Archive for November, 2008

Building The Nation

By Henry Barlow

Today I did my share
In building the nation.
I drove a Permanent Secretary
To an important urgent function
In fact to a lunch at the Vic.

The menu reflected its importance
Cold bell beer with small talk,
Then fried chicken with niceties
Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs
Ice-cream to cover the stereotype jokes
Coffee to keep the PS awake on return journey.

I drove the Permanent Secretary back.
He yawned many times in back of the car
Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked,
Did you have any lunch friend?
I replied looking straight ahead
And secretly smiling at his belated concern
That I had not, but was slimming!

Upon which he said with seriousness
That amused more than annoyed me,
Mwanainchi, I too had none!
I attended to matters of state.
Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know,
And friend, it goes against my grain,
Causes me stomach ulcers and wind.
Ah, he continued, yawning again,
The pains we suffer in building the nation!

So the PS had ulcers too!
My ulcers I think are equally painful
Only they are caused by hunger,
Not sumptuous lunches!

So two nation builders
Arrived home this evening
With terrible stomach pains
The result of building the nation –
– Different ways.


November 30, 2008 at 6:32 pm 75 comments

RIP Judah

The e-mail from my aide in Cherangany was as simple as it was heavy.

My friend Judah had died, it said.

His young widow and child were downcast with sorrow it added.

Judah’s mum, also a widow, was in great sorrow too.

A cellphone number I had come to call often before was provided once again, with a request that I find time to talk to the widow.

Tomorrow, much of my civic ward – comprising such villages as Marura, Chebarus, Orombee, Maili Nane and Sibanga – will burry Judah.

In my attempt for parliament last year, Judah had come out strongly for me, before wavering a little later on.

But we had remained good friends, and I had visited him at home and work in Sibanga not a few times.

Much earlier, he and his dad had electrified my village with basic technology with which they were making instant murusik; we loved that kind of milk to bits!

Judah, my contemporary, struggled with his faith and identity for some long while, but had – towards the end of last year – found consolation in faith with the Anglican Church at Sibanga trading centre.

It is a shame I never honoured his invitation to visit with his congregation and, in particular, the youth ministryhe often talked about.

Apart from murusik and Church, nothing will endear Judah in my memory more than his industrious and pioneering efforts at good maize farming on his parents’ farm as well as basic IT at Sibanga.

Maize farming is a big thing at the place I call home, and those who do it well are widely respected.

His trading stall at Sibanga was one of the few in Cherangany with a PC, and when I visited the center at the beginning of my campaigns, he had been among the few to ask me what I meant by “introducing internet usage” to educated Cherangany youth.

And he also had a few tips for my soul from deep within the campaigns of some of my opponents.

A politician does not get such voters on the trail often.

I will miss him.

November 13, 2008 at 2:38 am 7 comments

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