The seed ye sow, another reaps; The wealth ye find, another keeps; The robes ye weave, another wears; The arms ye forge, another bears- Percy Bysshe

The first time I got published, I was in form three. I am a reader, even though work has been degenerating my mojo for feeding on words in the last few weeks. I have a special liking for old books. Currently, I am reading Marjorie Shostak, NisaThe Life and Words of a Kung Woman. My passion for old books and pages that haven’t been maimed by many an eye stumbled me upon a book whose pages were as old, all yellowed up and still gold. Loving the words, I embarked on a copy-down-activity; not creative imitation but utter plagiarism. This article I send to the Young Nation and it was published, all credits and accolades accorded to me. This article had words too heavy for a form three student. Even heavier for the Young Nation section. They were the hippota-words, which not even the plagiarist writer in myself could lift with her tongue. I have however forgiven myself and these days I marvel in my own creations of words.

Since then, I have so often wondered about the print media in Kenya, especially the local dailies and their seriousness in curbing this ever so often crime. The ‘marginalised’ of us are living under a constant fear of a privy eye whose copy paste button stands waiting for a chance to pounce. It is unfortunate that the people who are supposed to observe these laws to the later are the ones evangelising it through their constant thieving from unsuspecting bloggers; those that masquerade as writers behind news desks, making journeys through the internet, morning to evening, scavenging for articles befitting a right-click, copy, and save. Just like our universities that day in day out accept copy- and-paste assignments without running them through anti-plagiarist software, editors of respectable dailies seem to trust their writers too much.

There are times however when as a writer, I have not feared plagiarism. I do not believe in the possibility of pilfering creativity. It is like skin in me, you can never take it away. If they are my words, they will forever be my words. The way I will put down an idea, the way I will combine my words has its imprint on it. Sometimes for a writer it is not all about being accorded the credits, this comes thereafter. The satisfaction first is in being able to create- looking at your words and slumping back into the chair…then sigh! To create an idea into words- that is the ultimate contentment for a writer. Cases of writers in newsrooms and even bloggers that insist on busking in the sun below the shade of other writers thus baffle me. I see no sense in it whatsoever. A journalist who practises such an atrocious crime needs be send home. It is unforgivable. Unfortunately, even after having heard so many cases, all backed up with evidence, of blogger’s works appearing on the dailies, I have not heard of a case of the said journalist being send home packing. The best these victims of the stolen word get are words of apology from the editors.

However, the question I have for the bloggers and the ‘marginalised’ writers of the online community is- what are we doing to protect ourselves from this act of violence upon our words? I for one do not know the first thing about copyright laws in Kenya. Yes, my blog has a badge I stumbled upon. It is a good scarecrow for the swindlers, with befitting warnings of protection under US laws that do not even encompass me. After attending the #BAKE meeting last week, I realised that this thieving of words goes way back. It did not just start. I do not believe it has ended either. One of the bloggers at the meeting said that these swindlers have turned their eyes from the blogposts and are now hovering over your comments, combining them and making a post out of that. So is there a way to protect our works? Can we trust our blogs as home for our ideas and words without the fear of being exploited and expropriated ? Or do we just continue using the © that we copy and paste , like I will do just now as I sign out?