Kenyan Poems

Single Story

You could see a single story

If you spent one week in Nairobi

You could see wazungu sana

At Village Market bwana

You could spend an hour

In The Stanley or Carnivore

And not know Kibera

Is just around the corner

You could go by taxis

Go on Safari

Or take a Matatu,

As I do,

And soak up the sound

See whats going down

The man with the hand cart

Show him you have heart

Show you know,

Sawa Sawa, Sindiyo

Mambo, Poa, Gota, Fit Sana,

Show you know Kijaluo,


Say you know Kondele,

Kisii, Mombasa – Raha!


Shitty Hoppa

These roads are choking

You hear them spluttering

Nothing here is moving

It’s jam sana bwana

And we ain’t gonna

Get anywhere today

At least not this way

And we’re here in silence

Restraining the violence

Cause City Hoppa don’t play tunes

To disperse the fumes

I miss my matatu

City Hoppa costs you!

So when they remove matatu

What will the poor

Eat a little less,

Not buy a new dress

And with no competition

The price will be increasing

Services less frequent

Then rich can vent

Their frustration

That the jam ain’t lessening

Cause 12 one man mitsubishi

Equals one matatu

Ocampo 6

Leaders met yesterday

To reform the judiciary

They want to do it speedily

Favour a non-Kenyan

To avoid them favouring

One tribe or another

Deputy chief should be female

Why should the chief be male?

Kibaki and Ralia save allies

Implicated in election violence

From being tried at the Hague

Instead of a home stage

But surely the Chief Justice

Will administer a punishment

The same, same way

If justice is universal in Kenya today

Elfu mia tatu thelathini tatu 

Where killed its true

Over 1/2 million fled

Which chief lost his head?

These Ocampo six

Accused of tricks

And if Kenya can’t do what’s just

Then the Hague must

But whose got the shillings

To try them for Killings

Kenya paid a high price

So why pay twice?

The cost of justice

Killers walk amongst us

Give me

I want, I want will get you nowhere

Her mama told her

And I see this grasping,

Desperate harassing

For my thing, my stuff

My bling, its enough

We sip the cappuccino froth

Hack the smokers cough

Something here is lost

I guess we don’t know we’re born

We come looking so forlorn

Viewing others with scorn

And I say we have our own level

Our own personal devil

Our own standard

With which to move forward

Create with your own two hands

Don’t tear down another’s plans

If you live inside

Consumed with pride

No wonder your heart died

Value the wealth of people

Know you are their equal


Java House

It’s my last Java House coffee

I’m feeling sleepy

Night spent dreamily, wondering

To engagements back in London

My brain is drifting back there

Now my body is not far

Nairobi coffee got good

Now its got organic food

And everywhere is full

Not just with Wazungu

But every tribe is buying

Up North people are dying

From lack of water

The land is getting dryer

Even in South B taps are dry

But at Java House without fail

You hear the steamer wail

There’s an abundance of ice

If you pay the price


Rap Education

Immortal Technique

The way he can speak

Without having to shout

Letting us know what it’s about

Straight up with metaphor

I listen with awe

He brings social transformation

Through a rap education

I get that tingling sensation

He makes you want to quit

And simultaneously spit

By the force of his talent,

Makes you feel irrelevant

Yet totally essential

To the global battle


I  am looking up at Britney

Its not that I see her knee

But her entire thigh

And I wonder why

On the opposite wall

Alica Keys covering it all

You can see Spear’s tits

Alica is covering her bits

They’re just posters in a Kenyan cafe

But I’m wondering if that’s why

The locals laugh, leer,

Grab my hair when I’m near

The white woman sex object

Is Britney why I get no respect?


How to get a job

Without the blow job

Or just a hand job

A young woman’s reality

Is that it’s a fallacy

That merit,

Comes before tit.

At 16, joined a political party

Old men checked my double d

Really not interested in me

Just in the leer

That was the end of my political career

Called it quits

Now I’ve got smaller tits

Still get leers

Also from peers,

I ‘look so good on stage,

Doesn’t matter the words I wage’.

My Friend’s are qualified

But their careers died

When they refused to fuck

To increase their luck.

From Dar es Salaam,

Nairobi to London

Young women

Become victim

To old man proposition

So, if you’ve no daddy

You need a sugar daddy

Your destiny

Lies in a phallus

Cupping the chalice

Being gay

Doesn’t even make it ok

They jump you regardless,

View it as a test

One BBC producer

Thought I’ll seduce her

And where would my poetry be

If I’d let him have his way with me.

So the only solution

To avoid this prostitution

Is poor support poor

Women be sure

You fuck for love or lust or fun

Not to have a free run

With an old man’s Visa card

Make him hard,

For your own pleasure

Then we would feel this pressure

He can’t just move along

To the next to pull his ding dong



And now we’re living on Facebook,

Somehow we mistook,

This clicking of an icon

As a symbol of affection

And we’re consumed by icons

All this email ping pong

Just pick up the phone

Hang out with yourself alone.

Meet face to face,

In real time and space

Facebook the third largest country

Borders open to everybody

Even the Chinese

Whose cyber borders tease

Here I can conmect

With my peers and not trek

To their physical home

Their profile is their clone

The cost of connection,

The only hesitation.

Cold sweats from lack of notification?

Now you know its an addiction.


4 Responses to Kenyan Poems

  1. frankmwenda says:

    I love I love!the flow is off the hook,the rhetoric a revelation of Kenya!
    Thank you,Catherine!

  2. Shabola Mkenya Yustoholly says:

    Hey Cate! hizi poems ziko juu!(above the cutting edge!)

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