Hello dear readers…that’s if I still have any seeing as my last entry was about two months ago. Oh my, oh my, while I haven’t been actively posting since October, I assure you that my mind has been abuzz with ideas and thoughts for the blog in 2015. Namely, how to stick to, a consistent, manageable editorial calender. Today’s entry serves two purposes: a recap in the world of yogini motherhood from October until now and my reaction to Lupita Nyongo’s speech she gave as the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Conference for Women 2014.

First up: We’ve counted that baby Sesam, during his nine months of life, has been to eight countries so far. Here he is with daddy overlooking a canal in Amsterdam

IMG_3242And here he is making his maiden transatlantic voyage to America last month

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Sesam and I spent the month of November in my childhood home, Canton, NY, where I helped my mother clear out the family home. After 23 years of working and living in Canton,the bucolic backdrop to our own Coming to America immigrant chapter, my parents will be selling the family house and moving out west to Spokane, Washington, where the climate is much more friendly and accommodating for my father. It was rather an emotional month, physically packing up the place which has been HOME for such a long time. At any rate, it was a special chance for Sesam to bond with his grandparents and for family friends to meet him. Sesam began teething (four: two up, two down), which leaves him without much appetite and in an uncharacteristically cranky mood. I’m trying one of those amber teething necklaces and while it’s hard to tell if they help,  it doesn’t seem like they are much harm. He has started pulling himself up to standing. Then he gets scared that he is actually standing and cannot get himself back down. Looks like this one bites off more than he can chew! He is also getting more and more independent, able to play alone for longer stretches of time, especially with all the things he shouldn’t be getting into!

For me, I got the chance to walk down memory lane while saying goodbye to Canton and St. Lawrence University, as I have known them. I didn’t actually graduate from SLU, but I was a campus brat there from the age of 10 until I graduated from high school, taking ballet classes and theatre courses there. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t just go there, this scenic, country club institution of higher education. I suppose after my middle and high school years in a tiny, rural town in Northern NY, I was ready for something bigger and more cosmopolitan.

 Here are some photo highlights from November

Sesam and I outside 9 Goodrich, the family home since 1994

IMG_3561        Sesam as my yoga partner for the November Instagram yoga challenge I participated in to raise awareness for the Africa Yoga Project

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The silent rural winter landscape meets with a peaceful, friendly wish at Northern Light Yoga

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And a no BS attitude to yoga and life, as seen at the Canton Yoga Loft (I taught the Saturday morning community class there, on my birthday no less!)

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Where I spent a good deal of time during the formative years

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My second Wool and the Gang workshop was well-attended at the new LYS which opened up on Main Street while I was in town

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Sesam with Cucu on the drive down to Saratoga Springs to meet with Njogu, Sara and cousins Nia and Lila

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Sesam with Buck, his babysitter during the month, and his wife, Whitni. Sesam is teary-eyed and cranky in the shot but Buck was a star with him!

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We attended a tobacco burning ceremony, held once a month, at the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. The Mohawk Nation is a territory that straddles the intersection of international borders (Canada and America) and provincial boundaries on both banks of the St. Lawrence River. My mother has taught at Akwesasne for the past 15 years or so. The Freedom School (pictured below) uses Mohawk as the language of instruction.

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I attended a workshop at St. Lawrence University on how to paint Enso, Zen Circles of Englihtment. The lecture and workshop were presented by artist and peace worker, Kazuaki Tanahashi

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 Finland was not so far away after all. Here is St. Lawrence University’s Finnish alumnus to date, Jukka Tammisuo, class of 1987, and star athlete of the same year

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Back in Finland, we’ve been contending with some crazy jetlag at this dark, kaamos-filled time of year, so watching Lupita Nyong’o’s speech came as a welcome bit of inspiration, helping shake me out of the funk. In it, she really captures the zeitgeist of creative types who grew up in Kenya during the 80s and did not see a career in the arts as anything viable or supported by the culture at large. I’ll never forget when I went back to Kenya for a visit during my college years and a family friend, a very successful doctor, asked me what I was studying. “Theatre Studies,” I replied. “Meaning?” he countered in a tone that implied: Does. Not. Compute (this course of study tinged with irrelevance and frippery). Lupita tackles this head-on in an utterly relatable way and I find it tremendously encouraging that her platform will embolden a new generation of creative and artistic Kenyans and Africans to pursue courses of study and contemplate livelihoods (provided you got game in the field) that previously weren’t considered ‘serious’ enough. Towards the end of the speech, she offered her seven tools for fearlessly following your dreams. Not only did she have to overcome her fear in the form of self-doubt, self-hate and imposter syndrome (especially during the making of 12 Years a Slave), but she also talked openly about contending with the fear of success, which must have been absolutely bananas for her, given all the success she has received career-wise this past year. It must be a crazy amount of pressure: the projections she is facing as the Hollywood supernova, not only for her accolades as an actor, but as the face of Beauty. Redefined in her role as Lancome’s new Ambassadress. I think it’s totally awesome to have her so front and center, wearing her natural short Afro style and living in her beautiful, dark skin. Although I do have to point out that this definition of beauty is hardly new. Still, it’s great to have her representing it, out there in the white, western world. Now, if only they would just stop lightening her skin tone when putting her on magazine covers. I find it completely ludicrous and hypocritical, but this is a huge, loaded topic which I will save for another day. A fun bit of trivia: Lupita and I went to the same primary school in Nairobi (Loreto Convent Msongari). She started about two or three years after me.

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An equally phenomenal voice coming out of creative Africa is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I heard her TED talk on why we should all be feminists in February and find it most eloquent, relevant and beneficial. And while I am curious to watch Lupita’s performance in Star Wars, I cannot wait for the film version of Adichie’s book Americanah which will feature Lupita as the main character. Talk about a one-two KO punch of intelligence, talent and creativity!

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4 thoughts on “Bye Bye Canton & I Heart Creative Africa

  1. Great to read your latest entry, Wambui! Greetings from Leavenworth, WA, where it’s a frosty 35 degrees or so. Heard Sipoo got snow…Helsinki, too?

  2. Hi there! Great to see new posts from you! It would be interesting to read your views on cultural appropriation both as a yoga practicioner as well as stemming from a multi cultural heritage. All the best!

    1. Hi Iris,

      Thanks for the comment and feedback. As it stands, I am mulling on that very topic and have something in the oven. It still needs to time to rise and take form though, but I will post on this topic soon!

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