Saturday, 11 August 2012


At Poets United Thursday Think Tank, there is a prompt to write a poem inspired by a book one has read or is reading. I have read hundreds of books now from as diverse areas as possible but the one that will always stand out is THINK BIG by Ben Carson.
I read the book after I had finished form four.  I wish I had read it earlier.
Never have I been influenced by a book than THINK BIG. The acrostic stands for:

T -Talents/time: Recognize as gifts from God;

H -Hope for good things and be honest;

I -insight from people and good books;

N -Be nice to all people;

K  -Knowledge: Recognize as they are key to living;

B -Books: Read them actively;

 I -In-depth learning skills: Develop them;

G -God: Never get too big for Him.

I also read Gifted Hands (perhaps contrary to what should have been expected since it came first). You see, in the village where I grew up the danger was that there were a lot of uncertainties about the future one had on education and being “different”.  So, we read because that is what we had been told to do. And when one finished form four, one knew that that was it.

Then THINK BIG came into the picture.

I was opened up to a world of a thousand possibilities. I was given a pedestal where I could stand and say, ‘yes, folks, I am here to rule the world’.  So, urged by Ben Carson, I grew from that timid, cocooned village boy to one ready to take the world by storm. I wasn’t very sure about doing Law then. After that, I believed it earnestly. In my learning at Campus, I read intently. I never read to pass exams (though that was the ultimate goal, unfortunately). I have always tried not to be narrow in my reading. So, I don’t read Law only. I read spiritual books, I read biographies, I read proverbs, I read history, I read novels ( classicals come into mind such as Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, John Grisham, African authors notably Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kenyan authors especially Meja Mwangi, David Mulwa, Dawood—honestly, I cannot name all of them). And there are philosophical books which I admire a lot. The thinkers such as Ralph Ewaldo Emerson, Voltaire, Friedrich Nietzche, and many others, in their books, expand our minds to such elasticity they can never be the same again.

Well, now to the poem, inspired by the book THINK BIG.

So, someone thought that by holding a gun he is so powerful?
Fingers on trigger, ready to rip, where is power in that?
I say a book in somebody’s hands is the most powerful
I know of countless little frames who with books
Have wielded so much power by thought
Their fists are this small, their bellies are these small,
If you met them in the train station or somewhere near a mall
They will be your ordinary guy
But verily verily I tell you
If you measured their minds by ounces
The kilo of their thoughts will break the weighing machine

Such are books, such are thoughts
I don’t know of any other way
To improve one’s welfare than through books
Believe me, I tried mediocrity and it didn’t work
I would watch flat-out dimwittedness cascade before me
And I would swat it hard only for it to taunt me
Been years now, I hear she lives in another town

Well, I confess, I can’t fight
So, for a few hours reading
Brushing through what others before me thought and said
I am called a genius!
The other day, I ran through the inventory of my wealth
Hardly any apartment nor car
Just stacks of books
When time comes I will tell my children,
“Children, I was a wealthy man, of that be sure,
Not your ordinary trappings of wealth
No, in these books I leave you, search for Truth,
Rub minds with the great sages, aim for greatness
Ordinary people strive for food, clothing and shelter
Great people strive for Essence, Spirituality and Higher Realms”

Friday, 3 August 2012

Utabiri wa Msomaji Matumbo ya Mbuzi*

My son, you will not get lost.

Yesterday, I slaughtered a goat for you

Studied the matumbo carefully

So many paths, so many deviations

So many illusions, so many falsehoods

All strewn your way, son

There was a river crossing your path, son

Not a rowdy one, no, just a small silent stream

And as I looked at it, my eyes clouded

Those treacherous hill slopes, no I wasn’t afraid of,

Those forests with wanyama wa porini, no I wasn’t afraid of,

Those shafts of lightning and thunder, no no I wasn’t afraid of,

It was that stream I was afraid of.

Son, many men have drowned in this stream

Didn’t our people say that a silent stream drowns a man?

You see, son, the river beckons,

“Step with both feet, I am shallow”

And fools do so

We know that you dip one foot first

Or get a lukup and test the waters

Or even whisper to the river,

“River god, don’t be angry at me

I am a traveller greeting you and crossing”

And you are spared, the River god is merciful

Son, watch out for that stream

Watch out for her lull

I am not very worried about the cliffs

For I know you are a warrior with instincts.

*Kiswahili for “the prediction of the reader of goat’s offals”.

Matumbo- Offals.

Lukup- Pokot for walking stick.

Wanyama wa porini- Kiswahili for wildlife

# For a Prompt of Poets United’s Thursday Think Tank #108 Compass

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