timely reminders

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill.

-Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

[strangeness and]


although these are questions i have fielded several times, these final months, i have been asked about my time here: how are you doing?

when i am not lying, i mention the loneliness
[but not the sleeplessness then the long periods of sleep, not the skipped meals, skipped showers, skipped classes, skipped appointments, skipped pills, skipped]

and then they say, well at least you will be done soon, then you can leave that place.

lately, i have been trying to find ways to articulate that as crippled as i am here, it is preferable to the desperation that made me leave to begin with.

the cost of a playground

the children showed up
and the government felt so threatened
that it showed up, too, with helmets

and rungus and tear gas.

and then your eight-year-old was in prison,
your ten-year-old was in hospital
and you still do not know where your seven-year-old neighbour is.

how dare you allow your child to defend her humanity,
the president challenges you,
as if she came home last week with a permission slip you had to sign.
as if she doesn’t know for herself the difference between good and this fresh hell.

but the children keep coming,
their parents are holding their hands now
and the president, behind his beautiful doors
behind his beautiful walls behind his
beautiful security

[remember, security starts with you]

he smiles,
because he owns all the milk that the people will use to wash the teargas out of their eyes.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Second Woman Reports Alleged Assault By Tony Mochama

Nairobi, December 9th, 2014

A second woman has filed a complaint with the police against Standard Group columnist and PEN Kenya Secretary Tony Mochama for alleged sexual assault. The victim requested identity protection, as is her right under the law, and details of the alleged assault will remain confidential as police investigate. Mr Mochama is currently under police investigation for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel at a lunchtime meeting of poets on September 20th. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce Kenyan poets to the founder of the Africa Poetry Book Fund, Kwame Dawes and other US poets visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival, and for Kenyan poets to learn about the work of the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

Police are urging any other victims of alleged assault or alleged indecent acts by Mr Mochama to also report to police stations in the jurisdictions where the crimes may have occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes under the Sexual Offenses Act.

Witnesses in the case have reported threats by Mr Mochama to sue them for defamation. Witnesses have also reported harassment by writer Binyavanga Wainaina. Police assured all witnesses in Ms Patel’s case that Mr Mochama’s threats have no basis in law as long as witnesses are simply reporting truthfully what they saw and heard. Police warned Mr Mochama and Mr Wainaina that witness-tampering is a criminal offense. Police urged witnesses to report harassment and threats to the police stations in the jurisdictions where they occurred.

Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness) said: “It is unfortunate that Mr. Mochama, while loudly protesting his innocence in the media, is actively attempting to subvert the course of justice and impede the due process of the law. It is the duty of every citizen to cooperate with our criminal justice system until justice is not only done but seen to be done.”

Issued by:

  • Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW)
  • Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW)
  • The Co- Convenors of the Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
  • The Kenyan Ambassador – Africa Unite Campaign

Wangechi Wachira
Executive Director
Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)
Cell. 254722314789


“Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me — so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her. And in that growing, we came to separation, that place where work begins. Another meeting.”
— Audre Lorde, Zami: Sister Outsider

poem about my rights— june jordan

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life.

[four, or riverful of bleeding women]

did they tell you about the dead little girl?

she lived with her family in kisii. she was four years old.

did you hear about anita osebe moi?

she died from acute heart failure. her four-year-old heart.

but do you know what he did to her?

her heart failed because he raped her. he killed her. he sunk her body with a rock. he was there when they found her body. he was there when they took her body home. he was there, and then he wasn’t. he’s gone.

did you hear her parents screams making their way across the country?

you probably did. you hear them every day. but they sound so much like the wind, or the wind sounds so much like them, and isn’t it easy to ignore the wind?

so, did they tell you about the dead little girl?

maybe they didn’t, but there are so many dead and dying little girls around you, you can’t remember. which one was she? did they tell you, did they need to?

did you hear about anita osebe moi?

she was four years old. she could have been five years old. she could have been ten, or two, or fourteen. she lived in kisii. she could have lived in watamu, or in that town whose name you only learn because a bad thing happened in it, or across the street, or kakamega, or that town in which bad things happen, but not bad enough to make the news. she could have been your your son’s classmate, or the girl you saw holding her mother’s hand in town.

but do you know what he did to her?

you don’t need to hear what he did. you don’t need to hear because you know what men have been doing to women and girls in this country for years and years and years. you do not remember a time when men have not been doing these things to women. you know, and still you want us to tell you exactly what they have done, where they have touched us, where they have hurt us. you know, and still you want us to explain ourselves into graves that have already been dug for us. you know, and still you demand we report it to a system even you don’t believe in. you know and still you act like we are the ones hurting ourselves. we do not need to tell you what he did to her.

did you hear her parents screams making their way across the country?

of course you did. of course you did.
they sounded like a million losses, like many, many shards of pain. i can’t possibly name all the things they sounded like, but of course you heard them. they mingled with the screams from other parents, or from other little girls, or from other women, but of course you heard them.

did they tell you about the dead little girl?
did you hear about anita osebe moi?
do you know what he did to her?
did you hear her parents scream?

it’s time you listened. we are not the damn wind.