City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence, A Review

The author’s meticulous interaction with refugees in Dadaab yields detailed accounts of the circumstances that brought them to the camp, the impact of their residence in the camp, and the kind of future each of them likely faces. We also get a rare insight into Kenya’s Northeastern region and national politics, the terror of Al Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia, regional intergovernmental relations especially among the nation-states of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia, as well as a glimpse into the malady that tribalism is for Africa.

Other than giving the Dadaab refugees a voice and revealing with such intensity the multiple intricacies of their lives in the face of the numerous forces operating in their world, a major strength of this book is the author’s use of description. With his words, Rawlence paints vivid images of people, places, and situations, easily taking the reader with him into and around Dadaab, as well as through parts of Kenya and Somalia.

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!

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.

Jubilee is Dead, Thanks to Uhuru!

The Jubilee story is rife with the common and permanent “frenemity” that characterizes Kenyan politics. Like one uses a rug and tosses it away when done, or similar to one who chews a piece of sugarcane and throws into the garbage the juiceless leftovers, Kenyatta used Ruto and discarded him without second thought once he thought he had sucked from him all he could offer.

Je, Mnyonge ana Haki?… The Kibera Demolitions and Mau Evictions

He couldn’t agree with Dr. King’ori of #TheWicked Edition more when he commented that wanyonge could be kicked out any time. Other wanyonge were facing a similar fate in Mau forest in the rift valley. He wondered with Dr. King’ori why the government was behaving as if it just woke up and realized there was an encroachment problem!