“Indigenizing the Academy” without Indigenous people: who can teach our stories?

Great Read

Moontime Warrior

“The Indigenous person engages in philosophy by thoughtfully examining the world. The outsider examines Indigenous philosophy by thoughtfully interacting with the Indigenous philosopher.”

— Thurman Lee Hester Jr. and Dennis McPherson, “The Euro-American Philosophical Tradition and its Ability to Examine Indigenous Philosophy”1

With the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on residential schools in June 2015, “Indigenizing the Academy” is a hot topic in Canadian universities. As institutions explore the introduction of Indigenous content, we have to question what is defined as Indigenous content, who this content serves, and how the pursuit of “indigenizing the academy” can easily become exploitative.

In 2013, I helped put together a new syllabus for an Indigenous Philosophy class at my university. The philosophy department wouldn’t consider allowing someone without a PhD in philosophy teach this course, but pairing an Indigenous undergrad with a white philosophy professor was, apparently, acceptable. (Oh, the power…

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Voice in My Text

‘The voice in my head tells me what to write. The voice in my text tells me I should read some more’ – Lila

Voice in my Text. Dying to communicate. Imagine having a place where you don’t have to be anything other than exactly who you are in all your fabulous messy glory. There she was, of fair skin visibly euphoric, one of those days a woman is at her absolute best and worst at the same time. She was beguilingly calm yet deliberately flaunted inappropriate smiles. The more innocent and obvious her hints were, the more outrageous my wild thoughts became. Her hair was a timely distraction. From a huge proponent of anomalies dominated by natural haired sistahs to another, she nailed this one! Her hair told a story I had been regurgitating since I was a little girl. No one was smart or interesting enough for me. My standards were too fucking high for a dark skin on a double-decker, but I cared not. At 25 when my friendship trajectory was at its lowest, only my hair could get me. No one was perfectly equipped to understand every inch of my tortured soul. She did me proud on that front.

Her gown, a perfect fit. She had designed it herself I was sure. A mixture of modern and medieval, of the retro-relevant and wildly fanciful. The room she was in, a mess. It bothered me as to why her crew was compelled to leave her alone in that filth. It was a large straggling building by the looks of it, very old in the centre. Not a place one would fancy mouthing soft congratulations. I gazed around, an odor of age and regret pervaded the whole crumbling building. Her outdoorsy youth would cringe at this obvious contrast on display. My perfectionist genes were under massive threat. Suffice it to say, the room had the measured elegance of something you would look at lovingly only when under the influence of something lethal. A quiet desperation that could so easily be lifted with just a little bit of courage. There should be some glorious epiphany in all of this, but this one here was real struggle.

We know more than we can tell. I had not seen my daughter for almost a year. To be brutally honest, I lost track of her. 12 solid years of queuing up every evening at the Watch Tower (as we’d call it) to catch a glimpse of what’s happening on the other side of the road took a toll on me. So I left the Tower sessions to her father for a year. He would brief me on the happenings. It didn’t look good. He’d voice his concerns about how solitude was getting the best of her and how his hands were tied when it came to offering any sort of help her way. Although It reeked of selfishness on my part, it was sensible to do that. I let her down in so many unthinkable ways, I chose afterlife. I observed her puberty days from a distance. A seamless transition to full womanhood turned chaotic and miserable. Right when she needed me most, I bailed out. To watch her go through the motions was not a plan.

People assume it’s all diamonds and free flowing honey out here. I’ll let you in on one thing, High School all over again. There’s always endless queues of something. For days you lose interest in everything after-life, the only place where a damned soul can find respite is the Watch Tower. It first sends us into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then ferries us back to ourselves, both changed and consoled. I could understand why souls exceeded daily limits gazing into beloved earthly residents for hours on end. Made so much sense until you end up casting death stares to think that you have to Love them from over here while they are 400 billion light years over there. You reach out but feel the separation of an invisible chasm. That there was the cue to head back to our reality.

So on this day particularly I met up with J Rivers who can’t quite leave the towers even for a micro second which is normal for a newbie. The long nights in front of strange monitors and fervent fingers hitting keystrokes are a one way ticket to landing at the bottom of the social pole. She’d soon be branded the Patron saint of socially paralyzed shut-ins of the Afterlife. With a boiling water challenge thrown for good measure.

“She looks average yet flawless. With that gorg gown and the glorious mess of drink-up she’s holding though, It’s clear Lila wants to join us with a bang” Joan Chuckled.

I could see the point. There was a gathering storm of dimness. I watched on as my daughter’s eyes moved slowly and lovingly over the dusty bottle of red wine. It was as if some frenzy had seized her, and she vented her rage upon the bottle. She turned her eyes to the ceiling in search of perspective and solace and she finally broke down into a massive wreck of sobs.

“She must have dreaded the idea of Forever with Him” added Joan in a reminiscent voice.

“I wish she could throw some light upon what is worrying her” I thought. I Was dying to say something to her, many things. And so I will speak of her:

Your tears look beautiful,
Of filters that scream,
darling you looked better in the first mugshot,
Heard you found a way to get by,
No longer a captive of my hold,
In helpless disarray I watched you fall,
Into several holes along the streets of recover,
I watch us decay like I never had choice,
Leaving blankets of fading scars behind your eyes…
Blue episodes, waning and wasting away,
You sure did thrive in times when pain replaced your fears,
When demons would whisper every step,
Only to cower before your fears,
A time when snatched lines became my own,
Life has gone quite well except for when it hasn’t…

“I can’t do this, I can’t… I’m sorry.” Her lament broke the silence.

She spoke a quiet prayer, perhaps reaching out to the voice in her head for help. It was male, raspy and Dutch. Or so she thought. The voice in her text that spoke of silent whispers and a bucket load of regret however, was yours truly. Lila had invested her entire childhood in trying to figure out the gender of her inner voice. Sounded like candy and trouble. The voice in her head is behind what has her reaching into the fridge when not hungry, losing her temper only to regret it later. I am only behind the good decisions in her life including pruning her inbox whilst in conversation with other human beings. The only way I could reach out to her considering she avoided me in her dreams. The medium was frustrating but I did what I had to do albeit with help from books, messages, articles and when you factor in timezone… an exercise in futility.

She grabbed a book from a drawer, brushed away a cloud of gilded dust and opened it. After a short intent perusal, she threw down the huge book with a snarl of disappointment.

“It’s pure lunacy!” she exclaimed, downing what’s left of the bottle.

A few minutes later, she picked up the book and read out loud, perhaps not wanting to confront the very obvious fact that I was the one pulling strings.

“I need to let go of him” I was running the show here.

“My detractors will undoubtedly cringe at some details but It has to be done.”

She put her left hand soothingly upon her ring finger. Oh dear! It was there. The ring, a huge rock pressing on her finger. It’s done isn’t it? My girl has already belted the cringe-worthy vows to the horrible bastard hasn’t she? She furiously shook her head, then removed the ring. I couldn’t help but nod in approval. He didn’t deserve her anyway.

“I am miserable and I’m pretty sure he is as well.” she continued reading.

She started roaming around the room admonishing herself aloud for not using it to better advantage. In the midst of all this gloomy fearful one sided dialogue that had the makings of the shortest marriage ever, there was this crazy girl jumping around with a bottle of all that’s good in the world. Sometimes what we need the most is right in front of us, we just can’t see it.

I cannot possibly embrace this mysterious Son-in-law. He must be of the demeanor that does not appeal to the eye that judges incompatibility I reckon. Luring my child into forgiveness every passing day after drowning her into a sea of tears was never a qualification from where I sit. She must have really aimed low, but why? I am not generous with expressions of love yet affections do spring up with surprising force…

All this while, I hadn’t realized there was a knock on the door. At last I would finally glance into this man who’s Lila’s life a misery. A slab sided man with loose limbs entered. His frame had fallen in. Her eyes lit up when she saw him.

“I sure hope you’ve gotten into character this time for the last scene.”

“You bet I have Mr. Director.” she smiled sheepishly.

For Unto Us Struggle Is Born

Woke up to Taylor Swift “I knew You Were Trouble.” I can picture mum merking her own rendition with Aaliyah in the background expressing approval for every vocal she belts out. I ain’t even mad at that. I’m a shell of what I used to be. I am indifferent to Lila and whatever she stands for. Started with losing interest so fast now I found myself dining with a profound sense of apathy and a desire to do absolutely nothing.

“I have no desire to be comforted by the fantasy that my parents are now peacefully re-united.”

Is this true dad? That all this while you conveniently chose to give me false hope just so I can write back? Used to be every time you pay me those glorious visits in my dreams I rush on here to express myself but was all that a set-up? Dreams reveal truths and half truths but was it all a lie? I chose this channel knowing too well it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I gambled, it paid off, for a minute, now my disturbed self is back at zero. Why should I write anyway? I had no intentions whatsoever of dusting this place with my craft. The ideal world expects that I grieved enough, demands that I grow the hell up. Many have told me to use my muse in other ways to trigger a different set of emotions. What other ways when the only feel I now bathe in is apathetic, when the only inspiration I held was pain, when what will definitely keep me going are the invincible slave tears that my pillow is ready to wipe off every other night of the calendar year?

I mean today is about me so why should I even say Hi Lenkai? I’m supposed to be selfish it’s allowed this once, No? Like please don’t send me that Birthday message, we’re only names and text upon a screen. It’s pointless, you are meant to be self centred. This is a sabotage of sorts so I’m making the first step towards a Carefree next 25. The two reasons behind my existence no longer breathe so tell me why I should celebrate? I’m growing older wrinkles are knocking on my door. Entrapped within the solid walls I put myself in, to even think of letting them in. A master of portraying calm waters in an otherwise stormy area.

Yet, a dark cloud lingers trying to squeeze the life out of me. I show no emotion, that’s weakness. Such a young at heart lady carries so much burden that she’s willing not to share. Such a bubbly being has shut herself out of the world with excess force strangling life with bare hands that should otherwise be embracing all the love surrounding her. What Love? The only Love I am aware of left me cold blooded, the streets are shouting. I see what others choose not to see. No one to annoy the shit out of, no one to listen to my boring mindless drivel, no one to go home to, no one to hold conversation with, no one to fix my favorite dish. All 3 of you gone. The only Love I can gift myself belongs to You. Please do not be worried about me, have fun. I’m supposed to be happy, every Tom Dick and Whoever blurts this out I presume. I should stop being a nag and smile and ‘man up’ right? It’s the universally acceptable state of mind – Happiness. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Easier said than done. It’s my Special day for crying out loud. The gift you left behind – me – to be celebrated, adored, respected, is not!

If You think I’m heading Depression’s way, You’re having a laugh. I can smell Serotonin deficit 100 yards from my small dark curtain room. I can work my way around things from the much I know. That my fam would freak out, I’m not one to speculate but really I’m fine I’m well I’m okay. I have faked smiles more than the average orgasm faking woman, get me an Oscar. I’m hopeful, a believer but my faith is in shambles. I keep trying but that’s not enough. I’m not a quitter so why should I quit being empty. I feel wrong but there’s no way to correct myself. I can get out of this tidal wave of misery, I should break away, throw me the keys oh loyal one. I laugh and smile but I’m not happy.

Forgive my manners, I should be asking about your stay here but does it matter now/ I only know of happiness when I look at the mirror, should I stay there? Sometimes I think I’m addicted to the idea of being depressed. I crave that sad feel and feed it with my all. Feeling down isn’t always a bad thing. I feel justified in my anguish. It’s familiar and easy to fall into and wallow in out of habit. A very uncomfortable comfort zone that I get bored when I’m out of it. But I fight, I do.

Utopia, of playgrounds on which my slightest whim becomes Law,

Nothing else matters when we dance in the stars to Future’s catchy flow,

These voices just won’t shut up, the whispers have reached a new low,

Out of touch with reality they say it’s my obvious flaw,

Unmet childhood needs, to the gardener I filled up that empty nest,

Shielding myself from the unknown, does it bother the rest?

Surreal how they quickly pass me my cloak of shame,

The only time I escape is when the system shuts my eyes in your name,

Regrettably, my every pull towards the light bears no game,

Unfortunate that I’m damaged from inside out this casual frame,

Go Ye forth and increase the price of air who’s to blame?

Gather Your courage you are hurtling towards the sea of oblivion all the same,

Lost in a maze, staring at the nothingness that I became,

Emancipate thyself from mental slavery, blow out the final flame,

Impatiently waiting for all this to pass like in the past,

Seasons that end send and crippling come thick and fast,

Blinded when I felt a dearth of you most,

Of empty promises swept across the frowning coast,

Release me from this self bondage dear host,

Not Today will I be just another blip on the radar that lost.

Maybe I just need to know how to be Happy. Happiness requires massive work ethic. Lazy loves me too much the lesser the effort the better, one would imagine. Maybe I just need more nature walks to reflect on the Lows of 11 mother frikken years and Highs of really are you serious?

Maybe next year will be better, should I shed tears or is it too late to restore a cherished youth? I crave for Happiness but that’s not who I am. I need both Sadness and Happiness to get me by. The next morning I feel like a proper cretin, grab a few smiles that have worked a charm in keeping negative thoughts at bay, then go back to being the awesome douchebag that I Love. Rinse and Repeat.

The Art of SubTweeting

I was surprised that some tweeps still don’t know what Subtweeting means. So this article should be the death of that rather annoying “What is a Subtweet” question or else I’ll continue answering you the Kenyan way >> It’s a Subaru tweet. It’s a Submarine tweet. It’s a Submachine gun tweet. It’s a tweet that substitutes a previous tweet when it gets tired. So anyway, Sub tweeting involves directly referring to a particular person without mentioning their name or directly mentioning them. A subtweet is actually a shortened form of the word Subliminal tweet in which someone talks about you behind your back but sort of in your face on twitter. It’s a tweet about someone but not at someone hence the sub-tweeted person is not mentioned by their twitter name (@). Now if you are reading this and you are not yet on twitter, you got some sheets to change. Let’s face it, we all subtweet each other somehow unless you tag people every time you make a statement. If you’ve never encountered a subtweeter, then you are the subtweeter. This antic can be so annoying yet entertaining at the same time. A friend of mine thought it wise to ask me if i could write about the art of subtweeting and i thought, heck why not so here we are. Let me indulge you.

Twitter is more fun in real life for most users. I mean 5 years of 140 character musings on nearly everything under the sun, ain’t that huge. The art of Sub-tweeting which is a major pet peeve entails a sub-tweeter (the one who sub-tweets), the sub-tweeted and the Subtweet itself. Pray you don’t find yourself in the mix as this equals public scrutiny on twitter and beyond if the news lands on professional rumor mongers. This is where I’d rather you grab your popcorn, get some yoghurt and watch your Timeline (TL) as fools (for lack of a better word) go in hard! I have said this before, subtweeters should be shot dead. Their cowardice is totally unacceptable. Wait till you see grown ass men on your TL subtweeting from morning to morning breaking all kinds of man laws. STFU go hang your balls and watch them dry. Instead of coming to me with an issue you have with me, you want to subtweet all day, suddenly showing your anger to the world is a good look, right?

Subtweeting has become the new normal so to speak. Such tweets don’t even need the hash-tag (#Subtweet) to know that they are. Many tweeps like yours truly have now mastered the art of detecting a Subtweet from afar and researching real quick on whom it is meant for. It gives a mystery to solve and i solve it alright. Sadly, the slow never know who is talking to whom. I am a ‘victim’ of being subtweeted for one week straight by someone i considered a great friend thinking they was as blatant i am but alas, one week and i was finally blocked, lol. Hey that shit was too obvious to tell. Even celebrities have used twitter as a platform to air their dirty linen and are more prone to such acts that always leave a bad taste especially since the public can miscontrue loads of bull. Their only hope is that the subtweets will achieve will achieve the intended purpose which is to publicly vent about another person so they’ll see it. If your subtweet goes unnoticed, it was a waste of time and a space of 140 characters. Shout out to everyone who subtweets tweeps that don’t even follow them, smh! And to those who subtweet the whole day with 0 followers, i have no words for you. I saw someone tweeting “You better be on my page or miss tweets directed at you” niccar please!

An unknown author wrote “If a person is unable to handle an issue head-on, and the reasoning isn’t motivated by fear then that shows a critical character flaw that needs to be addressed quickly.” The irony is that you’ll say something snarky about your about your partner, ex of frienemy, fire them all day and nobody cares except that person. Again if you ever find yourself tweeting about how you hate that someone tweets his or her favorite Kidum lines (cough) or how you can’t stand people participating in Trending Topics (TT) such as #tittytuesday, you really ought to kill yourself but first delete your account then go hang. Some tweeps subtweet each other till they make up via subtweets. It’s crazy, others hate getting subtweeted but love subtweeting others with zeal, double standards much? No one loves to be subtweeted anyway, unfortunately “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is an exaggerated fantasy. Words are powerful weapons that can also act as self esteem boosters. Woe unto you if you encounter the subtweeters who go online, create a facade and be whatever they want (cyber thugs). When anonymity is involved, do not even bother with such.

Enter the paranoid. If you feel someone is subtweeting you, confront them else you have absolutely no reason to be mad. However some think they are being subtweeted all the frigging time, guilty souls. That too can be so annoying, some ain’t even worth a subtweet. I’m just saying. I sampled some examples:

“I just hope Oomf wasn’t talking about me in that tweet”

“So this girl is subtweeting me, get somewhere. You are not shit. Bye”

“Why are we subtweeting each other? Lol. I thought we were better than that. Guess not”

“When i don’t hear from my subtweeter i begin to wonder does she get caught up in my playing house instead of noticing what’s real?”

Then there is this type “Hey subtweeter, it’s just me and you, don’t worry about the rest” whom i always feel like in on them like a 50 cent built homo prison thug doing 25 to life with no Vazeline nor Nivea for men but then i remember i ain’t even a man, tsk tsk! I’ll start doing the honors of tagging them with Cc.

Let me play the devil’s advocate left right center and say, some things are too good to say to your face. Somebody’s gotta get the job done. People are going to talk regardless so its only fair to give them a reason to. Why put the (@) or the person’s screen name in your tweet when you can let them agonize in your ambiguity. You tweet something and 397, 349.547 people people think it’s about them, now that’s fun! On the sunny side, it can be used to send sweet nothings to the admirer. You know those flirty tweets nShit! It seems to be the only way to express ho you really feel. A Subtweet (haiku) is powerful with the right tools and tags.

The art of subtweeting in itself has certain epic fails when it comes to the subsequent twists and turns -:

#He subtweets her, she sub retweets him, he sub sub retweets her *sigh* she has no clue the subtweeted subretweet was about her.

#She subtweets him during twitter after dark assuming he’s gone to sleep, he sees it and mentions her. she mutes him, he blocks her.

#You say you hate subtweeters yet you are actually subtweeting about it. guess I’m also subtweeting?

#You send group subtweets and they tend to believe you are talking about them. You get yourself in trouble and in the process you confuse yourself with the multi subtweets.

#He subtweets her, she finds out and confronts him but he completely denies it yet it was pretty obvious.

#Subtweeting about being subtweeted and act like that’s not subtweeting.

#Reading people’s tweets, a thought is inspired and he tweets about. She however insinuates that he’s subtweeting her.

#She has 6 and 1/2 followers, she follows 11 people and thinks it’s too hard for people to figure out who she is subtweeting.

#You subtweet all day about how corny a certain someone is, yet everybody knows the person doesn’t exist!

#He always subtweets about all and sundry but in actual sense it’s never out of experience, just wishful thinking.

#She subtweets someone but deletes it straight after. People see it but it’s gone. Do they really see it? why delete?

Subtweeting a person is one thing but telling somebody else to subtweet that same person Smh you fail at life. After all is said and done, make sure you tag my name in it. Otherwise. i wont respect you or anything you stand for which in my opinion is bitchassness. And no, I’m not telling you how to run your twitter. It’s never that serious, yes?

The Night Gadget

Strangers by day.. rangers by dark,
A sudden wave of euphoria,
Blessed her soul and left her bare,
I could tell she wasn’t pleased,
Her voice spoke of women of the night,
Who walked with a chest of emotions,
Yet afforded a bag of smiles,

Behind her back was a man with a high,
He brought nothing to the table,
Apart from a rock-like reverie,
Of fantasies that wipe down all of earth’s sanity,
She was trodden,
Her house full of scattered seeds,
Her shoes smelt of dung but she rubbed it on his face,

They swore to burn the midnight oil,
Passionate legs never had their sole moment,
The East- West distance grew apart,
I could hear the voice within her cries,
Her pose implored for poise,
That was not to be,
Dark cloaks, their future was bleak,
She found solace in the dark,

A pleasurable painful piercing,
Her wounds were opened, again,
She told herself, it’s just this once,
He kept pushing her back and forth,
Fatigue was quite evident,
The fat lady wasn’t ready to sing just yet,

Birds refused to chirp,
A withdrawn dawn,
Raw war of skin to skin,
The shoddiest longest five minutes of all time,
He tore her soul, her living, her reason,
The guilt, the anger, the tears, she stabbed him,
And left……….

Just when i was ready to pop up with a Calculator

I Can turn you from a Human to a Writer.. oops did i say Carter?

I know my role n i play it well,
My mind shine even when my thoughts seem dark,
am all i trust,
m done matured n grown into my own situation,
am so fly..i wake up in the sky..n wipe the cloud out my eye,
Even when m on my back,
m never backin’ down,
i don want a broken heart
..al lose all the pieces,
am a doctor they dont undastand my writin’,
so i stopped writing, now am like lightning’,
Swallow my words taste my thoughts,
n if they’re too nasty spit it back at me,
keep your mouth closed n let your eyes listen,
take them shoe off your teeth,
and quit running your mouth,
Don’t compare me,
coz there aint nobody near me,
no i aint looking down,
but i see no one above me,
My word is my pride,
the wisdom is weak and that’s the word from th wise,
Confidence is a stain they cant wipe off,
I seen nights full of pain..days of the same,
put me in the wild,
I’ll b there for a while,
I would hate not to be hated,
I got ice in my veins, blood in my eyes,
hate in my heart, love in my mind,
my future will be better than my past,
am just a soul wit whose intentions r good,
Oh Lord pliz dont let me b misunderstood,

© All rights reserved YM..


Been there, done that, got a T-shirt” -or not.

She’s reminded by Alcoholics.com that it’s Friday
..annoyingly asked where she be at yet there’s only one happening club in town
Moods so elated, classes so evaded
Roomate brings up impromptu sleepovers hence she is locked out- jipe shugli
She out of the blue, flaps her tongue with him the usual stranger from Sato to Thursday
Later, gets jiggy with Mr.alien after a few pints..compromising position
Disappearing acts, topsy-turvy beer fights by couples and frienemies, undraping actions..order of the night

Curses under breaths
In retrospect, the intoxicating tipple is ‘surrendered’ by all and sundry
the ceiling above doesn’t belong to him
the guy lying next to her..incognito
Public opinion suggests puzzling mystery on the events of yesta’
he cant trace his phone
she is totally penniless
the habitual throbbing flaring up migraine and 24hr nausea, a torrential clichè

Still recuperating from after-effects
church is nowhere near his mind state
wastes entire day feasting his eyes on nothing
..already Monday Sick

Why is Friday ever next to Monday yet it takes 5whole days from Monday to get to Friday?
He is flat broke and late for current lecture but too early for the next

Terrific Tuesday thereupon, blueprint for Friday already laid out
she wakes up at 7.55 am, waits for the Prof-Kizito-in-class beep.By the time she pretties up and checks timetable again..lecture done! Wonder not if she goes to campus at all..or fails exams at all.

He makes numerous calls back home for banknotes
either no one picks or dad hangs up at the mention of “..i wanted money to photocopy some..”

Simple. Doesn’t exist!

(Anything outside this dormain falls under ‘Campus Sideshows)