Kenya, will you marry mi?

Philo Ikonya

You are so beautiful my beloved,
The sun rises and sets in you gently,
over rivers and valleys and desert,
sea and mountains.
You are so wonderful my country,
You allow me to walk on you, you make me.
The moon of change rises and sets in you…

Change will melt in,
and rise again…to meet the stars…
And I wish you to marry, and if you would, marry mi.
But the pain of estrangement is hidden in your eyes.

Why this map of pain?
Kenya, will you marry mi?
My happiness would fill the earth and the seven seas,
and we could take away the pain if you marry me.
But how will you marry mi,
if they mutilate you and mi so?

Tell them to leave your body alone.
I cannot live and watch you marry violence.
You marry pain, I would you married mi, Change whilst changing.
I died the death of love- change,
only together can we both rise again.

I have put,
a triangle across Kenya,
uniting people and people,
sharing land and resources.
And mixing peoples,
with different genes
and stories.

Kenya will be home when you do this.
The North can have part of the South,
who said your compass cannot dance?
The east can have a part of Central
and North.

Who said you only knew one chance?
But here:
It is my warning before your eyes
with red and yellow phosphorescent lights it blinks
so that you do not have another nightmare,
accidents you have had none it was in designed.

And think.
Before the politician,
takes music
and makes it his.
Takes the church
and makes it hers.
Takes your granary,
and eats all your maize.
Takes your vote,
and turns it into hate blood.
Takes your dreams,
and turns them,
into nightmares.

You might see me in the wind.
and think you know me.
Like a whirlwind that begins to gather dust
at your feet,
dancing a little bit,
blows and is over,
and you say you have seen me,
but you have not.
You might see me in papers
that come out freshly from a printing press
with words impressed on them
like kisses, and,
after many years of fear and pain,
talking, and say you have seen me,
you have not.

You might see me in the rain after a drought.
You might see me in a river that washes its banks
as it shrinks year after year and say you saw me.
I am not here.
Know my name.
I want you to.
Know who I am
so that you will know me,
when we meet.

I introduce myself early,
to wipe out confusion.
Names are important to me,
call me by my real one.
There are too many fake ones
floating around.

You tired of
hearing the word Change
I take particular care,
Change is my name.

My name, like it or not
gets mutilated often.
You can hardly recognize her,
for all the circumcisional cuts.

In the mouth,
You tell her not to speak.
On her body
not to move.
On her head,
you take her hair off,
damning her river of reason,
you cut her again.
My name, you ban.
My hands you restrict
to my own body.
From my feet you cut

And in my heart
you mutilate my love.
And I come back proposing anew.

I am made of love.
My brain is all over me.
My feet can tell you,
I must move,
I must talk.
See Change.

Don’t mix me up with
coins or even bank notes,
that a fat politician
brings you for an election
talking about an erection.

I am not bar change.
Am not shop change.
Be they big or small.
You laugh.
That is what you make me when you see votes.
Small change,
big only in money.

I am Change,
Not in a language that means turn the other side,
of the same coin.
I am change not in languages that mean replace.
I take new forms,
and walk through them
alive, like fire that welds not burns to ashes.

Like Mau Forest,
I shed all my moisture,
to Trans-Nzoia river,
I want to pass by and leave
new shoots of sugarcane.
In leadership too,
the Nyando flows.

From Kipkarren to Koru,
I will re-fly my works.
In the Tana,
new life without crocodile
messages of death.

Mbagathi will go to Athi
and will listen.

I do not have many rivers
embrace me now,
before the Nile leaves you
and Sango laughs.
Atrocity to behold
nyawawa defeated.

Let me re-make my lakes.
the Nile,
must do that in Africa.

When they say I have come,
I have not, till the people
you see, rise and embrace me.

When I come,
like for new shoots of cane,
there will be songs,
sang in every mat and hut,
that remain of the past
chewing me.

Look me as a people,
all eyes and ears.
I am not one person,
I must sit tall in institutions,
beginning with the matatu.
Universities respected and learning.

If you want to know when freedom is about to die,
look there in those two places, and at
police in attitudes with class,
bodies most holy;
trashed with laughter and cheer.

Look at State House;
it is built on a wetland.
Relocate it.
Take it to dry lands,
Or lake lands.

Look at dead words in the palace of parle,
Move it.
And at best,
build it on the Athi that flows,
so it sees Kilimanjaro
and is reminded of Nyerere,
as it passes through our villages
and speaks our hearts,

as it flows through deserts,
and feels our pains.
I told you when you marry mi,
You will not need to be told,
How sweet I can be.

You will show it,
in your own smiling fields,
pregnant with crop and honey money.

In ringing freedom in the media,
where the machete of tongue and pen hide.
Before you fail to see me
Look how beautiful you are,
in the mirror of change.
Love mi.

Kenya, will you marry me? A novel

philo Ikonya's picture

Philo Ikonya is a prolific poet and novelist. She has been described as poet who claims history and creates futures passionately. Philo was first a school teacher and later taught Semiotics in Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University, (USIU) in Nairobi Kenya., Between 2007 and 2009, Philo Ikonya, PEN Kenya president, was arrested brutally several times for speaking out against corruption and the foiling of freedom of expression in her country. Born in Kenya, Philo lives in Oslo in exile from 2009. She is respected by the people for being vocal and loved, but resisted by those for whom the bitterness of truth is too personal. Within the context of power, human rights and freedom of expression, Philo is in her element. She has been described by poet Shailja Patel as “Rejecting silence and refusing simplification as she battles corruption”. “This author describes what she is heavily involved in, and she manages to portray it so that it concerns us all.” Per Ole Kallestad, Norwegian poet., Philo Ikonya is the author of two novels: Kenya, will you marry me? Langaa, Cameroon, 2011, and Leading the Night, Twaweza Publications, Kenya, 2010. She authored poems translated into German and published in a bilingual edition titled Out of Prison: Love Songs (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange) published by Loecker Austria, 2010 and This Bread of Peace (Lapwing, Belfast) 2010. She has written three young readers books: We met a Grasshopper and Other Poems, The Lost Gazelle (By East African Educational Publishers) and The Kenyan boy who became President of America translated into Norwegian, Med røtter fra Kenya I det hvite hus published by Libretto, Oslo.

Last updated July 14, 2015