Tag Archives: culture

Goodbye John West


Royal Umbrella of Thailand

Premium sardines in vegetable oil

But yesterday, I picked up a can from the past

To evoke the taste of real sardines

John West since 1857

Tasteless sardines in sunflower oil

John West needs to visit Thailand in 2014

I will keep equal distance

between the East and West

the North and South

Its all in good taste

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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Hold up the sun

the mountains stand taller than any native son (photo by Patrick Osodo)

the mountains stand taller than any native son (photo by Patrick Osodo)

Kaimatis wink and say hatuna jambo
Dhosas roll an embrace on a large family
A drink of warm blood is swallowed to a nation’s pulse
Fish is netted, gutted and feted on a single beach
Tea and radio roil and boil across the hills
The sun, woken up in Lamu by a call to prayer
will watch over the country today and
go to bed on a fishnet on Lake Victoria

Today a free people will give to the world

A middle aged tea bush gives birth again
Like the three leaf bud, the nation is forever young
Others would have given up but coffee won’t quit
The aroma of home is a marathon runner
Racing arabica through Nairobi, New York and London
A cheetah’s long stride breaks into a wild chase
And lions roar to bless the land, the nation
Now money is counted on 20 million phones

Today a rich people will bring in the world

But a lying mouth has whispered to a hungry ear
Truth is shouted down by two hundred shillings
Members of Parliament perch like vultures
Feeding on the country’s dying children
The sun’s justice arches from the east to the west
A bright beam of liberty bleached the Union Jack
No fight is sought but all battles brought here are won
Her Majesty’s crown was wrestled to the ground

Today a strong people will stand up and shout

The mountains stand taller than any native son
The rivers carry this truth of a hundred years
Fools were run out of the House on the State hill
Their judges are pushed out scratching and kicking
The trees warn and the wind howls
The country belongs to every child and her mother
All men will hold their heads high
The clouds open up and the light comes through

Today a proud people will hold up the sun



Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Grandmaster Jay’s eyes say no

he looks up, she looks up to him

he looks up, she looks up to him

Three year old hands thump to a rhythm
Small feet dance hard to a song
She cries inconsolably to sing to the clean version
Memorizing lines to exhaustion
She will recite tomorrow
even if it kills her
Cameras flash as a skirt twirls

Singing and dancing is for elementary school
Teens are pushed into a crowded science train
Piano lessons and dance classes
pile up on a heap of broken promises
The geography teacher talks
Contours and fault lines move above her head
while her foot thumps to the staccato of his voice

She would like to fold away her dark life like a carpet
Grandmaster Jay’s eyes say no
He keeps a vigilant watch from her wall
Sniggers rudely burst out into laughter
The mic grows cold and heavy
Her big toes look away and face each other
Her lunch wants to return to her mouth
A voice is raised for Grandmaster Jay

A young rhythm evokes loud screams
Light footed dancing creates mania
Twenty five year old words
form lines that draw tears
Hands are raised to the new sound
She raises her eyes to the face in the sky
And sings the song of heaven
To the new world that she has made



Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A dance to truth

Listen…(Photo by John Scully)

It’s not her but the other
who must hear the sound
Stop his stumble
and change his style
Self righteousness stiffens her spine

60 years of history
Elongate fear
Foment lies
Cement prejudices
Increase the players
who live on these hills

The land and the players
do a tense muomboko dance
It’s a curtain call
A two step ordered by the government
Toes will be stepped on
They must not be crushed

She must swing
Not march like a soldier
There are no chosen ones
All players will be twirled
Sharp tongues and their two left feet
are shown the door
The land only does a jig
to the sound of truth


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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Is this for real?

Wi fi serves a high cuisine platter
Pampering cheeses, blue and soft
Transcendent wines of every continent
Tiramisu with an Italian accent
says ciao Nairobi

The Art Caffe, like an airport
The world in an African city
Languages of the United Nations
brew in Kenyan Arabica
and have a Spanish good morning
in olives, eggs, dried tomatoes and feta
This is Africa, where the choice is between
a plain or whole wheat baguette

Bagged red roses and Start-Rite shoes
make a stop at Mercury
A white cosmopolitan says welcome
UEFA kicking balls on ten screens
Lil Wayne talks to the mirror on the wall
Tightly skirted hips sway
IT geeks stare and give way
Is this African glitter really gold?
Or will the dust outside blow it away


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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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I think I know you

I think I know you

Your name is Wamuyu

I will strain to hear your Kikuyu English

coming through brown teeth

You want to make a quick buck

The greeting is in crisp English

My eyelids bat rapidly

trying to brush off disorientation

A white smile dispels a stereotype

I will not short change you


I think I know you

Your blue eyes look up

A hand moves through the blonde mop

A wallet bulges under Ralph Lauren

carrying my ticket to the good life

Your hands together look humble

placed over my counter

An address between some jittery Euros

The Tropicana Hotel

Bedbugs will keep you company

Welcome to Nairobi and have a good life


I think I know you

Your dusty shoes are strangers to a car pedal

A worn briefcase filled with tired dreams

Sorry, I cannot help you

There is nothing here for you

Mr Macharia. Buying out the bank?

The hot wave of shocked shame

shooting to my feet

should open up the ground

and swallow me

And bury my assumptions


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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Bloody Burdens

Aunt Betty breaks into a phony smile

You hug the façade and kiss the lie

At 40 you’ve met her ten times

Her words cannot create a bond

She grips your hand tightly

and says your skirt is too short

Her Lord has been faithful

But its’ you who must find her son a job

You sell cakes from your kitchen

Her ignorance demands a date in an office

You are late and need the bathroom

Aunt Betty’s age has the right of goodbye

You strain in this tango of falsehood


Uncle John is the Head-of-the-Family

His duty a five minute call

He laughs at your baking ‘cottage industry’

And boasts of his new Mercedes Benz

Your tongue tastes the vomit

But asks for more poisoned counsel

On the sixth minute he ends the talk

of your broken right leg

Your son shouldn’t have been shot at Christmas

Uncle John will not leave his treat on the beach

The Head-of-the-Family is pissing in your face

Instead of turning your back, you open your mouth

Unable to cut off a toxic bloodline


You can’t hear her

You can see her clearly

Her mouth gestures violently like a criminal

as she riffles through your desk

Lucy your daughter slaps your hand

when you reach for the papers

Suited men hunch over the table like bears

the day the nurse does not return

An over salted stew signals a harsh world

Where you see the dentist when you cry

The music is loud and the laughter louder

A thirst inducing racket behind your locked door

In the morning Lucy laughs at you

through wisps of wicked smoke

When she turns

You raise the hammer to her head

And strike

As many times as she made you cry



Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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