Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor Quotes

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After Mboya, Kenya’s official languages: English, Kiswahili, and Silence. There was also memory.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Dust)
A secret could be born when a man witnessed a dance that the rest of the world would never see. A secret could be felt or held in a minuscule smile that was no more than a tic on an aging man’s upper lip, or a glimmer of starlight in a bastard child’s eyes.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
He would learn to always stoop to meet her eyes. She expected this: eye-to-eye conversations. She needed to see everything his soul suggested.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Ebbing: disappearing, becoming of the sea. Flowing: returning, rolling on the sands, returned to earth.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Music and painting bandaged soul-holes.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Dust)
On the map she looked at, there was no place marker for Pate Island. No color brown or green to suggest her own existence within the sea. So she wanted to know about places that could be rendered invisible.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
She would have to relinquish her feelings for water to the power of numbers, navigational compasses, Napier’s Rules, coordinates and geopolitics. She watched her lecturer. Could she propose that the sea sweats differently depending on the time and flavor of day and night? That there are doorways within the sea and portals in the wind? That she had heard the earth and moon and sea converge to sing a single storm-borne wind, and these had called her to dance, and that she had danced at night with them under a fecund moon?
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Ayaana was surveying the longest line on the globe’s three dimensional grid, the equator, the first line of latitude. Her special point zero, 40,075 kilometers long; 78.7 percent across water, 21.3 percent over land, zero degrees, all the Kenya equator places she had never imagined to claim as her own: Nanyuki, Mount Kenya. The invisible equator line crossed only thirteen countries - Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, São Tomé and Principe, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Maldives, Indonesia, and Kiribati - thirteen countries that were the center of the world, and hers was one of them.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Words. They had the strength to shut doors that would never be opened in this lifetime.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Being human is a rare art; it is not given to all equally.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
The man inhabited his solitude fully, and everything else was extraneous:he and his ship and his sea. In that second, if Ayaana had craved anything in her life, it was this:to be of this replete mosaic as an element component.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
... a child looking for and gathering words, images; sounds, moods, colors, conversations, and shapes, which she could store in one of the shelves of her soul, to retrieve later and reflect upon...
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
There were unstated rules about who could and could not swim in the sea. A child: not without supervision. A girl: hardly ever. But. He also knew how the sea was with certain people, how it needed them, and they it.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
The old days were over, when sorrow could be sheltered by the empathy of the many, confronted by imported rage, a most foreign beast at war with a human emotion - terror. The invaders, such angry strangers steeped in madness, paraded the island as if they were its new and infernal overlords. How fathomless was Fazul the Egyptian’s betrayal of Pate and it’s people. The amorphous war he had stimulated cascaded over so many simple lives. It seized the best of Pate’s men, implicated in this sickness only because they were the best of men. Most of the taken would never return, not even as corpses. Those they left behind were forced to learn the languages of eternal hauntedness and silence.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
She covered Ayaana’s arms and back with henna whorls. Skin, contact, touch, intimacy mother, daughter, two women. Timeless space.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Tell me, sweetheart, what do you love best in the world right now?” Ayaana deflected: “Pate.” Delaksha said, “I never made it there. A pity.” Nioreg asked, “What’s to love?” The ideal of home, which distance amplified. Ayaana tuned into a vision of home as if she were a home-comer. Her face softened as she clothed her island in her mother’s scents and the Almighty’s stars. In Ayaana’s grammar, her listeners glimpsed Muhidin and Munira, witnessed the surge of Pate’s moonlit seas from a sand dune and smelled a jasmine infused night. Ayaana’s Pate was an antidote to desecrated worlds, so that when Ayaana finished her remembering, there was silence. She picked her chopsticks as the ocean whooshed answerless questions. Nioreg’s tough-man mask slipped. “Miss Ayaana, we shall visit your home, yes?” Delaksha took Ayaana’s hands. “Don’t let the world change you.” Delaksha was addressing both Ayaana and Pate.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Ayaana would learn that there seemed to be no absolutes in the world, only codes and questions and a guarantee of storms.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Music amplified what they could not find in books. Ecumenical music lessons. Algerian raï, Bangla, Kora, the symphonies of Gholam-Reza Minbashian and Mehdi Hosseini, and every sample of taarab they could get their hands on. No contemporary outpourings which Muhidin told Ayaana were the residues of the disordered screeching of Iblisi. Thus they roamed soundscapes. Hearing a melody, Ayaana often cried out, “What she sing?” or “Read”, while pressing clenched fists to her heart, where a stranger’s musical yearnings throbbed. Mid-afternoon, one Tuesday, Muhidin reread to her the poetry of Hafiz. First in broken Farsi, followed by his Kiswahili translation: “O heart, if only once you experienced the light of purity,/ like a laughing candle, you can abandon the life you live in your head...” “What is it saying?,” she asked “One day you’ll know. Today just listen.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
In all his fleeing, seeking, tricking, escaping, negotiating, working, whoring, wondering, reading, lying, learning, wrestling, questioning, seeing, tasting, hearing, and journeying, nothing had suggested a vision of “home” or “belonging” until that light-splattered dawn when he glimpsed a little creature dancing with the sparkling Pate sea.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (The Dragonfly Sea)
Suggested Reading Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun Aidoo, Ama Ata. No Sweetness Here and Other Stories Armah, Ayi Kwei. The Healers Bulawayo, NoViolet. We Need New Names Cole, Teju. Every Day Is for the Thief Mengestu, Dinaw. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Morrison, Toni. Beloved Okparanta, Chinelo. Happiness, Like Water Owuor, Yvonne Adhiambo. Dust Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North Selasi, Taiye. Ghana Must Go aaknopf.com
Yaa Gyasi (Homegoing)