JR Alila on Change and Peace

The poet draws no sword lest he becomes an Okigbo; a poet’s sword is in his words, “Kibaki tosha” (Agwambo), “Yes we can,” (Obama), or the literary persistence of the wise words of Achebe, Soyinka or Mazrui. When a poet takes a sword or encourages the use of one as he or she sleeps in a glass house, it is the market woman in Biafra, Molo, Gulu, Mbero, or Limuru who suffers the pain of war and poverty. A failed state is born when mad ideologues are assumed to be prophets—they don’t have to be a Lakwena or Hitler, they can be you and I—wordsmiths–but who choose to organize a people around violent phrases. What Kenya needs are strong institutions based on moral and judicial principles, a strong press, and courageous men of God and civic society (Mr, Omatata, Okiya, huts off to you) that can remind the emperor that she or he is naked. I hope we Kenyans reach there before 2012.