The older I become, the more birthdays become about reflection on where I am - physically, mentally and emotionally - more than anything else. Last year, I turned 50 which is a milestone but there was little fanfare. This year I turned 51 and was reminded of my friends - pre and during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic - who didn’t make it. While the grief still lingers, showing itself in moments, I am increasingly recognising how waking up each day is something to be grateful for.
In exploring Stoicism, one of the ‘wisdoms’ I have grappled with is Memento Mori (“Remember you must die). As Seneca writes, “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” Check out the History of Memento Mori.
“The unfolding of life does more than fray our bodies with entropy — it softens our spirit, blunting the edge of vanity and broadening the aperture of beauty, so that we become both more ourselves and more unselved, awake to the felicitous interdependence of the world.” …. Youth and Age: Kahlil Gibran on the Art of Becoming
There’s a melancholy to the story of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, The barefoot nun who became Ethiopia’s ‘piano queen’
Late last year, I read Michael K. Williams’ Scenes From My Life: A Memoir which was published after his tragic death. In my review on Goodreads, I said “Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It has left me both sad and glad. Sad that the journey Michael K. Williams had to travel to find a semblance of peace and purpose was so difficult. Glad that he found it in some form.” I also went onto the radio station 702 to speak about the book. I regularly watch this short film, which he did a few years before he died.
AI is all the rage and I have a range of opinions on it, especially from an African perspective. Why Write partly articulates why, when asked whether I was worried about AI as a writer, I replied ‘no’.
While at Advertising Week Africa, I briefly got to meet Molly Jensen, the CEO of Afripods, a free Pan-African podcasting platform headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. I had a subsequent chat with her and I am enthused by their plans moving forward. At some stage. I need to shift hosting of my podcast Listen To Your Footsteps fully to Afripods. It is currently available to listen to there and they have a mobile app which makes it easier.
Speaking of podcasts, I have been erratic this year and continue to remind myself that it is an organic process and I shouldn’t put unnecessary pressure on myself because …. life happens. My most recent episode is with Kenyan musician and deejay Blinky Bill.
That’s it for today. If you enjoy receiving the Zebra Culture By Kojo Baffoe newsletter but are not subscribed, please do subscribe.
I would also appreciate it if you shared with a friend who might also like it.
I welcome comments, thoughts, etc. A big thank you to those of you who have sent me messages. I have been experimenting with both Substack’s new Chat and Notes features.
And if you would like a copy of my book Listen To Your Footsteps, it is available online and in bookshops (primarily in South Africa but also on Barnes & Noble and Amazon) both in digital and physical form. If it isn’t available in your local, South African bookshop, ask for them to order it. Or you can mail me and I can make arrangements to get a copy to you.
The entry point for me was the Daily Stoic book, https://dailystoic.com/ and some of Ryan Holiday's books. Have since read Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca and kind of internalised what makes sense for me in bits and pieces. Still much more to learn and understand.
As long as you are alive to celebrate, we celebrate too. I am intrigued by this episode and the references, but more than ever your migration to Afripod is welcome... We can carry your work with us everywhere 👊🏾