Archive for April, 2007

Opinion polls(poetry)

April 27, 2007

Thoughtful Truths

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

 

I have desired to grow old

In my own country, my world

Surrounded by these friendly hearts so bold

And the tropical weather hardly cold

 

I have asked to be led

To develop a place that’s all good

A place where we all live in the harmony of old

A place not despair-crashed

 

I have swore not to leave

And search yonder for greener pasture

Every five years I have waited with ease

And Desired

Aspired

Craved

Sometimes conspired see…

 

And now that I know that I ain’t helpless

Now that I know that I ain’t voiceless

Now that I know that this card of mine counts nonetheless

Now you want to cloud my judgement with

Your opinion polls that are factless

 

You will not cloud my thoughtful truths

With your opinion polls

You will not cloud my dreams for change

With your opinion polls

 

Stop all these noise

For I have shoved my middle finger 

Into your press conferences

I have blocked my ears from your

Kamasutra-designed opinion polls

For my vote has more power

My vote counts…..

 

Experiencing J.M.Kariuki

April 18, 2007

Experiencing J.M Kariuki’s Legend.

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

J.M Kariuki once said, “ Kenya has become a nation of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars.”

Michael M. Kamau on 21 July 1999 (saxakali.com) wrote that  he believes that indeed J.M’s prophesy has come true in modern day Kenya but that this needs to be reviewed to become a nation of 10 millionaries, 10 million middle class and 10 beggars.

I’m not sure…… One thing I’m sure though is that my family and I had the best Easter ever. What would you call a trip that brings everyone in a family truly together for the first time in a long time and takes you back to a time when independent
Kenya was still struggling with misuse of power? A simple drive that leads you to additionally experience the beauty and mystique of our country? A simple search for a deserted spot on the slopes of Ngong Hills and a Maasai man who made what seemed like an ordinary report explosive.

It is 10 a.m by the time we leave our home in southern Nairobi.

Its Easter Sunday (8th April 2007) and everyone’s going to church but we are headed to someplace in Kajiado District to not only see the spot where Kenyan socialist politician and former Nyandarua North Member of Parliament J.M. Kariuki’s body was found but also to meet the Maasai herdsman Musaite Ole Tunda who found his body.

I am pretty excited but my mum barely understands why we have to go to so much trouble just to see some stone and meet some man. All she wants, she humorously complains, is the much praised Maasai land ‘nyama choma’.

We are six of us (my Dad, Mum, brother, sister, me and our youngest one, Wangu named after the famous Wangu wa Makeri who used to sit on men’s backs) – I love that story.   Dad is driving with me, Eric and Wangu beside him while Shiru and mum are seated at the back.

As he is driving past Nairobi Cemetery towards the Magadi route, I recall the much I have found out about J.M Kariuki.

He was born Josiah Mwangi Kariuki on 21st March 1929 in Kabati town, Rift Valley Province when Kenya was still under British colonial rule. He was in and out of school  for lack of fees until the day (in 1946) he hit the jackpot and won a bet at a Nakuru Horse race which he used to further his education. He attended one of Jomo Kenyatta’s speeches in 1946 which hugely inspired him. J.M went to Kings College in Uganda for his secondary school education and returned (as a 26 year old) to Kenya on 22nd October 1952.Two days earlier,
Kenya had been placed under state of emergency by the Governor, Sir Evelyn Baring.

J.M joined the Mau Mau uprising and after taking his oath, he started working as Mau Mau liaison officer soliciting for money, boots and housing for them. He was arrested and detained in 1953 and released in 1960.

Come late 1960 and J.M.’s relationship with Kenyatta became strained because he became vocal of Kenyatta’s policy on corruption, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, deteriorating relations between the East African community and unfair distribution of land.

In 1974, he was elected as Nyandarua’s Member of Parliament and became Assistant Minister in the Kenyatta Government. His popularity threatened the government of the day. Several days after he was last seen alive (at the Hilton) and was said to be out of the country, his remains were found by a Maasai herdsman, Musaite ole Tunda in a thicket in Ngong hills.

On that day, the two mainstream papers at the time ran two contradictory headlines; Nation Newspaper read something like this ‘J.M. in Zimbabwe’ and Standard Newspaper read ‘J.M.’s body found…..’

A tragic end to a man who was a great orator and leader. He is remembered as a hero who tried to fight against the evils that affect the country to this day.

We make a stop at Olepolos, a well known tourist site due to its breathtaking horizon scene and strong breeze. We take some photos here. A couple of cars with tourists also drive in but what suprises me most is the prescence of a tourist police vehicle. I wonder; is this place so famed?

We meet a Maasai man known as Ole Sankaire and he says he knows where J.M.’s body was found and was willing to take us there. We are now seven of us.

Our next stop is Kisamiss where Dad orders for some boiled meat and ‘nyama choma’. My Dad knows our country like he knows so well the back of his hand. He has been everywhere in Kenya owing to his job as a animal feeds and drugs salesman/distributor.

He just ‘bumped’ into the ‘J.M. spot’ when he was last here to bring animal feeds and drugs during the Maasai Cultural Show 2006.

We do not wait for the meat. We take a rough road on the right that leads us to the ‘spot’- it’s about 6 kilometres from the main road. The road has been destroyed over time by the rains and is almost impassable. Dad isn’t sure the car would make it there.

But here we were and there it was; on the left hand side lay a stone with a weathered down black and white photo of J.M Kariuki, his date of birth and death and an explanation stating that this was where his body was found. The branches of the large acacia tree surrounding it looked like they were soon going to completely dry out.

Sankai Ole Sankaire, the Maasai man we met at Kisamiss explained (I translate) “J.M. was beaten up and tortured; it is said, that’s the reason why a part of the tree here is bent.”

I touched the stone and looked deep into his eyes, tried to imagine what he had to go through and what he was thinking as he was tortured. What were his last words? What would he have done if he had survived?  Well, we can only imagine.

We took lots of pictures here and then headed off to find Ole Tunda, the herdsman who found his body. Now this road was more impassable than any we had come across and Dad almost gave up saying there was no way we would get past there. I was however so determined to meet this man that I was willing to walk. Ole Sankare talked to a few passersby while Dad and Eric tried to find us a way to get us going. Dad’s determination to accomplish this mission was so clear that the rocks that had earlier threatened to halt our adventure just had to let us pass.

A few kilometers and we encountered the same problem; we just could not go past those huge rocks. Eric, Ole Sankaire and I walked the rest of the way to Ole Tunda’s homestead and left everyone else in the car. He was not here but his 2nd Born son, Daniel Tunda was fiercly guarding the homestead. We also met Ole Tunda’s first wife but  wonder of wonders was the amount of land that his ‘Boma’ occupies. He said that his father was probably drinking at Kisamiss told us the much he knows about the J.M. incidence. As much as we had all that information, I still wanted to meet the old man.

We headed back to the car together as he told me about his wife and kids and the fact that he was a prison warden at Kamiti. Dad gave him lots of calendars inspite of which he asked for ‘chai’- t.k.k- some cash.

At Kisamiss, our meat was ready. Dad enquired about Ole Tunda and about 30 minutes later, while we were busy digging into our meat, he was brought to us.

with ole tunda

with Ole Tunda on the left

This short man with Maasai regalia from head to toe and only spoke Maasai came and sat with us. Ole Sankaire had to translate. I was mesmerized by this old man Ole Tunda. I had so many questions to ask but I remembered what his son had told us; “Over the years, the old man has been questioned over and over and over again. At the beginning of the case, he did not even sleep for days as he was taken to police station after another. He was even suspected of having killed the man himself. The old man is too tired of the questions.”

The language barrier was an issue; I asked “How did you feel when you knew that this was a great person’s body that you had found?”

He answered (translated) “I just found him there, already dead.”

I wanted to know how he felt about the incident, but he answered the way he has been used to answering in police stations; what happened…not what he felt.

We took photos with him as he enjoyed his beer. Maasais’ really enjoy their drink.

He later asked my dad whether I could marry his son-the most educated of them all. Dad replied, “As long as they love each other.” And their friendship began. The Maasai Cultural Show 2007 was going to be held on 14th June 2007 and Ole Tunda promised to see him then. I bet he is going to slaughter a goat for Dad or bring him some Maasai necklaces. I know Dad will bring him some medicine and animal feed for his livestock.

My curiosity was gone, a few questions remained but I had had an experience that I can’t ever forget. A timeless one few will have the chance to feel.

 

 

Poetry-The Suitcase

April 3, 2007

THE SUITCASE

By Eudiah Kamonjo 

It was empty when I was born

Mum and dad carried it for me In a while, it began to possess

I loved the fact, I had began to have my own  It was light and full of wonderful things

I carried it wherever I went; to play, parties, school It continued to grow in size

As I brought absolutely new stuff

When my breasts began to grow  I decided to hide it when I thought it would hurt

Dad and Mum or David himself 

Soon on my own, I did not even look inside

I enjoyed my freedom, I let it be 

It came a time, I was prime of age, or so I thought

And I blindly jumped I got bruised I got burnt

And my suitcase almost burst 

I couldn’t carry it on my own

I needed a lift but no one was there I dragged it with me, its contents almost spill

I searched and searched for the perfect help  When I found him, I felt stupid

He had always been there waiting for me 

Of holidays and sea cucumbers

April 3, 2007

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

Maybe deep inside me I’ve always loved getting away to secluded places. Come to think of it…I have. I always like to go to quiet and secluded places especially when I want to write. When I was about eight years old, we stayed at Travellers Beach Hotel for a week and it was quite the experience.

Every once or twice a year since I ‘cleared’ college, some kind of job always comes up that requires me to go to the coastal town of Mombasa….but only for one or two days.

It was almost the end of February, Tuesday 11 a.m when my boss asked me whether I could immediately travel (tonight) to Mombasa to do a story. I said yes. Who would pass up a chance away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi City?

The last few weeks had been crazy for me; deadlines, moving house, trying to get used to wearing contact lenses….bla bla bla…

I was going alone? Guys were asking. Yes, what’s wrong with that?

At the time, I did not see any ‘biggie’ about ‘hacking’ the stories or traveling or staying alone… (The introvert that I am…)

I was going to stay at Sun N Sand Beach Resort, a five star!  I was so excited! All I could imagine was lots of sun (the warmth and sexiness that comes with it) and lots of sand (just laying on the beach). I tried finishing everything up before I left but by the time I got home, it was 8 pm. I threw in a few clothes…plus beach wear and swim wear….you’d think I was going to be away for a week. Ladies!

I then realized that I wasn’t going to make it to the bus stop in town on time…by 9 pm. I rushed for the alternative. Coast buses stop at Marshalls on Mombasa Road. I take a taxi from my house and 30 minutes later I’m right on track and headed to the coastal town.I arrive at 5 am. but it’s still kind of dark and I stay in the bus til’ 5.45 a.m. I weigh my options about a taxi to Kikambala (Kshs. 1,000) or take a matatu and risk getting lost. I take the matatu mainly because that amount wasn’t in my budget.

The matatu to Kilifi was going to pass right past Sun N Sand Beach Resort so I sat as I waited for other passengers as the morning light came to life.

It was a long journey and the tout (who I kept reminding to drop me off at the Resort almost missed my stop). When I dropped off, my small suitcase strapped upon my right arm, my hand bag on the other, I asked one of the guys on the bike whether the walking distance to S N S was far and he said no. Then one of the Boda Boda (two-seater bicycles) guys came and told me that it was a bit of a distance. I took the Boda Boda inspite of my luggage…

True to it, the hotel was a few kilometers away from the main road, I just couldn’t have walked this far. It was a great place, Kikambala. Very rural, green trees, dusty road, mabati and grass thatched houses. But the hotel! My God! It was like a secret haven that was slowly unfolding infront of me. It was absolutely magnificent with all these white and outstanding peach colours. Great architectural designs and landscape. Over 500 in terms of bed capacity, I was soon to learn.

I was even more surprised when I saw the number of tourists present. Couples and families all here on holiday.I was the only black guest. The Resort is all inclusive; you really need not even go anywhere else. I was welcomed nicely as they were expecting me. Waited in the lobby, filled out some forms then talked to the General Manager, Fred Makumbi, who insisted that I rest and that we meet at 2.30 instead of 11 a.m. I was too excited to sleep. I was hungry though. Luckily, I hadn’t missed breakfast; the receptionist told me I could freshen up and that I’d make it in time for breakfast.

The food was great…mostly African. I felt like I was on a real holiday except that I had work to do. I couldn’t wait to go out onto the beach.

After some real food, fruits and passion juice, I went and changed, asked the receptionist what there was to do. She mentioned aqua aerobics and reef walks. I chose the reef walk for today, maybe aqua aerobics tomorrow. I found my way down to the beach taking in my surroundings… Tourists were sun-bathing, most reading books or a novel by the numerous poolsides. The place had so many pools! I couldn’t even count them. S N S Beach Resort was sparkling with serious holiday makers.

Of beach boys….

Down at the beach, one beach boy approached me even before my foot hit the sandy beach. He was rugged looking and totally pissed me off. He tried to persuade me (so skilllessly) to go for a walk along the beach. All I really wanted was that reef walk. I managed to get him off my back but he continued to follow me. I finally made it clear; a little rudely maybe, that I wasn’t interested.

I was craving to feel the ocean’s salty water on my skin; it’s warmth, it’s smell, the sand and the feeling of limitlessness. I was craving to go in…But the beach boys! They were all over me, asking where I was from….(They thought I was from Jamaica), how long I was staying…and so on…They were a complete turn off to me. I finally decided to sit down near the beach patrol officers and I started collecting shells. They’d still come to me and I’d ignore them or they’d get scorned by the patrol officers.

One good-looking and clean one, came up to me and we went for that absolutely worth it reef walk.

The tide was low…..

The tide was low, we walked for almost  I km before any waves hit us. Right behind me were two Caucasians; a male English football player and his girlfriend (a very sexy tall lady in a bikini).

I saw some really amazing sea creatures and regretted having not carried my camera. I saw a male star fish that was so huge and pretty, red in colour and some very young star fish. I learnt that the young ones that are black in colour are hard to tell what sex they are until at a later stage. I saw sea urchins-which were black in colour and when their spikes poke you, it’s so painful. The females have shorter spikes, I learnt.The sea cucumber ‘kidnapped’ my fancy. It’s black in colour and when touched, it hardens itself and releases some sticky fluid that acts as a protection mechanism.It sure does look like a cucumber. I learnt a lot about coral reefs, how and why they die; when there’s not enough water reaching them on time. I saw a sea hedgehog, amazing!!!I saw zebra fish!

Sea creatures used to scare the ‘heck’ out of me, but I have realized how fascinating they can be and I absolutely love them now….

I had to rush back but not before I swam in one of the pool areas. I almost fell asleep by the poolside.  I went for lunch; great food as usual. Prepared for the meeting at 2.30 p.m.Told him the story was urgently needed. Organized for transport for me to Kikambala Primary School and accompanied me himself. I interviewed about eight kids about how they felt about having a computer at their school with internet (I realized that for kids you need to read between the lines inorder to provide any kind of comprehensive report).

Took photos. One particular kid jazzed me, his name was Mohammed Ali named like the famous boxer and he was so unforgettably humorous

I asked them about politics and who they’d vote for if they had a chance. Most said Raila …apparently because of his promise of free secondary education. Was picked up at 5.15 p.m. taken back to S NS, changed and went back to the beach. Had a great swim in the ocean..catching the waves til’ sunset…I went to the sports area (gym), beat guys at table tennis (I love beating men at this game-I’m really good!!!). I exercise my muscles and the instructor (so fashionably toned up) leads me through aerobics class.

Dinner on my table alone-7.30p.m. I’m thinking, if my lover was here, we’d probably be playing ‘ball’ or rugby on the beach ….like two people who haven’t forgetten how it feels like to be kids.

There was a live band playing country music, so I remain at the lounge til’ 11 p.m. Under the warm and starry night, I go for a walk. I’m a bit tipsy because of all that wine ..yea, all that wine… I’m all alone but I’m comfortable, I’m enjoying myself. I sit down under the palm trees and write a poem ‘sunny loving’. I did not quite understand it then but completely do now.

…………..And this is just the beginning of my love to get away, see new places, smell different kinds of breezes. I think I am now a certified holiday fanatic. I hope in future I will be able to afford my own holidays……

 

Poetry(All that doom and gloom)

April 3, 2007

ALL THAT DOOM AND GLOOM

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

All that doom and gloom

Awaits me at the full moon

When everything I ever saw and done

Is upon every eye cast and shown.

I shall be judged

As of my actions scorned

Or of my actions praised

So maybe I shan’t be doomed.

 

 

Will my emotions also be revealed

Will everyone understand I did all I could

Will doom and gloom already be cold

Cold and smiling, hot and inviting as I plead.

 

 

My dreams will either be lost in the North Pole

Or growing in blessed Africa I tell you!

My rage will be buried with the dust

Under my feet

My pain will have melted into the
Indian Ocean

As my soul remains ready and clean.

 

 

Maybe all that doom and gloom

Will be just a lasting condition

Maybe all that doom and gloom

Will just upon me filter in this earth with no room

For questions and answers

This place with both joys and sorrows

Bliss and gloom

Maybe all that doom and gloom promised

Is just a path in this earth with no room.


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