Challenge: Flash Fiction

Amos N Tabalia

DEPRIVATION

His gun trained at the boy, he takes aim
The sagging body soars to earth
Camouflaged, he stands to pick it
From behind, a point-blank shot
He falls on him, dead too
“One shot and I have two dead bodies, a month’s supply of food” Old hag says.

 

Ngartia J Bryan


CRUNCH

Dr. Oyunga’s mind had developed a tendency of wandering. Yesterday, while listening to a patient’s troubles, it slipped across the floor…

Irritated, he followed it quickly to the wall, into the balcony then leapt gracefully, catching it before it plummeted down 11 floors.

“GOTCHA!” Was the psychiatrist’s last thought.

 

Njeri Macharia

“*Hick.
She felt the car come to a stop.
Home.
Didn’t even need to open her eyes, done it too often.
Took out just enough and paid him, barely managing to exit the cab.
‘Vodka is a bitch!’
But she needed it.
It cushioned his blows and deafened her ears.”

 

Rayhab Potentash Gachango

Hiding in the shadows until an hour after lights went out, he opened the door. He went quietly to master bedroom.

She was snoring loudly. He slowly undressed.

The woman hit him with a rungu. As he lost consciousness she laughed “that will teach you to stop coming home late.”

Morris Kiruga

1. Exhibit One: 9mm silencer on a Beretta 92FS. Used twice. A decade-long Civil War. Peace. Love. War Again.

2. Exhibit Two: The long-flowing dress at the door, his pants at the foot of the bed. The condom wrapper. Hand on her throat, eyes popping out. As if it was the first time they were making love. It was the last; she knew he was dying, they both were.

Wanjiru Njoroge

The feel of the blade on her skin did more to arouse her than scare her. Thought of the double edge slicing through her wrists, gush. Wet. She’d go by and on her hand. A slave of the whip but free in death.

Zo si

She knew there wasn’t much time. “What will they say? What will they think?” So she dug her heels in and centred herself. What to say? How to put it? Would she make the cut? Then she said,”heck”. She hit the post button.

 

Martin tha Bang’er

Toys … Bikes… Letters… Giggles… First Kiss. College. Loyalty. Love. Soul mates… Aisle.The First. Dreams. Home. Happiness…. Recall. War. Guns. Letters. Country. Loyalty. Oil. IED. Knock. Salute. Flag. Tears…. Birth. Photos. Letters….toys.Bikes…

Zaynah McAdam

The night of the full moon. Deep in the forest. It snarled at her showing vicious-looking sharp teeth. She was terrified. Just before she fled, her eyes locked with its confused brown penetrating eyes. Worried no more, she knew her search for him was over. He had turned.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

Submission 1: Ruffled sheets. Question. You are number 7. Smile. Anniversary. Question. You are number 7 and 9. Frown. Ruffled thoughts.
Submission 2:

Boarding time had come.

Shipwrecked in such a short time.

They threw him a rope attached to a branch and saved his life.

But he lost his wife.

Three months to the date.

He made his own fate.

Threw the rope over the tree branch.

Same rope, different branch.

Wanjiku Kinuthia

NOKIA LUNACY

When your phone ‘hangs’, resets your settings to default, loses your high score on Temple Run, you can’t take it anymore, about to smash it against a wall, fuck the cost of buying a new one, then the priceless text comes, ” Hi Baby.”

 

THE TALE OF A GREAT MAN

The blood of virgins did not work, so the blood of whores became his elixir, drowning in their wanton desires, licentious ventures and basic harlotry. And that was when he achieved greatness.

 

OF CRAWLY SAVIOURS

The future embarrassment of hurried sex was saved by a spider’s bite. Now she’ll never know how it feels, to crush a spider before sex.

Shiko Ngure

His heart was beating fast. Denial. She was so beautiful. Pain. He could see it. He knew he should breathe. She smiled slightly, reassuring him. They had been warned. “Breathe. I…we will be fine.” Her voice was calm. Too calm. He knew then that the baby had not survived.

Кевин мутуа

He stood standing, silhouetted against the open door, by the blue and red. The flurry of cocking automatics and sirens, breaking the eery silence. The crimson trail, accompanying him like a shadow and clinging to his hands. The motionless body , framed by the lights, a betrayal of the brutality.

Wamahiga Muhia

A catastrophic affair, covert, deserving of every condemnation. Shameful! Tasteless! It just happened, with her gynae. A Sikh. She was the preacher’s wife, and he never left her side as pangs of labor hit her. He was about to find out. The shame in pain, the pain of this shame.

Olubunmi Familoni

THE ISOSCELES

He floats into the bar, light as a breeze, and makes for a lifeless corner; but the filthy rich are easy to sniff out in the midst of such penurious rot. She catches a whiff of that stench of wealth, and rearranges her breasts in advertisement.
He spots his boyfriend.

Manwar Wuod Gino

“He held the bottle of beer, slightly obscuring the label on the bottle. The label said 40% by volume. He hasn’t exceeded that volume though, or so he thought. Then blackness. Darkness. Sirens. Tubes. Bedpans. Nurses. Headstones.

Bonuke Brenda

She came forth dragging her feet, tears flowing uncontrollably. She paced around and when our eyes locked, I ran, embraced her tightly and said, “Hush child it’s not the end of the world”. She held me tighter; “it is for me” she said and jumped onto the oncoming train.

Wanjiku Kinyua

After two damn years!!!! “Hey girlfriend!!!!! am around, wanted to come to your place for a visit. “ “uummh” “Great am outside your house” and so the cycle continues now you see me now you don’t yet every time feels like you never left.

Eric Mugendi Nyagah

1. ‘Where I come from, stories have no ends’, she started, immediately realizing what she had just doomed herself to…

2. The train was the first thing he heard when he woke up. He could feel the sun, hot on the back of his neck, and the beginnings of a pounding headache. Others around him were similarly stirring. So much for the end of the world.

Carol Msuper

Gone
Slightly tagging on the Security railing, Ruth feigning a smile, waved. She knew her daughter would leave one day but never to such a far away land. “Bye,” she said, fingering her rosary ring. “I will pray for you,” she whispered as she sought to steal a final glance.

Laban Busmalis Ogechi

Arriving as one of the four representing the university, the other three were already sitted. Before entering the room his mind went through probabilities, when he saw her it all made sense(she definitely was S.D.A). That thought that she was God’s choice for him was the Devil’s greatest trick…!

Challenge: The Lost Art of Letter Writing; Write a letter

Huma Kaoga Kaseu

On Friendship (The Lost Art of Letter Writing)
Dear Catherine Ngusye Nzissi,
You wrote, “The power of friendship is beyond measure….” a fact that I don’t dispute. The transcending nature of friendship only exists when occasioned in its most pure form which often is not the case. Yet i don’t find fault in friendship as it were nor does the note here referred seek to paint true friendship in bad light. My address is the relationships that ensue in the guise of friendship which is always nothing more than convenient acquaintance. That’s why he asks, “what good are these friends, when I’m just as alone. What is the point to these friendships, if i don’t feel any different? Or may be sadder still sometimes. Watching them dwindle as they do.”
Then you wrote, “If one feels like an island in the midst of Gold and Silver…” This I also find holding truth. No man can exist alone because as you might already know we are social animals. However the notion that a man cannot exist without friends is a fallacy for that is the case all of the time everywhere in the world. people maintain relationship as long as there is something they are gaining from it…and as soon as the juice of their indulgence runs dry or curtains fall on the event occasioning their consociation; do the warm smile turn into cold sneers, do the praises turn into vile gossips, do hope shared turn into envy n fatal jealousy… he writes, “….and memory tells you stories, but they only make you want to cry. Memory presents its evidence, but it’s a mistrial.”
To dress the eminent divide they say “WE JUST GREW APART.”
I’m therefore informed for those reasons to say, – WE CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT OTHER PEOPLE BUT WE CAN, AND DO EXIST WITHOUT FRIENDS (in the righteous meaning of the word).
You summed up by saying,” Negro, you got it bad.” which view I also share and agree with and that’s why in the note he wrote “I’d say goodbye if i thought that i could actually go through with it. but i know my own weaknesses.” which weakness is; I assume all persons friends before they prove convenient acquaintance and are erased from my purpose or I’m erased from their purpose by time. YES, I GOT IT BAD and so has everyone else. Difference is that I noticed and now I’m aware of it, which knowledge makes him write in the note,” it feels like life is something beyond your grasp.”
In conclusion he writes, “Maybe it’s just tonight, but anyone who knows me knows it’s not. Maybe it’s just a mountain I’m climbing to find the top. but anyone who knows me knows what I’d do then.” my appreciation to every single soul that has dared tangle with mine and to the very extent all that i have met and is yet to meet in my life’s journey…
Your Friend,
Huma Kaseu.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi


Dear son,

I really do hope you are fine. As you continue to make our family name shine, I am glad to call you mine. You know we worked real hard to get you into the best college. Ever since you were a kid throwing your tantrums in rage. Now you have the potential to grow into a sage. They say youth is lost on the young. But I know this will not be the case as you have never been uncouth and one day your name will be sung. Our country’s hopes of coming out of the murk continue to diminish. That you be a pioneer of great leadership is my only wish. I know it is much to ask, but soon I will leave this earth. All I want is for the ashes to finally leave the hearth. Rise up like a newly born phoenix. Spring gracefully and stealthily like an adapted lynx. I see your mother drive in. She still works hard and that’s our win. But age is catching up with us. It’s your time, my boy, to quieten the fuss. Shadows cover our majestic country now and down goes the sun. Get the right friends and with them light up the intellect of this country, my son. We will always love you and glad to have you.

Your father,
In rhyme and lyric
Edwin “TDB” Mukabi

 

Amos ‘kelele Kelele’ Tabalia

Dear Dad
I hope you are fine and doing great. I am happy and doing fine. Class work is proving very easy this term. From the look of things, I am sure that this term I will take the first position. This time round, I am so sure of myself unlike last term when I promised the same but due to unavoidable circumstances, I ended up in position 144. I seriously do not understand what happened but I think the class teacher made an error somewhere and interchange my position with the stupid person who was declared number one. Anyway, let us forget that. I know my place is around position 1 or 2. Even the History teacher told me so. They say I am very bright.
However, in my concerted efforts to make number one, there are various things that you are obliged to do. The first one among the many is a certain physics book by a certain American called Abbot. This book has made wonders in the world. It is like knowledge itself. Buying the book will not only show how committed you are in your dream of us becoming number one, but also allow you to share in the greatest piece of knowledge artifact in the world. The book is made in such away that you do not need to read it, but sleep on it. Knowledge assimilates from the book, which in this case is under the mattress, through the porous pores of the pillow, and directly through the Medula Oblangata, which we learned in class that it is that part of the heart that makes the hand think and write correct answers. This book is a physics book but it gives knowledge on every subject, Kiswahili, Music, art and Design, mathematics and even CRE. Buying the one book, will be like buying all the knowledge in the world.
Dad, this book has made the president of the United States, Bill Gates to invent cars, bicycles and even electrical bicycles that use petrol. It also made the pope of Iran become wise like King Solomon, who is a great angler in China. My point is that we need this book. We will be able to see things that other people cannot see. Luckily, for me, I managed to make acquaintance with one man who has the book. He is the current number one student in form four. He is selling the book for 30,000 shillings. However, because we are great friends, he has agreed that if u send 300 shillings by the end of the day tomorrow, I will have the book for keeps. Do not even think twice Dad. Just go and take the money under the pillow in mum’s bedroom and give it to Mr Makali. Wrap it in an envelope and do not tell him that there is money inside. If he discovers that we have encountered this book, he will try to snatch it from us. Do not also try to buy the so-called book from the local bookstores. Those guys are cheats. Big Cheats. Those are abbot books from china. They are not only expensive but very useless and complicated. Do not come to school because u will make the book to disappear. The money has to be given to me.
Lastly, I know that you are a good man and very clever. Do not be cheated by other people that I am cheating you. Bring that money and we will be number one. Salimia mum but usimuonyeshe hii barua. I will close by quoting what the great essayist, Wayne Rooney said, “You are my Man and I am your Man”. I love you people
Yours sincerely and loving you very much son
Amos

Kagure Njagi

Dear Cereal Thief,

How are you? I hope you’re well (fed). I am writing this letter to get something off my chest – something that has greatly puzzled me since the week before Christmas.
It was a bright Monday or possibly even Thursday morning and I had one thing on my mind – cereal. I remember happily trotting to the kitchen, my mouth salivating like a bell was ringing and I was one of Pavlov’s dogs. It was the kind of cereal with nuts, granola, corn flakes and most importantly, enough sugar to feed a family of four. Trot, trot, trot into the kitchen I gaily went, arriving at the fridge where I was sure to find my sugary treat. I scanned the line of boxes: Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops, and Honey Nut Cheerios. End.
Sometimes my eyes play tricks.
Again: Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops, and Honey Nut Cheerios. End.
Once the horror had subsided, the panic reduced to a manageable level of blood pressure and the shortness of breath passed, I convinced myself that it must have been a mistake – after all, I didn’t label the box. I proceeded to make myself a lowly piece of non-sugary toast on that bright sunny morning.

It has come to my attention that I was mistaken in assuming (and there lies the problem) that you had made a mistake and assumed (there lies that problem again) my box of cereal was your box of cereal as another box has ‘disappeared’. Like a house cat that marks its territory by spraying urine on walls, I now understand the value of labeling and placing one’s name on one’s possessions.
That having been said, I hope and pray that you will reveal yourself in the next three months seeing that when that time period expires I will evict the premises and move on to better things and better places and, goshdangnabbit – better ROOMMATES!

Your patient, secretly passive aggressive roommate,

Kagure.

 

Challenge: Write on religion or the lack of it

Namde P.K.Wandera

Religious Pudding

When I look at my brother, I don’t see a Muslim, I see my brother.

When I look at my sister, I don’t see a Protestant, I see my sister.

When I look at my friends, I don’t see Muslims, Christians, Hindus or Pagans, I see my friends.

When you look at me, don’t see a Catholic. It is just me.

“If I do good, do not laud my religion.
If I do evil, do not condemn it either.
It is out of a personal conviction.”

Huma Kaoga Kaseu

Atheism
If God were real, I would not be unlike him
If God were real, I would not have to ail
If God were all knowing why need he test my faith?

If He knows to what extent I’ll buckle, why suffer me pain
Why have me live so I die
If that’s the nature of God then the state of the world is explained.

Ivy Mutisya

Dear God, Sir…Erm…Hi!
No, that’s not right.
Wait, one more time.
How should I talk to you?
Where do you find the time to listen?

Conceited in my prayers,
Let my vanity not take up your time.
Let’s try something new:
HELLO! Hi…How are you?
Not happy huh?
Not proud of me? Yeah?
Me neither…

Today there’s a real crisis,
But I don’t deserve your grace,
I’ve wasted so much of it already,
Still my eyes are tightly shut,
I’m searching for you.

What’s the appropriate title?
God? No…too remote, My God,
Yeah that’s it.
How about Father? Baba? Hmmm
Father Almighty! Too rehearsed,
Not that I doubt that you are mighty…
Oh boy, I’m wasting your time again.

I’ve been quiet…it’s not been easy,
You are always but a breathe away,
I know you know how I’m doing,
I shouldn’t bore you with the details,
But maybe if I explain myself…
I find myself succumbing to the floor,
Oh no! Looks like I’m gonna pray again.

Patti Achieng’

of religion and complacency

Pious zeal resonates in every step they take, conviction written all over their eager faces. Belief manifest in their tightly clutched bibles, rushing to a tickling of ears. Salute man’s innate need!
A tickling of ears, a tickling of ears, long replaced a thirst for truth, a thirst for knowledge, a thirst for faith built! So they stream to their minsters, unwittingly submitting to doctrines unproven, too unBeroean to verify dogmas, dogmas fashioned after avaricious beings, lining their already fat pockets with paper, paper the pious whine while giving, yet they don’t stop to validate what they hear!
Pugh! I say!!! Search for the truth!!!

Morris Kiruga

“Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know…”

My penance piety does not suffice
As the fray takes toll upon my mortal
As the dagger slices and dices
The fort crumbles…

Hope and pray I be reborn
To dive into the fray one other
To face demons whose fire I stoke
That my soul for peace to have
My heart for ants to feed

Yet death hath become this life I boast
All good fights have come to this
The moment on which I stand
The weapon upon my hand
Broken sheath under my feet

On this day I am born
On this day I die
I must hope and pray
That one day I learn to hope and pray

Eyes gaze beyond the clouds
For an omen I might see
This fort mine blessing and curse.

Immortality it might be
The bright light that cometh my way
Into the last good night I’ll ever see.

“…Live and die on this day
Live and Die on this day.”

Wanjiku Kinuthia

REWARD OF AN APOSTATE

“. . . Oh, that my god will none of me! That is an old sorrow! My god was Beauty, and I am all unbeautiful, and ever was. There is no grace in these harsh limbs of mine, nor was at any time. I, to whom the glory of a lit eye was as the shining of stars in a deep well, have only dull and faded eyes, and always had; the chiselled lip and chin whereover runs the radiance of life in bubbling gleams, the cup of living wine was never mine to taste or kiss. I am earth-colored and for my own ugliness sit in the shadows, that the sunlight may not see me, nor the beloved of my god.

But, once, in my hidden corner, behind a curtain of shadows, I blinked at the glory of the world, and had such joy of it as only the ugly know, sitting silent and worshipping, forgetting themselves and forgotten. Here in my brain it glowed, the shimmering of the dying sun upon the shore, the long [gold] line between the sand and sea, where the sliding foam caught fire and burned to death . . .Here in my brain, my silent unrevealing brain, were the eyes I loved, the lips I dared not kiss, the sculptured head and tendrilled hair. They were here always in my wonder house,my house of Beauty.

The temple of my god. I shut the door on common life and worshipped here. And no bright, living, flying thing in whose body beauty dwells as guest can guess the ecstatic joy of a brown, silent creature, a toad-thing, squatting on the shadowed ground, self-blotted, motionless, thrilling with the presence of All-Beauty,though it has no part therein.

,–“not with that still ecstacy of [flooding] joy wherewith my own god filled me of old, but with impetuous, eager fires, that burned and beat through all the blood-threads of me. ‘I love you, love me back,’ I cried, and would have flung myself upon h neck. Then he turned on me with a ruthless blow; and fled away over the world, leaving me crippled,stricken, powerless, a fierce pain driving through my veins–gusts of pain!–and I crept back into my [old] cavern, stumbling, blind and deaf, only for the haunting vision of my shame and the rushing sound of fevered blood . . .

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

THIS IS MY PRAYER

Jealous Almighty, loving God
Extend your arms, consecrate me
Sustain my soul, oh my Lord
Up, my spirit goes, let it be
Soon I sit on thine right hand

Closed heart, thy love sets me free
Holy One, let me live righteously
Redeem my friends, my enemies flee
Inspire me; show thine glory
Stand with me, I know you paid the fee
Temptations are at bay, do expose their folly

Light of the world
Illuminate the darkness
Vengeance is thine own, thou sayest
Elevate their reasoning; time to right their wrongs
Satan, prince of darkness, gnashing of teeth is nigh

Zaynah McAdam

A letter to God
Dear God,
It’s been awhile since we talked. Really talked. All I’ve been doing is perform the customary litany, ask for something or thank you for the general. I kinda miss those days we used to have a chat, when I could tell you anything. The days I was but a toddler, whispering something to you whenever I got the chance to.
How I miss it. When I used to tell you my secrets and dilemmas, and not just conclude you know it all like I seem to be doing of late. Remember the day two of my childhood friends had a fight? And I came to you, asking for your advice. Beseeching you, to show me how to fairly judge and deal with each of them. I narrated to you every bit of what happened, we talked over it; and the next day, you showed me the way. (Between me and you, I don’t think Ashley got over that blow to her head. You think that’s why she turned out the way she did? ) Yes, I remember it very clearly. And I’m sorry for being away for far too long.
I blame it on myself, for letting the worldly belonging and earth dwellers beguile me excessively. Being too busy and knowing too much now, is not reason enough for my truancy. Neither does having a lot in my mind excuse my absenteeism behaviour. And today Dear God, today I want to make amends. Or at least try.
Not because I have problems I need you to solve (don’t I always seem to have those), and not because I have a favour I want to ask you; but for my soul cleansing, my most satisfying benediction.
I want you to be my convoy in all that I do. I want to feel your heavenly presence once again. Trust you and worship you; Let you show me the right way. My soul desire, to rekindle what I felt before. Before everything in the world blinded my eyes and blackened my heart. I want to go back to the days when I believed entirely in you. That nothing can discomfit you. That all I had to do was let you guide me through it all. That period I believed you want nothing but the best for me. And that everything happened for a reason.
But one question I want to ask. One question my All-knowing Lord. How far should I go with our talkfest? I am certainly nothing close to your pious prophets, and cannot even compare with their most trusted disciples. I obviously know not what issues they brought to your presence. Should I ventilate about the trials and tribulations in my life? Should I talk about home and school? Can I reprimand my own friends and family? What about the date I had the other week? Is it okay to discuss about the boy I have a thing for? Or even what we did last weekend? Or, is it required of me to stick to my faith and issues concerning my piety? I’m I supposed to stay clear of the worldly possessions…
Give me a sign oh Creator of heaven and earth; for the last thing I would want to do is get into your wrong books and face your wrath. Yes, I believe in your boundless might, as much as I Don’t believe in Santa Claus. (It is my hope that no kid is reading this, if so….then too bad)
Until I get the answers to this questions oh Merciful King, all I can do is tread on thy path with caution. Until then, this letter is as far as I can go. I just earnestly hope that then, will be soon.
Yours faithfully,
A believer.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

When I look at the stars, knowing full well that they are giant balls of light far away, and I see God. Not some malevolent man with a vendetta against mankind, or a bored old fogey with nothing better to do than to watch people make mistakes, but a shining light, a guide to life and knowledge; whose purpose is not to sanction evil done in his name, or chastise non-conformers, but to point, like a compass, to wait until we find ourselves, until we launch questioning ships into a vast, unknown ocean of doubt and despair; until we look inside for the light that banishes all darkness.
That is my religion.

Challenge: Write on “Nairobi Living”

Rehema Abdul

Lots can be said about living in the City in the Sun-(the English doesn’t make sense but hey it has stuck with us for so long) and living in this City brings a lot of emotions from her inhabitants and to the passer-bys. From the ruthless drivers who knowingly cross the red lights and drive on pavements and shout insults to those who cross their paths to men who have been emasculated and keep ringing local stations complaining about the women in their lives and have no courage to do something about it. With communication lines opening up through the web and airwaves to mobile technology-Nairobi is on the map and a MUST LOOK out for City with upcoming Metropolis cities coming up with Konza and Tatu on the way to achieving Vision 2030, not forgetting the gap is set to widen as the rich get richer and the poor can expect for this to get worse with inflation rates dancing up the curve and politicians running around with promises they know so well they won’t keep.

Why I love the City of the Sun still, it’s the only place you will get the same guy who was rudging for a matatu in the morning politely queuing for another in the evening and you are astounded at the chameleon tendencies that he possesses. She reacts more often than she acts and in a sense, she is a sleeping giant and has no idea about this. The potential is so immense and no one has ever told her what she can do. She can literally shake the world. I believe the awakening will come from within when she quiets to listen to what she really needs and wants and acts without being controlled by few individuals and mass reaction will be mass action.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

If there is anything this city has in abundance, it is people. An odd mix of faces, shapes and colours, caught between the pages of life, forming odd lumps in what can best be described as a diary of nothing much, just heading from one end of Metropolis to another, from Ngara to Community, past sweeping, soon-to-be-completed overpasses, heads bowed in silent acceptance, all the while filled with calculations of how much has been stolen from them, ergo how much they have to steal, prices adjusted for inflation, the cost of looking away as the same guy who wanted money for an operation last-week-but-one approaches with hope, asking for money for ‘care’, the smell of chips cooked in transformer oil and chicken that’s been taken for a spin, the odd puddle where clean clothes are soiled by grinning, air-conditioned yahoos with their hire-purchase Vitzes vying for space on the street with a million other metal monsters, trapped in a contest of who gives way to whom, and a brief stop at High Court for airtime…
Back to walking, head still bowed, our intrepid city-crosser reaches Uhuru Park, where the preacher and the odd camera-man angle for willing buyers, and the grass is the wrong shade of brown. Up some stairs, past the massive flagpole and the accompanying panorama, into one of the nondescript buildings, avoiding the lifts (too crowded), aiming for even more stairs.

Upward mobility.
And so, our hero starts to walk up slowly, scraping the mud from his shoes, all the while trying not to think about how this journey shall have to be made again tomorrow…

 

SirFelix Full-ee Okaka

I open my eyes and I belch out sweet relief when I realise I am not in the City in the Sun. Scratch that..Lets go with the weather and call it The City in the Rainy Clouds.
I do not hate Nairobi. Just that in my scale of preferences it doesnt feature that high up.
I was under the illusion that I ooze Nairobizm by virtue of the fact that I studied in some marquee school along China Superhighway.
How wrong was I. I touched down in Nairobi with the verve of an exploitative multinational company waiting to discover oil from bare ground in Turkana. KTN was my company by circumstance(Kenya Tarmacking Network).
The conductor shouts ‘hamza salasa’ and I stare blankly at him. I heeded his call and boarded the matatu(i saw on twitter that they call it jav). You see how acquainted I was with the Nai-dialect).
I had to tweet something about me ‘veni vidi vici-ing’ Nairobi. I was sitting at the back seat with my kabambe 3g phone which I still insist is not a China phone tweeting when my window was suddenly opened and I felt my phone leaving my hand.
Pause that…
Random fact..research shows that twitter addicts develop strong thumbs as an adaptation to the tweeting.

Play.. The phone remained stuck on my hands but the trauma of my phone being grabbed lasts till today. The ‘salasa’ conductor grins at me and says ‘karibu nairobi kijana’.
I felt naivety creeping up on my back.
With the ‘nyanga’ full we left for hamza salasa only to find out ‘salasa’ was actually the fare charge.
I would have asked the beautiful lady beside me to verify that but the size of the headphones she put on after trying to strike a conversation advised me otherwise.
I was stuck to listening to some mbusih guy on radio saying ‘kung’uta miwa kung’ kung’
‘Hamza mwisho,the conductor shouted.
Paranoid me alighted while the mbusih on radio bleated ‘mambo mbbrchaaa.
Welcome to Nairobi.

Noel Mwachala

I came from a tropical island to the city in the sun, my arrival was marked by heavy dark clouds that soon begun to spit at me, run, run, watch them run, then watch my step as i run. Water is life the why are we running? Some look like they need some life in their existence, maybe the life raining down will only make their existence wetter making them targets to drying, remember this is the city in the sun.

Jonathan Paul

Yesterday after work, I joined a crowd next to an ‘Iko-Toilet’. We all had a common enemy; rain. Someone was feeling my back pocket; they would only find a KBS bus receipt there. A lady sprinting across from us slipped and I heard several people sigh, some from disappointment; others from relief. A young girl with pink, red and blue braids and boxing shoes was popping gum noisily in front of me. The street boy on my left looked at me and asked ‘utanunua phone boss’ producing a handset written ‘NOKLA’ at the back. That was my cue to leave.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

Arrive in the city in the sun.
This city has lost its sons.
This is not a humorous pun.
Life was ended by guns.
It’s true we had our fun.
But now my nose runs.
As silent as a virgin nun.
Shadows creep and my soul burns.
The tropical tribalism gives me a permanent tan.
Politicians bribe my friend and his vote turns.
We all do what we can.
Survive the traffic, take home those daily buns.
Its hard enough to be a man.
But the peace of our women, this city shuns.
It murders our grandmothers.
Sexually abuses our sisters.
For all their love, no one bothers.
It’s high time we protected our daughters.
In this city, we feed from our sweat.
That is except our so called leaders.
As the rain falls and the ground is wet.
They print out their lies, we are the readers.
One day it will get better, I bet.
We are still young, look at our baby-feeders.
The stage is finally set.
We are not selling our city to the highest bidder.
The streets of Nairobi are calling.
The time is NIGH, we ROW to success, the city in the sun we shall BE again.
NIGH-ROW-BE!!

Morris Kiruga

Alighting from the matatu at OTC, does anyone call it that these days? Am in the city now, I was once a stranger but now I know, I have a mental map of the entire city, the inner workings of what they used to call ‘the green city in the sun’. Someone, or people, died on this spot a few months ago, I do not feel the presence of their ghosts, but not to worry, I might still be human after all. So am walking up, towards the unofficial stage behind Khalsa Primary & Secondary (How do those kids study), through the pathway into Bus Station, this place, kids, used to be a mess. You could get lost in this tiny place, and let me not even mention the furor that was the neighboring KBS stage.

It is better now, I tell myself as I navigate through the human traffic, past Tusky’s. I must be ready to furiously shake my head here, because South C matatu conductors can be stubborn. Past Ukwala now, there’s Afya Centre. It was the Hilton before the Hilton, where you met your date or a stranger who did not know any other part of the city.

But am walking on, jumping to avoid being hit by a Langata-bound matatu that just did a U-turn in a place full of human traffic. Cross Tom Mboya Street and head to the walkway that leads you past Nakumatt. Now Moi Avenue, to my left, infront, another Tusky’s. The bushes and shrubs separate us, but I know a bit to the left is the Co-op building, the site of the 1998 bombing. People died, many people died…

But I turn and walk right as I cross the street. Am trying to avoid human traffic, but clearly my chosen path is no better. On the other side I walk on, Kenya Cinema, where almost anyone with teeth watched their first movie, went for their first date, now just a shell, or what’s left of it. It closed up last year, no?
Up, up, a little past the noisy Samba Restaurant and I take a left because Kencom Stage, perhaps this city’s busiest bus station where the conductor who screams himself or herself hoarse is not the one who picks your fare. Hard times this, even that they had to subcontract, it’s an art too, I hear.

Am on the Aga Khan Walk side, walking on, through Reinsurance Building and across Taifa Street (I think). Infront is the High Court Parking lot, where I bought the amulet that has been donning my right wrist for the last three years. I did not buy it from a witchdoctor-cum-judge, but on a weekend when it transforms into Maasai market.

A little to my right, City Hall Way, and then a quick left. Behind me International Life House, and next/across the short street, the monstrous Hilton Hotel, with a Bata shop on its ground floor where I have met more people than I care to remember, inside whose arcade I cannot stop myself from staring at the phone display, sometimes the watches, the occasional shoe polish.

But am not headed there, am crossing the road, away from High Court and towards St. Ellis House. A quick turn right and there’s where the City Fathers sit and plot about plots and morgues with broken fridges and occassionally build consensus by throwing chairs and punches at each other. On my right, is Nakumatt, formerly Woolmatt, next to it Salama House, my first workplace several years past, a building on a street (Wabera, named after the PC, or DC, Hussein Wabera) that I did not know existed until my first day on the job…I smile, memories…

Timothy Mugambi

Like a weed.(seen it all before)

Take a step into the road, all like color-blind fools.
J-walk out of convenience (partly out of choice), speeding past everyone,
missing each face that passes by. You made them all into a collective blur.
Head down inside, yet the rebellious one holds it high to the world. Too self-conscious
to discover the simple truth, “they really don’t care”.
Woke up with the unknown urge to please “them” ,an had the gut to lie in the mirror to lie that You are ruler of Your own destiny.
Slowly moving traffic, You are the drug moving in the veins of the city… intoxicating it with a mediocre air of self preservation, an identical cog in this well oiled machine, but You make this city high every time You break the mold.
Slip into the second hand shops, get some thing to impress them all. What they’ve seen all so many times before, yet You’ll rock this.
Heading off home, so You start a scrum-down on the commuter line… as if home is some constantly shifting fictional palace. An elbow here, a grunt there, a shove, a push, and a mean sheng word to top it all off. Unknown , You all get in.
Seated like a scholar, in self imposed silence…listening to the crazy radio presenter feeding out their verbal effluence to the poor soul that will listen.
Hey, You never missed a thing, You’ll do it all again.
… or not

Ivy Mutisya

‘Eish…Sura mbaya..hebu songa! ‘ I turn back to see a high-school boy heckle at a group of young girls. The girls from a different high-school cower and turn the eyes to the ground. Each of them having the exact same thought, “Did he mean me?” One day it won’t matter to them…I walk away not saying a word, neither one to reprimand nor to encourage. I hate public transport…They dropped me off at Ngara again! Odeon, my foot! I don’t want to seem intimidated by the environment or the distance to “actually town”, a scared woman is an easy target. Chin up…Bring it Nairobi. “Eh siste na si umebeba…” man walking next to me, a little too close for comfort. “Erm..asanti?” no ignore the bugger, I’m a lady. That’s not how you talk to a lady. Bigger strides, maybe I can shake him. “Malaya wewe, kwani umebebea nani?” If I laugh he will only get madder. So here I am on display for good old Nairobi, Strange man in tow insulting my outfit (picked out with public transport in mind) and not a word from a soul neither to encourage nor reprimand… and now the question I see other women (which is what I am now…most of the time) recognize on my face…”why do Nairobi men hate their women?”

Zaynah McAdam

_The NIGHT, BOYS AND A CRISIS In Nairobi City_
How could she have forgotten about the withdrawal. Arianna scolded herself well knowing exactly why her sister’s money was still in her Mpesa and why it had eluded her all evening. And it went without saying that it had everything to do with warm-eyed lovely face with an enchanting smile. The thought of Joe and the wonderful evening they had, automatically brought a smile on her face as she trodded away towards Zeep. Dinner at Dancing spoon has never been that delectable! A quick glance at her watch told her that it was almost midnight. Perfect timing! Just when the matatu was about full, she had remembered about the money. The money she had promised her sister to go back with. Not to mention it had been in her phone all week. She had to get to an Mpesa tonight!

Arianna hastened her pace hoping that it wont start raining, because the cold was already getting to her. But obviously that wasn’t stopping people from gong into the Creamy Inn some paces ahead. Immediately she got to the Mpesa stand just next to Zeep, she anxiously reached out for her purse to remove her ID card and absently asked the attendant if she could withdraw some money. The lady claded in a green and white t-shirt rudely claimed that they were closing up. Not that it surprised her; the ladies at that particular Mpesa were often- if not always- moody.

With frustration, Arianna walked away taking her right, then quickly crossed the zebra-crossing without having to look much to the right, left and right again, since the road was almost deserted. Plus she was not ready to deal with the bunch of street kids that were heading her way. She rushed past Ibrahim Electronics and that extensive piece of glass at the foot path in front of Sarova Stanley, which she frequently wished was a mirror.. Looking around, there was no Mpesa in sight. Sad to admit but the only place she could get help that time of the night was if she went all the way to Lifestyle. Not that she had a choice anyway.

Three minutes later, Arianna was going past the pretty blue I & M building and heading straight on. Pulling her jacket closer, she wondered why there was no much light on that particular street. And a sigh of relief left her as she took the corner at the Barclays building, and walked towards the staircase infront of Lifestyle. Arianna has never been so glad to see so much light! And thanks heavens the Mpesa just before the chemist was open. Her quest for an Mpesa had finally come to an end.
No she would not go check out the pretty bracelets and colourful bangles that were displayed at the stall opposite Nakumatt Lifestyle, she told herself after the money was in her bag. She knew herself too well. Plus she had already spent quite a fortune on the jewelery she had bought at Maasai Market over the weekend.

Standing infront of the glass doors, next to the cake-stand outside Lifestyle, Arianna hoped beyond hope that she would bump into somebody she knew. The thought of walking all the way back to the other side of town alone was close to traumatizing. But no one she knew was in sight. There was only one way out of this one. Call up Duncan. The guy she had refused to go out with on countless occasions. The one person she was sure would to come to ‘her rescue’ the moment she called him. He did say he was at Lifestyle Lounge after all.

Despite having ignored his calls all day, she picked up her phone and scrolled down to his number. She hesitated a bit, debating on whether she should really press the green button or not. Looking at the darkness and secluded roads stretched infront of her quickly made her mind up. She had no choice but to call Duncan. The one person she didn’t want to see earlier was the one person who could help her right now.

Challenge: Use the descending order of the Alphabet in prose or poetry

Magaria Gragory Nyauchi

And so it starts,
Before it stops,
See it for what it is,
Dare to draw it back
Every line, every piece
Fling them from each other
Gather them up again
Hang them on a tether
Insert them in a letter
Just
Keeping them in place
Letting them know theirs
Moves them out of there
Nothing, without a care
Observing without an eye
Practicingwithout an art
Questioning without curiosity
Running without shoes
Sundered
Try a little harder
Understand a little better
Vouchsafe what’s within you
Without that you can’t continue
Explain what comes out
Zealots you might convert

Stephen Dimolo Ashers

After
Bella called out to me
“Come to my parlor, you old rascal!”

Death too beckoned
“Enter my heady chambers
For in it
Glory you will find”

Hades was what I saw, and with my
Insides, everything that was not
Justice I felt

Kneeling down now
Lost, never to be found
Motionless and
Neutered!

Oh! My Bella
Please lift me out of this ensnare
Quench my desire
Remember me, and
Satisfy my lust

Turn me over, hush, but slowly
Unduly do not
Vent on me, but
Wait! Some of this, surely is
X-rated!

Yelling out now, loud I cry to my
Zenith! Oh Bella! Oh Bella!

Morris Kiruga

For I am become Death

Ample time, the world is abuzz
Boys rhyme, hope the girls cry
Cry and die, bid the world adieu
Die in dye, wish for an afterglow
Eating a lie, like one is Yugoslav
Fight but no bite, motion like Jiujitsu
Getting beaten in spite, begging for a treat
How does one bite, that hand that feeds
Is there not but a little, tiny little roar
Just move away the light, or get a tranq
Kneel and die, black backdrop
Leads to the site, so you know where to go
Might make a path bright, to a chariot seek to hop on
No one needs the blight, that I must affirm
On your feet, take all that you will

Prepare for absurdity, as the mind goes blank
Queues and death awaits, pray to get a Taj
Rescue what soul you might, flow with the graffiti
Scatter to the desert, sand and earth
Trek in the heat, where death is beckoning
Under the beast, a moment but brief
Veins crack and burst, then the start of the dirge
Waiting for that last beat, perturbed and dismayed
Xeric for lack of taste, reins become canonical
Yokes to carry and beat, so ends the throb
Zeus might give light, but I am Karma.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

ALPHABETICAL PLEASURE

A dare: “lift me into this utopia.
Bare my soul, leave me numb.
Can’t feel you yet, so adhoc,
Deceive me, enjoy this deed.
Embrace my body, By Jove!!
Fight the desire, my better half.
Goodness gracious, make me sing.
Hell yeah! Move back and forth.
Intensely, feed my chi.
Joy resonates, I’m powerless my Raj.
Kiss me, renew your kick.
Love me long, give me all.
Make me yours, forget them.
Nuptials approved, you are my own.
Obey you I will, raise my soprano.
Promise fidelity, do not stop.
Questions later, sail on my umiaq
Release in me, make me purr.
Slowly and tantalizing, do not miss
Tease my fire, it’s been lit.
Under me, bid my senses adieu.
Voraciously; enjoying your Kalashnikov
Wet; the morning came with dew.
Xylophones playing, forget my ex.
You are a master, never shy.
Zone out, my heartbeat; megahertz”

Jonathan Paul

Any
Boy
Could
Date
Every
Free
Girl
Here,
Instantly
Justifying:
Knobs
Longer
Make
Not
Only
Proud
Quiet
Reclusive
Squealers
Thrilling,
Use
Vulgar
Words,
Xerotripsis;
Yielding
Zest

Кевин мутуа

A challenge posed,
Breathless with anticipation,
Committed to reviews positive
Detailed thought process, this is
Endless rhyme schemes, traversing
Flowing ever so gently,
Grand ideals for this prose posting.
Hailing the flow, so imperious
I do.
Juxtaposing the arrangement
Kindly affectionate in my critique
Laughter flowing at the ease
Mind blowing even Stephen Dimolo Ashers must agree
Not condescending,
Overly confident?
Perhaps.
Quietly unassuming i may be,
rightly so,
Suddenly evaporation
They’re gone
Undivided attention, divided
Vacuous thesaurus is the remnant
Why did I become conceited?
Xirula whistling in my head,
Yue –Qin accompanying, in the last throes
Zen master’s defeat

Zaynah McAdam

_NEVER LOOKING BACK_

All of her worldly possessions that she now owned were stuffed in her green duffel bag. Booting every single painful memory from her mind, she treaded on with her head held up high. Could a man be so merciless and selfish? Did all those years mean anything to him? Every moment she had spent with him came rushing back. Faltering her movements as she headed towards her destination, her maternal home.

Gone were the days she used to love her husband. Hating him was what she had now become accustomed to. If only she had listened to her friends’ warning. Just the mere thought of her husband’s angry face sent shivers down her spine. Killing him would have been an option if she wasn’t a God-fearing being. Long before her bag had become heavy, she had vowed never to look back. Madness would be the only thing that would take her back to him. Not in a thousand years!

Oblivious of all the people she passed staring at her bruised face and arms, she held onto her bag and didn’t even flinch. Perhaps she was so used to the pain that she couldn’t feel anymore, or maybe all she wanted was to get far away. Questions that her mother would ask her were already answered in her mind.
“Raymond is my past now.” She uttered loudly to herself.

Two years down the line and he had not changed. Under that warm and handsome face lay a man full of deception and disappointment. Vows of loving and cherishing her no longer mattered to him. Why she would stay with him, was a question she didn’t have an answer to anymore. X chromosomes’ abundance in her genes was not going to make her the weaker human any longer. Years of tears were long gone. Zoey was going home, where she belonged.

Kagure Njagi

As he grabs it from me and puts it out of my reach at arms length, I consider
Bursting straight for my precious possession, my one and only. I re-
Consider and realise that the stealthy cat within shall triumph over the
Dastardly serpent. A compromise therefore is reached – a plan hatched.
Eager to achieve, I lock my eyes with his. I move closer and closer yet
Further and further from my initial intention and I become a
Gagged prisoner of my own desires. “You know, I could easily
Have gone the other way and with a swift kick, helped myself to what
Is rightfully mine.” He sees my 10 and raises me 20.
Juicy lips say, “Well, why didn’t you.”
“Karate has never been my strong suite.”
Leaning in closer, I have him where I want him. He has me where he wants
Me.
Nice.
“OK, but I’m still not giving you back your precious. You’ll have to earn it.”
“Please?” I whisper in his ear.
Quivering, out of the corner of my eye, his arm is dropping. I purrr
Rrrrrrr. His resolve is failing, my focus is waning.
“So we have an impasse.” He says as he watches not my eyes, nor my mouth
“Too bad, coz I’m not going to stop until I get what I want.”
Un-said feelings, undone restrictions, un-kissed lips…
Very slowly I reach for what is rightfully mine, playing a game I hopefully win.
Water abounds and a
X is exchanged.
“You’re arm…” I say looking into his eyes where I see a
Zeal that has me consign to oblivion my precious possession.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

And so he lies
Buried, entombed
Contained by Mother Earth
Doomed as all men are to die,
Epitaph simply stating
‘For in war, there are no unwounded’
Glory belongs to the brave
‘Here lies the hero’
In victory lies immortality
Join the Gods atop Olympus
Keep your eyes on the prize
Listen here
Many will dissuade you
Not all know what you will face
Onward to the next challenge
Push until you can push no more
Question yourself
Remember your past
Summon all you have within you
Take a chance
Use the Force
Victory is its own reward
Worry not, brave warrior
X marks the spot to which
You must quest and find
Zen.

Ivy Mutisya

Anger subdued in my clenched fist,
Beating this feeling out of me,
Catching the words before they escape my throat,
Dangling my hearts desire just out of my reach,
Evoking tears that my pride will not let fall,
For too many have fallen before.

Grant my whims no attention
Have my body,
Ignore my heart,
Justification will come with the morning,
Kill whatever emotion there may be,
Let not your words encourage me.

My body will tremble,
Numb to the tremors,
Oblivious of the pleasure,
Pray pretend my heart.

Quietly the morning comes upon us,
Resting quaintly in your embrace,
Sympathetically the sun exposes me,
Triggering questions I dare not acknowledge,
Unhinged by the questions all the same.

Veering away from you,
Why do you hold me?
x-rated thoughts from the night before,
yearning to draw closer,
Zipping myself up, I leave you behind in your sweet slumber.

Huma Kaoga Kaseu

Celebrity

Adoration bestir cultic despise,

Bestowing curses despite exaltation

Consuming desires erected fairish

Depressing egoistic fancy

Endemic fakeness grows hence

Fructifying gendered hellish insolence

Galling habits interminable justified

Hurting implied Juxtaposition

Insidious jealousy kites down

Jamming killers’ loathsome malice

Knighting licentious modeled narcissists

Limiting masterly ninetofivers

Mortifying nature’s purpose

Noxious odes populate queerness

Offering protracted qualities righteously

Painting quickened random saintliness

Quelling reviews sought

Ruinous suppositions taunt us

Suffering tainted undulating vilifications

Turning unfeigned vagueness weird

Ululating vein worship

Victimization whelm xanthippers(ill tempered females)

Withering xylodic(woody) youthful zeal

X( absurdity of fans) Yield zillion yucky zombies

Yearlong zoned

zenith their only destination

Challenge: Use Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “It was a dark and stormy night” as the beginning of a poem or story

Morris Kiruga

It was a dark and stormy night when she first lay her eyes on his well-built chest. Through the gleaming rain drops in the dimly lit torrent, she ogled at the six foot tall, dark and seemingly handsome man. His chest, for that is where it all started, is what we are talking about, how it fitted into his thick neck, looking somewhat like an inverted triangle to which our protagonist’s befell, and from which she never recovered. She moved closer, but he just stood there like the statue he had been carved out to be.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

It was a dark and stormy night; and the lady of the house, a tall, busty woman who did not look a day over seventy, despite her curved spine, deeply wrinkled brow and the shock of white hair above her otherwise solidly square bearded chin, went about closing and barring the windows, oblivious of the noise from the ménage a trois going on above her. “Alas!!”, she mumbled ostensibly to herself, “I’ll have to sakanya for some mabatis for that leaking roof!!” All hell broke loose, as the bed and its three occupants crashed through the ceiling, killing them instantly.

Jonathan Paul

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain was falling Tap Tap Tap, and the clouds were very dark. No sooner had lightning struck than the thunder roared, she hold tighter, her toes were causing my knees to feel ticklish; she was cold and short. As the small ant distinguishes the scent of mango juice and follows it through creeks and nooks to the table outside, I had searched far and wide for an albino dwarf, and found one. Would it choke her, I wondered as I cuffed our feet together. Her sweet short morsel, I would later taste.

Zaynah McAdam

It was a dark and stormy night; and getting stuck in an odd looking hurt truck didn’t make the matters any better. The head lights from the car pushed away darkness just a short distance ahead of the car, which was now immersed in mud and unable to move even an inch of a mile, except when I tried my violent best to yank it back to life.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

It was a dark and stormy night, under her legs. I could almost certainly feel it. Moreover, even the he-goats and dogs around were barking and bleating respectively. She put one foot in front of the other and glided ungracefully towards me. My heart was pounding like a throbbing headache. I also started coming towards her. I was ever-smiling sheepishly due to the homo-phonic pun. She should never have sat on that hard, wet sack of pure African charcoal for so long. Nonetheless I loved how warm it had become as she gave it to me. Sweet lord of puns!!

 

Challenge: Reply to Ken Saro Wiwa’s “Africa kills her sun”

Zaynah McAdam

AFTER SUNSET

Dear Bana,

It is sad that you wouldn’t get this. But I wouldn’t live with myself if I didn’t reply to your letter. Yes, I received it, and my uttermost shock of getting a letter from you almost matched the intensity of the sadness I felt after reading it. The more the reason I had to reply it. My bestfriend Bella thinks I’m nuts! Sitting here writing to someone who isn’t in our world, instead of enjoying the romantic thriller movie over popcorn like she is, especially since it’s our day off from work. However for me, this letter is a chance for me to bid you farewell, an act of friendship and fondness,  that of which we never got to explore to our fullest. I remember vividly the love and companionship that we shared. Happy moments they were, and I am glad I got to experience it all with you. That is why I have NOT forgotten you. I have always waited for the day we would meet again.

Just like you were sure the prison guard would get the letter to me, somewhere deep down within me I know you will view the content of this letter. I wonder if you will read it as many times as I read yours. I felt pain in my heart every time I did. An atrocious end to such a wonderful man. You were right; Billy was quite shocked when you shouted out your plea to him. As a High court judge, he was used to difficult cases, with long and no doubt dramatic court proceedings. Plus I had promised him a run for his seat. You wonder how I was involved? When you packed your bags and left for the Navy- your dad never stopped pushing you to join it until you did even though it broke your mama’s heart- I joined the school of law at UoN, University of Nigeria. Five years later I started practicing and it took me three years to start my own firm, Zole and Advocates. Billy envied my success in the Private Law world since he had joined the government courts. He was a class ahead of us in primary school, you don’t remember him, neither did I until we met in Law school.

I had no knowledge of where you were or how you were fairing until I got a call from Billy gloating over how he was going to be the judge in your case. That was when I appointed the best of us to represent you in court. I could not myself since I would have been emotionally involved with the client, you. Nevertheless, I brought everything I had to the table. I researched thoroughly, interviewed everyone I could and prepared all there was to use in court. I had planned to save your life and freedom if it was the last thing I did. So yes, Billy was shocked, but it was more from the fact that you gave up easily without a fight rather than what you had shouted boldly at court. I hadn’t planned to let you see me before lest I jeopardize the strong case we had built for you, but after your plea of death to Billy, I had to see you! That‘s when he chose to use his powers against me. He issued strict orders that you should receive no visitors nor food and water till the next day.

So no, I dint find out about your story on the copy of Guardian of 19th September that had Senator Okubo accused of stealing seven million naira, but way before that. I was completely stupefied to find what choice of ‘work’ you had turned to. Who would have thought, in a million years, that Bana Igodegbo of Adaora village would become an armed robber. What happened with Monica must have hit you hard. You were the most thoughtful and kind.. How do I know about Monica, you ask? After I opened my firm, I came across your name during a case which involved the Ministry of Defense. I asked around and was directed to your place. That’s where I met Monica, who was your fiancée. She wasn’t a good chap, that girl. Saw me as a threat and told me things I wouldn’t want to repeat. She then warned me to stay away from you. I dint want to break no family so I did. But during the investigation on your case, I found out that you weren’t happily married with kids, that she had broken off the engagement, aborted your child and ran away with the chief’s son. I would throttle her if I saw her.

What you dint know is that Monica had one brother, dismissed as Sergeant for looting one of the neighboring camps. Yes, Sazan was Monica’s brother. He must have taken pity on you for what his sister did and convinced you to join his gang. You were most vulnerable then; you had lost your job, your fiancée, and your child.

I agree theft and squandering of riches has been done by many, still is and will be for a long time; on different professions in every facet of our lives. But joining them and claiming that you are doing nothing different from the rest doesn’t help the situation. And guess what; Black is also the colour of the precious Obsidian and Tourmaline gems, the colour of the people of Africa the most fertile continent, and the colour of the sky at night, to let us see the sparkling stars and the bold moon.

I held my composure quite well, but teared up after everyone left at your funeral. Yes you had a funeral, that I made sure. After your death I claimed your body. Your pretty sculpture lies comfortably on your tombstone, right above your boldly imprinted epitaph, just like you wanted. Dear, the world isn’t bad, the people in it are. Tell Jimba I did shed a tear to honor him, in fact two.

Well my time is almost up. I have to rush to get this letter to the post office before they close up. Only thirty minutes left to… oh no, I don’t have any address, and you are no more. But I will keep it. Show it to my children and grandchildren; as we go on with this arbitrary battle. We will beat them, or die trying.

Goodbye my dear friend.

With Love,

Zole.

 Aris Anaenda Bungoma Alirudi

DARK SUN

Dear Bana,
Pictures of lifeless bodies with their heads covered in black gunny sacks laying on the dusty stadium graced the front pages of the local dailies. YOU LIVE BY THE GUN YOU LEAVE BY THE GUN was the headline that caught my eye and as read the story beneath thinking it was just another execution. Your name made my heart beat faster, my knees weak and butterflies in my stomach; the same feeling I had when we first met. I could vividly remember that day; it was supposed to be our special night when we could consummate our love. Dinner got cold as the candles burnt out; the rose petals wrinkled and the perfume scent only made me cry out more for you. Days turned to weeks then months then years but still every knock on my door turned out not to be you. The letters I wrote I went to Santa Claus I guess as I never got my wish and had been a good girl all along.
After weeks of agony emanating from your death I got a rather strange invitation that is your mothers. She had chased me away a day after your death. I wanted to mourn with her but she had given strict order to the guards to your palatial home not to let me in. she never liked me, that was obvious from the day you introduced me as your girl but that never stopped us from building our relationship as you always defended me with lots of jealousy a thing that made me love you even more. I half heartedly obliged to go and see her and that is when she showed me the letter you had jotted to me. Nostalgia over came me, of the college days and how we wrote countless letters to each other and professing mostly our lust then later on our undying love ,dreams and aspirations. But this time your words hit me hard and I couldn’t believe the once God fearing, intelligent, composed gentleman knew had turned into a notorious criminal. i got hysterical there afterwards nothing anyone could say would have consoled me. The thought that you copulated with a prostitute yet I had remained a virgin all this time thinking you would come back to me. I argued and fought with your ghost all day and night, you haunted me. Bana, in such an uneducated country where the level of illiteracy is sky high and ignorance is the order of the day, who will understand your actions. Only script writers and movie directors will tell your story not for the understanding of the societal ills but for entertainment and most importantly their box office ratings. Best seller novels will be written “in your honor” but that will be only a preserve of the scholars who will be dissecting your thoughts rather than empowering the populous. You always said that if you had to say something don’t beat around the bush, then why did you have to use metaphors and dramatic actions yet on one reads in between the lines but what is on it. Your bold and brave decisions needed an army of sorts to but you went onto war alone thus losing battle in the end. The position of power you were in was the best place to start, you were and intelligent person you would have found a way of maneuvering the system. I guess the anger in you led to your in poor decision making as error is to man.
I engaged the services of a local sculptor as per your request to make the stature of you to be put by your grave and it’s coming out beautiful. The three piece suit looks good on you; I had opted for you not to have a tie since you said it was manifestation colonialism: from the chains on our feet to nooses on our necks but then it was needed to complete the look. I also decided to change the text to be put inscribed on the tombstone as your epitaph to the dark sun because of the eclipse you brought to our lives. Why? Why would you want all this done when you are alive? Yes I do know you are hidden somewhere those tropical islands, maybe you even had your identity changed and have picked up some fancy accent to fool others but mainly yourself. Your dear mother couldn’t see me loose my mind I had reached the breaking point so she confided in me that you were alive, that despite of the brave face you had portrayed in the letter you were scared to death, crying for mummy’s help. So she bought your freedom at the expense of the boys in your gang; the ones you purported to help. You wasted lives incarnate bastard. Standing on a moral high ground with the holier than thou attitude yet you were shining a dark light on all of us. You were once the sun, we could see your good deeds but then you brought an eclipse and destroying our sight and yours in the process and now who will help the other cross the road? Africa kills her sun, then a dark sun it is.

I got voodoo doll of you which I used stick a pin every hour, to make you feel the pain you had caused me, that’s what the witch doctor said. But I stopped, so as to give myself a chance to gather the pieces of the life you shattered,Disappointed
Zole

Edwin thedivinebandit Mukabi

OUR SONS KILL AFRICA

Dear Bana,

There is no justice in this world as proven by how late I received your missive.
This happened almost 10 years later and I am not being defensive.
The greed in the society we lived in had proven divisive.
I tried to look for you Bana, when they came to question me, I was ever evasive.
I tried to find connections that you had on the Merchant Navy but they proved elusive.
Even the report I got from the prostitute from St Pauli was inconclusive.
I never heard of your stint as a clerk in the Ministry of Defense.
Thank God I did not because I would have seriously taken offence.
I knew the kind of person you were and you always spoke your two cents.
Your rage at the impunity in our government would never condense.
I would have enjoyed every moment while waiting for the battle of wits to commence.
As I laughed hysterically as your words built wisdom walls around them at their expense.

I find it amusing that you referred to yourself as a robber, a bandit or anything else you deemed fit.
I always considered you my own kind of Robin Hood, stealing knowledge from those who didn’t have use for it, my own Divine Bandit.
It was always scary for me. When I heard of your experiences with the police, I prayed that you don’t get hit.
I asked for help from the White Jesus and with my faith wavering I also turned to our fore fathers and for them an altar lit.
It’s a shame that considering how far I travelled on the run from the police that we never did meet.
And tears well up in my eyes as by your graveside, I hunch my back and there sit.
I grieve for the fact that you thought that you had to pay a price.
You never hurt no one and being too idealistic would have been your only vice.
They never knew that you and your friends were no richer than church mice.
And your only plan for the national cake was to make sure that everyone got a slice.
We were not horses to be content with imported or rather donated brown rice.
We had lost the game long before it started as they had fixed the dice.

You must remember how we used to laze about, but with the whole police force after me, I have grown limber.
After five years trying to be the game changer, I moved to the lovable country where they call the brave lion, Simba.
They did try to follow me there but they were a hospitable people and I will never stop wishing this was the same for you, Sazan and Jimba.
No one will ever sing songs of praise for the three of you as they will never find the right timbre.
On golden oaks they crucified their heroes without considering the price of timber.
Clearly the journey to the top of Mount Everest remains unbeknownst to no one else but the climber.
We live in a continent where almost everyone is dark skinned if not charcoal black.
Yet as you pointed out, we still associate everything bad with the color which shows that in wisdom we surely do lack.
I could easily see how all these combined could be the damned molting straw that broke the camel’s back.
And despite the childishness of this statement, we really do suck!!
Bana, my tears flow thicker than blood as the fact sinks in that your epitaph will only be immortalized in your letter but never as a graveside plaque.
I was deemed an enemy of the state and even in this foreign country, of me they still keep track.

I would love to have you smile from the other side of the grave, but Bana I have no children.
This was my own choice so please my dear do not label me a villain.
I looked at our continent, how our sons slit the throats of our daughters and mothers like chicken.
In their eyes full of anger and malice, I saw a true evil hidden.
I on my own had tried to talk to the few who would dare listen.
But as their evil brothers scrambled for their attention, I, being ignored was a given.
Do not be surprised when I tell you that what I speak of now has nothing to with our country.
It has become evident that our country folk are not the only ones who are hungry.
The hunger for justice has crossed borders to the rest of the African colony.
However, their definition of justice has filled the rivers with blood and as a punishment the Almighty has unleashed global warming and now our continent has become painfully sultry.
At the altar of their sacrifice, the political elite have thrown in their jibes, hooliganism, all and sundry.
My knees buckle at this but on my feet I have to die for the human community.

Bana, forgive me for the scenes that I have recounted.
I know you loved me despite the fact that you left me for all these moons and harvests that I have counted.
There comes a time…..you used to say……wait……..that was someone else on whose charred memory this phrase is mounted.
Nevertheless, I do believe that for all I have accounted.
I hope I am not a disappointment for what I have amounted.
In all this pain, hurt, stupidity, black self hate, the word LOVE has surmounted.
Four days after I got this letter.
I vowed to make a life better.
Notwithstanding my own, so I went to a children’s shelter.
I adopted the most adorable twins who make me smile as they stutter.
I could not change the world so I changed the person I had put on a tether.
In this world or the next, Bana, we will always be together.
Our sons, our leaders kill Africa.

Forever loving you,

Zole.

Jonathan Paul

A NATION BETRAYED

Dear Bana,
I have to admit that you caused me much pain and hurt for the best part of my life; forgive me, but honesty over-powered emotion nay, relief. The joy and reward of any woman is to enjoy life, surrounded by her children, and her children’s children…but I gave up that luxury in your pursuit. You were destined to be a great man when you left our slum, when you put our village of rusty tin houses in your past. We were both jubilant and fearful… the great city had robbed us of another; the navy ship sailing out, buoyed by the hopes of boys, soon to be hardened into men. Ah, the irony of life, the merchant navy kept you both alive and at risk of death.
I had to keep my promise; a promise to find you. So I searched everywhere, relentlessly. I knew you had not been back home since you left, and there were rumors in the drinking den that you had left the merchant navy, yet still, I searched. Even though I was frail and sickly, I made arrangements and travelled to the town to try and find you, news about you, anything. The city is a wild beast, untamed, it glared with such daunt at me, a poor shabby woman on a lifelong mission. I was never intimidated; I spent several weeks in the town, moving from the market place, to the bar, from the bar to an office trying to find any news about you. When the sun would fall, I would find a comfortable corner, by a building, and as the wall let out the heat trapped during the day, I would fall asleep, dreading the cold morning when I would sit by the roadside, begging for food before I continued with my quest.
My health was deteriorating and I had to return to the slum. I was sad that I could not find you, and the disappointment that I could not keep my promise, overbearing. But Bana, in our saddest of times, fate intervenes and sets a new course in front of us. After I got back, I went back to selling water by the road side, and in the heat of the day, a small boy gave me a newspaper to shield myself from the sun. At the end of the day, I carried it home and I was about to use it to light a fire when I saw your face in it.
It had been many years since I saw your face, but a woman never forgets…especially a woman who is scorned. Yes, for a while, I swore vengeance on you, you robbed me of the most intimate and precious part of my life…but life is comical, I had promised to find you and this quest had humbled an old bitter heart.
After seeing your face, I shouted with relief, tears welled up within me and my emotions overcame me. I shouted and wailed. Life in the slums, you know is a communal action; we know who steals, who sleeps with who and when. But most important, we know! My wails brought about a lot of people wanting to know…they crowded in my hut and after I was composed, I showed them the newspaper. I could not read, but the shopkeeper’s son who works for the newspaper in town was around and he read to us.
I was shocked after learning that you were in prison, that you were going to be executed in a day’s time. I prepared myself for another journey to the town….this time; I would not be intimidated by the town. By the first light, I was in the stadium, waiting patiently, hoping to see you, but praying that it had been put off. And when the three of you were marched to the stadium, a hush mood enveloped us. It was a rare sight as we watched, Sazan was it? Smoke away amidst an animated chat with you. It filled my heart with a sense of pride to hear you scream to the priest at the top of your lungs ‘Go to hell, you hypocrite, fornicator and adulterer.’ It filled my heart to see you looking at me, at the crazy old woman wailing her heart out as the shot rang out and echoed, masking the thud as your limp body hit the ground.
Bana, I have to say that seeing you once more gave me a sense of pride that I have not felt in a long while. The anger that I had reserved for you left my body through my tears as I had your letter read out to me…
Many years ago, I brought to this life a daughter…I have no idea who her father is, but she was the pride of my life, the joy of my womanhood and the hope for my future. I guarded her and provided for her as best as I knew. I took her to school and one day, she came home and told me that she had met a boy whom she loved. That is every parent’s fear, I was afraid that she had known the ways of the world and that I had forever lost my precious. She assured me that she had not, but she loved him very much. It killed me to watch her go through a heart ache since the boy left, but I was relieved that she could be mine again, that she could guard herself against men and their cruelty. Indeed, she did, she refused to acknowledge men for a very long time, but her heart had gone with that boy. One day, she beseeched me to let her go and find the love of her life, in great pains; I obliged and gave her all the money that I had saved up. Two days later, the sister at the clinic came to my house and told me that Zoe was knocked by a motorist and had been seriously hurt. She had not even left the slum.

At the clinic, with tubes running through her mouth, my daughter struggled to talk and said, ‘I am sorry Mother, please find Bana and tell him that I love him’ then she breathed her last. I swore to look for you, to find you and to make you pay for what you did to my daughter. But the journey of life is different; it tests you then teaches you. I came to see love in a new way…the love that you two shared and never knew it…I came to understand you two, to love you two as my own; to take pride in both of you. I refused to die till I found you…

I know that Zoe is waiting for you, I can feel it in my feeble crippled bones…I will die a woman who has felt love and undergone a transformation… I am now ready to die and meet both of you. Bana, you may find pleasure in knowing that your letter was printed in a new independent newspaper, everyone is talking about it. You may also find joy in that I was able to have your statue made, It stands high at the cemetery, right next to the statue of a woman seated, as if waiting for her man. Both statues are joined by a plaque that reads: Africa Kills her Sun.
Yours,
Mama Zoe
Morris Kiruga
GO TELL THE SPARTANS

Dear Bana,
I was pleasantly surprised, no doubt, to receive the letter. I received it ten years after your death, brought to me by an old frail man who told me he was your prison guard and had sworn to deliver the letter before he died. I must write you this letter, my flower, as a final act of surrender. Consummated love my Bana, is nothing more than a scar for which I would rather have healed than this pain of losing the only person for whom I felt palpitations. Heartache.
I must begin by confessing that I never made you the epitaph for I thought it did not befit you. I loved you Bana, but you fell, fell to the very whims of the system you sort to fought. You claim to have sworn to never kill, but stealing from a man in this economy is worse than to pull the trigger and drive a bullet through his heart. You sacrificed your lives that others might live, if only for so long. You bore ultimate responsibility and for that I must say you three were honorable men. Still, a man who chooses to take from another that which does not rightly belong to him wrongs this pitiful life and all that is right in it.
Must we die, Bana? Must we die like stray dogs?
Whether one dies by the hands of the police or his fellow men does not matter much now. Yesterday a mob set upon a man for the sins of his wife. The poor man, unknowing of his crime, wailed and begged for help but his neighbors turned a vicious mob would have none of it. He lived, but no thanks to the police who watched like crocodiles that have eaten to their fill. It is a precarious world this one, Bana, where a man and his wife becoming one becomes more than just about sharing a bed.
We are now akin to a mother whose son is the village rapist. She rests easy, even with the knowledge that he might turn on her one day and commit the indescribable. We look and shake our heads. Gaze as the grave slowly swallows the caskets of those lucky enough to have one. Can you imagine, Bana, even coffins are now a luxury? On second thought, I figure the government never bothered to bury you in one. Or a suit. We are happy fools now. Reluctant. Noisy. Greedy. Aloof. Apathy. Who cares really? Who cares that everyone loots? The few that do not are content with the knowledge that when the deities separate the wheat from the chaff, they shall remain as the few worthy grains. Must one be content with heaven if there be such a place? Is preservation of a soul more important than the dignity of life and your fellow man? Apathy, our disease, but we could not care less.
Where the king goes now, the hounds follow closely behind. Dressed in suits. London shirts, Hong Kong blazers, American belts, Cuban cigars. We exchanged one ruler for another, one master for his replacement. We are sold. Not to the highest bidder, as it were, but to the one who can sell us anything for the cheapest price and not ask questions about whether we eat our children and roast our dogs. We exchanged the devil who would hold sticks and carrots on one hand, for one whose only stick is to eat to his own fill, and to the many millions that must be fed. Is any better than the other, Bana? Is the master who feeds his servant on morsels from the high table any better than the one who lets his slave eat with the guests?
We pay the master, we pay the hounds, we pay their girlfriends, their sauna sessions, their trips abroad. With a smile we remit our taxes to the exchequer, heads bowed in awe. We walk around knowing that although our children sleep hungry and in pain, our leaders, voices of our freedom and sovereignty, are well furnished and supplied. What more could a good citizen ask for but the ability to make sure his leader is well-fed? Does not a well-fed master sleep easy? Does not a well dressed mistress allow her slave to sneak into her marital bed? Is not happiness the ham between the buns of life and love?
Religion? They have trampled on that one too my Bana. They always have anyway. Our grandfathers used to shake their heads every time they narrated how their first attempt at prayer had ended with the loss of their freedom. Now the middle-class citizen is shackled to a religion for which he or she worships nothing but the so-called messengers of deities. Whether it is the priest who lies on women as he casts away her demons, or the other one who looks to the red light districts to buy actors for his miracles, religion is a mere mockery now. The prostitute of St. Pauli, sage as she sounds to have been, would have made the extra shilling by making a testimony to reinforce our belief in Jehovah Rapha. Marx said that religion is the opium of the masses but now it has become more, it has become the leech upon their lives. The promise of heaven, a place where we shall walk on gold as angels make music from all kinds of organs. Glorious, divine, pure, the quintessential paradise for the wealth oriented man. All we have to do now is buy the Lord’s messenger a car, a plane ticket, a house, a gun, a wife, children, mistresses, servants, pets and a bible. All to allow him to go out and spread the message. For heaven Bana.
Where three brave men with stories and justifications fell by the bullet not stands two posts marking the rugby goal posts. To make a ‘try’, men have to place an oval ball between where you and Sazan died, directly above where Jimba refused to fall to the ground even after they riddled his body with bullets. How befitting for three brave souls, I always think, that men should run and chase after each other and an oval ball as thousands scream insults and praises where freedom died.
The Chief Justice died years after he condemned you and Sazan and Jimba. He died seated on his throne, delivering justice to a young mother who had dared kill a policeman who tried to rape her. He just stopped there in the middle of delivering justice and sat like a rock. Unfeeling. Eyes popped. He fell. The newspapers said no one moved for ten minutes. Eerie silence it must have been. As if everyone feared to be in contempt of a court whose judge had been killed by years of bribes, a blind eye to a vocation and bloody skeletons in every closet he dared look upon. His big stomach finally drove his heart to the beach where he had sent so many souls. Death is the great equalizer Bana. I am sure that if there is an afterlife, and you three have met the man, then you must know the story.
Sympathy my Bana, you would never get from me, nor pity or unconditional love. When we met by the stream so many nights in our youth, we promised to always be honest, even when it hurt. I will be honest Bana, I planted a tree, I went to the park and planted a tree, three trees, one for you, one for Sazan and one for Jimba. I thought it was befitting too because no one should live forever. I did not immortalize the Black Maria or the Dark Continent, I do not believe in the pain of death. Africa Kills Her Sun, Steels her Daughters, they now say. I once read an epigram by Simonides of Ceos, the Greek lyric poet in honour of fallen soldiers during The Battle of Thermopylae:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger Passing by that here, obedient to their law, we lie.”

I had it inscribed on the plaques next to the trees, but changed it to read

‘Go tell the Hounds, Stranger passing that here, obedient to their laws and greed, we lie.”

The hounds, they bay for my blood, for my money, for my sweat, my loyalty in times of war, my apathy in times of peace, turmoil and scandal. Death. Blood. Hounds. Ropes. I must stop writing now and push the table from my feet, the knot must be wondering what is keeping me for so long.

Your love, Always
Zole.

Rayhab Potentash Gachango

LOVE WON’T LET THE AFRICAN SUN DIE

Dear Bana,
I write this with tears in my eyes.  I got your letter today and it broke my heart at how you meet your end. You may be surprised to find out I got this letter two years after your execution.  Apparently it was found in your mother’s belongings when she died two months ago of a heart attack.  Apparently the letter was sent to the last address you had of me but I had moved.  So it was sent to the return address which was your mother’s address. Knowing your mother I am not shocked that she didn’t sent it to me.  She hated me from the beginning.  She didn’t like me.  She had plans for you and they did not involve getting married to a village girl, the daughter of the village drunkard.
I am sitting at my home watching my son Kevin play with my husband outside.  They are playing chess.  They both play with passion.  I think soon Kevin will give my husband a run for his money.  He is very sharp like you were at that age. My daughters I have two, Angela and Rachel are playing house near where I am seated.  I feel blessed to have a man who loves me and adores me and three beautiful daughters.  I didn’t always feel this lucky at one time I felt I was cursed with a streak of bad luck.
I can’t even imagine how it must have been.  Execution by gunshot.  I hope it didn’t hurt my darling.  I can’t believe that you, Bana the hope of the village died like a common thief.  I am trying to understand how that boy from the village became so hardened and decided to become a criminal. I find it hard but Bana, I too have done things that made me feel ashamed.  So I cannot judge.  We all do what we can to survive.
As I said I got your letter from your mother’s belongings.  Your older brother sent it to me.  It had been opened already.  Your brother said your mum had opened the letter and read it.  She then became very bitter that you wrote a final letter to me but you couldn’t send one to her.  She said that I would never get the letter as long as she was alive.  Your mother never liked me.  She looked down on me.  She thought I was a no good girl trying to trap her son.  I know you would defend her and say no she would never think that.  Thing is Bana I heard her one day when I came to see you.  She had venom in her voice as she said bad things about me.  But that wasn’t as bad as the things she said about me when I came looking for your address a few months after you left for the navy.  I needed to talk to you urgently and she refused to give me your address.  I have a feeling that the letters you and I wrote to each other through your family’s post box were never delivered.  Your letter to me proves it.
You remember the night before you left we went down to the river.  To that spot where we could see the river but there was a shelter of trees.  We used to go there and you would hold me.  We would tell each other our dreams and hopes.  We would talk about getting married when you left the navy, because you would have enough money to build me a modern house.  I was going to finish teacher’s training college and come teach the children in the village.  I would redeem our family name.  No longer would my family be the laughing stock of the village.  It hurt you know, being called the daughter of the village drunkard.
It started innocently.  Us kissing and caressing.  It was great to feel your body next to mine.  My heart would beat so fast and my palms would get so sweaty.  I liked, no loved your touch. I liked having your hands, rough from the work on the farm running over my arms, and thighs.  I always wore short skirts when I was going to meet you.  I remember how you used to love my legs and full African figure.  We would touch and kiss each time going a little further.  But I remember how I was ready to be yours totally but you said we should wait.  You didn’t want me to shame my family any further.
In your letter you said we never consummated our love.  Bana we did.  That last night when you carried some locally made palm wine and food for us to enjoy.  We danced and drank wine and danced some more.  Then we started kissing and making out.  Bana I wish I could say that I remember what happened that special night but I don’t.  I think we got too drunk and got carried away.  The next day I was sore when we awoke but I thought nothing about it. We said our passionate goodbyes and parted ways.
Three months later I was in teaching college and I started feeling nausea.  I thought nothing about it.  I thought it was something I ate.  I took some medicine for my stomach but I kept feeling sick.  Finally I went to the dispensary.  When the nurse attending asked me as I filled in my form when my last period was I couldn’t remember.  My periods hadn’t always been regular and I was depressed over you going.  When I said that it had been awhile she wrote me down for a pregnancy test.  I wasn’t worried.  I knew it would be negative.  So imagine the shock when I received the results and I was pregnant!  Pregnant,  How by immaculate conception!
Bana I was so shocked.  I cried for three days and didn’t attend class.  I wondered how this had happened.  I had never slept with any man including you. I was a virgin. You were the only man who I had let anywhere near me.  I could not understand it.  I prayed for God to give me answers but he was silent.  In those days if you were found to be pregnant and not married you couldn’t stay in college you had to leave.  It’s like they thought you had a contagious disease and would infect others.  So they kicked me out.  I felt broken.  But I had hope.  I knew that if I explained it to you, you would understand and come back we sort things out.  You knew I was a good girl.  I would not have told you that you were the father if you weren’t.
So me, naive girl that I was went to see your mother.  I told her that I needed to send you a letter.  That I was in the family way and you were the father.  Your mother screamed at me that I was a slut.  That I was only trying to trap you.  She said that I probably got pregnant by one of those college boys and that I wanted to frame you for the crime.  She called me a prostitute and other names.  She said I would never never see you.  That I should go to the village midwife and get myself rid of that burden.  She actually took a broom and hit me, pushing me out of your compound.
I went home, my head hung in shame.  My mother cried but she accepted my pregnancy.  My father wanted to throw me out but mother stood her ground.  That was the first time I ever saw my dad listen to my mother.  When I had the baby, I was in labor for 13 hours.  My baby was born and he was 4.8 pounds.  A strong boy.  And he looked like you.
After six months of looking after my son an auntie of mine got me a job as an untrained teacher.  I wasn’t paid much but it was enough to survive and take care of our basics. After two years the school forwarded my name for training in a government institution.  I had to leave my son behind with my parents but I used to come home over weekends and holidays.  It was hard leaving my son but I had to.  I had tried looking for a way to get in touch with you but your mother had warned your family against helping me so no one would give an address to find you at.  I finally gave up.  You have to understand that I wanted you to know but there was no way to get in touch with you.  It’s not like nowadays when everybody has a mobile one and more people have post office boxes.
In my final year I met Ken.  He was teaching at the college and carrying out research among the students.  He had a degree in education and he was doing his masters.  He tried to talk to me but I wasn’t interested.  You have no idea Bana how single mothers are treated.  It’s like there is evidence that you have tasted forbidden fruit and you got caught.  Many students and teachers had tried to approach me for an affair but I wasn’t interested.  I had my eyes on the prize.  I was going to finish my education and go back and get a great teaching job.  My son’s future depended on me.
Ken kept on pursuing me.  He wrote me letters.  I tore them up. He tried to buy me lunch and I refused.  Finally he told me that he wasn’t going to give up.  He had found someone that he liked and he wasn’t going to give up.  I only went out with him to get rid of him.  But he was fun and intelligent so I went out with him again.  He had traveled.  He had been to many different places.  His family was rich but he wanted to make his own way in the world.  And he never pressured me to have sex even though he knew I was a single mother.  We talked about our lives, where we had come from, and where we were planning to go.
Soon I was finished.  I went back to the village.  But Ken kept writing to me.  One day he turned up in the village.  In his car no less.  He found out where we lived and he came there.  He told me to enter the car we go for a drive.  He asked our son to go with us.  We had fun that day and he bonded with my son.  When we went back he asked me to remain in the car so that we could talk.  He asked me to marry him.  He was willing to raise my son as his own.
So now here I am at our house outside are Ken and Kevin playing a game.  Yes Kevin is your son.  He reminds me so much of you.  The way he laughs, his facial features and how he articulates himself.  But he has also gotten other characteristics from his adopted father.  He doesn’t know that Ken is not his father.  We haven’t told him.  I know I will have to one day but let him reach at least 18 years of age.  Besides which if he asks me if I told him right now that you’re his father and he asks to see you how do I tell him you were executed as a common criminal mastermind.
Ken is a great man.  He paid for me to go to university when we went to the USA for him to do his PHD.  I am currently doing my masters.  It was one of my dreams remember.  But nothing is as fulfilling as being the mother of these three beautiful children that I have.  I love them so much.  I love Ken as well.  It’s not the love that I felt for you as my first love but it’s a great enduring love as well.  He makes me happy. Our marriage is what I had hoped ours would be Bana when you came back from overseas.
I wonder what your mother said when you asked about me.  Whatever she said it must not have made you hate me.  The letter you wrote to me is evidence.  I think your mother was angry that even as you headed for the grave your love for me was still strong. That’s real love it cannot be destroyed by distance or time.  I loved you at one time with all my heart and I am heartbroken that you exited the world in such an undignified way.
I will honor your wishes about a statue and gravestone.  Both for me and for your son who I will one day give a copy of this letter so that he may understand that you were not a bad man.  I will put your epitaph as well “Africa kills her sun.”  My darling I hope you are now in a better place.  I hope you made your peace with God before you died.  I will say a prayer for you tonight.  Sleep well my first love. I hope the next world brought you better tidings then this one.
I must go.  My daughters want to go out and play with their dad and brother.  They say I have taken a long time writing my letter.  But how do you say goodbye to a ghost of the past?  I don’t know.  Maybe one day we will meet again as souls in heaven.  Life didn’t turn out the way we planned Bana. But I know I am still grateful that I have another day to see, another sunrise to meet, another sunrise to say goodbye to.  I weep for you but I rejoice for the blessing that is your son.  Africa kills her sun, but tomorrow at dawn another will arise in his place.
Yours in love,
Zole.
Magaria Gragory Nyauchi
AFRICA KILLS HER SONS, STEELS HER DAUGHTERS
Dear Bana,
I have thought of you too, often and long. On dark nights when hope was nothing but a memory, a fling I once had with a faceless stranger who moved on to the true love of his life leaving me down in the dregs. I am not the girl who you wrote this letter to, life is too cruel and strange to allow any of us to continue untested and untried all that’s left to us humans is to remain forever untrue.
A few years after we met I became a prostitute; I thought I could be amoral and divorce the act from the emotion demanded by it. Once a young man came up to me, he was obviously lost and he sat there as we finished and his face was blank. He asked me my name and I told him one. He tried to talk to me and I could tell he was one of those people who believe that sex leads to truth, that the conversation had after is the only true time of fish in golden ponds. It hurt me that I couldn’t give him this; it hurt me that I couldn’t give it to myself. It’s not that some people choose to be prostitutes it’s that life chooses some people.This is why I can’t judge your life doesn’t give us all choices. Not here, not anywhere. When we knew each other I had such high hopes for you, I prayed the war wouldn’t kill you but it seems like life did or Africa did long before the bullets cut you down.

This letter seems pointless even more an exercise in futility than the one I got from you but I always said I would reply if you wrote me. Happiness is found more in memories than in actual moments. It touches me that you would remember me at what may be the most important time in your life as the clock ticks slowly and more surely than it ever has before. As time approaches clad in the black, dusty shoes death can gift it. It makes me sad but it makes me happy in a way that I can’t explain. It’s as if with all the misery surrounding me now life only means something when am morose, it’s morbid but it’s all I have.

Before me stands the picture you asked of me. I can see the sculpture in my mind’s eye. He is as I had imagined you would be. Bent over his stick clutching to it as word clutches to truth, sure that faith ingrained in its fibres will be enough to lead it anywhere. I can see how the sculpture stands now and I added some details to your description. I can see a pond and fish playing at your feet, I can see you surrounded by golden rays of sun as another day arrives to say hello to the Dark Continent. It can be as you would have wanted it.

The thing that makes me saddest is that I could keep a promise to your friends but not to you. I cried for Jimba and Sazan and you. I read the newspaper the day after you died. They reported your shouting at the priest, a sensation, a scandal, a soul to hell they said when it was just that all the words you had spoken rang so true. I saw your friends beside you and I cried the tears of a young woman, tears born of a young love.

Your sculpture can be as the girl you wrote the letter would have had it but that is not me anymore. It is not only her sons that Africa slays and it is not only in the eternal night that we can lose ourselves. I am glad that you turned to me as a shelter from a world that I couldn’t shelter myself from. I am weathered, withered and grey. A bitter old woman before her time and bitter old women cannot give way to sentimentality, not in a world this hard not in a place this harsh. I am sure you would understand for what is my taking of the money except just another bank robbery? It’s not that I have to explain it to you but there is some taste of the bitterness of life in why I needed the money, the day I received your letter was also the day I received the news that I was pregnant. As I wrestled with that Sazan’s words rang through me. And this is what I need the money for I will not give this world another son or daughter who turns into you or me. A life lost before it is lived, I will not.

I read about the official who stole 7 million. As you lay asleep, eternally a-slumber it came to light that he had stolen a lot more. Our electricity grid, the beacon of hope in all this desolation was a myth. It has disappeared as so many things do into the gloom. Africa kills her Sun but leaves it so much harder, colder and darker for the rest us. And the worst thing is that even the best of us are still the worst of us.

Your epitaph you will get. That much I can give. I am sorry for the rest but while Africa kills her sons she steels her daughters.

Yours, Zole.

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