The Collected Tricks of Houdini

by Rotimi Babatunde

Hannibal now goes to church, the old patrons in the palm wine bar opposite the town hall knew, yet they were surprised when they looked out and saw Hannibal stepping out of a bus with other members of his church, shouting in tongues along with his fellow congregants and raining damnation on the heads of the latter-day Philistines who organised the New Masquerade Festival.

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Dead Rats

by Sitawa Namwalie

It smells of death.
It smells of death in my car.
It smells of rotting dead rats.
My old car is putrid with the smell of dead rats.
They decompose slowly, slowly somewhere in the body of my car.

The stench cloys, hangs on the air, moist, ripe.
I see them in my mind, six-day-old rat carcasses oozing secretions;
Dead flesh wriggles with hundreds of white maggots gorging on dilapidated flesh.
I cannot ignore the smell; it unsettles my mind.

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The Somalification of James Karangi

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.

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Squad

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?”

“Great.”

“Despite your silence?”

“Yes.”

“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.”

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