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Miraa Chronicles

Miraa chewing

I will tell you something we people of Maua don’t like hearing but is true. Miraa is a drug! That’s right and I’m saying it again, Miraa is a drug.

Read: Baite Inside! Yes, I am Meru

But then, so is weed, and alcohol, and coffee, and tea. Especially coffee and tea – those are the closest there is to Miraa. It all depends on the amount you take.

See, when we veveka, we do it from early evening, around 5:00 pm to past midnight. Imagine for a minute, taking that much coffee, and what it would do to your mind. It would not make you mad, or impotent, or anything dramatic, but it will stimulate you so much you will hallucinate.

And you will hear, or have heard stories of miraa exploits.

One evening, Kero, Musila, Awilo and others are enjoying a giant session of miraa at Plot 10. The fun with miraa is you can chew it anywhere and have all the fun. So, they are seated outside with their sodas and cheeks full of the green gold. Why am I not outside with them? It’s because I am addicted to this desktop computer I bought after getting the long awaited Census 2009 money. So, I’m designing graphics using Microsoft Word, while giving them a dose of reggae.

Miraa and Roots Reggae are twins.

This goes on till very late, 3:00 in the morning, when I see Awilo at the door staring at me helplessly, holding his cheeks like a poor, distressed boy. I ask him what he’s doing.

“I want to get in the house”

“This is not a classroom, man. Do I have to tell you to get in?”

“Can’t you see I can’t fit on the door?”

“What”

“Look at these horns.” He says, pushing his cheeks in. “Pull me in.”

It takes me a few minutes worrying what could be going on. Who has bewitched this gallant soldier? You know how it is back in the village, the best are bewitched by jealous neighbours. But I don’t fear witchcraft, so, I walk to the door, and take his desperately outstretched hand. He comes in, thanking me profusely for saving his ass.

He gets into bed, the same bed that has like 4 other grown people, male and female, and I go back to my Virtual DJ. Occasionally, he is apologizing to the rest of the occupants for pricking them with his horns.

That’s handas.

Where’s the itch?

Miraa is best enjoyed in a kiosk. That’s why there are Miraa kiosks. You sit on benches and crates and chase veve with soda, coffee, njugu karanga and most importantly, stories. Stories of national importance and development. Because that’s what Miraa does to you – it activates your reasoning.

Meru Miraa Ruto Linturi

Like so | Image: The Star

When I get into politics, which is never, I’ll move a bill to have parliament sessions done with Miraa. This country will be visionary.

And the stories shika. Like, a lot. Everyone presents their ideas, and everyone contributes with real life experiences and examples. A piece in the news (there’s always a TV or radio and reggae is paused when news come on) can be discussed for 5 hours, whatever that news is. Like that time we discussed the over-subscribed Safaricom shares, which some of the participants in the room, as villagey as they were, had bought.

So, a couple of guys are seated on a bench enjoying their veve and stories. Kimathi feels an itch on the leg… And he stretches his hand to scratch the itch off. He even closes his eyes to enjoy the scratch, which he carries on for almost a minute. Kujikuna is always sweet.

Only that he is not scratching his leg – he is enjoying kunaing someone else. The other guy barely notices, but other people see, simply raise eyebrows and go back to their stories.

Miraa comes with itches, especially when you feel like scratching the back of your head, that’s handas manifesting.

Rebuilding KICC

Have you heard building castles in the air? With Miraa, you are super rich, super powerful. You see possibilities everywhere. Things flow. In your mind.

Like this time we were redoing KICC, giving it a fresh outlook, making it much taller that World Trade Centre which was the tallest building we knees. We event repainted it dark green, with the Safaricom green between the windows.

We even replaced Jomo Kenyatta’s statue with Bob Marley in rasta colours. Oh, it was a glorious sight.

3 grown men and a lady, seated in Uhuru Park, changing the Nairobi landscape.

KICC

What is we redesigned the Nairobi landscape? | WikiCommons

You should try to chew while studying, man! That’s what helped us as we approached those CPA exams. Again, things flowed. The only problem was keeping the mid from wandering. Because one minute you are here, the next minute you are playing Drogba’s position in Chelsea FC.

That’s handas.

This Bus is Cheaper

And I think that’s what was troubling one legend, I don’t remember his name. But he was out vevekaing in one of those Moi Avenue clubs (btw, clubs should stop banning Miraa, even if we spit green stuff everywhere, we are much more peaceful than the drunkards).

Where were were? See my mind wandering. Yes, so, this legend decides to go home, and there are no matatus. He asks a taxi guy how much it would cost to take him to Umoja and the guy says Sh. 1,500… which out guy doesn’t have. So, he keeps walking down the street – Accra Road, and comes across those Mombasa buses. The tours are shouting it’s Sh. 800 to Mombasa.

You know what happens next. Long story short, handas start ending in Mtito Andei.

Have you ever heard the Meru hip hop song called I Kalaa Ndarîte (It’s Miraa I had chewed) by Maua’s finest Red C Media? Well, it gives outlandish Miraa experiences like, seeing a millipede and thinking it’s a train, seeing a grasshopper and thinking it’s a helicopter, a frog that looked like a boat, hearing clear voices, and others.

The song was understandably banned from social spaces and met with a clap back called Tî Kalaa i Mîtî îngî oorîte (It’s not Miraa you had chewed, it’s other plants you had eaten/smoked).

I think the second one was truer. Miraa handas shows you things, but not that manner of things.

Ama namna gani?


Image Credits: The Star (Main image)

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

Addis Ababa I

Ethiopian Airlines to Addis

There were many reasons why I was looking forward to my hastily prepared trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Let’s assume the beautiful women we see in pictures was not one of them – you know, a man has to feed his eyes. I and I Rastas and weed lovers would enjoy a pilgrimage to SHASH-amane and us Baites would want to go see the Ethiopian miraa, the only other miraa in the whole wide world (btw, let me put things clear, muguka is not miraa).

Anyways, I went to Addis to explore the digital market for Africa 118 – stick around if you are a business head, I’ll be telling you about that.

I love window seats on planes and buses – is there anyone who doesn’t? I love watching clouds and cities below me, it’s just like sitting by the windows in a bus to a route you aren’t familiar with. This time, I got a wing seat… It’s the window all right, but there are no great views – just a huge spanning aeroplane wing. I would have been gutted, but I was now enjoying an amazing engineering sight. You would imagine a plane wing is a huge sheet of metal, but I learnt it’s a buzz of activity – moving parts, flapping flaps. I think whoever designed airplanes was looking at a bird. “Let’s give this baby some feathers.”

This particular plane did not have a screen, so, I spent my two hours watching the wing, listening to hip hop on my iPod, eating and drinking wine.

Why are immigration people always so angry? When we landed, this immigration guy had frozen a group of soldiers from DRC and demanding to see their Ebola clearance letters. And he was too angry when they were unable to produce that. Is that even a thing? It was in this mood that I found him, ranting and gesticulating like my grandmother when we let the cow into her garden.

“You! Where are you coming from?”
Placing my passport and boarding pass on the counter for him to see, “Nairobi”
“What are you coming here to do?”
“Business.”
“What sort of business?”
“ICT.”
“Where will you be staying?”
“Err… I don’t remember the name of the hotel, someone is picking me. “
“Call them.”
“I don’t have a number, but I have the reservation in my email.”
“Stand with the others there and use OUR free wifi.”

The others were the soldiers, and I was there willing my dying phone to connect to the poor Internet, while breathing in air that the guy believed was contaminated with Ebola.

It worked, and he gleefully stamped my passport, right in the visa of another. I think that guy had just been dumped.

Ethiopian Airlines Addis Airport

Anyway, I walked through the immigration doors and got my driver. A cheerful guy who knew more about Mambasa than I do, despite the fact that he had never been to Kenya. His main intrigue was the beach. Ethiopians love the beach. Because they don’t have a beach after Eritrea seceded. Folks, when Mombasa threatens to secede, be very afraid. Imagine not having a beach? (Never mind I was in Mombasa last in 2011, it just feels good to have a beach, given how miserable that driver was, talking about a beach).

Ethiopia drives on the right-hand side of the road. Which always feels weird. This driver spoke very little English but he was fun, more like a big kid. He drove me right through the Addis Red Light District. Who would have thought Ethiopia had prostitutes? There were lots of those beautiful Ethiopian girls you drool over catcalling us in a street! And the driver was having a lot of fun just watching them. Okay, I was also having fun. Who wouldn’t?

It was a Wednesday night and the clubs were thumbing. Addis knows how to have fun. I had always thought Ethiopia was a conservative, Muslim-like country. Speaking of Islam, Ethiopia is predominantly Christian. On that first drive alone, I counted no less than 10 churches right inside the city. Praise the Lord.

Addis View Hotel is a small hotel (in Addis standards because Addis has lots of hotels – more than Nairobi) located in, Kabena – with a good view of Addis Ababa – it’s rightly named. That’s where I was staying. And every morning I would look past the mud houses to the city in the distance. That’s right, there are mud houses almost everywhere. I was told Addis doesn’t have class segmentation – there is no Kayole or Runda. Everyone lives everywhere comfortably.

Addis View

ATMs Everywhere

The following morning, literally my first interaction with the city, I made two discoveries I would wish for Nairobi – there are ATMs along every street without any security and basic consumer commodities are very cheap:

I did not have Ethiopian Birr so I wouldn’t buy from a shop. Both ATMs outside the hotel were being loaded, so I just walked in the hope of getting a bank. I passed the first two ATMs because there were people hanging around there (that’s what you do in Nairobi) and walked into the next bank to ask if I could withdraw Birr over the counter from my card. The guy I spoke to walked me out to their ATM in the street and, it wasn’t working, so he took me to another, all the while holding my card. I was feeling so insecure I almost told him to forget it… but he was too aggressive. Long and short – he helped me withdraw my money and refused my tip. He was just helping. There were people around and no one was paying attention to me.

Then I walked into a shop and asked for toiletries using sign language (because, Amharic). I ordered a fancy toothbrush, a large Colgate toothpaste, Vaseline, lotion and shoe polish (don’t ask me why I had traveled without all these). When I paid, I was surprised. That was all less than Sh. 200!

Now I was in love with the city… I could foresee great times ahead. I will tell you about my escapades in Part 2.

Beating the Wife in the Name of the Lord.

Sad wife

Mary (not her real name) is a woman in a complicated situation. And she is so good an actor, you can’t tell what’s going on in her life. You see, Mary is the wife of a pastor… and on Sundays, she is the bubbly “Mum” of her church, laughing and hugging everyone, leading the worship team, and doing all the happy things that church mums do.

But the smile wipes away as soon as she steps into her house, or sorry, pastors’ wives host a lot of guests, who she serves with a smile… but then this falls into mighty sadness and terror.

She clings on people, and her happiest times are when she is around people. Because as soon as she is alone with her husband, terror reigns.

Her husband, the man of God, is always quarreling over something, and degrading her with every opportunity, musing how fat she has become, how lazy she is, how she is not like the other pastors’ wives, how she is an embarrassment to him, how much he regrets marrying her and if it were not for his position in the church he would have sent her back to her folks.

Hurtful words, words that break her spirit every moment.

Sometimes he has gone beyond the words… A few months back, she was late coming home – late because the pastor got home before her. And he locked her outside all night! The animal opened the door, where she had sat sobbing and pleading the whole night, at 5:00 am!

It’s gone a step further – he slapped her, for the first time last week!

wife battering

In case it crossed your mind, no, it was not a moment of anger – the man of God is not apologetic. He believes if you don’t discipline your wife, she will mess you up big time; sit on you and teach the kids to disrespect you.

Yet that’s not the most hurting thing. What hurts her most is the preaching of hope her husband does every week, how scores of believers sit to listen to his preaching of love, mercy and grace. How other women look at her, envious of her having a saved pastor for a husband while their husbands drink their evenings away.

That gets into her… And is the source of her misery.

She says she cannot leave or talk to someone who knows the Pastor husband… Because she will embarass him.

“What will people think about their Pastor if I decide to leave? Will they even believe me?”


Discussion Point: What Does the Bible Say?

 I have been scouring the Bible for cases where the Bible says the husband should discipline his wife. The Bible seems to be very clear that marriage is a  mutual submission of husband and wife out of love for Christ. Husbands should love their wives as they love their own body, as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:28-29). It’s clear that you must love your wife and not be harsh with her (Col 3:19). Actually, if you don’t honour your wife as the weaker vessel, your prayers will not be answered (1 Pet 3:7). 

Did I miss anything? Does Christianity allow wife-battering? Is that Pastor justified? Can’t the wife walk out of the marriage with a Pastor?

Let’s discuss in comments

You Quit Accounting to Spend your days on Facebook?

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I was an accountant!

That’s right, I was… Maybe I still have some accounting knowledge, but most of it was swept away by the floods in my brain. And it’s not like being a Boy Scout – “Once an accountant always an accountant?”

Na vile I struggled with CPA – that ridiculously hard Kasneb thing that keeps “catching” people. Did I ever tell you how poor I was in Maths? So poor I would get headaches during Maths papers in primary and high schools. Then after high school I called myself to a meeting with Maths:

Maths: You are stupid.

Other Me: Yes, you can’t get Maths.

Real Me: I will prove you wrong.

Maths: How, your worst KCPE and KCSE paper was me. Proof enough that you are stupid.

Other Me: IKR. Go and study journalism. You girl.

Real Me: I’ll surprise you. I’ll do Finance, and I’ll start with CPA.

Maths: Hahaha. Shut up, sissy. You can’t do that. Do you know any CPA in your entire division?

Real Me: I don’t care. I’ll be the first.

Other Me: Are you sure you want to do this, man? CPA is hard, and it’s pure mathematics.

Real Me: I am harder. And I’ll prove it.

Other Me: If you say so.

Maths: Hahaha. Come baby come.

And that’s how I found myself at Kasneb registering to become an accountant. It was mostly to prove a point than love for the career.

So, I completed CPA, and did my degree in Finance. All along, I kept wondering if I was in my right mind. For me, Accounting was this monotonously endless calculation; done in the same way, every day for the rest of my career. You have to follow rules – I hate rules, you have to pay ridiculous amounts to the profession – what does the ICPAK money do – and there is no space for creativity. If you try to be creative in accounting you will be jailed! I wasn’t cut for that – I’m cut of the dramatic, solving problems, learning new things and doing things my way.

accounting

That’s how I do it…

And Accounting is too boring.

So, I started writing and designing stuff. Learning every day, doing new stuff and running experiments right, left and centre.

And my career became Digital Marketing.

Which people call – spending days on Facebook… which is true, btw. 🙂

Only that my time on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google is different from yours. While you waste time and money on the internet, I make money and a life. For me, it’s an art, a science… a job.

I write, I design stuff, I plan projects… And I solve problems. There are many problems: difficult clients who make me better daily, goals to meet which make me more focused, masses to be influenced which makes me feel like some star and calculations to be done which makes Maths my bitch!

Yes, professional Digital Marketing is a game of crazy numbers, formulas, forecasts and reporting. It’s like a more fun form of Accounting.

Spending my days on Facebook is infinitely more enjoyable and paying than being the bad accountant I had set out to be.

Talking to stones

Talking stones

Have you ever looked at stones and wondered if they communicate, if they have senses, if they have life in there? I mean, they can’t just be there, doing nothing and being nothing.

I do. A lot. Sometimes I look at stones differently. Stop giving me that look, I know what looking at a person, or thing differently mean. Let me digress a little… I was reading the story of a guy convicted of beastiality somewhere in Asia. Asked to explain why he had done the deed to so many animals, he said he had been a herdsman; and his only companions were the cattle and sheep. So he started forming different relationships with them. I guess if you are booty person and you see a sheep strutting it’s large, wooly behind long enough, you could start looking at it differently.

Anyway, when I was an only child, I would spend a lot of time alone in the afternoons after school and Saturdays. And I would find myself making friends with sheep (remember the one whose tail I cut off?), plants and many times, stones. We would talk, I would tell them my dreams, my fantasies, about anyone I was mad at, my favourite things, and secrets. The stones were very good listeners, never interrupting me, they just listened and soaked up everything I told them. Sometimes they gave me reassuring smiles.

And whenever I learned a new caning style from the teachers, I would practice it on the stones I disliked most. I would panga them in a line and give them a proper caning. And then I would apologize. Made me feel bad, beating those innocent stones like that. I wondered how teachers put up with the guilt afterwards.

corporal-punishment

Like this, but stones. 😉

My stones (trash that imagination) kept me company when I was little and I still look at them differently. And massively respect them.

Be like stones

I sometimes wish people were like stones. Watching and listening intently to secrets and not blabbing them out to other people, never shouting at others, and mostly, never judging. Forgiving even when you hit them unknowingly. (Because you are the one that felt pain, coming back to hit them harder and shout at them.  Human stupidity. Reward humility!)

Be like a stone. Ignore these rumblings of a mad man, writing a blog post on stones.

My 2017 Report Card

Frankmwenda's year 2017

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

So, what are the things that happened in 2017?

Switched jobs

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

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

Let’s grow!

Lost my grandmother, Beaty.

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

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

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

Read more, wrote more

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

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

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

The Ameru went big

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

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

 It’s a girl!

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

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

So, help me God.


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

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

The Night I Almost Became an Orphan

Last week. Tuesday 14th 2017.

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

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

sinus thrombosis

Sinus thrombosis – Blood cannot flow out of the brain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hospital bed MP Shah

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

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

We will fight another day. But not this way.

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

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

Love Story: When an Elderly Lady Truly Loves You

old woman in love

We met in very unconventional circumstances. While people nowadays meet on Social Media, we met on phone. Yes. She called the office line from the US and she wanted a pair of shoes shipped to her. Not a problem, we were in the business of selling shoes online. But this one order had too many complications. Complications that, instead of turning her from me and the company, only got us closer. And closer.

First, the payment could not go through, so, she thought it was a problem with our systems. We used Pesapal and I had to engage them for some days, they also couldn’t understand what was happening, so, we were on phone with her for days. This was challenging my tech head and I was feeling too foolish. Then a moment of genius hit me! I asked her to disable her antivirus, which she did and voila! The payment went through! (Side note: A good antivirus will protect your credit card against untrustworthy transactions. Invest in one).

The payment done, we shipped her two pairs. Yes, she was so impressed she ordered two (who is looking for a salesman to deal with women, I am here). But they could not fit her! They were like 3 sizes bigger. You see, the US, in all their superpower ego, do not use standard measures. They use miles instead of kilometres, pounds instead of kilograms…and their shoe sizes are too twisted. While the rest of the world uses UK/European sizes, there is a US size, and it is quite confusing. So, the shoes did not fit her! That meant more calls. She soon had my phone number and personal email, to facilitate this. She sent them back, and we sent a test replacement pair.  It was small! This was turning out to be a very complicated sale. She wasn’t mad, she knew we were trying and it was not our fault, and she was making a new platonic friendship- with me!

So, this new friendship got more and more personal, she told me lots of her stories and I told her lots of my endless stories. Her emails are usually so long, she would make a blogger without trying. She was a lovely lady, and I was slowly becoming her best friend. She loved Kenya, and she was in love with a Kenyan man. Here is the story of Jacinta.

Jacinta has been in Kenya several times, mostly on Safari. She loves the rugged life of the jungle, being a mechanical person herself, and would come most Februaries to see our beautiful animals, and beaches, and culture. She knows Kenya more than I do, despite Brand Kenya’s campaigns for local tourism (by the way, do you go to Kuvinjari in our tourist destinations?).

And in the process, Jacinta fell in love with a tour guide. Let’s call him Joseph.

Joseph is a Kamba. He’s married but “he is so rarely at home, he wants to separate with his wife. He only meets her to see his daughter and they have rare sex to fulfill his conjugal duties. He doesn’t love her.” ‘Joseph is a quiet man in his thirties. He is not aggressive, he has no big goals and what they planned, he doesn’t follow through. Btw, Jacinta is in her 70s, or 80s.

But she loved him and he loved her back. He would cry whenever he took her to the airport. When they made love, it was heaven. You know Kenyans are blessed in that sector, don’t you? So, they wanted to spend the rest of their days together. She was willing to leave her rosy life in the US and come to Kenya, set up a business with Joseph and live happily ever after. She actually asked me to help her get a house in a good location not far from Nairobi and car leases. I was ready to help. I love love. And I fight for love. I was ready to be their love warrior.

Meanwhile, she had helped him buy a car. Jacinta is quite aggressive, she knows what she wants and gets it often. So when she bought him the car, she said it was a loan. She gave him enough money to buy a brand new car – zile za showroom. She expected him to pay her every month.

The wife knew!

Joseph’s wife knew of this relationship. She has seemingly given them her blessings. I guess she figured out this old lady couldn’t take much of her husband’s energy… and she was rich anyway. A little sacrifice for lots of riches, and in any case… si sabuni haikwishi. 🙂

This gave me my first ringing bell. I don’t like kuingilia people who have shared bedsheets. You know it goes. But this was Jacinta was my friend.. and friends don’t watch friends walk into pits. So I told her, f course in a subtle way to protect her feeble heart, that, “hey, Sweetie… please be careful. Don’t celebrate that the wife has given her blessings. This happens to tourists a lot – they get a Kenyan who gives it to them so good they want to get married… they get married or invest a lot in them, and then it turns sour. Of course I am not saying Joseph is like that, but be careful.” Of course she didn’t believe me… and I didn’t rub it in because, remember bed sheets…

But immediately after Joseph bought the car – of course not from the showroom but a decent second hand car, things started shifting. He would take weeks to respond to her WhatsApp – blaming long safaris and shit – but her love remained intact. One time she missed her so much that she flew all the way to Kenya, booked a five star hotel and waited on Joseph… and waited, and waited. Well, he finally came when she threatened to send the Police on him.

But when he came, he don’t even kiss her. Dude stayed at a corner and told her he wouldn’t make love to her because he feared her wife had gone to the witchdoctors and they would stick together if that happened. And it was never happening ever again due to this reason. People fear kukwama. 

stuck during sex

Jacinta was broken. 80 years of experience in heartbreaks. She felt the world crash against her. There was a sudden pit in her stomach… and that sudden surge of heat hit her face. This was worth than when any of her husbands died. The room was spinning. She fainted.

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.

Celebrating the Death of “those people”

Meru-accident-death

Last weekend was a dark weekend for our village and the surrounding villages. The dark cloud still hangs over us like a giant rock about to crash us. What you saw on TV and read in newspapers and social media actually happened to us. The horrible accident in along Meru-Nkubu Road that killed 8 people affected is directly. To us, it was not just a statistic. We lost family members, neighbours, close friends. Children are mourning the loss of both parents, parents distraught at the loss of their children… and we’ve been crying, wailing in pain, asking God Almighty all the questions and receiving no answers. See, it’s barely 2 years ago since another accident claimed the life of Mfa and 3 others that we are still not through.

And so, again, we were in the news for all the wrong and unfortunate reasons. Everywhere we turn, is news of a “grisly accident in Meru that killed 8 people” some say 9 and others 10. See, to the media and all these social media journos, it’s just another horrible statistic.

Yet that’s not the worst thing. The worst thing is the comments under these social media posts.

People are celebrating our pain. People are actually jubilant that these “Merus” died. Heartless people are stomping on the blood and tears. Some people are actually wishing more died, that it was a bigger vehicle and if they were gods they would have killed more because they deserve it. 

Some reasons have been given, and the more you read them, the more you feel like gagging. These Merus deserved to die because they didn’t vote for someone, because they promised a certain politician votes but betrayed him and his tribe at the last minute. There’s also the celebration of the election winner’s sacrifice to the gods, they voted for him and he’s paying their souls to the devil. Also, the police is killing their tribesmen and this was the gods’ way of avenging them. 

All this because of elections! We have been turned into heartless objects (no animal can be this heartless) by politics. Never mind everyone involved got his share of votes in Meru and you don’t know who these people voted for! And even if you knew, is a freaking election worth all this insensitivity? All this madness and lack of soul?

Don’t believe that? Just look at the comments on KTN, Citizen TV, NTV and K24 posts on Facebook on the accident. Here are a few (click to expand the comments):

There are other Kenyans celebrating police killings. Okay, the Police is trying to prevent anarcy from happening, but killing citizens is not the correct option, and no one should be dancing about it and saying these people deserved it. No one deserves death! Unless you are a killer yourself, 0f course. 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about the IEBC Chair, Wafula Chebukati’s report that his life is in danger. You should see the bile in the comments. Almost everyone in there wants that report to be true, almost everyone  wants him to die. I mean, really? Is elections worth a life?

These elections have taught me something. Loss is difficult, in all ways. Even if it’s Chelsea losing to Burnley because the referee gave two red cards. If your hope of positive change was pegged on someone and he lost, you will be understandably disappointed. This gets worse if you believe the loss wasn’t fair. That’s all human nature.

So, if you see such comments, try to understand. In a way, these people are mourning a loss also. Extend a hug, comment back and tell them you love them, show them you understand. If we insult these people like they are insulting our dead, it will be a spiral of negativity, which is not fair for anyone. We all need to heal.

But, as disappointed as you are, don’t make politics a matter of life and death. Especially death. Never wish death upon anyone, never be insensitive to anyone who’s mourning. It can happen to anyone, any time.

Oh Shit… I love toilets!

toilet funny

Is there an award for the person who spends the most time in the toilet? I deserve that award – I’ve realized I spend insane amounts of time in that little room.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I have seen the toilet as an adult. You see, in Gitura where I grew up, the thought of shitting inside the house was unimaginable. Why would anyone want to do that unless they are in a police cell or too sick to move? So, we have long drop latrines as far from the house as possible. You squat, take a good aim and release. And no, you cannot take your phone into a latrine… balancing takes a lot of work, and you have to support yourself with the door or walls… and STILL aim for the hole and wave houseflies away.

These ones

In the past few weeks, I have made myself a new friend doing very remarkable things in the society. His name is Titi Kadu and he’s the founder of RaHa Solutions, which provides water tanks and toilets to needy communities. The motivation? Over 75% Kenyans don’t have access to clean water and over 50% don’t have toilets!
Let’s forget water for a moment… do you know how important a toilet is?  I mean, is there a more pleasurable moment than taking a shit… and how do these people enjoy their phones? Don’t phones get more interesting in the toilet?

So, imagine there are people who don’t enjoy these toilet pleasures… and you say you aren’t blessed?

I love the toilet, Oh God, I really love my toilet times. And my toilet time is sacred… Researchers say that an average person spends 4 days per year in a toilet, I think I spend 12. Why? That’s where I think, relax, escape… and most of my blog posts are written on the toilet seat, including this. Now you know why some of the things I write are so shitty. 🙂

It’s said that you shouldn’t work on your desk for too long without taking a break. I have been following that religiously… but my breaks have been spent in the toilet for the longest time, taking so much time I leave the toilet feeling weird. I mean, what do people think when they see me leave the toilet after 20 maneno minutes? But then, kila nyani na starehe zake.

But sometimes the toilet experience can be bad, really bad. You get into the toilet and your bowels start dancing (have you realized, even if you haven’t been all that pressed, when you get into the toilet it pulsates?)… but now, you realize the toilet seat is a huge mess? The people who pee on toilet seats, and those who step on them (how do you do that) have a special place in hell.

Related image

You get into the toilet and notice pee and mud, and hair on the seat… and wish for a moment that the poo can go back to your stomach. Even placing tissue paper on top makes you cringe, and assuming some of those difficult poses is an abuse to the sanctity of the toilet.

Stop doing that! Keep the toilet sacred… leave it usable. And I’m speaking as an authority in toilet matters… told you I’m an expert. And my expertise spreads far and wide. 🙂

Stop doing this shit on the toilet

You don’t have to do this shit on the toilet

I think it’s this expertise that made Florence of Lavena Care ask me to help her make toilets the sacred places they are, using an anointing oil on the toilet seat before sitting on it. So, ladies and gentlemen of Kenya, Lavena Care is a toilet seat sanitizer. Every heard of those? You simply spray it on the toilet seat, wait for like 6 seconds, wipe with tissue… and place your bum without fear. Germs gone, UTI out of the window… and it smells like paradise.

I have never been in a kanju toilet… I hear those things are bad. Very bad. And I don’t go to bad toilets. Some of us may not have an option, though, like girls who, when they got to go, they got to go. This Lavena is tested on kanju toilets, and other public toilets like schools (even UoN Men hostels), office loos and a certain public hospital. So yes! You can use a shared toilet comfortably. Like when visitors come to your place and you cringe over the state of your truly personal space.

FREEBIE ALERT: Since I want you to join the Choo Sacco, I will give you one or two of you a small bottle of Lavena Care Toilet Sanitizer – I can afford it, it’s only kedo 150 bob. Just comment on this post with a bad toilet experience.


Free Toilets

I also mentioned RaHa Solutions. RaHa Solutions doesn’t employ field officers to go around looking for villages and schools that don’t have water… it’s the public that nominates such communities. So, if you know of a community that doesn’t have toilets, or water… simply fill this small form. I am nominating my village Gitura… nominate your village too… who knows you can use that to campaign for MCA in 2022?


Enjoy your potty! 🙂

An Angel Lives in Kibera

Kibera Truthful Talent Childrens Home
The night of December 31st, 2007, Kibera

Deep inside Kibera Slums, an elderly lady sat alone in a huge, old brick, double roomed house. In Kibera standards, that’s a humongous mansion. This was a wealthy lady… I mean, who owns a brick house amongst all the mud, mabati and polyethene structures?

Normally, the old woman would have gone to church for the New Year’s vigil on this night. But this time… this time things were looking complicated. An election had just ended and some people were unhappy. It was turning violent. And this violence was not political, it was getting tribal. And as usual, Kibera was at the centre of it all. She had heard over the radio a few people had been killed within the slum, bit she had locked herself in the house all day and hadn’t seen any of it.

But suddenly, outside her door, she heard people quarrelling. One was pleading with the others but from the gruff, they were having none of it. She closed her eyes as she heard panga swings and the deathly sound when the machetes connected with bodies. People were being killed outside her door.

Her heart sank when she heard a knock on her door. Maybe this is the day I will die. But the voice that came through was that of a child.

Shosho, nisaidie. Nimekatwa nifungulie.

For a moment, she thought she was either dreaming, or this was a trap. Maybe someone wanted to trick her into opening the door. The more the child pleaded, the more the chords of her heart were strung.

“I don’t have children of my own but God Himself knows how much I love kids. I wouldn’t have helped it… so I told God if He wanted me to die for helping a child, I would have peace with that.”

So, she opened the door. And there was a boy out there, barely ten, soaked in blood. She dragged him in and closed the door. And cleaned him, the blood forming rivers in her house, but she didn’t notice that. She just wanted the poor boy to be free of pain, cold and thirst.

Throughout the night, more knocks came, from children and adults alike. She was the only one with a house that could not be torn down using a razor blade, and her age could deter would-be killers.

Kenya Post Election Violence Kibera

Post Election Violence | Source: Capital FM

And the killers kept knocking at her house, seeking for people from a certain tribe, to kill.

“I hid all the people in the next room and stood at the door, crying, telling the marauding animals ‘My children, I’m just an elderly woman living alone and there’s no one else in the house.’ Some would come inside, with their bloody pangas, look around, and leave. Had they seen the people I would be dead now”

She kept receiving people, kids especially, whose parents had been killed or fled and their houses burnt, used up all the food she had and scraped around for more.

Weeks later, when the slaughter had subsided. She was left with several orphaned and abandoned children…

And thus the Kibera Truthful Talent Children’s Home was born. This remarkable lady’s name is Mama Lorna.

Mama Lorna Kibera

Mama Lorna

10 years later, now.

My colleagues and I are visiting the Truthful Talents Children’s Home, Kibera. It is my first time in Kibera, and we get lost a couple of times. See, Kibera is a very large area of nothing but shacks for houses. There are no landmarks like you would say KICC that you can see from whenever. The only landmarks here are toilet blocks because there are only a few of those in Kibera. And no, you can’t go around asking for directions in Kibera. So, we have to grope our way around to a place we can park the cars and dive deeper into the slum.

A guy from the Children’s Homes is here to pick us, and he takes us through paths ridden by human waste, surface sewage, giant flies… and mean looking people eyeing the packages we are carrying. The twists and turns lead us to a small mabati gate, a corridor-like compound into this room:

The room Mama Lorna shares with her 20+ kids in Kibera

The room Mama Lorna shares with her 20+ kids

It has three double and triple-decker beds and smells a whiff of acrid smell and there are clothes strewn all over. We stand around, confused until a bubbly lady comes into the room and greets each one of us, warmly… and invites us to sit on the beds and on a few plastic stools that she brings in. “Be comfortable, our mama is coming.” Her name is Beatrice.

An elder woman who looks a lot like Sarah Obama comes in followed by a few shy children. You know, the way we would curiously peep at visitors when we were kids. The lady also greets us with a serious expression and taunts us:

“I hope you are comfortable. This is one of the most comfortable rooms in Kibera.”

And starts laughing! The damp room is now suddenly lively. Life of the party right there. She introduces herself as a lover of Christ and tells us the story of the Home. And why she does this, which is utterly remarkable:

I run this home because that’s what I was created to do and I don’t expect payment here on Earth. I remind God every day that if he has to pay me, I want to get a first class ticket to Heaven. So I tell Him every morning that the only reward she wants for her work is to have a guaranteed place in Heaven when I die.

Turns out, she shares this small, cramped room with over 20 girls. This is just her home, remember? That’s where our eyes start getting damp. This old lady sleeps in this very room that the seven of us can’t fit… with 20 urinating and sometimes screaming children!

The boys sleep in a separate room, the same size, chaperoned by the guy who had come for us, who, by the way, is THAT first kid who had knocked on Lorna’s house ten years ago, all bloody. Now he is twenty and takes care of the smaller kids. Oh, he is joining the Cooperative University of Kenya next week! A couple of the other young men will also be joining the university in the next few months.

The Home now has 42 children of different ages, and they all live here. They start their basic education here in the biggest room, tutored by the older ones and alumni, and Beatrice is one of them:

This is where I grew up. I got married but I come here every day to help Mama with the kids and the chores here. She is getting old and I owe her my service. If it wasn’t for her, I would be out there, or worse.

 

This is Beatrice

We go into the “school” to play, sing, dance and eat with the kids. The innocence simply overwhelms us. I see tears, I hear laughter… and sighs.

And the cry of a baby… she is only 3 months old and had been thrown away in some Kibera trash site immediately she was born; where she was collected and brought to Mama Lorna. The other kids are her elder siblings and Mama Lorna her mother. Just as she has been a mother to all these children.

This 3 month old baby was neglected at birth and rescued by Mama Lorna of Truthful Talent Childrens Home Kibera

This 3 month old baby…

They sleep hungry sometimes. They don’t get that many visitors or donors and to make ends meet, they make beads and other art stuff that Mama Lorna goes to sell around Nairobi.

As we leave, you can feel a shift in every one of us. Something in us has changed from this trip. We sleep in our bedsitters, one and two bedrooms in flats and get 3 compact meals daily; and still, complain about our living standards. If we could ask God Himself questions, we could have, at that moment, asked Him why He gives wealth to selfish people and not to people like Mama Lorna who are changing the world.

But then, one, you don’t ask God questions and 2… there is no greater wealth that this. Taking care of vulnerable children and setting them up for life!

Meanwhile, an angel lives in Kibera, surrounded by other small, innocent angels.

Gallery:


You can help, too. If you want to visit this Children’s Home… holla and we will go together. They will give you a pup (yes, they rescue dogs, too) 🙂


 

My 10 Badass Life Rules

Life Rules frankmwenda

Life is a journey… and to survive this journey, we all need some rules. Personal and universal life rules. Here are mine… that I think you should add to your constitution.

Rule Number 1:

Beyond the people who pay me money, no one else knows how much money I make. Never let anyone know how much money you have. No one should know what you earn, how much you have in your accounts… because money breeds jealousy. That’s how you die or get screwed over.

Rule Number 2: Keep your moves to yourself.

When you make choices that you haven’t started acting on, don’t tell the world. Are you considering proposing to someone? Shut up. You want to start a new business. Keep quiet.  Never let ’em know your next move. I have seen business ideas stolen, girls taken away by friends before you get to them, and gossips spreading.

Number 3: Don’t trust anybody (fully).

Hell, don’t even trust yourself. I don’t mean don’t trust anybody, the keyword is fully. Trust is the foundation on which human interaction is built. You have to trust someone, but leave space for doubt. That way, you back will be covered, and if people betray your trust, you will not hurt too much.

Rule Number 4: Drink

Drink, but only to give company. Don’t drink as if you have some championship that you want to win. There is actually nothing good that came out of any drink ever. Drinking is for the common people. Always try to be more than that.

Rule Number 5: Don’t shit where your sleep

Don’t mess your name and relationships with your neighbours. Don’t be the guy/gal mama sukuma points out to other women and says “huyu uwa hatumwelewi… kila siku na kijana/dem different.” Don’t be the village drunkard, nor the guy that other people in your plot will be castigating about your childishly loud music. I know it is your life, but keep your name clean where you live, unless you live at Plot 10 where bad manners is heroic.My grandpa will say… “don’t poop where you sleep.”

Rule Number 6: No Debts!

Want to look mediocre? Keep borrowing loans, and niokolee from your friends and family. You will look, and be mediocre. I am not saying that you can’t borrow… of course, needs arise… just don’t make it mazoea. And if you get a loan from a friend that ou said you would return at some time, by all means, return it! Don’t be like Musa.

Rule Number 7: Don’t Mix Business and Family

You see this in kiosks and butcheries, but it is very important. Keep your family/friendship and business completely separated! Never give business stuff on credit to your family members because they will not pay you even if they say so. Don’t invite friends to eat at your kibanda if the plan is to smile as if this was another hotel. Don’t even employ your brother in your business because you cannot fire him, even when he messes. After all, it’s family… and you don’t want to be excommunicated by the clan.

Number 8: But, Put your family first.

Outside number 7, and this should have been the first… Your family comes before any friendship, before any career, before anything! Everything else in the world can wait. If you have a crisis at home, in-balance, or unresolved problem, go take care of it. The time you spend with family and your pets is more valuable that the money you can make within that time. When you need to pick between money (job and other takataka) and family, pick family. They are the only ones who can ever pick you!

Number 9: And stop comparing yourself to others.

Many lives have been stolen by the unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves to others will always rob us of gratitude, joy, and fulfilment. It prevents us from fully living our lives. It calls us to envy other people’s lives and seek theirs rather than ours. It robs us of our most precious possession: life itself. Live your life… forget the rest!

Number 10: Finally, it’s your life!

Finally, don’t give two fucks about what people think. There will always be the haters to anything you do, life is too short to spend time pleasing everyone and trying to make everyone happy, pleasing yourself should come first. Pleasing others can be part of pleasing yourself so that could be great. Your life, your time.

Those are my rules… what are your life rules? Tell me in comments. 🙂

Random Memories 6: My First Flight – Landing

Fly Emirates Dubai Landing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painful landing

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

Landing Aerosinusitis headache

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Letter to my Unborn Baby

BABY AND parents

Hello, baby.

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

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

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

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

dad and son

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

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

Build your way up.

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

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

father son sunset

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

Read, baby!

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

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

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

Welcome to my life.

Love,

Your Daddy.

Random Memories 5: My First Flight

FIRST FLIGHT FROGS

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

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

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

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

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

i AM NOT LEAVING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is this India, Mwenda?

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

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

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

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

To break the silence I say,

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

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

“How did you know?”

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

I love this woman!

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

FLIGHT KENYA MOUNTAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julia and Frank flight

Julia and I making the entrance

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

window seat flight JKIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

flight clouds wing

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Part 2!

Be a Man, man!

Be a Man African

Be a man and face your troubles. Actually, be a man and carry the burdens of the world.

Be a man and sweat your ass out in the mjengo to feed your family. Even the Good Lord said you have to toil. Sell one of your balls and buy food if you have to because you don’t deserve to be called a man if your family sleeps hungry.

Be a man and get yourself a job. A man cannot rest on his stupid ass and wait for his wife to go out and work. Find something to do like other men because it’s unimaginable for your woman to be the breadwinner.

Be a man and build a home for your family. A real man can’t live in rentals forever. You must own a piece of earth or we will be pointing at you and your family forever as an example of a failed man without a place to be buried. Be a man and buy land… People will praise you. You may even be called to events to speak to the youth on how to own land.

Be a man and kiss your woman even when she slaps you like they do in the soap operas. Dare to slap her back and we will kill you on Twitter. We will deport your silly ass into a prison unless you are rich and politically connected.

Be a man and take your wife places. Buy her a car and make sure your glamorous wedding is aired on TV. Make sure she has the trendiest clothes and shoes and handbags and weaves and curtains. Because, my friend, if you don’t maintain your woman she will go out to look for the real man.

Better yet, cheat on your wife, man. Actually, don’t even hide it… The society allows you to have many women. You will be less of a man if you don’t.

Be a man and fight for your country. Get up and get killed for your family. It is your duty to die because it is very wrong for the papers to write headlines like “several people including women and children died”. Get that? Be a man and be killed in their place. Actually, if you see enemies coming, run and meet them. Let them kill you first… You better die than live a coward.

Be a man and go for the woman of your dreams. Too bad if you are a broke loser and you aren’t tall, dark and handsome. They will sneer at you, but you must show the steel of a man, keep going after them. And no, even if it’s the woman who likes you, man, you are supposed to know that and go after her. Use your beard as your antennae, stupid!

Be a man and get circumcised. If you are a kihii you cannot lead us. I repeat, being cut means you have leadership qualities. The foreskin blocks the mind, too. And you cannot intermarry with other tribes if you don’t there is no way you will get the votes from the mountains.

Be a man and get rich. Drive manly cars. If you drive a Vitz you most likely use Veet to shave. Be a man and drink bitter beers without wincing like a baby. You can’t drink wine, man. Don’t you dare drink Fanta, dude.

It is a tough, rough life but, BE. A. MAN!

Image result for be a man funny

My Bad-ass Valentine’s Day Ideas

valentines-day-1159281_1280

Last week, I was live on Radio Jambo, talking about Valentine’s Day and how to spend the least but make the best impression on Valentine’s. So if you had any doubts about my expansive knowledge of the subject of love, there you have it (twitches my fingers like a badass mafia capi). You can say “…awww, his girlfriend is soo lucky, dating such a romantic bae”. Well, Awww to you too! 🙂

Now that we have established I am an expert in these things, up there with Chris Hart and Gertrude Mungai, read on carefully on how to rock your Valentine’s Day on a shoestring budget. (Okay, the point is not the budget…)

Invent the Valentine’s Gift

You don’t have to buy her flowers because everybody else is buying her flowers. Actually, flowers are nonsense, and they are too boringly cliche, and they dry fast. Back in the days, right after high school, I got Lorna a muraa (that’s singular for miraa) as a Valentine’s flower. It was a joke but I am sure Lorna remembers that particular flower.

I am not saying that you get your girl a muraa – leave that to me… but invent. Show her that you gave her a special thought and did not just get her the trendiest thing on the street. Write her a letter on a flowered writing pad as we did back then (spray some perfume, too), give her a bunch of carrots, decide to have your Valentine’s the day after. Be unique.

Valentine's Day Kenya

Don’t Go to a Movie or Play, Act yours

Cinemas and play theaters will be fully jammed Valentine’s Day, so, don’t go to iMax or Alliance Francaise or wherever. You can do that on Saturday. This Valentine’s, act your own movie. Fight on the streets for her (make sure you win if you are the sterro of your movie), buy those water gun toys and “kill” each other, play some game, like kati or bathe in the river mpararo. Let her slap you so that you can kiss her in exchange, you know, the things that happen only in the movies.

Make it a dramatic Valentine’s!

photoshoot Valentine's

Take photos, enough photos to last your Instagram a year!

Stay Home and Cook, naked.

Well, if you aren’t married forget the “naked” part. Thou shalt never see each other’s things before marriage.

Yes, you can stay at home and cook something that you are not used to. It is okay to try new things, like boiling mukhobero with njugu and waiting to see the result after eating. Lingerie is too overrated, make your house the Garden of Eden before the snake – kaa bila.  If you decide to stay naked, make sure you stay away from the oil, that badass can destroy your skin… oh, and don’t touch each other with pepper.

It is okay to get carried away… the food will burn, but it will be fun.

cook together

Make it spicy, literally

Walk around town aimlessly

Pretend you are kids and walk around town with no destination in mind. Walk up and down like you did on school opening days. Pop into a chipo joint and order chips with kuku pono. A lot of people will be doing proper dinners so the chips joints will not be full.

Then walk to one of those benches in town, sit down and talk. Flag a hawker and order one of those Ginger Biscuits and Tropical. Enjoy the moment, gossip about the couples walking in red carrying stupid flowers and life size dolls.  And then walk into a park, remove your shoes, lay a leso and lie on the grass. Watch the ants. Buy a soda and bread. Drop litter and run from kanju, it is fun.

sit and talk this Valentine's

Just sit on a bench and talk about everything and nothing. Gossip!

Remind yourselves of the First Day

How well do you remember your firsts? The first time you saw each other, what were you wearing? Wear that. What did you say? Say that. Where did you go on the first date? Go there.  How was your first kiss? Redo it. See how much you can remember, and every time one forgets something, pinch them… or fine them. This way, I swear your love will be renewed.

Remember why you will be doing this – it is not that you have no money to treat each other, you will be doing this for the sentimental value and it beats any of those things people do on Valentine’s Day.

And in any case, Valentine’s Day is too overrated. Love your partner every.single.day!

 

Bad Debt Chronicles: Musa

Running from debt

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

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

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

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

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

That was on 23rd July 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

Excuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kutoa Ntero

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

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

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

musa-facebook

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

That Thursday came and passed, of course.

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

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

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

Let’s laugh at Musa and people like him. 

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

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

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

Taking a Cold Shower like a Ninja

cold shower

Last week, Njaanuary sent me two messages, just a reminder that it exists. One, cooking gas went kaput, without warning as it always does- two gas cylinders all with 0 gas at night with minced meat on the plates. Then we woke up to no electricity – the units were also gone. You know how fast Kenya Power sends the power token when you pay with M-Pesa, so there was just no use purchasing the units at that time of the morning. And it was too early to get gas.

That’s when you start wondering if the Bad Beast of Revelation put the 666 mark on people’s hands and forehead overnight and that’s why you have money but you can’t buy the stuff you need.

Anyway, I was there looking and feeling like a caged rabbit. I was hungry and couldn’t make breakfast. And when I smelt my underarms, there was no way I was going to work without taking a shower. Made me wish this was Plot 10, I would have just gone to shower at the neighbour’s. This time I had to take it cold.

And taking a cold shower is a science.

I had been reading a lot of those productivity articles and they all agree on one thing: to have a great day you have to take cold showers. I had chochad myself several times that I would try it but every time, that switch cried for a flick. Today, however, Njaanuary was in control.

1, get set…

When you do a cold shower, you shower in phases. You can’t just walk into a cold shower, you will die of shock!

First, you fungulia just a few drops and feel the water with your palm.You let a few drops hit your feet and Tue rest of the arm first. That way, your body conditions for the giant task ahead. And that’s the first benefit of taking a cold shower in the morning. It instills the discipline of planning early.  Test whatever you want to do before diving deep into the deep end. Before you get the girl, you have to see if your toothy smile will be returned first. Okay, bad example.

Apply soap up your arms to your underarms and rinse with water, hot directly, but using your palms. The underarms are one of the most sensitive parts and if you can vumilia those, you will get it. Also, in case you lose faith before going into the cold shower, you will not be smelling. Why do makwapa smell, btw?

If you get your underarms wet and survive, you can now go to your head and face. Use your palm to get water there and then apply soap or shampoo or whatever tickles your fancy. You notice until now you haven’t gotten under the shower, you have been using your hands. With the head soaped, your brain registers that you have to bathe… or you will he leaving with a white head. So, fungulia a little more water (kidogo tu) and get the head only. This is where the nitaingiza kichwa tu proverb applies…oh, I’m digressing.  Rinse off your head and face pole pole.

Time to get into the cold shower…

By now, some drops of water may have dropped to your stomach, and the center of cold- your back. You are slowly acclimatizing. The chest or legs can stand some cold, so, apply soap there.   And rinse it off like the ninja you now are… stand with your tumbo mbele matako nyuma like a policeman on parade. If you have a huge tummy that will help. Just don’t let the water run down your spine, or crotch, yet!

Okay, now you can. Turn the water on to the maximum you can. Take a few steps back, a few long breaths… and take a step of faith, get under that shower! You will be shocked, first, when the trickle gets to your back…but ninjas don’t back off a mission. Once you are in there is no going out… it’s okay to scream, but don’t get out, or press the switch!

Bath, Wet, Water, Sensual, Woman, Beautiful, Beauty

Focus… you can’t sing in a cold shower

See, when you get into a cold shower, every nerve in your body appreciates the water. You feel the water in your marrow, in the center of your teeth, in your medulla of Lang’ata. It gives you focus, brings you to the here and now like Yoga…when you take a cold shower, you don’t sing in the shower, you don’t think useless thoughts, like why Prados have their name in ugly graffiti on the side, or why your grandfather caught land in Meru and not in Nairobi. You don’t imagine yourself as President or Christiano Ronaldo in a cold shower…

When you are in a cold shower, the only thing you think about is the water. You get a chance to listen to your body, you synchronize your heart, body, and soul. And nothing feels as better as those three working together. It’s like Ohuru, Odinga, and Munya working cohesively in one government.

You will be alert all day, my friend! Taking a cold shower in the morning, and feeling cold water pour down over your body seems more horrifying than soothing. However, the deep breathing in response to our body’s shock helps us keep warm, as it increases our overall oxygen intake. Thus, our heart rate will also increase, releasing a rush of blood through our entire body. This gives us a natural dose of energy for the day.

You will be beautiful, too. A doctor told me hot water dries out your skin, while cold water tightens your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. If you’d like to reduce the appearance of acne, cold showers could do the job.  When you meet me in the streets glowing, don’t start guessing where I spent the night.

Image result for cold shower

Miathene Mono – My First Day in High School

Miathene Mono Kenya

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

Reminds me of my mono moment, years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

To Dusty Miathene in a Landrover!

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

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

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

Miathene Market

Miathene Market

Grand Entry

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

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

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

Touch him again, Mono!

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

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

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

This is a class in Miathene

This is a class in Miathene

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

__

Main Pic: Njugush. Source: Standard

Things 2016 Taught Me

2016

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

All work and no play..

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

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

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

working too hard 2016

This blog needs more writing

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

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

2017 I WILL BLOG MORE

Debts

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

“ATM yangu imekwama nitumie kakitu nitakusort pap!” 

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

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

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

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

No debts

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

No one deserves to be alone

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

2016 wedding rings

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

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

Travel!

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

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

playing with elephants in Tsavo Kenya

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

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

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

Get a Life! Live like you live for Social Media

is your life sad or happy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your life, online

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

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

You need real friends offline

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

Get a life!

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

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

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

I Don’t Respect Women

Angry women

And for this headline, the world will order for my stoning. The feminists will rise up and castigate me for saying the unthinkable.

“How can you dare not respect women in this age, you archaic gorilla living in pre-colonial Africa?”

“Your mother is a woman.”

“Who says that?”

“These are the type of men who never left their uncivilised villages.”

“You sexist, misogynistic Trump!”

Well, go on, say it! Roast me. Stone me. But I said it.

I have seen too many of these sentiments these last few weeks. It started with Trump, and continued with Miguna Miguna. Whereas I disapprove anyone actually disrespecting human beings on basis of gender, the way people fall over heels shouting from the rooftops any time they feel like a woman has been disadvantaged leaves you scarred.

Women can’t be wrong. You started it, man!

Nowadays, if someone is fighting with a woman, and there is an exchange of words, the jury turns on the man, and immediately rules that the man has attacked all women. And is disrespectful. Figure this out:

Woman: You are a typical man. Stupid fisi.
Man: What?
Woman: Go on. Be a man and get down into it! Say what you have to say. Call me a bitch.
Man: Shut up, bitch!
Crowd: Did you hear that? This disgusting sexist pig called women bitches!

Women beat up man

The world is a happy place. Men should be beaten.

Two politicians (male and female) banter each other. The woman can say whatever she wants. She can call the man all manner of things… you know politicians are all rotten… but the man has to be a gentleman, take it all in. Because one word, one misplaced word and the whole wide world turns against him. Even when she calls him a racist and he calls her a socialite. (ION, I thought socialites were celebrated people).

Why? Why do we feel as if women need this manner of protection? Can’t they fight for themselves? I mean, men and women are equal. That’s what we all want to project. And that’s what I believe, what a man can do, a woman can do, because we all are created equal. Our brains are the same, no?

Granted, I would protect my women, or any woman from physical abuse, because, truth is, we are created differently physically. But intellectually? No.

Which takes me to the point, and I spoke to a great lady who shared the same sentiments with me, Dr. Jude. Why do we feel the need to create special political seats for women? Why are university entry grades for girls lower? Can’t the women slug it out with men? Why are you portraying our women as weak? How will the society respect women if everything is handed to them in the name of affirmative action?

Women don’t need everybody to fight for them! All they need is empowering. Give them a voice and confidence and let them do what they have to do. By themselves. And women, you shouldn’t hang up on the offensive every time things don’t go well for one of your own. She has the strength, the power, the energy to fight it out like men (supposedly) do. The more you exercise mobster feminism, the more you antagonise yourselves.

Arrgh! Annoying Feminists, you make weaken women!

Speaking of feminists, come on! Most of the feminists I meet are just hooligans. They don’t listen to reason, objectivity is not a trait they possess. A woman has been done X and Y, let’s attack the man. Who does he think he is? They won’t go to the bottom of the case, they won’t know the circumstances, they won’t even verify if X and Y happened, they just dive in. That’s very annoying. I saw a conversation on Facebook, the guy had joked that Americans are like Kenyans, they couldn’t vote for a woman. You should have seen the insults.

Feminists are afraid of life. They are afraid of differences of opinion, and especially afraid of men. They are outraged and unduly stressed by much of life itself, and particularly by all but the most feminized men. Look at it… nearly every time the words “chauvinist” and “sexist” are used, they are false and only reinforce the conviction that feminists are weak. Feminism as we know it is a cover of feeling relevant in a competitive world. What it does is project women as weaker, and it definitely makes women weaker. Why fight for myself when I know FIDA will take someone to court for trying to stand up to me?

women against feminism

“I can hold my own beliefs without an army of angry vaginas backing me” – http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com/

This world doesn’t need feminists. Kwanza they are very annoying. Bashing men for anything they do does not make women better. They are people, too, you know.

And back to my main point: I don’t respect women, neither do I disrespect them. I treat them as I should treat other humans. I won’t vote for you just because you are a woman. Neither will I help trend a hashtag just because a woman politician has been insulted. Or take your side just because you are a woman. If you are on the wrong, you are wrong. If you are right you are right. You are not wrong or right because you are female.

But because you are a human being that deserves respect, a voice and life. Not because of your gender. Come on, you can do it yourself. Just believe. Look beyond your gender. Look into your brain… which can achieve anything anyone can achieve, and more.

Don’t expect respect to be handed to you. You have to earn it.

Hey, can we fight?

fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are Circumcised

uncircumcised-penis banana

“Kama umetahiriwa nitusi tena.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kama umetahiri rushia classmate wangu mawe, choo wewe.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s an empowered woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man up.

Be like my Great Great Grandfather, Switch off WhatsApp!

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

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

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

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

Grandpa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melatonin_prescription

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

When we got sick we almost died.

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

Read with me:

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

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

bedtime-cell-phone-1w6bl26

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, happy jail time.

Meanwhile, happy jail time.

Take that selfie! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary alituacha hiyo Sunday.

Oh. Where did she go?

She passed away.

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

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

Why didn’t I take that selfie?

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

Take that selfie.

selfie dog

Do it. Make a face and take the selfie.

Random Memories 4: Slippery Nipples and a Blow Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugali sukuma

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

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

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

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

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

Coffee Date

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

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

Stick to your lane.

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

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

Have a blow job when you can 🙂

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

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

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

Asmara restaurant

I had a blow job!

Random Memories 3: The Devil Did It

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

The Devil Did it

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

I was bored.

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

Sheep head butts child

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

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

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

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

I ran to her, ‘panicking.”

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

 

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

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

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

Handkerchief

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

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

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

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

handkerchief

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

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

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

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

And I practiced to be a Tout

Touts hanging on a matatu Kenya

elegantthimble.blogspot.com

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

And I was his side kick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously though,  kudandia kunaitwaje in English?

Proper Meru with knives

Frankmwenda

This is NOT me. | Loveparenting.org

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

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

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

That was embarrassing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sad Letter From Sister: Mother Misses You

sad mother misses you
When is the last time you spoke to your mother? The graceful lady that brought you forth, and brought you up? Does she know what’s happening in your life, you know, as she knew every time you got a thorn in your feet as you grew up in the village. Do you know about the thorns in her heart and mind? Do YOU know how she is?
Below is a heartbreaking letter I received from sister:
 
Dear Brother,
 
Mother called me yesterday night. She was worried. You haven’t called her in three days. She is wondering if you are doing well. I could only promise her that I would call you and let her know. You see you are the apple of her eye. Her first born. Her only son. She has sacrificed the world for you. She had you at only sixteen and she worked her butt off to give you the best she could. 
 
However, since you got your wings, you seem to have forgotten about her. She constantly worries about you it makes me jealous. I know she loves me. But you know I came two decades later. By that time both of you had a bond that only an only child can understand. I know I am loved but she loves you more. You also believe mum loves me more than she does you. We are both right.
 
I always thought you were my uncle. My mother made it clear from a very young age that you were my brother. I never looked at you as my brother though. You were more of an uncle to me. You visited once every fortnight without fail. When your car stopped at our gate, I would jump on you like a puppy whose owner forgot to feed. Teenage hood came and suddenly it hit me that you were my brother. I stopped jumping on you and instead started hugging you like a mature girl which gradually downgraded to a handshake and a pat on my back. I did not share my secrets with you like normal siblings would. You always thought I told you everything going on in my life but a girl must keep her secrets.
 
I remember the advice you gave me after high school. “Kendi, don’t get pregnant until you are able to take care of that baby.” I was in no position to question you. Though you were two decades older than me, I knew you didn’t believe in your own advice. Unless it’s only meant for girls. To me, it looked like your sole purpose in life was to multiply and fill the earth. You thought I did not know about your mistresses. You said, “Kendi don’t make mother a mother in old age.” Well, she is still a mother though she yearns to be a grandmother. You also said, “no matter what it takes or how long, make your star shine.” I am giving my best every day. Mother loves being grandmother, let her be grandmother not a mother all over again. As she is doing all that, you are nowhere to be found.
 
Show up. Visit home more often. Let her build a relationship with your current wife. She adores her by the way. Did I tell you the day she went to shop and almost visited her office only she could not go past the stairs? She did not know what kind of reception she would receive. With a heavy heart she turned back. She does not go where she is just tolerated. Why? You wonder. You have been married for three years now and your wife has never been home. She does not want you back because you are a mature man. She wants a relationship with your new family. She wants to hold your baby in her arms. Kiss him and tell him old people stories. She loves narrating about “mathabu ja carifrancis” and how they went to preschool during the precolonial era and Mzee Kenyatta’s regime.
 
I visit home more than you do. Yet I live in Nairobi and you are much nearer to home. Big houses are lovely, but they are as cold as hell. They need life to exude the warm and allure they majestically show from the outside. One day I will get married, when I do I won’t be around as often. I would love to take my mother with me. But I cannot. Not because I will have a new mother. No, my husband’s mother will be my mother in law and not my mother. I will love her as much as I love my mother, so help me God.  But I can’t live in my mother’s cloak anymore. Not that I do, but I am always at her beck and call. What will happen when I can no longer drop shit and rush to her rescue? I will of course be rushing to her rescue but it might be a few minutes late. What will happen to her then?
 
We don’t share our struggles until it’s too late but can you talk to mother? She worries if you have not shaved your hair and beard for two weeks. Remember the time she gave me Ksh 200 to give you to go shave? Little did she know you were trying to convert to Islam and you were so jaded you forgot the faith doesn’t forbid shaving. Remember the day you came home so drunk just because you missed her and you came to bring shopping and pay her electricity bill. You were so drunk but totally adorable. Where did all that love go? Does growing older take it away?
 
Please come back. If only because Mother misses you.
 
With Love,

Kendi.
 
===
Sister here is my friend, Kendi Gikunda. No, it is not addressed to me, but I imagined receiving a similar letter from my sister. I am now calling my mother every few hours. Truth.
It is so heartbreaking it makes my heart sag. Kendi is a writer that plays with all your emotions. She makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you jump, makes you sleep. I am proud to host her guest post in my blog this International Women’s Day | Read her blog

Kendi, Happy International Women’s Day…to you and my mother. The point got home.

Invest in Your Woman!

couple money woman

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

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

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

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

“Oh. Okay” I stutter.

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

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

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

Bastard of a man!

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

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

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

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

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

Me, in my outright style asks her…

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

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

“Sex”

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

“But I hear sex is mutual.”

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

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

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

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

Your responsibility as a man

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animals in love

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

 Attention

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

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

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

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

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

========

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

THAT Year After High School

high school jobless kenya
KCSE is over! I had forgotten about KCSE, it’s existence, and importance till this year. My brother, who has had a very difficult high school life and a live-in cousin have both completed KCSE. Welcome to semi-life, Evans and Alex. Now, please stop, and tell your parents to stop, calling me asking if you can come to stay with me for some time. I’m a bachelor about town and I like staying alone. More importantly, I want you to stay at home and ‘enjoy’ life as I enjoyed it back then-raw!
 
It was quite a year, well, not really a year because life became hard and I shipped myself to college too soon. It was a year I had been looking forward to for four years- when I would be finally free from the high school bell(I hated that thing), githeri and Maths. I would also turn 18 at some point in that year, and hence the license to do adult things.
 
Right after high school, an older cousin of mine talked my mother into making me go to her place to help her run her shop. It was fun for me because then, our part of world didn’t have electricity and I was a sucker for music, movies and coloured TV. I would spend the day alone in the shop in a very bad location, reading novels, listening to music, playing Snake on my Nokia 1100….. and entertaining girls from the neighbourhood, also Form 4 leavers. Winnie, are you reading this? 🙂
 
It got boring. I had fast, warm blood and I didn’t want to stay in a remote town doing nothing. I wanted to go back home where I knew more people, and where I would stay without working.
So, I ‘resigned’ and went to Computer School. Those computer basics classes people go to study Microsoft Office and MSDOS. Here, I reconnected with friends, made new friends(Are you there – Jon, Maureen, Aggy, Matthew, Deno?). It was a fine, two hour class, after which people would take each other for lunch, go to one of the rich kids’ house to play computer games and deejay; laze around, or go home. Life was good. Until KCSE results came out in February! People separated themselves-those who passed, those who failed and watu wa katikati. It was a childish game of esteem. Don’t ask me where I was.
 
In the process, I got a job! You see, I was, and I think still am, a fairly respected member of the society and I was offered a job to teach every afternoon, after computer class, at the local secondary school! They didn’t have many teachers and had to share classes among three or four teachers, but then, there were only two classes, Form 1 and 2. No one could teach Geography. I asked them to give me subjects I loved, like English and Swahili but the elder who approached me told me they believed I was capable of teaching any subject. So Geography it was-never mind I didn’t take Geography in high school. I simply summarized the text book and dictated notes. For a whole two weeks! And then I resigned. Teaching wasn’t fun. Ladies and gentlemen, this was how long my career as a teacher lasted-two weeks!
 
Since there was nothing I was doing in the evenings, I started going out like a proper circumcised Meru man. I would go to “canteen” ( take it to mean town or shopping centre) and hang out with other guys. I have always been sensitive about who I hang out with, so, I never misbehaved too much. I never chewed miraa, which everyone else was, so, I would always get tea and ngumu and make intelligent analysis of the village politics, play pool and watch soap operas. I did not miss a single episode of Love is Timeless on KBC!
 
I had just discovered Hip Hop and in true gangsta livin'(knowwhatamsayin?), we would spend days in Maua town, listening to hip hop in barber shops, photocopy bureaus, and cyber cafes. The crew- Marti(he used to run his father’s battery charging joint), Royson, Kawaida, Kiumbe, Anto(the only employed person in the group-those chopees work for Equity after school), Mwalim Tembe(he had accepted the teaching vocation) and Alex (he used to run a photocopy)- had formed a clique, clad in flashy tshirts, baggy jeans and standin’ caps). Sometimes, armed with Marti’s car batteries, Anto’s woofer, Alex’ computer and my music CDs, we would go to parks, blast music (I should have become a DJ, Virtual DJ) and fool around with the hottest girls in town.We were living the gangsta life, man.
Don’t they look G? Royson, Marti, Kawaida and Chief Kiumbe
But then we started disintegrating, or growing up. Some of us were shipped off by their sore parents. At some point, an NGO appeared, giving courses on community mobilisation and HIV to idle school leavers. We formed an objective group of five. We called it Touch and we had lots of dreams for the community. We would perform play-skits in churches, youth camps and an event we developed-The Touch Extravaganza. It was fun. We were talented. We would not write the scripts. Since I was tasked with coming up with ideas, I would write one paragraph synopsis, and the team would know what to do or say. I have paused here to stare at the ceiling in nostalgic memory. That was a good team. Me, Alex, Doris, Bessy and Mfa (Bless his soul). I think this is how the high school leavers should spend their one year. Getting creative for the society.
 
I also had a girlfriend(say Amen). She was still in high school and I would make her late for school every time on opening days. When she was around, we would spend as much time as we could. She had two other friends and with my clique of Alex and Royson; and a few introductions and match-making, we became a group of 6 young lovers-3 couples trying to outdo each other in love antics. We did crazy things. Not bad things-my girlfriend dumped me because I was not ready for sex no matter how hard she tried. Story for another day.
 
Buoyed by the new free labour, my father finally bought a cow. For too long, we had been the only home in the neighbourhood without a cow. And the cow he bought was a guzzler. A Fresian cow. Those things can eat- they are supposed to eat 90 kilos of food and 50 litres of water every day. Living in a suburban place, there was no way we could get this much food. She was placed under my care and life became hell. I cut all the banana migomba at home to feed her, I ran a fence to the ground, I drained the water tank, and the cow would moo throughout with that loud mouth of hers. I decided that was tabia mbaya and resorted to corrective action. Every time she mooed, I would whip her, or hit her with a stone. Soon, she associated mooing with pain and stopped. What was the name for this from Biology?
The Fresian cow is a beast. Pic: LIC
 
But she was a snitch. Any time she heard dad come through the gate, she would throw tantrums like a kid. She knew this would always earn me “why is the cow hungry” questions. Another thing, she hated women. No woman would go close to her. And I was the only guy spending time at home. Why do females hate each other so much?
 
Silly cow made me cut my free year short and go to college.
Main Pic: Unemployed youth www.amshaafrica.org 

A Kenyan Man Goes to Buy Condoms

conndoms

So the girl you have been eyeing for ages has finally accepted a sleepover and you have a feeling that this will be a good night. You had praised your kitchen skills on Whatsapp and she wants to taste your food. You will cook for her. So, you go to the market, or supermarket depending on where you are, and buy cooking stuff you don’t use in your bachelor pad, like carrots and cucumbers, garbage. You get ginger, dhania and pilipili hoho, too. If you are like me, the only malighafi(read spices) you normally use are salt, a small onion and tomatoes. Today you are stocked. It will be a hot dinner. You aim to impress the empress.

Your bachelor pad has only one bed, and you have a feeling that the kitchen won’t be the only hot room in the house tonight. You see, on Whatsapp, in your late night chats, you have started raunchy Truth or Dare games with raunchy details. You have this gut feeling that you have been blessed. Not for procreation purposes – she is not here for marriage. And you don’t want to return home ‘on a vehicle carrier in a box’ as your grandmother once said.

You will need condoms….. you know, just in case.

So after your shopping, you set out to look for the sheaths. That’s where trouble starts. You don’t buy these things like you buy potatoes. You have to sweat for it. As they say, good things rarely come easy.

So, you walk down the street, peeping into shops to see, one, if the good old packet is hung on the shelves and two if the shopkeeper is an approachable agemate. If you live in a small town, the shopkeepers are mostly women the age of your mother wearing glasses and kilemba. Such shopkeepers don’t stock condoms. It’s a sin. Your best bet is a chemist. So, you keep walking, looking for chemists.

condoms Amazon
Assorted Lifestyle Condoms: Amazon

Chemists

Chemist 1 has a queue. There is no way you will queue, and in the full glare of the public, ask for the forbidden sachets. Pass.

Chemist 2 has more than one attendant. You can’t imagine walking in and whispering to the guy that you want Durex and he shouts to the lady. “Do we have Durex in stock?” To which she shouts back, “No! Tell him we have Trust Studded and Salama!”. And after you leave they will discuss you, anyway. Pass, again.

Chemist 3 has one, approachable guy. But there is an older guy there, eating stories with him. He has even been given a chair, and from the looks of it, he is not too sick to stand. He plans to stay for long. You kick an avocado seed in the street in frustration. Why do people go to talk with the pharmacy guy? These people are cursed.

Chemist 4. Voila! There is only one guy inside so you pull your hood to your eyes and walk in. You find him talking on the phone and he cheerfully lifts his index finger, to please wait ooone moment. You place your shopping paper bags on the floor and shuffle your feet impatiently. Then, just then, a cute girl from the neighbourhood walks in. There is no way you are buying condoms in her presence. You never know, she may be a potential. You ask for mosquito coil, and ABZ, for de-worming. “This elnino has come with too many mosquitoes”. You explain.

How to buy condoms

Kiumane

You start walking back the way you came. Popping your eyes into the chemists. There has been no improvement. You start trying to remember if you have any leftover CDs from previous sexcapedes. You have one piece of Trust, two pieces of Femiplan, one piece of those brown government condoms, and an empty packet of some Durex under the bed. From what she had said on Whatsapp, she doesn’t do the deed in the dark. Chucking brands upon brands of condoms will be suicidal.

You decide….kiumane. You walk into Chemist 2- it also has M-Pesa:
Naweza toa?
“How much?”
3-fefte
“Sawa”

As the guy is perusing his M-Pesa book, you ask discretely. “Uko na CD gani?” He unashamedly turns and takes you through the entire wall of condoms like those Bata attendants showing you different shoes in a rack. You cut him short. “Give me 5 packets of Femiplan”Femiplan has 6 pieces per packet and with 30 condoms and a limited supply of partners, you know they will last a long time. You don’t want to go through this gruelling experience again.

You walk home, feeling like a Roman general who has just conquered the entire world.

Your guest arrives to a hot, saucy meal and when that time comes… it turns out it is that time of the month for her. You will not be using the condoms tonight, or anytime soon. You wail in agony.

And die.

****************

condoms meme

Fat or Thin, you are Beautiful!

fat or thin

A girl friend of mine inboxes me on Facebook, “Frank, imagine someone called me fat today”.

I ask her, “Who? Njoki Chege?”

She hasn’t replied to me. I think she feels terrible someone called her fat. She actually isn’t big, she has a nice body, but could might have added on just a little weight. She is a modern girl. It is a taboo for modern women to add weight.

But. What happened to the world? When did growing thin and skinny become sexy? When I was growing up in the village, that’s before I came across neo-colonized lifestyle magazines, being big was a sign of prestige. A big woman meant a wealthy husband who could afford food- unless she had elephantiasis, of course. My grandfather would ululate whenever I got visited by a big, healthy girl. And he would commented on such, even in her presence, “Mwenda, umetoa wapi hii ‘ngutu’ nzuri hivi?” (Where did you get such a beautiful young lady?).

On the other hand, being thin showed either of two things. You were either poor and couldn’t afford food, or you were sick. Very sick. Especially with the ‘neck disease‘ of tabia mbaya

There was even a song to it. Pole Musa. …. Kweli Muusa, uliponioa nilikuuwa na afya nzuri, nilinoona, kama ngoima ya….(never got this part)…. Loosely translated to ‘Moses, when I married you, I was healthy. I was as fat as a ngoima(whatever it is)….. And now with our unhappy marriage, I am thin.

Then this somehow changed.  I don’t know when, I don’t know how. My theory is some thin model with anorexia(sorry) decided to turn her body to her advantage, and marketed her condition as an advantage. Wicked opportunist. And then it became a trend…You know women with trends, trickled to Africa, and baam! Our women don’t want to embrace the African beauty any more.

The barbs thrown at big women by other women is disheartening. Have you ever wondered why it is only women who jeer at other women because of their size? Because, we, men, love plus size. It makes us proud. It shows the world there is no drought in our homes, that we are feeding you well, that our homes are happy.

“Bodies should be praised for the amazing feats they accomplish every second of the day, not for how they look in a bikini. So rather than shaming thinness to empower “real” women, can’t we all just get along?”

To the naturally big ladies, be yourself! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because of your size! Don’t lose your sleep because some thin person thought thought they are the SI unit of beauty and you are all things ugly. Look at yourself in the mirror. Smile. That is beautiful. Your smile is beautiful. Don’t cry your face into gloom. Treat other humans well. That is real beauty. Inner beauty, and that is all that matters. Body size is just that. Size.

The fellow women writing all these things to put you down have esteem issues. True story. And when you see such a post in social media, comment with your photo. That’s the best revenge. Show them you are everything they are not.

You are beautiful

Don’t force yourself to be them. YOU are beautiful, let them also try to be YOU for a change.

When you force yourself to be thin and it’s not your body, it makes you look bad! You grow bags under your eyes, your neck looks funny, your breasts become oversize and overweight because they don’t slim with you, and soon, you bend over permanently. Can’t you see that? Don’t force yourself. You were created wonderfully and amazingly beautiful, don’t struggle to fit into someone else’s body. Don’t fight to become someone else! The master had a plan for you.

I didn’t say the slim women are sick. Okay, just a few. What I mean is, be yourself. You have your body for a reason, and whether you are plus size or minus size, it is your body. Keep it fit. Maintain it. Don’t distort it in any way. Dress it well, flaunt all you can. You are beautiful. They are not. Appreciate yourself, and others. Don’t tell others off because you don’t have their type of body. Shut up- unless you created them.

I am also not saying you get obese! God forbid. Just make sure you keep your BMI on point. Be healthy.

Norah: My Flame!

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

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

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

“Why not? Go on, write”

“But where”

“I can help you set up a blog”

“I will just write for you” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all my love.

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

Yesterday was her birthday. Happy Birthday, Norah!

Catch up with her on: Facebook 

To My Teachers and all Teachers: I Love You!

teachers punishment Kenya

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

 Somebody hook me up with a newspaper!

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

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

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

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

teachers were savage

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

Upper Primary: Coming back after lunch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Head teachers

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

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

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

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

Unbroken records

Frankmwenda Gitura Primary School classmates
Some of My classmates

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

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

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

My Wife and I: I Will be a Perfect Husband

husband and wife

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

Read: I am looking for a wife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Responsible husband
Pic: HubPages

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

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

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

Pic; Today.com

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

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

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

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

Where is this wife?

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

-3T
 
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Main Pic: My work colleague, and one of my best friends, Evelyne, and her family. Hubby Benah and daughter, my niece, Jaja(Wanja)
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I am Looking for a Wife!

Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 My mother vs my wife

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

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

nerd wife
I want a geek wife.
Source: IndiaPictures

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

 A Manager for my Money

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

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

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

No excuses for what I have in mind
Pic: AngeliaAngel

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

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

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

 Are you there?

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

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Baite Inside! Yes, I am a Meru!

Meru Boy chewing miraa

A few weeks ago, I was lazily scrolling my Facebook when I saw a beauty. Some of you will call me a fisi, but males are supposed to “see” beautiful females, right?  I see them a lot. But this one caught my eye. She was beautiful. I just like such photos. But I commented on this. See, she was wearing a tee shirt that resonated with me. It had this message that I had seen before but, frankly, hadn’t given much thought: Baite Inside: Proud to be Meru. A few inbox messages later, I called up Ivy, who happens to have a very callable voice, and we struck a deal. I wanted my tee shirt delivered to me in diaspora!

A day later, my shipment arrived, complete with a complimentary CD-of a collection of some of the best Meru hit songs. It is a black cotton Baite Inside tee which is as comfortable as it is head turning. She has a whole line in several designs and messages and they are too cool to be missing in your wardrobe. Stay with me, I will tell you how you can get them.

 

Baite Inside t-shirt and Meru songs
This is the package

This t-shirt is not a fashion statement for me. This is a memoir. A constant reminder of who I am, and where I come from. Remember, it is okay to be aware and proud of your tribe without despising other tribes. It is okay to celebrate your music(or lack of it), your customs, your history, your beliefs, your politics, your financial activities, and basically, who you are.

I will close my eyes down this roller coaster:

Once upon a time, a community was slave to another community that wore red clothes(Nguu Ntune) that lived in Mbwaa the. They suffered so much, they needed to escape. So, led by their god-chosen leader, they went to the master king and demanded freedom. They needed to move. Since their labour was needed, the king adamantly refused to let them leave. He put them under hard tests with a promise to let them leave if they passed the impossible tasks. This community was so bright,they managed every time, but the master king wouldn’t let them leave. So, one night, they escaped Mbwaa, but came across a Red Sea(Îria Îtune). They panicked. The master community was closing in on them fast. The gods instructed the community leader to strike the Water with his stick, and guess what-the water parted! They crossed, walked through deserts and eventually reached the land of milk and honey, around the center of Kenya.

Sounds familiar, right? Yes, from the Bible. But this story had been told even before Bibles came to Kenya. This is the story of the Meru! See, we are like Israel. There is a place in Meru where Jesus walked. We have footprints to show! Do I sound proud enough, or should I up my game?

 

Njagi Junkie Jesus footsteps Meru
via: @njagijunkie

Yes! I am a Meru

Yes. I am a Meru. I am as arrogant as Prof. Kaimenyi. I don’t have to listen to what you have to say because where I come from, men are automatically what psychology calls Assertive Sanguines. I am not sure that exists but hey! It exists because I said so. It is, in reality, not arrogance, but sheer self belief. I am an alpha.

Yes, I am a Meru. I speak loudly. You may have your ears close but I will shout into them. I shout into the phone and I shout my whispers. Why? The point above. Self-belief! And then I don’t like repeating myself. Once I tell you something, I have to make sure it is loud and clear. Especially loud.

Yes, I am a Meru. I am hot tempered and I can cut you into pieces at the slightest provocation. Sorry, remove the “cut you into pieces”. We don’t cut people to kill, we cut people to teach them a lesson. We will cut your hand for stealing miraa(not food). Your face for grabbing someone’s wife. Your leg for trespassing. We will never cut you to steal your livestock. Or because some politician didn’t win an election. Or because you are from another tribe. We will cut you to discipline you, and take you to hospital afterwards. We are peaceful people.

 

Miraa farm in Meru
Money on a tree. Hands up if you have ever seen a miraa tree

Choose your punishment

Speaking of discipline, a man from Laare (google that) caught a thief stealing his miraa. Ili liwe funzo kwako na wengine kama wewe, he generously gave him four options:
  • Wear gumboots filled with boiling porridge.
  • Get his left hand cut off.
  • Eat a bowl of latrine soup. That is, the smudge: combination of shit, pee and worms fetched from a pit latrine. Worse than sewage.
  • Eat a live chameleon. (Those things are as creepy as they are poisonous).

What would you have chosen?

Yes. I am a Meru. I live on a herb. Miraa! My father built our home strictly with miraa money. I was educated using miraa money. I am building a house using miraa money and I will take my children to school using miraa money. Our churches, schools, community health centers are built and run using miraa money. And yes, we meet every evening to chew the holy herb. We chew and tell stories, dreams, visions- miraa is eye opening- and then go home and perform our “family duties” exquisitely. And it is true, miraa is a drug…. just like coffee, tea and Panadol!

Yes. I am a Meru. We have beautiful, humble, intelligent, hardworking women. Our women let us the men run affairs like the Bible wants women to be. They take up the role of the neck nicely. They support us (also hardworking) men wholly. They leave the responsibility of, say, cutting, to men. They don’t cut men’s transformers like some people we know. And men, even in all the cutting skills, will never cut their women. Who cuts a good thing? If a woman wrongs a man,which is rare, the discipline is meted by the man’s woman: wife, sister, mother or cousin. We don’t fight our women! We went to Beijing.

 

Ivy
Soni: via Ivy

I am talented but I won’t show.

Yes, I am a Meru. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t act, I can’t play any professional game. I don’t seem to represent Kenya anywhere. But that’s just me. There are 4 Kimeru radio stations and 2 TV stations playing 80% Kimeru content. We do sing(btw, who was that Meru guy singing in Churchill Show with Ali Kiba the other day?) We have comedians commanding the industry. We just don’t shout about it, and it is a good joke, anyway, when people say we can’t do all these things. We just don’t, because we have better things to do than cry on stage or play like children.

On a serious matter of Life and Death: You must visit Meru county. You must visit the wildlife conservancies ….experience the Meru hospitality in the hotels, streets, markets…. Get Grade 1 farm produce straight from the farm(money being the root of all evil, we will sell to you at almost-free prices)….. Awe and smiles are infectious in Meru..and please don’t forget to catch the enviable Amerucan accent!

Yes. I am a Meru. I stop when I want, and I am done with this story. You can share your Meru experiences in the comment box below.

Let’s now talk about Ivy, the Kamanu Entertainment and the ensemble. Call Ivy on +254724398865 or catch up with her on Facebook. Tell her I sent you, and make demands, like you want a CD as well, and you want her to deliver personally. She may send me a free hood if you buy. It’s totally worth memoir, no matter where you are from. And, oh, I am not sure if Ivy is married.

Here is part of the collection:

 

All these messages can be replicated to any of the designs. You get to choose your message, and the design!

ION: I want to join the Njuri Ncheke. Does anyone know how?

Fare thee well, Mfa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best friends with Maabi, my grandpa

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

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

We were the proverbial partners in crime.

Friday 17th July 2015

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Always bubbly with laughter. Wedding ‘security’ freak

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

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

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

Goodbye, and say hi to Metal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a catch, though.

“Leave me your phone”

No. I can’t.

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

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

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

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

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

You will spend 20 years in prison for forgery

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

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

“Where are you from, kijana?”

“Meru”

“Where did you get this ticket?”

“Kangeta”

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

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

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

I shake my head, trembling.

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

Wow!

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

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

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

A phone made of sponge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nairobi had scored me 2-0 in two days.

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

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

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

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

I am not amused. So I quip.. “What?” 

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

Probably, that Kamba security guard actually bewitched me.

Nairobi 3-0 Frank. In one week.

Nitakupaka ****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t have money”

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

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

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

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

Nairobi Initiation 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

Want ‘Free’ Information? Pay me.

Be nice, Share information

I once wrote a rather historical-informative article for a company blog. Now, it required information from either books, or people who had been in the organization for long. You know, to provide me with the milestones and important dates for the organization. I dug in the archives and got little such information-so I had to resort to the latter-people.

As always, they were very helpful. That organization  is one where teamwork and ‘community’ is embedded. I got information, and where they could not help, they would refer me to someone who was likely to have the information. Most pointed to someone who has been around for some time. Their father figure.

So I talked to him. And got shocked.

“Why should I help you do something for your own benefit? When you write that story there will be nothing for me, all the accolades will go to you. So, I am sorry I can’t help. I don’t work that way”

To say I felt dejected is an understatement. Why did he have to behave that way? What’s in such information, anyway? It is common knowledge, and you have nothing to lose, so why, hold such information? It’s for the benefit of the organization. So, why hold it?

It reminds me of the 2009 Kenya National Census which I took part in. Two homes bluntly refused to be enumerated. Why? Because I was being paid to talk to them and they were not being given anything? So? One old lady even asked for a bribe.

Why do you refuse to assist when you can? This is one very bad trait. There are people who outwardly appear friendly, decent colleagues but inwardly are withholding information, playing dumb, and looking to gain any minimal advantage. For example – A software which is relatively straightforward to use, but might be a little clunky to use – Colleagues will give you no hints, tips pointers, overview. They won’t give you the real knowledge to get the job done well – whereas its bare minimal information, with nothing to lose!

Assisting others helps develop a reputation as a team player. This altruism also can enhance individual feelings of worthiness, competency, and belonging.

When that student comes to interview you to complete their college research work, why not help them? Or the intern/new employee looking for their way around, why withhold the information they need?

And there is the stranger who asks you for direction.

These are some of the basic qualities of being a human being. You never know where you will meet them tomorrow.

6 Things you Must do to be Effective.

What does it take to stand out as an effective person?

The other day, we had a sit-rep (that’s military lingo for unofficial inter-flow meetings) with Christine (you probably know her as MrsMwiti). Now, if you have had a chance to visit her blog, you will be mystified by the wisdom that she oozes. What’s more, she is my official mentor. We sit-rep all day at work. Call me lucky.

Now, the other day, we had a meeting, and the topic of discussion was Personal Branding- that is, how I can brand myself, how to be really effective, productive….. how to be perfect at workplace.

We came up with the following points:

1. Write things down

Christine emphasizes this to me, always. She had told me to get a get a diary for 6 months, and I kept, well postponing. I had this book where I used to write my stuff, and it was a huge excuse I had-I would even write the date at the top daily. One day, she just brought me a diary- and I am better! You see, a diary makes you more focused, helps you plan and grow. It helps you gather your thoughts, hold yourself accountable and helps you not forget, even the small important things.

This is age old. When you write things down, you can’t forget. I have learnt to write a to-do list every morning, but Christine told me I need a Not-To-Do list. This helps you have the things you ought to do at the back of your mind, and in view. It helps you know your priorities-what you must do ASAP,what you can do later, what you can do if time remains, and what you won’t do! Go back to pint one-those are the benefits.

2. Always Respond to communication, ASAP

You receive an email or a phone or a message on social media from a workmate, or a customer. You need to respond! Even if it’s just to say ‘Noted’. This lets the other person know that you have received the message, and now, the ball is in your court. It makes them satisfied and earns your brand a point or two. When someone addresses you, kindly respond. Let that person know that you heard him. This is common courtesy. This alone will set you apart from others who routinely say nothing, but stare blankly into space.Responding to people is just another way of showing them that they matter. Believe it or not, some customers will determine how much business they will bring to your place of employment based on how well you treat them.

Urgency is also a virtue here. You need to do what needs to be done immediately.

3. Build the reputation you want with people 

People see what you want them to see in you-and they will treat you that way. For example, in my work line, I depend on other people to fulfill most of the duties. If I don’t pester (oops! Follow up on my teammates, I will build a reputation of “Frank’s work is not so urgent, he doesn’t follow up, so, let me push it down my to-do list” and I will be grounded. Or if I don’t do my part of the bargain, they will say “He doesn’t do my work well, so, I won’t do his well”. In a nutshell, the golden rule applies. Attitude for attitude, respect for respect.

4. Be dependable

Christine tells me, Always deliver. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but just deliver. Be dependable. By your actions, show people that they can depend on you, and that you keep your commitments. Arrive to work on time, return phone calls, and perform tasks on time—remember that simple commitment is important, too.

In addition, no matter what you are assigned to do, strive to achieve a consistent level of quality and excellence. Be known for performing tasks well all the time.

5. Interact, Be Up-To-Date.

You need to know what is happening around you. Get the broad picture (national, global view) and the local view (your workplace, departmental view). Read news daily, keep learning. You can get news on the internet, papers, books.. and most importantly, people! Grapevine is very important for growth. It doesn’t always have to be useless gossip. Milk information from people, pop into conversations if you have to-it’s a gold mine. Just don’t look snobbish. 🙂
In summary:

  • Know what your tasks are and accomplish them well. Prepare a to-do list if you must to ensure that nothing will slip through the cracks. Your checklist will help you keep track of the things you have to work on.
  • Be a good teammate. The office works like a machine with many parts. If one part does not function well, the entire machine will not work well. Participate in all activities. Cooperate. Do your part of the job, and do it well. Always keep in mind that there are people depending on you. Don’t let them down. Be dependable.
  • Give yourself a deadline, and stick to it.
  • Avoid procrastinating. Do not delay performing tasks which you can work on today. Be proactive.
  • Keep learning new things. There’s always something new to explore and learn about. Learning new things will help enrich your knowledge and capabilities even more.

Pic Source: Inside Facebook

This list is not exhaustive. Add your tip in the comment section below.

Relationship Advice: Men Need Space!

Men need space in love
Pic source: SBM

The other night, I received a call from my friend’s girlfriend (It’s complicated, now-I will tell you why), she called me at around 8:00 pm as I was reading a novel, waiting for my broth to cook. THAT MOMENT! She is a jovial person, and calls to say hi, or tease me.

Not today. She was sobbing, that struck me. “Frank, uko wapi (where are you)?” No greetings.

I told her I was in the house, and she asked if I was busy. Well, I was, but given the situation, I said, “It depends” to which she said she had to see me “now“. Friends, what would you have done? What would you have thought? A thousand thoughts crisscrossed my mind. The most prevalent was on the premises of death, or some calamity.

 So, I just turned off the cooker and went out to meet her. It was late, and the trail is not so safe, and she was out there, coming to me. I just touched my Bible, put on a jacket, and left the house.

So I met her. She was crying. Sobbing loudly.

Too much for the suspense. I told her to tell me what was going and she got started, chattering how she had met her boyfriend ( that’s my friend, let’s call him Fred), the whole story, how she has never loved anybody like him, how they were so different but strong love bonded them, how they had SMSed each other the previous day (she showed me, some sweet lovey dovey nothings), and all those, 30 minutes.

“But since yesterday, he has been unavailable on the phone”. The bombshell was on the way, “but when I called him a few minutes ago, a girl picked up the phone and told me she is Fred’s wife, and that I should never call the number at night again, or EVER!”

At that point, she was getting hysterical and passers by were staring at us. I felt embarrassed, but relieved. This was no bad news!

So, I now assumed the Dr. Phil role, and found out that “We have not been having any problems lately, as you could see from yesterday’s SMS” and “he was mteja all day, and when the phone went through, I called more than ten times without him answering, finally the girl answered” I figured out that the guy had no wife, or anything close, he had gone looking for some ‘wife’ to answer the phone! Genius!

I even called him, and he told me so himself, that he was just tired. And I figured out something else, THE GUY NEEDED SPACE! Shoot me.

If a guy feels you are too demanding in the relationship, that you are mother-henning him, that you are nagging him, he will start clamoring for space! Especially if he has some ego problems he want to solve. Fred has been out of contract at work, and he is really feeling down. And that she had told him the previous day, not to worry about that, that things will be Okay. That he will get a renewal, and if he needed anything, she would be there to help. Kaboom!

And I told her, give him space! Don’t call him, he will call you back, and we can bet on that!

See, a man with issues is a difficult one to understand. At times his mind will get so foggy that he can’t see or think clearly, in other words, the path he was once on is no longer visible, there may be a ton of issues that’s on his mind including his relationship with you. His way of solving his issues is to first begin with the present, which is his significant other. He will ask for space, (understand that he’s not shutting the door on your relationship, he’s just merely pushing it in a bit with hopes of returning), at this time he will utilize his time alone to prioritize and sort through what’s badgering him, it may take a couple weeks, a month or moreregardless, if you feel that he is someone worth waiting for, then all you need to do is be confident, trust and have patience. Once he’s able to start solving his problems, the fog slowly starts to disappear which now makes the path he was once on VISIBLE again. This is when he will attempt to follow the path back to where he left off in hopes of you still being there. Asking for space is a risk that he is taking, it’s a risk of losing his significant other, but if you both had a strong relationship and you knew that you fulfilled each other in ways that no one else could, then there is a high possibility that his significant other will be waiting for him.

Women are more open with their emotions, they are more sensitive, they love to talk things out when there is a problem, cry easily and tend to need reassurance at times. Men on the other hand are more reserved with their feelings, it’s never up for discussion, being pressured to talk does nothing but push them away and even if they are heartbroken, they keep it to themselves. Men cope with emotions differently, men will probably say things to their significant other that may be hurtful, when in reality they don’t intentionally mean to hurt you, they do this in hopes that it will be the end of the conversation at that very moment, deep down they are probably hurting inside just as much as you are, but they just don’t know how to let that feeling out especially when they feel pressured.

Am I right, or wrong?

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