Drums of South Sudan

The smell of gunfire. The shots have been coming since morning. Yesterday the huge guy in heavy American accent told us that all would be well. But it has not been well. Towards today dawn, there were sporadic exchanges of fire. We woke up to shells falling and guns racking the wild of the night as children, women and men scampered to find holes where we could hide our heads. Nobody stood to wonder why a hospital was under attack. Amid those shouts and cries and in the darkness, we ran, sometimes knocking into each other and changing direction.

There’s a rumour that those who hid in the Paediatrics Wing were evacuated. Those who ran to the admin offices were all killed. Those of us in the lab have not registered big casualties. Only three shot dead. Plus a boy whose death did not come from a bullet.
We are clutched to each other, to shield each other in the hope that a bullet will not find us, and that if it finds us, it shall not penetrate. We are clutched to each other hoping that if we go back to the God who hates us, we shall at least go back demonstrating what love is.
A child cries somewhere in the heart of the hall.  I hear a man growl to reprimand the mother. Such noise is a crime here. Yesterday they strangled a three year old because the idiot decided to start wailing in the dark for no clear reason. We pretended not to know what was happening even as we heard the boy gasp and fight for air. In the morning his body was pushed to the edge of the room before someone got the courage and threw it out through the window.

I am a nurse. Or nurse aid. After Green Light Secondary, I trained as a primary school teacher. But the situation at Kakuma was dire and a friend in the WHO made me assist her in almost all the tasks at the camp. That is how I began. In Kenya, there were no big health issues. Here, especially in the last two years, we have been receiving people with serious physical injuries. I have stitched hundreds. There are days I attend to more than 50 men and women with serious machete injuries, much as that may sound unrealistic.  I have attended hundreds of civilians who fall casualties to fire attacks. Some of them go back home. Some of them I have seen die.

We never knew our fate would get to this. There was the fighting, but at the hospital we knew we were safe because we were restoring lives to both camps. Then they struck the first time. It was said to be friendly fire. But two Chinese died and a number of locals were injured. Then last week, one of our staff was caught on his way to work. I think he gave the soldiers the wrong answers because apart from being given the chance to text us at the hospital, they killed him and dropped his body on the roadside. Now it is scary.


People have been going away silently.

Foreign nationals have been leaving in the few chances that calm came our way. The South African nurse was evacuated the other day. The two Canadians at the laboratory were also flown back home. We have been left alone to kill each other if we like. Even though it is hard to believe, the hard truth is that nobody will ever evacute us because we are home. The role to find peace squarely lies in our hands.

I have lived in Kenya for four years. In those four years I stayed at the Kakuma Refugee Camp except on two occasions when I travelled to Nairobi on a paid trip for Duol’s wedding and the second time when I was going to take the flight to Juba. On those two occasions I learnt two things. One that Kakuma was never the representation of Kenya. Two, that the whole area of Northern Kenya would never be like Nairobi even in the next thousand years. The two regions are like day and night in terms of urbanisation and technological advancement. But what i now come to think about is how the two regions come together to call themselves kenya. They are one thing despite the seasoned inequalities that politics and nature have always done to their fate.


Last week they told us that some people were already moving north into Sudan as refugees.  Which was not a bad thing. But I thought we would be better going up north as visitors and equals and not as beggars after we decided to secede from Khartoum. But a person in war does not choose.

Fire continues outside. There is an explosion, followed by the cracking of heavy war guns. Unlike in the morning, there are no more human cries. It is like they have killed all of themselves and left a gun at either end to fire and respond to fire.  


I wonder. Why do we keep killing? At Kakuma we had Somalis, Rwandese, Congolese, Burundians. All of them said very nasty stories of wars in their countries. They were so horrible that I thought Al-Bashir was a bit fair he killed Garang softly. Then we got independence and most of us came back. Nobody just told us what we were coming back to. Nobody cared to tell us that we were coming back to moving graves South of the sick Sahara.

Yesterday I saw perhaps the most horrifying thing before I die. It was a huge blast. Then the hospital began coming down. We were on the first floor of the three-floored building. Many died. Others had themselves or part of themselves trapped in the rubble they couldn’t move. Yesterday I lost my left leg.

When we lay in that rubble, there was no tribe. There was no religion. There was no country or race. Just humans with blood pretending to have hopes in a future we knew would never come even if miracles were given chance. It was no need crying to a God we knew was too overwhelmed with the situation he could never save himself from it in the first time. In that rubble I knew what life is. I knew the cost of having a human, even in misery, walk on their two legs and live a life of their own.

What I need now are two things. A glass of clean water and a big hug from a random stranger. I want to live again.




Life and Death: Muhammad Ali


People get inspiration from the oddest and unlikeliest things. There are those who will look at your nose and return from menopause. Others will see an eagle pass and remember their late grandpa. Others will see fire and think fire; others rain and see themselves affluent. We are not the same.    
While still in campus, I used to take an early morning run with a girl who wanted to burn the fat around her hips. Another guy saw us and asked to join us. It wasn’t even asking. He just announced that he’d be joining us and I didn’t find words to turn him down. Soon a reputation I had built came crashing down. Part of it even hit my nose. The guy had now overthrown the government and the girl took orders from him and forgot her excellent me.

THERE IS a roommate I once had on campus. Kefo didn’t pose as a less informed guy. Actually I almost made him my model because I liked anything from the city and he had spent all his childhood growing tall in Nairobi. This guy used to play loud music every day of the year. And so I began to play loud music every day of the year. Until another friend asked me why. And I asked Kefo why. He told me he was doing it so that when we quarrel, it should not appear like we were shouting at each other since we were friends. The next week I moved out.

THERE IS this leopard-skin fashion that has been trending with Nairobi girls. It came with a sad face but after it got our attention, whatever we have seen! Now you are a village girl and when you come to Nairobi your first assignment is to ape the leopard girl. Time has eaten its length and she looks like she measured her fabric from an A4 sheet and spared enough to cover her table. She feels so confident swaying her tail down the street. My dear girl, don’t be fooled to take home that fashion. It is just that Nairobi people are too busy to stop and start laughing at a cartoon. And cartoons don’t pay you when you laugh.

THERE IS a trend of people who walk village paths with their Sanyo radios wrapped in a yellow cloth. What we see in the village! Don’t ape. Don’t ape people who walk with a tilted gait. Don’t ape people who walk down the lane with giant headphones. Don’t ape people who carry three phones to a meeting. Don’t ape single people who stay in five-bedroomed houses. Don’t ape the guy who runs too fast, too much. You don’t know what drives them.

And the people who follow them are clueless.
SUCH PEOPLE, all of them, smell the village. The only way a village look can help you is when we take you to the game park and tell visiting Jews that look, this is how the grandfather of Pharaoh looked like. This is how he used to throw his swag before dames. In which case we shall get sacks of the shekel as you stay caged and guarded from yourself. And we shall buy you food from China and attend conferences to give endless requests to the international community to help protect you and elephants from poachers.

Find better role models, if there is anything like that.

Mine is Muhammad Ali. The great.

I have followed Muhammad Ali since childhood. And I have read him since I grew my first piece of beard.

I don’t even like boxing. I don’t feel cool when someone WHUPS another’s ass. Ali himself didn’t like boxing. He loathed seeing two niggers unshit each other to be cheered by whites. So it is not the boxing bit. I like Ali because of how he plucked and harmonised the keys of his instrument. How he blended his poetry, oration, his punches, his career; how he blended life and filtered what he became.   

Don’t emulate the girl that puts on A4.

Challenge. Ali is gone.

He who was the greatest. He knocked down many. He was the outboxer whose name caused pressure to managers and coaches. Robust and fast, his trade was to knock down people. Now he is down and nobody has knocked him. Used by Time. Time used him to settle scores with those Time didn’t want. Time used his undercut and knocked down Time’s losers. When Time pointed at Frazier, it was Ali who planted a jab on Frazier, and Frazier went down. When Time chose Cleveland ‘Big Cat’ Williams, Ali planted himself on him, and the Big Cat was shred into pieces of a rat’s fur. When Time felt upset with Foreman, it was Ali’s punch that went for Foreman’s jugular, and Foreman went down. Ali rumbled in the jungle before and after 1974. But it was not Ali that rumbled. It was his master. TIME. Life. Death.

The greatness of life lies in death. Therein we find completion and actualisation. We become complete. We get deprived of want or need. In death no record is broken. Only peace. And peace. Ali has been initiated into the sect of the peaceful.

There are very nice lines Housman writes. I have never found better poetry.


The time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.


Today, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.


Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay,

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.


Eyes the shady night has shut

Cannot see the record cut,

And silence sounds no worse than cheers

After earth has stopped the ears.


Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,

Runners whom renown outran

And the name died before the man.


So set, before its echoes fade,

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,

And hold to the low lintel up

The still-defended challenge-cup.


And round that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl’s.


Random fact

He rumbled in the jungle in ‘74. He died at 74.

And to God be His.



You will sit down and beat the nagging pain in your sole. If not beat, then convince. You will need to convince that side of God’s temple that everything is okay. That the walking was okay. That tomorrow is a day too.
Then you will check your mail the nth time. A for apple, B for bulshit, n for number above 120. You will find a sticker blinking 3 new messages. Lord. Adrenalin. So you will debate with yourself whether to go to the inbox directly or wait till you do that prayer of yours. Yesterday you prayed and got dinner (from the landlord’s daughter herself). You used it in college and avoided the supplementaries on most occasions. But the devil that remover you from the holy garden is telling you to go on ahead and read the mails.
In haste, you will mention God’s name seven absent-minded times as you open the link. Internet is an ashkhole. Knows the right time to misbehave. The opera thing keeps rotating up there as if you are the one who killed Jesus. It rotates and keeps rotating after you refresh the link twice. Then, just as you want to check your data, it summasaults and backwardrolls and the inbox is there all open for you. Like any other of your species, you rush to open.
The first one is yahoo’s piece on David Trump. Okay, Donald, but who cares anyway? The fact that your mind can’t distinguish between David and Donald should send the right message to the Americans over there. A very insensitive breed.

And Angels Shall Sigh

And Angels Shall Sigh