The Critical Eye

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Life at Forty One - Part One

I sit here at the cusp of two thousand and nine, watching a truly inspirational movie -Men of Honor- starring Cuba Gooding. It's the tale of a man of humble circumstances who persevered in spite of the culture of racism and elitism which permeated the navy back in the day (even now). His ability to stay the course was beyond admirable. He was insulted, ostracized, cheated, damn near killed and still he sought only one goal, to achieve the rank of Master Diver. This single purpose saw him through a near death experience, divorce, amputation of his leg, and the basic railroading he received at the hands of the navy brass. Wow!

In my job as Academic Dean of a career school, I work with people that are looking to change their lives due to their social, economic, or cultural circumstances. As part of the intake process, we perform an orientation that bristles with the optimism of opportunity. We play music and provide truly motivational words to fortify the student's decision to attend our school. We ask them to dig deep into their treasure troughs for the will to make their dream sustainable. As a business, we measure using a myriad of results; completion, attrition, and employment rates. Through all these outcomes, the pervasive and recurrent themes are the stories of perseverance. The many stories of which I am privy. Boys/men and girls/women having persevered through some of the most incredible circumstances to achieve a dream.

I have a story too, one that is filled with the endurance and pain of four decades. It is just as filled with the highs and deep lows of Master Chief Brashear. Though mine may not have been underwater, but they have been just as lung splitting as holding your breath for over four minutes. So as I sit here doing that Anhedonic thing; the television is going with subtitles, Pandora is playing through my IPOD earpiece, and I am typing on my blog. I am beginning to realize that I am forty one years old and never actually realized that I have ADD, ADHD, DVD, CD, and MP3. These are all congenital conditions (things that I was born with). My wife and daughter are asleep and even now at my age, I sit in awe and abject confusion about where next my ship will take them. There are many nights I lay awake at night not knowing if I can trust my compass. That deep desire to live life as fully as possible, but in the most enjoyable manner possible runs in diametric opposition to the sensible order of life. There is a point at which your story must become the bibliography for another.

As we grow, our priorities are supposed to be congruent with our responsibilities. We are supposed to develop good habits and have reached the point of visible maturity in person and environment. The disparate variations of our life choices being more evident at this age. We are supposed to be established, to have a thought out plan for tomorrow. It is the unsaid expectation that you are a grown up. In my run-ins and in my own life, I am discovering now that it can take a lifetime to shed the layers of wool that grow for winter. I have seen this manifest itself through the life of a student as I try to convince them that they can make it. The self sabotage that rears its head after decades of being told they will amount to nothing. In hearing my own voice guide me through a storm, reminding me of the many times I was told that I would not be this or that. Has my life been a quest to prove someone wrong? A deep desire to throw mud in an eye? The blueprint for life is there and yet, my disdain for architectural drawing cripples me. Therefore my ability to see the picture is hampered and it can only be imaged by the knowledge that the blueprint represents life itself. That's how it is for all of us, we can only manipulate that which we control. Our very breath a very tenuous existential question mark.

As we turn into this year that begins with the immense historical presence of a President Barack Obama, I am asking some deep questions. On a recent trip to an open house at the NASA facility in Greenbelt, we were given a briefing on the working of the Hubble telescope and shown the pictures of galaxies far away. I see the insignificance of my presence in the scope of a hundred galaxies and the true irrelevance of my existence. In this vast expanse and universe; I must ask the question; "What is is your impact on your little space?" That's the question that I want to bring to my students at the next orientation. I realize how much Generation Y has found itself in the cycle of historical seclusion and dismemberment. Its uniqueness its war cry, its best weapon, but it is also its Achilles heel.

To be continued.....................

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christ's Mass

Muslim, Jew, Gentile, Atheist, Buddhist, doesn't really matter, you just have to accept the fact that Jesus has shut this thing down. Aside from the little neighborhood 7-11 store, there are very few places that are open on this day. Offices are closed, schools shut down. That's what I'm talking about, Jesus has shut this thing down!

As all the anti-God rhetoric has evolved over the years, things like substituting "Happy Holidays" for the term "Christmas" have become common place. In fact in our offices we are very careful to send out holiday wishes lest we offend anyone by describing it as Christmas. That's the foolishness of it all. As if we would dare ask the Muslims to call Ramadan something else.

The reality is that we have been celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ through generations. Somewhere in the history of humankind a whole race recognized the importance of this one individual to the story of our people. It takes a whole lot of agreement to get the whole world to recognize one occurrence and pick a day to celebrate it. Of course the colonizers of new worlds played a large role in this, spreading Christianity worldwide. Somehow this story, printed in books that have no copyright, has prevailed.

So for all those of you that get offended when someone says, "Merry Christmas" to you, all I can say is too bad. Try getting another holiday changed for your own benefit. Turn Veteran's day to "If you had any inclination to fight" day, or Lincoln's birthday to, "These old Presidents" day. How about turning Martin Luther King day to "A whole bunch of us died too" day. Doesn't seem very likely does it? Well then sit back and enjoy the fact that even though in your house, where the focus of your celebrations is food and presents, Jesus made it possible for you to be off today.

You don't have to listen to your irritating co-workers and boss. They actually have to pay for your fat behind to stay home and stuff your mouth with food. You have an excuse to eat things that go against every doctor's order you have been given. Your trifling relatives actually have to put up with you for a day, and are going to be inclined to act nice. Despite the economy, you will actually get at least one present today. That's something to look forward to during your so called 'holiday'.

While you revel in your rhetoric, I am going to call it what it is "Christmas". A long time ago in a manger somewhere, a little baby was born and his legacy changed the world. I know it stopped me from punching quite a few people in the face and telling several folks where to go and how to get there. This little baby grew up and things he said and did stopped me from carrying a gun, and playing shoot 'em up. He is the reason I regret many of things that I did growing up, and caused me to commit my life to good.

So please, if you meet me today and I say "Merry Christmas" to you, don't get an attitude or try to correct me. Because, if not for him, meeting me would have meant some other words and you leaving without your wallet. "Merry Christmas, YOU HEARD!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Death of a Father! (For Alex Gwebe-Nyirenda)

I remember him as a loving man,
the first man I ever saw shed tear of grief or happiness
He was admirable and charismatic,
greeted you with a smile each and every time
He was quick to articulate his displeasure and define his dislikes,
but of these he had very few

He did not discriminate by social status,
nor differentiate by color
His home was our playground,
open to all those who were seeking solace
His kids our conduits to an accepted social peace
He fed us, quenched our thirst and never once sought payment
His cars drove us to unscheduled appointments
and picked us up from far away places

He was the father I never had,
the man who would first show me how a real man loves his family
He was a loving bear of a man,
his laughter the the bellow of a buffalo on the Savannah
He was my first ever fatherly hug,
a man who kissed his sons
He was protective of his keep,
but judicious in his judgments

He made sure that we wanted for nothing
Our needs were met as if by magic
His wand was his countenance,
which he wielded with gentle aplomb
Oh, for but to have a father of such stature
Not quite whom God had appointed for me,
but for another
Yet in him, I have had the opportunity to live,
if but for a moment, as his son


Dedicated to Alex Gwebe-Nyirenda (May His Soul Rest In Peace)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You're Graduating!

Tell them you're graduating
Tell the haters,
Tell those that love you
Tell them all
Tell them you're graduating
Yes, even those that told you, you weren't going to make it
Better still, especially them
The ones smiling, yet dying slowly inside
Let em know

Tell that fool you're graduating
Yes, the one who left you with those two kids
In fact tell his trifling girlfriend too
Let them hear it from friends and some foes
Go on, tell everyone you know
It's your time, go ahead put on a show
You're graduating, let em know

Shout it from the stage and on the street
Let your gown flow, and make sure that you wave as you sit
Don't mind what they say, or if they stare
Do everything you can to make them aware
Because you're graduating today and it's your turn,
What do you care

Mama, told you you'd make it,
She prophesied way back in the day
Told you not to pay any mind,
Nor care what people would say
You persevered and held on to hope,
as if hope came in little drops
You stood steadfast trying to find your place
Fighting battles and facing great odds
Now here you are at your appointed time
A long distance traveled with a troubled face
Yet no one can take what is rightfully yours
This diploma, gown and hat and some boastful prose
Ha,ha, I'm graduating today,
Shout it out loud so all the haters can hear,
"I've got mine, you get yours!"

Mr. Do Right!

Lord, you know how I try to live right
Try to do my thing and still stand upright
But you remember how you made this coincidence thing, right?
Somehow things showing up at the same place or in the same space, right?

Lord you know how much I've longed to feel right
To not have dreams of demons with their faces tight
Or visions of angels with cross faces, telling me I'm not right
And yet my walk has sometimes ended somewhat short, right?

Lord, you know that thing I told you about, right?
That deep inner fear and how my mistakes made me contrite?
Well, is it true that just because it feels good, it could still not be right?
I know it's a dumb question, but you know me right?

Lord, show me your ways and keep me right
Don't let me falter on this road and come up short
Of doing what I've always known was true and right
Keep me walking in your light, straight to my destiny and to do right

Yes Lord, make me Mr. Do Right!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Survivor Gabon

I am sitting here, not feeling very well and watching Survivor Gabon. I am slowly getting annoyed at the talisman imagery, the hooting and hollering African warriors sitting on the ground, as idols are burned on the ground. Yet quite interestingly, I am not changing the channel.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack's Assignment

God’s Assignment

Maybe it’s our casual disdain
For the epic battles fought for our pain
The simple places we could not go
Or the fountains from whence water would not flow
Perhaps it’s that we have fought, now so much
For a prize that lost its glow

Perhaps it’s that in this infinite story
Our mangled past
Has become what we now want to be cast
For how do we re-write our history?
Or forget the list of atrocities?
For we feel the pain of lashes?
Encumbered by what we so often remember
Of the voyages that ended off-shore
In the bowels of ships, never told

Is this what has left us encumbered?
To roam the land; as if handicapped and hindered?
Perhaps it’s that while we would suffer
We were left lying asunder
Our wilderness has held like a tether
A constant and non gentle reminder
That God’s love had not escaped our encounter

Perhaps we should now simply acknowledge
That there rises a man full of robust regal splendor
Whose words do not fall like gentle raindrops
But beat like the steady drum of thunder
His eyes the vision of fire, his voice committed desire
To make promises of changes from yonder
Where only pain and suffering once held us in corners

Perhaps it time to accept that forever
Will not be a reflection of never
Perhaps we should weep with excitement
That our children will now know power as an enticement
Perhaps even as we cry with excitement
We should revel in God’s prophetic development
That Barack is his chosen assignment

© Soneka K. Kamuhuza 11-5-08

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grave Robber Elections

I have been asked my opinion about another election that matters to me. One that is almost eight thousand miles away in a country in the south of Africa. As I describe it, South Central Africa. You see while everyone here is on eggshells, the Presidential results in Zambia are in.

The new Zambian President is Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) an old political ally of the past few presidents, Chiluba and Mwanawasa. Wait one minute, if my memory serves me correct, he may have even played a role in Kaunda's government. There seems to be a theme here. In with the old.

What's crazy is that his opponent is a former Kaunda and MMD crony himself. Now a member of the opposition. These guys are both fossils who somehow continue to be able to stoke the flames of pre-independence rhetoric gurgling from their mouths to entice Zambians. So what in essence were our choices? What makes these guys different from say a Chiluba?

What may be different is that during their lives they have both lived way above the average Zambian's means. They have been able to afford nice homes in our most affluent neighbourhoods, luxury cars and sustained the ability to send their children -sizable families- to schools in England and America. They've both had successes as businessmen and political henchmen, enough to load up on the political vitriol over years. So they, unlike Chiluba may be less inclined to make -as their first act of Presidency- a get rich scheme part of their repertoire. Do not bet money on this last inference.

I have heard the lament of continued MMD rule and how some wished Michael Sata had won. Let me remind you that this is the same guy who as a Kaunda front man, closed the entrance to a government building off a major throughfare and used it as a private entrance, got into numerous verbal and physical altercations with other politicians, openly bribed poor people with gifts at election time, threatened to bulldoze whole neighbourhoods (compounds) and was quite unapologetic of his effusive manner and impolite bluntness. There is a breath of fresh air in such a straight forward man, but there is a man just like that, running Zimbabwe.

Now the chosen man, Rupiah Banda, is an enigma. I believe this is more like the Sarah Palin thing. No one really expected -when he was made Vice President- that he would be called on to be President. Extraordinary circumstances require some extraordinary decisions. This is the first time in Zambian history that a sitting President has died and the constitution has had to be followed as it was written.

The rumblings of Mr. Banda's suitability for the job will not cease. This is a man who is still surrounded by the ghosts that his predecessor tried to exorcise. People like Vernon Mwaanga, waiting to grab another opportunity to rob the people. What makes MMD irritating is their parties colluded incapability to close in on itself and root out filth and corruption. Chiluba is still in legal limbo, we know he stole, now then what? Are we just expected to let time go by and forget that he was broke prior to becoming President and then all of a sudden became rich? Well if we are, then it's the very same guys in power now (MMD), trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

There will be no Jedi mind tricks here. No telling us, "MMD is good!", expecting us to repeat it. We are the next generation of leaders, poised and ready to take what is rightfully our inheritance. For too long, we have allowed these old foggies to tell us we were too young, too immature to understand. They have used cultural discrimination to polarize us. "Tawakwata Mushinshi" (You have no respect) is used on us when we question their logic.

Zambia is way past the point where we can allow guys without college degrees and marginal educational backgrounds to run our country. They cannot compete in post-colonial economic and political stages. A good businessman doesn't necessarily make a good President. We are sitting at the cusp of a new millennium looking at the same faces -in positions of power- we saw when we were kids. "Where is our Obama? Where is that fresh face with innovative ideas? Where is that person who does not allow cultural myopia to define the decision making process? Where is that maverick willing to go against the grain? Where is the war cry, It's time for change?"

Until such a time, you may continue to ask my opinion about our current choice for President and his former competition. It will remain the same. They were both unsuitable and I guess people chose the less of two evils. The political zombies who seem to never die haunt both of their pasts and future. We need some refreshment, and it's not from their fountain. So now, Sata threatens unrest because of the results and the army and police remain poised. I can say only this; I know both of these men's children and as the saying goes, "The apple don't fall far from the tree". Good luck to us all, we're gonna need it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Last Days

Okay, it's three days till the Presidential election and we're all on edge. We expect Barack Obama to win but down inside, we're all just a little apprehensive about what tricks 'these folks' will try to pull. Please plug whatever name you want into the place of 'these folks'. It's really weird to have this secure insecurity, quite the oxymoron. However, stranger things have happened like George Bush beating Al Gore on votes counted in all places, Florida, where his brother happened to be Governor.

The reason we are wary is simply because we have recently seen exactly how much power the Republicans wield. For what feels like an eternity now we have had to choose between food and gas, or if we wanted both; getting an extra job. We have been forced to choose between activities for our kids and putting gas in the car to go to work. Many of us have limited our social activities, with no long drives to clubs or parties. If the train isn't running, then we're not coming. Our spiritual lives have suffered, having to choose not going to church over burning gas. God forgive us.

I am coming to the realization that we have been bamboozled, bushwacked, led astray by the Republicans. They are in a a panic right now, completely thrown off their game plan. Their Palin gambit back-fired. McCain now sounds pathetic, crying over campaign financing, Barack's tactics, and his credentials. So his friends have stepped in, yes, the Republican gas company owning folks have decided to play their card. I filled my tank up with $20.00 in gas today, gas is almost a $2.00 a gallon. I had to catch my breath.

The Arabs didn't start pumping more gas all of a sudden. Neither did demand didn't suddenly go down. The true players stepped up and decided to manipulate the market. How can the stock exchange go crazy and gas go down? Ask the Republicans. How can the cost of goods still be high and yet gas is down? Ask the Republicans. They have played an integral role in every messed up thing that has happened in the economy. What is their last play before they kiss the White House goodbye? The big gas push.

I would respect their move far more if they were just as blatant as we are in Africa. Just plain buy your way to the Presidency. This subtle Jedi mind trick thing iritates the heck out of me.
Too little, too late guys, "Obama for President! Bye-bye, so long, ..............."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mbeki The War Criminal

After ten years of denying the connection between HIV and AIDS, the South African government through their new Health Minister Barbara Hogan, has admitted their mistake. For a decade, their former President Mbeki and his puppet former Health Minister Msimang conspired relatively well to deny it. Their intellectual apathy, targeted myopia and general dis-ingenuousness played dangerously to help continue the pandemic. Pushing holistic approaches, which when used singularly, cannot be an effective treatment for the virus, they battered their nation with their fortified and unified ignorance.

It is now estimated that South Africa has the world's highest numbers of people infected with HIV. Somehow, I see Mbeki's hand all over this. Fine, there are all sorts of cultural and ethnic issues that one can interject into this conversation. However, the biggest player in all of this was this President who was willing to stand in some of the most influential arenas in the world, spouting his ignorance. He displayed a critical nonchalance towards what has soon become the primary problem in his country and the continent.

In a country rich with natural resources, he has cheated its most important resource, the people of an opportunity to make a critical head start in the fight against AIDS. Still bruised from the hands of apartheid, South Africa now begins to be battered by this pandemic in epic proportions. As it rises entwined in the cloak of traditional taboos, ethnic stigma has given way to disease segregation. Many have been victimized and vilified for having the virus or dying because of it. Mbeki's refusal to provide the pandemic with its correct place in the national agenda and dialogue created the black sea of death, now the calling card of the pandemic. There is blood on Mbeki's hands.

Therefore I hereby propose that we take his @#$ to the Hague. He deserves nothing less than a trial by jury. He should be tried by a group of HIV positive mothers condemned to death for lack of medication and intervention. His charges? Meticulous foolishness, coupled by wanton disinterest. I would appreciate seeing him respond to prosecution questions about the evidence he had. How he was able to dispute proven medical theories and science. I would pay to watch him wallow as he looks at the pictures of a thin hollowed out soul ravaged by AIDS. All I know is that my dream may never come true and he will have to wait for his trial with God. However I am comforted because I'd hate to be him when the verdict gets read.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Obama a Terrorist?


Overheard at McCain & Palin rallies recently has been the term "terrorist". This has been chanted enthusiastically referring to Barack Obama. Sarah Palin has used her platform to extend the following olive branch to her radical right friends; "Obama is pals with terrorists". Wow! Now that's truly American spirit. In the middle of two wars with some real terrorists trying to kill Americans and in order to get into the White House you stoop to calling the other candidate a terrorist?

A terorist is defined as; "a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism." Now, we all know this rationale doesn't make any sense. However, when you take into account Governor Palin's educational background -which reads like the credits of a movie;
  • Hawaii Pacific University (Fall 1982),
  • North Idaho College (Spring 1983 & Fall 1983),
  • University of Idaho (Fall 1984 - Spring 1985),
  • Matanuska-Susitna College (Fall 1985) and
  • University of Idaho (Spring 1986, Fall 1986 and Spring 1987 ).
it is plain to see why the republicans are content to have her be the front runner of this foolishness. They need a fall guy/gal and she presents the perfect excuse if they have a bad showing.There are certain things that senator McCain cannot say given his experience and background. So, you have to have someone in your crew that can utter plain idiocies and get away with it. Good strategy on their part.

What's unfortunate is that Obama and Biden can't call her what she is without risking the wrath of empathetic voters. You see it would be seen as attacking a woman. How gallant would that be? So they have to stick to the issues. She cannot be termed a redneck, or a hick. The fact that she has been shooting game since she was three and has a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association is immaterial. Her moose/elk burger, fisherman, snow-mobile background appeal to those that have 'red-neck' stenciled on their forehead.

That's where those of us that write come in. You see we can see past the facade of evil rhetoric, and vile vitriol. We can smell the false assault on our sensibilities. We can hear the wind whistling through the republican teeth as they pass the equivalent of verbal gas. We refuse to be appeased by people that have never had our best interests at heart.

Senator Palin's best chance of consistently visiting the White House is to do what we all do, get on the guest list.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Closing Statement

In his closing statement in the Presidential debate yesterday, John McCain said something like, "the country needs someone with experience with their hand on the tiller." Well like many, I was a bit confused. You see for a short moment there it sounded like he had meant till and just used a colloquialism. It would have been an appropriate word given the fact that -while supporting special interest groups- he and his party have robbed the American public for years.

I had to look it up and found the following in Wikipedia, "A tiller or till is a lever attached to a rudder post (American terminology) or rudder stock (English terminology) of a boat in order to provide the leverage for the helmsman to turn the rudder. The tiller is normally used by the helmsman directly pulling or pushing it, but it may also be moved remotely using tiller lines." So it appears that Mr. McCain was actually saying something quite deep. You need to be pausing for my however. Here it comes. However, who exactly did he think he was talking to? His boating friends, as they discussed their next yacht ride? His senate friends who commune in the summer on the waters off Florida's coast? Or was it the Harvard club types who meet for a brew after a day of crew? Exactly how does the common man connect with a tiller? Tell me John, how does Ms. Anna Mae Robinson from East Baltimore identify with your tiller?

It is for small reasons like this, that Senator McCain continues to exhibit why he is not fit to lead this country. Big statement coming, hold for it. He can't even speak regular English to regular folks. He has to use a word that emphasizes how polarized (distanced and disengaged) he is from the common American. I am a pretty educated fellow and even I -having inferred the meaning of tiller- still had to look it up. So now that you know what Mr. McCain was talking about, "what do you think?" Do you buy his analogy? Senator McCain believes that we need one of his hands, hopefully the one on the good arm, to be directing this country. His jabs at Senator Obama's experience and naivete -as he calls it- are becoming more common. Add Sarah Palin's country accent and annoying voice and you have a venom concerto with "Obama's naivete" its refrain.

Of course I had to look up the word naivete. I like words to be attributed and utilized correctly. Conjecture and inferences that are not rooted in directional proportion annoy me. Make any sense to you? Don't worry, me neither. The dictionary refers to naivete as, "The state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated, especially in being artless, credulous, or uncritical." This description, if you may allow me to infer, sounds like Sarah Palin on her best day.

It would be naive of us to believe that Sarah could fill-in as president in Mr. McCain's stead. It would be naive of us to believe that John McCain does have four more good years ahead. We would be naive to envision that somehow the republican party has mustered a new strategy to dig us out of the black economic hole they have created. We would be naive to believe that the politics as usual stance will change -all of a sudden- when McCain is in office. It would be the height of naivete to actually believe that Sarah Palin is respected by conservative republicans. This country would be naive to imagine that after all these years in office, McCain suddenly is getting epiphanies about how to change the course of our economic, social and foreign affairs.

No, we need something just a little more radical than that, something that shows we are thinking outside the box. Something more than an African American running for president. That my friends, is an African American president.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Old and Ugly Candidate

I watched the debate yesterday between Barack Obama and John McCain and I made a dramatic realization; McCain is old. As I watched him pre-Alzheimer his way through the debate, I could just see him forgetting his argument and chewing on his toothless gum. His hair looked thin, real thin. His injured arm even more non-functional as he waved it in derision.

Folks have gotten all wrapped up in the various issues; Palin, Iraq, the economy, Afghanistan, but I am stuck in old. Just plain old, in fact cantankerously old, a fossil. Forget the years of experience, the foreign policy, the heroism as a POW in Vietnam, he's just an old man. It won't be long before he forgets his lines, and starts asking who the people around him are.

The race to the White house is not really a black and white issue or one hitched on the back of economic discourse. It is not about liberal or conservative viewpoints. It does not warrant delving into the quagmire of re-establishing America's station in the world view. It has little to do with national security, or if we can actually envision Sarah Palin deciding whether this country should go to war. Let alone, what her husband will do if she gets to be Vice President. What exactly is the step up job from snow-boarder?

No, this election is simply about a handsome educated black couple who happen to tower, both in height and intellect their white rivals. More firmly, it's about an old, slightly infirm, ex-Bush cheerleader and his knack for surviving tragedy. Many years ago he walked away from a POW camp to freedom. We commend him for that. It's now time he realize that he can't walk away from his age or his tired looks; but he can walk away from this election. He needs to do this quickly, before he starts to forget there is an election.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm Sorry

I'm so sorry
That when you fell down
I didn't help you up
I'm sorry
That with a stroke of a pen
I couldn't make it right
I'm sorry
That I hurt your heart
And what's more?
Didn't feel contrite

I'm sorry
That in my parting words
I didn't utter a kind or gentle phrase
I'm so sorry
That your teary face
Was treated common place

I'm sorry
That I've caused everything that's good
To now be misunderstood
I'm sorry
That all the pleasantries exchanged
No more feel like they should

I'm so sorry
That even truth when told
Now has very little hold
I'm sorry
What were innocent words
Are in a venomous veil

I'm sorry
That I can no longer sooth
Your nagging distress
See I'm sorry
That even my words
Cause you moments of stress

I'm sorry
For leaving you bare
When I should have returned your stare

I'm so sorry
That we will never repair
That innocence there
When we walked on the path
In verbal regale
Bathed in our love
And voluminous care

For this and and for more
While acting a fool
I'm sorry

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Isaac's Wells


Your wells are dry Isaac

Who has covered your wells?

The Lord has promised you water

So why does Israel roam?

Surely Abimelech cannot prosper

To gain yet not sow?

Rename your wells, Isaac

Rename your wells, Isaac

Your inheritance possess

They may chase you away

Again and again

But, no man can claim your place

Nor prosper their wells

Encamp in Gerar, Isaac

Re-open your wells

Do not despair, Isaac

As they stop up your wells

For they quarrel with the Lord

Sitnah will be their name

Even as you wander in doubt

Have faith in the Lord

For your next well will be Rehoboth

And you will flourish in this land

In Abimelech's plight

He will recognize God's might

Discarding his discord

For peaceful respite

At Beersheba encamp, Isaac

Pitch your tents yet on nigh

Remember that your father Abraham

Was promised this land

Re-dig your father's wells, Isaac

They are dry no more, Isaac

They have been refreshed

A Christian Man


A Christian Man let’s his yea be yea

And his nay be nay.

He dwells not on the adoration of man

But the acceptance of God

A Christian man raises his children to believe

In the stories of men he never knew,

about a man he never met.

He is leader among PhD’s

Yet a meek follower,

of a carpenter.

A Christian man is slow to anger,

measured in speech

And patient to listen.

He answers your call without hesitation.

A Christian man,

dedicates himself tirelessly to the welfare of his family

He is not swayed by the popular

Nor influenced by fads.

He is stoic in his morals,

Unyielding in his beliefs.

He fights for the salvation of his children.

He stands because he must.

He is like Joshua in battle,

relentless in Gospel pursuit

A Christian man,

reviews all the songs on God’s album,

so the lyrics come easy.

He ministers in his home,

and his walk, ministers to others.

He is convinced of his salvation,

Even in the face of uncertainty

He bears the weight of uneven tribulations

His spirit ministers when he is gone

His verse is his song

His bible his orchestra

To Matthew he writes

To Luke, he listens

With John, he has argued

Mark, chastised

Of Revelations, shows fear

He pursues Exodus

For Leviticus’ sake

In his memory is Psalms

A Christian man walks

Because his feet search for the path

His shoes show wear

His clothes are soiled

He labors in strength

“Glory’ his constant cry

Meek and mild

With sensitive heart

Yet Strong and mighty

In confrontational stance

He repents with conviction

Forgives with sincerity

For, I hear Joshua’s war cry

From the mountains on high

I cry unto you O’ Lord

That I can be

A Christian man.

©2008 SKK

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Watering Hole

I recall a local Zambian watering-hole called Municipal Sports club (Muni’s) with fondness. It’s where all the “who’s who” of Lusaka would congregate to drink and supposedly solve the world’s social ills. This was a ritual to get ready for the rest of the night. The preparatory bantering and arguing -while under the influence of a lot of alcohol- would lead to more drinking, arguing and the occasional fist fights.

Saying guys would solve world issues may seem fat fetched. However to state otherwise would be to cheat the many men gathered of their prime belief -that their voice mattered. To suggest they keep the discourse on a country level would not give credit to the assembled intellect. Conversations were not focus on local politics unless it was about our beloved football which always involves politics.

Any topic could be engaged with some expert discourse. What is happening in Kyrgyzstan? You’d get an answer. How does that spill in the Puget Sound affect the environment? Another answer. Why have the World Bank’s policies not worked in Somalia? You would get an answer. How did Bush win the election? You would get an answer? Is the AIDS virus manufactured? Answer. Note; there is nothing in my writing that suggests that the answers proffered would make any sense, but, you would certainly get the bar-side politician point-of-view. I have seen many a fight manifest when a person over-questioned the veracity of an answer.

You see there’s a machismo in drinking your 14th beer, still having the ability to hold yourself straight while having a somewhat lucid conversation. Your peers are usually more in respect of your constant gulping and call for another beer than they are of your scope of knowledge. Now if you can also chat up girls while almost motherless and drunk, you’ve kicked it up a notch. Therein would lay the key to your success; beer, girls and the ability to argue.

I neglect to mention that while rambling at about 2AM in the morning, many of these ‘intelligent’ gentlemen had wives and children at home. If they were true believers, then they walked into the house after work just long enough to drop off their briefcase and maybe, change their clothes. Otherwise, it was straight to the watering hole. The die-hards would not even go home. It would be a straight line from the office to the club. The round table discussions would be in session. Presence at these conferences was vital. Upon arrival back at home around 4AM, there was an accepted expectation that wives wake up to ensure that each pundit did not sleep without food. Needless to say that each conference panelist would have already availed himself of numerous items from the club kitchen.

The watering hole fed the macho attitude bred into many young Zambian men. Negative attitudes and ideologies towards women were nurtured here. “Yes, it’s a man’s right to have more than one woman. In fact, it’s expected.” We became well versed in the game of cat and mouse. Intricate battle details were shared between sips of Mosi (local brew). We were taught how to avoid being caught if your girlfriend showed up at the club -while you were working another girl- “here’s what you do.” Mountains -of what then seemed like useful information- was piled into our heads. Its sole purpose was to build us into the drunken, womanizing, briefcase businessmen we were destined to become. Love was considered a sign of weakness, “So she dumped you because she caught you with another girl? Forget that @#$%, there are many other chicks!” You dare not respond to this with, “But I love her!” This could cause you to be heckled and derided for the rest of the night. “Here have another drink!”

So now, having evolved into a Christian, wife loving, immersed father, I look back and wonder how we made it this far. We should be dead. Many guys continue/d to play Russian roulette with sex in an environment rife with AIDS. Many of the pundits have died, or are dying. If you are familiar with the way some African countries address this crisis then you will know that it is considered an unmentionable. When you ask how a pundit died you will be told, “He was in and out of the hospital.” That is the complete answer. Very few will actually say, “It was AIDS!”

So you may ask, what has happened now. Has the club closed? Are there no more pundits left? Has there been a change in attitudes? The answer to this may scare even the strongest of heart. The pundits are still there, lined up waiting in the wings to take an available chair. So we spill a little beer for our fallen comrades., those who listened to the bad advice and died too soon, those whose children have never heard the words "I love you", those who didn't designate a driver and never made it home, those whose wives have left them. In the immortal words of a popular rapper, "This is for ma homies!" or in the language of my forefathers and one of my brethren standing at the Muni's bar “Iwe barman; leta ubwalwa!” - (Hey barman, bring more beer).

Written by Soneka K Kamuhuza©2005

Sing Tenor



Who sang this damn song?

I don’t like the words

The beats too fast, the drums all mashed

A disconcerting pitch, a whiny twang

Shut up and let me try to catch up

What’s the matter with this melody?

Don’t want to hear your version

It’s bad enough on its own

Lip synching won’t change anything

It sucks, you sound insane

Forgot that you had to have talent?

To have your chance at glory and fame

Picked out some outfits, tried a new game

Trying to represent? What a shame

Noticed no one singing along?

You’ve misrepresented yourself

Hardly can pronounce your name

You’re not on a billboard, heck not even a sham

You’re still that loser, no hip in your step

Singing loud doesn’t make you heard, it creates more noise

So how about you sing tenor

Ten’or fifteen miles away

Or solo, so low we can’t hear you

The again, your best bet is bass

Basically not at all

Soneka Kamuhuza 2008©

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Loves Music


We’re dancing through life rifts, rhythm in song

On wings from an angel, subtly concealed

Love is an organ, unique in its sound

To kiss deep in alto, hearts filled with bass

If this isn’t your song, the melody’s wrong

We’re in legato, the harmony’s grown

Dreams are the reason, to keep swaying in sync

Each reason for living is etched in this tune

Sopranos are listening, to join us in throng

But that’s just what love is, a symphony strong

You know about this love thing

How it sometimes goes wrong

Nimble fingers can play the wrong key, skip a refrain

Miscued love beats, misguided metronome

Raise your voice forte, the song has begun

Your loves in full measure, C sharp has won

What voice do we use, to rhyme with this tune?

Soprano seems obvious, but baritones past

Convene with the altos to back up the sound

My loves in your bass clef for harmonic sound

Touch my crescendo, only you know how dolce

Enfatico to my heart, octaves crashing an eighth

Fill me with your lyrics, andante each line

I want to hear your ivory, both black and in white

So again in this stanza, I call out your name.

Play me your love song, that sweet chorale sound

Written by –Soneka K. Kamuhuza©

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dear Employee

I recently called the Human Resources (HR) department to discuss what to do about your tired behind. You see when you were employed, we gave you a job description. Yes, it's that piece of paper that outlines the very things that you are expected to do for your paycheck. It's not very complicated. You do this, we'll do that. I'm still struggling with the you do this part, because as of today, I'm wondering what we pay you for.

In my conversations with HR they have failed to recognize the fact that I really don't think you have any leg to stand on. I firmly believe that an illustration of your mediocre work ethic and Venn diagram of where your tardiness and laziness intersect would convince anyone to fire you. After all, you're trifling, constantly late, barely here when you are here and as they say in the vernacular, suck. Being around you has become like sucking on Zimbabwean lemons in a drought. I apologize if these letter comes as a surprise to you, but my smile has simply been because if I cried, it would happen every day and I might get committed.

I am convinced that somewhere in your past you must have been adopted by sloths. You see the sloth predominantly lives in one tree. He is so lazy and slow that fungi grow on him. That accounts for that greenish film on him. In fact there is a particular insect that is able to live its whole life cycle on a sloth. The easiest way to locate a sloth in the jungle is to look for a pile of dung at the base of a tree and then look up. You see, once in a while he makes the slow decent down to the base of the tree to relieve himself and then slowly goes back up. Did I tell you he hangs upside down for most of his life? I have to confess, I have come by your desk looking to see if you have a pile of dung underneath it. Your work seems very reminiscent of someone who has blood rushing away from their head and to their lower extremities ala sloth.

Personally I have nothing against you except your employment. You see I was raised to understand the relationship between work and compensation. In the bible there is a parable about a servant who is given one talent (coin) by his master and told to do something with it. Well when the master comes back he has done nothing with it. So the master basically rebukes him because at the least, he could have put it in the bank and received some interest. The master also takes his talent and gives it to the servant who had the sense to multiply his talents. Of course the lazy servants argument is that the master is a hard man and he was scared etc. Moral of the story? You -my one talent returning friend- are lazy.

Most lazy people have one thing in common, an entitlement complex. A root disease that leads them to believe that there is something about them that should make other people put up with their crap. Some believe they can get by on looks, friendship, personality or good grace. It is a deep seeded misconception that takes root and doesn't seem to allow said person to see through the shrubs. In most humans we have a subconscious, conscious, and creative subconscious. Our subconscious acts automatically, our conscious makes us aware and our creative subconscious ensures that we act like us. The creative part is the part that tries to keep us normal -as we believe we are. That's why there are many crazy people who can't stand their medicine, because it does not make them feel like themselves as they see themselves. Normal. See the irony? So in your case, you're lazy. You draw the inference.

Now please understand, life is quite complicated I am aware of that, but it appears that you have more turns than an Irish maze or an Arab sheikh picking a wife for the night. Your ethical myopia allows you to collect a check for negligible output and professional sabotage. You're what we call a professional terrorist, blowing up productive environments in your wake. Just to be helpful I'll give you some much needed advice. Work has some very simple rules I'd like to help you understand;

  1. Come to work on time.
  2. Leave work on time.
  3. Lunch is an hour long.
  4. Do what the boss tells you to do.
  5. Complete your work on time.
  6. Come to work regularly.
  7. Write in English.
  8. Speak clearly and effectively.
  9. Come to work regularly.
  10. Leave your #$%^ family problems at home.
I realize that leaving this letter laying around for you to find seems harsh and cruel, but I'm sure the severe slapping fit would not have sufficed either. I am recognizing more and more just how lucky our organization is to have found me. Given your track record, how would they have made a profit? Nevertheless, you are here and we have to find a middle ground between jump starting you or throwing you out a window. This is my attempt at the latter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Economics 101

It has become quite clear that no matter what George Bush says, we are in a recession. I don't blame him though for thinking otherwise. After all, he doesn't buy gas, has been living rent and mortgage free for almost eight years, has frequent flier miles on the most comfortable aircraft in the American skies and probably doesn't shop for clothes. His food is free, and he doesn't pay for laundry detergent. So it is quite apparent that he would not recognize a recession if it slapped him in his wallet. This in one of the most economically trying times in many years and it is amazing to hear that the esteemed President is clueless. According to him, we're in an economic slow down.

Laced in the vitriol of conversation is the acknowledgment that every conceivable good and service has been affected by the price of gas. From milk to the soft ice-cream cone I buy every year at the start of Spring costs more. Yes, even the kiddie size one that used to cost $1.25 is now $1.50. Forget about the groceries and consumables that us everyday folk require; messing with my ice-cream is just unconscionable. Recently, George "Dubyah" traveled to Saudi Arabia. His visit must have had some impact; because the price of gas has gone up. I imagine he said something to tick them off. Something like, "We're not pulling out of Iraq," would do the trick. As a common man I have been beaten down by what clearly appears to be the most oppressive economic downturn in the past 30 years.

Dubyah isn't feeling it though, he's in the top three percent. Three percent? That's that oily film that floats to the top when you make a really good stew. Those are the guys that congress is calling to hearings and questioning. The white dudes in suits, that run the oil and mortgage companies. Their sheer arrogance in the face of questioning shows that they are a direct product of the very system that has created and is benefiting from this mess. No amount of eloquence and clever prose can mitigate a broke pocket.

My twenty six mile one way commute has become a $70 a week gas excursion. I may like my job, but somehow parting with close to $280.00 a month to get there, wasn't in my plan. It's called budget defying economics. How to stretch every dollar so that it meets your needs while circumnavigating the beltway, has become a version of economic roulette. If you're not getting ticked off at being cut off, then the price of tomatoes will make you blow a gasket. So now, I'm not as tolerant of my boss or co-workers. My employees are getting on my nerves with their questionable work habits and timeliness valuelessness (now that rhymes). Can't quit the job though, it's barely paying for the gas to get me there.

Consider me a skeptic and pessimist. I have a huge suspicion that while we have been watching -with keen interest- the terrorist warnings levels go from orange to red, to green and back up again; the terrorists have been watching our gas prices go from $3 to $3.50 to $3.71. We have ignored the fact that this may just be a new form of terrorism. There has to be some satisfaction in watching us squirm and complain about gas prices. There must be some deep satisfaction in knowing that thousands of Americans have and will lose their homes. That the system of credit dependence has allowed smug looks like the ones of the oil and mortgage company presidents we saw on television. Someone is happy watching our economy implode. Evidently it might be some of our own people. We all know the government is not doing enough to mitigate this situation. I love the economic stimulus package, but it won't go to pay for my gas. I have a mortgage, wife and kid. It would be uncivilized to use any of it to pay Hussein El Bin Al Sadab to build another palace or diamond earrings for his ninth wife.

So as rhetoric builds about how to fix this royal mess, I can only sit in awe at how we will survive. If the housing crisis isn't an indicator, then leaving my car at home and using a moped should be. We're sick and tired of being sick and tired. The way I see it, I need to call over to Pennsylvania avenue and ask if I can move into one of the guest rooms for a spell. It's closer to work.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Girl Beat-Down" Gen Y Style

There's a story in the news about middle school girls in Clarksville, Indiana luring a girl to a parking lot for a beating. The subsequent link to the video -of this alleged beat down - shows two girls in what appears to be a hair pulling contest. Since the incident in Florida in which some high school girls mauled a fellow schoolmate, it appears the media has 'suddenly' gotten a sensitivity to the depravity of our youth and their propensity for violence. This is the media speaking and not me. Just thought I'd make this clear.

You see any self respecting internet guru -which literally means most teens-will tell you that all you have to do is type the words "girl beat-downs" on YouTube and you will get a plethora of videos. In fact you can filter by savage, hair pulling, nasty, vicious, dangerous, or any other connotation. What we seem to forget as adults, is that what we considered a private environment is now the 'new' public forum for our youth. The world -through the internet- is their audience. Neighborhood fights can be broadcast for all to see. No longer do I have to tell you that I beat up that kid, you can watch the video.

I feel concerned that this new arena has desensitized many of us -including me- into viewing this video and in essence thinking, "Is that it?" Why would anyone be upset about what appears to be a normal girl fight. I mean you want to see a fight? Go to YouTube and type in, "Girls Brawling or Brawlin". The latter spelling compensates for all our youth who can't spell. In fact default to the latter prior to utilizing the former. Oh heck, seeing as some of the very teens who post this stuff may be reading this, I'll make it clearer, use brawlin in your search before you use brawling, you'll have greater success (more hits).

Our kids are not using the same rules we did, nor do they have any wish to do so. What concerns me is that we as adults are getting into the habit of typecasting the majority of Generation Y, based on a few public 'spotlights' broadcast. Fighting has always occurred amongst teens, it's a right of passage. However, kids are airing it on the internet, now that's new. It's the ultimate bragging right or humiliation. Rock and Roll was from hell; "peace and love" kids needed to be locked up, disco was taboo, and hip hop is the reason most black men are in jail. At least that's the way it has been represented in the media over the years.

We must come to the basic realization that unless we engage our youth in a dialog, we are doomed to repeat the very mistakes our parents made with us. Research shows that this generation is poised to be the next 'great' generation. Ask most parents and they'll dispute this vehemently. That lazy kid who won't get up to mow the lawn, is supposed to grow up to be great? Well parent, I have a suggestion, film him, post it on YouTube and MySpace under the heading "Lazy Bum". You might just get him up. After all, his friends are watching.