I Am Not My Tribe


Sometimes I feel I know nothing about life
But I do know something about Kenya
I come from the gustily windy, hilly terrains of rural Ugenya
Where huts form bungalow sorts of flawless beauty
An ambiance of warm soothing atmosphere
But really, I was born in Pumwani
And all my life
My home has been Nairobi
I’ve gone to school with Wairimus and Mohammeds
Stole pencils that belonged to Cheptoo and Mutisya
Their rubbers had no name tags either
It was outright
We were brothers and sisters of a beautiful nation

Through those dusty years
Growing up playing kalongolongo with my peers
I loved being dad
And mum was mostly always a Taita nyako
Her tiny waist entangled with a yellow leso
Laced with a Swahili proverb that read
Mtaka cha mvunguni, sharti ainame
She served us uji
In Cocacola bottle tops
And we drunk it like our fathers would
Sipping every imaginary drop into our heads
Packed mud in sachets of goodie-goodie
And the wooden block that was the TV
Screened our richness in its silence

I do remember brikicho
How I used to follow Mwende everywhere she used to hide
We always got found together, tipo!
Whenever mama cooked chapati
I always had to steal a piece
And run out to share it with Mumbi
Akello got jealous most of the time
But I loved her still
They had to take turns
Over who would play ‘mother’
No one knew
One day they would make beautiful wives

Kamau was my best friend in primary school
He always passed me the ball whenever it got onto his foot
It was enchanting
And Kipchirchir made sure I didn’t score
Taught us that life is a battle
And we would laugh about it on our way home
Joking to each other
You could never feel alone

She wrote me my first love letter from a girl
I was a shy lot
Growing up from the ghetto
Coming to terms with the realities of life
That adolescence is real
My little omera begun to bubble up
She faced me with such gusto
And in my innocence
Got into my skin to hide

We can sit and pass time over mukimo
I know you fear omena
But ngege is really good
I want another dish of that matoke you made me
Next time I’ll come with kina Nashipai after church
So add some more milk

I love it when we sit together
To talk about our country’s tricky politics
And our funny love lives
Laughing at ourselves in full candour
Life makes more sense this way
Than beefing hatred into our hearts
Over five people who don’t care about us!

I love it when I cry on your shoulders
Seeking for solace
In my drunk sorrows
Because you are my Kenya
And I’ll need you more tomorrow

Do not judge me because of where I’m from
I love you for who you are
My tribe should not be my scar…

Post Author: Eric Onyango Otieno

0 thoughts on “I Am Not My Tribe

  • SpikeBwoy

    (June 21, 2013 - 2:02 am)

    Indeed my tribe should not be my scar…i love this piece bro….nice write.

    • Rixpoet

      (June 21, 2013 - 2:07 am)

      Thank you, Spike. Spread the message. This has to get everyone’s attention.

  • Kwamboka

    (August 13, 2013 - 3:30 pm)

    This is what I call life…am not a pessimist but writing about our wilderbeast migration and the beautiful climate isn’t justice really when it comes to being Kenyan. This is it…the real thing. The truth on the ground. You are not your tribe at all. Rixpoet SALUTE

  • Lydiah Fridah Odero

    (August 13, 2013 - 4:04 pm)

    I love the poem. Good job!

    • Rixpoet

      (August 13, 2013 - 4:33 pm)

      Many thanks, Lydia.

  • divinebinghiwoman

    (August 17, 2013 - 9:49 am)

    so touchin…..no one is born a tribalist,its something our thick heads absorb when we’ve grownup

    • Rixpoet

      (August 17, 2013 - 9:55 am)

      Indeed. Funny how we change against one another when we are grown ups. Very ironical.

  • okoyodennis

    (August 17, 2013 - 9:56 am)

    hahaha now i know you are the one who stole my mwende during our brikichoz eeeh. hehe nice piece bratha, you have painted a clear potrait of how life used to be way back in the 90’s and how it should be now in this 21st’ century. we are past our skin color and past our ethnic differences..

    • Rixpoet

      (August 17, 2013 - 9:59 am)

      hehehe. That should tell you am dangerous. haha. Thanks, man. We surely have a lot to work on our attitude towards each other. Being tribal is only killing us.

  • micalwaga(terrow)

    (August 21, 2013 - 10:20 am)

    what!!Awesome piece you guy! I have always loved such stuff!It feels really personal!

    • Rixpoet

      (December 1, 2013 - 8:57 pm)

      Many thanks, Terrow! Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *