Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Two Statements, One Accused

The Opening Statement: Prosecution

“Your Honour,
A great task awaits all of us
Calling upon us to right a wrong
And punish a prohibited act
This we do in this court
to find blame or otherwise,
to accord justice to the injured party
What an honourable task!
Your Honour,
The accused seated there
Armed with a wicked ingenuity
Misdirected artistry and knack
In cahoots with others, in a
‘most evil enterprise’,
Devised a computer program
That siphoned millions of money
From the accounts of thousands
Of hard-working, disciplined Kenyans
Working on the same egregious and abominable
Plan, they registered a company using false passports
Used the company as a conduit
To channel that money, not in a single moment
Struck by their consciences;
But true as a pin is to needle, the bell
Of their actions tolls for them, the bits and pieces
Have fallen into place, and what lay hidden
Has now been exposed and is now being tried in this
Honourable Court
Justice will be dispensed in this court
To put the accused behind bars
Your Honour, we will show in our evidence
That the accused committed various offences
And that he belongs to prison…”

The Opening Statement: Defence

“Your Honour,
If it pleases the court,
I wish to give an opening statement
As we have heard from the Prosecution
He says that our client, defrauded in a ‘most evil
enterprise’ through a well-calculated
Scheme using a computer program;
He says that our client committed
A most ‘egregious and abominable’ act
That fleeced Kenyans of their hard-earned money
The prosecution thus said
That they will adduce evidence to show
That our client deserves to be locked behind bars
That his actions don’t deserve ‘approbation’
But ‘opprobrium’
That much, the Prosecution said of our client—
Your Honour, look at the accused
A banker for 25 years standing
An impeccable record in the industry
A father of three, a husband
A Kenyan like any other who, were it not for this case,
We would not have known about
The eloquence of the prosecutor
To paint a picture of our client
Using the most arrant and sordid of terms
Brilliant as this could be, cannot impose guilt
As we will show, Your Honour, this is
A case of a disgruntled employer
Intent on leveling charges it cannot substantiate
Keen on tarnishing our client’s name
We will demonstrate to this court that
There is no nexus between the crimes
Alleged with our client
We will do this, one piece of evidence after another
One assertion after another, one argument after another
We will put the prosecution to strict proof
To reveal, Your Honour, that
In fact, our client never committed the said offences
and that this is purely actuated by malice…”

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Friday, 24 June 2011

Ten Minutes in Nine

As the panel sits, eyes burning on me,
Mounting pressure on me,
Demanding intelligence from me,
I stand there
Their marking parameters defined
Seven marks for content, seven marks for presentation
Two marks for etiquette, two marks for audibility, two other marks
For I don’t-know –what
I stand there wondering how I should stand
Like that reasonable ideal student
If my hands be at the back, I am hiding something
If my hands be folded on my waist, I am tense
If I let my shoulders broaden, I am being brazen
If I fold them across my chest, that is rude and not in keeping
I feel like to pocket but I let my arms rest by my sides
In short ten minutes, they uncover me
Throw questions to gauge me
One minute flash of my mind
Law of Contract, Torts, Criminal Law, Conveyancing
Succession, Commercial Transactions
Wait a minute…Giella Versus Cassman Brown
I think I heard this somewhere
They ask me for the principle it holds
The panelists aren’t serious, are they?
I am thrown off-balance, I am at a loss
I venture: Giella case is a landmark case in law
On Conveyancing, the case concerned a land transaction
Under the RLA…Now, Cassman Brown was the Owner
Let me use ‘Vendor’….Now, the principle, err, is on sanctity of title
As you are aware under section 143 of the RLA…
And as I mention section 143, I let it roll to exude my intelligence
And grounding on law
They are impressed’, I think to myself
Then my bubble is burst
‘Heard of restraint of trade?’ They ask
‘Yeah…err, yes dear panelists’
‘What are the three principles to be followed before granting injunctions?’
‘One, err, it depends on the time…if the court has time to grant it…
Two, if it has time, for how long will the injunction run and…and, three,
…whether it could as well grant mandamus, certiorari…but this depends on
Time mostly…you know there are backlog of cases’
They asked for it, I gave it to them’, I celebrate
‘Excuse me, student number 202809876, no hard feelings
But if you don’t know of the principles of injunctions
You could as well set off to Narok and be a herdsman
…I mean, you don’t know prima facie case?
Not even irreparable injury?
Not even balance of convenience?’
‘I know them, dear panelists’
‘Tell us, then, what a prima facie case is’
‘Well, a prima facie case is one which is on the face of the court
Let me explain, if that case, I mean the records, the files have been brought to
Court, then that is a prima facie case…if it is still in the registry, it is not a prima facie case’
‘Your time is up, student number 202809876,
We have serious doubts on how you qualified to be here…
You don’t belong here!”
I walk out, I see no one on the corridors
I hear distant voices asking, ‘what were the questions’
I am in no mood, I collect my books and head to
I don’t-know-where, it makes no difference
That a holiday awaits me

Image: google:dazzlejunction.com

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Float Like a Butterfly….

Image credit: google: allposters.com

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
So Muhammad Ali, the great boxer, once said
In my mind I can see the butterfly
All merry, the wings, the colour
It is there in the boxing ring
The crowd is roaring, urging on
Some covering their faces, the pressure is mounting
The bell is rang, the stage is set
Inside the suffocating ring, the butterfly fights for air
But no one cares if the wings might drop
But float it must—
You see, that choreographed anger
Comes with a price tag
Those simulated invectives
Are a part of the scheme
A cover-up
Either way, beneath that anger
Lies much anger against the ‘arrangement’
Where the organizers of the bouts smile
All the way to the bank
So, float he will,
And he must,
Inside the ring, so many things could go wrong
Knocked-off canines, bloody noses, fractured cheekbones,
Bleeding ears, lacerated foreheads, raptured brain cells
But the crowd will cheer on
“Go on, Muhammad, go on, finish him off!”
Never aware of the pressure on the mind to concentrate
One micro-second of lapse to earn a blinding blow
One miscalculated killer punch to send one off-balance
One mishearing to earn a disqualification
They call this a livelihood, puts food on somebody’s table
I don’t understand it, I mean I empathize
Then after floating like a butterfly
It is the sting, it is that jab, it is that punch
Anger levels rise within permitted levels
“Go on, Muhammad, go on, finish him off!”
Assume, just assume for one moment
When I have rained blows on my opponent
I remove my gloves, look upon the crowd
And walk away, away from that assured glory
Press will write, “Mad Muhammad Muddles”
With that my boxing career is given a knock-out
With that headline, I am cast in bad light
Not even the hours upon hours of lifting weights count
Not even the morning run count
Not even the more than 15 years matter
My titles, my championship wins, my awards
Lose meaning
When I win, everybody else wins
When I lose, only I and I alone loses
But still I have to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee

Image credit: google: worldgallery.co.uk

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Pseudo-Species

Image credit: as above

…Uvivu ni adui mkubwa
Wa ujenzi wa taifa
Kwani nicho kiini hasa
Kisababishajo njaa…

Break of dawn, the fleeting music of Maroon Commandos

Lilting from KBC idhaa ya taifa, rousing the nation

From slumber

Urging them to kick their blankets and hit the ground running

It is another dawn, another morning, another struggle

There is something in sleep, good folks,

In the morning that brings sorrow to men untold

Figuratively speaking, lethargy in contrast to the

Fast disappearing darkness to usher a new day

Isn’t it a demoralizing forerunner to the heralding sun

To lie horizontal to the otherwise vertical shafts of the sun rays?

Where is the pomp in the cowardly shield of sleep to the realities of a new day?

But it is not for me to pass a harsh sentence

After all there are “morning persons” and “night persons”

Each so different , of that we are on the same page

Night persons ploughing along late into the night

Eyes as wide-awake, nerves as elastic as a rubber band

Morning persons as dutiful as the Muezzin up as early as 3 a.m

Be that as it may, I have no grudges on these two species

There is a pseudo-species I need to talk about

The one that sleeps early, wakes up late

All day long he had been possessed with reckless impunity on time

No deadlines to meet, no goals to achieve, no failures to be afraid of

And as such, a day to him is a chore, a sickening ritual

Morning could as well be evening, end of day

Isn’t met with unfinished business, that feeling of

“Guilt” for disappointing an item in the to-do-list

And as such, at break of dawn,

the fleeting music of Maroon Commandos

Lilts from KBC idhaa ya taifa

Ewe ndugu yangu wee
Amka kumekucha
Kamata jembe na panga
Twende shamba

But where is our pseudo-species

To listen to the chastisement of Maroon Commandos

This message is not for our pseudo-species:

It is for those with the adrenalin rush to achieve,

He is not,

It is for those with deadlines to beat, goals to achieve

He is not,

It is for those with the spring in their feet and a poise in their heads,

He is not,

But again, this message could be for him

It worries me if they were 10 or 50 or 500 or 1000 of them

What nation will we have?

A nation of a pseudo-species, with pseudo-goals

With a pseudo-mission here on earth?

…Ndugu yangu kumekucha
Amka twende shamba
Jiepushe na uvivu
Tujenge taifa…

I want him to draw line in the sand today

And say, “Enough is enough”

Wring sleep in his hands and cast it into the sunrise

For it disappoints to see him

Cuddled in torn blankets in a shack

And never put breakfast on table

Yet there weren’t other ways of eking out a living

Than for him to cut through dawn to disentangle from poverty

There were no medals, in the past or now, for those

Who gave a winking glance to the glory of sunrise
…Uvivu ni adui mkubwa
Wa ujenzi wa taifa
Kwani nicho kiini hasa
Kisababishajo njaa…

Pseudo-Species, choose ye now

Either probity or derision

Exercise thy fair judgment

Lorot Son of the Hills has spoken.

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


"Wherever your spirit be, Sword, let it stay close
As oft many a troubled one never perch
But let yours find home...a home in our hearts
Tony and I, and others"

Sword, we christened him
Tony and I, near Westgate Shopping Mall
A small, black-furred canine of a German Shepherd
Tony ruffled him, teased him even
And to protect his turf, little Sword barked
And advanced timidly to Tony
Chiwawa would have been proud

My love for Sword registered immediately
Never cared about the Japanese Spitz or the Bulldog
Or the Terrier

I remember how Sword could pose for photos
We could stand there and wait for the click
May be I could hear Sword interrupt,
“C’mon, buddy, click that thing…been wagging
My tail for far too long..”
One morning, Sword poo-pooed in the office
Well, in a small carton box
As we cleaned up, Sword would look on
All innocent, all repentant
May be saying,
“Folks, that was just a small poo,
Cheer up, that was not a honey-badger’s fart!”

Two months later, Sword dies
Tony and I take him to a post-mortem
We bury him together with his collar
All I am left with are his photos
And wonderful memories of him.

All pictures copyright by the author

C) Lorot Salem 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011

This is For You

This is for you

On the brink of losing hope

Tugging at the rope

Standing at the cliff

Before the ultimate jump

This is for you

This is for you

The Silent One

With the sun of righteousness

Lighting up your heart

Yet shadowed by pain of mankind

The wilted flower of love

The plucked feathers of a sweet dove

The dry, parched throats guttural

The systemic errors basically structural

Still, shine rays of hope, Silent One

This is for you

This is for you

That you say are ugly

Tell me, who said so?

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror

And marveled at your beauty?

Have you heard your voice

Replayed the clip over and over?

Measure yourself by your unique parameters

Never let others define what you should be

The same lie travels around the world

That  wafer-thin is the thing

So naturally endowed women

Skip nth meals, endure cruel dieting

Hit the aerobics from Monday to Monday

With sorrow, with lives most hollow

Al l with the aim of becoming Naomi Campbell

Quit it, sisters, healthy is the keyword

Some were born slim, others fluffy

Some were born light, others dark

Some were born tall, others short

Be yourself, there is only one template of you

Be happy, find beauty within you

This is for you

This is for you

The  herdsman

What story is there for you

When you sleep in the rains with your cows?

Or walk across to the border to search for pasture?

Year after year, you keep them

Even amidst the dried riverbeds and dusty soil

You put your life to risk, you are ready to die

For those animals

This is for you

This is for you

The Child of 8-4-4

Who lived through maziwa ya nyayo

To the Kibaki era

Lived through insha and ngeli

Survived factorization and L.C.M and G.C.D

Escaped licking acids from shaky pipettes and burettes

Managed through Kiu, KIlio Cha Haki, Looking For a Rain God,

Amezidi, Coming to Birth, Walenisi

Endured methali, semi, tanakali za sauti, kinyume, kukanusha

Fasihi, tamthilia, mashairi, ufupisho, taarifa, isimu za lugha

And now walking around with soaked knowledge

Looking for a job, unemployed, frustrated, disenfranchised

This is for you

This is for you

Yes you, you the weaver of words

You who suffers writer’s block

Labouring for that one poem

That will carry a message

Through the generations

Adored in some year like 4057

Writing with a fire in your bones

And compassion in your heart

For the sheer love of the art

This is for you

C) Lorot Salem 2011

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