My name is Mumbi Kanyogo and I’m a freshman from Nairobi, Kenya, by way of Swaziland. Recently I have been attempting to navigate my identity, given that on this soil I am black, African, a woman and a foreigner all at once. This is a combination of identities I have never had to occupy simultaneously, as such I would say that my current internal battles are concerned with understanding how I can do justice to these identities, whilst also attempting not to appropriate spaces and experiences which cannot simply be owned as a result of race, but are subject to the effect of geography. I am also trying to realize ways in which I can maintain a relevant connection with home in terms of culture, politics, development and literature. Therefore, although it does not encompass the entirety of my preoccupation with the African continent, you will often find me walking around campus sporting a bright head wrap, simply because I am intent on making my Africanness visible! But in addition to navigating my identity, I write for The Standard, mostly on feminism and identity.
Lately I have been thinking about growing my activism and attempting to further decolonize my mind in terms of feminism, blackness and the ways in which I think about capitalism and the ways we all subscribe to the subsequent oppressive structures. It’s been interesting to discover how relevant those thoughts are in regards to human trafficking – a tragedy that we often exclusively associate with sex trafficking, but in fact extends to even the food we nourish our families with, and the people who clean our homes. This problem is so prevalent and so tangible in our communities, yet invisible to eyes not trained to see hidden oppression in someone’s eyes, words and actions. I am interested in discovering ways that we can make it more visible, or at least more noticeable, by changing the way we think about it as well as the way we speak about it.
Aside from that I love to read – I usually read prose, from Chimamanda Adichie, to Zadie Smith and Alice Walker, but these days I’ve been exploring poetry and I just finished “Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth” by Warsan Shire and “Nejma” by Nayyirah Waheed Y’ALL SHOULD CHECK THEM OUT! But otherwise my guilty internet pleasure is Instagram (which I can finally admit given that I have deleted and downloaded it, at least 15 times in the last 3 months), and scrolling down my Facebook feed – you laugh, but Facebook has legit become a teaching resource. Also, I love Chai Latte’s, African prints, Lauryn Hill, The Internet, Maxwell and J Cole and if I’m not writing, I’m on youtube watching poetry or listening to activists speak on various topics, eg. Kim Katrin Milan on queer love and grassroot knowledge and if not I’m talking to people or watching Grey’s Anatomy or Power. My favorite places at Duke are…….YET TO BE DECIDED(either Duke Gardens or The Rubenstein Reading Room) and in the world, Ezulwini(Swaziland), Mombasa and Mt. Kenya(Kenya) – places from my childhood.