you know how some people answer questions some times?

 Truth? You want to know of truth?

But surely there are other things to talk about. Just last week I met this guy who knew nothing of what he was talking about. He went around telling everyone that the world is round, just like that. He pointed to the sky, and said something about how it meets the ground. I mean, yeah, that’s weird but everyone knows light bends once it has travelled to a certain distance. Why, the madman even wanted to go by himself to prove it. We couldn’t allow for there to be any instances of falling off the edge of the earth, how could we explain it to the council? By the time we got to filling the forms, writing up every detail all to prove what? Something we already knew? That’s absurd.

Haven’t answered the question? Of course I have I told you everything I know. Oh, the question about truth? Well, you see it’s not that complicated. There was this lady who wanted to go home and she had the nerve to sit on a chair. Now you have to understand everyone can sit on chairs, chairs are for sitting but when there’s not enough chairs, there’s not enough chairs. It just makes sense. Someone has to do something for the space to be comfortable. There’s no need to go around causing trouble. Sometimes it is important to remember how the world is, how the world always will be and just accept your place. We all have

roles

to play. Now make me a sandwhich. Don’t you know the way to man’s heart is through his stomach? Once again you don’t understand. You want me to love you but you don’t want to make me love you. This is a two way street. You know how it is, sometimes it’s rough out there we just need to make in here better for us. And the best thing to do is to just do the things we’re supposed to do, can’t you see? It’s the only way.

Wait, you’re still asking me about truth? What truth is there but that the world is an abstract and horrible place. That there is only one way to go around the notion of being here one day and not the next. What truth is there but death, and if we even doubt the permanence of that then what truth is there?

 But, what are you asking? What question could you possibly have asked that I haven’t answered. Truth? You’re still talking about that? I think I’ve been very clear on the matter. I’m honestly tired of explaining it to you but I’ll do it one more time then I’m going to sleep. Listen closely.

Truth is a tricky thing sometimes it exists, sometimes it doesn’t but most times it’s like trying to catch the wind that follows the hawk after it’s taken that piece of chicken from your hand on visiting day. That chicken that you had spent the last 3 weeks dreaming about as you ate nyagus na sembe. Nyagus, in irony. It really was really a piece of meat drowning in a sea of potatoes. Starch on starch on starch, every single meal. Watching the last piece of chicken taken away by another bird and pulling at the wind as if the air will co-opt itself into your plan.

You still want the truth? But surely I’ve said it all. How much more do you want me to tell you? Just the truth? I don’t understand your question, I’m sorry. I’m tired – allow me to sleep. I promise to pick up on this soon. The truth, that’s interesting…

Reading Queer Africa

A man on the bus reaches across to turn the book I’m reading on it’s front, you know, the way someone does when they want to see what book you’re reading? Yes.

Oh.

Okay.

A dis ease.

(dis ease, disease – a question: where lies the real ailment?)

 

20 minutes of a bus ride endure shifts, shiftings and questioning eyes.

 

*

A conversation

“why are you reading that book?”

“because it’s interesting?”

“well are you?”

“am I what?”

“queer?”

“does it matter?”

“no”

“then why are you asking?”

 

A dis ease

(dis ease, disease – a question: where lies the ailment?)

 

*

The smoke in the bar is parted by elevated voices. The bible, one drunk man states, does not allow it *hiccup* it is a sin! Another, more reasonably, asks why I’d want anyone to do that to me. This, he sees, is the real problem – I don’t fully grasp what it is I’m talking about.

Their friend is in the car, he will not wait for me.

A dis ease

(dis ease, disease – a question: where lies the real ill ailment?)

*

An existence erased.

 

An erasure existed.

 

A dis ease

 

“no longer at ease, things fall apart”

- Chinua Achebe

 

How many fractures will it take to break her bones?

 

A disease

A question

A fraction

An erasure

A book.

(but mainly its cover)

Before the Cake

Allow me to say something before I speak. I was born in a little town right on the edge of the south border of Mugirango. Back then there were no ways to tell people everything about your life over the internet like there are now with the facebooks and the like. We had to find inventive ways to do things. Your father, who was just a little boy at the time, once wanted to warn me about your grandfather. Now, let me tell you something about your Socoro.

He was a stern man.

And your father was a cheeky boy. So this day I came into the house and your dad was seated on the couch across from socoro. I could tell, just by looking, that he had done something. Immediately he saw me…. You know how when the one thing you’ve been dreading happening happens and you can’t help but stare? No? Or like, remember in Game of Thrones when the big guy was about to kill the little guy then the bigger guy came? What was his name again?

Yeah, like that.

So your dad gives me that look and I think, shit. Socoro on the other hand looks like he has won the lottery. He turns his head slowly (he was never in a hurry for anyone) and then he asks umetoka wapi? And your dad, this is priceless really, he is mouthing out as eloquently as he can something or the other. I’m trying to figure out what he is saying but also trying not to look at your grandfather in the eye. After all, it won’t help your dad if he figured out that I was trying too collude. So there are three or four seconds of awkward silence and I’m about to blurt something out. Your dad can clearly see that I have not understood what has been said so he gets and dashes out the front door laughing. Mind you, he knows that he will be thoroughly whooped when he comes back home – but he didn’t care.

Those are the genes that you are marrying into. The genes of a man who can always think of a third option. Of men who notice danger and laugh, not because the danger will go away but because you might as well die happy.

But more importantly, those are the genes of a man who will not jeopardise you to save himself. As soon as he was out that door I said shule, shrugged and went to my room. Turns out I was meant to say something else but that would have led to more questions that I would not have been able to answer and I’d have been in trouble too. Your dad saw that and, ran off – attracting attention to himself rather that to the fact that I had tried to collude with him (which was quite the major offence too).

You had told me not to embarrass you at your wedding and I promised you I’d do something better – I embarrassed your dad. I wish you both happiness, love and prosperity wherever you go.

Thank you.

Lunar Conversations

It was supposed to be a conversation about the moon which, by the way, was looking lovely last evening. Instead it became a discussion on a romantic dinner. While this would not be out of the ordinary (for many a romantic dinner has been had under the moon) the path was interesting. The discussion had moved from the moon to a lifetime ago sitting in front of an old tv on the green carpet. Danger mouse, or some other rodent based cartoon was playing. A moon landing revealed that the moon was indeed made of cheese.

Which then made you hungry.

 You relocated to the kitchen where the conversation turned to cheese. ‘The chili chive cheddar is really good.’ This is a name you only like because it alliterates. Even as this discussion is happening you grated mozzarella from the frozen section of the (un)supermarket down the road. Then you sat on the kitchen floor eating pizza made from toasted bread, a paste of onions and tomatoes, yesterday’s beef and cheese. It was fantastic. It was horrible. It was okay.

And there’s no way you could have talked about cheese without talking about wine right? At least not when the dry microwave pizza was stifling conversation and there was half a bottle of merlot somewhere in the corner. Glasses and sips brought memories. That time in that place with that person when that thing happened. That other time in that other place. Stories of sneaking out of hotels with wine bottles. Stories of going to parties where the wine was flowing so hard that the host fell off her seat mid conversation. Stories of lack of wine and the grace of last week’s pockets. Journeys into pieces of history that would have otherwise faded away.

A point of motion.

The kitchen floor only allows for people to travel so far before the cold becomes a problem. The living room has seats – this became a good idea.

There’s something about the moving of bodies that shifts conversation. A re arranging of thought sparked rethinking. Where was the evening? Music. A new sound – it’s always a new sound. Something that is magic, not in the way yesterday was magic, but magic none the less. Beauty exists everywhere the real work is in seeing it.   But where was the evening. No, listen to the music, can you not hear this?

A pushing

A pulling

(but where was the evening?)

Wine. French wine? Always French wine. Paris is as romantic as they say – a romantic. Conversations are gathered. A hotel room in Paris, a tale of lost luggage in an airport. A story of a lost shoe on the subway, not getting to see the Eiffel tower, getting to see the Eiffel tower. Dinner one evening with a former lover, in a quiet restaurant, in a small town in France, under the moon; which, by the way, was looking lovely last evening.

A Return

A boy sits in front of a piano.

Something sits wrong. Not ready.

A boy sits in front of a piano.

Eyes trained, their stares burning

holes into his mind. Their eyes

see his unknowing fingers. A memory

fails.

A boy sits in front of a piano

 

(this is not about a piano)

(this is not about a boy)

 

 

Tears well up as he sees the

end, riding steadfast, powerfully

into nothing.

Fingers that know to put their left leg

in, but have long since forgotten

how to take their right foot out.

 

A crescendo, increase pace

vigour. Maybe, if you go harder

you will burst past the edge.

Whispers to a story

 

(this is not about a boy)

 

The surprise symphony is

best known for its halting

staccato. Haydn is said

to have written this piece

under the influence of 70 eyes

in a hall at the KICC. But rumors

are only fuel to immortality. Not

worth considering.

 

Except maybe

in a conference room

as a part of an audience seated behind judges

watching a piano

an empty seat

and a half complete symphony.

but even this might be too much

Learn your friends. Learn them in intimate ways. Learn how to say their names. Pronounce every vowel in the mirror, rounding your lips at the right curves.

Learn the ways they speak, the languages they use to navigate the world. Understand their metaphors. Listen to them in ways they haven’t even heard themselves. Speak with them in their language.

Understand your differences. Define spaces that you share, that you don’t. Respect the spaces that you don’t, or don’t. But this is a point of separation. Listen to your actions, listen to theirs.

Demand a level of respect that listens back. Take nothing less. Create spaces that hear each other. Spaces that accommodate. Spaces that have room.

Grow.

Together.

Palinoia

The problem with sweeping everything under the rug is that it gets moldy. Eventually you need to clean all that stuff up in order to stay healthy, in order to stay alive.

Eventually that stuff will kill you.

 

I’m wondering why the discussion on disposability and care is only opened up for a few hours after a tragedy. It is as if our lives have become a series of expressing grief and solidarity. The numbers stack themselves, the bodies cover themselves.

 

“I’m tired

of writing

about death”

 

“We’re tired

of

dying.”

 

Questions: Will there be any proper restorative action? Will there be any thinking? Or will we just have othering reactionary bullshit?

(A question is never answered until the answer is the question)

In asking, some questions answer themselves. The information presented makes it clear that there is nothing much that is willing to change.

And that change is going to come.

If the gunk under the carpet is being noisy, stomp harder.

 A summary of our national policies. We have oppressed, repressed and suppressed for so long we have forgotten what we look like.

“At least four people were killed and more than 40 wounded today when masked gunmen stormed a college in a Kenyan town near the border with Somalia, trapping students inside and exchanging gunfire with security forces over several hours.”

City Press

Until we are reminded that our bodies are fallible. Until we refuse to see the people that have died. Until we start cleaning, sweeping something else under the rug and stomping as hard as we can.

 

 

 

Resfeber

We, seekers of the night, gather here at the footsteps of the path that leads to eternity. We who  gather in the space of answering to ask. We listen to the still of night and hear echoes of pain ripple through the silence.

We, who sit in dark rooms, hugging our knees and praying to gods we don’t believe exist for salvation that we know will not come.

We who travel, lost inside ideas of possibility. We, who travel, constantly searching for a space. We who travel because we don’t know how to stay still. We who travel because we know we are yet  to arrive. We who travel because our feet are stained.

Whose stained footprints leave a clear path for the demons to follow. Who have to keep moving because stopping means that catch up with us. Who have to remind ourselves every morning that there is reason. There is reason

There is reason

There is reason

There is reason

Why?

A question,

she said,

is never answered

until the answer

is the question.

We who have tried to erase the ink on the souls of our feet but have only ended up with ink on our hands. Now, staring at forever. We stand still in silence. Ink stained fingers reach for an ink stained doorknob. And a question.

What now?

Further,

It’s not as if there are things that have captured the essence of living outside the boundaries of an existence that was imagined for you, but without any form of consultation. It would naturally lead to a situation where you felt, not trapped, but unable to explore. In having an imagination given to you there has been little time that you have spent inside your own imagination.

Many words to say that you should probably have thought of this a lot earlier.

But you didn’t and you’re beginning to realize that that’s okay too. That you will get to things in your own time, at your own pace. That the race makes it seem like the only thing that matters is the finish line. That the race ignores everything but a certain form of progress. That “eye on the prize” often means ignoring a lot of the journey, involves a lot of undwelling and unimagining. This is information that we had gathered but not given out for reasons best known to the leaders of the pride.

Even if she has

raised the bar

they still reach the booze

and grab a few drinks

when she’s not looking.

It’s pretty straightforward then, at the end of the day. The multiple intergers that have to be weighed against the variables that are pegged on the current space between your mind and infinite wisdom can be reduced to a simple derivative of now intersparsed with instances of persons within a certain context outside themselves. This is not something that has baffled anyone. If anything, this is one of the things that most people agree upon but, in agreeing on it they imagine that the answer that has then been arrived at must be universal. That somehow it need to be that for everyone x is equal to three baboons, a banana and a slap in the face. What they don’t realize is that for many people x will be the suns rays bursting through crack in the ceiling. For others x will be a trail of sugar ants stealing from the remains of last nights dinner.

That x, by virtue of being a variable, will vary.

17 times 7

can only be a problem

if the 7 have been thinking

together.

“every tree has a hidden root”

- Saul Williams

But you already set your eyes on searching for the square root of zero. The question was written once on the reverse side of the blackboard of class. Because it was on the wrong side they didn’t know how to rub it and, even though you did, the question entertained you – so you never told them now. Slowly you have begun to realize that they also knew how to erase the words but they saw that they fascinated you – so they left them there for you to read. They left the question there so you could try and find an answer. You still remember the riddle. “I am known by the bumps, no one has seen me.”

So you’ve gone around chasing the bumps. Trying to understand the bumps. Bumps, to you, add to the equation. There are ripples in a pond. They are trying to control the bumps but you want the children on the shore to stop throwing stones. Already the number of rocks in the pond have displaced so much water that there is thought of renaming it a puddle.

At lunch time

everyone is expected

to gather under the

old tree.

Don’t be late.

This has led to you managing the effects of bumps. This has led to you fighting the disease. But every day you sit in a corner, and keep thinking “wouldn’t it be so much better if we weren’t sick?”

Third Woman Reports Alleged Assault By Tony Mochama  

Mochama sues Shailja Patel and Professor Wambui Mwangi for defamation

Nairobi, Tuesday March 24th, 2015

A third woman has reported Standard Group journalist and PEN Kenya Secretary General Tony Mochama to Nairobi’s Central Police Station for alleged sexual assault. The alleged assault occurred on September 21st 2014, at the National Museum, during the Westgate Memorial Service of Storymoja Hay Festival. The OB Number is 74/17/3/2015.

Mr Mochama was investigated by the CID, for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel on September 20th, 2014. The file has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The alleged assault occurred at a lunch meeting at the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi. The meeting was to discuss the business of the Africa Poetry Book Fund with the Fund’s founder, Professor Kwame Dawes, who was visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival.

A second woman reported alleged assault by Mr Mochama to Central Police Station on October 31st, 2014, under OB Number 49/B1/10/14.

Police are urging other victims of alleged assault by Mr Mochama to also report to police stations in the jurisdictions where the crimes may have occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes under the Sexual Offenses Act.

Mr Mochama has filed a civil lawsuit against Ms Patel and Professor Mwangi alleging defamation. Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness) said: “This is a desperate attempt by Mr Mochama to silence victims and witnesses of his alleged crimes, and to create a chilling climate for free speech in Kenya. It will fail. Victims of sexual violence have every right to publicize their experiences and to seek help. Free speech is protected under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution.”

The woman reporting said: “I didn’t report the assault when it occurred because I had serious concerns about personal, social and professional repercussions. I’m reporting now because I believe Mr Mochama will continue abusing women unless stopped by the law. I don’t want any other woman or girl to suffer the same experience.”

Storymoja Hay Festival Director, Muthoni Garland, said: “That some of these alleged assaults happened at Storymoja events is so painful to hear. But it underlines that we all share the shame and must be part of the solution, particularly the need to promote enforcement of the hard-fought Sexual Offences Act. For taking the incredibly brave step of reporting the assaults to the police, I really commend Shailja Patel and the two other women who have come forward. It is not a lightly-made decision given the public interest and its potential to damage reputations.”

Cidi Otieno, Convenor of CCI (Coalition for Constitution Implementation) said: “Nothing can compensate our sisters for the violations, the stripping of their personal sovereignty, the theft of their privacy and dignity. They and their families bear lifelong costs – personal, professional, social and political – of reporting the crime. Their constitutional rights to freedom of movement and assembly, pursuit of livelihood, and full participation in public life have been, and continue to be, violated. Sexual violence rips apart the fabric of Ubuntu. The charging of Mr Mochama will not erase his defamation, threats and graphic insults to our sisters on his media platforms. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards dismantling the culture of impunity for sexual violence. The Constitution that Kenyan women fought and died for must now deliver its promise of full humanity for women and girls.”

Issued by

  • Centre for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW)
  • Coalition on Violence Against Women
  • Coalition for Constitution Implementation
  • Kimbilio Trust
  • The Co- Convenors of the Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
  • The Kenyan Ambassador :- Africa Unite Campaign
  • Betty Kaari Murungi, High Court Advocate
  • L. Muthoni Wanyeki, political scientist

Contact:

Wangechi Wachira

Executive Director

Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)

Cell. 254722314789

wangechi@creaw.org

 www.creawkenya.org