Category Archives: Life snippets

Sinking Jahazi

It is 1.21am on a Thursday night, you are at a gents at an uptown local and life is coming at you at a frightening speed.

1am

You have just barely managed to pay the bill and you have no extra money in your wallet.

You had previously okoa-d jahazi and not paid it back.

You have zero credit on your phone, zero on MPESA, and your bundles have run out.

So getting an uber never mind the mechanics of paying for it becomes a matter of rocket science.

This is when you stare at your phone and wonder who you can call to help.

As you realize that it is true a friend is someone who you can call at 1am and they pick up and help. And that despite the overflowing phone book you have very few friends.

Getting here may seem far-fetched and I can hear you wonder how a grown man can be so irresponsible.

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Let’s back track.

Man has not seen his friend who happens to be a woman for awhile. So man asks woman friend for a meet and chat. Woman is hanging out with her friend who is a mutual acquaintance and she asks if she can come with the acquaintance and man innocently says yes.

Drinks are enjoyed. Meat is ordered.

Then the acquaintance invites over a cousin who partakes of his drink and the meat and leaves.

Then the acquaintance has a phone chat with her best friend who happens to be in the vicinity and she comes over and also enjoys her drinks.

Shortly, the best friend of the acquaintance calls over her boyfriend who orders for drinks.

Then the woman friend, remember her, leaves.

All this time, the bills were piling up and the man is left with a hefty bar bill that no-one  is interested in paying.

Fast-forward.

Man who has just about paid the bill asks one of the wait staff to sambaza credit and man is able to hail an uber which gets him to an ATM thus enabling him to pay for ride home.

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Questions:

How often are men in such situations and they are left crying in the toilet?

Do women have a responsibility to also pick their share of the bill in joint company?

In polite company, should all those who have partaken of drinks and meal on a table share the bill?

If invited to a meet-up, as a lady, is it really polite to tag along your entire crew?

Learnings:

To get loaned credit – Okoa Jahazi – *131#

To get loaned bundles – Okoa Bundles – *544#

It is important to have emergency money in M-Shwari for a rainy day.

Consolation:

Man-up. You are not alone. A huge number of men have found themselves in a similar situation. Chalk it up as a scar of war. Pick the lesson and be cleverer next time.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Hijab Tales

Eid Mubarak!

For all who fasted may your prayers, sacrifices and fasts be accepted.

I spent a bit of my teenager years in Mombasa and I really love the coastal culture.

From the food – mapochopocho, pilau mbuzi, mabuyu etc.

The music – taarab, bango.

And the dressing – hijab, buibui, kanzu, kofia.

So this conversation about Hijabs is not entirely random.

Basically I  wondered how it is to be a hijabi, young and trendy and so I engaged two of my Muslim friends in their early 20s on their hijab stories.

They both opted for anonymity so they shall be S.G and S.A :-).

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Courtesy – Google

 

ModerateKenyan – Why do you wear the hijab?

S.G – *hmmmm* Because it is mandatory from a  religious perspective. Also from my culture women wear the headscarf. Hijab is about decency.

S.A – *smiles, crosses legs, adjusts buibui* To conceal. Hijab means to cover. Necessary to cover one’s beauty. Personal choice. Save men from impure thoughts. Feel at peace when covered up. There is more respect when you are covered.

ModerateKenyan – When did you start wearing the headscarf?

S.G – When I was very young. My mum trained me how to wear it.

S.A – At 10. But since I went to a Catholic school and had to follow their rules I would wear hijab only on the way from home to school.

ModerateKenyan – Do you ever feel uncomfortable or get into trouble for wearing hijab?

S.G – When I was in high school. Went to a PCEA school. The rules said no hijab so if I wore a hijab I would get into trouble.

S.A – We are not in France. *laughs* But after an attack – Westgate, Garissa all eyes are on you, you are searched more and basically profiled because of the hijab.

ModerateKenyan – Ever considered not wearing the hijab?

S.G – *laughs and laugh* Yes I did! When I was in university. At USIU. I have really long beautiful hair and there were times I would want to show it off and the great make-up. So for a month did not wear hijab. Got so many compliments on my hair and looks. But Muslim friends would ask me what was going on. Also felt individually guilty. So resumed wearing hijab.

S.A – *shock* Doing away with my hijab is like doing away with my religion. Doing away with a part of me. No!

ModerateKenyan – Is hijab a choice or a must?

S.G It is a must. In the Quran there is a whole Sura on hijab.

S.A It is both. It is a personal choice that makes me confident, happier. It is also a religious obligation to cover up. Protects me from so much. If I remove then I am living a double life.

ModerateKenyan – Does it save on hair cost?

S.G – *lights up and really laughs* You have no idea what happens underneath. A married woman has to fix her hair to look good for her husband but me? I can have rastas, matutas, anything. And it is okay and no one knows.

S.A – Oh my! It so does. You have no idea. What is a bad hair day? And what are these things people put on their hair ati sijui weaves? No thanks. Lemme be covered with my hijab.

ModerateKenyan – Fashionable hijabs. Do you wear them? Why? Is it not a contradiction?

S.G – It is wrong. Hijabs should be decent, simple and plain. But I am young! As long as I am covered up then I feel it is okay to go for a fancy, colourful and trendy hijab. It is a tough balancing act. *shrugs*

S.A – Purpose of a hijab is to cover. One is not meant to stand out. One is meant to blend in. But then hijab does not mean you do not look good or you do not look trendy or fashionable. I am a woman. I want to look good. So balance is to ensure you are fashionable but decent. Not easy but I am trying.

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My curiosity was sated and I also got an insight on hijabs.

We are more alike than we are different but ignorance is a huge hindrance to our cohesion.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

ALLAH BLESS KENYA!

 

 

 


Mchele with a twist

This is a story  I overheard at a pub in Nairobi about a story of a story told by a guy to his boys as a warning.

A guy probably in his 40s was seated behind me and I could not help but overhear as he regaled his date on the escapades of his boy, ‘Alex’ who was mchele’d in the most unique way.

‘Kuwekewa mchele’ or being ‘mchele’d’ which is a common occurrence in pubs in Nairobi refers to the lacing of a man’s drinks by a lady with the intention of making said man unconscious and then robbing him. The drugs used are the size of a rice grain hence the name mchele which is rice is Kiswahili.

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‘Alex’ having heard of mchele situations was super vigilant when in pubs especially by himself but despite the vigilance ‘Alex’ was outwitted by a mchele lady.

A random week day saw him conclude a meeting at 10pm in the Central Business District. He then passed through Sanford (Nairobi’s mecca for late-night fast food) on Moi Aveneue for fries and chicken. After he was full and with an empty house awaiting him, ‘Alex’ then had the introspect not so clever thought of checking into a pub and having one for the road as a night cap.

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One for the road, led to two as it usually does and shortly a lady with an ample bosom and a low cut top joined him. ‘Alex’ entertained her in conversation while still being very vigilant; drinking from the bottle, buying a new drink after a visit to the gents as well as taking water in between the alcohol to stay sober.

A pleasant evening was enjoyed but being a week night ‘Alex’ finally decided it was a wrap and sought to leave. The lady then said she had also had had enough and would grab a cab. Since she had not finished her drink ‘Alex’ being the gentleman waited for her.

Having shared the evening the two then felt the need to say goodbye in a more intimate fashion. An intense make-out session ensured but our ‘Alex’ still had his wits about him as he was wary of being ‘mchele’d.

As Eneke the bird says in Chinua Acheba’s Things Fall Apart, since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching. As men in Nairobi have learned how to avoid the snares laid by the mchele ladies, the ladies have learned new ticks.

The last thing ‘Alex’ remembers of the make-out session was suckling on a breast.

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‘Alex’ woke up the next day on a pavement outside of the pub, robbed of all his valuables and aptly chastised for thinking he could outwit the mchele ladies.

In retrospect he reckoned that he had been totally vigilant and that the lady must have seen him ogle at her boobs, spotted a weakness, laid the bait on her breasts and then waited for ‘Alex’ to be a ‘thirsty’ man and BOOM.

Interestingly, ‘Alex’ had no hard feelings for the mchele lady saying that she was really nice conversation, the make out session was brilliant and she had a good heart since she even left him twenty shillings as bus fare home.

I could not help but really laugh at poor ‘Alex’ but in the laughter also picked my lesson on the latest tricks of the mchele ladies of Nairobi.

The overheard story may have been made up by a 40-something-year old man attempting  humor for his date or it may be a true story. Either way, forewarned is forearmed :-).

As my boys say, hii ni town!

GOD BLESS KENYA!


#LifeSnippets: After 4.20

The DVD guy is an essential part of modern living. Netflix and chill are eating into DVDs market but for many Kenyans series, movies are not yet streamed but rather got at fifty bob a DVD.

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Books are more my fix but man shall not live on writings alone, right? So I do have a DVD guy who sorts my ‘mindless o’clock’ needs. Latest visit to DVD shop inspired this snippet.

Late on the Elementary series bus but now that I on it I am hooked. As I waited for an episode to be ‘burned’ I watched the DVD guy side hustle as a ganja seller.

Potleaf

Sale one. Six girls. All of at most 21 probably younger. 3 roughly 5 months pregnant. 2 in tank tops and hot pants. Interesting bevy. Even more interesting was their brazen purchase.

“Let us see the stuff. It’s too slim. Let’s call Benja, his stuff is fatter. No let’s get these then we see. Ok, is it local or international?  We want five. You have 3 only? What peddler doesn’t have stock?” One could never have guessed ganja is illegal in Kenya. The girls could easily have been buying tomatoes from Mama Mboga.

Sale two. Group of boys. High school. Probably form two at most. 16 years. They stood outside. Need looking kid did the buying. More discrete.

“You have? Cool.” Then money was passed and then stuff was passed across. One would not guess they have just bought weed.

Curious me window shopped. Apparently local is Kenyan weed or according to parlance Kush ( for Kushingpeng) and it costs 30 bob a joint. International is Ethiopian or according to parlance Shash (for shashamane) and it costs 50 a joint. The prices are adjusted upwards based on a buyer’s looks or street smarts.

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A decade and a half ago bhang was the drug of choice for social misfits.

Stereotype of a weed smoker was an unkempt man with untidy dreads who probably listened to reggae. Peddlers were in the off-the-way places – car wash guys, rubbish heap with parking boys selling etc. A whiff of bhang was as rare as the sighting of a five shilling note.

Something happened – I do not know what – and weed became cool.

A joint suddenly was just the thing to spice up a house party and shortly thereafter  cookies, brownies, muffins were cooked with weed. This pulled the ladies in and kufumba na kufumbua smoking weed in Kenya has became as normal as smoking a cigarette. And the age of weed smokers is decreasing rapidly. 14 year olds just done with KCPE are puffing away.

weed

But Kenyan law has not moved an inch and in the eyes of the law bhang is a ‘hard’ drug with serious ramifications.

In Kenya Bhang is denoted as a narcotic drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act No.4 of 1994. An example of the dim view the law takes on bhang, Section 2a gives the sentence for possession for own use as 10 years.

A decade in jail is what the buyers I observed were dabbling in. As for the enterprising DVD seller with a ‘cool’ side hustle he was dabbling with a trafficking charge which is SERIOUS crime.

The norm in Kenya is to bury our heads in the sand and also play the moral card in regard to any vice. The ‘hypercritical conservative-ness’ helps no one and at some point after a lengthy duration ‘we’ are ‘sufficiently shocked’ at the extent of the reach whatever it is that was being ignored as it went on.

Many governments in countries abroad are having to redo their laws in as for as bhang is concerned motivated by reports of medicinal value of weed as well as the allure of huge taxes to be got.

NACADA, KFCB, etc all screaming morality notwithstanding, I reckon Kenya has to have the ‘legalize or not’ conversation about bhang sooner rather than later.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Beards, sexualization & manhood.

For a while now beards have become cool.

No idea when or how it started but increasingly folk are taking to social media to express their appreciation for beards. The appreciation takes on fanatical levels in November which is dubbed Movember.

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For the clueless Movember is to men what No Bra day is to women. In October women go without a bra for a day ostensibly to raise breast cancer awareness while in November men go the entire month without shaving to also ostensibly to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Whether this gestures achieve their intended noble goals is a matter beyond my scope.

What I am curious about is whether beards have become an S.I unit for manliness and whether beards have become sexualized.

On a given day, tweets will pass on my timeline appreciating beards. That is to be expected as people do take to social media to express appreciation. Interestingly, have never seen a tweet celebrating clean-shaven men. Perhaps it is a passing fad. Just like Michael Jordan inspired shaving bald in the early 90s someone may have made it cool to be bearded.

Fun and games, no?

It is all fun and games until a bank tweets in its official account that ‘Behind every Real man is a real beard’.

It is further fun times until a lady starts a hashtag ‘beards for X’ and publicly asks to be tagged in pics with sexy beards.

Now imagine in October a corporate tweeting ‘behind every real woman are big boobs’ or a man starting a hashtag ‘boobs for Y’ and asking for pics of breasts.

Makes you wonder has beard appreciation gone overboard. Where does appreciation spill over into sexualization? Can men’s body parts be sexualized or men are fair game? Are there different standards for sexaulization applied for men and for women?

Not so random musings…

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Now unto the taste of the pudding is in the eating experience.

Normally I shave every week. A clean shave. What is/was called Jordan. Have done so for years. Habit.

In last three weeks have not visited my barbershop for a variety of reasons. My barber is worried sick. Tempted to tell him I am thinking of doing dreads. As a joke. Only I am not sure if I am joking.

An interesting by-product of this is that I (obviously!) have grown hair and sprouted a beard.

The reaction to this from my female colleagues has been interesting to say the least.

“…unakaa mbudaa…” (You look older)

“…usinyoe ndevu, nazilike sana…” (Do not shave the beard, I it like very much)

“…damn!”

“walala sijawahi kuona unakapoa hivi” (Have never seen you look this handsome)

And these are the PG-rated comments. Totally got the ladies eating off my plate.

Same old me, brand new reactions.

Got me thinking.

What is it about beards…

Does a beard maketh a man?

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Nashangaa. (I wonder…)

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Dark Days

Where does one start writing about dark days…

On dark days all one wants to do is stop…

To stop doing,

To stop the darkness from being all encompassing,

To just stop.

dark cloud

Dark days are days where getting out of bed and taking a shower takes on climbing Mount Everest proportions.

You could have been on top of the world the previous day but then a dark day just happens and knocks you off your stride.

Out of the blue you have the blues.

Scratch that, ‘the blues’ is not this.

This is stay under the covers, switch off the phones, and gallantly try to fight off the cloud that threatens to suffocate you.

While fending off curious looks and offhand statements – “these are white people problems.”, “just shake it off.”, “just cheer up.”

Then just as randomly as a dark day comes, a dark day goes.

Until the next dark day. (Day may be one or many days.)

In the last one month, a friend checked herself out of this planet and another failed in her attempt to check out.

In the same duration someone challenged me why dark days are not written about, talked about and why checking out is shrouded in such secrecy.

Got me thinking…

In one of Chinua Achebe’s books a lady makes a profound statement, “I do not have the mouth to tell the story”.

Because at times folk may be living out a situation but the circumstances of the situation makes them unable to express the essence of the situation.

Also, there is societal baggage.

‘I have a cold’ does not attract judging, stigma or side-eyes as saying ‘I have dark days.’

That is how we are, who we are.

So darks days are hidden, battled with individually, with fatal consequences sometimes.

And the all-round silence on the dark days or the fatalities persists.

Hopefully, one day dark days will be talked about openly.

Then maybe hopefully checking out from this planet will not be so prevalent.

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Until then lemme share these gems I stumbled on:

“Never give in to sadness. It won’t last forever. The broken pieces of life will fit itself into a puzzle once again. Have faith. Have hope.”

And

“Reach out. Not on WhatsApp, text, social media. Really reach out. Feel like this needs saying a lot. People be shouldering heavy loads.”

And this oft repeated quote,

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Pray that someone in the middle of a dark day will read this and get that little extra strength to fight off the suffocating darkness.

Also pray that for those who deal with folk with dark days will read this and get a glimmer of understanding about dark days.

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I hope…

GOD BLESS KENYA.


Lit Up

Met you online…memory is fuzzy as to the how.

We were not bosom pals but somehow we got each other.

As the Swahili say…akufaaye kwa dhiki ndiye rafiki…

On my darkest day on social media, you had my back…for that I lit up.

Your words then still ring true…’do not let anyone take away your dignity or power…’

For when I got your dark days or on the days you got my dark days…I lit up.

For the drink we were to do before the end of 2015…I lit up.

You were awesome by just being you.

Days later it still sad…it still hard to take…I still have many questions…

But I choose to celebrate you…

As you used to sign out…Bless. Love and Light.

Thank you J.

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