FRANKMWENDA

The Writing of my Place in History

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Category: Personal

Who Cursed my Farming Career?

Drought farm

I never wanted to be a farmer. I hated farming right from childhood despite my mother being an addicted farmer. Addicted to the level that only darkness, not time, would remove her from her farms. Literally, if there was moonlight, she would continue tilling and weeding and harvesting till late.

The only part I enjoyed about farming then was playing in the farm, putting seeds in already dug holes and kicking the soil back with my foot. It was like playing soccer: drop – kick, drop – kick, pass the soil, kick. Oh, and harvesting dry maize, because it involved aiming maize at far-away heaps.

So, I hated farming. Also because my hands have always been too soft. One time my father told me to plant flowers around the house and when he came back in the evening my hands were bleeding.

“Hands of a girl, only fit for the pen. If you don’t study well, you will be poor, because those hands can’t help you otherwise.” That’s what he said. My own father.

So, I decided to study and let the pen make me rich. Obviously, the jembe was not my meal ticket.

But in my subtle stubborn ways, I took up farming – I planted a kitchen garden around my Bata company house. Yes, I went, hired a fork jembe and bought a panga, dug around the house, and planted cabbages, onions, spinach and sukuma. The onions, spinach and sukuma turned out mostly fine, despite enemies of development, kina Lewis and Gerishon, telling me they wouldn’t amount to anything because I wasn’t watering them everyday. I told them my vegetables were as ghetto as me and they didn’t need pampering.

farming vegetables kitechn garden

The start of my kitchen garden “farming”

Well, they didn’t turn out to be the healthiest on the block, but at least they were edible…

The cabbages though, which were right in front of the house, became the real embarrassment: the stupid things turned black, wilted, and died right in front of my eyes!

Stupid cabbages

I swear someone looked at them with bad eyes.

The Millionaire Farmer

Then I don’t know which witch bewitched me (I know tongue twisters). I think it’s the cartels and motivational writers that made me believe I would make millions farming. I read and heard so extensively how paying farming was that I decided I would be a farmer, first as a side hustle, then full time. Even made a progression plan like they taught me. That was in 2014.

My research told me that Narok would be a very good place to farm either wheat or tomatoes. Wheat was out of the equation because I had never seen wheat in a farm, sembuse investing in it? So, tomatoes. My friend, Sein, is from Narok (Marti insists she is from close to Tanzania border because when they want for their ruracio, they traveled through Masai Mara to the other side like wildebeests). She told me I could co-farm with her mum. All I needed was to send her money. I trust Sein, so I sent her the money and her mum did the farming on my behalf.

farming tomatoes

Could have been my tomatoes

Five or so months later, Sein called me, very excited that the tomatoes had been harvested and that she was sending me the proceeds. Wueh! Sema excitement. My mother would be proud of me and my father would be ashamed. I was making money from farming!

Only that the profit I had made was just 500 shillings! 500 Bob after almost 6 months takes the medal for one of the worst investments I have ever made. Only short of GNLD.

Thus my dreams of being a vegetable farmer in Narok died.

Next farming project: Tharaka Nithi Watermelons

Watermelons are always in demand, people just can’t get enough of them, and farmers make a killing with watermelons.

And we also wanted to make a killing farming watermelons, Winnie Mwende and I. Asking around, we found out that Tharaka Nithi county is as good with watermelons as it is with last-minute votes. So, using her mashinani connections, and Winnie has insane connections with churches and community mobilizers, she got the resources: a farm to hire and a really good person with farming hands to do the work.

We put our savings together and sent enough for preparing the land, buying seeds and one month’s wages for our farm manager.

Only that he stopped picking calls, and was nowhere to be seen. Apparently, he had taken money from several poor villagers and just disappeared into thin air, leaving his family behind.

Kigeugeu watermelon bastard.

watermelon

The watermelons in my mind

Farming Meru Potatoes

We have had many projects and and activities with Kendi Gikunda. Some are known, like The Ameru blog which has grown to be a proper brand, and others are a mystery: like our farming project.

Long story short, we put together capital to go into farming proper… acres of fine potatoes in Kibirichia, Meru… and our project manager (yes, we had one) disappeared in plain sight and we couldn’t do shit about it.

So, who cursed me? When I get good people, the returns are almost nil and then the rest steal from this Meru boy. Worse when I do the farming myself.

One day. Maybe.

GNLD, Forever Living and Other Stories

 

GNLD session

It’s many moons ago, and I am fresh in Nairobi (just after I had come into the city in search of education and proper initiation into the world). I have lots of time in my hands and it has not occurred to me that I could use that time to William around and build an empire (Those who did CPA full time know you aren’t in class all the time). So, my free time is spent lying on the bed with kina Kero and Flo staring at the ceiling and imagining how we’ll stop eating Ngumu Strungi and start owning Nairobi, “because if kina Kibaki own the city, why not us?”

One day, Flo, drunk with strungi says, “My cousin is quitting school to concentrate on another business she’s running. You know she just bought a car… what else would you be looking for in school when you can buy a car from your business?”

“What?” That jolts me out of bed, with lots of questions. I want to buy a car too and if this Third Year cousin of Flo’s has quit to buy a car, why am I struggling with this CPA which isn’t my passion, anyway?

We bug her so much she promises to introduce us to her cousin, which she does in a few week’s time.

I meet Esther. She is very very charismatic, articulate and she’s a girl who knows what she wants in life and is mapped out. She gives me this motivational speech on life and how I can get the position that I so deserve. I ask her if and how she can help me attain that, given that I have heard stories about her success.

So, she invites me to a meeting in Eagle House, 6th Floor, I think. And my-oh-my… That’s a superbly motivational meeting. People are giving testimonies of how right they are, how they quit employment and school to become very very rich. This year, the top “managers” are going to holiday in the US or some other country.

It gets me dreaming, this GNLD meeting.

I grabbing the opportunity to own cars in Nairobi, then buildings, and who knows, even Nairobi!

Registration is Sh. 6,300 which I promptly pay. (Remember I saved some money when I went to Visions Institute of Professionals rather than KCA?). Yeah, so I pay and forth to convince people. Esther, my manager, tells me I don’t have to convince people. I can identify people and she will do the rest.

2 months later, and I don’t have a single follower. Maybe that’s why I’m not a pastor. I can’t convince people to do shit.

how GNLD works

How GNLD works and all these networking stuff works

And there is another major detail that was conveniently left out: I have to buy and sell products worth Sh. 6000 or so (I think)! That’s should shitty… Why didn’t anyone tell me that? Esther again tells me no problem if I can’t sell, she will have someone sell it for me and give me the money to buy another one. The catch? Buy the most expensive thing and break it down into small packages. It was a cleaning liquid. That was another Sh. 3,600.

To date, I have never received a single cent from that… and my 10K+ with GNLD drank water.

A con job interview

A few years later, I’m still lying in bed, after class, browsing the internet. I’m looking for a job and I see an exciting one on Brighter Monday. Someone is looking for an accountant, with at least CPA Section 2. I have already completed Section 4 so I know I’m very qualified.

So, I send my CV and application letter. 2 days later, I am invited for an interview at Nairobi Cinema. God has answered my prayers and I’m finally leaving Satan’s poverty.

Dressed in a suit complete with a tie, I go to the place. Only that I see other smartly dressed people in a full room with a teacher at the front, doing sums on a whiteboard. I’m confused. Is this an interview or a training. I think they are teaching us something, then give us a small test for the job.

It takes me almost 10 minutes to realize that this ain’t no interview. The bastards are telling us about GNLD!

All the people on the room are CPA students and graduates, and the guy at the front was an accountant who quit to do GNLD full time. I am hurt, very hurt. Why would anyone do this to all these desperate people?

I raise my hand as if to ask a question and he excitedly allows me.

“You invited us for an interview to sell us this shit GNLD scam? Guys, these people are con men! All this is is bullshit!” I say with the anger of a Baite and walk out, leaving the teachers with open mouths and a few of the students scrambling to leave.

My friend Bernard Muiru also got this GNLD “job”: Part 1 | Part 2

—-

The Crush Calls… wants us to Live Happily Forever

Yet a few years later, an old classmate of mine, Josephine is reconnecting. We have not been in touch since we finished school. I’m thinking she is missing me because she keeps calling me. All.the.time! I’m actually feeling lucky – Josephine was a cutie when we went to school together. And we were quite good friends… after the crushing ended. Could she be crushing on me after my crushing on her ended? Or does she want us to settle and make a family? 🙂

She tells me she will buy me one glass of my beloved mango juices, because she wants us to talk. Badly. Feels like a booty call.

So, of course I agree to meet her. And we meet in one of those restaurants in town, drink our juice and catch up. You know, what we are doing after CPA… I’m interning at an IT firm and she’s in business, because jobs are hard to get. Bla bla bla. And she wants me to meet some people who can help.

So, off we go, to Eagle House again…and it gives me a really bad feeling.

“I hope we aren’t going to GNLD”

“Oh. You know GNLD?”

“Yes. And I really hope you aren’t taking me there because this will be bad.”

“No. I can’t be involved with GNLD.”

Phew! We walk into a huge room with desks. If this ain’t GNLD, is she introducing me to Illuminati or something?

Only that it’s not. I get introduced to everyone around a table, who are all genuinely pleased to meet me. They tell me I must be a very good friend of Josephine – she must love me to give me this opportunity.

Of joining Forever Living!

Forever living discussion

It was a round table discussion like this. Image: teachingprofessor.com

I tell them I know Forever Living is like GNLD and they tell me those are two very different things. You don’t have to carry bags of products or even invite people if I don’t want. You just start amassing wealth as soon as you join. They show me progression charts and what you get when you get to a certain level. You start with cars, then houses in South Africa and some other place, then a helicopter and finally a yacht!

Do you know anyone who owns a yacht anywhere? I would be that guy.

By then I am streetwise enough to know nothing comes that easy. Hii ni Nairobi bwana!

“Don’t you have relatives to show this shit before showing a stranger, me, such an opportunity to get rich?” I asked.

They look at me, fumbling for words.

“Exactly.” And left with a glee.

Conclusion

You can’t get rich through these network pyramid schemes. Unless you started it.

My 2017 Report Card

Frankmwenda's year 2017

How time flies. Just the other day, I was recapping 2016… and then just as I blinked, 2017 was gone and we were singing Feliz Navidad (or whatever that Chriostmas song says. And now we are in 2018. Older. Better? More experienced?

So, what are the things that happened in 2017?

Switched jobs

You probably knew that I was working for one of the top e-commerce companies around – Kilimall – handling things I had not  previously handled full time, PR and Affiliate Marketing. It was a good run, totally loved what I did and what I was accomplishing, I mean, I got more media and celeb contacts in my phonebook than you, I went live on radio a couple of times, newspaper mentions, etc… and that was quite something for me and my clan. Oh, and then I started handling all the marketing over there. Man, that was a good run.

But then I moved in September, to something else that is even closer to my heart… Digital Marketing for businesses. Yep, that’s what I am doing now – helping SMEs grow their businesses online. Why am I doing this? I want to impact more businesses through the SME-empowering Africa 118 that I’m now working with, and I want to learn more, grow more. That, right there, has been my driving force every time. Learn something new, grow.

Let’s grow!

Lost my grandmother, Beaty.

God has blessed me… And I don’t take it for granted that His mercies stay with me, and my family. True, we have lost some people in our family, I have lost close friends… But the closest I have lost was my grandmother, just in December when we thought we were riding to 2018. And I don’t want to use the name “lost” because, hey, she was in her 80s, she had lived her life to the fullest. She has seen her grandchildren and great grandchildren and she wasn’t in pain. We chose to celebrate her instead of mourning, and what a party her funeral was! Even for her husband, my grandfather.

The biggest lesson I learnt from the pastor at her funeral is this: Every life is like a record player (kinada) back in the days. The owner comes with his kinada, you dance the party, and when the time comes and the owner takes his kinada away, you should try as much as possible to appreciate the dance that kinada gave you, rather than catch feelings because the owner had taken his kinada. My grandmother was the kinada God gave us, He took his kinada away and all we can do is appreciate the dance.

I will miss her roast bananas and the tea we used to drink together.

Read more, wrote more

At the beginning of last year, I wrote out a resolution on this blog – that I would read a 2-4 books every month and write about it here. Well, I succeeded to do that, halfway… Resolutions are for breaking, anyway. I read a lot of books, I think I read more books than I had said I would read, but I ran out of steam to write about them halfway through the year.

I think I also wrote more than I wrote the previous year. I was running this blog, The Ameru, the Kilimall blog ( I think, unfortunately, they deactivated it after I left) and helped out with the Ability Africa Magazine blog. I also wrote a lot of answers on Quora. Speaking of Quora, I fell in love with Quora in 2017. Lots of good questions and remarkable answers. I have written a couple that did quite well.

I won’t say I’ll be writing lots of books reviews this year, but, one thing I promise myself is, I will read more books, more articles. Because books are the way to knowledge… starting with the Bible.

The Ameru went big

Speaking of writing The Ameru blog, 2017 was the year The Ameru broke out as a darling blog for the people from Meru, and us, the writers: Kendi, Brian and myself. We researched culture, interviewed people, visited places and wrote lots of stories that we felt good about (no gossip). We learnt more about our roots, and the inspirational people, and the readers appreciated. Several others wanted to be part of it (btw, our doors are open to anyone) but most chickened out, because we are a bit particular with what we write, which is okay.

BAKE Awards nomination was the culmination of a good work done. And we’ll keep doing it this year.

 It’s a girl!

The best thing that happened to me this year (ever?) was becoming a father. Well, well…close your mouth…yes, I’m a father. It’s only that it was not shouted it at the market place. And hands down, my daughter is the most beautiful baby you will ever see. Where are the advertising people? 🙂

She was born in May, and since then, I have had a better focus on life, and I am a much better person. Her giggles and snuggles are the best feeling ever. And I’m trying to be the best dad ever, secure her future, protect her, give her the life I never had… and help her find her path. Remember the letter I wrote to her before she was born?

So, help me God.


Those were my highlights for last year-2017. What were yours?

I have plans for 2018. But plans are just thoughts to a human being. As long as I have the will, I trust God that this will be the best year yet, in my life.

The Night I Almost Became an Orphan

Last week. Tuesday 14th 2017.

My dad had been complaining of a severe headache for a week. And it was getting worse by the day. He had been to all hospitals in Meru (hospitals in upcountry Kenya can be shit and everyone had been giving him shit painkillers)… including miti shamba. Nothing was working, no one knew what was ailing him. The best bet was, he had been bewitched, or cursed, or both. You don’t suffer from unknown diseases.

So, he traveled to the city, to Kenyatta National Hospital, to see a specialist. As you know, Kenyatta National Hospital may be the largest hospital in the region, but it can also be the shittiest in terms of service and valuing human life. I think they have seen too many dead people they don’t care. But at least, this time he was diagnosed – with right transverse sinus thrombosis. That’s a bad blood clot in the brain.

sinus thrombosis

Sinus thrombosis – Blood cannot flow out of the brain

That known, and as serious as it is, the doctor said “go home, and come back very early tomorrow so that we can admit you.” Ridiculous, right? Who postpones hospital admission? Welcome to Kenya.

We go home – to my place. In the middle of the night, my dad is screaming. My father, the epitome of tough, is praying a heart-wrenching prayer. He is loudly asking God to kill him to ease the pain he is going through forever, but to take care of his children when he’s gone. His only wish is not to get healed, but for his children to live well and in peace. It’s too bad… my mum and I are helplessly watching. No use looking for an ambulance because this is Kenya.

He is giving up. But I choose not to. We carry him to the landlady’s car – I am still saving for my big car. And drive on an almost empty tank to the nearest hospital – MP Shah. It is a very expensive hospital but life and money can’t be a match.

They treat it like the emergency it is. They say if we had delayed a few further minutes… You see, his pulse rate is 40 and dropping. His heart is stopping. He is dying, and telling me what to do when he dies. My mother is sobbing. I am stoically looking on and telling him to stop joking… I don’t want to believe it, so I keep pushing the nurses to do something, anything. And they are trying hard, the doctors are trying hard… but it doesn’t seem like they are doing anything.

Only that the results show otherwise, an hour later, he is still alive and not screaming. But the beeps from the machines attached to him are maddening. I leave the room and pace along the corridors… like they do in the movies.

No beds, let’s transfer him to Aga Khan or Avenue Hospital

He has to be admitted, but there are no beds available today. So, he has to be transferred to a hospital with a bed, and ICU space in case there needs to be an emergency brain operation. Damn! Or wait, there is a bed in the private ward… the deposit before they can admit him to that is a lot of money – usitake jua. 

What’s happening? Does he have to die and we are in a hospital? I raise half of that and sign documents to affirm that I will raise the rest during the day – it’s 4:00 am. Just freaking admit him.

They do, and spend the day checking his failing heart, his brain… and pumping drugs into him. We spend the entire Tuesday in the hospital room, which looks like a hotel room complete with food menus, a TV and a badass washroom.

hospital bed MP Shah

Evening – As it looks, he is not dying, you can tell he is fighting hard. He has stopped giving up, he is responding to the medicine. And we are there willing him to keep fighting.

And he is a fighter… because yesterday, a week later… he was discharged from hospital – completely healed.

We will fight another day. But not this way.

Lessons:
  • Take health Insurance. It is important. Proper healthcare can be too damn expensive.
  • Know your neighbours. Especially if you don’t own a car.
  • Keep peace with people and God. Dying is easier than 123.
  • Don’t keep taking painkillers if there is persistent pain. Go to hospital.
  • Healtyhcare needs to be something the county governments take seriously.
  • God bless the doctors, the nurses… and the hospital staff who work tirelessly to ease pain.

And God bless everyone that stood with us during that treacherous week. Thanks for your prayers, visiting and support.

Nairobi Initiation 7: Fighting the Police

It’s a fine Sunday evening and I’m walking to Plot 10 from seeing my one of my hunnies at UoN Hall 5. We’ve been there since we left church and so, it’s been a romantic day – I am walking on clouds with a bounce… and a sweet feeling on my lips, of course. I’m even thinking about the future already, when I will break my virginity and stop kulaing kwa macho.

And so, I’m startled when someone grabs me roughly on the shoulder, bringing me from my utopia heaven to this rough world that’s deficient of chills. I look up and see the ugly, burrowed face of a guy in a brown jacket. The pungent smell of tobacco and last week’s managu is hitting my nose and he has been talking me:

“Kijana unaninyamazia? Unaenda wapi?”
Without thinking, I tell him: “Kwa nyanyako!”
“Unatusi nani?” and without warning, the asshole slaps me … hard in the face! Still not thinking, I also slap him so hard my hands hurt. God, that’s a rough, hard face.

The guy is now shocked. Bet he didn’t think I would pack such a blow. So, he grabs my collar, and I grab his, as short as I am. He knocks the back of my head and because I can’t reach his, I stamp his feet like Diego Costa. He jumps at the pain.

I don’t even run as I should. He comes at me with the vigour of someone who has overdosed Viagra and grabs the back of my trouser and lifts me up like the police do. He then pins me against the street light with so much impunity, I think I will break a rib. I get composed and grab him by his balls, and because I’m a fellow man who will not squeeze another man’s balls hivi hivi, I tell him to release me or I will squeeze him so hard he will wish he died.

“Mimi ni Askari.” He begs in the most desperate voice I’ve ever heard. ”

“Hapana, wewe ni mwizi. Prove that you are a police officer”

Using his free hand, he reaches his shirt pocket and retrieves a Police ID. Still running on adrenaline, I ask him why he was man-handling me in the first place.

“Niachilie ama nikuuwe wewe!”

Then reality hits me…It’s the era of extrajudicial killings and people have been killed for much less. I release him and we both bend like athletes at the end of the race, panting. It’s been a weird minute that looked like hours.

“But hata wewe afande, usishike mtu hivi hivi kama hujamshow ID. I thought unaniibia.” I quip.

“Hii haitaishia hapa nanii. Kwanza leta ID”

“Ukiongea vibaya nitakwambia unipeleke kwenye unataka na nitakushinda. “

“Utashinda risasi? Utashinda risasi?” And the damned man comes at me again. Now shaken, I meekly give him my ID.

“Ooh! Wewe ni Mmeru. Unafikiria hata kama Matthew Iteere ni wenu siwezi kufanya kitu? Ama unafikiria nitatambua hasira ya Mmeru mkundu wewe?!” Matthew Iteere is the Police Commissioner.

I just look at him. This is a very angry officer. I’m sure he’s serious about killing me. Actually, if he had a gun, I’d be dead already… another kid gangsta terrorizing the police. And I have really terrorized this one.

“Twende! Twende station ghasia wewe! “ He starts nuzzling me up the hill towards Central Police Station. In a way, I’m relieved that he is taking me in. On the other hand, I know the other officers will make me a punching bag when he tells them what I did. But in my mind, I know if it goes to court any judge will release me. I am too small to fight such a big, trained officer, anyway.

Maybe this shame is in his mind too because just as we reach the Moi Avenue junction, he returns my ID. As I reach out to take it, he gives me a grown up slap that could be heard in Gitura! Aki I see mene mene  stars!  He then looks at me menacingly and tells me he will kill me if he ever sees me again. And he simply walks away, leaving me dazed. Nairobians are just glancing at me, not even asking what I got that slap for. Damn you, people of Nairobi!

I turn and walk home with a stinging headache… Remembering my last, more dramatic encounter with the police.

Story for another day.

Am I a Writer? Naah!

frog writerI am a reader, that I know. And again, you cannot prove if I am a good reader or not. But writer? Bla blah blah. 

Let’s take it back several steps.

Before I went to Nursery School, that’s what they were called back then before someone thought of THREE kindergartens before going to Class 1 – I was three years old, and before I went to my first class, I already knew how to write the alphabet, my name, and both my parents’ names. Perks of a first-born? Right. But, see, I was a writer before I knew how to speak.

I kept writing school stuff and reading story books in all languages including Kimeru’s Kagitûyû Kajîîgî na Johana Mûritu (The Cunning Hare and John the Illiterate).

My first book

Then little demons would whisper to me to write my own storybook. I got a few sheets of paper (paper was a rare commodity then because cutting off a page from a book was punishable by death) and I got the Class Artist – Lincoln Mtoto- to draw a few illustrations for my storybook in exchange for a maandazi or two, and I started writing my book. My plan was to write one copy and hire a few classmates to copy it into several copies that I could sell (publishing was an alien concept to me). I don’t remember what it was about, but I lost interest before I reached half my best seller.

frankmwenda kindergarten book

That shelved, I stayed in the non-creative wilderness that made me do tabia mbaya for some time, until I discovered Composition and Insha in Upper Primary. Guys, I could write. The teacher used to read my composition in class, and in other classes. One time, we did an interschool exam and my composition was read in the other two schools. I had this fantasy that my composition would be written in the KCPE newsletters to be read by the whole nation. A boy can dream. 🙂

High School

High school came and we started writing compositions in ink. Erasing wasn’t an option and you had to conceptualize your story before you started writing. The competition was stiffer now, with all the jogoos meeting in one place. Even the jogoos of the towns and academies. Slightly intimidating, but I immersed myself into serious writing and reading. Before long, I was the jogoo of my Miathene class too. I would give myself writing assignments, write and present to the teacher for scoring. I guess the teachers used to love reading my compositions.

Then came the letters. God, I used to write letters. Letters to girls. For myself and for my homies who wanted to score girls. For me, it was passion. Poetry. I was so obsessed, sometimes I would receive letters from girls, correct grammar and spelling mistakes, and send back to them. Some thought I was a total jerk, others thought it was fun. Not that I cared, I was a writer!

Shakespeare

I even wanted to become Shakespeare (we did his Merchant of Venice book for literature). In Form 3 and 4, I wrote my school plays for Drama Festivals. One competition day, at our sister school Mikinduri Girl’s, I asked the Drama teacher, Kibondo, to show me how my play looked like typed.

He answered me in that guttural voice of his: “Wewe Kibuacha wewe! Achana kutaka kutumia play kukatia girls. Use your mouth!”

Later I learned, kumbe Kibondo had added his name to the script as the author! And I knew this because my play was featured in the Sunday Nation newspaper. His name was on the paper instead of mine.

Still, in Form 4, I started the project of writing a new novel. This time I was dead serious, even talked to Longhorn Publishers when we went on a Journalism Club trip. The woman even told me they would publish it for free if it was good and then they would be paying me royalties. Mimi nani…I got an A4, 200-page book and wrote half of it in the three days before school holidays, you know, that time when we didn’t study because exams were done? But that’s all I wrote, I quit!

The manuscript is still on my bookshelf and when I read it last December, I realized how shady my high school mind was.

Blogging

writer frankmwenda

My next novel attempt was, of all places, when I was doing CPA I… while people got screwed by KASNEB the way KASNEB screws people, I was writing a thriller, day and night. I quit when I tried to give it to classmates to read and they said they had no time. Made me wonder what I was doing with my life writing a novel when I was supposed to be studying complex accounting math.

Then I came to Nairobi and saw MrsMwiti writing stories online, on a thing she called a blog. Made me so curious I started my own blog. I was becoming the writer I always wanted to become. My blog then was a political blog where I wrote Mutuma Mathiu-ish opinion pieces. I kept ranting about stuff happening in Kenya and honestly, in my mind, I thought I was going to make Kenya into a better country through my writing. Only that it didn’t. Corruption remained, Nairobi River remained dirty, football in Kenya was eaten to death, Kenyans still worshiped their tribal chiefs… and I quit!

This, here, was my blog and that’s how I named myself FrankKenyan.

Then I started writing a sports blog and I felt like that was my real niche. Kenyans even noticed and I was nominated for BAKE Awards 2012 for Best Sports Blog. Of course, I didn’t win, and I didn’t expect to win, but I was so disoriented that I decided to stop writing about sport. I quit again. Perrenial quitter, huh.

Writer Jobs

But I was happy for that, being nominated contributed highly in me getting my first real job – Social Media at Bata Shoe Company, where I continued writing a brand new Blog – This Blog – and the Bata Shoe Blog. I kept growing as a writer and started getting fans like you. May have been inconsistent, but I was growing. I didn’t even know what my blog was about before I wrote the Nairobi Initiation Series that you guys loved, and I was like, wait, my life has so many stories I can spend a lifetime writing about it. And you enjoy.

I have since written a lot of things, mostly blogs, that you may mistake me for a writer. (That said, if you want something written, talk to me – Bata, LIVELUVO, Kilimall, my pet blog Ameru, and many readers here will tell you I try 😉 )

But I am still not a writer. Writers write books and writers don’t quit… and everyone keeps telling me to write a book as if you guys buy Kenyan books. 🙂 Someone even told me I should do Nairobi Initiation as a book. Nawesmek?

Nah, I’m not a writer!

Random Memories 6: My First Flight – Landing

Fly Emirates Dubai Landing

Where did we leave it last time? Oh, I was getting high high in the sky on my very first flight. So, lets complete the flight and the landing, will we?

Now, every time I ever took a whisky, even my bowels used to stagger – I have to use the loo at the ,”earliest opportunity. This was no exception… adding on the different things I had eaten for the first time. And no, on a plane, you don’t tell the pilot to simamisha ndege you go to the bushes like you do with Kensilver. I knew planes have toilets but I had no idea where they would be. At the back is where the food had come from so obviously that’s not where the loos were. And I hadn’t seen them at the front when I came in.

After fidgeting for some time like my Meru tutors taught me – where I come from men don’t ask where the latrines are, they simply go around following the smells and flies to find them. And there was no way I was going around the plane looking for loos… I have seen enough movies to know people get arrested on suspicion of terrorism in planes. After a few minutes of my stomach groaning because of the mathoganio I had eaten, I heard a kid call out to his mother that he needed to go, I became alert, followed them with my eyes up to the back of the toilet… Then back past us to the front where they stood for some time until this huge, pink man came out of the cubicle. So, that was the toilet.

As I waited, more people went to the back, then to the front till there was a queue outside the door. Made me wonder if they had to go register at the back before going to poo. Or maybe there was a Emirates kanju back there to take the money in exchange for tissue paper.

When in Gitura, do what Giturans do, that’s what my grandfather always tells me. So, gingerly, I rose and went to the back of the plane looking for the kanju guy. One step at a time… the aeroplane was rocking back and forth… the air roads have potholes too. There were people standing around drinking Tusker and looking like Kenyan rugby players along the walkway, talking loudly in Swahili. I even ngotad one, in a show of confidence. You know where there are big Kenyans, ngetas can fly, even if it is in a street thousands of feet in the air. Okay, I have exaggerated that one. I passed them and went where I had seen everyone go.

There was no registration desk. Those were toilets, but there was a sign they were out of use. Made me wonder if they were full already, why not simply open the underside and let shit fly.

Anyway, I went back, all the way to the front where the rest of the people were waiting for their turns. I put on my macho face to show them I was also an Ol G, listening to music through my iPod. I won’t tell you what I did in there because my culture still doesn’t allow me… But I took these toilet mirror images like a socialite.

Disturbances removed, I went back to Julia, who was lost in sleep (it was late at night and there is a reason why planes have pillows and blankets). I couldn’t sleep so I kept listening to music and playing with my seat and watching my screen without sound because, remember, the system wasn’t working and I was too air-wise to ask the flight attendants.

Then I sunk in a reflective mood… Thanking God for His mercies. Being in a plane and you aren’t going to cancer treatment in India is God’s Grace, isn’t it?

My musings continued till a voice came up that we were starting the descent and could we put our seat belts on? People, I was in another world, landing, for the first time, in a soil that is not Kenyan! We were landing in Dubai!

Immediately the plane shifted to begin dropping, hell broke loose!

Painful landing

Remember when I said using my earphones on the plane was a big mistake? Well, that’s when I realized that. My ears started exploding. And with it, my head felt as if it was sinking in. I started wondering if I had contracted Ebola or some other deadly disease that was hellbent on ensuring that I never stopped in another country. Or which jealous village witch had heard I was flying and had went me kinyumenyume. I seriously thought I was dying. Julia was sympathetic but I didn’t need sympathy right then. I couldn’t stand to motion for the attendants because when the seat belt sign is on you can’t move. Julia had been told it sometimes happens and the remedy is chewing gum, and she had some. I tried that and it seemed to further open my ears. I was dying.

Landing Aerosinusitis headache

I felt like a zombie as the attendants took us through the landing routines like declaring any imports, where to find out connecting flights and such. Julie did all that for me.

It didn’t even let me enjoy my first landing… But I took some photos of Dubai by night. They are still iPod quality, sorry.

Breathtaking view of Dubai by night… but not in pain.

When we went out, customs was like a blur to me… and if you are confused in JKIA you haven’t been at Dubai International Airport. It’s just enormous with many many people from all over the world looking a thousand different ways and speaking languages you can’t decipher, especially if you are a first time traveller. But it’s properly labelled and we didn’t have the location problems we had at JKIA… and we were now experts in airport matters.

We had heard that the Dubai Duty Free is the cheapest and I was having problems not looking at the phones, laptops and other gizmos as we waded through looking for a pharmacy. I just had to get painkillers.

I did, and the attendants seemed to know what was ailing me. Which is called Aerosinusitis, a painful inflammation caused by a difference in air pressures inside and outside the cavities  which was aggravated by me using in-ear earphones. I told you…big mistake!

The meds worked magic and I was ready to explore Dubai. We had 5 hours before our next flight to New Delhi.

A Letter to my Unborn Baby

BABY AND parents

Hello, baby.

No matter how old you get, you will always be my baby. Wewe ni toto langu. And I will always be your father. I have seen a lot of things that you still don’t know about. I’m not saying I know everything – I expect you to see a lot more than me in your life, go to places I haven’t gone to, meet people I have never dreamt of meeting. But since I was here first, listen to me.

Baby, this world has lots of people. Billions of people. All of them are traveling in different directions and they may confuse you. You are only one of your kind. Walk in the direction you want, and never ever let anyone determine the way for you. Let them advise you – learn all you can from people… but baby, never follow their very steps. Not even mine. Make your own path.

Baby, let me tell you the secret to a happy life. It is accepting you for who you are and believing you are the best. Never compare yourself to anyone, never live beyond your means because of anyone. You are the most beautiful person, you are the richest, you are the coolest, you have the best parents, you are the smartest, you have the best clothes… You, baby, are the best anyone can be and don’t let people use vanity to define you. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Compete only against yourself, and that there, is the only way to be happy.

Baby, love God. I am not imposing a religion unto you, and again, you can follow your path. But I have lived and known that loving God gives you the discipline you need to live well in this world. If you love God you will never hurt anyone and you will not destroy yourself.

dad and son

Baby, you are allowed to not know things. If you don’t know something, say so. Ask questions, make an effort to learn. Don’t make people, or even yourself, believe you know something you don’t. No one was ever crucified for not knowing. On the other side, I have seen a lot of people who got into trouble for promising things they can’t deliver and pretending they know things they don’t, just to be liked. Say “I don’t know” if you don’t. 

Unless it is necessary, baby, don’t take debts. You can take loans to grow yourself faster than you can normally, but assess the reasons. Debts can derail your growth, debts from friends can make you look mediocre, loans that you take and fail to utilize to get better can occasion more losses to you. If you can, avoid debts. If possible, unless it is your business to give debts, don’t lend people money unless you have to. That’s how friendships perish. See, people are not as faithful with their debts as I would like you to be. 

Build your way up.

Be patient, baby. Nothing great was built in one day. Everything you adore is the result of hard, consistent work. Do you want to know how all the people in prison and all the people that were shot by the police got there? You are right. They wanted to get things done in a flash. That’s why they stole, that’s why they killed, and that’s how they messed their lives. Be patient. Work hard for your money – that’s how you will know true happiness when you sleep every evening.

Try new things, explore. I promise not to show you that I’m a tiny bit scared. Deep down I might be worried or anxious or slightly terrified of what might happen if it doesn’t work out for you, but I won’t let my fears slow you down. In the same way, don’t Let fear stop you from trying anything. Take chances, go for it, trust yourself. I promise to trust you. Sawa?

father son sunset

If you mess up in a small way, I promise to acknowledge it, help you, then let it go. And whenever you mess up in a big way, I promise to feel the weight of it and push you to do the same. I promise to let you make those tough mistakes, to address them when I need to, and to keep on loving you all the same.

Read, baby!

Read books, baby. Build one hell of a library, or borrow mine – you are the only person I will lend my books. I’ll help you learn to read and then I’ll share with you all the stories, true and imagined, that have made me who I am. Live a life filled with words and books and imagination and the space to be as creative as you want to be… because that’s how you learn, that’s how you grow, that’s how you see the world. Reading books is cool.

Love us, your family. I am not telling you this because I will be the recipient of this love, but know that your family has got you in ways that your job, your friends, your other mentors, can’t. Never substitute your love and time for your family for anything.

Mostly, sweet baby, I promise to show you love in all its best forms. I’ll love you and your mom and our friends and our families. I will say it with words and I’ll show it with actions; and if just one of my promises can be kept, let it be this: that you’ll feel it. A love so big that it fills you up, that it makes you feel safe. And any time you feel as if I am not doing good, talk to me. I want us to be best friends. Make me a better father, each and every day.

Welcome to my life.

Love,

Your Daddy.

Random Memories 5: My First Flight

FIRST FLIGHT FROGS

We had gotten ourselves a business trip to India, Julie and I, for an e-Commerce and Customer Loyalty conference…

To travel, you need passports. Which we don’t have and the notice period was three weeks. The queues at Nyayo house are long and torturing. And when I get to the front of the queue they reject my birth certificate because it looks “like it was tampered with.” Made me feel older. Makes me wonder if I was born earlier and they have been lying to me all along (there are parents who do that). Or, was I really born?

Anyway, I have two options, actually three. One, get one of those guys who hang around Nyayo House to forge one for me; two, travel all the way to Meru to get the replacement which I didn’t have an idea how long it would take… and three, give up on the trip and carry my head home. The way the odds are looking after I throw out to the forging option, I may as well give up. But I am a fighter, and I have friends like Liz who work with the government.

Long story traveled to Meru, Liz gets me my replacement birth certificate and I am at Nyayo the following Monday morning. Now, it is a race against time. And the staff at Nyayo know this, and so, they work slowly telling us to toa kitu kidogo so that they “speed up the process.” We refuse, because their website said it would take two weeks, and we are upstanding members of the society who don’t deal in corruption. Big mistake.

Three days before our travel day, we still have no passports – we still need to apply for the visa. The office is telling us they may have to cancel our trip. Julie is on the verge of tears. We go to a few offices, see a couple of bosses…not giving up. We stay in one lady’s office for over an hour, not wanting to leave, till she confirms that our passports are actually ready. Someone is holding them and there is no way we are leaving this place. Even the Police can’t get us to leave, late in the evening; way after closing. We just have to get the passports if they are to have peace. It is our right.

i AM NOT LEAVING

Our resilience pays off. Some commissioner confirms that out passports are ready, even shows us so that we leave, but there is a process to pick them; so we have to come back tomorrow morning. And we do… and get our prized passports! Now it is time to camp at the India High Commission till we get the visa. We had one day.

That is easier. We just pay extra and get our passports stamped. They don’t even ask questions apart from how our company was helping the Indian economy. You gotta love the simplicity of the Indians, not like the British, who denied me a visa to the UK.

And finally, one day to the flight, kedo 5:00 pm, we are now sure we are traveling!

BCD Travel has these services called airport transfers, and this cab picks me from my doorstep all the way in Limuru to take me to JKIA. (I wasn’t using alot of cabs much back then, so, of course, I felt like a VIP. This was the life, man). I’m still in a daze when we get to the airport and we have to look for our gate, pulling our bags like seasoned travelers. We know we were going to the Fly Emirates section, but we don’t know how that will be like. At some point, we stand at a closed door marked Emirates wondering why they are closed so close to the time of the flight… only to ask a guard who takes us to the right entrance just a few feet away. Chickenheads. 🙂

Yes, we didn’t want to look out of place. You know how you chew gum and bounce in confidence? That was Julie and I. Even the Customs guys must have thought our passports were just replacements of filled up passports.

Everything done, we are in the waiting area two hours before time. Enough time to take selfies and call our fans. We are flying, it is a big deal. You know how you just sit around wishing someone will call you so that you tell them:

“I’m at the airport… yes… I have a flight to India… hahaha…. yes, see you when I’m back.”

Anyway, I call my mom first. She’s always first. Our conversation is long and I’m telling her I will fly to Dubai, spend a few hours there, and then fly out to India.

Where is this India, Mwenda?

It’s in Asia, if you get Evan’s Atlas and check, you will see where India is. 

Ah. Don’t worry. So, how many countries will you pass on your way to and from India?

I don’t know, maybe 10,  20. And the Indian Ocean or Red Sea. Not so sure. 

And so on. Reminds me of when I was a Geography teacher at Gitura Secondary School. And then that pause. The pause we had in our conversation when I was doing my KCPE, when we were discussing my upcoming initiation, when she was leaving me in High School for the first time, when I left home for college, when I had my first graduation. I know she has tears in her eyes. She always does when I manage another achievement. Tears of joy at what her offspring is doing.

To break the silence I say,

“Maami, remember when you came to my graduation and you said Nairobi was too near and now I need to take over the world.”

“Yes, and now look at you. You are going overseas just as we said.”

“How did you know?”

“Listen, Mwenda… I know for a fact that anything you say in faith, God must make it happen.”

I love this woman!

She wishes me a good trip. I don’t have to call her when I am there. That’s my mother. She knows I can take care of myself. And I have, since I was a kid.

FLIGHT KENYA MOUNTAIN

I don’t know what mountain this is, but it’s not too far from Nairobi

The next call is to my father, who is also elated that I am making this all important step in life. And he says we should talk every day I am there, because there is a son of sijui who, who calls the dad every day. These fathers… I guess any time I call he will be running to a group of his friends and talking loudly about India, Dubai, etc and telling them he’s been talking to his son overseas. Such is his pride. (He still gets his friends to listen in any time I am in a radio).

We then wait around for our flight to be called, browsing the duty free shops. Julia wants to buy a cake and milk to take on the flight but I tell her there will be a several course meal in-flight. I thought duty free is supposed to be very cheap, well, it’s not.

Kidogo kidogo, we hear our flight being called and we proceed to our gate. We know our gate. We know these things.

But first, there are rules, setbacks. You can’t board with toothpaste, you can’t board with a soda, not even water in a container. And they have a huge waste bin for those. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, I have to get rid of my belt – I have a big-ass trouser on that I have to hold on to – as I remove my shoes. Luckily, my socks are new. I would have sent these people home. 🙂 I then walk through and wear my shoes and belt. It’s like dressing in public.

We are then directed through a hollow, metal hallway that somehow swings and echoes from the footsteps. At the end, there are these beautiful yellow yellows in Fly Emirates uniform, smiling so good you would think they have no problems in the world. Oh, and they call me “sir” as they welcome me to this room with seats that look like a bus’.

Julia and Frank flight

Julia and I making the entrance

Wait… this bus is an Airbus! I am inside a plane! The son of Maua is in an aeroplane! In my mind, I thought you board a plane like you see Obama boarding Air Force One, you know, going up a staircase leading to the door. Looking back though a window, I realise the metal hallway was actually a connection to the plane.

window seat flight JKIA

I want to do a small dance and hug Julie, who is as elated as I am. But I don’t want to look like a kamshamba who’s never been in a plane. We walk to our seats, observe how people are locking their stuff above and do exactly that.

And then we settle, playing around with the seat screens like we see people doing. I can’t get my headphones to work. And I’m too shy, or whatever that is, to ask the beautiful hostesses. So, I just connect my iPod earphones, and get to setting my music. Big mistake.

People are still trickling in. Right on time, the screens freeze, and a voice comes through…

“Welcome on board ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys…” It’s like in the movies!

A hostess comes around checking our seat belts and showing us the nearest exits, in case of anything. As if you can exit an airplane in the air. The screens are also showing us what to do in case of a crash, or if the plane lands in the sea. Damn! Makes me wonder if I hustled so much for a passport just to land in some sea.

The plane starts reversing pole pole. I’m in a window seat just for this. To see the damn thing move. Speed increases. Julie has one of those cheeky smiles of hers. Suddenly, we feel like we are in a lift. The plane has lifted off. The airport and other aeroplanes start shrinking below us. This is big time. Even if the plane lands now, I have flown. That lift off counts, right?

Nairobi is now becoming a blur below us, the buildings looking like one stretch of nothingness. Cars can’t be seen either. Unless they are those blurry dots down below. Soon, we are seeing something like the geographical atlas. Only the boundaries are missing. The greens and the browns are there.

Wait, clouds are floating below us. It’s a clear March afternoon, and the clouds are like white sheets of awesomeness around and below us. I have now taken ten thousand pics on my iPod. The feeling cannot be explained.

flight clouds wing

But then, it gets darker and all there is is a black blanket. I get back to toying around with my screen. I listen to hip-hop and other music that I can’t tell. And watch a few movies like Alex does, fast forwarding the shit out of them.

Best moment- when food trolleys start coming along. There is a menu with two options for food, which we have no idea what they are. So we decide to take both, Julie with one and I, the other. If shit happens we will just share the edible one.

And drinks. I take a few mini bottles of Red Label, beer and some other vodka with a Russian name, some wine and a small tonic. Everything is small around these parts. Not like I expected mizinga, anyway.

The food is delicious. It’s in like two courses but I gobble everything down onetime and settle to imbibe on the kanywaji. Getting high high up in the sky is delirious.

This story just got too long. Let’s leave it high in the air for now. We will get back to it next time. Hint: Aeroplanes have toilets. And using your own earphones on a flight can land you into big problems, as I found out. Oh, and Dubai is confusingly beautiful!

Here is Part 2!

Being Watch-ed

Man watch

I got my very first watch a long long time ago. I think I was in Class 4 or 5. It was one of those fake Casios that went for like 25 Shillings – a gift from my father for bringing home a bowl at the end of the term. (Come to think of it, I contributed a lot of utensils to our home in Primary School – gifts for being in the Top 3)

Knowing that I was an upcoming engineer, he warned me that if I opened it up he would never buy me another one. So, I kept it for a very very long time – 2 days – before the straps came off, and I couldn’t replace them because the “spring’i zilipotea” I was now forced to carry it in the pocket, even when I went to play. A day later, I gave it to my classmate Makasa, to hold for me while I played football – I was a better goalkeeper than Francis Onyiso then, known for diving like a cat.

Only that Makasa lost the watch and I was now watchless. Oops!

So, my father kept the promise and never bought me a watch again, until KCPE and I needed to have a watch to, you know, manage my exam well. This time, it was one of those watches which had a calculator and a crowing jogoo inside. Not that it helped me keep time, I was 30 minutes late for the GHCRE paper! I kept that for some time, I think it’s still somewhere in my archives.

But then I started hating watches. I felt they were, well, a baggage. Like carrying a load by your wrist.

Until I started studying the successful people in life, in history. You know, because I wanted to be successful too. Who doesn’t?  Some wore suits, others T-shirts and hoodies. Some claimed they slept late and woke early, others said they worked hard and played hard at the same time.

All had a common denominator, they wore watches! From the greatest political and business leaders to the most successful entertainers. I did some simple research and my findings were:

A watch is the most important class accessory  for a man. A watch is a measure of one’s class as a man | Quote me.

So, I started shopping around for a watch, any watch. I went online and it was like the gods were against my new mission. See, I started with Kaymu, now Jumia Market. The customer experience was woeful. I selected a badass skeleton watch (my father had a skeleton Rolex watch when I was a kid that he sold for enough money to buy a plot and I had always respected those things). This was also a Rolex but it wasn’t worth a plot, really. It was Sh.1,000! 🙂

But it took a month and tens of emails to Kaymu and even the Jumia MD then for it to be delivered. And, they delivered the asshole the wrong watch! I kept complaining and the seller told me they were out of stock and he would send me another one to replace it. By the time the replacement came, the fist watch had already stopped working – I wasn’t even using the thing!

Like a week later, walking around town, I found those two watches, being sold on the street – at Sh. 100! Zile za kuitaniwa, mia soo!

I was so mad I pinched myself, hard. I had spent a fortune and two months on a watch worth a hundred bob! To think of it, those watches being sold at Sh. 100 looked like a bargain – you buy one, use it for two months, dispose, and buy another one.

Ladies, believe it or not, the watches you drooled over on me were fake street watches. 🙂

At the back of my mind, all along, I knew Steve Jobs, Barrack Obama and Jay Z were not wearing a different watch every month… and they were definitely not worth Sh. 100. I knew I had to invest in a good watch. That’s what a man is about – having a watch he feels good about. The 100 bob watches look good only to people who don’t know about watches.

I knew what I was looking for, a simple watch that didn’t draw undue attention but remained classy. Gentlemen maintain minimalist lifestyles. So, I went online on eBay and searched for a watch for some days. I didn’t want to spend much on my first real watch – and I also didn’t trust online shopping enough to commit much money (as if I had lost of money!). I got this baby here…

s-l1600

Simple – had all the features I was looking for, including the date, and it was simple enough. I don’t eat brands, so I did with the Bei nuo thing. 🙂

And it served me very very well. That Bei nuo. It still works great and serves the purpose, but there is one little problem: One day, while  I was chicken-crossing Waiyaki Way just in front of The Mall, it fell and bounced off the tarmac; and got a crack. I still cringe when I cross that part of the road, which happens to be every day.

My heart got a crack with that crack. I continued using it, even after a cobbler somehow threw it into one of those cans they use to wash shoes as they shine, and got super glue all over it. My beloved Bei nuo has faced worse life than me.

And then last week, while doing my unending search for watch and electronics deals, I fell in love at first sight – literally. In between the product pages of Kilimall lay a beauty. Simple yet sophisticated, high class yet cheap… all glowing and beckoning at me. Her name was Yazole… and that remains her name.

Kilimall watch

Click to get yours.

Remember, real men wear watches. Boys and girls wear bangles. Ouch! 🙂

 

Yo! Yo! I am a Rapper.

Frankmwenda the Rapper

I am a rapper. At heart, everywhere. And now, it’s time to roga you musically. How do I know that? That I am a super MCee, super lyric buster? I just know… I know my talents and rapping is one of them.

This rap mojo started when I was in high school. In Form 2, to be specific. My Gitura ushamba was slowly wearing off and I was making up for lost time. I was sporting towards “becoming a G”. My Lyric Book (remember them?), did not have those mellow Westlife shit yours had. No! Mine was Gangsta… I collected lyrics from XZibit, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Lil Kim, Wu Tang, Run DMC and such – it came with a Parental Advisory sticker because, well, it was explicit content.

How did I get these lyrics, you ask? Way before there were Cyber Cafes, Posta used to have computers that connected to the internet. All you needed to do is buy a SurfCard worth kedo 100 bob and use the internet for 3 hours. I would use my full days during the holidays researching about Hip Hop and writing down the lyrics, writing, not printing. That’s how dedicated I was to Hip Hop. Then when the school opened I would be the real thing, debating underground and old school Hip Hop with the cool kids from the city.

Then I bought cassettes, lots of radio cassettes loaded with Hip Hop. CD ni za jana. I even bought MP3 CDs, never mind we had no CD player, and there was no place I would listen to it. I was just intrigued that I could have 150 songs; Hip Hop songs in one place. Again, it would give me front seat in the hall during Entertainment Fridays.

Hip hop cassettes Frankmwenda rapper

Some of the tapes still in my collection

In school we had factions. East Coast and West Coast that never saw eye to eye. Tupac and Notorious BIG wasn’t as vicious, those lived on different Coasts of the US… we used to live in the same dormitories and learn in the same classes. It was war! And the neighbouring Kanjalu Girls School had their own G-Unit… so we formed our Terror Squad and terrible disses flew.

Church Rapper

My G culture carried on even to the village. To Church. Soon, I was freestyling the Good Gospel of the Lord. I would ask for a slot to “kuwaimbia wimbo mmoja” and rap my message. One time, during Christmas I called the Wise Men “the smart dudes from the East Side”… and made the E sign. A church elder called me later to counsel me. 🙂 Or that time when I was playing Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the Love song in Church (it sounded gospel-ish, no?) Only that it was a cassette and Side B had DMX’ X Gonna Give it to You. Started like this:

Uh, yeah don’t get it twisted
This rap shit, is mine
Motherf****r, it’s not, a f****g, game
F**k what you heard
It’s what you hearing

Another time one of those Holy Joes in village churches who judge the lesser, more sinful people using their own definitions of Christianity; said something about my dressing and I hit him with a verse from Kleptomaniac’s Bado Niko.

mimi bado niko mi Frank ni hatari
na si swali
toroka songa mbali
fimbo yangu mic mzee chunga maslahi
niaje unanipinga mi ni Musa ama Msinai
mi huwanga na sumu ndani ya saliva
niki-spit naenda deep kama deep sea diver

When I came to Nairobi I started attending (free) Hip Hop concerts at Sarakasi; those rap sessions. And this other time at KICC when we stayed at a Ukoo Flani Mau Mau Hip Hop concert so late we almost got mugged.

Kero the free-styler

If you thought Kero was Mshamba think again (okay, to some extent he was)… when we didn’t have a radio, we would use his phone’s Bomfunk ringtone to freestyle ourselves to sleep. We had lines. Better lines and flow than kina Khaligraph Jones.

Too bad I left Nairobi for some time, started growing up and looking for money in the corporate world – made me forget that I was a rapper at heart.

And then recently I started meeting rappers for coffee, still in the corporate world. Like Kaka and Juliani and asking them about their lifes in music- you know, learning from the real Gs.

King Kaka frankmwenda rapper

Don’t you think my stars are aligning? Isn’t that a sign that I should be a rapper?

Yesterday I decided to roga my fans with a freestyle on Facebook… and it all came back to me. Check that out here, the real killers are in the comments.

Hip Hop is in my blood. I should become a rapper. I have some sunglasses, that stadii hat, lines… and I have an Amerucan accent. All it takes to be a rapper. Want an autograph?

KnowWatI’mSayin’

When a Thika Prostitute Pins you to the Wall

prostitute thika

I hate Thika!

The first time I went to Thika was less than two years ago when Mfa passed on. I have since associated Thika with death and I only go there if it’s absolutely necessary.

Like two Fridays ago when we had some work to do at Thika Technical.

There are few good things about Thika, at least to me. I don’t club so if you worship Thika clubs like some of my friends do, sorry, that’s boring. Neither am I good friends with the sun, and Thika has a lot of it. I think the only good thing about Thika is pork.

And after work that day, we walked to the Pork street of Thika. They have a whole street dedicated to pork restaurants. That might have been the biggest mistake we made that day – eating pork on a Friday like true kaffirs.

Why do I say this? Because of what happened shortly after enjoying lustful amounts of the dirty animal.

It was around 8:00 pm, thereabouts. Still strolling around Thika with toothpicks in our mouths like Kikuyu sponsors, we came across a street that had women lined. All sizes of women. The slender ones who looked like they were malnourished. The huge ones who look like a certain Njoki who works in a Limuru pub. And the plain janes who haven’t chosen a side. (Btw, I don’t describe women by their body shape unless they wrong me) Some in small dresses, others wearing only handkerchiefs around their crotches and chests, others in plain jeans and tops. I swear I saw one in a kitenge, like a church woman. Clearly, this was no church, these were ladies of the night. And this, right here, was their open market.

The first few in line; I think those were the freshest in the market (oops!), just looked at us pass. We did not look like we could pay, I guess. The next batch showed us some interest, and we earned some cat calls (is that how you girls feel when men whistle at you?).

The third batch was made up of the “beatest of them all” (or what would you call kuchapa?). These ones were blatant. The veranda was thin, so we walked in a line, Ben and Dan ahead of me. I saw two women block their path and start hugging them, you know like they knew them. I burst out in laughter. Women were mishandling two grown men! But men being men, they were playing that game – you know, asking them the price of certain elements like “touching” “room” “things I won’t say.” I was just laughing at them, with a tinge of embarrassment.

Not for long. Remember Wrestling? When a wrestler would pin another in a corner in the ring and work on them? That’s what happened to me next. Only this time I was Mysterio and the other wrestler was Rikishi.

Rikishi of Thika, Kenya

This is Rikishi, btw

And, this time, it was not a soft ring… I was pinned to the wall! By Rikishi’s sister!

fat-Thika-woman

This one

 

Sexiest, literally, woman in Thika?

I was defenseless, as she started daggering and whining and doing what Jamaican riddim dancers do.

She kept telling me in Gikuyu:

Tuthii kashoti kamwe mundu. (Something to do with shots)

Of course, I was squirming like a kid refusing his medicine. I tried to shove her but she couldn’t move an inch. She was heavy. You can’t just move Rikish.

I was suffocating. she had a whiff of a stink. Probably people’s shotis.

“Mani, andu arume ni manjui guku Thika. Service yakwa ni best!” (Man, Thika men know me. I have the best service).

I was on the verge of puking now. Her three stomachs were bumping at me. She moved her hand to my crotch like she wanted to touch me down there and that’s when I swerved and hit her chest with my head, running away; I was almost run over by a car.

They laughed, their laughter sounding like the devil enjoying a scene in hell.

“Wewe ukajua vile mimi ulilisha wanaume hii Thika haungehepa hivyo kama mtoto.” (If you knew how I make men cry/moan in this town you wouldn’t have run like a baby.)

I didn’t talk back. I just stood away as she called out to me and waited for Ben and Dan, literally shaking. Not with arousal… that woman would have made m impotent. I am still scarred.

So, we walked off discussing our ordeal. Turned out they also had had their share of tough loving – those Thika women are too aggressive. Can easily rape you.

Or, wait! They can steal from you. I paused, felt my pocket – my money was still in the back pocket. I am a wise guy, no one can steal from me. Or not.

Checking again, there was only a 50 bob note in my pocket! She has expertly separated the money and left a ka-50!

The prostitute had mugged me! Don’t tell me that’s pick-pocketing. That’s robbery with violence.

This is yet another reason to hate that damned Thika and I probably should start a Thika Initiation series.

Main Pic: Business Insider

A Letter to the Women in my Life

letter to my women

Dear My Women,

Being the International Women’s Day, I take this opportunity to appreciate you for being in my life. Being the strong pillars of the universe and the neck of this world. Thanks for being bold and standing with me… and being the epitome of strength. You are the strongest people ever, and I envy you big time!

To these two old women

They will definitely not read this, but I’ll start with Grandmas. Incredible, funny, intelligent, beautiful hot messes. You gals don’t even look your age and the wrinkles on your bodies are the most flawless ever. Your hugs are the warmest, and you’re always trying to feed me which is good since I like to eat. Roast banana, mukinde, mukimo, millet porridge and even your roast maize are the best I have tasted ever and are probably going to be the best I taste in my whole life. Thanks for your daily prayers… I am told you sill mention me by name every day. I will never forget your swollen legs when you traveled all the way to Kakamega to my graduation. You are the women that kept the families intact. Thanks.

My grandmothers on my graduation day

My grandmothers on my graduation day

To the most important woman in my life

My mother, you may not read this… or you just might. You have been stalking me on Facebook so anything is possible. If you do, know this… you are my first love and you will remain the most important, irreplaceable woman in my life. Yes, yiu stand head and shoulders over all women. From you I learned love, I learned patience, I learned silence, I learned strength. Everything I am is down to you. You live inside me looking out while everybody else lives outside looking into me. You took care of me and now is my time to take care of you, so, sit back, relax and enjoy life. Never miss anything as long as I am breathing. I love you,

To the Developing Women

To my sisters, I know you watch every step I take. You may think I am the epitome of control and success so your expectations are huge, but know that I am not a superhuman. I am normal, with challenges and all. I am just older than you and you don’t have to follow my steps – let no one pressure you. It is your life and you should live it however you want – but I hope you will be successful in whatever you do.  I want you to know that things are going to be hard sometimes. You’ll get so overwhelmed that it might get hard to breathe, but I promise if you get up and walk away from whatever it is for a little bit, that when you come back, you can conquer it. I’m always just a phone call away to help. People are going to break your heart and be mean to you. It is going to suck. But it’s a lesson to learn from. It’ll show you how strong you are. Lastly, in as much as I respect your decisions, I will be disappointed if you depend on people to make your ends meet. There will be pressure from friends for the finer things in life that make young women go for the rich, abusing old men. You don’t need a sponsor to be successful in life. Never let any man play between your legs for anything – not even a car and home.

Be Bold women don't need sponsors Kilimall

Yes, be bold and achieve your dreams on yourself.

To my Mushene women… and more

My girl friends. You make the majority of my friends. Yes, most of my friends are women. And it is all for a reason. You are so raw, you say what you feel, okay, you may not say, but you show it – you cry when you are upset, you laugh when you are happy. You tell me when you think someone has lost it, from the girl wearing yellow stockings to the guy who forced his girlfriend who we both know, to procure an abortion. I love your mushene – it is both entertaining and it gives me a lot of content for my writing. You have a friend in me and thanks to all the girl friends who have not used me visivyo in life. And rightly so, you will meet bad friends and great friends. Learn from that. It’ll show you how great your friends are, or aren’t, by who comes to stand by you during tough times. And on the other hand, you’re going to find people who are kind and caring and treat you with the respect you deserve to be treated with. Try not to lose those people, because they’ll help you keep perspective. Even if you friend zoned me…sawa tu.

Last and very importantly…

To my future wife, read this when that time comes. You’ve touched my life so deeply in your own way that you’ve helped me laugh and become my own self. Thank you so much for being a very lovely partner. I love you from the bottom of my heart.I have found that out by being with you. Having you in my life has brought me more happiness than a lifetime could bring. You are not just my partner, you are my lover. Not just my companion, you are my inspiration. You are not just my wife, you are my life. Thanks for everything, you give me wings.I gave you my house, you made it a home. I gave you my heart, you made it your abode. I gave you my soul, you made it your own. Thanks for everything. I will try hard to be a perfect husband to you, and the best father to our kids.

I will stick to you like your shadow. Or, wait! I am your shadow! #HappyValentinesDay

A post shared by 🇫 🇷 🇦 🇳 🇰🇰🇪 (@frankkenyan) on

Not forgetting my exes… thanks for the lessons. 🙂

#BeBoldForChange

Yours Forever,

Frankline

Bad Debt Chronicles: Musa

Running from debt

Everybody has encountered one, or many. Those people who, giving them a debt, under any circumstance, is like throwing your money into a pit latrine. People who have no tinge of guilt keeping money that doesn’t belong to them, and continue to live their lives normally, while you skip meals or get acid burns in their stomach when you see the good life they are living on Instagram.

Debts make my skin crawl. I can’t live comfortably with someone’s debt.

But I guess people are different. Like Musa. Musa called me one fine Sunday evening and told me.

I am in an ATM, but it is not working, man. I was going out with my girl and now this has happened. Please loan me some cash and I will refund it to you first thing tomorrow morning when I’m able to access my cash.

This was quite a legit and straightforward request. And it happens to everybody – you have money but your bank can’t give it to you because of what they call technical issues. So, being the good friend I am supposed to be, and also because Musa is supposed to be a respectable man who we don’t joke with, I sent him all the money I had on M-Pesa. I would have it the following day anyway.

That was on 23rd July 2016.

I think Musa has never woken up from his debt-induced hangover

To this day, the ATM has never been repaired. The “following morning” has never come. To this day, Musa has been in this huge hangover that he has never woken up from to go the bank. I think Musa’s M-Pesa line was stolen that night. Or how would you explain that I haven’t received the money?

I am not one to ask people for my money. I assume people feel as I do when I have their money. But in this case, I have tried, because, it’s not like he didn’t have money, the problem was his ATM and ATM machines get repaired within 12 hours. It started with calls or SMS, not talking about money, of course, but things like,

“How is the family?” 
“Huko kumenyesha?” 
“Boss, kuliendaje?”

Okay, many of those. And Musa always has answers. Good answers. As I said, he is supposed to be a respectable man, and respectable men know how to talk and soothe, even Mr Nyoka from pangoni. Or Frank from going bananas.

Excuses

Every time, there is a very convincing excuse, followed by a convincing promise, just like the ATM one. Things like,

“My problem has now been sorted, let me send the money to you tomorrow, without fail.

I have been called by my bank, a loan I applied for, has been approved, and I took it just to pay you.

“I have been called by my bank, a kaloan I applied for, has been approved, and I took it just to pay you. Naenda huko saa hii.”

“Man, I have been having so many issues, I feel like God and ancestors are against me. But things are looking great. Acha nikusort Monday, baba.

“Guess what? Niko Nairobi hii conference ya Jubilee. Delegates tunalipwa vile umeskia kwa news, alafu nikutafute tukule kanyama nikikusort.” You see, Musa is one of those political bootlickers on social media and in real life… I thought they get paid for their noise and MBs.

After the Jubilee conference, two weeks later: “Man, my dad was involved in an accident and I took him to the hospital with the money I was to send you.

And so on, and so forth. So I stopped talking to him or asking him anything. Or replying his excuse messages. Sometimes I don’t pick his calls because, I can’t waste money and time on one person, donge? Until the first week of January when I randomly liked his Facebook post announcing how wonderfully his New Year had started.

Kutoa Ntero

Minutes later, Musa called me and told me, “It’s true my year has started very well, and I want to pass this feeling to you. I know I wronged you but you will be smiling as I am, in a few hours. I will even ‘toa ntero'” (Ntero, in adult Kimeru jargon, is like the bull Kibaki paid to Njuri Ncheke for his wife slapping a Meru elder, Gitobu Imanyara. It’s like a token for forgiveness).

On a side note, this “kutoa ntero” looks like the first word in debt defaulters’ vocabularies. Someone else has been telling me the same thing for eternity.

You guessed right! The few hours have never come to pass. And I forgot about that until I received this message on Facebook from my beloved Musa:

musa-facebook

[Dude, I am coming to Nairobi. We link up on Thursday I “toa ntero”…]

That Thursday came and passed, of course.

You might wonder how much this money is.. well, it’s a meagre Sh. 3500

You might wonder how much this money is.. well, it’s a meagre Sh. 3500 bila ya kutoa. Money I can easily give a friend without expecting a refund if they asked (I am not too poor). But if you give a reason like Musa gave and it becomes a battle… you are just plainly a bad person who has failed in the subject of humanity. You can’t sell friendship for Sh. 3500. Make it a million, or something better.

And that’s too little money to not get in half a year.

Let’s laugh at Musa and people like him. 

Oh, laugh at me too for wasting precious time writing about things that don’t matter (debtors don’t matter)… and I will happily tell you I paid Sh. 3,500 for this post. 🙂

Meanwhile, it is a new year resolution that I will not be giving anybody any debt. 

There will be part 2, about someone else, and if you have your story, tell me about it in comments and we will name and shame these people

Miathene Mono – My First Day in High School

Miathene Mono Kenya

I have seen a few monos in the streets this week. You can tell a mono from a mile away, you can smell even a mono. You can see it in the clothes, brand new, with ridiculously sharp iron lines, blindingly shone shoes, crudely knitted names on the sweaters, shirts and sometimes, even pants.  And the faces, the faces betray monoism, frightened eyes, wildly chewing jaws, bouncing steps (fake confidence). I see them and I shake my head. If only they knew where they are going.

Reminds me of my mono moment, years ago.

I was a fresh ntane, initiated into a full Meru man after Primary School, right before High School. So I was swollen. I mean, fat (when people are circumcised in Meru, they are secluded and fed. It was said, your only work in seclusion was to eat, lie down and poop, so it was a mother’s prestige when her son came out with closed eyes, I mean, fat cheeks and fat eyebrows).

When I was called to Miathene Boys’ I was both elated and sad. It was my first choice and it was the first time I would be leaving home for a long spell. ( Mother and I had shunned boarding school in Primary). My most hated aunt (everyone has that one hated relative) said Miathene was far and she wouldn’t come for Visiting Days (I was happy she wouldn’t be coming to see me, anyways) but I was scared. Where was this Miathene? Why did I choose a school I had no clue where it was?

But then, I was now a man and wasn’t allowed to tell my parents I was scared. I was gonna be a man and go.

So, we went out, did shopping and got ready, and did the normal monoism rituals. We had the uniform marked, and the dictionary and Atlas and the Bible (given to me by the Church) written in blocky red on the sides and random pages inside. Even my metal box was taken to a paint artist who wrote in a fancy font, FRANKLINE M. KIBUACHA.

I couldn’t say I needed boxers so I waited till the last day and told Kathee, my day father (LOL, that’s the person who takes care of you inside seclusion).

To Dusty Miathene in a Landrover!

A neighbour gave us his Landrover, and people to fill it started queuing for a place. By the leaving day, we were a full Landrover. It was open at the back, so about 10 of us stood back there and started the journey. The son of the village was going to high school and the whole village had come to take him there  (It was such a big deal then in Gitura). Those who didn’t go gave me tokens. I was loaded.

When we branched off the main tarmac road at Kianjai, I started praying that this was a shortcut and we would soon join tarmac past Meru town. There was no way I would be going to school in such a dry, dusty place! Yes, it was so dusty we took lesos and covered our heads (even the circumcised me).

And we covered several kilometres of this, with the February sun shining angrily at us for daring disrupt it’s beauty sleep with a trail of dust and the roar of an old Landrover. We soon came to a Market called Miathene and it all dawned on me. I would be spending 4 years in this godforsaken place which was definitely not what I had signed up for. The owner of the Landrover had an aunt in Miathene market, Mrs. Nkumbuku and she had a shop. We passed by her and she committed to be my mother, that I was to lack nothing.I. oils the anything on credit and she would be paid back. If any problem arose at school, she was to be there for me.

Miathene Market

Miathene Market

Grand Entry

We then drove into the school. Dry, brown playground with grass drying from the hot Tigania sun, old timber and mabati buildings before you came to the Administration Block which had a roundabout that held the flag post. Students came out to stare and point at our vehicle. Our Landrover had made quite an entrance. 🙂

We hopped off. The murram felt punishing under my Landrover-lagged feet. I looked around, there was a long queue of metal boxes snaking to the Admin block, which looked like a classroom. It was after classes, the bigger boys were already milling around to take a look at the monos. Some were too huge, some had beards (imagine beards in high school) and many had these menacing looks – more like predators waiting for their prey to finish up admission into the jungle. I was scared.

Luckily, two bigger boys came forward. Morris (a menacing Form 4 from my village, who I didn’t even know was a student) and Felix (a Form 2 who had spotted my cute cousin Doreen). I heaved a sigh of relief. With these two, no one was going to touch me! And they assured as much – Morris to my parents, and Felix to my cousin (he clearly had a crush on her, which helped).

Touch him again, Mono!

When we were cleared to go to the Dorms, I walked ahead carrying my bucket as Morris and Felix carried my box. Suddenly, a boy came out of the blues and ran a rough hand across my face and announced that he was “removing cobwebs” while trying to snatch the bucket from me. You should have heard the slap Morris gave him!

“You touch him again and I will kill you, MONO!”

He was a Form 2, and to a Form 4, everybody up to Form 3 was a mono! And I was happy to be his mono.

This is a class in Miathene

This is a class in Miathene

The following few days were so interesting, I should make a movie out of the experience.

__

Main Pic: Njugush. Source: Standard

Things 2016 Taught Me

2016

I can’t believe 2016 was the same 12 month-long year as every other one, it felt much much shorter. What happened to the good old days when you would spend a full 12 months in one classroom? Then, time felt like time. This time it went faster than me in a sack race (I have a sackrace medal).  The good thing about 2016 is, I learned a lot of things, both about myself and about life in general, that I am taking with me to 2017:

All work and no play..

For the better part of last year, I worked for a fresh start up (not mine although Future Concepts was slowly getting a life of its own). Friends, I worked, hard! Worked so hard I didn’t get time to sleep or eat well, my health was suffering. I didn’t have time to socialize, I couldn’t keep a relationship, not even with my family. I would have meetings on Sundays, so even my spiritual life was taking a hit.

Granted, I was getting good pay, but then I realized life can’t be that serious. There was no time to enjoy the fruits of my labour. If your money can’t feed your mind, body and soul, you will lose track of your life or even the ability to makeand enjoy that money. Put yourself first: You don’t always have to be selfish, but it also does not hurt to think about yourself every now and then. Work hard, but don’t always put work first and hurt yourself in the process.

2016 taught me that my life comes first-before any job, before any business, before everything!

working too hard 2016

This blog needs more writing

Some times I was just lazy about this blog. Other times I was just too busy to write (see, above). Sometimes I went months without writing and my readers kept complaining and waiting for Part 2s and 3s (I have diehard fans too, nanii). Well, this year I am here with a bang! I said this last year but this time I am serious, ûtû gwakuu – I will have something for you every week Tuesdays or Thursdays. If the stupid writers’ block kills my vibe, I will look for you people to feed me with memories.

Still about this blog, I will not censor anything. Whatever comes to my mind you will get it, raw! Last year I shied from telling you stuff that I felt would be too ogrish for you…

2017 I WILL BLOG MORE

Debts

“Frank, nipe kasoft loan nitakulipa in 2 days max”

“ATM yangu imekwama nitumie kakitu nitakusort pap!” 

“Kuna cheque nangoja kuclear but sina fuel. Nitumie 5K nitakulipa na interest ikiclear. Hata ona picha ya hiyo cheque.”

These are some of the conversations I had last year, and they all ended one way. These 3 people never paid shit.

If you are reading this and you know you fleeced me of my hard-earned money last year, go take a dump!

Either I am too weak or all my debtors take me for some rich NGO, because none pays back. Especially the most convincing people. So, this year I am not giving anyone a dime, unless it is someone I am allowed to give money, not expecting payback. I don’t want to spend a single minute unhappy because I am broke and some person has my money.

No debts

I am sorry, even if you are genuine, don’t call me. Tumia M-Shwari wako na CRB.

No one deserves to be alone

Nothing sucks like coming from work to an empty house and a sink with yesterday’s ugali with no one to help. Or worse, a cold bed as big as mine which feels like someone has poured water on. I have been looking for a wife far too long and now it’s my time to be the perfect husband and father I am destined to be.

2016 wedding rings

Christopher Hart said that Getting Married cannot be a New Year Resolution, but based on my 2016 experience, I am getting married this year.

I don’t know how, but I will get me a life companion in 2017.

Travel!

Last year, I did my first proper local travel. I mean wildlife and bush camps and lodges and time in on of those tourist land cruisers. That’s spent a whole week surrounded my elephants and hyenas and monkeys.

I will tell you this story at some point but the trip was totally worth it. I mean, have you ever petted a wild elephant, with all its aggressiveness? Have you stepped on a poisonous snake in the middle of a forest but it is too cold to bite you? Have you slept and showered outside knowing well than animals are watcjing you? I did all that and more in one trip in 2016. It was the most peaceful time I have ever had and I will spend a lot more time out in the wild.

playing with elephants in Tsavo Kenya

Finally, don’t mess with boda bodas in Maua.

This one came as a big lesson just as the year was ending. I was home for Christmas and I was accompanied by Mom and bro to visit my grandma. There is an aunt who lives along the way and we said, let’s go in and say hi. The road was clear both upfront and behind me, but as I started turning, a boda boda suddenly appeared out of nowhere and the next thing I knew, all three guys were flying in the air like birds.

They had hit the car hard on the side and the impact deposited them far into the roadside. Luckily, they didn’t hit the tarmac… else the helmet that burst would have been a head. The riders got a few bruises and got treated, but the car was in a very bad state. Boda boda riders in Meru don’t go to any driving school, and they are nasty, expensive business.

Get a Life! Live like you live for Social Media

is your life sad or happy?

We all know that one person who’s always sad about something, or angry at someone. Roll your mind…do you see someone? Sad Facebook posts about someone who betrayed them, a sickness they are having, how broke they are.

Like a friend of mine on Facebook, whose posts I noticed were all sad as I scrolled through. It was a sad timeline. I mentioned this to a friend, and she told me about this other girl whose baby daddy became dead beat and for all the three years since, her posts have seen very sad. In sharp contrast to the guy’s posts- he always has these happy Instagram-sque type of posts.

And this projects a very desperate, miserable picture of you to the world. A negative one.

You know, we are all going through some pressures of some sort, all of us. We all suffer rejection here and there when we try to love someone, illness, losing close people, financial crisis (no rent, no food, no stima token), a failed exam, betrayals from friends and family, heartbreaks, joblessness… the list is imperishable.

But what if everyone let these things take our lives over? Trust me…nothing will move. You know, your life is more important than all these things and without it, you will not recover them.

Whining on Social Media when others are posting happy selfies doesn’t encourage your life. Dwelling on the heartbreak will halt your life while the other person gets his life on whereas crying because the rent date is closing in won’t pay for your house. Being bitter because a friend let you down won’t lift you up. You need to know people are unreliable anyway.

Your crying will not cause other people swollen eyes. Nope!

So, what do you do when life hands you a blow? Get up and fight back! There is nothing  as futile and draining as beating yourself over things. Once you let yourself beat yourself you are done. If you self-confidence is gone, trust me, you are gone.

Your life, online

Why post your problems online anyway? If you are looking for pity on Facebook you will get it. But that’s all you will get. You won’t get approval, you won’t get money, you won’t get friends. Nobody wants to be associated with miserable people. It’s human life.

And that’s why you need to get real friends offline. People you can talk to without fear of judgement. People who can genuinely listen to you, and most importantly, people you also have their back. If all you do is tell me your problems and not share your good moments with me, there’s no use listening to you too).

You need real friends offline

Then once you are done crying offline on a shoulder that matters, go online if you have to and post your happiest picture. Confuse them. That’s what Instagram and Facebook are for. Don’t for a moment think that the glamorous things you see online are actually real. No. These people are not always happy. They are not visiting the best hotels in the city, they are not always travelling, they are not always “chilling with their girlfriends”… They have just chosen to show that side to the world.

Get a life!

Which side of your life will you show? And most importantly… will you stop allowing things that you can’t control ruin your living life? For real?

Another thing, avoid Negative People. The world is full of awful things that you will face throughout your life. Therefore there is no need to get around people who will exaggerate the complexity of every single issue. Avoid those who constantly complain, whine and radiate negativity. Hang out with easy going and always positive, smiling people who will charge you with the positive energy and guarantee a great mood.

Let me not see you sad again, unless I am your confidant. Be happy, for Chrissake! Keep the smile radiant.

Chronicles of my Village, Gitura

village Mamaa

This is NOT Mamaa

The other day I was told of a women group on Facebook rivalling Kilimani Mums… it’s called Vuteni Stool. When a woman says, “vuta stool nikuambie”, know it’s going to be a hot story.

I’m not a woman, not even remotely with this smug face of mine, but vuta stool I tell you about my village. It’s one of the best, most comic places you will ever find.

Life in my village is a comedy movie.

To the uninitiated, I’m a son of Gitura, some 3km East of Maua town CBD (yes, Maua has a CBD). If Maua was a bigger town, Gitura would be its leafy suburb.
Some years back, Gitura was a Kosovo. You wouldn’t have dared walk around if you were a visitor, or a skimpily dressed girl. It was a dangerous place. And rightly so, people were not going to school (you can blame a booming miraa business if you want but I won’t). So, people lived around. Our group was the first to come to Nairobi in search for higher education. When I came to Nairobi, I didn’t know anyone… that’s why Nairobi played me as roughly as it did. (Haithuru, I made it better for the next generation).

But then Gitura went through a change, people became more focused, parents started valuing education, the two churches became United and stronger…and things started getting up. We had piped water, a secondary school of our own, electricity, etc (only the main road remains a stony shamba that only Landrovers can navigate. F— the politicians).

Now you have the background, lean closer. Like every village, Gitura has intrigues.

Some village mushene

Kambura beats her husband, almost every week. And she sleeps with her daughters’ boyfriends. And she is the man of the house, literally. She handles the family miraa farms, she takes the husband’s salary, she is the one the kids fear… that woman even drinks Guiness while her hubby drinks Fanta and sugarcane. Where the feminists at?

Mamaa: They steal my wives

Let’s talk about Mamaa. I love that man… that’s right, Mamaa is a man. His life is a comedy strip. That man is soo good, soo friendly, soo funny. Some time back, Mfa joked to him he would bring him to me in Nairobi. Mamaa was ecstatic. The only other time he had hoped he would reach Nairobi is when he came to a pass-out at Kenya Prisons College in Ruiru. Mamaa was mad, they had told him Ruiru is in Nairobi..And how he was so close, so far.  So this time he went and packed a bag, bade his family goodbye and with some swag, went to Mfa’s. But dude was asleep. He wasn’t going to Nairobi. Mamaa was too pissed and embarrassed to go back home, he went and slept at some place for a week.

miraa taxii

He looks like Mamaa. Expert “Miraan” with perfect taxiis

Mamaa is a master miraa chewer. I have always seen him with a full cheek. He makes a taxii so hard David would have borrowed it to kill Goliath. So it came as a surprise when one week, Mamaa wasn’t seen doing his miraa. When asked me said he had a new wife and since people take his wives as he’s chewing his miraa in the market, he was protecting his new wife. And he was serious, people would snatch his wives. This time he stayed at home with a bow and arrows, waiting for any man to go near his wife! Mamaa is a legend.

village Mamaa

This is NOT Mamaa

Mamaa had a neighbour called Miriti (God rest his soul). If Mamaa is Churchill, Miriti was Mc Jessy. He even talked like him. Guy used to drink…all the time. He would drink and crawl home. One day, he quarrelled with his wife and took a rope to hang himself. With the rope around his neck, he went up a tree, and started doing a last dance. Unluckily, the branch he was stepping on snapped! As he went down he shouted “Uuuuwiiii! Mukundo mbita murii ntiukari serious!” Loosely translated to “Cut the rope, asshole! I wasn’t serious (about killing myself)! They cut the rope and gave him a serious beating. Unfortunately, Miriti committed suicide years later.

Village Clowns: Kirianki and Bandia.

Another ludicrous pair is Kirianki and Obadia (Bandia) They have been beat friends since we were kids in school. And I don’t know where they got their stories from, but during break time, we would sit around them to listen to their stories. Complete with songs like, “Kasabubu saided, aah saided, Kasabubu uumira aah uumira.” They would have won any high school oral narrative. And when the teachers noticed this, they made them start a school band that used to go all the way to District Drama Festivals. District is a big deal to Gitura Primary School.

graderdance5

People would be sitting in a chromed kiosk and Kirianki breaks the blissful silence that comes when miraa starts to shika and says “Bandia Bandia, kuna network home?” Well, Safaricom is quite strong those sides… what he meant was, “Is there food at home?” And Kirianki would be very creative. Picture this, he and another guy called Muriki would be eating mangoes, well, Muriki would be in a tree with mangoes on his lap and because Kirianki was a bit big and would not go up the tree, he would be gawking like the fox who said the fruits weren’t ripe… And then ran away suddenly, screaming… Muriki fell off the tree in fright, and fled, leaving the mangoes, only for our Man Kirianki to come back and take all the mangoes!
Kirianki, his brother and the cow.

And there was this time Kirianki bought a cow, which he would leave hanging out in his brother’s maize garden, enjoying itself. His brother confronted him and Kirianki told him, “if that cow as much as smells your maize again, sell it and drink the money.” The following day, the cow was having a good time in the maize garden again…and his brother, another cracker nut, took it to the market, sold it, drank beers instead of chang’aa that day and even bought Kirianki a beer. As Kirianki took the Tusker, he wondered how his brother had suddenly become so rich and philanthropic. So he asked him:

“Murume, why are you so good today? You have never bought me even the small soda ever.”
“All thanks to you, brother. Your cow ate my maize.”

Kirianki fainted.

Hey, can we fight?

fight

One day, my girlfriend (now ex) got into a fight with me because I didn’t fight her. Close your mouth… I also get girlfriends, I have a girlfriend. I just don’t post her photos on Instagram because, you know, witchcraft is real, and some jealous neighbour may see our heavenly happiness and decide to roga us. I hate witches, those jealous people.

Now that I have finished dreamily staring into space with the sudden feeling of love, let me tell you about this ex of mine. She was frustrated because I was too loving, literally. And she had read somewhere that people don’t love you if you don’t fight. And she was wondering why we never fought. She would bring up opportunities to fight but I never took them, she even hit me with her phone one fine evening and challenged me, “If you are a man get up and fight me!”

Of course I should have stood up, walked to the bedroom and came out with a whip or some cane and caned her thoroughly like my great grandpa did about his wives. But I’m a lover, never a fighter… and I (almost meekly said), “No, love, I won’t fight you, I will fight for you.”

She was clearly not impressed by my Shakespearean romance because she took her now broken phone and left. Like the good gentleman I am, I didn’t follow her. And that’s how I became single.

See, I was never brought up to fight. If this was the medieval times, I would have been a war secretary rather than a soldier. My extended family is a fighting one, I’ve never fought. Not even in Primary school apart from this time a new student and his elder brother ganged up to fight, no, beat me one day after school. Luckily for me I had a cousin who’s a renowned fighter. Ken took on both of them and left them with red noses and asses. That must have sent a warning because no one challenged me to a fight again.

My friend, Ryan, was a fighter, and he was gutted when he heard I have never fought. He’s a huge American so he looks for brawls. He was always looking for fights in the bar for me to test my fists. Never materialized. He called me sissy. A title I wore with pride. It’s better than stitches or the mortuary slab, right?

Until the other day. I was in the centre of a mighty fight in a strange place…

Picture this: we’re totally knocked out some place in Kiambu. We’re walking out of a joint when a total stranger in a rowdy crowd spanks my girl. Not even a sissy would take that. So I throw punches, she throws a few slaps. Her friend comes in with a bottle. And hell breaks loose.

It was a war. Literally. I was fighting for my pride and these two girls were my loyal soldiers. It became a spectacle, we even got fans. I think we were doing our fighting quite well. We had a cause, our enemies were being driven by alcohol demons, and remember, we hate demons. So we were beating the demons out, not them.

Bouncers were no match. They threatened US with the police and I lend them my phone to call the police. We told them to call KDF.

You should have seen and felt the way we licked our lips when everybody backed off. Victory tastes great, friends.

And, after the war had ended and we were headed to the car, Kero(yes, he had to be there), who was trying to “separate” us all along decided it was his turn to hit. He came in with so much fury we had to carry him off one of the hooligans! Totally inexplicable.

I now knew what I had been missing throughout my life; the joy of fighting.

So, are you going to sit there reading this all day, or are we gonna fight? 🙂

Boys and Dogs

boys eat away from the rest

It’s Sunday morning. It’s been a week since you had your last bath. Your legs are the real definition of mpararo – complete with whitish-greyish drawings, atlas maps on your legs.

Speaking of legs, you are showing lots of skin because your green, yellow or brown shorts reach mid-thigh like a socialite in hot pants.

Your hair looks like a lawyer’s wig. White from the kamuithia you made with ashes on Monday. And yesterday’s swimming at the stagnant pond nearby.

You also have slight bumps where your mother caned you on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Your elder brother also gave you a beating yesterday when you tried to run from your mother, properly beating you before handing you over. And now, you have to be washed together with your smaller sister in the compound so that you can attend Sunday school. The home has no fence, so your classmates going to Sunday School are watching your kaninii from the fence. You want to die.

Visitors

When you come from Church, kitchen aromas flow. See, today there are visitors. And visitors are a big big deal. So it feels like Christmas. You never cook rice or chapatis or chicken or spaghetti if it’s not Christmas or visitors’ day.

But you are a boy. You are hastily told to get rid of your church clothes and get the cow grass. You throw a mighty tantrum, but look at mum’s eyes and immediately pick a sack and run. Those are eyes that beat you. Your sister remains home in her Sunday best.

When you come back, the visitors have arrived and are talking merrily in the sitting room. You want to go to them but you can’t dare. Your aunt, not mom, in the kitchen serves you just one meal out of the many… for example only rice with salad when there were 13 different dishes. You whine like boys do and she tells you, “visitors don’t finish food. You will eat the left overs.” You pick your plate and drag your feet in protest towards the house. She calls you back and harshly tells you to go to the back of the kitchen, towards the cow shed and eat from there.

boy-and-dog

Only your trusty dogs join you in your agony. You want to break something.

Meal done, you trudge off to play with other boys in the neighbourhood. Dirty and tired, and without your sister to bully, you come back home, mpararo again. Visitors are laughing. You can’t miss this. So you go and lie outside the door, longingly looking at the table with barely touched chapatis. Beyond that, your sister sits blowing a balloon with a visitor kid. She looks happy. You look at her like a dog, and try to beckon. She is either too busy or ignoring you.

Eyes

To capture her attention, you go closer and closer. She now has your attention, but when you stretch your hand like a chokora pointing at the table, she changes her expression and swings her neck like they do. Undeterred, you go to the window and look in. There is too much fun in there. You hang at the ledge looking in.

Your mother sees you and you totally avoid her eyes. Because you know there is murder in there.

A dog comes and licks your leg and sends you tumbling. You go to the door and signal your sister to songea you. You walk in, no, crawl in under tables like a mouse and plant your small ass next to her. And start enjoying the stories.

Soon, a visitor notices you and muses “…na huyu ni nani?” Your mother notices you and with a plastic smile, she says you are Mwenda. Remember Mwenda? Ooh, he is so grown now. Which class is he in? Ulikuwa number? Ooone… wow! Very smart boy. Umetoka wapi? Endless visitor questions that are irritating your mother. Before long, you have a chapati in your hands. A visitor pours you some tea and you are now part of the party.

Until your mother calls you outside.

“Ngoja wageni waende utanitambua leo. Hiyo chapati umeniaibisha nayo utaitapika.”

You know you will die today. And you spend your last hours with your dogs playing in the farm, until the visitors time to go reaches and as they are escorted, you also escort them, but from far. That’s how revered visitors were. You just couldn’t resist the urge.

True to her word, your mom gives you a proper beating in the evening, after making sure you have eaten to your fill. She even bites your hand as your sister laughs away.

Boys and dogs behind the classroom

At the moment, only your dogs seem to love you licking your woods and striving to please you.

Remember last Saturday when there was a wedding? Your sister was shikaing the wedding and the MC said, “ladies, please take food to those biîjî na kurû (boys and dogs) behind the classroom.”

crying boys

It’s tough being a boy. Boys were hated by everything and everybody.

If you are Circumcised

uncircumcised-penis banana

“Kama umetahiriwa nitusi tena.”

I was in my village last week. And I took a walk around the village one fine evening inspecting projects of development.

The girls I knew as babies were shyly smiling at me. Grown women who are now worthy of visiting my simba.  One or two now have babies of their own.

Boys I saw being taken home in baby shawls from hospital are now fearsome young laing’o capable of filling both cheeks with taxiies of veve (a feat I have never accomplished).

This is why I don’t go home often. All these people, plus my grandmother asking me if I have tested my masini to see why I don’t have a wife and children… these people make me feel old. Na mimi ni mtoto tu.

Back to my development inspection. I take my rounds, greeting everybody I meet, because, from the smiles everybody knows and loves me. The smiles are very very genuine. I should become a village elder.

Man-And-Wife-Fight-Each-Other-In-Public-Over-Infidelity-Accusation-PHOTOS

Until I meet an old couple fighting. They both look familiar but I probably know their parents. The woman, bleeding and carrying two stones, runs towards me, gets behind me and proudly announces:

Kama umetahiri rushia classmate wangu mawe, choo wewe.”

“Hata mimi Calif ni classmate wangu.” The charging man bellows.

How could these people have been my classmates? I muse, confused. Insults are raining around me and I am the shield. The Man has a slasher, and, like the woman, is bleeding for the face. He must have eaten a few rocks. It’s a bloodbath, literally.

Neighbours are on the sidelines, cheering them like it’s WWE SmackDown.

I ask the woman, “Classmate, what’s happening?”

This kiiji (uncircumcised man) beats me every day for nothing. As if he drinks my chang’aa”

Who are you calling uncircumcised? I’m killing you today! Toka nyuma ya Calif uone.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the worst insult you can call a Meru man is Mwîjî, uncircumcised. It’s like committing suicide. This here was a worse battle than the slasher and the stones. It is a war. And people can die.

To us, circumcision reigns supreme, and trying to insinuate otherwise, especially if you are a woman or a boy can land you on hospital with severe panga cuts.

It’s our ego.  And here is a woman committing this cardinal sin.

Somehow, they respect me, I calm them down, and the woman, now sobbing uncontrollably explains that the man, since miraa was banned in the UK, has been drinking without a care in the world, never mind they have three children in school. If she asks for money to buy food, he turns violent. And now, “punda amesoka. Akinipiga nampiga.”

That’s an empowered woman.

The man simply says, “Mwenda Caliponia, this is not a woman. This is a latrine. When other women are working in farms, she spends the day gossiping and waiting for me to bring her money.”

And he leaves, to the woman’s “mwiji” jeers.

As I walk back home wondering if I will get married and trying to remember if I got circumcised, I wonder what circumcision has to do with anything. In my culture, circumcision is very important. It signifies a graduation from childhood to responsible adulthood.

And it should be… along with whatever your culture uses to initiate boys into manhood.

If you are circumcised, act it, dammit! If you are circumcised take care of your family. If you are circumcised don’t do explicit hip-hop style hits in your mother tongue in your village. If you are circumcised don’t pee and shit on yourself drunk in a mtaro.

If you are circumcised get your ass up and toil for your family like God told Adam at Eden. If you are circumcised don’t beat up your wife. She ain’t your undisciplined child. If you are circumcised, respect your mother and father and everyone their age, and save everybody your crap.

If you are circumcised don’t effing embarrass me in my own village. Or I will help your wife beat you.

Man up.

Be like my Great Great Grandfather, Switch off WhatsApp!

My great great grandfather’s name was Thamunyari. Don’t beat your head over the name because you have never heard it. It is extinct. He is the father of my great grandfather M’Kiringo who is the father of my grandfather Mabbi. Thamunyari lived to many many years. He saw so many moons, droughts and harvests he wouldn’t have said. I’m told I saw my great grandfather, M’Kiringo. He waited around for me, and died at over 120 years. But strong. My grandfather is still going strong, he was born in 1926. That makes him 90.

I am not saying I will live that long. I pray for it, life is good, you know, and you want to stay forever, but *sigh*.

Leaving that melancholic reality aside, let me tell you about my Great Great Grandpa. Let’s call him 3G. Let’s also say he was born in 1789.

They didn’t have cameras back then, but he may have looked like this:

Grandpa

During the day, he would go out and hunt animals and gather fruits with the other dudes. When the sun goes down, the dudes would come back home, an enclosure at the foot of the forest covered Muthungutha Hill. He had a few gals as his wives, who lived together, and would have his food, millet porridge laced with fresh blood drawn straight from the veins of the healthiest bull; sindikishwad by a chunk of sun dried meat dipped in honey – very tender to the tongue.

They would start a fire and munch on the food, while he told my Great Grandfather (2G) and the other children stories. He was a much much better story teller than me, of course. I haven’t seen enough even in my travels. Other days, he would sit by the entrance of the clearing home with other dudes and tell dirty 3G jokes, as they sipped honey wine, like men do in bars nowadays.

The dark night swept the land as the fire died down. Everyone – the dudes, gals and kiddies all would suddenly feel a wave of grogginess permeating their body.

My 3G would go into a random hut for a baby making session with one of his sleepy, but all too willing wives. Such an opportunity would come once in a lifetime. It would be over in only a few minutes, just like it’s meant to be, and he would grunt his way into slumberland.

Soon, all of them would be snoring like a choral symphony. Until the sun came up again.

Have you wondered why all these people felt sleepy at the same time? Could be some Meru magic (Kambas are our cousins).

Only recently was it discovered it’s all biochemistry. As the sun goes down, our bodies start to produce a type of hormone: Melatonin, to prepare us for sleep. Our human bodies are wired to follow this pattern: Sun goes down = darkness = time to produce Melatonin.

As the Melatonin gets released into our body, we start yawning. We get dizzy and our eye lids become heavy. That’s how we fall asleep. And that’s why 3G and the fam used to sleep so fast, and so well.

And they lived so long. Go on, Google the benefits of good sleep.

But then, some travellers with a white skin came along and introduced lamps, paraffin (or olive oil) and wicks to the village. 3G kept to his “primitive ways” and M’Kiringo, now a budding young man with a few girls doodling over him, got one of those magic things for his hut.

By the time my grandfather was growing up, all hell had broken loose. Human vampires started to roam the planet. He has a TV in his house that he uses to watch Taarifa ya Habari with abandon. My father got stima bulbs and now we are beyond saving. Our circadian rhythms changed forever. We get to bed at 11:00, with our smartphones and won’t sleep till 1:00 pm, chatting away. And even when we really have to sleep to wake up early in the morning, we can’t. Because our body needs that darkness to produce sleep hormones.

That’s the sad story of my generations, and that’s why I am less likely to hit 90 years. I don’t sleep well! And I know you don’t, if you are reading this!

For the better part of this year, while slaving hard to grow our start-up company, my friend Ryan and I would work till the wee hours of the night, and wake up to work again by 8:00 am.

Melatonin_prescription

Ryan started taking melatonin (yes, you can buy melatonin supplement in almost every pharmacy), to get him to sleep when he needed to. We started using blue light filters on our computers (f.lux) and phones(Twilight) – the blue light is the one that affects you the most…but after insane hours in from of a computer, these were proving futile. Bags grew under our eyes.

When we got sick we almost died.

I love life, and I want to live longer, so I have been reading about how.

Read with me:

1. Turn off that phone, the TV, the computer, internet AND all lights 10-30 minutes before your regular sleep time. Sit on your couch or bed. You will feel like my Great Great Grandfather.

2. Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Get blackout curtains. Also make sure there are no artificial lights in the bedroom.It will look and feel like my Great Great Grandpa’s hut.

bedtime-cell-phone-1w6bl26

3. Let’s be honest: You Facebook and Whatsapp in bed, don’t you? You are probably reading this in bed. That’s how you will find yourself awake at 2:00 am having read all gossip and slipped in a few porn sites in too. My Great Great Grandfather’s only entertainment was those few minutes with one of his lovely wives.

4. Exercise in the morning. My 3G would be out by dawn, that’s when you catch the antelopes unawares. He would run after them with crude weapons and release those endorphins. You will spend the day feeling like superman. Achieve more.

5. Remain positive. (Not HIV positive, though. Those were my 3G’s wives, not random girls from clubs and Facebook. Have you noticed that you wake up with the EXACT same thoughts you carry to bed? So, instead of bringing complaints and negativity, bring positive energy to the pillow. Stop thinking about the challenges the next day. Think about how you can crush the next day like munching potato chips. Think about how you can be a super badass guy or gal who gods other people.

So, if you don’t see me on WhatsApp tonight, understand that I want to wake up fresh. 😉

Meanwhile, happy jail time.

Meanwhile, happy jail time.

Take that selfie! 

selfieI saw her every day, apart from Sundays, for two months. She came every morning, washed my utensils (how I hate that thing), washed the floor, made my bed. She would even change my towels, arrange my clothes that I sometimes forgot discarded on the bathroom floor, and flush my toilet. While I sat, unashamedly working. It was her work, and while I appreciated the fact that I wouldn’t have to do all these things that us bachelors hate so much, I would rest easy that, it was work, anyway.

She became a friend. When I’d be frustrated with Wi-Fi, it was terrible at the apartment, she would come and join me in venting at the Management. When lights went out and the back up generator took some time before being turned on, she would tell me how “the current manager is the worst I have seen. She’s saving generator fuel as if you are not paying all this money. Sometimes I want to break her neck.” When she came to change the sheets on Monday and I had used all cups during the weekend, she would steal a cup for me from the neighbour “ukuwe unatumia before nikuje kuosha vyombo.”

Finally, I had to move from the apartment. Just as the taxi driver packed my last bag into the Toyota Noah one fine morning, she beckoned and said, “kumbe ulikuwa serious unatuacha?” I cajoled her playfully and said the house will find another tenant and she will forget me soon.

Then she told me, in an apartment block that was inhabited by expatriates mostly, none took her as the person I had taken her. To them, she was just a cleaning lady. “Wewe tulikuwa tunakula story.”

At that moment, I was contemplating taking out my phone and taking a selfie with this awesome lady who had been my mother for two months. I don’t k ow why I had this urge. I am not a selfie person and it takes bit of convincing for me to have a selfie. Photogenism is not a thing to me. I see many celebrities and I rarely take the selfie. Oh, and I have done only one or two WCWs. I doubt she was in Social Media so I couldn’t even tag her. I just wanted to… but the cab driver announced he was ready. I promised myself I would take her to lunch and have the the selfie with her next time I came around to pick my deposit.

I quickly moved on, occasionally remembering her when utensils piled in the sink.

Until last Saturday, when I went to collect the deposit. The particular manager was leaving the company and I knew she would have stories for me. So, I went looking for this lady friend of mine at a place where the star used to hang out. She wasn’t there and I assumed she was in an apartment, cleaning. But I would have waited, or gone to look for her whenever she was.

I asked,  “Ako wapi yule mama alikuwa anasafisha kwangu….” All this time I hadn’t known her name. I probably didn’t see the need, or the urgency, because when I had needed her, she was always there, dutifully.

This question brought some uneasiness and this deathly quiet that comes when your tough mother asks about the sugar that you had eaten up. Everybody looked down and I wondered if they hated me that much. Or if they were jealous I was looking for the lady only.

Then one spoke, “When did you leave?” I tell her, a certain date on a Friday.

Mary alituacha hiyo Sunday.

Oh. Where did she go?

She passed away.

Just like that. The news was delivered like a blow to my stomach. I doubled, almost gagged. The guard explained that Mary fell sick the same Friday I left and asked to leave early. And on Sunday, she died. Just like that.

As I left without saying goodbye, my mind was agonising over things. All bad things. I wasn’t mourning as much as I was regretting not taking that selfie with her that day. Maybe, it would have made me feel better. Maybe I would look at it and have some sort of closure. Maybe it would have made her happier, and the illness would have stayed away that day.

Why didn’t I take that selfie?

Life is brittle. It may end any time, you may see that person for the last time, or, they may see you for the last time. If you hear that little voice whisper, take out your phone, face the camera, smile and take a selfie. Record that moment in your phone, and most importantly, in your heart. Cherish your moments, for those moments, those small moments become memories.

Take that selfie.

selfie dog

Do it. Make a face and take the selfie.

Random Memories 4: Slippery Nipples and a Blow Job

poonam-pandey-flaunting-her-cleavage-while-enjoying-her-meal-201603-683173

There is a common saying among my crew, “We belong to the clan of pigs. We eat anything.” Growing up, I have eaten anything I have been offered, including the sumptuous, inviting piles of mole soil. 🙂

It has all been a factor of what I can afford at a point in time.

Or the Nairobi Initiation 3 period, when Kero and I lived in a house within a house, where the family used to eat chicken daily and we would pass by their kitchen to go make ugali with the sufuria we had cooked porridge in in the morning, without washing. Si unga ni unga? That point in time, all we needed to treat ourselves was Sh. 20 in the evening. We would either buy one chapati moto and share, or those fish balls they used to sell in Ngara.

Or when we ate bread with sirua in Mlango. That was a rough patch, and the only positive thing I can remember is the day our neighbour graduated and made too much food. Her folks wouldn’t go up the stairs to eighth floor, so, she called us to finish up the Luo dish. We were like mercenaries – eaters on hire. We cleaned up that pot.

Then we moved to Plot 10 in town and there was no bread with sirua. We would either cook, or eat in varied vibandas inside Grogan. You know, where you say “mathe niwekee kila kitu na ujaze sahani.” We even had our preferred plates in the vibandas.

We discovered a joint deep inside Grogan, Kwa Omosh, where the meat was cheaper than ugali. You could ask for nyama saucer! We never wondered where the meat came from until one day, I was dealing with a mnofu, and stared at thorns inside meat! Seriously, that cow may have either have eaten fish and those were white fish bones, or that was a dinosaur’s digestive tract… we didn’t ask. We just stopped going there. To date, I have never known what that was!

Ugali sukuma

Did I say we cooked? Yes, every evening, without fail. And it was always one thing. Ugali sukuma. For years, ugali sukuma daily. Even when the village councillor and our friends who had joined the army and had disposable income crashed at our place and bought us meat, we would still mix it with sukuma!

Hence, we always wondered how people could afford to eat at Roast House. How could someone spend Sh. 230 on food? The only thing we could afford at Roast House was chips, and we made sure they included everything, including sirua. Value for money.

Kero once had a date with a girl at Roast House, and she came with her friend. Why do y’all do that? He only had Sh. 200, so when they started ordering chips and chicken, he was like:

“Roast House chicken is not so good. It’s the chicken they inject chemicals into, may cause cancer. Take fries, we will get chicken elsewhere.”

He asked for water since he was ‘not hungry,’ paid the bill so that they could leave immediately they finished, excused himself to go the washrooms, and went home. That’s the last time he spoke to the girl. To-date, Kero always makes sure he eats the most expensive meal on the menu at Roast House whenever he is in town. Revenge.

Coffee Date

My first attempt at taking someone for coffee was a nightmare. Karibia niwaambie. There was this girl, her name was Winnie and she went to a college right in the middle of the CBD. One day, we planned to have a chat and I visited her at the school. There’s no kibanda around that place. So, we went round the blocks till I saw a place that looked a little modest. We went in.

The standard breakfasts in the menu looked expensive, so I decided to improvise, and influenced her to, too.  I ordered tea and a chapati. She ordered coffee and a sausage. I thought, at most, that would cost me 120 bob – which was too much.  When the bill came, I was grateful I had worn a suit jacket where we used to ‘bank’ our cash. From, Sh. 500, friends, this sukuma eating son of Maua got a balance of Sh. 5. 🙁

Stick to your lane.

In Limuru, while at Bata, we discovered a joint with Freddy and Loris that sold meals in terms of money. You would just walk in and say, “nataka 70, na avocado.” It was a very cool joint, until one day I got a bout of food poisoning that kept me in the toilet for three days. They laughed at me and continued going there, while I stuck to fruits for lunch with Roseline. Then they got their day, too. And did their toilet round, too. A worse riund. Utashindanaje na nguruwe? 🙂

Speaking of nguruwe, I miss our pork appointments, every Friday. Who knows a pork joint in Nairobi?

Have a blow job when you can 🙂

To cut a very long story short, nowadays, I make sure I eat the best I can, in the best places I can. Money is for eating, anyway. So, when I have my tea at Artcaffe, or Urban Eatery’s milkshake, or porridge at the Rooftop… don’t call me extravagant. I’ve just been there and done that. And at the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do. You have to feed your memories.

At the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do. You have to feed your memories.

Oh, the Slippery Nipples and a Blow Job are cocktail things that I saw on the menu at Asmara last weekend. 🙂

Asmara restaurant

I had a blow job!

Random Memories 3: The Devil Did It

When I told you I was already a sexpert by Class 2, I know you said to yourself “this is one of those hopelessly spoilt brats.” No. I was better than most, most of the time. Or rather, instead of doing the small small things that got y’all caned daily, I would accumulate my misdeeds and unleash one huge misdeed at some point. It would be so big a sin, even comical, I would be unbeatable. People would just laugh it off, or look at me in bewilderment.

The Devil Did it

One day, my Grandma Kaumo went to one of those women gikundi meetings and left me all alone at home. Ours is a big home, set on a large tract of land, and alone, you can get bored.

I was bored.

So, there was this sheep that had been looking at me and shaking its head as if it was challenging me for a head butt. You know you are about to break a bone when a male sheep sees you, punts like Maywhether and starts dragging one leg with lowered head. I would always be told to run. Sheep kill people. Not that day – I accepted the challenge.

Sheep head butts child

But since my head is too soft – by the way, I have never headed a ball – I decided to go at it from behind. Watu wa Nairobi, a sheep’s behind is this flappy, spongy piece of fat.

With a knife. I cut of its kititi with impunity.

To celebrate my victory, I climbed the tree the sheep was tethered to, stuck the tail up there, jumped down onto the sheep’s back like WWF’s Stone Cold and counted to three. I had won!!

My actions hit me when I heard my grandmother coming- women love announcing their arrival with laughter- from a far with the neighbour woman. I knew she would kill me. I had to think on my feet.skeptical kid FrankmWENDA

I ran to her, ‘panicking.”

Juju, imagine what happened…”
“What?”
“The Devil came right after you left, cut that sheep’s tail and hung it on the tree! Come and see.”

 

When she realised what I had just done, Kaumo burst out laughing. I have never seen her laugh so hard. She told me to climb up the tree and get the tail down and I told her I can’t touch something Satan had touched. I had acted this so much I had started believing it.

Even when she cooked it, I wouldn’t eat it, until Grandpa slipped a few pieces to me when Grandma wasn’t around. There was no way I was eating the fruits of evil. 🙂

I came to learn, cutting sheep tails was something people did in the past. When they wanted a fatty fix, instead of slaughtering a sheep, they would just eat its tail. And sheep would be cool with that, I think, because it didn’t kill them, just made them stronger.

Handkerchief

I was a very obedient boy in school. I think I’m still a graceful person… Don’t you?

One day, the science teacher taught us on the importance of handkerchiefs and underpants. I used to wear underpants sometimes, so that wasn’t a big deal. The problem was the handkerchief- who carries a handkerchief when they don’t have a flu? Even then, why get an handkerchief when you can suck it back into your mucus… or just eat it? Some of us got handkerchiefs when wen went to harambees and handkerchiefs were “sold” to our parents by force. Back to the lesson, Madam Susan taught us how to make handkerchiefs from old clothes. Education back then was about using available resources, rather than buy.

And with the lesson, she made a class by-law… ‘Everyone must have a handkerchief and underpants, and I will be checking daily.”

When I went home, in total obedience, I went and got my mother’s new silk dress – she had barely worn it and I wanted to have a hippy handkerchief- and cut off a giant square chunk with a razor blade! 😮

handkerchief

She didn’t notice immediately, until she had an event like a week later that she had bought the dress for. The wail she released is still stuck in my mind. She was distraught. I made Mama cry.

And denied it, totally. So, she, and everyone, wondered who might have done that. Who is that jealous neighbour who got into her closet and vandalised the dress? Only grandma knew! So, she came and told me to tell her if I did it, or she would get Itari, the village wizard to roga it and whoever did it would grow two long horns like a swara.

I had to own up. My mother was so weak that day, she couldn’t have beaten me, as much as she wanted to kill me and make soup with my head.

Who, in Maua sells quality, silk dresses? Reach out to me, I want you to deliver two of your best dresses to mom, and tell her I said sorry again. I will M-Pesa you. Seriously.

And I practiced to be a Tout

Touts hanging on a matatu Kenya

elegantthimble.blogspot.com

Did I tell you about my cousin, Ken? Ken was the ideal boy in the village…not for his good behaviour, but for his sense of style, and his ‘cool’. See, Ken was a born tau, brought to the village, like me, to go to school. He knew too much.

And I was his side kick.

We would simphon petrol from anything that had an engine – power saws, generators, motorbikes and cars – using sponges. For sniffing.

He would steal beer and soda from moving, open lorries and hand them to me and other village biiji. We would have parties.

He would send me to steal the best footballs from the best karatasi football makers in the village, and then beat them up if they made a claim to the balls.

He would start fights for me with boys, and girls he hated… and finish them up “in my defence”

And most importantly, he taught me how to ‘sumba” moving vehicles. Being Landrovers, most of the vehicles that passed were relatively easy to dandia. I became an expert, without much scratches.

Until one day, in my thirst for kudandia, I didn’t check the number plates. I did an unthinkable thing, and literally dandiad gari ya polisi. The infamous black police Landrover, Kiilu.

I was happily enjoying my ride till I looked inside and saw someone staring back at me, all cut up and bloody. Rotting. Dead. It was a corpse!

I released the vehicle, in shock, with both hands, and landed bam on the road on my back. I got up, ran home and that’s how  my touting talent ended. I never dandiad a vehicle again, ever.

Seriously though,  kudandia kunaitwaje in English?

Proper Meru with knives

Frankmwenda

This is NOT me. | Loveparenting.org

Do you know what a kanywila is? It’s a small, red tick that bites and attaches itself to human skin. I was once bitten by a kanywila… on my kaninii.

I didn’t mention it because ,hey! a man can’t show his kaninii to anyone. So, I struggled to remove it myself and I couldn’t. So, my kanywila just fed on my blood and grew bigger, more painful. I started walking awkwardly. My mother and some women noticed this one fine morning and asked me what was wrong. I told them I had changed my walking style.

Knowing better, they tricked me to where they were, wrestled me to the ground and pulled my shorts off… discovering my kanywilad kaninii. To make matters worse, village boys came to see why I was screaming and watched intently as the kanywila was dug out by four women using a knife.

That was embarrassing.

So, after the operation, I lay crying with my head covered. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I took the knife and lunged at everybody, screaming murder. I spent the rest of the day alone at home… No one would dare come through the gate. Not even my mother.

I even threatened to commit suicide. Why would people intrude my kaninii privacy like that? I went to borrow my grandmother her rope so that I hang myself and she said:

“I only have one rope and I can’t use it after you hang yourself. The simplest method is this, go to Kimeria Njou (a waterfall nearby) and jump into it. There will be no expenses.”

I would have gone, but I didn’t know the direction. 🙂

Speaking of knives, I used to cut people up, like a proper Baite. One day, Metal, God rest his soul, made fun of my big head. I snapped, picked a panga and swung at him, cutting his hand badly. Luckily, I was still too small, would have chopped it right off.

I think I used up all my temper when I was a kid. Nowadays, I don’t get angry. If you get into my nerves, I simply leave you to it. I walk away. I am a Meru. 🙂

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Random Memories 2: The Sexpert

random memories sexpert

I was telling you the other day about my life with my grandparents. With the worms gone and a contract for the supply of mandazi signed with the local chef de mandazi, Kombo, life started. I went to school quite early, barely three, given there were no baby classes and kindergartens back then. They had to find something for me to do rather than spend time chatting with grandma’s drunk customers and getting tempted by yummy mole hills.

That was the first undoing. The other pupils were much bigger than me. They would harrass me. That big Murithi once shouted to the teacher that he had seen a flea jump from my sweater when I had never seen a flea. I didn’t know what it was… And the teacher, Severina, spent some time teaching us about fleas and personal hygiene. The other kids knew what she was talking about. I didn’t. I ran home in shame, because, in effect, they were saying I was dirty. Almost quit school.

The second setback came from my shoes. I had the best shoes, Bata Bullets, but my grandma always put shoes on komboo – Left-right. Right-left. She still does sometimes. And that’s how she would randomly dress me. And laughter followed me wherever I went. But I excelled in my tests and they all wanted to be my friends. They suddenly started viewing me as a child that didn’t need bantering. And I became friends with some bad bad company so early.

I knew about sex by  the time I was in Class 2!

I started noticing my friends disappearing to the busy school farm with girl classmates during break time and I was really curious. I asked one and he told me they used to go to kufanyana. Ah! And what was that? He explained to me. I wanted some of that, badly. One of the girls in the squad was my seatmate, a bubbly girl we will call Joy because she is now happily married and her child is big enough to read this blog. So I tell her during class one day:

“Najua chenye uwa mnaenda kufanya break time kwa shamba”

Earliest blackmail.

“Eeh. Ulijuaje? Ata nilitaka twende na wewe. Si nilikwambia Nancy?” She asks the girl seated behind us.

“Lakini si tulisema Frank ni wangu? Wewe ni wa Kim (her seatmate)”

“Hapana. Mimi na Frank. Kim ni seatmate wako mfanyane na yeye.”

I was feeling rather sweet, with these two girls fighting over me. To solve the case, I told them I would fanyana with Joy that day, and then we exchange with Kim the following day.

I was going to get some!!!

It never materialized. The school farm was ploughed that day. I must be one of the unluckiest people in the whole wide world.

But I wasn’t losing hope. There were girls near my home. Within the week, I was humping the two girls on both sides of our home, Let’s call them Abby and Bianca. It was very easy and enjoyable, just lying on the girl and thrusting my waist.

Si hivyo… ni hivi!

One day, I met a boy, Edwin, who was visiting our other neighbours busy … on Bianca in our miraa farm! I was with Abby. But he didn’t know how to do it, Bianca must have tried to teach him the new game I had taught her. Poor boy. So I told Abby to lie down so that we could show them how it’s done.

“Edwin, si hivyo, ni hivi!” … happily humping away. There were no hard feelings. We could share. It was just a very good game.

I didn’t know the older kids, coming to the farm to have a release of their own in the guise of cutting grass for the cattle, were listening in to our sexcapade behind a bush. We heard people cracking in laughter. They still remind me ‘Si hivyo, ni hivi!’

My relationship with Abby ended one day when I was forcing her to hump me. I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t do it to me so that I also feel what she used to feel. Just lying on me and humping… And she couldn’t. I showed her a couple of times, but every time, she would get on top of me and do nothing!

So, I slapped her and walked out of our relationship, literally. For a few days.

My cousin came one day and told me if you pee on a girl, she buys a child. And me, being a lover of children, I started making it rain on my girls. That’s when I started undressing, no, dropping my pants and raising her dress during mfanyano.

I was the father of village “Cha Mama Cha Baba”

This Fisess Girl

Then I became a shy boy when what I had been doing finally dawned on me . When my new seatmate in class 3 insisted on holding my weener in class (some of these girls start early). She would shove her hands into my crotch every time. Even when the teacher was in class! This sexual harassment almost made me quit school. I told the teacher I wanted to go to the front to escape this. The boy we exchanged with now had a permanent smile on his face. He was enjoying the new life.

In class 5, I was back at it. The girl from class 3 was still after me. She even told her parents and bigger sisters that she wanted to get married to me, and they would roundly make fun of me every time we met.

Caught in the act

So, I wrote her a letter one day, and told her it was time to prove if she really loved me. That we should consummate her love for me that day in the evening. So I wrote:

“Let us meet in the evening after class for mfanyano” 🙂

I used to sit at the front..what I didn’t know, is that the letter had landed on the floor and the class teacher, Mr. Kathukumi saw it! He picked it up, read it, looked at me and smiled. I almost died.

He silently cut the paper around the edges silently, put it in his coat pocket.

And I went to his desk and told him.

“Mwalimu, hiyo letter umeweka kwa mfuko si yangu”. He calmly patted me on the back, and told me not to worry about it.

I was not a street smart kid, me. But I was a sexpert. In theory.

Today, I won’t tell you about the letter I wrote when I was in class 7, to a class 8 girl asking her to act porn with me. I will tell you how that ended, though- she sent our pastor to me.

Random Memories 1: When I was a Soil Eating Beggar

 Let’s start from the beginning. To as far as I can remember – when I was a beggar. Literally.

 I am my parents’ first born.We didn’t live at home at some point. We lived in the remote Antubetwe Kiongo shopping centre (mouthful, huh?)  where my dad had a clinic. Our living quarters were the kaplot behind the clinic.

 Those who know me know I love tea. Before you poke fun at Luhyas, get in touch with me first. That started a long time ago. I got it from my grandmother Kaumo – we would both keep recycling tea leaves after making tea and drinking the progressively looong tea till it turned into clear water becasue her kongoni cow did not produce a drop over a cup of milk, and I think buying milk in the village was a shame- you are supposed to have cows!

 I was 2.

 I would walk around the shopping centre, in a long shirt and nothing underneath, you know, like kids of the time, mpararo like a skunk with a cup, get into restaurants and they would give chai na maandazi to mtoto wa Daktari. They even started expecting me, I’m told. The meaner ones would make a smaller kidanz just for me.

 Until my grandmother Kaumo visited and I wasn’t at home! Coming hours later with a paper bag full of mandazi and half a cup of tea, as dirty as the soles of my bare feet, and vutaing makamasi.

 My parents got a serious tongue lash lasting hours (they thought it was fun- and everyone in the shopping centre was a friend)  Grandma washed me up, bought me new clothes and a yellow kofia written Number 1… And took me home with her with a stern “Mwenda is mine starting today and if this is the parenthood I taught you, go back to class.” Okay, I think that’s what she told them, I don’t remember, but that’s how she talks.

 And now I was all alone in the village, with my grandparents. It was kinda fun – I would get mandazi moto from the local chef, since grandma used to brew marwaa (busaa or maize alcohol to you) I would take a number 9 cup in the morning with with burned bread (this was a standard- I would go to the shop to buy mkate umeungua) and avocado. My grandma had all this figured out, raising me up Mau Mau style. In case you are wondering where I got thios tummy that remaines even after all the junk I have been taking.

 But I had another nutrition fetish- mole hills! I would sit at a mole hill and eat up all the soil! I loved them fresh and deep inside the farm and generally avoided the mole hills in the field because of the competition with dung beetles. You would imagine they would give me diarrhoeas, but mole hills used to give me orgasms, as it is said, God loves boys, mad people and dogs.

 The result- Wealth! I soon had an oversized tummy which coupled with my huge head (yes, where did you think these brains are stored?) with brown hair, made me look very awkward. I looked like I had kwashiokor!

 Who remembers the powder medicine we used to take for worms. Had a name that sounded like Paradox. The one you would dissolve in water, drink and remove live worms?!

 Turned out, my big stomach was full of worms! And, another thing, after taking that powder, you were not supposed to go to the latrine.. You were to do your shit business in the open so that people can see the work of your hands, and count the snakes using a stick.

These are too few
 They gave me that one. Grandma’s maths used to end at 20. Probably, I had  legion of 1,000 white worms. Our chicken were happy that day.

 My belly shrunk in a day and I was made to vow I would never eat soil again or Ntomakona would come and remove all my teeth.

 I was now ready to go to school in new Bata bullets.

Invest in Your Woman!

couple money woman

The past few weeks have been quite fast for me. Long nights, hard work (which I enjoy a lot, by the way), hours facing a screen of sorts and, well, not having time for myself, leave alone lovers and friends. Takes a toll on life, trust me. But it is a phase you have to go through when you have a young calf you need to breastfeed and support to stand on her feet. (See what I did there? Mhenga. 🙂 )

So, I have had to make a few adjustments- going to my local many evenings, ordering my favourite porridge flavour, and sitting at a corner doing nothing with my phone. I rarely talk to anyone- just sit and mind my own business, take my porridge and leave.

But last Friday I got company. A young woman I have been seeing having sessions like mine on her own walked up to me, drew a seat and stared at me! Seriously. She just came over, sat and glared at me! She didn’t talk, just stared with wide eyes and a linear pair of lips. I found myself pensively saying hi. This freaked me out for a moment. Ladies, is that how you expect us to hit on you in bars? It worked on me…Will it work on you?”I have been seeing you” She says, simply. As if we had spent the day together. Not a word of greeting.

“I have been seeing you” She says, simply. As if we had spent the day together. Not a word of greeting.

“Oh. Okay” I stutter.

“You have this mystery around you that I have wanted to crack”

Is that a compliment? Am I mysterious? What’s being mysterious, anyway?

Long story short, we speak for a very very long time. Hours. She tells me secrets! Things she should only tell her girlfriends. I think her porridge is more fermented than mine.

Bastard of a man!

Then she starts ranting about how a guy had used her. See, they were starting a thing, because they have this chemistry, “like the one we are having right now with you” and she had slept over at his place a few times. But the man was a BASTARD!! She shouts, visibly angry.

“Why? Is it something his father didn’t do?” I ask.

“No. His father is a former MP and the guy is rich. Whaa! You should have seen his place”

“Sounds like a deal” I say, now changing to soup….. This story is juicy!

“The guy never gave me even a single shilling”. I jump out of my seat and hit the ceiling. “How can a grown, rich man not give a woman money!”

Me, in my outright style asks her…

“Did you expect a payment for sleeping over at his place?”

“No” She wasn’t even offended. “But you have To make a girl you sleep with feel appreciated. If you have sex with a woman and you don’t give her money in the morning, she will feel used. How do you think I get my hair made? Or nails polished?”

“Sex”

“No, stupid! But if I sleep with you, I am giving you a part of my body. Give me a part of you”

“But I hear sex is mutual.”

“No. Only men enjoy sex” Oh well… “So, even if you are married, you must give your wife money in the morning if you made love in the night. If you don’t, she will leave you.”

We argued some…actually, a lot. Those “when you use your finger to scratch off an itch in your ear, what feels better? The finger or the ear?” Story for another day. 🙂

But she had this conversational gift. I found myself going to another soup joint with her. Her thinking mystified me. I didn’t learn much, but t got me thinking.

“Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely enhance your relationship” | Quote Me.

Your responsibility as a man

Fact, being a man is expensive. You have to live, you have to feed yourself, you have to feed your family, you have to get a car, land, build a house, buy a dog, buy toys…. And maintain a social status.

But, thy shalt never ever, forget your woman. Her hair is your responsibility. If kitenges are in fashion, you are called upon to make sure she had the best kitenge. If she works far, you must get her that Vitz. Start that shop for her and keep stocking it if she wants to start a business. If she has a headache, you are the one to get her Mara Moja.

 Get her flowers and chocolates, and handkerchiefs. Know where Lingerie World is located. Know her shoe size. These are the little things that get her heart beating in rhythm with yours.

Keep her nails spic, man. Keep her car fuelled. You were created to sweat (down your spine) so she is fed. And when you wake up in the morning, leave her money for food. Even if it’s that reguar Sh. 200 like Meru men.

“You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman. | The Bible

No. Don’t ask where her salary goes. That’s none of your business. If she wants to pay school fees for the kids, it’s a favour she is doing you. Heck… Give her your money to manage. Those people are created to be accountants for the house. Don’t worry about budgets, she got you.

Animals in love

That woman is your responsibility. Take care of her. When she is sad, support her emotionally. When your woman is tired, leave your mboys and massage her, support her physically. Feeling down? Read her the Bible and pray with her, support her spiritually. When she is attacked, risk your life for her, give her security. When she has hots, make it your responsibility to leave her satisfied, sexually. And when she wants anything, make it available for her, support her financially.

 Attention

The biggest investment, though, would be attention. What good is “quality time” if you’re not giving your woman your undivided attention? Put the cell phone away, forget about all other distractions and give your woman all your attention. Listen to what she has to say, give her eye contact and engage in great conversation with her. Your attention is valuable and if you invest that into your woman — imagine how amazing she would feel. If you won’t, a girl friend told me, she will find ways of sing her time, without knowing. Why else do you think people cheat?

Invest your energy, time, money, life…in her. You will reap the benefits. Trust me. That’s what my grandmother told me. I am waiting to find out with you if it’s true, too.

 BUT, get returns. Every investment has to have a sort of return. You think that you’ve been earning extra bonus by doing extra favours for your little sweetie, but the reality is that if she doesn’t contribute to the relationship equally, your efforts are in vain or at the very least, they’re going down the drain. If she belongs to the “sweetie nibuyie squad”..if she responds to your WhatsApp four hours later, if she doesn’t get you shirts and boxers once in a while, if she is having those untimely headaches recently, run away. 

If you are truly committed to your woman and want to make your relationship last, then you must get her to invest at least 50% of her time and money into the relationship. Simple investment rule.

 Oops! I have destroyed a perfect story. Maybe that’s why I’m still Looking for a Wife….but let’s be real.

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PS: Girls… forget what that girl said. If you are not selling it as a service, don’t expect money in the morning. That’s actually demeaning. Methinks.

Hello – The Nonsense Cover

hello cover Kenya
Hello
Niaje
How have you been?
You liked 11 photos on my Instagram yesterday,
Did you stop because my 12th pic is a #WCW?
That made me think unanistalk,
Are you?

Hello, can you hear me?
Ni California (my childhood nickname),
Namiss vile ulikuwa unaniita Calif,
When we were young and free,
I am now older, just call me Frank. Nikuite Mama nani?

There is such a difference between us
I hear you have three kids..

Hello from Mauaaa!
Nimekaa nikikupigiaaa
To tell you, to send back, that teddy bear nilikupatiaaa
But when I call uko mteja,
Did you block my number,ama ulichange,
At least I can tell my current girlfriend I’ve tried,
To get that teddy bear back,
But it don’t matter. I clearly shouldn’t have told her about it..

[Two days later]

Hello, how are you?
Did you get my voicemail? I’m sorry
Nilikuona online Whatsapp,
Haki umeblock number yangu?

And it’s no secret that I am looking for a wife,
I am running out of time.

So hello from Mauaaaa (Maua)
Niko base nachew miraaaa! (Miraa)
Najua, utaniita mbuzi, lakini sijali (sijali)
But seriously nitakutumia Njuri Ncheke,
Pick up the phone nikwambie,
Nitakununulia teddy bear nyingine unipatie hiyo,
Nilipewa na grandma,
It matters. Clearly I was in love with you when I gave it to you.

(High, highs, highry, handas)
(Nimekosa low za kuweka hapa)
Anymore

Hello from Mauaaa
I must have done this better than Jimmy Gaiiiit
Lakini, najua, ya Dela iko juu,
But when I did this nothing was on my miiiind,
Hello,I know I know this post doesn’t make sense,
At least I can say that I’ve tried (I’ve tried)
To say things that never came from my heart
But it don’t matter. I have done this post and I won’t delete it.

Seriously, though. Even that ‘album cover’ up there is nonsense.
🙂

Goodbye 2015, that was a Rollercoaster!

goodbye 2015

How years move! Just the other day, we were in 2014….kufumba na kufumbua, I have a 2016 diary. Is it only me or are years running faster every passing year? Or, is it a growing-old thing? A year was a very long time in primary school.  Have I been too busy?

Too much has happened between January and December. Some have been the best things ever to happen in my life, and some have been the worst things ever. The bittersweet rhetoric has never been clearer.

When I went back to work in January, I was going to do my third year in one workplace-Bata Shoe Company. Talk about loyalty in a move-around age. I had just been granted a house in the company estate and life was going to be easier. Heck! I had a kitchen garden, and I could do the farming I had always wanted to do.

2015 was going to be another normal work year. Only simpler since I wasn’t going to be paying rent and groceries. I also had a Sports Club on my disposal. I was going to relax, work and be normal.

I was wrong.

I started travelling, finally!

“This is a multinational and you will be traveling all over the world. Just have your passport ready”

That’s one of the baits the HR manager had given me to join the company two years earlier. 

And I had waited. And waited. And given up. To make matters worse, my department was doing so well, people from other countries would be sent over to be trained by me! You don’t know how terrible that sounds when you know it should be you travelling to get trained in another country. Or to train them in their country.

So, mid-February, I was surprised with the ‘prepare your passport’ line. I was going to India! The son of Maua was going to ‘panda ndeke‘ and bring to truth an old prophecy by my grandmother “You keep studying as hard as you are doing, and you will fly with the birds”!

So, we had a big hassle with my erstwhile partner in crime, Julia, looking for elusive documents that threatened our trip, hoping against hope that this once in a lifetime opportunity wasn’t going to pass us by due to some shit bureaucracy. And we got them.

And we went to India! I had started travelling, finally! Forget the Jambojet ads-that was a crazy first time flight that I’ll tell you about sometime. (Remind me. How many stories do I owe you, by the way?)

I lost a brother.

This was one of the lowest lows in my life. I still don’t believe Eric Mfa is gone. I keep feeling like he is here and will show up or call. And then a voice tells me he is not around any more. I have been home for Christmas and I keep half expecting him to come by to ask for movies, or a belt because his is loose, or to give me a plot of some sort.

Sad puppy

But he ain’t here.

This was the major blot to an otherwise great year. It was the worst it could get. Do they celebrate Christmas up there, bruh?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, several other people I know, from my hometown, followed him to wherever he went. (The accident claimed four lives, and was followed by a series of deaths that got all of us scared)

My prayer is that this never happens again, in 2016 or ever! Please say Amen.

I left Limuru, and Bata!

Yes, that’s right! As I said, life started perfectly, you could say rosy- travelling, more responsibilities, more achievements…and my thriving garden (forget any pictures of spoilt cabbages you may have seen doing rounds in social media. Those are my political enemies).

Organizational direction for eCommerce(what I do, by the way) changed that left me bored and unenthusiastic. And I sent out a few job applications, while building my small Future Concepts start up behind the scenes. I was either going to get another job, or I was going to do my business full time. One of my mentors once told me, “if you are unhappy with a place, move! You are not a tree” There! I shouldn’t have told you all that but I just did.

Things moved a bit fast in the last week of November and I was out in the first week of December! I moved! I moved out of my beloved Limuru. I left the relationships and friendships I had created in Bata(sorry, Evelyne) and the small, lovely town of Limuru. I left the cold, I left the scenic tea plantations, I left the green, swaying trees, I left the orgasmic smell of shoes and leather, I left my small garden, and I left the house I had fallen in love with.

And I took the bold step. I joined a revolution that will sweep Kenya to greater heights in the next few months. That feels good, trust me.

This Blog

I have been writing this blog for some time. But 2015 became a revelation. We had more stories, we had more hits,  we got initiated, we looked for a wife together and we engaged more.

I got many many new readers in 2015 as I wrote this blog more and more. I got true readers who stop me in the streets to say hi. That always makes shy Me blush. I will not get used to your love.

God willing, we will make this better this year. I will tell you more and more stories from my crazy life(by now you know that 🙂 ). If you would like to write in this blog, just email me, Facebook me, or whatever, and let’s do it!

May we grow more and more, together, in 2016. It will be a great year. I can feel it. The only way is up. And God will be here with us. 

May we PROSPER

Amen. 

Norah: My Flame!

We all have those contacts in the phone that are just that-contacts! Numbers and emails we have no idea where they came from. Or, is it only me? I have accumulated so many over the years, considering I have never lost my contacts since I got my line in Form 2. Some have just come, somehow. Mostly in the era of 2Go. (Let’s not go there) 🙂

So, the other day, I discovered a name that has been lying in my phone book, long dormant and sleepy. Norah. This is Whatsapp, you can text for free, so I say “hi”. We start small talk-she has so many similarities, I think she is either a long lost sibling, or she is my soulmate. Same college courses, same tastes, same lifestyles, same county (it matters). The chemistry is tight. From her Whatsapp profile picture, she is cute. I think she is heaven sent. 

She reads my blog! And she wishes she can write, too. 

“Why not? Go on, write”

“But where”

“I can help you set up a blog”

“I will just write for you” 

She was in love with the  “Looking for a Wife” and “I will be the perfect Husband” posts. So, she wanted to be my wife! Teren teren. Her response was in a record few minutes! Read on:

I am waiting for my flame. I am not looking for him, it is his job to look for me. And if he is my perfect match, he will recognize himself in me. When he finds me, he will feel it, he will be drawn to me, in a way he can not explain. It will be mystical, perfect and we will fulfill the purpose of our union. Together.

As I wait, it is my duty to mold myself to perfection. To reach my highest self. I want to be perfect for him too. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. It is simple, we attract what we are. That’s the law of attraction.

I want to give my best to my flame. For him, it will be worth the search. For me, it will be worth the wait.

I want my beauty to run more than skin deep. I want my heart to be beautiful. I want it to love my flame, truly, madly, deeply. But before loving my flame so purely, I have to love myself first. To accept who i am and respect my inner self enough to be true to myself. Only then will i learn to love my flame in equal measure. I will cherish him, love his quirks, admire his strengths, i will love him so. As much as i love myself.

To love is to serve. I want to serve my flame. I want to cook for him. There is something intimate about cooking for your man. And serving him. Better yet, we can cook together. And enjoy every moment. I want to do his laundry. Clean our house. Make a beautiful home. I want our home to be our paradise.

Playful sex.
Relax, I got you. Source: http://blackartrocks.tumblr.com/
 

I love to play. And i want my flame to be my partner in crime. I want us to share hobbies. Laugh silly. Play games together. Have i mentioned sex? Hmm. Playful sex too. I want us to tease. A lot. Try new things. Be wild. Fulfill our fantasies. I want to be totally open with him, because he loves every part of me. Without judging.

Not everyday will be a good one, without sadness, there would be no happiness. I want my flame to be my shoulder to cry on. I want our relationship to be our safe haven. Be our source of comfort.

My partner will trust me enough to let me be his helper. Make me his partner. I would love it if we made decisions together. Run our finances together. Invest together. I want us to be a team. A strong one at that.

Finally, my flame will understand that if God does not build a home, those who build it do so in vain. He will let God be the centre of our relationship. We will pray together, for ourselves, and our family. He will understand that a family that prays together, stays together.

So here i am, waiting for my flame. When i see him, i will recognize him. My handsome prince charming. I will admire his masculinity. He will cherish my femininity. He will love me, like Christ loves the church. And I will respect him so much, I will submit to his authority. I will let him lead me. And i will follow him, gladly. When he finds him, I will definitely marry him.

With all my love.

Isn’t she just perfect? She is waiting for her flame. Will you be her flame, or should I just be? I am sliding into the friend zone quite fast-even before I meet her. 

Yesterday was her birthday. Happy Birthday, Norah!

Catch up with her on: Facebook 

To My Teachers and all Teachers: I Love You!

teachers punishment Kenya

I am who I am largely because of my teachers. I am even writing this blog, in part, because I don’t want to let my teachers down. They all thought I was going to be a journalist, or editor of some sort, because, English and Swahili were my bread and butter. Oddly, all teachers, both in Primary school and High school; even teachers who never taught me but knew me… They all advised me to be a journalist. I feel like I let them down. Or maybe I should write a newspaper article and send copies to all my teachers.

 Somebody hook me up with a newspaper!

 I joined nursery school, or preschool to you, at three years old. I think my mother was busy and she wanted me to spend my days in school. Who else went to school that early back then? And so, my second mom became Teacher Seberina. She would take me to the ruhusa( that’s short call to the uninitiated),  she would feed me and do all the things moms do. And because my parents used to teach me how to write the alphabet, my name and their names (first child syndrome), I was very bored in class, I knew most of the things Seberina taught us.

Our Class 1 entry test was “Write your name” I wrote mine and Teacher Seberina promoted me to Class One. But the hunger I felt that day! Nursery pupils would go home at around 12:00 noon and Class One pupils would go at 1:00 pm. I simply couldn’t handle the hunger… so, the following day I went back to Nursery and told Seberina my mother had told me to go back. I never told my parents – they knew after a few months – Parents, check your kid’s books every evening! If you know Seberina, and where I can find her, please tell me.

When I decided time for Class One had come, I went ahead and met Teacher Mutunga. Now, Mr. Mutunga was feared by pupils in Upper Primary. But to us in his Class, he was every so gentle. He rarely caned us, and was just too patient. In first term, I got paracent(100%) in all subjects except Kimeru, where I got 36%. So I had 736/800 points and I was still number 16 out of 81 pupils. It was a huge class of clever pupils managed by one teacher. Mr. Mutunga called my grandfather to school (I will tell you about my father one of these days), and told him to buy me a Kimeru textbook, and he would be amazed at what I was capable of doing. I got a Kimeru book, and needless to say, the following term I shot to number 1. My grandfather still talks about this one incident. Long live Mr. Mutunga.

 By class two, I was a philanthropist. My teacher was Mrs. Maore. She, like Mr. Mutunga, had two sides. The gentle one, and the tough one. She taught us the National Anthem in both languages, the Loyalty Pledge, and the Lord’s prayer. I think that was her mandate. We were the only class in that whole school that knew the Loyalty Pledge. One day, I did homework for my best friend, Barnabas, and Mrs. Maore knew from the handwriting. So, she sent me to the staff room to get a cane. The only cane in the freaking staff room was this loong bamboo stick! The teacher who handed it to me just told me ‘Good luck to whoever is going to be punished with this’. To cut a long story short, I have never helped anyone else do their work since then. 🙂

teachers were savage

 Class 3 was also a big big class. We were 73, in one class. So big it was divided into two classes though in one class room. Two rows were a separate class from the other, with a separate class teacher. Miss Susan and Mr. Kathukumi. They split the subjects, but marking would be done separately. They would sit with us in class, each on their side of the class. And they somehow managed us. I was position 3 in all three terms.

Upper Primary: Coming back after lunch!

Now, Class 4 was different business altogether. Upper Primary. On a separate block and “coming back after lunch”. Discipline was paramount and you were now a responsible youth. Our big Class three was cut down to only around 40 pupils. Some were ‘asked’ to remain in class 3 and others just dropped out. Others went off to boarding school. Mr. Kathukumi went with us as the class teacher-all the way to Class 8, but now we had to live with many teachers. Different subjects. Life was tough.

 Mr. Kungutia taught us Home Science and Mathematics. This was another crazy teacher who I hated with passion in school…and loved outside school because he would always come by our home to chat with Grandpa, and buy Mr maandazi. I meet him every time I go home, to date. And he has maintained if he didn’t beat me as he did, I wouldn’t turn out how I did. But he says he wished I was bigger- I was so small, “nilikuwa nakosa nitakuchapa wapi“. He became my best friend when he was transferred.

students share a desk Africa
Pic: www.npr.org/

Mr. Mbogori taught us Music and Mathematics at some point. He would give you one stroke of the cane for every sum you got wrong. And since I was one of the poorest in Maths, I was an enemy. I was guaranteed to receive canes. One day, he came to Music class and said “There are two clefs in music. The G-Clef and ……. “. Being a mjuaji, I raised my hand and said “Bus Clef“.

Stupid! Which bus are you talking about, Kensilver, Stagecoach, or Kamawe Bus? It is Bass Clef.. pronounced, Biis”.

I was the happiest when Music was scrapped and he became our English teacher. He became my best friend henceforth. Last we met, he introduced me to his teacher friends as “.….he used to write compositions better than most novelists….

 Female teachers are so much like mothers. Smiling with you one minute and beating the bejesus out of you the next. Take, for instance, Mrs. Mutua. She was a very good friend of our family, and her daughters, Dorothy and Bessy, were and are some of my best homies. We loved her in church and the community (still do), but when she was on duty at school, woe unto you if you came to school late. She used to cane our bare feet-in that cold. One day, it was raining and I refused to be beaten. We had running battles all day with her, and I presented myself to her in the evening when she threatened to report to my father. Mrs. Kamau, too. She taught us CRE and was very motherly, always counseling and advising our adolescent heads. Until she caught you getting naughty. She would cane you while advising you. “I-am-doing-this-to help-you. You-Mwenda-will-remember-me-in-future!” How many hyphens did I use? Those are strokes of the cane.

 Did I tell you I loved and thrived in languages? My favourite teachers, obviously, were my English and Kiswahili teachers. Mr. Marete and Mr. Ngeera. I would entertain them using my English Compositions and Inshas and they would repay me with special care. They would give me books-novels and riwayas– and compositions from other schools. Where I lost points in Maths, I made up in languages. We talk with Mr. Ngeera all the time on Facebook, and I still exchange novels with Mr. Marete whenever I go home for holidays.

Sorry, I never made it to a journalism class as you had wished.

 Head teachers

There is a time our school had a different head teacher every term. I don’t remember most, but it was a very unstable phase-when I was younger. The school performed very poorly-inevitably. This changed in my upper primary years. We had two headteachers:

 Mr. Meeme  did so well, all the surrounding villages sent their sons and daughters to our school, and he was poached to head Maua Primary School-where he is to date, because-it is in town and, and, as the face of the division, we want Mr. Meeme to maintain it for the visitors. How crooked is that?  Now, Mr. Meeme was a no nonsense teacher. He also used to come home and talk for hours with my grandfather-an education pioneer in the region-but would not be smiling at us in school. He had what he knew as, “Twenty Strokes of the Cane” Twitch your Chill fingers…that’s how he used to demonstrate it. He would have you hold the flag post during assembly and work on your small ass with his rapid fire cane.

 After Mr. Meeme came Mr. Mutua, commonly known as by his first name, Richard. Now, Richard was a nice man with lots of stories. He taught us Mathematics in Class 8, and oddly, I have never hated him like I hated all my Maths teachers. He had stories. And he was the sponsoring church chairman. And he was very caring.

I was crazy enough to sleep away from home on the second day of KCPE, and I came in late-who does that?- Poor Richard! I met with him at the school gate coming home to see why I wasn’t there yet. He hurriedly took me to the class, where the papers had already been handed out. He is so caring, still. We talk from time to time, and the other day, when the rogue NGO was hiring, I was on top of his list. Since retired, he is now running a school of his own and is quite successful at it.

Unbroken records

Frankmwenda Gitura Primary School classmates
Some of My classmates

We had good teachers. Teachers who had taught our parents before us, there was stability in Gitura Primary School. They produced the best class ever in the school-us, and most of them were promoted and transferred to other schools right after we left in recognition for their good work. And the school has never been the same again. It pains me that the record I set- I came in the first position-has never been beaten, so many years later. Neither for Boniface, who came second, and Lenana, who came third. The school has never beaten our mean score, and the way things are, we will hold the record for some time. I wish I could save it.

Sadly, the big class of 81 we had in Class One completed with just 23 pupils. Some repeated, some never completed. It is all good. Those that completed are doing well- we met the other day, at Eric’s funeral. We are represented in  most professions, some of us are married, with kids and I am looking for a wife. 😉

I am glad the teachers’ strike is over. But teachers deserve the highest salary affordable. It should be the best-paid profession. I am here, writing this blog because my teachers taught me. You are reading this blog because cliche as it may sound – a teacher taught you how to write. LET US PAY TEACHERS!

My Wife and I: I Will be a Perfect Husband

husband and wife

The other day, I I told you I am looking for a wife. I told you, candidly, what I am looking for in my wife. That turned out to be one of the most popular posts I have done so far. I received lots of comments, including people calling me up.  Friends wished me well in my search, my mboys blasted me, random people told me enough things to fill a book, and speaking of books, there are readers who think I should write a book. Would you buy a book of these random things I write about? Story for another day. Among the feedback I received, was scathing attacks from feminists. Women who believe the woman’s position in the society is up there. 

Read: I am looking for a wife.

I am feminist, too. I believe the woman is up there with the top man. I believe in the strength of a woman. I believe women can do anything that’s doable, perfectly. I believe men and women have equal positions in the society and should have equal chances, from the secretary’s desk, to the night guard to the CEO to the presidency. With no favours. 

Now, extreme feminists think my article was way off hand, and that I was expecting too much from the modern woman, that I was looking for a house help(I read slave too). 

Someone challenged me to state what the woman would be getting in return. So, today, I will tell you the man I want to be, the person I aspire to be. 

I know the Njuri Ncheke will be disappointed, they will say I am failing the African man. My mboys will say nimekaliwa chapati. Neighbours will whisper and pinch at a distance. And we will give women stories to talk about during chamas. But I want happiness. I want paradise for a home:

I will be my wife’s best friend. I will share everything with her. I will be honest with her. If she messes I will be there with her, for her. We will have fun, my wife and I. We will do all the stupid things friends do together. Go swinging, raving, I will even learn how to swim for my wife. Who else doesn’t know how to swim without floaters, by the way?

I will support my wife in all she does as best as I can. If she wants to go to school, I will be down with it. She can study more than me. I would not mind to have a Prof. Mwenda (Mrs.) in my life. If it’s business she needs to do, I will even take a loan to help her develop herself. If it’s a career whe will want to nurture, I will support her. I will help take care of the kids as she pursues her dreams and try my best not to fall into the “are you sure you are coming from the office at this time of the night?”

See, trust will be the foundation of our marriage. I will love her so much she won’t imagine I can see another woman. Cherish her so much my heart will be beating with hers. As I said, we will never let jealousy get in between us. I don’t want my wife getting tempted by those overbleached women along River Road to buy mafuta to make me eat from the palms of her hands, like a zombie. Do those things work, by the way?

Responsible husband
Pic: HubPages

When I say my wife has to be able to cook, keep the house span, and do laundry, and all these household chores, I don’t mean a “domesticated” woman, like one feminist accused me of. No. She is not an animal or something. I will cook for my wife, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday! I will watch those cooking shows with her and we will try the recipes together! Then Saturday mornings will be our cleaning day, together. I will wash the cars as she cleans the house. She will wash clothes and I will hang them for her. We will scrub the compound together. These are traditionally women chores, but I will help her. Just as she will hold the stool for me as I fix the lights in the ceiling. 

I believe marriage is about being a team. Doing things together. If her boss harasses her unfairly, you visit her workplace and give him a few choice words,then you pack her stuff and go help her write a new CV. Or scrub her back every time she takes a bath. Or help her undo her hair (I miss bomoaing hair, by the way, I could get addicted, if only for the stories you tell while undoing hair). My wife will be my defender and I, the goalkeeper. She will provide assists, and I will score. We will be a team. 

I was arguing with my partner in crime, Shiru, the other day, when I told her, nowadays I buy household stuff with the future in mind. I buy things to use in the long term, with my family. She told me, she agreed with her boyfriend that, when they get married, they will sell off everything and buy stuff stuff together. Furniture, electronics, kitchenware. Her argument? Equality in the house. So that neither of them feels like the majority shareholders, because they own more in the house. We argued and quarreled for most of an entire six hour flight, and agreed to disagree. But now, as I write this, I think she had a point. Because, I want my wife and I to own our marriage, 50-50. 

Pic; Today.com

I have been warned about the ways I handle my problems with people- instead of confrontation, I tend to walk away and keep quiet about issues. When I get married, I will build a boxing ring in the house. We will fight with my wife. The first few years will be for us to fight. We will face every problem head on. So that, by the time kids come along, we will be done fighting. From experience, I would not want our kids to get us quarreling. We will try to know each other completely before they come along. 

A woman need to feel safe and secured with her man. She needs to feel that when he is with her no one can harm her. I am not a muscle man, and I don’t intend to be a body builder but I will keep my wife safe. And when we walk around, I will be this mean looking macho man. I think other men should not make passes at my wife when we walk around the street, it would make her feel unprotected, unsafe. I will be better than that. If bullets fly around, I will stand in front of her, and shield her from the world. 

And very importantly, we will a religious home. We will place our family in the hands of God. We will be built on the foundation of prayer and the Word of God. We will serve God in the church, and also outside, in Children’s Homes, in hospitals, in the streets, in conservancies. Because the true religion I believe in, is about caring for God’s people, and nature. 

I will keep dating my wife, forever. And, oh, remember what we said about sex?

Where is this wife?

I’ll give you love
The things you want
I would do anything for you
I would do anything for you
I would do anything, girl, anything for you

-3T
 
—————–
Main Pic: My work colleague, and one of my best friends, Evelyne, and her family. Hubby Benah and daughter, my niece, Jaja(Wanja)
—————–

I am Looking for a Wife!

Wife

Have you slept hungry, not because you don’t have food in the house, but because cooking sucks, especially when you know you will eat it alone? Have you then tried to sleep in a cold bed (in Limuru), alone, and still hungry? Have you woken up at 1:00 pm every Saturday, hyper hungry and stayed indoors till Sunday evening without speaking to anyone? Makes the mouth stink. Has Monday ever reached without you doing the laundry for the week because you had no one to wash for you, or at least motivate you?

 Unkempt bed. Unmade shirt collar. Toothpaste smudge on your trousers. Books and newspapers all over the table. Unwashed dishes. Lost socks. Unholy weekends. Growling belly. Loneliness.

I need to get married. Now. Yesterday! I need a wife.

 I recently posted a pic of my “engagement” on Instagram and Facebook. I captioned it with the sweet awww things we love hearing on wedding shows, and down there, gave a disclaimer, this was a joke, and I wasn’t getting married to Keziah! It was a photography moment. Pictures being worth a thousand words, people only saw me kneeling, holding her finger ring, and Keziah doing her “Oh my God! Oh my God, YES!” That’s all they saw. The comments were hilarious. People were actually happy I was getting married. So happy they couldn’t read the entire post. I got prayers of blessings, offers for soup with my lady, congratulations to the beautiful couple(am I beautiful?) etc etc… And lots of disappointment from the ones that read the entire post. I got some curse words.It was a good laugh.

 But then, after all these jokes, I am here thinking. Does the society actually want me to get married? Does it look that bad? Do I look that lonely, unkempt, in need for love? Or what were you all showing me?

I think you are right. I am now looking for a wife.

 I want a beautiful wife. I want heads to turn when she gets into a room. I want men to oggle at her, and random women to stop and bow when she passes. Granted, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and I have my definition of beauty-which make my ideal for wife and angel, by the way, but I wanted her to be beautiful from inside out.  I have dated hot girls who ended up to be quite ugly when we broke up. Personality plays into attractiveness big time. I am not interested in a socialite. I will be seeing them on my Facebook, but never waking up next to any.

 I want a wife that can cook. Do you know how frustrating it is when one of my day scholars comes over and sits down the entire weekend for me to cook for her? Do you know how it lights my heart when a woman gets in the kitched and cooks for me and serves me? My heart softens into a sponge of love. Maybe that’s why my mother is up there in my love rankings. That’s the absolute window to my heart. Good food. Lots of food. Variety of food. My wife’s target? To get me a prestigious tummy within three days after our wedding!

 I want a wife who does laundry. There is nothing as sexy as a woman bent over, lesso around her waist, washing clothes and whistling. Now, that’s a turn on. And because I don’t want to break vows by being turned on by a mama fua, my wife has to do laundry. You don’t want the housegirl washing our towel, do you? Or a random mama being paid to wash our bed sheets. It is not right! I wouldn’t want our glory literally hung around other people. And it is disrespectful to the other woman!

 My mother vs my wife

I want a woman who understands, and accepts, that I will have one mother only, ever. I have heard of divorces, but I haven’t heard of estrangement between sons and mothers. My wife has to love and get along with my mother. Granted, there are mother in laws who become hell, in movies, but I know my mother is the coolest woman around. She never fights. She has given me liberty to make my own decisions since I was a kid and she gets along with everybody. She would make tea for my girlfriends back in the days. And I know she will love my wife like she loves me. I therefore do not expect my wife not to have a mother-daughter relationship with my mother. I wouldn’t want to be in the “choose between me and your mother” situation. I will choose my mother.

 I want a wife who is as good in bed as she is in the tableroom and in the kitchen and the bathroom. By this, I don’t entirely mean conjugally. (See what I did there?). I want a wife who keeps the bedroom homely, the table room exquisite and the kitchen hygienic. In a nutshell, cleanliness is key. I know I am careless and all, and I will leave a cup wherever I finish my tea, even on the floor…and this is one of the reasons I am looking for a wife- to manage my cleanliness. To remind me to pick up the sock from the door. To convert my bathroom into a place of peace from the kanju toilet it is now.

nerd wife
I want a geek wife.
Source: IndiaPictures

I am looking for a geek wife. A wife that will play PlayStation with me, a wife that knows a thing or two about computers, a wife I can call from overseas to send me a file in my Linux without having to send an IT fisi to my house.  I want a wife who loves gadgets like I do. Only she will understand that I am not wasting money when I buy a game, or the newest iPod. She doesn’t have to be a glasses-wearing-creepy Big Bang theory nerd. Just the basics.

 A Manager for my Money

I want a wife that actually goes out and earns a salary. I don’t want my wife to be a housewife. I want her to afford her own hair and basic things in the house. She doesn’t have to ask me for salt. I heard in some quarters that Meru men leave Sh. 200 every morning for food in the house, and come late at night with bread. My wife will be worth much more than 200 bob. She will be worth a round salary. She can earn more than me, or very little, isorait, but I want an independent wife. African chauvinists reading this will disagree.

 Speaking of salary, I want a wife who can manage my money. If I will still be employed, she should be in charge of my payslip. If I will be in business, she should handle my balance sheet. I am not saying she will, but I want us to be an open family. No secrets. It is our money, right? I wouldn’t want mismanagement in any quarters.

 Sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but it is very important. People get married for sex, by the way. Kids? Sex. Glowy days? Sex. My wife and I will make magic. That’s all for now.

No excuses for what I have in mind
Pic: AngeliaAngel

Finally, forget what they say about love. I want my wife to love me just enough to be loyal to me, not to be obsessed with me. Research shows that, 67% of suicide occurs due to love related reasons. I don’t want my wife to love me too much. She should leave some love for our kids, our parents, and most importantly, for herself. I want 50% + 1 of her love. Not 100%.

I don’t want an extremely jealous wife. My wife has to understand that I have very close girl friends, and when, say, Winnie or Annred buzz me for some jiggle, she should treat them like my mboys, because that’s who they are. And, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be protective of me. She should show me I am important. And yes, I won’t mind much when she goes out with her girlfriends, but once in a while.

 I will be very faithful to my wife. Loyal. She will be my queen, literally. I’ll rather steal than let her sleep hungry. I will mind her and give her many, many children. We will fill the earth, me and my wife. We will be wealthy, and we will be a reference to the society. They will all want to be “like the Mwenda’s” Say Amen.

 Are you there?

————–

Main Pic: My man, Gerrishon and his wife, Polline. That’s where I bounce when hunger strikes at night. If I were to have a personal photographer, it would be him. Check out his works.

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Fare thee well, Mfa.

Two children, A and B are playing in ashes. You know, the game of smearing ash on each other’s face to make “Kamuithia”. Child B’s grandmother meets the kids playing and panics. You see, the “ash” is actually a very poisonous coffee pesticide. She picks up her grandchild and runs off with her, leaving Child A playing with the poison, un-amused. An older child, C, comes along and is shocked. He doesn’t run away to call for help, he doesn’t join in to play, he doesn’t admonish him, he does a smart thing… he carefully ties Child A’s hands with polyethylene bags so that he doesn’t put his hands in his mouth… and takes him home.

Child A is me, and the saviour, Child C, is Eric. He saved my life at that point!

Over the years, Eric and his brother, Metal took up the role of big brother. We would make our wooden wheelbarrows together, go-cart together, feed rabbits together, make a nuisance in the village together, and all the things that boys do. I was a part of their family. Whenever Eric’s grandmother visited, she would bring me bread, especially for me, and they would bully me out of it to granny’s wrath. We were brothers.

He got initiated at a very tender age-which officially meant he couldn’t interact with me kîîjî, but we still played together, only that he would hide when other circumcised men passed by.

When I got the cut myself, he would always visit, daily, without fail. And Mom always wanted him to come and be with me. You see, traditionally, when “you are in the house”, you are at the mercy of the young men coming in to eat and pass time. People have been killed during that period. But Eric always came. And I would feel safe. He, and Metal, were my brothers, after all.

Eventually, we became bums. We would influence each other’s decisions…from the trivial ones of which girls to hit on, who to dump to lifelong decisions like careers and spirituality. He would ask my opinion of courses and I would ask him to research for colleges for me when I cleared high school. Even later in life, since I was always the village techie, I had a say in all gadgets he bought or didn’t buy. To him, my word was final.

 

Best friends with Maabi, my grandpa

After my high school, we formed a group called TOUCH. Initially, 5 of us: Eric, Alex, Bessy, Doris and myself. We used to perform plays in the church, and soon, became mainstays. We would have a slot every Sunday, and sometimes would be invited to other churches and youth camps for our plays. It was a great team. Soon, we had a bigger dream. We wrote up a plan to save the youth in the society from drugs, clean up the area, and, eventually, change the politics of the society. We roped in more members and would make shows for the youth, invite mentors and have a party. This slowed down when we all joined college.

When I was struggling homeless, remember Nairobi Initiation 3?, I would go to his college, AHITI Kabete(he came top in his class, btw, scooping most honours in the graduation, and we lost our voices cheering,bright guy) and spend weekends with him and Lenana. He would always come to Plot 10.

We were the proverbial partners in crime.

Friday 17th July 2015

I was in my usual Friday bubbly mood at work. Then I started receiving calls from people we have never spoken on phone with and people whose numbers I just have on phone from back in the days, asking if we have spoken with Mfalme. I would tell them I haven’t. By the fourth call, I was getting concerned. Then Glory called me and told me she’d heard Eric’s phone was being picked by a cop.

He’d said the owner of the phone and a few other guys had been involved in an accident and taken to hospital. I said, fine, if it’s hospital, we will go the hospital the following day, Saturday. I called other guys living in Nairobi, Alex and Nancy, and they told me they were on their way to the hospital. I figured those were enough for the day, since I live farther, I would still go the following day.

Then Glory called me again and told me her brother was at the mortuary. I quipped at her. “Mortuary?”

“Yes, Frank. They are not alive”
“Who and who”
“Eric and…..”

 

I disconnected the call and went to sit, shaking. I wasn’t believing. Alex wasn’t picking his phone, Nancy hadn’t arrived yet, and people were calling me left, right and centre”.

I also left for Thika. Oddly, my first time ever to go to Thika. I kept confirming if we were going to Thika Level 5 hospital, or the mortuary next door. They said mortuary. And the mortuary was a mess. Alex and Bessy met us at the parking and confirmed the worst.

Four people had passed away, and Eric was one of them.

When Alex, who had viewed, damnit, the bodies started giving us details,  I felt liquid. Just had to sit down. The entire sheltered area was made of people I know. Mfalme’s friends. The sight of his girlfriend, Naomi, crushed me. I don’t remember greeting her. It was all a dream.

We stayed and waited for the relatives, and tried to track down the family of one of the deceased, who we didn’t know, just to be helpful. Others went to the scene of accident, Makuyu, to see the car and collect any possessions.

Evening came and the relatives had arrived. Martin, Eric’s eldest brother, came for Eric. They had to officially identify the bodies and we had to be there with them. Being the most paranoid people I know, I wouldn’t have gone in..but Alex literally pulled me in.

It was all a haze. Darkness in my head. I vaguely smelt the preservatives, or death(it has a smell, right?). As the bodies were being pulled out one by one I just looked on. When Eric was presented I would have sworn it wasn’t him. The injuries were bad. The mortuary sonofabitch attendant was eating roast maize in the mortuary and motioning to us where the bodies would be restructured. They looked as if they were just asleep, and would wake up. It was still a dream, now turning a nightmare.

I went back home that night, still hazen. I had to take hard stuff to clear the dew in my head. And I slept peacefully. I never remembered the images, I think God erased the moment from my brain, and even now as I write this, I have no memory of the bodies. I feel like I am narrating a scene by a third party. Thank God for the amnesia.

Friday, 24th July 2015
After a week of arrangements, our village had the biggest funeral ever. Could easily be the biggest event my village has ever hosted, sadly. A funeral for two. Attended by who is who in the society, from the deputy governor and all the elected and administrative leaders in between.

See, Eric was a man of the people. He was a promising young man with a bright future ahead of him. And everyone had to be part of this. All his friends came. We rallied and had everyone away from home to attend his burial. It was a massive get together. Our entire class met for the first time since we finished primary school and we savoured the ghostly reminders of our former school. Sadly, as we concluded, we were only meeting due to the death of one of our own.

It is now a resolve that we will be meeting every chance we get. Granted, we are spread all over the country, some of us are outside the country, but we should never meet only because of the death of one of us. (Think about that, friend, when do you ever meet with your childhood friends, classmates, college roommates? Will you only meet during burials?)

In other news, why do politicians always steal the show? Why do they use forums, even mourning ones to selfishly turn the tides? All the speeches after Alex had spoken on behalf of Eric’s friends were all political. The current MCA and MP vs the aspiring MCAs and MPs. Words were thrown around, statements made, the underlying issue of the village road, one of the biggest feeder roads of the county, now impassable, and all that crap politicians always belch. The mass was ending at 6:00 pm, and the burials were to happen afterwards. When I die, I don’t want politics in my funeral.

Then we went to Eric’s home for the actual burial. I was barely listening to the pastor. My mind was replaying Eric.

It was now slowly hitting me that he was actually gone. When soil was thrown in I flinched. When rocks hit the coffin with the thunderous this they always make, I felt pain. They were beating my friend. When I was handed the shovel to throw in soil, I did. I dutifully gave this last service to my brother. When the pastor said we should mark the corners with sticks I looked for sticks and marked the corners. I had this energy surge.

Then it actually hit me. I had promised myself not to cry, but I got choked. I excused myself and went behind Eric’s house. And I sobbed. I cried with nothing in my head. I felt lonely. I just cried.

My other friends came round to me. Bessy covered her face with Kero’s jacket, Deno stared away, into space, Marti leaned on a tree and stared down. Kero placed hands on his head and trudged away to the grave to plant flowers with Twinnie.  We locked our ears to the world and the silence got eerie.
It was now real.

 

Always bubbly with laughter. Wedding ‘security’ freak

He is gone. Just like that. He won’t be the theatrical Head of Security that he always took up in our weddings. He won’t be calling to ask me what to do with his laptop or phone. He won’t be coming to joke with my grandfather on all the matters of the world. He won’t be shooting pool with me again. He won’t be building the house which he had just started collecting kokoto for. He won’t be joining the university he wanted to join for an environmental course. He won’t be sharing his dreams for the society again.  He is gone. Forever.

Fare thee well, Mfa. Walk into heaven in that walking style of yours. And walk in noisily as you used to walk into our places. We will always remember you. You will remain in our minds. We will try to achieve some of the dreams we had in TOUCH. Won’t we, Bessy, Alex, Doris?

I always hoped this was a dream and I would wake up. The touch of soil woke me up. It is true.

Goodbye, and say hi to Metal.

Nairobi Initiation 6: I Have Been Conned, and Mugged.

I am walking home from college. Remember, I am doing CPA at Vision and I live in Plot 10, Kirinyaga Road. Just past Globe Cinema, this guy meekly greets me. He is lost, and wants to know where KCS house is. I tell him I don’t know. He has this heavy Meru accent, and I ask him if he is Meru… He is. Where? Kianjai. Wow! I went to school near those parts. Next thing I know, we are korogaing deep American.

He just arrived in Nairobi to cash a Kenya Charity Sweepstake and wants me to help him get to KCS house. I honestly don’t know where it is, but he tells me he had already been there a few hours back. But the person who had taken him had turned against him and he suspected he had people waiting to rob him of his Sh. 200,000.

Wait a minute! That’s 200K Kenya Shillings. Being the curious Frank, I tell him to show me the card. There it is, 3 clean 200,000 figures scratched.

He tells me that if I help him get the cash, he will give me Sh. 30,000. I tell him that’s too little. We bargain to 40K. 

I am trembling with anticipation. I have never seen that kind of money in my life. I can traffic cocaine for that, sembuse taking someone to some place in town. He asks me the time and I chuck my phone. The hottest smartphone back then, Nokia 6600. He stares at it for too long, as if he doesn’t believe when I tell him it’s 6:00 pm. 

So, we go. He is visibly frightened. He believes people are following him. Or waiting for him near the cashing house. So we go rounds and rounds till it’s dark. It’s past 7:30 when we get to Kencom and he points out KCS house to me. I am to walk in,cash the amount as my own and come back out with it. 

There is a catch, though.

“Leave me your phone”

No. I can’t.

“Do you think I am stupid trusting you with 200,000 when I have nothing of you

It’s a small security, and if you get lost, I can track you using it”

 I make a mental calculation and decide, for 40K, I can leave my beloved phone. I instinctively remove the SIM card, leave him the phone and saunter in.

 There is no one in sight-it’s late, so I catch the lift to the said Floor. There is still no one in the office,but it’s open, so I walk in looking into the offices. I mean, I have a right to be here! I am a winner. I finally get a lady who could easily be the CEO.

 Who else leaves the office last? I tell her I have won and she tells me to come back tomorrow, working hours. Man! This woman is delaying my blessing! I try to tell her I can’t wait but she dismisses me. I begrudgingly leave.

You will spend 20 years in prison for forgery

Outside, I can’t see my guy! I think I am mistaken and go around the blocks, all the way to the High Court, back to Uchumi City Square, round Kencom. But can’t see him! Who would leave 200K for an old 20K phone. I am worried. Not because of the phone, but because this poor guy may have been attacked. He was afraid of his life! An hour later, I have to go home, sad, worried.

The following morning, I am the first person at the Kenya Charity Sweepstakes House. I walk in and report to the Security Desk that I have won and am going to cash my card. He asks me to show him my card, and grabs my hand, hard! 

“Where are you from, kijana?”

“Meru”

“Where did you get this ticket?”

“Kangeta”

“You see that building over there? There is a Police Post. So, I will ask for the last time… Where did you get this ticket?”

Kamenuka. I crack like I have just been tortured in the Nyayo Basement. Telling the entire story. After I am done, he looks at me with this fatherly eye.

” You are lucky, young man. This ticket is forged. ” He says, casually erasing the 200,000 numbers with a fingernail. “I am a Kamba, and we and Merus are brothers. If you were a Jaluo, I would have taken you in. Do you know how it could have been?”

I shake my head, trembling.

“That would be a million Shillings fine or 30 years in prison for forgery.”

Wow!

“To avoid that, I want you to give me Sh. 10,000 for me to release you”

What! Is he mad? I am now looking at the prospect of going to jail. I can’t afford 10K. We bargain…this is one of my main talents.. to Sh. 3,000, which I don’t have. He tells me to go look for it, and if I don’t come, “utajua mimi ni Mkamba na tuna uchawi”

When I reach the house, it hits me. I have just been conned! And exposed to crime. Have you seen a grown, read circumcised, Meru man sob? I drench my pillow with tears.

A phone made of sponge

The next day, I am in a mission to reclaim my phone. Guess how? Have you walked through Tom Mboya street looking at the phone displays? If you have, someone off the street must have approached you, offering a phone for sale. I figure those are stolen phones, and my phone would be offered to me for purchase. This works… At least the someone offering a phone part…. It is a Nokia N9. Another hotcake. 

It is a youngish guy, and I tell him I am interested. So, we walk, talking. I even tell him I am looking for a lost phone, if he had seen any of his friends selling a 6600. He hasn’t. So, I decide to buy this. We agree on the price, only Sh. 2500, and proceed to an M-Pesa to withdraw. Nature is against me, I don’t have my ID, so I can’t withdraw and have to run back to the house for the ID. We exchange numbers and I leave. When I come back, with the money and call the guy…

“Ah. This phone is on demand, my guy. I have already sold it” 

Damnit! That was clearly not meant to be mine. So I walk away, crestfallen. Hours later, the guy calls me. My prayers have been answered (thank God)..the guy didn’t, after all, buy the phone, so I can get it. We meet at the same spot we had met, Tom Mboya Posta. He shows me the phone…working perfectly. My bargain bug bites me and I ask him to drop the price by 500, to 2,000. He can’t.

Mimi ni Mgodii jo. Niko hustle buda. Ka na phone yako unasaka enda police(I am a Mgodii on the hustle,dude. If it’s your lost phone you are looking for, go to the Police)”

That Sheng lingo is too tight for me. I don’t know what a Mgodii is, but I can’t show I don’t know. That’s usamba.

Wazi maze. Mayouth ni kusaidiana. Nipe tu.(Cool, man. Youths should look after each other. Give it to me)” He gives me the phone, and we part our ways. I can’t brandish this phone in the street and I excitedly trudge to the house to inspect my discovery.

I press the start button and it sinks. I open the back side and….. The phone case is filled with sponge! 

Just last week, my friend Jeff had been conned this way and we had laughed at him for being so gullible. Now I had been conned. I have lost money in the most foolish style ever. I cry again. I can’t tell this to anyone. It has to be in the heart. It’s my little secret.

Nairobi had scored me 2-0 in two days.

I call up a friend of dad’s living in Nairobi to assist. He is a good man. He is indebted to my father so he always assists me. True, he brings me an old Siemens phone with a broken antenna, that I name BlackBerry. It is so old, it is actually cool.

The following week, we are walking to school with Kero and Flo. There have been riots and running battles between the Police and Grogan mechanics. The air is full of gunshots and the choking tear gas. Police everywhere. No vehicles…just battle. Flo says people get mugged on such days. I don’t believe her. I tell them that if someone tries to steal my BlackBerry, I will cut him to pieces. 

Minutes later, a friend I don’t remember stops me to say hi. Kero and Flo keep walking.

Niaje buda. Tuachie yetu( Wazzup bro. Give us what belongs to us)”

I am not amused. So I quip.. “What?” 

I suddenly realize I am surrounded. My ‘friend’ is now holding a hammer. Someone else has pliers, and someone has these huge iron sheets scissors. I am being mugged. Flo tries to scream, but a hammer is pointed at her and she zips up like a scratched CD. They empty my pockets right there in the crowded street and no one seems to care. I have been mugged! My BlackBerry is gone. And oddly, I laugh. I laugh so hard that people stand to stare. Maybe it’s because I am laughing and crying at the same time.

Probably, that Kamba security guard actually bewitched me.

Nairobi 3-0 Frank. In one week.

Nitakupaka ****

Sorry. This is disgusting
One of Nairobi streetchildren’s oldest trick in the book is walking around with human (shit) in their hands, and offering random people in the streets free make up sessions if they don’t pay up. These are mostly not empty threats, because, my friend, you will get a mighty smear on your suit.

Nairobi played this on me. I am escorting a girl, a first time date, to Bus Station (I don’t remember her name because that’s the last time I saw her); when we are met by a black person. By black I mean, charcoal black. Only the bloodshot eyes and strangely pink lips are visible. The guy is a walking chimney. He is wearing all black-I doubt the clothes were originally black, could have been white. He is dirty, and is accompanied by a big gang…of houseflies and this smell. The only thing I see is the girl running across the road, with her big, Luhya hips swinging clumsily. Well, I must admit I hadn’t noticed those. 

Boss, leta punch ama nikupake” (I want Sh. 500 or I will smear this on you)

I look to see what the make up is, and it’s right there-black slimy diarrhoea human output. I swear I can see a billion pieces of cholera and other assorted diseases therein. The smell itself can make a skunk cover its nose.I don’t know why I am not scared. Maybe I have had a shittier day already. I tell him in a snap that I don’t have any money for him. And I don’t care because kill him if he does. You know, it is a public bus stage, and I expect people to move in. I at least expect my girl to scream.

But this is Nairobi. I have to fight my battles alone, People are watching us from a distance. I can’t see my escort. I tone down.

The guy opens his jacket and removes a large syringe. Those big cow and hippopotamus syringes. Filled with thick blood. 

Hii ni AIDS, an ukijifanya mjanja nitakudunga“(This blood has HIV, and if you act truant I am injecting you) 

I am now sweating. I honestly don’t have money, otherwise, I would have given it all to him. My negotiation skills come into play. 

“I don’t have money”

“You are wearing a suit. Don’t lie to me” I was in a suit, remember the date?

“Sometimes we wear like this to look for jobs. I am a sufferer like you, man” 

We keep bargaining as if he is a hawker. I bring him down to friendship terms and soon, we are on first name basis. His name is Kim, or something, and he is telling about how he came to Nairobi to be tout, got fired, became a street boy, and now he was forced to be a mgondii. By the time I left, he even wanted to give me something small, to get me home, but I told him I was better, and gave him a loose Sh. 5 to get a maandazi on me.

Talk about random acts of kindness. Try to understand your mugger, or your conman. And forgive them if you can. I am still trying to forgive the socialite who abused my kindness to con me of money and she still tweets her good life. Story for another day.

Nairobi Initiation 5: Plot 10, the Sin City.

Have you ever lived in a remote control house? These are the houses, err, cubicles where a 6 by 3 ft bed fills the room. You can touch all four walls lying on the bed. You can close the door and window, cook, reach the “wardrobe” side of the room, and the TV that you have to hang from the roof because there is nowhere to place it. That, my friends, a remote control house.

Plot 10 is located right in town-yes, we lived in the CBD! Our life was improving, no? It is a three storied building along Kirinyaga Road, right below Roast House.

That’s where our mkokoteni from Nairobi Initiation 4 took us. Kero had used his immense convincing skills to get us the house. It was very convenient, since we would no longer be paying fare to town, we were always in hand to receive friends and relatives from upcountry, take them around town, for a small token, of course.

The room was located just outside the communal sink and bathroom. From the house we would literally look through the bathroom door cracks….to, you know what. Whereas we enjoyed seeing these “things”, we were always drying the house. Water would seep in, below the PVC carpet, to a mighty stink.

And it was bigger than most! Remember the Kens from Initiation 3? The guys that caused us all the troubles we passed through? They were living in a much smaller room, all three of them! So, their resources, including the bed they had said we had to hire, were in the underground rat infested store. They had the audacity to ask us to keep a computer monitor for them. I almost committed murder that day.

How families lived in these rooms, we never knew. I am still trying to figure that out. Take, for instance, an old woman we all used to call Shosho who used to live with her fully grown watchman son and his wife. She never left the house, so we all wondered how the son, Pato, used to, you know, get to, you know, get her pregnant. There was also this family, whose son was initiated in the single room house he used to share with his parents and 3 siblings. We from the Mountain just watched at the unthinkable from far.

The 2009 Census was god-sent. Kero and I landed enumerating jobs, at 24K, and boy did we have a blast! My wiz dream of owning a computer came to be. I bought this large Dell desktop tower with a 15″ CRT monitor, and Kero bought a  Ampex subwoofer system and a gas cooker. 

We became overnight celebrities in the plot. We could afford to throw parties. We could now walk with a swag in our steps. I could now pursue my deejaying passion with my PC (when I was younger, I used to visit a classmate whose family had a computer with VirtualDJ installed. I could scratch scratch and that was the first reason I bought a computer). We could now watch all the movie series the cool kids were talking about. We could now blast music respectfully. And we could get any girl we wanted around! We were jogoo la mji now!

Did I mention parties and girls? We used to throw BYOB parties every day, any day of the week. All the cool kids in the plot would come to our house, newly renovated with white curtains, to have a ball. Requirement? Bring alcohol! At any given time, we would have Kibaos, KCs, Naps, jugs of Senator keg and miraa to last to the end of the month.

One day the liquor was too much, and there was no water in the plot. So, drat that, we cooked rice with alcohol! Add alcohol of assorted types and boom! No one slept in their house! Everyone was everywhere. I slept with the newest chick in the block, Emma. Stop frowning…we were too stoned to do anything. After puking her intestines out, she crashed into bed. I also chewed blackout while gentlemanly trying to cover her. The following morning everyone was singing my name. I had slept with a woman! A beautiful woman! I didn’t deny those “allegations”. 

Word spread, and soon, our house was the hub of parties and sin. People from all over the world, yes, all over the world-or how would you explain the Kirinyaga Road Indians and a certain Mzungu(never mind he is born and bred in Kenyan streets) all used to drop by for a dose of hip-hop. It was the joint, where people could abuse their elements in peace. Disclaimer: We didn’t allow smokers or hard drug users, though some of our guests would smoke their weed and inject their injectables in the basement store. How we never got influenced, I don’t know. God’s Grace?

Hell

That wasn’t the only sin in Plot 10. There were sins that would make Sodom and Gomorrah a holy shrine. Take your pick:

Fetishes- Tabia Mbaya was at a premium in plot 10. People would get some anywhere, anytime. Have you heard the phrase “266,000 people around the world the world are having sex at any given minute, including this very minute?” That would be Plot 10. At any give time, someone was getting some in one of the 52 rooms, in the store, even on the stairs. Let’s leave that here…. This is not a adult blog. 🙂

Nerea-People got pregnant at Plot 10. People aborted pregnancies at Plot 10. Then they would get pregnant again and do away with it. It created business for Kero, who knew a few bargain quack doctors to do the operations at a small commission and mark up. 

Mob justice- Justice used to be served Embakasi style. Mara that that! Thieves would be beaten into pulp. There was this day a guy cam into our room and joined our conversations, he even got  a chance at my coveted DJ chair. I thought he was Kero’s friend and Kero thought he was my friend. I left at some point and Kero wanted to leave, so he called and asked who the guy was and I was like ” Which guy?” Hell broke loose. The guy was flung out and given a proper beating. See, he couldn’t explain how he got into the house in the first place. Several more people were beating, including some gay people who were caught having some in our sin-store. 

Remember when I told you about the strategic position of our house in the city? At any given time we would have a full house. Either partying, or folks from ocha seeking shelter, or homeless people being kept, or students on holiday but not curious to go home. We should receive a Nobel Prize, no? But people abused this hospitality, human nature.

 Take Robert, or Rumpu. He used to crash at our place any time he was on holiday or whatever. We didn’t have much problem, but he had this uncanny behaviour- okay, we used to cook ugali sukuma DAILY- Rumpu had loads of money and would leave us to our ugali sukuma, go eat chicken and come back with that chicken perfume all over him. In the morning, he would leave us to our strungi and ugali lala, and go take a B.E.S.T. breakfast. Of course we used to mind, but never talked about it. The straw that broke the camel’s back was, there was this time he went and brought all his brothers to come live with us-all three of them!! Now, these were noisy braggards. They would talk about home all night, with these shrilly, annoying voices. I love my peace and this would aggravate me to breaking points. There was this day, we were watching the World Cup and they started betting on the match, big money, money that I didn’t have, money that I needed, and they were here, betting, right after coming into the house with their chicken aroma and we were broke as hell.

I threw them out! And we decided to never let vagrants into the house ever again. 

That is, apart from the throngs of girls that thought we were cool-Kero used to mesmerize them with stories and attention that I could’t afford. Most were just that, friends. We would have girls over for days, and we would treat them like boys, eating ugali sukuma together, playing cards, having man-talks, sleeping on the floor-and using them to rope in sponsors for meat and other favours.

 There was this time a girl who had had several stints in several houses within the plot-she was a known (you know what)- came along and former hosts couldn’t take her in, probably because this time she came along with a guy friend, and were looking for a place to wait for her last plot boyfriend. Now, this is the type of girls who, once you make the mistake of having them in for a day, will move in. And I knew it, though I figured she wouldn’t, with the guy. So, I let them in, expecting them to move out once their “friend” arrived. It wasn’t to be. They requested to sleep on the floor, and I lock the doors and let them. In the middle of the night, I woke up to noises. Noises that I knew from porn videos. In my dryspell on the bed, I was too irritated. So I woke up, turned the lights on and went back to bed. You should have seen the awkward position I got them in. I think they cursed me because the following morning I woke up with too much pain down there. Story for another day. 🙂

Wanaume si mamako

Kero once broke one of these cardinal rules with our girls.A friend of mine from home. See, we had this unsaid rule that, if a girl was a relative or friend from home, no hankypanky was allowed. So, one day, he took this girl to the next door lodging, without my knowledge-not that I would have minded that much, but it was necessary for my records. He did these crazy things with her like spreading flowers on the bed, burning scented candles and all these things that we only read in romance novels. Girl was mesmerized. She was in love. And she told me all about it the following day. I just laughed quietly to myself, LQTM, literally. Sheep with this love towards wolves.

Hell broke loose the following weekend when Kero’s girlfriend came visiting. Let’s say I had to pull an instant Kofi Annan to save the occasion. Kero took his girlfriend to the same lodging he had taken the other girl the previous weekend! My mother says “Wanaume si mamako” and she is right. We men, aren’t your mother! J was crashed. She cried… My offer? As much as I hate clubs, I took her to Roast House for a drink and dance. Remember I dance like a tortoise-so I never hit the dance floor. So I sat in a corner and watched her dance with people while I got the dividends- drinks being sent to my table in a stream till I had enough and dragged her out. She was hysterical, especially when we reached the lodging-Screaming how “….he is ******ng her in the same room he ****** me in! She must be thinking she is the only one. Oh God, I am a ****!

That’s where robbers got us, while I was trying to drag her in. Just like that, out of the blue, with rungus and pangas. And I jumped into the gate, and closed her outside with the muggers. You must be wondering what kind of man I am. Well, me too! I someties wonder what kind of man I am.

My reasoning was simple. None of us had a phone. Not even a single cent. Being the guy, I guessed they would have beaten me, cut me, or worse, killed me in frustration. In my drunken stupor, however, I was thinking, in my imaginary super powers, that if I opened the gate, I would hit one of them and kill him. Which is a sin. All this while, I was screaming my lungs out like a proper sissy coward. This was a day to forget.

Let’s pray for our shoes

We started looking for jobs while still in Plot 10. Me, Kero, Marti, Alex and the all crazy Musila whose story I will tell you another day. We would print CVs, walk around town dropping them with the help of a directory. Evenings would find us too tired. To improve our chances of getting jobs, we each invested in a suit, and new formal shoes. One evening, the Monday after we had bought new shoes on Saturday, we came home tired, and there was a blackout. We dozed off in the darkness, Kero, Alex and I, only waking up early in the morning for another day of tarmacking for jobs. We took our showers, wore our recycled suits…and then Alex stepped out.

“Where did we put our shoes?”

“They should be at the door”

“No! They aren’t!”

We thought he was joking. So Kero went to check. Our shoes were missing! That was a new low. We were crushed. There went our several-month savings, and probably our chances of getting jobs. Solution.

“Let’s pray,” Alex said. In desperation, we knelt down to pray. In Faith. Singing a worship chorus, Alex told us that if we opened the door slowly and shouted “JESUS!” six times, the shoes would be there in the seventh open. 

Jesus Himself must have smiled at that, because we didn’t get our shoes!

Bugs and rats

Tell me what you know about bedbugs. I know bedbugs, trust me. Plot 10 was an Animal Conservation park. We used to have human size rats. You would meet with a rat in the stairs, thing stares at you and you pass slowly. Rats that had this mean look of “Don’t make any sudden moves, or you will die” That was no big worry, because our rats were street wise buddies who knew how to use the sufferer space with the sufferers-they never ate clothes or books. We had this mutual respect. But tell that the their little cousins-the bed bugs. Those things have no respect at all. We had this infestation that could easily make KU jealous. And they used to show up in the worst times-when you had a visitor, or in public, in class or when you were tarmacking. And they were in every house. That’s why when I moved out of Plot 10, I only left with my computer, and the clothes I had on. I couldn’t risk carrying those bugs. 

For the time I was at Plot 10, I never saw the landlord. We used to deal with a manager/caretaker and never cared about the owner, until we received a letter raising the rent by a cool Sh. 3,000 in that month end. Less than three weeks. Never mind we were all students in an unpainted, unmaintained, rat infested, stinking plot.That’s the only time we came together as a plot outside Sodom, and sued him, with the legal advice of a law student with all his experience. We went to court, all of us, and declared that we would not pay rent for three months. Of course we were overruled, but that sent a message to the landlord that we were not in it for games. He backed down, sent some mzee friends of his to plead with us to take the case out of court, and agree on a compromise. We had our way, and of course the money we had contributed for court was enough to buy several jugs of Senator keg and Kenya Cane beehives. 🙂 

The “Adventures of Plot 10” would be a complete novel. Just can’t cover it here. Buy me a drink one of these days and I will give you a proper narrative. But Plot 10 remains. We moved on, and left the room, with everything, to some boys from the village,as a memoir of a very important phase of our life.We vowed that the room would remain ours for as long as Plot 10 exists. It will be passed down, intact to the younger guys coming to Nairobi from upcountry. 

Ni kama vindio ni kama ndrama.

Main pic: Full house, full bed, any time, Twitter.
King Rat: Penguins of Madagascar, Fanpop

Nairobi Initiation 4: “We Ate Bread With Sirua!”

If you are reading this,you must have read part 1-3. Thank you for sticking with me. This is a true story and I have evoked nostalgia in some of my friends, and anger or shame or whatever in others. I am just Frank.

Where were we last time? Yes,we had to leave the house we knew as Mwanyenye- we knew only the house girl’s name because everyone in the house used to call her so loudly in Kisii,even in the middle of the night, to pass a glass of water. Poor Mwanyenye. What do people think house girls are, slaves?

Anyway,let’s move on,we had more problems than her. When we left, we had no place to go, not even an idea. We just carried all our property in one sweep. Only the mattress was stress, really.

We decided to split for some time, Kero going to a friend living in UoN hostels, and I moving to my childhood best friend, Alex,also living in hostels- Railway Training Institute in South B. The plan was just to crash in for some time as we redrew plans. Alex lived in a standard hostel room with 3 roommates… We would share his small upper double decker bed.

Saved by a prostitute

South B is too far for someone without fare,going to class in town. I would miss the first lesson almost always. In the evenings, I would walk back to save some money.

Life was tough to me but even tougher for Kero. His village friends, who he was crashing with started avoiding him. They would lock up their room and disappear, leaving him to seek out other people in the middle of the night. The Helb-Powered rich campus kids were a different kind of cloth. They would force him to go out to clubs with them because they couldn’t trust him with their rooms! On one such night, he was down with malaria but they still wouldn’t leave him in the hostel, they accused him of stealing their drinks. Kero was beaten up by the bouncers and thrown out of the club, literally bounced off the stairs! He was saved by a prostitute.

Kero, then. Who would take such a boy to a club, and beat him up?

One evening, I arrived at RTI as usual, sauntering into the room looking for Alex. One of the roommates borrowed my phone(I had one of the most expensive smartphones then, a Nokia 6600, I had redeemed from dad after he was unable to use it) and all three of them stood up.

“You stole my phone in the morning” said the guy with an accented, ghostly, irritating voice(Okay, I hate him)

“What?” 

I was bewildered. Nobody had ever suspected me of theft since I was a kid. And now these people were accusing me of stealing a phone!

“Yes. You were the only one in the room when we left for breakfast”

“You left your college and came to ours to be a thief?”

Wanted by Police 

I was surrounded, cornered, intimidated. I had been accused, prosecuted and judged in this kanjo-like kangaroo court. Did you know, if you are arrested by Nairobi Askaris you have no rights in their courts? Whatever you are charged with is what you did! And this was worse than the kanjo court. Mob justice is real.

Alex came to my rescue like Superman. When he met me captured, he went on a rampage. He is a typical Meru, always carried a small dagger. The moment he brandished it, everyone left the scene! He started pulling out wires, overturning beds, throwing suitcases out the window, screaming like a lunatic. I had to forget my troubles for a moment and try to reason with him.

The roommates had left with my phone. Later in the night Alex demanded for it and was told I would have to pay for the stolen phone if I was to get mine back. He went on another rampage….a physical one in the middle of the night. Pure drama. I had to figure out a way to get Sh. 4,000 for another phone, somehow, not without telling them that my grandfather was a supreme medicine man, who would ensure justice was served. Someone would eat grass.

Anyway, I hustled some moneybfrom relatives and paid the phone back-In life, you get punished several times for things you didn’t do.

Remember the day Kenya got a Public Holiday because Obama had been elected America’s President? I was with a friend of Alex in his room when someone came in saying there were Police Officers looking for a friend of Alex who had stolen a phone.

I was in shock! And I was a wanted man!

I thought it was one sick joke, till I went round the hostel towards Alex’ room..And saw cops with college security through the window. I bolted…all the way out of the college through a panya-route….ran up Maringo, to Mater Hospital, Kula Mawe, up the Bridge, Railway Station…into town. Marathons have nothing on me. It is after I reached town, that I felt safe.  I guess I wasn’t cut out to be criminal.

I called up Kero, who was somewhere in Ngara with a “girl from home you should meet”. I walked to Ngara, not because I wanted to meet one of Kero’s twisted-taste-of-women that always made me gape, but because I had nowhere to go, and I had to inform the crew that I was a wanted police suspect.

That’s how I met Mwende. Later known as Rancho, a future member of my five-man wolf-pack. And she “hustled” a fifty bob off me despite my masaibu.

Kero and I had to strategize. There was no way I was going back to RTI, Lenana and Eric’s place in Kabete Animal Training College was a no go zone during weekdays, and Kero had outlived his Bonga Points from the University friends. Our brainstorming led us to yet another friend of mine, Dennis Mutwiri from home. A guy I had met only a couple of times because we shared a taste in hip hop, and I had a few prospective quarries he wanted me to hook him up with. Dennis, and Kama, the friends we hadn’t thought about before, welcomed us wholeheartedly.. they were prepared to house us till we got a place…And they left their room to us, for the weekend. I should look them up. (Toast, guys).

Mulango 

Meanwhile, Kero had made friends with two big, yes, big girls…women. Secretaries at his uncle’s office. People who would walk in the streets in hot pants. Have you seen a really big, voluptuous woman walk in the street during the day in a hotpant and a tank top? Kero had made friends with those…And would visit them in their single room in Mulango. I think they sexually assaulted him, and he liked it…because soon, they got him a house… also in Mulango. And the landlady wanted only working people in her flat.

I dressed up that Sunday, in a suit..And went to check the house out. It was a 8 floor house…. And the vacant house was half finished, on the eighth floor! The wires were naked, and the wall wasn’t plastered…. There was no ceiling… Just iron sheets. We had no option but take it.

Now, living here was hectic. Living on the eighth floor of a house with no lift, but a steep, narrow staircase wasn’t fun. You wouldn’t dare forget stuff like match boxes or salt… Because you just wouldn’t go down to the shop on the ground floor. We only had a mattress on the floor, and coupled with the ceiling-less roof, we were at the mercy of the weather. We didn’t have a radio, so, we would listen to whatever neighbours were listening…And if we didn’t like it, we would disconnect electricity(the naked wires in our room were the main connection for the entire floor) and go outside shouting things to do with someone on the floor messing with electricity. Being Merus helped.

We managed to buy a bed, second hand, from the shopkeeper downstairs, and had to cut it into two to go up the stairs. Our house had the first piece of furniture! Problem is, it used to break down in the middle when you turned. We still had only two plastic plates and cups, and our good old trusted jug. When we had visitors, we would eat it turns, unless it was a girl-like this one time when Mwende visited and Kero went all the way to the ground floor, to borrow cups from our shopkeeper.

This was the life. Pic: BarakaMwau-slumurbanism

At some point, we were four. Our MP’s real brother,Karithi expelled from college, a guy from our former hostel, Chris Ngaruthi, Kero and I…. And none of us had a shilling to his name. Four men without a shilling…And no food in the house! To make matters worse, I was doing my CPA exam the following day! I did not have fare.

Things got worse, when our light bulb blew. Why do such things happed in such times? Kero and Karithi stole the communal toilet bulb. I had just gotten into the house, and they were telling me about the bulb…when guys came looking for the toilet bulb! You see, Kero had gone round borrowing a bulb, and when they didn’t get the toilet bulb, the first people they suspected, were us! I told them that I had bought the bulb on my way home. They said they wanted to see the packaging and I told them to check the trash bin.

Then I got really angry.

“Look at us! You think we, four grown men, can’t afford 40 shillings to buy a bulb? Is that what you are trying to say?”

I was so worked up, they apologized and left in a huff…we were left falling over ourselves with laughter. …. Till we remembered we didn’t have anything to eat.

I called Alex and told him I had nothing to eat, and I was sitting the exam the following morning. He said he was in town, and only had Sh. 100. I told him I needed it. Could he bring it? He said he would need Sh. 40 for fare…so we bargained and I asked him to bring the Sh. 60 if he didn’t want us to die. I pride myself in good friends…. Alex brought us the Sh. 60.

The issue was what to do with it. We walked into a cafe, all four of us, and couldn’t afford a meal. So we settled for the craziest combination. Soup, bean soup, is free when you eat food. So we asked for bread and bean gravy. That’s sirua.

We ate bread with sirua!

We spent Sh. 50, and had some change to spare… I was to use this Sh. 10 the following morning on my way to the exam. So, I took tea and some cake, left the money on the counter, and fled! I never knew how much that cost…And I didn’t hang around to know! I ran all the way to the exam centre. And happily did my morning paper. By the time that was done, I had an M-Pesa message, my monthly allowance, from dad.

We used this money to move the very next day…on a mkokoteni, all the way to the next phase of our lives, Plot 10!

All our stuff fit on the mkokoteni like this, and we ran after it, all 10 kilometres. Pass the marathon medals, please.
Pic: The Drome Diaries
Nairobi had almost won one against us.

The Nairobi Initiation 3: “I Swear I Didn’t Do It. Blame the Cat”

So I came to Nairobi… And did all manner of things, including walking all the way to Rongai and meeting my high school sweetheart, Makena. As I was telling you…meeting Makena introduced a new aspect to my Nairobi life… a new dimension.

Read Nairobi Initiation 1. and Nairobi Initiation 2.

Makena had progressed a big deal. She was way ahead of me in class-she was almost finishing CPA while I was starting. She was a laid back, devout young lady while I was a Hip Hop head.

 But then, if we had started something in high school when she was a fourth former and I, a mono, we could find our way back. This time I could treat a girl, and I could not shy away from hugging…even kissing… like I had been in high school. I was also a bit of a playa, entertaining these thoughts and I had a girlfriend at home! Nairobi men!

So, we would meet, talk about things in a monotonic kind of way – we had no stories. Until she introduced me to her cousin, Ken, who happened to be my classmate – she was clearly bringing her family close – and had a crazy suggestion, that we move from the hostels and live together!

 Moving out of the hostel was quite appealing – I would start a life, when I finished school I wouldn’t start from scratch, I would own stuff, I would hustle seamlessly, it was cheaper sharing, and I would have a pad with my girl(s)! There was no way my parents would allow that, so, even as we looked around for a house, we did it secretly.

 Looking for a house is the number one hustle in Nairobi. You just can’t get a residential house near town! We were chased by one landlord for not being married, another one for not having beards, and another one thought we were looking for a cleaning job which wasn’t available! Those agents who write up their numbers using charcoal in the streets would not help either…after taking our money, they would either turn off their phones or take us to slums with mabati houses.

 When we finally found a house in Ngara, it was a shop and the rent was Sh. 10,000. This was a huge room facing the street…all noisy and huge..but it was all we could get. The challenge was the money. It was too much for us. Solution? We get two other people! Ken brought in another Ken and I brought my fan, Kero, remember him? Paying Sh. 2,500 each was bliss, very cheap. To make things better, Kens had everything we needed. Two beds, cookers, utensils, iron, a computer with a TV card and the knowledge-they could cook! Kero and I sneaked out of Duwano Hostel…you see, rent was due and we couldn’t pay! We even left our beddings!

 Life wasn’t bad. It involved sharing everything. We ran out of cooking gas and all contributed to buy, Ken’s TV card got spoilt and we bought another one… We would contribute to buy bread in the morning and all the shopping, equally. If you didn’t pay up and say, we bought sugar, you would take your porridge sugarless. It was a Harambee living. One of the Kens used to literally live at his girlfriend’s place, so we didn’t get to see him much….So, we lived life pretty well….until we came home one day with Kero, and caught Kens red-handed.

Tumeamua Kuhama

The bastards were packing everything to a cart! And by everything I mean everything… Everything that belonged to them was everything – except our clothes!

Bewildered, we asked what they were doing, and they said, “Tumeamua kuhama

We were frustrated

Who moves without telling the roommates? I mean, just moves with everything and leaves two people to pay that much rent, without notice? Who moves and leaves friends with nothing, not even a light bulb?

Kero was sobbing, I was angry. We asked them if they could at least leave us one bed since they would not be using both and they told us “Not unless you hire it. Pay us Sh. 200 daily for the bed.

 We were devastated as we watched them move – they carried the freaking padlock and the curtains too! We then walked into the house… all dark and empty except for our small suitcases at one corner.  There was even no place to sit and cry. Trouble had started. We had no place to sleep, no light, the house was open to the public and it was late in the evening! Shit was real!

Matress, bulb and two chapatis

Luckily, we had not paid rent yet. We went out, bought a small mattress, a light bulb, and two hot chapatis mwitu. There was no place to stand to reach the bulb holder, so I stood on Kero’s shoulders and pulled it down, wires and all, to the floor. Our light was at the floor level! Then we set the only bed sheet we had on the main window…as our curtain, ate our chapatis and slept.

Real life had started.

 Rent was due the following day and we couldn’t possibly get the 10K. No school that day, we had to move out. So we crossed into the Railways Estate and spoke to our friend Jeff’s sister who was living in a very small single room SQ there to assist us in getting a place to stay. She told us we could move to her place and she would help us get a house before the day ended. So, we moved, unsuccessfully looked for a house all day. 

We slept at her place… on our mattress, under her bed!

 We all woke up early the following day and continued where we had left the previous evening, knocking in every day and asking that infamous question, “hapa kuna nyumba vacant?“…till we met a lady with a heavy Kisii accent who looked unsure that she had a room. She even called her husband to confirm. See, we were young and reckless, Meru and hot-tempered.. skinny and maybe poor. Kendi, our friend’s sister pleaded with her…using a testimony. And we got ourselves a place!

This room is much better than ours

Room within a house

 Now, this was a large bedroom in the main house. To get into it, we would pass through the family sitting room. It had no socket, so they got an extension from outside and perched it through the ventilator expecting us to buy an extension to take it the rest of the way, which we couldn’t afford, ..so we let it be. It’s not like we had any electrical stuff anyway. Someone lived next day, in another bedroom. There was a separating glass window which was covered with newspaper and a locked door (since he had a TV, we would take turns watching through a small gap between the newspapers at the window and through the door keyhole).

 The room was also huge. And all we had was the mattress, our small suitcases, an old cooking stove we got from a cousin’s friend in Eastleigh, two plates, a jug and two cups, one which we had helped ourselves to from the main family table room. We fixed a nail on the wall near the socket – remember it was up near the ventilators – where we would hang the jug in a polyethylene bag and drop a water heater inside to boil cooking water and save paraffin. Masters of creativity, no?

There were rules, too. We were to supposed to be in the house before 7:30  so that we don’t disturb the owners as they ate their supper in their sitting room and also so that we don’t spoil their sons….who were in their thirties!

 We never washed our room – people wash under the bed and tables and the kitchen and the toilet, and we had none, so there was nothing to wash. And we were very okay with that. The madam of the house soon started making noise. We once met our window open, somehow, and when we asked she said the room was stinking, so she opened the window to let air in.

I told her, in a very stern Meru tone and accent; “It IS our room, WE pay rent to live, independently. So, if you think it is stinking, learn to live with that. I don’t want to get that window open again, ever!” ..then walked into the house and slammed the door hard. Kero was laughing so hard inside, he was literally on the floor. Being stereotyped works sometimes.

The following day, I met the window open again, I didn’t talk, I just stood there looking at it and trembling in anger. The house girl met me in that state, said hi, and when I didn’t respond, she ran back into the house and came out with the owner. Madam just said, 

“Pole, ni paka alifungua”. I was like “I want to see that cat, and cut off its hands”.

 The window was never opened again.

 By the end of the month, we broke a basic rule and had to move. This time, we had no place to go, no plan, no money. Did we become street boys? Find out in the next edition. 

 

The Nairobi Initiation 2: “I Walked to Rongai!”

Rongai Nairobi stage

I was telling you the other day of some villager’s(aka yours truly) ‘soft’  landing in the largest metropolis in Eastern Africa-Don’t we love bragging with our city, Nairobi? Being the most intelligent monkey in a group of apes makes you number 1 by design. 

Anyway, here I was, on the morning after. Duwano was actually a five star hostel, by my standards, maybe. There was a good breakfast ready-eggs, sausage, toast and tea-this was the life, baby! Then there was hot shower… Now, that was bliss! Water heating within half a minute! This is Nairobi…. No blowing into the firewood to warm water and carrying to the bath place. I had started enjoying the fruits of education. That first shower was a long hot one. Okay, it was enjoyable, and still, the water would get too hot, so I kept switching it on an off.. I could see the adjusting knob but I wouldn’t dare touch it! My Physics teacher had taught me better-water and electricity + your body = death by electrocution! 

Moving on, after breakfast I left the hostel like a boss, trudging after some other ‘inmate’ who I had overheard saying he was going to town. I made sure I got into the same matatu with him and sat strategically to see his every move. There was no way he would leave me in that matatu! He alighted at some point and I also stepped out, wondering why I couldn’t see KICC which was the ultimate landmark! 

Lift and Toilet drama

I followed him at a distance into a building I had heard about… At least I knew Visions Institute! I had actually been looking for it when I had come to register for my CPA. I had been told that it was better than KCA but my dad had insisted that I go to KCA because it was a “Government college-their courses are recognized by the government and they must be cheaper than the premium private college” Out of curiosity, sorry, I followed this guy in because I didn’t know the way to town and hoped he was making a stopover into Visions. 

The guy went into the lift, and I followed right in. At this point you may be thinking this was my first time in a lift… No! I was a town person! I had got into a lift back in Class 8 when we had gone on a class tour of KICC! But at this point, I wouldn’t know what to do inside, so I waited till everyone had pressed their floors and leaned back… Waiting for whatever. I decided to stick with my guy after some other people alighted at the second floor.. to third floor.. Which turned out to be the Visions reception!

I walked in like I knew what I was doing and asked for a brochure (I knew these since I had carried home a paper load of brochures for every college I had come across in my registration trip.. and doesn’t Nairobi have colleges in every building!) 

Shockers! 

The fee was less than half KCA’s!

Dad, I have changed colleges

My mind was on an overdrive. Here I was saving a cool Sh.17,000, the college was within walking distance from the hostel, it was the better college and most importantly, I could wear and sag my jeans as much as I wanted! On the other hand, I would be disobeying my parents (I had had a quiet childhood with no major drama,  quite disciplined). But then, this was my life and no one would know anyway! I decided I would change colleges! 

Still with cash in my socks, I went to the washrooms to get it out!

I still laugh when I remember the washroom debacle. They are standard office washrooms, where you enter the main door and get all these toilets and urinals… They are located right at the reception and there were many students milling around. I went and knocked on the door! And stayed there to wait for whoever was inside to get out! Now, that’s embarrassing! 

When I got over these fifth world problems, I got into a toilet and counted off the money and went back to the cashiers… Shockers again! They couldn’t take cash! In a panic mode, I asked where the nearest bank would be and they said “pale Moi Avenue” How the hell would I know where Moi Avenue was!

But then, I couldn’t show them that I was a village cock. I just said, oooh, walked down the stairs into the road below and bounced off to the general direction of town, clutching my pockets, round Globe Cinema roundabout, past the street families into, God-is-with-me, Moi Avenue’s CooP bank! So I paid the fees and retraced my steps back to Visions. I queued for twenty minutes and when I got to the cashiers, someone asked for my passport photos! And the closest I could have them taken? Town! 

I looked at her jawline, looking for a spot to break and after a full minute, of course making sure there was no girl nearby, told her I didn’t know town and that I would bring them the following day or that afternoon after I had figured out my way around. She had to accept. There must have been a hint of tears in my eyes at that point! 

The rest of the day was uneventful. I just took my books back the way I haf come in the morning, to Duwano Hostel, and in the comfort of my room, called dad.

“I have to tell you something”

“Did you get robbed?”

“No, I didn’t go to KCA”

“What?”

“Yes, I went to Visions Institute”

“Really? And where did you get the extra money”

“I figured it out. Visions is the better school and I just had to get into it”

“Okay. Just don’t get into debt. If you are sure this is the best choice, do what you want”

Phew! It wasn’t as dramatic as I had thought! The good thing is that my parents have always trusted me to make my own decisions. No one ever told me, even advised me, which career path to take. I always asked for money and I would get it, as long as I affirmed that this was, indeed, the right way. I was half way college before my mother knew what I was doing! 

Pic: Kenyanlist

 

Kero: The MP’s Nephew

Later in the day, my cousin, then our MP’s secretary, called me to inform me that the MP’s nephew would be joining me at KCA the following day and I was requested to assist him settle down! I was becoming a baller now… I would be a chaperone to the MP’s nephew! Of course that would mean I would be seeing the mheshimiwa frequently. He would be a buddy. My life was taking a perfect turn! 

The following morning, I woke up and decided to walk around Nairobi while waiting for my ticket to the throne.Like the good scout I was in school, I noted my landmarks closest to Murang’a Road, and did it block by block-I would go round a block, then two,then three…and soon, I had covered what I thought was the entire city of Nairobi. I even walked to Rongai! I was in the Rongai Market when my guys arrived.

“Hi, we have arrived”

“Good, wait for me at Tea Room” I knew places, man!

“We have strolled a bit since you were mteja, we are now at the Total Petrol Station” The Mheshimiwa people were so daft, I thought.

“Which Total, which other building can you see opposite?”

“There is nothing opposite, just an open fileld” This was proving difficult.

“Okay, walk a bit, and tell me the tallest building you see” This was my defense mechanism, a landmark I could see from the Rongai flyover.

“Yes, we have seen I&M Building”

All the way from Rongai

Phew! That was easy, I had been at I&M that morning, and I could see it-from Ongata Rongai!I told them not to move an inch… I was on my way, and walked like a wizened city boy towards the direction of I&M.

From Ongata Rongai? Let me tell you about that…There is a flyover connecting into Muthurwa Market. At that time, it had an advertisement for something like Ongata Engineering ahead, so I thought I was actually in Rongai! 

Stop laughing!

Look, you can see I&M! Pic: SkycraperCity

I did make it to I&M in one piece, with a bounce in my step, and Kero, short for Kerobin, aka Kelvin,our MP’s nephew, came into my life, for the first time, never to leave.

Now, Kero was a yo-yo in his own right. He had a red Ferrari jacket and shiny trousers with several guns and a 50 Cent impression at the back.He had this bewildered look about him, and the first thing he asked me was:

“Murume, when did you come to Nairobi? Were you born here?”

When I asked why, he said “From what I have seen and heard, to know Nairobi, one has to live here for at least ten years!”

“Don’t worry, I will take you around Nairobi one of these days”

But I was already wondering why the MP’s nephew looked so confused. He was with an uncle, who I assumed was the MP’s brother, equally confused. Someone joined us a  few minutes later and the uncle told me to take the kijana to where I was staying, as he had some business to handle with the other guy. We were to look each other up the following day. That was my first let down, I had imagined with the MP’s DNA and money, I would have lunch at a Five Star Hotel, and get some pocket money. Now, this was becoming a thankless burden.

Kero, like me, was coming to KCA-the one with hostels. Within five minutes, I had convinced him to save the cash and join Visions…plus Duwano Hostel(At least with Duwano, I got a cool Sh. 500 introductory commission-the first money I made in Nairobi). I had become an instant influencer to my new fan.

Makena

Let’s drift abit. In high school, while I was in Form 2, I had a girlfriend in Form 4! Seriously. Her name was Makena and she was one of the best badminton players in the country, if the number of Nationals competitions appearances is anything to go by. Makena trained me how to treat girls. I would be stuck talking to her, always staring into space and keeping a distance. Makena taught me that I have to look into girls’ eyes when talking to them..that I should hold their hand in public, and hug them when we meet. We would walk hand in hand during school funkies, and eat biscuits under a tree at the farthest corner of the field. Once, a Form 4 who was interested in her almost gave me a beating after a funkie-she had snubbed her terribly in public and ran to me.We were in love! When she finished school that year, we lost all contact-she disappeared into thin air.

I bumped into her at Visions….and a new life started. Read about it here. 

The Nairobi Initiation 1: “I Will Be Your Host Tonight!”

The year is 2008. It is first of July and I am at the bus office bidding my mum goodbye. I am going to the big city alone for the first time,for a long time. Going to college.

I see a flash of tears in her eyes and she looks away fast. Tells me in a croaky voice to call her when I arrive.

“And keep the money safe” I am carrying cash. 

Off we go. The bus literally crawling up those Meru hills. I wish I took a miraa pick up…I wouldn’t endure all this stench in the Kensilver bus. But then, I am going to Nairobi…and I will now be a cool guy…coming during the holidays and commanding respect among my peers in Maua. It is not my first time in Nairobi, but I am now going alone… To stay.

Not on a school trip. And not like that time I came a few months ago to register for CPA. I am coming to stay. The excitement is building, can’t wait to reach the city and leave that mooing cow. 

The bus trudges on, the boredom is too much. My Walkman gets noisy, a book I had carried becomes blurred. I sleep for ten full hours and wake up ten minutes later…in Embu! Again, I should have taken that miraa truck lift I had been offered! We eventually reach Mwea and I buy those chipo mwitu, packed donkey meat and a yoghurt to boot. That’s my lunch…. Could be my supper- I have no idea where I will sleep tonight!

I catch 38 winks and wake up in Thika. People have started alighting.. So I go close to the condaa and tell him “Usinipitishe KCA”. He tells me we are a bit far, but I know KCA is on Thika road, can’t remember where. So I go closer to the driver and warn him the same…for insurance. Have you met a trustworthy matatu crew? So I tell an elderly guy to look out for me. 

Finally, I see that drive-in board and remember KCA was just next to it….can’t recall if it was before or ahead, so I shout to the driver to shukisha like a wizened city boy. They let me off and I can’t find KCA’s gate…so, like dad had said, I ask a traffic cop who points at a general direction and tells me “That way” I do not wait to be asked for a bribe so I pull my huge bag and walk…and walk for several minutes. Ujuaji ain’t good, kids. 

Finally, I arrive,wipe my sweaty face,roll up my bag into its wheels and walk like a boss to the gate. 

“Wee, no caps and sagged trousers allowed in here!”

Was that guard kidding me? This is a university in Nairobi and he doesn’t dig my swag? I choose to ignore him….and he comes after me shouting something to do with me being deaf and dumb….and drags me back to his sentry, ranting. He tells me to belt up well and leave my cap and bag at the gate… My protests of being new, him being rude, how I will report him fall on non existent ears, so I concede-against my Meru orientation. I should have fought him! Not concede, am I Wenger?

I go to the office and proudly present my forms, passports and all the requirements till the clerk asks for the deposit slip and I stare at her. I thought they would take cash since I have arrived late and the bank near the entrance is already closed. She doesn’t heed to that and says I should go home and come back tomorrow.

Go back where? Home is a day away and you tell me to go home? I expected to sleep in the college hostels tonight and you tell me to go home?

” We have no hostels “

“But I was told you do when I came for the forms!” Panic sets in. 

” Sorry about whoever said that, but we don’t have hostels “

I stare at her with my mouth.

“Please wait for me outside, you are a nice,lost kid…. I will show you a place” 

I walk doggedly, thinking how God provides for his people… I have found a Good Samaritan lady to assist me. If it was now, I would be having very ungodly thoughts..Anyway, she makes the call and informs me that someone is coming to pick me.

© Booms Beat

And come she does…a voluptuous(what’s the real meaning of this word,by the way?) chic. She has this midsection that makes me drool…nowadays, not then…She has this huge smile on her, and I feel like I could just walk into her and lay my head on this soft bust…Again, not then(in the village, hugs were considered kissy, adult things you do when you are married, and in the bedroom)

“Hi Frankline…my name is Ann and I will be your host tonight”

Have you seen those WhatsApp emoticons with wide eyes, a wide mouth and some sweat on the forehead? Yes. That’s me now. Host me tonight? Wow!

I barely reply, and follow her like a Zombie as she pulls me suitcase towards the gate….she could have kidnapped me!

We go to the highway,take a matatu…which she pays for..to Ngara! Son of Maua may enjoy some warmth tonight….from a Nairobi cinderrela. How will it be like? Is this how Nairobi girls are? She is so cute and has no madharau like those dumpass girls with Form Four Certificates in Maua.

Before I know it, I am paying Duwano Hostel fees and I am drafted in.What a strategy!

Tomorrow, I am roaming the City in the Sun, alone!

PIC: Nairobi Half Life: www.hollywoodreporter.com

50 Life Lessons: Be a Better You!

We should always work to be better people. We have the tools, and they shouldn’t be wasted. How you decide to become a better person is up to you. It may mean being a better spouse, parent, sibling, son, or daughter. Perhaps it means being a better provider, a better employee, or a better employer. No matter what it means to you, it means work. One should not shy away from the work that it takes to improve as a person.

That said, here are 50 simple lessons to becoming a better you I collected for you from here:
 

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s okay to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s okay to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift. 

365 Ways of Becoming a Millionaire (Without being born one)

Some time ago, I used to attend one of those highly successful evangelical churches in Nairobi. One day, the Pastor gave an example of how he had had a visit from a young man who wanted his help publishing a book. He had already written the book, “How to Make Money”. Now, our pastor refused to fund the project. Why? This young man wanted the pastor to “give him money” to publish a book on “how to make money!” He simply told him to apply the principles he had written in his book to make the money he needed to publish the book.

And I agreed with him. There are several inspirational books in the stores, all showing people how to make money, how to be successful, how to be happy, how to achieve your dreams….and the what not. They are great books, by the way, and they may help you…but then you notice the writer is not enjoying what he wants you to enjoy himself!

Before reading a non-fiction book, I like looking at the background-the author- to see if the theme sits well with what he stands for. Real life experiences are the best ways to study. The author, Brian Koslow is the founder and president/CEO of Breakthrough Coaching, Inc., a company that provides business training to professionals who aspire to become top earners in their fields. He was a millionaire by the time he was thirty-one – I still have some way to go, so, I reckoned he could assist me.

When I came across this book- 365 Ways to become a Millionaire (Without Being Born One), the title resonated very well with me. I wasn’t born a Millionaire and I don’t expect to inherit millions, but I want to be one! And there are 365 ways to become one? Wow. I expected 365 ideas that could generate millions, and I was ready to try some. However,  It won’t show you how to trade in the Stock Exchange, start up the next Google, or be a great real estate investor. No! Far from it. Basically, the book’s premise is that with your very positive, opportunity-seeking, desirable self you’ll bump into enough to have that million rub off on you.

The keys to real success, says Koslow, can be found within. Factors such as mindset, attention to detail, and a strong sense of ethics, are among the most important elements. In 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire, Koslow uses a lighthearted style to divulge inspirational and practical advice — the very strategies, tactics, and unique insights that made him a millionaire. The result is a serious, yet accessible guide for anyone who wants success in whichever field, whatever position.

Through 365 practical and philosophical tips, Koslow shows people how to build a mindset for success and turn their wealth-building aspirations into reality. These are in the main aspects of Integrity, Credibility, Leadership, Relationship, Reputation, Negotiation, Money, Entrepreneurialism, Productivity, Time, Listening & Confrontation.

Every Page has something to learn and quote! Actually, I would recommend one buying the book and reading a nugget every morning, reflect on it, and at the end of the day, you will realize you have gone some steps ahead.

In particular, among several others, I took home these points:

  •  Circumstances are not a valid excuse for lack of performance. If you cannot confront and overcome your circumstances, your performance will suffer. 
  • Be anchored to some ideal, philosophy, or cause that keeps you too excited to sleep
  • Being highly committed to making more money will make you more money
  • If you would not volunteer to do the job you have, you are probably doing the wrong job
  • Always keep your word. If a change in circumstances means that keeping your word would be life threatening or otherwise devastating, renegotiate with the intent of maintaining your integrity
  • Your integrity is at stake when your actions don’t match your words, moreover, your reputation, credibility and relationships are at stake too.

These are some of the things you will read in this book. Insightful, huh? I finished it feeling like I had all it takes to be a billionaire! I grew a few feet!

Conclusion:

If you want to learn practical ways of living a successful life, the normal way, by all means buy, read and enjoy the book.
If you want more focused advice, on how to Get Rich Fast, try something else! 

Book I Read: DELIVERING HAPPINESS: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

I read books, always. As you read this, I most probably have an open book. But, up to now, I haven’t read a book that has resonated with my mind the way this book by Tony Hsieh (read Shay) – the easily admirable CEO of Zappos.

This book is divided into 3 sections. The first part follows Hsieh’s entrepreneurial adventures from when he was young, for example his attempt to start an earthworm breeding business at the age of 9, a mail order button business in middle school, and a grille at Harvard University. After college, Hsieh founded LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million two years later. He founded Venture Frogs, an investment fund, of which Zappos was one of the investments. The second section, Profits and Passion, details Hsieh’s involvement with Zappos, beginning with joining the company full-time as CEO in 2000. The third section, Profits, Passion, and Purpose, covers Zappos sale to Amazon, as well as lessons Hsieh learned in public relations and public speaking.

At first, Tony just worked as an intern in software company, and he also worked at Oracle, but later he found that those jobs are boring. Then, he co-founded his first company, LinkExchange, an internet service about online advertising.. In that time, Google Adwords had not been so popular. The idea was, a website could sign up for LinkExchange service, put some banner in their website, and whenever a visitor clicked on that banner, the website would get some credit which would be used to promote it on other websites too. At that time, what Tony thought was just to build a large network of these link exchanges and then sell the company to bigger companies at a profit, remembering that theoretically, they didn’t spend too much on initializing this startup.

The company became bigger and bigger, and Tony received some offers to buy his company (including from Yahoo), but he still didn’t want to sell it. Later, he found that the company became boring too, all of his work became routine, which he wanted to avoid in his previous jobs in Oracle. So, he sold the company to Microsoft for $265 million.

After selling his company, Tony became an investor for other startups, especially technology startups. This is how Zappos came to be. It was initially Nick Swinmurn idea, in which he saw a huge market for footwear. He imagined that it would be a lot easier for customers to just choose shoes they wanted from the internet. He made shoeunite.com, which later changed to Zappos. Tony, thyrough his investment company saw potential in Zappos…backed it, eventallly becoming the CEO and there has never been looking back.

It explains how he created a corporate culture with a commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of its employees, customers, vendors, and others.

Check out Zappos’ Core Values…like no other.

Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Be Humble

Tony Hsieh, former investor and now CEO of Zappos, explains how important it is to establish a core-value-based organization, and to hire new talent who are purely in sync with those values.Have you heard of any other company t pays new employees to quit and makes customer service the entire company, not just a department.

Hsieh understands the power of going beyond what’s expected, particularly in our ever increasing word of mouth world.  People talk about that which surprises and delights them, and meeting unrecognized needs is sure to do both.  It’s not a matter of doing the minimum, but of doing the maximum that leads to long term success.

Business success for this generation (both for the individual and the organization) will go to those who understand their strengths, build a culture around it, and use that culture as a framework to exploit every opportunity to delight their customer.

SO: If you are looking for inspiration about how to live before you die… this is a MUST READ.

Want ‘Free’ Information? Pay me.

Be nice, Share information

I once wrote a rather historical-informative article for a company blog. Now, it required information from either books, or people who had been in the organization for long. You know, to provide me with the milestones and important dates for the organization. I dug in the archives and got little such information-so I had to resort to the latter-people.

As always, they were very helpful. That organization  is one where teamwork and ‘community’ is embedded. I got information, and where they could not help, they would refer me to someone who was likely to have the information. Most pointed to someone who has been around for some time. Their father figure.

So I talked to him. And got shocked.

“Why should I help you do something for your own benefit? When you write that story there will be nothing for me, all the accolades will go to you. So, I am sorry I can’t help. I don’t work that way”

To say I felt dejected is an understatement. Why did he have to behave that way? What’s in such information, anyway? It is common knowledge, and you have nothing to lose, so why, hold such information? It’s for the benefit of the organization. So, why hold it?

It reminds me of the 2009 Kenya National Census which I took part in. Two homes bluntly refused to be enumerated. Why? Because I was being paid to talk to them and they were not being given anything? So? One old lady even asked for a bribe.

Why do you refuse to assist when you can? This is one very bad trait. There are people who outwardly appear friendly, decent colleagues but inwardly are withholding information, playing dumb, and looking to gain any minimal advantage. For example – A software which is relatively straightforward to use, but might be a little clunky to use – Colleagues will give you no hints, tips pointers, overview. They won’t give you the real knowledge to get the job done well – whereas its bare minimal information, with nothing to lose!

Assisting others helps develop a reputation as a team player. This altruism also can enhance individual feelings of worthiness, competency, and belonging.

When that student comes to interview you to complete their college research work, why not help them? Or the intern/new employee looking for their way around, why withhold the information they need?

And there is the stranger who asks you for direction.

These are some of the basic qualities of being a human being. You never know where you will meet them tomorrow.

6 Things you Must do to be Effective.

What does it take to stand out as an effective person?

The other day, we had a sit-rep (that’s military lingo for unofficial inter-flow meetings) with Christine (you probably know her as MrsMwiti). Now, if you have had a chance to visit her blog, you will be mystified by the wisdom that she oozes. What’s more, she is my official mentor. We sit-rep all day at work. Call me lucky.

Now, the other day, we had a meeting, and the topic of discussion was Personal Branding- that is, how I can brand myself, how to be really effective, productive….. how to be perfect at workplace.

We came up with the following points:

1. Write things down

Christine emphasizes this to me, always. She had told me to get a get a diary for 6 months, and I kept, well postponing. I had this book where I used to write my stuff, and it was a huge excuse I had-I would even write the date at the top daily. One day, she just brought me a diary- and I am better! You see, a diary makes you more focused, helps you plan and grow. It helps you gather your thoughts, hold yourself accountable and helps you not forget, even the small important things.

This is age old. When you write things down, you can’t forget. I have learnt to write a to-do list every morning, but Christine told me I need a Not-To-Do list. This helps you have the things you ought to do at the back of your mind, and in view. It helps you know your priorities-what you must do ASAP,what you can do later, what you can do if time remains, and what you won’t do! Go back to pint one-those are the benefits.

2. Always Respond to communication, ASAP

You receive an email or a phone or a message on social media from a workmate, or a customer. You need to respond! Even if it’s just to say ‘Noted’. This lets the other person know that you have received the message, and now, the ball is in your court. It makes them satisfied and earns your brand a point or two. When someone addresses you, kindly respond. Let that person know that you heard him. This is common courtesy. This alone will set you apart from others who routinely say nothing, but stare blankly into space.Responding to people is just another way of showing them that they matter. Believe it or not, some customers will determine how much business they will bring to your place of employment based on how well you treat them.

Urgency is also a virtue here. You need to do what needs to be done immediately.

3. Build the reputation you want with people 

People see what you want them to see in you-and they will treat you that way. For example, in my work line, I depend on other people to fulfill most of the duties. If I don’t pester (oops! Follow up on my teammates, I will build a reputation of “Frank’s work is not so urgent, he doesn’t follow up, so, let me push it down my to-do list” and I will be grounded. Or if I don’t do my part of the bargain, they will say “He doesn’t do my work well, so, I won’t do his well”. In a nutshell, the golden rule applies. Attitude for attitude, respect for respect.

4. Be dependable

Christine tells me, Always deliver. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but just deliver. Be dependable. By your actions, show people that they can depend on you, and that you keep your commitments. Arrive to work on time, return phone calls, and perform tasks on time—remember that simple commitment is important, too.

In addition, no matter what you are assigned to do, strive to achieve a consistent level of quality and excellence. Be known for performing tasks well all the time.

5. Interact, Be Up-To-Date.

You need to know what is happening around you. Get the broad picture (national, global view) and the local view (your workplace, departmental view). Read news daily, keep learning. You can get news on the internet, papers, books.. and most importantly, people! Grapevine is very important for growth. It doesn’t always have to be useless gossip. Milk information from people, pop into conversations if you have to-it’s a gold mine. Just don’t look snobbish. 🙂
In summary:

  • Know what your tasks are and accomplish them well. Prepare a to-do list if you must to ensure that nothing will slip through the cracks. Your checklist will help you keep track of the things you have to work on.
  • Be a good teammate. The office works like a machine with many parts. If one part does not function well, the entire machine will not work well. Participate in all activities. Cooperate. Do your part of the job, and do it well. Always keep in mind that there are people depending on you. Don’t let them down. Be dependable.
  • Give yourself a deadline, and stick to it.
  • Avoid procrastinating. Do not delay performing tasks which you can work on today. Be proactive.
  • Keep learning new things. There’s always something new to explore and learn about. Learning new things will help enrich your knowledge and capabilities even more.

Pic Source: Inside Facebook

This list is not exhaustive. Add your tip in the comment section below.

WAYS TO LIVE,NOT JUST EXIST

Jack London once said, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”  Far too often we travel through life on autopilot, going through the motions, accepting what is, and having every day pass like the one before it.  Everything seems relatively normal and comfortable, except that constant twitch in the back of your mind that’s saying, “It’s time to make some changes.”

Here are 15 simple suggestions courtesy Marc and Angel for those who want to break free from the mold and truly live more of their life – to experience it and enjoy it to the fullest, instead of settling for a mere existence.

  1. Appreciate the great people and things in your life. – Sometimes we don’t notice the things others do for us until they stop doing them.  Don’t be like that.  Be grateful for what you have, who loves you, and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they’re no longer beside you.  Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it to live.
  2. Ignore other people’s negativity. – If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative before you know it.  Ignore unconstructive, hurtful commentary.  No one has the right to judge you.  They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  You do not have control over what others say; but you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say these things to you.  You alone can deny their poisonous words from invading your heart and mind.
  3. Forgive those who have hurt you. – I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I trust them.  I just don’t have time to hate people who hurt me, because I’m too busy loving people who love me.  The first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Be brave.  Be strong.  Be happy.  Be free.
  4. Be who you really are. – If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it.  Being YOU is worth it!
  5. Choose to listen to your inner voice. – Life is a courageous journey or nothing at all.  We cannot become who we want to be by continuing to do exactly what we’ve been doing.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.  Do what you know in your heart is right for YOU.  It’s your road, and yours alone.  Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.  And be sure to appreciate every day of your life.  Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, and the worst days give you the best lessons. 
  6. Embrace change and enjoy your life as it unfolds. – The hardest part about growing is letting go of what you were used to, and moving on with something you’re not.  Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting, and have faith that things will work out.  Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.  You might not end up exactly where you intended to go, but eventually you will arrive precisely where you need to be.
  7. Choose your relationships wisely. – The best relationships are not just about the good times you share, they’re also about the obstacles you go through together, and the fact that you still say “I love you” in the end.  And loving someone isn’t just about saying it every day, it’s showing it every day in every way.  Relationships must be chosen wisely.  Don’t rush love.  Wait until you truly find it.  Don’t let loneliness drive you back into the arms of someone you know you don’t belong with.  Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.  A great relationship is worth waiting for.
  8. Recognize those who love you. – The most memorable people in your life will be the ones who loved you when you weren’t very loveable.  Pay attention to who these people are in your life, and love them back, even when they aren’t acting loveable.
  9. Love yourself too. – If you can love children, in spite of the messes they make; your mother, in spite of her tendency to nag; your father, even though he’s too opinionated; your sibling, even though she’s always late; your friend, even though he often forgets to return what he borrows, then you know how to love imperfect people, and can surely love yourself.
  10. Do things your future self will thank you for. – What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  Make sure it’s worthwhile.
  11. Be thankful for all the troubles you don’t have. – There are two ways of being rich: One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have.  Accept and appreciate things now, and you’ll find more happiness in every moment you live.  Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have.  And remember, you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
  12. Leave enough time for fun. – Sometimes you need to take a few steps back to see things clearly.  Never let your life become so filled with work, your mind become so crammed with worry, or your heart become so jammed with old hurts or anger, that there’s no room left in them for fun, for awe, or for joy.
  13. Enjoy the little things in life. – The best things in life are free.  There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.  Watching the sunset over the horizon or spending time with a family member. Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.
  14. Accept the fact that the past is not today. – Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you.  You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay.  The past is not today.  The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased.  It can only be accepted.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
  15. Let go when you must. – It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken.  Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed.  If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse.  Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something better.  Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over again with a smile on your face and passion in your heart.

>>>Ctrl + V from here 🙂

My Sabbatical: The New Me

when you need a sabbatical to be new

Recently, I have been feeling as if my life was spiralling out of control… I was mostly irate, lazy, and lacking a sense of direction… no passion…instead of running towards my goals, I had wandered off the path and sat down under a tree of frustration.

No drive. Nada!

I was not participating in my life..just a spectator..watching my life roll by. I had started to do things I used to advise my friends against and frown upon..it was that bad.
I was on a nose dive.

Missed classes, and when I went…I was not a learner-learners look at the board/slide… I used to fix my glare at the wall clock ad dream away..or get into my phone.

Career-wise. Stagnated. No drive to grow.
Church-wise. Sad.

Socially-totally introverted. Etc.

Then it dawned on me.Life was moving too fast past me..and I couldn’t afford to just sit. I had to review my life and come up with a radical redesign..like Personal Process Re-engineering.

So I packed my bag for a weekend away… With myself and God. Only two people knew where I was – myself and a friend (in case I felt suicidal).

Alone for two days… in a semi-dark room, not eating… just coffee, and lying on my back staring at the ceiling. Only pausing to take notes… watching things unfold at the spot I was glaring at.

I reviewed my life, past and present…then came up with a rough strategy of how I will make things work now..and in future.

I made peace with God.Invited Him to walk with me on my new take.I made my promises, and I could see Him nod..and make His promises too.I am expecting something from Him and He from me.

We are now tight buddies, me and God.

I know I’m changed, I have discovered inner peace..and I now have more to take out of this life..and give. I have new rights and obligation to/from God, family, friends and the society.

I am New! Watch me, and pray for me not to dwindle.

And… if anything screws you up… take a break. THINK!

Like in The Alchemist, listen to your heart and your body, because within you lies all the solutions to your problems.
PS: My friend Daisy sent me an email that sums up my sabbatical:

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked
up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He
then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of
pebbles and poured them into the jar. He
shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into
the open areas between the golf balls. He
then asked the students again if the jar was
full they agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand
and poured it into the jar . Of course, the
sand filled up everything else. He asked once
more if the jar was full. The students
responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of
coffee from under the table and poured the
entire contents into the jar, effectively filling
the empty space between the sand. The
students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter
subsided, “I want you to recognize that this
jar represents your life. The golf balls are the
important things – your God, family, your
children, your health, your friends, and your
favourite passions–things that if everything
else was lost and only they remained your
life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter
like your job, your house, and your car.
The sand is everything else — the small stuff.
If you put the sand into the jar first,” he
continued, “there is no room for the pebbles
or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If
you spend all your time and energy on the
small stuff, you will never have room for the
things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical
to your happiness. Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups. Take
your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.
There will always be time to clean the house
and fix the disposal.”

Take care of the golf balls first — the things
that really matter. Set your priorities. The
rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and
inquired wt the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It
just goes to show you that no matter how
full your life may seem, there’s always room
for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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