Thursday, 24 January 2013

Good Neighbours


He was robbed—again—
Inside the manyatta he calls home
He has a big black gate written ‘mbwa kali’ (fiery dogs)
And ‘trespassers will be shot’
We never knew him, he never knew us
But he knew (just as we knew) that somebody lived
Beside where we lived.

From his askari, we were told that
Two gun-toting youths pressed their pistols
On the guard’s bald head and frog-marched him
To the compound.
They locked the gate and proceeded to loot our neighbor
Senseless.

We felt sorry for our neighbour
And told him to pull down the wall
So that through the hedges we might peep
And help in case of danger
And may be ask him what his name is
But here in Nairobi, a good neighbor
Must remain aloof.

C) echoes of the hills/Salem Lorot 2013

~
In response to Poets United's prompt of Verse First  'Fences'

~

In the village where I have grown up, fences united us, never barricading our existence. Our gates were from a thorn tree which could be pulled or pushed by visitors before they entered our homes. That was until I came to Nairobi. I saw metallic gates, broken glasses on top of perimeter walls and electric fences. At a sprawling posh residence of Karen, I have heard of people being robbed yet their neighbours never heard of it. Times have changed. Fences, figuratively speaking, have ringed our hearts from each other. It is as if we are saying, 'Don't worry about me, I am by myself'. Which is quite ironical. Aren't we interdependent? Aren't we interconnected? Where is "Ubuntu" in all this? Just a thought.

6 comments:

Panchali said...

Beautiful...
In sociology and critical social theory, alienation refers to an individual’s estrangement from traditional community and others in general....I believe, alienation is one of the effects of modernization...
Very well put!

Mary said...

A strong write here, Salem. So often those on one side or another side of a fences pay no attention to the ones on the other side.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Robbers toting guns sounds very scary, kiddo. I admire your concern for your neighbor. In cities full of crime, people do tend to become aloof. Great to see you posting at Poets United. Yay!

Ella said...

Salem, I had this kind of experience, but not so scary! I grew up in a small town and then married and moved to a big city. So, many fences and people inside, not outdoors being neighborly-it took awhile to get use to! This is a powerful write! :D

Kim Nelson said...

You give us a glimpse into the neighborhood's reality and the disconnect between those who live near to one another. The flow of this piece is enchanting, the message, informative. I so appreciate learning more.

echoes of the hills said...

Thank you my good friends and readers. I appreciate your kind comments and the time you have taken to read this poem.

As we say here, asanteni sana.

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