Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Killers of Our Dreams

By Onyango Oloo

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. On Thursday April 8, 2010, I was walking along Kijabe Street-on the other side of Norfolk Hotel and the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation- trying to get into Longonot Place to meet up with my pals
Douglas Okwatch and Alberto Leny who recently invited me to be part of News Xtra- Nairobi's new and free daily evening newspaper- when I was hailed by this friendly guy who introduced himself as Maina Joseph. He turned out to be a veteran artist involved with drama, drumming and a whole lot more. He was convinced that he knew me from NAKURU. That struck me as kinda strange, since apart from being born in that Rift Valley market town, I have NEVER lived there for more than two days. A thought flashed through my mind. Did my mischievous dad spawn a sibling who is my spitting image, with this unknown identical near twin brother eking out an existence with a parallel Oloo family in Nakuru totally unbeknownst to me and the rest of my immediate family? That thought was brief, and like I said, it did FLASH through my mind on its way out. Anyways, Maina ended up telling me when he had just given me his business card and was about to go on his way that actually there was a poetry night starting up at the Wasanii Restaurant which is upstairs from the main stage at the National Theatre. Being an aficionado of things thespian, verse and all literary matters in between, I dashed to the venue to find buddies like Steenie Njoroge, Sophie Dola, Ksmall, Jack and other Wasanii mainstays settling in, sipping their various liquid selections as they waited for things to rev up. Khainga O'kwemba, a writer whose work is often featured in the Star came up and we chatted. He happens to be one of the main officials of the Kenyan chapter of PEN- the international association of writers. PEN Kenya was hosting the event in conjunction with the Wasanii crew. He asked me if I could contribute a poem towards the end. I immediately agreed only to start panicking instantly when I realized I did NOT have a single poem on me, not even one floating in my cranium. Quickly excusing myself, I hurried to a cybercafe to see if I could retrieve one of my old poems from one of my half a dozen blogs. But not one was appropriate for me. So I came back, fretting of what to do. I was invited to the semi-high table where all the officially invited poets and spoken word smiths were. After about seven and a half minutes Khainga sidled up to me and whispered, "You are on after the next two". I felt my tummy churning somewhat moderately. Still no poem. But I did have a writing pad and a pen. So I set off composing a poem on the spot. I had barely finished the second last line when I was officially invited to go on stage and read it. Well, here it is, modified slightly from two days ago....

the killers of our dreams

don’t want us to dream

the killers of our kenyan dreams

our dreams of peace

our dreams of national unity

our kenyan dreams of justice and equality

our kenyan dreams of a new democratic constitution

the killers of our dreams

don’t want us to dream

the killers of our kenyan dreams

want to kill us

that is why we should rise above the trivia

that is why we should transcend the inertia

the dementia of updating our facebook walls

with inane, lame and tired lines

drivel like

oh, I am so bored

limpid lines like

gosh, I am so drunk

throw away trash like

look at me, I am so fly

silly whines like

poor me, I am so dry

let us not be twittering twits

twittering tweets about

our ex romantic partners

and how we accosted them

doing the nasty stark naked

in the living room

with esther arunga doing ktn at one

let us not commit suicide

because our favourite

english premier league club

lost out to a superior la liga opponent

or was turfed out in a heartbreak concession

to a resilient bundesliga adversary

while we here in kenya

wallow in neo-colonial unglamorous squalor

let us remain

each and every one of us

not just mere

run of the mill

sometimish day wet dreamers

but focused, stubborn

hard working dreamers

never letting go

dreamers of dreams

dreaming undreamt dreams

dreaming forbidden, forsaken dreams

dreaming ex-communicated dreams

and I am not talking of x-rated dreams

of lusty fantasies and fornication orgies

but as we dream

let us wake up at the same time

and start moiling and toiling

struggling and working

day in, day out

week after week

month after month

year after year

decade after decade

struggling to make all those dreams

see the cold light of day

fellow dreamers

see yourself perched atop

the highest peak of mount Kenya

proudly hoisting aloft

our victory flag

visualize yourself

riding the most precarious crest

three hundred metres deep

into the kikambala beach

clinging tenaciously

to our banner of liberation

some of us started dreaming big

way back in our mid teens

in those half-forgotten

bell bottomed seventies

dreaming back then of freedom

of justice, of democracy

before we clasped hands

with other young dreamers

to start organizing

in the clandestine subterrains

for revolution, for socialism

now in the second decade

of a century some of our comrades

never got to see

we are now on the other side of forty five

smiling wistfully

as we observe our teen daughters

and twenty something sons

stirring with angst

as they too, dream their own dreams

in this digitized, networked, facebooked

viral marketed twenty first century

twittered demi-monde

and still we dream our dreams

meshing with their dreams

and musing their children’s future dreams

some of us

dream not of palatial dream homes

we dream not of cavernous garages

chock full of imported dream limos

we dream not of billions

stashed away in dozens

of overseas bank accounts

we dream not

of faking it

in that surreal charade

of allegedly making it

instead we still dream

stubbornly of that better world

we have been steadily yearning for

we dream still of another just society

we dream of a new day dawning

where women here and everywhere

will cherish the guaranteed equal rights

as we move beyond

the old disney world of misogyny, patriarchy and sexism

we dream of local, regional, national, continental

and global peace and prosperity

we hold on to our dreams

of international solidarity

even as we hanker fiercely

of a socialist milieu

overcoming this imperialist dystopia

so my sisters and my brothers

my comrades and my compatriots

let us be proud, confident, stubborn dreamers

dream if you are a dancer

for it will help you

choreograph your future

dream if you are a singer

as you lyrically weave today’s melodies

and tomorrow’s harmonies

dream if you are an actor

bringing dialogue and drama

to life in living colour

dream especially if

you are a poet

for your life is an epic

which has just barely begun…

composed by Onyango Oloo at the table near the bar at Wasanii Restaurant in Nairobi at approximately 8:36 pm on Thursday, April 8, 2010 while waiting to read the same unwritten poem...


Kilulu said...

Some of your prose is infinitely better than this

Odhiambo T Oketch said...

I am honestly invited...

Mathare News said...

This a nice piece of art which must be read by all progressive Kenyans. With the current situation in Kenya, the best we can do is dream to keep our hope alive of a better Kenya

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Amazing that you could compose a poem in such a short time. I do miss the creative writing that you did over at your other blog.