WordSmith …………

June 16, 2009

Hair Thin Glass Fibres

Filed under: Poetry — Guru @ 10:50 pm

They are coming, oh no they are here!
Just strands and strands of hair-thin
Glass fibres, causing so much hue
And no cry, landing and wanting
To be the news beat of the day
Much to the chagrin of others

In Mombasa, or is it Mtunzini,
Or Pemba, and Djibouti and, far
Away in Fujairah, or is it Mumbai, I
Forget which, nonetheless they are
Stranded, that is the strands landed
On the East African seaboard

They shall be lit up, the strands
That is, and then the bands shall
Have width, the bandwidth that is
Will take a quantum leap, not of
Faith, but of quantums, whatever
The leap, its shall be taken

Am just saying, with so much hair
And air, we should not add mohair
As in more air, no make that, eh
Back to glass, the looking one
Where we now look beautiful, for
We are finally on the digital map

No longer across the yawning chasm
Of the digital divide, we are now just
Divided by the last mile divide, as our
ISPs make false starts, since they do not
Know a thing about what we want, but
Then what’s new, except the fibre cables?

The landscape so changed, we must rise
And embrace the new technology, else
We shall remain in the dark, unlit scape
As in landscape, else we shall rotate to
Portrait, and still look gleam, not grim
Hence, the hair thin glass fibres.

December 2, 2009

Afripot – Africa’s melting pot!

Filed under: Many things — Guru @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , ,

Afripot.com is a web portal designed to bring together the North, South, East and West of Africa, and indeed the African Diaspora throughout the rest of the world, in a conglomeration of information, discussion and creative intercourse that aims at opening the doors to the further development of our beloved Africa.

July 10, 2009

International Storymoja Hay Festival

2009 Theme: “Many Stories, One World”

The international Storymoja Hay Festival is expected to draw 10,000 visitors in a three-day celebration of stories, ideas, writing and contemporary culture through books, storytelling, skits, music, live discussion forums, demonstrations, workshops, open-mike sessions, debates, exhibitions, live performances and competitions. There will be plenty of entertainment including music concerts, storytelling and mchongoano competitions.

The festival is modelled on The Hay Festival held in the UK every May in which up to 100,000 people attend – ranging from presidents to authors to fans. The Storymoja Hay Festival will run as a partnership between Storymoja, an emerging local company, and 22 year-old, Hay Festival (UK).

The festival will be held in a temporary ‘tented city’ at the Impala grounds and will include a main stage for live performances and competitions, and themed tents in which 4-6 two-hour events will be held concurrently. The events are intended to generate public debate around critical issues facing East Africa including Literature, Environment, Gender, ICT, Health, Diversity, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Culture, Gender, Beauty and Self-Development.

Venue: Impala Club, Ngong Road, Nairobi

Dates: Friday 31st July, Saturday 1st August, Sunday 2nd August 2009

Day Pass: 500 Kenya Shillings

Festival Pass: 1500 Kenya Shillings (covers unlimited events throughout the festival including the launch ceremony on 30th July)

Over 50 international and local literary luminaries are invited to this monumental event, including leading thinkers and writers Wangari Mathai (Kenya), Hanif Kureishi and Vikram Seth (UK), Petina Gappah and Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe), Danial Morden, Germaine Greer (UK), Monica Arac de Nyeko and Doreen Baingana (Uganda), Sarah Manyika and Tony Kan (Nigeria), Suleiman Addonia (Ethiopia/Eritrea), Mohamed Haroun Kafi (Sudan), Sandra Mushi and Abdou Simba (Tanzania), Mukoma wa Ngugi, Billy Kahora, Rasna Warah and Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) and many others.

What is the purpose of the Storymoja Hay Festival?

The festival hopes to encourage Africans to ‘own’ their problems by exploring our situations/stories, and search for solutions by generating platforms for discussion and debate. To achieve our 2030 vision, Kenyans need to read widely, discuss ideas, and exploit our diversity of stories/backgrounds for the greater good. It is also part of a longer-term campaign to get East Africa to value reading, writing and ideas in general.

Who are Storymoja?

Storymoja, a publishing company formed in 2007 by five writers committed to spreading the gospel of reading, writing and ideas, has held two previous annual festivals to promote books – dubbed Storymoja Nyamachoma Fiesta. We actively nurture partnerships and work closely with NCC, NBDCK, and Enterprise and Leadership Foundation. Our 2008 event attracted 2200 people. The 2009 Storymoja Hay Festival will utilise and build on that experience, and is the next step in achieving our Storymoja mission of getting ‘A book in every hand.’

Build-up events to the festival include:

1. Storymoja’s Cut Off My Tongue is currently performing back-to-back venues in Kenya before going on tour in the UK

2. Battle of the Universities Storytelling Competition commences in June, 2009

3. Mchongoano Competition commences mid- June, 2009

4. Diversity Case Study presentations – Nigeria, USA, India, SA and Rwanda – public discussions from June

5. ‘Women in Leadership’ mentoring series meets once/month from January 2009

6. ‘To Be A Man’ meeting series to commence in May 2009

7. Spelling Bee in 203 schools around Nairobi – ongoing, and televised show to air on Citizen TV from June 2009

8. Writing Workshops – Testimonials (based on interviews and essays), Crime, Fiction, Self-development/Motivation, Writing for Children, Editing, Manuscript doctor etc – ongoing

For more information, contact Storymoja Africa on:

E-Mail:info@storymojaafrica.co.ke

Tel: (+254) 20 208 9595

Text / Call Mobile: (+254) 722 838 161

There will be weekly updates of the programme and participants on the Storymoja Website and Writer’s Blog.

January 30, 2009

Short Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — Guru @ 12:11 pm

Across the Desert – pt III
by M. R. Karugi

The camcorder operator, who also spoke passable English, and acted as the team leader, jabbed his finger in Muhandis direction.

“You mister, come here”, he said gruffly. The two sentries jerked Muhandis upright and pushed him to the kneeling position on the bed sheet. They stood by his side, guns at the ready, as if he would bolt, Muhandis thought.

The other two guards took new positions to cover the remaining captives better. One of his colleagues started crying behind him, a low wailing sound that echoed in the tent. Another one soon joined in the chorus.

“What do you think of meeting your maker, huh? Are you ready for heaven?” he asked Muhandis, his eyes a black pool of mystery. Muhandis stared at him blankly.

Due to the fatigue, Muhandis took some time to register what he was about to happen, and then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Their captors were actually going to execute them, as they had said. Muhandis wanted to say a thousand things at the same time. I mean, the video clip had barely reached the networks, and they had to wait for the response from their employer and ……….. It then occurred to him that none of that mattered.

Indeed the end had come. This was the moment of truth. More wailing from his colleagues rent the air. The desert was eerily still.

The lead captor then took a step towards a canvas bag leaning against the tent wall. He reached inside and took out what looked like a long, curved sheathed sword, of course it was a sword, what else could it be? Muhandis felt a big lump develop and start constricting his throat, he tried swallowing it in vain. His breathing was coming out in small bursts, and the sweat dripping from his forehead stung his eyes. His shirt was already soaked, and his grey khaki trousers were beginning to stain at the waist band.

The English-speaking, camcorder-operating captor, in an audible swoosh removed the curved, evil-looking sword from its chamois leather sheath. It glistened in the dim tent light. Muhandis closed his eyes and tried hard to swallow, but the lump had grown bigger and would not budge.

The sword brandishing captor, ordered him to open his eyes, as if it mattered, Muhandis thought. His eyes fluttered open, the sweat now running in rivulets from his forehead into his wide open eyes. The sweat really stung.

“Any last words?” the captor asked his eyes locked hard on Muhandis’. Did it matter now?

Muhandis could not utter a word, and his mouth hung open, dry and as parched as the desert outside. He attempted to wet his lips with an extended tongue; an effort was too much for his fatigued body. It was miracle he had not collapsed yet.

The captor, eyes now wide open and glistening in the dim light, tightened his two-hand grip on the sword, and raised it high above his right shoulder.

He cracked a smile, a gold-capped tooth catching the last glint of light that Muhandis saw on this earth, and the swoosh made by the sword sounded like a huge gust of wind as it descended towards Muhandis’ exposed neck. The cool air from the gust swirled over his sweat-drenched face.

Muhandis woke with a start, sitting bolt upright on his bed, as the electric fan whirled above his head with a slight swooshing sound. The cool air swirled over his sweat-drenched face. The dim light burning from the wall cast small shadows in his room. His body was drenched in sweat and his eyes stung. He clambered out of his bed and stumbled blindly into the adjoining bathroom. He rinsed his face with cold water and grabbed a towel from the rack above the sink, burying his face in its softness.

The dream had left him shaking like a leaf in a storm.

the end

January 27, 2009

Short Story

Filed under: Short Stories — Guru @ 12:18 pm
Tags: ,

Across the Desert – pt II
by M.R. Karugi

Back in the tent, the captor operating the camcorder seemed comfortable with the gadget, maybe he had been a photojournalist in another life, Muhandis thought. The recording took a short while since no words were uttered by the captives. Perhaps insurgent headquarters would edit the same to include their demands. After ensuring the clip was fine for their purposes, he removed the mini-cassette, stowed away the camcorder, picked up his assault rifle, and stepped outside with the mini-cassette in hand. Muffled voices could be heard outside the tent, and shortly after the clip-clop of a horse’s hooves on the sand were heard going farther away from the tent. The short video clip was on its way to be shown to the rest of the world. This made Muhandis feel there was hope in this whole saga, that finally the world would know their fate.

He actually prayed that the messenger would reach his destination without a hitch. The other gunmen hurdled in a corner, conversing in low tones in a language that none of the captives could understand. All the time, two sentry guards kept their rifles trained on the captives, fingers at the trigger, as if anyone would bother trying to escape, Muhandis thought.

By his calculations, if he made a dash for it, movie style, he would not last long in the desert without water. They were very far away from any civilization, but the captors had planned well it seemed, and they were fully stocked on all essentials. No starving or dehydration here.

Surprisingly, they had been very well treated, being allowed time to eat, drink and rest while travelling. Each time they stopped, at tent would be put up, they would be ushered in and the black cloth covering their eyes unbound. They would proceed to be fed and allowed some little time to rest before they were bound again and were on their way.

At night, the same would happen, and they would fall soundly sleep after a heavy meal. It was surprising that one managed to fall asleep under the circumstances, but fatigue levels were usually at the highest by nightfall.

Muhandis shook his head vigorously to keep from falling asleep again. Prior to his journey, he had read all he could about the country he was going to work in, its history, economy, politics, society and all other details. This was to try and mentally prepare for his assignment, never having left his home country before.

Obviously survival skills in the desert had not been part of that repertoire. All his reading however was of no use in the middle of the desert as he faced an uncertain future.

Their captors seemed to be discussing a very serious matter judging from the intensity of the exchanges, wild gestures and contorted facial expressions. An agreement was soon reached. The camera man was now inserting another mini-cassette into the camcorder.

It seemed there was more recording to be done. He then propped the camera on its tripod, but this time moved the whole assembly to one side of the tent, angled to the space between the captives and the door of the tent.

He said something to two other sentries who were huddled near the door. They rummaged through their luggage, and took out a white bed sheet which they spread on the sandy patch between the captives and the tent door.

to be continued ………..

January 26, 2009

Short Story

Filed under: Short Stories — Guru @ 10:01 pm
Tags: ,

Across the Desert – pt I
by M. R. Karugi

The masked gunman prodded Muhandis’ ribs with an AK-47 assault rifle. Muhandis had been dozing due to the stifling heat in the tent and sheer exhaustion. They had travelled for three days and nights across the southern Iraqi desert, and for Muhandis this was too much. Coming from a country on the equator, where temperatures rarely rose beyond 30°C, the desert heat waves were proving to be a real test of his endurance. He had chuckled with glee while watching adventurers on reality TV shows submit themselves to the same endurance tests while trekking in deserts, forests and snow-swept Arctic landscapes.

He was now fully awake and the gunman pointed to the camcorder that had been set up facing the captives. He indicated they should hold aloft their passports for the camera without covering their faces. Two masked gunmen stood on either side of the row of captives, holding their assault rifles across their chests. The short video clip of the captives was to be recorded and sent to the satellite TV stations in the Gulf.

Back in Iborian, Muhandis’ home city in his country Aynek, the news of the captured engineers in Iraq had been reported the previous night. It was not known by then what their nationalities were. Their contracting company wanted to ensure they were unharmed before releasing more details.

The video clip featuring Muhandis and his colleagues was shown on one of the Gulf’s leading regional TV news network, and rapidly spread all over the world in minutes thanks to 24-hour satellite news channels. The clip was picked by the local channels in Iborian late the same evening and the following morning, and Aynekans were treated to all the chilling drama as their day was beginning.

Muhandis was there, a tired smile playing on his lips and his eyes dead centre on the camcorder. The demands of the captors were simple, all foreign contractors were to leave Iraq and stop aiding the Americans in destroying their country.

Muhandis was a chemical engineer. He had worked tirelessly for local petroleum firms in Aynek and risen through the ranks and experience. While surfing the Internet from his office in Iborian, he followed an advertisement link, and stumbled across a job recruiting firm that was recruiting engineers of all cadres. His curiosity was piqued, and he read through the requirements and without a thought, submitted his resume.

One day the following month, his cell phone rang, and Muhandis was startled to see it was an international call. He rarely received these kinds of calls. He thumbed the “answer” button.

“Hallo?” said Muhandis.

“Good morning sir, could I speak to Joe Muhandis?” the voice with a distinct British accent said.

“This is Muhandis, how may I help you?” he replied calmly, still not knowing who was calling.

“My name is Jan Perry calling from Petrochemical Technologies in Kuwaiti City. This is in regard to the application you sent for an engineering job based in Iraq”, explained the caller.

Muhandis was thrown by the reference to Iraq, a country that was virtually at war. He then remembered vaguely filling a form and attaching his CV in reply to the job advertisement. Then it dawned on him that the gentleman was actually calling to offer him a job in Iraq. All this flew through his mind in a fraction of a second.

“Yes, I had applied for the same some time back”, said Muhandis, not sure where this was going.

“Sir, we have an opening and I am calling to discuss the offer with you. Should we agree on the basics, you shall get a technical interview on phone from our Engineering department, and should you qualify, then we shall move to the contract stage. Are you still interested in the job?” asked Mr. Perry.

Muhandis’ heart skipped a beat. When he had applied for the job, he had not given it much thought, and afterwards it had totally slipped his mind. He was not sure that he wanted to leave his home and job, but something seemed to be pulling him in that direction.

“Yes, I’m interested. What are the details of the offer?” said Muhandis.

The recruiting agent went on to outline the job description, remuneration, job location and other contractual issues. Muhandis hang on to every a word. The caller concluded by asking Muhandis to agree for him to send the same details by email. After the call, Muhandis was lost in his thoughts. He had just agreed to the offer for a job in war-torn Iraq, a country that foreigners were avoiding like the plague.

to be continued …………….

November 17, 2008

Onion Peals

Filed under: Poetry — Guru @ 8:48 am

Layer upon layer, it has
Been unfolding, peeling off
Easily from first contact to
Current, burning the eyes
With its pungent aroma,
Cloying, and strong, leaving
The eyes watery and runny

Bulbous and purplish, shiny
On the outside, soft white
Pulp on the inside, reeking
Of onion sap, soon to be cut
And pasted to the frying pan
Where there’s instant sizzle
The hot oil chars the veggie

Clear skies abound as the peels
Come of, conundrum resolved, as
Layer after layer is shorn, and
Floated away into the horizon
Where it floats in the ethereal
Balmy, windy swept ridges away
Not to be redone, allure or no

Heading to the core, the crux
The motherlode, the hot lava
Rock that is slowly melting
As the protective layers are
Peeled off and chopped into the
Frying pan, or oven char-grilled
Until a crispy golden brown, yes

The day shall come when the inner
Pulp, will be exposed and the loud
Palpitations, panting and puffing
Will signal the end of the long
Layered structure that bravely
Stood against the foreboding
Which was actually unfounded

French Cart

Filed under: Poetry — Guru @ 8:40 am

A cut above the best, cut to
Fit only the finest, not of
Chamois leather, or frilly
Cotton, filling and fiery
Cutting large swathes of
The hilly country, across
The yawning canyons and to
The golden horizon yonder

Not of veal, or venison
Or the juicy steaks of sirloin
And ramp, neither T-bones nor
Top side, the cut surpasses all
Known to folklore, endearing
Even the skeptics, who seek to
Understand the quality and
Finesse of one in a kind adornment

Breaking new grounds and filling
Voids unknown before, they are
Utterly devoid of demurre, but
Shockingly alluding to hitherto
Uncharacteristic chic, from new
Ways adopted and alluded to now
Gradiose in design, subtle in
Accretion, permanently, though

Straddling the great divide
Sashaying in a carefree way
Bold, unfazed and looking
Into the sky, seemingly in
A trance, as the shimmer of
The silky threads shimmy aloft
Like a tight awning that covers
A patch to keep away the elements

From west to east, like the
Equitorial belt, sorrounding the
Verdant valley and crevaces, cut
To fit and fight off any unknown
Unfestooned, heat seeking armament
Locked to the heat signature from
The jet engines afterburn, throwing
Off any caution to the wind, forever

November 7, 2008

Whispers in the Air

Filed under: Poetry — Guru @ 8:54 am

Seemingly floating in the air
Worry-free and unbound
The whispers move in and
Out of our consciousness
Effortlessly, since they
Were never meant to be
Tethered to one soul

Fleeting across the space
Yonder, making inroads
Where before only a yawning
Chasm existed and gaped
Openly, at all and sundry
Unflinching in its glare
Almost as if in despair

Taunting the status quo,
Breathing a new life to
The daily drudgery, that
Seems never ending, yet
The whsipers in the air
Make it bearable and an
Event to look forward to

Scaling newer, better heights
Daily, never backing down
Raw, emotive, fortuitous
No embellishments at all, as
The whispers in the air
Seek to calm the jittery
Bundle of nerves, forever

Turning new pages daily, and
Slowly etching an indelible
Mark on the grey matter, in
Recesses yet unreached, ever
Creating new awareness daily
The whispers in the air
Conquer and consume, bliss!

November 5, 2008

Listen, Listen, Listen

Filed under: Poetry — Guru @ 1:43 pm

Svelte, smooth as silk, running
Rustling, sultry as the hot savannah
Afternoon, whispering and cooing
Like a lovelorn dove, perched
On a loft, lofty and carefree
Is the sound of the voice

In all directions at once, nimbly
Permeating the inner reaches of
Consciousness, both awake and not
Enveloping the silence within
Is the sound of the voice

An inner cry, like the halidon
Seeps through the recesses, and
Cracks, filling every inch with
Syrupy smoothness, like honey
Dripping from a golden honeycomb,
A vast honey filled catacomb

Across the plains it wafts
Wisps of hot air, breathed
Into the channels and lifted
Out to the inner reaches, to get
Away and reach out across, to
Touch in a way never before

Reaching a cresecendo, the voice
Crashes into the piqued eardrums
Cavorting and caressing the inner
Ear, mingling with other sounds
Creating a soothing, sorrounding
Feeling, never before experienced

And it goes on to bring new, exciting
Dimensions right across the yawning
Vast plains, dry, hot, and unrelenting
But the divide not any more vast as
The gap is closed, slowly and truly
The void is closed, finally, finally
Reaching the desired end, bliss!

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