And This, Today, I Swear To Be True.

Time, in its infinity,
Found the space for us
            To Face,
Each others Smiles,
To see each others truths.
 
In it we, finitely,
   entwine each others roots.
So, we met.
And birthed the clarity, that we
   could make a nest.
In which to stick our sticks
   together, and
Split our bets.

And that,
   Today,
I swear to be
            True.

Life, and its participants
may choose, as they choose,
And ultimately,
            I choose you.

You are proof, that we,
can work together, a testimony
            of sorts,

Like the fact that clay
   can make pot,
   with daylight,
is a blessing
            of sorts,
and on the days the sun
wont flinch, above
            cloudy brinks,
   We will light
each others way
no matter, what who thinks.
We will have laughter,
Our across the room winks,
Or more like knowing
glances, will paint a frame
   around reality.
            Meaning;
You, are what is real to me,
   and I to you.

And, that, Today,
            I swear
   To be
            True.

As a daughter, as a mother,
As a father, as a son,
We’ll outreach our hands,
in search of each others,
And
reach back, when
   the time comes.
What I’m saying is,
   I’d like to spend,
the rest of my life, with You.

And this,
            Today,
   I swear
            to be true.

To Silence

So, as silence sings her lullaby’s,
Silence steals her bed at night.
Silence teaches how to smile without
her eyes.
Her alibi, is silence.

So as silence scrubs clean panties,
Evidence.
Silence names girl six
as its’ abandoner.
Girl six is now a prisoner of
repeated testimony, public shame
a shameful story,
Is her namer, as whistle blower.
Had she chose silence, the number would climb further,
Maybe reaching sixteen?
Higher?

So, silence is consent given,
As saying yes, would make any her
a heathen.
In our ideology of morality,
Silence is the right answer.

I will question all this silence!
If it names me slut, I will not wither,
As the punishment of slander shrivels
in comparison to my fear
That this could happen to my
baby, or my sister.

So,
Silence! You are not my master!
Silence! You are not my Mister!
You have not given any gold or silver
To my ring finger!
Nor would I accept it!

In Search Of Womanhood (II)

As the word ‘teen’faded from the name of my age,
I started to listen to more advice
from people not my age mates.

Started to understand,
That there can be quiet,
rebellions in rage.

Started to understand, that
Boys will be boys, doesn’t always mean
Men will be Men, in this age.

Started to wrap my mind around,
the fragile ways, we
as Kenyan Women, allow ourselves
in slivers,
To be African.
So, we have to tie dreadlocks right back,
Retouch roots every week,
Hide the curls at every turn,
As much as we can,
Have to prove in every way,
That we are not shady,
Not backwards.

That’s how successfully
colonised we are.

Even when we go out,
Don’t let your a**
Actually quake.
You can rotate,
But African Americans held a conference
that dictates;
That your behind is not actually entitled
to palpitate,
unless, you’re a hoe,
or a video vixen.

To be a Kenyan Woman of substance,
You must frown upon twerking,
And label it, too western.

That’s how successfully
colonised we are,
And yet,
We own that beauty,
Much more than
The stars we are under.

In Search Of Womanhood (I)

It started with a ‘ballerina’ dress,

Not a real one,

Just,

The skirt would spread,

When I spun, round and round.

 

When I would sing along to the radio,

“I’m honey, honey honey honey…”

Why the singer thought she was honey,

Only she knew best.

When “Shilalalalalong…

Was an extra zealous aerobics instructor,

in my head.

 

Ariel was my role model,

If she could become human,

Then I could be a little mermaid.

And true loves kiss could save me from anything!
 

Teenage hood came,

I could so easily have been named a slut from all the songs I’d sing.

I watched TV, and wanted to be

The kind of woman my crush had a crush on…

So, I had to have a pony tail, the kind they sell.

So it would wave,

As I sashayed,

In that first imaginary throw back skirt

I’d seen on the reggaeton video girls,

And wished for those sneaker high heals,

As I tried my best to be a down A** B****.

I had no idea I’d be attracting the kind of grown men,

whose liking for teenage taste,

let my hip hop inspired dress code say

that I was not chaste.

Setting the perfect stage for date rape.
 

But attention, is attention, and though

Beauty and the Beast seemed about the same age, according to Disney

They didn’t at first.

So who was I to say,

this man wasn’t looking for true love,

Like I was.
 

Happily ever after, was what I knew to dream after.

And youth can be less like a fountain, and

more like a treacherous sea,

For a little girl.

Breast

So, thanks to the hyper objectification,
The hyper sexualisation,
of breasts,
When my milk is full, bursting
pain through my chest,
All you see, is Pamela Anderson,
Saving broke couch potatoes the expense,
of masterbation material.

And, if you paint me beautifully,
And translate my name,

Wambui,

from Kikuyu, to Kiswahili,
You’ll call me zebra.
But if you force my baby to be hungry,
You will face the lioness.

Yet, if I’m in public, when my daughter is thirsty,
And don’t have a bottle,
You’ll name it a wet T-shirt contest.

So, while the NAN can tells me,
that mothers milk is best.
It’s not accepted, in public,
For me to pull out my breast,
And, were I to forced to respond honestly to the ‘awkward’ stares I would get…
I may feel forced to rip their eyes from their sockets,
To force them to confess and atest to,
The fact that human body parts,
Have more functions than sex.

This Big

One of these days,

I will hold you, here, on my hip,

and take you outside to see the skyline.

I’ll point out that orange light,

on the horizon,

That’s not a fire light.

It’s a factory’s’ security lights,

And the thick smoke cresting

isn’t a forest fire, it’s the chimneys pumping.

 

One day, when you were only this big,

This tall and this thick,

tiny really.

At the brink of life on earth.

When the pain passed severe,

quick, fast, past room for tears,

where groaning, and kneeling brought no mercy forth.

When apparently the force of my muscles trying to bring you forth

dropped your heart rate.

Threatening your birth date.

We had to make sure you were ok.

We had to cut open to save

You from my uteruses efforts to give you life.

And in that light, I should say, that I wont always be right.

Neither will you.

The trouble being that we are human.

 

While you will grow up to Ngong hills, Christmas tree adorned,

I grew up to a Shelly Beach that lived up to its name.

And more will have changed,

And much will stay the same.

 

One day, I’ll have to watch you walk away,

On your own two feet.

I’ll feel both joy and sorrow.

But for now,

You are just this big,

This long, and this wide,

And I live to see you smile,

We needn’t worry about tomorrow.

Me, Beautiful?

Beautiful is in the curves,

the lines, that spell my name,

On a good day.

 

Is in the corners of the lips that

fall, even though they know

not to speak all.

 

Is in the eyes that face the

sun, and cameras’ flash,

Without flinching, without

blinking out the resilience

that allows for bravity.

 

Beauty is in aknowledging

the ugly.

In knowing that even that

can not define me.

In loving , Only

for the sake of love.

 

Beauty is in the puffy eyed

deep exhale of breath that

states, that the cry is over.

 

Beauty is the island of

space, in which I find

my peace of mind.

Stagger my pace.

And find the grace,

To pose,

Expose myself, as an existant entity.

A victorious refrain from lifes general vulnerabilities.

 

Because it’s only for moments

that we can break from this

race.

 

Beautiful is framed honestly.

Even when I don’t know it,

Beautiful is me.

 

To Our Own Beat

These potholes, catch my heels’ heels in ways

that make my knees fold,

and all this,

chanting, jumping up and down,

is making me feel old.

There was a time, when moving, grooving

felt like fairy dusted gold,

but tarmacing and hussling is making wrinkles start to show.

 

There must be more, to these scarred feet,

than fatigue.

So maybe its time, we started dancing,

To our own beat,

To our own beat.

 

They took our songs, and called them heathen,

Looked at souls, and they saw heathens,

So, we changed our lyrics to translated Aramaic

and instead sang;

“Cumbi cumbi, cumbi cumbi cumbi, wa thi

Yesu agitumura kanua akirutana”

and these songs aged too, along with their inherent, inherited structure.

“Na cumbi ungiaga mucamo, niuteagwo”

So maybe its time, that we were singing,

To our own beat,

To our own beat.

 

This traffic is slow, or

hit and run.

The day was slow, but the night is young,

and there’s discount rates for under aged recruits to our denials.

There must be more ways to celebrate independence, than car crash orphaned dependents,

maybe our movements can start depending on where we’re going,

Maybe, we would start knowing,

Where to run, and when to sit,

If we could only move,

To our own beat,

Move to our own beat.

 

Education systems that teach us,

we must follow,

in order to reach past,

everyone else whose following,

strip us,

of the ability, to make it.

There’s not enough space if we’re in the same lane.

The big man says ‘Check Mate!’,

We’re too busy competing to collaborate,

We forgot, that creatives, create.

So we can just let live, and make

Our own beat.

Make our own beat.

 

We silenced our drums, and forgot their names,

so now, they’re so dumb, they’ll never sound the same,

But Egypt and Israel aren’t from whence we came.

Forgetting our history’s forgetting that roots, feed grain

And now, we’re grown ups, not about to shut up.

If all we have is this Jembe we’ll beat with our hearts,

Because the time, has come, when we will drum

To our own beat.

Drum to our own beat.

The Misinformed Prince, By Mak Manaka

I first heard this piece at the 18th Poetry Africa, Durban. I cried tears of realisation and relief at the same time. I was so dumbfounded that I only realised after it was over, that I had a camera on my lap and could have recorded it. So, I hounded Mak to send me a copy I could read over and over again. Once I had it, I read it to a friend of mine, who by the end of my off the cuff reading, was balancing tears too.
I feel like these words may bring others the feelings it brought to the few who have witnessed it, so I am compelled to share it. Enjoy.

 

 

The Misinformed Prince

For Linn

By Mak Manaka

 

 

Behind the palace walls

Cries the lonely queen,

Her tears echo

The pain of a million women,

“Date-rape is real”.

She hands me a piece of light

While I plot to devour her pride

I mold her art

And reshape her heart

Simply because “I am a man”

But I am not man enough

To proclaim my love for her

What will she teach her son?

All men are dogs

Born in the heart of Babylon

Conceived from the sand of Mars

Because we refuse

To defuse our emotions at bars?

She sleeps covered in self-hatred

Blaming her self for your bullshit,

That same bullshit

That raised the little boy into an inferior

And stubborn Sheppard

See how he leads himself

To self destruction

Who will teach the young Prince

How to handle a woman’s emotion

When all he’s known is abuse

Who will let him know

That sometimes its ok to loose?

Young soldier

Walk away from gender oppression

And free your mind

From the corner’s unflinching

Chord progression

Be more than just a man,

Be the yellow brick

Upon where she stands

A real life fairytale

With happiness at the end

Though always remember

Truth can be hard to comprehend

Because in the face of reality

Uneasy lies the head

That wears a plastic

But still is the body that refused it

She marches against our hearts

Because we keep rapping her dignity

And corrupting her understanding of equality

Vanity has now lost her virginity

To profanity,

She is no longer secret.

Her body is now a damaged painting

We love to exhibit

Look how she laughs

Only to hide the shame,

Almost every woman I have met

Has been touched down there

When they were just young worlds

In every family lies the wicked blood

That clutches the smiles of little girls

Many young princesses

Have been crying in silent for years

Their tears falling on deaf ears

“She’s just silly girl”

Shouts the last voice they had trust in,

And so the bitterness on their skin

Thickens,

Deepens

Into nervous conditions

Careless reasons

Anger in the heart turned into burnt linen

Should a child live in fear

From her father’s laughter?

Home should not be an open space

Of constant bad weather

My grandmother was right

“bophelo ke ntwa”

Especially for a black sister

Raised by a sexist and conservative culture

Yet still, we keep unplucking her feathers

And blinding her further,

Because our dicks are not big enough

To apologize and mean it

Though I’ll be the first dick to admit it,

I am weak without her.

“ I am sorry my love”.

Behind every promise

A burnt peacock still dreams of beauty,

And behind the palace walls

A queen writes tears away from her face

Hoping that one day

You and I will learn how to listen.

Sunlight

The windows of this jav are clean.

That makes me comfortable, it shows care.

Care isn’t love though.
 

If this was a loved car,

It would be all clean.

Not just wiped down,

So obvious bits gleam.
 

Why can’t I stop myself from seeing,

the familiar, cloudy brown, bottoms and sides?

The pane still stumbles on unidentifiable grains

as it slides.
 

Love is expressed, in the corners, the cracks,

Away from the flat, accessible surfaces,

Away from the places that are easy to reach,

easy to shine,

Deep. In the crevices, we’d rather hide.

Love reaches in, through, underneath the lies.

The musky smell, and the tout tapping me,

remind me…

This is not my ride.

You are a space, not meant to be mine.

 
But the windows of this mat are clean.

So the sun falls on my skin, unfiltered.

For some reason, that leaves me lifted.

Reminding me…
 

Sometimes, care is enough.

So today, it may be ungrateful

To demand love.