Kenya, Will you Marry Me? by Philo Ikonya

by Sampsonia Way    /  July 1, 2011  / No comments



Philo Ikonya is a Kenyan poet and novelist. She is known for speaking out against injustice and corruption and has written extensively on governance, mass poverty and post-election violence in Kenya. Ikonya was arrested several times, and brutally in 2009, for speaking out.

Teacher, lecturer and editor, Ikonya is in exile in Norway since December 2009. She speaks Kiswahili, English, Spanish, Norwegian and understands Italian and French, and is the author of This Bread of Peace, Out of Prison- Love Song, and Leading the Night. Visit Philo’s blog here.

The following is and excerpt of her last book, Kenya, Will you Marry Me?

Today,
Something steals our land.
Someone has kidnapped our spirit of nationhood,
and wrapped us
with disease and death in lies.
Some people donate coins
into a beggar’s bowl,
but would never tell
power that it walks naked.
Nor will they touch a beggar’s hand.
The sister healed the hostile girl.
Or fear of everything,
is paralysis of the heart.
Others give the heart first,
holding your hand and,
opening your sickly eyes.
Cleaning your mucous.
Mami may you be praised for,
shining brains.
Always making sure,
you touch the stars,
your hand harvesting light,
Another to uplift.

Women stand up for our country.
When I look into a mirror and say I am Kenya,
I want a true reflection and for this,
I do not have to break a limb.
We are in the majority in population.
We can enjoy our freedom free,
we do not need to sleep with the minister,
to get into power.

When you choose,
let you be,
without having to pay.
World over, men will buy dinner,
with hidden costs for later.
Talk straight,
and say what you believe.
Own power,
Women have gone before you.
Hold their courage in your heart.

Give your country
donate all you have.
Do not wait for another donor,
from somewhere far away.
We must, back home,
making beads of anointing,
like two women looking for help.
Suffer the hunger of feeding a country,
with freedom and justice.

Walk and struggle,
Fly and resist,
until we are free.

Many people are
out to ridicule us:
It had to be in that continent,
they say.

We give them reason,
until our vision burns again.
But above all,

We do it four ourselves.
Grandma A to Grandma, W.
We do not have S, Q, X and Zee
in most of our home tongues.
‘C’ is alien if hard,
And so why Africa?
Afrika,
let us move again.
Give to your country
what no one else can.
And add a smile,
though the extra mile,
may be in exile,
still give your smile.
Do not take less for whole,
Let them say you are senile.
They spread their bitter gall.

Goodness speaks,
many tongues,
and many speak for it.
Evil speaks for itself.
But you must speak goodness,
beauty and strength to evil.

And you will be first to know,
you will know,
You will know,
that is where the touch
that we are missing might be.
Change and marry Change.
Kenya, will you marry me?
Kenya, will you marry me?
Will you stop mistaking little promises
for real Change?
Kenya,
will you still marry me?

When you see a ghost called change,
Will you run there in excitement?
Will you not remember that,
it happened before?
That they cheated you?
Will you forget,
the mirages of yesterday?

Do you think you can marry change
and not invite your neighbors?
Why do you not marry real,
Change,
and you will see?
You will see how
the continent will shake,
moving together towards
real Change.

I saw a whirlwind,
and people danced.
They called it Change.

Link to purchase Philo’s book on the publisher’s website (Langaa RCPIG)

From KENYA, WILL YOU MARRY ME?, by Philo Ikonya, copyright ©2011 by Langaa RPCIG. Reprinted by permission of Langaa RPCIG and Philo Ikonya

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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