Purge Our Consciences
From my lowly bachelor’s house
Proudly christened ‘Embassy Fair’
I woke up to the chirping of birds
On the trees above and across the vale
And the riverine bushes in-between
I woke up to the crowing of cocks
And the mooing of cows
I woke up to the leaping of calves
And the bleating of anxious goats;
To the braying of the donkey
The barking of my brother’s dog
And to the mumbling of the sheep.
There was no time to brood
Or think negative thoughts
Or linger on yesterday’s deeds.
I opened up all my senses
And voluptuously drank of the new day.
As my feet stroked the dew
On my way to the reserve fields
My eyes fathomed Mt. Ithangune
The eastern fortress of Mt. Kenya
Itself a mere one thousand feet higher.
Then we were mountain warriors
And our locale elevated us accordingly
Leaving no room for flippancy
Even when it was flipping cold.
Times were when our men grazed there
On the slopes of Kirima kia Ng’ombe
Times were when Omo elders made rain there
Little did we know then (as now?)
That the God of Rain had slumbered
And demanded pure white fattened rams
Delivered by pure white-haired men
Whose penance upon the mountain
Would atone the sins of the Meru clans
And make our mountain God weep
And let his tears soften our rich soils
To ward off barrenness once more
And banish famine from our midst;
And as our fast-flowing rivers swelled
So, too, our cattle and our granaries.
For although our God lived at the apex
Yet he allowed us to get this close
And so to commune with him
Without touching his garment
Craftily spread over the three peaks.
Krapf and Rebmann never knew this
They were mere trekkers, mere explorers
Of a continent pregnant with mystery
That their kinsmen sought to make a home,
A distant home away from home.
One time I HEARD THEM TEACH THAT Krapf
Was the first man to see Mt Kenya
To which I responded, ‘Really? Aren’t you kidding?’
So what kind of men were the mountain warriors-
Blind men? The Meru, the Kikuyu, the Embu,
The Wakamba, the Masai, the Samburu, the Borana-
Were they all blind men then? Stone blind-
All those Africans that had known it before Krapf?
Desecration followed desecration
As alien men sought to climb Mt Kenya
And alien men sought to expropriate
Not just a field but all our land.
From a handful of missionaries and clerks
To shiploads of coolies and soldiers
To throngs of settlers and administrators
To segregation, imposition and subjugation
Till the people- wary, weary and desperate
Rose from the caves, valleys and forests
From every blessed nook and cranny
Chanting MAU, MAU, MAU, MAU
(Mwingereza Aende Ulaya
Mwafrica Apate Uhuru-
White Man Return to Europe
African man Attain Independence!)
Though a youngster and much afraid
I sang that, too, in my youthful heart
Forbidden, I still sang it, in my heart
For I had seen the sword on my mum’s throat
As they sought to extract a confession
I had seen the village burn down
And I had seen the limp body of a fighter
Paraded through the village paths
But that was over half a century ago
And although I had seen the aftermath
Of Kaya Bombo and Kaya Tiwi in Kwale
On my way here (but thought it a dream)
And the agony of the 1998 Al Qaeda attacks
I had not seen much else; nor will I ever see
The likes of Eldoret, Nakuru, or Naivasha
After the 2007 election- I ardently pray not
For this is not the white man in Africa
That we are up against, surely not here
Not this long after regaining our independence
No! Not here in my beloved, bounteous Kenya.
It is commercial and political greed
A vicious, ugly cross-breed beast perhaps
That is all there is, that is all there can be
And these we must banish from our hearts
For who can bear to see Kenyan blood
Flowing down River Tana or Athi or Nzoia
Or swelling the banks of Lake Victoria, Nakuru or Turkana?
Who can plead such a case before God
And come away with his soul intact?
Have the Kenyan people not chosen
Through a brand new constitution
Their route to freedom, justice and progress?
Have they not decreed their own destiny?
Let me hear it from you and you and you
Whose hand or sword or bullet or arrow
Was stained by the blood of woman, man or child
Let me hear it from you who schemed or aided
And you who lent your tongue or thought
Or simply sought refuge in silence and waited
For something, anything to happen to ‘them.’
Let me hear you say, ‘Enough, enough!
Purge our consciences O Mighty One!’
Copyright © Gerald Kithinji | Year Posted 2013