not so recently concluded Farafina Creative Trust workshop, in what was arguably my most challenging class (and I think I speak for many of the participants too), Binyavanga Wainaina asked us to look at a painting by Wangechi Mutu, titled the The Partician, and write what we saw. Here is the painting:
I wrote down two things Binyavanga said when he gave us this classwork: “It is the anomalies in things that signify what you are looking for” and ” Grotesque is judgement without evidence.” With these thoughts in mind, here’s what I saw:
Some say you can tell where a person is from by looking at their feet.
If they looked down, they’ll know where I’m from. Poverty.
They’ll know then that I’m a fraud.
So I distract them with all the glitz, all the glamour he gave me.
I’m a fraud and he’s the only one who knows it.
He made me this way and this way it would stay
As long as I give him what he wants, the attention he seeks.
If I get hurt, it is worth it.
“Bow to me”, he told me.
“See the others, I made them who they are.
Look what I gave them. I can give you more.”
Gliding towards me, wearing all his wealth, bleeding hand outstretched, he said, “Pledge your allegiance.”
I had no choice. I was defenseless.
I betrayed the gods of my father; the ones I clung to in a claw hold.
Bowing my head as lips met back of palm, I sealed my fate with a kiss.
What did you see?