Epoch I: Inyota
by Mūhunyo Maina
This body of work deals with being an indigenous African in today’s world. It looks at issues of identity and pride. And it aims to question how we see ourselves in the contemporary world. Though colonialism is no longer the law of our lands, its legacies live on. Not in any physical concrete manifestation, but in our subconscious, in our minds. We are born into a world that tells us we have no reliable records history prior to the arrival of Europe on our shores. We are born into a world in which our culture and all our physical and metaphysical links to our ancestors have been systematically discredited and destroyed. We are born into a world of epistemic defeat, and all around us are the physical and metaphysical insignia of those who defeated us. From the roads we walk, the buildings we inhabit to the food we eat and the clothes we wear. We are totally cut off from our pasts, and so we believe it did not exist. In school we are taught the recorded histories of the west, from the Iliad to the Cold War. We know their heroes and villains by name. We can recite the trajectories of their conflicts, their wars and revolutions. And yet we cannot do the same for our own ancestors. A tree with weak roots cannot bare good fruit. This work seeks to imaginatively resurrect these ancestors, to honour and validate them. It seeks to imagine who they were as individuals, and the daily struggles and triumphs they went through. It is a homage to the bantu people of Sub Saharan Africa who have lived in this continent for thousands of years, whose history is rich and varied beyond measure. It aims to inscribe the humanity that was taken away from them by colonial propaganda, and in so doing, strengthen our epistemic roots.