Sunday, August 13, 2017

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

      Mathare Math in voice...for Raila Odinga  

 His mouth is open with fear. The palms of his hands with fingers open. This is a flag of fear. The child in the photo below is bleeding. He only raises his hand to protect him from the baton of a uniformed officer. 

Most are distressed by events in Kenya, after the 2017 elections and release of presidential results. Tension heightened and there is history of such situations resulting in endless violence. We need many voices to call out action for reason in unison. We are still hurting from 2007 and even before. Why then do we lose focus?

United in grief, for the deaths and brutal attacks by police after the presidential election result pro Kenyatta was announced, the people of Mathare and Kibera that is the greater part of Nairobi statistically, are inconsolable. They experienced brutal force on the night that the presidential election results were declared and they blame the local media for not covering their pain. They suffered in dark. Literally.

Part of Mathare was out of electricity as bullets rang through the night. That must be very scary not just for children but for all. We must all raise our concerns and ask that issues be addressed. 

The law of Kenya provides for that no ballots are destroyed after an election. Judging from the depth of the sense of betrayal, we must focus on options that can bring us back to normality.

Those who were told they lost are undivided in their disappointment and certainty that their president, president of the poor, Raila Odinga had the victory and that the server of the Election Commission was hacked. No serious IT professionals, who are neutral have been asked to look into this matter. 

Where as both sides in support of Uhuru and Raila - knew about the possibility of losing votes- nobody expected to lose even one child to bullets. Not that many had not imagined the worst. Politics has been played with a negative ethnicity card for many years now. We have failed in honesty at many levels. Credibility in election processes is lost.

Greed, corruption and a hunger for power that never halts, talking cheaply against other ethnic groups and arrogance of whole populations once their own is in power, especially those who hold public office. 

The tussle for winning the vote is a big one. The talk about fighting  all corruption comes after winning by any means possible and while that is not always peculiar to one side, the team that runs state machinery can do it to a deadly success. Fear of violence is therefore always lurking around elections. 

Insecure, some parents started taking children from schools and away to the countryside weeks before the elections. But those could afford it. People who live in what we call slums, normally do not have such luxury. They stay through thick and thin. They are united in hope for change. 

They stay put, they have the historical almost forgotten issues not lurking in the background but staring at them in the foreground.

An unacceptable trait: Kenya does not answer causes of the deaths of  people who are critical and adamant to see change. Different governments have not moved on that and they are couched in a people that forget what hurts the neighbor easily. We say it quite clearly that before we look at such issues of the neighbor, we must be fed first, we must have cooked our own posho. So that we can sell our dead? 

Beat this. I read that we even had disgusting ads this year, 2017, that made fun of the people who died in post -election violence of 2008.The ad would show them sitting up in... and more on International raw server Most certainly, justice and truth do not embrace here.

The displaced 600 000. Other silent figures of previous elections, struggle to keep things together to the next election, to sell calves to take children to university. The internally displaced did not begin in 2007. That was seen from the outside. Inside out, many suffered for years, displaced too by desperate want. They have nothing to lose and would face a hail of bullets and blood will flow. The Government Of Kenya must stop shooting its own people and allow demonstrations for self expression.

Did we think it would all go away quietly and leave everyone on sweet dreams mattresses? Regional injustice in Africa is lethal, anywhere else people try to address it early for history has shown it is time bomb.

You cannot speak much from the 'outside', if you have never worked in an organisation in Kenya, and found that the staff was riven down the middle on a tribal basis. Then you learned some things you wished you never knew. 

Then you knew how tribalism eats its way through development and is a big resource waster, both human and material. You do not know how in the past, scholarships are cast into bins because there is nobody from "Our tribe" to take it and that is all. Not a care for the nation's tomorrow. Not a worry for the welfare of the whole country.

The making of minions

Joy is broken and grief as well. In between only some voices of hope. This is violence against one ethnic group. Which one? The one that is not in power of course? But we have world history to learn from and surely we have not forgotten Rwanda, 1994 and never should.

It is hard to watch the poor family of this little girl who was shot on the balcony as a family member takes out her little dress from a bucket..And we should not have to if they could trust the police with the evidence. Instead, they complain of receiving a call from a policeman who does not tell them exactly what he wants. Mr Orengo sorted that out. It should be the police doing that. 

And that cannot but remind one that there must be fear too that the case of Msando, the IEBC, IT expert who was assassinated will also be in dragging in the aftermath. His family had already complained before the elections that there was much lethargy.

The father of Moraa points at the bullet hole at the back of her dress.Were children to die in election 2017, in order to frighten parents into submission? How crass is that?

 Outside the house and in the whole of Mathare, it is now history. A mammoth crowd could drown any celebration by election winners anywhere.  But bad things keep escaping the eye of the local press which is on the other hand, also getting its arms curbed either by loss of equipment or from police interference.

Something has to change. Fear will fill the air and fear is not a good component for anything. It is dark.

Could wisdom have saved us from this?

After a blog post in which I expressed the fact that no matter what kind of constitution we have, as individuals we must try to see how to heal the rifts between the two main ethnic blocks, the Luo and the Kikuyu, it seemed I made no sense. But ethnic hatred exploded on social media. It never stopped spewing since the last election of 2013. But can one advise some people to keep off seeking for power? It seems not. Many called it naive to look into what one man's election might mean to an entire ethnic group in years to come. But numbers seemed to speak several languages leaving us split into two. IT in electronic voting may have succeeded but doubts cast in 2017 were not addressed. But going back to background wisdom...

How could a rich business person not vie on and on, despite his ethnic group having led thrice since independence, with only one other president, Moi, having come from then, what the Kikuyu, saw a small ethnic group? 

We have not forgotten how the Kikuyu supremacists then referred to Moi's government. It was a passing cloud, the government of a young fledgling, man. He was lucky not to be called a boy. He, unlike Raila comes from the Kalenjin group where initiation of men is similar to that of the Kikuyu. It seems easier to tolerate then. The measure must be just to be Kenyan for voting and otherwise just human, always human.

When we take our reason right back to defining ourselves by numbers, customs, power and tongue, there, clearly, constitutions, numbers do not, cannot heal us because the rifts and killings were caused by the same. Numbers, customs, power and tongues. Wisdom must come in. Risks must be taken so that other groups in their elected leader can see their weaknesses and strengths.

In a flash, Uhuru Kenyatta's presidency has been that of Moi and KANU, which Moi said would rule for the next 100 years.

Back to Nairobi in this moment. Any time there is chaos in Mathare in Nairobi, and Kibera, if only just one of them, Nairobi does not function. It cannot. The two townships outnumber the rest of Nairobi, being bigger and more powerful in if not votes, voice. 

The residents of this area bear the brunt of it when police go out shooting and that for them is often. Many an evening young men have been done away with just like that. At such times the rich areas of Nairobi, the safer areas, do not stop to ask. They do not shed a tear and if visitors come to Nairobi, the poor are ordered back to the slums. You see clean flags and gardens as is to be expected. No red carpets in Mathare and Kibera. Only bloodsheds
They said, if one asked often that human rights activists who know nothing about defending the nation were the real problem in Kenya. Human rights must be upheld and that they are complex
especially when they are also economic rights on the verge of breakage daily in an environment where what should be security is a permanent risk. Few leaders can stand up in Mathare and Kibera and speak the way Raila does. But he is an old hand at it.
There was a new born child named after Raila Odinga years back, because he was born when Raila Odinga jetted back into the Kenyan airport and was driven straight to a burning and troubled Mathare.

But a little girl is dead. She was shot from the back when playing on a balcony soon after the presidential results were announced. 

Raila, lost to the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, for the second time, the last being in 2013. But he had already 'lost' in 2007 to Kibaki whom Raila supported on his way up, only to be swindled on something they called The Memorandum of Understanding.

And today, this child, is only represented by a distraught family, phone calls to Muthaiga police Station. Her bullet ridden little dress and her slippers are in a plastic bucket. We are shocked by a reality that escapes figures, words and history and that is all the time passed on in ways none can understand. Genocide is not about big numbers.

Flash back to a museum in Rwanda. I read the words of a little child just before the genocide recently. He said, just before he died. "UNAMIR will come to our rescue." He wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. Perhaps that bullet that killed Moraa in Mathare just snatched from us, a future president. We are always thinking only 'we' can.

UNAMIR did not go to their rescue, Koffi Annan did not make it. The church that had impacted the country did not seem to have seen it coming and got deeply involved in the negative side of things. Of course many were innocent too but who would have expected even one nun or priest to be so blind to the evil of ethnic division. 

So that the determination that Kenya should succeed as a nation is always on paper and in business heads that do the math way beyond their own family businesses in years to come.

This point as well as historical injuries, which are blatant when it comes again to wrongs of the Luo and the Kikuyu so called dynasties. Old Kenyatta and Raila's father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. 

This is reality that has found no heart where a society is all about material gains and greed is under every carpet and above it. The head wallows in darkness while still trying to prove that everything will be fine, if we just follow the rules, the constitution. Uphold it with the limbs of the people intact. Not with museums of the dead.

My hope has always been that at some stage someone will understand that having a majority vote from certain blocks of the country will not mean managing to unite this beautiful country especially when, the one trying to do so, has not managed to know where the barefoot of the poor pinches. Here we cannot talk about the shoe pinching because very often the foot is bare.

Even before 2017, unrest in Mathare could paralyze Nairobi, but now the child is dead. Unrest in Mathare will be. Many young people have been shot dead in Mathare for years, and nobody 

Moraa was just playing on the balcony. Other people thought they were just working out an election, announcing results and listening to observers. For half an hour, imagine you are Moraa, all in silence. Nine and lying in the morgue. Save this nation. Look critically at the grievances of those aggrieved. They cannot be dismissed with an angry gesture and gunfire.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

So strong a spirit, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (MOM), Kenyan poet and novelist, leaves the sound of her typewriter ringing in my ear

Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, author, 1928- this morning, 1.12.2015
Kenya and Afrika have lost, today, a great hero of our times, a silent and contemplative novelist and poet of immense value to the world. 

Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, MOM.  Her typewriter still rings the ´return´ push in my ear because I saw her determination to build us, to help everywhere. I saw her type. She was humble enough to write letters to me after I left Kenya. She added a four liner by hand, to give the ever loved human touch. A gem. I want to pay tribute to her immediately, even as later, I shall write better on her life and help in Kenya. She was known as Mother or Gem (pronounced soft g not as in get) of Min Gem, the place where her late husband Oludhe Macgoye came from. Her rural home. She mainly lived in Nairobi.
In 1954, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye lived in Pumwani, Eastlands. 

The UK, she was bornon October 21st, 1928 in Southampton, is a land Marjorie left and just lived. She is/was always just our dear MOM, as she used to sign up on some documents. In 1963 the family visited Marjorie´s father in England (Marjorie´s mother died soon after she came to Kenya) using a small unexpected legacy.

There were no ethnic origin or other issues with her. In other words, don´t even begin to think of difference with the locals. Simply put, just a life... almost hidden in some ways, and boldly written out in other forms, and that is what shakes one. Out of that ´silence´, so much streams, giving life.

In 1960, she married Daniel Oludhe Macgoye and  a few years after their marriage, Daniel was posted to the Alupe Leprosarium on the Ungandan/Kenyan border. This was more to do with unusual people, she told me in an interview.

MOM was familiar with not being seen as right, not fitting, for these kind of marriages were not accepted. MOM is a strong spirit and she never dropped her gaze on social matters. She recorded the history of Kenya and lived it, in its many languages and transitions of power. One can read that in all her poems in Song of Nyarloka and Other poems. She, for most of us, ceased to be the one from a foreign land or from abroad, once one read her works. 

She nurtured in them her spiritual growth for a society she wished justice, cohesion and strength especially for the poor. She watched the Union Jack go down on December 12th 1963 and she lived and worked in Shauri Moyo, Huruma and other east Nairobi zones that are alive in her works. Her own life became a challenge for the society of her times. 

How could people from different continents make a home? Especially this one and that one... black and white issues. But she lived happily also in Tanzania for a few years. It was in 1971 when she left Kisumu with the children and went to Dar es Salaam. There she helped re-organize the university bookshop. Shen enjoyed the challenging job in Tanzania. In 1975, the family re-united in Nairobi as Daniel was still working in Kisumu. 

MOM was the organiser of readings with Jonathan Kariara, Okot P´bitek and sometimes Taban Lo Liyong at the SJ Moore bookshop which was then on Government Road.  I could tell she loved those days. She enjoyed the memories of sharing readings and I got the impression I could feel the warmth of this group from the distant past. 

But I touched her grief when she spoke about Johnathan Kariara´s last days in hospital. It was there so often. She was a strong sorrowful and hopeful mother. She visited Jonathan Kariara in hospital and chatted. 

Marjorie was close to those who suffer, a thing not to be taken for granted from what I have seen with artists. She wrote for many who were assassinated and her poem for Archbishop Luwum is outstanding. Bishop Janani Luwum, 1922 - 1977, was killed in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. The Anglican church considers him a martyr. He was arrested on February 16th and he died shortly after.

Reading her poem in memory of Okot p´Bitek, Omera from the anthology Boundless Voices one gets to the core of this compassionate closeness which I wish for her now from us. 

Her tone pierces like a sword. How Marjorie´s soul enters into his tragedy is sacred, the poem a shrine of love, reverence and hope. It is a portrait in color and so visual:


So they have got you down at last, Omera
unmanned, incombatant, silenced, constrained,
bound in the noisy dark where small things burrow
and leaves that once waved high proudly moulder
So may the night be fierce for you with stars
blazing, with prowlers beautified in power

Where homesteads crumbled, let again the pumpkin
take root and bind the soil, speaking beasts, singers
and sinuous dancers share all secrets with you --
tell how we, in the shadowy city, loved you.

She loved her typewriter and writing was a passionate vocation for her. She banged on it long after computers came, and with joy. Failing sight hardly deterred her. 

She was concerned with the new abandon of letters and documents everywhere... She warned me about writing all my thesis on the new word processors at that time because the risk of losing information that way was greater. Her position next to the window which a few meters below gave way to the market and facing some family pictures particularly one with her husband said a lot about her. It was always great to find her there. She answered all my questions and offered me to take and read ... as well as drink or eat something whenever we visited. 

And she was practical, offered opportunities she heard about selflessly. She introduced me to friends of hers with great pride. I shall miss her for she was in my life at a time when many could not even begin to understand my journey. She gave me a book I still read, The Great Loneliness. 

She was, for most of us, the first and only originally European person who spoke fluent Dholuo and had no problems relating at many levels. She also mastered Kiswahili. 

What do I mean? People traveling from far and passing through Nairobi stopped by. No complaints. Marjorie went to her kitchen and brought out something. I so miss our teas... made in her kitchen, watching the kettle boil and she not one to expect to be waited upon and so eager to serve, one had to beat her at her own game and she was fast!

Young and poor people felt her alike. She stood for Kenya with her great poem "A Freedom Song", which has made Atieno´s unhappy plight awaken consciences. Atieno yo...! Atieno is a domestic worker for relations who mistreat her a terribly pervasive situation we know well in Kenya and other parts of the world. And yet the song is a deep song of the plight of the poor and Kenya and those who lord it over the Miriams of this world. The woman to whom she dedicates a poem, For Miriam....hard, cracked knuckles, and voices often muted, muffled...

When I had a few days in Kenya last year I made sure I visited CũcũMarjorie as my son and so many call her. We read to her the translation of A Freedom Song which Helmuth A. Niederle had made and published in Podium a copy of which she had received. She was nodding happily. 

Then she remarked how so many people in Kenya, tell her how great her poem is and YET, she said, some of them did not stop mistreating Atienos! I quoted the German version here. I studied her and will always reflect on her works and thoughts. I know her vision can ´build´people, a region and inculcate changing ways or perceptions. Marjorie´s life should teach Kenyans to overcome tribalism among other things and that... even better than Pope Francis who visited Kenya a few days ago. Kenya does not lack, it fails to harness.

MOM was never one to bow out or pretend to see rosy pictures. IF there was anybody I wanted to see smiling about the social situation in Kenya it was her. I did not want her to hear that we had huge ethnic differences and tensions, even abuses. 

She was very happy to see me and actually, not knowing when I would see her again, I asked her to bless us, and she obliged. She knew what I meant.  She touched our foreheads and blessed my future before I left.  

 MOM saw defends Atieno and makes all reflect and hate abuse ... Atieno sleeps on a sack, wakes up early  and washes dishes, plucks the chicken, is left in charge of family and suffers incest and dies of post partum bleeding... Atieno yo,  the sorrowful call and refrain became like a national anthem to some of us.

Author Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye was firstly an intellectual, a hard working woman in love with writing but also, in a discreet way, loving God the Creator very much, and confessing her faith in the Anglican community. 

She is/was a precious mother and grandmother. She did not like to see children left alone even for a few days by their parents. I remember how clearly she expressed herself on that, with details. She knew what justice and truth mean, and she did not waver in pointing that out. 

We shall miss Marjorie for so many reasons. I enjoyed her works, especially the earlier ones, when I wrote the first masters research on her in the University of Nairobi: Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye and the  quest for Freedom: A Study of Coming to Birth, Song of Nyarloka and Other Poems. But far beyond her works was her conscientious self. She lived by the moral tenets she pointed out to others.

I was lucky to see her and spend time with her so often and as often as I wanted, I could pass by her house, like many others and share a word or two. As long as she was at home, Marjorie would always open the door with a smile. It did not matter that the appointment was sudden or one was just checking on her. She even told me how to tell if she was at home from far. What to look out for.

Min Gem, Mother of Gem, as they called her in Nyanza was just that. I would like to call her Min Kenya mainly because all the signs are there and she is more. I say that as I remember how she once called me to write about a poor sickly man who had fought for freedom in Mau Mau and who was living in a squalid shack and collecting garbage to make a coin and how she fed him. She was full of compassion. 

I wrote the article but Marjorie knows that it was not published because the editor said that the newspapers did not want to carry stories like that one and the emphasis was on a certain ethnic group, from which the editor, JM, then also came from. We worried together about this self censorship. 

But more important was how the people who sold in kiosks around Nyayo Market rushed to open the gate for one, once one mentioned CũcũMarjorie. Truly they loved her and would slide the lock easily and safely for visitors whenever there was no one to open the gate to the block of flats
where she lived. People who do not know Nairobi may fail to read the big sign there... 

MOM was never one to fear them or think of being attacked. Why would she? She was just one more. She told me so. Just ask them for Mama George, she told me on my first visit, and they will let you in. Or, she said, and I still have the notes I scribbled on a review she had made on my writing just ask them where is Mzungu... she did not understand that as offensive.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Garissa, A Thousand Times Good Night and 41 Million Times am more than sorry, Dear Mama Kenya, Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai Born 1st April, died 25 Sept

Dear Mama Kenya:
Wangari Maathai

I missed the celebration of your birthday on 1st April because the children were at home. It was hectic.

 I always want to tell you how we are getting on. How Kenya is doing. I don't know how to let you go, maybe. The world hasn't. Peru has immortalised you in a statue. 

They say we glorify you but who forgets a mother so brave? But we have bad news so very often. This is not yet the nation you dreamt of in your own ways. I wonder what you would have made of it.

I am sorry is not enough. For you come from a land of beauty and hope. A land not afraid to win, not afraid to lose. A land that knows that in Kiswahili. Asiye kubali kushindwa si mshindani... the one who does not accept defeat is not a winner. But we cannot lose human life silently.

We are brave people. This is who we are before we are twisted to think that winning means only money taken as fast as possible out of public coffers. Unaccountability. 

Yes, even among the people otherwise the ones in power would care more about their image. Something we need to put right. So that we can hold them in check. They need to remember your determined yet smiling objection to some things. 

I am sorry that 142 students and other people in service died shot by Al Shabaab in Kenya. 148 is the total. 

Most Kenyans, we shall believe all of them, are extremely saddened by this and they worry too about Nigeria, Syria, Yemen and Iran... and other hot spots. Not so long ago some of these students said to us: I am Charlie Hebdo! They wanted solidarity against terror in the world. They asked the Kenyan government to protect them before in a protest last year in November. Instead they were arrested as usual.

Now who are they? What can we be for them and their relatives? Mine is to share thoughts before taking my canoe of letters and sailing. These students have changed my life forever. So has a film I will not forget. 

The film is 'A Thousand Times Good Night', made with the support of the Swedish Film Institute and all the media in Norway. It comes to my mind often. Three reasons. One is that it wants to wake up a world asleep with regard to the atrocities happening daily. 

The producer is Norwegian, Eirik Poppe. He is a war reporter. This film visits war zones and at the end of it, Becca, Juliet Binoche will visit Dadaab Refugee camp with her daughter and again, just escape death by less than a whisker with her already traumatised daughter. 

Kenya has lost too many people who had great dreams of a united country. Messages from these students showed the same desire. Even those written during a terror attack. Our security and government says that they worked fast but many say no. How could journalists arrive there before the the security from Nairobi?  

Many bodies are yet to be identified. Nobody is asking or answering why so many students fled the attack, so that earlier reports indicating a missing 533 persons is no longer a topic. I know even if they say you were not always perfect in all things, this you would be asking.

The horror has been to find out that the  mastermind was a brilliant young Nairobi University lawyer. We have to wake up. He was not planting trees of any kind. Not of hope, not green ones... and yet he was answering questions well in his law class.  Our waking up includes understanding that some young people will go for radicalisation. Young people from rich backgrounds. Young people from poor backgrounds. While the world fought visible poverty did it lose sight of cultural poverty? What stories do those radicalised people read? Have love poems and long stories with songs ended in Somalia?

Kenyan leaders have recommended the immediate closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya. A long list of possible offenders has been released. They are 86. It is a list of what people call 'Muslim' names and businesses. 

Mama, Am watching A Thousand Times Good Night again as I blog.  The mother in the film, Becca has just come home  After recovery from being in almost bombed to smithereens... In a suicide  bomb attack.

"You are...and nice warm and smelly..." The youngest has just chanted hugging her Mum who joins her as if in a duet. Becca role is played by Juliet Binoche. 

Becca knows now that Steph cried when they saw her in hospital on the Internet. This reminds me of how we used to be angry when you were arrested. This taught most of us to keep speaking out for justice. When I last met you in Oslo in June 2009, you opened a big meeting. 

I was sitting at the back not sure I would ever make it to talk to you. I was not hopeful until Caroline Marcomick came to me and asked me, 'Philo, would you like some few words with Wangari? I can ask her daughter Wanjira to arrange that you meet her.' I agreed hesitantly seeing how many people surrounded her. I was surprised that Caroline did that. I made it, was almost the last one to chat with you before you left. I asked you if you would join us in a vigil for Aung San Syu Kii where we would discuss freedom in Nairobi. Your were scheduled to be in Australia and you could not make it. You thought it was a lovely idea. Syu Kii was still under house arrest and her 62nd birthday was on the way.

How hard it can be for women, but you inspire us still, all of you! Right now Aung San Syu Kii is not heard much in Burma which is having a hard time. I am sure she does some things that do not reach the media. I am imagining at least she suffers for the Ruhingya Muslims even if she cannot speak out that much. 

I learnt from experience. I had almost condemned your silence some time back because of this hard struggle that was never ending. I thought you needed to tell Kibaki off for taking things easy and for treating you badly. I wanted you to be the Minister of Environment not the Deputy of Kivutha Kibwana in those days. Then I read your book one Easter. A Woman Unbowed. 

I remember I read it in the silence of a house by lake Naivasha recovering from what it had taken to get involved with an a poet and actor who felt so abandoned in her last days fighting cancer at Kenyatta Hospital. That large and lonely place. Another poet offered me a place to hide for it had been quite tough, her final journey in which I found myself like in many things just by chance. Wambui Wa Murima. I shall write about her here another day. 

I cried reading your book. I read it and then slowly in silent reverence, I decided that you owed us nothing more because you had done your best. I never imagined cancer would also come for you, it often does for activists. They inhale the hurts. We are all vulnerable.

I know a friend of mine always complained that you should have told the UN that they too built up in Karura forest. I do not know the sequence here. 

I hope someone will look at that and correct it if he is wrong. It is good for posterity. I remember how you one day came home and the house was strewn with papers and your husband had left you. In the film I am now listening to Becca talking with her husband. Trying to see what she should stop to do for the sake of her children.

Her husband wants her in bed. Traditionally I should not tell you that, but let us talk as friends and for the sake of other women in power today in Kenya and elsewhere. Balancing family, leadership and activism is hard. Somebody suffers. 

Becca explains that she has been in an explosion. He knows that and I wonder what he is thinking as we say at home. I now realise that what he does not know is WHY she insists on going to war zones, to hear, according to him, shots, gives her life. Gun shots. 
Like some said that you chose to have your hair pulled off by police because you were being too much standing up to a dictator....But Becca, she had dangerously 'wanted to tell the story' and seeing how suicide bombers prepared themselves making their bed of death is not enough to deter her.

But in her family, things are falling apart. He loved her because of her passion, she says. But he cannot stand her passion for people that suffer now.

The little girl tells it in full innocence..." and Daddy is sleeping on the sofa these days..." Maybe some day you will watch the film and think of Kenya and other places. 

There is the conflict of if Becca just enjoys publicity but she knows she does not. She knows she wants to move the world to act. She tries to focus on her family only. She tells the newspaper editor who is expecting her great work that she has quit. But how could she when she is making it to the highest levels. People want to own her in Ireland, in other countries. ..But seeing it makes no sense to her to abandon her passion and career, she forges on, remaining true to herself. 

Her husband and daughter recoil from her telling her she stinks death. Let me stop there because no deaths are pictures. All pictures of deaths from terror have been seen before they could be put on film.

Garissa University College is the last terror attack in Kenya since the blast in Westgate Nairobi, the bombing of the USA embassy in 1998. But there are a myriad of other small ones that go without much notice just like there are huge numbers of deaths in Iran, Syria and Yemen that also somehow fall off the edge of our concerns.  Your words remind me to do something small each time. In the end, it is powers, and numbers. And numbers and big things are won with little chips day by day... We have new homework. Words we cannot understand or fathom, like radicalisation in the way we have come to know  it. How do we say them to our children in mother tongue? You know we should not leave everything to schools?

So why am I writing this thousands of miles from home in Kenya which I left after the third peaceful arrest in 2009? Arrests for peaceful calls for freedom of speech and - yes, being very critical - as somebody has recorded in a thesis, of all the governments that have existed in Kenya: Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta?

I am writing this because you believed that you inherited the world from its children. Us. So many thank you for your work on environment and how you linked it with democracy. I am writing this because you opened our paths. I am writing this because I want to tell it  and I am free.

I am writing whilst reflecting on Becca's conviction in the film, that her camera meant something. That somebody else might see her pictures and fall out of the sickness of indifference. That she could perhaps shake the world. 

The producer spoke at the premier of the film in Norway at the Gimle Kino. I was there. He said he was always depressed by how normal life seemed in Western cities when he came back from war torn areas. So complacent.

And everyone I met or knew spoke of how you were not indifferent. I now see a wonderful statue of you in Peru, a different kind of beauty of you in stone. By doing that, they have said something for all people of dark skins. What a South-South thing! It consoled me as in these days, news of black people in other parts of the world are about killings. Especially of black boys. Micheal Slager today, eight shots in the back...I know what you would say, and Micheal Brown yesterday.. so many in between. So to find a positive mind is unique. This should not be so.

I was also so delighted to receive words form a young man in Nairobi who calls himself Njoroge Filosofa. He wrote about Garissa killings of the 148.

"Our children at Garissa were holding a pen. Terrorists a gun. Justice never die. Pen is mightier than a gun. AL SHABAAB YOU ARE JUST WASTING YOUR TIME IN SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE."

I also write this to you this because of what happened in Paris, Charlie Hebdo too... It is no longer necessary to go too far to find areas of warring strife. Ukraine in Europe is afire and sad. The call of this film should be heard everywhere now... That we stop being afraid of the stink of death and ask why instead of people who just want to tell the story are going to such zones... people who WANT to join IS and others are leaving comfortable ranks of society and setting off through Turkey and other places.

Have we failed to define "heroism' that they should look for it in something like that? Have we feared too much in front of our children unlike Becca that they are eager to show us the opposite? That they are not afraid of believing in something? Have we failed you Wangari?

And the other reason why I write is because of the idea of not living a split life. I hear that Juliette Binoche could take many other roles if she wished but that she chooses, prefers to act in films that make a meaning to her life and that of others. She will dance ballet in Angelin Preljocaj's Polina, 2015. Great. In every stroke their can be meaning in perfection. What is the use of the revolution, the changes if we cannot dance? That is a question I love to ask myself.

We discussed it in a seminar called Defending the Defenders. People need breaks, activists burn out. Aung San needs our understanding. 
When they call you beautiful let it be from the heart
Juliette Binoche inspires...

A Thousand Times Good Night shows one that eye, not just in camera, but that human eye at the beginning of the film. Everything we do... is in our eyes. If we choose violence. That is what our souls might embrace eternally in the eye of time without end. I say that as we wait for Dark Matter secrets to get unravelled... hah!

I want to tell your story.  You radicalise in the roots of a tree. After all radical comes from radice, roots. You do it in another way...for unending action for good, no matter the accidents that may result. And losses. 

As for you, out there in what you think is the peaceful world, pour your cup of coffee... let it jerk and pour on your white tablecloth as you open the headlines if you do. Ask yourself... why is it that the Internet radicalisers are so much more effective than our power to get people to stand up for something that does not destroy? Ask Wangari, read about her. 

Tell your children everywhere. And sing to them stories of hope. A thousand times good night to you and to all who left the world in a hostile way in Garissa. Wangari, A Thousand Times, Rest in Peace! From many of us, among 41 million Kenyans.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Garissa, Kenya: the troubled terrain that reminds us of corrupted power denying truth

We all want an easier life. We played April Fools and forgot that terrorists love to attack during holidays when everyone is looking to the next drink. These attacks are predictable.

The circular dated March 25, the attack on April 2, 2015
I mourn but we point out hard truths. I mourn that way. Terrorists do not mourn. We mourn. They celebrate deaths - and if true all of them are convinced, a certain rewarding of their horror - in a questionable life after. 

They have that kind of power and want you to close your eyes because of deaths. No don't. Open them wider. This is not where they want you, staring back. So do that.

The initial figure of deaths at the hands of gunmen in Garissa reveals 147 people dead. That includes two gate guards, the attackers too and a couple of service men. 

Some of the people present said were it not for the police they would have wanted to burn the remains of the killed attackers. 

One can understand their anger but the road we travel does not allow for that kind of vengeance.  Give others who like to wish deaths away, time to face it, stare at death. That is what innocent relatives and friends have to do this Easter. Terrorists with such thoughts come to bloom in senseless killings. Let me say from the onset, I heard and saw this attitude towards killings in other militias all over the world, and in Kenya specifically. Killing is fulfilled as if it is a vocation, a call to follow in one's life.

Don't try to erase it. Face it. Terrorists blow themselves up, it is said one did in the attack but not documented for in death, they too are cowards. Are we facing it or hiding other things in this?

They are dead, these killers, some insisted, no problem, burn them. 
But radicalisation that led to this started there... There is enough fundamentalism also among Christians, and quite some stoking of it from the USA fundamentalist preachers and many of them praising power to get there.

Or ''Lord! Do it again!'', one wrote on Facebook, "Send back those plagues and wipe them clean ... like the ones you sent to Egypt, Lord!" In that thinking the thieves at the cross, Judas and betrayal, the washing of feet have disappeared, of Muslim if there are any religious feet, or any feet, for today is not yesterday. The Gospel is alien. Terror. As if this in itself is not a plague enough and as if the rain will fail where there is radicalism. It will rain for all. So take out a clean sickle. Cut the fences around us.

The less we tolerate the search for justice in the Kenya nation the more distant we are from non-violence. Every abuse should be met with truth and justice.  No one should take the law into their own hands. Not the president of the nation, not the people. There was a time many lives were lost in Nairobi going down with 'mob justice' as it was called which was simply injustice. Getting used to taking lives is not a cure. Blaming others but moving away from our own failures will not lead to growth. 

I note that Uhuru Kenyatta is not able to cope with the whole picture, roots, branches and the birds that fly from nests and those that perch. Denying a historical fact for instance... that the North of Kenya and that means mainly Muslims have not been victimised since colonial times.

This kind of apologetics for sins of history is what I thought may never help Kenya. Especially when followed by Ei and/or Mea culpas without substance. His background does not allow him to admit certain obvious facts. Are we to close our eyes to history? Why does he say such things at this time? Many people have found them lose talk. We don't need that. Not now, not before, not ever.

Sadly as deaths shock us, touch the world, some people are served by a blind spot that occurs for past evils committed. Retaliation no, but consistent answers yes. As long as we can say it is you, radicalised Imams, as Uhuru Kenyatta has said, everything else might fall out of perspective. We too have radicalised Kenyans in our homes through our politics. It is not all about and only radicalisation in 'rogue mosques, homes and Imams'.

No. Sorry. Deaths should jolt us into recalling our failures to prevent them and of our often casual approach to their occurring in extra-judicial ways. There is much to be examined in Kenya. And lethargy in matters of life and death must be shunned. Matters of justice.
Lose talk about The Hague and a well orchestrated campaign
against justice. Everything is funny until now?

 Two weeks ago, a plain circular was on the Internet, on Facebook to be precise. I came across it as I plowed through the newsfeed. I spent time scrutinising it and wondering. Actually felt derailed from what I was reading before. This. Detailed. Shabaab were aiming at attacking soon. The impending attack was most likely going to be on an institute of higher learning, a university. This notice then was on the University of Nairobi.

This circular warning on an impending attack was posted at the University of Nairobi and at the United States International University, USIU, but not at Garissa. This is first place that should have come to mind upon recieving such Intelligence. The media too did not cover it and it was only discussed after the Garissa attack. Discussed? Maybe more disowned by some.

I thought about the horror that could hit Kenya when I read it. We have seen terror attacks increase dramatically. The undying spirit of destruction always hiding in divisions and now this they try to say is between two religions in Kenya. An Al Shabaab lie that the Pope might buy. No religions are at loggerheads in Kenya. Islam is growing fastest everywhere. 

They all grow at a different rate, wax and wane, and everybody who wants to know can find out which one is growing where and how fast. Christianity is not growing in fast in Garissa at the University which was attacked. In all places Christians meet for prayers and they as a gathering are as vulnerable to attack as any other.

In my view these are smokescreens which leave people in more tension than ever. I hope that Kenya and other populations will not begin something Europe is doing in some areas. Standing up against a confession of faith, a faith that is misused like all have been, by criminals. Europe should know that. I mean the part of Europe that is ganging up against Islam. It is not logical. And in terror nothing is ever reason based. Is not the better strategy to hold onto reason which might face off with terrorist's way of thinking.

I somehow imagined that everyone would be seeing this information on all campuses and taking the necessary precautions. By everyone, I did not think of the police, or other security agents. I thought they must have known this for it to be moving around and taken the necessary precautions. It turns out that even if police and the Armed forces swiftly moved in to the defence of the university, they had to be called in. Police had to ask for a reinforcement.

But Garissa is not alien to terror. Just three days to the attack two persons at Durdur Hotel in Garissa County. They were shot dead in a hotel. Nobody, police declared came forward to ask for their bodies. A photo is published of the wives of one of the ones who were killed. A two-year-old in her hands, she looks frustrated and tortured. Where is her husband?

"On Thursday, two people are said to have been shot dead in hotel and their bodies carried away by the killers. Another two were abducted and taken to an unknown destination."

Only a few years ago, I worked on empowerment workshops in Garissa. I spoke to men and women. I noted it was becoming easier to travel there by bus. Garissa was not as far as some people thought. It was so close to Garissa Lodge in Eastleigh. There was a bustling economy, Islamic banking. Businesses were flourishing. I was received with deep respect and nobody ever questioned my teachings or dress code. I was so at home there that somebody suggested I should buy a herd of cattle and learn how to farm. 

What I noticed as I travelled in a private car back once and stopped saw how the group in the car stopped for peaceful prayers in Mosques was the discrimination of the Somali of Kenya. For indeed the police would lean into the car and ask everyone except me for an identity card. The people would run into the bushes with them to pay something, I bet, to continue traveling. It hurt and we spoke about it. It was definitely leading a community to the edge. And this years after independence in 1963. Years after colonial times when the British decided on the Northern Frontier District which was kept tethered with hunger and lack of opportunities. 

Noticeable too was the longing of the people to show similarities rather than differences. I remember how the car occupants pointed out how related we all were. Religion did not come into the conversation. They begged me for the time for a short break and I agreed. I was even welcomed into a Mosque. Then there were hopes that the road to Wajir would be fully tarmacked.

That there would be greater growth and peace. Then I walked in Garissa without fear. Then I found a church open to all. And nobody was looking around in fear. 

During one of my many visits an Imam who was coming to give our group a lecture on just how Female Genital Mutilation is not based on the Quran died in a car accident just before he entered the town. I saw how Raila arrived there in a few minutes after being notified of the Imam's death. Well he had to be buried in hours. That is the tradition. Raila as ODM, was there in a chopper to bid him farewell. The people gathered in his meeting were very congenial with him. He was still known as an atheist then. I heard nothing about religions. I heard something else, they wondered where Uhuru Kenyatta was not with them. True that did not happen and this is the past of PNU.

In 2013, however, I saw a journalist working for an international channel about Garissa and Wajir.... He reported about his home town in tears. Did Uhuru Kenyatta miss this or did he think it was another prank by the international community do bad mouth Kenya? 


There is no mystery here. Radicalisation cannot be excused but it has to be understood as some form of going away from a reality too hard to bear. So I will not mourn for the 147 without in part pointing at truths. For they will never know, or may never have known that another Garissa is possible, was possible and will be possible. My mourning is to point out that radicalisation is not in Mosques only. Why, we have had militias and people of discontent all the time in a Kenya where resources are stolen all the way to the votes!

Radicalisation is fitting too for local militias some of these politicians worked with before, something so denied now. They feared not death and they killed. They helped to encourage terror in Kenya. To show Al Shabaab indeed what one does when they are deprived of power or what one should do to get to the top. Kill. Avoid justice. Shed crocodile tears and as fast as possible, get the whole nation saying, it is time to unite and to forget past errors. Forgetting past errors includes making every part of Kenya, Kenya. This is practical. 

Answers ?

Get visitors of value. Obama is coming. Omar al Bashir was in Nairobi too in 2010 to enthrone the new Constitution. He was already an indictee of the ICC. He still is. Does it matter? All the flags will flap power in the wind. I will never accept that people implicated in a crime against humanity have any moral authority to mourn with us, to fly flags at half - mast and to cry with a nation they long ago betrayed. I still say a better time would have come if you had waited and gone through this process to its logical end. When moral authority is lost nothing works. Now, everyday I hear power was a must, it was for the protection of this or the other, of these people versus others, and all those things, alien to national cohesion. Corruption was protected?

I once posted on Facebook that no bomb, not the 1998 on the American Embassy which claimed about 200 persons and this attack which is the worst since then with 147 killed and many missing, surpass the 1 333 Kenyans who died in days when Kenya experienced pose election violence that gripped Kenya in 2007/2008. Violence. 

This violence has escaped justice. It seems that those charged or accused were always innocent. Even when the Prosecutor of the Hague says that she was not able to secure some crucial information from Uhuru Kenyatta, she seems to be saying there was none. So Kenya is spruced up. The people at the top are happy. 

Money has been offered to the victims affected by the violence. Ten billion Kenya Shillings. An apology has been issued. Those who were mentioned repeatedly in this case, including Uhuru Kenyatta are so innocent that they have no idea of who then could be witnesses of this case. The justice minister who called this a crime against humanity died in unexplained circumstances.

The thing is our tears of yesterday are suppose to dry fast. No, they join the river Tana's, all the way to the Indian Ocean. This is the best mourning for current deaths at Garissa. 

 At the time of the violence Kenya visited on herself, many of us said that we will never manage to hold up our decency again. That we had shown our neighbours how easily we break one another for power. 

Since then in January, February and March, many lives have been lost, so many. This Garissa April loss is not a wake-up call. We should never have slept. The whole saga of the disappearance and finding of, as well as confusion of the body of man called Yebei, no matter what side he was on was so bizzare. Human rights activists such as Ken Wafula are intimidated. Our country... did somebody plan the disappearance of the look alike of Yebei... for weeks there were two families claiming the same man. 

Yebei was never suppose to be found.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Forgive me, families and friends, but understand me please, the mourning of a government that allows killings refuses to hit me where it should. I mourn recalling all like this. 
What happened to George Saitoti? He was the minister of Internal Security who died along with Ojode, an MP and all the crew of a chopper a day after he had warned Kenyan politicians not to run to militias again in order to upset the country and win an election in 2013.

He may have had other faults. But why was he scared to sleep in Room 213 in the hotel in Mombasa just before this accident? Is it true that he was treading on the toes of politically correct drug dealers? This type of corruption that dares work with militias to gain power is not going to strengthen Kenya against terror. The USA will not. Kenya has to cut and make its own...

But again the 'saviour' will come from the West... which Uhuru Kenyatta blasted several times particularly on justice and the Hague court.

I know Obama is praising Kenyans for "resilience"
 and "decency' but honestly, Obama, we are the ones who have opened our country to cheap ways. We are not new to radicalisation. We also have internal militias who kill and killed without Obama or Uhuru raising a voice on the matter. At this stage we are not going to be helped by platitudes. We have to be left alone to choose our attitudes and to change. We know we can. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The real Kenyan marathon versus a nation of electoral self- destruction, Reflections on Pio Gama Pinto, the stone that builder refused, as Gitu of Mau Mau and others pass on the baton

Young Kenyans commemorate J.M. Kariuki and Pio Gama Pinto in 2014 and call out for justice. These are people with sense and who sacrifice to speak out often on empty stomachs. Why would anybody hound them down and silence them? Why would the National Intelligence not hear their own quest in this? 
Well, where I have lived and voted , even tried to position for a voice in politics, a thing I now would not do, elections whether big or small divide deeply. General Elections have come with a trail of deaths and displacements of persons in big and small numbers. 

The push for power rocks the ground so much that a by-election for instance in Maasai land in Kenya this week has the country on tenterhooks. When you read the details of how a former leader in the area was wooed to government and appointed then you see clearly why sharp divisions arise. Look at this photo and see the spirit that takes over and how a slight misstep could lead to much more.

Politics is interesting and not to be wished away. Perhaps some systems need to be thoroughly questioned and examined with regard to where they left Africa and whom they benefit. The interests colonial powers had in the region did not go away because flags changed. But 

Kenya's election of 2007/2008 was one that left many deaths, rapes, environmental destruction and deep rifts between different people on the course of justice. In my life it left some red ink in my pen. I always wrote before. During the actual violence I was not able to write save for a few articles like this one.

The 11th Parliament did not allow for the trial of suspects locally. Later on especially visible in the election of 2013, many active civil society people went into politics. Their voices are missing at another level. The level of the struggle for justice for all and the cohesion of the nation since running it in cantons of different ethnic groups is not productive and the borders were made by those who had other interests from Europe. But there is something special about Kenya's desire to be one in the hearts of many of its lovers and fighters for justice and that did not begin the other day. It is the very root of the formation of Kenya. Dedan Kimaathi spoke about it and he was seen as a terrorist by the colonial powers as were all Mau Mau. 

Mau Mau fighters are still alive in Kenya. They have stayed in the spirit of many who died for freedom to always tell the story of what it means to be free. It does not mean to win an election, to have an election or even to lose one. It means to love and stay awake and vigilant with an undivided spirit. Gitu wa Kehengeri in a video below tells of his times in Mau Mau and the birth of a Kenya that is not yet here. Not yet. And this is important for the world and for Afrika.

And as for those historians and experts of all sorts who say some Mau Mau fighters such as Kahengeri were not determined because they were from Kiambu and not Nyeri, let them stop that. This is something some historians, would defend. I have heard one 'historian' because he lived this history on the side of the Coloniser say it to me. I know it is justified by others. But I have met with Mau Mau fighters in Kiambu and Muran'ga. 

My father was among the Kiambu ones and they without fear pointed out people who got into power who were homeguards or betrayers from Kiambu. There are and history had better make that clear Mau Mau fighters in Kiambu. People who fought for the country and with all ethnic groups in mind without betraying. The division of Nyeri vs Kiambu fighters suited the coloniser. 

It still does suit the governments that were put in place. It does not suit the government today. What those who believe in freedom say is that Kenya was not freed for the benefit of one class or one group of peoples but for all. They embrace the freedom that lasts beyond death. The freedom Kimaathi, Pinto, J.M. Kariuki and Tom Mboya believed in and which made those in power feel threatened. 

If interested contrast what Dr. Willy Mutunga says in 2015 Pinto commemoration video posted below and what Muthoni Kamau says about the young and the love of a nation united, that is the struggle, the middle class and many are absent. They are either too taken by the opium of the poor to see that even then, there are obligations to face up to or left to fend on their own. And this in a country where Human Rights Defenders have been treated to a kind of inquisition. The huge question remains on my mind.

Why is it that the voices of those who ask the right but painful questions must be silenced? Why? Why do innocent people who love good have to be the ones who carry the burden of suspicion and worse still deaths and disappearances. If this question remains alive and stings so shall we as nation. But if it is hidden then shall we indeed stink. 

A bid by some MPs, including Martha Karua, then minister for Justice and many others to do so, was defeated at Parliament. The legislators then opted for the Hague. Don't be vague many said, go to the Hague. That was heard in Kenya so frequently. Time has passed and Kenyans have had strong voices at AU and at the UN and around the world in a strong way, wanting to make the Hague vague, or actually disappear it.

The fact that Kenya did not like Ivory Coast face its failures and look for justice at home has been a weight that Kenyans cannot pride themselves in having lifted. 

Simone Bagbo of Ivory Coast was sentenced for 20 years for her involvement in violence in the country's 2010 election.  Laurent Bagbo, former president awaits his case and judgement at the ICC. 

I have not read of efforts by Ivory Coast to leave the Rome Statute as Kenya has tried to influence African nations to. Actually, the Ivory Coast did not join Kenya on the latest efforts in Addis Ababa for that and other nations did not follow the path Kenya had wanted. But Kenyans are good.

Kenyans are good at self-introspection but almost always after it is too late. There are questions there that the Kenyan system of justice should ask itself for years, and not only them but also the two arms of government. The Executive and the Legislature. Why are there so many vacuums with regard to answers on injustices that hit the headlines? Matters regarding assassinations are particularly outstanding. 

In the first quarter of the month, there are Kenyans who remember and ask questions on when justice will be served for Pio Gama Pinto, J.M Kariuki, Robert Ouko and Dedan Kimaathi. This is March 2015 and a wonderful documentary was launched dealing with these questions at length.

Writing this, I was searching for the link above, when I found another documentary for March 2014 for the same commemoration. This is Kenya's real marathon.  I was very surprised. I did not see it for a year... hm! Those who know will know why the hm! And this is an important one... for me. 

 It is easy for some to imagine when traveling Kenya whether mentally or physically that Kenyans will fail the marathon of national cohesion and stop running. No, there are Kenyans whose spirit does not die. They keep running the real marathon, in their sleep, in their writings and dreams and so often have they done it without any trainers beside them or even on their feet. Barefoot. 

They have run but also into the muck have they been flung and there, they have swam. Staying there so long and having their faces covered as if in burial will not stop them from again walking the streets barefoot. The paths of the villages welcome them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Damned be The Traitor of His Motherland! Oliver Frljc #Naked without a leaf on foreskin#KenyainDenial! my take Producer Oliver Friljc

The world said Povertyend2015? World without end....

And I asked: Why are you so afraid of the nakedness of Truth?
Pity answered: I Hate The Truth. It is about us. All of us.

When in a country, region, a people hate one another, are xenophobic,
because of being overpowered by power, they need to know one thing. It never ends. It is about resources but you end up tied with acrimony, calling one another names, completely engaged in the wrong game. Weapons come out. Machetes, guns, knives but first always the tongues. A non-forgiving game. Nobody survives a broken nation to succeed. In the end, the betrayer is betrayed and all are eaten up. There is no safety in evil. Only in confronting it. This is drama like I never saw it before.

Never again will I see human beings as they against us, pushed a little we all become what you cannot even name. It does not matter that they are. Take care! Chunga maisha. Once you kill one, yours is on the line. The dry wood above laughs at the one in the fire... Ciitara cithekaga ciiriko!

The setting is historical and ahistorical in a sense. Croats and Serbians. Yogoslavia... Balkans. For they had killed and killed in the Balkans. Killed in words and shed blood. Ethnicism had taken over. Still the scars. And now... on stage this was drama for reconciliation or total severance from your ideas. Disconcerting in order to concert.  It rammed in you the message. Betray today for your people, all yours will be betrayed tomorrow. Killed. Stop it! Still your senses. See yourself naked and cry. See your own genitals mutilated and stop. Sober up. How did a part of Nairobi come to be named Kosovo? or Nahau... Kosofo...Mpesa. Poverty is not about lack of money, also in the settlements there is money. It is about how ideas are organised to oppress or liberate.

 Invited to the Mladinsko Theatre in Lubljana, nothing could have prepared my mind for what was coming. It was a morning special show for writers from various countries under the ICORN programme. I was happy to attend the annual meeting again. I enjoyed my train ride to Lubljana via Vienna. I posted a photo of the rails to Fb. But the drama post on my mind remains. Drama that refuses to be unfelt by the  amnesia poured in the world. The answer you will hear more often now when you point out issues is that weak and defeated 'it happens everyhere..' and a shrug of shoulders like your country is nowhere.

So then, on a seemingly happy morning we sat outside in a lovely garden. Celebs, unknown, just people as others joined and people tend to gather naturally without class and roots and differences, until power decides no. In works of writers, this is how it should be. We will gather - even if only heaven knows how. We had breakfast and were cautioned that the play was strong. On needed to be braced oneself up for it. We were busy chatting to cross bridges of isolation. We heard that Theatre travels to many parts of the world but that in some people are unable to watch it because there are scenes so powerful, they fled the halls. In reality there is no line between cast and audience. You do not know how it happens. I stayed. 

Still I thought it could not be worse than what made over half a million Internally Displaced Persons flee in Kenya and why 1 333 maybe more died. Why millions in Syria, Iraq and Iran leave their homes. Why I feel that no part of the world is that safe and that material wealth is meeting a pure lack of values and critical thinking where it is to be found. Did you know you must leave your comfort zone in yourself, that hedge that a poetry character called Wacũ, in some poetry posts I made is always cutting, the place where you do not care for values and where you abuse, kill and punish in private before you are out in public? Dialogue. Search. Sheha rugiri rwaku. Cut that hedge and speak to it truth in your Mother Tongue. Languages are not meant for division.

Still we writers sat and heard and looked at books around us displayed in the garden outside the Theatre. We went to the door of the theater and got earplugs. I do not thinking about surgeons, the way we were getting prepared had a streak of something of an operation atmosphere, some sterilisation of equipment? Wires looked like stethoscopes. Internal sounds? Auscultation? Breathing? Hearbeats to check? Who was to think beyond that. Why? We got cushions. Some of us thought these people really care for writers. Cushions sometimes precede terrible repercussions!

We got settled in our seats and sweet music began. It was now clear to me. We in the world are steeped, most of us, in incredible hig doses of anaesthesia. Ears are blocked by power. We dance to the same news day in day out. We do not hear. We have earplugs on most of the time listening to music. The more the world is troubled, the more my neighbor, the more I shield myself and talk to myself on public transport, especially in Europe and America?

Gunfire, Explosions and people cry

And long before our layers of thoughts, poetic inspiration, vanities could peel off, long before we fell out of the philosophical tea before still cobwebs in the mind, the gunfire exploded, so loud and even smelt so real, the first writer left the theatre. He comes from Somalia. It smelt real he said later. And he cried. Others are crying too. Somalia borders Kenya. I stayed on. But those 'shot' dead in the audience and on stage were still alive. They stood up. They came back on stage. One by one standing in a slight crescent curve to the inner stage, they stood in silence.

They started with the eldest. A man in his 60s, I think. Next was the youngest. Also woman. They tell me this is typical of drama here but I know its effect is meant to be atypical. Each part of his clothing he took off as if it was a holy garment. All clothes were taken off. In utter silence. Naked he stood there. Like Jesus on the cross? Kenyans would have even had the chance to check on Foreskin! But No! Before you condemn nakedness. By itself it never harmed anyone. More writers left. They felt their religion was injured. But had we not come to watch a play? The drama had a soul-peeling effect. And the cathartic effect leaves you ready to see yourself but you have only just began.

Roles are reversed. Your clothes were also being taken off in the realm of your imagination. Your soul. Were you ready to see it? How often have you called another name for their color, tongue or religion. Anyway you did not have to have called names... just felt that they were 'the other'? You could sweat with all your pores, sweat blood but the cast was not over on stage. The Agony in the Garden? The Place of Skulls, Rwanda? It included you. Swept you right in and not in the way you are used to it...

Some were already  weeping in the audience. I was one. The light is suddenly turned on you, a pistol ... fire! Why are you there weeping? you hear. A man in the audience is the focus now. He cannot move. He hears how he raped a woman. How he removed her clothes.. how you .. how you... how you... How he... He is shot again and naked words of the four letter words are the compliments to those who had gone to the Theater to cry. You fools! Someone else leaves from the audience. It is best to be alone. Conscience is disturbed and disturbing.

"And you... you C....t! Why are you crying? It is always easier to be on the side of the ones who weep... like around the cross they stood weeping... and you hear again...and now you are no longer a part of a 'holy' crowd.

"You? Where were you when they were slaughtered.. " Now you think they know your name and your address. They are relentless. Some more people walk out. The details on how many actors and authors committed suicide after being in that theatre acting were enough were they not? Is there any acting to be done in a country that kills and kills and hosts the virus of greed and tribalism without reserve. The viruses for which none must wear a mask?

When a country, a people hate one another because of being overpowered by power, they need to know one thing. It never ends. It is about resources but you end up tied with acrimony, calling one another names, completely engaged in the wrong game. A non-forgiving game. Nobody survives a broken nation to succeed. In the end, the betrayer is betrayed and all are eaten up. There is no safety in evil. Only in confronting it. This is drama like I never saw it before. 

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

       Mathare Math in voice...for Raila Odinga     His mouth is open with fear. The palms of his hands with fingers open. This is a fla...