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Readings in honor of assasinated human rights activists

"Fast and furious..."

It happened that on the 5th of March two human rights activists one of them an avid writer and blogger were sprayed with bullets very near St. Paul's church at the University. The result was obviously their deaths and much fear also shot around... it was terrible. It still is. So a young writer who should be on Pulsewire and who used to go to school with Oulo one of the killed wanted a reading for him at the Kenya National Theatre. And we went over many of us with our words with us... we sat together after many days of separation - some looking over their shoulders all the time and others even having crossed borders and come back- and paid our tribute to these people Oulo was 27 years and burning with a passion for change. His colleague was ten years older and all of them obviously young.

Below are my poems contributed and read there. It is a great pleasure for me that Carsten- in Germany_ is putting one of the poems, I think, Freedom Bird Flies music. This poem is for those on the run especially Kamotho who arrived home to find not a single thing in his one room place...and had no home for days...When I wrote it, the music of el condor pasa was haunting my mind...although i found it defeatist... "I would rather be ... but still it has its sense of victory in flight..."( I would rather be a sparrow than a snail....") the battle for our freedoms, we can never thinking of losing. Ultimately we must all be free together! Idealistic? The truth is that you cannot fragment freedom; now for this race now for that, now for this group now for the next. I believe we are either all free or none of us can be, thus my courage....

I come to you Mother

By Philo Ikonya ©
(in The voice of Oulo)

At such a time Mother,
I have returned to your womb to grow.
Mother see them,
Police in hard boots follow,
to mute my song in sorrow,
and our lives to shadow.

But at such a time, Mother,
Tell them, you know me well.
That the Rose is still blooming,
Mother tell them I think of
You, I think of
-Tomorrow and you Mother, my Land.

Tell them this too:
It was grief for my country hung in me,
black bullets in my eyes, and on my neck
I saw so clear and still stood up
Tell them again:

To know, I never lost hope!
I am surfing high;
And on the crescent of the wave moonlit,
I bear the hope of my country,
The joy of my country still rings in me,
still sings in me, Believing in you Mother.

At such a time Mother,
They click keys and bullet me in.
But the keys they lock opened
In your womb when you caressed me;
Singing me a freedom Song.
Bathing me in tears of love.

At such a time,
At such a dark time
Mother, I do not give up,
I come to you barefoot and hungry,
With a soul thirsty to call my land Liberata,
To pay for my land, Dala na, dala na, da la na Mama
Dala na, dala na, dala na minwa,
Mi tierra,
Tierra, tierra, mi Tierra Madre!

At such at time when my breath,
comes from deep within my land,
So I feel her hug deeply mine.
I return Mother for strength to add
to the soil that covered me a while
and I embraced you!

Nchi yangu, yangu, yangu
Mungu! Nchi yetu, yetu yetu,
Nchi yetu Mama!

Philo Ikonya ©

Freedom Bird homes in

By Philo Ikonya ©

When a freedom bird flies home,
Sensing a gathering storm,
And finds its nest is no more,
It flies past and perches,
Far away from that branch.

It beats the heartless by distance,
And the victory begins.

When they of the air have no nests,
And foxes have buried everyone in their holes,
When the son of a mother finds no zest,
When all is sad on a land so blest.
And you trudge in torn shoes on dusty roads.

Walking, you crush their aim by distance,
And the victory has begun.

Bird of freedom,
Never lose your flight
Keep your vision,
Till you home in and get your prize.
El maligno pasa tonight
The guitarra plays on for you a verse.

You beat you’re their ways by distance,
The victory begun at sunrise,

This song says for this child of freedom,
Daughters and sons will a shrine make bloom,
This fight for justice we must carry to term,
a conviction well borne like a baby in the womb.

You beat their weakness by distance,
The victory is here…

Hush now..
No more tears, no more fears,
Our lights are burning bright!
Hail heart of freedom,
hail my Kenyan Dream!
You come home bearing it!
Lightly and praising fighters,

You beat their hardness flying,
To Our victory I toast!

© For Kamotho: activist harassed and deprived of a home and others forced to flee

We rise

By Philo Ikonya ©

A season will come after the flood of tears,
Pain awash with fears and sweat of blood,
After heaving our souls and convulsing in pain,


The bird of paradise will strut colorful and joyful,
Smiling like never before with peace and confidence,
His emblem,


Urging change on, moving fast to plant it deeper;
His flag flies beneath the ground and above it

He rises!

Wearing this new flag anew unseen
Tearing the seams of the one so abused,
Red for courage, Green for achievement.
White for the board your name;
Revolution to write in black!
He moves on, a flag in the wind and more!


Because of seeds you plant and water with blood,
All minds to the heavens rise, meanings decoded
Voices of greater prophecy, you create and strength you multiply!


Your instruments of pain and torture become hot coals searing your heads to dread,
Pens burning and voices yearning. Minds learning…
Our alphabets are written across the skies, God’s footstool shakes your earth, it is you who is buried not they.

We go on…

Our hearts are filled with one desire and it pulls the other a
magnetic force, not tribe, a nation together created, bonded. No
cracks, not loss but grace, A bird of paradise, a song most holy!
his anthem
In this struggle between life and death, mors et vita duelo;

Life, Vita emerges Victorious!

For GPO Oulo and Oscar, assassinated in Kenya on 5th March 2009


joyomosh's picture


I watched you on the news a while back and realised that there is hope for Kenya yet... I don't understand how people can be so blind to the injustices that are going on in the country. People have been poisoned to the extent that they no longer see reason. Who knows who is gonna be shot dead next.
I applaud your efforts in trying to restore justice to Kenya.
Together in the struggle.

Thanks Joyce,

I had no idea that you have seen me talking. You are right. There is hope in you too. Yes, we should not understand the way the do these things to us turning us into a laughing stock as if we do not know just what they promised in Agenda 4 and what we need. The poison abounds. Your question makes one shiver. Reminds me of a walking to a bus last evening. So early yet since the two of us have been arrested before we felt so out of place and worried. Sometimes people greeted us warmly and that is our only security- the people. How will the people learn that they are the guardians of their own nation and security too if there is such a vacuum in leadership. Thanks Joyce. I also had in my bag the book on a young man who also died in mysterious circumstances March 26th 1996- Karimi Nduthu. I had found it being sold by some young people who are all enthusiastic about One Africa, One Nation. They had a workshop. I was happy. There is hope for Kenya, in Kenya and in us. The question remains how we get it into the structures of our country... or do we need new ones built with hope?.... hard stuff.


"Communication is the real work of leadership" Nitin Nohria

jadefrank's picture

Once again, your poetry moves me


It is so wonderful to hear your voice again here on PulseWire. You are a true leader in all senses of the word. The deaths of these young activists is so tragic and your poetry honors their work and their lives in a special and moving way. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Warm regards,

philo Ikonya Gacheri's picture

thanks, asante!


Asante! your encouragement means much to me. And that of all my sisters and brothers who respond to what we see. If no one did, it would not make sense. Thanks for being part of the world community that cares! That means a lot for the next day of struggle!!


"Communication is the real work of leadership" Nitin Nohria

Maria de Chirikof's picture

lovely poems

My favorite is the "I come to you Mother" one but all of them were very good.

"I believe we are either all free or none of us can be, thus my courage...." that is such a true saying and I admire your courage very much. Our prayers are with you guys.


philo Ikonya Gacheri's picture

thanks Maria!

Thanks very much Maria. It is encouraging that we are sharing... the volume of positive thought and prayer is part of it that we can send out there in sharing is incredible and it counts in changing the world... and us for the better. You give me much hope and courage both as person and poet... con las palabras, a veces uno parece mendigar para la libertad pero son las palabras que suenan y llegan hasta el fondo, a veces tocando tambien los que no piensa en cuanto valoremos nuestra humanidad! como te suena?

Philo Ikonya

"Communication is the real work of leadership" Nitin Nohria

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