Thursday, November 5, 2009

Troubled

Image One: The lovebirds are holding hands.   She is a head taller than him, and attractive, her skin is a rich dark brown.  She has a figure that is model material, not runway thin but unique, shapely, African.  She leads the way, her pointed chin tilted slightly upwards, as if proclaiming her innocence.  Blood is smeared on her left breast.



His eyes are downcast, praying for the ground to open up, swallow him whole.  Blood is trickling down his chest, beginning right below his heart, continuing down, little rivulets meander through to the creases in his groin; the source of his agony.

In the background, a dozen men, fully clothed, young and old, on foot, and on bicycles, advance towards the naked couple. On their faces is a sprinkled mix of scorn and pleasure, like a herd of hot, hungry, hyenas hankering for leftovers.

Image Two:   A hooligan is facing the lovers, his back is to the camera and the club in his right hand is raised.  It is freshly carved, and lacks attention to detail; unfinished, as if its’ practical use is wholly contained in the jagged, barbed infliction of suffering.


We are not clear whether he is at the beginning or the end of a strike.  But barely visible behind the hooligan is the figure of the man, stooping, shielding his groin area, one hand upturned, to summon God’s mercy.

She joins in the plea, her hand upturned, her face contorted in pain; her lips drawn out pencil thin, in a grimace that makes you fear for her safety.

In the background, more men, fully clothed, on foot, and on bicycles, advance towards the naked couple. On their faces is a sprinkled mix of scorn and pleasure, like a herd of hot, hungry, hyenas hankering for leftovers.

Images Three, Eight and Nine:  We see the back view of the lovers still holding hands. Blood oozes from a variety of gashes on their backs; swollen welts, dark pockmarks here and there, all evidence of the smorgasbord of torture inflicted by the mob.  The depression of the twin dimples above each of their buttocks can easily be mistaken for scars.

In the background, fully clothed men pause in their motorcade of piki-pikis, many glancing over their shoulders, their looks urging the barefoot, naked couple to carry on with the procession through town.



Image Four, Five and Six:  A series of close-ups showing the steps leading to the couple’s public embrace. Image Five reveals a gash on the man’s scalp, the clotting blood melding tufts of his short salt and pepper hair.  His lips are pursed in a kiss as he plants one on her cheeks, in justification of the spilled blood, a forced embrace that reveals some...regret? Sweat is rolling down from his neck to his shoulder and upper arm.  He is grasping her elbow as she cradles his chin in her hand. 


Image six follows her line of thinking as she strokes his cheek, his mouth is open, the fully gray hair-line now clearly visible.  She could be his daughter.

Image Seven:  The woman clambers head first into the back of a white Toyota Corolla, followed closely behind by the man old enough to be her father.  Someone has come to their rescue.

When I received these images, I wished I had a RETURN TO SENDER option.  Then after looking at the offensive images, and giving it some thought, I thought I would lend my voice to articulate what I perceive to be the prevailing winds of our time.  Because captured in these nine sinister images are symptoms of poverty, lawlessness and a total breakdown of family values. 

The images were sent as an email FWD and included the following message (I altered them out of respect):
“This couple, a father-in-law and his daughter-in-law, were caught doing some cha-mama-na-cha-baba in Kisumu by bodaboda people.  They were beaten senseless, undressed and then made to kiss in public.  Kweli mpango wa kando una mambo!” [Translation:  Having a side piece will always cause problems].
I am not condoning adultery but in this case, the crime does not fit the punishment.  The sadistic treatment of these two ordinary people hurts my soul. Had they been “of substance’ in Kenyan society, the mob would not have violated them this way.  The stripping, beating and parading diminish not just the two, but Kenyans, Africans and humanity.

Mama Shujaa.






11 comments:

  1. Isn't it interesting that it appears often that we Africans are our own worst enemies? The political leadership treat the general citizenry like non-persons, whereas they get away with murder, literally. The poor and downtrodden look for others on whom they can unleash pent up anger and frustration, and unfortunate adulterers among the poor who are discovered are pounced upon. Too good an opportunity for letting off steam, regardless that what they do to the alleged adulterers, insofar as it dehumanises and degrades them, is worse than the alleged adulterous act itself. Yes I agree the sum total of this is the debasement of us all, who even if we don't participate are complicit, since we often just sit back silently and watch it happen without doing anything about it..

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  2. Anengiyefa. What is going on? I am sure you read of the 15 year old girl who was gang raped last week at Richmond High School, in Richmond, California. As many as 20 people were involved in it or stood watching the 2 1/2 hour assault. The victim was found unconscious under a bench after the police received a tip from someone who overheard others "reminiscing" about the assault.

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  3. I wonder what is to become of the lovers. I am so sorry for them.

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  4. This is not just an African reality. It is a repeated story of the powerless against other powerless. Seek power from those who like you are devoid of power. That is how the powerless among us are made to think by the prevailing world order. It is well tested strategy by those in power to keep the oppress and without power from forging their forces which is their only way to liberate themselves from their powerlessness.

    Glad to have stumbled by your blog. Keep it going.

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  5. Judy: It is so sad; and this is not the first time the gangs have taken matters into their own hands, another couple was beaten and paraded the same way in Kisumu. It is suspected that a family may have actually reported the couple and set the gang on them. I forgot to mention in my post that there were a couple of women involved, they were riding the motorcycles, looking on...

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  6. Julehya: Welcome! And thanks for your on point comment.

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  7. so so sad. . . and horrific. whose paintings are those????? INCREDIBLE! haven;t been here for a while. haven;t been ANYWHERE for a while...sasa? habari yako, dada?? siko mingi...sending love and salaams xxx j

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  8. It pained me to read this post. I agree with your last words. The punishment was too much. Too much.

    Greetings from London.

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  9. This is heartbreaking, just heartbreaking. The way to set up the scenes was fantastic though, I can see you as a filmmaker.

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  10. Janelle: karibu dada, siku nyingi. They are not paintings...I digitally altered the photographs...mingi love and salaams to you too

    ACIL: Too much. Thanks for the pop in.

    Maxine: If I could do an expose, I would go for it. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. You tell a horrible story so eloquently. The brutality is shocking, and I’m relieved not to see more detailed images. People can be monsters, and it’s not just happening in Kenya. I thought about the teen gang rape in CA too.

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