Archive for the ‘Kenyan Blogs Webring’ Category

The second edition of the Quarterly Colour Series that is compiled and published by Al Kags is out. This one is bigger featuring more poets. Blue Smudges is all about easy feelings and light expressions – nice easy thoughts.

The ebook is free and the rules are simple: read, enjoy, share, republish – whatever you will, just be sure to acknowledge the writer. Do download and spread far and wide.

Download Blue smudges

Advertisements

A great man died on Monday 9th October 2002. He had devoted his adult life solving big problems facing Africa. His life was spent find solutions to poverty and peace among different. I didn’t see him often through out my life but every time I saw him, he had been coming from some distressed part of Africa and he was working on some peace deal or another. Certainly, he spent many years incubating the peace process in Southern Sudan until that was achieved – and then he devoted his time to building a bridge between the Southern Sudan and the world through Kenya – to ensure that that peace was sustained.

Growing up, this man ensured that I was more than educated. I was reading books way beyond my station all through my childhood. By the time I was 12, I had read Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and I discussed it with him. I read Jomo Kenyatta’s anthropological thesis Facing Mount Kenya and I had many questions for him. The other side of the coin was that I never saw much of him. Between his work and his family, I only saw him a couple of times a year. Many were the days, as a child, I cried myself to sleep waiting for him to come take me to lunch as he had promised. Little did I know then, that my anguish of the time helped Africa find something she needed desperately.

My emotions about him as I grew up ranged over time between rage and feverish depression and sadness and insecurity and nonchalance (where I’d say I didn’t need him anyway). In frustration, I turned my back on him as a teenager and disowned him. I had a father (my step-father, who has been steadfast and reliable with me all through). But the few times I would see him, all that would be forgotten embalmed in his wisdom and quietly spoken knowledge and softly conveyed humour. 

When I grew up, we met up and agreed to work towards friendship. And this we did over time. We fell into an easy rhythm and slowly I came to know the man. I also came to accept that the man who had now become my friend was Africa’s property and not mine. I came to be grateful for the long phone calls that we would have to talk about our passions and the lunches that we would have to discuss culture and our individual passions. I grew to cherish his comments on the views that I penned both on this blog and elsewhere. I grew to accept.

I accepted that I would never know what he was like as a father to his children, as a husband to his wife, as a land owner (if he was), I accepted that I would never know what his favorite music was or what he was like during weekends and evenings by the fire. I accepted that was for his kids to know and cherish. I accepted that I would know his brain, and that I would learn people and their characters through him. I accepted that he would mentor my young career into where I need it to go.

And I learnt a lot from this great teacher. I learnt how to communicate with people. I learnt how to handle people. I learnt how to remain even tempered no matter what. I learnt not to sweat the small stuff. I learnt to know my world and my culture and other people and their cultures. I learnt to make peace. I learnt to make my dreams come true obstinately.

And now, he has left for the next world.

I must accept that I will no longer have lunch with him and never again will I dial his number. But I shall speak to him. And now, I must accept that I need not fight my emotions and resist my anger. He once said to me, “rant and rave – its good for you. Then accept what you cannot change and make peace with yourself.”

I have gone through the process and in the final stage of things, I am writing this to accept what is my reality. I am also writing to acknowledge the man who through out was consistently there even in his absence. I am writing this to pay homage on behalf of Africa to my sensei.

A great man has passed on, Africa. He has left Southern Sudan, or Kush (as he hoped it would one day become) largely peaceful and firmly on its way to prosperity. He has done his job.

A great man has moved on. I cared about him and in his special way, he me.

As I say farewell, I have to say this out loud in Public, something I never had the chance to say before for some reason:

Daudi Waithaka is my father.

Good bye, father. Farewell sensei.

(I bow.)

 

Baada ya kutumia baadhi ya masaa ya asubuhi yangu katika eneo la kupumzikia la Uhuru, yaani Uhuru park, imenijia akilini kwamba maneno ya wakongwe wa kale wa Kiswahili waliosema, “tembea uone mengi”, yalikuwa ni ya ukweli mtupu.

Hii leo niliamua kwamba kwa vile niko na wakati, ningeweza kutembea kutoka nyumbani kwangu hadi Mjini Nairobi nikizuru mji wenyewe. nilipofika hapo Uhuru park, niling’amua kwamba kuna madiliko makubwa kwenye eneo hilo.

Nyasi zote zilikwa zimekatwa sare na ndogo ili zikaonekana kama zulia za hali ya juu za kutoka huko Uturuki. Watu walikuwa ni wengi na walio tapakaa katika shughuli mbali mbali. Kulikuwa na watu waliojiandaza kwenye nyasi na kulala, wapenzi walikuwa wameketi kando ya kidimbwi kilicho katikati ya eneo hilo, wakinong’onezeana maneno matamu, na wahubiri walikuwa wakijitayarisha kwa ibada za mchana wanazozifanya humo.

Ikielekeana na mnara wa jomo kenyatta kwa nyuma ukivuka gurufu la uhuru yaani Uhuru highway kuna mnara fulani ambao jina lake sikilipata lakini ulioandikwa maneno matatu katika kila upande: peace, love, unity (amani, upendo, umoja). Imani yangu ni kwamba mnara huo ulijengwa na kuwekwa hapo na serikali mojawapo ya kanu katika miale ya themanini. Katika mnara huo kulikuwa na harusi iliyokua ikiendelea na nilipofika mahali hapo, ilikuwa ndio wachumba hao walikuwa waki pigwa picha.

Ama kwa kweli lau ungelifika humo eneoni la Uhuru miaka mitano iliopita, zoezo lako halinge kuwa kama langu hii leo. uchafu ulikuwa ni mwingi, wizi ulikua kawaida, na minara ilikuwa imedhoofika kupindukia.

Ikizidi jiji la Nairobi limetwikwa kivumi kibaya kwa miaka kadhaa iliyopita hasaa kwa sababu ya uchafu, hali duni ya bara bara na ukosefu wa usalama na ulinzi. Nilipokumbuka kwamba tumeufunga mkutano mkubwa wa jumuiya ya serikali za kimwetu (yaani local governments) ndio africities, nilijiuliza kama huo mkutano ndio ulio fanya tufanye juhudi hizo.

“La hasha.” Gerald Owino, ni mfanyi kazi wa mji anayejihusisha na mambo ya usafi katika eneo la Uhuru. “Tulianza kuwa serious na hii kazi mwaka elfu mbili na tatu september, wakati mji ulianza kutupatia vifaa tunavyo hitaji. At least tumeona wadosi (matajiri) wanataka Uhuru park iwe poa na sisi tukitumwa tunafanya iwe poa.”

Ukimsikiza Owino utafikiri kwamba yeye hana motisha ya kazi yake lakini ukimwona akikwonyesha miti aliyoipanda, majina yake na usafi aliyoutekeleza, basi bila shaka utapata kuiona furaha yake.

Sally Koskei (ambaye hana uhusiano na aliyekuwa katibu wa baraza la mawaziri) ni afisaa wa polisi anayelinda usalama wa wananchi ndani ya Eneo hilo la Uhuru. Yeye na mwenzake, Albert Kandiri ni askari doria na wao huzunguka katika kila pembe ya Uhuru park ilikuhakikisha usalama.

“siku hizi huku hakuna wahalifu.” walinielezea kwa ari, “tukokazini bila mzaha.”

Nilipata kuzumngumza na wananchi kadhaa kama Milka wambui ambaye huja uhuru park kilasiku kwa maombi. milka mekuwa akienda uhuru park kila siku kwa miaka minane sasa, kuomba nawenzake na anasema kwamba ameyaona mabadiliko makubwa kwa mda huo.

“Zamani hungeweza kutoa viatu au kuongea kwa simu hapa. Ilikua ni hatari na hata kama hivyo viatu havikuibwa, basi ungepata rough time (wakati mgumu) na miba na vijiwe vidogo vidogo. Siku hizo tulikaa chonjo kwasababu chokora pia walikuwa si kidogo”

je, wakati umefika wa sisi kama wakenya kutabasamu?

Kesho nitakwenda kwenye eneo lingine hapa mjini, eneo la Jevanjee niwaelezee nitapata vipi.

mawazo yenu tumeni.

I saw this message on Mashada – http://www.mashada.com/forums/index/show_topic/22/110559/index.php – and I thought about it for long before I could respond. What do you think? Nini hii?

When Rodgers Rop turned to Christopher Cheboich, Francis Kiprop and Mbarak Hussein, to hurry up and catch up and take the memorable photo finish at the 2002 Boston marathon, winning more than 20 seconds ahead of the rest, every Kenyan, who watched it, including myself, felt like a winner.

In the pub where I was watching the marathon, a whole pack of people smiled wistfully as Rop turned and beckoned to his compadres to catch up and when they finished, ever so spectacularly, the room exploded in hugs and high fives, the likes of which it warms my heart to remember. Many of those high fives were between strangers.

At that point, as we jubilantly patted each other in the back for our boys’ win, the fact that we were broke faded into the background, that fees needed to be paid and mothers taken to hospital tomorrow and jobs to be found urgently and rent to be paid and the government screwing up left and right… all of it faded into the background and to the fore came the oneness that joined us together.

When Dr. Alfred Ng’ang’a Mutua launched the “Najivunia kuwa Mkenya” campaign, I read a lot of derogatory stuff about it. I read that it was plastic and lacked in merit. I read an explanation from him of the rationale behind the campaign and that made sense too. Just as did Barrack Muluka, Macharia Gaitho’s and Kwendo Opanga’s arguments – which were mainly linked to the fact that the government leaves quite a bit to be desired and that Kenya is no Utopia.

But the day that Rop and his friends won that marathon got me thinking. Being brave is not not being afraid, it is being afraid and facing your fears regardless. Being patriotic is not failing to see what is wrong with Kenya and speaking up about it, it is doing so and also giving credit where it is due and counting our blessing regardless.

Reading the articles by Muluka and Gaitho and others, I get the sense that the problem is more the messenger than the message. I hear the voice of David Makali, one of my mentors, who would hold that there is nothing to celebrate and so this whole campaign is premature at best.

Muluka says, “But more significantly, this kind of publicity stunt occasions resentment, even among generally apolitical people.” Apolitical people? Kenyans are very political and this is why one his chief reasons for dismissing the najivunia campaign is political.

But more importantly, he quotes Achebe who says, “A patriot is a person who loves his country. He is not a person who says he loves his country. He is not even a person who shouts or swears or recites or sings that he loves his country. He is one who cares deeply about his country and all its people.”

Now this is true, only, if I really do love my country and care about it and its people, may I not also shout it from the rooftops?

Macharia explains how it is that the problem with the campign is the messenger and not the message. Good ol’ Alfred is the official public communicator serving the government of the day and therefore the tone of the campaign equates the love of Kenya with support for Narc/ Narc Kenya.

I’ll tell you why I will have a sticker on my bumper that says “najivunia kuwa Mkenya”, regardless of who makes it.

Because despite the fact that I am not happy with many aspects of Kenya and I know that there is a lot to that needs to get done, I see the glass as half full, where Kenya is concerned. The message, “I am proud to be Kenyan” has nothing to do with the government, it has everything to do with my relationship with the country I was born in and whose citizenship I choose to keep.

No, Mr. Muluka, you are right. “Mutua (and I) should know that patriotism is not about putting useless stickers on bumpers” but the fact that I am patriotic and bursting with pride of the simple fact that I am and feel Kenyan, is reason enough for me to want someone else to know and hopefully, we will learn to be more positive.

Say it. I am proud to be Kenyan. Say it again. How do you feel?

By the way, in advertising, that’s called assertive marketing. Say I am a winner enough time and you will act, speak and play as one. Say I am proud to be Kenyan enough, and the glass will look positive despite the politics and economic divides etc.
There’s tangible advantages to that too. We stand up more straight, because we know we are a proud people. We walk taller as a result. and everyone else wants to be part of our pride… and so investment flows in, and tourism flows in and we get incomes and we stand taller…

Barrack Muluka is dismissive of Mutua as a Nyayo kid who “in the 1980s, Mutua was a boy, drinking Nyayo school milk and ingratiatingly singing ‘Tawala Kenya, tawala’ in mass choirs. Hindsight cannot help him appreciate the extent of resentment borne out of sycophancy at public expense.”

I am a Nyayo kid too. I drank Nyayo milk too. But I did feel the effects of the sycophancy and fear of the eighties. I’m the one who couldn’t find a job in the nineties, after all. And that resentment? Its a bitter pill that is beyond its time. Spit it out and move on.

Keep it simple. You are proud to be Kenyan. Just say it. On your web site, on the signature of your email, on your car’s bumper, on your window pane, on your wall. Say it. Feel it. Act with it.

bear your soul

”my dear friend,
bear your soul
bleed the blood
root of your pain

you have nothing but to gain
a heart
that is whole..” 

So read the verse,
And so I did.

 

For the first time in my entire life,
I got up strolled to the great wall that surrounds my psyche
and unlocked the chains that bind the gates
together.

I switched off the electric fences that I had built around that wall
and sent the Dobermans off to their kennels.

It was unplanned,

it was done on a whim.  

I opened the huge gates that keep my psyche safe from harm
and looked out at the world beyond.
The world of glaring truth and displays of weakness.
The world of showing need and want and deficiencies. 

I ventured into this world and I bore my soul.

As unplanned things go, it went quickly.

I started bearing my soul, unclothing it and exposing its delicate skin
to the glare of truth
in supplication.

Down to the very under garments of this exposition,
I went and before long, I stood there.  

Nude.
Open.

 
And panting in the realisation of my actions,
I looked around to see whether my exposition has
wrought the freedom and liberation that the saying,
“the truth shall set you free”
promises

 
All I saw were warts.
And developing blisters.

And soon, I moved back into my wall.

But I cannot close the gates, for I have been
exposed.
And the weakness has been seen.
And my need.
And my want.

I have borne my soul and now,
Now my heart is filled with need all the greater and
My soul bleeds with despair and forlorn hope

I put no thought to it
And I know that if I had
the wisdom bourne of the past would have whispered,
whispered the lessons that only experience can teach

stay put,
stay quiet,
stay safe

had i put thought into it then my soul,
my soul would be whole and safe and wondering
yes, wondering
but it would be safe

Bear your soul, so said the verse
And I did.

What have I done?