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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The Blessed Makers of Peace

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.

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