Kampala./internet photo

Editor’s note: this article is part of the “Covid-19 Reset” project, where the LéO Africa Institute is asking its fellows and associates to imagine a new, progressive post-covid world for our respective communities and countries.


Everything is nothing
Nothing is everything
Repeat after me
Everything is nothing
Nothing is everything

When my mom lay in a coffin/with cotton in the same nose she used to smell the scent of her favorite flowers/ I complained that she liked to sleep a lot/ and asked that she should be woken up/my family didn’t understand how I didn’t understand what was going on/ I first began to understand this whole thing then/ it’s something only those who have lived through it understand/ my friends were blinded by rage and didn’t understand/ when I stood before a friend in Coma and whispered/ when you return from the dead please bring me a pack of noodles/I packed people in coffins/ the same way you have overpacked books in a backpack/ and if you are reading this poem I am telling you that everything is nothing.

Everything is nothing
Nothing is everything
Repeat after me
Everything is nothing
Nothing is everything

Nothing is everything/not drinks/ Not 400k a Plate Serena Kigo Buffets/ and thereafter drown yourself in JP Chenet or Moet/Not festivals/ Not Hotel Lobby selfies of hotels we can’t afford to sleep in but we still share the photos to lobby a little bit of popularity on the gram/not small hotels where they serve you more if you eat in/ not slightly intoxicated race driving/ not heavily intoxicated afrobeat directed drunk dancing/ Not Sean Spicer on dancing with the stars/ Not poetry/ not intricate tattoos/ and freshly done hair edges/ Not the champions League final where one team edges the other in a six goal thriller/ Not thriller/ Not the World Cup/ Not a cup of Endiiro Coffee that makes you forget the world/ Not relationships/ Not foreign vacations where she falls in love in the foreground of just the right landscape/ not landscaping/ not sativa powered escapes/ and Hawaiian Pizza on beach in Hawaii/ Not philosophy/ Not Atheism/ Not God/Not gods/ not butchering a goat and worshiping for a bountiful harvest/ not worship Harvest or Phaneroo/ Not Love/ Not Love/ Not Love/ we like to forget the last part so I repeated it three times/ Not Money Heist Season 3/ Or 4/Not War/ Not naked drama and tabloids/ Not iPhone and Android/Not money/Not World tours/ And private jet jet lag/Not fashion week/ where eating disorders walk the red carpet/ Not the Hamptons/ where everything is made of glass and fragile stones/ Everything is nothing/ whether we live or we die/ who can deny that we live to die/

Stop your sulking
That the pandemic took this or that
That Night when
My mother’s breath
Turned into wind
I got wind of the idea
But never really understood it
Until I stood at the edge
Of other people’s graves
A few more times
So I will repeat this one more time

Everything is nothing. Nothing is Everything

We are here on Earth
For Nothing
-But we want everything-

We are here on Earth
For nothing
Nothing except
To practice our breathing

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