Brown and Bright

A Poem

By Louise Mutabazi
© Orianne Lopes

We are not the biggest but neither are we among the tiniest ones. We always move fast, brown and bright, under the sun. We love to find our way in rifts, following the crevices.

Our landscapes are vast. We don’t know their limits.

We travel rapidly, brown and bright, under vague moving shadows. We go in silence between the folds of reality.

No one knows us. We look alike, they say. But each one of us has a particular way of moving, a unique figure and specific obsessions.

We move, undifferentiated, brown and bright on the skin of our limitless world.

We are never inactive, except when we withdraw into hidden places, behind barriers we took time to build up. There, where nobody can find us, we allow ourselves a pause. But outside, we are always in motion, busy, fussing around from one point to another : one who sees us cannot guess where we are coming from, or to where we are heading. Most of the times those who see us remain unconcerned about what we are doing. Brown and bright, we run our daily lives.

Stopping is dangerous for us. Movement helps us avoid unsafe situations. Fuss is a cover up. If we keep moving, and the faster the better, we won’t get caught, we won’t get trapped, we may even not be noticed. Our legs keep us running as fast and as long as possible.

Staying busy prevents us having to look at anyone. And being looked at. Meanwhile, we are constantly checking on others, in case of a harmful move. We can never be too cautious. Better safe than sorry. If we see that one is about to stamp on one of us, we just run until we are not under the shadow of their foot. Sometimes, they smash us without even noticing the creatures they walked on. When it happens, the rest of us can only pass by the brown and bright dismantled body. Our sorrow will last just a second before we go back to our usual pace.

Too slow.

Too bad.

Bad luck.

Our anger is sharpened, but we have too many duties to stop. We need to survive the next day, to protect those who can’t afford to run outside like we do. We have to create ever-evolving strategies for survival.

We would be lost if anything found us unprepared.

We are careful.

We are fast.

We never feel safe.


Louise Mutabazi was born in France.

In 2016 she graduated from Paris VIII University’s Master in Creative Writing.

The body in its multiple possible identities and variations is at the center of her creative work. In 2015-2016, she participated in writing workshops in Rwanda about post-memory and inherited traumas. She has been writing a series of portraits mixing reality and fiction, putting in words unheard voices of selected iconic « not white » women. Some of her texts have been published in the French fanzine Jef Klak, in the Switzerland based magazine OURS and on the platform Blacks to the future.

Since 2009, she has been collaborating as a model with the photographer Orianne Lopes and considers this long term relationship as another way of reflecting on one’s multiple possible bodies.

For the past 4 years she worked as a production manager for different theatre and dance companies in France and Rwanda.