Clare Engenoi Smyth

Nabii

We are the prophets

Poets of this world

It’s not something that’s learnt

It’s a gift that is earned

By the broken and broke

Tell a joke, buy some smokes

Maybe even a whisky and coke



We are the storytellers of our history,

Soothsayers of Mystery,

We face the future with uncertainty

Live a present far from glittery



We capture the moments,

Snippets of life

No matter how much we doubt the truth 

Behind the porcelain faces



We are the victims

That slip through the system

Beat down, Trodden, Still rising

We face our vulnerabilities

Accept our insecurities

Redefine our trials into survival

Become our own worst rivals

Trying to mend in gold

Through no fault of our own

I didn’t choose who to be born

But I chose to Live in the moments

Moments of happiness. 

Moments that fail to last a lifetime.
 

Terra Nullius

Hushed tones and tiptoes

Its 9pm don’t make a sound

Be invisible – don’t be seen

Act like you don’t exist

After all, you’re here to learn the game

Tired of lurking in the backdrop

I want to stand on table tops

Trapped by bars they use to tame

When they don’t even know my name

Still a savage in a cage

But I’m trying to turn the page.

 

Midnight Thursday Night

‘Get out of my country N****r’

Is that to me? I guess it must be

Coz like a weight I’m surrounded by a sea of white skin

Some would rather divide

When I’m just trying to survive.

The Terra Nullius law

No man’s land

They forgot to mention Mansa Musa- King of Mali

First Library and University

We knew the rhythm of the sun, When they still thought the earth was flat.

When they were plagued with rats and famine, We were trading gold and fabrics.

Lets not forget our Queens, Candace, Nefertiti, Yaa Ashantewa set the stage for

Nkurumah, our brothers, Tom Mboya, killed like Dedan Kimathi,

Terrorist,

Muamar Gaddafi,

Terrorist,

Gold Dinnar could have set us free

But they’d rather have us blind

To the power we could have-if We all just realigned

They created all these tribes. And forced us to subscribe

Tax collection, make it easy,

Set up borders using rulers,

Wilhelm’s birthday…give him Kilimanjaro

Straight lines split families

Ancestor’s skulls in European museums.

Poke and prod us even when we’re dead

And that’s not even where it ends.

 

Terra Nullius

Terrorists turned a continent to scrambled eggs

Yet they still think they saved us.

Pebbles

I am Masai, tall strong warriors

Our pride was our cattle

Now we’re a tourist attraction

My grandfather sold my freedom-independence

A right to our land, air and sacred waters

I’ve watched my forest playground fenced and burned

The sound of chainsaws claiming my childhood

My cattle reduced to bones because our cool waters,

Nairobi

Is now suburb, slum, skyscraper, Sewage water

Walls upon walls that claim that my land, Is now your land

A free land for the wealthy

But my cows don’t make me rich anymore

So I sell my melanin and beads

To buy food, go to school

But what are riches if not my cattle

What is education if not of my land?

Surely my ancestors are raging

 

I am a slave, Bought by the system

Disposable labor

To use at your leisure

Just like a statue I’m molded from childhood

To fill any spaces they deem as important

They keep you in line with all their lies

Freedom is money so buy buy buy

We’re programmed to run in endless circuit

Defenseless against a lifeless army

Be careful not to think or they might lock you up

Be careful not to fight them for what they stole.

Footprints from Africa

The language of the earth is never dead

It’s easy to trace her misery

Footprints from Africa shape our history

From cradle to crescent we advanced

Marching from deserts to rain and back

Except we didn’t come back black

Man the coloniser- conqueror

Man from Africa

 

It’s the root of our spirituality

We all come from this commonality

Our African ancestry

 

Empires built on expansion

Migrations to assemble nations

Silk roads to trade skills

Acquiring our current state of culture

From the ancient state of exchanges

Allowing our race to thrive

The human race

 

When you look in the mirror what do you see

I’m just like you with hair and skin

I was taught to believe this beautiful lie

That the white man taught us how to thrive

He saved the heathens from demise

And now I see what he destroyed

And I won’t live this beautiful lie

I didn’t forget that this world Was built on the backs of blacks

 

Footprints from Africa shape my story

Slums & Skyscrapers

From the roads, to the timing, I come from a land of 

Chaos.

Chaos built on the imposition of white laws, white money, white supremacy

Chaos created to divide, but we still have the bribe

so somehow, we Survive

Because I’m still alive, Beyond the system most corrupt

 

To be a mzungu- to wander aimlessly

Kuzunguka na kupotea

The mzungu; the whiteman

Lost amongst our Golden flowing savannahs

Unaccustomed to a life beyond caves, fences, square boxes, 10 degree summers, 16 hour work days

Unaware of OUR laws

 

Is it Primitive to live in peace with nature or Primitive to destroy her?

When I was a child, The Elephants were spoilt, They’d stir up the soil and eat up the maize

My grandad, unamused, shot up in the sky; And we’d watch them diffuse. 

Only they never came back.

 

The world stopped making sense

When it was more important to build roads than it was to build homes

When my generation was the last to walk with rhinos

When game drives became bird watching, railways replaced lions

We never came close to being free, When our souls still connected to the trees

Are cut and trimmed and shipped away

And now we’re all a mess because we’re all displaced

 

To fill up empty spaces, They build up skyscrapers

In shadows of these boxes, Lies Mabati rooftops coated in

Orange stained cascading sunlight

Barefoot children running with textbooks, A dollar a day but still go to school

No handouts to make them believe the government will help them achieve

So they make up their own rules. And under the hot sun

 

Build their Empire from dust.

100 Days In Fairyville

Hush now, you’re suddenly on your own

Walking through the serpents den

Can’t help but tumble down.

 

Pink stone in hand she turns to me,

I am the extreme end of madness

With just enough sanity to keep me in line

Here in the silent orange streets

We all become a part of the darkness.

With all her pride she consumes

Feeding off what shines too brightly

Dimming stars that bow devoutly

And through her radiance creates

The dimmest trail to follow nightly

 

It’s just a game, he said to me. Why not take a gamble?

If you can put a face on. Who says that you’re not able?

Take if you can, don’t mind the destruction

We’re playing with chaos

Revel in seduction

 

The lowly hill calls out to me

Draped in a halo of blue

The shadows somehow soothing me,

My mind unanchored and weak

Singing my days into spirals of sadness

The magic fades to mystery.

 

Shadows cast from strangers in blazers

Orange haze in urban street light

She says go back to your bed

Don’t close your eyes, don’t slumber

She says go back to your head

It’s easy when you just surrender.

Potential in Madness

They wanna see crazy? 

I’ll show them insane.

There’s a power in pain only the broken can claim.

A flame that drives a wave of strength. 

A rage of fire that comes like a flood

To wash over the trance of hurt.

 

My father could build a house but not a home

A truth I only saw when I tried to build shelter

Only to find my roots broken, 

My idea of home mistaken

The fight to survive ignited. 

On the shores of this illusive paradise

Where I’ve watched dreams that mattered, shattered.

 

There’s a power in Why that we can use to Fly.

But that idealism reflects a sort of escapism

And I became wrapped in a warped utopian mess

Marked by the naivety of dreamers.

Cycles of moons came and passed for 9 years long

In and out of this waft of shit I stumbled 

Monsters from my past, slashed their way into my life

Making a home in my present-

It would be nice to see life as a gift

But in a battle, you can only hope for victory 

 

I’ll fight him, I’ll fight her, I’ll fight them

If I look back now, I’ll surely drown

The ship that ran aground cannot find

This chest of treasure that’s sunk 

Among the rubble and the junk 

 

My mother was an inspiration

But she aspired to appease the raven

And this was the genesis of my inception

To fall into a trap of her own creation

As the raven comes knocking at the door 

With eyes of a demon that’s dreaming

I remember the stories of unmerciful disasters 

That followed Poe to the streets of Baltimore

That saw him wander into his grave

Like a beat up little seagull, on a marble arch

Trynna find the ocean, looking everywhere

  

I’ll fight him, I’ll fight her, I’ll fight them.

If I look back now I’ll surely drown

The ship that ran aground cannot find

This chest of treasure that’s sunk

Among the rubble and the junk.

As I make my way to the shore I search

For what I lost in the wave,

The treasure resting on the ocean’s floor

  

There’s a power in pain only the broken can claim.

A flame that drives a wave of strength 

A rage of fire that comes like a wave 

To wash over the trance of hurt.

You wanna see it as crazy?

I see it as Wisdom that breaks through the Prison

That my ancestors were chained

That my brothers and sisters fall in too

A story that’s passive-a past that’s static

I’ll fight him, I’ll fight her, I’ll fight them.

If I look back now I’ll surely drown

The ship that ran aground cannot find

This chest of treasure that’s sunk

Among the rubble and the junk.

 

To fear the power of pain is to fear the

Potential in Madness.