Tackling the Al – Shabaab Menace

The War on al-Shabab should be one that adopts a combination of militaristic, diplomatic and developmental approach. The use of all these approaches should be undertaken within the framework of addressing the root causes of the problems in Somalia; re-establishing rule of law, mitigating the humanitarian situation and attaining sustainable peace for Somalia. After the July 11th Uganda bombing, President Yoweri Museveni was on record calling on African leaders to team together and “kick al-Shabab out of Africa.” It is such radical views and war mongering that continues to radicalize al-Shabab. In retrospect, such views have over the years not borne any fruits as far as conflict resolution is concerned. Militaristic approaches not only aim at treating the symptoms of the crisis in Somalia but they do not effectively tackle the underlying real problems therein. Such a call only amounts to entrenching al-Shabab’s terrorizing activities and offers them a good PR platform for their actions and message. When leaders like President Museveni choose to breathe out the “crazy war vibe”, al-Shabab gets free media platform to send out the message that “we are here and are stronger.”

The war on tackling al-Shabab should incorporate developmental approaches alongside the militaristic approaches. The developmental approaches are those that seek to address societal problems within the framework of socio-economic development and safeguarding human rights of the people affected. For the crisis in Somalia, the developmental approach would be more concerned with addressing key issues such as the recruitment and radicalization of young Somalis into al-Shabab. This approach would be interested in winning the hearts and minds of the many young and old Somalis who are being recruited daily at an alarming rate to join Al- Shabab. The New York Times recently carried an article that reported on how so many young Somali’s are dropping out of school to join al-Shabab as part of the militiamen and suicide bombers. It is not a surprise if you were to visit Mogadishu and you were to spot a 12 year old boy carrying a fully automatic and loaded Kalashnikov assault rifle or struggling to carry a rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG). Therefore efforts to curb the al-Shabab menace should be directed on how to demobilize and disarm these young Somali’s who are daily becoming hopeless in a failed state where getting recruited into al-Shabab is preferred to being enrolled in school.

Diplomats and technocrats seating in consultative meetings at Washington, Cairo, Nairobi and Brussels should be busy coming up with developmental-oriented approaches that would represent a conceptual shift away from militaristic approaches. (Rosand, Miller and Ipe 2009:103) Today, Somalia is categorized as one of the heavily armed countries where trade in small light weapons is carried out in the local market. The international community and regional actors such as IGAD should adopt strategies that aim at disarming the young Somalis and establishing rehabilitation centers for them. This disarmament process should be coupled with the provision of alternatives such as access to better education or recreational activities.

Al-Shabab has adopted the imposition of Sharia law as one of its greatest weapons besides carrying out insurgency attacks and suicide bombings. This imposition of Sharia law has entrenched a religious fundamentalism and has created a system of fear and subordination among the citizenry in Somalia. However this imposition has resulted in the violation of the basic human rights and freedoms of the Somali people. For instance, there have been many cases reported where al-Shabab has chopped off the hands of children that had been caught stealing. In other instances wrong doers have been flogged openly as punishment for their offences and women stoned for committing adultery. This is indeed a clear violation of the universal right to a fair trial and justice system in the 21st century. It is such violations of human rights that must be addressed within the framework of the developmental approach. The international community has an obligation to ensure that the basic human rights of every Somali citizen are safeguarded.

Radicalization and indoctrination of the Somali population is another weapon that al- Shabab is using in recruiting members into its network. Peter Gastrow and Annette in an article in the African Security Journal point out that the violent radicalization of the local population is the greatest challenge to counterterrorism efforts in the East Africa region. (Gastrow and Husbschle 2006:84) Various reports have accounted that today youths from different nationalities, even from developed countries in Europe and the U.S, are being recruited into al-Shabab and other terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda. This was evidenced last year in December when a Nigerian youth, who had been recruited in Yemen, tried to carry out a suicide mission aboard a U.S airplane.

One of the sustainable and beneficial ways of fighting radicalization is through the dissemination of constructive information that would counter the indoctrinating and propaganda that most terrorist groups propagate among its recruits. The problem in Somalia is that al-Shabab has taken over most of the communication systems and is using them to indoctrinate the population. During the holy month of Ramadhan they issued a decree that everyone should surrender all their TV and radio sets and they had also issued another decree, on an earlier date, that all radio stations should stop playing non-Islamic music or airing western programmes.

The international community has a great challenge of getting around this hurdle by trying to make available alternative and constructive information to emancipate the minds and hearts of Somalis from al-Shabab’s indoctrination. It should be recognized that this cannot be an easy attempt but it is a sustainable means to creating a revolution within the Somalis against the al-Shabab. Many revolutions over the years have been made successful through the use of communication systems. Cases in point include the revolutions in Latin America and the impact of Radio Free Europe and Voice of America that contributed to the dismantling of the Berlin wall. The information relayed through media systems can have a far-reaching impact compared to the many additional troops that were pledged by various African leaders during the recently concluded African Union Head’s of States Summit in Uganda.

It should be appreciated that the crisis in Somalia is just not that of al-Shabab or the growing daily insurgency against the current Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but it includes the crisis of the lack of basic needs such as food security, easy access to health care, education, and adequate water supply. Therefore, the solution to Somalia’s crisis should not just be that of “kicking out” al-Shabab but that of how to re-establish rule of law, institutionalization of a governing system and addressing the humanitarian issues such as the provision of basic needs and securities for every Somali citizen.

There is a great need of legitimizing and strengthening the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that currently exercises only a small mandate in Mogadishu thanks to the presence of AMISOM troops. This TFG has no popular support in Somalia because it is seen as a western-imposed and western-backed government against the wishes of the Somali people. To legitimize the TFG there is need for creation of an all-inclusive and diplomatic process that charts the roadmap for sustainable peace in the country. One way to do this is to involve the various Somali clan leaders in a negotiation process for the creation of a National Somalia Government. It is only by creating such an inclusive and participatory process of negotiation and diplomatic exchanges that a legitimate governing system will be established. This proposition would help build legitimacy for the would-be elected national governing body thereby creating precedence for proper governance and entrenching democracy in Somalia. In the long run, this would provide the people of Somalia with an alternative option towards good governance as opposed to getting recruited by al-Shabab.

In conclusion, acknowledgement should be recorded that the thoughts and proposals forwarded in this essay are just a drop in the ocean of solutions to fighting and defeating al-Shabab and addressing the crisis in Somalia. It should be appreciated that this crisis needs a multifaceted approach of incorporating militaristic approaches with non-militarized ones such as the developmental and diplomatic approaches as sustainable strategies towards re-establishment of rule of law, mitigating the humanitarian situation and attaining sustainable peace for Somalia.

Bibliography

P. Gastrow and A. Hubschle, “African Perspectives on the International Terrorism Discourse.” African Security Review 15(3) 2006:84.
Recruitment and Radicalization of School-aged Children. http://hssai.org/hsireports/Radicalization_School-Aged_Youth.pdf (Accessed on September 23, 2010).
Rosand Eric, Millar Alistair and Ipe Jason, “Enhancing Counter-Terrorism Cooperation in Eastern Africa.” African Security Review 18(2) 2009:103.

Diplomacy Concepts 101

Multilateral Diplomacy – is the process of managing intergovernmental relations multilaterally

Conference Diplomacy – the management of relations between governments and of relations between governments and intergovernmental organizations that takes place in international conferences. (J. Kaufmann)

Negotiation – a process in which explicit proposals are put forward ostensibly for the purpose of reaching an agreement on an exchange or on the realization of a common interest where conflicting interests are present. (Fred Charles Ikle)

Negotiation – is a process whereby two or more parties seek an agreement to establish what each shall give or take, or perform and receive in a transaction between them.

Peacekeeping is defined by the United Nations as “a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace”. (en.wikipedia.org)

Peacebuilding is a term used within the international development community to describe the processes and activities involved in resolving violent conflict and establishing a sustainable peace. It is an overarching concept that includes conflict transformation, restorative justice, trauma healing, reconciliation, development, and leadership, underlain by spirituality and religion. (en.wikipedia.org)

Peacemaking is a form of conflict resolution which focuses on establishing equal power relationships (aka Divide and conquer) that will be robust enough to forestall future conflict, and establishing some means of agreeing on ethical decisions within a community that has previously had conflict. (en.wikipedia.org)

What’s In A Name?

Today as I chatted with someone at the office, we fikad a point and she semad, “Am sorry I didn’t quite catch your name…” I responded, “Rufus….its Rufus.” She went on to say, “what a unique name that is, I actually have never heard anyone called that…”

Yah I know my name is one in a million. This conversation made me ask my self? What’s in a name? Do you know the history behind your name? Does your name have any meaning or significance attached to it? As for my chat mate I had more than enough info to tell her about my name.

For starters my super un-popular name is in the Bible. What a surprise it was for my chat mate as it has been for the many people I enthusiastically reveal this fact to. Actually the response I usually get is, “Dream on..ati Rufus is in the Bible?”

Well, Rufus is found in Romans 16:13. Paul sends out his greetings and says, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord and his mother too, who has been a mother to me too.” (NIV) From this, I infer that Rufus must have been a very close pal of Paul. Maybe they used to hang out a lot given that Paul sends greetings to Rufus’ mother too. May be they used to fish together or were business associates in the fish monging business. You know this whole thing’i of Paul sending greetings in most of his Epistles makes me think he must have been a Lunje in his earthly life before he became a fisher of men. But that’s a story for another day.

Where was I? Oh yah, so Rufus has been mentioned fondly by Paul and guess what? There is a whole story behind this one sentence reference in Romans. According to the gospel according to Mark, I can’t get the exact reference now, apparently Rufus was the son to Simon of Cyrene, the guy who helped Jesus carry the cross. And he had another brother called Alexander. I am not sure if this Alexander was the guy Paul refers to in another part of the new testament, that this fellow had done great harm to him. I hope not, because I would not like to have such a mean brother who does not treat men of the cloth properly. Well there you have it folks, Rufus has a rich history in the Bible.

Besides having a mention in the Holy Book I went ahead and googgled my name. Guess what came up? The definition of my name on Wikipedia. Apparently my name means “red haired” in Latin. This is quite hilarious given that my hair is as dark, dry and hard like that of a bushman from the Kalahari Desert. I wonder if when I grow old instead of my hair turning white with mvi it would turn red. That would be cool. Well I also found out that the people who share this name are super-stars like Rufus Wainwright – a Canadian-American singer-song writer, Rufus of Ephesus – a first century Greco-Roman physician and anatomist, Rufus King – a pre-Civil War US politician. But I also found out that most Americans usually name their dogs Rufus. What a bomber!! I wont even talk about this.

A legend has it that once during Alexander the Great’s regime, his army came back after a horrible defeat. Actually only a handful of beaten-up soldiers came back who had managed to escape from the frontline battle. It is said that Alexander approached one of the soldiers and asked, “What’s your name soldier?” With a trembling voice the soldier replied, “Alexander.” It is said that Alexander was so outraged by this answer that he caught the soldier by his throat and wanted to strangle him. Apparently Alexander was so outraged by the fact that a soldier by his name would be such a coward as to flee from battle and not fight to death as Alexander would. The moral of the story is, what’s in your name? Today choose to be inquisitive about your name.

Play Title: Tuta- Do?

SYNOPSIS: Tuta-do is a story of two students who find themselves in a catch-22 situation. Julie and Ken are fourth year finalists at the University of Nairobi who have been dating since their second year. Julie has just discovered she is pregnant and wants to procure an abortion. Ken who is the leader of one of the Christian organizations on campus is trying to persuade her not to perform the abortion. Julie has threatened to commit suicide if she doesn’t get rid of the pregnancy.

F/X SCENE 1. SAUTI SOUL’S LAZIZI SONG IS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND

JULIE: (FIRMLY) I have to do it! I can’t stand the humiliation. Do you know what people will think or even call me. I…

KEN: (STAMMERING) Calm down, calm down switie. Are you certainly sure that in deed your pregnant?

JULIE: Of course yes! As I told you I haven’t had my pees now for the second month and I took a p.g test jana.

KEN: Oh God! (SILENCE) But switie, have you prayerfully thought about your decision of abor…aborting? Why would you want to abort? We are Christians…

JULIE: I know! But I have no other option babie! Aren’t you afraid what people will think? For starters, you are the baba of CSO for Christ’s sake!! And I am in the worship team. Everyone knows that we have been going out. Oh my God!! I just want to die!!

KEN: Switie, don’t say that you are scaring me…

JULIE: You know what? (SILENCE) I have made up my mind! I am going to do this. If not, then I am going to hang my self. I can’t live with this shame…

KEN: Hey switie, don’t say that! How can you think of such a dreadful thing? Sit down please. Let me hold you. I know you are scared and so am I. Come babie. Come sit here.

JULIE: (SIGHING) Oh gosh! How could this happen to us? It was just so…so… quick and brief…and now this. I wish we never did it.

KEN: Let’s forget about that! I am just scared about my parents and friends finding out. No! We can’t let them know! This will ruin my…our reputation. My parents will kill me if they found out…

JULIE: (SNEERING) Hmmm…and so will mine, especially my dad. I can’t even face him on kawa days when I have shidas. That’s why we have to do this babie. Actually I don’t even know why we are wasting time here. I am off!

KEN: Switie…where to? Please let’s first talk and pray about this. Don’t go.
(DOOR SLAMS) (FADE TO)

F/X SCENE 2. THE SOUND OF CUTLERY, PEOPLE CONVERSING IN LOW TONES AND THE SOUND OF A LOCAL RADIO FM STATION PLAYING RNB MUSIC IS HEARD IN THE BACKGROUD.

JULIE: (ANGRILY) Where the heck is Tracy? She is always late for our chama.

SLY: (SARCASTICALLY) I guess we better start. Tracy is always late and we know whom she is with. (CHUCKLES TO SELF) I am sure she is with that boyfie of hers who is such a looser!

JULIE: Thank you so much guys for showing up even though it was on short notice. I am in a bad crisis as you all know. By the way Piches, did you get my 4-1-1 text? I sent it like an hour ago.

PICHES: (INTERRUPTING) Yah I got it while I was in class. Girl, am I shocked or what? Is it true…that you are paged? Please tell me its just one of your pranks coz I still can’t believe. You of all the people!

SLY: Gosh! But I thought you guys were smart enough to use a rubber? Better still, you should have been smart enough to do it my way. You should have used pills for crying out loud! They only cost 120 bob a pair!

PICHES: Come on Sly, cut Jue some slack. Can’t you see this is something huge.

JULIE: Please guys this is not the best time to do this.

PICHES: So what are you going to do Jue?

SLY: I think you should definitely abort!

PICHES: What! No…

TRACY: (INTERUPTING) Hey chikas! I am finally here! I am so sorry I am late. You wont believe what happened. I got into a mat and…

SLY: (DISMISSIVELY) Oh please chika. Save us the details of your kawa lies. As I was saying, you should not even think twice. You should abort it a.s.a.p!

TRACY: Hey! Wait a minute guys, that’s outrageous! With due respect Sly, abortion is not an option here. We are Christians for heaven’s sake!

JULIE: But what do I do Trace? My parents will kill me if they find out. I think Ken already hates me for being pregnant! And plus I can’t stand guys at church or at fellow. Oh gosh! I feel like such a wreck!
(SILENCE)

WAITER: Excuse me ladies, Good afternoon? Are you now ready to place your orders?

SLY: (LOUDLY) Eish dude! We have just arrived like three seconds ago, can’t you even let us settle down? And where is Maish today? At least he always has the courtesy to wait on us…

JULIE: Hey Sly, why do you always have to be so rude and un considerate? Waiter, could you please give us another five minutes or so and we will be ready to place our orders? We are also chilling for a pal of ours who is joining us, if that’s okay with you. And please excuse our friend, she is having a bad day. (IN A LOW TONE) It’s that time of the month for her.

(LAUGHTER)

WAITER: That’s okay with me ladies, please take as much time as you want. When you guys are ready just let me know. I was just doing my job.

SLY: Your job my foot! How can you harakisha us like that and then say that it’s your job?

TRACY: Please Sly…tuliza joh!

SLY: Alright, but he better jua how to treat cute ladies like us. Y’all jua I love taking my time and being harakishwad is not how I roll.
PICHES: Guys I know we are Christians and we have earned the “good girls” titles at campo, but seeing Jue in such a terrible state just makes me think abortion would be a good option. As in, I can’t imagine how she is going to carry a pregnancy yet she is too young to be a mama now? Besides everyone messes up once in a while…

SLY: (SARCASTICALLY) Thank you! At least someone has worn her thinking hat today unlike some holier than though people I know here!

TRACY: Come on Sly, don’t get started on me now!

JULIE: (DESPERATELY) Guys..guys…don’t start your usual arguments now. Can’t you see my life is at stake here? I have made up my mind I am going to procure an abortion! (SILENCE) Who’s with me?

SLY: (BRIGHTLY) You can count on me gal! Actually I have a doctor friend of my boyfie who I am sure can sort us out in this mess. I think I have his card somewhere in my purse. Voila!

PICHES: Jue, you know I am with you. But I am just scared. What if something happens to you? What if you develop some complications? You know…you know like what happened to Kendi.

TRACY: Yah Jue. Please don’t do this. For Christ’s sake, this is a sin! And again two wrongs don’t make a right. What is Ken’s opinion about this? Have you talked to your mentor at church?

JULIE: (RESOLUTELY) To be honest Trace, I am leaving Ken out of this decision coz he is not feeling my vibe right now. I have no option, I have to do it!

(FADE TO)

F/X SCENE 3. THE SOUND OF MATATU TOUTS AND HONKING IS HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND

SECRETARY: Good evening! Welcome to Ultimate Solutions Clinic. How may I help you?

JULIE: Uhhmm…Hi, I am here to see a Dr. Gay? I have a 5 o’clock appointment with him.

SECRETARY: And what’s your name?

JULIE: (HESITANTLY) Uh…Julie. Julie Kavesu. Tell him it’s Sly’s friend from Umoja Estate.

SECRETARY: Okay. Please just have a sit as I inform him that you are here for the appointment.

KEN: (WORRIED) Babie, I can’t believe you dragged me into this. Are you sure this is the best thing we are doing. As in…

JULIE: Babie, what do you mean? I thought you said you are doing this for us. Besides, Sly says Dr. Gay is the best in town for this kind of things.

KEN: But switie, I am scared. What if someone saw us coming here?

JULIE: (ANGRILY) I can’t believe you just asked that! You are just worried about someone seeing us instead of worrying about me, about our future together. Good gracious!

KEN: Jue, that’s not what I meant. I meant that we shouldn’t be here and doing this ungodly thing in the first place.

SECRETARY: Uhhhmm, excuse me Julie, unfortunately Dr. Gay can’t see you right now.

JULIE: (DISAPPOINTED) Oh no! Why? But he had assured me of the appointment. Kwani what’s up with him?

SECRETARY: There is one of the clients who has an emergency and Daktari has had to attend to her. I suggest that you come back tomorrow early in the morning if that is okay with you guys. He will be in the office by 7 a.m.

JULIE: Okay then, we will come back tomorrow first thing in the morning. Right babie?

KEN: (HESITANTLY) Uhhh…yah…sure…we will.

SECRETARY: Please take this form and fill it as you come tomorrow. Have a good night and be safe!

KEN: (IN A LOW TONE) Babie did you hear that, probably it’s a complication due to abortion…

JULIE: Shut up Ken! How can you think like that? (ANGRILY) I am not even walking with you back to campus!

KEN: (APOLOGETIC) I am so sorry babie. I was just concerned about… Please wait…wait for me.

(FADE TO)

F/X SCENE 4. THE SOUND OF BIRDS CHIRPING AND A COOL BREEZE IS HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND.

KEN: Come on babie, please pick up the phone. (SILENCE) Now why aren’t you picking up my calls? Damn!! I can’t believe this. Oh God, give me the strength and wisdom to go through this. It’s like a nightmare. I don’t want Julie to undergo the abortion but again I don’t want a baby. I am too young to be a father now. How do I even face my friends and family? Oh God help me please…what do I do?

(FADE TO)

F/X PHONE RINGS IN THE BACKGROUND AND SLOW MUSIC IS HEARD PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND

JULIE: (IN A SOBBING TONE) I love you babie but I am not picking your calls now. I just need some me time. (SILENCE) Oh God! How did we ever come to this point? I feel like such a wreck and a hypocrite. God, will you…will you ever forgive me for this? (SILENCE) I am so sorry for letting you down. Please hear me as I kneel down.

F/X SCENE 4. THE SOUND OF A FAN AND A REFRIGERATOR IS HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND

DR. GAY: Good morning!

JULIE: Morning!

DR. GAY: Let me see if I have this correctly. Is your name Julie?

JULIE: Yah it’s Julie. Julie Kavesu.

DR. GAY: Please have a sit. I hope you don’t mind that the fan is on early this morning. For some weird reason it’s too hot in this office.

JULIE: No. I don’t mind. I am Sly’s pal…Sly… from Umoja Estate.

DR. GAY: Oh sure! I know her very well. She is my friend’s girlfriend. And how is she doing?

JULIE: Well, she is okay…si you just know Sly.

DR. GAY: Ahh…she is quite some girl. A small girl with a big attitude, if you know what I mean. (CHUCKLES TO SELF) And where is your boyfriend? My secretary informs me that you had come yesterday with him?

JULIE: Uhhmm…unfortunately he couldn’t make it. A seven o’clock appointment is too early for him. (SILENCE) But to be honest, right now we are not in good speaking terms.

DR. GAY: And why so?

JULIE: Uhh…well, to begin with he is kinda angry that I am pregnant, which is no fault of mine and secondly he is not feeling this vibe of me abo…aborting. Thirdly, I am just…

DR. GAY: Well I can understand that maybe he is scared about the outcome of the abortion but how can he be angry that your pregnant? Kwani you got pregnant by yourself?

JULIE: (FIRMLY) Exactly! I am just so mad at him now. He is so selfish. He is just worried about his reputation with his friends and his position at the CSO…that’s our Christian Society Organization on campus…

DR. GAY: So you are a Christian eeeehh?

JULIE: Well, I am…I was…(SILENCE) but now I just don’t jua anymore…

DR. GAY: Anyway, let’s cut out all this hullabaloo. (SILENCE) To be very sincere have you carefully thought about this decision? I mean, you understand that you will have to live with it for the rest of your life? I am sure from our brochure you have read some of the things you will experience by having to…

(PHONE RINGS SEVERAL TIMES INTERUPTING THE DOCTOR)

DR. GAY: Aren’t you going to answer that?

JULIE: No! It’s Ken, my boyfriend, probably he is just wondering where I am but I am not going to pick it up. Please just go on.

DR. GAY: As I was explaining to you. Here at Ultimate Solutions we offer girls like you a second chance at life and correcting mishaps like yours. However we do not guarantee you that this chance will be any easier on your conscience but we guarantee you that we are the best in town for this kind of thing…actually we call it a pro-choice procedure.

JULIE: I understand all that. All I want is to get rid of this pregnancy a.s.a.p and get my life back. I can’t live with the shame and guilt that is killing me right now. Please help me daktari.

DR. GAY: Don’t worry, that’s why we are here. But I have to make you understand that what we do here…(IN A LOW TONE) We do it chini ya maji and you as a client have to promise that you will not disclose our operations to any one apart from someone you know very well.(SILENCE) I mean we are doing you a favor. Do you understand?

JULIE: (HESISTANTLY) I…I…understand. So how much is the procedure?

DR. GAY: Well, the cost depends on the kind of procedure that we undertake. From the form that you filled, I see that it’s been only two months since you discovered that you are pregnant. Right? So your procedure will cost only KSH. 6000.

JULIE: (SURPRISED) Oh Gosh! I didn’t jua it’s that expensive.

DR. GAY: Uhhh…well, actually your procedure is even cheaper and given that you are a friend of Sly, I am giving you very favorable rates.

JULIE: And how safe is the procedure? I am just afraid if anything wrong were to happen…

DR. GAY: Well, as you probably read a disclaimer in the form you signed, we can not guarantee you a 100% that all will be well, but I can tell you that I have been in this business for 15 years and most of my operations have been successful. Don’t worry! I am confident that your procedure will work out just fine.

JULIE: I really hope so because I can’t afford getting a complication or…

DR. GAY: No..no..for someone like you who has a healthy body, it will be okay. However I would really like you and your boyfriend to visit our counselor first before going on with the procedure.

JULIE: Trust me daktari…

DR. GAY: Please call me Gay. No need for formalities here…

JULIE: Well, trust me right now all I want is to get rid of this pregnancy a.s.a.p. By the way, I don’t have the cash now can we schedule the procedure like on Thursday or Friday?

DR. GAY: No problem, I know for a student like you getting this amount of money is not easy. Thursday is fine with me. I will request Njeri, my secretary to book the appointment for you.

JULIE: Well, thank you so much daktar…oh sorry, thank you so much Gay. I really hope to get the chapa by Thursday.

DR. GAY: I hope so too. All the best in everything and take it easy, all will be well. Pass my love to Sly and tell her to come say hi sometime.

JULIE: Sawa I will. Have a nice day.

F/X THE SOUND OF A TELEVISION AND SOME SLOW SONGS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND IS HEARD

KEN: (ANGRILY) Babie where have you been? You jua how worried I have been since jana? Then your phone is mteja… I have been worried sick over you. Kwani where have you been?

JULIE: I have been at Dr. Gay’s office this morning. Jana evening I was in my room after you made me so mad. From jana’s talk you seemed disinterested in this mpango so I decided to have some me time.

KEN: Disinterested? What do you mean? I took you all the way to Afya Centre! How can you say that I am not interested? We are in this mess together. Jana was just too much for me, I was yet to come to terms with the whole thing’i of you being pregnant.

JULIE: Mmmh..yah right? But why did you sound like…like you were angry at me for being pregnant and wanting to abort?

KEN: Uhhhm..uhhhm…I was not mad. How can I be mad at you that you are pregnant? I was just worried babie. I didn’t expect all this to happen…not now…and certainly not to us.

JULIE: Then please stop making me feel as if I am the one to blame for this whole mess. Now that you don’t want me to abort, what do you suppose that we should do? Babie tuta-do?

KEN: First, stop even mentioning that word arbo…it makes me sick to the stomach. Babie we are Christians for Christ sake!

JULIE: Ken, to be very honest, don’t give me that Christian talk again! I know we are Christians and I can even quote for you all the scriptures on sex and abortion. Right now all I care is how to sort out this mess. (SILENCE) By the way the procedure will cost 6k.

KEN: What! 6000 shillings? Now where will we get that kind of money from?

JULIE: Dr. Gay booked me for the procedure this Thursday.

KEN: Babie, you mean you already made arrangements about this? Why didn’t you let us first talk about this?

JULIE: (ANGRILY) Talk? What is there to talk about surely? You in the first place don’t want me even to mention the word abortion? Secondly, you categorically stated that you don’t want either of your parents nor your friends to know about this. I therefore decided that I will take care of this mess myself!

KEN: Babie, please calm down. Why are you mad? And why are you shouting at me?

JULIE: But switie, you make me feel like I am alone in this…like I am the one who is to blame for the mess we are in.

KEN: Hey, I love you. And like I said, we are in this together. I am sorry if I have made you feel like you are alone. Please don’t shut me out of this.

(PHONE RINGS)

JULIE: Hello! Sasa Piches. I am in Ken’s room. No, I couldn’t make it for class but I need to see you a.s.a.p. Yah I am just from Dr. Gay’s office. When we meet I will give you the 4-1-1 about it. Okay see you soon chika. Bye. (SILENCE) Babie I have to go…

KEN: (PROTESTINGLY) Where to? Do you really have to go now? Please let’s talk. You have not even stayed for ten minutes.

JULIE: I have to talk with Piches before her next Statistics class which starts in an hour’s time.

KEN: Okay babie, I will try look for that money. Sawa? Please jua I love you sana. We need to schedule time and talk over this thing kabisa.

JULIE: Sawa. See you soon.

KEN: Am I not getting a hug?

(DOOR SLAMS)

KEN: Damn! What’s happening to us? Ama I am being unrealistic? I should probably just agree on this whole abortion issue. God! Nita-do?

F/X END WITH SAUTI SOUL’S LAZIZI SONG

GLOSSARY/ ABBREVIATIONS

a.s.a.p – as soon as possible

p.g test – pregnancy test

pees – monthly period

CSO – Christian Society Organization

Harakishwad – to be made to hurry in doing something

Boyfie – boyfriend

Pal – a friend

Chini ya maji – something done covertly, against the law

Nita-do – what will I do

Chikas – word used among girlfriends

Wait For Me (Song by Tracy Chapman)

If you wait for me then I will come for you;Tracy Chapman
Although I have traveled far
I always hold a place for you in my heart;

If you think of me, if you miss me once in a while;
Then I’ll return to you, I will return and fill that space in your heart;

Remembering your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace;
I will find my way back to you
If you will be waiting;

If you dream of me like I dream of you
In a place that’s warm and dark;
In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart;

Remembering your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace;
I will find my way back to you
If you will be waiting;
Oh I long for you and I have a desire;
To see your face, your smile
And to be with you wherever you are;

Remembering your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace;
I will find my way back to you
Please say you will be waiting;

Together again it will feel so good to be in your arms;
Where all my journey ends;
You can make a promise
If it’s one that you can keep;
I vow to come to you
If you wait for me;

Say you hold a place for me in your heart;
A place for me in your heart.

If Tomorrow Never Came

Today as I marveled at the beauty of yet another day in my life,
I wondered,
If I hadn’t lived to see today,
What would my family have had to say about me,
Would my friends have felt the impact of my absence in their life,
And would the world even still for a moment in my honor,
Or would life just go on,

If today would have been my day of demise,
What lesson would I have passed to all I encountered,
What memory would the world have of me,
Would I leave a gap in anyone’s heart,
Or would I just be another number or statistic,
Gone to make room for someone else in the world,

It’s troubling that one can live this life and pass on living behind nothing,
I have gone through many days in my life,
now I wonder how often I rise above the crowd,

Even in the simplest of ways like putting a smile on a long face,
Or maybe sharing the little I may have with someone more deserving than myself,
Tomorrow is but a mirage,

I’m not sure I’ll be around to share the best of me with the world,
So I take today to be my very best,
I’m not sure I’ll be here tomorrow,
So I take today to tie all my lose ends together,
To turn all the stones in my life,
So that even if I rest today,
I’ll rest in peace knowing I did my very best,
And most important I gave the very best of me,
And turned every stone on my way!

A Tribute To Mama

My mum is no Benazir Bhuto nor Wangari Maathai;
She is neither a Michelle Obama nor Ann Njogu
Of our times;

But in her own modest yet awesome way;
She stands out as a shero
Whom the world can recognize and admire;
You’ve never seen her on NTV, Al Jazeera nor on CNN
But in my own world
She is a daily newsworthy item;

Daily she wakes up early
To prep my little sister for school;
And while I am pulling off a 3rd dream
She is busy preparing tea for me
And my siblings;

Throughout the day
She cleans, she scrubs, she toils;
And what amazes me is that:
with no murmuring or bitterness
She serves every meal with a cheerful heart;

My mama seats on no Security Council meetings;
Neither does she attend high profile meetings;
But daily she holds peace talks and reconciliation meetings
When my siblings and I are at no good speaking terms;

I still remember the good old days of utotoni;
When my brother and I would be at each other’s throats
Fighting for the best toy,
Fighting for the front car seat,
Fighting to sleep on the right side of the bed,
And daily blaming each other for mistakes we had done;
But with love and care my mama would reprimand us
She just had a way with the rod
But always embracing us;

My mama has daily been a leader, a diplomat, a human rights activist;
But most of all she has been my mama, our mama,
And my first love;

Dear mama;
I write this tribute to you
Because CNN may not notice you, Jeff wa Koinange may not invite you
To his bench and cry out “Good gracious”, “What a show” “What a Guest”;
But I write to tell you;
That you are my shero mama!

Proudly Kenyan

On one 7th August 2008, I was traveling from upcountry to Nairobi to visit an aunt of mine who lived in Majengo area near California Estate. I was with my cousin whom we schooled together in an upcountry school. During the school holidays my parents allowed me to spend the holidays with my cousin in Nairobi. As we reached Nairobi at around 10:30 a.m. we were shocked to be welcomed by a chaotic scene where everybody was running away from the city centre and others were driving out of town. At first we did not know what was going on because of all the commotion and confusion. There were so many policemen and police vehicles all over town. There were also gazillion ambulances dashing in and out of the city centre, a scene that I was not too familiar with in my upcountry home. Our matatu driver cautiously drove away from the commotion towards River Road where we were to alight. We later learnt that there had been a terrorist attack on the U.S embassy and that Ufundi House had collapsed.
My cousin and I were too young to understand what a terrorist attack meant leave alone what this meant in terms of the people who had been caught in between this unfortunate event. All we knew then was that things were not good. From a far off, we could see huge billows of smoke from one of Nairobi’s sky scrappers and two army helicopters hovering over the area with the smoke. St. John’s and Red Cross’ ambulances were all over each street and sirens filled the mid morning air of Nairobi. My heart was pounding fast as my cousin, who was well versed in the streets of Nairobi, took my hand and luggage as we walked hurriedly towards the stage where we boarded a Kenya Bus that was heading to Majengo.

When we reached home, all that we could see on television were graphic images of a collapsed Ufundi house, a U.S Embassy building turned to rubbles and so many people covered in blood. I can’t quite remember all that was going through my mind that day but I was struck by how selfless Kenyans of all walks of life were working together and tirelessly to help the people that were trapped under the rubbles. From this experience I saw the unity of Kenyans coming together irrespective of tribe, religion or social status. That day we were one. We were Kenyans.

Over the years I have seen how Kenyans unite when tragedy comes knocking at our doors. As I write this fresh memories still linger in my head of the recent incident of the collapse of a building somewhere in Kiambu and also of the deadly Nakumatt downtown fire incident. I was impressed and humbled to see how many Kenyans were selfless and brave enough to risk their lives to save others. In all these incidences, I am more than persuaded that Kenyans are a very united and selfless people. This is what makes me to be proudly Kenyan. Yes the unfateful events of the post-election violence would prove my statement incorrect, but I know that deep down our Kenyan identity we are a very selfless, kind and united people.

I have had the privilege of traveling abroad on several occasions to five different countries and I must say that my experiences have made me to be more proud of my Kenyan and African identity. While staying and studying in the U.S for one year, I must say that what I missed most was the warmness and sense of community that we Kenyans have. Life in the U.S. goes very fast and everyone is always busy and required to be on time for everything. I must confess that having to be punctual at everything was a great challenge for me as a student. From my experience as a University of Nairobi student, having to be on time for lectures has never been a problem. Take for instance, if I have a class at 11:00 a.m., I usually leave my room at 10:50 a.m. and arrive five minutes late and mind you I will still be early for my class. In the U.S. things are different, classes and meetings start promptly at the allocated time, even if you are meeting a friend over coffee or for a date you have to keep time. Well, I know it is said that time is money, but I have come to realize that for us Kenyans, we are more concerned with the event happening as opposed to what time the event will start or end. I guess that’s why it is said that we Africans have the time while the Europeans have the watches. What I am proud of as a Kenyan in terms of time keeping, we are always careful to spend much quality time with our friends and family. In America or in the developed world, social meetings are done within the confines of allocated time because people are always catching the next bus, the next working shift or the next plane.

Another thing that makes me a proud Kenyan is that though we have so many problems in our society, beginning from low living standards, poor infrastructure, and lack of access to good health care systems, corruption, and an endless list of other problems; we are quite a resilient and grateful people. I love the Kenyan spirit. The spirit that always smiles and appreciates whatever circumstance there is, even in the midst of a host of all the problems that define our day-to-day life. While living in America, I was struck by how different life is in all its aspects. For example, I would say Americans are spoilt with choice and opportunities for better living standards. For instance, if I wanted to have milk in the morning for my breakfast. I had to choose between having 2% milk, whole milk, or low fat milk. If I wanted to have coke, I had to choose between diet coke and regular coke. Everywhere and everything I wanted, I had to make a choice of either this or that. In Kenya, for any common mwananchi, the question of which kind of milk one would like to have does not come before the question of the availability of the milk. But despite all these differences and inadequacies, Kenyans wake up everyday with a hope and determination to better their daily standards. I have a great admiration for the masons and “hustlers” who wake up each day; they either have tea (black tea for that matter) with either bread or the ugali that remained from yesterday’s supper and they head out to a full day’s work where they will be paid peanuts. This is so unlike life in America where people are paid per hour and still many of them are ungrateful or even realize that the kind of life they have is a heaven to someone else.

Never Again

Did you hear the cry of the little ones;
As they were led to the gas chambers;
Did you see that Hutu man;
Hacking to death his neighbor’s family;
Did you see the boys and girls of Darfur;
Walking barefooted across the deserted plains;
Under the scorching sun;

Let us remember;
Let us commemorate;
Lest we should forget
The day our humanity failed us;

Why remember?
You ask
Why allow yourself to relive the pain?

We remember so that we can learn from the past;
We remember to honor the lives
Of the millions slaughtered at Auschwitz camps;

Post Election Violence (Kenya 2008)


We remember to honor
The thousands buried in mass graves in Kigali;
To honor that Bosnian young couple
That elderly Armenian woman;
Who were all taken away from us
When our humanity failed us

Why such atrocities? Why such inhumanity?
Yet we say we are humans
Who love, who care, who profess a faith
Let us all stand to say
Never again

Never again should we see
Young innocent Darfuris die by the gun;
Never again should we allow our humanity to fail us
Never again should one tribe butcher another;
Never again should we allow another Shoa
Another genocide, another 9/11, another post-election violence;
Never again should we forget,
We are humans, We are one
Never again!

Here We Stand

Here we stand
At crossroads

How did we get here?
Everything seemed perfect
Till we walked on this road

This wretched path
That leads to a bleak future
One that is cold and dusty

Don’t let go yet
You whisper

Where do we go from here?
I know not
but let’s soldier on

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