It was disconcerting at first when my small garbage bags were gone through whenever I put them in front of the house in my garbage can. The bag was always emptied, and the bag itself was always taken. Also taken were empty Coke bottles and my big blue water bottles. When I went out the door with some newspapers for the trash my friend Alice, who sweeps and rakes around my house, asked for them: “This newspaper still has work to do.” I love that.
At Bishop Square where I rehearsed KUMI NA MBILI segregated piles of items have been forming the past few weeks, like with like, items that look spent but that I believe may “still have work to do.”
I found what looks like the ‘dead wheelbarrow pile’, but that would be thinking wrong, that would be thinking like a wasteful American, and not like the smart Kenyan who will bring this back to life for future use.
Construction work proceeds by hand at Harambee Hall as the semester comes to an end: a new window (sledge hammer the walls), a new water line (pick axe the ground), and cement to repair (wheel barrows and shovels.)
Tools that look like they are tired, that they can’t possibly still have work to do, still have work to do. They are made beautiful by use.
This is not a disposable society or culture. Repairs can always be made, a new handle found, a new handle affixed.
All of us have ancestors who who were experts at fixing things. How did we allow ourselves to forget how to fix things?
Necessity is the mother of invention. We are orphaned; in America, we have turned our backs on our mother.