Our Ideas of Home

From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings, friends:

Last week, President William Ruto was in Paris, sleeves rolled up Obama-style, where he addressed the Global Citizen Festival in Paris, and made a five-minute case for climate finance. The Standard described his address as a “resounding speech” and that “Nearly every sentence Ruto delivered was met with cheer, clapping, and chants, much to the delight of many.” The Star said he received “electrifying applause”. Citizen Digital said he received the “rock star” treatment in Paris.

But Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua apparently was not happy at the media coverage or lack thereof, presumably because the Daily Nation, or the other Nation Media Group outlets did not give the speech the same prominence or effusive praise. (I’ve checked, but I can’t find Nation.Africa’s coverage of it, and I doubt this is the result of the personalised results of my Google Search algorithm). Capital News reports that Gachagua ‘slams’ the media over ‘blackout on President Ruto’s heroic Paris address’.

Now, let’s not even go into the overuse of wrestling metaphors that my media colleagues so love – once you see it, you won’t unsee how much in Kenya is ‘slammed’ or ‘bashed’. (Incidentally, the pro wrestling creep into our media landscape is a serious thing; it has been used as a frame to understand Donald Trump, and the New York Times asks ‘Is Everything Wrestling?)

My question from the whole thundering-applause-in-Paris situation is simple: why don’t our leaders, by and large, talk to us in the same way that they speak about us when they are abroad? In this country, we have a vyombo vya wageni problem, in which the best versions of ourselves are reserved for visitors and outsiders, while those we share a home – and a country – with only get the plastic utensils, the hand-me-downs, and the outright neglect and abuse.

At the upcoming Story Sosa show (tickets in the next section of the newsletter!) we’ll explore these ideas a little further: what makes a home, home? What does it take for a place to feel like home? And how do our ideas and experiences of home help us understand our lives against the backdrop of history?

In the meantime, here’s:

  • What We’re Reading: The Case Against Travel, published in the New Yorker. “Travel gets branded as an achievement: see interesting places, have interesting experiences, become interesting people. Is that what it really is?” No, Agnes Collard argues: “It turns us into the worst version of ourselves while convincing us that we’re at our best.
  • What We’re Watching: Working: What We Do All Day, a limited documentary on Netflix produced by, and featuring, Barrack Obama talking to American workers about what their workdays are like. The structure of the series – each episode moves through the hierarchy of the workplace, from gig worker to the CEO – is really remarkable, and for me, the first two episodes were the best and most illuminating.
  • What We’re Listening To: Short History Of…, a history podcast by Noiser and available on all your podcast apps. Episode one had nerdy me learning the different types of Roman gladiators and their weapons – do you know the difference between retiarius, murmillo and thracian

As always, 

Christine Mungai

Curator | Baraza Media Lab

Story Sosa | An Experiment in Live Storytelling

Date: 22nd & 23rd July, 2023
Get your tickets here.

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