Monday, January 25, 2010

You Win. Now. Play Again

Some freedom fighters are more equal than others
Some terrorists get to bury their dead

What about the soldiers?
What about the ones that get dragged into the forest;
headshots; cops taking scalps;
Soulless bodies disintegrating- like video game avatars?
Those ones don’t grin at Game Over!

Some freedom fighters are more equal than others
Some terrorists get to bury their dead

They prostate themselves with the muslims
They genuflect with the Chrisitians
They ride in the limos of politicians:
“The war is over now, cake is ours to keep”
But what about the bushrats facing bombs?

Some freedom fighters are more equal than others
Some terrorists get to bury their dead

Do you remember Jommo Kenyatta?
Do you remember Dedan Kimathi?
One got his prison, one got his freedom:
“We accept their Gods: money; power. The war is over now”
But can the unburied soldier ever be dead?

Some freedom fighters are more equal than others
Some terrorists get to bury their dead

You win. “Now”. Play again

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal: A Letter to Kenyan Muslims

Dear fellow citizens,

On Friday last, a section of you took to the streets of Nairobi to protest against the deportation of a fellow Muslim, the Jamaican born cleric Abdullah al-Faisal. The Kenyan media, which many of you have accused of fuelling Islamophobia and I am with you on that one, informs me that six police men were wounded in that protest. One of them has since succumbed to his injuries. That policeman was shot, isn’t that strange?

As I write this, Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal is being held at the Industrial Area Prison in Nairobi. The government’s plans to deport him seem to have been thwarted by fact that he is on, that bane of many other Muslims, an international no fly list. When the government attempted to send him to the Gambia, the Nigerians refused to grant him a transit visa. I mean, it is nothing personal what the Nigerians did, seeing how one of theirs- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab- (who happens to be a Muslim and on a similar list) embarrassed them last Christmas. Just about the time Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal entered Kenya through the Lunga Lunga border with Tanzania.

But who is this sheikh really? The Brits say that he is a convicted criminal. He was arrested, charged with incitement to murder and stirring hatred, found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. After the first half of his prison term was over, he became eligible for parole at which point the British released him, deported him to Jamaica and banned him from the UK for life.

I do believe that a conviction doesn’t always make one a criminal: bad laws do exist. On the other hand, public opinion rarely brooks reason and so the general perception remains that the sheikh is a ‘criminal’. And, in the interest of the public, foreign ‘criminals’ are arrested and, hopefully, deported.

The arrest itself is telling. Crooked as Kenyan cops are, and granted that the antiterrorism unit that apprehended him is for all intents and purposes a lackey of American imperialism, they were very decent in the process of making the arrest. They said they had nothing on him, he was not being arrested for alleged terrorism activities or connections but because there was a deportation order out on him. They didn’t waterboard him and demand Osama Bin Laden’s cell phone number, they just asked to see his travel documents.

Whatever the Kenyan government had on him, it doesn’t help his case any better that he has two passports with different names. I am made to understand that he converted to Islam when he was sixteen and studied the religion in the Middle East. The question I keep asking myself is, if the passport that says he is Trevor William Forest, is Jamaican- and it should be- was it issued before he was sixteen and a Muslim? But if so, and assuming the guy is 45, hasn’t that passport been renewed, at least once? That is to say that he has knowingly, and with an intention to conceal his identity implied, been carrying two passports with different names. I will not even talk about dishonesty here, but international law demands that this person be arrested and charged. I will not even ask what the nationality on his other passport is because I have already seen someone who needs to be denied entry into any country that considers itself a respectable citizen of the world. No law, no precept in international justice can be used in his defence.

Was he profiled because he was a Muslim? Not really, as the immigration minister, Otieno Kajwang, said: we are targeting him because he has a history of criminality and we just do not want him in this country. (What Alfred Mutua has to say, as always, doesn't count).

Was his deportation legal? No it wasn’t, because it doesn’t seem as though he was given a chance to speak to his lawyer. Or at least a chance to challenge the deportation in a court of law which is what should be allowed him now. In another world, the immigration minister should have resigned for his part in the entire debacle, but that is just too much to ask. In the meantime, before any Muslim goes running on the street yelling: Oh, Islam this, Oh, Islam that, let him first explain to those Kenyans who do not seem to get it what a guy travelling with two passports with two different names has got to do with Islam. Before we find another reason to hate each other, let it be clear that just because one guy, who happens to be a Muslim is apprehended, does not mean that Islam has been apprehended. And if Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal goes on trial, the only people who will put Islam on trial will be his supporters, not the government of Kenya.

BACK TO BLOGS: Retweet or *&%$ Off

This is Potash and I am on my last glass of muratina. It is a new year. Maybe you noticed earlier but I just noticed now. Which is to say that after drinking for the last 30 days and waking up to sobriety every once in a while to see what the whole world was saying and trying to engage them on Twitter and Facebook, I realised that I have been speaking to myself.

I have X number of followers on Twitter and I have Z number of friends on Facebook, but that not withstanding, no one listens to me.

Let us face it, I have been on these interwebs too long and the one thing that has remained a constant is that I am one of the few people who does not tweet inanities. I mean, no one knows what my ablution is about. No, that is too low; no one even knows where I live. But still, as bland retweets go, no one mentions me.

The thing is that I know people who are famous. Not, merely famous online but really, famous. Famous in the real world. People who get to sign up for real writing gigs (which is what I want to be doing). And people who are famous for writing about their toilet.

I know people who are not famous but who still get to travel around the world talking about Africa and all that shit. You know, the Africa that doesn’t exist outside a made up space of: AFRICA. Yes, the Africa in capital letters of new media that says: Africa is not a country. Africa is inventing new media gizmos.

I am tired, drunk and incoherent, and my little corner of Nairobi is cold. But most important of all, I am tired of being used. I am tired of people calling me when they want me to do stuff for them. I am tired of people ‘DMing’ and ‘Inboxing’ me just to see they like the way I think. If you like the way I think, for fucks sake do not tell me, tell it to your world. Your 19 friends on Twitter. Why the hell do you want to keep my genius secret as though I was your second wife?

I am talking a lot of crap now but when this muratina is done, one thing will be certain: I am going back to blogging. The other thing, though not as certain now, is that I am purging my ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ list. That is to say that if you are in my virtual space and you do not to seem to like my nonsense enough to share it with your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, I am cutting you out.

It might sound stupid but what the hell? I am a writer and in this digital media times; these times of ‘press button publishing’ you are as big as your network. And clearly, my network is not as big. Which is to say that POTASH is not big. And, frankly, if I cannot get as big as my friends, then I could as well, get new friends. So, retweet, or bust.

I am out.

A Kenyan Urban Narrative or a variant of it returns as soon as the booze gets out of my head.

In the meantime, thanks to all the people who have kept me in alcohol right through Christmas and new years. I could not have made this decision without you.

For all the people who have failed me in my writing career so far- and you know who you are- *&%^ you. And for all of you who have ignored me online, *&^% you too. And all you that have not paid me for what I wrote: *&^% you too. N.M: *&%$; Dinda; Mambo; Kamwana et al: *&^% you too. Kenyan mainstream media: *&^% you too. Kenyans on Twitter: *&^% you. My friends on Facebook: *&^% you.

Follow me on Twitter only if you are intent on retweeting: @POTASH

P.S: Most important of all, you might have been telling your friends that you know the cat that runs this blog, but between me and you, we know that you do not. You know N.M coz he is a yuppie bastard like you!