Dahti Afrikan Bich


Memories from Kenya,
shared by Nekesa Kay Kweli

“Said’em sai
what it mean be a dahti akfrikan bich?

Said whachu say mzungu?

Wai kweli, mjinga. You pay me.”

Said’em sai, a quick pivot of the hips and a head swirl bring it back round
widda hand in ya face to collect dem dued dues.

I can only imagine the conversation going had I ever the guts to speak like
a dahti afrikan bich at her finest to one in true.
But my eyes are blue.

Yet, I did so in hushed tones.

“Sema, mimi ni mkenya alisi, mami.”
Don’t you know I am a Kenyan?

“Aaaaay, sema…?
Usi semi kwa nini? Karibuni, mschana.”

Aaaay…why didn’t you say so?
Welcome in.

Come in, come in.

Drop down the shoulders and into her self, feet press down in,
widda laugh na white grin.
ut hey it ain’t like dat out here.

I just earned my stripes. I spoke her tongue and met her grin. I’m in.

“So said’em sai…sema mimi ni mafrika mchafu? Sema kweli, mzungu mjinga.”

Yes, I am a dahti dum white afrikan bich.
As the contrast between the lines

of my white skin where my tank top lives becomes more stark against the red
stained tan of the sun’s blessing,
the kids stroke me tenderly with their

pock marked fingers.
Tell me I don’t want to be mzungu no mo.

Is it true though?
Is it even about the colour?

So here it mean to be a dahti afrikan bich.

The seven year old raising infants while wiping bogies from dey noses on da
backa jigger torn hands.
Ma sniff gloo.
Said gotta distort da view a bit to

see that seven shillings is enough to buy potatoes and if she beg da
mzungus shillings fo de exam fees
there’s still 2 shillings left for her shoes.

Only 498 ksh/= more.

The eleven year old squatting behind the shack of the drunk nexthole to
catch a bit of his candle light,
memorize her times tables for the time at

the scrapwood table when de teecha call on her. De babies all asleep now.
The square root of her prayer is an accute lack of calories, lasted too
long to keep her from having found that higher plane of operation. Call it
fasting for comforts’ sake. She’s just really good at fasting and her
consciousness is striving for liberation, same as all, in the form of high
marks and a chance at something more. Can’t wait to see the score on her
next exam. She’ll scam how she need to til den. Thank Jesus dere is
porridge at school tomorrow morning.

The Mama walk 38 kilometres across the rift torn lands, working over time
to keep up straight with empty hands, not trip ova de grooves in de soil.
She may be dehydrated now, but she’ll make it to de hos’ptal to before dis
water breaks her free. She’ll birth dis baby where dere is hope, even if it
do come out wit no tears. Mama will cry enough for the both of them when
she hand dat baby ova to de chail’s home. She’ll go to church and pray when
the thirty days cleanse is over. Until then, she won’t set foot on holy
land, heal her head wit a cover…
And drink changaa til sleep come like her long gone lover.

De teacha dat teach for beans, it seems if she be fed and can place a peice
of herself in another, she’ll seed the garden of future peace and live on
for the leftovers she brings home to her brothers. Vision 2030.
De dreams of a better future ain’t futile yet.

To de ones in de streets where the beats heal the niks and cracks of
bear-broken feets.

So said’em sai mzungu ya Kenya? Sema mimi tena, what it mean be
a dahti afrikan bich?

To wear de wounds of the masses, let them feed like jiggers in my toes and
be blessed every time I itch; for them I’ll learn to heal fastest and
quicken vastness of my soul. Together, we’ll be whole. I’ll itch the
scratch of the accacia tree’s spikes, and de likes of me will foreva be a
slum-stewed silver bullet’s antedote to the howling of a werebich under the
full moon, for the ones begging for a shilling in the midst of the
transformative killing of the old ways.

Said’em sai, mzungu? Ain’t we all dahti afrikan biches,
tryna break free from de ditches?

Love to the slums and Love to the ones who hold em down for the sake of
something to hold. Praying for you in wake will never get old. ♡