MASTERING THE ART OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES- ANUARITE GIKONYO
October 18, 2019
I think that one of the most powerful aspects of writing is its ability to paint humanity. We humans, as social beings, are most engaged when we can relate to someone or something. I find that my most powerful stories come from those that carry aspects of truth.
I find ways to communicate this shared truth in a way that makes understanding it simple.
By playing on what is relatable, I am able to make what would usually seem like fundamental disagreements, easier to adjust and absorb.
I desire for humans to be aptly remembered and for stories to encapsulate our lifestyle, beliefs and culture. This is what writing brings alive for me.
My name is Anuarite Gikonyo. I am 17 years old born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. Ever since I was a child, art has played a very significant role in my identity. Some of my fondest memories revolve around creativity; the ability to express and connect with myself and others simply by playing with shapes, colours and words.
Something about this game has always felt natural to me. The more I would play, the more I’d see, the more I’d feel, the more I’d grow.
I have never stopped playing. I dream of the day that art becomes my means of influencing a change in the areas of worldwide injustice and disenfranchisement.
THE ART OF STORYTELLING
Writing forces me to be extremely engaged with myself as well as with the world around me. On the former, it demands a level of self-awareness and connectedness that cannot be forged. Should I fail to sit with my thoughts, converse and understand them, this reflects in my choice of words.
As for the latter, I must stress the importance of connection. The world is a fast-moving place; we are fed news and information so quickly that we are not only desensitized to pain and tragedy but also immune to momentary joys.
It is then up to me, as a writer, to tap into the hearts and minds of the statistics, so as to reveal humanity through my pieces.
How would I do justice to the creation of an emotional bond between subject and reader, should I not be emotionally invested myself?
It is up to me to ensure that I do not settle for surface level. I must put my all, mentally and emotionally, into the stories I choose to tell by refusing to subscribe to the inhumanity of speed.
QUALITIES OF A GOOD WRITER
What I would consider the most important quality of a good writer is commitment.
This would not only be by committing to polishing the skill, but also by committing to one’s cause.
Furthermore, I believe that there is a correlation between being a good writer and being a good listener or observer.
From my experience, inspiration can come from the most simple and mundane observations.
CHALLENGES FOR THE YOUNG AFRICAN WRITER
I believe that one of the greatest challenges for young writers in Africa is the perception of art in a majority of the societies we are raised in.
We are living in an age of Scientific Knowledge. We accordingly, more often than not, have parents frantic about their children going through the world as a creative.
It is perceived as a less stable, more “lazy” route to take. I believe that this is based on the fact that we cannot quantify the feeling of being touched by a line in a novel, or that of being inspired by a painting, or of being spoken to, for and with.
Parents would, therefore, rather have their children in a more “tangible” career path. The solution I would propose for this is quantifying your passion. It is one thing to be a good writer, and another to be a committed one. If we, as writers, put in as much time and energy into our craft as doctors and engineers do theirs, not only the power but also the sustainability of being a creative, would be irrefutable.
I face a number of challenges as a young African writer, such as limitations on my audience, and the writer’s plague, writer’s block among others. I would, however, say that my greatest challenge is also my greatest joy of writing.
FINDING A BALANCE
I am currently studying at the African Leadership Academy, which in itself is an ‘AHA’ moment! I have found a way to allow these two worlds of academics and art to feed each other. For instance, I now draw a lot of my inspiration from theories we discuss in class. A piece I wrote, Speaking in Tongues, for instance, was inspired by a topic from my Writing and Rhetoric class. My poems also then assist in refining opinions and organizing thoughts on certain subject matters, which has proven helpful while doing assignments. I would also use art as a form of taking a break from the hectic academic environment. By taking this necessary break, I would have the clarity of mind to fully engage in my academic classes.
FINDING MY PURPOSE
I am constantly leaking with purpose; be it in the classroom or while having a conversation over lunch. However, one specific moment I felt my purpose on Earth had been revealed was while reciting my poem, Speaking In Tongues at a Cultural Exchange in school.
The poem depicts an internal conflict behind speaking both English and Swahili in Kenya. This was my first piece that incorporated Swahili in its true form and messaging.
It revealed my interest in reading and speaking on identity politics, as well as concretized my dream of using art to influence change. In that case it created a familiar space to both Kenyans and non-Kenyans- That was fulfilling purpose.
In those 3 minutes on that stage, changing the world did not seem so abstract. It was right there, right then in that auditorium.
Art is my means of making sense of the world around me – Anuarite Gikonyo