Katy Fentress

Observing, Understanding, Exploring, Eating, Drinking

The Heroes Issue Editorial

The UP Magazine Heroes Issue was published in February 2015 and aimed to highlight some of the uncelebrated heroes that populate Nairobi today.

Heroes are courageous, they are selfless, they are humble, patient and of course, caring. Some people are born with heroic qualities, others learn them with time, others instead will veer in the opposite direction, preferring to put themselves and their interests before any decision or action they take.

The hero myth exists across cultures and has been studied and dissected by thinkers through the ages. Patterns have been traced in hero stories that at first seem alien and unconnected. There is a formula that is repeated again and again: the story begins with a person stuck in a seemingly unchanging cycle, the given order of things unchallenged. Something or someone disrupts that and pushes said person to make a decision, to embark on an adventure which will turn the order of things on its head. This voyage, inner, outer, of time or space, will involve trials, crises and tribulations. Eventually our mythical hero will vanquish the monsters, imaginary or not, and will return to where they come from to find that life has been enhanced by the precious things they have learned or acquired along their journey.

image courtesy: Reuters

In real life heroes’ stories can seem less clear cut although some elements remain unvaried. An everyday hero will inevitably start out on a voyage that will take them out of their comfort zone. An everyday hero will be confronted with a choice, to choose the well trodden path or to venture into the unknown. The hero will choose the latter. What kind of challenges do everyday heroes face? Society, inequality, corporate greed and vested interests, are all monsters that everyday heroes must fight in the battle to make the world a better place. Sometimes the deeds of heroes are not recognised until after they have left us. Sometimes they are recognised but the monsters put up a fight and make it hard for them to achieve the change they strive for. Recognition can help a hero achieve their goals and hopefully, when a hero is acknowledged and celebrated, it serves as a boost, a gentle encouragement that they were right all along and should continue to strive to do what they do, despite the overwhelming and at times crushing odds. We hope today, that the heroes and heroines we are celebrating will find strength in our recognition and use that to not give up the fight.

Why are the characteristics we associate to heroes traditionally couched in masculine terms? Are men intrinsically heroic and women not? In her latest column Heroic Gender Politics, Wanuri Kahiu would beg to differ and does, coining the unforgettable maxim: “ovaries to the wall”. One can but wonder how long before this catchphrase makes its way into our common parlance.

We are excited to introduce a new section: Brain Candy. On this page we will henceforth be featuring the cool gals and guys that make up our amazing Nairobi scene and get into their heads to uncover the lifestyle choices that they hold dear, the quirks that make them happy and the cultural nuances that make them who they are.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Iloti Mutoka speaks to the Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka on what it was like to direct his movie The Beats of the Antonov. Carrey Francis Ronjey instead tells of an adventure that spans ten countries and over fifty musicians, that was kickstarted by the amazing team at the Nairobi Goethe Institute and resulted in their latest roller-coaster of a musical compilation: Ten Cities.

Buddha Blaze is very clear on what not to do if you want to succeed as a musician in Nairobi and as broke January is officially over and people are hitting the bars once again, everyone’s favourite heavy drinker Adam Kiboi, has an infallible list of post-binge cures that will catapult you back into a state of optimum health. Or maybe not.

May the heroic feats of others inspire something heroic in you today.

Originally posted in UP Magazine in February 2015

Categories: Op-Eds, Opinion

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