Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

We leave our house to go home!

Enlarge poem

We start,
We are told we are going home.
What?

We are home.
Is this not home?
This place we live?
This is home!
I have climbed those trees,
Fallen and broken my hand in that ditch,
I have raced my brother and won on that wide green lawn,
I have hunted tadpoles in that pool over there,
You can’t see it now; it only fills up with water when it rains.
Is home not this?

No.
No?
My father hands me an un-embellished, “No”.
My mother gives me a flat “No”.
On this, they speak as one.
No.
No?
This is just a house, they reply,
Not even ours!
It is owned by the government.
Oh!

We set off.
We pack our bags, clothes, toy cars, toy snakes, lizards made of rubber, obviously fake.
Barbie dolls, books.
No water.
No.
We haven’t yet discovered we need 8 glasses of water a day to stay healthy.
Especially when we travel.
No food on the road,
No.
To eat, we must wait seven hours to get home.
Only wholesome home cooking will do.
No food for the road.
No.

We leave our house to go home!

We pack more bags,
Sugar, tea leaves, oil, butter, maize meal in packets.
Hot drinking chocolate, sausages, bacon; we can still afford these things.
And 8 long loaves of Kumyoko bread.
What a rude word.
Why is it called that?
Does anyone know?
No?

We leave our house to go home!

We get into my Dad’s car, a brand new VW Beetle.
Five young children, a mum, a dad and a cousin- maid.
We take turns sitting on each other, except Dad of course,
He has to drive.

We leave our house to go home!

Limuru!

We children speak up hopefully,
“Are we yet there?”
My father laughs indulgently,
Hahahaha!
No.
There’s that un- embellished “No” again!
Not yet he says, his eyes twinkle at me through the rare view- mirror,
I am perplexed.
We have never gone this far, in our fun- filled- after- Church- Sunday- drives.
It can’t be much further!
It will be over soon!
Where are we going?

We leave our house to go home.

Kinangop!

30 more Kilometers, hope returns.
It bounds back, panting, joyful like a puppy.
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
There I can see it, there! My kid brother declares. It’s there over that hill. There!”
“No
No?
Mum’s says, “Stop disturbing your father, let him drive”.
Her voice is sharp.
There is no joke anymore.
No.
None.
I exhale all my hope.
How far do we have to go to get home?

We leave our house to go home!

We start a steep climb on a narrow road.
Sheer cliffs rise on one side and fall down on the other.
The road winds like a snake trying to escape.
Savannah, alpine forest, dry scrub land, wooded dry- lands, white highlands,
Down, down, down to a verdant equatorial green land that belongs somewhere else.
Not here, in this dry country Kenya.

We leave our house to go home!

Don’t think I saw the wonder of the changing landscape,
The backdrop movie, shifting, around us,
Leaving, arriving!
I saw none of it.
No.
All of it was lost on me.
My mind echoes the city lights.
Nairobi is my jewel.
I asked my father,
Is there light at home?
No!
“No?
My father laughs again, this time amused.
Hahahaha!
His eyes touch mines in the rear view mirror.
Electricity does not stretch so far. He says.
No.
He is, matter-of-fact, “there is no light at home”.
No?
No? My mind reels.
No disco dancing neon light?
No hanging out at Carnivore on a hot night out?
No chilling with a hoard of hungry boys at night?
No!
No light to bathe me, wash me clean.
There is no light at home?

We leave our house to go home!

Eldoret.

Punctures start coming thick as rain!
The first is a joyous affair.
We all believe it won’t happen again.
By the third puncture we all know to change a tyre, even my kid brother.
First, push the car off the side of the road, onto the verge,
Second, find stones to prevent the car from calling away,
Third, put broken tree branches on the road to warn other motorists,
Step four, fix the puncture.
By the 4th and 5th puncture I am worried,
Home speaks in code.
Maybe home is sending a message in its own crude way.
It does not want us to return.
Home speaks secret words buried in/ gleaned from/ repetition.
It sends a celestial whisper.
No! Do not return.
No! Do not return.
There is nothing left for you here!
No!

We leave our house to go home!

PART TWO

Kisii,
Kapsabet,
Kisumu,
Kakamega,

The tarmac road turns to dust,
The car starts to bump, list, sigh, it slows down it protest.
It is not used to such rough treatment.
I hit my head on the roof on the car, more than once.
Our car is not hardy SUV, modified for driving on African terrain,
There are no roads here no. Just tracks made by cattle, barely visible in the bush.
My kid sister starts to whine…
We reach a bridge of old wooden planks and colonial memories.
My dad explains, “This bridge was built by the colonial DC!”
I am surprised it has lasted this long,
It looks too frail to hold a car weighed down by mum, a dad, five kids and my cousin maid.
My kid sister starts to wail.
“No, no… I don’t want to go home!
We will fall off that bridge into the river below!”
We are in a land of real rivers; raging torrents of water flows fast and furious.
This river is not a memory. An empty long gorge, with wide banks and a bed of rocks and boulders,
with the name “River Something” on a sign post; like many others we pass on our way home.
No. This is the River Nzoia. It’s a real thing and just as dangerous.
Yes!

We leave our house to go home!

Mumias,
Sivilie,
Chebuyusi,
Navakholo,
Nambacha,
Namirarma.

We arrive,
Grandmother ululates, a loud long, piercing sound,

She holds her hands outstretched her body rigid in a ricktus of astonishment.
She leads a crowd, of women, children, men, they embrace us,
Running, receiving us,
A tangle of humanity, noise, movement, warmth, singing, dancing, hands outstretched; tears of joy
lifted in celebration and wailing welcome.
Grandmother stops singing her delight, to ask “How is Kenya? How is Kenyatta your president?”
I understand.
She and I come from different countries, she doesn’t speak English, we don’t share a president,.
No wonder she looks foreign.

We leave our house to go home.

We stand still as Grandmother prays her foreign prayer, filled with images of Jews, wondering about for 40 years in deserts, crossing the Red Sea, which parts unexpectedly, to create a part a path, it is only God who can manage such miracles. Baba! She compares it to the miracle of her son, returning home, with his family of children, most of whom she has never seen. Baba! He has gone and prospered Baba! Returned. Baba, Jehova Jire! After 10 years of wondering in the dangerous city lights, where men have no souls. Baba! Where people can disappear without trace, as if I consumed by wild beasts. Baba! Like the Israelites in Egypt escaping Pharaoh and returning to the promised land, he has never come back, and not empty handed. We thank you Baba. We thank you Baba. Baba! We thank you. For you have been with him. Baba! You have smiled on him. Baba. He comes home with children, a car, with a car, Baba, oh that my son can find the riches to buy a car… Like the son of Manyonge, like the son of Makokha, like the son of Siganga, like my son! And on and on and on, her prayer, sings, and shouts, hums and flows, rises and falls and…

Riswa! She ends the prayer with a loud abrupt song.
On cue, hard feet clap the ground a whole village together, PAP!
I am startled.
I fall to the ground, cower, covering, my head to hide from the danger.
Joking hands raise me up.
I stand shaky as the laughter around me continues.

I learnt a lot from that prayer.
We are Jews from Israel!
We leave our house to go home.

Sitawa Namwalie

Featured Poem:

Brown Legs

Enlarge poem

My friend’s legs are brown,
Don’t get me wrong.
Not any ordinary brown,
They are luminous,
She is only ever so superficially sunburnt,
Black men stare at her legs as if they were trapped,
Arrested by anomaly,
Those almost white legs on a black woman?
Hooogh!
Even you,
Wouldn’t you want some of that almost, almost?

She’s no dum dum.
She knows……..
She wears short skirts,
Hoisted high,
Sits on bar stools,
Flawless caramel legs crossed,

When I go out with her,
I know I’m screwed,
Even dressed like a peacock,
Cleavage slipping down to my navel,
I won’t get any male attention.

Soon a gaggle of guys gathers,
I skulk,
The scented aroma of her high-pitched giggle
Wafts under my nose,
She knows how to play.
Now she’s a white chick,
She laughs at jamaa’s stale jokes.

Meanwhile I sit darkly alone
Nurse my cool drink,
Pretend not to care.

sitawa namawalie

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (2)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (2)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Sitawa Namwalie is a poet, writer and performer interested in how Africans are defining themselves in today’s world. In writing she finds her expression. In 2008 her first dramatised poetry show by the name Cut Off My Tongue was successfully performed in different venues in Nairobi. In 2009, her first book of poetry, Cut Off My Tongue was published. Later the same year, the show was performed at the prestigious Hay Festival in the UK. And in 2012 it was performed in Uganda. She was nominated for the Freedom to Create Prize in 2010 for the courage and positive social influence of her poetry.

In 2011, her second show of dramatised poetry called Homecoming was performed in Nairobi to rave reviews. In April 2012 Cut off my Tongue was selected by TED Talks on a global search for the new and undiscovered as a performance worth spreading.

Sitawa has worked in the development sector for many years with NGOs and with UNDP, USAID and IUCN. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Arts degree in Environment, Society and Technology from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. She works as a development consultant in the areas of environment, gender and governance.

Sitawa has achieved excellence in many areas of life, including representing Kenya in tennis and hockey in her youth. She is a mother of three gorgeous children and is married to a man of rare generosity.

Sitawa Namwalie

sitawa namawalie
sitawa namawalie

Biography

Sitawa Namwalie is a poet, writer and performer interested in how Africans are defining themselves in today’s world. In writing she finds her expression. In 2008 her first dramatised poetry show by the name Cut Off My Tongue was successfully performed in different venues in Nairobi. In 2009, her first book of poetry, Cut Off My Tongue was published. Later the same year, the show was performed at the prestigious Hay Festival in the UK. And in 2012 it was performed in Uganda. She was nominated for the Freedom to Create Prize in 2010 for the courage and positive social influence of her poetry.

In 2011, her second show of dramatised poetry called Homecoming was performed in Nairobi to rave reviews. In April 2012 Cut off my Tongue was selected by TED Talks on a global search for the new and undiscovered as a performance worth spreading.

Sitawa has worked in the development sector for many years with NGOs and with UNDP, USAID and IUCN. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Arts degree in Environment, Society and Technology from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. She works as a development consultant in the areas of environment, gender and governance.

Sitawa has achieved excellence in many areas of life, including representing Kenya in tennis and hockey in her youth. She is a mother of three gorgeous children and is married to a man of rare generosity.

We leave our house to go home!

Enlarge poem

We start,
We are told we are going home.
What?

We are home.
Is this not home?
This place we live?
This is home!
I have climbed those trees,
Fallen and broken my hand in that ditch,
I have raced my brother and won on that wide green lawn,
I have hunted tadpoles in that pool over there,
You can’t see it now; it only fills up with water when it rains.
Is home not this?

No.
No?
My father hands me an un-embellished, “No”.
My mother gives me a flat “No”.
On this, they speak as one.
No.
No?
This is just a house, they reply,
Not even ours!
It is owned by the government.
Oh!

We set off.
We pack our bags, clothes, toy cars, toy snakes, lizards made of rubber, obviously fake.
Barbie dolls, books.
No water.
No.
We haven’t yet discovered we need 8 glasses of water a day to stay healthy.
Especially when we travel.
No food on the road,
No.
To eat, we must wait seven hours to get home.
Only wholesome home cooking will do.
No food for the road.
No.

We leave our house to go home!

We pack more bags,
Sugar, tea leaves, oil, butter, maize meal in packets.
Hot drinking chocolate, sausages, bacon; we can still afford these things.
And 8 long loaves of Kumyoko bread.
What a rude word.
Why is it called that?
Does anyone know?
No?

We leave our house to go home!

We get into my Dad’s car, a brand new VW Beetle.
Five young children, a mum, a dad and a cousin- maid.
We take turns sitting on each other, except Dad of course,
He has to drive.

We leave our house to go home!

Limuru!

We children speak up hopefully,
“Are we yet there?”
My father laughs indulgently,
Hahahaha!
No.
There’s that un- embellished “No” again!
Not yet he says, his eyes twinkle at me through the rare view- mirror,
I am perplexed.
We have never gone this far, in our fun- filled- after- Church- Sunday- drives.
It can’t be much further!
It will be over soon!
Where are we going?

We leave our house to go home.

Kinangop!

30 more Kilometers, hope returns.
It bounds back, panting, joyful like a puppy.
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
There I can see it, there! My kid brother declares. It’s there over that hill. There!”
“No
No?
Mum’s says, “Stop disturbing your father, let him drive”.
Her voice is sharp.
There is no joke anymore.
No.
None.
I exhale all my hope.
How far do we have to go to get home?

We leave our house to go home!

We start a steep climb on a narrow road.
Sheer cliffs rise on one side and fall down on the other.
The road winds like a snake trying to escape.
Savannah, alpine forest, dry scrub land, wooded dry- lands, white highlands,
Down, down, down to a verdant equatorial green land that belongs somewhere else.
Not here, in this dry country Kenya.

We leave our house to go home!

Don’t think I saw the wonder of the changing landscape,
The backdrop movie, shifting, around us,
Leaving, arriving!
I saw none of it.
No.
All of it was lost on me.
My mind echoes the city lights.
Nairobi is my jewel.
I asked my father,
Is there light at home?
No!
“No?
My father laughs again, this time amused.
Hahahaha!
His eyes touch mines in the rear view mirror.
Electricity does not stretch so far. He says.
No.
He is, matter-of-fact, “there is no light at home”.
No?
No? My mind reels.
No disco dancing neon light?
No hanging out at Carnivore on a hot night out?
No chilling with a hoard of hungry boys at night?
No!
No light to bathe me, wash me clean.
There is no light at home?

We leave our house to go home!

Eldoret.

Punctures start coming thick as rain!
The first is a joyous affair.
We all believe it won’t happen again.
By the third puncture we all know to change a tyre, even my kid brother.
First, push the car off the side of the road, onto the verge,
Second, find stones to prevent the car from calling away,
Third, put broken tree branches on the road to warn other motorists,
Step four, fix the puncture.
By the 4th and 5th puncture I am worried,
Home speaks in code.
Maybe home is sending a message in its own crude way.
It does not want us to return.
Home speaks secret words buried in/ gleaned from/ repetition.
It sends a celestial whisper.
No! Do not return.
No! Do not return.
There is nothing left for you here!
No!

We leave our house to go home!

PART TWO

Kisii,
Kapsabet,
Kisumu,
Kakamega,

The tarmac road turns to dust,
The car starts to bump, list, sigh, it slows down it protest.
It is not used to such rough treatment.
I hit my head on the roof on the car, more than once.
Our car is not hardy SUV, modified for driving on African terrain,
There are no roads here no. Just tracks made by cattle, barely visible in the bush.
My kid sister starts to whine…
We reach a bridge of old wooden planks and colonial memories.
My dad explains, “This bridge was built by the colonial DC!”
I am surprised it has lasted this long,
It looks too frail to hold a car weighed down by mum, a dad, five kids and my cousin maid.
My kid sister starts to wail.
“No, no… I don’t want to go home!
We will fall off that bridge into the river below!”
We are in a land of real rivers; raging torrents of water flows fast and furious.
This river is not a memory. An empty long gorge, with wide banks and a bed of rocks and boulders,
with the name “River Something” on a sign post; like many others we pass on our way home.
No. This is the River Nzoia. It’s a real thing and just as dangerous.
Yes!

We leave our house to go home!

Mumias,
Sivilie,
Chebuyusi,
Navakholo,
Nambacha,
Namirarma.

We arrive,
Grandmother ululates, a loud long, piercing sound,

She holds her hands outstretched her body rigid in a ricktus of astonishment.
She leads a crowd, of women, children, men, they embrace us,
Running, receiving us,
A tangle of humanity, noise, movement, warmth, singing, dancing, hands outstretched; tears of joy
lifted in celebration and wailing welcome.
Grandmother stops singing her delight, to ask “How is Kenya? How is Kenyatta your president?”
I understand.
She and I come from different countries, she doesn’t speak English, we don’t share a president,.
No wonder she looks foreign.

We leave our house to go home.

We stand still as Grandmother prays her foreign prayer, filled with images of Jews, wondering about for 40 years in deserts, crossing the Red Sea, which parts unexpectedly, to create a part a path, it is only God who can manage such miracles. Baba! She compares it to the miracle of her son, returning home, with his family of children, most of whom she has never seen. Baba! He has gone and prospered Baba! Returned. Baba, Jehova Jire! After 10 years of wondering in the dangerous city lights, where men have no souls. Baba! Where people can disappear without trace, as if I consumed by wild beasts. Baba! Like the Israelites in Egypt escaping Pharaoh and returning to the promised land, he has never come back, and not empty handed. We thank you Baba. We thank you Baba. Baba! We thank you. For you have been with him. Baba! You have smiled on him. Baba. He comes home with children, a car, with a car, Baba, oh that my son can find the riches to buy a car… Like the son of Manyonge, like the son of Makokha, like the son of Siganga, like my son! And on and on and on, her prayer, sings, and shouts, hums and flows, rises and falls and…

Riswa! She ends the prayer with a loud abrupt song.
On cue, hard feet clap the ground a whole village together, PAP!
I am startled.
I fall to the ground, cower, covering, my head to hide from the danger.
Joking hands raise me up.
I stand shaky as the laughter around me continues.

I learnt a lot from that prayer.
We are Jews from Israel!
We leave our house to go home.

Featured Poem:

Brown Legs

Enlarge poem

My friend’s legs are brown,
Don’t get me wrong.
Not any ordinary brown,
They are luminous,
She is only ever so superficially sunburnt,
Black men stare at her legs as if they were trapped,
Arrested by anomaly,
Those almost white legs on a black woman?
Hooogh!
Even you,
Wouldn’t you want some of that almost, almost?

She’s no dum dum.
She knows……..
She wears short skirts,
Hoisted high,
Sits on bar stools,
Flawless caramel legs crossed,

When I go out with her,
I know I’m screwed,
Even dressed like a peacock,
Cleavage slipping down to my navel,
I won’t get any male attention.

Soon a gaggle of guys gathers,
I skulk,
The scented aroma of her high-pitched giggle
Wafts under my nose,
She knows how to play.
Now she’s a white chick,
She laughs at jamaa’s stale jokes.

Meanwhile I sit darkly alone
Nurse my cool drink,
Pretend not to care.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (2)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (2)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (2)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

We leave our house to go home!

Enlarge poem

We start,
We are told we are going home.
What?

We are home.
Is this not home?
This place we live?
This is home!
I have climbed those trees,
Fallen and broken my hand in that ditch,
I have raced my brother and won on that wide green lawn,
I have hunted tadpoles in that pool over there,
You can’t see it now; it only fills up with water when it rains.
Is home not this?

No.
No?
My father hands me an un-embellished, “No”.
My mother gives me a flat “No”.
On this, they speak as one.
No.
No?
This is just a house, they reply,
Not even ours!
It is owned by the government.
Oh!

We set off.
We pack our bags, clothes, toy cars, toy snakes, lizards made of rubber, obviously fake.
Barbie dolls, books.
No water.
No.
We haven’t yet discovered we need 8 glasses of water a day to stay healthy.
Especially when we travel.
No food on the road,
No.
To eat, we must wait seven hours to get home.
Only wholesome home cooking will do.
No food for the road.
No.

We leave our house to go home!

We pack more bags,
Sugar, tea leaves, oil, butter, maize meal in packets.
Hot drinking chocolate, sausages, bacon; we can still afford these things.
And 8 long loaves of Kumyoko bread.
What a rude word.
Why is it called that?
Does anyone know?
No?

We leave our house to go home!

We get into my Dad’s car, a brand new VW Beetle.
Five young children, a mum, a dad and a cousin- maid.
We take turns sitting on each other, except Dad of course,
He has to drive.

We leave our house to go home!

Limuru!

We children speak up hopefully,
“Are we yet there?”
My father laughs indulgently,
Hahahaha!
No.
There’s that un- embellished “No” again!
Not yet he says, his eyes twinkle at me through the rare view- mirror,
I am perplexed.
We have never gone this far, in our fun- filled- after- Church- Sunday- drives.
It can’t be much further!
It will be over soon!
Where are we going?

We leave our house to go home.

Kinangop!

30 more Kilometers, hope returns.
It bounds back, panting, joyful like a puppy.
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
There I can see it, there! My kid brother declares. It’s there over that hill. There!”
“No
No?
Mum’s says, “Stop disturbing your father, let him drive”.
Her voice is sharp.
There is no joke anymore.
No.
None.
I exhale all my hope.
How far do we have to go to get home?

We leave our house to go home!

We start a steep climb on a narrow road.
Sheer cliffs rise on one side and fall down on the other.
The road winds like a snake trying to escape.
Savannah, alpine forest, dry scrub land, wooded dry- lands, white highlands,
Down, down, down to a verdant equatorial green land that belongs somewhere else.
Not here, in this dry country Kenya.

We leave our house to go home!

Don’t think I saw the wonder of the changing landscape,
The backdrop movie, shifting, around us,
Leaving, arriving!
I saw none of it.
No.
All of it was lost on me.
My mind echoes the city lights.
Nairobi is my jewel.
I asked my father,
Is there light at home?
No!
“No?
My father laughs again, this time amused.
Hahahaha!
His eyes touch mines in the rear view mirror.
Electricity does not stretch so far. He says.
No.
He is, matter-of-fact, “there is no light at home”.
No?
No? My mind reels.
No disco dancing neon light?
No hanging out at Carnivore on a hot night out?
No chilling with a hoard of hungry boys at night?
No!
No light to bathe me, wash me clean.
There is no light at home?

We leave our house to go home!

Eldoret.

Punctures start coming thick as rain!
The first is a joyous affair.
We all believe it won’t happen again.
By the third puncture we all know to change a tyre, even my kid brother.
First, push the car off the side of the road, onto the verge,
Second, find stones to prevent the car from calling away,
Third, put broken tree branches on the road to warn other motorists,
Step four, fix the puncture.
By the 4th and 5th puncture I am worried,
Home speaks in code.
Maybe home is sending a message in its own crude way.
It does not want us to return.
Home speaks secret words buried in/ gleaned from/ repetition.
It sends a celestial whisper.
No! Do not return.
No! Do not return.
There is nothing left for you here!
No!

We leave our house to go home!

PART TWO

Kisii,
Kapsabet,
Kisumu,
Kakamega,

The tarmac road turns to dust,
The car starts to bump, list, sigh, it slows down it protest.
It is not used to such rough treatment.
I hit my head on the roof on the car, more than once.
Our car is not hardy SUV, modified for driving on African terrain,
There are no roads here no. Just tracks made by cattle, barely visible in the bush.
My kid sister starts to whine…
We reach a bridge of old wooden planks and colonial memories.
My dad explains, “This bridge was built by the colonial DC!”
I am surprised it has lasted this long,
It looks too frail to hold a car weighed down by mum, a dad, five kids and my cousin maid.
My kid sister starts to wail.
“No, no… I don’t want to go home!
We will fall off that bridge into the river below!”
We are in a land of real rivers; raging torrents of water flows fast and furious.
This river is not a memory. An empty long gorge, with wide banks and a bed of rocks and boulders,
with the name “River Something” on a sign post; like many others we pass on our way home.
No. This is the River Nzoia. It’s a real thing and just as dangerous.
Yes!

We leave our house to go home!

Mumias,
Sivilie,
Chebuyusi,
Navakholo,
Nambacha,
Namirarma.

We arrive,
Grandmother ululates, a loud long, piercing sound,

She holds her hands outstretched her body rigid in a ricktus of astonishment.
She leads a crowd, of women, children, men, they embrace us,
Running, receiving us,
A tangle of humanity, noise, movement, warmth, singing, dancing, hands outstretched; tears of joy
lifted in celebration and wailing welcome.
Grandmother stops singing her delight, to ask “How is Kenya? How is Kenyatta your president?”
I understand.
She and I come from different countries, she doesn’t speak English, we don’t share a president,.
No wonder she looks foreign.

We leave our house to go home.

We stand still as Grandmother prays her foreign prayer, filled with images of Jews, wondering about for 40 years in deserts, crossing the Red Sea, which parts unexpectedly, to create a part a path, it is only God who can manage such miracles. Baba! She compares it to the miracle of her son, returning home, with his family of children, most of whom she has never seen. Baba! He has gone and prospered Baba! Returned. Baba, Jehova Jire! After 10 years of wondering in the dangerous city lights, where men have no souls. Baba! Where people can disappear without trace, as if I consumed by wild beasts. Baba! Like the Israelites in Egypt escaping Pharaoh and returning to the promised land, he has never come back, and not empty handed. We thank you Baba. We thank you Baba. Baba! We thank you. For you have been with him. Baba! You have smiled on him. Baba. He comes home with children, a car, with a car, Baba, oh that my son can find the riches to buy a car… Like the son of Manyonge, like the son of Makokha, like the son of Siganga, like my son! And on and on and on, her prayer, sings, and shouts, hums and flows, rises and falls and…

Riswa! She ends the prayer with a loud abrupt song.
On cue, hard feet clap the ground a whole village together, PAP!
I am startled.
I fall to the ground, cower, covering, my head to hide from the danger.
Joking hands raise me up.
I stand shaky as the laughter around me continues.

I learnt a lot from that prayer.
We are Jews from Israel!
We leave our house to go home.

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