Walabataji Express

First things first, definitions:

Walabataji- athletes: it is a combination kalenjin and swahili, broken down as follows

“wa” the Swahili prefix for first person plural
“labat” – run in kalenjin
“ji” – the Swahili suffix to indicate a doer of something, in this case a doer of the running (a runner)

Express after the famous Eldoret Express

We coined this word back in high school to refer to the student athletes who used to go for training daily, except on Sundays. They were our express mail, just like the postal services but unlike the Post office, we could get our replies either on the same day or the next day..

I studied in one secondary school, which we liked calling “High” just because we were the best performers in the district. Close to us was our brother school, a real high school, not like us. One thing that we had in common is the ability to produce the best athletes that make news in the dailies and the international media.

Half the girls in our school had boyfriends in the brother school and that’s when the use of the Walambataji Express started. I can’t exactly say how it started but one thing for sure, it picked up pretty fast until the teachers we wondering what were happening to our mails. The advantages of the Walambataji Express included

• It was free- there was no need for stamps
• It was reliable- You are sure that the letter got to the recipient
• You get the replies as soon as possible

What you needed to do is to ensure that you have given out the letter, usually called the missive to the athlete just before they depart for their morning run, at 6 am or a quarter to six or you should give it to them just in the evening at six or half past six.

It was an interesting way of communicating to and fro, because the athletes from our school would meet those from the brother school, since most of them were trained by the same coach.

I got to hear about this service in a funny way. One morning we collided with my bedmate as she was literarilly storming out of the room to hand out the missive, for her most recent crush. I asked her later when she told me about the Walambataji express. I said I would use it one day, but never did. I don’t know if those I left behind are using it or not, whichever way, it served us well.

Mimi Wako Mwenziyo

Nipe nikupe, maneno hayo usemayo,
usinitumie sin’tupe, mimi wako mwenziyo,
sijifananishe kupe, mambo hayo tia moyo,
kwa wakati simo, sijitafutie mwingine.

kwa wakati simo, sijitafutie mwingine,
mapenzi mambo muhimo, sifananishe na jingine,
kwa yote yaliomo, sitataka mwingine
sijitie simanzi, moyo wangu ni wako.

sijitie simanzi, moyo wangu u wako,
mtima una mapenzi, kokote uliko,
njoo kwangu unienzi,maana sitoki kwako,
Kwa sherehe na shangwe, tukuwaambie wazee.


Find More Writings by Bee Illustrated here


Sometimes I force them
Sometimes they flow easily
Sometimes they do not flow at all

They make you happy,
At times they make you sad
They make you angry
They make you resigned

Sometimes they slip out
Sometimes I force them to stay put
Sometimes they cheer someone up

These thoughts of mine
They are a pain
They are a joy
They are what they are
My thoughts

Find More Writings by Bee Illustrated here

The Journey

On the heavy trucks
Under the scorching sun,
We lost our souls
As we sought our cause
with heavy burden on our shoulders
Both physical and virtual, we trudged on
Listening to the sound of the tires
as they moved on the different surfaces
Listening to the sound of birds fading away
And watching the place call home fade into the horizon
The heavy boots of the officers granting us a glimmer of hope
That we would reach wherever we were going.

We were a handful,
Old and young alike,
babies on the mother’s back,
And those still in the womb
Old men with no sight and with walking sticks
We stared at each other as if imprinting their faces in our minds
With pride soaring in our hearts despite the circumstances,
We wrote the history of our beloved Country
Bound by the same bond,
A bond that will never break now or ever
A bond that gave us the strength to trudge on

We made it to the Promised Land
hoping to get honey and milk
but we found bitter herbs,
calling the dilapidated tents our homes,
unprotected from the scorching sun and the rain
having morsels for food and rags for clothes
we wonder, is this the end of it all?
Memories of the vast lands we left behind
Memories of the safety and comfort that was snatched for us
Still replay in our minds,
And we still ask is this the end of it all?

The Candle’s Out

That night we kept vigil
The lamp went out
But we waited
“The candle’s out”
They said
But we still kept on
Waiting for the birth of the baby

For 20-plus years,
We had waited for this baby
We were hurt by the misscarriage,
our hopes dimmed
And we thought the candle’s out
Even before we lit it

But the dawn greeted us
With a baby’s cry
Our joy knew no bounds
When we saw the baby
Fondly named Katiba
We hope to see it grow
Spreading peace and love
Over hills and valleys
And throughout the plains


I sit still under the sunny shade
Listening to the tree whisper
As the gusts of air move through
The twiggy branches and long leaves
I think they are sending secrets to others
And I wish I was the wind
I would pass my secret message to you
No matter where you are