Resist

I have taken time to ponder the #Resist movement, and I have decided to say my piece.

Firstly, I am relieved that we have finally started boycotting as a political instrument, but I will expound on that later. After I talk about Safaricom.

Safaricom had twenty three point three five Million consumer customers in 2015. A report that takes time too, to mention road accident fatalities. In 2017, their services assisted 1 Million Kenyans in accessing healthcare. Aside from their actual micro health insurance policies, when someone has had an accident, that’s not the time to walk for one hour ukitafuta Airtel money. No bad blood for Airtel here, awesome clarity.

Amongst us there are actual owners of Safaricom, share holders, and for them, asking them to resist Safaricom is asking them to boycott themselves.

For many of us, asking us to boycott Safaricom is asking us to boycott ourselves.

Which brings me to why I agree with boycotting as a method of political resistance. I am tired, of lower class Kenyans dying in the street for elitism. Violence, or “civil unrest” and police brutality or “raids” as they are sanitized are an infinitely cruel way to convince people to do anything.

In fact it is the presupposed premise of the upper classes, that those who have not reached ‘there’ are just not trying hard enough and if they really fight for what they believe in their dreams will come true. Basi give guys a chance. Don’t allow any eventuality of neighbour, burning neighbour, chopping neighbour, No!!

That, is what is called oppression. Spreading hate, is oppression, whatever side you are on, political waves will come, and they will go, and they will come again, that is the way democracy works, according to history. We have to work from the bottom up, lift each other up and re-establish a new sense of community.

Ultimately, whatever our leaders political aspirations for the country are, the truth is too, that there is generally a lot of money in the stakes. So why should Kenyans then too speak with their own pockets. Buy based on principles, thereby effecting influence, where it is most likely to cause attention.

I have only two issues with the #Resist movement;

  1. Don’t ask us to boycott Safaricom. We are Safaricom. Just remove it from the list.
  2. It should have happened months sooner.

I am happy the #Resist movement is here. I hope it is the dawn of bloodless politics.

 

 

Whats happening with Meena?

Friends and colleagues have asked me what is going on with Meena. The short answer is that ‘it’s complicated’. So decided to give you the play by-play.

All I aim to do is present common knowledge and information from documents in the public domain. It would be irresponsible to interfere with an ongoing court case, so I wouldn’t want to do that.

Grapevine Time Line,

Amina Shiraz Yakub, is the CEO of Very Impawtant Pets Spa. The company deals with pet grooming, boarding services and offers the KSPCA periodic assistance with its pet services.

In the dog world, during the months of March to May 2015, her friends and colleagues sent up prayers for her husbands full recovery. He was sick, in and out of ICU, and even had to go South Africa for further treatment. She was missed at dog events during those times, when she could only appear briefly before returning to tend to him.

During the week of the 26th July 2015, he was due to return to South Africa for follow up treatment, but Jimmy Jagathrum Baburam sadly passed away. He left behind his wife, Amina, three children aged 10, 4 and 2 at the time, his father and three brothers. He had drowned due to an epileptic seizure whilst swimming.

Legal Timeline

  • 26th July 2015, Jimmy Jagathrum Baburam passed away while on holiday at Medina Palms Hotel.
  • 27th July 2015 autopsy was conducted and official death certificate issued.
  • 26th of April 2016, nine months later, Meena received an official summons to Malindi Court for a Murder Inquest that was to determine whether or not there was reason to conduct a murder investigation.
  • 18th May, the Murder Inquest had its first mention at Malindi Law Courts and was postponed.
  • 15th July the inquest had a mention and the next date set was 30th September.
  • 30th September there was a mention next date postponed to the 14th
  • The inquest has not followed up after the 30th of September, 2016.

Detainment Timeline

Week 1.

Amina was arrested on the 9th of October 2016, at Moi international airport, on her way back to Nairobi from Mombasa, after a weekend trip. {In custody at Malindi police station}.

Judge wasn’t sitting on the 10th . . {In custody at Malindi police station}.

The state requested to do a mental assessment on whether or not she was fit to face trail on the 11th October. The request was accepted. {In custody at Malindi police station}.

Mental assessment done in Mombasa, on the 12th . {Assesment conducted at Coast Province General Hospital, after which she was returned to custody at Malindi Police Station.}

13th she was arraigned in court to be formally charged with the murder of her late husband.

Upon hearing the defence and prosecutions arguments for her release on bail, the judge slated a date of the bail hearing for the 26th of October, 2 weeks later, during which time she was remanded.

She spent the 14th to 16th of October in Mtaangani Prison, Womens Quarters.

Week 2.

Began and ended in Remand at Mtaangani Prison, Womens Quarters.

Week 3.

23rd to 26th October, she was still remanded in Mtaangani Prison, Womens Quarters.

During the ruling of the 26th of October 2016, the ruling orders terms are as follows:

(i)      The accused to deposit her passport in court and should not leave the court’s jurisdiction without permission.

(ii)     The accused shall be released on a bond of Kenya Shillings Ten Million (Kshs.10,000,000) with two Kenyan sureties of similar amount.  No log book or books should be used as security document.

(iii) The accused to report to the OCS Gigiri Police Station, Nairobi once every week with effect from 1st November, 2016 until the finalisation of this case.

(iv)    This case shall be mentioned once every month and the accused to attend all mentions.[1]

Concurrently she was the DPP preffered other charges against her. Namely; Conspiracy To Defeat Justice.

28th her aunt offered up her property, and the prosecution requested one week to verify her passport. This bond application was rejected because her aunt is a holder of an American passport, and the prosecution told that verification can be done in two or three days. The next date was set for the 3rd of November.

Week 4.

This week began in Mtaangani Prison, Womens Quarters.

3rd November her grandmother offered up their Nairobi family home as bond with the relevant documents and she had 3 Kenyan sureties.  She was released on bond on the same day, thanks to diligent lawyers paperwork processing.

My Opinion

In the years I have known Meena, she has shown herself to be a person who has exceptional levels of empathy and value for life. The idea that she would kill or hurt anyone is preposterous to me, and to many of the friends and colleagues I have spoken to. She is the last person to stand by the waste of a life.

All round, we sent many prayers for her release on bond, as her three children are intimately attached to her and were asking for her every day.

As I attended court and tried to understand the legal jargon involved, I have come across the heart breaking realisation that there are so many stuck in the legal system with no hope of being offered their own human rights. I am very grateful for the time that was taken to explain to me what is going on in legal terms, as to me, legal jargon is just like another language.

It is, in this country, very possible to get stuck in jail for a crime one has not even sat trial for. Few people can afford legal counsel and even fewer have any idea what their rights even are. The courts primary occupation seems to me to be to aprove the postponements of justice.

When I visited Meena in remand, the wardens addressed her as ‘Teacher Amina’. I had to ask why, and the answer was that she spent her mornings there teaching the infants in the prison the alphabet and names of colours in English and Kiswahili. The day after her release, she insisted on returning with food supplies, sweets and nappies to the prison. In truth, I can’t exaust how heart breaking her circumstance is to me. Especially as it is not outside the rhelm of possibility that she may go to jail for something she did not do.

For these reasons, I can only pray that her trail is free and fair as possible.

 

 

[1] http://kenyalaw.org/caselaw/cases/view/127213/

http://kenyalaw.org/caselaw/cases/view/127213/

Proud Roots

cropped-img-20180613-wa000611.jpgSometimes, when I dream,
I wake up as nothing short of
A Proud African Woman.

But, I’ve always been short.

And I can’t paint my skin,
anymore than I can stop
myself from being human.

So, that leaves me just short of
consenting to pride,
because my lightness reminds
of times that had signs that said
“Europeans Only”

Even though my father was not born here
and arrived with nothing
except the will to explore,
and a soul so full of hard work,
that he broke off a piece and used it to make me,
Me.

Night Terrors

My family, is huge,
There are so many husbands and even more wives.
My dad had to build us a whole neighborhood,
Because of his family’s size.
We kids, are too many to count, though we’ve tried.
But before we finish counting, more kids have been born,
more kids have died.

There are times, when a hand full of us would go out,
just to shop, or to school, and bullets ended their lives,
but for the most part, our terrors, are more likely a job from inside.
You see, our family is too big to get on. And our names too easily divide.
Those named on dads side, start with W, and those named after mums, have their own letters.
From my mum, the boys are O and the girls are A, So they call my mum Mama O
Then there’s Mama L, Mama S, Mama K, and Mama M.
A long time ago, before our Mamas were born, all the families fought in a war.
They fought together, but when it was over, Dads family got the most.
And so, out of inequalities, a feud was started,
between those who did, and didn’t share in the spoils.

Our night terrors are nasty. Once, Mama, my mama had twins, named from dads side,
And they went over to our cousins to spend the night. They were only five.
In the night, our cousins did unspeakable things to little Winnie, on the floor by her bed side.
Then burnt both Winnie and William, in their room. They said the room had no use after they had spent the night.
Nine years ago, was the worst, all our houses became smoke
and blood, until, we were all told not to speak of it.
But in the night, these memories haunt, lips sealed, we see each other different.

The other day, we found toy tires, burning in the hall way.
Yes, we managed to walk around them. But the smoke, did well to remind
that burning and bleeding, are things that run in our family.
We are much more in danger, from within.
Than outside.

As She Should Be

Cucu and I would take trips,
To see, The Animal Orphanage,
“Nairobi is cold.” She would say to me.
Still, I would beg, for those bright red,
Red Devil ice lollies, that would paint my lips red.
We would watch lion cubs,
Stretch and stick out their tongues,
They looked like teddies.
 

Mama would take me to Forty Thieves,
There was this fallen tree on the beach,
We as kids, would run down,
sunny, sand dusted stairs to reach
and compete for who could climb it first,
and get to the branch, that thrust up, and out.
So we could swing from it,
Or stand on it and sing from it;
 

“I’m the King of the Castle,
You’re the dirty rascle!
Nyenyenye Boooooboooo!”
 

It’s ironic how, even then,
We stood atop fallen pieces of
mother earth, to pretend Lord
over each other.
 

I visited again, in my teens,
The tree, then sunk beneath
sand, so the castle branch
was so low, I could sit on it.
The stairs were buried too.
The last time I visited,
Just the tip of that swinging branch,
Peeked
At a Forty Thieves
that is now half the size.
The sea and sand having
Claimed back property.
 

‘Daddy took me snorkelling!
In Tiwi Beach!’
And we would see kaleidoscope
Coral reef, with uncountable multi-coloured fish
Darting between
Their rippled surfaces.
We visited again, him, my brother, my sister and I,
last year. All we could do was
watch out for sea urchins.
 

As adults, we clamber,
With the Kings of the earth
Pumping the most fumes above us,
No filter,
Streaming live threads and trends,
as we ‘forget’ not to litter.
Besides us, little footprints patter,
Licking lollies, and dropping
Wrappers.
 

My daughter is starting to walk.
I wonder,
How will I explain, hurricane,
Katrina to her, once it’s happened again
and again.
While we are yet to stop making the same mistakes?
 

I will tell my grand children,
Stories of Giants, who had
giant teeth, we called tusks,
Big enough to carry three children on.
They will laugh.
But I will not find it funny
Because although I’ll love to see them smile,
They will find my stories senile,
For dwelling on historical times,
When Rhinos existed in real life.
 

I will tell them about a fallen
tree, that by then, sits sunk and
salty, decomposing.
Possibly along with the Neem,
And taller trees, that hold up
Ladder bridges for the Colobus monkeys
Safe passage across Diani’s main street.
 

Our mother earth is not human,
Were she person, she would
Be buried already.
Under the weight of
her selfish children.
That said,
It is finite, what she can take.
While we errect gardenless mansions on her riverbeds
and look on benevolent, as
entire islands are under threat
of the clear indications
that we are pushing hard
for her boughs to break.
 

Truth be told, to be mother,
Is a thing of beauty.
We don’t have to make her
look haggard, then
fault
her continuity.
And there is hope, in here,
Everywhere I look.
 

If all the wold needs, is
For us to make the right decisions
In rooms like these.
Then we are here
To save the sea
From emissions,
To save the land
From the sea.
 

Because it should be more,
than a dream,
That our great great great
Grandchildren
Get to be
On an Earth, that is still
 

Beautiful.

As She Should Be.

 

But, That’s Not What They Were Fighting For

The day Maitú snuck out,
to slit her ears,
to wear hangi,
I am sure she didn’t envisage
the day, when girls are stripped
      on streets.
When she, went back and
undid the deed,
I am sure, she did not see,
live video feeds,
Of legs apart on back seats,
with a voice
calling for a bottle.
There are those of us, who never had the chance
to meet grandmas,
who with their husbands names,
hidden under their teeth,
passed on violently, and loyally
at the hands of oppressors.

This what we have here,
This #Mollis era,
     This is not
What they were fighting
     for.

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.

Journey To Mali P3, Kenyan Timing

So, this  morning I was scheduled to fly to Bamako Mali, as you must already know.

I missed my flight. Having spent the night fretting about what I may forget and have I got everything I need, that I managed to forget what may well have been the most important thing: my phone on silent. So, running late as I was, I checked in online, thinking; with a prayer, I’ll still make this flight.

The taxi who took me did everything in his power to save us time on route, Langata road traffic was not being too bad, but that still means traffic. As we pass the bypass, on our dual carriage section, on our way to turn around I spot a police car and bike. I told him, that if we use the Uhuru Gardens entry to turn back to the bypass, we have to actually turn into Uhuru Gardens, then exit it ( I know someone who recently got nabbed for using that entry to do a “U turn”). In a rush moment of bravery, he decided to go for the U turn. Just as I had predicted we were flagged down.

One hour later we are leaving Langata police station. As we drive past City Kabanas, my call to Kenya Airways confirms that I have in fact missed my flight. The Goethe Institut, in their heroic fashion, found out what else was possible. I committed without a second thought, to whatever flight would take me to Bamako fastest.

As it turns out, that means, a twelve hour stop over in Lagos, and three connecting flights. Under normal circumstances, that’s a bad thing. As it turns out, I am so at home here at Murtala Muhammed Airport, that I’m writing this, sitting on a couch, that I can choose to nap on if I please. I feel at home in more ways than I can describe, but I will attempt.

Eavesdropping doesn’t seem so bad when you don’t understand the language. 🙂 When I got off the plane I found, like at home, that smiles are as easy to get as they are to give. I am so exited, that the reception I am receiving from fellow passengers, crew and airport staff is very happy. Conversations in the languages here sound like the ones at home.  Serious intonations punctuated by smiles and laughter. Happy, flirtatious energy bounces off the high ceiling, leaving me feeing safe to rest here. I’m admiring all the beautiful eye shapes around me, people in their different sizes wait and walk heavy laden with quantities of luggage which signify long stays and distant destinations. One lady, at a loss as to what she can afford to remove from her enormous bag, was carrying allot of hair extensions. I decided to leave mine at home this time.

Still, I look back at times, when I would have to look for someone to borrow shoes from, to wear for performances.  Being a size four an a half, doesn’t make that any easier, I would like to give special thanks to Joie and Amy for putting up with me. I believe that every chance on stage is the only one of its kind. You never get that moment back to ask for another chance. So I have tried to treat every moment on stage as though I’m  auditioning for Broadway.

It was during that time, when I launched this blog. Starting my blog is yet another example of things I would not have done if not insisted upon. Thank you Mutheu. 🙂

I continued with the habit of reciting for anyone who would listen. One day, on a drive through the park, I was referred to Wamathai Spoken Word. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough, but was reassured that I definitely was. I still remember the first time I met Wamathai himself. He introduced me as ” Raya Wambui, she’s a poet, and I’ve been told, she’s very good”. My body shook for the entire afternoon. I was so nervous! On stage, the same, crippling stage fright took a hold of all my bones. I had managed to perform despite it, but I was frozen in place. I later discovered that moving around on stage helpes my knees not to quake so much.

The mood in the room at Wamathai events is something I still look forward to. I think I have only missed one of his events since the first one I attended.

The audience really listens, not just to the words, but also to the deeper meanings behind them. It is always a pleasure to perform there. 🙂 I still smile inside when I remember the first time I asked him to put my name on the poster, he said yes. There, I would have the honour of first seeing Sentimental Floetry, El Poet, Kennet B, and Wanjiku Mwaura who did a rendition of Dis Poem, that I will never forget.

During the next two years I would take part and be featured in a number of other events. I’ll never forget being featured by The BOGOF, where, unbelievably, I was hosted alongside Asali, who had long been an unmirrored inspiration and still is. We were given ten to fifteen minutes on stage, my pieces average one minute. I was terrified! Convinced that I had to make full use of the time, I had prepared a set of eleven pieces. The theme of the day was – Vision Twenty Thirty, two days before the event, inspiration struck for a piece titled Twenty Thirty, which is not in my blog, but features in my manuscript for my soon coming book; Speak. The problem was, two days was not enough to prepare  a performance. I would have to read! My shaky hands would not permit the privilege of holding a paper, so I devised a plan. I told Jacque, that I would need a podium.
That idea worked much better as a concept, than in practice. When the time came, standing behind a podium that was almost my height, in front of a two hundred plus crowd who were comfortably sitting on the carpet, I all but disappeared. My nerves reached a new height of terror, by the time I got off stage, I had drenched my spaghetti top in sweat, and the room was not hot. Thankfully, the crowd still commended my performance, and the organisers managed to get an awesome video.

I was on a road that would lead me to greater exposure. I would not have dreamed that poetry would end up taking me on my first ever visit to West Africa.

Define And Conquer

To be Kenyan, is to smell the scent of the dust that’s jumping up,

to meet the rain, that’s coming.

To be Kenyan, is to celebrate the clouds,

knowing behind them, the sun is rising,

and, with their marriage comes the promise of milk, of honey.

Because, to be Kenyan, is not to survive.

To be Kenyan, is to surprise.

 

I’ll be honest, Art Cafe is not exactly, my cup of tea,

And I could never figure out, how so many cars wore red and white stickers…

Why market for free?

I guess I kind of scoffed at the security checks…

until militants attacked a playground.

 

Yes, we were shot.

Yes. We are wounded.

NO. We are not falling.

We can’t let on radical group, force a xenophobic  dawning.

We built the bullet glass barricades which held their for for several days!

If we start hating all outsiders, then they win, that regressive change.

 

Do not think that blind hate is not blind.

We must seek to define, what they try to divide.

 

To be Kenyan, is to see beauty in curves, which frame the colours around,

msemo za leso.

To be Kenyan, is to mourn out loud, to cry in ululations

as exclamation that the ones we lay to rest, have found the afterlife.

Because, to be Kenyan is not to survive,

To be Kenyan, is not to hide!

To be Kenyan is to be Pride.

 

Time makes its’ changes to faces, through phases, past places

within which all wounds try to be healed.

we used to know death is coming, when an owl is heard.

Now we read abuses in three languages, from Muhamed Kamau’s twitter bird.

 

We scream, hushed insults, at a government, that should have known,

an attack was pending!

But what we’re forgetting, is that it always was.

These cowards’ scare tactic is to keep on threatening.

What we can’t let them threaten, is our Unity,

Our Worth!

 

Trust me, I get it.

It’s difficult to define identity when your mixed

Up.

But that’s just it, our diversity is who We are!

And I know, we’re not quite arm in arm.

Nobody wants to be surprised by harm.

Racial and ethnic profiling is in our blood.

But we can’t let them take our hospitality!

Period!

 

In some places, our people were met with One Book, One God and spices.

In some place, our people were met with One Book, One God and riffles

All with slavery up their sleeves, perceived a human of a different breed,

with currencies of cowers beads, which used to glitter, like litter

Our beaches!

We, are rich, beyond riches!

To be Kenyan is to smile with every part of your being,

Forgetting the fact that your back is aching.

When your Kenyan, every tree has meaning.

Terere, Mchicha, fall like manna dropped by Gods winged messengers.

The coconut, the mango trees model our generosity.

The kasava, the guava, our children’s dreams,

tell tales of plenty, and harmony.

Because to be Kenyan, is not to survive!

To be Kenyan, is not just to live and abide!

To be Kenyan,

is to give something small, not to bribe.

To be Kenyan, is not to swallow lies!

To be Kenyan is to see the honey, through the hive!

To love, and give thanks for life!

To see fish, and DIVE!

 

To be Kenyan, is to Thrive!

 

 

 

 

Watch performance.

The Bull In The China Shop

If I respect your opinion,

And you respect mine,

We’ll do just fine.

Discourse leads to compromise in time

 

There is seldom need for a bull in a china shop

Force, facing fragility brings progress to a

Full Stop.

Before it’s had a chance to be heard.

Though too far from here to hear,

There is a herd,

One of whose members is fallen and butchered

Before 36 pounds of heart reaches

Full Stop.

 

Over 11 million ksh for one kilo of horn,

And a maximum possible fine of 40,000ksh.

I guess certain risks in the industry are real, but

Pay someone for the dirty work.

It’s literally a steal.

 

Mombasa,

City ya raha, is

The Port of The East Coast.

But we’re leaving it to Malaysia to catch our smuggling boats.

In the name of hard worked for, soap stone goddesses,

Whose images are actually carved out of the carcases

From where they once came.

 

Again, there is no need to have a bull in a china shop.

These smuggler’s raids rape a service sector that is 63% of our trade.

All they need to consider is sources for gun powder implements’,

They’re only up against a government, that never implements.

So we are implicate,

in gigantic profit, that knowingly impoverishes

the Black, the Red, the Green and the White.

 

This game of horns and tusks,

Is a thorn in the tasks

That an entire nation is geared to achieve.

Our 3 ton mothers are being cut open,

Before gestation completion,

Crushing beneath them, the archaic

Flimsy laws, on which they are leaning.

 

We are custodians of national treasure.

The loss of which, immeasurable.

It takes 1.8 years to make a baby elephant.

And that’s something that none of us can do.

So, before 2020 finds their population through.

 

We Will STOP!

 

Allowing any part of our majestic

Bulls and Cows

To find their tombs in any Chinese shops.

 

There is NEVER a need for a Bull in a China shop.