How Would You?

If you saw me walking towards a ditch

Would you warn me?

Or would you rather tell others

That you saw me trending on dangerous ground?

 

If I needed your help

Would you help me

Or would you rather tell others

That I was bound to fail?

 

And if I ever ceased to be

Do you think there is something you would wish

That you did for me?

That you never did?

 

Kanyari©2015

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On that Note

We call it a year

A year that gave birth to us

A year that nurtured us

2015 is the year!

 

Am grateful to you for keeping company

Because of you

We have come this far

Without you this year

Would not have been

As we usher in the new year

I beg you

To keep me company

 

I wish you all

A prosperous and happy new year 2016!

 

2015©Kanyari

WORK DAY

I wake up earlier than the sun
Find other young men and women
At work
Sharpening their machetes
I join in
And starts sharpening my machete
Till our muscles threaten to explode

Some people from the government promised us work
We were asked to report not later than eight
We are all here ready to work
See for yourself
The machetes are sharp and ready

It is now long after noon
We have seen no one from the government
Rumor has it that this is a case of sweet deal gone sour
Money has been eaten
No work

Some random minds are now starting to wander
Machetes are riding up high
Different camps erect here and there
Machetes ride up higher and higher

What do we do with these machetes?
Where do we hide these energies?
What do I do with myself?

2015©Kanyari

Baba and Mama

Early in the morning
Before day break
Mama is out of the bed
Baba is enjoying the last snores of his night
Soon the day will break
The sun will come
And darkness will retreat till then

Mama prepares Toto, her two brothers and three sisters for school
Empty lunch boxes penetrate the torn openings of their old bags
Falling on recycled tattered exercise books
The school goers complain of empty stomachs
Mama scolds them for not having enough
Though she is well aware they have nothing for breakfast

Baba is out of the bed
His eyes are red like hot chili
They look like the eyes of a miraa addict
A peculiar smell trails his every step
He stops behind the shell of their house to pee
A cock emerges behind mama who is acting as if she is not peeping
It rushes straight behind baba
And starts pecking at overnight shit
Mama peeps
With each peck, pee gushes out in gulps
Till the pecking reaches crescendo
Baba ejects a sigh of relief
Mama looks away as Baba turns away from the putrid smell of his pee

Hours past
Mama is now weeding the ground nuts shamba
Baba is pruning and weeding the sugarcane fields
Mama’s eye is fixed on Baba while the other is weeding
Mama’s feet are a foot apart for balance
As Baba lifts the panga his lower body moves forward
As Baba lowers the panga his lower body moves backward
Mama’s feet are still apart
One eye on Baba while the other one is fixed on Baba’s lower body
As Baba lifts the panga his lower body moves forward
As Baba lowers the panga his lower body moves backward
Mama’s feet embrace each other
Her lips let go
Ejecting soft moans into the air

The sun has passed the midway mark
Mama’s feet are a foot apart
Baba lifts the panga up and then down
His lower body moves forward and then backward
Mama’s feet are now squeezing the other
Her lips are ejecting soft moans into the air
Now she is throwing a glance at Baba

Baba received zero pay for his sugarcane
The sugar company complained of poor quality cane
Villagers were accused of defiling the cane fields
Hence forth, no peeing or shitting in the cane fields
No wooing, no courting in the cane fields
No making love or hate in the cane fields

Mama throws another glance after another at Baba
Baba lifts the panga up and down
His lower body moves forward and backward
Mama’s thighs are permanently together
Baba lifts the panga up and down
His lower body moves forward and backward
Mama’s thighs press on each other tighter

Mama squats on her plot of young groundnuts plants
And starts to relief herself while facing Baba
Baba’s eye is fixed on sugarcane while the other is fixed on Mama
Pee gushes out in gulps
The garden swallows the pee in equal gulps
Baba lifts the panga up and down
His lower body moves forward and backward
One eye is on Mama while the other is permanently fixed on space between Mama and the ground
The ejection of pee reaches climax
Baba misses to slice his left hand into two halves
Mama stands abruptly
Some rivulets of pee paint her legs
Baba retrieves the panga now half way penetrated the cane stem
Stops working abruptly
And heads away from home

It is now a few hours before midnight
Mama is waiting in the kitchen and bedroom
Baba arrives home drunk and disorderly
A sharp panga leans precariously against the bed
Baba stops to urinate at the doorstep
On a second thought he decides to make a stinking mount of shit

The cock is now asleep
Mama will derive no pleasure in the pecking
A sharp panga still leans precariously against the bed…

2015©Kanyari

The Youth of Our Village

The people of youth of our village
Are bad like the police

The police come by a Land Rover pick up car we call 110
While the people of youth come on foot

If the police find you outside your home at night
They catch you and beat you as if you will be eaten after you die
In case you ran away before they catch you
They run after you for some time
Until you enter into the bush
They leave you

The people of the youth are not like the police
When it comes to running after you
If they catch you you are beaten proper
And when you run away
My friend you will be dead before you know it
They run after you like a cat runs after a mouse
My grandfather says they can get you even inside the hole dug by the porcupine
And if you think running home is the solution
They will get you there and take you away the way a jigger is removed from the body
Don’t joke with these people
They are bad than the police

But these people of the youth are not stupid
They don’t just beat people just like that
No
They like beating small people like us
They also beat young men who have circumcised
But they don’t beat big men like my grandfather
My grandfather tells me that those people who fought the war of Mau mau
Are bad until they are impossible
If they were able to fight foreign terrorists who had stolen their land and freedom
Terrorists who had created a false government with the help of some foolish local people
Terrorists who had big guns ready to kill Mau mau freedom fighters
Who can stand against such freedom fighters?

People of the village have started to talk
They say that the people of the youth have been sent by the government
The people of the youth are spies
They have been sent by President Moi to spy on us
Because we did not elect him well

In the evening when we start talking
My grandmother monitors our conversations
In case you say something about the government
My grandmother signals you to keep quiet immediately
She says that the people of the youth are there behind all houses at night
Watching you through cracks to see all those present during such conversations
Listening to such conversations and reporting you to the government
We don’t talk about the government

Work is work
It is both bad and good
Just imagine the leader of the people of the youth is our relative!
He is called Maina
He is about forty five years old
We still don’t trust him
The people of youth take an oath like the people of the army
They are told to be enemies with everybody who is an enemy of the government
I wonder why he keeps coming to our home
Takes supper daily at our place
Are we friends with the government?
Or does he want to sell us out to the government?

Although the police and the people share a lot in common
They are definitely different
The police are really bad while the people of the youth pretend to be bad
Everybody in our village knows it

Just the other day the police were patrolling our village
No young person was outside
Except Maina and his group of the youth
The village was quiet like a cemetery

The police met with Maina and his group of youth
“Who is you?”
The head of police asked
“We are the people of the youth”
Maina answered
“Me I ask you who is you?”
The asked again
“Maina”
Maina answered
“Minor! I am Major. We will see where your big head will take you.”
The head of police said
He got hold of Maina like this
When the rest of his group saw what had happened they said my feet help me

That day Maina was beaten like the drums of halleluya
He lost six front teeth
His body was swollen like an avocado
My grandfather told us that he stayed in bed for about two weeks
Do the people of the government fight one another like this?

Maina is now back to his work
Though his group lost a few members
He still works for the government

Today I hid when the children of my class met with Maina
“You are Minor? I am Major!”
“You are Minor? I am Major!”
They chanted
Maina chased after us but he did not catch even one!

It is now getting dark
I am still praying that Maina did not see me
Otherwise, my grandfather will show me fire
Maina will definitely visit our home this evening.

 

2015©Kanyari

The Day of Wedding

Our village of Mwirimiri love weddings
Not that we love weddings that much
We just love what we eat in weddings

The other Saturday
Not last Saturday
The other Saturday before last Saturday
There was a wedding in our village of Mwirimiri
The place was packed until every living thing in the soil had no peace

I just wanted to eat without trouble
I don’t like when people start pushing in weddings
I don’t like it when people fight for food
But I don’t mind fighting a little
As long as I am not seen fighting

We all wanted to see the one who was wedding
But most most we wanted to see who was being wedded
Because we did not know her
She is not from our village of Mwirimiri
She comes from the town of Kimuri
And when you hear somebody comes from the town of Mwirimiri
Be prepared to see miracles!

The bride was wearing very high heel shoes
So high that she was seeing everybody small like children
Such high shoes can only be seen in the town of Kimuri
We were seeing with our mouths!

But I will be lying if I tell you that I had gone to see shoes
Nobody had gone to see shoes
It is not every-day you get free tasty food
We were waiting for that moment
A plate overflowing with food in front of you
Just before you plant your whole hands in the food

People of our village do not joke with food in a wedding
Food has to be there
It doesn’t matter whether the bride says yes or no to the vow
Food has to be there

Food has to be good too
In my village cooks are chosen very carefully
Women from poor families fetch water and wood
Women from not very poor family cook mukimo
Women from family with a little money cook rice
Women from families with money cook chapati
While women from families with a lot of money cook stew of meat

My mother was cooking chapati
Many people think we have a lot of money
Because my grandfather is not very poor
The wife of Mwendia took part in cooking chapati and the stew of meat
And would you believe it?
The wife of Ngati wa Nyina fetched water and wood!

When the car carrying the one who was being married and the one who was marrying arrived
Two men brought a wide ladder faster faster
Because the car of Ngati wa Nyina is a pick up
And in our village of Mwirimiri the one who is being married cannot jump
She moves slowly slowly like this
We waited and waited and waited before she got to her seat
And when she sat our heads were just beating food, food, food!

Children were separated from the adults
They did not want us to embarrass our village in front of people of Kimuri
Sometimes children fight for food in front of big people
Also there is never enough plates in a wedding
So children use their hands as plates

This wedding was no different
There were more people than food
Children suffered the way you have never seen
We were brought bread and juice
And that is how trouble started

Loaves of bread were brought in three crates
Saliva was falling from our mouths without knowing
We were waiting like this
And that is the way it ended

Five big boys came from nowhere
They got hold of the crates of bread
Bread spilled on the dusty ground
Children started fighting for bread
I took my legs and left
My mother warned us that if one of us is seen fighting for food in a wedding
That would be the last food he will ever eat
I did not want to eat my last supper

Tears rolled down my eyes as I took every single stride away from heaven
I can’t wait to grow up to stop eating with children
No wonder my people say that boys don’t visit in-laws

2015©Kanyari

Death of a Whistle Blower

Yesterday was great
Peace
Peace reigned
Music knew no boundary
Sweet refreshing gospel music
We were all happy
Together we praised and worshiped
Important mortals and immortals
Until today…

A self proclaimed purist whistle blower
Spoil the broth for all of us, starving intruders
When he pointed out corruption in our government
My government
What an abomination!

This was meant to be a good day like any other
We had chanted good mornings to those that cared or didn’t care
Until this thing happened…

I am the most heartbroken of all
Do you get the gravity of the matter?
We are talking about our government
My government
I who woke up before sunrise to elect this government into power
I who personally acted as an agent in a polling station to make sure no vote was lost
I who celebrated like a mad woman after my president emerged the winner
I had won!
My whole community won
Even the local dailies reported that it was a win for the whole country

Today was meant to be a good day
Today was meant to be a normal day
Gospel music slithering through all radios and television sets
Praising and thanking the One
For blessing us with this leadership
Only He knows the far we have come!

But today
Today is not the day we all looked forward to
Today is not a normal day
Today is not our day
Courtesy of the whistle blower

You all know our past
We were colonized by whites like queen to ants
We black people were dispossessed of our names and land
We black people were degraded to second and third class citizens
We black people were dehumanized
But we did not break
No
Together we broke the yoke of colonialism
Together we stood tall
Repossessed our land and freedom
Together we reclaimed our nation
Until today…

Whoever deceived this misguided whistle blower?
That he can rise from nowhere
And utter such utterances!
How dare he infringe on the rights of these peace loving patriots!

The whistle blower said that the government is corrupt
Our government
My government
How dare he implicate our government?
My government?

I ask you my good friends
What is wrong with a project costing a few billion shillings more?
You all look like people who understand these things
Where is the problem?
People need to eat and food cost money!

The whistle blower does not know that this is our government
My government
Does he even watch tv?
How did he miss all those government sponsored documentaries?
Demanding patriotism?
How?
Simple and straight forward
Love your country unconditionally
Your leaders are chosen by God
How dare he question His will?

Whom does the whistle blower thinks he is?
Where does he derive his authority to talk about our government like that?
My government

Have you not witnessed development here, there and everywhere?
Can these people ever be satisfied?
Things could have been worse my friends
I ask you
Between the county government and the national government
Who is more corrupt?

Because of this whistle blower
All tvs are broadcasting politics
I hate politics
I miss music
Sweet refreshing gospel music
I crave for music on my tv
How I wish today never happened

As for me and our people
We pledge our loyalties to the president of Kenya
Forget our people that slept hungry
Forget the widespread lack of medicines and doctors in hospitals
Forget the children dropping out of school
Forget the many elephant projects
Forget electricity swept away by the El-Nino rains
It is God’s will
Things could have been worse

Now they are saying that billion of shillings were lost
Their clamor for the resignation of the minister is getting stronger
I don’t see that happening
No
Never
We have the best leadership in this side of our planet
To hell with the whistle blower!

It is now mid afternoon
The whistle blower was arrested a while back
He is now behind bars
For the sake of peace
Soon he will be frog marched to the court of law
Credible rumors has it that he will be prosecuted before nightfall
The whistle blower must be executed before sunrise!

But why are these formerly suppressed voices proclaiming his innocence?
Why are they branding him our savior?
The whistle blower must be executed before sunrise!

 

Kanyari©2015

Hands of a Human

What do you see when you look at my hands?
Do you see their color?
Or is it their texture?
Do you see their potential?
Or is it their inability?
Do you see their industriousness?
Or is it their laziness?
Do you see their roughness?
Or is it their gentleness?
Surely you must see something
When you look at my hands

I beg you
Not to underrate these hands
They can do a lot better or worse
Don’t be too harsh on them either
Because they are only hands of a human

Never forget
Hands like these have been used by muggers
They have been used by armed robbers
They have broken into many houses
You will never imagine how many victims these hands have pinned on the ground
These hands have beaten many innocent people to a pulp
They have been used by many militias groups
They continue to be used by many terrorists
They continue to be used to prepare killer brews
These two hands you see are hands of a serial killer
They have been supplying harmful drugs
And as if that is not enough
They have been very busy during all the past post election violence

But if you give these two hands a chance
These hands will join hand in hand others towards a peaceful world
They will stretch a helping hand to the fallen
They will feed the hungry
Caress the shoulders of mourners
They will take part in constructing a world class infrastructure
Most importantly,
They will work hard hand in hand towards the attainment of
The Vision 2030 and beyond

 

Kanyari©2015

The Lion and the Other

In the jungle there is the lion

And the other

The question is who is what

 

The lion preys on the other

The other scatters at the smell of the lion

Each for his own life

Each for her own life

The life of a lion depends on the disunity of the other

 

However not all lions are lions

There is a real lion that heads a large family

And a stray lion that lives in isolation

But when time is ripe a stray lion can become a real lion

 

The family of a lion knows the prowess of the lion

Yet he rarely hunts

Lionesses spend days combing the jungle for prey

Hunting for the other

 

Each time a lioness chases a deer

The earth shakes

The ants below the ground know no peace

The zebras and the antelopes run along

The vulture salivates

At the collapse of the deer

While the other bows for the dead

 

In due time the ants will commune

The worms will dig along

The warthog will dig for her dear freedom

The squirrel will fore go grains for work

Word will reach the zebra and the deer

The buffalo and the elephant

The hippo and the rhino

The other will hide under the lion

 

The lion will starve

The vulture will salivate

The other will hide under the lion

 

One day the ground will shake

The earth will open

Battalions upon battalions of the other will confront the lion

The vulture will salivate

As the other becomes the lion

And the lion becomes the other

Till then

 

Kanyari©2015

A British Historian Needed

We are Kenyan
The queen our colonial mistress
The British carved us
Into this elusive entity called Kenya

Our fore fathers were farmers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers
Life was very harsh
We knew no light
We lurked in guiding dark
Until the British came in and secured concentration camps for us
We became one
Together we fell weak

Today we crawl like a headless chicken
A lot we ought to have done
Independence gave rise to infinite dependence
Still counting
We ought to have done something
Why we thrive on our own brood
Survival for the fittest few
As we watch this land goes to waste
Courtesy of the British

Today we celebrate our heroes
Keen to hush whispers being spread by the wind
Our heroes might have died in vain
Some heroes might have built skyscrapers
On the graves on fellow heroes and heroines
Such painful memories
How will we narrate this history to our children without falling apart?

We need a British historian
Objective enough to tell this heartbreaking history
Of our people
A people so strong they stood the wrath of colonialism
A people so inhumane to neglect their own
A people rising from sticky ashes of death and life
A people so ignorant yet very informative
Trust our disunity
Only an informed outsider can tell this hearts wrecking story

But how will the British historian
Tell the suffering of our people in concentration camps
How will they tell the story of our daughters raped by white terrorists?
How will a British historian
Tell stories of families whose land was stolen never to be returned
Not even after independence
How will anybody ever tell this our story?
How well can you tell this story?

2015©Kanyari