Africa39 author, Shadrek Chikoti (Malawi), was recently featured on CNN‘s African Voices in which he asserted that, “African writers should be able to write whatever they want to write, because writing is liberating.” Watch the entire 3 part feature by following these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (via Bella Naija)
Shadreck Chikoti is a Malawian writer, public speaker and social activist. His awards include the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award for his forthcoming futuristic novel, Azotus, the Kingdom. His short story ‘Child of the Hyena’ was published in To See the Mountain, the 2011 Caine Prize Anthology. He is vice president of the Malawi Writers Union and Director of Pan African Publishers Ltd and recently founded the Story Club Malawi, a social gathering for artists.
Excerpt of “The Occupant” by Shadreck Chikoti, published in the Africa39 anthology.
For many years Kamoto had not thought of going outside. The world outside offered him nothing that he could not fi nd within the confines of his own home. He always had enough air to breathe and food to eat. Even if he fancied connecting with distant places, he was happy to do so through the convenience of the Telecommunication Curtain – the TC – he had in his living room.
On rare occasions he would get a chance to peek through the front door. This usually happened when the Room Service girls showed up to deliver things like food, groceries or clothes. Or when they came to clean the house and appliances. Since it was he who had to open the front door in order for the workers to come in, on more than one such occasion he caught himself peering through the door. But neither the need nor the thought of exploration ever crossed Kamoto’s mind.
But recently, Kamoto had made the habit of going out at dusk to watch the sun go down. Even though he could watch this natural phenomenon on the screen of his living room TC, it did not take him long to conclude that it was in too many ways unlike the real thing. The actual sunset appeared to him to be much bigger, much brighter, much more varied in its display of colours. Untamed. Today, he found himself carrying a chair outside to sit while he watched the sun slowly descend beyond the mountains. Sometimes, it seemed like the sun was heading for the yawning mouth of a cave which dominated the face of the largest mountain. The range of mountains in the distance had the effect of creating what seemed like a boundary of all that existed, almost as if this was the very edge of the world.
Each time Kamoto came out to watch the sunset, he felt altered but he had not found the right words to describe it. The best he could come up with was that his heart felt lighter and he breathed much easier.
He sat with his legs stretched in front of him, occasionally lifting and suspending them in the air for a while before bringing them down again.
A flock of birds – crows – flew across the sky above him, cawing as they went their way towards the direction of the sun. They’d been doing this every day he’d been outside at sunset and now a week had gone by. He figured that the birds were returning to their nests, and that his house just happened to be on their route. There was only one day when the birds had veered slightly to the west of where they usually flew.
Why had he not come outside more often? He wondered? But as quickly as the question had been asked, he decided that it was the wrong one. He rephrased it: Why have I spent my whole life indoors? But still he could come up with no answer.
The clouds had a shiny silver grey lining against the backdrop of the blue skies, giving the birds a domain in which they played freely. On the ground below, the trees were big enough to compete with the grandiosity of the mountains. The intricate details of nature’s beauty made him feel he was at one with his surroundings.
His neighbour’s house, directly in front of his own, was a large dwelling surrounded by a picket fence. Matching the white of the fence was the paint of the metallic doors of the house, as well as its white walls, rising up to a bright red roof that consummated it all like a burning fl ame. The roof made the house stand out. Presently there was one large bird contentedly perched on the satellite ball that was on the rooftop.