I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow. I give thanks for the gathering for the memorial of the death of Elijah Masinde, and our deepening connection with egun en those yet to be born.

Bless our ancestors, bredrin and dadas in solidarity en pikney. I pray that you forgive my sins, those that I do and don’t know about. I pray for my family, friends, enemies, and that I may not have any enemies…..Guide us to our right [full] destinies.

I pray for health and prosperity not only for myself but for others. Bless those who heal and look after themselves AND others, en (gran) mama earth.  

Ase. Ase…..

 I invite you to listen to dis’ poem and consider dis quote found (again) in a post on http://www.blacklooks.org/

“The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became
blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”
Revelation 16:3

 

Sankofa! Our ancestors are not gone, we stand on their shoulders, (as) they live deep in (around en under) us.

so consider then dis’ (pre) Obituary of Simiyu Barasa

Written by Himself

 Focus [on Afrika]: Kenya view 

When you find yourself talking with several guests of the morbid situation of your country during the wedding of one of your friends, you quickly realize there is something wrong with your country. When your National broadcasters show men being dragged out of public service vehicles and hacked to death by a mob of young men who do not even hide their faces from the police a few metres away, and such scenes are repeated more than the advertisements and commercials, then your country is doomed. When you hear that people are chased from their homes into a church for belonging to a particular tribe, and then followed into the church where women and children are locked inside and then burnt alive, my friends, you are no longer in a country, you are living inside hell on earth.

The Swahili (oh, that language that was supposed to unite us and now has been rendered impotent in its intended super-glue powers) – the Swahili say that when you see your friend being shaved with a razor, start wetting your hair in preparation for your shave too.

I do not intend to go gently into that dark beyond without saying a word of goodbye. Friends, (and those who consider me an enemy because of my tribe or lack of it), being of sane mind and in charge of my mental faculties, I bid you goodbye. I chose to write you an obituary, which you should read as a love letter to my country that has died in that critical moment when its dreams were giving birth to a beautiful bouncing future.

I know not the hour of my death, for no one knows the hour of their death in this country anymore. That man on Naivasha, who was dragged from the car and his speech as he answered questions betrayed him as belonging to a tribe the highway blockers were hunting down, he did not know his death. I have seen myself trying to run from the mob the way he desperately tried, machetes raining on his back, and yet he ran on, three desperate steps, before his body disintegrated into huge chunks of human flesh and fell down. Upon which they cubed him. I too, my friend, am about to face the same death. My tongue, when I try to speak, shall definitely betray me as a targeted tribesman when the mob does come to me. For I do not belong to any tribe.

My sister, Rozi, called me yesterday trembling with fear. She lives in Western Kenya, on the Eldoret/Kakamega border. They had taken a patient to Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret. On their way back, the ambulance was stopped by youths bearing all forms of crude weapons. They demanded to know which tribes everyone in the ambulance belonged to. The driver was of the local tribe, so he was told to step aside. As the others showed their National Identity cards, my sister realized that all around them were corpses of human beings freshly chopped to death. Her turn came and she said she was Luhya. They told her to speak in Luhya, but my Sister doesn’t know Luhya. “I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded. She had to desperately show a photocopy of my mother’s National Identity card which she had in her purse, a photocopy my mother had given to her the previous week to use as a referee for the bank account she was switching to. That photocopy saved my sister. The only language my sister can speak, apart from English and the National Swahili, is Gikuyu. The tribe the youths were targeting.

My friend, I know no tribe. I only know languages. My mother is Taita, my Father is Luhya, and we were raised in Kiambu among the Gikuyu. It has never been important in our family to know which tribe we should belong to, my sisters and brothers have names from both sides of our parents communities. In this chaos, if the hunters of fellow humans were to find us in our house, would they really believe we are brothers and sisters from our names?

If I say am Luhya, the Gikuyu with whom I have lived and now am engaged to one of their daughters would kill me as they have gone on a mission to revenge the deaths of their kinsmen in Western Kenya. If I flee to my parent’s home in Luhyaland, the neighbours will barbecue me alive for I can’t speak their language and of course my mom is from a foreign tribe. Not to forget that the guy who sold us that piece of land where my mom and Dad saved so hard to buy is known to come and insist on grazing his cow on our compound claiming “my cows used to feed here, buying the land doesn’t mean I don’t own it!”

Now in this Nairobi where I stay, I am wary of my neighbours. The guy opposite my flat is a Luo with whom we argued amicably during the pre-election period on which party we supported. Maybe now, given that friendly neighbours have been the ones killing each other, he might remember our political chats over my litres of coffee and come chop me up?

That is why friends, I have decided to write this obituary. I know not my tribe, I have only known myself as Kenyan, and others as fellow Kenyans. In these times, belonging or not belonging means not being dead or being seriously dead. What chances does a person like me have?

My friends have their tribes mates to protect them. The cosmopolitan Nairobi has now been balkanized with residential estates being exclusive reserves of certain tribes. Complete with murderous gangs imported from up-country to protect their own. Mungiki for the Gikuyu, Chingororo for the Gusii, and the Baghdad Boys and Taliban for the Luo. Where, pray I, is the estate Balkanised for those of us of mixed heritage who know not their war cry of their tribal warriors? The only two tribes I can run to don’t have such armies. And claiming my Dad’s Luhya identity, and a Bukusu at that, is problematic in itself. The Gikuyus are hunting them down claiming they voted ODM together with the Luos, and the Luos are hunting them down too claiming they voted for Kibaki together with the Gikuyus. So such is my fate for my father belonging to this tribe that voted 50-50!

My friends, I have prepared myself for my death. I don’t know how it will be, but since as a Film and TV drama person I believe in rehearsals, I have rehearsed all possible scenarios so that when my moment comes, it won’t be so hard to take it. Chekhov’s method acting manuals are no longer needed. I just turn the TV on during news time or read the papers, and from the several images of people who have been killed in various ways, I choose one to dream and perfect that night. I have dreamt of being locked into a church or building with several others and torched alive. I have smelt the petrol fumes as its being splattered through the window onto our bodies and then round the building. I have seen the flash of the matchstick being lit, and smelled my flesh burning to ashes.

I have rehearsed how I will smile when I am dragged out of a public vehicle and hacked to pieces by the marauding youths who pop up in our numerous roads. I want to die smiling bravely, but just like the guys I see on Al Jazeera and other International TV channels, the moment I get to that part where a red eyed bearded man pokes his head into the bus and shouts “everyone wave your ID cards in the air!” I wet myself and start screaming for mercy, instantly easing their work of identifying foreigners for the blades to work on.

I have rehearsed how best to gasp when a barbed arrow strikes my chest. Or a club smashes my brain out of my skull. Or a spiked plank of wood is driven through my mouth. I have died so many times, my friends, that now I must be immune to the real death when it comes.

I used to laugh at tourists buying maps of Nairobi. I bought one recently. It is stuck in the wall of my bedroom where small pencil marks indicate all the escape routes I will try to walk in to get out of town once the mayhem knocks on my door. Unfortunately, to the west are roadblocks where my Luhya name will mean instant death. If I go Mombasa Road I might run into a roadblock where Kamba’s and all coast people are being cubed. To the North I can’t even dare. To the south I might pass, coz I can speak Gikuyu, but my name would be my passport to the grave yard. That map, my friend, directed me to writing this obituary.

Maybe if I was a famous poet I would go down in history alongside Chris Okigbo, the Nigerian poet who went to Biafra seeking to actualize his poetry but found bullets instead. My friends abroad are asking me if I am safe. Maybe if I had been bright of mind like they were I would have faked a bank account statement immediately I cleared my o-levels and fled to the United States to wash toilets in between my degree courses, but no. When they told me America is the land of dreams, I swore to them I am an Africanist, a believer in the African dream. When they filled scholarship forms to get away from this dark continent, I laughed at them. Now my faith in my country has faded faster than the newness of the new(s) year.

So, friends, some of us never really thought that our tribe was that important. Simply because we were from the tribes that make up Kenya. Some of us have lived in every province of this once great nation and learnt the local languages, drank the local brews, danced the local songs-so well that the locals even gave us the names of their tribes to fondly call us by. I have been called Kamau, Mwanganyi, Wambua, and even Bayelsa in Nigeria. (I should have known, when Dudun told me that Bayelsa is the troublesome state of Nigeria where the Delta is, that it was a premonition of the war in my country.)

I have nowhere to go. No tribe to run to. No tribesmen to protect me. Except the grave. Which is what my fellow country men are intent on sending all those who don’t belong to their tribe. Goodbye, friends.. Seeing that all fast food restaurants have a notice ‘pay in advance’, let me take the cue and say Goodbye in advance. When you see a pulp of human flesh in the tarmac with youths dancing round it waving their bloody matchetes, look closely. That ear might be mine. That grinning upper lip might be mine. I loved you, my fellow countrymen. I loved without thinking of your parental lineage. I loved Kenya. But look what this country has done to me: sodomised my sense of humanity and pride. 

Jan. 30th   2008, Nairobi

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKK3D0H9fWo]

[an open letter to pride toronto]

Big tings’ a gwaan: (pan) afrikan(i)s(ts) reconnecting en relocating with/indigenUS folks everywhere, these are our litanies of survival inviting you to listen to our songs of freedom en healing….

Big tings’ a gwaan like: the fiya this time at blockorama (could eve/n spread through all the tents, streets, en arts enclosures, all thru pride, maybe even straight to the ‘official’ pride tdot committee)

 

 Big tings’ with: (our) word! Sound! Powah!

in solidarity with the all-afrikan people’s revolutionary party, akina mama wa afrika,  anitafrika dub theatre, behind the mask, black action defence committee, bunge la mwananchi, coalition of african lesbians, the crux, elimu sanifu, engender, fahamu, gender education and advocacy project,  malcolm x grassroots movement, moyo wa africa, ngomeni eco tourism community development project, swagger, Toronto women’s bookstore, Toronto rape crisis centre, Yoruba house project, Zingaro self help group en many more businesses en grassroots groups [to be revealed when we ‘officially’ launch dis’  epic of a video project].

na (many) bredrin en dadas (educating ourselves and others in the practice of freedom,)

(rebuild)in(g) solidarity

within(en outside for) our communities

(this is my prayer…bless those who work for healing, truth, justice, peace & reconciliation)…..

The ground should (potentially) be revolushunary and ripe for organising big love en support for our growth and unity, the reality on dis earth has been in need of ‘the fiya this time’ en healing wota for years en counting….

I know I am just one of many conscious individuals, who have been disturbed by the increased gentrification and imperialism of the powers that be running pride, one of the many members of our communities that have organised more alternatives in celebration of our diversity and that also ran away…still I am one of the many that have made up the vast crowds

For our kind/a (people) masque/e/rading has been an intervention,

rainbow colours a testament to us people that have trans/formed not only ourselves but our communities

en even though I can  really only speak from my experience in the last 8 years, for I have to admit that I have gone to every single pride for only as long as I’ve been in Canada, for where I’ve come from there ain’t been no ‘pride’ parade yet, and I sure as heaven haven’t experienced where pride is coming from before 2002, but that is exactly what  may make me even more qualified to speak on the gaps in the structure than any one of the folks sitting on the committee right now.

For I am (not) one of u people, i am the sista outsider en revolushunary insider, (mis)placed betwixt, those ‘other’ people who are between so many communities, longing to go back home (to another place, not here…)

I was among the ones who were left behind in the entrails of ancient afrikan times, times dun changed (again) en there’s a reason it’s not taboo to go back for what you’ve forgotten, so

dear pride, I think it’s time we revised some tings, put the ‘real’ back in multicultural and go a lil deeper than we think we’re able or willing to….

Right back to when tings were (really) different, So I know, that there are many others who might disagree with me, or not feel as strongly about ‘the crisis’ in the state of tings, but in my opinion, it’s overdue for radical shake-ups in pride, the current committee has failed in the mission and spirit of Pride, and we have many more who are more than qualified, willing and able to run the committee, it’s time to (really) open tings up, less overconsumption of alcohol en more fundraisers for queer/trans groups in ‘third world’ countries, like for real, don’t you know at least 15 organisations that could really use some money in legal, security and administration fees, in say, Africa? That could be a good place to pick up the tab from last year, or why don’t you try nominating an afrikan again as pride marshall, there’s many more warriors who would love the platform to raise awareness on queer/trans rights, who have already dedicated so much of their energy, resources en time, in such a relatively short time, like say pouline kimani, audrey mbugua, nikki mawanda, chan mubanga, fikile vilakazi, d’bi young.anitaafrika or Zanele Muholi, and there are many many more to choose from…….

This comment is ofcourse a direct reference to how just last year you nominated Victor Mukasa as the International Grand Marshall, passed the buck in alot of the organising for hir reception, and other than giving hir a nominal amount to donate to the organisation of hir choice, an interview on the xtra website, a small blurb in the pride issue focusing on Helen Kennedy’s pet project, other than Alison duke’s work, en the interview with other Ugandans on the forefront of LGBT activism produced by Mary Tangelder en commissioned by ‘another’ group, other than Zanele muholi’s art-bios en the warriors of (the group formerly known as) pride Uganda organising, celebrating en  documenting our AFRIKAN stories in the making, if it were not for these people, key milestones might not have really registered.

But these comments ain’t no ‘hate’ on pride,

read them as a litany of love for what really ‘makes’ pride, pride……

everyone knows it’s US…. ‘the people’….

from the ‘straight’ outsiders, to cliquey ‘insiders’, the photographers,  volunteers, the floats en agitators, the masque/e/raders, youth en elders,

ALL the people of colour en the tourists, the vendors and the artists, activists en families….

so we already know that we’ve got nuff  ‘other’ people ready for accessible, bigger, safer and more fun prides….we know we’re ready for a revolution, one that includes the liberation of all oppressed peoples, and not just vip tickets, token nominations and assimilation into oppressive status quos, and definitely not about giving, say blockorama less to organise with, or say, banning queer Israelis against apartheid from the parade…..so THIS time at pride we’ll be recruiting bredrin and dadas in (working class) solidarity and interviewing ordinary people for dis’ documentary en web series that is dedicated not only to the liberation of ALL Afrikans, but ALL  people.

we already been collecting these hadithi for moons now, for you see, we come with our legacies of wom(b)anspeaking en manifesting powah!

the q/t werd is a (real/raw en) mystic, organic, us-people driven caravan of  pan-afrikan myths, legends en our (kinda) super/s/heroes, we’re sharing OUR  stories with everyone out there, we warn you we have not only just begun, en the fiya (en clean wota) this time, (en) next moon(s), will be/is/always has been divine….. 😉

we’re officially counting down to the launch of Nekkyd & The Q werd web series on the 1st of July, and in honour of bredrin and dadas in solidarity (BA-DIS) na elimu sanifu,

we dedicate this moon’ to egun en  living ‘extraordinary’ people that are featured in the Q/t werd.

Bless those who pray en work not only for their own good but for others, en bless our good earth, healers, cooks, farmers, artists, teachers and wotas.

Ase.ase. ase….

[YOUTUBE=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHEyzL1g3w8&feature=related]

On Sankofa en santeria: a study of our (great) ancestors and mestizoed cultures, recent and ancient, from Michael Jackson, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, Miriam Makeba, Audre Lorde, Elijah Masinde, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, to Queen Nzinga, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, gran nanny of the maroons, the legendary Nyabinghi Muhumusa, orishas and many (many) more hadithi…..

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Nipe mji……

 

 

A WOMAN SPEAKS

Moon marked and touched by sun

My magic is unwritten

But when the sea turns back

It will leave my shape behind

I seek no favour

Untouched by blood

Unrelenting as the curse of love

Permanent as my errors

Or my pride

I do not mix

Love with pity

nor hate with scorn

And if you would know me

Look into the entrails of Uranus

Where the restless oceans pound.

I do not dwell

Within my birth nor my divinities

Who am ageless and half grown

And still seeking

My sisters

Witches in Dahomey

Wear me inside their coiled clothes

As our mother did

Mourning.

I have been woman

For a long time

Beware my smile

I am treacherous with old magic

And the noon’s new fury

With all your wide futures

Promised

I am

Woman

And not white.

[from black unicorn by audre lorde]

Ase o….