“Kill him!” the commander ordered.
Machete in hand, I calmly walked over to where the scared black man was standing. I looked him dead in the eye and saw his body spasm with fear of what was about to happen to him… the thought of death.
“Kill him, he betrayed your family!” Commander Mukami yelled.
I swung the machete and cut the man’s throat. Blood sprinkled from his throat and onto my face. I saw the shock in his eyes, disbelief… life fading away. His knees buckled and he fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I felt nothing.
Commander Mukami walked over and put his hands around my shoulders. He span me around to face the other rebels and we all raised our machetes in the air and cried to the sound of ‘freedom!’
The year was 1962, a time of emergency in Kenya when the Mau Mau rebels had taken arms into the forest to protest against the tyranny of the Colonial British. I was twenty years old, alive in body but dead in spirit. The British had killed my wife and baby and ever since then my life had but ended, driven to this point by the sheer thought of revenge. Finally the traitor was dead, but still, I felt nothing inside me. Not a spark of life.
We ran through the hills of Mt. Kenya and raided white farms. The British bombed the forest and tortured my people; we in turn burned their houses and raped their women. I plunged my machete into a few white bodies and my only amusement was the realization that, they too bled and died just like we did… with fear in their eyes. Their weapons were more superior and they killed thousands of us while we only managed to kill a few hundred. Still, our zeal for freedom surpassed their will to loose more lives… their wives, their kids.
“Kill the baby!” the commander yelled at me.
I looked up and saw the baby in a cradle, the house on fire. I pointed my machete at the little thing and smiling blue eyes stared back at me. The baby had its feet in the air, ironically amused by the commotion around… the sound of metal clashing and burning flames.
“Kill the baby!”
I moved closer to the baby and our eyes met. The baby giggled and for the first time in a long time I felt something stir inside me. Something I had long since forgotten… to feel. The spark flashed through my system and jump started emotions that I had long since forgotten and somehow I knew that I couldn’t kill the baby. Finally, I could feel. Finally, I was human again. I dropped my machete, grabbed the baby and dashed through the door.
“Traitor!” The commander’s voice.
I heard the thumping of feet behind me but I dared not look back. I had been the best long distance runner in my school and as the darkness shielded me, I wasn’t worried about being caught. I ran like the wind, baby screaming in my arms.
They were so close behind me. I could feel them, hear them… men driven by lust for blood and a need to please their commander. We had become our own worst enemy. We killed our own kind and betrayed each other. We killed harmless babies. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was no longer about freedom.
Finally, the baby cried herself to sleep and I placed it in a bush with the hope of someone kind finding it. It was all that I could do. I diverted the rebels away. I was tired but I knew that they were tired too. I thought of my wife and baby and missed them a lot. I did not see the flying stone that hit my head.
I regained conscious and found myself tied to a tree, my hands behind me.
“I’m very disappointed in you son,” Commander Mukami said as he paced in front of me.
My eyes roamed from his angry face to those of the other warriors. Some were just boys. Some would die soon; some would loose their loved ones. I saw the commander’s machete move and I yelled at the top of my voice. “Freedooom-“
I never finished the word. Blood oozed from my throat and my eyes dilated in shock. I knew he had cut my throat but I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t supposed to end like this. It was as though I was watching it happen to someone else. My head became stuffed from denied air and for a moment, my body froze, trying to understand what had happened. The pain was replaced by a numbness that made my mind slowly fade. I felt myself floating away from my body as I heard the last of the commander’s laughter. I couldn’t feel my body anymore. I couldn’t feel anything.
Images of my childhood flashed through my mind… mostly, happy days and I wanted to reach out and go back in time. But wait a minute, something else was happening. I looked up and saw a door. I floated towards it and pushed it open. I saw nothing at first. Then, I saw them … my wife and baby, waiting for me. I knew I was free – I knew I was home.
Notes: When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he praised the Mau Mau rebels for the wind of change that not only liberated Kenya but also the whole continent of Africa.
Off to AFRICA
My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.
The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen
Without God, what are we? What do we have? What is life...