Friday, April 9, 2010

Child of Contraband

So Ladies & Gents,

I've been working on a project with my longtime friend, Abbas Somji, who is currently doing his M.A in Communication & Culture at York University. He decided to do a short video project on my spoken word piece, "Child of Contraband", as it highlights many of the issues he will explore in his main thesis--South Asian Canadian identity, transnationalism, belonging and not belonging--

Here's the description of the video project in his own words:

An artist’s perpetual struggle involves trying to define themselves without confining themselves to a particular label.

For Toronto-born spoken word artist, Sheniz Janmohamed, it's a tricky balancing act. A hybrid of African, South Asian, and Canadian culture, Sheniz grapples with her eclectic identity through poetry, using it as an outlet to express her longing to belong.

This short film is a visual interpretation of her poem, "Child of Contraband," and follows Sheniz as she traverses through her hometown, remarking on parts of the city that speak to her different cultural sides.

Check out the video below!

Child of Contraband

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8th, 1993

April 8th, 1993, was the day my maternal Grandfather, Abdul Mehdi Juma Hajee, passed away.

He had a profound impact on my life, despite the fact that I was very young when he died. He was an orator, a philanthropist and a businessman who was respected and admired by his community. He was self-educated, and loved to read. When we visited my Grandparents' house near the Rift Valley (Kenya), I dug up literary treasures like Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Omar Khayyam from his library. I believe that in some way, he nurtured by literary side.

His life continues to inspire and motivate me to mantain the integrity of his name.

You are missed, Papa.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Remember Rwanda

Let us never forget what happened on April 6th, 1994.

One Million lives lost.
One Million flames extinguished.

Remember Rwanda.

Remember that the fight for PEACE is not over. At this very moment, there are people fearing death. There are people suffering.

Remember that our children will inherit this world, and it is our responsibility to leave them with hope, not desperation.

Forgetting will allow us to believe that these atrocities never happened. We must never forget.

Remember, Remember Rwanda.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Missing Kenya

Siboe Makokha, a Kenyan poet based in Berlin, emailed me blindly (I had no idea who he was or how he got a hold of me, but I'm glad he did!) with an incredibly eloquent and touching request to read his book of poetry, "Nest of Stones". As I read the truth and beauty in his words, my faith in the future of Kenya began to grow even more.

After my trip in September 2009, I was blown away by Kenyan youth I met- their talents are exceptional, their voices are powerful. They want peace for their country. They want progress and development. They want accountability and true democracy. And they are expressing themselves through poetry and spoken word.

What better motivation for me to continue to write and perform?

A footprint of a common god defies Time defies Man
to whisper without words that the bloods is one
to whisper into our memory that our blood is one

Mantra of the North Rift, Siboe Makokha, 2010.