My Fellow Countrymen,
It seems somebody snuck a needle and some ink across the border. Now all you under-35ers are getting moist and stiff in the loins for skin doodles. A few years ago, getting piercings was a big thing, now, all of a sudden, everybody and their mothers are getting flowers and Bible verses inked in their armpits. All this randomness in the name of being hip.
And it’s cute. This whole fad is freakin’ adorable.
I’m happy for you.
I really am.
So happy in fact, that I’d like to ask a small favour, if I may? Kindly allow me to share in your joy and laugh as loudly as my lungs allow – in your face – when you show me your new tattoo.
I solemnly swear to be so happy for you that I laugh outrageously loudly – or LOL if you’re one of those – every time you say “Sema you guy, I got a tattoo!”
All respect due to most of those artists, 98% of Kenyan tats look like biro sketches on public school wooden furniture. You remember those?
Yeah, that’s what you have on your bicep now; an artistic abortion. Just because you didn’t want to spend the proper amount on a tattoo.
I have a friend who’s a tat-artist. Amazingly skilled, greatly experienced. She has got what is called Irezumi(入れ墨) and it is beautiful. It’s a tedious time consuming process. Depending on how long and how much you have, it can take years to complete and thousands and thousands of dollars. Her’s cost about $15,000 and took the better part of her time studying art and tattooing in Japan to complete.
Not to say that we should all dole out hundreds of thousands of Kenyan Shillings on skin art – that’s like wearing several Vitz’s(which is almost as bad as driving them). But what I am saying is that these things are permanent and should be treated as such. It’s not just something that “looks nice”; from the day you get it, forth; it’s a part of you. “Nice eyes” or “Nice smile” will be overshadowed by “Erm…interesting tattoo.”
I don’t know about you, but in the Kenya I grew up in, I was taught to be proud of who I am; what I am. It wasn’t about tribe or class, it was about identity; personal identity. I was going to get the most massive tattoo ever in 2006 but decided against it. Not because I have anything against it – I don’t. I’m a huge fan of great art and self-expression. But I began to think back on my life and look forward. Every blemish on my skin and scar in it has a story that has contributed to my growth thus far.
The keyword their being growth. It’s not an addition, or an appendix; an edit or a cover-up – it’s a new part of you.
Something tells me that if we all thought like that, we’d be seeing less butterflies tatted on girls’ cleavages on a night out in Africa.
Or that at least they’d be properly done, with some sense of pride & professionalism. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying a good chuckle at their expense.