Manyatta

by S. Nash Woodward

Smoky darkness
Sleeping on cow hides slick with sweat
Mud stick hut built in three days by mother
Because house building is women’s work
Outside, the young men spring like grasshoppers
Thrumming in their throats the anticipation
Not for entering moran, for becoming a man
But for money from deep tourist pockets
Explaining the particulars of killing a lion
With only a knife and spear
While walking across the cow-dung
Enclosure holding hands with a white man
Mama mzee grumphling at the flies on the
Corners of her mouth and eyes
Invaded house so she can eat
Don’t you use blood in your diet, asks
And cowherding is our pastoral way of life.
Hoping the lions won’t come from the preserve
At night to steal the calves
Though we hold them in our manyatta, our
Stick brush compound
Refusing to compromise cultural identity and
Practices, but finding a profit in
The same breath.
Surviving, minibus tourist tracks across our faces
Now just ritual scarring.

 

S. Nash Woodward is a stunningly good-looking man who is, not
surprisingly, full of himself. However, ladies, he is married. And bald
(of his own doing). He enjoys ready-made egg products and long walks
on the beach. He is currently planning on leaving the country for
India, China, and anywhere else foolish enough to allow him entrance.