The Hunters of Akebu-lani

Thousands of our kinds were killed that time, but history won’t remember a single one. We arrived at Mutara wa Tsatsu in the forgotten years. We were invited by our dreams, smiling at our future, our young romping about like lion cubs. We came seeking peace but never saw the signs of nightmare to come. We rowed for many days upon foam crowned blue seas, defeating the veritable tempest of the seas. As the black silk of the night wrapped us we touched the shore. As petals of sunrise gently curled out, we woke-up to our dreams, in a land yet lived, where waters never tasted drooled. Where marine and terrestrial worlds collide, where the eyes of falcon and the roar of lions rule, we called the land Mutara wa Tsatsu, our land, our home, we remnants of the nine tribes, the remnants of the hunted, the heroes unsung with brave blood of our ancestors coursing in our veins like ruffled rivers, we the Giriama, the bakers of freedom.

We are the descents of Akebu-lani, the mother of mankind. Many stories have been told by our glorious dead. Most have been lost in the ruins of time.One, which I suppose you have heard a wandering fiddler sing with teary eyes is our story, but now, it is a speckle in our memories, a distant echo in our hearts. Many stories have been told by foreigners of our history and bandits upon our land, by blacksmiths of misery and slavers, by miscreants and thieves, by hunters of man and hunters of future, by assassins of hope and blacksmiths of dusk, the enemies of history have told our story, don’t believe it, don’t believe them ,believe this story, our story, it lurks and screams from the fog of our history, aching in our hearts from sores that pester, making this writer convulse from unspeakable terror unleashed on us, terror that left Mutara wa Tsatsu grinning with skulls. This is the true story, the story the criminals of yesterday, and the deceptors of our young want us to forget ,we shan’t forget, our pain, our sorrow, the cost of our freedom because anything horrible you can imagine happened to us, actually happened. This story should never be forgotten.

——

Upon gold-speckled shore, two sat, their nascent souls kicking in tender shell of youth, velvety whispers drowned by the azure voice of the sea. Beguiled by foamy ribbon of blue sea, ribbon that shrank to the oblivion, Mwarandu’s arms harmlessly hang round Mwakioi’s shoulder, their fingers intertwined in passion just like their hearts. Mwakio’s lush lips formed a cupid’s bow, and provoked by love, the two swapped spit.

Souls galloped with spasms. Muddled  rhymes beat in the rib-cage, not balladry, yet poesy ,dictation of their hearts, the music of love, Mwakio’s eyes sparkled with liquid silver; the bearded Mwarandu’s, too, corneas locked in lavish. Melting from effect of each other. One drop fell, then another, a drop of bliss, of passion, of future bursting with colors, ripples and gleams, of reminiscences, a flow from their souls, destined to each other’ heart. Mwarandu son of Menza and Mwakio daughter of Zighe clasped onto each other, tangled like a yarn, woven with threads of passion. Their eyes saw rainbows of hope – the rainbows you see when it softly rains over meadows, the band of color that paints periwinkle skies, the spectral arch you smile when it beams over emerald fields.

‘I would not have known love had I not been loved by you. You are made of loyalty, forgiveness and selflessness. You poured bliss upon my heart, my love for you cannot be bought with Kingdom’s love like honey melted from Mwakio’s lips.’

‘Oh love, you are the darkest paradise my heart has always longed for, a dew kissed night,’ the lad brittle voice pealed in her heart. ‘With whole-hearted devotion my love you have earned. You the beauteous, the hand-picked and peculiar pearl of womankind’

And when the twilight appeared dressed in swirl of mauve, orange and gold, Mwarandu son of Menza and Mwakio daughter of Zighe entwined their hands. To their peaceful village-Mutara wa Tsatsu, two swans, drifted, tender waves of bliss stroking their hearts. Sighing in their hear were blissful notes, a sanguine tune rippling through rib cage, to the limitless cosmos, and eternity.

‘Our baby’s little legs curl around my womb. I feel miniature fingers of our scion tenderly stroking my belly. My heart is warmed by sunshine I have never felt before,’ Mwakio the daughter of Zighe cooed.

‘By the grace of ancestors, we shall embrace our star of hope before spell that follows the seventh Moon.’

Mwakio: What name shall we give our baby? 
Mwarandu: We shall name the bond of our blood Nyota!

Mwakio: Yes, Nyota! 
Mwarandu: Nyota will be great in the dominion of his own. Valor will inhabit his heart. Darkness will never drown his glow.

Mwakio: Nyota will be an envoy of bliss. Will twinkle and speckle the hopeless voids with pulses of hope.
Mwarandu: He will be an heir of courage, with rectitude of a warrior. Nyota never to turn tail, and will from noble pursuits he will return unarmed.

Mwakio: Nyota will be made of gracious mystery, adept in courage, fortunate and safe in it. A wandering fiddler will sing of Nyota’s majesty. Nyota’s name will be graven in books and stone tablets. A legend stories are made of.

Mwarandu: The mighty of universe will order the steps of Nyota, and the nine hills of Mijikenda will be dazzled by the mystery of Nyota.

——

It is strange how things change. The swirls of orange seemed to change into spits venom over Mutara wa Tsatsu and blood crescent moon appeared over Giriama land. The very familiar color darkness fell, with it toothy cold, the cold that gnaws bones and numbs the mind.

 It is then screams so terrible echoed from Mutara wa Tsatsu, cries of wild panic, bordering terror, echoing in the ears. Mutara was Tsatsu, a village that had prospered in grinning peace since the mist was stirred.

The wails rooted the two; Mwakio the daughter of Zighe clung on Mwarandu and peed on herself.

Stand like a statue or sprint to action?  Heed to warrior’s call or be poltroon?  His well fed fingers curled around Kisu the sword, decision made.

There stood a massive Baobab strongly holding onto the ground, great for cover. Because of its low spreading arms, Mwarandu pleaded with his pregnant bride to hide amongst the branches, and wished to go alone, to investigate the turmoil. Mwakio was vain at restraining him, and so Mwarandu’s strong limbs sprang away with agility of youth, his heart full of courage, and pity for his sad woman.

——

Upon Gongoni hills Mwarandu son of Mwandime stood, the warrior of Giriama saw monstrous tongues of fire lick up Mutara wa Tsatsu. Great odd shapes of smoke like ghosts twisting up into the void. The land that grinned peacefully since the mist of time lay ruined before him. While Mwarandu inhaled the intoxication, wrath that knows no bounds frothed in his guts, and he hasted down the steep gorge, so that he may battle the marauders. One hand tightly reined on boulders and the other held his good sword-Kisu which shone like fire in the blood crescent moon.

Weapons clang the night air and echoed amongst Gongoni and Marafa hills. The good Sword-Kisu felled down thirty hunters of man.

The attacker’s murderer’s fire and thunder spiting weapons killed Mwarandu’s two uncle-Mwamganga, Mganga a Mburuga -the diviner and his elder brother-Makwere, Mganga wa Kumbo –the healer. Gone was Mwarandu’s grandmother-Mwajuma. She had coddled forty grandchildren, and given husband care instruction to a dozen daughters-in-law, and kept his three husbands blissful.

Soul upon soul blurred, roses plucked too soon. Fathers, sons and future, mothers, daughters and tomorrow; scores fell never to never stir again. The future of Mijikenda took a foggy road .Darkness engulfed   tomorrow because women and men no longer recognizable as humans lay still. Some eyes struggled to move.

 Faint groans came from rabble. The last sobs of babies groping to breastfeed but mothers’ tits had long frozen. Mother lay lifeless; tiny voices floated through forever night. A fatally wounded mother faintly held her hurt baby. The Baby’s little cry rattled in slow gasps. Baby’s little fingers failed to reach for withering tits. Baby sucked acrid air. Baby’s soul crumbled on her fingertips. Mama’s lashes brimmed heavy with tears. Death in scythe appeared. Death’s dark sockets stared at mama and child, now cold. Death crouched closer. Death lifted a scythe. A blow landed. The blood eclipse darkened, mother’s soul spilled out.

Sorely spent Mwarandu saw an attacker aim at a pregnant woman. Mwarandu hurled his Kisu. The Arab fell like a Baobab.

 He did not recognize the woman at first, she wailed, lurched over wounded woman, her mother!

Mwarandu recognized her and cried.

‘Run, fly!  Mwakio go!’

With these words Mwarandu fell from a shot on the rib. A child of the land was surrounded on all sides by the Marauding Arabs. Mwarandu fell a victim to the hunters of man, the ones that history will never call gangsters, the bandits who came by boats, the hunters of man, and the slavers.

——

A morning of dreary air hang over Mutara wa Tsatsu, the land of Mijikenda, the nine tribes, Mutara wa Tsatsu lay in long slumber. Huts rendered no more than frayed piles of debris. Wisps of smoke curled up. The smell of blood invited vultures and hyenas for a human feast.

A train of young women and men, barely clothed, captured, metal shackled captives were frog-marched from the fallen Mutara wa Tsatsu, to an imposing edifice by the sea. Their necks sore, some harboring acacia thorns deep in their flesh, some backs sliced and bloodied from severe lashing, faces with streams of blood and sweat.

That edifice! A gigantic stone devoid of love and charm of a grave, an edifice built out of hate, built to mutilate human dignity, built by the hunters of man, the slavers, men who came by boat to take and never give, never to love, never to respect the natives. And so the engines of evil were at work in the edifice inspecting the ‘goods’, ‘the creatures’, ‘the wild heathens ‘as they were called, not scantily. They desired the ‘goods’ with full- set of teeth, strong at bone and full breasts and glow of youth. The rest were chopped off.

——

In the woeful morning on the third day, ‘the goods’ were whipped out of dungeon for auction to the Portuguese merchants. So that Portuguese can sell them at profit for use as slaves on coffee, tobacco, cocoa, sugar and cotton plantations in the Cape Verde and Madeira islands in the eastern Atlantic. Mwarandu, was found straight limbed men- and in every aspect strong- with good teeth like pomegranates, and so Mwarandu was traded for five bottles of wine.

——

Ship by ship by sea shore was loaded. Mwarandu cried with more strength than sea waves, and his throat became sore from wails, and Mwarandu son Menza spoke to Mwakio daughter of Zighe, as if Mwakio was listening.

‘Sorry those hunters of hope snatched me away from you. Sorry that my arms were shackled, my wings clipped. Sorry that I did not fight harder for our love, for Mutara wa Tsatsu, for our tribe the Giriama, for the nine tribes of Mijikenda.

‘I wish could tell you that I will return Mwaki, and enfold us, and enfold Nyota, the bond of our blood- tour scion.

‘Mwakio, do not nurse a secret hope that I will return to Mutara wa Tsatsu. I wish you love, I wish you all the love I pledged. Mwakio, do not be alone in the world. Be mindful of the love of another man, marry and find happiness in the bliss of marriage. Drink from quenching cup of dreams we dreamt together.’  

A Mother collapsed for she could not exist without her only child, Mwandime whom she loved with the fierceness of a hurricane. Father tried to smile at his daughter once more.

Ship by ship upon the waves set sail. The horizon of the land they knew as home disappeared behind, and there was not a single dry eye that was left in the Giriama land. The noses of the captives caught the familiar smell of darkness, darkness fell and closed the day, and so they never again saw the light.

Bound together, the slaves were packed tightly into tiers and crammed below the decks under lock and key. The low ceiling did not allow them to sit upright. The Atlantic horrendously cold. The oxygen levels so low that candles would not kindle.

The captives withered like scrubs. A malnourished boy cried in such a desolate way that slavers could not bear to listen for long. The frail like pieces of refuse were tossed into bottomless belly of the Atlantic. From the deep dark blue the strong hand of death claimed his soul.

 Scores upon scores succumbed to beatings. A woman cried for water and was offered drops strongly impregnated with salt.

A large number of slaves who had been bundled inside vessels’ bowels were murdered by crew, cooked and served with rice to other captives.

The poet cried:

In this endless sea of dusk

Who can tell how much long the light will battle the dusk

 Who can tell the fate of man when he reaches the edge without a sign

When shall the Lord of light arise and scatter the dusk

 Will slaves ever be free from dungeons?

How long will eternity of despair end

Who can tell if the warrior of dawn will return with the lords of rainbow?

Who for sure can say we shall escape this nightmare?

Who can say a void man; a man sterile of faith has hope of eternity

Who can say this sea of dusk is not a blinding eternity?

And who can truly say faith cures it?

Will faith resurrect and speak for self?

−−−

Five captors crouched into the dim deck and loosened a girl’s hands and feet and dragged her. There were almost out when Mwarandu screamed. The crew turned their turbaned heads.

‘Please slacken my limbs a moment, my lord,’ said Mwarandu, ‘that I may utter a prayer.’

‘A sacred wish, I pray to my ancestors to bless our journey, I have with seen with my very seer eyes monstrous storm heading our way, I beg for your safety to loosen me so that I can pray for safety of you my lords and  for safe arrival.’

 His arms were loosened, and Mwarandu asked the captives and crew close eyes prayers and each to call their gods. While everybody closed their eyes in sacred reverence, Mwarandu slipped to the deck’s entrance and closed the metallic door from inside.

With veritable strength, Mwarandu charged at the miscreants and slew them all with his bare hands. In the main hold beneath the dark and dank decks, he found a rusty file and sawed through the shackles of the captives. The men dared went up on deck and, armed with knives, attacked the crew, triumphantly gaining control of LaMeli. Mwarandu suffered a fractured arm. Twenty crew were condemned into voracious belly of the sea. Some crew were spared so that they could guide the ship back Akebu-lani, the motherland  of mankind.

Mwarandu and his fighters ordered La Meli the ship sail to East coast of Akebu-Lani, the motherland of mankind, the home of the Giriamas. He made the survivors understand  that in the high seas there is wonder beyond your comprehension, fears waiting to be faced, skies waiting to be admired, and wilderness waiting to be explored, monsters waiting to tear you apart; barbarians to fight

And so La Meli sailed through uncharted darkness, the sea was glassy, wind was kind and  La meli sailed as if drawn by swans. Weeks rolled and they approached Savage isles. A man saw the East sky darken, staining the crescent moon.The wind morphed up into mountains of angry waves. Storm violently slammed the rain onto their faces. The ship slanted at forty-five degrees, and crashed down grating their bones. They held tightly onto the mast, onto ropes, onto anything. It was difficult to hang on as storm tossed the vessels like plastic doll.

The scribe will tell us if they defied the fury of the sea and what else.

——

Now, Mwarandu had a sister. Her hair stood firm and kinky like shrubs on a rock; each strand thorny, defying the wind blow, her eyes pierced you like thorns when she were angry about injustices. The eyes melted rivers of compassion upon the suffering souls. She smiled the way girls do when they are visionary. She was named Mekatilili wa Menza; others called Myanzi wa Menza, the only daughter in a poor family of five.

Mekatilili had helplessly seen Mwarandu being captured. She escaped into the vast wilderness of Boni pursued by hideous hunter of man, with arms like logs. To the cliffs of Gongoni she misled the pursuing marauder, and the doomed hurtled to his death fathoms below.

 −−−

Myanzi wa Menza and convulsed in tear, dreaming of revenge. Mekatili’s heart panted to wage a battle of emancipation. Spells rolled into years, the Arabs and the Portuguese continued to lay waste Mutara wa Tsatsu and the nine hills of Mijikenda.

Once in lifetime padlocks but later widowed, Mekatilili collected a great number of Giriama people in preparation for rebellion against the British. The British too had incused the land to fish slaves. Mekatili led public gatherings at Chakama to protest the Brits’ recruitment of African porters for the First World War and seizure of fertile Sabaki valley. The Britons responded with fire into the unarmed horde. Scores including defenseless babies perished.

On the third Chakama gathering, the unbowed Myanzi Wa Menza spoke to the Giriama people, firing their hearts to deeds of audacity. History will call it the address of Chakama.

‘How long shall we live in shackles. How long in fear?

‘Fear is a breach of self, an impeachment of honor, an illness; fear is a life threatening poison. It numbs the soul, the glow we call life. Fear is cunning, wily and treacherous. It does not respect man; woman, the laws of the land, the dreams and plans. Fear is a brute! It targets the most vulnerable, the weakest. It shakes the core and immobilizes the will and limbs. Fear is a rudimentary instinct, the mind being its genesis but fear can be defeated. The sure way I know about defeating fear is taking it by horns, how long must bakers of misery torment us? How long my people? I have no fear of loss since I Mwajuma, and Mwamburi, Remember Mwarandu, the epitome of manhood.  Loss represents an opportunity to improve and shine like spear that hurtle across the skies.

‘My people, no honor in poltroonery, not now, when veritable bakers of misery are about to kill the last of us let’s march boldly and foil any attempt on you.

‘Will you my Giriama people?’

And the crowd howled ‘ndioooooooooooo!’

The struggle raged, fruits it bore.  Mnyanzi wa Menza successfully blocked  the British from cheaply hiring African labor. She blocked them from collecting taxes from Giriamas. Mekatilili inspired the Giriama with legends of Mepoho. Mepoho had prophesied the coming of men with hair like sisal fibres, aboard vessels flying in the air and gliding upon blue.

So Myanzi wa Menza rallied a numerous train of women, and warned that Giriama land would be curse struck and fertility lost if they don’t stand down. The movement grew larger and stronger. She was a marked an enemy for administering mukushekushe oath among the women and Fisi among the men.The Brits labeled her a witch and prophetess of doom.

The oaths forbade the Giriama from co-operating with oppressors in any way .Kiraho spell was cast on those who disobeyed. Curses both loud, deep and lethal were uttered. Mekatili was spoken in bated breath. Her charisma was stronger than an army of men with their swords, arrows and bows.

To attract hordes to her meetings, she moved with marvelous agility from one village to another dancing Kifudu, a revered dance that was only performed during Giriama funerals. The women would follow marching, men in tow.

——

One evening a messenger arrived at Mekatili’s hidden caves beneath the hills of Ngongoni. By means of flattery, sweet words, the messenger, a very Giriama told Mekatilili that the British wanted truce. Mekatili was accompanied by a warrior named Wanje wa Mwandorikola. They did not return to the caves of Gongoni having fallen prey to enchantments of betrayer.

———

The brave pair was locked in at the outskirts of man beyond the Great Rift-valley.

‘Beware of her, for she is a terrible witch, cunning in charm and voodoo,’ it was ordered.

For three years, Myanzi sat dreamily in her cell, tasting nothing but dank and there was no hope of freedom or escape.

One evening, while the Brits snored under effects of unknown brew, the ground of her cell started moving from beneath. A tall, strong limbed young with a handsome manly face emerged through an underground passage, his covert hard work of three days.

‘Who are you?’ Mekatili rattled

‘I’m here to rescue you; I will tell you .Wake up, make haste, and wake up Wanje.’

The British had been weakened by alcohol that night, or so it was thought. The three covertly slipped out through the tunnel in a night of not a single star, and they crept behind the enemy’s shelters.

They were nearly into the thickets when a British soldier saw silhouettes as he took a leak and sounded alarm. His gun spat out fire into the dark. Wanje wa Mwandorikola fell.

‘If you are fortunate enough to reach Mutara wa Tsatsu tell my wives that I loved them, tell my five remaining sons to live in peace and be mindful of courage.’

Wanje’s word hang and then fell forever, silence men the call fate. Mwanje and Mekatili parted ways from the world.

All night long, Mekatili and her young warrior nephew  trudged through labyrinth of thorns, shrubs and darkness, there was not a star seen winking. A footpath twisted and wound, ascended and descended over mute hills and into the eerily quiet forest. As dawn came in her nascent wings,they found themselves on pinnacle of a dangerous cliff.

Multiple legged, hissing and seething creatures emerged and sought to block the pair’s way. A serpent emerged from boulders and gave them a chase down the rocks its diabolical tongue darted in and out, spitting venom.

The pair played hide and seek with bushy haired creatures, locked eyes with snarling fanged beasts, darting the venom of spitting slithers.

They followed the way of gurgling stream until they gained an open meadow, and sought well-earned rest in the open. Wild herbs and fruits tempted their appetite. The young warrior, an archer who brought falcons from heavens, aimed at a wild goat and the plump browser without a bleat. Mekatilili sparked fire from Mawe Meu rocks and they had a feast. The goat crackled in your mouth when you bit into it. Mwarandu devoured the goat skull, relished on the yummy eyes and  washed down with copious amount piss, believed in Mutara to bring luck.

 ‘Who are you my dear young warrior?’  Myanzi wa Menza implored.

 With many tears, little by little the young warrior peeled off his secret.

‘His name was Babu. Babu wa Boni, a childless hunter. An ascetic of vast jungle of Boni, Babu confided in me when I reached the age of reason. He was hunting in the vast wilderness one evening. Then a loud howl echoed from the nethermost, and stopped him on his trail.’

So when the howl disappeared, he followed the snaky track with a keen interest .The footprints were fresh, tracks of unknown beast. The tracks led the hunter deeper and deeper into the wilderness.

The trail halted, and a mouth of a cave, so profound and dark yawned before him. Armed with cracking fire and a cache of arrows and his good spear he dared into the depths of the dank cavern. Drops of water drooled intermittently from the roof in solemn sounds, and then his ears caught soft yelps.

A litter of nascent jackal-pubs were cocooned, and in the middle a baby boy lay, playing with the whelps, pulling their little tails. Then huntsman smiled at the infant, lifted it gently and wrapped the baby in his arms. As he emerged from the den, he stumbled upon a great grey jackal with eyes like coals of fire.

So enraged was the fiend or savior that it snarled its teeth The brute advanced not willing to bite my arm but to take possession of the baby .We Wrestled furiously; tiny stones rained from cave of the wolf and a flurry of bats took off .I defeated the beast   and .It’s amber eyes sought truce, begging not to killed because she had a young family. Amnesty   I granted for not arming the poor baby, though it was in the power of the hunter to dispatch to kill it with poisoned arrows, but where was the mother?

The hunter was bewildered seeing the creature follow him, and thought the jackal was spoiling for another fight. He would in one stroke show it that second chances are not to be squandered ,but the jackal evaded the  a hurl of spear and dashed ahead ,wherefore he followed till they reached  to a hidden settlement where a  sickly woman lay writhing and groaning 

A deep flush of fever had paled her sunken her cheeks, thin as a reed. The woman, barely conscious narrated her fate, and that of her baby to the hunter.

‘She hailed from Mutara wa Tsatsu.’ she said. ‘When Mutsara was raided by slavers, my husband put up a brave fight and slew many a miscreant thanks to his good sword Kisu. He was sorely spent and wounded when he came to my rescue. A slaver had aimed a fire spiting weapon at me. Mwarandu brought down the prowler but soon fell prey. I ran to this haunted forest, and made for myself the nest you see. I labored with pangs of birth, and my son was born quietly without anyone except voracious eyes of vultures waiting for me to die.’

The sick mother ultimately succumbed to diarrhea. Babu wa Boni splashed viraho charms on her aching limbs. She finally whispered the name of the child’s father, and begged the hunter to find the boy’s surviving kin.

‘I’m going to my death, please find Mnyanzi wa menza, she is my sister-in-law, commit my boy to Mnyanzi.’

The young warrior explained to Mekatili how he had been brought by Babu in the wilderness of Boni, the very outskirts of Mutara wa Tsatsu.

Mekatili was not shocked when she heard the tale of the young warrior. The gap in the lad’s teeth was a testament of her kinship. She recognized him, a descent from bloodline of warriors, the blood of Menza, her nephew- Nyota!

They embraced and there was not a single dry eye.

‘It took Babu years to reveal my identity. The promise was unbroken, Babu summoned me to the fireplace one evening and told me the fate of Menza’s family.

‘I could bear grief no more. What good would be my life without my only kin? I swore by the oath of Mepoho to find you. Babu had tried to dissuade me.’

‘I’m not to be held back,’ I told Babu. ‘Babu, my plans are made and Mwenge the donkey will be companion, tame and faithful, obedient to every command, lacks nothing in courage. I have no fixed plans and it doesn’t matter the destination. I just want to ramble away. I’m going to look for my only kin, Myanzi wa Menza. It is my endless dream; my heart’s burning desire. I will take untraveled roads and start new beginnings every day, and I will find her. I will explore terrains deep, cross rivers grey, wide and furious. I will go through valleys deep into my mind and soul to see to it  Myanzi  is free.’

‘As you have heard whispered Mjukuu, beyond the great gorge that yawns in the far north, sprawls great cerulean ziwa, a wondrous lake wandering fiddler has sung about. Huffing and puffing of so many a day and night will get you there you to the crest. Tread carefully, beneath the Shimba hills afar, crouches a serpent of such mammoth proportions. The grim hater of man with a tongue unfurling like flames of fire, guarding mercury treasure jealousy baring fangs-spitting venom. If you are not roasted by smoldering sun, if you are not devoured by ferocious lions of Tsavo you will make it, someday. I won’t tell you how long or short.’

‘I commend you to Mungu and the grace of ancestors. Mwenge the faithful donkey will take you there. I trust his strong hooves and muscle. Mungu akubariki. Trot on Mjukuu,‘ Babu blessed my journey. The travel lasted for days, and days rolled into weeks and at last I sighted the lake great cerulean lake in the West.

‘Son, Mwarandu was an excellent friend of brother. I believe his wings are unbroken. May he flap and fly through the stormiest seas he was taken may he come to us. May he defeat cold nights and lead out of the darkness. May he never live in the darkest side of moon. May his spirit wherever is be dazzled by sun. His shimmer glows in my heart, his star gleams through you. Stars cannot be drowned by nightmare ‘.

Heaviness fell in their hearts and their limbs, and their eyes became wells. It was more than weeping in the wilderness, it was choking sobs, and then desolate crying that comes from a person drained of all hope.

The valiant-pair trudged solemnly through the wilderness of Tsavo, Mnyazi’s right foot trod on a dark-brown worm of about three metres.The sprites dug its pangs into her foot and slithered in a grey mist, out of which a brown hill seemed to rear its head. It is said that the serpent had only one eye. Mekatili groaned deadly pale in pain, and had only strength to gasp rather than speak. The evil would have overpowered her had Nyota not sprinkled healing herbs on her wound.

———

A limp of many days through wild mountain roads brought the elderly, sickly near the mouth of the sea. She saw the stars mirrored on ocean’s bosom, and knew she was home. She needed a rest by the giant Baobab that would become her abode till the end of her days.

Upon seeing Mnyanzi home, Nyota wished to go separate way until a time they would met again, but this story is not clear if they ever met ever again. We shall hear if he emerged from the wilderness as time goes on.

‘I wish to be alone with tribe of trees, to seek adventures. I was born of jungle, and unto Jungle I shall return, rock to rock, mist to mist and, and into ethereal silence shall I return’ The sun sank as Nyota sunk into into the haunted wilderness of Boni.

−−−

Limping with a burden of snake bite, her heavy limbs came to a refuge she had longed. Under the shade of a bold, giant Baobab that had lifted itself to pearly wisps under lavender of heavens. The mighty feat of nature had stood by the banks of the grey, wide river Sabaki, where she touches the sea shore. The tree’s arms spread wide dancing to the lyrics of wind, swaying to cadences of multi colored birds; birds that are no longer of this world.

She threw her arms around the trunk. It felt like a hug from heavens. When the veil of dusk came to close the day, Mekatili ringed the Baobab with herbs charms to insure her from teeth in darkness. She laid her head where pink vygies, the forget-me-nots and aruma lilies bloomed, her mind floating aimlessly in a pool of her thoughts. Her wounds bathed in blue moonlight, her face smiled by the beauties of heaven, her soul soothed  by lullaby of the sea ,her lips softly kissed by breeze she counted the stars without a name. Drip by drip, she soaked into blackness.

Sea gulls in flight stirred her in the dawning as they circled above the river. Petals of dawn unfolded slowly and when the gates of morning flung open, her Kisu began to dig through the tree trunk. By the time the sun touched the pinnacle of her head, her withered hands had made a shelter inside the baobab The darkness of her tree room was a sanctuary; a place to revitalize and forget her shackles. So, in the darkness that stole her frame, she was content as nights passed and new daylights streamed in.

−−−

Kondo ya Chembete, the Giriama uprising started just after her prison escape. The Brits retaliated. Over 5000 homes were licked by hungry flames of fire. History doesn’t know if any intact soul escaped the flames, many grave-mounds were filled and closed. That was price of Giriama ‘emancipation, and there was turmoil in many a heart

That woman with sunken cheeks and heavily lined face could have been anyone’s great grandmother except that heart was beat like toddler’s. That woman with nerves of steel, that unbreakable spirit of a woman, that lioness’s roar in the mist lay down her life before she witnessed her contribution   emancipation of Kenya. The year was and Mekatili was aged 70. Legends say that she died while pounding grain in the field, sinking into gluttonous belly of the earth. Other talkers say she died from strange fever in her Baobab home which stands to this day where the mouth of Sabaki kisses the ocean, in Mambrui.

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While Mwarandu ordered children of Akebnu-Lani to the motherland, to Mutara wa Tsatsu village, the navigator, a son of evil deceived the Giriamas about the route, maneuvering La Meli north along the North American coast until the ship touched the shore of Long Island.

The La Meli was captured by men with fire spiting weapons, men in war ships in was ships, and taken into custody in the United States detention. La meli was locked up in the island. The courts in America were to determine if Giriamas were ‘cargo’.The court  ruled that  Giriamas had been stolen from Akebu-lani, the mother of mankind, Africa, and had fought  in self-defense. The court ordered them freed Thirty-five survivors sailed to Africa in succeeding year, 1842.Dear reader, I wish I could tell you that Mwarandu was united with his son, Nyota. This story tells us that Mwarandu died of fever when he touched the shore of Mutara wa Tsatsu where this story begins. Somewhere in the mist of time lies a ghost of love.

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 Millions of Africans were sold for nickels to work like dynamos in the Caribbean. Spanish ships brought captive Africans to the Iberian Peninsula Many were sentenced to fight on frontline in the battles that were never theirs. Words will fail me if I attempt to say the trauma that froze those who arrived to the market undead. Anything you picture happening to them indeed happened.

THE END

Image courtesy of Tom Mwiraria

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Tom Mwiraria

Tom Mwiraria ,the founder of Impact  Voices is a story teller,Journalist and social rights enthusiast. Author of a travel non-fiction 'Enchanted Kenya' and collection of short stories entitled ,the 'Land of bones'.Writer with Daily Nation ,WILK -Why I Love Kenya Magazine and Kasoma Africa .Contributed short stories  on :Hekaya Review ,Writers Space Africa and Writers Guild of Kenya.Contributed Essays and papers on academia.edu and and Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda -STTA .Writing  Coach.Member of Young African Leaders Leaders Initiative (YALI) and Writers Guild of Kenya (WGK)

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