Monday, June 21, 2004

Speaking With My Three Sisters About Abortion

This piece is not just about abortion. It is also a celebration of all the women, Kenyan and non-Kenyan, who have touched my life in very significant ways.

I literally grew up among a multitude of women.

My paternal grandmother, Doris Awiti, was one of the most energetic, assertive and opinionated free spirits I have ever encountered. She was part of my life until the day she died on Thursday, November 27, 1996- a day after my dad's own demise.

My maternal grandmother, Trufena Wandolo, with her infectious sense of humour, was a generous woman who loved her dozens of grandkids equally. When I remember her unique chicken dishes, my mouth waters with nostalgia.

My own mother, Jennifer Siare, was a hard working, kind, morally upright, bold and courageous protector who did not think twice about digging her own pit latrine, all by herslf, because of her fierce sense of independence and self-reliance. She was such a treasure of good cheer, optimism and sincerity right up to the day she died on December 9, 1980 from breast cancer.

She was born with three sisters from the same mother and about four other half sisters from her father's junior wife(a rambunctious friendly soul who was the very anti-thesis of the mythical evil step mother-she never lost her heavy Luhyia accent from her Mumias origins).

My father had four sisters. Three of them were teachers, including Auntie Alice who was my very first teacher in the mid sixties at a nursery school in southern Nairobi.

I cannot even count the number of female cousins, nieces, in-laws and other relatives from all sides of my family who are scattered all over Africa, Europe and North America.

I went to co-ed (called "mixed schools" in Kenya) educational institutions from kindergarten to university and therefore had girls and young women as my best friends, academic rivals, girlfriends and study partners. And when I joined the world of employment, I have of course counted women as co-workers, supervisors, clients and customers.

Ever since I entered the world of romance over a quarter of a century ago, (yes: I am not forgetting my puppy love, especially my puppy love where I got my very first kiss!) my life has also been enrichened by girlfriends, lovers and more than one long term, live in companion.

Many of my most enduring political mentors and comrades are militant and progressive sisters like Micere Mugo, Kathure Kebaara, Njeri Kabeberi, Wangari Muriuki, to cite just a handful. And people like Nimo Gulleid, Ida Hersi,Sibongile Booi, Denyse Stewart, Readith Mwila, Ijose Benin, Terriann Lewis, Anne-Marie Grant are a few of the women who I can count as very close platonic friends. Today, when I venture online I find that the most intelligent and serious contributors in Kenyan cyberspace forums are predominantly female-and this is NOT to knock the dozens upon dozens of Kenyan brothers who rise far above the frothing juveniles prattling and trash talking on RC Bowen, Kenyaniyetu, Mashada, Kikuyu.Com and elsewhere where Kenyans congregate digitally...

Among all those women, my sisters occupy a very, very special space in my life.

One of them, Beatrice Lillian Ombiro Oloo, is no longer among the living-having been killed by her abusive husband on October 1, 1999. She was 32.

My three surviving sisters- Janet Adhiambo Okeyo, Sarah Akinyi Oloo and Ruth Awuori Oloo continue to provide three of the firmest pillars of my existence; all three form part of the close knit bond that has kept our family together and has enabled us all to survive a series of tragedies in the last ten years. They are funny; they are intelligent;they are resourceful and of course they are all gorgeous.

Together with all the other women I have mentioned, my three sisters have always provided the reality check to my sexist socialization, never hesitating to call me on my patriarchal shit- and I know that this has been frequently a much needed boon.

That it is why it was a no-brainer when it came to looking for three Kenyan women who would share with me their candid and sincere opinions on the explosive hot button issue of abortion.

For the last month or so, the religious right in Kenya have been on an onslaught in a very determined quest to block the legalization of abortion in that east African country. Following the "discovery" of 15 fetuses conveniently next to a pro-life Christian centre in Nairobi, the anti-choice forces have orchestrated a rabid media circus that has seen otherwise sober Kenyan journalists screaming about "Killer Moms" and culminated in the arraignment on MURDER charges of one Kenyan doctor and two nurses on accusations that they "killed" "two infants."

Meanwhile, 700 illegal abortions take place every day with one of the country's largest hospitals- the Kenyatta National- reporting 40 to 60 cases of botched abortions every day. Hundreds if not thousands of Kenyan women(many of them barely out of their teens) die from these botched abortions. And no one is speaking of the women who carry their pregnancies to full term, give birth and literally dump their brand new borns in the streets of Kenya's main towns.

My three sisters- Janet, Akinyi and Awuori all live and work in the KwaZulu Natal coastal city of Durban. And they have three different opinions on abortion. One is militantly pro-choice; one is adamantly pro-life and one navigates a middle of the road position on this contentious debate.

So when I called them long distance from Quebec on the afternoon of Saturday, June 19, 2004, I was guaranteed to end up with a very robust, heated as well as humour filled three way exchange. And yes, I do express myself at the end- and one of my sisters does not hesitate to pounce on my own pro-choice views with a take- that I am not going to give away.

Anyways, without further ado, I hereby present my three lovely, intelligent, spirited and humorous sisters holding forth on one of the hottest discussion topics taking place among Kenyans at the moment. By the way, as a prelude we talk about the Magdalene Laundries in the Republic of Ireland. What is that?

Well, find out:

Press here to listen in on the conversation with my sisters

Friday, June 18, 2004

Stereotypes of Women in the Tanzanian Press

Imani Swilla from the University of Dar es Salaam did this study about eight years ago.

Read Imani Swilla's fascinating study

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Introducing Daniel Kamau, young Kenyan NOVELIST from Massachusetts

Daniel Kamau is the author of GAMBLING WITH DESTINY

Onyango Oloo met him at the July 2003 Kenya Community Abroad Conference held at Whippany in New Jersey, USA.

A few weeks later they were talking on the phone about Kamau's very promising and well-written first novel...

Go HERE for an Interwiew Kamau did with Wako Wapo

press here for the DUNIA interview

More Information on the Novel

Interview with Cilia Sawadogo, Montreal Animator Born in Burkina Faso

Onyango Oloo spoke to

Cilia Sawadogo

in Montreal on April 29, 2003.

click here for Cilia Sawadogo's profile

Another profile

more background information and an intro to one of her works

a collaboration on a malian project

press here for the DUNIA interview

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Lurid, Torrid, Tanzanian Hip Hop Ruffles Old School Moral Assumptions...

Condoms for cunnilingus. Torrid May to December younger man- older woman romantic flings. Child labour. Tribalism. Gays. Lesbians. Class struggles. Racism. Drunken Driving.

These are samplings of the many themes explored in just TWO songs by young Tanzanian hip hop artistes who are featured among the handful of CDs that I picked up in Nairobi when I was there in the fall of 2003 (that is September and October my tropical Kenyan compatriots).

Quite a far cry from Mbaraka Mwinshehe and Morogoro Jazz’s classics, “Dr. Kleru” or “Nikupendeje” is it not my friends?

I am sure it is just not just the Tanzanian parents and grandparents in their fifties, sixties and seventies who are SHOCKED and APPALLED by these explicit lyrics, but also the older brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts of this teen/twentysomething Tanzanian Hip Hop Nation who have launched their own sonic assault on the moral assumptions, political hypocrisy, bureaucratic morass and economic wasteland bequeathed to them by the older generation in that east African nation.

And in this current dispensation, it is an equal opportunity never ending DISS Session with a growing number of Tanzanian women (many from "Bongo" or Dar es Salaam) stepping up to the mic to do their thing.

The Dar es Salaam based East African television channel, (truly REGIONAL in the sense that it is carried by networks in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda) has tapped right into this livid, vivid, live wire rage among the East African youth who have turned their back on dry and “boring” academic discourse to seek musical conduits to unleash their rage.

If one stops being judgmental and stuck up for a second (as in, “I never listen to that crap, give me Wynton Marsalis, Placido Domingo and Chopin ANY TIME”) and actually TAKES a LISTEN to what these young people are SAYING, it is immediately crystal clear that there is a lot militancy, heightened class consciousness and a very deep understanding of political power dynamics among members of the younger generation- even though they may name check Jay-Z rather than Ho Chi Minh; Queen Latifah rather than Angela Davis and Mos Def rather than Amilcar Cabral.

Still don’t believe me?

Let me make my case a little stronger.

I will play three tracks for you.

First there is this humorous track that sends up stereotypical ethnic images from a hip hop artist member of the Tanzanian Masaai community.

It is a song about the popular notions of who is a Maasai by a native from that community.

For my Kenyan readers, let me emphasize that I am talking about TANZANIAN Maasais here...

Here it is

Next is a piece called “Sipendi”. It is the song that talks about a range of social issues and political observations that I spoke about at the beginning of this section:


Our last selection is called “Nyambisi” which is about how the up and coming Dar hip hop star Prince Sykes seduced a woman who was twice his age:


Wait a minute!

I have a TANZANIAN hip hop VIDEO to show you which proves that African rappers can recycle the same clichés of their New York and California cousins:

Visit this page


Scroll down, choose “listen/watch and bonyeza the links to videos of songs like "Msimu kwa Msimu” “Aha”, “Bamiza” .

A Profile of Sali Oyugi, Kenyan Diva Rising in Boston

Sali Oyugi lives in Boston.

She is a band leader, singer-songwriter and accomplished musician who has been part of the contemporary Kenyan art scene for many years. Onyango Oloo interviewed her for the DUNIA show.

click here to visit Sali's website

press here for the DUNIA interview

Suzanna Owiyo: A Concert Review and a Follow Up Interview

Onyango Oloo was lucky to attend a sizzling concert by Kenyan songbird

Suzzana Owiyo at the fabled Carnivore nightspot in the Kenyan capital in September last year. Afterwards he wrote a concert review for the Nairobi-based East African Standard newspaper. About a month later, he called her from Montreal for a chat on the weekly DUNIA radio show that airs Wednesday mornings on CKUT 90.3 FM:

click here for concert review in the standard reposted on

press here for the DUNIA interview

Poxi Presha Speaks Out on Piracy, Politics & Integrity of Kenyan Musicians

Poxi Presha

is controversial, he is funny and has oodles of creative juices. Onyango Oloo caught up with him in at Chester House, Nairobi moments after the veteran Kenyan rapper had just finished a press conference to denounce his arrest in Mombasa:

listen here

The Voice of Radical Kenyan Youth

Onyango Oloo speaks with 3 Kenyan radical and progressive youth- two from the Kimathi Movement and one a co-founder of the revolutionary, underground hip hop group, Do Klan Revolution.

The conversation took place in Nairobi in October 2003:

listen here

Interview With Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina

is one of the leading writers in Kenya today. The winner of the 2002 Caines Prize for African Writing, Binyavanga is part of the core group that propels Kwani? a literary journal and website for emerging Kenyan writers and artistes. The second issue of Kwani? was launched at Nairobi's Carnivore Restaurant in early June 2004.

This following interview took place in Nairobi in October 2003:

listen here

Visit Kwani?'s Virtual Home

Tribute to Three Kenyan Hip Hop Artistes Who Died in 2003


Wicky Mosh


K-rupt aka Carlton Juma

were three very talented and promising Hip Hop stars who all died under tragic circumstances - the first two died in road accidents while the third one was shot dead while trying to foil a highway robbery.

In December 2003, on the same day that K-Rupt died, Onyango Oloo composed the following song in their honour:

"Warogi Watatu"(Sheng for "The Three MCs")

Coverage of Krupt's death reposted on Kilimanjaro Entertainment site

Visit Wicky Mosh's Dedication Page

E-Sir Worked Closely With Nairobi's Enigmatic Ogopa DJs

Thursday, June 10, 2004

to the defenders of the unborn...

The defenders of the unborn
Run away from the newly born
The defenders of the unborn
Will take away the rights of women already born
The defenders of the unborn will scorn the lowly born
Even as they berate women who choose not to give birth
To a child condemned to squalor, want and possible abandonment

The defenders of the unborn
Say nothing to the irresponsible men who unleash their seeds
Straight into the wombs of women they refuse to support
Some of these men are the very defenders of the unborn
The defenders of the unborn say nothing of the abortions they have paid for

The defenders of the unborn
Mealy mouthed vile haters of women
Posing as lovers of children they will never take care of

Where are the defenders of the unborn
When the children already born are crying for milk
Where are the defenders of the unborn
When the children already born need shelter
Where are the defenders of the unborn
When the mothers of the unborn are looking
For guidance and condoms to prevent the unborn from being born

Onyango Oloo
Thursday, June 10, 2004
10:54 am EST

a materialist marvels at the spiritual bloom

Hope rises up
Like a brave new flower in the semi-desert
Determined to grow up in full bloom
In the surrounding desolation
Possibilities open up
Like the inscrutable, impenetrable gates
Of a maximum security penitentiary
Unleashing a long held prisoner from captivity
Possibilities open up
New doors to hopeful futures

For years the sun never shone in your world
They gave up on you
Making it easier for you to give up on yourself
For years a thick blanket of dour despondency
Stifled you, almost choking you
Back seat drivers without a license
Told you where not to go
While strangers guided you to a dead end rubbish dump

One day you woke up and washed your face
And was surprised that you could still see
And had not gone blind as you had feared
One day you woke up to the sound of beautiful music
Years after being resigned to an apparent deafness
One day you woke up with a giggle in your throat
Surprising the daily moan from the pit of your stomach
And expelling it forever from your being

You told me the other day
That all this came to pass
Through your spiritual renewal
As you found sustenance through a new relationship
With the one you call Lord, Son of Man, King of Kings
The only begotten Son

As you know
I march to the beat of a different drummer
My stubborn optimism comes from more mundane, prosaic and earthly sources
Unlike your ethereal, poetic and otherworldly inspirations
So I would be lying if I said
That I know exactly what is causing that wonderful tremulous upheaval within you

I may not exactly embrace
The spiritual underpinning of your recent renaissance
But I can certainly feel its unmistakable vibes
Every time we converse
I may not share the faith that drives your rededication to life
But I can certainly hear its positive side effects in the pealing laughter
At the other end of the telephone line
I am very glad for what has happened to you spiritually
Because I am one of its main beneficiaries, materially…

you are wondering when i am coming...

Six eighteen in the am
A cloudy Thursday morning promises
To be another languid and humid day
In these northern reaches of these western parts
I forgot to ask you last night
Whether it was going to rain or shine
In those equatorial, eastern parts
Six eighteen on an early June morning
And I am missing you, pining for you once again

The antipasto, the aperitif, the canapé
the hors d'oeuvre
also known as our every other day
telephonic lovey dovey chit chat
Is just making us more famished
With carvenous desire as we hungrily
Look forward to the entrée, the main dish
Of our face to face, mouth to mouth
Hand to breast, thigh to thigh
Skin to skin intercontinental
Transoceanic reunification
In a wide, well made, soon to be scrambled bed
In a quiet neighbourhood on the western mainland
Of the city they sometimes call Mvita, nicknamed Kongowea
Part of Mwambao and known to all as Mombasa
Six eighteen in the am
A cloudy Thursday morning promises
To be a humid day
Six eighteen on an early June morning
And I am missing you, pining for you once again

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Killer: A Short Story Inspired By The 15 Baptized Fetuses of Nairobi

Friday, June 04, 2004
Slightly after Midnight

Ajwang’ Nokwanya sat in the third pew from the back, deliberately close to the exit.

Like many of the hundreds of worshippers in the Holy Family Basilica on this grave Thursday in early June, her body was wracked with sobs and her cheeks caked with layers of tears that were too recent to dry.

She reached into her bag, groping and fumbling for another handkerchief- she had blown repeatedly onto the other one which she now stuffed, crimpled, crumpled and crumbled deep inside the left pocket of the dainty and spiffy looking jacket that she picked up at Gikomba on Monday.

The middle aged woman in the brownish habit of a nun ensconced between her and the Kisii looking swarthy man in a blue shirt and a blue sweater kept muttering:

“What kind of an animal could do this to a poor child of God? I just don’t understand.”

At the pulpit, the Right Reverend Cornelius Korir was full of passion and she immediately thought of those angry prophets in the Old Testament letting the ancient Israelites have it for once again forsaking Yahweh for Babylonian mammon.

“The terrible holocaust of abortion should be stopped!" the Man of God thundered...

"The Sheria has been too easy for these criminals in white overalls! The law is letting them get away with these odious, brutal misdeeds! Who shall speak for the innocent unborn? Who shall stand up for the rights of these children of God?”

Ajwang’ was by now weeping uncontrollably as Reverend Korir went on:

“These doctors are evil! They are abetting heinous crimes against humanity! How can they allow themselves to become butchers in so heartless a manner is alarming indeed; for how can one deal death and life with the same hand?", he paused, and switching gears a bit exhorted the gathered flock to remember Gianna Beretta Molla, the Italian woman who died over forty years ago when she was almost forty. Gianna died rather than abort her unborn. And the Holy Father had made her saint for her noble sacrifice.

Later after the fetuses had been baptized Ajwang’ was among the mourners who followed the tiny coffins on their final somber and grim journey to the desolate Langata cemetery.

Why had she come to the service in the first place?

Ajwang’ was not even a Catholic.

She did not know any of the unborn fetuses or their runaway killer mothers.

She did not even live in Nairobi.

Ajwang’ had been passing through the muddied city in the sun on her way from Naivasha to Mombasa where she lived with her cousin Bertha.

Two weeks ago she had made the dreaded trek back to the flower farm where she used to work to collect her final settlement and some of the belongings she had left behind when she was fired abruptly in November last year.

Now, as she waited for the Shuttle at KENCOM that would take her to Adam’s Arcade on Ngong Road where she was staying over at her uncle’s, Ajwang’s mind flew back to that terrible afternoon in late October that would stay with her like a kidonda forever flowing with pus, attacked by cruel flies, refusing to dry up.

There she was...Barely a month after she was employed the Nyapara retained her check-off card.

When Ajwang’ went to him and asked for the card, he told her that he loved her. He ignored her when she told him that she was engaged to be married-telling her he was a patient man and could make her very happy at the company. He was going to be promoted to be assistant manager. Did she want to be the new supervisor, the new nyapara?

Ajwang’ was too smart to fall for that tired line of a brand new employee leapfrogging everybody after she had bent over-so she did not say anything as she took back her card.

About a week later, the same thing happened again with the check off card.

But this time when she went to the office to ask for the card back, the Nyapara was a changed man. He immediately locked the door. He asked her if she had reconsidered. She told him there was nothing to think over since she was getting married in December- two days after Jamhuri Day.

He asked her where her fiancé lived and she told him he lived in Section 58 in Nakuru although they planned to move to Kisumu where her fiance was going to start working with Safaricom cellular company.

Before she knew it, he had slapped her very hard across the face.

Brandishing a knife he ordered her to lie on the table after he had ripped off her panties. Knife at her throat she was ordered not to whimper, not to make a sound…

Even though she had tried to block that painful memory, she could not erase the gleefully sloppy grin as he panted and wheezed sweating as he had his way with her.

After he had finished he roughly pushed her away, told her to get her stuff and go and warned her that he would kill her if he dared to mention this incident.

So what gave her the courage to go to the manager after three days and report everything?

It was only after she was fired that she realized that the manager was the supervisor’s uncle- that is how the Nyapara got the job in the first place.

The rudest shock was waiting for her in Nakuru.

She had always trusted Joseph Wuod Kanyamuot.

They had been together for four years- since they met when she was part of Menengai’s hockey team and he was the goalkeeper of the same school’s soccer team. He was a couple of classes ahead of Ajwang’.

He worked for some time in his cousin’s private clinic near Shauri Yako. As for Ajwang', she kept “tarmacking” while living with her older sister who worked with the Nakuru Municipal Council.

Having seen friends and relatives die of the AIDS scourge, it had not taken them long to agree on "zero grazing" with a generous helping of “socks.”

There were no secrets between them so when she burst into his one room dwelling that he had “inherited” from his father who used to be with the Railways she immediately rushed into his arms, bawling out the details of her rape ordeal at the flower farm in Naivasha.

He just held her tightly, not saying anything until far into the night.

After what seemed like an eternity he simply said:

“Lando Nyar Uyoma, let us go to sleep. We will talk in the morning.” He hugged her and cuddled with her and she felt warm and protected and that night she did not have any nightmares.

In the morning she lit the jiko and made some tea. The Blue Band had ran out so she just piled the treacley sweet red jam on to the slabs of bread that she had carved up. Wuod Kanyamuot preferred “sturungi” tea without milk.

This morning he was acting strange.

He did not have to go to the clinic until 11:45 today, being Thursday, but it was already 7:30 and he was getting restless, polishing his shoes compulsively with a hint of vague malevolence.

Abruptly he asked for the Bible which was on the shelf next to Ajwang’.

Perplexed she handed it to him.

“What is wrong Joseph? “She asked, her brows knitting.

“You are asking me what is wrong? I should ask you the same question! You have failed me! I have buried three of my brothers. I refused to look at another woman. You were the one for me. You were going to be the mother of my child. Now look what you have mixed yourself up in.”

“But what have I done?”

“I told you not to go to Naivasha. I told you to wait for me. I told you I was going to get that Safaricom job and stop slaving for that selfish cousin of mine. You refused. You had to go to Naivasha. Now look what has happened.”

“Joseph, I am not thirteen years old. I am a grown woman. I can not depend on my sister who barely earns enough to pay her rent. You surprise me, dear, you really do...”

“If I surprise you, then you shock me. Anyway, I do not have time to waste. Hand me the Bible.”

He leafed through the weathered tome.

Then he started reading.

“I am reading from the First Book of Kings, Chapter 16 verses 29 to 33. And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

She could hardly believe her ears.

“Joseph, have you gone mad? What is this nonsense! I am Not Jezebel and you are not Ahab!”

“I knew it. I knew it. Right under my very nose. Worshipping Baal all this time. I should have listened to the pastor when he warned against you Jezebel. But I am not done yet. We now move to the Second Book of Kings Verses 7 to 10. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.”

Joseph paused.

“The pastor told me that you were Jezebel and that I should not follow you. But I never listened to him. And see what has happened to me!”

“What has happened to YOU? I was RAPED remember!”

“Jezebel was a liar and a fornicator. She was a devil worshipper. She paid homage to Baal instead of the Living God. I don’t buy that crap about being raped. You evil seductress, you threw yourself at that Nyapara and now you have come back to finish the work of your Master Baal!”

Too stunned for words, Ajwang’ just stood there.

“These are the end times Siku za Kiama. AIDS is one of the signs of the times. I may have perished already. I just hope for my sake that I am NOT Ahab, O you evil Jezebel. I want you out of my house by Saturday! And if you try to entice me by opening those wicked legs of yours, I will smite you with my bare hands! Keep praying for atonement for I am sure you have been infected you evil witch!”

Her friends had told her that Joseph had been acting strange lately, but she refused to believe it.

At the time, she stubbornly saw a spiritual reawakening where people saw a man slowly losing contact with reality….

Well, that was then, and this was now.

Too ashamed to face her friends to whom she had been blabbing about her December wedding, she just wanted to get lost. Bury herself where nobody would find her...

Nakuru was too small.

And she had never liked Nairobi.

And that is when Bertha came in.

When Ajwang’ flashed her Kencell mobile, Bertha did not hesitate to call back on the 0721 number.

“Of course you can come and stay with me. You will love Mombasa”.

After Joseph, she could not trust anybody with her terrible ordeal.

Bertha was wonderful- all she knew was that Ajwang’s boyfriend had kicked her out and that she had lost her job.

So when Ajwang’ missed her period in November no one else knew.

She was more worried about the HIV because her violator had not bothered to use a condom.

What was she to do?

She was a good Christian and was horrified at the idea of killing an innocent child- even if it was a few hours old.

But there was something in what Joseph had read to her which made her believe that the Nyapara was Baal personified and that she was carrying the devil’s seed in her.

She felt so filthy.

There were days when she could take four showers a day- one in the morning one in the afternoon, one around six thirty and one just before she went to bed at ten thirty or eleven.

Bertha thought it was the humidity of Mombasa and just kept joking about it.

They stayed near the shops at Kiziwi, in the old Swahili houses next to the maisonettes near the Polytechnic and Ajwang’ was entranced by the wachuuzi with their mbaazi and chapati. Or the Mkokoteni cart pushers with their various wares- Mombasa was something else.

What had happened in Naivasha was a sore with pus overflowing- what was growing inside her she felt was like a jigger that itched and itched and itched as it grew and grew and grew and she was terrified that one day she would wake up and find out that she was really Jezebel making animal sacrifices to Baal right there in their Kiziwi single room dwelling.

One Saturday, when she was at the Kongowea market she ran into Wangeci, an old classmate from Menengai who was now a nurse at the Coast General Hospital.

Wangeci was radiant and happy to see Ajwang’.

Was it because they were old classmates reuniting in a new town or was it because Wangeci had lost her virginity to Ajwang’s late brother who used to lust after Wangeci whenever Wangeci came to visit Ajwang’ or was it because Wangeci was a nurse?

Whatever the case, like a flood, the terrible secrets of the flower farm gushed out of Ajwang like an impatient gully dashing down the estate after a torrent of rain.

She did not leave out anything.

They both cried and hugged.

“Don’t worry. I know somebody. Come over to the hospital next Wednesday at exactly 8:30 pm. And no, don’t worry about the money.”

Ajwang knew what it was all about.

She knew it was a Big Sin.

Which was going to be her salvation from Baal’s evil seed.

So it had happened.

She had felt cleansed and relieved.

Her test results for the big bad virus made her smile from ear to ear.

Soon after that, she picked up Bertha’s invitation to start attending her church more regularly.

By late January she had been saved.

By mid February, she was one of the most active members of the Church.

The young pastor was impressed at her precocious faith. Ajwang’ grasped theological points so effortlessly. She spoke in tongues almost at will.

“You will be healing the sick within a year”, he prophesized.

Did the pastor mean that?

She must be blessed, she who had been named Ajwang’ Nokwanya, meaning, “The girl who was picked up after being abandoned” she, Ajwang’, would be a prophetess planting the seed for the Lord Jesus Christ?

She felt so special.

And there was no doubt in her mind that it would all come to pass…

How did she end up staring lovingly at the pastor’s bedroom ceiling in Bamburi one Saturday afternoon in late March?

She did not regret what was happening between her and the pastor.

He was so loving and gentle and surprised her with how experienced he was.

They never spoke about what they were doing.

Just adored and doted on each other. Ajwang’ had never loved anyone like this before. She felt as if her heart would break into thirty six different pieces and reform again, so bubbly and giddy she felt, whenever she was alone with him. He was so different at home- did not feel such a burden on his young shoulders.

She was not going to sully all this bliss by talking about Naivasha. When Ajwang’ insisted on condoms he thought it was just the natural thing because he was well stocked.

But he did not know about Baal’s evil seed did he?

She refused to ask him what he wanted to do with her, remembering the nightmare with Joseph. And Oh No, Ajwang’ refused to see herself as Jezebel.

For her, the pastor was a wonderful shepherd and an even better lover.

Her world came crashing down in late May when she was slapped across the face with those unborn throw aways.

For the first time she started thinking about what she had always called The Operation.

Ajwang’ felt... How did she feel? She felt…how did she feel?

She did not know how it felt...

The same weekend the photos appeared in the papers a visiting pastor came from Nairobi.

Rev. Stephen Kyalo was accompanied by Philip Musen, a new Baptist missionary from Kentucky in the United States.

She could not forget that service.

Everyone was so angry and horrified.

Everyone talked of the killers of the unborns.

Did they know, she asked herself silently, that she was there among them?

Could they somehow tell what she had done?

She wondered.

Bertha was even more upset than Reverend Kyalo.

“If I meet one of these killers I will personally strangle them- Forgive me LORD but I am only human! Who are these evil people who would kill GOD’s creature growing in them?”

Ajwang’ pretended to be too overwhelmed to say anything.

That was two weeks ago.

So here she was in Nairobi, preparing to travel back to Mombasa the next day.

She thought about what Reverend Korir had said.

Rev. Kyalo’s and Bertha’s words were ringing in her ears.

Ajwang’ kept seeing those little coffins- especially the one for Innocent, one of the dead unborns.

She was worried about what would happen to the soul of her own fetus which did not have a name and had not been baptized.

Would that infant soul keep traveling aimlessly from now till Armageddon between the gates of Heaven and the dungeons of Hell because its cruel mother had chosen her life over its existence?

Over and over and over again the headline from the newspaper kept playing in her head:

“Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms Cops Launch Massive Search for Fugitive Killer Moms…

over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again….


She knew exactly what she was going to do.

She was not going to take that Shuttle to Adam’s Arcade after all.

Ajwang’ started walking rapidly away from KENCOM towards Kimathi Street.


Here she was.

She hesitated briefly in front of the beige building with the round towers.

Then she walked in, turned left and took the lift to the second floor.

She ignored the askari and went straight to the slender bored looking Gikuyu receptionist with the beady eyes.

“Is this NATION House?”, she asked breathlessly.

“Yes it is, what can I do for you?”

“I would like to talk to a reporter about those killer moms the police have been looking for.”

“Really? What do you know?”

Ajwang’ gave the receptionist such a glare that before long there was this tall wiry man with a sad look with a notepad asking her tentatively:

“ I hear you wanted to talk to a reporter?”

“ Yes. My name is Ajwang’ Nokwanya and I am one of the Killer Mothers you have been looking for. I want to confess my crime.”

The End

Onyango Oloo
Friday, June 04, 2004