Friday, 29 October 2010

Saint Daniel Comboni

(Poem written in 2006)

Born in Limone Sul Garda, March 15th 1831
Northern Italy, overlooking the beautiful Lake Garda
Hash, the great man was born
Our Saint Daniel Comboni was born

Born of a gardener and a housewife
Held pen and pencil at Verona
And ...Guess what?
He was ordained a priest in Trento, Italy

Fizzing with ideas, the lone child of eight,
Wrote a plan for the Regeneration of Africa
Of Africa, Africa of mighty possibilities!
The potentialities of the African person

The story of love, of love galore
Coloured by the cross of patience
Patience that crawls like the creeping crawlies
That patience was in Khartoum.

Such love, such pure placated pleasing love
Africa as '...important in the whole of church's apostolate'
A swear of 'Africa or death'
Africa as 'the abandoned part of the Lord's Vineyard'.

Comboni of humanity, religion and hospitals
Comboni of colleges, magazines
How can one describe you?
Pearl of Africa? Study in love? Church icon?

 Evening of October 10th 1881 grieved us,
 Comboni met Abba Father, sadness made us supple
 Cheer without fear, we laugh through tears
 yes, laugh through tears

 Together with Governor General Rauf Pasha
 European Consuls, authorities, and christian community
 We cried
 Little knowing you were in our midst

We laugh to share the hope you lived
We laugh to share the energy of your resilience
We laugh for the relevance of your life
Inspire us, lead us, walk with us

C) Lorot Salem 2010

On the Skyscraper

On the tarmacked city platform, there's hide and seek
Tear gas lobbed, city in a mist
Running battle between police in riot gear
And university students gone rampage with cheer

Stones of different shapes and sizes thrown, shops looted clean
Hawkers chased like demons, cars burnt to scrapes
Commuters stranded, bus stations deserted
City in one hell of commotion

Lectures have stalled, administration paralysed
Lecturers duck behind walls, some trapped between barbed wire fence
The Dean's office is locked, so are the HOD's and Financial Administrator's
The Vice Chancellor is hidden under the office table, scared out of his wits

'Linga' 'Linga' rents the air
More stones sprayed
On common enemy: policemen
Till there are no stones to be thrown
Till there are no tear gas lobbed

It all started when that drunken student
Was knocked dead near Campus, twas past midnight
Students passed word round, for revenge, sweet revenge
Against the transport system-cars, nissans, trucks, tuktuks--the lot of them!

 So as fate would have it, the CEO of a blue-chip company was whisked out of his vehicle
Imported Range Rover burnt black, bonfire lit around it in farewell
The CEO stood there shell-shocked, watching and waiting and wailing in heart

University Library, ultra-modern, state-of-the-art
Stacked with books and periodicals and journals
The largest in Eastern and Central Africa--
Went up in flames, thick fumes of academic waste

Thus I stood on a skyscraper, stared long and hard
There below the staged circus in the city
Wondering to myself:
How can stones be thrown, building stones when I live in a mud-walled hut?
How can stones be thrown when we have pot-holes in our roads?
Whence comes the energy when NYS lacks manpower?
What about research, search of knowledge?

During my days of yore
We went to the streets to press for the release of political detainees
We went to the streets for more lecturers
We went to the streets for a cause, a just cause

On the skyscraper, I cried for my beloved universities
Like a drunken ghost staggering, casting frightening shadows
On the skyscraper, I cried for our future
Taken hostage by new craze in town

I asked myself:
For how long will tear gas be lobbed?
For how long will stones be thrown?
For how long will our student protest over bread and butter issues?

I asked myself many questions, searching questions
About our students
Our universities
Our country
Our system
Our collective rot

Thus I got a loudspeaker and boomed:
Comrades! Listen! Brain, not brawn! Civility, not primitivity!
Exit Neanderthal Era of stone-throwing
Enter dialogue and sterile sanity
I shouted and shouted, again and again
Till my comrades camped for campus
Till policemen zoomed to their stations

C) Lorot Salem 2010


The baby is born, born with the poverty of life,
Life unending with misery, misery of the material world,
World strangled with artificial beauty, beauty that peels,
Peeling with pale oddity, oddity that reveals secularism

Christmas is here, here with man,
Man seeking to colour its face, face divine and true,
True to form and purpose, purpose oft plagued,
Plagued with constipation and drunkenness, drunkenness that confuses

The baby is born, born again in our midst,
Midst polarised by wars, wars that spoil peace,
Peace carried in the baby's eyes, eyes of love and goodwill,
Goodwill lacking in men, men of this lovely world

The baby is born, born once more for us
Us who should ululate and dance, dance in holy joy
Joy of the birds and animals of the wild, wild with love,
Love unconditional, unconditional for the Baby Jesus

Prayer to Highway Robber

 ( Written on 1st November 2006)

If you should hijack my Beetle, dear Highway Robber,
Don't hit me with your metallic hands
Or press your gun on my frail nose
Be professional: kindly carry me out and smile
To ease my disturbed nerves
If you wish you can apologize for being thorough
Methodical, even
But please, dear Highway Robber,
Don't blindfold me and squeeze me in the booth

Don't even bother to drive me off
To some deserted, rocky outskirts
Save me the fare back home
For my sake, don't force me to call you dad
When you are everything but a dad
Don't even force me to kneel for you
When my knee-caps are for God alone

Dear Highway Robber, watch your tongue
Don't call me names when I am Baba Tolly
I squeezed the dry teats of my payslip
Licked and squeezed and out came this Beetle

I am not lying: The engine of this 'Investment'
Is held together by ropes, strings and cellotapes
Spin the steering wheel to the right to negotiate to the left
Tap the breakpads incessantly to stop
Dear Highway robber, if still you should take this Beetle
Book an appointment with me for a
Special Driving Course, with fees!

The Politician

He called the press conference
In one of those rare occasions
His belly forming a plateau
On the treacherous landscape of politics
He gave one of those sinister grins
That clenched the face in twists of fury
His eyes stared a tad too long
On cameras
Trying to pick his enemies: real or imagined
Then he went ballisitic:
Dear people, this thing has stretched far
Scandals that never were
Lootings created by the media
A ruthless design to fritter away
The kind spirit of the politician
'Who, but theLiving Saints of the land
Are smeared with the damndest words
On earth
Yet they bring Mwananchi development?
He ranted and raved, the politician
As his belly shook in tandem
With his cataclysmic anger
Then, in a swoop, he gathered his papers
And concluded:
No more comment--but trim the rumours!

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Love Unending

I read Mills and Boons today
From cover to cover
And took notice of: And they lived happily ever after.

The author spun the love story
Wove it with the yarn of affection
Sew it with the strand of romance
Took it through love unimagined.

So I saw this love grow
From disdain to denial to dependency
The two love birds excited my imagination
What love!

And in this story is our story too, Sweet one,
Ours is not written within book covers
You will not see it in Mills and Boons
It is not created by the imagination of man.

It is a story we write everyday
In the morning, when I stare a little longer into your eyes
In the park, cuddling you and staying around listening to our hearts
In the evening, when I say bye and holding your arms a little longer
In my dreams, you running as I chase you and finally getting you

We are not fictional characters
Our love is not a story
Our story has no end

Such is our love, Sweet one,
We spin it with the yarn of our presence
We saw it with the uncertainties of a genuine love
Love unending. Love unmeasured.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

The Owl

The owl went tu-whit tu-who
echoing in the serene night
calm and sedate:
man cried too
in the heart
and strangely, too,
his went: to-who to-who

for a long time
these howls boomed
tu-whit tu-who
to-who to-who
till the owl could howl no more
and man groaned no more

mysteriously too
the silhouetted darkness
hung loosely
listening to the pair
and judiciously kept mum

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Please tell me what you think

Lecturer Jillo Oshwalt

I don't understand my lecturer
He's shaved clean
To hide his bald pate
and keeps stubble of beards

He loves being called Professor Jillo Oshwalt
I once inadvertently called him Oshwalt
I had to write a book report
On Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
seventeen times on the chalkboard!

Professor Jillo hates the chalkboard
After all, he breathes knowledge

I don't understand my lecturer
He wears a pair of faded jeans shorts
And reads from tiny bits of papers
Near the chalkboard

Sometimes Professor Jillo acts strange
He calls his hut a mansion
and his stagnant pool a swimming pool
and his outgrown farm an orchard!

C) Lorot Salem

Thinking the Impossible

I want to ask you
How would the world be
If we could write volumes and volumes,
stacks and stacks of books
On our minds
At the click of our minds,
our brain google searches
Then in seconds, message is retrieved?

 How would the world be
 If we could fly to distant endless skies
Such that a flap coudl slap us aloft the ground?

How would the Earth be
If we had portable fridges in our stomachs
Which providence would have bestowed upon us
Such that we are full by food,
through food and in food
Be it Ugali, sukumawiki, okra, akume zozo, spaghetti,
Murenda, chicken, chapati, crisps, hooves, bonemarrow...
How about if Leaders
from the Gates of Heaven
Sliding in the castles and spiralways of the air,
and with a thud
Bump unto seat of power
Prayed for by the subjects of the world?

I want to ask you
to give me your humble opinion:
How would the world be
If Palestinians and Israelites shook hands and  made  merry
in the Gaza strip: 
Or Darfur crisis crisped under the tender warmth of love
Or Global Terrorism terrorised itself and fled with terror
Or Nuclear wars, Bomb blasts, Tomahawks, Missiles
Exploded into another planet, for good?
How would the world be
If sorrows, dejections, heartbreaks-
Phased out?

C) Lorot Salem 2010

The Drum

The Drum

Muscular hands tap the drum
to create a melody
of an African genre
energetic and enchanting

so the dance will begin
so the fever will rupture

the soft patter on the drum
will steadily rise
and erupt into a cacophony
dancers will dance lame
sweat will pour without shame
in the orgy

the drum will hum
with tune of loud music
like a river
it will wither
and the dancers
wrapped in the frenzy
will scream
only to realize the chasm
on the drum!

C) Lorot Salem 2010


I have strange visions nowadays
Of blades and swords and skulls
Dancing ballet near my grave
Now littered with weeds
Stunted by mortal fear.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

My Death Wish

If I die, God forbid
Don't fret and fuss
Don't stage a street-farce

If I die, buy me a coffin
In the shape of a statute
Invite all my learned friends
And tell them to wear their wigs
Haul all my clients

Don't praise me- raise not my puny worth
For I was nothing but a wordsmith
In charged courtroom battles
That called for sly tongue

Tell Brother Judge to donate my firm
To orphans at Nyumbani Children's Home
Burn all files
And scatter the ashes to the four winds

Play that clip where I cried
After losing a landmark case
If I die, do all these,
But only if I die.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Whispering with Nature

am not afraid of telling about this love
found in me and Mother Nature
exchanged in the chirp of a bird
coo of the dove

it’s this love I have with the gazelles
that I see in their sprint
graceful and breath-taking

it’s this love with the whisper of the leaves
that I hear in their rustle and
their breeze

sometimes when I feel like to whisper
I go to the woods
to talk to a daffodil
then kiss her petals

it’s about this love I talk about

C) Lorot Salem 2010


Mheshimiwa walks big, talks big
Drives big
And lives big
In leafy Nairobi suburb

Mheshimiwa wears expensive Italian suits
Dines in expensive foreign hotels
Carries two slick phones
And flies monthly to Britain and China

Mheshimiwa is loved by all
Except by Press
Which sullied his name in scandal
Prompted by his political opponents

Mheshimiwa loves his people
Living in mabati* homes
Eating wild fruits
Dying of cholera

Of course Mheshimiwa knows their needs
That’s why they need to vote him in
For the third term in office.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Movers and Shakers

When stung by sage spirit
I construct philosophical lines
On the social prism
Not hidden inside thick pages

For instance
The movers and shakers of this world
Are poor men.

They are born poor
They remain poor
They die poor.

That’s consistency.

A rich man is born poor
He changes to richness
Then dies famous.

That’s inconsistency.

I told this to my lecturer the other day
Of course after being stung by sage spirit
He said I needed to mature-

C) Lorot Salem 2010

About the Author's Preferred Epitaph

As a man shalt be born, so shalt he die
Here lies Salem Lorot
He’s now new to death
He has died at every moment in life
And got weary and slept on
The last begrudging hand of death
And shalt rise again-KEEP YOUR TEARS OUTTA HERE

C) Lorot Salem 2010

The Curse of the Ass

Three of animals I pity:
Camel, dog
And ass.

Camel traverses the desert for man
Dog barks in the cold for man
The ass carries man’s burdens

Of the three, I pity most the ass
While the camel can bathe in the sand
And the dog lick fleshy bones
The ass is flogged all day long!

C) Lorot Salem

They Killed the Witch

The village woke up in commotion
Baying for blood
Dawn was still winking

Swords were drawn
Simis sharpened
The air tore with vengeance

Every foot ran to the village square
To settle the issue fair and square

The sun was still peeping surreptitiously
On the horizons
Cindered body of a man
They called a witch

The mob dug a shallow grave
Hurriedly burying the remains
The dawn was fully awake
When the earth embraced
The charred remains

Note: Simis is a Kiswahili plural word for a sword.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

The Trial of the Village Chicken Thief

You saw the case in the Press
Captured in the headline:
Chicken Thief Imprisoned
For seven years.
Any way, he comes from my village

I heard the case from the chief
Who heard if from the shopkeeper
Of the only retail shop in our village
That the chicken thief was the son
Of Pastor Mwang’ombe

I hear (again?) that the chicken thief
Stole the chicken for gift to Kamalikaze
The village witchdoctor
To help him stop wife’s beatings
His woman once kicked him
He nearly kissed death

You also saw the case of that multi-billionaire
Who was accused of siphoning money to Swiss bank
How the case camouflaged
Till the multi-billionaire breathed breeze of freedom
Now, that’s a paragon of justice

Of course pastor Mwang’ombe
Breathed hail and brimstone
That tongue of fire will lick the nation
Like Sodom and Gomorrah
But his son is a Chicken Thief

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Please tell me what you think

Black Messiah

Storm is brewing in Nairobi
Tear-gas canisters are lobbed
The city is in riot
Stones dash like quivers

Running battle is staged
On city platform
Between the police
And University students

On a skyscraper
A black messiah looks on
Weeping blood

The black messiah whispers:
When will salvation begin
For how long will I be crucified on a wood?

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Campus Mole

University magazine

described him flashy
hinted his appetite
for everything petite.

tucked in its pages
was his sorry story
of supplementary exams.

campus mole
complained to the dean
infuriated by the din

University magazine was exonerated
Campus mole thought it should be X-rated!

For My Friends the Pigs

Where have you ended now
Where is the agility of your snouts
As you poked them
On garbage?

You fattened for man
To end up in his barbecue
In expensive restaurants

Where has your gluttonness
Served you
After bullying all garbage sites
Known and unknown.

C) Lorot Salem

Let's Play Mum and Dad

Let’s play mum and dad
In our little makeshift tent
Made of pieces of polythene
Pretend to be mum
And I pretend to be dad
Others will be children

Cook in those tin sufurias
Serve me like mum does
As I read the newspaper
Commenting: Our country has gone to the dogs!

Let’s play mum and dad
But let’s stick to the script.

I Speak of the Pokot

I speak of the Pokot
adorned in a shuka*
feet strapped in akala*  shoes

I speak of the Pokot
hospitable, not blood-thirsty
sociable, not senseless killer.

I speak of the Pokot

I speak of the Pokot
oft times forgotten.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Vision Launch

You heard him
launch his
vision at the
Conference Centre
the pomp and pomposity
delegates from as far as Land Paved with Gold

you remember the solidarity speeches
for our 'son'
the psycophancy songs
how the visionary's supporters
hollered and howled and scowled

you remember how the audience
was electrified
by the speech
the French phrases
the quotes from Martin Luther King Jnr.
to Lincoln to American Declaration of Independence
thunderous applause

the press splashed the story
and called it 'My Dream For Kenya'
there will be free primary
free secondary
free university
no taxes
lean government
katiba in 100 days
tarmacked road
affirmative action
free sanitary towels

no one mentioned
the fuel guzzler
the tax free perks
the mileage
the anglo-leasing scandal
the grabbed land

any way, the vision was tight
to allow such miniature things

C) Lorot Salem 2010

SMS, With Love

I think love is a yeast
that froths the brew of our creativity

all over a sudden
our numb minds are stropped
till they gleam with ideas

take me for instance
English to me sailed by boat, so they say,
but for the sake of my love Wambui
i thumbed my phone keypad all day
till i sent her this message:
Sweet angel, in thine mind, body and soul I am trapped
I think slow, remembering your flow before this blow that kills me
slow; I have stooped low, please love me

Mind you I had enrolled for rhymes in poetry class
and flopped-twice
slow/flow, blow/low rhymes
are not mine
for copyright purposes include:
c)SMS, with love

Please tell me what you think

Faking the Fakery

Add the ad and it is a fad, fan the fanaticism and it is a fanfare!

December 27th

We voted-December 27th
We voted
We voted for democracy
We voted for peace
We voted for rule of law
We voted knowing well that whoever won will be president
for us all-
We cared less about PNU, ODM or Wiper
We never bothered about the Ng'ethes and Nazlins of this,
Our beautiful Kenya

How we danced to Banjuka, Bado Mapambano
and gave Steadman Wiper
We even listened to Bishop and sang tip tip amani Kenya
with our brother Kalembe Ndile

In all our shades we voted
Kikuyu and Luo
Kamba and Kalenjins
Muslims and Christians
From Kacheliba to Oloitokitok
From Kondele to El Wak
We all voted
For our brothers who owned TV
They might have seen that advert-
agege sasa ni wakati wa kabila yetu, tutakanyagana
but we just ignored and went on with our campaigns

So on December 27th we turned in our millions
to speak through ballot
we voted with our conscience
we voted the man we loved
we voted as a duty

December 27th we braved sun and sand
Braved shack and slum life
we voted
we spoke

but now we sing no banjuka anymore
we sing no bado mapambano anymore
we give no one wiper anymore-not even to Steadman
we sing no tip tip amani Kenya anymore
we are not Kenyans
we are Luos, Kikuyus, Kambas and Kalenjins
we are us and them
like in the advert we sing agege ni wakati wa kabila

behind the mask of Kibaki and Raila
we vent our anger
we kill 'them'
we burn 'their' business and
chase 'them'
with our narrow eyes we let our
brutalities show
we kill each other with passion
we torch our neighbour's houses

we voted, we spoke
but Kenya is bigger to nest us all
when we kill the other, don't they die?
when they hurt don't they cry?
when the sun hits doesn't it hit us all?

We voted, we spoke
but we spoke for peace
we spoke for unity in Kenya
we never voted for bloodbath!

Kidney for Sale

The ad was in the web
ten years ago,brother
unmistakable, unrelenting:
live healthy kidney for sale at $3000 and above
only serious bids allowed

thus you sold your kidney
you mitigated that your college fees pushed
you to the limits
brother, i understood you then
but like water hyacinth your habit
edges on the egregious

you sold four of your teeth
cashed in on your sperms
now you have chased your Indian wife for
'swatting a wig deal'.

for years now
you've groomed finger-long nails that you
book 'nails that scare' commercial exhibitions and
with equal measure grown methuselah beards and
a record of sorts
that translated to admirer fees

how far do we mortgage our
priceless penny-proof possessions to chase after
life's oddities?

C) Lorot Salem 2010


To an electrified crowd
he orchestrated a speech never heard
punctuated by enhanced body movement
diction dictated
pauses posed
mustering a standing ovation

none thought his miniature frame
could have commanded a presence
among ambassadors, lawyers and men of cloth
inside the towering Six-Eighty Hotel

none expected
that the unknown man will mouth platitudes
capable to shatter walls of undecidedness

like Martin Luther King Jnr.
he launched his 'Dream Speech'
Only that he was blind and paraplegic!

during the charged katiba days
he spoke
spoke of conciliation
spoke of Wanjiku
spoke of voice of reason

he spoke again
in August House- against MP's pay hike
the House booed him
nearly skidded his wheelchair

i fear he speaks a lot
against the Establishment
throwing barbs in small intoxications
in his trademark satire juggle

people call him Mzalendo
because he hates magendo and makwerekwere
Mzalendo established Mzalendo Foundation
to tap wasted brains

Mzalendo is a small man
with big brain and big heart
Mzalendo mixes freely
with the tailored-suits and tattered-soots

i once asked Mzalendo whether he's rich or poor
quipped: rich or not but I am not intellectually dishonest.

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Beauty Ne'er Seen

In high stead of artistry
To rival Picasso et al
devoid of occasional lapses
was her voluptious curves modelled

And devoid of any wear
is a man driven up a wall as fair
So is a woman's body:
A shrine to roast the best of men!

C) Lorot Salem 2010

Queen of the Hills

Woman of my heart, Queen of the Hills,
I paint canvas of this world with words
In thick brushstrokes
To convey this feeling, this passion, this love
But despite such
I can’t paint. I can’t word my world.
I am not myself.

For if I were, I would sit before you for hours
Like an artist—Picasso, may be
And give my all.
If I were, I would invoke the goddess of love
Woo her for your passing interest
Plead with her, beseech her even

But am content, sweet one,
To grope in darkness to search meaning to this
The odds and ends
To paint this passion on the canvas of time
I will sit for hours to ruminate what unfolds
I will take small doses of your soothing love
And be content.
And at the edge of time, Queen of the Hills,
We shall sit beside the ocean and chase each other
And let the waves lap on our feet
And giggle. And hug. And fondle.
C) Salem Lorot 2010

Please tell me what you think

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Disqus for Echoes of the Hills