Charlie Creekmore

Assembly Instructions

1. Acting as an agent for Queen Victoria, conquer a loose collection of 52 warring tribes in East Africa and call it the Cradle of Civilization.

2. Build a "Lunatic Line," employing several elderly male lions to devour 28 Asian railway workers, digest enough Africans that nobody bothers to count them, drag away a European sleeping in his tent beside his wife, and board one of the first trains to eat the passengers.

3. At mile 317 construct a shantytown out of corrugated iron erected on swampy soil called "black cotton." Equip the staff with enough rats and plague to make their lives interesting. Act gobsmacked when this lay-by turns into the most important city in Africa. Anglify its name from the Maasai for cool water and put up a sign reading "Nairobi" at the railroad station.

4. Practice white mischief at every chance, making Nairobi a playground for penniless Limey aristocrats whose main interests are drinking, horse racing, knocking up friends' wives, and shooting each other in the ear. For diversion, domesticate and ride zebras.

5. Turn the natives into worthless lackeys wearing white gloves. Take over their land. Pass laws forcing them to work for settlers. Shoot or arrest anyone who mentions the word "Uhuru."

6. Start a civil war under the assumption that 50,000 Mau Maus must be wrong. Name its leader after a mountain and keep whoever can be rounded up in detention camps surrounded by barbed wire and fence posts spiked with sharpened bamboo. Slaughter 13,577 Kikuyu freedom fighters without blinking an eye and repeat after me: "Power is never having to say you're sorry."

7. In face of universal revolt, declare Uhuru at midnight, install Jomo Kenyatta as President, and send Kip Keino to America to rewrite all concepts of distance running and altitude training.

8. When Kenyatta dies, empower an egomaniac with the ironic name of Moi. Make him a stooge of the moneyed Wa-benzi. Suck the people dry. Implement a corrupt system of political appointees. Shoot or arrest anyone who mentions the word "Uhuru."

9. Except for despotic rule, assassinations, and loud chest thumping, make the women do everything else.


I spent several years in Kenya while working for the United Nations. My poems have appeared in The Malcontent, We Magazine, Asylum, Bouillabaisse, The Prose Poem, Prism International, Howling Dog, Quarry, The Fiddlehead, Queens Quarterly, The Strain, Pomegranate, and Wascana Review.

(author retains copyright)