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International Reflective Writing


Mary Kimani (Kenyan)

Mary Kimani is a journalist. She covered the Rwanda genocide trials at the UN court in Tanzania, as well as the peace processes in Burundi and the DRC for Internews and Reuters. She has been writing poetry from a young age. One of her earliest pieces, Children of an Inferior God, was included in a British Council Anthology published in 1991. Recently, she published a collection of poems under the title - He Didn't Die Easy: The Search for Hope Amidst Poverty, War and Genocide.

Am I not allowed to weep?

Cease assisting,
let me die in peace.
Don’t you know?
in some cases,
death is preferable to life,
preferable to pain
preferable to anguish
preferable to hope.
Hope is like an open sore
open and vulnerable to the elements.
each additional injury
making it sore and sensitive.
And in the midst of this unceasing rain,
Drenching us cold,
Soaking our mud walled rooms,
Trickling through the pock marched roof
What do you want me do to or say
Will you still demand of me
Strength and courage
Am I not allowed to weep?
And cry
And groan and moan?
Am I not allowed to weep?

Refugee camp

I imagined many things...
But not this-
Not misery raining from the sky
not homes long overgrown
not miles of farmland abandoned
un-harvested produce- rotting
not acres of humanity
acres of miserable
pitiful humanity
soaking in the rain.


In the mulch around the budding trees, insects crawl about.
Snakes, salamanders and frogs
slithering and jumping about everywhere.
The waters are dirty. There are no fish in the sea.
We live small dirty lives,
damp,miserable,cold lives,
full of crawling things
that slitter in the underbrush.
The nights are getting longer and darker the sun shines no more.
Weeds have overgrown the farms,
fungus thrives on every spot,
eating out the very life of us
little by little.
Yeasts and other scavengers
have found residence in and on our skin.
It is as if the very heart of us is poisoned,
covered by a morass and accumulation of dirty fungi
and putrid, dying flesh.
The trees around us are bent by the weight of
the ugly emotions in the atmosphere,
I look at you and see my ugliness mirrored there.

Interview with a genocide prisoner...

The valley is steeped,
green grass as far as the eye can see...
And it covers a mass grave.
I know not the others
But I know a child lies there,
A child I put to death.
Carved him out with a knife
Into pieces.
I did not look to his face
Afraid to acknowledge what I had done in my heart
But it has not helped.
That green valley is in my mind
I carry it everywhere I go
The mass grave is in my mind
The bones are in my mind
The dead bodies are buried in my conscience,
I cannot flee
I cannot flee.

Prisoner of war

Pain holds me prisoner
The dungeon deep, cold and moss grown.
Each day, the plays for me
Memories from the war.
I stare constantly at vistas
Filled with wailing mothers
And non existent fathers.
And my soil filled hands
Give testimony
To the numbers we have buried.
Pain hold me prisoner.
His dungeon deep, cold and moss grown.

Waiting To Die

I am the living walking dead.
My life, scattered-
Buried in hundreds of graves around this place.
tiny pieces of my life, scattered, dismembered.
Then I,
walking about,
half insane
waiting to die so that together we can be whole



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