in despair

In 2000, my email signature was, “my heart to yours.” By 2005, it had changed to “best.” Now, I don’t have one. If I did, it might be, “in despair” or “from despair.” Rarely, with those dear to my heart, I write “love.” Perhaps I mean, “love in times of despair.” On Twitter, Prof Grace Musila... Continue Reading →

Name and Shame

I am baffled by Kenyan calls to deal with abuses of power through "name and shame." Are we to imagine that "name and shame" is not an explicitly gendered and gendering strategy? Are we to forget that "name and shame" works most powerfully on those without much social power? On women. On girls. On the... Continue Reading →


Rumuruti lands in the ear like Garba Tula, a place that once sounded so foreign I decided to name our Rex-looking dog Garba Tula. On the internet, one finds Garbatulla, Garba Tula, and Garba Tulla, a multi-named ungeography, lacking the exactness of Limuru or Lamu or Lodwar, those liquid sounds of place that glide in... Continue Reading →

Going South

The South had always frightened me. —James Baldwin I first read James Baldwin while on a greyhound bus heading to the U.S. south. It was not my first trip to the south, only the first time I traveled there on my own. Something about the many-hour journey from Pittsburgh to the southmost corner of North... Continue Reading →


He wanted to populate a world map of men who’d fucked him. Kenya was already taken. But I wanted to be on that map. * He was a librarian. He had the strongest calves I’d ever seen. * I didn’t know what he wanted until several years after, a yielding I learned to take. After.... Continue Reading →

To the “B” Student Who Complained

You got a B because You pay money to go here I’ve been warned students sue You came to my office and cried I can’t fail students for racism You sent me two hundred emails I can’t fail students for absenteeism You threatened to sabotage my evaluations I was trying to complete an article You... Continue Reading →

Incoherent Attachment

Romance novels taught me how to think about the incoherence of attachment. To see this incoherence, one needs to look at the range of failed and failing relationships that background romance novels: unhappy mothers, divorced friends, jaded bachelors, devious perverts, anxious children, disappointed spinsters, abusive marriages, terrified singles, an entire catalogue of unhappiness from which... Continue Reading →

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