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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.

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

What’s on your Mind?

The other day, I was taking Jeddy to hospital. Then, I also decided to have a small check up – mostly because it’s completely free in that hospital if you have NHIF, otherwise I wouldn’t have because health care is too expensive to go around getting checked if you aren’t sick. You feel me? 🙂

Anyway, as the doctor was taking my vitals, he asked me if I ran to the hospital. Of course I hadn’t. I don’t run unless I’m being chased, which I haven’t been since when I was being Initiated into Nairobi and muggers wanted to show me who owns the city.

He looked concerned in that awkward way doctors look concerned but are trying not to show they are concerned.

He said, “we’ll check again, because your blood pressure is quite high.”

I wasn’t shocked at that time. He wrote down a few tests to be done on the lab and off we went to look for bananas to push the stool – have you tried to look for stool in hospital when you haven’t eaten? Anyway, I went and tried and tried and put my mind to it and got the stool, and the blood (who else hates needles and the sight of their blood flowing into a plastic thing?) All this time, I wasn’t thinking about the pressure. I knew it was nothing serious – could have been because I had a flu. Or because we had been in Mombasa two months before, could have been malaria and malaria doesn’t shock us people of Africa.

Anyway, results out, we went back to the doctor, an old, sleepy man we trusted due to his age.

He checked my blood pressure again and told me it was improving. Yes! See, nothing to worry about.

But then he did some medical blunders which made us doubt everything he had done. Long story short, we demanded for another doctor, who laughed as we explained what his older colleague had done and said. And he ordered another round of different tests. Which we did.

He also checked my blood pressure and told me true, it was high.

Then he started counseling me. You know, at your age you shouldn’t be having this problem. What problem? Now you should start watching your weight. Do I look overweight? Eat nyama choma only a few times. I have never had nyama choma for almost a year. Actually, take red meat only twice a week. I take beef only on Wednesdays(don’t ask me why), the other meat I take is pork and chicken. And then start exercising. Get into a gym. Oh, hapo umenishika. I don’t gym, but I do intense exercising at home with my phone, and I take early morning walks. Never runs. And a lot of other things.

He said it wasn’t bad, the spike could have been caused by anything, really.

We got our prescriptions (when doctors are in doubt, they prescribe antibiotics) and went home.

Then I sat back and started thinking about the blood pressure. I committed the sin of Googling High Blood Pressure and almost died of High Blood Pressure. They were saying there were chances of death, among other lifelong conditions that would not be so long because life would be short. Friends, I started seeing death. I started digging into my family history – for distant relatives, and even neighbours that were killed by High Blood Pressure.

It was tormenting. And my body started acting it.

I became too weak in one day. Every time I walked two stairs I would feel the pressure coming through my ears I would touch my heart area and feel it racing like those horses of Game of Thrones. One time I took coffee while I was interviewing a job candidate and had to be the one to excuse myself. Another time I took beef and tasted blood. Then I walked into a Safaricom shop and tried testing the Samsung Galaxy S10 heart App – the one that checks your blood pressure. It showed all doom and gloom. I even started feeling lots of pain in my chest area – mostly likely a failing heart. And my back was a mess.

All the symptoms I had seen via Google were true. This was death.

Then I decided to fight for my life – by going to another hospital that Sunday after church.

Everything they checked, was right. My blood pressure was normal! I was given an ointment for the back pain.

And I became well immediately – even before using the ointment or the pain killers!

The whole disease, and death, and doom was in my mind!

My mind heard one report and totally believed it, then transferred it to my body and it almost became true. Then another truth came out and my mind and body believed and acted it.

The mind is very powerful. Your brain runs your body, and even external things. It holds so much potent force that it can force metal bars to bend. To tell mountains to move from their location and cast into the sea. Literally and figuratively.

Have you read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist? There’s a place he says, when your mind believes in something, the whole world conspires to make it happen. If careers are shaped by a simple belief, imagine your weak body?

In movies, you hear them tell a dying man to “focus on living and don’t close eyes, damnit Michael! Don’t close your eyes… Focus!” Because if you decide you ain’t dying, and you believe it, I know you won’t.

The mind pushes people to commit suicide, when they can decide to focus on the brighter side. Life has a lot of challenges, but you can tell your mind to look on the positive side – I mean, countless other people have faced this problem, you Mind. They didn’t die, so we are not dying. We are not going into depression. If other people made it, why not us? And suddenly, you rise up, completely free.

It’s all in the mind.

There are endless things you can shape using just your mind. Both good and bad. Just believe enough… and the power of healing and killing lies in your mind.

This taught me two things:

  • One, always think positive because a man is what he thinketh.
  • Two, never Google your symptoms. You will die.

So, what’s on your mind?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things – Phil 4:12

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.

Funniest Book I Read: The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish The Last Black Unicorn book

If you have watched Girls Trip (yes, I have a feminine side), you know Tiffany Haddish. She was my favourite character in the movie, mostly because she was so natural in the way she brought out her fun… and she was cute. 🙂

So, I looked her up, and learned she has a book that had really good reviews. The reviews said it was a funny book, the story of her life and how she became a top comedian and actor. I was interested, and got the book.

The Black Unicorn is one of those books you don’t want to put down. The book you sacrifice browsing internet in the toilet for. A book you leave the car at home to read in the matatu for.

It’s in the way it flows in her own voice. It’s said if you want to be a great writer, write the way you talk. That’s how she has written the book, and being a funny comedian, you can imagine how it comes out.

Basically, The Black Unicorn is Tiffany’s life story. It’s much more dramatic than my Random Life Memories and Nairobi Initiation.

It’s supposed to be sad because her father (from hapa tu Eritrea) was a dead beat, and her mother had an accident and messed her brain. So, she had to go through the famed American Foster system: living with people who often abused in more ways than just sexually.

Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn Cover

Tiffany Haddish and Men

Speaking of sex, she speaks about the men she’s had sex with as casually as you would talk about the ugali and sukuma you ate in college. That’s including a disabled guy who did it so well it’s the best she’s ever had. She also became a very successful pimp.

Tiffany is clearly not lucky with men. She married a guy who became a pimp and started cheating on her… And her revenge was vicious. Then she married a ugly guy she met on a cruise who used to beat her like a burukenge (what did burukenges ever do to people to get so beat?) She was abused for a long time, but somehow stayed on in the marriage. Actually, they divorced and remarried. Celebrities too go through very bad private lives that people don’t know about. Usione YouTube na Instagram.

But all this only shaped Tiffany Haddish into the acclaimed actor and comedian she is now. Because she started school comedy as a means to an end, started going bar mitzvahs to support herself and her family, and her comedy is her life. She would basically tell about her life and people would laugh. Speak about using your challenges as your springboard to success.

This is how she got the role in Girls Trip. And rocked it. You should read to her behind the scenes. How she met Jada Pinkett and Will Smith and they tried to make her live like a Hollywood star – because she was too ghetto for the red carpet life. You know, get an assistant, wear designer clothes, have a proper diary and such. And she was resisting it so much it’s crazy. Because she was always stoned on weed.

Oh, it’s a very vulgar and graphic book. Don’t read it if you are offended by mouthfuls of fucks and shits. If you are intrigued enough to want to read it, ongea na mimi vizuri. I will hook you up.  🙂

Fatherhood Chronicles 2: Stubborn Calla is Born

Calla baby foot BORN

Kids, when you see the little, cute babies, don’t think it’s an easy, cute thing. Giving birth is not your mother. 🙂

It’s a whole 9 months of strife, of carrying an extra, 3 or 4 kgs, all day every day, not forgetting your own ballooning weight. Going to hospital for every simple illness, like an headache. It’s being ready always, like a Boy Scout, because you don’t know the day nor the hour, when the baby will want to pop.

Like us, we literally didn’t know the due date, because we had 4 different due dates, all spanning over a whole month. Every scan, every doctor, had a different due date.

So, on the 17th of May 2017, we just went for a routine check up at the hospital. I remember we: Mwaura, Ben and myself, were shooting a video commercial for Kilimall, and I told them to keep at it while I took Jeddy to hospital. I would be back in a short while.

Only that I didn’t. The next time they saw me two hours later, I was shopping for baby clothes in Biashara Street!


You are due today!

That’s what she said. The nurse.

“What?” That’s us, in shock.

“Yes. You’ve already opened up 3 inches. So, by tonight, you should be delivering.”

Whoa. That was so unexpected, it was shocking. I mean, how does a routine hospital visit turn out into a real maternity time?

She told me to leave Jeddy there and go get the needed stuff to welcome the baby. Of course we refused… told her since we hadn’t expected it, and there was no way I could buy baby stuff alone, we would assume we hadn’t come…  leave and come back later. As if you can postpone childbirth.

Btw, did you know when it’s time for the baby to come, it has to come out… Whether you have its sahani or not.

The nurse agreed, told us to be back within 6 hours or earlier if she feels any sort of pain. She even told us to do some tabia mbaya in the meantime to make the passage smooth for the baby. (It was around 11:00 am – we came back 12 hours later. 🙂 )

And that’s how Mwaura and Ben found me in a baby shop on Biashara Street buying a baby bag, baby clothes, receiving blankets, mosquito net… and all those things that make people realize they are parents.

We then went home and sanitized the house, sanitized our hearts… And prayed. Prayed for safe delivery for both the mother and the baby.

Out of 1,000 women that leave the house to give birth in Kenya, 5 of them don’t return, and even if they return, 23 don’t return with their babies. Maternal and infant mortality rates in Kenya remain quite high.

Baby bumb photoshoot

So, we packed and left the house late in the evening. I even wore a kabuti because I wanted to be there to witness my baby coming to this world. I wanted to be the first to hold her, and lick her clean like cows do. And cut the cord. And start being an awww daddy.

But we were in for a rude shock. They wouldn’t let me spend the night in hospital! The hospital only has maternity wards and if you aren’t giving birth, you have no business being within the premises beyond 7:00 pm. And so, I tucked my tail inside my kabuti and called an Uber to take me home.

Jeddy says: I watched him leave and felt loneliness that I had ever felt before. I had never spent a night in hospital and this was scary. It felt like those Hospital horror movies. I cried.

In the morning, at 6:00 am, I was back at the hospital. Forget the fact that I am never a morning person, and 6:00 normally won’t find me awake. But now, with my new fatherhood status, I couldn’t afford to sleep. For my daughter. And I had to be there to see her. I didn’t even bother to call, I left in faith to hold my baby.

Only that it wasn’t to be. She hadn’t come yet. It had been a night of just waiting. Aisuru, she would be born in a few… Actually, I didn’t go far when visiting hours ended. I hung around talking to doctors, nurses, and the Watchman. Especially the watchman. I strike good conversations with watchmen. Till lunch-time visiting came along and I walked in smiling like a father. Only that I didn’t see my daughter. Just a wailing Jeddy. Her labour pains had been induced… And that’s real, sheer pain.

Kanungo Dance

So I spent two hours rubbing her back, and helping her walk because she had to be walking around with all those drips… And dancing Kanungo.

pregnancy photoshoot calla

By evening, I was mighty stressed. My brain was on overload, just didn’t know what to do… And I don’t get stressed easy. So much that I went into a local just next to the hospital and ordered beer. My all dependable crew – Kero, Dan and Ben met me drunk like a fish. And helped me drink more. So drunk we went into the hospital past visiting hours and bribed our way in.

Jeddy was still wailing in pain. So much that Kérò started crying too, and I sobered up, demanded to see the doctors for an educated prognosis.

They said all would be okay, prolonged labour is normal, even when induced. It’s only that the girl was a stubborn one. Keroh, a believer in money, gave the nurses some money and told them to keep a special eye on Jeddy. And for Chrissake, deliver her before morning.

And then we went back to the bar, drunk some more and went back home.

Not that we slept. At least I didn’t sleep. I kept trying to call Jeddy – naturally she wasn’t picking – and my stress levels were at the very peak. In my mind, all the wrong things were racing at me. I Googled Mother and Child Mortality rates in Kenya, the best hospitals for Caesarian Section, reviews of that particular hospital… and the worst that could happen during childbirth.

It was a grim night.

And then Jeddy called at 1:30ish am. Our daughter had been born successfully, a healthy 3+ kgs!

It was my turn to cry. And I cried myself to sleep.


The story continues. Maybe we should convince Jeddy to write her version of the story.  Ama namna gani?

Photography: RichAllela

Fatherhood Chronicles: Her name will be Calla.

fatherhood frankmwenda

On 19th May 2018, an event was going down at the Nairobi Children’s Home in Lower Kabete. There was food, games, lots of gifts, and cake. Oh, and a brightly dressed girl in a shining crown. A princess.

The name of the event was CALLABASH.

It was quite a party. Complete with 2 MCs and white, custom t-shirts by one Mike Atoti (don’t ask me about the second name). We even planted about 20 trees, organised by environmentalist Doreen Ntiritu.

Turned out to be quite the bash.

It was my daughter’s birthday. And the day marked one year since I looked into the most beautiful set of eyes I have ever seen. Completely white, and waiting to see the world for the first time.

My new status and initiation into fatherhood was confirmed on 19th May 2017. Or maybe 9 months earlier. 🙂


One fine week in 2016, Jeddy had a stomach ache. It bugged her for some time and you know about Thika Road clinics. She was positively diagnosed with typhoid and got her large share of antibiotics. Only that they didn’t work, and she had to go to another hospital.

This one was more serious, and after all tests revealed nothing, they took an ultrasound scan.

She brought the results, and I looked at that thing that looked like those photography negatives of old, before being washed.

Not Calla.

“So, what does this show?” I asked.

“They are saying I’m two weeks pregnant.”

“Okay. Where is the baby here? ”

“This black spot.”

“This black spot is a baby?”

“Yes, it’s 0.63 centimeters. Could be a pimple, but they said it’s most probably a baby.”

“Okay.”

“Okay? Just okay.”

“Yes. If it’s a baby, I am ready. Guess we won’t go to TRM to eat chicken today. We have to save for the baby.”

It was all surreal, this confirmed fatherhood. I couldn’t believe that I was holding, in my hand, the first picture of my child. My own child!


For months, we prepared. Bought a lot of unisex clothes… and visiting baby shops on Biashara Street, asking around for hospitals and collecting random Baby Stuff on Facebook groups.

And started writing down names. The only name that was definite for me was the name Calla if it was a girl. There was no discussion there. If it was a boy, he would have a close derivative of the name Calla. The second name would be the same, whether it would be a boy or a girl. A unisex name.

And another thing, no Kimeru name.

Weren’t we proud to be Meru, or Africans?

Number one, have you noticed that Meru names are finished? Taken up like Gmail addresses or Twitter handles. Girls are either Kendi, Makena, Karimi, Nkirote or Mukiri. Throw a stone in Maua and you will hit a boy called Mwenda, Muthomi, Kirimi or Murithi.

My extended family has 4 Murithis, 3 Mwendwas, 7 Karimis, 3 Kendis, 5 Makenas. What’s wrong with Merus and names?

Anyway, that was one reason. The second reason was more fundamental. There’s a lot of tribalism in Kenya, and we know for a fact that people have missed out jobs just because of the name on their CV. Or gotten jobs.

And we didn’t want to be a factor for our child. He or she would be playing on a level ground. No undue favours and definitely no discrimination based on tribe.

baby bump

Our baby bump


The journey was smooth. At least to me because I wasn’t the one pregnant. 🙂 But I was there when we did the scans, watching as the heartbeats (oh that feeling of seeing a new life) turned into something I saw in Biology lessons (a tadpole) to a time when we could see a proper baby, you know, with a head a moving arms and legs. Oh, and always drinking the amniotic fluid. Always. That was crazy, even to me.

And we learned it would be a girl! The drinking girl. [Remember the letter I wrote to my daughter?]

The name Calla had found an owner.

Welcome to my Fatherhood Chronicles

It has taken me over one year to write this – I kept postponing. But now, get ready to be bored by my stories of fatherhood, in this new series.

Photography: Rich Allela

Job Interview

Job Interview, Career, Conference, Conversation

Like everyone who wasn’t born to big money, I have had my fair share of job interviews. I have attended a couple – though not as many as most people I know (you wouldn’t say I’m an experienced Interviewee). Maybe I haven’t been lucky to get that many interviews, or maybe many of the interviews I have attended have been bulls’ eyes.

I have gotten two jobs through Skype interviews. I mean, no one-on-one – we met for the first time when I reported to work – having signed my contract online. Good jobs. And I respect these employers who don’t have to meet the person to give them a job… Those employers that look into the mind, rather that the body language and all that dressing crap. No bias. In one of these interviews, I was home alone with my daughter and she was screaming the air out of the room. And I had to interrupt the interview and sit with her for the rest of it as she tagged on my headphones, distracting daddy. I got the job. 🙂

Speaking of weird Interviews, there was this interview, back in the day, while I was still in college. The thing happened in a car…or, the interviewer was in the car and I was outside. It was one of those Cosmetics Shops at Tea Room, the job had been organized by a girl friend of mine my interviewer was hitting on. I think it was a pick up like, “beautiful girl, do you know an accountant as smart as you?

Anyway, it was a weird interview, in the middle of Dubois Road. The questions were like, what church do you go to? What is your relationship with Carol? What’s the biggest amount of money you have handled? Long and short of it, I got the offer, but I rejected the job… Guy wouldn’t let me leave work to attend class in the evening and Saturday mornings. 7:00 am – 7:30 pm, being an accountant for 15K is not something I would have done. Never mind I was a total msoto.

You want to know why quit accounting and went into Marketing and ICT? It was because of an interview. My very first real Interview. So, I received a recommendation from my accounting college Dean (Vision Institute) to be an accountant for a M-Pesa reseller. I went to the interview, sat in front of a lady and a gentleman. I felt funny just sitting there. And I realized I wouldn’t be an accountant, and there was no way I was getting this job, because I knew nothing. Never mind I had just completed CPA.

Them: Tell us 3 accounting principles.

Me: Matching principle, Accru-something, I don’t remember the third.

Them: … (Speechless)

Me: … ( Smiling sheepishly)

Them: Explain the matching principle, then.

Me: For every revenue you report, match it to the expense. (I knew this one).

Them: (somewhat reassured.) Which IFRS covers joint ventures and how would you treat a joint venture according to that IFRS.

Me: Pass.

Them: (visibly shocked at my stupidity). What? People don’t pass questions in an interview.

Me: I know, I’m sorry. Maybe I wasn’t so ready.

Them: (Laughter)

Me: (Laughter)

The interview became a laughing match. We laughed for a whole 10 minutes, taking tea and talking about computers. I even offered myself up for an IT role. Of course I didn’t get that job. 🙂

Image result for job interview funny frank

Then there was that corporate Interview, or do we say series of interviews? I went to a couple of them, waiting weeks for the next. When I finally met the decision maker – the Marketing Manager, he told me to lead the interview. Things like,

“Where do we start? What do you want us to discuss?”

Trick question, that left the inexperienced me bluffing. But it involved another trick, logical question (those psychometric tests) that I approached mathematically, and failed of course. He told me, “you are a very smart young man, but you aren’t a genius.”

But I still got the job, because, after all it was, a social media job, not a psychometric one. 🙂

The interview that gets the crown of absurdity, though, is the GNLD interview I attended in a full suit. Long 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 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!

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

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.

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!

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. 

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.

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