Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I heard
Know, my child
That I Am.
I Am in the rain that feeds
The earth
I Am in the clouds
Look deep
You’ll see

Again, I heard
I Am
I Am in the sunshine
All yellow and nice
In the scent
Of the flower
In the clear eyes of a child
In the breath of a sleeping loved one

I Am
In the voice that says yes
When you should
In the taste of your favourite food
In the space of your best room
I Am
In your laughter
And moments of joy

I heard
I Am
Weep not, my child
Fear not
I Am right here beside you
As you pray

PoP © 25 Sep 07


I miss those days filled with carefree
Endless days where each hour
Hung expectantly like the morning dew
Begging release in pure bliss

I miss the days that sometimes passed
In the blink of an eye
Daydreams filled with worriless spaces
Enchanting like a baby’s toothless smile

I miss those days
When I’d sigh on my pillow
And eagerly create myself a perfect day
When a raindrop on my face
Felt like God had taken me in his arms
And put me in a special place

I miss the days
When nothing irritated me
Nothing angered me
Each moment was precious in its beauty
Each trouble was conquered
With a heart armoured in steel
And fear was just another word uttered
Never felt so near

PoP © 25 Sep 07

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Walk in These Shoes

It could be you
butt-naked and bleeding
on a busy Nairobi Street
mob-justiced by a hungry crowd
cries of innocence drowned
by their anger and desperation

It could be you
sitting in the rain
by the roadside
Your last bath a memory five
weeks away
Listening with a lost look
for the thud of a coin
in your dented tin

It could be you
enveloped in a tattered blanket
Your face resting
upon a thin folded arm
Sharing a hospital bed with a TB patient
Eating more germs than drugs

It could be you
trudging along
in your last good pair of shoes
degree cowering in the tattered A4 envelope
desperation slowly sinking in

PoP 19 Sep. 07

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Balancing Pearls

Had I been raised in a privileged family, where love was given without measure, and had there been this option, I would have preferred to always remain an adored little girl.

Being a woman is tough! Saying women should be born with a manual with detailed how-to instructions is an understatement. For one person to adequately handle the role of mother (and many times father too), wife and companion, sister, friend, mentor, employee, cook, nurse, maid, and much more, is an even very tall order. Isn’t it a laugh how we are still called the ‘weaker’ sex? I have often found myself on the verge of tears and had what my teenage daughter calls ‘balancing’. These are the tears that you desperately try to hold in, even when they insist on filling your eyes and hanging there precariously, threatening to drop and make you bawl like a little baby in front of your near and dear, who hold you in high esteem.

Talking of bawling babies, the situation described above occurred many times after the birth of my daughter. Her endless colicky cries would get the better of me and the ‘balancing tears’ would suddenly appear. I would try to remain strong, trying to cough up then swallow the lump that threatened to choke the living daylights out of me. It was almost always a failed venture and I would end up holding the baby tightly and crying my eyes out. Everyone else thought it was absolutely hilarious.

As my daughter grew, all her illnesses, though I always took her to the best doctors, were met with feelings of helplessness, and yes, you guessed right, tears and more tears. Everyone said, ‘be strong, this is normal’. And I asked myself, what is normal about a sick child with a fever of 40C muttering intelligible words?

My daughter is now a self-sufficient teenager; I have help in the house, a wonderful friend and companion, and a challenging job. Life’s experiences have taught me, and like many a woman, I have been twisted this way and that, and emerged strong, even a role model to some. However, when I’m overwhelmed and everything seems to shout to be done NOW, I still get that familiar helpless feeling as I run around with seven balls in the air; making sure breakfast is on the table, dressing and putting on my make up at the same time (yes, I sometimes end up with half a made up face!), fighting with my 6 year old son to get ready for school, giving instructions for dinner, while at the same time trying to be on time so my boss doesn’t get his undies in a knot. At these moments my trusted friend, ‘balancing tears’ and I get reacquainted. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that several other women go through this. I no longer find the tears quite as threatening and demeaning as they used to be. In fact, there is a certain comfort in knowing that even when things seem to be going haywire, I still care for me.
© 12 Sep 07

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lack Is Not All Bad

Like most people, many are the times I have prayed for prosperity. I admit to having received my share of it in many more ways than the material.

This morning I was having a conversation with some friends when I had the distinct feeling that someone had walked over my grave. For a moment, I felt almost spaced out as realization dawned on me. How many times had I heard that money couldn’t buy happiness or love? I had sang and danced to those words, for heaven’s sake! I thought I knew for a fact that material prosperity is not a precursor to happiness. This morning the message sank to the core of my being. It was a major Aha! moment.

We were talking about a club that some of our colleagues had formed. The members had not only become very conceited, but also quite possessive of their members and choosy about who joined the club. One of the colleagues I was talking to made this comment when I asked her why she was not a member of the club. ‘Even if I was tied up and dragged to the club, then whipped each morning while being asked to join, I would forever say NO.’

As the four of us spoke, it dawned on us that the members of this club had formed a clique like teenagers did in high school, hanging around together, vetting new members of staff who they chose as part of their club, and making sure to keep out those who did not meet their criteria. In doing this, they had made other staff wary of them and lost the club’s human face. Chipping in to help the community seemed to justify the distance they created between them and their colleagues, assuaging any guilt their actions may bring.

My workmates and I remembered a colleague whose job is one of the lowest ranked and undesirable in the company. When I first met her, she had been sick for over a year, had exhausted all her sick leave and was on nil pay. She had lost all hope of survival and constantly talked of death. I learnt later that her colleagues, in the same low rank job, had been paying her rent for the six months she had been on nil pay. They provided her with food, would go and cook for her and sit with her while she ate; they would bathe and visit her during her frequent stays in hospital, and one of them even took her children 600 kilometres to her sister’s house when she realized the sick lady would not be able to adequately take care of the children.

What surprised me most was that these ladies, who are mostly single parents with 2 or more children, who worked manual jobs that meant they were exhausted by the end of each day, and earned the lowest salaries (less than 5,000 shillings) in the company, gladly contributed 100 shillings every month to cater for their sick colleague’s needs. I was especially humbled to hear that over the months, they had put aside 6,000 shillings for the sick colleague for contingencies. When the colleague’s health improved and she was back to work, they gave her the 6,000 shillings to cater for her immediate needs.

On the other hand, when one of the club members was wedding, fellow management level colleagues made a request for contributions to enable them buy a gift collectively. The sound of silence was deafening and the lack of activity, eerie. When another middle management colleague almost lost a child due to a debilitating disease and a request for assistance was made, you could have heard a pin drop in the sudden quiet. None of those two requests ever bore fruit.

My Aha! moment came when it was my turn to talk and I recognized that we are in touch most with our human nature when we lack. When we lack love, money, children, food, etc, we are more in touch with ourselves, and God. We tend to reach out to each other for support, and to God a lot more when faced with tough situation. We find solace when we call friends just to have a coffee or to talk, or when we spend some alone time contemplating the circumstances that led us to that moment.

Though the economically weak colleagues rarely have any money, they stood for their own; easing her worry as she struggled to get her health back. These men and women can only afford to buy lunch in the first few days after pay day; the rest of the days, they lie on the grass during their lunch break talking, sharing or taking a much needed nap. These wonderful people may lack the comforts that money provides, but God makes it up to them in the comfort of pure love and friendship with each other. Prosperity misused has brought with it individualism, selfishness and a misplaced sense of power. I constantly ask myself, which side would you rather be on?

I learnt as I spoke, that it is easier for those who have very little, to share, than it is for those whose baskets are overflowing. I have seen women walking for many kilometres, carrying baskets of flour, sugar, bananas, fruit, oil, etc on their heads or backs, going to visit a friend who lost a husband or a child, or even one who had just fallen on hard times. I have seen male and female workers, with barely enough to feed their families, pool money to hire a van in an effort to join and comfort a bereaved friend or colleague. I have seen these same men and women leave work, sit with a friend’s sick child in hospital all night long, then shower, change and go straight on back to work. I have often envied their throaty laughter filled with love, kindness, and hope, a different kind of laugh. I’ve heard their cries, seen tears drawn from the pit of their stomachs for a friend’s loss. I’ve seen them hold on to their friendships for years and years, coming together in equal measure in times of joy and times of strife. In that moment, I learnt that it is easier for someone with only 10 shillings to give 2 shillings, than it was for someone with 10,000 to give 2,000.

So now when I pray, I ask God to make me prosperous, but I dare not forget to ask Him to help me know how to use this gift, lest I lose myself in material things. I pray that I remember that not all material, spiritual, and emotional prosperity bestowed upon me is mine. I pray to remember that I am a vessel, a messenger sent with a gift to disburse to others - children, relatives, friends, colleagues, strangers and the poor.

© 11 Sep 2007

I Still Prefer The Illusion

I didn’t go to his funeral when he died
I don’t remember now whether it was the stone cold stares
or the barely held amusement in their eyes
that raised the hairs on the back my head
all I know is that the feeling of disappointment
remains vivid in the day and night difference
of my childlike pre-conceived
illusion of him
this old man whose open face
held a mirror-image smile
who wondered aloud if I
was a long lost member of his tribe
and when he looked at my mother with
uncertainty in his tired eyes
he gently asked do I know you
memories of their six-month romance
had long since dissipated
in the din of his polygamous home
my smile threatened to crack
politeness painfully stuck on my face
my strength began to wane
my resolve started to shatter
like the cracked glass
I had always been
I felt deathly cold, more alone than ever before
for a second, the earth was eerie and still
as if to indisputably remind me
that I was a result of their illicit intimacy

PoP © 10 Sep 07

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who Scorn Justice

You are wolves in sheep’s cloth
You who sink us to an early grave
Can you hear the freedom fighters’ howl
As you betray the blood they shed

You, who the poor curse,
Whose names their rumbling innards call
You, with the wealth you amass
Without shame or fear of gaol

You, whose birth spews putrid pus
Whose acts of greed defile the universe
Whose carcass worms in the ground won’t feed
Whose graves scream to be freed

You, who is not afraid even of God’s hand
Whose tombstone will bow in shame
You, who scorn justice, truth and

PoP© 4 Sept 07

Monday, September 03, 2007

At The Foot Of The Jacaranda Tree

I often wonder
if she will be remembered
or whether her name will ever
come up in history
I wonder
if someone will inscribe it
on a commemorative plaque
I wonder
if they will build a statue
in her honour
for fighting for liberty

Did anyone see
the set of her mouth
or the braveness in her eyes
Did they see
the firmness in her step
as she trudged the endless miles
with the baby strapped firmly on her back

Did anyone hear her voice
in the tears she silently cried
as she shed the mattress on her head
then the pans whose weight had turned to lead
Did they see her fear
as she shed the water can
then the bundle of clothes under her arm
Did anyone see her run
blood pounding in her head

With each step
she hummed to calm the baby
strapped on her back
She felt him squirm
then stiffen
and she stopped to listen
She stopped
and took a few staggering steps
to the shade of the Jacaranda tree
and slowly unfastened her only child
as the pounding in her head drew her to her knees

No one would ever know her name
No one would hear her story
No one would know this heroine
who died at the foot of the old Jacaranda tree

(For the women caught in clashes in Mt. Elgon - Tuko Pamoja!)

PoP © 3 Sep 07

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Writers Block

Release from me these words
My soul seeks tranquillity
Wrench from me these words
Resounding in my head
Deliver me from false labour pains
Discharge me from this prison
Where paper starkly stares
Stained only by my shadow
Against the candle’s light

PoP © 2 Sep 07

Barren Garden

The land I stand on
no longer feels like home
It is a place where questions go unanswered
and needs remain unmet
It’s a place where days have taken their toll
and the people’s pain is masked
in hopeful silence
It’s a place where granaries yawn
scoffing the people’s hunger

This place doesn’t feels like home
It is where calls for revolution
are met with a resigned stare
Where the peasant and worker
are caught in the politician’s snare
It’s a place where sister and brother
have ceased to care

It no longer feels like home
For we’re tightly partitioned
by tribal separation
And there is sadness in mother’s eyes
as she awakes
to tend her barren garden

PoP © 2 Sep 07