Author: Carol Ng’ang’a

‘A Christian is someone who is struggling for Liberation- James Cone’

‘I have come to set you free’- Jesus

It’s 5:30 pm, I am walking from one meeting, running late for the next. I see a woman, holding her loudly wailing baby. She is hiding from someone. The look on her face tells me all that I need to know.  She has been running all her life. However, this time, she is running from the city council askaris. They have this cat and mouse game on lockdown. She is the mouse. They are the cats. She is never safe, they are never satisfied.

I look a few metres past her and I see lemons, green lemons scattered all over the potholed street. The City Council is meant to repair these streets…

I just came from a meeting about justice in the city

I am headed for another meeting about justice in the city.

This woman’s threadbare leso and the wailing of her child makes me wonder if the meetings that I attend hold any weight.

Will justice ever be her shield and defender?

She is here searching for daily bread

They are here searching for daily chai

She went to church on Sunday, she was asked to tithe

They went to church on Sunday, they were the ushers

Oppressor and oppressed.

All under one roof

What does their faith have to do with the scattered lemons on the streets of Nairobi?

What is her liberation? Her salvation?

Is her salvation her liberation? Is her liberation her  salvation?

Everyday she walks past churches, government offices, NGO offices, they have all given her a name- She is Wanjiku

Wanjiku whose house is surrounded by  sewer yet  has no toilet to call her own

Wanjiku whose name is used to solicit for funds from big corporations

Wanjiku who is a nobody – she is everybody’s  nobody.

Her body belong’s to whoever is holding the grandest workshop in the city’s  grandest of spaces

Spaces her feet will never grace- or soil

If I were asked to give the symbol of pain in Nairobi- It would be the city council askari van

You see, this van represents the brokenness of this city, of our country

This van is  only seen  in the streets chasing after those whom the  system has failed

This van targets the most vulnerable in our society- the poor woman, with a baby tied behind her back – selling lemons to make a living.

This van is the symbol of systemic failure, torture and collective pain.

The hawkers have to make a living; the askari’s have to ensure that they do not.

Every time a woman is pushed into this van and her wares scattered all over the streets- her God image is cracked.

In this van, she is crucified with Christ

Every time an askari scatters her vegies on the streets – the askari’s God image is cracked. He becomes one with the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross, doing the will of  Empire but  maybe recognizing the God image of the crucified Christ, of the wailing child  and of the despondent mother.

With this action, Empire reminds her who is  to be feared…

This cycle of constant dehumanization

Constantly crucifying on the cross

Constantly hearing the wails  of the child on the back of the woman searching for daily bread-

My God my God, why have you forsaken me?

The lemons scattered on the street,

The water splashing from His wounded side… When will it ever be truly finished?

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  1. Alaman James October 6, 2019 at 14:41 - Reply

    A true analogy of the oppression and structural violence in this country…the proletariat have no voice because they have no money.And in this part of world when money speaks all other voices are irrelevant…Sadly!

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:49 - Reply

      Yes! The structural nature of oppression and violence is what keeps the masses despondent. Things can be made better though!

  2. Javan Omondi Ofula October 6, 2019 at 15:01 - Reply

    I love this so much,the flow and energy is just perfect.
    It just ended so quickly leaving me in suspense.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 15:10 - Reply

      Thank you! Maybe part 2 loading?

  3. Zamazama October 6, 2019 at 15:09 - Reply


    Reality on who is to be feared btn the one on the cross and the one on the ‘throne’

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 15:12 - Reply

      Lovely illustration! The throne vs the cross- all tools of empire that were used to dominate, yet Christ used the cross to
      overthrow empire!!

  4. Hildah Dalitsu October 6, 2019 at 16:20 - Reply

    Justice must prevail… Oppressed and the oppressor. Thanks a lot for sharing this Carol. It was an interesting read.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:50 - Reply

      Karibu Sana! Thanks for reading.

  5. Angeline sila October 6, 2019 at 16:25 - Reply

    Awesome. The flow is amazing.
    This has me thinking quite a lot ….

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:51 - Reply

      Great 🙂 May we ask God to open our eyes to the injustices that are everywhere around us

  6. Michael Gitau October 6, 2019 at 16:43 - Reply

    An easy read to follow But holds alot of water. Classic description of a broken system… Keep on Carol and Team

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:52 - Reply

      Asante sana Doc!We are called to fix the system, or maybe create a whole new one!

  7. Ken October 6, 2019 at 17:14 - Reply

    you just broke me! What then? what can WE do!!??????

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:52 - Reply

      We owe you a call!

  8. Grace October 6, 2019 at 18:25 - Reply

    A very nice read..capturing the reality in our very own streets.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:52 - Reply

      Thank you!

  9. Mark K. October 6, 2019 at 18:53 - Reply

    This is well written. A true depiction of a woman wailing.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:53 - Reply

      She wails and wails and we get so used to her cry that no one runs to her rescue

  10. Antony Adoyo October 6, 2019 at 18:54 - Reply

    I like the article, liberation theology, I love how you have captured the struggle of Wanjiku and the hypocrisy of city askaris they are ushers on Sunday but extortionists on Monday. Wanjiku is exploited everywhere even in the church.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:55 - Reply

      We must always be ready to fight for her- from the streets, to the sanctuaries- We have a mandate!

  11. Moss October 6, 2019 at 21:51 - Reply

    Provocative and inspiring! A call on the Church for moral clarity.Thanks.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:56 - Reply

      Thank you Uncle Moss! We follow in your footsteps!!Thanks for leading the way!

  12. Jane k October 7, 2019 at 08:00 - Reply

    Great article depicting the injustice, oppression and struggles of normal mwananchi whom nobody seems to worry about or fight for.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 16:58 - Reply

      Thank you! The onus is on us to worry and to keep up the fight!

  13. Chero October 7, 2019 at 08:24 - Reply

    You got me thinking!!! “May justice truly be our shield and defender”.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:47 - Reply

      Let’s sing our anthem with a different perspective meaning every word and working hard for justice

  14. Ian T. Saungweme October 7, 2019 at 09:35 - Reply

    This has kept me thinking hard and deep. This is the true reflection of the real, painful, broken story of an African Women making a living on the streets of Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and not only the streets of Nairobi.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:46 - Reply

      We are one people and so we have the collective power to change our beloved Mama AfriKa

  15. Steve Gitau October 7, 2019 at 09:36 - Reply

    This is beautifully written.
    It is the exact nitty gritty of what is happening in CBD😢. It’s like gansta paradise by City Council .

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:45 - Reply

      It is gangster’s paradise! What then should we do about it?

  16. Simon October 8, 2019 at 02:54 - Reply

    Nice and a captivating read shocasing our broken society. Wanjiku has to make ends meet, she defies the authority, disobey the law of the land, Kanjo Askari on the other hand has to do their job of maintaining law and order in the city but ironically,they all seemingly serve the same God and have to meet in church on Sunday.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:45 - Reply

      Desmond Tutu is quoted saying that sometimes we need to stop fetching people from the river but rather go upstream and find out why people are falling into the river. If this law is oppressive and has been this way for all our lifetime surely something needs fixing upstream?

  17. Cecilia Maina October 9, 2019 at 07:34 - Reply

    ….and the song “justice be our shield and defender” continues hoping one day things will be different. That the city council askari’s van will be well polished to remove the dents and crack appears on it physical because wanjiku would have been healed from inside out.
    Well thought read,keep up the good work madam Carol.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:43 - Reply

      Amen amen amen! Justice should be for all!! The van too needs justice

  18. Zippy October 10, 2019 at 10:18 - Reply

    The flow is amazing the pictures painted in my mind were so ugly and saddening. It is a wake up call.

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:42 - Reply

      Yes it is! We need to do better!Asante for reading!

  19. Felix October 10, 2019 at 16:15 - Reply

    An amazing read…..clearly shines light to the realities faced daily in our City…

    • Msingi October 26, 2019 at 13:40 - Reply

      Thank you for reading!

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