I saw.

I saw my people saw them all

I saw them shot i saw them tall

I saw them beck i saw them call

I saw them broke i saw them ball

I saw them diamond i saw them coal

I saw them stallion i saw them foal

Saw them in the forest saw them in the mall

I saw them run i saw them crawl

I saw them pray i saw them brawl

I saw them rise i saw them fall

I saw them wounded i saw them whole

I saw the palm i saw the hole

I saw the cut i saw the owl

I sowed the seed i sowed it all

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the blind man

And as he sat down remembering

Tears came unbidden and the blind man wept

His mind wandering to when he was young and pattering

Walking here and there, no worries, not bereft

 

And he came upon a piece of glory

Awakening in itself and to the world

A piece that at the same time said please and sorry

And offered gratitude and shame, a station and a whirl

 

And the sun obscured by the clouds procured

A promise that there was more to life than brilliance

That gold and varnish and glitter could be cured

Becoming more in their dullness enough to send you into a trance

 

And the crown of white it stopped and settled

Over the mountain range so gray and hard

The wind it blew it puffed it meddled

It’s mouth unsettled it chewed the curd

 

And the curtain from this sight was drawn

The promise of beauty soon to be revealed

He stared and waited still but it was gone

Beauty before him but his sight repealed

 

And so for centuries he tried to build

What he almost beheld he fought all odds

It was useless without admission into the guild

Of builder, craftsmen and painter gods

 

And so they sentenced him

That council supreme

For almost seeing

To a life grown dim

 

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How much?

I asked the politician,

“How much do you have?”

“More than I need, but not enough for my greed.”

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I pledge allegiance.

I pledge allegiance only to revolution
For even its aftermath is only disillusion
The fruits it promised the bitterness it delivers
The generals who led it and the soldiers who made it
were grotesque in the areas they were once great
the grey in their hair matching the black in their souls

I pledge allegiance only to revolution
The act, the whirlwind , the storm
I decry all that comes after
The settling of scores, the sharing of spoils
I denounce all that came before
The palaces of gold, the thrones of sores
I pledge allegiance only to revolution

I pledge allegiance only to revolution
To the young people in impassioned arguments
To the old feeling their hearts stir up again
To those who take to the streets
To those who say, we will never, ever march to your beats
To those screaming for lack of a better world
To those scheming and needing lack to better us
I pledge allegiance only to revolution!!!
Viva La Revolucione

I pledge allegiance only to the revolution
This my friends is my resolution
Look around and all you see is governments beyond absolution
Politicians and former revolutionaries pleading change by evolution
As if a small measure, spoonful of medicine is our solution
We need to break the bonds, pare down the pollution
Turn down complacency, apathy, attrition of our idealism, our confusion
And remember and live for the revolution.

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We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists…

 

We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden.- Barack Obama.

 

From Obama’s farewell speech to his country delivered on 16th January, 2017. It was  a wonderfully structured speech it could have been sub-titled “threats to our democracy.” He outlined 4 that was the speech. A structure, a theme, an end-point, (there could have been a mic-drop but by now he realises that dropping a piece of equipment doesn’t make a point any truer.)

 

Somewhere in there he talks about the above achievement. An achievement that makes the United States one of if not the most efficient and bloodthirsty of all the terrorist groups.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read an article “the Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama.” It’s an article about the drone program that should be required reading for the rest of us. For the rest of us not in America who have to judge their presidents by what they export and he exported death. For the rest of us not in America and therefore in countries where their president can decide to drop bombs on you if he feels you are a threat, with nothing to protect you, not International Norms, not the ICC, not the UN Security Council, nothing but the conscience of the man in the seat. He dropped drones on Pakistan and Yemen killing, killing, killing but Barack is an honourable man. He defined any male between the ages of 15 and 45 in the vicinity of a terrorist as a combatant too but Barack is an honourable man. He personally demanded that he make the decision, that he see the names, that he have the nightmares because Barack is an honourable man.

 

In his farewell speech he named it an achievement, the killing of tens of thousands of human beings. It left me, it leaves me close to tears to think about this. We must first accept his numbers though we know that no government ever gives the right statistics about the deaths. But ok tens of thousands. That’s not ten thousand, that’s not twenty thousand that is something between thirty and ninety thousand.

 

Tens of thousands of lives snuffed out. This world of ours is tens of thousands of souls darker. And for what? I want to know what it was for? Is this retribution for the 3,000 American dead seven years before he became president? Weren’t the dead of Afghanistan and Iraq enough, more than enough to quell those fires of revenge? We know that 9/11 was not the work of tens of thousands of people. We know that the ones directly responsible for it put themselves out of the judgement of humans as they committed the act. We know that before he became president the Americans have been killing, killing, killing.

 

So it was a preventative measure for there have been no terrorist attacks on his soil during his tenure. What’s worth killing tens of thousands? What is it you are preventing? The deaths of a hundred thousand, the deaths of a million, ten million? How do you know what death will do? How do you know that killing that many people over the course of eight years actually helps? This really bothered me. Does he think he is god to play with human lives like this? Is he endowed with the divine agency to weigh them on a scale ? To say it is ok to kill this many in order to save that many? Who the fuck does he think he is that he can make decisions like that? That he can know what will come of such decisions?

 

But he was tortured I told myself. I said I’ve read his book and listened to him and he has a kind soul. In the Once and Future King an old man reminisces on a crime he committed while 18. He has nightmares about it. The ghosts of the dead haunt him, they weigh him down, he does all he does as atonement for his crime. It was the “necessary” killing  of the innocents prophesied to bring death and destruction that weighed on him. It was the biblical decision laid on King Herod. It was the exact same thing that the former president of the United States did.

 

This man though did not stand there contrite. He shed his tears later in a moment of love, letting this moment of mourning pass. He should have stood there and cried in pain. He should have said that it is a blemish on my soul and on the nation that I had to kill tens of thousands of people to keep it safe, the world is broken and instead of healing it all I could do was break it further so it wouldn’t break forever. Tens of thousands of people deserve a longer eulogy from their murderer than “we took out….”

 

In his private moments he may drown in despair for all I know. And I’ll never see the files he was shown, maybe he did save us all. Even if he did it deserves a pause. It deserves a tear. Tens of thousands were not all guilty, it’s not possible, it’s not. A cry for the lost sheep lost forever is the least they deserve. Not smugness “…including Osama-Bin –Laden.” Those were people. Those people had not yet committed crimes, they may never have, so it’s difficult to call it an execution. The problem with this pre-emptive strikes we can find ourselves in a horrid cycle where America kills other people to stop them killing Americans in the future and the only reason those other people are killing Americans is to stop the Americans killing them. The snake swallows its tail and eats itself alive.

 

I mourn the deaths of all those people. The blood of my brothers and of my sisters. Maybe this was for the best, but I still mourn your deaths and I hope that the man who acted a god mourns you too. You deserve that much.

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For Kenya!!!

Here’s something that unites Kenyans this January: the intense philosophical pondering over the doctor’s strike, who’s at fault, who’s not, who should we blame or should we just blame everybody for what’s going on? The doctors, the government, the people, tribalism, corruption, inefficiency, callousness, lack of decency, the sick people who are making our souls sick with all this agonising why in the world don’t they just wait until this crisis is resolved?

 

There has been a lot of debate about whether doctors are more important to a society than other professions are. Some of them think they are and they want to say it. They dearly want to say it but…they can’t, you don’t alienate the public at this time. So I’ll say it for them: medical health professionals are one of the most important people in any society. We need the farmers for food, the doctors so we are well enough to eat that food, the teachers to teach farmers and doctors. That’s my statement on the holy trinity of importance. It keeps going down further and further and not too far down we’ll get to priests, poets and prostitutes. They definitely come before lawyers, accountants and bankers though after builders, cleaners and deliverymen. The existential crisis about whether or not we matter is a deep one. Of course we all matter. But my point is most people would rather live with no lawyers than no prostitutes. You know these things by the fact of how many people have sought the services of the former as opposed to the latter.

 

So that’s how we start January. Philosophical rumbling to accompany that stomach grumbling. On the 4th straight night of noodles there are questions that deserve to be answered. Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? Must every January start in this rut? Must we be broke all the time? Do we have to December so damn hard? What is wrong with us? I told my aunt that I was broke because after my epic trip (which I will write all about after the fogs of memory make it diamond like through the mist) I had to buy gas. She almost burst out laughing:

 

“gas?”

“I’m young, I have young problems.”

 

I do. Ideally Njaanuary should be for parents shouldn’t it? January when you have to buy a new wardrobe of clothes, a new set of books, and manila paper-though now you can buy your lazy children pre-covered exercise books. And for whatever reason public secondary schools make you pay much more for fees in first term than they do the rest of the time. Why that happens is as good your guess as mine.

 

There’s also the pre-Christmas pay which if not a solely Kenyan thing is an African thing. I told a Polish girl about it and she couldn’t believe it. Why in the world pay two salaries in one month?

 

The dots connect. I once joked that Uhuru and Ruto are stealing wad after wad of money in an ingenious attempt to get rid of tribalism. You know, steal so much that the country unites against you. They would be martyrs, killing their political careers for the sake of the country. We wouldn’t remember them as such but they would be saved a special place in heaven where Judas Iscariot awaits. The seat next to the glory for those who do what is necessary and are hated throughout history. Atonement for the hell of having to hate what you do but doing it anyway because there is an idea here that matters more than you do. The idea of the sacrifice. The sacrifice that changes the world.

 

I look for national unity everywhere because we need it. And I find it and dub thee oh month of Njaanuary as another agent of this. This month strives with it’s lack of money, or pretence to lack of money, or smugness at having money, or relief at getting money to make us one. The common Kenyan condition that brings us together once again.

 

So as you drink keg instead of beer. As you drink once a week instead of 3. As you count down to the end of the month with a hope that cannot be contained know that you were not being foolish about how you spent your money in December. No. You my friend, my reader are involved in the great experiment of nation building that is Kenya. Your brokenness or lack of it. The knowledge of other people’s brokenness. Your social winter. Your economic slumber. As you toss and as you turn waiting for February so you can spring back….all of this is for Kenya! Kenya! Kenya! Nchi Yetu!!!!!

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A year can be a hard thing

A year can be a hard thing.

 

I’m sitting in my living room on solstice night exactly 6 months after my birthday. My house is packed up. Everything is ready to go. I began this year packing up my life for a move to Meru and I am ending it packing up my life for a move to Nairobi. It came easier this time. I’m a year older after all and a year can be a hard thing.

 

The tone of this post was supposed to have been more upbeat because I was more upbeat I fucking loved the hell out of this year. Work was great, I’d sit there drafting pleadings for court or submissions and start shouting “I’m so good at this.” it was great. Towards the end there was a nice string of victories. I felt the voluntary caress of a woman so beautiful I’m still singing a hallelujah for that night. There were mountains. There were lush greens and blue skies and brown hills in the distance. There were clouds coming down from heaven. Mist walking amongst us like god did with Adam and eve. Beauty, beauty everywhere. Oh I found the Meru Library and read Ngugi wa Thiong’o and was blown the fuck away. I read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and lived the lives of Lila and Elena so caught up I would forget to breath. I went back to Westeros and strolled with knights and villains with ladies and priestesses. Oh this year. I saw a field of sunflowers a couple of times. That’s beautiful a field of sunflowers waking up to bow down to the sun on high and salute the golden delight.

 

I found a place in Maua where this Somali family created great injera. I’d eat that and be so full and still keep stuffing myself with more and then get in that mat to Meru and have the most blissful afternoon sleep I have ever had. I went with a friend to Three Steers hotel and we had meat. This meat was wonderful. Soft, succulent, so so flavourful. We had the chicken and the chef sprinkled these caramelised onions on them. Sweet, sweet caramel, flavours bursting in your mouth like a sunrise, like a rainbow, like a surprise. I found a little place called Urban Cafe in Meru town where the guy calls his customers “wageni.” Then he proceeds to make ugali that doesn’t crumble and doesn’t stick. This is all I want in life ugali that doesn’t crumble and doesn’t stick. His fish was a thing of wonder. There’s a sauce he kept mixing things in until perfection coated my fried fish.

 

I saw a lamb for what I think is the first time in my life. It couldn’t keep still. It pranced around, jumping this way and that. It was the picture of happiness in a posture of innocence. And finally I understood all those metaphors from the bible about the blood of the lamb and the lamb of god.

 

December came around and I felt disappointed politically because the world all over was looking inward. People were reminding themselves of the arbitrariness of their borders, their skin, their blood, the skein that tangled Britain to Europe, America to itself, Syria to sanity it dissolved. And since it came up, poor Syria. Five years of death and destruction and Syria came to her feet. I don’t know who to blame, who was right, who was wrong, but Syria suffered for it. Suffered for the hubris of empire or the deification of dictatorship or the wilfulness of people or the neglect of nations or all of that and more. A friend asked me why we mourn selectively I told him it’s because if we start crying for everyone we will never stop. I remember reading a post by a Syrian girl saying that she would kill herself before she let the soldiers defile her body. I mourned for her, I mourned for the decision she may already have made and mourned more if it was a decision in her future one that could be averted if only.

 

My poor country I feel like she suffered most of all or more accurately I suffered more because of her pain. It stretches so far back the pain of Kenya this year that I can’t be sure it’s just this year. The doctors are still on strike. The dead attest to that. Five billion was reported missing from the Ministry of Health earlier this year and nobody in the media, no politician is making this connection, this straight line from this to that. Right now they are arguing over some inanity that could be solved by consensus easily enough but it’s not about being right anymore it’s about winning. None of them is talking about these poor doctors. Nobody is talking about the silent dead. A citizen, his lawyer, and their taxi driver were killed this year. It was gruesome and gory. Bodies filled with water. Signs of torture. Screams of pain silenced forever and we talked about their deaths and realised just how many people are killed by agents of the government every year. Then we forgot that too. Jacob Juma was assassinated this year, just this year. They took him in his car and got through all the security he had put up and killed him and we forgot. The government has tried as they all do to shut up its people, to control them and to keep them quiet.

 

It’s been corruption scandal after corruption scandal this year. I remember saying that UhuRuto are doing their almighty best to eradicate tribalism by stealing so much that we all unite and rise up against them but even that sarcasm was for brighter days. After a long gruelling, never ending, ever multiplying argument I have given up. I know that people will vote for who they voted for last time for president. All of these shits we have been through will change nobody’s mind. All of the shit Raila did hasn’t changed his supporter’s minds either. I admit that the problem with us when it comes to the presidency is so ingrained that we can’t see. Most of us can’t and won’t ever see. We won’t see what’s right in front of our eyes and the seat of the presidency becomes a crusade. It’s about removing or keeping the devil from the seat of power depending on which devil is yours. 2016 has taught me not to be optimistic about elections. 2007 taught me that, 2013 reminded me. 2016 made sure I knew that democracy is not my will but that of the people and many times I won’t want what the people want. I can’t control them and it hurts to see it everywhere. All I could ever ask Kenyans to do is to send home the other incumbents. Who in a seat of power has helped? My home county needs to wipe the slate clean. Let’s get rid of that corrupt woman beater first and then take the rest of them down on the same damn day. Nairobi seems to hurt even more than Kenya. I’m shocked when I go home; I’m shocked to see how dirty it is and how tall Kidero’s towers are.

 

Fucking 2016.

 

Three people I knew, friends and family died this year. I howled for them in my sitting room like a dog at the moon. I fell on the floor and curled up and squeezed out tears so painful it hurts to remember them. I found out about the last one on Sunday and I’m so tired of death. Despite the world’s sorrow I was fine, I was fine until Sunday. Grief is so hard. I’ve been trying to push it out and I’m better. Monday I felt broken, physically broken. Monday I wasn’t sure that I would ever heal again. I’ve done it so many times i fear that at some point a break will comes a. I was sad and worried. I left court during a break for a cigarette and a cry. I had a headache the whole day. I looked hangover. There was mara moja in my pocket and I was so angry when my phone went off on me. I had a feeling that these deaths would finish me. That the blow after blow after blow would become too much that I would one day go to sleep and not be able to wake up because of these deaths. It could have been a good year despite the world but my friend died and it clouded everything. I had managed to get past the other two but this one. The permanence, the constant re-opening of the wound it’s so hard. Monday night I had dinner at another friend’s place. He has a two year old son. I played Batman on PS4 and the child was so happy. The child, he ran around and talked and joked all through that night. It was what I needed and Tuesday was better. Then Tuesday evening I saw one of my closest friends randomly driving through Meru. We had a burger a drink a few laughs. Those two nights did me right. Those two nights reminded me that it’s ok to feel broken and battered but there’s hope. Behind the clouds the sun comes up. It always comes up.

 

Someone else died this year before I really knew him. Leonard Cohen passed away in November and at that point all I knew of him was hallelujah. Then I met him. All I’ve listened to for weeks is his music, his poetry. He has blown me away more times than I thought possible. The number of favourite songs he has given me in this time approaches 15 at the very least. He has me singing along to so, so many of his songs. I sing them when I’m away from music. I sing them before I sleep. My neighbours must think me a convert because he’s got me singing the hallelujah song (which is actually the chorus for another of his songs.) it has been my main mission in life to convince more people to listen to Leonard Cohen. When Kenya was bleeding he comforted me. When my friend was dead and I was far away and alone he comforted me. He showed me that death doesn’t clear away the slate. That death doesn’t take away everything a person did. That even from the grave you can touch somebody. He gave me that thing that I love above all else he made me fall in love with something in its entirety and reminded me that I can fall in love again and again. That happiness is around the corner. Because though love be struggle falling in it is always, always sweet.

 

I realised that the very second post I ever wrote for this blog was about the song Hallelujah. After Leonard Cohen’s death I wrote about it again I prefer the six years later version but it was heartening to see that I’m still me despite all that’s happened. That I can still take the same from that song now as I did then. Six years is a hard thing but it doesn’t have to change the core of who you are and it’s good to be reminded of that. His music makes me wish for a woman to sing it to and for a god to hear me praying it to it.

 

A year is a hard thing. A year is so hard that we need to congratulate ourselves and each other for holding on to sanity or madness, to life and love, to hope and the hope found in despair, to faith and the complete despondence that can accompany it, to our convictions despite being heckled, to our willingness to allow the majority and the hecklers to proclaim. To whatever we held on to it was difficult because a year is a hard thing. 2016 was hard for a lot of us, but so are they all. On we march though. Onward and forward.

 

Merry Christmas to the whole wide world and may you have a happy whory (or holy) new year. The next one needs us fresh to tackle it.

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