Monday 28 September 2009

Muzungu : White Man, Black Soul...

Some time ago, I wrote on this blog, that If I ever had some money, one of the things I'd do, is visit Kenya, as the coasts of Mombassa always attracted me.

Well not anymore. Not what after I've read tonight.

It is really late here, but I cannot and will not go to sleep before telling you what happens on the coasts of Mombassa.

According to a UNICEF study, over 30% of Kenyan children, especially in coastal cities are into some form of sex work. When I say children, I mean children between the ages of 12 and 16, and some as young as 3.

We say in Arabic, "Al Jo' ma yerham" - Hunger has no mercy. These children are hungry.

So who preys on their hunger but...but the white man, who devours their hungry flesh as well as their innocence and childhood, away...

This is a subject that never fails to make me so enraged that I feel am choking. And when am choking the way I am right now, I can't write...Not wanting to immerse you in expletives, I will copy and paste the whole article as well as the video.

I personally have no more words.

Kenya’s beaches are the stuff holiday brochures are made of – mile after mile of glistening white sand, kissed by equatorial sun. Tourism is a major money spinner for one of the world’s poorest countries, but Kenya’s tropical paradise hides a dark secret.

We have been on a harrowing journey – from nightclubs where European men pick up 12-year-old Kenyan girls; to an orphanage where children as young as six have found sanctuary after sexual abuse by foreign tourists.

A journey into a world of cruelty and desperation, a world we could scarcely have imagined. And both talking and filming with children brutalised and traumatised by their experiences has not been easy.

Our journey began in the nightclubs on the outskirts of Mombasa. Visit the Mtwapa suburb after midnight, and white male European tourists are busy ogling and fondling teenage girls.

The teenagers wear high heels, or pay a bribe at the club door to get in. The ultimate prize is a “muzungu ” or white man, who will pay for sex five times what a Kenyan labourer can earn in a day.

But the price these girls are paying is nothing less than a stolen childhood.

Anastasia says she’s 13 now, and has been prostituting herself since she slept with a British tourist at the age of ten, a crime which in Britain would be classed as rape.

Her parents couldn’t even afford school shoes, so she set out for a better life amid the bright lights of Mombasa. That life is sharing a flat with a fellow prostitute, Leyla, who is 14. And both girls say the number of children involved is growing.

“When I started at the age of 12, I could go into a nightclub, and maybe I can get 10 or 20 girls,” Leyla told me.

“At least you could count and say, ‘that one and that one, they are prostitutes’. But now there are many, all over the place. Sometimes I get stressed. I ask myself, or God, what I have done wrong? I am still a child and I am doing this.”

At that point in our interview, Leyla dropped her head in shame. Anastasia was crying. Three years ago, a study by the UN children’s agency UNICEF warned that there were thousands of girls like Leyla.

But that was before Kenya was plunged into political violence and an economic crisis and a drought which has left 10 million Kenyans without enough food to eat. So the author of the UNICEF study, Sarah Jones, now reckons her findings are an underestimate.

“We are talking about fifteen to twenty thousand children, and maybe more now, because the population has grown in that time,” Sarah told me.

“The researchers I worked with when I conducted the study all tell me now that they have a lot of visual evidence of increasing numbers of younger and younger children.”

Just two miles from Mombasa’s beachfront hotels and you are a world away. We found local tribesmen dancing in memory of a dead friend.

Hardly anyone has a job in Bamburi village. And local elders like Richard Chisima say they are battling to stop their children from heading off to the tourist resorts, in search of a white man with wads of cash.

We had heard that resorts north of Mombasa were the centre of the underage sex trade, so we drove for about an hour to a village near the town of Malindi.

And the scale of what we found left us profoundly shocked. Teenagers shelling maize told us it was normal for young children to sleep with African men in the low season to prepare for rich foreigners later.

The village elder was so concerned about his village’s children, that he sent several families with their 12 and 13 year girls and boys to talk to us. All the children we spoke to had the permission of their parents or guardians, where they existed.

Four of the ten children put up their hands when I asked them if they had slept with foreigners from the beach. Among them was Fatuma, now 13, and of all the people I interviewed for this film, her story haunts me like no other.

She told me she was driven by hunger to sell herself to two Italian tourists, named Andre and Thomas, at the age of 11.

One man gave her less than £5, the other less than £10. “I’m very sad, because my body is the temple of God “, she said.

With her mother’s permission, Fatuma showed me the beach where she sold her body to the two white men. She told me about her routine on Sundays. In the morning, she goes to church, in the afternoon her family’s poverty forces her to look for more foreigners. And her mother, Philomena, claims she’s powerless to stop her.

“Fatuma goes everywhere because I have no food at home and no money to support her”, she said. “I don’t like her going backwards. I would like the child to continue at school and the white men to be prosecuted.”

I gave Fatuma what I gave many of the children I interviewed – one of several tubs of sweets I’d picked up at Heathrow airport before my flight. It was hopelessly inadequate.

All Fatuma wants – and all that she deserves – is to go to school. She is clever and funny and I try not to think about her too often, because when I do, my eyes fill with tears.

There are pockets of resistance, including a football club set up by “Frifonet”, a Kenyan charity. It’s motto: “To think in terms of my God is my strength, not my white man”

Its mission? “To reduce the number of beach boys and girls”.

But many of the children play barefoot because they can’t afford football boots, and the schoolteacher in charge, Mary Rukungi, admits that 16 of the 35 girls she trained last year are now back on the beaches, selling themselves.

“They take the child of Kenya, just because we are poor ” she told me angrily. “They misuse the child. Personally, it hurts me. I feel pain.

“Any foreigner found sleeping with a Kenyan child should be taken back to his country, and never be allowed to come to our country again.”

All along the coast we’d heard that children abused by tourists are now younger then ever. But we wanted evidence. So we went to Mombasa’s Coast General Hospital, which is home to the region’s only public clinic specialising in sexual violence. Cameras have never been allowed inside to witness the terrible suffering within.

We recorded the sound of a six-year-old boy crying out after being raped by a neighbour. Stark proof that child sex abuse is not just a tourist problem. Crimes against children are committed by Kenyans as well – some apparently believing that sex with a virgin child will cure them of HIV. The clinic is unique in confronting a scandal many would rather ignore and its admissions book reads like an astonishing chronicle of cruelty.

Over a thousand children have been treated here in the last two years – 138 of them aged five or under – and Dr Catherine Maternowska of California University, who is analysing the daily rollcall of new arrivals, says their ages are falling, with more and more sold for sex.

“The national estimate, based on a report by UNICEF, is that approximately 40 per cent to 50 per cent – it’s a hard number to calculate – are committed by tourists from abroad” she said.

On busy days an abused child can wait eight hours to see a doctor. The hospital is desperately in need of more money to continue its pioneering work – when I tell you that mothers admitted for Caesarean births have to pay for their own saline fluid, you may get a picture of the extent of need.

The families of abused children have to take their own forensic swabs to a government lab – a procedural failure which means that this vital evidence may be considered tampered with, and therefore inadmissible in court. And of course the doctors wonder how many child sex abuse cases never get reported at all.

“We don’t know what the situation is outside, but we are sure that what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg ” Dr Essam Hamed told me.

“Judging on our judicial system, the various loopholes we are currently having with evidence collection – we don’t even have evidence collection kits – I’d say it’s very rare for a perpetrator to be jailed. Very, very rare. ”

Kenyans are so angry that some have begun taking the law into their own hands. In June, villagers hacked down a string of beach huts after they had heard that a European tourist had been molesting nine-year- olds inside. A local campaigner told me that even if the tourist was caught, he could bribe the police to drop the case.

Ours was a journey of painful contrasts – the tropical beauty of the holiday resorts, lined with flowering bougainvillea, jarring with the desperation of the children nearby. And as we continued our investigation, those contrasts became ever more disturbing.

We found Henry, a seven-year-old molested by a white man in exchange for pocket money, new clothes and a bag of flour. His father wants the police to bring charges – but the police have told the parents the tourist has fled to Europe and may never return. We filmed the mother’s proud face, and in it we saw a family struggling to keep its dignity.

“We have to wait until the white man comes back” the boy’s father told me. “But now that he has committed a crime, I do not think he will come.

“I am afraid our government only listens to those who have money – and the case is not being taken seriously, because I have nothing.”

The authorities know there’s a problem – billboards up and down the main coastal road warn tourists against exploiting Kenya’s children. The government hopes a new tourist police force will be patrolling the beaches by the end of this year.

Major hotels have signed up to a “code of conduct”, which has raised hotel staff awareness that tourists bringing children back to their rooms is unacceptable. But this is a country which fears that any attack on its reputation, any labelling of Kenya as the “new Thailand” for sun, sea and underage sex – and then innocent tourists, the vast majority, could be driven away.

“We are going to take strict action on defaulters, or criminals, who are taking advantage of young children” Najib Balala, who is Kenya’s Tourism Minister, assured me.

“As a parent, as well as a country, we cannot afford abuse of our children. At the same time, if it is publicised, blown out of proportion, it will destroy the same effort of eradication of poverty by destroying tourism. ”

Coffee, tea and tourism – Kenya’s sources of foreign revenue are few and far between. But Kenyan parents and charities say the time has come for the truth to be told.

In a church orphanage, we found a six-year-old girl, who has told her carers about her visits to hotel rooms and being filmed for pornographic videos.

And the charity worker who rescued her says that, based on a medical examination, the abuse probably began at the age of three.

“The doctor said she had some whip-like lashes on her back ” said Eve Ngoroge of the Women’s Resource Network. “And she had a vaginal injury as well, and there was some sodomy as well.

She says it was “muzungus” – white men.

This little girl is now safe. No longer refusing to eat, no longer expecting to stay up all night. But up and down this 300 mile coastline, Kenyan children are suffering – their stories still untold.

Saturday 26 September 2009

No Loyalty.

The first loyalty is to yourself. Yes, it's that simple.

This is all about Muslim and Arab women...I have news for you, your loyalty is misplaced.

We have been socialized through centuries of submissiveness to take it like a woman.

Got news for you. You don't need to do that anymore...

You don't need to uphold the family's honor no more. You don't need to subject yourselves to sick men who use religion to press you down, no more... You don't need to cover up or enable no more...

I, a Muslim woman give you the permission to kick it all in the ass...

I am urging you to rebel in the name of Allah. I am pleading with you to reject the kaffers - the male gender who pollute your days and your life in the name of the Koran...

I am inviting you to find a freedom...Not the western freedom of the naked female on the yogurt can - selling it for big business...not the western freedom that you hide from, behind thick burqas...not this freedom...

I am appealing to you in the name of Mohamed, in the name of the first feminist who forbade you to kill your own females...I am appealing to you in the name of the prophet who favored you in grace and love...

I am appealing to you to reject....REJECT.

I love that word- REJECT.

I am appealing to you to reject, break free, cut away all your ties to the ones who enslave you.

This is NOT what God, Allah had in mind for you. This is not what it is all about.

I can't stand seeing another one of you get killed, stoned, lashed, whipped, flogged...

I can't...

I can't see you covering your faces anymore like a nobody, like a you don't exist...

I can't see you anymore in the the darkness of prison cells..I can't see see you caged no more...

I dig in my memory and I know a time when you were free....

I have no loyalty.

Consider me an outcast. Consider me a thief.. Consider me on the margins...consider me a pagan, consider me a kaffer, consider me an unbeliever to be stoned, an apostate, a mushrik, a nothing...

Consider me what you like...

But please don't sell yourselves short.

Please don't forget you.

You are the Essence...

You are the perfume and its garden

You are the wombs that bleed

You are the only ones that bleed in times of peace

You are so greater than all what has been rammed into your heads

I wish you could see your greatness...right now

Shining forth like a bright light

I just so wished

that you see yourselves the way you are loved

loved beyond measure


So loved,

away from loyalties

away from...

just loved.

I know so.

I just know so.


There is much I want to write about, but I am tired and my thoughts are dispersed all over the place, just like my lodgings. A mess. I like to see it as a manageable chaos or an intelligent chaos. Who was it that said that in chaos lies some form of genius ?

I can't remember...Could have not been too impressed when I read the above.

I want to write about Ghaddafi's speech at the UN which I think is important, despite its burlesque character...

I want to write about Zebari's - Kurdish Iraqi Foreign Minister interview on Al Jazeera, which holds equally important information.

I also want to write about something totally unrelated - reckless driving, and how the way a people drive reflects their civic/civil manners or lack thereof. I want to write my angst about not being to cross a fucking street without uttering the Shahada before. Shahada is the testimony of the Muslim Faith.

I want to write about the "dérives" - monumental gaffes/ delirious insanity of some Islamic Fatwas regarding women.

I want to write but I only have 2 hands, 10 fingers...and am dispersed all over the place...I think I need a break.

Tuesday 22 September 2009


If I had you....oh well, tough.

I like Willie Nelson. He is one of the few Texans I can actually stomach. Thank God he doesn't look like Bush. And believe it or not, I do like some country music.

But this Jazz classic with Diana Krall is just...awesome. Shit,I hate that word. Is just cool...nope, I hate that word too. Is just...fine.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Sweet Hope.

Went out this evening for coffee and cake - very unlike me, since am not into sweets at all.

The last time I had anything sweet like an ice cream was about a month ago. I bought a cup and would take one spoonful every other day. The cup lasted me a month.

A friend remarked - why buy ice cream in the first place if this is how you approach it ?
I just like the taste in small doses - was my reply.

Too much sweetness makes me nauseous. This applies to people as well. People who are too sweet all the time, too nice, too pleasant, too ... give me indigestion. It is not the sweetness that bothers me, it is the "too much" which almost always turns out to be FAKE. And I can't stand fake people.

Those exaggerated extra niceties are 9 times out 10 false and with people like these, I am sure they will stab you in the back when you least expect it.

Anyway, I went to this café with Zayd, now that Ramadan is over, I felt no guilt indulging in public eating and drinking...

Well, I've been feeling guilty for the past 30 days, for not fasting, so I thought I'd give myself a break this evening - a guilt free evening. I had a small pastry and a cappuccino. They don't know how to make a good cappuccino here. I always get stomach colic afterward, and I promise myself never again, but I am not too good with promises made to self.

Zayd seemed to be in a bit of a rush, but it was nice to feel "human" again, after a period of total abstinence, abstinence from bumming around in cafés - which I must admit is a pass time I enjoy, because this is when I get to do most of my serious thinking and observing...

So Zayd needed to head home and I wanted to stay on. So I did. As I turned my head to call the waiter (who kept ignoring me) for about the 25th time -- for another cappuccino, (I must be a masochist of some sorts) who do I see, sitting alone ? none but Yasser.

Yasser is a Palestinian, originally from Gaza. He's been living here for some years and we had met in some conference. I got to meet his family as well, very nice people. Yasser was alone, with a huge chocolate fudge in front of him. He saw me, waved and made a sign "come over". So I grabbed my cup and we chatted for about an hour.

Yasser told me he had developed Diabetes, "nerves" he said, "all because of nerves from the news" I stared at his fudge. He motioned with his hand and said :

- Wallah it's good, do you want some ? I am eating this piece for the whole family back in Gaza.

- Everything has become very rare and expensive there, I know, because everything is smuggled through tunnels. Can you imagine over 125 people died in those tunnels...

- Yes and you know what else ? Hamas takes a 7% commission tax on each load of goods smuggled and this is another reason why the prices shot up.

- Well, there is the siege.

- Yes the siege and the commissions. It has become unlivable. Did you hear about the new Fatwa. (religious ruling)

- Which Fatwa, the one about mannequins having to be veiled, lest they titillate lust in the viewer ?

- Nooo, what mannequins, this is nothing.
Hear this --a woman cannot go alone to the beach anymore. She needs a "muhram"
(a male companion who is either her husband or a member of her family).

- You mean she can't swim alone ?

- What swim alone, in a bathing suit ?

Yasser laughed hard...

- I am talking about going to the beach for a stroll fully veiled...not swimming in a bathing suit. It is all because of these bloody Iranians and Israelis. They are behind all of this.

- How so ?

- Well who is benefiting the most from the current Palestinian impasse but the Iranians and the Israelis. You know, some of the Palestinians used to complain about Yasser Arafat, eh wallah his shoe was better than all of them. Sure he had faults, but there were red lines not to be transgressed, there was a vision of where and how the movement should move. Look at them now, Hamas on one side and Abu Mazen and company on the other, they have harmed so much the Palestinian Resistance.

- Yes, I know...look at Iraq.

- Iraq ? Ya Habibee ala Saddam. They understood that Saddam had a global vision and policy for the region, they thought to themselves, this man has to go - his time is up. Now Iraq is finished...Iran and Israel took over.

- Do you think we are all finished for good, I mean, you and I ?

- It's a storm, another 10 years or so of major instability. But I have faith, I know my people...they will not succumb to Israel or Iran.

Yasser gave me some hope, a sweet hope...but I was not to sure I could say the same with as much conviction...about us.

Yet, I find myself still holding on to the sweetness of it...

Saturday 19 September 2009

Eid Song

Sami Yusuf - The Eid Song.

Youtube by Simaa 82

Friday 18 September 2009

"Rah we Misha " - Walk away - Gone.

The latest from Beshar Al-Azzawi

Saturday 12 September 2009

Allah Ya Maulana .

Allah Ya Maulana - religious song by the Moroccan trance group Nass Al Ghiwan, featuring Nabila Maan.

Thursday 10 September 2009

2- Where Am I From ? by Beshar Al-Azzawi

"Ana mnin" - Where am I from, where are you from ? So the song goes...

Iraqi song by Beshar Al--Azzawi accompanied by various Iraqi art.

If this song makes you shiver inside, you are on the right track...

Youtube: by qwqfaris, May 9th, 2009.

1- Introducing Iraqi Composer Beshar Al-Azzawi.

A short introductory video to the music of Beshar Al-Azzawi, Iraqi musician and composer.

I will be posting more of his singing and or/compositions, in the future, as I can tell that Beshar has something very special...and very promising.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Ibn Arabi on Women,

A very interesting article sent to me by N. (thank you N.) on Ibn Arabi's two fold perception of "Woman" by Souad Hakim.

A fairly long article, but well worth reading for those who are interested in Sufi/Gnostic interpretations of the Islamic text.

Ibn 'Arabî's Twofold Perception of Woman. Woman as Human Being and Cosmic Principle .

I do not have the time to give my feedback on all of the points, some of which I agree with and others I dispute, but one quick footnote, namely the reference that Eve was created from Adam's rib. This does NOT exist in the Islamic text. It exists in the Old Testament but not in the Koran.

Secondly on the subject of "Qawama", wrongly interpreted as absolute "male superiority" by mainstream exegesis/theology, and interpreted correctly in this article as an ontological "superiority" meaning that Adam came into being first in the order of Creation.

And since every being created needs a Creator, I will let you deduce what the Essence of the Creator is, something that Ibn Arabi rightly concludes with.

In this light, the hadith of the Prophet extolling Mothers (Mother) by stating that Paradise lies at their feet affirms on an "earthly" level, a metaphysical Truth.

And Mother here is not solely referred to as "biological" mothers. Again, it is important to guard oneself from literalistic interpretations of words.

An article well worth reading and deeply pondering upon, especially at this conjuncture in history where the silent and not so silent war on "Woman" and "Femaleness" is on a rampage...

N.B: Another good read -- My Soul is a Woman: The Feminine in Islam by Annemarie Schimmel.

Monday 7 September 2009


Nothing beats Jazz to unwind, unwind in a mellow kind of way.

All of Me by Louis Armstrong.

If the Baghdad Shiite militias are reading this - don't take it literally, ok ?
(They probably can't even read...)

What you should do instead is -- reach out for your bottles of whiskey as you usually do after evening prayers, and after you have preached your usual crappy hateful sermons and unwind along...

Sunday 6 September 2009

A Promise to Self.

In the past, I used to write with an "educational" intention, hoping to provide through my writings, however imperfect they may be, some form of educational material, information, bits of history...and the rest, so that people, that anonymous mass called people, learn through them, and maybe start a process within themselves to wash away the indoctrination they have been subjected to...

This was grosso modo my intention, punctuated with soul cries that would explode every now and then in the face of indifference, ignorance, stupidity, hypocrisy and bad faith...

So bearing in mind the anonymous reader out there, I have always tried to keep it simple, easily accessible, and at times I found myself with very complex subject matters that could not be condensed in a short blog post, yet I tried and tried very hard to render it comprehensible without forfeiting the complexities and the nuances...

At other times, I spoke through symbols which in most instances were taken literally, with no reflection on the part of the reader, gulped down like some fast self stirred instant drink...

I finally realized that I am in fact dealing in the majority of the cases with very idiotic, stupid, myopic, ignorant, uncultured, people out there...

I am in fact dealing with a mass. An amorphous mass that is basically deaf, dumb and blind. And which no amount of writing, exposing, or explaining will change...

I realized I was dealing with people who had no fucking clue about anything, about nothing at all. And that no amount of writing will affect or change.

A bunch of intellectually backward, self important, ignorant mass...

From today onwards, I solemnly promise myself, that I will only write to myself.

Thursday 3 September 2009

A Black Magic Woman...

Been humming this song all day long...I absolutely love it.

Got a black magic woman
Got a black magic woman
I've got a black magic woman
Got me so blind I cant see
That she's a black magic woman
She's trying to make a devil out of me

Don't turn your back on me baby
Don't turn your back on me baby
Yes don't turn your back on me baby
Stop messing round with your tricks
Don't turn your back on me baby
You just might pick up my magic sticks

Got your spell on me baby
Got your spell on me baby
Yes you got your spell on me baby
Turning my heart into stone
I need you so bad, magic woman
I can't leave you alone.