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African Writers’ Corner

Mzalendo Kariuki thirty years later

Onyango Oloo

2009-03-05, Issue 422

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they flung your carcass to
the hyenas of
not knowing that a
maasai mchungaji
known as musaita ole tunda
would retrieve your remains
and expose moi's brazen canard
about your mythical excursion to zambia
they bombed the otc buses in late february
to provide a
red herring
for the execution
they were planning, the sadistic festival they were plotting
not knowing that your blood was already crying out for justice
ndugu jm, even you know that what was killed
in march nineteen seventy five was not your populism from nyandarua
but the paralyzing fear of the red eyed devil known as mzee jomo kenyatta

dear jm thank you for your bloody sacrifice
for your death allowed our generation
to come up into political consciousness
we say ahsante to ben gethi, we say shukran to mark twist,
we say heko to benard hinga and pongezi to mbiyu koinange and his cohort mzee
for capturing you and for torturing you to death
not many of our people remember
that you were detained as a mau mau stalwart
how many of us have heard
the rare sound of your patriotic voice
defending your mau mau comrades

your death
signalled the beginning of the death of the kanu dictatorship
your death allowed the young seedlings of kenya's freedom forests
to sprout all over kenya
from wundanyi where ndugu mwandawiro was
cutting his teeth on patriotism and pan africanism
to bondo where adongo ogony
was beginning his apprenticeship in anti-imperialism
to mumias where kadima's older brother

was making sure the osundwas
were well represented among the ranks

of the unbwogable wazalendo from mumias
ndugu jm here you are
thirty years later
living through your children and your family
still very much alive in our memories,
in our dreams, in our thoughts, in our hopes
while your callous killer kenyatta is stiff and motionless
useless in that
overpriced mausoleum which should be smashed open
and his old thieving landgrabbing remains furiously ejected and rejected
by our people's unforgiving and relentless wrath
a wrath which is still seething and simmering under the surface
a wrath that they will one day wake up to see
consuming the entire kenyan countryside
as an unstoppable itungati revolutionary fire, burning bright
burning to cinders all these homungati, all these wagongaji
all these wasaliti, all these wauaji
all these wanyanganyi all these majambazi
mzalendo kariuki, all over kenya our mothers, our sisters,our aunties
our fathers, our brothers, our uncles are still naming their kids jm
but nobody remembers the homungati remnant called hinga
and nobody remembers the hired hitman called mark twist
and the only living thing
that can inherit patrick shaw's dastardly name
is a vicious canine trained in kiganjo
barking and leaping on a leash for utumishi kwa wote
kenya is now a nation of thirty multi-billionaires
and thirty million kenya mafukara hohe hahe

machochole na walala hoi
so we remember your admonitions
oh so ever ruefully
today in two thousand and five
we have more than one thousand nine hundred and seventy five kariukis
waiting to march against the inheritors of kenyatta and moi
today in two thousand and five

we have more than one thousand nine hundred and seventy five women
who are militant, who are defiant, who are determined to strike a blow for kenya's freedom
in your memory
today in two thousand and five

we have more than one thousand nine hundred and seventy five vijana
who are forever chanting the anthem of do klan revolution
singing in unison, vijana kwa vijana ni sisi kwa sisi
long live mzalendo kariuki long live!
mzalendo kariuki the young wazalendo called sinpare
are keeping your spirit alive with their song mabepari
hamba kahle mzalendo kariuki viva!

* Onyango Oloo is a Kenyan political activist and former political prisoner. This poem originally appeared on Oloo's blog.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

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