Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Thursday, 11 September 2014


Photo borrowed from:

I look at the news and oh!
It feels overwhelming lately,
Cost of living rises daily,
Cost of labor not keeping pace

Seems this culture of rushing and running,
Has gained new momentum,
Everyone’s in a hurry,
Hurrying to where? I wonder
Or are they running from something
Perhaps, perhaps that might be true.

Excuse me, where is everyone going?
What’s the cause of the hurry? I ask,
Polite lass stops to give an answer,
Eyes still gazing on the road ahead,
It s chasing us run! Or else,
T’ll catch up with you.

What seems to be this problem’s answer?
Build capacity to live above,
Above storms that try to swallow
The weak will be swallowed
The world’s a tough place
No place for the weak.

Awake to the tough reality,
Life is a race against time,
Arise and race on,
Add value, work harder, and keep dreaming,
But not for long, take action,
Before it catches up and traps you.

Juliet H. Amor

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Loving you: My crime

Sunshine, why spoil a love so flawless?
It’s not been a walk in the park for you,
I know you’ve had it rough before,
They’ve despised and demeaned you,
All that is now past tense, enjoy what is,
Now tables turned and love came calling,
Why fight when all I’ve done is love you?

Dearheart tell me what you want,
Tried pleasant titles you term ‘sweet nothings’,
They were but a mockery of your intellect,
My only crime of this I stand accused,
Not having a side dish like ex-Stephen,
Neither assaulting you like ex-Kelvin,
Nor raping you like monstrous ex-Samson,
But distressing you with love.

My heart throb, why punish me?
I’ve sang your beauty till my voice got hoarse,
My sonnets hit your ears as mockery,
‘All men are dogs, old tricks new strategy’,
This dog really adores you, careful don’t lose him,
Fighting shadows of ex-Stephen, Kelvin and Samson,
Shadows no longer here to hit back.

Sweetness, thought I had a wife,
He finds a good thing, who finds a wife,
Reality struck, I now have a knife,
Sharp in readiness for a shadow fight,
Babes we can’t go on with this life,
In pain and tears I have to leave,
Else you’ll keep up the shadow battle,
And dead shadows leave you dead.
Photo borrowed from:

Juliet H. Amor.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Celebrating my mirror’s reflection

Photo borrowed from:

I sang sonnets for you, said I croaked,
Tried changing my walk to suit your taste,
Said I looked ridiculous,
Even changed my hairstyle all for you,
Smiled right at my mirror, a rehearsal for you,
My efforts you never noticed.

Was it my dark skin that bothered you?
Tried removing a little tint,
With all beauty bleachy concoctions,
New look never hurt. For you, why not?
Stranger stared back at my mirror,
‘Sidika is off your league’, you mocked,
I never relished it yet for you I did it.

Maybe add some inches on the right places,
You turned to stare at every bum in a skirt,
My morsel increased, to steer your gaze my way,
Said I’m slowly turning obese,
Yet my mirror told me I was just fine,
So hit the gym I did, till I was scrawny,
Still you remained as steel.

I know better now not to break my back,
Not to lose sleep pleasing you,
I sing sonnets and birds dance, boy am I good,
I dance to my tunes too, that’s all that counts,
I wear my hair long or short to suit me,
Celebrating the girl looking back at my mirror,
For she is happy and drop dead gorgeous.
Juliet H. Amor

Friday, 15 August 2014

The past is where it belongs

I can’t go to the past, to change it,
No! I don’t possess such powers,
Have tried enough times but,
The clock of time just won’t rewind.
I can’t change the past despite trying hard,
Why dwell on yesterday’s failures?
Mistakes returning, haunting on silent nights,
What was done is done never to be undone.
I also wish it were different sometimes,
I appreciate it though, wouldn’t trade it,
It made me who I am, stronger, brighter, wiser,
Gave me capacity to stand during hard times.
I have a future I am going to,
From where I am, it looks bright,
So don’t remind me of the dark past,
It is perfectly where it belongs.

By: Juliet H. Amor.

Monday, 11 August 2014


By Juliet J. A. Otieno 
That woman means the whole world to me.
Many are quick to criticize her,
She is more than grandma to me, she’s Ma,
She taught me values in life.
Yes, I am proud of Ma,
Despite what you may call her.

I overheard her telling her sister.
How her daughter killed my brothers and sisters.
That day, Ma walked in just in the nick of time.
Found me crying on the hands of my ma,
About to be baptized in a basin full of water.
“Don’t do it!” she shouted at ma.
She saved me from sharing in my siblings’ fate.

I know she has her weaknesses, who doesn’t?
You dare call her whore, prostitute, loose,
spit unutterable obscenities at her.
You even gossip that she has AIDS,
I simply call her Ma, for she has more than earned that title.
She stepped in when ma wanted me dead.
That’s enough reason to stick my neck for her.

She leaves each morning for work.
Imagined she works in a busy office,
Ma must have had a lot of work daily.
She comes back home tired, hair to toe nail.

Sometimes I pray to God I grow up faster.
At least I would get a job,
At last I would help my Ma out.
Ma wants to hear none of it.
Ma does not make things sound so easy.
“Jobs are hard to come by.” She says.
Focus on books, get a good job in the future
what good is the future without Ma?

A future, taking forever to get here,
Does the future know what Ma goes through?
To bring bread back home,
The bed, her tool, to bring bread to her brood,
A tool that’s left her permanently scarred,
I know it but would rather keep silent,
Ma thinks she’s protecting me, keeping secrets,
I am the one protecting her, feigning ignorance.

Thursday, 29 May 2014


This year’s Kenyan Global Dialogues contest jury process took place on May 9-10 at Oak Place Conference Centre, organized by HIVOS. There were more than 3000 entries from young people of ages 25 and below. The members of the Jury were from diverse backgrounds- journalists, members of the civil society, film makers, academicians and even health care practitioners.

Kenyan judges- Global Dialogues 2014

The opportunity to be part of this great team came for me for the second time by virtue of being a former contestant. I was part of the national winners during the 2008 Scenarios from Africa competition. Back then it was a simple ceremony. Now it has evolved to Global dialogues.

The top twenty entries are going to be adapted into a short film to get the conversation moving. Last year’s competition gave rise to the film ‘Walk with me’- on the issue of disability, HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and secrets that young people struggle with.    

A number of the Kenyan entries this year came from primary school children, a good portion came from high schools while a few came from out of school youths. The beauty with this contest is that it is an avenue for young people to express the issues affecting them. 

There’s something about writing that is magical. The things that one cannot voice loudly suddenly come to life. This is what we the judges were privileged to read for two days. Some good pieces that made it to the top twenty, some not so good scripts and other ugly ones that were totally misinformed on HIV/AIDS and sexuality.

I had the opportunity to mobilize entries for the contest prior to the judging process. One 16 year old confided in me during the process that they were in love and having sex. The contents of our conversation will not be divulged here. This is just to show that young people need to air their voices in a safe, non- judgmental environment. The early sexual debut is just one of the challenges facing young people.
Another issue that came up in the entries was young people asking their parents tough questions. It was evident that there exists a communication gap between young people and their parents when it comes to matters sexuality. Parents are scared to start the discussion, while young people feel that they are not understood by their parents when it comes to such matters. 

The fact that domestic violence is rampant in the Kenyan society could not be overlooked. Several scripts had Female Genital Mutilation, rape and incest. At some point, we were of the opinion that maybe during the mobilization; the notion was created that articles that depicted such gory details would stand a chance in the contest. On second thought, having watched the goings on in the media, I guess the entries were just a mirror of our society. 

A thirteen year old girl being defiled by her mother’s lover, a 15 year old girl being impregnated by her ‘pastor’ father who has been defiling her together with her sisters and in these cases, the mothers assist the men in escaping the arm of the law. Who speaks for these teenagers?

Back to the Global Dialogues contest which was dogged by plagiarism. The education system prepares students for exams making them copy to become ‘the best’. This limits creativity and originality. One of the recommendations I have made is that there should be creative writing workshops in schools during the mobilization process. Another great idea by a Kenyan creative author is to have reading time incorporated into the lessons of the school timetable. This will improve the students’ writing abilities.

Deciding the top entries was not an easy feat because all fifteen members of the jury had to come to a consensus. Of course there were lively arguments in support of the scripts which each juror thought deserved to make the cut. That is the result of putting together a team that’s united by one passion- the young people. The winning scripts are going to go through an international jury process.

A parting shot is to our Kenyan men. The wining script was ‘A letter to Dad- my hero’. There are several men who are role models to their families. The few who have developed deviant ways of handling their families should not spoil the image of the African man. We join the young people in the dream of an Africa of positive masculinity.