Buoyed by daily experiences ranging from a family tragedy to the aftermath of the disputed 2007 General Election, Luke Ameru takes a plunge into the world of poetry, penning his debut work: No Longer Stunted.
Stirred by the desire to immortalise his thoughts, Ameru, a banker, penned the 200 poems in the self-published anthology from observations.
The book’s cover is symbolic, with its sky blue colour and images of two eagles locking their claws high up in the sky. One of the eagles is struggling to hold on, reminiscent of the daily struggle to stay afloat in life.
The themes of the poems in the book range from joy and sadness, to war and love, death and birth to inspiration.
The second poem, “The nation stood without a Light”, looks at how the politics of ethnicity brought the country to its knees in 2007 as citizens suffered, and some were killed and others were displaced. It is an indictment against failed leadership.
“The Thief’s Mischief” and “Watching the land wither”, are both critical of leaders who turn a blind eye to the continued plunder of our natural resources and national heritage. “When Rains Fail” and “A Cry for a Dry Land” pour scorn on leaders who only want a share of the national cake but care less how it can be baked. The poems juxtapose the unfortunate situation where lack of proper planning sees citizens suffer during rains and later gnash their teeth when drought sets in.
The poet also compares Kenya and her citizens to ‘stunted grass’, which cannot blossom because it is watered too late and in a hurry.
But the book is not all about doom and gloom. “Reflections of a Foot Soldier” pays homage to the military and the gallant soldiers whose efforts in protecting our land from vultures of war are celebrated.
“Fallen in a battle” captures the anguish and loneliness that befell loved ones left behind by soldiers who died in action, and whose families know nothing but deep pain in the face of abandonment by the government.
The larger than life tendency of politicians who always flout laws is laid bare by the poem, “Chiefs on the wrong side of the highway”, which pokes fun at leaders who drive on the wrong side of the road oblivious of other road users who elected them to their positions. “The Mayor” and “The Dead Cat” tackle inequality between the rich and the poor.
The dead cat is likened to the poor while the mayor represents the rich.
The anthology also addresses the plight of journalists in “The Cameraman’s Gaze”, in which fame and the failure to save for a rainy day have robbed many members of the fourth estate their livelihoods, leaving them to wallow in misery.
The poet also confronts early and forced marriages through “Am I not a child of the nation?” a poem in which he tackles the question of how young girls’ futures are dimmed by this practice while boys are allowed to further their education.
Ameru says some of the poems recount his family tragedies, including the death of a brother through a road accident and a father after battling terminal illness.
“Another one is inspired by the tribulations my mother went through after the same death, while there is one which reflects the pain and anguish I endured as I took care of my dad as he battled a terminal disease,” he says.
The anthology offers poems that navigate through everyday happenings that most readers can easily relate. Many are written in simple and plain language that makes the book an easy read and memorable for poetry lovers and even those from the outside looking in.
The book is set to be launched on April 28 at St Pauls Catholic University Chapel and will retail at Sh1,000.
“Once I do the launch, I will make it available to all the bookshops, which will be ready to partner with me,” says Ameru.