Thursday, October 27, 2011

Swallow Me

Swallow me whole
without sedation.

Sample the truth
my heart's vibration.

Limb by limb
take me in.

In every crevice
you will find
Teetering, dancing
around life's rim.

lest the precipice
invites me in.

Swallow me whole
Smack your lips
Seal them with
my single wish

the Marrow Of My Love.

Mama Shujaa.

**First published on July 8, 2009**
Copyright © Mama Shujaa 2009. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Uganda in the Crossfire

Whatever the intentions of an action, everyone responds in their own way.

Recently President Barack Obama announced that 100 troops would be sent to assist the Ugandan government in its fight against the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that has committed heinous crimes of murder, rape and the kidnapping of children for over two decades.

Juxtapose this against a March 21, 2010 Economist article entitled "Uganda's Oil: A bonanza beckons. And the weakness that consumes America -Oil and Money - dramatically reveals itself.

Now Uganda
integral members of the oil family.

To the some it may represent a humanitarian effort, the benefactors being third world citizens. My questions with regard to Uganda: For how long has the LRA been around? When did the State Department discover the heinous crimes? Why are they acting now?

The March 2010 Economist article reports that Uganda stands to make 2.5 billion dollars a year in oil revenue, beginning in 2015.

Humanitarian missions are good, but how much damage needs to be done, before action is taken? Is there a barometer that is used to gauge the opportune time?

Would it be a fair question to ask:  if President Barack Obama was in the White House at the time, would the genocide in Rwanda have happened?

Wiki Njema,

Mama Shujaa.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Politics of It

There is no room for interpretation
When dealing with parents of
talented 13-year-old soccer players.

Everything is bold and simple.

Play my kid and get team results.

The vigor and tension
With which this sentiment is communicated,

"Talk to the coach," I advise softly.

Each parent has their own imaginative eye
As eloquent as the other
It moves beyond
the scope of their own

My boy is a natural this
A real that!
The composition of the team
Must inevitably emerge
as I see it.

It matters not what
germination and growth
occurs and
what the surrounding
fertility may have to offer.

Their appreciation
and interpretation
is limited to only what bears close affinity
to what is personally satisfying to them.

What an exposition,
of individualistic machinations.

One Tired Team Manager,
Mama Shujaa.

Bon Weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Characters -


Scene - office hallway containing cubicle stations. Fumilayo and Vera are neighbors, hunkered down behind computer screens.

(Enter Big Cahuna with a stack of college-ruled sheets ridden with his leisurely scrawl.)

"Fumi, I need to get this letter out ASAP!" his booming voice addresses the air.

Vera: "I can help. Give it to me."

Fumi (working on transcribing a deposition): "Thanks Vera."

(Exit Big Cahuna, face red.)

Vera:  "Don't know how you do it, Fumi. His writing is awful."

Fumi: "What would I do without you?"

(Half an hour goes by, tempered by Vera's grunts and groans through the cubicle wall.)

Vera (walks into Big Cahuna's office): "Here is the letter. I hope I did not mess it up too bad...I could not read your writing."

Big Cahuna: "Couldn't read my writing??  Fumilayo is not even from this country, and she can read my writing!"

(Some time later. In the copy room, enter Vera and Fumi)

Vera (giggling):  "You actually have shoes, Fumi?"

Fumi: "What did he mean? People from different countries cannot read well?"

Vera: "I don't get it. What law school did he graduate from?"

Fumi: "What a useless snarky comment."

(They exit the copy room.)
Mama Shujaa.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Write About My Country

I am unresolved about the article. Feelings of annoyance and guilt stir within; a tension stronger than my usual polite appreciation of such articles. As I write about it, I struggle, thoughts glued together, bound up as if in an outdated textbook.

The casual tone of the article irritates me.  Potential, Poverty, Politics & Parties: Why Kenya Attracts America's Best & Brightest Young Social Entrepreneurs makes comment on the development of my country as if it were just another accumulation of spectacles.

It starts with the dubbing of potential as "the people, not just their fellow expatriates, who seem to keep coming [to Nairobi from Wall Street, Harvard, Stanford and MIT] in droves...but the young Kenyans...craving something different."

It cites a slowly improving education system; an increasingly robust sector full of entrepreneurial ideas; Diasporans eager to be a part of Kenya's movement; and the budding microfinance institutions, M-Pesa, Ushahidi, M-Farm and M-Shop as igniting the tangential rise of Kenya.

Even though truth and reality is present, where is the depth in the understanding of the experiences and expressions of the people in this article? 
"Next up? Poverty. The business of poverty is, sadly, still booming in Kenya. Despite decades of nonprofit (and, on occasion, government) interventions working to make life more livable in places like the Kibera slums (one of Africa's largest slums) there's little to show for it all."
The business of poverty? And Kenyans are thriving in it because it is intentional. And what should I make of the welfare system in America? Is it the same business of poverty?
"...parties. Booming nightclubs stay open till 7 and 8 a.m., where you can dance to deep global beats with an eclectic mix of Kenyans, Americans, Europeans, and whoever else wanders in. Yet come Monday morning, if you are an American under 30, you'll most likely be trudging around the slums of Kibera, testing out a new technology or service that does this-or-that..."
There is no shortage of Guinea Pigs in Kenya. 
"As for politics...a fat dollop of corruption makes every day activities seem like a game of chance, and prepares you to always expect the unexpected in pursuing business. It's challenging, yes, but in a way an exciting learning experience for young Americans eager to build businesses in developing economies."
It is a free for all, after all. And with the lack of regulation, you can get a way with loads. And ultimately set up profitable manufacturing plants elsewhere...What will Kenya have gained from the Harvard graduates other than a couple of dollars dropped at the nightclubs, sampling our men and women?

In the end, I suppose it is a good touristy article. It sells Kenya; it highlights stagnating and sophisticated aspects of Kenya society today. Maybe I just have to come to grips with our changing world, globalization, the loss of ownership over the Kenya I used to know. The lost level of say.  Back in the days, tourists would come and go. These ones are staying.

The article creates images, smacking me in my face. Figments that show an Africa that is livable, touchable, supportable. Spectacles that regenerate themselves. It reduces concrete life into the world of supposition, of wonderment, adventure and enterprise.

Wiki njema,

Mama Shujaa

Friday, October 7, 2011

Savannah Blaze

This feeling, a vital source of my being.
Warm orange and red beneath my mocha-toned skin
Coursing through.

His eyes
Deep pools flowing, irrigating my soul
Rich and fertile.

"Nawa for your ass," the text reads as I walk into the train station.
 "Lord do u," another text reads.
This no-rigmarole-kind-a-guy.

"U makin' me smile."
Swamped with love.
Elevated, stretched across the Atlas Mountains.
 My African Passport still rises.

Weekend njema!
Mama Shujaa.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steady Does It

Unbroken forests. Acres and acres, flowing across shores and national borders. Making every inch count. The sights and sounds of the U.S.A. Packed, everywhere. On shelves, on mannequins, hordes have migrated en masse. In search of new growth in lush pastures.

Under the lens. Every tag checked by the consumers' eyes. Made in Honduras. In Egypt. In Colombia. In Mexico. In Taiwan. In Guatemala. Landscapes beyond these eroded and depleted shores.

A mosaic of products that blend into each other, each with the rule, to explore the face of America.

"Have you bought any souvenirs?" I asked our Chinese students.

"No. Everything is made in China!" they laughed.

Siku Njema!
Mama Shujaa.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Place of Promise

It is Wednesday morning and my shoe box story still lives. In the universe of my imagination, with more people in it now.  New bosses, wayward soccer parents, egotistical 13 year old soccer stars, kind coworkers, court filing deadlines, to-do lists at home and abroad. All locked up together, teaming, screaming, bundled up life. And yet, I've been blogging less and writing more - in my head. Ideas running through, vibrant on the colorful stinky local bus, gigantic scoops of pot stirring ingredients, simmering on the stove that is my brain. Cook. Trace. Weave. My shoe box story, unedited. Rolling in a place of promise.