27
into investments against Europe’s old age. The passionate hopes of my father hunted hunted great warrior, hunted hunted degrees, hunted hunted progress hunted me in those early years, these

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo & Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
sacraments

Tom Mboya (AI TTS):
between parents and children.

[Humming Ends]

with tom mboya’s freedom and after

Early Days

This image represents the 16 pages of the first chapter of Tom Mboya’s “Early Days” with various words cut out makes the background of the image. Overlayed are the cut out words assembled down the page
Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

Biography

 

Poet, filmmaker, and performer Ngwatilo Mawiyoo (she/her) is the author of two chapbooks, Blue Mothertongue and Dagoretti Corner. A Callaloo Fellow twice shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize and twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her poems appear in Transition, Johannesburg Review of Books, Wasafiri, The Malahat and elsewhere.

Ngwatilo made her debut as a writer/director in 2021 with her short film Joy’s Garden. The film opened at Zanzibar International Film Festival before going on to screen at over a dozen film festivals around the world. Her forthcoming short is a trilingual magical realism drama.

Ngwatilo is privileged to share her work at major literary festivals around the world, most recently the 2023 BBC’s Contains Strong Language Poetry festival in the UK.

https://www.ngwatilo.com

The text of Early Days is taken entirely from the first chapter of Freedom And After (1986), a collection of essays by Tom Mboya, the Kenyan educationalist, trade unionist and founding father.

At a time when AI and attendant technologies seem to threaten the value of human labour and our very lives, when the threat to Africans is again that our voices and stories will get lost in the onslaught; “Early Days” both employs and resists these technologies to find voice, play, and embodied presence.

Black Listening's website front page header art and Obsidian 49.2 cover art were  created by Nettrice Gaskins

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