This week's editorial is written by Nkateko Masinga:
"Another Skin Has Come"
When I decided to move to Kenya in October last year, I shaved my head and told myself that I was becoming a new person, bold and bald. I was two months shy of turning twenty-nine, and what better time than one's Saturn Return for a major reinvention of the self? Within a month of my arrival in Nairobi, I had gotten my first tattoo, which was soon followed by two more. In a poem titled "rituals of healing", I wrote,
"what is the colour of my skin
now that I have painted over the brown
I was assigned at birth? I am part-red,
part-blue, part-green. fire, sky & earth."
In the opening line of "Out-take from The Gospel of Narcissus" by John Burnside, the speaker declares that "Another skin has come". In isolation, that line speaks so much to the attempt at newness, but upon reading further I realise that there is truth in the inclusion of the second line: "Another skin has come/to nothing". It has been six months since the move to Nairobi and I have since packed up my life and moved yet again. Two weeks into my new life, I am not sure if I am a different person after all these journeys or if I have just put on some new clothes, renamed myself and then stood in front of the mirror to convince my reflection that it all means something.
From the poem "...in the company of children" by David Harsent, I am held hostage by this truth: "Time's deceits/will break you in the end". I have always thought that time revealed the truth, so what does it mean to be deceived by it instead? Perhaps time only reveals the extent to which we have deluded ourselves. If you will allow me to go back to the subject of newness, in reading Shash Trevett's "New Words, New Clothes" I am haunted by these words:
"After a while through whispers and croaks
new words emerged
in the borrowed tongue of a borrowed land."
The image of new words emerging resonates deeply with me as I am constantly on the move, learning new languages wherever I settle. Although I am a perpetual resident of borrowed lands, words will always be home to me, be they old or new. I write this editorial with the knowledge that the last issue of this journal will be published in just under two months and, as sad as I am that there will be no new words after that point, I am reassured that the words we have shared together so far will never die. All of the words above are from the current issue. Long live One Hand Clapping.
Nkateko Masinga is a South African poet. She is the author of a digital chapbook titled the heart is a caged animal, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest chapbook, psalm for chrysanthemums, was selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books and was published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets box set. She can be found at nkatekomasinga.com.