Everyone knows what he did
he don’t know 
who knows
so we pretend

Plaster the smile on and smooth out the edges

as your gaze meets
the man -
that you call kin
the abuser - 
that you call unc 
the rapist - 
called Daddy by half a dozen virtuous kids who look up at him

Look - 
up at the man whose fists ruptured their mother’s skull
Look - 
with a mix of terror and trepidation
with a mix of love and vexation

This is the same dude who used to school game to us

perched atop Pride Rock
cracks lacing his braggadocio armour 
proliferating his petty views as we have no choice but to listen 

Respect your elders
Respect your abusers
Respect your collusion 

puff your chest out
laugh at the kid
lay a couple hot smacks on the kid
manhandle the kids femininity 
bat aside sensitivity 
make him learn to fold into himself
make him learn to lie to himself
make him learn to transform the toxic shell encasing him into a home
make his eyes glaze over into his dome
make him drone through the paces

every man knows that boyhood schools us on how to be an abuser


Mugabi Byenkya is a writer, poet and occasional rapper. In 2018, Mugabi was named one of 56 writers who has contributed to his native Uganda’s literary heritage in the 56 years since independence by Writivism. Mugabi wants to be Jaden Smith when he grows up.