Voice Of Struggle – poetry by Mwandawiro Mghanga

Voice Of Struggle

Poems From Prison In Kenya

Mwandawiro Mghanga


Between February 1985 and September 1989 I was a political prisoner in my country Kenya. I was imprisoned for participating in the struggle against dictatorship, corruption and bad governance. As a student representative, I was in the front line of the students’ struggle for academic freedom, democracy and national liberation. Outside the university, I was part of the movement of Kenyan patriots of the struggle against the regime that was opposed the progress of my motherland. I was part of those who was aginst the culture of fear and silence, I collaborated with fellow citizens who are fighting for the respect and exercise of human rights. I was working together with those struggling against exploitation and oppression of person to person.

Because of this, the government of Moi-Kanu defined me as an enemy. For under the rule of dictators and traitors, fighting for democracy and national freedom, opposing imperialism, is breaking the law!

That is why in February 1985, following the directive of the government, several students, among them Karemi Nduthu, Philip Tirop and I were expelled from the university. But we refused to respect this arbitrary and oppressive order. We refused to leave the university voluntarily. We decided to openly rebel against the dictatorship. In solidarity, our fellow students decided to boycott studies and demonstrate against the government’s illegal decision to expel us.

Thus I found myself at the forefront of the bitter struggle of the students against dictatorship. This struggle took one week. In the end armed police invaded the campus. There then followed a big war between the students and the police. One student was killed and hundreds of others, including me, were wounded. I was arrested, tortured, brought to court and imprisoned for one year and fined 5,000 shillings or two months imprisonment. That is how I joined David Onyango Oloo, Maina wa Kinyatti, Omondi Kabir, Oginga Ogego, Geff Mwangi and hundreds of students and soldiers who were political prisoners at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

I was released in December 9, 1985. The fascism I witnessed at the police cells and in prison, only helped to assure me that the stand I had taken of being part and parcel of the struggle of the Kenyan patriots was just and moral. I was therefore ready to continue where I had left as soon as I was released. I refused completely to allow myself to be broken by prison.

After only three months, on February 1986, the police invaded my home at Werugha, Taita, and arrested me. They made a thorough search of trying to find evidence connecting me with Mwaken-ya, an underground movement. They were unable to find such evidence. But, of course, this could not prevent them from arresting me together with my two younger brothers, Ferdinand Kamata and Jazrael Ndawiro. My brothers were imprisoned at Wundanyi and Voi police stations where they were tortured and later charged with the offence of obstructing the police from performing their duty. Ndawiro was also expelled from Egerton College, Njoro, where he was a student

As for me, I was taken to Nyayo House to join other patriots who were being tortured there. After one month of the torture I was taken to the kangaroo court at the High Court in Nairobi and imprisoned for five years following a trial which took less than ten minutes and in spite of pleading not guilty! In this way, I found myself back at Kamiti Maximum Prison!

In January 1987, I was transferred from Kamiti to Eldoret Prison. In November the same year, after going on a protracted hunger strike in protest against the poor diet and the extra harsh treatment imposed against us by the officer in charge of the prison, Mugo Theuri, Gichuki Karanja and I were transferred to Kibos Prison in Kisumu. Then in April 1989, while on the verge of dying of malaria after being denied medical treatment, I was transferred back to Kamiti Maximum Prison. But this was thanks to the campaign of Amnesty International and the struggle of my dear wife and that of human rights activists in Kenya and the world.

I repeat, in prison, I witnessed the fascism of the Moi/Kanu regime with my own eyes. Kenyan prisons are not corrective institutions. They do not rehabilitate criminals, they do not educate them to become better citizens than they were before they were imprisoned. The prisons are for torturing and killing the wananchi who find themselves there. Some of what I witnessed and experienced there appear in my poems published here. But I can hardly find words to describe the violation of human rights going on inside prisons. It is brutality above brutality!

Being a political prisoner who had refused to be tamed by prison, who always struggled against being rehabilitated by the oppressors, I was kept in solitary confinement. I was locked in cell twenty three hours a day without anything to read except the bible. Again, many a times I was denied even the bible!

But I refused to break, I refused to lose hope. I used all means possible until I was able to establish contacts and to make friendship and even comradeship with many fellow prisoners. I started political discussions with them. Since I could not be able to meet my comrades face to face, I participated in our discussions through writing. We devised ways of smuggling in writing material. We used any kind of paper, pen or pencil available. Many a times we used toilet paper which, incidentally, was hardly available to prisoners.

We hid the writings from the prison warders and found ways and means of smuggling them out of prison. Often I used a friendly askari to get papers and pens and also to smuggle the writings to my wife. At other times we bribed our way out.

To write, especially about anything which can be interpreted to be political, or that exposes the brutality going on in prison, is considered to be a big crime. That is why prison warders were instructed to spy on me day and night to ensure that I do not write. Often I was suddenly invaded in the cell and my pens and papers were taken away from me. Whatever I had written was confiscated. I was beaten, tortured and had my prison term extended for writing! Nearly all what I had written at Eldoret prison was confiscated by the officer in charge one afternoon. From reliable sources, I learnt that they were taken to the prison headquarters in Nairobi. Really, I have no words that can express the agony I felt whenever the literature I had created in such hard condition was taken away from me, especially knowing that it was going to be thrown away as though it were nothing! I discovered that whenever I attempted to rewrite a poem I had lost I ended up writing a new one similar to the original one.

But be it as it were, the poems in this anthology testify to the fact that in the final analysis victory was ours. It is evidence that the maximum security of Kenya’s prisons has completely failed to prevent the growth of prison literature of struggle. Prison literature of struggle is the literature which has always been produced from prison since the time of classical colonialism. Mostly it is the literature which was written and is written by political prisoners and which is a manifestation of the resistance against the culture of fear and silence.

The poems expose the fascism going on inside Kenyan prisons. At the same time they ridicule the maximum and cruel security which is used to intimidate, threaten and torture patriots and poor citizens in prison. It is a reminder that what is happening in prison is a reflection of what is happening in the country in general. For under dictatorship and neo-colonialism, Kenya is like a big prison.

All the poems were written in Kiswahili. Apart from “Would you believe it?” and “I would rather be a rebel”, which were translated by my brother Gachuku Makini, all the others were translated by myself.

Finally, the reactionary Kanu regime can delay our freedom but it can not prevent it forever. They may imprison or even kill us but they will never imprison or kill our struggle for liberation.

15 July 2009

these words

these words

the few words

which I struggle

day and night

to write

one day

they may be part of literature

prison literature

the literature of struggle

for social and national liberation

yes, whenever I write

I record history

that is why

they use

all their means

to stop me writing


I write

I do not stop to write

I write I write I write

Kibos Main Prison              16-4-1988


Where we are

In the deep pit

Of brutality against human beings

Brutality that is beyond words

In the graveyard

Where the devils who rule our country

Try day and night

To squeeze out our humanity

In prison in Kenya

Pen and paper

If you are lucky to get them

You will have got reliable friends

You will have achieved the soap of your soul

You will have grabbed the shield of helping to defend you

From the agony and loneliness of this hell of a place

If you happen to posses a pen and a paper

Perhaps you posses a weapon

Of fighting

Against a myriad of problems in prison

Pen and paper

Often are medicine

Of protecting you

From killer diseases

Which are part and parcel

Of life in prison

In our country today

Kamiti Maximum Prison   11-01-1987

I Will Write

I will write

Whatever come may

I will write

I will not stop to write I write

I will use all means possible to write

Only that I must be lucky enough

To acquire a pen, any pen at all

And a piece of paper, any paper

Even toilet paper!

I will write to release the emotions inside me

I will write about my experiences here

Perhaps, just perhaps

Perhaps some of the words I write

Will manage to get out of these brutal walls

They will hide from their eyes

They will survive their tero

They will even penetrate their doors

May be few of what I write

Will somehow wriggle between their legs

And travel among them

Jump over their maximum security walls

Or fly to my wife

Where they will live to ridicule them

Them who observe us day and night

To prevent us writing

Those who boast

That their tight security has silenced us

These dogs of the dictatorship

These words

Will shame them

One day


Kibos Main Prison              6-6-1988


When they come at Kamiti to see me

You will explain to them

You will tell them I am no longer at Kamiti Prison

They have transferred me 800 kilometres

Away from Werugha, where I was born

They have taken me to Eldoret

Not at Eldoret town, not on a tour

They have taken me to prison

To bury me in the pit of torture

When my wife comes to see me

Try to inform her

But also tell them not to worry

Being transferred doesn’t trouble me that much

Let them understand

Because at no time did I request

To be imprisoned, to be imprisoned in any prison

For prison is prison, wherever it is it is prison

Hunger, boredom, brutality and torture without end

So, will the oppression inside Eldoret Prison

Be more than that here at Kamiti Maximum?

Sooner or later I will find out………..!

Furthermore, surely dear comrades

Their separating us will not separate us

We shall be together

Everytime and everywhere at all times

The agony with us my comrades

Will paste us together always

True, they will never succeed

To separate us ideologically

We have decided to be friends

To be comrades in the revolution

How can they ever divide us?

Our comradeship

Has been born by the great work and responsibility

Given to us by history

It is held by the glue of all that

We have experienced and are experiencing together

Let us love one another for ever……..!!!!!

Comrades, when they come to visit us

Tell them, wherever they will imprison me

One day I will be released

I will be released I will be released

Because whichever has a beginning also has an end

One day we shall come out of here

To reunite with comrades and patriots of our country

Not in the life of laziness and self-indulgence

But in the great and noble work

The work of searching for the freedom and liberation of Kenya

The work of struggling

Struggling against exploitation of person by person

For now keep on remembering

And to them also explain that they may know

While in Eldoret Prison

Or wherever they may take me

Come rain come shine, whatever come may

I will not change my mind, I shall never betray the struggle

I will continue fighting for my humanity

I will continue with the revolutionary stand………

A time like this

When hundreds of patriots

Involved in the liberation struggle

Are in detention or prison or exile

We cannot indulge in self-pity inside here

We cannot just think of only our agony

We cannot accept to give up hope

We must struggle at all times

The medicine of life in prison is struggle

That which is more moral and humane is struggle……

Those who are more humane

Have chosen the road of struggle

And we also have opted not to be left behind

For our love is also the love for our country

It is true and just love

It is love for freedom and democracy

The love for struggling for a new socialist society

If we remain true to what we have resolved together

If we make revolution to be our life at all times

Our friendship will last, it will last forever

The sadness of bidding farewell to one another now

Manifests the extent of our relationship

It shows the level of our comradeship

How we value love!

And since we value love

We shall give our lives to ensure

That tomorrow

Those who love one another

Will not experience the pain we are experiencing today

The pain of friends being separated by prison

Kamiti Maximum Prison   13-1-1987

Struggle My Heart Struggle

My heart my heart

beware of fear

refrain from the temptations of anxiety

stop worrying and being afraid

relax my heart, have peace please do

don’t open to those brutal thoughts

that are knocking to torture and break you.

Now…my dear heart…now…..

stand firm, completely firm stand

do stand straight while remembering all the time:




and the heart of accepting defeat

allowing to be broken both physically

and psychologically


all are big enemies in this place

they are powerful fiends of revolution, don’t forget.

Oh my heart

my soul my love my friend in deed

the torture you are undergoing is not small

the agony no joke

true, the cross you are carrying is not light

I know it is heavy, very heavy

but isn’t it you yourself

who said you are ready to sacrifice for the cause?

is not this part of the sacrifice?

You claim that you are a revolutionary

do you think revolution

is dancing gonda or kishawi?

You have repeated, many times

that you are prepared for anything

for the liberation of the exploited and oppressed

then, this night, why are you crying?

why are you indulging in self-pity?

why are you wandering in the path of giving up hope?

why my heart why?

Oh my beloved heart

all this you are experiencing

all this you are seeing here my dear

many others have seen

there is nothing new you are witnessing, don’t cheat yourself

all this you are about to call suffering

many others have suffered and are suffering;

so stop being selfish my heart

you are not the only one, you are not the only one

do not allow yourself to think you are the only one!

Remember also, please do not forget

that all this won’t end today

this prison torture will live

it will endure to torture the poor and the oppressed

it will stay to torment the wretched of the earth

and those like you who struggle for change;

as long as there is dictatorship and neo-colonialism

as long as capitalism and imperialism remains

as long as these inhuman systems continue to exist my dear

all this torture won’t end in our country and world.

Be firm my heart, stand firm

fight to remain strong always

don’t welcome those signs of fear and anxiety

after all you are not yet dead

you are still breathing, oh yes you are still alive!

And the struggle needs you, alive

struggle my dear heart struggle

struggle struggle struggle struggle

struggle and hope

are the only medicine

in prison

hope struggle hope struggle hope struggle

always hope struggle……

Kibos Main Prison               7/3/1988





A fellow prisoner

Being beaten by the warders

These barbarians

Of Kenya’s prisons

Uniting against him

They beat him like a donkey

They beat him until he vomited blood

They pounded him until he urinated on himself

They kept on working on him

Until he shitted on himself

They continued

To beat him

While mocking and abusing him

They beat him and beat him and beat him

Before my very eyes and ears !

Ah….what pain!

I felt a lot of pain

Very very great pain in deed

So much pain

That I cannot find words to describe

Pain greater

Than that of my fellow in mate

Who was

The direct victim

Of this brutality

Which is part and parcel

Of the culture

Of prisons

In independent Kenya!

I felt so much pain

That all this cruelty

Is being done by human beings

Against a fellow human being


In front of me



Could do nothing about it

Apart from

Only condemning!

Kibos Main Prison               16-9-1988

Bread and Tea


I have tasted

A piece of bread

And a cup of tea without milk!

Yes, today

I have eaten a piece of bread of wheat

And one cup of tea without milk

To celebrate

Twenty five years of uhuru!

Oh how nice the bread is!

The tea smells so good!

To say the truth

Since I was imprisoned

I have forgotten the taste of sugar

I can not remember

How tea or coffee smells and tastes!

That is why

I will never forget so and so

A humane prison warder

Who has risked losing his job

And being imprisoned

So that even I

A prisoner

Can celebrate

25 years of Kenya’s independence!

I will never forget so and so

I will never forget him

I will always

Remember the friendly and considerate warder

So and so I will remember for ever

He who today

Has enabled I

A political prisoner

In solitary confinement

At Mixed Block

To celebrate 25 years

Of my own country’s freedom

With a piece of bread of wheat

And one cup of tea without milk

Things which are like gold in prison

Things regarded as nuclear weapons here

Things which are prohibited

For prisoners

In Kenya’s prisons!

Yes, it is a great crime

For prisoners in Kenya

To eat bread or drink tea

Or anything but water

Twenty five years

Since uhuru!

So, is it surprising

That twenty five years later





For uhuru, for freedom?

Is it strange therefore

That I

Am a political prisoner


At Kibos Main Prison?

Kibos Main Prison     14-10-1988

Next time mother….!

Mother, ai! my dear mother

This is not something somebody narrated to you

Neither is this a tale I am telling you

You witnessed you yourself with your own eyes

You saw everything mother you saw all, yourself

You saw when and how they brought me home

And the handcuffs they had handcuffed me with you saw

You saw how my face was swollen

And how blood was trickling from my nose and mouth

You were there when they were beating me

With slaps and blows and rungus

While they were abusing me ceaselessly

Your own eyes did witnessed all that was happening

And your ears heard everything

Your senses felt unimaginable pain anger and bitterness

And even when my daughter was condemning them

While crying very much

You were there mother suffering, suffering very much

You saw how they were mocking her

And threatening her with their guns

You saw all mother, there is nothing that you did not see

You also saw my dear brothers standing against them

With dignified pride and anger

Condemning their brutality

Protesting against their barbarism

Mother you witnessed your beloved sons

Struggling against them

In words and deeds

Fighting for the respect of you and me

And the dignity of all the oppressed people

You saw them jumping at my brothers

Attacking and uniting against them venomously

With blows rungus and slaps

Handcuffing them with iron handcuffs

As though my brothers were robbers and murderers

While you their mother who knows the pain of childbirth

Were seeing with your two eyes

Mother, although I remember, oh mother I do

That your face was covered with tears

And all the time you were praying your God

You witnessed all the same

For you could not prevent yourself witnessing

You witnessed their fascism you witnessed it

You witnessed those thugs

Breaking the main door of your house

And when you protested, when you said no

When you raised you voice to condemn their terrorism

You were forced to hear all sorts of dirty words

In front of us your children

They smeared you with all kinds profane nouns and adjectives

Their primitive minds could imagine

You saw them entering your house chests forwards

Turning your house into theirs

Entering every room as they wished

While arrogantly opening suitcases carelessly

Unmaking the beds throwing bedding here and there

Tearing mattresses and pillow-cases

They scattered everything in the rooms

Even your inner wears, your underwears mother

They held your secrets while laughing mockingly

In front of us your own ones mother

Whom you gave birth to and suckled!

You witnessed them raving like mad people

In order to display their barbarism

Spoiling breaking throwing abusing

Scornfully boasting and showing off

They spouted non-sense

About the power of the nyayo government

About how the police are too powerful to joke with

About how nothing will change in Kenya

While at the same time, without asking for permission

They were grabbing


Magazines and newspapers


Every piece of writing they could see


Removing and taking wall pictures

Robbing us of our money openly

Filling our empty suitcases and carrying them away

Whatever they wanted they plundered mother

We were robbed of all rights inside our own house

As if we were not Kenyan citizens

As though we were not human beings mother

Here where I am now I can still see your tears

Tears of agony and anger streaming from your eyes

Anger and agony that could be read on your face

Especially when they were beating and carrying us

And throwing us on their Land-Rovers like logs of wood

With cruel handcuffs tying our hands together

While covered with blood all over our bodies

Being abused and mocked and called all manner of dirt

All this oppression of the police of the regime

You witnessed yourself, at your own home

You witnessed how those oppressors

Threatened to shot dead hundreds of good citizens

Who had assembled outside our home

To witness and condemn

The humiliation

The injustice

The brutality

The barbarism

The fascism

You and your sons were undergoing

All this and many others you remember mother

How my younger brothers

Were locked up in the cells at Wundanyi and Voi

And all the torture they underwent there

You know, you know very well

You even remember how Kamata

Almost died of asthma and torture in the cell

You have not forgotten, I know, that that day

We were preparing for my wedding three days later

And my beloved wife had been admitted at Wesu Hospital

While my youngest brother Ndawiro

Had on the same day just arrived

From Egerton College Njoro Nakuru

Only to find policemen waiting for me at the door

We did not even get the chance to greet one another

You have not forgotten my mother you still remember

And at the cells of Wundanyi and Voi mother

Your sons experienced a lot, a lot

Kamata and Ndawiro

Saw the nakedness of Kanu’s police at police stations

They tortured them

The police tortured my younger brothers very much

And when they completed their brutality against them

They took them to their courts

And you mother remember everything

For you followed your sons to court

You heard them being charged

With the offence of preventing the police from doing their duty

The duty of abusing and beating and oppressing citizens

The duty of breaking and plundering people’s homes

The duty of terrorism and barbarism

The duty of implementing dictatorial laws

The duty of violating human rights

Your children were brought before Voi’s magistrate of dictatorship

Accused of a great offence

In the eyes of the government of traitors

The offence of defending their humanity and patriotism

The offence of refusing to be turned into tamed animals

The offence of the courage

Of standing with their brother and justice

The offence of shouting against fascism

Apart from that, as though it were not enough mother

Ndawiro, Ndawiro Mghanga

A good student in all ways

Was expelled from the university

Without him committing any offence

They expelled him from Egerton

They expelled Ndawiro they expelled him

Without him breaking any law

They interrupted your son’s education!

For the offence

Of being born by you

For the crime

Of coming from the same stomach I came from

For refusing to sit and chear the police

When they were doing their sinful work at our home

They robbed him of his right

To study in his own country of birth!

They were determined to finish us completely mother!

Mother mother mother…….. oh my dear mother

Me they took to Voi Police Station

Then the same night they transported me to Mariakani

Where I was locked in a cell

I was put in a barred cage

As though I were an incorrigible murderer

I was handled as if I were a terrorist mother!

The following day they carried me to Nairobi

Where I was locked at Kileleshwa Police Station

Soon afterwards, very very early in the morning

They blindfolded me

And kidnapped me into Nyayo House

Nyayo House my beloved mother Nyayo House

Your son I was dragged into Nyayo House!

Nyayo House located at Nairobi city centre

Nyayo House where the offices of Nairobi’s PC are located

Nyayo House the imagery of the brutality of the regime

Nyayo House the hell of political prisoners

Nyayo House the fort of the fascism of the Special Branch

Nyayo House the arrogance of the Gestapos of Kanu

Nyayo House I tell you mother Nyayo House

Your son I was taken to Nyayo House

To be tortured

Together with other patriots

What I experience there at Nyayo House

I have no words with which to tell

It is enough if I say I saw what the woodcutter saw

Torture above torture, unimaginable brutality

Pain agony anger hunger fear and anxiety

It was hard mother it was very very hard to bear

We are ruled by devils mother

True, we are at the mercy of Satan himself in Kenya today!

Ndawiro was also kidnapped into Nyayo House, for a few days

To be threatened and intimidated and tortured

He was brought there to increase my suffering, to try to break me

They brought him in the room where they were torturing me

And when he saw me naked and in pain

My youngest brother weapt

And I could not hold my tears

We both cried mother we cried

And the torturers laughed

They laughed very much while your sons cried

And when they were about to finish me physically, mother

They carried me to their kangaroo court

At night, mother, I was taken to court at night!

The Special Branch led by James Opiyo

And the prosecutor of the dictatorship Bernard Chunga

The robbers of the rights of the oppressed majority

Instructed their magistrate Buch

To imprison me for five years

Five years mother five years

I was imprisoned for five years

Without even being given the opportunity

To defend myself!

And now I am back at Kamiti Maximum Prison

At Kamiti Maximum Prison

That is where your son is now

And I will be here for at least forty months

Mother, ai my dear mother

I and other patriots of our country

Who are known as Mwakenya

We are tortured and imprisoned

And others have even been killed

For fighting for freedom democracy and human rights

For being against dictatorship and neo-colonialism

For struggling against exploitation of person by person

For rejecting the capitalist and imperialist system

For loving our country mother

For working for a progressive Kenya

We are expelled from education institutions

We are sacked and denied the right to employment

We are spied against

We are hunted like animals

We arrested like criminals

We are tortured

We are detained

Others are forced to flee into exile

We are smeared with mud by the enemies of our country


They did all this brutality against us

Because they had guns

They had guns mother they had guns

They had guns

The traitors and oppressors of our country

Can betray and oppress us

Because they are in charge of the government

Because they control state power, mother:

The laws and the courts and the magistrates

The police and the prisons

The army and the air force and the navy

And PCs and DCs and DOs and chiefs

And weapons and the ability to use them

They control all these instruments of fear and coercion

So they can treat others like this mother

Mother, here at Kamiti I think everyday

How long shall we oppressed people cry

And to whom?

Up to when will we bite our fingers?

All this they are doing to us

Until when will they continue to do to us?

Up to when mother up to when?

Oh dear, we know the truth we know the bitter truth

They are able to impose this fascism against us

Because they have the monopoly of violence

For they control state power mother

As long as they have the monopoly of violence

As long as they control the instruments of the state

They will continue to exploit and oppress us

They won’t stop to betray our freedom and nation

While it is them who are in charge of the state machine

Oh mother, how long shall we continue

To cry just like this, just like this mother?

Up to when shall we be under their mercy

When we know the truth mother

When we know the root and strength

Of their diabolical domination against us?

Mother, ai! my dear mother

This is not something somebody narrated to you

Neither is it a tale I am telling you…………….

Kamiti Maximum Prison   7-7-1986

the regime that is dying

they boast everyday, them that oppress and exploit us

that by using the law and the police and the prisons and the army

that by means of brutal torture and threats and intimidation

that through their radio, tv., newspapers and public barazas

that by utilising their PCs and DCs and DOs and Chiefs

that through organised state terrorism

that they will stop the struggle for progressive change

that they will actually impede the inevitable!

oh what fools they are!

the stupid stupid fools

they are very foolish, the empty braggarts

fools they are

to imagine the impossible

to dare think they can achieve what cannot be achieved

what dictators and fascists more powerful than them

have failed to achieve!

oh is it because they are mad?

their betrayal of our country, the treasonable traitors

their bloody hands against wananchi, the primitive murderers

their evil intentions and actions, the diabolical sinners

are haunting them day and night

crazy crazy crazy they are crazy, very crazy in deed

they are insane, the barbarians

or are they drunk?

yes, drunk drunk drunk stupidly drunk

they are drunk, the contemptible traitors

their anti-people state power

the fruits of corruption and exploitation they enjoy

the crumbs thrown to them by their imperialist masters, the dogs

have intoxicated them with shameless arrogance

they have been blinded by their criminal orgies against the people

them boasters who think, who have the audacity to tell the world

that they will stop change, revolutionary change

that they will succeed to tame Kenyans to give in to dictatorship

them who repeat everyday- oh how proud they are-

that they will arrest history, peoples’ struggle to create culture!

that they will torture, persecute and imprison us for ever

that they will rule and exploit and oppress us always

that they will betray and destroy our country today and tomorrow

oh gods of our ancestors, how they brag without shame!

what contempt upon us citizens of Kenya!

but, let us  ask them

them that are fighting the impossible

let us ask them plainly

first to stop the earth from rotating and revolving

and the sun from shinning in the day

and the stars from twinkling at night!

yes, let them use their unpopular constitution with all their draconian laws

to expel the moon and all planets from the universe!

let them use all their expertise of torture and cruelty

to dry all the water of the seas

to collect all the sand of the oceans

and to bring all the creatures that live in waters into dry land!

let them organize their whole anti-people state apparatus

to cut the tongues of all the exploited and oppressed people

to imprison all the patriots in our country

to prevent women from giving birth

and even to stop motion in matter!

and if they wish, they may even use their religion

to convince all the workers and peasants

that poverty is sweeter than wealth

that it is better to be poor than rich

that the rich and the poor are created by God

that in fact suffering is the basis of happiness

that it is possible to have love peace and unity

without food shelter and clothes

that it is godly to live peacefully with oppressors

that it is a sin to hate exploiters and traitors

and wrong to desire and struggle for freedom and liberation!

oh yes, and if that is not enough

they may use their mass propaganda machinery

to convince the masses whom they try to turn into beasts

that false can be true and true can be false

that red is green and green is red

that patriots are traitors and traitors are patriots

that  democracy is dictatorship and dictatorship is democracy

that capitalism is for the masses and the masses are for capitalism!

let them take their scientists  into their laboratory

to demonstrate and prove to the world

how they can kill clear concrete reality!

them the hooligans, these treasonable hypocrites

who dare think the wananchi are there only to obey them

who confuse the tolerance of the poor for love for them, their enemies

the patience of Kenyans for fear for them, their tormentors

them the enemies of love peace and happiness of the peoples

them enemies of the progress and liberation of our county

these pests, the neo-colonial puppets

them the comprador class, hyenas

them who do not learn from history

who, incidentally, never learn anything at all

apart from methods of amassing wealth through looting public property

them who live to eat and to shit and drink and sleep and fack

the harlots, immoral uncivilized creatures pretending sophistication

useless citizens, a burden to society

them the class of cultural-eunuchs

castrated by foreign reactionary and inhuman values

them worshippers of the capitalist god of money

with no ability and will to create their own culture

but endowed with a diabolic talent of consuming and destroying

biological creatures devoid of humanity

them they are the ones who sing, who dare parrot

that they will impose themselves upon us for ever

that they will terrorise us today and tomorrow

and in time to come

that dictorship and the system of exploitation and oppression

is here to stay!

that imperialism will rule and dominate Africa forever!

that freedom and social justice is our stupid dream

that will never never materialise!

that the poor will always be there- there to work for the rich!

that we shall be the slaves of a few people and families all the time!

that we Black people are not civilized enough to live in freedom and democracy

to control our national economy and to determine our own destiny!

that we shall remain a nation of begging and borrowing forever!

them who aim to kill our hope for liberation

who organise physical and psychological war against us patriots

oh listen to them talking, the watchmen of neo-colonialism

look at their brutal soldiers beating and killing everywhere even inside churches

in Nairobi Mombasa Nakuru Kisumu Thika Nyahururu…..

everywhere chasing and shoting and beating and arresting and fighting!

Is this a way of convincing the Kenyan people

that the despicable unpopular primitive Kanu regime

the custodian of dictatorship and neo-colonialism for 34 years

will be imposed upon us by their monopoly of violence forever?

them who imagine

that by arresting us

by torturing us

by detaining us

by imprisoning us

by exiling us

by killing us

that they will stop our just struggle

that through terrorism they will kill the struggle for liberation!

perhaps, just perhaps

perhaps they hope to do what cannot be done

to prevent what cannot be prevented

to win a war which will never be won

may be they wish to make history

to be the first people on our planet

to hold time

to stop motion in matter and matter in motion

to imprison the wheel of history!

but most probable, the greatest possibility

them are approaching their grave, death

oh yes, death death death, their end

the dictatorship in the form of Moi-Kanu is being finished

they are dying, the oppressors whether they like it or not

or even they are dead already waiting to be buried!

otherwise why

why all these fascistic methods

of attempting to suppress peaceful gatherings and demonstrations!

why all this state violence

aimed against the wananchi’s wish for freedom and democracy!

to me, them are dying whether they agree or not

moi-kanu’s is a rotten achaic anachronic regime

a corpse of a system, that’s what it is

the saba saba state  war against peacefu Kenyans

are the last kicks of the kanu horse which must die

all the violence the fascism the barbarism

is in fact their desperation to survive

to survive when they cannot

and  must not be allowed to!

yes, yes yes oh yes

in fact it is true

they a raving in the delirium of their death

look at their oppressor brothers everywhere

everywhere, in all the corners of the globe

them are raving, raving madly

arresting detaining torturing imprisoning exiling killing

oppressive regimes through out the world

are behaving similarly, just like them

fighting desperately to prevent what cannot be prevented

attempting to stop the revolution by brute force

but they are dying all the same, for they cannot live

but before we bury them

them must claim many of the best of us

like the ten whom they murdered yesterday

them who continue with their greediness

even unto their death!

them who die selfish and barbaric

will take so many of us into their graves!

them the dictatorship in the form of moi-kanu

them are dead already

but it is not easy

for us to bury them

but  burying  them we must

for it is impossible

to live with their stench

Kamiti Maximum Prison   8-5-1986

it’s like a dream!


I was visited by my dear wife

oh how excited I was

I was very very happy indeed

So happy that I cannot explain

but the strange thing is

all that excitement

all that happiness

was like a sweet dream

that stayed for only a few minutes

then it melted away like ice

it was like the clouds of rain

true it was like bubbles of omo

ahhh it was coca-cola power

for I was unable to sustain the happiness

after glancing at my sweetheart

thousands of thoughts are now torturing me

the saw of loneliness is cutting me into small pieces

the pain of separation refuses to pity or leave me alone

ah, so sadness is inevitable in prison!

I fail to prevent myself

from dying of thinking about home and those at home

oh my dear wife

now, a few minutes after seeing you

I miss you and long for you

even more than before I saw you today!

oh what will I do darling!

freedom, my heart is aching for crying for freedom!

ah prison, who the hell discovered prison!

Kibos Prison         15-4-1988

My stand

Did you say

If I continue with this stand

Which is of truth and justice

I will die poor, propertyless!

But I tell you so that you be knowing

I am explaining so that you keep on remembering

I do not value that sort of wealth

The wealth that comes from exploitation

The wealth that arises from betrayal and opportunism

I am not tempted by that sort of wealth

A small island of wealth

Amidst a large ocean of poverty

To me that is not wealth, it has no meaning

The wealth I look forward to

The wealth I struggle for

Is the wealth of the whole nation

Is the wealth that embraces all citizens

All persons to eat the fruits of their labour

All citizens to benefit from national resources

All wananchi to enjoy life of peace, prosperity and happiness

The respect and realisation of the humanity of all

That is what I call wealth, the wealth I miss

Ah, look now, you keep on repeating

If I insist on struggling for socialism

I will die in my youth

Please, may I explain

So that you may keep on understanding

I will never never accept

To give in to the threats of death

To leave the struggle

For fear of dying

I will never

For death is inevitable to all living things

Whether I struggle or not

I will die all the same

If not today tomorrow

If the price for living a long life

Is to be an exploiter and oppressor

Is to accept the evils in society

Is to betray my country and people to imperialists

Is to surrender to the culture of fear and silence

Is to lick the anuses of oppressors

Surely it is better to die this very day

It were better a grave was prepared immediately

For burying me until I am buried!

Because to me

Life, the life worth living

Is revolutionary life

To work towards the end of social injustice

To struggle for the happiness of all

To strive towards

Living my country and world

Better than I found it

To me that is wealth.

Kibos Main Prison              4-6-1988

Mau Mau

The peasants and workers of our country

Refused colonialism

They rebelled against it in words and deeds

They said no! no to white people’s rule in Kenya

They organised themselves day and night

They met discussed and plotted together

Devising strategies and tactics

Giving one another advise and oath

They ate the oath of Kenya and her freedom

They swore that they would sacrifice themselves

Whatever come may they would do anything

For the sake of the liberation of our country

Collectively they agreed that they would fight

Fight without going back or giving up hope

They would struggle and struggle and struggle

Until they remove colonialism in our motherland

Then there was the bugle call, the traditional horn sounded

It was sounded to announce the war of liberation

Out came the men

Forward marched the women

And the children refused to be left behind

Even the old and the sick

Were ready to make their contribution

There was no single patriot

That abandoned the struggle for freedom

Whoever counted himself to be a patriot

Came out to play his or her part for the motherland

The peasants and workers

Responded to the call

They came out for the sake of our nation

Spreading in towns

Through out the country side

And into the forests

With guns and bombs

And pangas and grenades

They spread news of the guerrilla war

Until the whole world heard and knew

Knew about Kenya’s liberation war

Kenyans had arrived at a time of demanding freedom

Demanding it through barrels of guns

Thus the Land and Freedom Army was formed

The fame of Mau Mau spread like wind

The sons and daughters of Africa had united

United in the fight for the dignity of the Black person

Gallant and valiant heroes of Kenya

Were now being born everyday at the battle fields

The first generals of our country

Were being distinguished clearly at the front-line

Patriots were on this side

While the cowards ran away there

So the meaning of patriotism and traitorism

Were clearly understood

In the struggle for national liberation

The culture of anti-imperialist struggle

Continued to grow and flourish everywhere

Songs against colonialism were composed

Dances of celebrating the beauty of African culture

Became the order of the day

The literature about the shame and evil

Of being ruled by foreigners in our own country

Spread like wild fire

The morality of hope and ultimate victory

In our just war

Was preached to all even to the enemies

The war of the freedom of the African

Grew and grew becoming bitter and bitter everyday

The White settlers robbers of our land were slaughtered

Homeguards and traitors were butchered

The attacks of the colonial army of occupation

Were answered by our just patriotic army

Answered with a tooth for a tooth a nail for a nail

For now the medicine of fire was fire

The British government in Kenya

Paid heavy price after heavy price

Our people increased their creativity

In the course of the liberation war

Guns were being manufactured

At Nyandarwa and Kirinyaga

Bombs and grenades were being made

At Mathare and Kariobangi

The aeroplanes of the airforce of the enemy

Were being downed everyday

The prisons incarcerating patriots

Were attacked and prisoners set free by their lands men

The oppressors invaders and occupiers of our country

Were sleepless and diarrhoearing with fear

All their wisdom deserted them

Raving with the madness of suffering defeat after defeat

They increased witch-hunting arresting and torturing

They were imprisoning deporting and killing indiscriminately

Death surrounded the villages with trenches and askaris

Villages were like prisons with oppression above oppression

The torture was too much like that of fascist Hitler

With small children tortured being beaten and cut into pieces

And open brutality upon their mothers being abused and raped

Citizens were turned into slaves through forced labour

Hunger fear threats and intimidation’s

Became part and parcel of village life

Central Province was like hell on earth

Because of the cruelty of the White people

Prisons were full to the brim with patriots and citizens

Heroes of our country were being persecuted and prosecuted

Imprisoned detained deported and hanged everyday

Human rights in Kenya were trampled upon underfoot

The sins perpetrated by colonialists against us

We shall never forget we shall never forget forever

The treason of the traitors and homeguards

We shall remember we shall remember bitterly always

The colonialists tried all methods possible

To extinguish the inextinguishable fire of uhuru

Their radios were condemning and ridiculing our struggle

Their newspapers condoning their fascism against Kenyans

They even resorted to the use of religion, churches

In their diabolic attempt of trying to put off

The fire of liberation war that can not be put off

But lo! the colonialists were but chasing the wind

Nothing could make the peasants and workers of Kenya

Lift up their arms or stop the war

The fire of uhuru continued burning and burning and burning

The sound of the guns fired by patriots for justice

Continued being heard for they were unstoppable

The blood of the settlers and traitors

Continued to be spilled spilling spilling everyday

The history of struggle against colonialism

Was written by the ink of the blood of patriots

The fame of Mau Mau spread like the North wind

They spread East and West and also South and North

All Africa was proud of Mau Mau a shining example to follow

In Mau Mau the road of the war of liberation was opened

So when Cubans and Koreans were fighting against imperialism

Here in Kenya we were also fighting the same enemy

Mau Mau was a great example to all dominated nations

Eventually the colonialists lifted up their hands

The invaders and plunderers of our country surrendered

They had no alternative but to accept defeat

Those who always claimed they were insurmountable

Were surmounted Mau Mau surmounted them colonialists

The flag of the United Kingdom was lowered with shame

While that of Africans of Kenyans was proudly hoisted

The history of classical colonialism in Kenya

Had ended was finished never to come back

But alas! the history of imperialism

Was not yet over it was still there it was still there

For neo-colonialism knocked at the door

And Kanu-Kadu-Kenyatta said welcome!………..

That is why up to today we are still saying

Aluta kontinuaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mau Mau carried their responsibility

And we patriots of today

Continue in the same path

Long live Mau Mau!

Long live the spirit of patriotism!

Kibos Main Prison      3-5-1988


To day

I must leave

I must leave today I must leave

I must leave you




My forwarding address

Oh my darling wife

My only child

My dear mother

My brothers my sisters

My relatives my friends

My neighbours

All of you my beloved ones

I must leave you

I must leave you today

I must leave you my dear ones

Leave you without a forwarding address


Where I am going



Do not know!

I cannot tell you

Where I am going to live

If I try to do so

I will be cheating you!

What I do know

What I am sure of

What I can tell you now

Is that




I am leaving all of you my dear ones

I must leave you

Today, now

I must bid you farewell immediately

I must say bye now now now not a second later

I must leave running not walking

Secretly and not openly

Crying and not laughing!

This I know for sure


I must

Leave my beloved country

Oh my dear motherland


The most beautiful country in the world

I must

Leave you my country I must leave you

I must leave all you fellow citizens

And Dawida

These beautiful hills and valleys

Where I was born and grew

And Nairobi and Thika and Voi

Kisumu Eldoret and Nakuru

And Mombasa Nanyuki and Malindi……

Our dear towns I must leave you

When will I see you again my wonderful home!


Oh Manga, my dear wife my beloved friend

And Wandoe, my dear daughter

Ahhhh……what can I say to you now?

What my sweethearts?

How can I bid you farewell?

After all these years of separation

Of prison

We must separate yet again

No sooner am I out of prison

Than I must leave you again!

What agony!

Yes, cry my dear ones cry

We have all the right to cry

How else can we respond to this situation

My wife and child?

How sweethearts?

And my grandmother

My father’s mother

My only remaining grandparent

Will I see you alive again?

My heart is crying tears of blood

I cry from within and without

And the inner cry is bigger, very big

What will explain how I feel

For no words can do that!

I must leave all that is part of me

To leave apart from my people

A way from my country

A distance from my culture

Not to be near those I have known and loved

To continue the life of loneliness and anxiety

Of longing longing longing always longing

And waiting waiting day and night waiting

I must leave you now I must leave you now

I must run away from you my country

Kenya, my dear motherland



Remember always

My country


All the time


Do not forget

That I leave you today

Because I must

Only because I must my dear country

Only because I must

I am forced to that’s why

They want to arrest me again

To continue torturing me

They are coming for me once more

To take me back to prison


Being in prison

This time

Is no longer useful

It is not useful to anybody

And to myself as well

Above all

My imprisonment

This time

Will be a liability

To the cause

My very life is in danger

And I am not ready to die

Like a sheep

In the dirty hands

Of the bloody regime

To allow myself

To die in prison

Is not a patriotic act

I refuse

To be slaughtered like a chicken

By the fascist police and prison

Of the dictatorship

My comrades say

I must go elsewhere now

For I am no good to the underground

At the moment



I will never give up

That I leave to live for the struggle

That I run not to run away from the cause

That I go today to continue fighting

For if I must die

Let me not die under their mercy

I choose to die struggling with them

It is better to die with some of them when I die



I must leave

I must leave my family

I must leave my relatives

I must leave my friends and comrades

I must leave the place I have known

And the people I love

I must leave Kenya the root of my life

I must depart now now now now

Without leaving a forwarding address


Where I am going

I am not sure

What I am certain about

Is that I must leave for somewhere else

If I am to continue living outside prison


I also believe

Wherever I will end

There will be people

For in the world

There are



I must go today

But I will









Come back to you

My dear country


Will not

Have to

Leave Kenya

Like this

For ever!

Farewell dear country



Posted in Kenya. 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Voice Of Struggle – poetry by Mwandawiro Mghanga”

  1. Mwasare Says:

    OH my dear brother, i see it was a struggle…a struggle to weed out the bad regime…the poems are moving, yes make one shed tears..yes you were and you a still patriotic! we love you.

  2. zablon .M. mwawughanga Says:

    Anything which has a begining must have its end & hardwork payes. Thats why we want reformist to over the next government

  3. Mwakisha Mghendi Says:

    mwandawiro you real struggle for Kenya through your Hardwork pole for everything happened

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