Bernard Muhia

Poet and Writer. My poems have been featured on CNN International, my play on the UN website and by MTV EXIT.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Through Fern Poetry, I am about to embark on a poetry project along with two fellow poets, El Poet and Jaju and entertainer Martin "Daddie Marto" Githinji, which will take us to five schools around the Nairobi Area to present poems on human trafficking for purposes of creating awareness on the vice. We will be doing this through a project funded by Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS). Fern Poetry is the business-side of my poetic journey. The project targets students in high school.

This project has been featured on CNN International and the Nairobi Now Arts Blog.

The objectives of the project are;

Popularizing anti-Trafficking in Persons through poems that are recited in front of the students.
Encouraging the submission of artistic expressions in the form of essays and poems from students on the theme of trafficking with the aim of exhibiting them.
Holding a competition on poetry and story writing on the theme of human trafficking amongst students in high schools with a prize of Kshs. 1,000 for the winner and Kshs 500 and 300 for the first and second runners up respectively .
I am doing my part to create awareness among students who are also at times victims of human trafficking owing to the high levels of poverty in the country. Here is the poem I will be using throughout the project. It's titled 'Kaa Chonjo' which means be alert in Swahili.

Kaa chonjo (human trafficking)
Lost and helpless,
Her passport taken away
Her ID taken away
In search of a better way
Paid them to chase the dream life
But ended up paying with her freedom
Lost without friends in a foreign land
Her dreams lost to slave masters
Beaten and abused,
Raped and they were amused.
Left his home country,
Only to be forced into labour
Paid with lashes,
His dreams, burnt down to ashes
His whole life flashes,
Because he would rather die
Than be forced to live a lie,
Open your eyes,

Feel the cries;
Of Kenyans in the Middle East
Trafficked like worthless beasts

Feel the cries;
Of young girls in our streets,
Enticing you to the sheets,
Only to give that money to pimps

Feel the cries;
Of child beggars,
On their feet, jiggers
On their hands, blisters
On their feet, barely slippers
Of their clothes, tatters
If only for their masters,
To elicit your unknowing pity
And in their bowls throw in that fifty
Kaa chonjo, ndio uwe sauti yao

It all started in the name of poverty,
Parents selling off some of their children,
If only to be able to take care of the rest
It all started in the name of culture,
Women and animals being offered,
To appease rival tribes as peace offerings
It all started with colonization,
Paramount chiefs exchanging their subjects,
For pieces of silver, mirrors and bottles
It all started with urbanization,
Smugglers promising desperate young people,
With jobs and a better life in the city,
Only for them to be forced into prostitution,
Only for them to be forced into drug peddling
It all started with ignorance
You and me in the dark
Not knowing that slavery exists, today!
Not knowing that we could fall prey, today!
Kaa chonjo, ndio uwe sauti yao

Entire communities engage in this
From Indians to Africans
Arranged marriages, the village match-maker
A Young girl abducted by the riverside,
Taken home by the men and defiled
Only for the community to sing praises
Telling her that she is most fortunate
A husband she doesn't choose,
A man she doesn't love
Every night she cries in her sleep
Kaa chonjo, ndio uwe sauti yao.

(Kaa chonjo, ndio uwe sauti yao is Swahili for "be alert so that you can speak up for the voiceless". The phrase is borrowed from the Anti-human trafficking campaigns by the International Organization for Migration)