06 Mar



Benjamin was the my Grandad.  He was a famous independence day fighter. We heard as children in the hushed whispers of adults.

He had been the Cabinet Minister for Civil Service at Independence, the largest employer in the country.

His grave is on a small hill on my Grandmothers large farm, capped with an elaborate marble half-pyramid. There are always fresh flowers.

A beautiful red tree grows beside it.

My Grandmother has three beautiful trees growing in her garden. One for Benjamin, one for Alice, one for Mary.

A brook runs through her property, it used to carry gold. Long ago, the village fished there for Gold – ya, a Goldrush. The place is called Kakamega and it still has Gold, I’ve seen it. My Auntie Edah has taken me there.

My Aunties are a hoot…they’re a large family – or were…eight girls, two boys.

Benjamin was a large man in society.

He had a close association with the British Colonials.

I often wonder how this worked out with the villagers.

Anyway, in 1968 he was taken in for an appendix removal. The surgeons left a pair of scissors in his stomach and he died shortly after.

Apparently, though he was all for leaving Colonial concerns intact, BUT, they would have to share land.

He comes to me in dreams and calls my name – his name – Shitsugane.

We called my grandmother  Koko. I never spoke her language. She crooned to me in languages that only children hear.

She’s told me all about my mother running away when she was sixteen. She was the only one who made my boyfriend comfortable when I brought him home.

I know…THAT didn’t last. Imagine, a blond, blue-eyed Ohio boy in love with the Son of a Prominent Kenyan man. Ah, we tried though, we did.

My mother once told me that when my twin sister and I were born, she hated us.

I was shocked, I asked why.

She said we were born talking to each other, that we didn’t need her expect for feeding.

My grandmother never re-married. Forty years. I wonder what that was like.

She used to sit under the trees and tell me,

That they are feeding off their bones.


-visit my poetry blog  – Tomatos, Oranges and Other Fruit

photo –

1 Comment

Posted by on March 6, 2011 in postaday2011



One response to “Shitsugane

  1. Tilly Bud

    March 7, 2011 at 12:07

    You could get a book out of this. Fascinating.


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