The Influences and Inspiration for Emergency
While creating Emergency, I try to see the history in everything.
A lot of sites in Nairobi, such as City Market for example (pictured above), are older than our parents. Cathedrals, old schools such as St. Mary’s and Nairobi School are all great examples of colonial architecture.
All I have to do as an artist is rewind the clock a little to eliminate water stains, kiosks and modern cars, but most of the time, this is unnecessary because actual footage of the old buildings exists.
The durability of these structures is evidence of the not-so-altruistic original intentions of Kenya’s early settlers.
I am a Ngugi Wa Thiong’o fan. I bought his autobiography Dreams in a Time of War the same day it was released last month. His writings are a great resource for context. Carol Elkin’s Britain’s Gulag is remarkably well researched, but it is a very tearful read. There is little redemption to be found in her book, and that is not what I want to be said of Emergency years from now.
Ian Henderson’s book, The Hunt for Dedan Kimathi should be put in a museum as one of mankind’s greatest examples of unrivaled horseshit. It is fascinating to listen to this murderous lunatic lie through his teeth. He seems to expect the reader to believe that hardened forest fighters would simply volunteer information to him without the slightest bit of coercion. Torture is the elephant in the room.
The day to day experiences of my life are by far the largest source of material. Literature can only tell you about the big events and the big names. It cannot tell you what it’s like to be hungry, to be angry, to be frustrated by the lack of progress in one’s circumstances. I have never actually been shot at or shot at anyone, but I’ve played paintball and I extrapolate from there. I have also spent sometime with a retired police officer from whom I’ve learned a lot. Even the petrified exclamation “MASAITO” in Issue #2 was stolen from the dictionary-less vocabulary of a friend of mine called Karanja.
I have been arrested at least once in my life, though never charged, for trespass. And in that brief moment, I understood how horrible it must be to be in the not-so-warm custody of the state for the foreseeable future, with no-one there to save you.
This is feeling which we should reflect upon as we celebrate this year’s Mashujaa Day in between the sumptuous meals and trips out of town with our significant others.
Have a great holiday! Peace!
PS: You catch me on KTN’s Str8 Up show today 19.10.10 at 5:30pm.