We’re going to get you simba, we’re going to get you! MUHAHAHA, MUHAHAHAH, MUHAHAHA!


“This is the plan: we will import 135 wild animals from Kenya, or 98% of the total, thus leaving behind only 3 old lions. Then we ship our haul to Bangkok where we will hang them from the rafters and slowly stick hot pins into their paws while depriving them of sleep. We’re going to get you simba, we’re going to get you! MUHAHAHA, MUHAHAHAH, MUHAHAHA!”

Forget corruption, forget political murders, tsunamis and terrorist bombings, there is a new scourge in Kenya: animals are suffering. The speak-to-power members of our ‘civil society’ are as ever ready to step to the breach and put a stop to injustice wherever it rears its ugly head. Word on the street is that in the past few months there have been night vigils held outside Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi to protest against the sending of Kenyan wildlife to Thailand. Those Thais, you just know that they spend most of their time in Bangkok twirling their little brown thumbs and laughing maniacally as they invent unusual new tortures. Their record speaks for itself. In August 2004, for instance, there was an international uproar – at least among animal welfare groups – when 3 out of 115 orangutans died of pneumonia in a Bangkok zoo. Earlier, 32 ‘frightened, wide-eyed baby orangutans, many hugging each other’ were found in the same ‘cramped private Thai zoo’ (see story here). The zoo owners have much to answer for. There were clearly Crimes Against Primates being carried out on the premises. It might even have been that the 32 babies were being raised to become fighters in Bangkok’s famous orangutan boxing. The cruelty. Oh, the sheer mad, evil genius of it all.

They came to Nairobi in November to hoodwink us. Taking time off from his busy schedule of trying to deal with a small constitutional matter, declining national life expectancy, hunger, terrorist attacks, widespread crime, official corruption and a failed state just north of the border, our president took time to engage in the sophisticated arena of international geopolitics. Signing a solemn Memorandum of Understanding with Thai Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra, President Kibaki earned Kenya a cool 80 million shillings in return for sending the wild animals to a private zoo in Thailand. What was Mr. Shinawatra thinking? I mean c’mon. Clearly, his ambassador to Nairobi had not informed him that MOUs are really not the way to go in State House. But that is a matter for another discussion.

I demand that we require the Thais to sign and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture before Kenya sends animals to them. We do not want any more Abu Ghraibs after all. Imagine, if you have the courage, what fiendish plots our elands, dik dik and hippos could be subjected to. It makes me quail, yet I want to be true to my optimistic nature.

I have a dream that one day my nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all elephants, orangutans and little black boys are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the pavements of the Intercontinental, a great cause shall come to fruition: that the bad people who like doing bad things to wildlife will stop and be good and do good things. I have a dream that one day, one day, that I too shall drive a four wheel drive jeep to the national park, and that there, waiting with open arms, will be a Maasai warrior who shall join with me in sustainably loving nature. From the slopes of Mt Kenya to the palm trees of Lamu, I dream that this land will be emptied of its detritus of selfish humans who have transformed an oasis of noble beasts into a desert sweltering with the rot of poaching and tourism. My friends, I have a dream that our apes, fauna and snakes will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their hides or the texture of their scales, but by the amount of conservation funding they attract to our shores. I have a dream today. By any means necessary. Yeah.

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About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

14 Responses to We’re going to get you simba, we’re going to get you! MUHAHAHA, MUHAHAHAH, MUHAHAHA!

  1. Keguro says:

    My friend.

    You clearly need a break.

    This thesis writing and blogging is too much.

  2. MMK says:

    keguro – all I have to say is this: muhahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa! sob…

  3. Anonymous says:

    MMK,

    You are becoming increasingly mad. But I love your madness.

    Also, I’ve tried to be very patient with you – seeing as you have a thesis to write and all, but kijana, you simply cannot go around making promises that you don’t intend to keep.

    I’ve been keenly waiting for the rest of the essay, “The Pain Machine: The Collapse of the Gikuyu Social Contract”, but you seem to have forgotten to post the final version. MMK, you said the essay would be finalized “in the coming months – probably in late September”. Now it’s December and soon going to be 2006, and this reader is tired of waiting.

    Do I sound impudent? Well I have good reason. You simply have no right to go around posting a *draft* that is so profound, it seems to resonate with my entire existence and then just leave me. Not fair. So I’m asking nicely, where’s the rest of it?

  4. MMK says:

    anon – you sound like my thesis supervisor. In fact are you him? Cause then I shall have to repeay my usual answer: it’s coming, I promise.

    Honestly, I have been working on the pain machine. Slowly. Tell me what you think of the subject.

  5. Keguro says:

    Since anonymous–who I suspect is one of my favorite online thinkers–directed toward “The Pain Machine,” I scanned it quickly.

    (I grow increasingly lazy; I only do detailed readings of diss-related work, you know how that goes)

    Three things came to mind (and a peripheral, which is, I suspect our mothers are good friends, little clues here and there, but that’s neither here nor there)

    1. Louise White’s work on prostitution and Derek Peterson’s recent work on translation, but which also discusses accusations of prostitution as a means of policing gendered and ethnic identity during colonialism. (I much prefer Speaking with Vampires than her earlier work on prostitution in Nairobi, but I’m in a minority here.)

    Point being, women’s roles have always been contentious among the Gikuyu. If you get a chance, and have access to it, (re)read Uria andu-anja maatunyirwo hinya wa muhiriga ni arume in Mihiriga ya Agikuyu.

    (Another digression might be to examine how the concept andu-anja also written as andu-a-nja or muka tells a certain narrative about women’s ethnic citizenship.)

    I’ve always thought Wangu wa Makeri-loyalist or not-was an interesting personality to consider women’s increasingly changing role-and I’m yet to see any re-visionings of her by African feminists, in ways that would complicate the misogyny I detect in accounts. (She slept her way to power; she was unusually cruel; interesting claims, especially when co-authored by men who then say things like “women cannot keep secrets” and “women can never be equal to men.”) But again, I digress.

    2. Did the economic reversals of the 80s and 90s simply make apparent a form of labor that had been hitherto unrecognized, and, further, translate that labor into changed kinship relations? My mother’s generation, and the one before, always worked. And, at least I know from the Kiambu women, there has always been a strong tradition of women owning their own pieces of land and bank accounts.

    (At some point, you might have to examine the possible role of the 1985 women’s conference; my mother and sisters came home singing “we shall overcome.” Even then, it was an interesting choice from a securely middle-class woman and pointed, I think, to the hidden system of patriarchal abuse you detail; I suspect that feminist historians wanting to write on such abuse will find scant help in official records. But again, another digression.)

    3. If you’ve had a chance to read Caroline Elkins-yes, we don’t need the Harvard don telling us about our lives-I wonder how you’d read the gendered dynamics post-Mau Mau.

    I suspect, and this is the thrust of my own work, that ethnic identities can be sources for democratic institutions if we can learn to mobilize them appropriately.

    Peterson has this great passage on the Gikuyu as mbari ya atiriri, which he glosses as the people founded through discourse. I take it as a powerful and under-utilized model for thinking through the apparent arguments among and between the Gikuyu, not as fractures in the social, but a powerful means of creating the social. Such a concept, by no means unique to the Gikuyu, might translate well into a democratic project grounded in discourse.

    Phew.

    Now I need tea.

    (Hastily written, excuse typos)

  6. MMK says:

    keguro – Thanks for the tips bwana, you have given me the psych to get back to that essay. I feel like something broke in many men that I know, or perhaps there was nothing to break and they were always this way and only imagined themselves as broken. When it comes to kiuk men, in probably over generalised fashion, I believe we are dealing less with patriarchy than with a broken patriarchy. This is quite a different animal from a matriarchy or even an equalling of the status and roles of the sexes. The men I saw about me made lots of gruff, patriarch-like sounds but did not act in ways that kept to their part of such a contract. Perhaps they had never done so, but what I think I saw was a shell of an idea of what men were supposed to be. And awareness that this was a shell that could only be filled with alcohol, some sex and a whole bunch of violence released on wives.

  7. Anonymous says:

    No, it’s not your thesis supervisor, its a Gikuyu woman, who shares your pain.

    To me, the Pain Machine is a piercing and honest exploration of the proverbial, “something went terribly wrong”. I grew up in a very dysfunctional Gikuyu household (I refuse to call it a home). Unlike your parents, mine did not divorce, but the situation was so ridiculously grotesque, that my childhood dream was that they would separate.

    You hit the nail right on the head when you wrote about the “massive Gikuyu public relations effort”. There is no better way to articulate the myriad “ways of hiding”. I remember as a child, being coached endlessly by my mother on how to “answer” questions from outsiders – this is after rumors had circulated on account of her persistently swollen face and black eye. It is such cruelty on a child, to experience abuse and pain and yet have to bear the burden of pretending to the world that all is well. I remember commenting when you wrote about your mother’s life, because her story was like a response to my never ending question – what was my mother’s alternative destiny.

    The other theme that I liked was the exploration of the paranoid mentality that middle-class Agikuyu have with other ethnicities, especially the Luo. My own example is my good-for-nothing-alcoholic-moron of a father. When I was leaving Kenya for further studies abroad, these were the words of wisdom from the man, “just make sure you don’t marry a jaluo”. Isn’t it laughable? But what I hate most is the hypocrisy. I was brought up by a wonderful Luo man and a Ugandan woman (a/k/a the household help). These were my surrogate parents, who loved and supported me, as my *real* parents wrecked continuous havoc in our lives.

    Your exploration of the consequences of the collapse of the social contract on our economic lives is right on point. Especially the contrasts with the Kenyan Asian community.

    I’ve had to make some tough choices to renegotiate my life. I cut off ties with my parents a couple of years ago. I know this sounds mean and vindictive, but I desperately needed to create a safe and sane space for myself. I do however realize that this is not the best long-term solution.

    As you can see, I could go on forever, so let me try and end my rumbling. In short, your essay speaks to many of our lives and I’m curious to see what direction it takes.

  8. MMK says:

    Anon – I feel where you are coming from, I do. Thanks for being so candid.

    Have you read James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son? If not, try and get hold of it. How painful memory can be, sometimes even worse than the actual moments. Baldwin writes that ‘one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.’ And yet mucking about the pain and the anger, trying to ‘deal’ with it, can be crippling and paralysing. So the recourse for me has been to unconsciously edit my memories for content: a little salt added here, a slice of pain binned there. Denial and amnesia inhabit whole acres of my brain, and thus, as I turn thirty-five, I feel as if some giant mind Dirt Devil has robbed me of much of my past. The injuries of childhood can never be overcome. They leave a scar tissue on which we build our lives and the extent of ‘healing’ is only a matter of the thickness of that tissue. Under it can lie, in my experience, a festering wound that can be made incalculably worse by the death of the wounding party. Were this to happen, and of course it always does sooner or later, the throbbing of the wound cannot be stilled since treatment requires that the blade that caused it be identified. I am glad that you have found some peace for yourself; that is no small accomplishment. Yet I hope that you are not too lonely with these terrible memories because it is the oddest thing that one sometimes needs the company of the villain. I do not know why this is so but it is for me, and I suspect for a lot of other people. I hope that you remain safe and at peace, and that your mother finds a measure of the same for herself. I also imagine that your father was in an agony, an inexcusable one for he sought to pass it on, and that the sins he committed will like a boomerang turn on him and perhaps even leave him a ruin.

    I think that this is a situation that a lot of people have gone through. Would you mind if I moved some of these comments into a post? What you said is something that needs to be heard by more of us.

  9. Keguro says:

    Too much blogging on your blog.

    Last I was home, I had an interesting-perhaps strange-conversations with my sister about Gikuyu women and the men who beat them. It ended up being geographic in nature: In Kiambu, apparently, women castrate men who beat them, or leave them.

    I believe in Kirinyaga, beating is seen as routine.

    Whatever the comparisons, I thought them interesting-and tragic-but also telling.

    I was born *too late* or perhaps *at the right time* but my siblings remember moments of domestic abuse.

    (The *growing pains* of marriage, it’s called. Ways of hiding. Nice. Was there not a case reported in the Nation this year of a woman who tried to report child abuse and was disowned by her village?)

    Something broke. A cultural Ituika, in which power was not handed over, responsibility not inculcated, increasingly punitive wage labor implemented for men, we could detail a history of male psychic and physical violence. (To my mind, Elspeth Huxley’s Red Dust tells the story Kenyatta and his compatriots refused to tell, of psychic violence.

    Okay, you’ve obviously tapped into a discussion that needs to happen-and needs to be ongoing.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My Kikuyu horror story is shockingly similar and unfortunate; I doubt though, that Kyuks have the monopoly on domestic dysfunctional and abusive households. Which brings me to question if this is a case of us the “Uhuru generation” applying our cultural standards to our parent’s generation? I am not addressing the moral argument but I am interested in the notion that I judge my alcoholic, womanizing, abusive and selfish father with a vocabulary and mindset that is not anywhere in his mental space? I doubt if the men of his generation have the social and cultural nomenclature to process the misery and hurt they have caused.

  11. Anonymous says:

    MMK and Keguro,

    Have I told you lately that I adore you guys:)

    I was in a rather somber mood last night when I wrote my previous comments. And first, I have to apologize for unloading on MMK’s blog. He has been very patient with us blogging on his blog.

    I also want to apologize for remaining anonymous. Especially because I’ve met MMK in person and it feels so rude to communicate with someone who has no idea who you are. Also, after I directed my sister to Keguro’s blog, we realized that we know him too. Keguro, we grew up in the same neck on the woods and we remember you quite fondly. Keguro’s home was “at the top of the hill” and we lived down the hill, off the “Crescent”. I don’t think he’d remember us, we are a little older than you, but we do remember your older siblings. His older brother was rather infamous as I was growing up:)

    MMK, I have no problem with you sharing our dialogue as a post, should you decide to. And I do thank you for your responses. I’ll re-read Notes of a Native Son. I do suspect that I have been holding on to most of my pain for selfish reasons, but interaction with the “parents” had become so difficult, with each trying to pull you in different directions, that I just threw my hands in the air and gave up.

    Keguro, you made some really interesting comments too. Like being born *too late*. See, I’m the eldest, so I sometimes think mine was the biggest brunt. My youngest brother seems to have coped quite well and has a relationship with our mother. Although I suspect that he had some closure when he once beat up our father (he totally deserved it). Okay, I’m stopping now, before I spill any more grisly tales.

    Thanks again to both of you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    i think this is an important issue..not to be belittled. can you tell me if there are still night-time vigils outside intercont or anything else i can do? i’m going back to nairobi in a few days. thanks very much!

  13. MMK says:

    Anon – Thanks for writing. Would you join the night-time vigil if you could? Please tell me why this particular issue of 135 animals being flown from Kenya to Thailand should exercise you so.

  14. Ms K says:

    LOL I go away for a bit and you lose it?! I LOVE it!! Muahahahahahaha hihi *hic*

    And then, and then, and then…. the “conversation” in the comments… Anon, yes, your story is similar to many others. Once when I was talking to a friend of mine, who seems, sadly, to be having a very hard time of taking a hold of herself as a young woman, she shared a story so similar to mine that I laughed instead of crying. It is sheer madness you see, that an entire generation of us are walking around wounded.

    And worse, some of us never ever find our way out of the agony of childhood and grow into pale shadows of ourselves, constantly seeking acceptance and a sense of self in the wrong places.

    I believe that if there was a way for “us” to have some sort of dialogue, a sort of group healing… it would help some of us at least to be… less wounded(?)

    When once I tried to explain it to my boyfriend – I was drunk and was not completely coherent but the pain just wouldn’t stay behind the walls so carefully crafted for the purpose – I felt that he really, really wanted to help me. But he seemed stuck in the horror of it. He kept asking me to explain my father’s actions, AS IF I COULD. As if I could. As if I should!

    Ok, I see I’m getting to that place where everything spills out unbidden. But I think this is something that should be done before we pass the sins/failures of our fathers to our children. Of course that is now my new fear, seeing as I have escaped the destructive clucthes of my father’s influence. Shall I, God forbid, pass this on?

    God help me.

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