Common bond is our community. 

Common bond is our community. 

This is my book. It is called Tempers and it is a feel good story. It will not rock or roll you. But it will gently lull you into remembering when neighbours were good and waving an American flag around meant something more to a lot of people. 

So there it is. But why?

My first book, is a love story. It is a love story to what we call Americana. Maybe it is a little more poignant now, given how the rest of the world tends to now view America through the prism of a Man-Toad President. 

And I am not even from America. I am from Ireland and I am writing about an America that really is not very unlike Ireland. It is one that is connected by community.  When you extol the virtues of American values in a small town in rural Wyoming, it gives people a sense that here is someone made of something more. Wearing the stars and stripes on the lapel of  your jacket can mean that you stand for something. It can mean that you are part of a tribe of people who believe in freedom and liberty for all. A race of people who believe that if you dream big enough, and that if you believe just enough, that anything could happen. 

In Ireland, we have the GAA. And though it may seem like just a sporting organisation to those further afield in America or beyond. It too is a unifying symbol of community. It provides a shelter for those with similar values and beliefs to gather together, away from the politics of the day. Away from what ever of societies ills were trying to take us down.

I wrote it as the last recession bit down hard across the world. I think the world lost a part of itself during it. People became meaner. Trolls emerged from their caverns to feast upon the nice people of Planet Internet. People gave less to charity and trusted each other, just a little bit less. We had news outlets telling us to be afraid and warnings about foreign people’s coming to take our homes and our jobs. The communities around the world started to close in on each other.

This book, was my moment to say, the strength amongst ourselves is our togetherness.


Thank you. 

Breakout on Ward 7

Breakout on Ward 7

In forty minutes, I had passed three Doctors, the same nurse twice and two catering girls who were removing the breakfast implements from the semi-private rooms at the back of the 32 bedded surgical ward. I had only made it 10 metres down the corridor, but for a guy with a broken shoulder, three cracked ribs and an already boot casted broken ankle, it wasn’t half bad. It was my marathon de sables and I was already delirious that I had managed to get out of my own room. I had procrastinated long enough over what needed to be done. I had one hour to live or as I saw it, I would be murdered in my own hospital bed. I used my free hand, my right, the one that did everything for me, and stuck it on the wheelchair rim and pushed. Three more metres. I was running out of time.
A meandering medical team of fairly young junior Doctors passed by me, eager to visit a patient of theirs and get off the ward. They all wore white, below knee length coats, but made fashion statements beneath. One, a girl, who had shiny red heels on and wore a burnt orange dress smiled at me me as she hung out near the back of the group which now stood to my side. I kept my head down, as did she, unwilling for us both to engage in small talk. None of them were here to see me. She smiled though. That had to mean something. 

I couldn’t trust any Doctor now, especially my own. He had been eager to fix me with a new ID bracelet in the middle of the night. Said something about needing my ID so that when the phlebotomist came along to take my bloods, all she would need to do is scan my wrist and technology would take care of the rest. ‘Your name is Diego Gonzalez.’ She had said. ‘I am Michael Brown, you must be mistaken.’ But she wasn’t. Showing me on her little console, clear as day that I was Diego Gonzalez. She looked edgy, more afraid than anything. She flinched as I tried to grab her console. ‘I am not going to hurt you, but I am not Diego Gonzalez, I am Michael Brown.’ She backed away, taking her console with her. There were three other guys in beds near and across from me. One, sat up with the same intensity and with the same trepidation that the phlebotomist had shown. “Hey nurse, this guy ain’t Diego Gonzalez. I know that guy, and he ain’t him.” Still she exited the room. He looked to me. “Why does she say that you are Diego? You don’t wanna be Diego man.” I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to get into any more trouble. I was already in hospital for being in trouble. Still, I had to ask. “Who is Diego Gonzalez?” He didn’t tell me, but nodded deeply that I was in trouble. He looked at me as if thunder were on the horizon. I just knew I had to get out of the hospital. Some body was coming for me, of that, now I was certain.



For an hour, I weighed up my options. Quickly realising I had none. Spent the next forty five minutes wondering how I was going to get away from this hospital as quickly as I could. If the Doctor had switched up my ID bracelet for this Diego Gonzalez, then I knew that people inside were out to get me too. I couldn’t trust anybody. I made as little noise as possible and pulled the wheelchair that the Physiotherapist had given to me, closer to the bed. I used a bent board, called a banana board and pulled it towards me and slipped it under my ass and on top of the chair. It acted as a bridge and let me simply slide down and into the wheelchair. I was on enough pain meds to be able to do it fairly pain free. I was cautious though. The nurse and physio had given me the same advice. Move too much when pain free and when I came off them, the pain would feel twice as bad. I aimed my chair across the room and towards the guy who had warned me of the character, Diego Gonzalez. I needed more information. I edged my way towards him as he slept, his head covered by a thin hospital blanket. No sooner had I reached him, he had pulled the covers down. Unblinking, he was wide awake. 

“Don’t ask a question that you don’t want to know the answers to.” He tried to warn me off but I was a few broken bones past a warning. “I need to know. I think my life may be in danger.” He looked me dead in the eye. “Only because I want him dead will I tell you anything. And if you say this to anyone, that you talked to me, then Michael Brown will be the one who will die instead.” More Spaniard in look, his sallow skin was paler now. I chanced a further drop in palor and asked. “Why am I wearing Diego Gonzalez’s hospital ID tag?“ He tried to laugh but blessed himself instead. ‘It means that puta survived a hit and he is somewhere in this hospital. It means that you have been caught up in being in his death wish. And it means that you are as good as dead.” Panicked, I held out to grab his hand but he tried to push me away. “Did you try to have him killed? Did you switch our hospital ID tags.” He looked at me, weighed up the options of what he wanted to happen and spilled his guts. “I am only telling you this because I want you to live. If they kill you, then Diego Gonzalez will break free. You staying alive is the only option.” Feeling confusion, I nodded, hoping to gain an insight by just listening. “I am a regular guy. Don’t drink, don’t do drugs. I keep myself to myself and mind my kids. Guy like Diego Gonzalez, he tries to burn all of that. He destroys neighborhoods by selling H and giving automatic weapons to children who all want to be him. When you wonder what kind of guy is ruining our world? That’s who Diego Gonzalez is. He is all of them. The pusher and the murderer.” He thought about not telling me the rest but relented. ‘Couple of us in the neighbourhood decide we have had enough, that we need thugs like Diego Gonzalez off the street so we try and set him up. We made it look like he was about to threaten the cops by placing anonymous phone calls in. We just wanted him arrested but it turned into world war 3 on the streets.’ Pulling down the covers, he showed off a thick white bandage across his abdomen. “I was hit in the cross fire, as were some cops, but Diego must have survived and is in this hospital somewhere.” You could read confusion on my face like a pamphlet. “But why me? Why not target you? Or Diego himself?” He guessed. “Age profile, build maybe. Diego looks like you a bit. Short brown hair, strong build, not that tall. You kind of look alike too, sort of.” He trailed off, lost in his lie. “Diego is like a ghost. We know what he looks like, kind of. But he goes months without coming out of his house. His enemies often do not know what he looks like. He puts on weight easily and he shaves his head and grows it long too, ‘ He wasn’t answering any of my questions. “Diego could have set this up himself. Having a Diego Gonzalez death in the news will free up some time for him to dissappear again, and all before they properly ID you.’ I could fill in the blanks myself. He meant when I was dead. ‘I will just tell the nurse that treated me yesterday. She treated Michael Brown. She knows who I am.’ My vain attempt at applying logic to the situation. ‘Look around man, those nurses ain’t on shift today. If they went to so much trouble to change your ID, then I reckon your file has been moved too.’ ‘But that’s all impossible. Somebody here will know who I am.’ Nodding a cold hard no, he said. ‘Man like Diego Gonzalez will have paid enough people off, that they will swear blind you ain’t Michael Brown. You are fucked.’ I saw the twisted logic in what he was saying. I was only in hospital a day and not many staff would even know if I was Michael Brown. `So what the hell do I do? Can I borrow your phone?’ Tutting, he pointed to a sign on the wall that said. Electronic devices are not permitted on this ward. ‘I have tried but they have some sort of signal jammer in the hospital.’ He said, lifting up his Sony Ericsson and showing me the vacant levels of reception that he was receiving. 
For more of this incredible new story from Paul Kilmartin, please leave an interaction, comment or Like.
Part 2.


I had no means to communicate with the outside world and to all intents and purposes, I had taken on the identity of a known drug dealer and murderer. Hence I saw my options as being limited. 

I turned my wheelchair and tentatively pushed myself to the outside of my room. Slowly, I gazed around the corner, awaiting the nurse that would ask Michael Brown where he was going. I could feel people stare now as they passed, like they knew me. Or more so, like they know how to look at a dangerous criminal. Eyes darted left and right as I tried to plead with someone to speak with me. They couldn’t get away from me quickly enough. I disgusted them. Like a drug pusher would do. I could spot the ones who had children, whom Diego Gonzalez would try to recruit into his gangs. They thought of that,  as they tutted in my direction. I had given up a little bit of hope when a Nurse, dressed in dark blue and carrying an air of authority approached me. ‘What are you doing out here Mr. Gonzalez? You know you are to stay in your bed.’ My name is Michael Brown, there has been some sort of misunderstanding.’ I replied. “Bed 15B, Diego Gonzalez,” she paused, taking out a mobile scanner the size of a pack of cigarettes from her back pocket. Running it across my ID tag, she continued. ‘Diego Gonzalez. That’s you. The nurse in charge handed you over to the day staff. There will be no tricks Mr. Gonzalez.” Afraid of attracting more unwanted attention, I backed off, just nodding. “I just wanted to have a look down the corridor.” “Well fine, a look it is and then get back into bed and rest. The phlebotomist will be around soon to draw bloods.” and off she went, to spit more blood and thunder in a room further down the corridor. 

I looked around, panicking even more so, wary that soon my own blood would have Diego Gonzalez name upon it. The phlebotomist would scan my ID bracelet, draw some blood and suddenly more evidence would be in place that I was not who they said I was. Wheeling back towards my bed, I hurriedly rooted through the single drawer of my bedside locker. I was looking for my wallet and identification but found only vacant space. I wheeled myself again out to the corridor and tried to think of what to do next. 

Wrote the book, bought the t-shirt. 

Wrote the book, bought the t-shirt. 

The humble self-publised authors of the online world. The great un-washed of the literary era. Assigned to the leper colony of the Internet, or Amazon publishing as it’s more snazzily known. 

I had my first run in with Amazon publishing, just a mere couple of days ago in fact. I’m actually billowing frothy spit from my mouth as I write now, so much in rage am I at the error strewn manuscript that Amazon has presented to me after I managed to upload it to their servers. It looked great in Ms Word, very much like the book I hoped it was. I had read and re-read, edited and re-edited and cajoled a proper editor into editing it again and asked said editor to marry me. She said yes, though to see how she came at my manuscript with red slashes of pen, she does not love me for my literary talents alone. I clicked upon publishing Beta on Amazon, and awaited upon a Paperback version of my prose to be delivered. What I got was a singular travesty of a thing. I oohed and aahed like a man falling down a cliff, eager to find out how it ends on the jagged rocks below. I surely hit rock bottom and felt the air escape from my lungs. I had to do it silently though, in case I alerted a crowd to come and bare witness to this literary horror show. 

In essence, you actually get some incredible options with which to dispense your fictional efforts onto the world. Ebook or Paperback. And all for free. But theirin lies the catch. You truly get what you pay for and in this case, the position of your new book is placed fairly and equally among all of the other grains of sand on the beachhead. And then you sit back and wait, and hope that it catches fire, or breathes air, or even runs free. You hope to catch a break that one person reading it becomes two and ten in no time. That the hundreds will order your perfect prose and tell you how wonderful it is and yes, they would like some more. 3 stars? Have 5. 5 stars for all. 

And there sits me, one book released almost one year ago and my sales are in single digits. I have written three more but do not want my three or four avid fans, new fiancé included to develop writer fatigue. So I will launch number 2 in a matter of weeks. And I will wait.

Write, Edit, Repeat.. 

Write, Edit, Repeat.. 

These stories, they need air, room to breathe, they need ink and a small rainforest’s worth  of pages. They won’t stop either, they keep coming and won’t leave me alone until that final edit has finished. And then the next book comes knocking on the door of my imagination. It’s been like this since I was  15 years old, and now 21 years later, I’ve sold about 10…

But the buzz around them is huge. People just can’t hear enough about how you have written that book. And that includes folks from as far flung places as India, Canada and New Zealand. But nobody wants to buy it. Everybody has their type I suppose, books about wizards and dragons, or for a while it was sexy wizards and slutty dragons. Talking dragons, that will be next. Talking slutty dragons. But I cannot write those books.

I am up against the machine of the publishing industry and I have not a publisher or a light to guide me through the dark forest. So I am forced to go it alone and cobble together a writing career from the scraps of the giants of the industry. Little is left for new authors and we are often told of the slush piles that publishers receive. Slush piles: great big stacks of hopes and dreams from every aspiring writer in the country. Take your chances and submit, knowing full well that your work may not see a shelf in a book store for three to four years. And that’s if you are lucky. The publishing industry has become much like the car industry. Oh you can build your own and everybody will want to look at it but no one will want to drive it. They prefer the reliability of a BMRowling or a Mercedes Grisham. 

But you have a choice, and it revolves around self publishing and the pitfalls located within it’s wet sticky walls. You can take your place at the starting blocks of Amazon Kindle publishing, the equivalent of an Olympic Games 100m final that started yesterday. There now exists so many titles, and many for free, that to stand out and sell, you need to be incredibly fortunate. Or failing that, try and dispense a personal fortune so you can try and advertise your body of work via Amazon, Twitter or Facebook. And well then, you are just back at the car showroom. Nice wheels, don’t think I’ll sit in it though,  if that’s OK? 

I have other ways and means with which to attract the attention of the humble reader, I need to freshen it up. My cow has been fattened, I just need to bring her to market. Failing that, my own market which has been over exposed, I will need to walk that cow to every market on planet Earth. And it’s just like that. You think big and go global or you go home. You may see me at a book fair in Dusseldorf yet, stood outside the door with copies of my books. I will get a sale, maybe not a publisher, but someday, someone else will buy a copy and join my exclusive reader’s club. 

I may start to offer out test drives to get anyone to sit in it. God forbid, anyone might want to take a few out of the showroom. 

President Trump: King Troll

President Trump: King Troll

If you think that Donald Trump is unhinged, then you fail to see the demographic of lunacy under every tweet and Facebook post that he speaks to. If hate filled speech, pours forth from his gills, then I’ve witnessed his disciples vomit hate filled, racist, sexist speak. He probably hates U2 as well, it’s in the troll bible to dislike Bono these days. The problem with Trump is that his uprising has more to do with our love of celebrity than any rise of the alt-right.
We cannot view him as like everyone else. The circumstances of his fame are indeed a result of everything culturally that has happened in the past 10 years. From Twitter, to Instagram, Facebook to Flickr. Donald Trump is a new breed. He is a factory battery hen. They are not like the rest of us. They are bred a little differently. They see us walking around outside the fence as threats to their way of life. They see the world differently too, through screen grabs, tweets and shouts from beyond the fence. We always feared the day when one would break out.

He is different, of that there is no doubt, and he is a change from the President’s of recent memory. But that can be a good thing. Political office is broken and the world’s problems are greater than any politician can grasp. Even Obama couldn’t grasp it, failing on Syria, gun control, greater financial regulation and the transgressions of the American military in foreign fields.

In athletics parlance, he is the hurdler who has bashed every hurdle, false started, taken a selfie near the finish line and after the race has ended, won’t even have the decency to cross the line so we can properly disqualify him. He will say that we have been hurdling wrong for all of these years.

In years to come, he will be the poster child of when anti-technology soothsayers used to warn us of the potential evils of social media. They will point and say that we enabled a Donald Trump to rise and conquer all. And he is not the last. He is merely the first of the battery hens to find a hole in the fence. Movie star actors and actresses next, or singers and songstress. They have already begun their march, becoming more political as the years pass by. We retweet and like and enable their journeys along the way. 

And to think, we now ask Twitter and Facebook to curtail Donald Trump. From corners of the Internet, they implore the powers that be to take away the ability of Donald Trump to communicate via social media. They say its too powerful a tool, that he is influencing military decisions and future policy makers with his errant tweets about North Korea. If he is doing so, then he is being let. He is being enabled by every Facebook troll and every Twitter bully. It has already gone too far. How Donald Trump uses these platforms to communicate is the new future. It’s what we were warned about and it is here. The next battery hen is already eyeing up that hole in the fence. 

Most of how we will judge a Donald Trump Presidency won’t rear its head for many years. The history books decree that we need to wait until the President after the following President, before we know if that person has met the expectations that they themselves set out. So by this regard, we will not know if Donald Trump will win the race to the bottom for many years to come. 

Glimpse from beyond the Iron Curtain Pt. 1

Glimpse from beyond the Iron Curtain Pt. 1

An assassination, FSB agents in blacked out cars, football hooligans, a couple of millionaires, a Russian nuclear submarine engineer and a few farmers from County Leitrim on the hunt for some wives. By and large I’ve been told that my trip to Russia was fairly normal. 
Arriving in Moscow, I decided to take my life in my hands and surrender myself to the taxi Gods. The snow had not quite cleared and after a long flight, I felt it was best to quickly find my hostel and settle down in what would be my base camp for a few days. The drive from Sheremetyevo to the hostel was interspersed with dashboard gripping lunacy, ear splitting car horns and my first encounters with Russian swear words. Roller coaster rides, I would imagine, are fairly dull affairs if you have ridden in a taxi in Moscow. 

I arrived, to albeit spartan accommodation, about 40 minutes Metro from Moscow Central. I booked the room, knowing full well what I was getting. But as I found as the trip wound on, that every type of social class is accommodated for in Russia. In winter, they have no issue with dealing with the homeless as it is just too cold. Nobody sleeps on the streets as it’s a death sentence. The good samaritans do what they can but the Russian winter takes the rest. You could call it harsh but this far North, it’s just how life is. You quickly find yourself toughening up. 

On my first Metro ride into the City, I witness a less talked about national sport, drinking vodka before work. I count five in my carriage, swigging from little flasks. Maybe it’s as a result of the sub zero temperatures but it becomes quite the done thing for businessmen and women to engage in. And they can handle it too. I feel I’ve had a few myself as I step out and into the Park Pobedy Metro station and encounter the famed 3rd deepest escalator in the world for the first time. Built deep into the earth, it’s is both a terrifying ascent and descent into your perception of control. I held on to that side rail as tight as paint to concrete. Judge me as you will, but take the escalators of Moscow first and then come back to me. Like much of Russia, such beauty is fraught with danger and the Metro station’s of Russia are incomparable in the world over for their sheer beauty and incredible artwork. 

Part 2.. St. Basil’s Cathedral, The Kremlin and an assassination. 

Rwanda a Doh Dah! Pt.3

Rwanda a Doh Dah! Pt.3

Tanzania and back. 

I stepped out of that Scania, never expecting that I would ever meet the same me who had gotten into that truck, two days previously to that. It’s safe to say that an element of danger can change your life. It certainly changed mine. 

We got out in the dark of night, met by Jamal’s new bride and her sister. They stood one hundred or so yards from the house that they would all share, a newly built bungalow on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. It was modest, smelling of fresh concrete and paint. I imagined that the builder had promised them the sun, moon and stars that it would be ready for their first night as a Mr and Mrs and felt that maybe disappointment would be etched in their faces, but I was so very wrong. Instead I saw a young couple, walk hand in hand towards their beautiful, unfinished home. I suspected the builder of said house walked ahead of me, such was the love his wife held for him as they walked in the moonlight and I was right. We didn’t stay up talking for long as Jamal’s wife had decidedly less of a grasp of English than her husband. I drank in the experience, never wanting to accept that our unique journey had come to an end. I think he felt this too, asking me in the morning of my plans for the return journey. There would be no sequel, and this displeased him as he almost immediately made good for our departure to Dar. A friendship forged on the plains of East Africa. I left him to his life and he to mine. 

My week in Dar, came and went by in a blistered blur of sun and hospital visits. I overdid it on Day 2 on the beaches of Zanzibar and ended up having to confine myself to my room, to ensure I would be fit enough to make the return journey. I trivialise it now, but I suffered a severe bout of heat stroke and second degree burns on my feet and shoulders. I collapsed in my hostel room when I did eventually manage to get back and went through some heat DT’s on the toilet floor, shaking, sweating and taking rapid shallow breaths. I ended up voluntarily admitting myself for assessment to a local hospital, fearing the worst, in standards and care. The reality painted a very pained picture for hospital care in the so called West. I stayed in for over an hour and was met with an empathy and direct care that disgusted my so inwardly looking self.

How dare I ever doubt in the intentions of such a kind people. The care of a Dr or Nurse depends not on the condition of their place of work or the figure in their salary. Here it was about something more. Africa changes you. 

I made daily treks to the local Subway, to buy two big sandwiches so that I didn’t have to leave the room. I bought some water too and made headway on books that I had brought with me from Ireland. To say I experienced Africa would be falling short of what I gained on this trip. I recovered enough to be able to survive the bus journey back to Rwanda. And though I have made a journey like that sound so harrowing, for me it only seemed to prepare me to really encounter Rwanda and all she had come through. I was finally ready to meet the ghosts of the genocide. 

To have subsequently visited Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich in Germany, I can categorise genocidal murder as something which can be so emotionally traumatic, that it can leave you feeling so very numb. You are viewing the bloody past of a time that even through a mirror, clouded by time itself, that the very feeling of death still remains. It carries in it an aura not yet ready to leave the earth. Rwanda carries within it, that very same sense. But also, remarkably, feels like the place where hope lives. The people, should be so very traumatised, and though a lot of them most likely still are, they still remain in this place and they still go on about their daily lives, interacting with one another. In the place where the Devil himself lay siege to the minds of a nation, there now lives the signs of peace. There is surely a deeper meaning as to how this happened but in the time I had here, I couldn’t find it. 

I visited the Genocide Museum and memorial site in Kigali and heard the stories of the UN peacekeepers, like Lt Gen Romeo Dalliere, a man I have never met but whom I will always call a hero for what he tried to do, for how many he tried to save. I came away from the museum that afternoon with a sense of loss and I wondered how does a people ever recover from such an event? I walked outside and was met with a warm, tropical rain. I felt the Rwandan tears on my face and body and shed some too. Always, will I carry her in my heart, little Rwanda. Always will I think of the deaths and the sacrifices made by the many and and always will I remember that no matter how hard life gets, life can find a way to turn it all around. 

Rwanda a Do Dah! Pt.2

Rwanda a Do Dah! Pt.2

Into Tanzania

Throwing in some coffee beans, raw, into my mouth and thinking I would never have a morning coffee quite like it, I looked at Jamal and figured he must have come across a few lion’s in his time for him to be so calm. I guess that was why he called himself the best truck driver in East Africa.

It was a very white and privileged thing on the face of it, to approach a cabal of truck drivers and ask who was going to Dar es Salaam. I noticed it said that on the sides of most of the transport vehicles, haulage trucks for the most part, so why not ask. I had also seen some trucks laden up with people and their regular cargo of bananas or coffee beans and other such produce so I thought, why not me too? I can’t even remember much about the first truck that I got into, bar the sense of foreboding but the driver was young, maybe as young as I. He accepted fifty dollars and made ready for our departure. I presumed I might have to pay a little extra but I settled in regardless, just happy to be on the way. We had driven not twenty feet when the driver, faced with a traffic jam, jumped from the cab to remonstrate with others. They all threw their hands in the air when it became clear that much could be done and he relaxed and thusly began to jovially chat with the other drivers, bringing within me a deep feeling of unease. I can’t recall exactly how he looked at me a certain way as he talked with other drivers or did he smile a little more than he should have. The instinct to run took hold of me and I made my decision that I would bail out. As was his newfound disinterest for our journey, he skipped behind a small wooden shelter and gave me the window I needed to jump out and make off up the road. Crossing the lines of trucks and vehicles, I spotted one man who stood taller among others, shining brighter. 

He wore a freshly pressed uniform and had a clean shaven face and stood beside a clean Scania truck that was hauling coffee beans from Uganda to Dar es Salaam. Jamal was his name and like those buddy cop movies, he must have known I would be a comic relief, because he laughed me out of it when I made my proposal to him. He wore three yellow stars on his brown shirt, three stars that signified three years of driving with no accidents or days missed. What made him even more incredible among his peers, was that he put those there himself. He took so much pride in what he did, in how he did it that I could only but admire it all. He eventually relented, maybe having watched me have a near escape back further down the road. We boarded the truck and set off. 

Over the course of three days and two nights, we ate, talked and sang our way across Tanzania. He told me of how he had gotten married, only the day before but had needed to fulfil his order so would meet his bride in their new house outside Dar es Salaam. He had gotten married but left that evening, foregoing the rest of the celebrations. I imagined that this displeased her but he disagreed when I put it to him. We battered the African plains with 18 wheels of fury, hitting bumps constantly and shaking our brains. I could compare it to sitting in an empty trailer as a tractor drove across the bog, shaking your constitution, but for this, there was no comparison. 

We stopped for our second night in a small village, a stopover for weary travellers. Jamal and my how I had thought that he was someone of great importance was proven to be of truth as we sat in the small house of a local dignitary. Seven of us in this one cramped room and me, asked to sit beside the elder and across from Jamal. They spoke in Swahili and the words quickly turned Jamal a blandish pale of yellow. A Lion was nearby, a man killer. The parks men were coming out to try and kill it but they would not be there until morning. Five people had already been killed and they feared that the Lion would kill again. Jamal told me that I would be sleeping in the truck tonight and the meeting soon ended. I hurriedly walked with two other people, strangers to me, back to the truck. I pushed my head close to the window inside the truck and despite being so potentially close to this ominous presence, I forgot about him as I looked up and gazed into the starry night sky of a million lights. 

The next morning, I was awoken by Jamal and he beckoned me to come with him. We jumped in a small green Range Rover, driven by a man of similar age to Jamal and made our way a half mile outside of the village. There, on a sandy road, he stopped the jeep and motioned for Jamal to come to him. There they examined the road and feeling secure, beckoned for me, with slow hand signals to come and join them both. I stepped out of the jeep and made my way to the front, looking left and right for this suspect Lion. I looked down and gave myself zero chance of surviving a Lion’s breath, let alone an attack from one. It’s paw prints were pushed down and into the sand and it looked like the Tree print from the Jurassic Park movies. Confronted with something so monstrous, I felt very human and vulnerable. Jamal and the driver of the jeep were already back inside and I quickly joined them. There wasn’t much more talk of Lion’s. I got the sense that Jamal had been very affected by news of the deaths, in this, what must have been a regular stop over for him. 

We departed for Dar and until we came into the view of more modern towns and the city itself, I strained my eyes through every window in the truck to see the man killer. 

Rwanda a Do Dah! 

Rwanda a Do Dah! 

I never even hesitated, not for a second. Not when the border guard smiled a mischievous grin and told me that jungle time would dictate when I would get my bus to Dar es Salaam. I would need to submit myself to the leap of faith I had wanted to find so badly. Never thinking my leap would end up at the foot of a Scania haulage truck, I gulped my worries away and climbed on board. 

It didn’t start like that, my East African adventure. I had put quite a bit of planning and research into the trip. Going so far as to meet up with a Rwandan woman who lives in my small town in Offaly. She sent me off, laden with gifts for her family in Kigali and I obliged, allowing karma to tuck itself into my socks. I had known a little of the history, the parts I remembered from the news but I didn’t refresh myself, felt that I shouldn’t have. I read that Rwanda viewed itself so very differently since the events of April 1994, so who was I, this muzungai, to take my western pre conceived notions into it. So I didn’t. 

As we descended into Kigali, I thought a most repeated thought that I carried throughout my trip. That how alike Rwanda is to Ireland. The fields were incredibly green. The green green grass of Rwanda had not the same ring to it, but it sang truth. The people too, reminded me of an Ireland from the past. An Ireland where friendliness lived as your neighbours once did, in your life and in your soul. I carried with me, in those first few days a deep seated fear of Africa. I felt very exposed at times as the only white man on the streets but felt perplexed that I wasn’t being pointed at or even noticed. It got to such a point, that I wanted someone to tell me that I was different. Rwanda didn’t. She bared her humanity and time and time again told me that we are all the same. 

I took that bus, the tuc tuc, packed, cramped and beautifully African to the border and encountered Rwanda time and time again. We pulled up to collect school girls and I braced myself for the looks and stares from the younger generation. And none did come. Rwanda tried to hold me close, to look again and see her humanity. In the place, where the Devil came to visit and stuck his hands into the soil. I was being shown that life can move on. 

I paid my border tax, found a Scania and paid a little fee for the driver to bring me across land to Dar es Salaam. In a week’s time, I would re-cross that border and only then would I really feel what it was like to be Rwandan. 

UFC: Unidentified Flying Cop-Out

Be harsh, be kind, be gentle upon me. The three phrases which will never be uttered by combatants towards one another as they set up to trade vicious blow for vicious blow as the bell sounds for round one.

Fighters in a sport that is trying too hard to be WWE meets a good argument outside a chippers at 4am on a Sunday morning, trying too hard to put a side of extra beef in bravado. WWE gives us a bit of razzmatazz, while UFC orders up some elevator jazz. Professional boxing, has its detractors that say the fight game in the most part is a series of challenger fights, hand picked chickens that are thrown into the foxes den, interspersed by the odd classic, going the distance, trial by punches and dance. UFC fights are shorter, and on occasion can be one minute long round affairs, punctuated with a knockout or a choke hold of such vicious rancour, you feel it through the television. It is less a sport than running around a tree is.

We are angrier and more frustrated as a human race than maybe ever before as a collective people and this has moved side by side with us being closer to each other through social media outlets. Closer to taste the anger. We are close to the tipping point and at the far side of it, maybe there lays a better understanding of us all.

When we are not so angry, UFC will dwindle into the spot on the horizon from whence it came from. Maybe UFC will evolve, maybe it will grow wings and incorporate boxing and make us all marvel at the physicality of a thing. Prepare for a long wait.

(This article was brought about by the growing belief that mixed martial arts is a stand alone sport and not just sports entertainment)

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