#LifeSnippets – Happily Married!

Setting : At a shoeshine on Dubois lane. Off River Road. In the line of sight of Kampala Coach.

Man 1 : Shoe shiner who looked in his mid-30s. Well-put together, well-fed.

Man 2 : His skinny looking pal who looked 25.

Music playing on the background – Umenikalia chapati by Sauti Sol.

Not kidding!

Conversation was in Kiswahili and Kikuyu.

married

Man I (starting to shine my shoe): Say hi to the neighbors. And this story of living alone is not good.

Man 2 (walking away from shoe shine stand): Have I told you I am gonna marry this year?

Man 1 : You should! You are what 25? Time is running out. Me I did it at 25. Best decision. When you do your life will be sorted out.

Man 2 : Really?

Man 1 : Look at you. Your trouser is falling. You don’t eat do you? With a wife at home you will be well-fed. You will have to eat her food. If you don’t you’ll tell her where you ate. Look at me (Pats round belly), I tie my belt up here (pats top of belly).

Me : Laughs.

Man 2 : I have heard you. I’ll put effort.

Man 1 : Good. See you kesho.

Man 1 : (talking to me) He’s a nice boy. I try push him onto the nice path. You know its hard to find a nice boy what aint wasting his life with alcohol/drugs. So that’s why I am on his case. Someone who is deep in the drugs you can’t tell him to marry, you tell him to quit drugs. Our men are getting lost and a woman can help ground a man, direct him in the right path.

Me : Aha! (Nodding with freshly shined shoes)

married 2

 

Alcohol is wiping away a generation of men in Nairobi and across the country.

Men have lost hope and are drinking for a living. Or more importantly drinking themselves to death. Wines and spirits are the biggest business in every hood selling cheap kill-me-quick liquor.

As we focus on the girl-child the boy-child is falling through the cracks.

Quite a huge chunk of men are getting left behind by women in the cycle of life. A woman is working, getting her ish together while a man who grew up with said woman or is even 5years older is neck deep in drink with no plan for today let alone tomorrow.

Little wonder that women are resorting to single-motherhood and the cry around Nairobi is ‘where are the good men’?

It may seem an individual dilemma but methinks its a societal one. The imbalance of men and women is a threat to the societal fibre, an affront to the natural order and just at the basic level two are better than one, no?

 

married (1)

Food for thought.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets – Guilt Tax (Kenyan welfare)

Setting : A middle class estate in Nairobi.

Cast : A group of men are seated at the ‘base’. Chewing mugoka, drinking spirits and smoking as they ‘escort the sun’.

‘Base’ is the name for where jobless, hustling guys seat in Nairobi estates passing time, abusing drugs, taking in the sights of the neighborhood and debating anything and everything.

buru

Me: (passing in front of Base, waving)

Cast: Come for a bit!

Me: (walk over wondering wsap)

Cast: We need to talk.

Me: About?

Cast: Ever since you moved on up and started working there is something you have not done.

Me: What?

Cast: Blessed the Base

Me: Ooooh!

Cast: You need to buy us drinks till we drop. Do not think of us drinking your money but more like you pouring liquor on this base and the base thereby blessing you and your money.

Me: (laughs a lot) I have heard. (Walks away)

***

Unemployment is huge in Nairobi. You may think its only prevalent in the slums and lower class estates but even the so-called middle-class estates are not immune.

Its effect is worse in the middle-class estates as the unemployed are children of retired bankers, civil servants, teachers. They saw their parents work their butt off to secure their education but now that education is redundant as job search becomes the job. Their parents being working class also limits their entrepreneurial spirit as all they were conditioned to aspire to is employment.

No job leads hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to life apathy. Life apathy leads to a drug-full life. Whiled away at base.

Simplification? Yes. Reality? Yes.

If you are lucky enough to get a job and you are from the hood then you will at one time or another pay guilt tax.

TAXES

Guilt tax is paid when you are walking/driving through the hood and someone asks for a ten bob for a cigarette or you are in the local and someone hustles you for a beer or for additional cash to buy a drink.

You pay the guilt tax not because you are rich or because you have to but because you know but for the grace of God there goes you.

You are not special just lucky.

Away from the hood setting, the guilt tax is also paid in family, extended or nuclear. We all have that uncle who texts asking for an MPesa donation because he has new wife, new child or new cow.

In retrospect, the guilt tax maybe Kenya’s version of welfare.

Plugging the gaps and pushing the broken societal wheel forward.

vi-travelcarecartoon5

So maybe I will bless the base after all.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets – 4am Loving

*Of interesting things that happen to me and things that I happen to overhear.*

clock
4am on a Saturday morning.

At the gate to the court in the estate.

A Passio driven at top speed comes to a halt.

A lady jumps out and says, “Thanks! Ufike poa.”

The male driver pleadingly asks, “You’ve just gone? You can’t even say thanks with a kiss?”

Lady leans in. Kisses man for half a minute. Then bangs car door and jauntily walks into court.

Man reverses in haste. Gears engaged. Car flies off.

Frustration is not a good look.

cardiff-4am-project-006

Got me thinking. At 4am not only do you have to look out for drunk drivers you have to be wary of another breed of drivers.

The sex-crazed: Those who have chipod and are rushing to get some.

The frustrated: Those who thought they have scored only to discover they were a cabbie for the night.

condom

Stay safe on the roads and no matter what time you love do remember to use protection.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets – Becoming Baba Nani.

*Of interesting things that happen to me and things that I happen to overhear.*

Setting – barbershop in the hood

Man 1 – late 20s, early 30s, office worker. Getting haircut.

Man 3 – mid-30s, hustler in the hood. Waiting in the queue.

Man 2 – Barber. Oldish guy.

 

imagesBABY
Man 2: Mbona umetulia hivi. Mawazo ni ya nini? Si ulimarry juzi. Mama ameenda nini?

Man 1: Sare za ovyo. Mi nataka mjunior mbaya. Nimepeleka mama mbio lakini wapi.

Man 2: Wacha nikuchapie. Hii kitu haitakangi mbio

Man 3: Eh. Mimi first born wangu nilikula mama kutoka first mpaka thirtyth ya mwezi ya kwanza. Halafu next month hivyo hivyo. Na bado hakuget ball. Mpaka ikakuwa tension kwa hao. Ndiyo mzae fulani akanichanua. Kula ni ka mchezo. Usifikirie stori ya mjunia.

Man 1: Nashangaa niaje. Nikicheza nje kitambo madem walikuwa wanaget ball na misitaki. Sahii nataka siget.

Man 2: Nimemarika for long. Nisikizeni. Mtoi ni God. Ukimwonyesha ati wewe ndiye unajua atakuonyesha si wewe. Utakula mpaka uchoke. Na usiget mtoi. Kwa hivyo tulia. Toa stori ya mtoi kwa kichwa. Kula mama bila pressure. Enjoy. Utashangaa atakuambia anaball.

Man 3: Imagine hivyo ndiyo kulienda. Ki-surprise tu mama akaniambia anaball.

Man 1: Wazi jo wasee. Nilikuwa nimeshangaa niaje.

Me: Aha!

Such is the level of intimacy men exhibit at a barbershop.

Also, conception and parenthood is as much a concern for men as for women.

And fathering a child (when said man is ready) is seen as a feather in the cap by most men.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Spinning the ICC, Governing by PR

Let me let you in on a little secret.

I lined up to welcome private citizen Uhuru Kenyatta who returning from his Hague date. Ssssssssh. Keep it between us.

BD+Uhuru+Return+0910l.JPG

As a schoolboy lining up for retired president Moi – who prophesied that KANU would rule for 100 years to much derision (Who is laughing now?) – was normal. He seemed to always be on the go and he (or his handlers) felt that school children should either be lining the road waving or singing for him at different forums. Moi also said “now you are saying Moi must go but one day you will say Moi must come.” And the hullaballoo at Moi’s birthday did somewhat validate his statement.

So Chief Chef Lenku’s circular requesting for peace-loving Kenyans presence along the roads which the private citizen/President was not a shocker. After all the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Curiosity and my continued study of human nature fuelled my ten minutes walk to Makadara along Jogoo Road. And my timing was impeccable. Fifteen minutes upon my arrival the motorcade made its appearance.

It is common knowledge that Uhuruto used ICC case and astute PR to ascend to power. Communities which felt under siege came together to protect their sons using the tyranny of numbers. And spin or PR if you like whitewashed the picture (and eyes).

Just how much this ICC and PR narrative sold is now unfolding.

The-International-_2166929b

The mass of people at Makadara was positively buzzing. These were not rent-a-crowd folk. These were people sharing a common unshakeable belief. Not subject to reason or logic. It is because it is kind of belief. It felt like a stadium or a church.

Young and old. Male and female. Seated and standing. All waiting. Happily. Anxiously.

Snippets of conversation in the alternative national language floated around me. “He is ours.” “God-given.” “He is our blood.”

One side of phone conversations was overhead; “I am here. I could not miss it for anything. Where are you standing?” Also, “Where are you?….you can’t make it…he is almost here.”

Then the outriders’ zoomed past signalling the much awaited moment was near and the buzzing crowd became alive. Screaming, chanting and dancing. The junction into Buruburu from Jogoo Road was blocked as the frenzied crowd demanded an address.

Before I walked away I caught a snippet of Uhuruto and their astonishment was clear. The narrative gelled together around ICC and PR had worked beyond their wildest dreams. More conversation snippets floated around me. “See what we voted for?” “See the fruits of our labour?”

The ICC case and astute PR has managed to turn Uhuru support into a fanatical undertaking. The support is more than political. It is something akin to religion. And religion is now being woven into the narrative. Uhuru is viewed as the Chosen One. A popular chant of Uhuru supporters is “Si nguvu/si uchawi, ni maombi.” (It is not our strength/it is not witchcraft, it is prayer.) Songs have also being composed to that effect. Uhuru’s presidential victory is touted as an answered prayer.

kenya-flag

Another by-product of the ICC case and PR is flag-waving patriotism. Most of the crowd at Makadara had the flag. Matatus and even private cars flew the flag. The flag being used was Kenyan but is the Nation Kikuyu? Put another way, to the crowd at Makadara is the Kikuyu nation synonymous with the Kenya nation? Or another way to ask the question is did the challenge mutate from personal to communal to national? And now international?

Articles 147 and 134 are in the constitution. Ruto is a Deputy not Vice. It follows then when principal is absent the deputy acts. But politics is about perception. And Uhuruto use of PR is phenomenal. So amid much fanfare President Uhuru became a private citizen while Deputy Ruto became Acting President complete with trappings of power.

uhuruto

A fact that one following the ICC case may found hard to believe is that post election violence actually happened. The Kikuyu bore a substantial brunt of the violence. The Uhuruto bromance aside, the hoi polloi still harboured a grudge. A Ruto presidency was unfathomable. Too much blood under the bridge it was said. But after ‘the handing over power’ show a Ruto presidency is now somewhat discussable. Which given numbers tyranny, then a ten plus ten Uhuruto reigns may not be fiction.

Remember the 100 years prophesy? Tingisa kabisa.

So what do all these variables portend for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the ICC case good for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the management by PR good mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

I have no idea.

You?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

p.s – ALL images courtesy Google.


My meeting with Wole Soyinka.

Dated Nov 2006.

Yes, penned this almost 8 years ago. Time does fly.

Ex-student leader turned politician – Kingwa Kamencu

Two Caine Prize winners –  Binyavanga Wainaina & Yvonne Odhiambo

Celebrity blogger – James Murua

****

 

The Kenyan in me just had to share this real account of my afternoon with self-exiled, Nobel Laureate, soon to be president of Nigeria(for real!).

To start with I must digress….the previous day I was meant to have coffee with an ex-student leader turned politician. Sounds familiar? She is also a writer but she stood up as she just had to fit a suit for a big event next day. Imagine my shock when I turned up for the event in my usual shirt and trouser!

The event which was dubbed “Moderated session” (what’s with the NGO-speak?) was meant to start at midday but was at last minute in our very African way pushed to 2.30pm .Had things to do at the office as I am just an ordinary Kenyan struggling to make an honest living (navumilia) but by 2pm was to ready to roll. I could not miss this for anything! Driver picked me up promptly as scheduled, we passed through the bank (grants to be signed, art is expensive!), then went to British Council to pick up my boss (meeting for more cash. clearly art is expensive) then proceeded to The GoDown which is funded by the Ford Foundation (clearly mzungu money hard at work for Kenyan art but what’s that about who pays the piper calls the tune?).

Anyway riding in a car with two Caine Prize winners (big literary award-cash prize=0.7M) and also the only celebrity blogger in town must be what they call fringe benefits of my job!

Get to The GoDown and as usual I’m amused by the fact that almost everyone here has dreadlocks (fad, trend or arty?). Polite meet and greet then ensures and there are more art big shots in attendance from film and soaps producers to globe-trotting writers to university dons all psyched to meet The Man. 

Out of the blue or so it seemed, The Man appeared and just like magic digital cameras and camera phones were unleashed (How else would you make people believe?) to capture the moment with The Man.

After a walk around The GoDown (practice for the presidency?) we are the ushered into the boardroom which is in a photo gallery (it’s an art world thing).I pick a seat as far away from the Man (mkenya wa kawaida only here to be a fly on the wall).The Man walks in and shock on me, people stand in awe then he tells us to seat. President anyone?

The session started with round table introductions. I chocked on mine – The Man does not know of Kwani!, Kenya’s biggest literary journal? Clearly homework is for the rest of us. I had tried to Google The Man but jambonet (as usual) let me down!

A powerful opening speech by my boss set the tone and the questions posed to the Man varied from how do you write? When do you write? Who do you write for? To humor, politics, sheng, structure of language, creative process all which the Man answered with wit, candor and an amazing show of brain power for a 72-year old. 

Time flew really fast and was thoroughly enjoying being a fly on the wall till the Man’s chaperone brought the talk to an abrupt end thus bringing me crashing back to earth. Now I know why they call it a “moderated session”. 

An impromptu autograph session then followed and it degenerated into a free for all photo-op. You should have seen everyone run around the table to position themselves for a photo with the Man. Then as suddenly as he had appeared the Man was off, most likely to meet another group of awe-struck Kenyans.

After the expected tea and bitings, it was an opportunity for the writers to sit and talk shop while for me an Art Outsider, it was back to by daily routine, its 5’oclock,got to get home, how to beat the jam and such mundane stuff. But for a couple of hours I had been an Art V.I.P and I think one could get used to this!

PS: 
The Man is tall, medium-built, and bespectacled, with an afro and bushy beard (100% white).No crazy arty look. (He is dressed in white shirt and trouser and half coat).His voice is medium-pitch, he has a ready smile and even readier scorn (clearly genius has no patience).He has an amazing memory, can switch languages at ease and is a natural comedian (quite a contrary to his serious books!).He struck me as a typical guka (grandpa) – fussy, short-tempered, and self-opinionated, stuck in his ways but with his heart in the right place.

PS: 
The Man has been approached by a very popular party in Nigeria (5m registered in two days and the party is not even registered) to run as its presidential candidate. He says he will run not because he wants to but just to prove a point to Obasanjo! (In Africa? Yeah right!)

******

Wole Soyinka has confirmed attendance to the 2014 Storymoja Hay Festival.

His name is pronounced SHO-YI-NKA.

**

GOD BLESS KENYA!

 


Fragment of a non-existent diary

Disclaimer:

Posted  this on the 1st of July 2oo9 on a different blog. Five years later who would have thought gossip blogs, socialites would be a phenomenon :-).

Re-blogging here to remove the cobwebs from this blog.

Writing here will resume soon. Hopefully.

Enjoy!

*********

I am a 2nd year student of French at the university. I plan to be a radio presenter and became a celebrity. I know all these people and if they can hang with me then they can work with me, right? I have an interview with that hot male presenter tomorrow at his house and I need to look hot for that. What to wear, how to look? But that is for tomorrow. Today, do I go to school? Hmmmm, let me call my best friend and classmate and find out if she is in school or has got plot.

Let me tell you about me…Am 22years old,life is bliss, credit, hair, men and of course the rave and drinking on any given day is all I am about. I have no source of income but since I am pretty and hot then that is no issue. My parents provide for the basics and then the rest is up to me. Have a steady (or not?) boyfriend who lives in the right side of town and drives the right kind of car. He thinks I am The One but clearly he is mistaken. Still have places to go, people to meet and things to do. So marriage or any commitment is in the very distant future if ever. And again this body is not ready to push let alone carry a baby for nine months. That’s why after I got my accident three months ago, I got one of my service providers to pay for a procedure and flush out that problem. Oh,by the way I had quite a scare this weekend..i was three days late and thought I had had another accident but they finally came so now I can rest easy.

As for the steady, I rather like him and he is able to support my lifestyle so for now it’s all good. But as for love and all that mushy feeling, no, that’s not me! Apart from the steady boyfriend I have a couple of other fans or should I say service providers because their purpose in my life is to provide what I need when I need it. They are all at my beck and call and when I call they run. After all don’t they all hope to get a piece of this fly ass? If only they knew! But disposable income they got and so clever they think they are, so it’s all fair games, no?

I had a fight with my steady over the weekend and I need some TLC which for me is alcohol and a crazy night out. Let me start texting the various options and see who comes up fastest with a fun plot.

My best friend gets back to me and says she has no plot but she is skiving the rest of her classes and idling in town and I should call her up when I get plot. My pal is not very pretty but she got a fine body and brains. So she is good for dancing and conversation which all these service providers seem to want a girl to provide. She hangs around me a lot as am better socially connected but since she is better academically then we both gain.

The texts are coming fast and furious and I pick one. He has been asking for a drinks date for two months so I reckon he has waited for long enough and his wallet will be easy to open as he will want to impress me.

After calling up my best pal and telling her where we should hook up I flash the lucky (or unlucky?) service provider and once he calls back I tell him where I want to meet him and the time. Me and my best friend meet up and after window shopping-oh my! we just discovered a great place to buy shoes-we finally strut in one hour late. The guy is all smiles even though he must be seething inside. A softie he is. So much potential to fleece him I think.

We give our excuses and order for our drinks. Today we are not taking our usual Smirnoff Ice Reds, we are taking Famous Grouse on the rocks! Small talk is provided by my best pal and I just seat there and look innocent and desirable. I off course pop up occasionally and ask the lifestyle questions…where do you work? As a what? Where do you live? What do you drive? The guy has no idea of my intent and answers all these questions without guile. Poor man!

After a couple of hours and a pity story of me been sad I come up with the idea of going for Karaoke at a trendy out of town pub. Guy tries to wiggle out but I flash him a smile and my bedroom eyes and he is toast. We take a taxi and off we go. I am already on phone texting to find out who is at the pub we are heading to.

Getting there, the pub is kicking and the karaoke is in full swing. My best pal also can sing beautifully and the “offer is sing and get free sambucas ” so of course she will sing but the service provider still has to buy Famous Grouse on the rocks.

As my best pal sings, dances and small talks the service provider I do my lap of honor. You know how it is, a girl has to be seen and see people. How else will I prove tomorrow I was at the kicking pub last night? Lap of honor consists of checking out the potential service providers and also touching base with existing service providers and thus getting dates for all of next week! Every so often I go back to the table and chat up the original service provider, can’t be seeing to be a lousy date because one thing I have learnt is never ever burn bridges.

After one hour of my technical appearances the original service provider decides he has had enough and says is time to leave. This is when the party is really getting to climax so I tell him he can go and leave us. He clears the bill and gives me money for a cab. Of course I am a bright girl so I ask him for money for my best pal’s cab too, the fact that we are next door neighbours notwithstanding! Still trying to impress me, the guy off course coughs up and leaves us to jienjoy.

To be continued…
(Disclaimer – This is just me having fun with words. All characters and occurrences are fictional. Any resemblance to anyone or anyplace is wholly coincidental. The to be continued is fictional too!)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers

%d bloggers like this: