Kenya is on fire


Kenya is on fire. For all too long, now, Kenya has not not been on fire.

It has been difficult making sense of the Westgate Mall terrorist attack this week. It has been hard making sense of the motives and the loss. It has been hard making sense of the calls for Muslim communities to condemn the attacks – why them? It has been hard making sense of calls for how the State should respond.

In the aftermath, no, as it unfolded, my dear friend and sister, Neo Musangi wrote this poem on her blog, i-aint-a-poet, piecing together the horror, the loss and the pain. So much pain.


One Forty Times Eleven Characters Later


Fatigued and shaken we wait

The smell of death spreading

Caught up in a war of another

The news have nothing new


Imaginary screams of babies

Calls for mama, daddy and god

In a second their eyes meet

His stare fearfully triumphant


Sounds of helicopters

And the loudness of fear

In the sirens of our hearts

I weep for me. You and all.


Tears for unknown friends

and familiar strangers.

The deaths I have died.

Mine and others’. We die.

Your ancestors and mine.


The coffee has been cold

A sun and a moon after

The cups sit uncollected

He was here just yesterday

Kofi Awoonor has crossed over


In the shadow of our deaths Kofi

We carry life with grace

And when the shadow dies

We are dead to our own deaths


We have died before

Deaths not our own

And with one death

We offer to you a sacrifice


And in the death of another

We have had our slice

In the death of the everyday

We have become dead to life.


And in our dead lives

We can no longer live

As though we weren’t dead

To our own lives


But when our deaths come

We will have forgotten how to

And our tears will be for another

We have been here before

Too much pain mate


But not enough synonyms

Streaming thoughts of hate

And possible antonyms

Still I love



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