Knitting a father from nettles… and other poems by Annette Skade… read, drink of this creative genius and see .. .
The Garden of the Fugitives
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This IS Ouko Tornado
You thought you would silence
me? We hear….
Your voice rises
booming in intelligence
loud no matter what
I have not come to earth to judge
So you rise again
and you spill the words
one by one, alphabet
one by one… numbers
So many confronted you…
and your shadow rises
behind every koroboi shadow in Kenya
You electrify every nerve
You tell us
It was for brilliance and truth that
and you warn Kenyans
This thing death should not be feared
but not feasted either…but confronted
Injustice is killing… reveal the truth
Look how much pomp you raise
to forget we are ALIVE
those who died in such indecency
NOT serving greed and wanting to know
Julie Ward stands up
Among the lions
Look, like you never knew before
J.M. Kariuki will not be eaten by Hyenas
I was not
How should it be vultures
even they have better cultures
How should it be nature
Even it has better stature
How should it be
that we cannot face the truth
Tom Mboya before
Look, hold up the mirror of what the Brits
did and before that and always what
WE DID! Tormentado… Tornado….
Torment us with our images and realities
of the dead and those alive… torment us…
THIS IS Tonardo Ouko
and Hurricane BOB Ouko
Assassinated Foreign Affairs Minister of Kenya
Disappeared on th eve of Valentine´s day
and found dead on 18.02. 1990
they said he committed suicide
God of Kirinyaaa… liberate us from
lies…no one can live on that bread all the time!
Philo Ikonya August 2015
Ave Madona Maria
Outrage…is not enough
The Black Maria is full of bodies
Prisons are not better
Today anger is mad
I don’t know how to
hover my fingers gently
on a black and white
to reverberate Pinckney
to sing Ave Mariaaaa
The skin of this drum
Salve Madonna Maria
death is here again
and no pieta left…
The home of mercy close
Must my children pay
a white baksheesh each breath?
It is always sunset
Do I not feel the storm
of slavery still so dark?
What is color to you?
This is not the first black child
old man, woman I lose
This not the first daughter
Ave, Ave, Maria
Black Maria van why
did your color not change
Who is my shepherd
then, shall I wait for one
or just gather my sheep
and fly? Ave, Mariaaaaa
philo ikonya 19.06.2015
Human rights activist, Philo Ikonya, has accused a senior police officer of brutalizing her when she and and others were arrested outside Parliament last Wednesday.
Writing in the website, Kenya Imagine, Philo describes the ordeal that resulted in her clothes being torn to shreds. She was beaten and subjected to verbal assault by a force whose motto is, Utumishi kwa Wote” (Service to All).
However, as she soon discovered, her tribulations were nothing compared to what the majority of struggling Kenyans are experiencing everyday. Read on:
For some reason, I was released on Wednesday night on a bond signed by Florence Jaoko of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. Activists Ann Njogu, Wangui Mbatia and others told her to act because I needed medical attention.
It is dark in Kenya… very dark… our freedoms are not ours anymore and all Kenyans are suffering. I do not want a…
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Nyerere, Uhuru na Umoja! This article was triggered by petty thefts by the people not the elected as such, but it goes further. Are we giving back to Kenya what she gives us? Often times free land for education purposes. I know that. And more. is there another form of stealing from the land that we do not see or respond to?
OK. In other areas I am the Good Thief. I too, will steal heaven. Where is this going? Mea culpa for mine. But are we holding up the ‘Good Thieves’ too high, too long? We are told in the end they stole heaven. “Remember us Lord, when you come to your Kingdom” “Memento nobis Domine… . regnum tuum” “Bwana utukumbuke utakapofika katika ufalme wako” “ŨtŨririkane Mwathani wakinya Ũthamaki inĩ waku!” Sorry don’t know Arabic but Kiswahili is related.
Naku, did you steal from me in the name of God? You know yourself. I ended up telling you that you would have clapped at my disability … my loss of speech. You would steal me? My voice? Wait.
Many pose as good people. A look at individuals first. Yes, also those who are always working for people with this and that problem. You can read in Social Media or letters … “Oh, I help people with disability, join me let us fundraise!” And what I did connect with the project was appropriated to personal things. I am glad I resisted the invitation to be part of. Perfect trap.
Those in the Diaspora are shaven clean often, by their very own. A man told me how he rode his ‘own’ matatu in disguise and heard his ‘crew’ and how they left for lunch at 11am to an expensive resort daily. Si mdosi ako ng’ambo? They asked. ‘Isn’t our boss abroad? Where snow and money fall from above like manna. Eat him! See he can’t even trust his own family…Kula yeye kabisa!” But it good that he heard it for himself. Are our leaders listeners? Do they dress as beggars to hear how the people speak when they are not on a podium? Do you, who cannot be hanged, speak to them when you play and remember, say Uhuru Kenyatta’s school days? When you read together, perhaps Tom Brown School Days? We are the people and they are us.
How do you convince the easy to stereotype world… this is NOT African? Most at the top in the continent are well, not exemplary. Nyerere was virtually a saint. And to steal, is really was no part of our culture…not Ubuntu, not Utu, not traditional. Jomo Kenyatta the anthropologist writes in Facing Mt. Kenya that thieves were rolled down a hill in a burning hive in the days of yore. And we? And he and you and you and you?
Now we preach a lot on the streets and steal through churches. We need new clothes and before them we need sacks. If only some people would stop making the excuse that poverty in Africa makes people steal. Huge lie. Go find out if people steal in that sense of the word in Mogadishu…Somalia, even when there is terror, in Juba, even when there is war…
Shame on Nairobi and Nairoberry…Corruption going through the roof and knows no borders. It is crawling into Tanzania this general thieving. My friend and researcher was stabbed at the University of Dar… two years ago, by someone going for her purse. Now, would Nyerere turn in his grave. They had to show him as president a piece of land where to build his house. And when he finished paying school fees for his children, he pleaded with a bank to review his mortgage terms….Extend it.
How are the children of politicians living in Kenya? How are the children of presidents from the first to the fourth doing? How are their class and elite in Kenya living? Same wild debts as in the U.S.A? Does this matter? Absolute luxury in many cases. And yes, collective responsibility also in this. When Langata Primary School, to pick one example was stolen, how come all of these are on the side of silence? Would it hurt or build your power if some of you spoke out? What a sea of indifference, the Indian Ocean is smaller. But in Masses we amass to impress do we not? And call on the name of the spiritually upright to gain us points in moral authority. Read the prophet Jeremiah? Read the others. Power is corrupting all, it knows not man, not woman. Children are in tow.
Regarding ordinary people who are said to steal chicken and other small things. It is not always the powerful that teaches them that, but it makes it worse. Scandals kill consciences of the people. One good Thomas More shakes them for years. Like his wife Margaret and daughter, I know this is old fashioned but power of virtue does not dies. We do not lack examples even in our own homes. Women of all seasons. From tradition. People who will not touch a thing that is not their own. But thanks to you, and you and you, whenever stuff, say a phone, was missing in a certain school I know abroad, Somali children and black ones were checked twice, first and fast. I still stood up against it. But you have to see African people trying to leave the continent. At Lampedusa. At Visa offices. Immigration places. Thieving and bribing to pass driving lessons, just like most of our politicians, to drive the nation. Wrong speed. There are rules to this as to everything. Should we punish the outspoken? Some by wanting to defame and hide them and others by arresting them?
Back to each individual. No compliment….no apology… You at home, you sit there crying that they are against you…. in Kenya…Let us get a sense of shame back? Some people are using tragedies to be fake security officers, disease and disability to lay claims, to beg. I hear already….”I am from Garissa…I was…”
Let us back to good examples. http://goo.gl/16ig71 I agree regarding many of these.. here in that link. ..but Gadaffi… I have some thoughts. I do not agree with sitting on power for 42 years in order to do good. The seat rots. It is a form of greed. What you teach instead is that only You can do good, the people are useless. Lies. That does not mean he never breathed any good air.
So helpers. Donors, tourists…. Before you open your purse… your mouth… remember money and betrayal knows no God…They eat their own. To name or not to name? Another one. He continues getting your money. Ordinary Kenyan with a name runs companies, Foundation. Helps the poor, the ones who cannot go to school. Yes even in turns up to stand with civil society, and what about political parties? That is where you found him with friends that you trust and… he is an adviser to the youth. Steals money. When you think of courts, they all learned to hide the evidence. Tell me then.
Money I know was sweated for by a boy in school and working abroad. When he is aske he has no answer. Afterwards, he places demands. He can do that or that if you give him more. Mafia is home. He posts pictures of the disabled. You ask again. “This are the people we are helping, don’t spoil my name… surely…” You tell his wife, she asks you… ‘What were you doing sending that one money, we helped the party, candidates, women?” Politics is a huge cover for unseen thieving. The State nearly collapses with the grabbing mentality at work. Not just of phones on the streets.Ordinary people need fine examples from top down. You lend them money, even a little bit and wait for it to be repaid? How can we help ourselves? The more the insecurity, the more the break of law and virtues, of moral codes. Women stripped and raped. Children.
Social Media desperados…*NB… on Internet, my ‘Friend” is anybody. They could bear a name you know but not be the ones… It is not that I do not trust you but on Internet we are in another land. You Fb you can be next door in Machakos in the sun and tell me you are in Iceland…Someone in claiming to be in America reaped heavily money into accounts worldwide during Kenya’s 2013 election, claiming to help those who stood for high ideals. Started immense chats where your name was just added and people listened in…. When I demanded a receipt after they claimed to have reached a lawyer…It was all false..James Ololo https://www.facebook.com/james.ololo?fref=ts saved us…with information.
Mule Martin Told us too why some people follow one on Facebook. No time to waste. They steal. Any calamity is prone to abuse. Your name can be used to open accounts. Please on Fb I have no money to transact or money from anywhere…
Mule and Ololo…There are very active people on Fb always sharing criticism and ideas. Constructive. Are you going to learn from them? Are you giving it your best shot, this Internet Baraza ya Wananchi, or is it a nuisance? Is it what you give up for Lent? Well, it is not that for those radicalising… It is a priority. Are you watching out for fundamentalism in your own circles? Mule Martin https://www.facebook.com/mule.martin.7?fref=ts spreads his fire there, it does not matter that we differ in some things… he puts out what he believes And you? Yesterday he was courageous to write this: “Corruption in Kenya is reached cancer proportions and its being done in the office of the President Uhuru Kenyatta, how can we believe that#UhuruKenyatta can deal blow to Graft when junior officers in his office are sacred cows?” Some of you are closer to power, do you speak out in the small rooms when the cups of tea or coffee click?
I refer to those who swindled us in the election 2013, asking for money of Fb. How different are thy from those who could not count the votes? How many of you asked that we do not proceed with such uncertainty or even refer to it today? And these people too also invited us to projects, yes. All over Europe. Kudos again we never even wanted to know where their projects are. Washing toilets is better! From where I spring back to schools in Kenya. Just a few. Allow me to cross fast because not everything can be said everywhere.
But are there other more complex ways of stealing? Are people entrusted with the common good of education moving the young@50 ’embryo nation’ as Prof Makau Mutua calls it. If they are not, is that upright? Social Justice. Social Sins. I start with a few girl oriented schools I know. There are so many so let me pick on Loretos who by the way, could take the world, not just any country by storm.
Not everyone could afford to go to Loreto… where are all those girls from Ng’iya and what are they going to do to perpetuate Grace Ogot’s works? Asumbi? Kenya High: Ida Odinga and millions of brilliant women in Kenya have been there. Where are you? Saints Old Boys and Girls… do you at least discuss if tribalism is possible because of the way the school systems work. Who are the ones in the top schools. I think this should not be dangerous to look at. There are worse things, like drugs in schools, radicalisation.
Muslim Girls, Parklands, Matuga…. Coastal schools and Muslim schools have also led and turned out great people and they are everywhere in other schools. But Africa and the world… own a history of keeping Muslim institutions of higher learning down. I remember reading about that and it began long ago. Well…I don’t have the details here. What I know is that stealing is not favoured and that when an Imaam pronounced a certain curse after looting happened in Mombasa, people replaced what they had taken. Your shopping is safer in Dubai than in Rome.
Let us face it… school groups in Social Media tend to look back rather than ahead of the nation. Comments on old photos…”Oh,,, there is Mrs Saldhana and Sr. Maire!” These people played their role and burnt the midnight oil for you in Kenya to move it! How hard did the nuns work? How did Sr. Hyancith get you to pass your Math? How to win hockey in your “province’. But the Loretos were classed schools for some time. This changed somewhat. But there is a very large group of inaccessible top range school leavers who will not touch the what? The muck of social change. Not that way please. Well. Kenya bled. Cruci dum spiro Fido. Voices as one? Nil. Not on the latest massacre in Garissa. Is that our business? What do you think Sr so and so would have said? Probably no. Concentrate on your studies. But now… you are out there. Tell yourself. Tell your feet.
Why did I try to write in poor Latin? I had my days….and I reflect. Of the most highly rated institutions of education in Kenya are a number of Catholic based ones, and Protestant. Mottos: “Dum Cruci dum Spiro Fido”… Loreto. Past Loretos have done a sterling job in serving Kenyan society. They ought to keep it going. Somehow for them it works. Former past students includes names you can google and which deserve doodles. There is much apathy elsewhere, but only in criticism, not with hobnobbing with power in silence. The churches credibility is gone, but some of you are closely connected with these same churches.
The Loretos, very generalised here, They have their failures of course but they have been heard. Just a few but if you follow them on Fb they make it to meetings. With Twelve women Mary Ward believed one could change the world. I cannot believe the Loretos are not able to turn Kenya against ethnic intolerance, for example. And even go for the highest offices in the land. The Loreto nuns, and others inclusive since this is not exhaustive educated us for work and some thinking.
I will not name them here but they go from the late Nobel Prize winner Prof Wangari Maathai, to Nyamodi (once in charge of City Hall Nairobi, I remember the positive and the negative…) and so many more. There are so many and they relate with a huge network across Kenya now.
Kianda, In Opere et veritatem. Very many people known and visibly in support of Kenya’s leadership today went to this school. The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta did. She is doing her work well, running marathons for zero tolerance of maternal mortality. There is more that must and can be done. It is fine to play one school but for those who see different pools, diversity and openness are not just for fools. Sure there are poor records of First Ladies before but… words of truth are important. Great work in Kianda but locked up voices?
St. Mary’s school in Nairobi. Uhuru Kenyatta was a student there. I would like him to define this in our mother tongues: Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia”, which is Latin for “Goodness, Discipline, Knowledge”.
Strathmore….School, ‘Ut omnes unum sint!” “That they maybe one!” Strathmore University: https://www.facebook.com/StrathmoreUniversity… the same.. “Ut omnes unum sint!” Alliance School, or Bush… Strong to Serve…. with the boys having a yahoo site called Bushfire… But fine… these are mottos…
Why is it that after years of Kenya producing famous students from these schools all I see is lots of people not speaking out when Kenya is in a situation of crisis? Do the many graduates live here? And… why are we afraid to have our children associate with activists? At least some parents that I know.
How on earth could a whole lecturer in the law faculty at Strathmore go on and on about the kind of useless shoeless activism that some people like: akina Philo Ikonya, poet, novelist and activist do? Ann Njogu told me about that. She too was pointed out in that ridicule, and Orie Rogo Manduli. These are three very different people. Commonality: Women who stood up no matter how dark and regardless or how misunderstood. They would gladly still share a table and that is love. No need to make fun of their bit. Not possible even of Orie’s scarves and peccadilloes. Hold a candle, don’t light one.
But silence. They are doing a lot of good work. I know. But one urgent job is to stop kowtowing to power. Speak truth to power. Many top families are among your friends. Nobody begrudges you that… but really…Let me the activist be. And read my words, if you will. Are you having sleepless nights about a top university of Nairobi student being a mastermind of terror? I know it was not your campus but when do you unite tribes as one and when do you unite positive energy? If you are an active citizen, speak out. It does not end with casting a vote.
Why was the world I know, a part of which I have dedicated my life and breath, a world that Shailja Patel is persistently interested in changing indifferent when she cried that her body was assaulted? Why is my voice where it is? What happened at PEN Kenya and PEN International that nobody would answer letters regarding a member saying that she has been assaulted by a member? Why was the PEN Kenya President unable to answer a single letter from a former concerned member on the matter?
Is silence and simply no answer to letters that seek to inform or find out ways of dealing with these matters to be shelved in silence? Surely not. Does it make sense to applaud a Snowden and then do this? Why then, are we defending, or why am I defending freedom of expression on local and international podia? Do organisations not breathe with their former parts or members? Not that anybody would have said guilty as charged immediately, we were prepared to wait. But not to silence a voice that expresses pain of assault.
We know how to wait for court cases police and all. But this immediate mistrust of the victim who cries and support of those whom we know is questionable. How do we treat women who voice out abuse? How much are we hiding? If we are indifferent? Do we then have any moral authority to defend anybody against any oppressive regime? Any prisoner? Why did we not have a policy in place, not for condemning but at least for listening with openness to one who cries foul?
I had to assess all my voicing and I have retreated into silence and deep self-examination for going this way, nothing can hold. Not our work, not our word, not our cohesion against the oppression of women or anybody. The first oppression of expression in the body of a woman, begins with the restriction of her body, in abuse, in mutilation of any form, in those dos and don’ts that make her think from childhood, that she had to keep silent because if she speaks out, everyone will ridicule her, not listen or call upon friends to laugh and question. Taunt. Whereas from law all we ask of is justice, from society we must ask, especially for women, for an urgent response to their first reaction to abuse whether we think it is real or imagined.
The fact that we want to believe they only imagined is far outweighed by experience which shows most women will not speak out. The fact that we are quick to believe that women only, or often, imagine abuse speaks volumes about our own indifference and understanding of power relations. A measure of the health of our society is in how we reach out to the vulnerable, a standard measure of our civility. Nobody can convince me today, no matter the seeming loudness of activist women and of feminists that women have passed the threshold of being considered non vulnerable. Not in their own families, not at war time. Not in globalisation or big business success, not in the simple market places or rural zones, not in the cities.
This matter as in the matter of all rights is one for the gentleness of eternal vigilance, we need people who hold the candle that burns or the tiny wick in a koroboi, little lamp, waiting for the return of a daughter at night, always with thoughts about her security and integrity. Ever listening deeply, carefully, before waving away even wavering thoughts said in stuttering words.
Feminists are often characterized as angry, but underneath it all, we’re heartbroken. Our hearts break every day for the brutal mistreatment of women and girls. We weep for the lives lost, bones shattered, spirits crushed. Those of us who are black women mourn often. We wail for the unsolved murder of two sex workers in Florida, hog tied and dumped by the side of the road like trash. We sob for the black woman who bested not one but three young male rappers at a new years eve party, and what should have been her victory became her lynching. We grieve for women’s losses and for the indifference the world shows to our losses, and the policies and institutions that pay lip service to concern about us, but consistently allow, reinforce, support, or exploit the brutality against us.
Recently, in this blog series, I have been grieving the…
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Letter to Addis, Why I shout what I know.. Wake up call to women, wake up call for democracy… be crazy, Africanize it before they tread on you again!
In December 2005 I returned from a two week contract in Addis Ababa on Human Rights with great anxiety all through the flight. Who was going to rid Africa of abusive and repressive patriarchy? Meles Zenawi was 50 years old. Sellasie still worshipped by many as the lion of Judah long gone, he and Jomo Kenyatta were dictators of their times. I demand recognition of plus and minus. Addis is a peaceful city, at least it was then. I could walk at midnight dressed for the season’s heat, not the men. Nobody, they assured me would touch me. And yet there were 75 000 people in various prisons because they voted for the Opposition. http://newint.org/columns/worldbeaters/2012/08/21/meles-zenawi/ And always in the background the story of a singer called Ted whose car, a Mercedes, was responsible according to the police of all the chaos of the city. He had to be celled. He had sang a song of freedom. But of course it was not the music that was the problem. How could it be? Addis. The dancing and eating of njera was a consolation. Good safe restaurants. Even now I find them in any city of the world. But among those imprisoned was Mesfin the founder of the Ethiopian Human Rights Organisation. Our training was on Human Rights. It took more than five days to make anybody talk to us. They looked at us like pictures. They wondered at the magic of Kenya. The freedom. The Maendeleo s ya Wanawake, women waking I liked to think of it. An unstoppable movement. Grassroots. But long raped and hijacked by politicians. Still the potential was there and could be shown as a role model. But Addis, I could walk free at night. I from Nairobi had the inborn fear you get of having heard of something called ‘ngeta’ even if you had never experienced it. As a woman you probably had seen worse right at home. In Addis they told us how it was possible to speak out on abuse of human rights in a meeting and to go home and find the remains of your relatives on the gates waiting for you. Because freedom was so dangerous. I bought an Ethiopian Cross that the Airport. I wore it. I was trembling for a nation so even as the customs men asked me to stay with a smile, saying that I must have been from their land before, I was eager to go back to Kenya. But I was furious. Kibaki was sitting in power still calling me kumbafu. I wondered what happened to our love. They said he was sick after an accident. But if you are sick, how does Wanjikũ know power falls sick? At the airport, I quickly bought a Safaricom scratch card as I used to call it. Freedom to call. It was not possible from Addis, freedom to text. In Addis, Internet was slowed down. Any message you sent out brought the round fainting circle to your eyes forever. And then it faded. Especially if you included BBC and this is what I was doing for even though I was on a private contract I am a writer and I knew and felt and read that the imprisonment of so many was not out there in reports. And I wished for a younger president whose blood would beat with passion for a continent. Now tell Uhuru Kenyatta that I read Ngugi wa Thiong’o in a newspaper eagerly waiting for the people born after independence to show us the new Africa. I told him nothing is younger than freedom nor older and values. Now tell him that I am already tired of a certain age I see not just returning, but confirmed in power, and him. “Early results showed the opposition with a big lead, sweeping all of the contested seats in the capital Addis both in the race for parliamentary as well as local government. By the afternoon of 16 May, the opposition claimed it was halfway towards winning a majority in the national parliament with only about a third of the constituencies reporting complete results. Later that day, trailing badly in the preliminary report covering just under 200 seats released by the National Election Board, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) announced that it had won more than 317 seats out of 547, while conceding that opposition parties won all 23 seats in the capital city Addis Ababa. The two major opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic …”