“Change, shit, I guess Change is good for any of us. Whatever it takes for any of you Niggaz to get up out of the hood…I’m with you.”
I ain’t mad at ‘Cha.
For all the things I should have said before and had not said. The dream year is dead before it had begun, Robert I’m not giving up anything, I will not let you die, flipping slowly through your singed brown leather wallet that had survived the fire in our room, I found what you had meant to say, your blood on my surgical gloves lifting your corpse confirming what we had talked about at Oasis Camp, watching the patient Nile River glide. The lethargy of shock is lifting, inheriting all the protective friends who were your friends and who now crowd around me in this strange and now dangerous city; I’m writing for the first time since I lost you. My ears hurt from all the angry Rock and Rap music, my eyes, well you always knew what my eyes were, and it took me a week to finish a 350ml bottle of Smirnoff, would you believe that? No, you wouldn’t, at The Village with frightening ease with you polishing off a whole bar. I will miss you for the rest of my life. Hearing the story of your last days, I refuse to believe that was you. I’m taking your courage.
December hermitages over. Everything I was afraid of, I’m not afraid of anymore.
I’m not quoting or paraphrasing movie lines anymore, finding shades of meaning in shadows, wordless on my own, terrified of letting go of my luck year, ‘007; the dead year’s worst nightmares infinitely preferable to ‘008’s most lurid roulette chance spins. I finally found it, what I have been looking for.
I got your SMS, “Man, K has a secret you gotta experience, Kulambiro surpassed, it’s out of this world. It’s like u r doped up there. I feel fear deeply that I leave it. Buziga,” getting a hilly perspective you had needed after quarter of a year in a flat town; you still say Kampala is where the best of us resides. I have finally let go of that. Realizing Ernest was right after all, you’ll come around, Tumwijuke was right, many things are past defending: well I see that now, on these cracked pavements underneath running. I let go.
The next logical step was the one I was most afraid of. The New Year is not watching feeble fireworks in a night sky with no rain, piss sweet wine in a glass, on the steps of Imperial Botanical Hotel bar because I finally figured out what all those angry, inarticulate in imitation heavily tattooed children who came to 2Pac concerts knew. Caring makes you angry and 2008 is the year of being angry if you care. Something K knew 2 years ago, anger is useless if you do not use it, and the precipice he stared into the void of made him take the adult steps he took I had been in stumbling baby steps been attempting.
“Court cases keep me guessing
Plea bargain ain’t an option now so am stressing
Cost me more to be free than a life in the pen
Making money off curse words, writing again
Learned to think ahead so I fight with my pen
What’s the worst they can do to a Nigga
Got me lost in hell
To live and die in LA.”
What am I saying to you? Christopher Okigbo was a fatal illustration of what happens when idealistic artists join the fight. I ain’t Okigbo though for years I have been reading Distances, puzzling over windswept footsteps in the Biafra sand. I have loved you without comprehending your teasing gaiety. I understand Countryboyi’s unpopular stand now in the same way Ernest’s off kilter pulpit lamentations seem like jokes and Tumwijuke can’t sleep seeing all the shortcomings that need not be and are daily accepted by unquestioning headphone wearing workmates, fuel shortages cars parked in compounds of two roomed houses with no garages, food prices, up; more than 600 dead, Kenyans are right not to stop protesting still, we cannot live like this anymore. Light footed fiddler on non existent roofs, you can only play with my heart for so long before you lose it. You have lost it. I’m not just saying I understand your anger, I’m getting angry too. You never did have Metternich’s charm or smile though Austria was a poor country too, The Sound of Music does not blur that it produced Adolf Hitler too. The illusion is gone, I have let you go. It was not just 2Pac who roared “Me Against the World” or Eminem who knew, “I’m tired of giving in when this bottle of Hennessey wins,” but it was the biggest and ugliest as ever, The Notorious B.I.G who said it right, “Fuck the World!” Ready to Die, The What, I understand now. My Garden of Gethsemane moment over, I survived.
You lost me when you hesitated. Everybody loses something and after a while some losses are only lessons and some mean nothing and some make albums like August and Everything After. Darlyne am saying that you’re right; you’ve got to love to lose to learn to love. A girl with dimples loved, lost and learned to love and now for the first time I’m so grateful, vengeful free, she’ll always be the wall behind my back, how did I not see this before, no one will ever be able to tell, fewer incredible stories have not been told. No fight is blood lost without a woman, the home you fight for in her deep pooled gaze and in her forgiving arms and upon her pillowed breast, she knew all along: I see my son in your eyes. Now. A better man than I’ll ever be because he has you in him. I’m fighting these fights for you and him, remember me when I’m gone, I hope he has my eyebrows and fingers like you loved them on me, the pieces of my mind that made you laugh and none of the ones that made you cry. You miss me when I’m gone, you say. I don’t understand this. I’m only me when I’m with you. Don’t you see?
2008, here I come. The year of anger is upon us. UMLD is formed.
So now I finally say…
The New Year makes sense.