Dear Philomena Tour Diaries: Kitchener-Waterloo

If I Die Bury Me Next To My Father
If I Die Bury Me Next To My Father
If I Die Bury Me Next To My Father
If I Die Bury Me Next To My Father

Writing this has me remiss
As I reminisce on the softness of your kiss
On the coarseness of your stubble
On the intricacies and intimacies of soft masculinity that you taught me

In an interview with the New York Times, Barack Obama says:

“There’s a wonderful quote that I thought was L.B.J.’s, but I could never verify it: ‘Every man is either trying to live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.’ I spent a lot of time trying to figure out, in the absence of an immediate role model, what it meant to be a man — or in my case, a black man or a man of mixed race in this society. But as Bryan said, there’s no checklist. It’s only later you realize the things you may have done in search of that absent father.”

Reading this felt like being sucker punched in the gut, as I reflected on the things I have done and still do in search of my absent father. I eat papaya regularly because it was my father’s favourite fruit. I grow my beard out because my father did. I have an affinity for brown because it was my father’s favourite colour. I have often wondered whether my father would be proud of me and the man I have become. I have an intense desire to prove myself to my father and gain his pride and recognition. My father got a full scholarship to do his Masters at Waterloo. This led me to apply to the University of Waterloo for my undergraduate degree. I wanted to prove that I could gain admission and a hopeful scholarship to his alma mater. I wanted to prove that I was my fathers son. I wanted to prove that I was my fathers equal. I wanted to prove that I was what my father always wanted me to be: better than him

On July 11th 2005 my father died
Mortified, I notarize through rhyming lines
I, feel the noose tighten on more than my father
Feel the vice tighten it’s grip on more than my father
No, no, no not my father!
For on July 11th 2005, more than my father died!

On July 11th 2005, my innocence died
On July 11th 2005, my self-love died
On July 11th 2005, my youth died
On July 11th 2005, a part of me died

March 2010, I gained admission and a scholarship to do my undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo. I ended up turning them down due to a better offer from the University of Kansas but I held on to that admission letter as a badge of pride. I had proved myself to my father. But was I better than him?

On September 27th 2004, my mother told me not to go to my friends birthday party.

I should have listened
Instead I chose to forego
Heeding her, now my tear drops glisten
Like reflections because I’m missing, missing, missing

My Mother told me not to go
I should have listened
Instead, I chose to go
Came back to you in the hospital

I never saw my father healthy again. The next morning, he was airlifted out the country and 9 months later he passed away. Performing this piece in Waterloo was incredibly surreal. I reflected on my initial encounters with the idea of Waterloo, the place my father found his wings. The place I almost went to in a bid to earn my father’s pride. The place that led to me proving myself to my father. The place that had me questioning whether I had achieved what he wanted for me. Am I better man than my father was?

My mother told me not to go
I should have listened
I beat myself up over the last time I saw my father healthy
It’s filthy
and self-hating coming from one as disabled as I
One of my father’s most traumatizing memories was seeing his own father in a moment of weakness
My father always wanted me to be a better man than he
So to myself, I offer forgiveness

July 3rd 2017, my older brother Kizito said:

“32 years ago in Waterloo. The town father found his wings. This weekend in Waterloo son Mugabi the poet spoke soul with those wings” 

Returning to Waterloo to kick off the Dear Philomena tour was incredibly surreal. I had been to Waterloo once before for a concert but now I was back in the town that had meant so much to my father, to as my brother said: speak soul with the wings he gave me.

“Remember a child’s place is what I often heard while asking
About the things no adolescent could imagine
Trying on the pants of a man I had not yet become
Hands too small to button the buttons my father often fastened
While speaking on his dreams and ambitions
Although I could never understand
There was comfort that I listened, with mention to be better than him

– Big K.R.I.T

Looking fresh to death in my tailored romper performing my feature set at the K-W Poetry Slam!

                Much love, appreciation and thanks to Janice, Bashar and the amazing team at the Kitchener-Waterloo poetry slam for inviting me and who did an absolutely incredible job of creating such an intimate, warm and vulnerable space for the evening. Join me on my next tour date on July 18th 2017 at the Art Bar Poetry series, Free Times Café- 320 college St. at 8pm!

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