Guest Post: Pain and Pen

Words: Biko Zulu

When I think of Josaya Wasonga I think of a lone and embattled wolf separated from the pack. We worked together for the same publisher in the late 2000s. We were both features writer’s; him for Twende Magazine and me for Adam. He spoke very little. He was always a furtive figure, like a modern-day Zorro, going about the office with little detection and noise. He seemed to walk through walls. His writing – unsurprisingly – was in contrast to the man. It was bright, loud, vivid in description and often laced with strings and strands of wonderful imagery and large looming storeyed columns of metaphors and a hybrid turn of phrase. Of course I greatly admired and respected his writing. I still do. The funniest I ever read was a travel log of him running over someone’s chicken in Luhya-land and the ensuing conversation with the irked villagers who had gathered around their beloved dead chicken in the middle of the road. Traffic was halted until that chicken was accorded the appropriate justice. The story – told with a beautiful tongue-in-cheek was hysterical and in complete departure from the silent man who sat not many desks away from mine. His humour  would spring from nowhere in his pieces like a predatory cat in waiting.

I Find My Abusers’ Lack Of Kindness, Disturbing!

It was a fringe item in the news out of Eldoret that I caught on Citizen TV last week. The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) had decreed that proof of family was a requirement for purchase of maize. Singles would have to obtain proof of marriage from their local chief. This was some policy makers’ bright idea of dealing with scarcity that has hit the national distribution of subsidised maize flour- unga. A few women who self-identified as single complained on TV of the discrimination, stating the obvious, hunger does not discriminate against gender or marital status.

An educated guess tells me that the majority of those who would bear the brunt of this discrimination would be low income earning women. The single man is a rare sight at an unga line. It is the height of humiliation to go sourcing for food only to be confronted by marital officialdom and turned away because you had no documentation as proof that one has mouths to feed.

Guest Post: He Broke Me, My Father, He Broke Me.

A Daughter’s lament to the father she never knew on Father’s Day.

Words: Mary Jane.

After a busy day at work, I called my mum to check up on her. She running an errand on my behalf. We spoke for a bit about stuff before she abruptly asked if I had received ‘THE NEWS’.

I thought of her goats, hundreds of them. She had probably made a killing selling them off at profit. Yet, my heart instantly felt heavy because she repeated the same question and I sensed some hesitation in her voice.

No goats had been exchanged for cash.

“He died”, she pronounced.

All I said was okay, and hang up.

You see, ‘he’ was my dad.

Of Bravado And The Kenyan Man’s Masculinity Problem

My older brother who was a decade my senior, had a collection of unusual stories. In his stories, the humour was found in the irony of life. Once he told a story of a motor mouth character he knew of at the Kisumu bus park. A gifted hustler who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. His stage name was Olago Queen Cake aka Olago Q.C. He could be entertaining but most of his notoriety came from his regular display of crass behaviour. His insults were straight out of the book of an underpaid and overworked cane cutter in Awendo. People avoided a verbal spat with him for the fear of a public humiliation.  He was an aggressive man who never passed up an opportunity to get into an argument. Over time, he had built up a reputation as a guy who liked to stir trouble and some came to admire his audacity.

Who Is Next? The Criminalization of Poverty in Mathare

“Who is next” is the title of a report by Mathare Social Justice Centre ( MSJC) launched on 30th of May at the British Institute in Eastern Africa, in Nairobi. It documents over 50 cases of young men arbitrarily executed by alleged rogue police force members in Mathare. The majority were between 14 and 20 years old. It poses the loaded question, why have extrajudicial killings become accepted as normalized incidents for inner city urban youth in Kenya?

The story of Mathare’s extrajudicial executions of young men is a story repeated in Kibera, Kayole, Dandora, Eastleigh, Majengo in Mombasa and Obunga in Kisumu. It is the reality of been born into hardship and violence in a society that criminalizes youth and poverty.