by Abdul Adan
One afternoon, three young people were sitting around a table at Khalfan’s restaurant in downtown Mombasa. Their gestures and murmurs were like those of disloyal soldiers plotting a mutiny. The trio was comprised of Khalid Bawazir, his cousin Ayaan and her forbidden fiancé James Karangi, aka Mohamed.
“I told you from the beginning,” Khalid was lamenting, “there’s little hope along the line of religion. You could be the Imam and lead all of the late-night prayers in the month of Ramadan, but the Somali guy who steals shoes from the mosque would still stand a higher chance of taking her hand.”
“This is tribalism! It’s un-Islamic. You should have told them that,” protested James.
by Linda Musita
“The tea is not as good as it was last time. We should go somewhere else.”
“You always say that but when given a choice end up here. How have you been?”
“Despite your silence?”
“I am your friend. Talk to me.”
“Friend is a bad word used by small shits. I feel overstretched by ‘friends’. I feel like one of the freaks playing chess to a hollow-eyed audience in the Boniface Maina painting. I gave so much to ghosts in the name of friendship. Got nothing back.”
by Gerald Monsman
At “Big Dutch,” Eastern Cape Province. The Present.
KRUGER AND JOUBERT raised the alarm with paroxysms of barking. I thumbed back the hammer, tightened my finger on the trigger, and prayed to any appropriate deity that the powder in the cartridge had kept its kick these last thirty years. For sheer horror, nothing can match the smoldering craziness behind the glassy eyes of a Cape cobra. The snake hung in the noon sun in a thorn tree barely fifty yards from the house where the yellow weaverbirds nest, the light in its hypnotic, unblinking eyes coming and going. As sweat stung my vision, I steadied the front sight of the flamboyant silver-plated Colt on those copper-red pools of fire blazing at me. The blast stunned my eardrums, tore at my wrists, arms, and neck. The snake, airborne, slammed backwards, pink bits flying out. As the dogs circled, I caught a whiff of “Colt ozone,” black-powder smoke–thick, hard, and masculine–that conjured up a forgotten Sunday morning a half-century ago.
by Leila Aboulela
New in Town
I pushed open the door that said ‘Black Bastards’ in pen, and stepped into the mosque. A woman was taking off her shoes, untying laces, left shoe then right. I greeted her and after she replied, I said, ‘Where can I get soap and water to wipe what’s written on the door?’
She said, ‘Leave it now, we must be quick’.
I took off my shoes and hurried after her down corridors thick with toddlers, little girls in long braids, fights over bubble-gum.
When I reached the hall, I heard the imam say in a loud voice, ‘Straighten the lines! Straighten the lines and pray as if this is the last prayer.’