Sunday, March 28, 2010
TOWARDS A JUST SOCIETY IN KENYA - NON VIOLENT OPTIONS
You can’t change Kenya only because tomorrow you want the biggest office in the land! I respect those who want to go for big offices but let them be sure it change not only for them to get there!) That might not make any difference to system so deranged!
Summary of a talk at a public forum, sponsored by WAJIBU, at the Goethe Institut, 2 July 2009
I think that we are no longer asking if a revolution will come to Kenya. The question we are asking is: how will it come about? Will change be peacefully achieved? Will it be non-violent? I am here to talk about non-violent options.
But we must take note of where we are. I see a Kenya that always has had violence somewhere: for instance, the violence represented by the disappeared and the assassinated. And then there is teargas to meet you if you speak out about the many commissions investigating the violence and which have not brought an end to it.
Beyond that, there is the violence of poverty, of deprivation.Those hit by this type of violence may even be totally unaware of the violence of corruption, of greed and inefficiency in the management of public funds. These people are daily covered by the dust the big vehicles of our MPs blow on them as they pass them to represent them in Parliament. This is the same Parliament that rejected the formation of the Local Tribunal investigating the post-election violence and unanimously defended its hefty salaries and perks. It is also the Parliament that refused to have any extraordinary sessions around the country or to agree to bury the dead together after post-poll violence.
What are our options, faced as we are with the fact that our inability to heal such deep rifts might spark renewed violence?
I believe in justice. I have faith. I believe that other people have and have had this same conviction and that their faith has helped to bring about change in the societies where they lived and live and that they have brought some measure of peace to the world. I believe in searching for peace even in the eyes of a policeman hitting out at you. For they, the police, are victims. I am going to be blunt and say that the peace and stability that Kenya experiences today, the small measure of peace and stability if you prefer, is actually a result of violence. For when some people see violence in terms of blood and spilt entrails, they start working for peace. But if the types of violence surrounding them are invisible to them they may not act.
Ignoring situations only breeds more violence. Those who turn a deaf ear to injustice fail to see that they cannot expect good things only for themselves. For it is has now become obvious in Kenya that people would rather die than remain poor for generations. Their dignity is daily experiencing an affront that they cannot tolerate. In the past in Kenya, about 500 people were killed for the rape of two Maasai girls during the construction of the railway. We do not go for death but where is this burning sense of punishing gone and left us with a huge stone of impunity on our plates? In Senegal, some women opposing slavery committed suicide. Kenyans do not need to do this. Here we die everyday in many ways and we have already had too many martyrs dying for this nation. Do you know how many people die monthly from consummation of illicit brews and how many in our hospitals and homes from neglect?
But, when seeking for justice, there is no place to hide. All of us should work boldly to obtain it, for, as J.M. Kariuki said, we cannot afford to have a government for the few. Part of justice is the right to livelihood: that we can eat well, sleep under a decent roof and have access to sanitation that does not ruin the environment. We must allow ourselves no matter if we are in comfort now, no matter how peaceful things might be for you just now, to cut deep and see if we are enforcing justice all around us for without it, we cannot expect peace.
We may get somewhat disconcerted when we hear the words peace and non-violence. Living as we do in a violent environment, we must make a definite intention to seek peace. We cannot afford to be passive while others are preparing violent ways.
Alternatives to violence exist and they include incessant action so that everyone may possess:
• Reminding public office bearers including the principals that they are humus… for this nation, just manure. Humility in office to serve.. and all the ministers and people in power are humus from which the word humility comes and humility here means living the truth, not a funny posture or inability to assert one self. It does not mean preaching to others all the time and doing nothing ourselves. We elect our leaders. We are to blame when they are poor.
• Enforcing a new type of leadership that shuns corruption through an election
• Renewing fearlessly our governance arrangements in education and health
. changing the minds of those who would police and meaning of policing as service....
• Finding ways of leading disenchanted young people to connect their plight of deep unhappiness to hope and faith. If you think they are in militias for fun you are mistaken.
• We must open deep inside the heart and mind of every citizen to love a return to self and to African ways of democracy and peace and plant the longings that we take for granted for hope and faith that it is possible even if it takes reggae.
• Transformative power must be accessible to all and that includes creativity.
• Renewing our commitment to the values and laws in the new constitution ( if we get it and if we do not get it, finding spaces to repeat and reconnect with these values.)..
• Media agenda setting for justice and hearing of all.
• Enforcement of rule of law
• Proactive willing and open communication on how we feel about others.
• Non-violent communication.
• Principles and techniques, that is obtaining peace knowledge, both traditional and new.
• Pro-activity in the prevention of new power-related violence.
• Ability to deal with cultural conflicts.
The Kenyan context
When we talk of Kenya, we mean Kenya as the entire nation; we look at the haves and the have-nots and at those who could have had more but instead have helped the have-nots to move up. We also look at those who put up barriers that prevent others from moving up.
We look at the marginalized. They face poverty, political marginalisation, discrimination related to ethnic origin, tribe, age, sex, beliefs and everything else that can make one different from the majority and therefore vulnerable. On the other hand, we are also looking at the individual person as a driver of change. In other words: we are not asking, what can we do? We are saying this is what I, we will do. We are accepting that individuals act in thousands of ways against situations that are unjust. We are taking into account that our small actions matter and when done in their thousands, that they can trigger an unstoppable momentum. Each person may prefer to do their own thing with regard to what they face individually as human beings. However, when we find we are facing similar problems we need a major joint solution to give greater meaning to our small efforts.
We have poverty in terms of what to eat and drink. But we also have poverty of ideas. Every day, all of us, anywhere, can wake up with an idea that will help us and our children get through the day. Let that bind us together and not tribal origins.
Upon waking up in any slum, a person’s first concern is where to find a toilet. One can find that toilet peacefully or fight with someone else to use it first, the way we used to see people fight to enter a matatu. (public-service vehicle) Similar fights are going on every day with respect to space, food, privacy, work. We are always struggling to serve those close to us because we feel our dignity needs this. Yet, these are the things that can fuel violence.
It is estimated that in Kibera there is one toilet for every 200 people. This is violence. Violence does not only happen when you pick up a machete. It happens whenever you have poverty, a deep and hopeless poverty, a poverty that is tolerated by the powers that be to the extent that the person born into it knows he will die in it. It is when people are trapped by this kind of poverty and at the same time surrounded by a show of affluence by the haves that physical violence becomes a means of self-expression. It is at this point that people no longer care if they die, how they die and who dies. It is not a matter of putting projects in Kibera and Mathare. It is urgent to put a project into the hands of all Kenyans who are soon planning to move to Mathare or Kibera because of rural poverty and to rehabilitate and close slum life standards. Yes, it is.
Someone says it: “a child who dies of hunger today, it is murdered.” We cannot have peace in a world where people are regularly murdered in this way. Many poor people die, either slowly or violently, simply because they are poor. The statistics tell us that 100, 000 people die of hunger every day, and every seven minutes a child below ten dies of hunger. Going to such places to say, “Peace be with you!” does not work if there is no jihad against the causes of injustice.
What drives change?
Change does not happen without millions of movements taking place first in the mind, then physically and finally in our national decision-making and government action. There are serious unresolved socio-political issues. Why do we have so many failed states? Why are people creating wealth at the expense of others all the time?
There is a possibility of overcoming these barriers so that social justice and stability are reached. And there is a way of overcoming inequalities through a non-violent approach.
We need individuals to embrace the prospect of change, especially change for the poorest and for the most marginalized. We must have a government that understands its people and listens to them because we say we are a democracy.
You saw how people in an area called Kiserian in Marigat spoke about the pain of violence caused by fifteen people dressed in black, who came into homesteads and killed cattle. One man said; “ My shamba lies there dead, for this livestock is my shamba. What am I supposed to do and I have a family to feed and children in school?” When you see dead cattle and, at the same time, children who have had to quit school because they were forced to close, you touch and smell violence.
It was refreshing to listen to Wangari Maathai on a BBC forum challenging us by asking why Africa tops in most negative things: disease and poverty and (I guess) ignorance.
Acting in a non-violent way is not breaking anything. In fact, in our circumstances, being non-violent actually means being prepared how to handle violence all the time. Violence is here and I cannot wish it away. We know it. We see reports of abductions, murders, militia operations, grisly road accidents. We go to places like Kenyatta National Hospital or our own district hospital and find violation instead of healing.
There are ways in which anybody – including those in power – can stem violence and create peace. Regardless of who you are, you can benefit from what the organisation, Alternatives to Violence offers: training to people to act in a non-violent way.
Transformative power- Creativity
We have power that lives in us, is around us, something that speaks to us without words, no matter our educational level or class in society. Do I trust in my own power? My first word in this sharing was “I”. Do I trust in myself and in the power in others to seek peaceful solutions?
How? We should make it clear that we not only expect the best from ourselves but also that we expect the best from our leaders. Accepting personal responsibility for situations is vital. What role did I play in the last election, either before of after? Do I truly care for my country, for people in this country? Do I affirm them? One way of caring for others and affirming them is listening to their concerns for they also have knowledge.
People are not lesser human beings because they are poor. In fact, Africa is not a poor continent. We should not be ashamed of ourselves; we should believe in ourselves and in our African ways of solving conflics. Violence is active… you have seen what horrible photos you can get from it. Reconciliation must also be active. The plight of the internally displaced is too evident of the fact that we are not serious about proactive reconciliation.
Right now you can opt to have the kind of dialogue that either creates peace or reminds others of the things that create discontent.
Think before reacting. This is especially necessary with our politicians. No one is supposed to follow another blindly. Try unexpected solutions, including humour. Let us laugh at ourselves and at our strange ways of acting or being. Let us try to enjoy our strengths and weaknesses together.
Transforming leadership and media
Whatever else happens we must transform all the levels of power in this country: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. We cannot afford to continue in the same mould. We need bold radicalism in our choice of leaders. We must dream of eradicating the slums, creating jobs in millions. Stand up, you visionaries, industrialists and act for your country today.. Do not begin by doing it in order to get a post in government or parliament. Let the people re-define parliament as bunge la mwananchi (people’s parliament) have done; let the people redefine what they understand a parliamentarian to be: namely, a mjumbe, the bearer of messages to government. Let our Parliament reflect the true face of Kenyans.. not just the rich and connected!
We must participate in our media and to be the ones who tell our local radios when they are being tribal. After all, only if you speak the language broadcast can you catch the nuances! I would have wished to see a program of reconciliation produced and followed by every media station in this country and especially by those that led people to violence. What non-violence programs or ways are being put in place? Who will be allowed to dominate Kenya’s public space tomorrow? The fourth estate must play their role, just like community radios are doing. They must play a major part in turning this pyramid of a few rich people on top upside down!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
My bouquet of wild flowers for you
By Philo Ikonya
I will give you new wings, photo by Marisa Fushille, Lake Nakuru 2010
A village for their garland in a far land
From our one quarter acre plots, we only saw their spiraling pipes irrigating coffee from afar, as we fetched water on our backs from rivers hidden between steep hills.
We ached to get out of mud houses. Our life was mud. We touched it to plant, we sang to it weeding crops and we coaxed it to harvest. We mourned to it when we buried our dead in the rain. And who can forget what it is like to carry water on your back and walk on muddy ground? And there was no consolation on hot red soil either and the search for the shade of a tree in the hot season.
Why do you today steal land from Kenya’s Mau water tower? This is the water that irrigates all our land in Kenya and beyond. If you can steal this one and go free, why was my Father detained? We will protect our Aberdares, Mt. Kenya and other water towers. We refuse to anger the river, lake, and sea gods and to kill our children and animals! We are proud villagers with the courage of all fires. We ask questions for people, flora and fauna.
By Philo Ikonya ©
March 1, 2010
I will give you new wings,
I will take away the sting.
Wings of hope,
Sting of pain.
But I will ask for justice,
Even for these.
That fall in the mud,
Of disease caused by us.
The planet sighs and sinks.
How can it fly?
Wings fallen in mud,
Flight stolen in height.
I will seek the balance,
Birds of the air had nests,
before you came to power.
Not not even children do,
See IDPs their new name.
I seek justice.
For your voice of justice
For your ringing truth,
I give my thoughts.
For your pain of loss,
I breathe with your life.
For the sweat of your brow
For the poor,
For the widows of Mau Mau
For their children,
I live in hope.
For you just having been,
A Mau Mau detainee
Who flew high,
Before they cut your wings,
And drove pain in you.
We stand by not watching
Children of many generations
because of you,
Your spirit never died,
It flew with new wings of justice.
It is everywhere,
And high on Ngong’ Hills.
2 March 2010
Inside me there is an outpouring. It is the kind can only be shared intimately. I will share it with you in writing. I hope you will feel like sharing more. I have a little prose, a proverb, a poem.. here held by a string of words are many of these. They make a wild boquet in my hands.
Something overflows there in my soul, where the hills are no longer hills, where mountains are inside rivers and rivers are inside mountains. If I had known that I was going to meet you here in this moment, I would have come in a dress made of soft glass so that together we sit on this unusual carpet of weeds and see everything. My dress would have been a camera.
The grass, it is so soft. I remind you my beloved, that we must never block the air from it, by the way we sit and hold our hands as we share our sunset. Air is their life as is ours in our breath. The overflow is powerful and it takes me on my wings, off my dainty feet that tried to dance towards a police van that had come for my arrest. I am extremely angry that they killed you. But your spirit flies here.
In our dreams we fly from point to point. In this very special meeting in this river without mountains, our souls merge. I feel no resistance to oneness, and I wonder if this ardor will consume me.
Should I not now take out some book that with its sweet or powerful words will save me from becoming the useless clod of mud that the police van wants to collect?
This outpouring is for my land, what have you done for yours and for your neighbour’s land? I wept for mine. Then I learned to fly on the wings of beauty. I took my country’s furniture for repair. I stood on the mountain that used to rain snow on the equator and saw it facing many faces facing it with tears of blood for justice.. justice to the grass not just to the throne.
I did had not looked at it this way, that if the people prayed facing the mountain the mountain is the one who faces them. I saw this in the mirror of the river that is in the mountain and I cried with sweetness when I saw it; after this I then cried with pain because the mirror of snow was breaking and breaking as a glacier, it was moving dangerously towards all the people that prayed facing the mountain and yet, it is the mountain that faced them.
Every drop of water, and every particle of it was a mirror of realities behind realities. If I tell the man of powers to read messages in those mirrors, the leaves will become soft copies of injustice. Take my outpouring, if it touches you, take it and pass it on. In remembering you, I want also to save the green that is defiled every time we are unjust! I wish we all held each other in love. But no. Many are in exile.
South Sahara Sno wing
When white gentleness that is nobody’s color
Falls on my shoulders gently,
Lights up the sky and,
brings more light,
Makes me a carpet for my tired feet,
Says many good mornings with every little drop
Snow becomes my best welcome,
My heart is warm.
It falls on my black and together we make two
It falls on the red of our flag and joins up with
That green of peace unraced.
It falls all around on green,
and I see my way again.
So many drops of snow allow me
to jog and smile.
And the moment tells me,
it is like no other.
Never mind those who,
Cannot see beyond color!
I got off my camel and left it warm,
sun shining in my land but nowhere to step.
Drought and hunger,
And amazing snow silence;
In the heat of pain and death,
I shouted with my voice,
and they took me to jail.
Here is a new land giving,
safety to my back
my best welcome it does!
Sometimes in the contradiction of time,
Lies an eternity!
in 12/12 "arts united 4 Iran'
12. Dec 2009
No to tales,
No to tales here
That the war is so old,
They will never know peace!
Every pain is new
All sinews know
And we are those bones!
Pen the gun!
Women are judges
It is time for peace!
They dress in green
and sing their voices:
Children want to rejoice
and refugees a choice
this the song of our soul,
Green sits on black!
I join in chorus
No to woes,
No to Wars
No to tales
Of war unending.
My drum in unisong
Is calling the day,
we long for it
will womb time spend
to reach other levels
without the sound of the gun
Their titles gladly to take!
Women of Iran
Are strong fighters,
Fighters for peace
Mohammed Ali knows this,
Shirin Ebadi is progeny!
No to tales here
That the war is so old,
They will never know peace!
Every pain is new
All sinews know
We are those bones
And now sing in green!!
Street thoughts early in the morning
24th Nov, a bright morning
Delirious, you swung in my language
hitting words and phrases,
eager to learn what my ancestors
said in their original words,
our tongues warmed up.
And the two of us discovered our own language,
and that morning the sun rose for us,
just to remind us it is one bead,
that around the earth, same earth,
swings to wake the moon!
We ride in on the edge of an early morn,
with clear light and softness for the face,
we rode so high and the morning hope,
did see us tremble in our own words.
Here the gods take the sky, ring it and dry it,
and hung it out over humankind in winter.
There is the church I could not see yesterday at midday,
there is a face today so bright and a baby,
looks at me with amazing persistence from tiny cot,
Little bogir* who ever you might be,
When the pram is done and you take the tram,
Don’t let the world cheat you as Mother has not,
That color is where to begin the heart to meet.
The colours in this colourful bead you want,
Are all one, black in red and green and white
Blue and grey in yellow is ripe.
*bogir is boy/girl
Freedom Vigil for Aung San Suu Kyi on her birthday
• Kharbhih your souls are ours
• Mo Suchua
To many pulse women we know;
Mo Suchua, Aung San Suu Kyi and Hasina Kharbhih
Your souls are ours
If they take you to prison;
When you step in prison,
because you spoke your truth, to them;
and it was bitter than gall;
if they open the prison door’
and turn the key, and you remain in,
remember this, Mu Suchua, they have not locked your power.
You have it in your heart, and all over the world, your souls are ours,
For your love for Cambodia, sing freedom, let us sing!
In your love for Cambodia, we love you Mu Suchua,
you who stares like a lion at the face of evil,
speaks clearly like faith in the face of power,
speaking truth to power, speaking truth to evil,
frightening them till their hearts and tails recoil,
and you bringing love; to women who keep dancing!
In your love for Cambodia, We thank you Mu Suchua.
With tears in our eyes, Mo Suchua, but never mind our tears!
We the women of the world, who stand up for all children,
we the women with a pulse that runs faster as children fall in Gaza,
we the women who refuse to keep silent.
we the women; Mo Suchua.
Take with you Aung San Suu Kyi spirit,
when they turn the key your souls are ours,
we turn up our cry!
We arrest ourselves for her house arrest we give our souls,
we know of her pain in Burma, arrested in our wombs,
we have given many births, and she was still under arrest.
Many suns have risen and set, calling the moon to her turn,
our daughters and sons grown tall as Aung San Suu Kyi!
and she, minute by minute serving a sentence; and finally the ridicule.
tell, me, who should be trying who?
Aung San Suu Kyi, should try Burma and then the world,
as she holds hands with Mu Suchua and our sister Hasina.
Hasina she says no to human trafficking,
Hasina today she walks to court gallantly,
Hasina she holds her files of a firm called Impulse!
I like it Hasina I see the passion!
But to Hasina they send a woman to beat her,
Hasina is beaten and threatened today, this afternoon
Outside court and police watching,
But before nightfall we are all there; from four all corners of the world,
We have come, via internet pulse,
to pick up Hasina!
The way attorney Ann Njogu came at midnight
to get me out of dark and lonely and wet cells,
Only male cops for my falls but her soul was mine,
We are now here to touch and heal Hasina’s wounds,
The way Laetitia came to soothe mine!
They ask us how can these women dance across nations with such a pulse,
Hasina in … in Shuuuling…never mind the best have not heard of it,
Aung San Suu Kyi… you know our uncles and fathers fought in Burma,
brought by the British the innercore of violence,
all the way from our villages still madmen walk,
singing of when they were in Burma and touching medallions!
and then they ask us how we dance to continents with our souls of peace?!
Free our history! Free Cambodia! Free Burma! Free Kenya! Free the world!
They tied up the world’s women and turned away,
you put structures in the hands of men with and vested them raw power,
you know our aches come mainly from the same source,
if we follow the river to the source, we will get our cure,
and use it like manure to sprint to the future,
the past is bleak but we learn from it.
So if you go into exile Hasina Kharbhih, if you do,
if you have to be taken away to a place of peace,
remember to talk to all nations of peace and justice,
remember we are here dancing with you,
bleeding and dancing in the revolution of women of peace!
Our souls are yours!
Mu Suchua dancing,
Dancing with Harriet Tubman,
Spiriting blacks to freedom!
Aung San Suu Kyi, writing,
dancing with Gertrude Stein,
writing of ourselves and for strangers.
making Hasina Kharbhih go, Stein tells Hasina,
the strangers, ‘dear friend, are an afterthought!”
and all women dance along to “make many mad!”
but making any one who would claim sense think!
Sophie Dowallar drums to the beat,
Sings to da beat.
Drums to da beat, dala na, dala na Mama!
Making world women go marching and dancing!
Women, the lords of the dance!
On June 15, 2009, JaniceW wrote:
Philo, it's so wonderful to hear from you again. I see the spirits of all the women on PulseWire rising up in dance, moving to the rhythmic flow of your words, as they carry their love and strength to these three women. A truly powerful and beautiful poem. Thank you!
Philo, I'm very worried about
On June 15, 2009, Kizzie wrote:
I'm very worried about Aung San Suu Kyi. The world is really helpless, we don't know what should be done about the dictatorship in Burma. The real change is going to come from within. Remember the 2007 protests? The Burmese people are very brave and resilient. They need all the support they can get.
Have you read Aung San's writings? She is very touching!
On June 15, 2009, jadefrank wrote:
When I saw your picture in Voices Rising, I could not wait to read your new journal as I enjoy your writing so much. What a moving tribute to the courageous World Pulse women who are being persecuted unjustly in their own countries. Please do write a follow-up journal with details and reflections from your vigil tomorrow. I will light a candle as well.
This is my favorite part:
We the women of the world, who stand up for all children,
We the women with a pulse that runs faster as children fall in Gaza,
We the women who refuse to keep silent.
We the women; Mo Suchua.
Take with you Aung San Suu Kyi spirit,
When they turn the key your souls are ours,
We turn up our cry!
And all women dance along to “make many mad!”
But making any one who would claim sense think!
Sophie Dowallar drums to the beat,
Sings to da beat,
Drums to da beat, dala na, dala na Mama!
Making world women go marching and dancing!
Women, the lords of the dance!
I love your posts always, and your poems are so great!
On June 25, 2009, LOGWELL wrote:
This is a very powerful and creative poem for an equally strong and powerful woman. Yes indeed, women , the lords of the dance.
This moves my soul as I'm
On July 6, 2009, Lycia Ora wrote:
This moves my soul as I'm sure it does so many others who read in your words what our own hearts and souls have been yearning to cry out to the world. Your words speak in that universal language of unity, courage, strength and resilience that is every woman. Thank you for speaking for all of us.
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan
I was washing some dishes in my kitchen. My radio was on BBC World Service but by now it was fading in the background as the tap water run and I put some green lemon liquid soap on a green scouring pad, and I let the warm water run.
The water was not warm from electrical heating, in fact, I do not have heated water in my kitchen here in Nairobi where I live in a gorgeous little flat near Uhuru Park. No it was naturally warm water due to the warm temperatures with us even as May sails in. It was very hot in the preceding months of this year 2008, but we hardly had time to realize it was so hot, as Kenya was on fire.
Well, I was washing the orange specked plates that I have and as I went on from a plate to a cup, suddenly a great feeling of victory filled my heart and mind. I remembered how until recently, I had no time for these chores. I was busy campaigning for political office. Someone else had to do them. I failed to get office. I heaved a sigh of relief.
It felt so good to just do put the drops soap on the scouring pad and clean! You know the typical light scouring pads we have there? The ones that usually come in dark green, and clean quite well? I wonder if this is what my pen would be doing in an elective office if I had managed to get in? Cleaning up? Or would I too be making things less clear?
The soap, which I had noticed for the first time on the supermarket shelves only this year, politics can make you blind, was great. It lasted very, long. Very, very long and was better than the one we used to use when my assistant was here. Why had I not noticed it was going to waste in my own house? Would I have noticed office irregularities if I had taken office and the oath of office?
The soap- was soft and true to its label, kind on hands. If it had already been several years on the shelves had active life made me run to the same shelves and the same counters all the time?
Had I lost time to explore new things in the three years that preceded the election? Would I have had the time to notice its loss of quality were it to happen and asked questions in Parliament on behalf of women who usually end up being the ones who buy these things?
I would shudder that it would eventually lose its good quality but for now, nice suds, a feeling of clean, no clinging grease or thin films, just so joyous!!!
I loved this, standing at the sink and cleaning dishes. I always remember that feeling of ‘oh, professional women like yourself, should be doing far more important things than wasting time in the kitchen! Do they know about the sink conversations?
I heard his voice again, and beyond the voice a certain feeling of, I had learned to describe it now, frustration? I think so, I refused to give in. Why would anyone or society always prescribe where one should be? I decided to always go against the grain. Why did I have to feel that something was being robbed off me, me alone in the kitchen cleaning up? Could I not make this my daily creative meditation? Why not? Could I manage to be creative at the sink? I decided to enjoy it.
The little suds are off the plate, the water gushes from my taps. My kitchen view is into a garden with jacaranda trees and a lot of green. Green grass. A tree or shrub but quite high with bright red petals of flowers on it declares to the world that green can hold up red. Both are colors of our flag with black of course.. and a streak of white for peace, they said.. as if black is for war? Clotheslines. Many of them for all the people living in this silent and quiet block of flats; where really only I had a child in block A are minding their various businesses. All the other kids who usually come up to play in the small sitting room on a second hand playstation live in blocks H, F and C are on holidays. There were days I had many as 12 kids of all ages here, to see my son.
Zzzreeee goes the water and am through. I clean up that little yellow yoghurt slipped off my son’s cup and I am ready. I want to make the kitchen sparkle clean, but it will take some long practice hours to clean up a nation.
I think of your new wings
When children play.
When the light comes
And everything comes alive.
See what I hear
Near me, far away but always with me.
Poems set free
My poem’s house
Will you come into my house?
Said the mouse to my wide eyes?
A one room house,
full of toys and games too!,
There is in our room tea,
bread and sweet jam and poems to eat!
And at night,
the moon and the train,
Come to whizz us off,
as we sleep on our bed,
And off we go to dream land!
zuum, zuum, zuum!
Yes, I come, I said!
With my eyes wide open!
To a world of sweet poetry
am flying like a butterfly!
Sing a Song! a song, song!
It is time for fun!
Bring your laughter!
Leave your hunger.
And tell your anger,
to wait a little longer,
It is time for fun!
Tell the flying bee to fly away!
as on the river we dance,
Tell the duck to join in!
Leave your anger,
Come to my left,
Come to my right,
Hold out your hands,
In a circle we go!
Me you amaze,
Where did you get your gaze?
So many teeth on your face,
Your soft hair you keep combing!
And coming back to us!
You never laze,
Your gift of strength to all you give,
Maize maize on you we lean,
And with beans you make good food!
For us to eat!
I smile at your grace,
I love your wide smile for me,
And with your dry cob,
Many don’t know,
I light a fire and keep all aglow!
Ringing and singing
I hear bells ringing
Girls are singing!
Bells ringing I hear,
Boys are singing too,
There are songs in my ear!
The grass is singing here,
There are no tears in our eyes!
Cows are munching, moving and looking,
We want to play skipping and kicking!
The world is smiling,
Winking stars are peeping,
Behind the moon and clouds in the night!
And now am sleeping,
Dreaming and dancing and skipping and singing away!
Mosquito, Mosquito will you go away?
Mbu! Mbu! Umbu!!! mbu, mbu!!
You came with the rain and what did you bring?
The rain brought grain and you brought pain,
With your sting and sting on wings!
Mosquito, Mosquito, don’t play with me,
Am inside the net, you go outside my tent,
And look for the rain again!
Mosquito, Mosquito the rain brings gain,
You just ask the sun to play in the plains!
Mosquito, Mosquito, sting none of us!
You must go away a monkey to tease,
Pleaaaaaaassseeee, you marry the sun!
With your zeeee and zeeee and zeee!
Umbu! umbu! umbu!
Sunshine on the hill looks like golden air,
Sun on brown leaves looks like lovely fire!
Sunshine on the grass is a shining green carpet,
Sunshine in the wind is like a moving car.
I love the hills in the golden sunshine!
The sun bathes the trees, earth is so clear!
The grass grows up tall, its hands in the air!
And I stretch my hands and feet and dance!
I catch a berry it is for mum,
I catch a leaf it is for my goat,
I catch some sticks, they are for my drum,
Tum, tum, tum, tum! tum! tum!
I touch the wind behind my coat!
I run like the wind, a tree to plant!
I look at the sun and I know my dream,
I ask it to shine and shine for my pet,
My goat goes meeeeh, meeh, meeh!
An ant goes, tat, tat, tat! tat ! tat !
See that flower in the morning!
It greets you and you smile!
See that flower when the sun is up,
It greets you and closes up!
See that flower in the evening,
Smiling at the moon and waiting.
See that flower in the night!
Not afraid of the dark it says goodnight,
and goes to sleep after greeting God!
Where are you?
River, where is your head,
and why is your tail?
River, River, so long you are,
Your head in the mountains,
Your tail in the sea,
How do you see,
As you go to the sea?
I saw you from the bridge?
Never in a fridge,
I saw you from my boat.
As rowing I went.
And the sun it smiled
At your tail in the Indian Ocean!
Are you one river or many rivers,
the whole world over?
River, river you are so clever,
ears and eyes all over,
Some homes in the lakes,
and others in the ridges,
You are so clever river, river,
I want you to stay clean forever!
Fishes in Lake Victoria
Small fishes, tiny Omena,
They swam so fast for Amina,
Tiny fishes, so sweet and swift,
They swam so fast to their granny fish!
To keep them safe!
Tiny fish saw big fish,
And they run away quickly,
Saying, Away, Away, Away,
Big Tilapia comes to swallow us!
Tilapia, Tilapia, you go away,
Grandpa will come and fish you for Sofia!
The wind's faces
The wind blew like a skirt,
And in its art, danced so alert!
It picked the papers,
I saw them dance!
It picked too,
Old Mr. Tumbo’s tie,
It danced and danced,
With it in the dust!
The wind blew again,
Like a soft touch on my face,
As a breeze above me,
Wind on my face,
Wind on my nose!
The wind’s face in the morning,
Chilly and biting at 6am,
I run off to school!
The wind’s face at 12 pm,
Warm and inviting,
It called me for lunch!
The wind’s face in the evening,
A blanket in the sky,
It is sleepy, I spy!
And I snore, snore, snore!
I love you Granny Akitelek!
How are you?
I love your face,
So full of stories your mouth!
I love your cake,
You bake it in the sun,
And it is fun,
to eat it all day long!
It is a sweet potato!
I love your ears,
They dance with beads,
That swing from ear to ear,
And warn me when danger you hear!
I love your eyes,
They shine like beads,
And a secret they tell!
I love your soft hands,
After so much hard work,
They are kind to me!
I love your hard feet,
They walk and walk,
And bring berries to eat!
I love your heart,
It is big and bright!
And so full of warmth!
My mum sent me
I run fast,
I want to go past,
those ones playing football!
Today I cant go, kick, kick!
With other players in the field!
Today, I must kick, the ball as I go,
And play the football of family!
I am playing for daddy,
Am the goalkeeper,
Who is a sweeper with a smile!
Today am playing for mummy,
With my sister’s pain in the tummy!
Am the doctor in the house today,
So that my sister can run fast tomorrow!
I kick pain away with the medicine I bought!
I kick dirt with my broom without sorrow!
I fly like a wing with a swing!
I am the goalie, my sister the striker,
My mother cheers and dad has no fears!
We are a team in joy and sorrow!
Thank you earth for peanuts!
Thank you sun for under the earth,
You keep things that are sweet to eat!
Oh, sweet, sweet potato,
When goats smell your vines, they bleat!
You keep nuts and potatoes in a secret store!
Thank you earth for above yourself,
You show off beans of so many colours,
This one is fat and plain red,
This one is tiny and maroon,
This one is brown and black,
This other bean is just so sweet!
You like beige and I love green!
This other bean is just dark black,
With a white slit around its top!
This other one is a cowpea,
Drying in the sun,
and full of hope!
How I love your fields of bean,
And their Creator who cares for my health!
I like these sounds to hear
The sound of food boiling in the pot,
rurururuuu, ruuuurrruuuu, ru!
The sound of rain falling on the roof,
Tatatatatttta, tattatttat, ttatttaaaa, uuuuuhm!
And I asleep on Saturday morning,
In my blanket deep!
The sound of birds telling stories,
Wi, wip, chwi, che, kwin, kwi, kwi! In the morning!
The din of the town where dad beats tin,
Din, din, din, din, din till it shines!
The sound of my mother singing lullabies,
oiyooo, Oiyooo, Oiyooo, Oiyoo, lulla lulla lullaby!
And reading stories, telling stories, as she also counts,
One story, two story, three story and here is glory!
All these sounds to me are money!
All these sounds to me are honey!
All these sounds to me are life!
I drew my aeroplane and it flew,
Flew in my mind,
Flew in the wind!
I made my aeroplane and it flew!
Flew in the sky,
Flew in my hand!
One dry maize leaf,
It had for wings,
One stick in the middle,
It had for body,
And its engine me running,
Fast and singing,
aeroplane fly, aeroplane fly!
Then I looked up in the sky,
Saw a big jumbo,
How is it there?
Come along and sit I heard!
Excited I jumped in
Two hundred people sat and flew,
Not a problem, they watched films!
Flew in my mind,
Flew over my land!
I must wake up,
And run to school!
Do you kiss the sun?
No my son, No my daughter.
You have pretty wings.
Yes, my daughter, yes my son!
I love to hop along,
As to school you go,
I love to learn your song,
As In school you sing and play!
I love my wheelbarrow,
and it is full of things for me to borrow!
A lesson of kindness,
A lesson of generosity,
Like the wheelbarrow be kind,
And generous with your work!
I love my wheelbarrow,
It knows how to follow,
My arms as I guide it along!
Learn how to listen,
Learn how to lead,
Like the wheelbarrow does in work!
I love my wheelbarrow,
It showed me to be miss World,
Be clever and happy,
Hardworking and strong,
Carry and oil your skin,
Open up paths in your village!
Oiling skin in the sunshine,
With castor oil brand new from the shop!
I love smiling at toiling granpa,
Telling loving granma my stories too!
I love watching rivers flowing,
Singing songs to birds,
Listening to the wind blowing,
Dancing with all my soul!
I love seeing the rain falling,
Dancing to its Creator,
Watching beans growing,
And the early sun glowing,
So sweetly on their leaves!
She looks like she is dancing?
Sometimes, just sometimes, something holds her down or seems to hold her down. But not her. She moves, she walks along, jogs, runs, plays and she is new again.. and all this time they think she is dancing. She creates. She writes. She moves on.
From clnics in Rwanda to painful burials in a village in which post poll violence took lives, making women, children and youth wear a crown of thorns made by politicians.... and now they skip the long delayed mass burial... and all of them have valid reasons for not being there...
Women watch and wonder. They knit. They light little fires. They twist their lips and make sounds about motherland. They walk, they run, they skip... and the people think they are dancing. We have endured... post partum blues of a nation. And someone says to us... or to her... in unconquerable Kiswahili..." eh, ni nini mama naniiiii?" ("what is the thing mother of thingy?") and somewhere else... " iiii ni kii nyina wa twana?" ( hey, what is it mother of children?)
Why should she not be this uneasy? And she writes and moves, looks and prays and sometimes sees a black cloud as she passes past State House. She sees it on a bright and shiny afternoon.. she sees it. It hovers above the trees... flies up to the top and hangs about there... a black cloud of death. And she cleans the road... and picks up papers and she hums... she sings. She also remembers the high cost of milk... but most of all, the black cloud hovers that there and darkens and does not fall in rain....What will make it rain?
You see, they say she is dancing and singing like all women do, they say. She looks like she is dancing..and they do not see more.
When you think am shy,
I know my strategy.
I am wonderful,
warm and harmless.
But I am.
Just call me a lion.
The ness is in unnecessary
Not so easy to spell,
When you think I do not know,
I smile again.
I am quick reader.
I know my prey.
I am sharp eyed.
When you say,
I am all feelings.
I know brains.
I am sharp.
In body and speed.
But I am.