Say Cheese

We are the world (are the world)We are the children (are the children)We are the ones who’ll make a brighter day so let’s start giving (so let’s start giving)We are the World by Lionel Richie and various artists is a song I have grown fond of. The brighter the days become, the more this song keeps unlocking deeper secrets that I wouldn’t understand as a child. 

Every Saturday morning, my mother would wake up with such gusto and determination. I always knew it was cleaning day, whether I partook or not in the Saturday ritual, it went without saying that by seven in the morning, everyone in the household had to be up and about. Even my little sister(who then was a sassy little child whose main job was to cry and be fed. Ah, the simple bare necessities.) 

I would wake up just a little bit earlier so that I could catch my favorite black and white tv shows that would be aired between 5 am and 6 am sneak up to the couch and set myself up for comfort and entertainment. That favorite spot on the three-seater couch at the furthest corner, disappear between the warm blanket and the intersection of the couch rest and back. 

This saved me two things. One, the trouble of a rude awakening at 6 am, and two, the promise of not missing Cartoon Network after 8 am. I still remember the moment my mother would put on her favorite cassette tape and play beautiful soul music that would pierce the soul and evoke powerful emotions. This explains my affinity for blues and soul music to date. “ We are the world”, a classic that still to date resonates with me was number two on the player list. 

As the scent of sweet tea brewed in the kitchen and the sounds of the broom removing every dirty object that decided to rest on our beautiful compound and my mother sang along to her favorite songs, I couldn’t help but wonder in my mind about song number two. 

Did the adults in my life feel how I felt at that moment? Did they get deeply convicted and moved by the words and melodies of the song? Did it give them the motivation to get into the cleaning spirit? I knew there was something deeper. How I wished I could form articulate words and questions to stir up a conversation with my father at the breakfast table based purely on that song. Or nudge my uncle to belt out his melody and sing along to the song. To ask my auntie to sing that song to my little sister and my elder brother to drum along and add a few inspirational words that would remind us of our innate light and power. 

I would not know what you derive from this song. Your experience could be more transcendent than mine or just simplistic and fine. It could be you are living the song every day of your life or you hope that one day it would make sense to you. Maybe it makes you angry every time you hear the mention of the song because apparently Mary introduced you to blues and souls and now you can’t even dare listen to any song that even has a remote similarity.  

In the graces of Good Friday, this song reminds me of the power within us. The light we are so afraid to let shine. The fears that stop us from becoming: Fear of mosquitoes, fear of rats, fear of being hurt again, the fear that Baba Pereruan will slap you again, the fear that you might never be a good father, the fear that you will not get that dream job and if you didn’t find yourself on this list, please feel free to insert. 

I don’t know what your cross is this Good Friday. Whether it leads you to go party with kina nanii at Vasha or containers pale Juja with the loudspeakers blasting ni sherehe na haitaki hasira. Maybe you will be at home listening to Drake and singing along to (“ maybe you’ll love me one day, maybe we’ll someday grow”). Maybe this is the day Nahashon decided to go to that ruracio. You packed your bags, ready to go for that peaceful holiday with your family and friends. You got to go home and relax because vile hizi exams zinatupeleka weeh, afadhali Dunia isimame nishuke. It is a bit early in the month, so you still have some shmoney in your account and decided to grace that slay queen you have been eyeing and lying to since post-Valentine’s Day. Maybe you just haven’t figured out who you are meant to be and it is killing you slowly, maybe you already know who you are( a complete package, ready set!) but opportunities still pass you by. I hope that it brings you comfort to know that: that shot of General Meakings won’t kill your light or power, that No! from your father to go be a musician doesn’t kill your light, that taunting voice that tells you “you will never make it” is just a big fat lie. 

As you take that photo na mbogi yenu ya wazii, say cheese. As you bite into that heavenly meat pie, say cheese. As you down that last shot of Chrome Gin, say cheese. As you devour your last hundred shillings at Meater’s Butchery and wamekiekea nyama ya 20 na mfupa ya 80, say cheese. As you dive into that pool, say cheese. As you deceive your fellow fornicator, say cheese. As you hug your parents, say cheese. As you close that office door for the weekend and say goodbye to your workmates, say cheese. 

As for me, let me study that Object Oriented Programming unit. God knows I don’t want to carry the cross of a retake. Cheers to a good, Good Friday, say cheese, and let your light shine! 


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