The music was always there, only that it was lonely when people didn’t hear it.
The synchronous orchestra of a construction site in the vigour of the early morning.
The whooshing crescendo of heavy traffic in the rush hour.
The sad cadences of empty places where loneliness goes to be alone.
A corner turned and a radio plays uses electricity to sing a song sung thousands of miles away.
The bass from banging speakers thumps out into the night.
Doors slam.
The screams of sex echo.
A nocturne duet of dogs howl in an a cappella requiem to the day.
A siren goes off in the distance, a primal call in a city of decadence.
A staccato of gunfire.
An allegro of heavy footsteps.
The maniacal medley of the malevolent masses.
The sonata of society.
The music is always here. We just don’t listen to it.

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A Litmus for Love

I breathe in the dust of your dead skin. My lungs turn into lanterns that hold your light.
I hold your emotions prisoner inside my ribcage.
I get tangled in your rebellious, beautiful strands of hair left on my bed. The smell of you lingers there and sends colourful, nostalgic electricity through the layers of my skin.
There are holes in my heart; wounds from wars of words fought from the trench at the edge of my bed that we never wanted to fall into.
We were to watch our dog grow old together.
But now we just fight because we speak different dialects of love.
Our relationship became a litmus for love.
And minds shouldn’t be hurt when hearts beat.
Granted, I took you for granted.

There’s an old tree in Nairobi that I want to show you and talk to you about because only you’d appreciate the language of leaves that it whispers in the wind.
There are days when the raincloud that resides above my head explodes and fills the hole under my feet and I drown in the stormy waters our relationship sank in.
Letters and pictures and little artifacts; fossilized remnants of our manifested love. Relics kept in cupboards and laptop folders telling stories to nothing anymore.
Abandoned pieces of us traveling alone through time.

I fear we’ll forget who each other are. Your memories of how we met under the starry Tanzanian sky will fade. You’ll forget the time I drunkenly waltzed to the music we made from the sparks of infatuation.
And I’m afraid that I’ll forget the way I chipped your tooth with a hard, mistimed kiss or the way you’d hold the little finger of my hand or the way you’d pronounce the word apple. I’m afraid I’ll forget how you were the perfect blend of silliness and intelligence.
Pictures of how happy we once were are too painful to look at.

And now I will build ships in new relations with strange girls who cannot understand what the leaves say, girls who won’t know that my scars speak, girls who won’t know that my shoes must face the rising sun.
I will build ships and be a pirate that cares more for conquests than commitment. I will remain the fool because lessons in love are too painful to learn and I am old and unteachable and angry and hurt because you were porcelain on a pedestal and I broke you and us.
And one day I will write you a letter. One day in the distant future, a time travelling relic will find you and tell you how sorry I am.
How sorry I am that I didn’t let us see our dog grow old together.


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The Ghosts of 10,000 Elephants

The ghosts of 10,000 elephants will trumpet while their ivory burns as conservationists, civilians and celebrities watch. The ghosts will charge and rampage and no one will see them or hear them. They know that people will forget them as soon as the next news story comes out. The ghosts of 10,000 elephants will then turn around and walk into the imaginations of our future generations who will never see them alive.

They say this will raise awareness but I fear it’ll tell the poachers that there’s less ivory left in Africa and as the demand goes up, so do the prices and the allure to poach more. I fear this will create a concentrated effort on the lives of the remaining few great elephants we have left. We’ve not been able to protect them till now so what makes us think we’ll be able to do so when the poachers now have even more incentive?

I’m so frustrated with this ivory burning ceremony. I’m so angry with the loss of all these elephants and with this circus we’ve built around this one event. I’m so sick of seeing smiling selfies near stockpiles of tusks. This is not a win on poaching. This is not a celebration, it’s a funeral. Since 1989 we’ve been burning ivory. It hasn’t curbed poaching. It hasn’t proved to be educational. It has become an iconic recurring event. For what purpose? Poachers kill, we burn, poachers kill, we burn. A redundant cycle. Here’s a case in point; if we, the masses, put as much energy into conservation of elephants as we have into talking about the ivory burning, we’d have less dead elephants.

Conservation shouldn’t be a weekly theme. Last week it was Mohawk the lion. This week it’s the ivory. No. Conservation should be a constant duty to Mother Nature. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, we need constant reminders of this task which means that these one off ivory burnings will not serve to solve anything because they’re singular.

They say they’ll make money for conservation from this burning from outside sources but how much money has already been spent on just setting up this event? 100 million? Maybe. Wouldn’t the money in hand have helped recruit and train new rangers in order to protect the few gentle giants we have left? Isn’t that the priority now? To protect the elephants?

And how do we protect the elephants, you may ask. Well, certainly not by utilizing traditional out-dated methods that have been in action since 1989 which have not proven to do anything for educating the masses nor curb poaching. We shouldn’t parade ourselves like bare assed blue balled monkeys in front of the cameras just so we can earn a few bucks which will inevitably disappear into the pockets of a few. We need to think deeply about longer term sustainability projects on education about conservation. We need to think outside the ivory box. We need to think about creative ways in which to protect our elephants.

Raabia Hawa’s Walk With Rangers initiative hit the nail on the head on many fronts. The premise is walking through vast amounts of land in order to raise awareness. This project has such great potential. Not only did it get people from all over the world together to walk 300 odd kilometres through the wild but it also ensured that those very people learned about the plight of rangers who put their lives on the line to save our elephants. And additionally, walking through remote communities, people were able to spread the message of conservation to otherwise secluded little villages. Conservation is a communal thing.

In Botswana, they’ve created an elephant statue of tusks that is displayed in their airport for all to see. This serves as a constant reminder to people. Imagine if we had these kinds of statues all in various places in Africa where they cannot be ignored. Where the news will not only report them for two weeks. When I see the stockpiles here, I feel rage and it tugs at my heartstrings to do more. That feeling should be constant. But burning the evidence of atrocity is not the way forward. It’s morbid but the tusks serve as harsh, painful reminders that so many elephants were brutally murdered for trinkets.


Source: Africa Geographic

To top it all off, think about this. We’re burning 105 tonnes of hard-to-burn ivory in a national park full of other animals in the name of conservation. The irony seems to be lost upon us.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the importance of media and I understand the pool of awareness that celebrities can create but it must amount to something in the end yes? And if that something is transitory, then are we really doing justice to the elephants? It’s a sensitive issue to deal with because security of the ivory is also up for debate. We live in a time where people can steal anything and so yes, there are valid reasons for destroying it too. But look at Botswana, they’ve found a sustainable way to ensure their elephant population is stable and also that the statue is not touched.

To be honest, we can’t only show up when the world’s eye is upon us because of another burning. We must all constantly work towards conservation. Every single day in small ways. Millions of people working together. I’m tired of relying heavily on the government as people have power in numbers. Education about conservation through creative and consistent methods is the way forward.

I really don’t claim to know all the answers. I hardly ever do. All I have is the knowledge that we must move with the times and we’re at an age where information is so easy to collect. That ivory does not belong to our government. It belongs to the elephants and to Kenya. Polls should have been conducted as to what should be done with the ivory. That way, you keep people interested and educated and they feel they have a vested interest in the protection of our elephants. And who knows, out of a million responses, people may have come up with even more creative and sustainable ways of utilizing this ivory for education purposes all across the planet instead of just reducing them to ash.

At this burning, grand speeches will be made and I’m sure many promises will be given. People will be moved to emotion. Tears will flow. Pictures and videos will capture it all. But then what? It is up to us again, as lovers of nature, to follow up on all these promises, on all the words that were given.

Going by the trends, no one will remember the 10,000 elephants in two weeks. It was up to us to make sure that didn’t happen. So even in their death, we have failed the majestic pachyderms.

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Kenya changed her mind like Nairobi weather.
Her face was pretty but (s)cars drove through it.
She had terrorism in her hair.
There was fear in her locks.
Thick fear that she combed out onto the streets.

She used to wear jewels.
Until they were made into crowns.
Made into crowns
For kings and queens that were not hers.

Enslaved by sadomasochistic western rulers,
She broke free only to kneel before the sons she gave birth to.
Sons who slowly raped her.
And impregnated her with a generation of apathy.

On some days she could be murderous.
She could poison you, burn you, stab you, shoot you, beat you.
All depending on the mood of her masters.
She was a tumultuous bitch that I fell in love with.

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Let the lions roar no more

Let the lions roar no more lest they be killed.

Let the lions roam home no more.

Release the lions, inculcate mass hysteria in the public, kill lions, use fear as an excuse to get rid of the park. Grab land. Build city. Make money that has watermarks of lions on it.

Let their roars be replaced by the roars of construction.

Let the public take selfies with the dead bodies of beautiful animals.

The Kenyan coat of arms has lions on it. Are they safe?

Slaughter the elephants. Rip out their teeth and sell them to the Far East.

Burn ivory. Burn away the evidence of atrocity. Make a great big show of it to the world. As if it has worked in the past.

Tear out the green lungs of Nairobi and replace them with industrial smoking chimneys.

Let the blue vein of Nairobi continue being poisoned by chemical pollutants.

Level Ngong Hills. Put up skyscrapers called Ngong Towers instead.

Cut down Karura Forest. Replace it with a paper mill or mall.

Kill the hummingbird’s legacy.

Dredge the beaches, blow up the mountains, poison the rivers and cut down trees to put up billboards telling us to protect our environment.

Build Nairobi into a 21st century Chinese city.

Build grand hills out of industrial garbage on the outskirts of the city.

Monopolize slums. Make them bigger as the city grows. Make sure we punctuate them with lots of starving kids and violent gangs.

Get tourists to pay lots of lion-watermarked money for tours to see them. After all, who needs animals in parks as tourist attractions when we have poor homo sapiens in slums on show?

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Binary Love Letters

Our profiles met across the chat room.
She liked mine.
I liked hers.

She sent me a friend request.
I accepted.
She followed me.
I followed her.

Data bundles replaced flower bouquets.
We CAPS LOCKED when angry,
Smiley faced when happy.
We emoticoned to humanize our romantic netiquette.
🙂 😉 😮 😐

We conferenced synchronously.
Instant messaged, direct messaged, private messaged.
We tweeted, texted, snap chatted, sexually skyped, instagramed, webcammed and whatsapped.
We fingered our phones.
I poked and she lol’d.
I scrolled her G+ and she Googled.
We sent YouTubed music,
Read Buzzfeedearean internet poetry,
Made shapes out of the Soundclouds,
Told each other we’d be together forever,
until our batteries died.

Then one day, I liked another’s picture
And we fought a binary war or words.
Shouted through Windows,
Scratched grawlix,
Contemplated breaking our black mirrors.

She unfollowed me.
Unfriended me.
Blocked me.
I stalked her by computer light, all night, every night.
I sent messages but never saw the blue ticks on my black dog.
Static silence led to
Electric dissonance.
A bad connection followed
and I found myself offline.

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Even Democracies Have Slaves

Beyond all the corrupt politicians, beyond all the greed, beyond all the dilapidated schools, beyond all the understaffed and under equipped hospitals, beyond all the crime, beyond all the broken roads, beyond all the raising pollution levels, beyond all the tainted media, beyond all the callous and violent city council workers, beyond all the homeless masses, beyond all the racism, beyond all the rampant tribalism, beyond all the terrorism, beyond all the rich people who made their money in the wrong ways, beyond all the apathetic celebrities, beyond all the subservient masses, beyond all the poaching, beyond all the lack of unity, beyond all the disappearing budget allocated money, beyond all the bribery, beyond all the fat policemen, beyond all the façade of a viable justice system, beyond all the hype of governors and senators, beyond all the child rapes, beyond all the “me first” attitudes, beyond all the broken streetlights and dark alleyways where crime breeds, beyond all the traffic and the cartel run matatus fuelled by impunity, beyond all the rising prices, beyond all the rioting students, beyond all the land grabbing and undocumented development, beyond all the unemployment, beyond all the autocratic kleptocracy, beyond all the unintelligent pop cultured warfare through social media and magazines, beyond all the littering and disregard towards the environment, beyond all the factories in Industrial Area spewing out pollution, beyond all the religious infighting, beyond all the daily struggle for survival, beyond all the internet preachers and unpaid teachers, beyond all the affluent motorcades of politicians, beyond all the homophobia, beyond all the basic lies, beyond all the misogyny in this patriarch’s land, beyond all the abject poverty in the growing slums, beyond all the inability to regulate cities, beyond all the heavy taxes and expensive commodities.

Beyond all these things, do we still see the dream of independence fulfilled? Has Kenya evolved into the country that our fathers and their fathers thought it would become when independence was achieved? Or are we still subservient slaves to domestic entities of malevolent power masquerading as politicians?

Have we just become political pawns? Have we become the expendable cogs that work towards filling the bank accounts of politicians? Look at our lives, look at the basic freedoms we’re denied. Why are we happy with that? Why should we be happy with that? When did we stop standing up for what’s right and just become stagnant? Why are we content with the lives people make for us instead of making our own?

We live in a political prison under the illusion of freedom. We’re drip-fed manipulated information to maintain that illusion. We’re kept distracted by the fantastically outrageous actions of the actors that are politicians. A haircut here, a slap there. Distractions.

We used to be united by blood. Now we’re divided by class, divided by colour, divided by sexual preference, divided by religion, divided by gender, divided by political ideologies, divided by cultural heritages. So, basically, we’re divided by all the things that make us human.

We’ve become disillusioned, we’ve become part of the background, we’ve become silent strugglers in a noisy place, we’re made financially dependent on banks, we’re anchored by mortgages, we’re haunted by bills, we’ve become a nation of scared civilians who’ve shunned civility because if we were civil, there wouldn’t be as many problems as there are.

But alas, even democracies have slaves.

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