I wrote this poem in 2001. I was inspired when I found it today. It was in a printed out email to Diana who used to work with HABITAT in Nairobi. When I was reading it, I at first thought I was reading a letter from Diana to me but it was the opposite. I liked the first line..
How are you doing? Just some questions for you and a poem to share. Remember the International Women s Day card woman?
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxon I went. A woman appointed politician had given me two appointments and canceled them. Diana had asked me to see her because she run an NGO dealing with empowering women. ..but I ended up saying.. "..but I am still going strong. You may have read some articles recently in the Nation. One on alcoholism and the devastating effects on women and families. It is the men who drink mainly. I should have said the other was about myself and my work in the villages and my desire to change the way our local councils were run. I was urging young people to go in great numbers into local governance. .. I ended up saying .. "It must be busy towards Istanbul+5.
That was the time. My own letter inspired me many years later. I can tell that I so much wanted help for my project to move young people to run in local councils. And I was doing that myself later in two months because there was a by election. I must write an essay on that interesting experience. My diary was carried in the Daily Nation then in the pages edited by Makokha on Fridays. He got some trouble after he run that article. He was so gracious. He did not share the absolute details. But I still remember the senior editor who was annoyed at my having been so well covered! ha! ha! ha! Nothing stops some of us.
Fools.. stop(**That year, president Moi on International Day called women fools.. and they clapped.... as he spoke. Only a couple of them were disgruntled. It was replayed on BBC for a long time.
We met a woman Mau Mau fighter who was disabled. Pinky Ghelani, then Miss India Kenya organised for a wheelchair through Dr. Thakkar of Avenue Clinic and we got her a wheelchair. It was inspiring to see someone who had not left her houses for years look around the village and smile. The smiling woman said, "let us go to church." Many children followed us around the village singing. This was sad but inspiring too.
I am haunted...
By images of women
Who can't move any more.
Women who lie
In social commas
Waiting to tie
The knot with the Full stop.
Women who looked at
the fools stop*
While singing the cheap song
Os some free kingdom
and lost their gait.
They stopped dancing on
African paths altogether,
the load on their back
was too heavy - firewood,
Fire without a flicker for their warmth.
But could they have changed
it for a colorful basket?
Now I'm haunted by
Women sitting on
plastics made by men.
They threw away the sack,
for small change.
I am haunted by deliriously learned women!
I'm haunted by their exclamations and
And still I see immobile women
who were once movers.
Ng'endo, once a Mau Mau figther
Now slithering along her back.
Rose and Rose submerged.
One by a bomb, made by hands of men
The other without shelter, dying
because mean drove the dozers
which demolished homes...
And another and others, imprisoned by
poverty and poor health...no -one to stroke
their tired backs.
Women blind and heavy with child.
Woman sick and child dying and sick too.
Dying of Aids without aid,
-of diarrhoea, tuberculosis burns and pneumonia still,
And many, so many , dying of hunger,
They haunt me all...
Still must I dream, for the dawn must come.
Must come in Africa too.