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Be a part of Migritude's journey.
No contribution is too small - or too large. $2 buys coffee for a volunteer. $15 rents a rehearsal studio for an hour. $100 covers 2 hours of lighting / tech / set design. $500 helps fly Shailja to international festivals!!

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Nairobi Photos 5: The ultimate question

I've travelled 13 hours, done two interviews, survived 6 hours of tech challenges, almost lost my voice, performed a show, and there's a TV crew behind me with more questions - have I earned a latte yet?

Ultimate Question 2: Why can't I get this photo to load the right way up on , even though it's the right way up on my hard drive?

Photo: Pamela Rico

Nairobi Photos: 4

Prop me up - I'm fading fast, and I've had no caffeine for 48 hours......

Habib, Victor, Samy, Obedya, and un-named audience member at the Carnivore.

Nairobi Photos: 3

Migritude meets Nairobi's b-boys, Victor, Samy, Obedya, with Pamela.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Nairobi Photos: 2

Entrance to Carnivore, Nairobi's legendary restaurant and nightclub, where I did a work-in-progress performance of Migritude less than 24 hours after I landed in Kenya.

Youssou N'Dour performed here in 2005, and packed in a capacity crowd of 4,500. Our show was a little more intimate :-)

Photo: Pamela Rico

Nairobi Photos: Paucity thereof

There are people who don't go anywhere without a camera. Then there's me, who rarely goes anywhere with one. Performer's tunnel vision: I'm so focussed on rehearsing, preparing, getting the show to the stage, that capturing images just slips off my radar. And writer's arrogance: if I can retain and describe the experience, why would anyone need photos?

It's only afterwards, when people want to see it, that I can't believe I forgot, yet again, to ask someone to take pictures.

So thank you, Pamela Rico, heaven-sent stranger with the camera, who snapped the shots posted here :-).

Nairobi Photos: 1

Zahid Rajan, editor and co-founder of Awaaz, Kenya's first journal of South Asian African history and culture, gives me a gift pack of 3 Awaaz issues, after the Migritude show at Carnivore. KTN TV crew in the background.

Photo: Pamela Rico

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Migritude In Nairobi

Read the article I wrote on how Migritude went down in Nairobi on Pambazuka News.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

apparent abuse

One of the new photos just released by Australian TV station, SBS, of torture - oh sorry, apparent abuse - by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib. You can find them on the sites of the BBC, The Guardian, and probably a hundred other international media sites. With the exception of the NY Times - whose readers are apparently too delicate to view, close up, their tax dollars at work.

Photo: Reuters

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

today's accomplishments

I entered new multitasking territory when I did voice exercises while I read The Nation. To my surprise, I didn't lose either my breath or my mental concentration.

I'm still up, at almost 9pm, and only mildly sleepy. Which means the jetlag is lifting - yaay! In the past 3 days since I got back to the US, I've been hit by a wave of exhaustion at 6pm each evening. Last night, I gave in and went to bed at 6.30 - and then was up at 1am this morning.

Oh, and I wrote a 1000-word article on my Nairobi show for Pambazuka News. And recorded some voiceover samples for a SustainLane animation series, created by my friend Byron.

Funny - 10 minutes ago, I was beating myself up over everything I didn't get done today. I began this blog posting to laugh at my trivial achievements, in the absence of substantial ones. Now, I read it and think: Umm, actually, that's not a bad day's work.

ok, here's my favourite love poem

Favourite precisely because it's not a "love poem" in the common sense of the term. It's a poem about reasons to believe in a first cause, in the mystery of the universe beyond our tiny body of knowledge. It's a poem that melds quantum physics with journeys into language with the yearning of the human heart and mind in a dance so intricate and lovely, it makes my blood sing.

I've sometimes described myself as a romantic idealist. The line: Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what /
looks to us like nothing;
defines perfectly what I mean by that. It's a political creed for everyone who struggles for life and humanity against an impossible magnitude of violence and greed.

Cascade Experiment

Because faith creates its verification
and reaching you will be no harder than believing
in a planet's caul of plasma,
or interacting with a comet
in its perihelion passage, no harder
than considering what sparking of the vacuum, cosmological
impromptu flung me here, a paraphrase, perhaps,
for some denser, more difficult being,
a subsidiary instance, easier to grasp
than the span I foreshadow, of which I am a variable,
my stance is passional toward the universe and you.

Because faith in facts can help create those facts,
the way electrons exist only when they're measured,
or shy people stand alone at parties,
attract no one, then go home to feel more shy,
I begin by supposing our attrition's no quicker
than a star's, that like electrons
vanishing on one side
of a wall and appearing on the other
without leaving any holes or being
somewhere in between, the soul's decoupling
is an oscillation so inward nothing outward
as the eye can see it.
The childhood catechisms all had heaven,
an excitation of mist.
Grown, I thought a vacancy awaited me.
Now I find myself discarding and enlarging
both these views, an infidel of amplitude.

Because truths we don't suspect have a hard time
making themselves felt, as when thirteen species
of whiptail lizards composed entirely of females
stay undiscovered due to bias
against such things existing,
we have to meet the universe halfway.
Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what
looks to us like nothing; faith is a cascade.

The sky's high solid is anything
but, the sun going under hasn't
budged, and if death divests the self
it's the sole event in nature
that's exactly what it seems.

Because believing a thing's true
can bring about that truth,
and you might be the shy one, lizard or electron,
known only through advances
presuming your existence, let my glance be passional
toward the universe and you.

Alice Fulton

on valentine's day

A few years ago, I read something attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. that stayed with me. To my lasting regret, I didn't copy it down, and I haven't been able to trace it since. But to the best of my memory, it went something like this:

Love without justice is merely sentimental and anaemic. Justice without love is rigid and tyrannical. Love, at its highest, is the creation of the conditions that make justice not only possible, but natural. Justice, at its highest, removes all the obstacles to real love.

Monday, February 13, 2006

art and the value of being alive

From an interview in Inside Arts Magazine, with jazz genius Ornette Coleman:

I believe that creativity is like a form of religion: you should learn the value of being alive first. Then the mechanical stuff. Academic knowledge is founded on what creative artists have done.

Since I've gotten older I've come to the belief that dying is not just physical. Dying is failing to reach your humanity.

I don't think that it's important for audiences to know the form of what I'm playing. I'd just rather put the information out in a way that lets them deal with the sound of it. I have no idea of trying to play something that would soothe or please them. I want to approach it as trying to affect the meaning of their lives. Sound is our way of translating knowledge and emotion. Tone is more sensitive than sex.

What makes a person wise is to be in a place and have an experience that no one else is having. Art can do that. Art can give one experience that everybody will take in differently.

every minute around the world

380 women become pregnant.
190 face an unintended pregnancy.
110 experience a pregnancy-related complication.
40 have an unsafe abortion.
1 dies as a result of her pregnancy.

Source: EngenderHealth

Multiply that by 60 minutes per hour. 24 hours per day. 365 days per year.

Reproductive justice is integral to social, economic, political justice. If you don't own your body, you are not free. Access to safe, legal contraception and abortion are fundamental human rights.

best thing about confused body clock

is that it gets you out of bed at 4am with no effort whatsoever.

I realized a few minutes ago that I leave for Vienna in just over 3 weeks. Barely enough time to catch up on my backlog. And maybe I should just keep my body on European time for the next 3 weeks :-)

It's funny - I've worked so long for exactly this kind of life. The life of a touring, performing artist, doing her work on international stages. Now that it's here, I feel woefully unprepared. I imagine other touring artists being much more on top of things, but that's probably just a fantasy.
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