Dennis Awili

04 May
Dennis Awili
Near Kiboswa Mountain
and the Nandi Hills of Kenya
the city of Kisumu cradles the people of the Lake
Victoria she was dubbed
nyanza (swahili for lake)
the bordering tribes of Luo and Baluyia play there
alongside hippopotamus and crocodile

Dennis Awili moved to Kakamega
the Luo Nilotic man
as an outdoor mechanic
with a handful of worn-out tools
jua kali (meaning hot sun) unrelenting
where the sun beats so near the zero latitude
heat rising visibly
in wavy streams

Dennis, vicious yet kind
tough as rawhide
Awili, the small man with bulbous biceps
waited for cars with a few broken tools
worked all day cooking in the sun
a friendly smile chiseled on

christened by the Catholics
as Dennis
but the Luo tribal family name Awili
traditional African to the bone
chased many women and guzzled pombe (beer)
and married more than a few

my white Toyota Corona license
KDQ890 was renowned in Kakamega
but spare parts were rare for a 1968
but she kept crunching along
for Dennis, my hot-sun mechanic
sang to KDQ a Luo traditional song

this hard-bitten black man
beloved to me, he was and is
spent his life under greasy vehicles
scorched with the unforgiving sun

Dennis Awili laughed with me.

I left Kakamega many years now past
KDQ is long retired but
my email informed me yesterday
Dennis died of AIDS last week
the jua kali mechanic
now retired

I'll miss this prince of a man
whose strength was unparalleled
our friendship welded together
under the fiery heat of the African sun
on the industrial Jua Kali Road
in Kakamega town of Kenya

3.0 10/10
© Brian Peter Hodgkinson
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Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Poetry


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