I believe myself lucky having being born the last in my family. I did not need to act a certain way because I had to play role model and I was never second best. Nor was I third and caught in between sibling squabbles and rivalry. I was last and never had to prove myself to anyone. I could grow as I pleased at my own sweet pace.
I was weirdly good in school even though it didn’t matter much to me. I remember it didn’t because I have this memory of a prize giving ceremony at my first primary school, Mwanyambo Primary. I had aced Math and together with other kids, we were called up on the school parade grounds to receive our prizes. I got a Mathematical set. It was bluish in color and had the world map on it. I was pretty taken by it but I remember clearly feeling a great inconvenience having to stand there when I could be out behind the gathered students playing with my friends.
Of course grades became paramount later in life when I realized they were my only ticket away from schools I wanted to avoid and to places I truly wanted to go.
I happen to be good at many other things as well. With that you’d think I would want to move as many mountains as is possible but to be truthful, I only move mountains when the need gnaws and bites and scratches at me till I decide I’ve had enough and just do it! Usually it comes down to what I can live with and what I cannot. I only truly put my mind to things I cannot live without.
For example, I can live with not being the most accomplished, most popular writer of my time, in my country, city or even my campus class. I simply cannot live with not being a writer, period.
I can live with never being on the same level with Christopher Nolan and I can live with my films never being talked of side by side with the likes of Scorsese or Tarantino. I cannot live with not being able to tell my own stories through moving pictures and sound, and tell them well.
And it is this mountain I now face. Telling stories through film.
Ever since I learnt I could communicate my emotions best through writing, it has always been my solace. When I took film in campus, it was an opportunity for my stories to leap from being paintings of imagination to become living breathing beings. But then I found out that for that to happen, I needed to go further than the written word. Much much further to an unfamiliar territory rife with unpleasant surprises and sometimes, disappointing or no outcomes.
And I was very afraid.
For some time I thought that maybe I could just perfect what I knew best- writing- and leave the headaches of set design, and color choice, budget constraints and all the fuckery that can happen during film production to others. I even once considered never again writing for film, and sticking to prose- perhaps work on a novel where I could paint the picture of an epic war on African soil without ever having to search for an actual battlefield or have to worry about affording to pay actual people to become my characters.
The latter thought quickly died as I already had a story whose musical soul would not breathe as freely on paper as it would in moving images complete with sound. The former followed with the acceptance that I am too protective of my own meanings to trust the intentions of others with my words.
There are stories I would gladly give away to others for reinterpretations. There are those I cannot and so directing film is not something I can avoid even as I choose to write more.
So here I am learning this new language called movie making. Funny I have studied for it for years and it’s only recently I have truly accepted it as a mode of expression that can no longer take second place to the written word.
I may start with written poetry I have already done, and see what faces poems wear when they have to morph into the words they speak. Or maybe I will do journals. I really don’t know.
I know this though; I am more excited than I am afraid.