In the last issue for 2017, CEO of Kwenta Media, Tumi Mdluli, shares exciting news with the Essays Of Africa magazine family.
Staying on trend with technology, Mdluli assures EOA readers that the most convenient access to their favourite content will be through EOA’s exciting new, interactive digital magazine, launching early in 2018. As you flip through the pages of our final print issue, you’re reminded of the Essays women who’ve led our journey from the front over the last two years, while we introduce you to the visions, journeys and struggles of new #Essayswomen – such as Ayanda Ncwane, who strives to live a passionate life after the devastating loss of her husband Sfiso.
The months of November and December mark the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, we explore how to get behind the rights of women and raise confident daughters in a patriarchal society, and encourage you to own your sexual satisfaction. Start the summer holidays off with a fashion statement, from retro to couture, before Mdluli reveals her best summer resort look. We highlight Kenya as a destination of choice for couples seeking a romantic getaway and present some of the season’s hottest entertainment and dining options.
Photographer: Gareth Jacobs
“There’s people still struggling like I struggle,” a miner named Mike Tatum told me, explaining why he posts pictures and why he looks at them. “Working through the night, not sleeping next to your wife, missing your kids because they go to school before you get home.” Tatum likes to post pictures of the heavy machines used to dig coal from Wyoming strip mines. He drives a D-11 bulldozer. “I push dirt,” he said. Other machines dig the coal. Twelve hours of ‘dozing, four nights in a row. He came to this job — a good one, $30 an hour or more for as long as the coal lasts — after construction work dried up in California. “Nobody back home has really seen what we do out here,” he said. It’s a good job, he swears. He’s brought his 6-year-old boy out to see the machines. He’d be proud if his kids grew up to be miners. A good job. Rough on the back. But you’re just sitting. Driving the ‘dozer. Nobody bothers you. Hours without a word. “Pretty easy,” he said. Plenty of time to think. To make plans. Things he can do with his days, when he has days.
So far, this is enough to see him through the nights safely. “Quite a few fatalities the past year,” he observed. He heard about a man at another mine who drove a machine into the pit. “Maybe a suicide.” It didn’t seem like an accident; he had to drive through a couple of berms. “Splat,” Tatum said. “And a couple more like that.” He says other guys have died on the road, Highway 59. It’s a long drive out to the mines, and drug testing never stopped anyone from drinking, especially after the shift is over.
Pan out to take in some fraction of the 670,000 faces. Pay attention to the eyes, drooping or unnaturally wide. Is it fatigue? Or something more? Something less? Stay sane, and the night shift may seem like just another set of hours. Lose yourself to the loneliness, and the daylight leaks out of you. But something else can come in. A kind of calm. The kindness of dark hours.
When I was first drawn into this nighttime Instagram grid, I was looking for a distraction, for images to displace the thoughts that had agitated me to exhaustion. What I found instead was something that seemed descended from Walt Whitman’s “Democratic Vistas,” his great prose poem of an essay that was really a proposal for a new kind of literature, a way of speaking, a way of seeing. We shouldn’t mistake Instagram’s squares for the public one. But neither should we miss the quiet dignity afforded by gathering under this hashtag: the solidarity of recognition, of being seen.
“Nightwalkers,” Pierre Bell calls the men and women who find their peace after-hours. He’s new to the night himself, working as a nurse’s aide on the behavior unit at an assisted-living home in Akron, Ohio. “What’s behavior?” I asked. “Combative,” he said. “Lockdown. Spit, kick, hit, bite.” Sounds terrible, I said. It’s not, he told me, especially at night, when the anger subsides, and when the alarm I can hear beeping in the background is an event rather than a constant song. The other aide will get that one. Bell, a 28-year-old father of a 9-month-old, was sitting with the nightwalkers. The strange ones, the restless ones, the storytellers. “Some were in wars,” he told me. “Some were teachers.” Sometimes they talk for hours. If they’re up, he’s up. It feels to him like a matter of courtesy. The behavior unit is his patients’ home. He’s only visiting. Trying out the night they live in.
And on his break, he can slip away. Take a snapshot, make a record of himself in this new country of the other hours, post it on Instagram as @piebell522. He took the one that caught my eye when he was in the bathroom. “I saw the dark behind me,” he said. “I thought it could be a picture.” A lovely one, as was the shot that followed hours later: Bell’s baby boy, the reason he works the night shift. Not for the money but for the days he can spend with his son, a handsome little guy with his father’s gentle eyes, but warmer in the golden sunlight of the morning.Continue reading the main story