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The two tribes in Kenya – The ‚Haves‘ & ‚The Have Nots‘

April 25, 2008

When I came across this poem of a Kenyan blogger yesterday, I was deeply touched and I felt its spirit of comfort, source of self-confidence and its encouraging foresight. A gentle plea of a poem can often inspire heart and mind more than empty promises made by big-mouthed members of politicians‘ class. The author, Kenyan Poet, allowed me to spread the word. The poem is dedicated to the many disillusioned youths living in slums.
Thanks für sharing this piece, Kenyan Poet.

When Change Comes

I. Growth
When villages grow into towns
Towns into cities
Shops into malls
Spaces into estates,
When streets turn into avenues
Avenues into highways, super highways
Subways and runways
Then things change.

Villages become old frail women deserted by their offspring
All gone to the cities with big lights,
Who, unlike prodigal sons, only return in coffins.
Homesteads empty like the stare of a 9 year old boy
Eyes stiffened by industrial glue liquid,
Face barren of emotions.

City streets give birth to illegitimate children – street children
Who, at the age of 8,
hang around city corners, begging for a shilling.
At the age of 19,
You beg them not to harm you as they rob you,
In the big city streets and big mall corners
Subways and highways.

Estates and villas,
Suburbs and urban spaces
Cities and industries, become fathers who sow wild oats
To shanties, ghettos, slums, poverty stricken valleys.

II. Changes
In these valleys,
Girls quickly grow into women
Siring children at the age of 16, maybe even 13.
Where single families spring quicker
Than a spring chicken.
Where lands mushroom to shanties,
With no jobs in mind, in the mines or offices,
When kids can’t go to school,
Only to sit in the sun counting cars
Watching others live their dreams,
While theirs have been packed away like the text books in their bags
Then innocence changes.

When husbands neglect wives for brewing dens
Choosing illicit drinks over tuition fees
When kids go hungry for days and nights
Mothers are jobless, fathers are drunkards,
When all one can show for years of sacrifice in school
Is a piece of paper – a college degree
With no job, money or respect
While unqualified minds run companies and governments,
Then minds change

When opportunities look at the colour of your skin
Asking for your names,
who you know with lots of muscles,
Politically, spiritually, economically,
When your name, skin tone determines which doors shut,
how fast hand bags are clutched,
who calls you up for a job,
what neighborhoods you can take a stroll in-
then thoughts change

III. Takes
When you realize that your fate was sealed in that moment of conception
Even before you took your first breath in this cosmic space
You then know, it takes more than yourself to survive.

When you are born in a small dark room
In the slum-ghettos of Nairobi,
The wrong side of town
Born in the wrong side of jobs
Wrong side of school
Wrong side of life
Wrong side of everything good in life
Except life itself
Then you know it takes more than yourself to be on the right side

It takes governments that are willing to accept the growing gap
The gap between those with and those without
It takes bridging that gap with informal jobs, equal opportunities
With Youth, women, men empowerment bridges
Bridges that seek to empower minds, endanger idlers
Bridges that recapture people’s dream of equal opportunities
And put them back into peoples‘ hearts

It takes more than corrupt officials
It takes more than paying taxes for more government officials
It takes more than policemen gunning down innocent youth
It takes more than black men looking down upon their brothers as lesser mortals

It takes leaders willing to listen to the cries of their people
It takes systems that will help its people come out of mental slavery, self pity, oppressed lives
It takes everyman to make that change.
you, me, him, her, them,

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