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Privilege | Mugabi Byenkya (2015 BNPA Longlist)

The bottle spins as the reams of thoughts flutter by my consciousness

As my disjointed synapses fire off things I would not mind saying with confidence

The bottle stops.

On me.

Breath in…

PAUSE

Settle on one idea, I see

‘Never have I ever wished for the unearned advantages distributed based on the values of the dominant matriarchal society that we live in’

All the men take a shot

All the women sit in awkward defensive silence.

Sometimes silence is violent

Sometimes silence speaks of untold and underrepresented voices

Sometimes silence speaks of long, internally torn oppressed histories, also known as ‘background noises’

Sometimes silence tells a story

Sometimes silence tells this story from alternate eyes

Do you realise?

Sometimes silence is violent.

 

Like that one night out

Or EVERY single night out

Going out for some drinks, dancing and good times with the guys

As we get on the dance floor, we form a little circle, and dance the night away to our hearts’ content

Enter woman.

She tries dancing up on me, to which I reply

By turning around and politely explaining ‘I’m sorry but I don’t want to dance with you’

‘Wow’ she replies, ‘What, do you think you’re too good for me or something?’

‘No’-

‘Then what? You got a girlfriend or something?’

‘No’-

‘Then what? Are you gay or something?’

‘No’-

‘Then’- WHAT, WHAT, WHAT, WHAT answer would ever satisfy one who does not care about what I want

This is NOT my story to tell.

 

Truth is, never have I ever wished for the unearned advantages based on the values of the dominant patriarchal society that we live in

Truth is, all the women take a shot

Truth is, all the men sit in awkward defensive silence

Truth is, silence is violent

Truth is, no matter how many female friends, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, cousins etc. I have, I will never ever, fully relate to the female experience

Truth is, I cannot speak for a life I have not lived

Truth is, however angry and frustrated this makes me, this does not compare to the experiences of those that have to live it every single day

Truth is, I think I finally know what it feels like to be white.

Mugabi Augustine Ateenyi Olatokumbo Byenkya was born in Lagos, Nigeria to Ugandan parents. Mugabi has always dabbled in writing poetry and prose but for a long time doubted his writing ability and did not take writing seriously until his time at the University of Kansas. While in Kansas, Mugabi began rapping and making YouTube music videos and songs with friends like ‘The Confession’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1Q4rWGjM_U . You can find more of his videos/songs on his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mugabsb/videos. Through rapping Mugabi developed an interest in spoken word poetry and began writing and performing poetry at open mic nights. He occasionally posts his poetry on his blog here: http://theysaidishouldtalkmore.blogspot.com/

Mugabi is one of the Ugandan poets longlisted for the 2015 BN Poetry Award. The winner will be revealed during the Babishai Poetry Festival, 26-28th August at the Uganda Museum.

 

2 thoughts on “Privilege | Mugabi Byenkya (2015 BNPA Longlist)

  1. I’m finding it hard to articulate myself on how I feel after reading that, Mugabi. I guess I feel a kind of pride – proud to have a friend who has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. That was beautifully written my man. And I couldn’t help but visualize you saying it – even though I read it in silence, there is no way I couldn’t attach the sound of your voice to the words on the page. You have a gift, a certain power, a way with your words – don’t ever obstruct the flow of your creativity or let it ebb away. Cherish it. You’ll always have a reader – a fan – in me.

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