Finding Kenya

An audio clip I had once on my phone has Redykulass talking about police brutality. It begins with a police man asking rapid fire questions “kijana unaenda wapi? Unatoka wapi? Jina lako ni nani? Babako anaitwa nani? Apana jibu nani?” At this point there is the sound of violence before the harassment continues. The police talk about how they can charge the citizen with anything up to “looking at a government building suspiciously.” Eventually they were working their way towards a bribe. That was the entire point of the skit.

On Brainstorm I write:

Police brutality is not something that is new to Kenya. It’s difficult to speak about police brutality when state sanctioned brutality has been all you have lived with. Is it brutality if it is all you know? Who will you shout to? Who will listen? And, if you already know no one will listen – what is the point of speaking?


…we seem to have gone to sleep and woken up in the 90s

–          Aleya Kassam, Look in the Mirror

I’m wary of thinking about this Kenya as a return. What does it mean to imagine that this is a forward? What does it mean to accept that, perhaps, we lack the tools to handle this new thing that is happening to us? What does it mean to accept that we’re afraid?

On social media islamophobia becomes a thing. Users cyber bully a friend because she has the audacity to say she is human. She is valid. She exists.


You were never

meant to be here.

So you tiptoe around

shadows of your former selves

hoping that your feet

don’t break the



Bills are written. For half a day citizens are searching for copies of a bill that was never meant to be seen. Citizens are demanding to see a bill before it is passed into law. Copies are scanned, sent on email. One is uploaded. Propaganda is spread. Comparing bits of the bill that we’re being tweeted by the government and the bits that were unspoken.

I’m wondering how much of Kenya lives there – in the unspoken.


This is a note to the unwritten futures of the past

–          Saul Williams


If spoken

then created.


The language of violence continues to spread. People discuss security. This imagination destroying concept. Security, in Kenya, is a word that wears a proper tie, sits up straight and is hyper aware. It is a word that destroys all notion of “thinking” and is geared towards “acting.” It is a no nonsense, destroy everything word. It demands to be listened to within its frames.

It demands death.

And we gladly provide it with death. Al Jazeera runs a documentary. Makaburi was killed by the police. We knew this. We know that the police in Kenya are going around killing people because we know that the police in Kenya are going around killing people. Still we hide behind things like “where the body ” and “but terrorism.”

“These are

necessary steps.”

Firm feet


disposable bodies.



late 16th century (in the late Latin sense): from French patriote, from late Latin patriota ‘fellow countryman,’ from Greek patriōtēs, from patrios ‘of one’s fathers,’ from patris ‘fatherland.’

The Kenyan “patriots” ask for blood. They demand to see dead bodies as proof that their bodies are protected. Whose father’s land is this? Which blood line is clear enough to protect us from us? How far back do we have to go to find the Kenyan?

What happens once we find them?

She has stood

in the hallways

with murderers,

looked them

in the eye,

and refused to die.

(Somehow, we will survive this place)

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