Shailja Patel


At least 500 people died and more than 800 were reported missing in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown on August 13-14, when heavy rains swept away everything in their path. Kenyan Poet Shailja Patel reflects on the tragedy.

Mathare Social Justice Centre

The 13th Israel Apartheid Week continues in Kenya, March 20-25, 2017. The event, organised by Kenya Palestine Solidarity Movement, will feature films, poetry and discussions. In this poem, Shailja Patel shares her thoughts on why Kenyans - and Africans - should support the struggles of the Palestinian people against Israeli apartheid.

Celebrated Kenyan poet Shailja Patel captures the disturbing reality of a country where violent bloodletting has become normal. Everyone is momentarily paralysed with shock; next, state terror targets the vulnerable; but soon life goes on. Yet the nation is scarred forever.


Rape cartoons are funny if it's inconceivable to you that you could ever be raped. If you live in a bubble of gender privilege that insulates you from all consequences of rape culture.

Drum Rider, by Shailja Patel, a tribute to Zanzibari musical legend Bi Kidude, was first published in Pambazuka News. Patel's performance of Drum Rider at the recent TED global talent search brought a Vancouver audience to its feet, and is being avidly shared across the internet. Watch at:

Shailja Patel’s unique artistry is a provocative global mash-up of genres. She’s a slam poetry champion and star of her award-winning, one-woman play “Migritude” about the intricate webs of global migration and cultural identity. As an acclaimed poet of South Asian and Kenyan ancestry, through her fearless art she embodies the authentic voices of women, South Asians and Africans who are otherwise seldom heard. For her, the ultimate destination of poetry is justice -- too heart-breakingly more


What makes the cake episode so deeply offensive is the appropriation, by both artist and his audience, of African women’s bodies and experiences, while completely excluding real African women from the discourse. It is a pornography of violence.

'My job as a poet is to wake myself up and take responsibility for learning the truth. That means doing hard work, looking beyond headlines, being willing to interrogate data, structures, systems.'


The two cases at the International Criminal Court against six Kenyans suspected of masterminding the post-election chaos present a good opportunity for victims to get justice for the atrocious crimes, writes Shailja Patel. Kenya failed to set up a special tribunal for the purpose


Sureta Chana, defence lawyer for victims of post-election violence in the ICC trials, helped prosecute scores of Kenyan’s for sedition under the Moi regime. Shouldn’t she make an apology to the people she herself harmed, asks Shailja Patel.