We are sending letters to the past, present, and future—to times that were, places that are, and the people we shall be; to things we miss: like the green and greening world locked away from us, or the full moon and the way our howls used to seduce the darkness; to those yet to come, and telling them—the boy and la fille—that they have a right to be pretty; to revel in their identité, to be black, and to be free.
We write, illustrate, and take photos of our world and share them, hoping for something to tell us: there is no state of emergency. That this is all normal even though normal is absent.
But we know everything happening in the world right now—bitter as fruit, as real as nonfiction, and stranger than the existence of good 36-year-old pussy—reveals a great and terrible truth: on Earth, on this small island floating in the universe’s great silence, you learn to trust everyone because there is nowhere to run.
No more, no longer. That is how we are feeling.
The oil-on-canvas kingdoms of Afrika present us with visions of the black imagination, representations of ourselves which make us itch to know who we are. We build bridges with birdsong from Cairo to Cape Town and visit the roasted plantain sellers of East Legon. We stop for a drink in Kinshasa and read Nairobi through our ears. And the truth being what it is, it resonates and bounces back from the furthest corners of the African diaspora, from São Paolo where our artistic apparitions tell us this fact: “Your body is political. Your affection is a first language.”
To the strangeness of this present world and our enemies—racism and lockdowns, suppressed protests and police brutality, disenfranchisement and exploitation, and all of the other impediments to our progress and full humanity—we have this to say: Our yearning souls and our eyes see two kinds of sunshine: what is and what could be. We greet our uncertain but promising future the only way we know how: Karibu!
As we emerge from the chrysalis of this year, heading into the strangest December of our lives, we remind ourselves of an important lesson: the journey is the joy.
From the heart of the Old Location in Windhoek to Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, São Tomé and Principe, South Africa, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe we dream, plan and prepare, and walk on towards worlds beyond this one.
This is Doek!—a literary magazine from Namibia.
Rémy is a Rwandan-born Namibian writer and photographer. He is the founder, chairperson, and artministrator of Doek, an independent arts organisation in Namibia supporting the literary arts. He is also the editor-in-chief of Doek! Literary Magazine.
His debut novel The Eternal Audience Of One was first published in South Africa by Blackbird Books and is available worldwide from Scout Press (S&S). His work has appeared in The Johannesburg Review of Books, Brainwavez, American Chordata, Lolwe, and Granta, among others, with more forthcoming in numerous publications. He won the Africa Regional Prize of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He was shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing in 2020 and 2021 and was also longlisted and shortlisted for the 2020 and 2021 Afritondo Short Story Prizes respectively. In 2019 he was shortlisted for Best Original Fiction by Stack Magazines.