Next Time, by Sitawa Namwalie

Next time. It will be worse. Oh much worse. Enraged inferno, guns, and young men. Weapons for the destruction of the masses. Sent out amongst the virtuous. To set terror alive. Never seen in this land of strangers. Where just the other day 1300 died for a point of view. Hacked down by missiles of the naïve. Machetes, hammers, tumescent organs, rough-hewn stone. Everyday home tools.

Killing was an improvised game played for leisure.

Next time. Guns will take the place of useful implements turned into weapons for a quick kill of a neighbour’s son. I knew him. Watched him grow. A teasing kid. Now a new young man. He stands before me in his magnificence. A sliver of God. I felled him. I felled him with my axe. My choice of weapon.

The blood of a son congeals. Contaminates time.

Next time? I remember. Slowly I sink into fear of retribution. From my neighbor and my God. Too late I remember. I am Born Again, a Christian. I do no evil.

I never intended to become a killer.

Next time? I will not come so close. To be forever stained. I will hide in distance, anonymous space, raise a gun from far away, let loose a pumping salvo. Ratatatat! After all, I can kill many more this way.

I can kill many more this way.

I can kill many more this way.

Must I wait for next time?

Sitawa Namwalie is an award-winning Kenyan poet, playwright and performing artist known for her unique dramatized poetry performances, which combines poetry and traditional Kenyan music. “Cut off My Tongue,” was her first production and has toured Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the Hay Festival, UK. She has been a fellow of the Sundance Theatre Lab. Her growing body of work includes articles, short stories, dramatized poetry productions and plays, “Homecoming” (2010), “Silence is a Woman” (2014), “Black Maria on Koinange Street,” “Room of Lost Names” (2015 translated into French in 2020), “Taking my Father Home”(2020), Escape a Musical (2021). Sitawa lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Arts degree in Environment, Society and Technology from Clark University in Massachusetts, USA. Sitawa has achieved excellence in many areas of life, including representing Kenya in tennis and hockey in her youth.

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