‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ What can you hear from these images?

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the images as used in this article. Some of the comments are quoted as they came from the participants and others have been paraphrased and have some additional thoughts from my end.

Hi, I hope you are keeping well, are you? Yes? No? don’t worry it will be alright. Trust me, its Madaraka day and it still feels like another normal lockdown day! It’s one of the saddest Madaraka days ever! What a time to be alive! Today is the first day of June 2020! Do you have a thing for firsts as I do? the first car, first breakup, first girlfriend, first boyfriend, first job, first public engagement assignment, first article, first YouTube video, first anything you name it and don’t get me wrong.  Look, it’s all our first time to be in such a ‘situationship with Mr Rona’. So don’t you worry ‘tuko pamoja cha ukweli kwa hii’. See, it’s the first day of the month, I get to refocus, meditate and re-energize on the firsts of every month and yesterday a lawyer buddy of mine reminded me to master myself. Save for the days I get swamped with reports, I love beginnings as represented by the number one! It brings everyone a fresh start donge! Anyway, I have also been thinking what this first paragraph has to do with the title of this piece? I am here to share images, images that will leave you second-guessing, images that you and I will interpret for ourselves. No, not MADARAKA DAY pics. I recently run a 13-day picture only status on WhatsApp and 30 participants said this; ?

Image 1

‘This is a depiction of one who is blinded or forced blindness. Whether you want to or not you can’t see and that blindness is getting worse. Sometimes the things we allow or we see as we interact with life kill us slowly without our knowledge.’

‘Ripping out the eyes. Protection or distraction.’

Someone else thought that this image represents personal protection: that what you are going to see will hurt you deeply. Its better physical pain of not having the eyes. i.e. whichever part of your body makes you to sin, cut it out.

Another amazing interpretation was on distraction: ‘Your future is bright and they don’t want you to see it. You will be forced to have a crippled vision; hence you will be put down.

Short sentences on the image included: Mental blindness. Arrested development. We have no vision. We cannot see, its locked.

Image 2

The interpretation of this revolved around a man hiding his real feelings. The first interpreter thought the child stuck in a grown man’s body hinted a previous trauma from childhood but still looking all smiles. It was a clear case of unresolved trauma.

Brian said ” don’t let them see through me, through the anguish, the fear, the loneliness, just keep smiling and it will be alright” Behind every smiling face, he has encountered, betrayal, sadness, depression, among other challenges.

‘That’s a sadist,’ said another interpreter. ‘A chauvinist whose happiness thrives on hurting the female gender.’ This one was a different angle I hadn’t thought about.

‘To the outside world, the guy is a happy person. But in his head, he is thinking about someone who is not ok. The smile on the outside is a cover-up.’

From an empathizer, ‘Be polite and kind to everybody, some people are going thru much stress but don’t show it.’

So, most of the above interpretation is best summarized in this statement: ‘The guy is lonely but hides it behind the smile, you don’t know what somebody is going through or thinking despite them smiling at you. Acting out strong and happy while on the inside they are broken and lonely.’

Image 3

The best statement for me in this one was ‘He has accepted his chains’.

‘This is a facade,’ said Joy. ‘Like the current state of mental health in Kenya how people show others they are fine the tears were just an allergy or a cold, the silence is ‘simu ilizima’ when in the real sense it’s depression and anxiety but we are chained in silence.’

Oh, the gold represents worth, the chains represent looking down on and now this is a man determining how society will see him by his own terms. His worth.

Somebody also thought this was the slavery of modern trends. Yeah, you heard him, just modern trends. Need I mention them?

Okay, let’s delve in; Chains are restraints or boundaries or lemons life is throwing at you. Instead of being sad about it or being miserable, paint them so that they are beautiful. In my opinion, this means that make your situations better. Make lemonade within your limits.

Euslah said this was an artist with no freedom of expression. ‘That’s what he’s been reduced to, an artist in chains, those chains represent how much he can say or express himself only to the limits to which it can stretch.’ Amazing right? She also added that it was all about letting go of our insecurities and fear that holds us back by accepting ourselves and embracing our imperfections.

‘Make lemonades from lemons, this is to say no matter how difficult and painful times are, create opportunities from it. Accept your scars like ornaments.

See, being a prisoner doesn’t mean that you can’t change and have a new image despite the tint on your name and face.

You got to paint your future, turn those chains into ornaments because the path to freedom starts with being free from self…well this was the killer statement, I couldn’t add or subtract.  

Image 4

This first statement or rather an interpretation left me dumbfounded, of course, I leave it right here for your comprehension: ‘Stupidity is like a noose tied around one’s eyes; insensitive makes it even tighter.’

Authenticity and a facade, often showing each audience the face rather mask that is appropriate but never revealing your true face never actually showing yourself for fear of vulnerability, notice how it gets darker as the masks reduce

That’s like serious anxiety or fear, trauma or generally low self-esteem. The person has a lot of faces. Chooses which one to have at what time.

Image 5

Well, this image was not that one that attracted a lot of comments. As you can see it’s a thousand words but few get it.

Use a path less travelled and you are bound to succeed. A few religious ones thought; Narrow is the way and small is the gate that leads to life. A few find it

One observer noted, ‘The problem is the two meet at a junction making it even interesting.’

I wonder what you think about this image let hear it in the comments.

Image 6

So, this one was the one-sentence thoughts one. Sentences like;

Trapped in your own head?

You are your own prisoner but you can break free if you want to.

‘This is a person who looks depressed, maybe thinking about suicide and not able to entangle self, most probably has not received any counsel,’ said Daktari.

‘If you think you can’t stop doing something you have set your mind to not being able to do anything so you imprison your own mind. So, you become Kamiti and warden of your own.

The highly optimistic one commented: The mind can be a bad prison. From the image, I saw hope or rather freedom from a prison (mind) that has crippled self to be desolate.

Another valued one said this was a prisoner in his own mind. He further added, ‘You are capable of so much more. But you limit yourself so much (consciously or unconsciously) until you actually feel trapped.’

Image 7

Wueh any parent in the house? This one was for you and the parents wanabees.

See, parental negligence manifest into an endless abyss of self-destruction! Part of the reason people end up in drugs.

This perspective brought out the fact that the chaos and dysfunction in the family leaves children to run to drug abuse or rather leaves them without an option since no one is really paying attention.

The second perspective says a member of the family trying to hold the family together because they have been torn apart by drugs. Impressive right? It was closely related to this: ‘Those Who should serve us justice walk away and live us at the mercy of criminals.

‘I think the story is trying to expose laxity of parents as they’re raising their kids. Parents could be another big reason why teenagers find themselves in drugs and immorality. Family disintegration attributes to such behaviours.’

‘A child is being neglected by the parents. Dad is off work and mom is off to work. The solid ground in the splits in the middle so the child is left hanging. As the parents get busier, the child loses grip on them and falls into bad company, ending up to be a drug addict.’

‘This is about Parenthood. Parents sometimes differ in their thoughts. Many of them will make decisions based on their selfish interests without putting into account their children who are caught between. The children instead will grow with a broken mentality about life because they lacked the presence of their parents who could have mentored and empowered them to be better people in society.’

These children often end up rebellious and bitter in life and they usually end up engaging in bad vices like drugs to sort their thoughts.

Image 8

Joseph said, ‘An idea whose time has come withstands a universe of criticism!’ and I thought that was brilliant! Wait till you read the rest, amazing interpretations.

A more comical one would be: No matter how many times you write me off, I won’t stop scribbling ?

And I thought, sometimes being different is key and uniqueness makes people criticize you, mock you or love you. That’s what makes you a leader! To be one you got to be ready to pay the price of being different.

‘In a world of creation and innovation one man/woman stands to give solutions and create new things but he/she finds himself in a situation or a world where everyone is always looking for errors and finding mistakes in what you are creating so making progress becomes hard.’

‘The good ideas, critical thinking we possess that we can use in our forte to better our lives and other people are thwarted by those around us.’ This was deep meen.

I particularly liked this one from a very serious person; When you have the truth but no power.

‘I think the sharpened pen-like person is somewhat noble and perhaps a leader with his fellow equals probably working hand in hand or under him, but they seem to counter-attack with what the nobleman is doing, I.e. ready to erase what he’s trying to note.

A definition of what artists (specifically those who draw) go through to get to the final product. Be mindful of your actions, because they go down in history and can’t be erased.

Image 9

It shows to an extent the negative side of whatever we post on social media. The effects are fatal sometimes leads to damages.

The leg on the left can indicate the forces, pressure or pleasure derived from posting on media whether good or bad.

Online Vs physical war.

Depicts elements of cyberbullying too.

Blood is shed from essential service providers while the politician is busy directing idle youths to insult them on socio media.

The soldier is the cover for the three men. It looks like he has received the first shot, very soon the three will remain without cover. This was the thought of a mad man, ha-ha a very cool buddy of mine.

Triple A said, ‘The head of state pushing its agents who are the governors etc. But who are focused on their needs more (using a phone) in reality, money and corruption?  But if the people try and retaliate, police are sent who if killed the same routine is applied. Again, and again. And that summarized the interpretation. If you struggled to understand this last point just shoot your question or thoughts on the comment section.  

Image 10

This is the picture that started it all. I must give it to the artist. Deep insights, deep thoughts, well not very many gave this a try. Most heard the message but were unable to interpret.

Paul gave it quite some thought though. The heading of the art says “We are not guinea pigs”

The map shows problems that Africa has had to live with over the years such as:

Being a testing ground, massacre, slave trade, cholera, conflict, pollution, invasion, Ebola, AIDS,  corruption, war, and now Covid-19.

So, the general interpretation was: Africa is tired of being used as a guinea pig or testing ground. Africa has been misused for very long and is not ready to be used further for COVID-19 testing. Africa (black hand) and non-Africans (white hand) need to embrace one another as friends. They need to appreciate and unite with each other.

‘Mmm…am thinking its got something to do with corruption, inequality, brainwashing, human ills tu…maybe…how we’re taken captive by European Union, the top flag on left hiyo ya right siko sure ni flag gani…And Africa is crucified for the mistakes of the West…same way Christ was crucified for sins he didn’t commit’ Said Paul.

A handshake might indicate bribes taken by our leaders to have the west infiltrate our states, and it comes at a cost…the sharp nail on the thumb. Topline I think says something about us not being guinea pigs, below Nigerian flag- no resources. Guerre means war, Eslavage means slave. It is a living art, about our leadership of tyrannies.

Image 11

‘The guy as lose hope with life and just wants to give up life but doctors are doing all they can to bring back the lost hope…sometimes we feel as if all is over with our lives but imagine some people have full trust in us and can see the potential oozing out of our just presence.’

‘The patient is practically dead but the doctors have given up on the body and are trying to save his soul. The soul wants to go. But the body still warm encourages the doctors to try to bring the soul back.’

‘I think it is the spirit trying to leave the body. The doctors are obliviously trying to arrest the spirit from leaving by doing whatever they do every day.’

‘Easy one. Doctors trying hard to keep you from leaving the people who love you. Doctors trying to save a patient’s life.’

Image 12

For this, I give it up to Njuguna Sam who nailed it! He even gave it a title.

Rewriting the Future

For so long I have been tied down,

Tethered to chains of circumstances,

Dust of negativity as my only pasture,

Scorched by the sun of self-slavery.

Now I’ve cut myself free,

Limping forward rewriting my future,

Never looking back to the chain of oppression,

Fixing my eyes to the oasis of hope.

With a bag of positivity on my back,

Whether I fly, walk or crawl,

I won’t die weeping on my knees,

But on my feet fighting my battle,

And maybe, win the battle, reach my goal.

And others thought; ‘You need to forgo some pain or endure some pain to buy your freedom’

‘In my opinion, I think sometimes we are our own enemies.’

‘The mistakes, the wrong we have done. And the moment we accept that and accept who we truly are, that when we shall be free.’

Image 13

‘Under the well-cultivated environment, growth is undoubtedly going to take place. Whenever there is a strain in the environment, growth is hindered. What you don’t work eventually dies’

Grass seeming greener on the other side, or also growing in a season like things seem bad really bad right now but they are going to get greener Fuller with time.

‘Sometimes you have to go through the worst to get the best. You go through hardships that wear you down till you feel like dry bones. But hata usiku uwe mrefu, kutapambazuka.’ All the hard work leads to success. The green pastures and you start feeling whole again.

As you walk into the future remember your past. Choose to go forward and renew your strength or choose to move backwards and die. The religious one wasn’t left behind, ‘Simple, seven years of hunger and seven years of plenty.’


Image 14
Image 15

A big thank you to Joseph Nyinek, Joy wanga, Mbai Joan, Nicholas Mycyn, Arogo Robert, George Jambetre, Keziah Mulinge, Euslah Chumba, Asumpta Chebichi, Daktari Moraa, Pesh, Jabez, Cecelia Mutwitch, Maria Gesare, Irene Redeemed, Fidel Mad Man, Bindi, Sheila Ezra, Sheila Ting, Steve Duke, Tripple A, Onjala of Onjie creations, Olive, Arnold, Ongoro Brian, Eugine Colins, Paul Odhoch, Plan Nickson, Njuguna Sam and Brian for making me do this article and contributing to the interpretations.

What do you think about the interpretations? From image one to sixteen, what have you got to say? Please leave a comment.

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