27 April 2015

NEVER DATE A POET DEE


“Never date a poet Dee” he said amidst bites of some chicken barbecue flavored crisps I had shared with him (I have special attachment to this flavour). We were waiting for a mutual friend at a bus stage. I was to give her a novel in exchange for another; they were headed for a date. I assumed I had not heard him.
“Dee”, he paused to make sure I was listening to him, “never date a poet”. He repeated. I didn’t know how to take it. I mean; did he know that I subscribed to the religion that is poetry? That once in a while, I became a Levite and would step up to the altar with incense and offer a sacrifice of literary works written in verse, in particular verse writing of high worth, great beauty, emotional sincerity, intensity and profound insight (Isn’t that what poetry is?); and at times words with rhythmic grace and imaginative proses?  Did he? Did he know that the mutual friend we shared sat in the council of elders in this so called religion? Did he know that I frequented the likes of Fatuma's Voice, Upgrade Poetry, Slam Africa and Poetry Spot among other poetry forums?  Maybe. Maybe not.

Poets are a heartless lot. He said. Make a blunder and you will testify to this with a bible on your right hand. Make them doubt what you have and they will never make you forget. They will write pieces about you. They will paint their words with the pain, in a way that you will hear and read the words and know they were directed to you. Poets will stab your soul while reciting a love poem to you. They will hurl your heart into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters, and hug you like nothing happened.

Photo Credit: www.cdfstlucia.org
 They will stitch together parts of their verses with blood from the heart of a love that you once shared; and do it wearing a smile. They will make you think twice about anything you ever did without even saying it. They will perform these pieces to audiences that you are part of; people will praise their prowess with words. They will make you sit through the agony of listening to words that you once said; only this time they will sound so different because they are meant to crucify you. They will make you wonder out loud “was that about us?” and instinctively they will say “that was not about us by the way”. And you will know it was.

Photo Credit: www.p4cm.com

They will make you regret ever meeting them; ever falling in love with their hearts and souls. They will speak in parables that mock you and your mere existence. They will make you be cautious about love at first sight; you will always want to have a second and third look. They will make you read through their pieces first before they show them to the world. As if to make sure that the impressions of the words are engraved in your mind. And every time they are up there performing the piece, the words will hurt you one more time. And you will have to smile; because you are dating a poet.

Unless you are a poet as well. He added. Then you will be able to read between the sweet words and see the emptiness they carry. You will be able to see through the irony of the praises in proses. You will understand the meaning of the adjectives they use. You will see that one black sheep in the white sheep lines of a romantic poem. That masked truth that was not supposed to be there. That line that makes the whole piece a lie. And you will smile about it and say “great piece”. You will know the depth of the sting in that offensive line; because you would write the same to them.
Photo Credit: www.p4cm.com
He didn’t say more; he didn’t have to. The expression on his face, the way his face distorted with a foreign emotion as he talked; the emptiness in his eyes and the smile he gave her when she arrived said it all.

“Never Dee,” he said as he hugged her. 
“Not all” I whispered back.

Facebook:  Njeri Kareithi
Twitter: @deekareithi


8 April 2015

THEY HAVE NAMES #GarissaAttackVictims

I had vowed not to write anything about this, not to view any pictures, not to talk about it at all; but last night hell broke loose. The walls and chains in my heart, mind and eyes could not hold it anymore…and I broke down inside.

Last evening I attended the vigil held in honor of the #GarissaAttack victims in Kenya. A friend and I had a matchbox. We went lighting up any candles that had burned out or had been blown off by the wind. There were 147 crosses in the area where the vigil was held. A freaking a hundred and forty seven. Count from 1 to 147; then you will realize how heavy that was. Imagine those crosses were on top of graves…graves of innocent lives lost. Graves of victims of circumstances, graves of young people who knew they would live to see the long Easter holiday. Hell, maybe they had already made plans, or called home to say they would be going home for the holidays. Students taken to Garissa University College (a constituent of Moi University) with hope that after completing their studies, they would help their families and siblings. Some of them were the only children born to their families, and like one case I know of, the mother could no longer give birth. 

These were students taken there by JAB (Joints Admission Board), and because they wanted to acquire education, they said yes. Packed up their bags and went. Then one morning, at 5am, some in their sleep, some in class studying, some burning that midnight oil, some saying their morning prayers; the grim reaper visited. He did not even knock, to let them know he was on his way so that they say one last prayer or say goodbye. He just came. He didn’t even wear a mask. He came in a name that people are calling “Al-shabab”. He came with guns, sprayed bullets on people who knew not why their lives were being taken, why they were paying with their lives.

As we sat in a circle last evening, as we were lighting those candles, as I walked across and along those crosses, lighting a candle for every cross that had no candle; I couldn’t help but think. As the embers of those candles went up…I could hear the screams…a hundred and forty seven screams, all at the same time. And for each scream, more cries from friends and relatives, all going up at the same time. My heart wept.

 My spirit broke down.

It could have been you or me. It could have been your work place, that supermarket you love shopping at, that bank that keeps your money. That matatu you love boarding, your car, your neighborhood. I watched a group of three ladies and three young men weep continuously at a cross, holding each other's shoulder, trying to comfort each other...for more than 20 minutes. I can never erase that image from my mind. Pain that tears cannot take away, but we can only cry, we can only donate, we can only do so much. I don’t want to imagine the pain of that parent who has to identify the dismantled boy of their son or daughter at Chiromo mortuary. It is just too much.
What pains me most is that the #WestgateAttack got the government and “high people in high places” more involved than this one. Could it be because this time round none of their “breed” was affected as I said here? I will not go there.

My heart goes out to the souls lost. May they Rest in Eternal Peace…all 147 of them. May god grant their families peace and comfort that we cannot give. They are not just a statistic, they have names.They were someone’s child. THEY HAVE NAMES.  Here are some of their names:

List of students who died in the  #GarissaUniversityAttack #147notjustanumber  (Source: Nation FM)
 
1. Jessica Cherono
2. Mlindiro Peter Magio
3. Prisca Auma Wayodi
4. Dorcas Kagusina Julius
5. Alex MueriMuchiro
6. Kevin Ouma Odongo
7. Selpha Wanda
8. Samuel Mutiso Musau
9. Mildred Nyendo Wakholi
10. Franciscah Ndungwa Joseph
11. Duncan Mwitu Baini
12. Abel Muthwana Watola
13. Virginia Simiyu
14. Peter Masinde
15. Gideon Kipkurui
16. Faith Kendi Gituma
17. Marion Musenya
18. Isaac Bushen Kosgei
19. Jeff Macharia
20. Stephen Mutua
21. Joy Chepkorir Kibor
22. Onyinkwa Susan Kwamboka
23. Emily Namaemba
24. Priscilla Kathure
25. Ivy Beatrice Wanjiku Kihia
26. Miriam Hawa
27. Veronica Felix
28. Jane Nyambura Mogera
29. Judith Chepkemoi
30. Everlyne Lodengo
31. Caroline Njoki
32. Aquila Mulekye Mulei
33. Gideon Bryson
34. Elidah Obiero Atieno
35. Purity Kawira Kaunyangi
36. Ruth Nakhanu
37. Caroline Mukami Ndumia
38. Syrus Sila Mutuko
39. Lucy Nyambura
40. Victor Mbogo
41. Jackson Kipketer
42. Beatrice Njeri Thinka
43. Ebby Alice Omari
44. Joyce Wakiuru Waweru
45. Annetter Miller
46. Oliver Maina
47. Peter Odhiambo Omondi
48. Duncan Mwendwa Kalekye
49. Joash Obare Mosiria
50. Newton Karani
51. Beth Njambi Gakenya
52. Aggrey Momanyi
53. James Ochonde
54. Faith Chepchirchir Komen
55. Ann Ongwae
56. Lucy Waithira Irungu
57. Jacinta Njeri Mwangi
58. Caroline Koech
59. Harriet Chemoita Andole
60. Alice Mbete Mulu
61. Angela Nyokabi Githakwa
62. Bilha Njeri Gitau
63. Philemon Thakaramoi Madaa
64. Philomena Kasyoka Munyoki
65. Caroline Mukami Ndumia
66. Catherine Mbithe Mutuku
67. Branton Wakhungu Anyanza
68. Amos Wanyonyi Mwangangi
69. Emma Mutahi
70. Mumo Kilonzo
71. Dennis Ouma Onyango
72. Mary Wanjiru Muchiri
73. Keneddy Ouma Echesa
74. Agnes Mwende Muthama
75. Alice Anyango Oduor
76. Stella Wamalwa Nyongesa
77. Monica Ngwasi
78. Susan Akinyi Othwila
79. Caroline Karimi
80. Mildred Chitechi
81. Edina Muthoni Michael
82. Joly Kananya
83. Thomas Nyaiburi
84. Moses Njuguna
85. Clinton Nyang’au Keffa
86. Salome Wambui Kinuthia
87. Jane Kanorio
88. Faith Kinyala
89. Dianna Musambi
90. Hanna Nduta
91. Laban Kumba Kangeni
92. Joseph Ngacha Nderitu
93. Romana Sambu Chelagat
94. Christopher Nyakundi
95. Odhiambo Okoth Christopher
96. Fredrick Okoth Odhiambo
97. Eric Ondari Nyabuto
98. Tony Opiyo Ochieng
99. Eliud Wafula Musambai
100. Elizabeth Musinai Namarome
101. Carolyne Njoki Gathito
102. Kevin Langat
103. Samuel Michere Gakuru
104. Jacob Makokha
105. Tobias Simiyu
106. Lydia Akoth Obondi
107. Isaia Chebukto
108. Milton Namai Mukhwana
109. Adhola Ochiel
110. Sheila Cherop
111. Doreen Gakii
112. Susan Nduta Wangare