Dear Friends,Happy 2024 to all. I hope you got some peaceful time with loved ones as the year began. I’m excited to step with you into this new year. It seems likely to defy augury. Maybe some words can help wayfinding. A few sayings I learned in 2023—this first one I read in English, but here’s its original Igbo—“Okenye anaghị anọ n'ụlọ nne ewu amụọ n'ogbịrị.” English translation: “When an adult is in the house, the she-goat is not left to suffer the pains of parturition on its tether.” To this side, one in Swahili: “Yapitayo hayageukani; yajayo hayaelimiki.” English translation: “The past cannot be changed. The future cannot be known.” That I read in Yvonne Owour’s most recent novel, The Dragonfly Sea, which, among other things, connects the Chinese gaze to Kenya. Here’s one a colleague shared in her mother tongue Kalenjin: “Korokto ne loo komabarei tiondo.” She translates it to English: “The stick that’s far can’t kill a snake.” These were charms of 2023. What strength we own in ‘24, let’s use it well.
In our team, our colleagues Umu and her partner in Kigali, and Amon and his in Nairobi, had their firstborn children just this month past. We congratulate Umu and Amon. We celebrate them and their new ones and spread comfort that can to friends and colleagues who lost people in this same time. We begin again and again. All things flow. As we join 2024, please join us in working anew with the permanent now of learning, reading and writing.