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.

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.

Growing Up. Part 1. Conversation and Patience

I am forced to admit, that I am quite a sporadic writer. I woke up the other morning, at three thirty, jumped out of bed and scrambled for a pen and lots of paper. I had to write about growing up, something I am suddenly very happy I’ve managed to do.

Perhaps, one day, when being a poet, affords me a manager, he or she will make sure I have scheduled posts, and pre-written pieces, to keep my (by then) hungry readers interested. Until that time, I am very grateful to you, who is unconditionally on the receiving end of my spontaneity.

Here are the ways in which, I’m very happy I have grown up.

1. Conversation

2. Patience

3. Hair

4. Love

5. Poetry

Initially, on waking up at that strange time, I thought I had been inspired to write one post. On sitting down to write it, I realized, that the topic is far too large for just one article. What follows is the first parts of why I love growing up.

Conversation.

I’ve become, a much better listener. I am no longer that annoying girl in the class who always had her hand up. I’ve learnt, that it is possible to express oneself much better by listening to the points of views of the people around you. In that way, you can choose your words more wisely, and be understood much clearer.

Once upon a time, I was told that Rwandan women feed their babies on breast milk until they reach two years old. In my defense, the source of that information, was the Rwandan mum of my half Rwandan childhood neighbor and friend. When I was eleven and in year seven, I was new to Nairobi and the new kid in the class, I put up my hand to say this. I made a habit of collecting and delivering ‘Did You Know?’ type facts, consequently volunteering information I hadn’t been asked for was something I did frequently.

What I didn’t know, is that I had a Rwandan class mate. She took great offense at the sweeping statement I had delivered about her origins. She received my comment as an attack on her nationality. At the time, I didn’t understand her reaction. I thought my source to have been credible, and thus would have expected her to have simply corrected me if I was wrong. We were never friends while in the same school, and throughout the time that we were in class together, I didn’t think she was a very nice person.

We had mutual friends, and so, after finishing at that primary, we met by chance on other occasions. I grew to like her just before she left the country for good. I have often been around people who make blanket statements since, and so, I’ve come to understand why I rubbed her off the wrong way.

A blanket statement, is a bit like one of those police trucks that goes around picking up people and stacking them together, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have, myself been loaded into these truck like statements, for being – a woman, a member of the youth, a ‘pointy’, a kyuk, a jungu – that list is actually endless. Whether a generalization is made as a compliment or an insult, it is never nice to be picked up and plopped into a labeled box, just because you fit into some stereotypical group of people, most of whom, you have probably never met.

On the day that I made that generalization, I made an ‘enemy’ (in the context that eleven year old girls would use the word) out of someone who, as it turns out was a respectful, caring and loyal friend.

I’m sure that would not have been the last time I made that kind of oversight, but with age comes the learning of lessons. I am now in a space where that is the kind of mistake I am unlikely to make. In that way, I have gotten to know many other people who I may otherwise have rubbed the wrong way on first meeting.

Learning to listen more in conversation, is something, I absolutely love about growing up.

Patience

Patience is one of those lessons, that I keep having to learn again, just when I thought I had got it. It’s like the point, in a game of soduku, where you are at the edge of having all of the rest of the answers, but can’t quite figure out the next move. That’s because, contrary to popular belief, patience is not about sitting and waiting.

Patience is; resiliently putting one foot in front of the other, in a sustainable, peaceful way.

Impatience and longevity are opposing forces. Longevity, is the reason why a leopard will eat, where a cheetah will starve. Impatience provides shelter for that frustrating feeling of ‘So close, and yet so far’. It acts like a fungus, whose spores are hopelessness and ingratitude.

Patience on the other hand, allows you to till the land, carefully. With the knowledge that, although this life does not guarantee success, your best efforts in the field, make for your best chances of yield.

Often, the best poems I’ve written have been penned in less than ten minutes. The process that precedes the delivery is what takes ages. Besides, wide and quantitative reading and hours of practice writing, I have to have internalized and analyzed the subject matter, with enough depth to be able to know what it is that I’m trying to say. The longest time, that that has taken is eight years.

Patience isn’t inanimate though. It needs to be fed, nurtured, loved, encouraged. It thrives in the company of peace, hope, grace and love. Together, these forces, create peace of mind

Without patience and resilience, most of my truest art pieces, would never have been written. Most of my triumphs would never have been made. So, patience is one of the reasons, why I love being my age.

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 mirrors across the road.

I have the opportunity, once a month to ask people what they think about Kenya.
It’s an anticipated pleasure.
I was surprised by how much we agree on.
Last night, there was a coincident of a sentiment that has been bouncing around my mind with it’s resonance.

Our politicians represent us, reasonably accurately.

As a working nation, we tend to get on with our lives with resilience. Caring with little commitment for our own sentiments. We seem to think about the problems that affect us in a detached theoretical way. As though everything around us is SEP (Someone Else’s problem) and someone else’s fault.

We wait until it’s literally too late to feel motivated to a point of action. Consequently, the only action we end up taking is raving discussions behind theoretical closed doors within which we feel safe to be blatantly honest (in our siting rooms, bars or online). A process which reinforces stereotypes, serves to propagate propaganda and heightens negative emotions rather than pursuing reconciliation or debating solutions.

Rather than meet the problem, we beat around the bush chanting messages that are intended to ward off ghosts of imaginary scapegoats.

Really quite sad.

All in all,  We are selfish, in nepotistic, cronieistic kind of way. I believe that stems from the shadows of our helplessness, which entirely understandable. I do it too.

Trouble is that, that won’t do. Not if you hope like I do, for better roads, constant water,effective drought management, etc.

For any constructive goals to be achieved, we have to be the change we want to see.

This Is Kenya, Event Stats.

Last Two TIK editions have given us some statistics.

Our Top Hates are:
In First Place: Polititians
2nd: Traffic
3rd: Corruption and Tribalism Drew.

Our top loves:
1st: The Kenyan People
2nd:The Women
3rd: Kenya itself
4th: The weather, the countryside, the diversity of Cultures and the good life all drew.

So We love each other!
Come and represent, we want to know what you think of Kenya, while we listen to Kenyan Music, and songs we love thanks to Nthiweezy and have a a good week wind down with spoken word.

This Thursday, We also have a treat appearance from Kennet B, who just released his new album – New Earth!

Stand up.

Stand up and fight for me,
Don’t we, drink the same coffee?
We come from the same place so please,
Stand up and fight for me.

Stand up and fight for me.
I paid your daughters high school fees.
Treated your son, when he couldn’t breath.
Gave your pregnant wife good things to eat.
Stand up and fight for me.

Stand up and burn for me.
Light fires high for all to see,
Convince the world that I should lead.
Without you no one else perceives,
That you stood to burn for me.
If fire catches your roof too, breath.
Not to worry, I’ll still succeed.
Cos you stood up to burn for me.

Stand up and rape for me.
Her brothers will understand the deed, you see.
It’s wasn’t lust, you are agree.
So you were forced to
Stand and rape for me.

Stand up and kill for me.
So that diplomacy won’t touch me.
Because we are of the same creed.
So, even if I fail, you’ll bleed for me.
And our blood flows together.
We stood up tall, when you killed for me.
So stand up and fight for me.

 

 

 

Watch Performance.