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Friday, October 12, 2007

My Son, Take it Slow: Aids is a Rapacious Prowler

Behaviour change should be accentuated and re-emphasized in the fight against Aids. This is simply because, without behaviour change we are almost hitting a brick wall with bare fists in fighting this debilitating scourge.

Below, is the advice of a grandmother to her hot-blooded, carefree grandson.

My son, I am now an old woman,
I feel the ancestors beckoning to me,
My heart is punctured and frayed,
My body: old and frail.

In the years I have been around,
I've learnt so much 'bout the world,
I feel the time is ripe,
To share with you my arsenal.

In recent months, I've been watching you,
Watching you keenly; watching with eyes of steel,
My eyes have not slumbered in my watch,
My guard has not dropped in my sentry.

My son, I am afraid of what I see;
I am afraid of what I dream;
I am afraid of what I see in your eyes;
I am afraid of your zest and vim.

My son, I am afraid,
The more I think of what you are doing,
The more I age past my age,
The more people comment on how old I look.

These are dark days, my son,
Days your grandpa and I never dreamt of,
Days graced by pitch darkness,
Days I constantly try to wish away.

My son, don't get bored; keep still,
I am not vacillating, be sure of that,
Listen to me this once,
Listen to the drawl and drag in my voice.

This is the third month since I started my 'vigil',
My son, I see different ladies at your side every passing day:
Ladies fabulously endowed with 'well-rounded bums';
Ladies with earth-shattering smiles keep you company.

They call you 'Mr. Chics – the guy with the move',
Thanx to the innumerable sexual partners you keep,
This is sickening, my son:
Downright filthy and inglorious is what I call it.

My son, do you want to see me going to an early grave?
Do you want me to talk myself hoarse – and go insane in the process?
Do you want me to wet my pillow with tears into the wee hours?
Do you want me to see you crumbling like a fallen block of granite?

When Aids smiles at you, my son,
There'll be no turning back,
It will eat and gnaw at your every marrow,
It will turn you inside out – Please spare me the pain!

I don't want to imagine (but it's part of the nightmare I can't ward off),
The tall, handsome son I know,
Being reduced to an emaciated sculpture,
A sculpture with sores, boils and falling hair.

My son, Aids is for real,
It's prowling the neighbourhood with a vengeance,
Please sit down and rethink your behaviour,
An HIV free generation starts with you, my son.

You can contact me at this Email Address.


Phil said...

What a superb piece of poetry.

Thanks and keep them coming Ritch. This generation and indeed the entire country needs this advise more than ever.

Here's a heart wrenching reality....

Living in a Slum, Where Poverty & Disease Reigns….

Consigned to poverty and without any other option, 17-year-old Silas Odhiambo defied tradition and saw nakedness of his grandmother.

The young man bathed, cleaned the soiled, massaged and took care of his 75-year-old granny with the hands of a nurse. Silas was orphaned by HIV and Aids while still a toddler and grew up to assume the role handled by only those much older than himself.

To Silas, Grandma Domitila Achieng Obera was not a grandmother like any other, she was the “mother” who bottle-fed him from the age of four months.

“Silas’ mother died when he was only four months old. Grandma, who had been taking care of her other orphaned grandchildren, did not hesitate. We are told that she instantly took up the infant even though she had been through with this call years ago,” recalled photographer Felix Masi whose organisation chronicled Domitila’s life until her death in May this year. In stunning heart-breaking photos capturing Silas lifting and cleaning his bed-ridden grandmother off a tattered mattress hoisted over a stone for a pillow, Silas goes about his service quietly and carefully.

Though in total they are 11 HIV and Aids siblings and cousins, it is Silas who bathed her, cleaned her up whenever she answered a call of nature.

Biggest wish

“Two days before Grandma Domitila died and these pictures were taken with Silas close by, we asked him what his biggest wish in life was. He said all he wanted was to see his grandmother live long enough for him to build her a house. Sadly that was not to be,” recalled Masi.

Three months after her death, Silas is back to the struggles of life together with his siblings in their Kibera shanty, grappling with an uncertain future. While she was alive and able, these HIV and Aids orphans found comfort and solace in the aged hands of their grandmother who refused to let them suffer after their parents were claimed by Aids.

Theirs is the predicament of many HIV and Aids orphans left under the care of grandmothers who are too old and sickly to fend for them.

The cycle of poverty continues, with the cruel hand of HIV and Aids aggravating an already desperate situation. “It is not difficult to see that the mothers and grandmothers are bearing the heavier responsibility for poverty and Aids. The situation in the depths of Kibera is so pathetic that dignity and traditions for children like Silas would not matter much,” says Mr Steve Ombogo, a social worker in Kibera based at the Stara Kicap Rescue Centre.

Marianne Briner said...

Thank you for this article - I had vowed not to contribute anything during the Election campaign - but this is a matter I have set my heart on.
You must know that Father Angelo d'Agostini, the Founder of the Nyumbani Aids Orphans Village in Karen, is an old friend of mine when he was still the Director of the Don Bosco Village for Street Children. I met him again when giving evidence in front of the Sunguh-Committe in 2004 and we renewed our old friendship. But why I am writing is not about me - it is about these children living in places like Kibera. Nyumbani is also taking care of several thousands of them making sure that they get proper meals and medicine. But what has always hurt me and still does, is the fact that organizations like Nyumbani are almost only financed by Foreigners whereas the rich Kenyans are looking away ..... this is the most horrendious thing of all .... it is like saying: these people do not belong to us - they are a shame of the country .... and here comes the question to Raila Odinga in: Kibera is his responsibility too - not just the plush suburbs of Langata and Karen ......

I tried to interest Jeff Koinange to make a report on Kibera and mainly on the suffering of these socalled aids-orphans - especially when I learned that Father d'Ag (as we used to call Father Angelo d'Agostini) died in November last year. I wanted Jeff to go to Nyumbani and report about it in CNN (and since he was at that time even in Kenya making holidays, it would have been easy for him to do it) ...... but he declined ..... without ever giving me a good reason ..... yes, they made a report about Father d'Ag in Inside-Africa but using an old report they (Sanyau Gupta and not Jeff Koinange) made some years before .... and as Jeff told me, only because I had asked him to do it ..... 'it's because of you and because I want to please you ....'

Somehow I have the feeling that for many Kenyans (and not only for Kenyans as I have to admit), the whole question of Aids - or HIV - is a 'tabuu' subject ........ or is it just because people like Jeff try to 'forget' about it because it is easier like that ????

But then I ask myself, if people like Jeff Koinange who have all the possibilities and facilities to influence the mind and politics in this world, prefer to 'push this problem aside', where does it leave the rest of us - all the others who have to deal with this on a daily basis ?????????

It makes me sick and very furious just to think and talk about this ......

Marianne Briner

Vikii said...

That was a very nice one Ritch. We are living in dangerous times and these kinds of message should be preached every freaking minute of the day. Young people need to be told the truth------Change your ways or you DIE.

Phil thanks too. I expected you to pen off with your pet subject but you didnt. You are also attempting to sound responsible, keep it up. I didnt know you had a heart but now I know.

Let's preach this message guys.

ritch said...

Thanks guys for the standing ovation(!). Aids has ravaged our society to the core and it behooves us, then, to take matters by the horn and avoid any form of affectation. This is the very thing that is killing us. We hold the sledge hammer. Let us break this formidable block of granite!

Anonymous said...

Oh! what a beautiful piece of poetry. I think it is wise to make copies for distribution in Kavirondo gulf where 700 jaluos kihii are dying daily. The poem should also have included a message about the stupidity of wife inheritance. Kioko. BC, Canada.

Cheri said...

It is a touching piece. My grandmother died before I could see her myself and ever since it has been haunting me since I have never known the message she wanted to say to me. Ever since I came to Nairobi, she had been worried that my life may take a new twist and with HIV/Aids rampant, perhaps she had this on mind. Keep it up

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