Back at the car, our hero, let’s call him Pepe, watched a slug crawl toward his tire as though it was a giant rubber breast. He took a moment to catch his breath and wondered if he’d left his heartbeat at the foot of the building. The slug became a nipple inside the silver alloy wheel. He saw it crawling over the bank letters warning him of more charges. It made no sense, it was criminal. They were bandits pretending to run a legitimate service…
–Irenosen Okojie, ‘Why is Pepe Canary Yellow?’
The Bible tells the tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the salvation of the righteous. As they flee from the destruction being wreaked on the wicked, they are warned not to look back. One, however, is unable to resist one last glance at the burning hell that she once called home and is instantly turned into a pillar of salt.
Kenya, too, today is in flight. We are running from the flames of five years ago and from the iniquity of the last 50 years. And just like the Lots, the tribal gods who have afforded us escape have warned us not to look back…
–Patrick Gathara, ‘Moving on. To what?’
This time, Balarabe caught the urgency in Baba Idi’s voice. “Haba, take it easy. It’s not like I’m leaving town or something.”
“How do you know? Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
“You are agitated, is something wrong?”
“There’s an election coming up, what do you expect?”
–Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, ‘Baba Idi’s Enclave’
In the years since Kenya’s 2007 elections and their violent aftermath, questions of generational succession and the question of devolution as mandated by the new constitution have come to the fore even as the old political questions remain.
The eighth edition of Kwani? explores questions around politics and Kenya’s 2013 elections by featuring, among others, a memoir on a mixed-tribe family, reflections on peace and violence, and elections travelogues. Among the fictions are narratives on race and gender relations as well as on coups, riots and IDPs.
This edition aims to ask hard questions with poetry.