Art and Poetry : The Irony of He vs SHe



Flashback: I am 12 and as my girlfriends buy sanitary towels and slowly adjust their wardrobes to the changes happening to their bodies, a different kind of change is happening to my own.

I am not comfortable talking to you about it but my voice is changing. Now I definitely have to say something. It's either that or I remain mute for the rest of my life and even so, it will be a short lived solution.

So here goes, but before I say anything let me make one thing clear, I was born a girl.

I'm a Guevodoce which translates to the growth of the male genitalia at 12. They also refer to me as a Machihembra meaning first a woman then a man.

This is the story of many young children in the Dominican Republic.
Young girls who grow up to become boys.



The Art and Poetry event on Masculinity vs Femininity reminded me of this. Hosted by Ink Overflow, it took place at the Micheal Joseph Center Nairobi on the 18th of June. 

If you got a chance to read what I wrote on the one they did on beauty you'd understand why I was excited  and had to make it for the next one.

Masculinity and femininity is more dual than we realize. A single person can be both masculine and feminine. 

Actually biologically we all have a bit of both in us. The sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are found in everyone; the only difference is that they are found in different proportions.

That is the main issue the Ink Overflow team sort to address this time round. Many other issues that arise when we start categorizing people according to their genders were addressed by the performances we were graced with too. Having arrived a little late I will sample the few I got to watch.


Shikkiey on Feminism

The lights went off when she came on the stage. Then she did a couple of intense dance moves that totally caught my attention. She was joined by another lady who I later found out is called Seise. They recited some of the pieces in sync almost instinctively which was very impressive.

Shikkiey brought to light the fact that there is a difference between feminism and toxic feminism. She took us back to the 1980's during the onset of feminism. It became as a result of the fact that men assumed all power and were reluctant to give women a chance to air their grievances.



It was and should continue being a space for women to come and speak about issues. Issues such as voting  and participating in sports which not too long ago women were not allowed to participate in.

Thus feminism is meant to give hope for a better tomorrow to women rather than spread hate for men.She made it evident that we don't gain by fighting wrong with wrong or hate with hate. In fact we lose. The agenda is what matters than the title womanist, activist or feminist.

She finished her performance by saying, " What a man can do. a woman can do differently not necessarily better. In a world where only women exist the human race would be extinct and if men are trash then women are ashtrays"


Tetu Shani on Father's Day 

He was the surprise artist and boy was the crowd ecstatic. He lived up to and even exceeded expectations if all the applause he got after his performance was anything to go by.

 He started by wishing all the father's in the room a happy father's day. He went on to point out the fact that there are very few songs about fathers.

The few he knew had a not so perfect image of dads. Such as Queen Ifrica's Daddy Don't Touch Me There and Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father.

He told us that maybe the reason he had not written a song about his Dad was because he was not perfect. Then he posed a question to the crowd. Do we just celebrate perfect? Immediately after that he sang a song about his Dad titled An Ode to Pa

He owned the stage and engaged the audience with ease. I still remember joining the crowd chanting ladidadida  mbamba  to one of his songs. It was truly an experience and a half, not forgetting his epic whistling and beatboxing skills.

FUN FACT: Tetu Shani got a scholarship to Berklee College of Music to study performance, but he turned it down. A really bold decision. Echoing his words he explained " Why go where the sun is setting when the Kenyan sun is rising. There are many opportunities here right now and Berklee will always be there but when a window is open it's not open forever"


Abu Sense on 
 Woman is To Man What Man Isn't
x


He was the headlining act. His first performance was out of this world. He impersonated a Jamaican boy occasionally behaving like a Jamaican woman in this case his mother. His patwa sounded like the real deal. I even got lost a couple of times but I did not care much. His gestures and body movements were hilarious enough to keep me attentive.

His next piece was about gender and gender roles. He spoke of the way we have worked tirelessly to come up with a measure of manliness or womanliness. It's main component has been comparison to one another, meaning individuality is totally exterminated.

He told us about his experience living in multiple households and having learnt the most from the mothers and the daughters. As opposed to fathers and sons who are reclusive and had to play the role to appear wise.

The ladies embraced life to the fullest and if there happened to be tomboy, he would be accepted and plugged in both worlds. Notice the use of the pronoun he, I believe that it was used deliberately. I believe there is power in embracing both your feminine and masculine sides, because she is he and he is she for they contain each other.


As the performances came to an end. Kaatoony was at the back doing his thing.With his  permission I got to take a short video of the whole process. That along with the picture of a happy client. Watch out for his interview and the video.

Thanks to Ivan Irakoze and the Ink Overflow team for yet another successful event. To all that performed we loved you. To those I missed out on I look forward to watching you next time. Until next time.

AA (Auspicious Art)
Wendi Mutisya

Photo credits:

@IAmNickJyalus
@InkOverflow








12 comments:

viviankiarie said...

I love this.. Very well written. Keep up the good work

Wendi Mutisya said...

Thank you Vivian :)

Elizabeth Wambui said...

Nice piece

Wendi Mutisya said...

Thanks Liz :)

Raymond Oluoch said...

nice... it reminded me of some times in life lol!

Wendi Mutisya said...

Hmm 😏 I wonder what times those were Raymond. Thanks for reading though.

Tales of a Petrol Head said...

A while ago I would have regarded this piece as just a well written article and only that...Now I cannot even begin to explain how well it resonates with me...awesome work Wendy!
Purity

Wendi Mutisya said...

Thank you Purity, I am really glad the piece had that effect on you :).

Eric Wahinya said...

what an awesome piece... keep it up girl👍

Wendi Mutisya said...

Thank you Eric :).

Alicia James said...

This is lovely. I felt like I attended the event. I've learnt a thing or two from this piece

Wendi Mutisya said...

Thanks for reading Alicia. I'm really glad you learnt something from this piece.

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