About “The Caged Bird Sings”

Stories speak! The words that form stories have colours through which they paint images – beautiful and ugly – but vivid images all the same. They have power; power to make, and power to break. We, at The Caged Bird Sings, hope the stories we tell, the images we paint, beautiful or ugly, make, rather…

Matata Matatuni

“Ah! Bwana we! Unataka nikae vipi?” Nilimuuliza utingo aliyekuwa anajaribu kuweka mzigo fulani chini ya miguu yangu.

“Inua miguu, jamani,” alijibu huku akiishiwa na subira.

“Siinui ng’o!” Nilijibu kwa fadhaa.

“Aaah! Inua miguu bwana! Kwani unadhani wewe ndiye nani?”

“Sitainua. Utaninyima raha hadi lini wewe? Kwani sijalipia nafasi yangu kwenye matatu hii? Umenifinya vya kutosha kwa kujaza matatu kupindukia, na sasa unataka niinue miguu pia? Haiwezekani!”

“Acha ukorifi, jamaa. Hii ni matatu sio gari binafsi. Kama unataka starehe jinunulie gari.”

“Ni haki yangu kustarehe kwenye matatu nikichagua kusafiri kwa matatu. Kwani umenibeba bila malipo? Si nimelipia nafasi hii? Kama nimeilipia, nina haki ya kustarehe.”

“Eih! Inua miguu wewe! Kwani tutaishi hapa?” Abiria mmoja alibisha. Wengine pia walikuwa wameanza kunung’unika.

“Siwezi!” Nilijibu kwa ugombezi. “Watu kama nyinyi ndio mnasababisha tunakanyagwa kiasi hiki. Sasa ona tulivyofinyana. Matatu inafaa kubeba watu kumi na wanne lakini humu ndani tuko zaidi ya ishirini. Na nauli tumelipa, tena kiwango cha juu sana. Mnakubalije kutendewa hivi?”

Uhuru Will Leave Kenya on Her Knees

Uhuru’s efforts seem to have placated Raila and cooled his all-consuming fire. But they have gone beyond that. They have completely vanquished political opposition and effectively crowned Kenyatta king. It is therefore not surprising that while Raila’s i’s are hardly dotted and his t’s barely crossed, he has little to say about the reconstitution of a new electoral commission. Like one pacifies a barking dog with a bone, Raila and the opposition have been mollified with friendship and individual economic rewards while their faithful supporters languish under a ruthless regime. The son of Jomo is on a free reign and… Woe to democracy! Woe to Wanjiku!

Ten Lessons from the Life of Nelson Mandela Drawn from Dare Not Linger

Both as a regular person and as the president of newly free South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s life was full of qualities worth emulating. The book Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years by himself and Mandla Langa contains some remarkable exemplifications of notable aspects of this iconic world leader’s life. Here are ten of them:

Explore!

Open the door
That leads to the lore
Of stories that implore
And those that tell of wonders galore
Enter by the door
Escape the Splore
That deplore
The peace of silence
Sit on the floor
For there is a call
To know forever more
Explore

A Poem for New Year

Like a blank page,
Untampered with,
Unwritten on,
Clear as crystal,
Yet hazy as a psychic’s prediction,
Like a gift waiting to be unwrapped,
But peeling itself away each second,

Colored Tips

“Of course, he gets so much!” said Todd with a smirk. “He needs the money!”
Greg’s smile faded as his eyes fell to his shoes, his mouth parting a little.

His chest tightening, Tush’s mind raced. Todd’s and Greg’s voices faded as he harked back to previous comparable encounters.

Outside a church in Michigan, a female worshipper politely pointed out that Tush was the blemish in the white congregation.
At lunch at a common room in a housing coop, the janitor, overhearing a conversation between Tush and his housemates, sought to adroitly educate Tush’s white mates about the barbarism of Tush’s black background.
Over a phone call, a friend recounted how on numerous occasions she had been spoken down to at cafes and other places…

“That is so freaking bigoted!” Tush wanted to scream.
For a brief moment, he thought he felt his face become a shade darker.
What says, ‘I need money’ on me? He mused as his eyes searched Greg’s features. At an inch or two taller than his workmate and more or less a similar thin but fit body build, the only difference he could see between Greg and himself was a tummy that could potentially drag his co-worker out of shape soon if nothing was done.
“So, my skin color sets me apart in this “equal opportunity employer” premises, huh?” He wanted to yell what he had always known but had never wanted to admit.

“That is it!” he suddenly bellowed.

Urembo au Juhudi: Wanawake kwenye Idara ya Polisi, Kenya

Miaka michache iliyopita, afisa mmoja wa kike alipata umaarufu usiomidhilika. Umaarufu huu ulitokana, sio kutokana na kazi yake, bali ni kupitia urembo wa sura na umbile lake. Mwili wa afisa huyu ulijadiliwa, ukasifiwa, na kumezewa mate hadharani kwa siku kadhaa. Vile vile picha yake ilikatakatwa na kuhaririwa kwa jinsi tofauti ili kutosheleza matwaka ya wananchi haswa, nafikiri, wanaume. Ilishangaza sana kuona baadhi ya wanaume wakitamani hadharani kukamatwa na afisa huyo. Wengi walirai, “Tafathali nikamate!”

Ruto Must Not Quit, A Response to Nation Newspaper

Since securing a second term as president, Kenyatta, who in previous occasions repeatedly promised his adamant and unwavering support for Ruto, has developed cold feet. Isn’t Ruto justified then in seeking to galvanize his political persuasion in the country without considering the president’s agenda? The trouble in the ruling party is the president’s doing. Ruto and indeed all other politicians should not pay the price. The fact that the author’s thoughts differ raises keen readers’ eyebrows. Is this editorial an indication of the side of Nation’s bread that is battered? It certainly cannot be that the author believes in what he/she is advocating for. Neither Ruto nor any Kenyan should pay attention to the editorial, therefore!

Why and How “Hakuna Matata” May be Reclaimed from Disney

Disney’s move to trademark “Hakuna Matata” entails an unfair restriction of the use of the phrase by its owners. It is theft of cultural property. It is not too different from colonialism. This is cultural imperialism. It is unacceptable and must be resisted.

It is probably a moment to ask not what your society can do for you but what you can do for your society, to paraphrase JFK.