Archive for March, 2007

Equality issues?(Poetry)Is it any wonder?

March 30, 2007

IS IT ANY WONDER

 By Eudiah Kamonjo. 

Is it any wonder

That when he says ‘I want be a dancer’

You think, “Mmm.. how creative”

But when she says, “ I want be a dancer.

You think, “Mmm… how trashy.” 

Is it any wonder

That when he says, “Am working late dear.

You think, “He’s so hardworking.

But when she says, “I’m working late dear.

You think, “She must be seeing someone else.” 

Is it any wonder

That when she’s promoted

You think, “She must have seduced the boss.

But when he’s promoted

You say, “He deserved it.” 

Is it any wonder

That when she’s late for work

You think, “She takes too much time dressing

But when he’s late

 You think, “He’s probably working out” 

Is it any wonder

That when she’s expectant,She’s sent on leave

But when his wife’s expectant

 He gets a huge raise 

Is it any wonder

That when she gets a scholarship abroad

You think, “She’ll never come back.

But when he gets a scholarshipYou think,

“ He’s going to help his family” 

Is it any wonder

Equality will ever be

For Eves and Adams alike.

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Poetry(this day, this one)

March 27, 2007

THIS DAY, THIS ONE

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

This day…. this one

Beats the dawning chill

Walks from Kibera to Embakasi

 Envying the man on the front seat Of that black Hummer

But knowing full well he will never get there

Unless….Unless he hits the merry jackpot! 

This day…. this one

Walks down the pathway Even as flying toilets explode ‘boob’!Right at his face

And he has to choose

To go back and change then face the wrath of Rajesh the boss

This day…. this one

Still seats at the reception 

Awaiting her cheque which should have been ready  Three months ago 

This day…… this one

Might just runaway to Uganda With that truck driverRather than go back home empty handed 

This day…This one

Puts the cart before the horse and pays for it  

Disappointments Conmen

In this city in the sun

Where each day is a story to tell

And every dream pushes you on 

This day….. this one

Carries her baby behind her back Sells tomatoesEven as City Council dudes

Do the thing they love best

But she fights on

If only to place some ugali on the table

Oh!! The thought of her husband

Sleeping all day makes her sick

But still she pushes on 

This day this one

Is killed for owing some debt

Another one ventures into a new biz

Unafraid of the challenges 

this days We live on…. Even as the day looks grim 

This day…. everyday….

Is a story of rocking and rolling Working and quittingEating and starving

In this so called  ‘Green city in the sun.’ 

An appreciation of the present.

March 27, 2007

A DAY WITH REHEMA-an appreciation of the present.

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

I am very excited about the new magazine we are starting for the children of Africa (Bingwa). I will have the opportunity to spend plenty of time with children and get to have my world lighted up by their innocence and pure enthusiasm…..maybe even really get to relive my childhood…ha ha….Today is such an occasion.

We are going to spend a day with a 15-year-old girl who lives in the largest slum in Kenya, Kibera. This is so we give other children the chance to see how other people spend their weekends.  I am one of those sleepy heads who wakes up an hour after the alarm goes off; just for the kick of it……just to prove that I do not have to do whatever is stated. Today, however, I wake up immediately my alarm goes off. I do not want to be late. I am where I should be; outside the Hilton Hotel by 7.30 am.Our photographer Charles Kimani is late.  

In my short life I have learnt that ‘life’s like that’. You do something to your very best, only for it to blow up in your face. Something always comes up threatening to bring down everything you have ever worked for. However, things do not turn out like I was fearing. Juliet and her driver (both from UNICEF) are here on time. We pick up the photographer a few minutes later and head off to Kibera. Juliet briefs us a little about the girl we are going to spend the day with, Rehema. She is the first-born and lives with her father and three younger siblings. Her mother died two years ago and she does all the housework. They all live together in a one-roomed house in the slums of Kibera.

Kibera slum is a place you cannot go alone if you are a visitor. Apparently, the harsh living conditions give birth to thousands of angry people. They steal from you and call you all types of names if they realize you do not look like a Kibera resident. I personally do not think it’s that bad….Well, as long as you aren’t wearing ‘bling blings’.  

This is not my first time here on the job. When I was a freelance journalist, I decided to write a story on Kibera. I came alone. My small camera and I did what every other tourist or journalist does…..go to the chief.I was given someone to guide me to all the places I had to go; for a fee of course. That’s another story altogether. 

Back to Rehema. We picked one Mrs. Asego who works as a teacher at Rehema’s school, Ayany Primary School. She was feeling unwell and she hurriedly left as soon as she had taken us to Rehema’s house. “Watch out for any black paper bags,” she said as we walked on the narrow pathway. I thought these things were long gone…..I thought flying toilets were a thing of the past here in Kibera…especially with all the new toilets being put up with the help of NGO’s and C.D.F’s. Luckily, we did not bump into any. We learnt that some people couldn’t afford to pay even three Kenyan shillings to use the latrines because they barely earn enough. 

Rehema’s father Mr.Odhiambo introduced everyone else and before we could go on he started complaining about how NGO’s and journalists always come to his house yet no help ever comes to them. “Some Europeans came here and were doing a documentary and they said they’d come back with some kind of help,” he said. They never came… So here we were, Juliet and I, ready and eager to spend a day with Rehema but we had to start pondering about how to help or the right thing to say about that situation. Juliet tried to explain and it was obvious they were expecting something from us. We did what we could.

Rehema did not seem like she was very happy. “She seemed really happy and excited yesterday when I talked to her,” Juliet said. She started on her housework as Charles took endless photos of her in every activity she was doing. It’s shocking what first borns have to do; from 8 a.m to 5 p.m on a Satuarday; housework is all she has to do. 

What about time for study? Time to grow up and discover herself? Time to watch movies and know about other places and people?  Anyway, I let Juliet find out why she did not look at all excited. I figured that she’s worked with children for long but I must admit it was just as hard for her to get through to Rehema. Meanwhile, I figured it would be good to get to know the other siblings as well. Job, 13 years old,  was a very jolly and interesting fellow. He’s got a dog named Amigo who’s three years old. Opposite their house sits Amigo’s kennel, which Job built with his own two hands. 

He wants to be a journalist when he grows up and has already appeared in a documentary titled Wide Angle. He absolutely loves the radio; he can also sing and rap and has a deep voice that will obviously be a positive in the future. They don’t really get along with his elder sister Rehema but he tells me that someone made Rehema angry even before we arrived.I then hang out with Felgona, the last-born. She is tiny and doesn’t do much but play. “I am too small to do housework,” she utters playfully. She’s hasn’t got the slightest clue about what she wants to be when she grows up. I conclude that Felgona is basically a very young and complex creature who through the entire visit, puts a smile on my face. She gave me clues into Rehema’s life and I resolved to see her (Rehema) come back to her normal self. 

From one activity to the next, I asked and discussed things she likes. But she never wanted to talk about her mother much; so I did not delve into it.
Nigeria is the topic that made her really lighten up. She wants to go to Nigeria one day. “Because I have heard a lot about Nigeria. I must go there one day,” she says.

 Rehema’s dad concluded, “I keep reminding Rehema that I was almost killed as I took her mum to deliver at Pumwani
Maternity Hospital. We were mugged at 10 pm on that night she was to be born. That’s why I called her Rehema, meaning God’s mercy.”
 
Watching them eat and drink together inspite of the hardships made me vow that I’d never take any meal for granted. I learnt so much about my patience with kids, ability to get through situations, the power of a dream, the magic of hope and the appreciation of the present. 

   

Opps(Poetry)

March 22, 2007

THE LAST TABOO

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

 

In painful abandon

I let my heart go and bond with his

Yet I knew what danger there lay

I let my soul melt with his

And lead me where I’d never been

 

I had been told

That love was weakness

I’d found out that

It was the riskiest thing one ever had to give

To share

To let in you breed

 

There were daily heavens

When we walked hand in hand

There were frequent hells

When his touch was absent

  

In sweet surrender, I let it be

In a little embarrassment, he let it be so

 

The wonder of souls feeding on each other

Seemed so far-fetched

The consequence of his absence

Led to painful resolves

 

My dreams without him beside

Were with nightmares complete

 

To keep my bed occupied

A myriad others were present

And as was written

The last taboo was fulfilled

 

He had found

Used condoms under my bed!

  

   

Sentiments on Gay relationships in Kenya.

March 22, 2007

GAY RELATIONSHIPS IN KENYA; ACCEPTABLE OR NOT? 

Eudiah Kamonjo talks to a few gay people in Kenya on a one on one basis to find out their sentiments about their sexual orientation. 

When I set out to do this story, I knew this was a potentially explosive issue that needed to be handled with a bunch of reservations. Facts and figures had already been aired before and I needed to find out the actual sentiments about gay relationships right from the horses mouth. One snag however, I did not know of any young man who was really and truly gay. I knew ladies were a lot more open compared to guys. In any case, if I did find one, would he talk as freely as I see guys in America do? 

Tattooed at the back of my mind was the fact that Kenya is still deeply rooted in both cultural and religious values, that liberalisation had just started and that everyone (including me) still lived in fear of wondering what people would say. On the other hand, it was recently announced that a new Voluntary Counselling Centre (V.C.T) was being set up to cater for homosexuals or gays (people attracted to others of the same sex)- Leading to the questions; Have Kenyans finally accepted that gays actually exist in our community or was the centre just a by the way given the alleged connection of H.I.V to homosexuality. Do gay relationships still exist even though it’s illegal or is it just some hype going around owing to the scenes people make in pubs? How do they feel now that their rights are being advocated for?

 Gay sexuality is a contemporary human rights issue and soon we just might see people approaching the law courts demanding its legalisation in Kenya. The personal law has not been amended to provide for gays nor has there been an appropriate legislation enacted to unleash homosexuality onto the public with the demand for respect, equal treatment before the law and all those issues that call for human rights provision. It therefore still remains illegal and gay people still operate ‘behind the closet’. 

I finally managed to get hold of Mark, a homosexual who was willing to talk over lunch (It’s a rather long story how I got wind of his sexual orientation but I did). The first time we were meant to meet, he cancelled and I thought he’d ‘freaked out’ or changed his mind about talking to me.

Next day though, he turned up and I must admit he was more stunning than I expected.In his early 20’s, Mark believes that gay behaviour has always been in his genes. “Ever since I was a teenager, I was always attracted to other boys. As I grew older and more expressive. I’d stare at attractive guys and sometimes infront of my friends I would say “Damn! That guy is hot! It’s something that has always been inside me.” 

The ‘Born that way’ theory on homosexuality that tries to prove that the behaviour is genetic has held no stability over the years of research it has undergone but there is no urging with him. Mark’s sexual orientation is already ‘out of the closet’. “I went open about my sexuality early this year because I was sick of doing all this behind my friends. I had a feeling they already knew or had their suspicions because of my comments. I announced it on a Satuarday when all my friends were around. I said ‘I want to let you all know that I am gay and that I do not care if any of you has a problem with being my friend because of that’. They did not seem as surprised as I thought they’d be but some began to avoid me after that,” he admits. 

According to him, Kenyans have began to accept gay relationships because nowadays gay people do not really care what people say and they believe in the phrase ‘Its my life’ therefore no one has an obligation to question another persons way of life.

“I prefer guys a thousand times. I do not like being in relationships with girls because they have too much drama, besides, I have realised guys are more faithful,” says Mark.

 Ken Ougo, a university lecturer on Sociology of Deviant Behaviour has been conducting research on homosexuality since 1998. In various studies carried out in Nairobi and Mombasa; he interviewed 173 homosexuals, 69 in Nairobi and 104 in Mombasa (where the behaviour is more rampant owing to tourism).Out of 173, 12 were between 16-20 years, 71 between the ages 21-30 and 87 between the ages 30-40 while 3 were above 40 years. Some of the reasons given were poverty/monetary gain (94 /173), peer influence (43/173), curiosity (19/173), blackmail or coercion (4/173) and (13 /173) were unsure of the reasons they got into it. Though biological theorists have tried to prove that it is genetic, it has found a stronger basis on sociological reasons. That it is highly dependent on the environment (physical and social) and that it is usually one’s choice.‘However, there are other contributing aspects like the inherent hatred of the opposite sex for various reasons like abandonment or assault as a child. The fear of failure of a normal relationship especially for people with low self esteem,” cautions Ken. 

Clara Thompson, a Psychoanalyst also once said, “People who have low self esteem have a tendency to cling to their own sex because it is less life threatening.” 

In pubs, ladies kissing is one of those common scenes but to see guys making out here is as rare as a panda in Kenya. Lesbianism is more acceptable compared to homosexuality.

Alex, a 26 year old heterosexual commented, “I can understand lesbians but homosexuals. It’s so… aww.. disgusting!!” 

Carol, a research assistant thinks that ladies are getting into it because it is fashionable or just a fad. “Its every guy’s fantasy to see girls kissing and ladies sometimes do it just to please their men. Their first time experience may have been so good they try it again and they eventually get addicted.” 

Stephanie, a 24 year old lesbian stresses that most men do not know how to please a woman, “For a man, the goal is his orgasm after which he falls asleep and starts snoring. With lesbian sex, multiple orgasms are usual. While men move from one physical task to the next as if in a marathon, a lesbian adopts the ‘We have all the time in the world’ method.” 

Its legalisation in South Africa is just the beginning.      

(poetry) Words from my heart

March 22, 2007

The Life I love

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

 

Give to me the life I love

Peace upon my everyway

Country music

Rock and soul

All to feed my needy spirit

 

Give to me simple ‘githeri’

Fresh from the ‘jiko’

Just once a day

For the fresh passion fruits from the trees

Will keep me healthy along the way

 

Give to me the life I love

Give me the chance to go wherever I want

Give to me some V & A  fine liquor

To make me a bit jollier

So I can jeer and cheer

At will

 

Give to me

The children’s voice

Let me listen to her tuneless song

Let me listen to his days tales

Let me hold her til’ sleep upon her eyes

Is set

 

Give to me the life for a lady like me

A prince charming to treat me like a queen

To spoil me with strawberries and cream

Perfume and love poems

Rosy baths and extremely good sex

 

Give to me the will and heart

To see the beauty of the stars at midnight

And the moonlight before dawn

Give to me the strength to work

To love, to play and the will to

Accept love

 

Give to me the life for a lady like me

For there lies my life

My true life, the life I can feel

Just give it to me ….

 

Be Real, Guys

March 22, 2007

Hook yourself up

By Eudiah Kamonjo 

The brothers ain’t complex, they are just perplexed and do a myriad of things that no one can rationalize’ -that is seriously what I think of our brothers. 

What I still haven’t clearly gotten is what all the hype about hooking people up is about. Check this out: Here’s a fellow brother-he’s physically okay…(am asked what that means). Well, he’s got legs, arms, can see; he can basically do everything that a human being is supposed to, not to mention he’s good looking and smart. So why then can’t he go after the lady he likes and instead comes up to you and tells you to hook him up with your friend or your friend’s friend? What’s up with our men? Have they lost their esteem? Are they feeling belittled by the equality issues that have been taking place in our society over the years? Or is it simply just easier to get hooked up than to approach someone you barely know and just introduce yourself?

It seems they just do not like challenges. How will you ever get to know her if third parties are initially involved? You want to be able to describe her to friends and family eventually, but how else will you do it if you don’t get to really know her. The only way is through your own experience with her! If you depend on the description offered by third parties, you will subconsciously use the very words they used at first.

It would be better if you got to know her yourself. Okay, am not saying you shouldn’t try and find out something about her first. No! That’s a great precaution but what if it’s in one of those annual concerts or conferences?You do not know whether she will be in the next one. Henri James once said ‘Until you try, you don’t know what you can’t do.’ Some guys believe that they look too desperate if they approach a lady they don’t know and just start off a conversation out of the blue therefore they just cannot do it.

 Others still believe in tradition and say there is a reason why suitors weren’t allowed to directly approach a lady and had to go through some third party. I know there’s all this networking which works like a piece of cake. One person introduces the other and so on; it’s just like spreading the gospel. But it should just come naturally. Maybe we all have our own ways of handling issues but I think those brothers who are asking to be hooked up instead of hooking themselves up have surely lost it! Since when did you hear a lady tell you to hook her up with your friend or your cousin?

 In the Songs of Solomon, we read in Chapter three how Solomon’s lover went to look for him in the city until she found him. Being a lady, am not supposed to walk up to a guy and say, “Hallo, my name is… and I would like to know more about you”. Am not supposed to, but I have done it and I have never been disappointed or made a wrong choice. So why can’t a man do it? Maybe the guy made a mistake, not once but plenty of times. He was probably dismissed off as a phony because he used a pick up line or something. By now am sure everyone knows that pick up lines maybe humorous but they don’t always work and so brothers would better bake their own lines.  Don’t they know that that feeling at the pit of their stomachs or at the back of their minds isn’t supposed to make them scared? The adrenaline should strengthen and push them to make that move.‘Stop doubting yourselves and give it a try,’ one of the sisters says. Which one sister wouldn’t want a man who’s brave enough to walk straight up and say hi?!!!       

Dancefloor blues

March 16, 2007

DANCE FLOOR BLUES

By Eudiah Kamonjo. 

You are at a party or in the club, the music is great, your company excellent. All your friends are on the dance floor moving into an unbelievable piece of fancy or freaky choreography. You want to dance, but you simply cannot.

Dancing has always been perceived as a display geared towards encouraging procreation. If you like the way she dances, you’ll probably feel the need to have a slightly different dance, this time just the two of you. Isn’t this the way more dancers are concieved? 

Dancing is also a great way of releasing tension and keeping fit. No wonder most dance floors are fuller on Fridays. Otherwise, you’d be home slumped on the sofa watching T.V. and waiting for another stressful Monday but you are here trying to get your groove on.

Discolights on, awesome music, beer or wine in plenty oh! and good-looking fun lasses and lads around. So why are you still seated watching others dance, yet knowing you can dance too? It’s not that you haven’t done this before NO! You’ve been dancing all your life (well, as far as you can remember) but something’s holding you back. Is it that you have a myriad of things on your mind? Are you embarrassed about your pathetic dance skills, if any. Or are you in the wrong place?

Whatever the case, there are days like these; even for professional dancers. Infact, it’s sort of like the writer’s block. Luckily, this is just a social occasion and you can make the best of it. Did you hear that danceable tune; try to get up from your seat? Did you feel like you were dancing without psyche? Did you gave it all up and go back to your seat? Yes?

Stop worrying, you are here to have fun, throw all your inhibitions to the wind. Get down there and just move, shake, strut, or sway…just dance however way the music takes you. Whatever style, rhythm or movement; just dance. Make use of the little or much space available. Use your imagination… you can choose to imagine you are alone, no one is watching you. This would be especially ideal for those who are afraid of dancing because they think everyone is watching them. Or you can imagine you are performing for them; knowing they are watching you keenly; this is for people who love attention or just being on the spotlight. Attention from others just inspires them. I’ve been told a thousand times that one can tell what a person will be like in bed by the way they dance. Does it mean that those whose balance and style is questionable are not any good?  Others cannot dance without having had some alcohol. They say slight amounts of it give them the courage to not only dance but flirt too.These guys enjoy themselves immensely, staggering and almost falling as they dance. They are blissfully unaware of the limitless space and people around them. Come three a.m and they are ‘dead’. However, dancing also depends on the music, you simply cannot dance to music or beats you don’t like. When we feel and completely internalize it, the music or beats naturally becomes part of us and we let it out through dancing.  Make your dance look effortless; the slightest hint of ‘trying’ makes it look unnatural or plain old ‘bad’. And don’t just move one part of the body, let your entire body feel the music…. be like a peacock, proudly show off what you are doing. Co-ordination of all your body parts is really important( of course unless you want to be a comedian for a few minutes; why not imagine you are being electrocuted. Let go of your arms, knees, bottoms-everything. Don’t frown, erase that serious business look. Let your eyes, mouth and entire body tell how much you fun you are having.       

Hello world!

March 15, 2007

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