Burying the OG

Sometime in early November 2007, a bunch of 20-odd, eager freshmen sat in room 116 of Education Building at the University of Nairobi’s Main Campus.

The air about campus was crisp, clear and cheerful. One of those bright Tuesdays, where nothing can go wrong. The students were gathered for an “Introduction to Poetry” class. The lecturer was Dr Masumi Odari, a Japanese-Kenyan, an extremely humble and encouraging teacher, almost to a fault. She had asked the students, what every Professor asks students in small classes: “Why did you pick this course?” in this case, Literature.

It was a riot.

The answers. I mean.

The class packed one of the most talented pool to have ever sat in a class in a university anywhere in the universe. There were published, or soon to be published writers and journalists. There was a published illustrator and cartoonist who will become one of the pioneer animators in the country. Nearly half the class, were good poets, only that by 2007, poetry was dead. Had it been in 1850, or 1930, the class would have churned poets who will define a generation like T.S Eliot or Dylan Thomas.  Two of those gathered would become the presidents of SONU, the student body of the University of Nairobi. Everyone in that class was talented, and was in the right place, at the right time. Man.

JAB in their equalizing act had brought us together, from Alliance, Starehe, Moi Girls, Maranda, Ambira, Maryhill, and top provincial schools and day schools from around the country. This class became a family, because of the intimacy built, since it was a small class, compared to, say the Sociology class that had 1,000 students.

Some joined later. Mostly doing inter-faculty or inter-universities transfers.

Only about 25 percent of those who joined the university through the Joint-Admission Board got the courses of their dreams, they signed for while in high school. Your grade was always too weak for the course you wanted, so it was mostly your third or fourth choice that you got, usually in a university you detested. Even worse, if you did not pick a course that responded with your marks, you would be sent to Maseno University to study Forestry with IT.

Lucky ones ended up in the University of Nairobi to study BA. Or like me, I made that my first, second and third choice when picking a course and university. I didn’t want to give the JAB folks ideas that would consign to Moi or Egerton University. Under BA, one had a variety of choices to pick, often with the guidance of their jobless or sometimes working older cousins. Most wannabes, went for Economics, to make up for their silly dreams of becoming doctors. More wannabes took Political Science. Those who wanted to be unique, went for Psychology. And the undecided had Sociology, Communication and such to pick from. Linguistics was by dead by then with just two or three students.

And then, there was Literature.

Literature was the only Discipline that you picked because you truly loved the subject and wanted to dedicate the rest of your four years reading dead, and often overrated European writers. We were up to it.

We were walking in the hallowed corridors in the department that Ngugi wa Thiong’o transformed from a Euro-centric centre to one that put African languages and literature at the forefront. Greater African writers and philosophers had blessed the corridors, from Taban lo Liyong, to Okot p’Bitek, to John Ruganda, to Chris Wanjala, to Henry Owuor Anyumba, among other luminaries. And in that class, many wanted to be the future Achebe, the future p’Bitek and JP Clark, and Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. How far have they chased the dreams, only God knows.

***

Nowadays, death news always surfaces on Social Media. On Facebook or WhatsApp. That is, if you are active, but if you are one of those mature types, who quit social media, or rarely checks, you will learn four months later that your once bosom friend died and was buried.

You will be scrolling Facebook, and you see someone’s picture beaming at you, and you don’t have to read the post…It is always someone talking about the last time they spent together, bla bla bla…before the heartbreaking conclusion: RIP. Go well pal’. Shine on your way… and many other death farewell clichés that have become ubiquitous on social media.

You immediately hate yourself. Because you didn’t reply their last Facebook message, you didn’t deem it worthy to even send an emoji for their stale joke on WhatsApp, or you ignored the Sh 2,000 ‘favour’ they wanted from you. You hate yourself, the more because, it wasn’t exactly intentional, and now, you can’t raise them from the dead to say sorry. You hate yourself because they had invited you to their homes, had called you for drinks, but because of your anti-social behaviour, you have never been available. Or worse, you were too busy…

And so, you go to the comments section looking for what killed them, when they were so young. Rarely do you find a reason in the first 200 comments. And it heightens the mystery. But he is gone.

***

On April 20, Saturday Evening, one of my classmates posted in our Literature class group our buddy, Silvanos Anthony Ogalo had died. Few things can ruin your quiet Saturday evening as death of young person, you knew all too well.

Ironically, the group had been formed by Silvanos, six months earlier in a move and gesture that will warm our hearts forever.

We graduated in 2011. And nobody has ever deemed it worth to form a group for the class, despite the earlier tight bonds, that have grown weaker over the years as the vagaries of bills, aging and responsibilities take over.

Ever the charmer, friendly, sober and wiser, he introduced the group as:

“Hey guys, I hope you have all been keeping well. I know we had a similar group  that died the death associated with distance, time and the different tangents our lives have taken. It is normal… (sic) but not entirely ACCEPTABLE (caps, mine). However there’s someone in our class I was speaking to yesterday and she said something that touched me in a profound way…”

And so, he introduced the reason for the group. One of our classmates had not been feeling well, and the purpose of the group was to visit her, carry some gifts, you know, flowers, you know. For ol’ time sake. Our presence would warm her heart.

Silvanos, or OG, as we called him, executed the mandate of the mission with exquisite precision and it felt good, reminding us that we don’t have to be too busy, as not to check on each other.

Fast forward to April 17, OG leaves the group and nobody notices. And on April 20, the sad news.

***

OG joined the Literature class rather late, if my memory serves me right. He had transferred from Egerton, where he had been sent to pursue some Engineering course. But he was a poet at heart. And a brilliant poet, at it.

When he joined us, we learnt that he was from Starehe Boys, the first boy from Starehe I ever met. He was eloquent, affable and amiable. He fit into the class like skin. In the Poetry class, those of the poetic bent used to compose some really good poems. Not in anyway, to flatter or overhype them, they always baffled me with their depth. I considered myself a writer, but poetry was an abstract thing, after the four years of miseducation in high school.

OG was one of the four consistent poets in the class. We would regularly attend the Kwani? Open Mic sessions at Club Soundd that was on the second floor of Hamilton House, on Wabera St (It was one of the best clubs in the CBD, but it is now as you guessed it, just another Somali restaurant). Those were the good days, and I think I remember OG reading a poem or two, to the drunken crowds who hardly followed through. But we were rocking the city. To be first years, reading poems in a top bar/club in Nairobi, was proof of our boundless ambitions.

OG became my intellectual friend. We had deep and mutual respect for each other. He was widely read, and anytime we bumped into each we would talk, many hours on end, on matters pertaining Literature and just about everything on earth. Funny, that I am writing this in past tense.

Our friendship went beyond intellectual stuff. When I got money to buy my first laptop, he connected me with a friend of his, an imposing dude called Peter, or Biggie, who ran a shop on Moi Avenue. I bought my first laptop, a powerful HP, with an ugly design. A Shylock would later take it, for reasons I can’t divulge. I bought two or three more computers from Biggie man, in the early 2010s.

But the best gift OG ever gave me was to introduce me to one of my favourite author.

In May 2010, the University of Nairobi went on strike, over contested student election. Around and about the time, OG gave me this Nelson DeMille novel, Plum Island and recommended it highly, knowing how I write, he said I would enjoy it. The novel had a slow start, but once it caught on, it was the funniest, most unforgettable novel, even to date. The novel introduced me a detective, John Corey who is investigating a murder. The detective is an anti-PC, witty, full of wisecracks and an unusual way of solving mysteries. I have since read , nearly all of DeMille’s books. Two years ago I recommended it to some eager fat(is this politically correct?) girl in the street who was buying a novel from my vendor, and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.

I never returned the novel to OG. No way I would return the novel to him. No freaking way.

But as students of serious Literature which frowns upon popular Literature, and OG was as literary as they come, he didn’t rate the DeMille novel as highly as another one that he passed on to me: The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber. He said, I would enjoy the book for its literary merit, and I took him by his word.

Unfortunately, the novel is over 1,000 pages and one of those books that you have to engage all your senses, for you to internalise it. And nine years down the line I have not read it, but it is consistently in the front row of my bookshelf and I hope to read it one day, when I have a long holiday. I will have to read it this year. In his honour.

***

After campus we did keep in touch and once or twice, did grab some coffee. He wanted his book back (the Michael Faber one), but I dodged him, hoping to read it someday, and give it back to him.

In the mid-2010s, he wanted to start writing for newspapers, but it was at the worst of times and newspapers had cut off all pages that deal with literary reviews. I remember being honest with him and encouraging to release an anthology of his poems or start a blog. There was no future in the newspapers.

In 2015, I left to States for my Master’s. And since I came back, as I tried to integrate, we rarely kept in touch, as we both got busy with adulting.

And when the news of death came, it was crushing, because, even though we had rarely kept in touch, he is one guy you always knew, come the right time, you can always grab one for the road. For his intellect. For his humour. And it will be like he never left.

And seeing him in a coffin, in a quiet poise, was very educative about the brevity of life. Later in his funeral, I saw his son, distributing the funeral programs, and said a silent prayer, for no kid should grow without the love and the vision of their loving father.

***

Pick the call. Pick your phone. Call a friend. Have a drink regularly. Invite them to your home. Even for a meal of sukuma wiki and catch up. You will treasure the memories, or they will treasure the memories for the good times you had.

Trust me.

I will remember OG for his gesture to our classmate. For his poetry, which somehow has disappeared as his Facebook page disappeared too. Wish I could get some of the gems he penned. For his friendliness. And for the great talks we had. And for the books he gave me.

Goodbye Papa OG.

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Schemers

There are male friends who can bed your woman in the blink of an eye. There are female friends who will bed your man and keep the secret to the grave unless you fall out and they get petty enough to remind you that you are not special, since they bagged your man.

There are colleagues who want your job at your place of work, and they will silently rejoice, maybe kill a white cock to sacrifice, if you are hit by a truck. There are people—and here I mean close friends, family members and colleagues-who for some reason are never satisfied with whatever life has given them. They always want what someone else has, by hook or crook. Some get too possessed to a point they can kill. These are the people the tenth commandment was made for.

You have encountered one. The friend who courts your wife. The friend who has a clandestine relationship with your ex. The guys who actively plan your downfall. People who deliberately give wrong investment advice, so that you can fall. People who take advantage of you in every way, to derail you.

I mean people who are roho chafu.

Sometimes we know them, and we relegate them to a space, a zone where you can watch them keenly. Sometimes we don’t know their true character and what is in their heart until it is too late.  I am not talking about those who make one-off mistakes. I am talking about those guys, for whom, it is their nature to be evil. Happens.

It has now emerged, that Ivy, the slain medical student of Moi University had a friend who had been snitching on her, telling the boyfriend about her moves. And according to K24, it is the intel she shared that sent Githinji down the cliff, buying an axe he used to hack her to death, the most gruesome death imaginable. One wonders, to what end her friend was snitching on her. We learn from a very young age that it is never OK to snitch, and if you must, you must do it intelligently.

I know, sometimes we can be snitches, especially where saving a life is necessary, or where a secret is too good to be kept. But it is never a good habit to be a snitch all the time. In other parts of the world, snitches used to be killed and their tongue cut out from their mouth.

But this is not about snitches. It is about schemers. People who are constantly plotting to take advantage of you. Constantly conspiring to take food out of your plate.

As the Swahili people said, kikulacho, kinguoni mwako. Rafiki yako ndio adui wako. And betrayal is everywhere. Even God himself was betrayed by Satan, one of his angels. And when he sent his Son down, all Judas wanted was the 30 pieces of silver. And every betrayal, wherever you scrutinize it, it is always something petty: Imagine sacrificing someone for 30 pieces of silver. Sometimes it is lust. Sometimes greed. And sometime, plain stupidity.

Perhaps, there is no place with worse schemers than in politics. For you to be a politician, you have to be a scoundrel, and a terrible one at that. Politicians have no moral scruples. They are always scheming against each other. Sometimes they kill each other for material gain, more so, when you stand in the way of someone’s ambition. To be a politician, is to be a without a friend. Rarely do you have someone you can call a true friend. Someone you can bank on.   

To politicians, everyone is dispensable. Everyone exists as a cog, to run their wheel of expediency.  

Away from politicians, another set of schemers, are saboteurs. People who are constantly hijacking your dreams. People who tell you, that can’t work…it is never done that way, you will burn your money…

It is hard to tell when they are genuine, ignorant, or just sabotaging you. But you will notice that they are negative to every dream you ever float their way. They like the status quo. Saboteurs are sometimes, our closest friends or relatives.

The good thing with our bodies, they send signals. You may find someone is your friend but anytime they are near you, there is a sense of unease. Some premonition. Soon, their presence makes you less happy. Soon, you want to avoid to them…It happens. Trust your instincts. But there is a thin line between paranoia and insecurity. Be alert.

Here is how you can tell people who are scheming to stall your life…

  1. They don’t like picking the bill, even when they have money.
  2. They lie a lot.
  3. They are snitches.
  4. They are always trying to flirt and flatter your woman.
  5. They like deliberately misleading you.
  6. They can never alert you in case of any danger. When you ask, “why didn’t you tell me, there ABC” there is answer is always so curt, “thought you were aware… Remember those random CATs back in campus…when you elected to sleep, may you mans or woman was around, yeah, your bestie will not call you…
  7. They are always covertly or overtly competing with you. You buy a car; they buy a car. You buy a piece of land; they buy a piece of land. You go for holiday in Madagascar, they go on holiday to Mauritius. Their life revolves around your choices, until they can’t keep up, or they become so rich, and in that case, they can no longer compete, and their life becomes empty, and in that case, they go out there talking nasty things about you.
  8. They are never team players. Even organizing a simple thing, a party, a bridal shower, a baby shower, they are the ones always coming with opposing ideas even when they have been outvoted. They sulk, when their opinion is not used. And can be pretty while at it.
  9. They are selfish. Everything has to be about them. They want their problems, their achievements, their triumphs, and all to be the centre of conversation anytime you meet. When you act disinterested, they become petty, and can openly complain like they are a five-year-old…
  10. They are never happy when something good comes your way. They are slow to send their congratulations. But it is not uncommon for them to ask you straight, “how did you get that’ before saying congrats. You always see it on their faces.
  11. They can be overly friendly, but you can tell it is all fake. Their laughter, their concern, everything they do lacks depth, it is never from the heart.

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You Pregnant Mouse! The Art of (a good) Insult

“If Earth had an anus, it would be in Yemen.”

So opens the second chapter Nelson DeMille’s book, The Panther. How about that. It gets an A for originality from me. As insults and contempt go, that is top league.

***

I have a cousin who Americans will aptly call an Arsehole.

In every sense of that word. He is proud, spiteful, arrogant, vile and the most despicable being I know.

Other than his mother, I don’t know anybody who gives a damn about him. His mere presence had a way of giving one nauseous heady rush, a gag reflex, and blood pressure if you suffer from that. I never anyone smile in his presence, and anytime he came and he left, nobody talked about him, the way you talk about that long lost cousin. 

Most of us, only started dealing with him when he came back from abroad, where he had been away for close to a decade. By abroad, I mean India. And Indian graduates used to occupy the lowest rung in the social ladder of educated men. But the arrogant cousin behaves as if he went to Cambridge.

He has a way of belittling you to a point of nothingness.

When he left, we were young. And when he came back, we were in our youth. Whereas he knew who we were, he had a way of asking, “wewe ni mtoto wa nani?”

He would ask with such asinine authority, with a contemptuous look on the face, like our noses were laden with mucus, especially the yellowy, thick type. And when he knew who we were, we thought he knew us, he would still pull the arsehole move of confusing our names (on purpose), and to him, all of us were supposed to be Robert, the name of our eldest bro. And when he got to know the names of two bros, he would call any male member of the family any of the two names. Look at it this way, you are five brothers; Robert, Eric, Frank, David, and Peter. And he claimed to only know Robert and Eric, and anytime, he met Frank, David, and Peter, he would either call them Robert or Eric, that is if he didn’t pretend that he didn’t know them and would ask “we ni wa nani?

It is not the asking, but the way he did it that had a way of reducing you on where you stood to nothingness. You will stand looking to the ground wishing that it swallowed you. Your toe will burrow the ground, crying. He has a tall imposing body, broad shoulders, fat cheeks, big head, it gives him some air of a foolish important man. Think of a politician who started as an unschooled mayor of a city. 

For small talk, he would resort to the small talk to the refuge of every adult of asking children their class position in the last examination. And the bastard will not even bother to listen. 

As we grew older and started paying our bills, nobody had audience for his belligerence. And happily, he disappeared from our lives. Last time I saw him was in a dingy downtown pub, with an oversized coat, some ten years ago. And he was with guys and I wondered who exactly finds his company fascinating? I have never had a conversation with him, beyond him asking me for the millionth time who my father is?

Good riddance.

A good insult

For all his stupidity, we all decided to take it in good humour. And often when we meet as cousins, it is not uncommon to act like we don’t know each other. It is the worst insult. I dare you to pull it on a close relative or friend you don’t meet frequently…Next time you meet, act like you don’t know them? They will catch a fit, I guarantee.

Because we all hate being taken for granted. We all hate being made to feel useless about ourselves.

That is why it is insulting. That is why people get annoyed when they call you to find that you don’t have their number or can’t recognize their voice.

***

When I read books, I am always looking for that one insult that will make stop and toast.

Then, there is my guy, Jeremy Clarkson, former Top Gear host, and presently with Amazon’s Grand Tour, who is the master of a good insult (some find his insults cheap, but it is the type likely to overrate their sophistication). At his most crude, Clarkson, can unleash some good ones.

Here is Clarkson describing Norfolk town in the UK:

“Then, when you get there and you are sitting around in the hotel lobby waiting for the local man to stop being a window cleaner, gynaecologist and town crier and be a receptionist for a while, you pick a copy of Norfolk Life. It is the World’s smallest magazine.”

He was describing how backward Norfolk is after attending a wedding there. And he was not done…

“The next time some friends get married in Norfolk, I’ll send a telegram. Except it won’t get there because they haven’t heard of the telephone yet. Or paper. Or ink.”

And this is what he said of the Welsh language.

“I think we are fast approaching the time when the United Nations should start to think seriously about abolishing other languages. What’s the point of Welsh, for example? All it does is provide a silly maypole around which a bunch of hotheads can get all nationalistic.”

Prezzo and Jaguar

Perhaps my favourite beef is the Prezzo and Jaguar one. It was a one-sided beef that Prezzo won, hands-down. It started around nine years ago when Jaguar had released Nimetoka Mbali (probably penned by AY and possibly one of the greatest songs in Kenya in the last 20 years). Prezzo, who was or is the king of showbiz, and who has lived the myth and acted it, had this way of bragging that he was the king of the bling back in the day. Jaguar had an issue with this and decided to take a swipe at Prezzo.

Then one evening, during Hits Not Homework, Eve D’Souza calls Prezzo and asks him, what is the beef. And man, did Prezzo pull a fast one, so calmly, so cheeky. After Eve asked Prezzo about Jaguar disputing his status as the King of Bling, this is what Prezzo said…

“First things first, who is Jaguar, because, you know, honestly, the only Jaguar I know, is the car…And you know like, he said that my time for flossing is over? Well.  You know what? I hope he had a good time saying that, I just let my things speak for themselves…and if this Jago-you said? (Jaguar, D’Souza says), I hope he had a good time…”

Then he went on, to say that he doesn’t know whether Jaguar is a musician, politician, or an acrobat (Man, this got a standing ovation from me). Eve was speechless. He said he is a heavyweight and Jaguar is a featherweight. And he said that Jaguar had “childish aggression”. And ended the call, with Eve asking him, if he knows his name and Prezzo, did his thing, (Jaho, Jago…), and he said, “his thong is too tight, he needs to adjust it…ask him, ‘Anataka Nini’-a reference to his (Prezzo’s) song with Madtraxx.

Eve then called Jaguar, who blabbered from his mouth. You could actually feel him frothing and gave such a weak-ass response and given Prezzo has a heavier, authoritative voice, Jaguar’s annoying tenor (you can clearly see my bias), felt so weak and wacky. The only worthwhile swipe he took at Prezzo, was saying he said the only song he liked or remembered was, the one he did with Nazizi (Let’s Get Down). The rest was just a moralistic ranting down, not worth anybody’s time.

Listen to the entire six-minute, listen to how calm Prezzo feigns ignorance and arrogantly throws quick jabs on Jaguar.

Prezzo was never done with Jaguar. In January 2016, Prezzo was the guest at the popular Betty Kyalo’s Friday Briefing at KTN, somewhat intoxicated with something hard stuff.

Betty asked him, what is the beef with Jaguar, Prezzo asked, and Prezzo does the usual, that he doesn’t know him…

“Like the car? I don’t know the guy, I only knew him after he took the photo with my friend, the president (look at how it twists it), and I asked people in the background who is this guy?”

He actually acted like he can’t say the name…He went on to say that President Uhuru, did Jaguar a favour, because, President Uhuru is Prezzo’s friend.

And then when it came to reading the news segment, as Betty did his guests, Prezzo asked:

“Do you think Jaguar can read this?”

Listen from the 12.25 point to the end of what is billed one of the most disastrous Live Shows in Kenya. 

Prezzo versus Colonel Mustafa

On June 2017, on Willy M Tuva, Prezzo requested for two minutes to clarify an issue, and it is how he started it that is funny.

Then he went on to say that Mustafa has been releasing unlistenable songs, Mustafa should go to the president (Prezzo, that is) and confess his career is in ICU and should seek help, not beef, and he should just request Prezzo to just mention his name in a song and maybe that can jolt his career back to action.

“Kuna jamaa wale waliimbanga ile…awa…huyu alikuwa na Nasty Tomas, lile kundi lilikuwa linaitwa aje…”

Listen to how he throws shade at Colonel Mustafa. 

“Colonel Mustafa,” replied Will M Tuva…

Why I love Prezzo, is how he uses that like of “sikujui”, hence you are not worth my time, before he crashes you, like you will step on a cockroach malicious. 

The same applies to Wrestling marches, even though the insults are scripted. I never used that wrestling was so much fun until I discovered that the scripts are some of the best written. 

Last year, after writing an article about Kisii women desperate for husbands/boyfriends, following a viral Facebook group where women would post their pics and declare their relationship status. Upon writing the article, I was in the receiving end of the ire of Kisii woman. One of them called me: a pregnant mouse. 

That humbled me. 

What is your most memorable insult, on you, or you read somewhere, or heard somewhere?

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Why are Adults so Bitter and Petty?

There is so much in life that can make one angry and bitter.

Every day, I meet people carrying grudges from ten years ago, pursuing a needless dream to prove a point to that one uncle or aunt who once told them, they will never amount to much. What a sad way to live.

Every day, I meet people who take petty annoyances of life to their heart. They take everything as personal, and in the end they waste a productive part of their life, accommodating so much bullshit, when they should rid themselves such and live life in a better accountable way.

When I meet someone over 25, who can’t let go some past hurt, some betrayal, I feel disappointed because it means, they will never get over future hurts and betrayals. Yet life is one betrayal after another. Nothing is more constant in life than betrayal and people disappointing you. Sometimes you are the one doing the disappointing.

Some people never overcome heartbreaks, opting for self-destructive life, because a fellow human being disappointed them. In deed for some, the end of a relationship (especially through infidelity), or for a man, when a woman rejects you, it hurts to the bone. Some take to drugs. Some take to whoring, hoping it can numb the pain. And most men, especially, don’t know how to handle rejection. Some women, too. That is why falling in love is the riskiest of falls. It can be heady, precipitous.

People as close to you as your siblings will take advantage of you. To some, even their parents will do something unthinkable. Think of fathers who touch their daughters inappropriately. Increasingly, I am meeting adults who have broken relationships with their mothers, for whatever reason. Some are graceful about it, some are not. Some sacrifice so much to put their siblings through school, only for the girl to elope or the boy to succumb to drug abuse, or gambling, or both. And it is painful when you spend so much money to give someone a leg-up and they squander the chance and you know they are going to be a burden in the future.

I have met guys in their 50s who have dedicated a good chunk of their mental RAM to old regrets. I wonder, at what point do they want to start living. Much of their pain can be classified as petty. A lot of it justified, but is it responsible to still hold onto a woman who divorced you and took all your property 20 years ago?

There is a lot around us every day that annoys us. Women who stick chewing gums beneath the tables in public spaces. Men who leave skid marks in toilets. People who fart on the dance floor. The morons at the back of the bus, who always want to get out first, before even the bus stops at the GPO Bus Station. They step on well-shined shoes and the half-wits come from communities that do not have the word sorry in their vocabulary.

There are politicians who say stupid things from church pulpits every weekend. Sycophants with an impossible capacity of shamelessness, who serve to aggravate our anger every evening when we watch news. I mean, some people are totally brainless.

On social media, there very stupid people too. I could be one of them to a set of people. Sometimes I read some stupid things that boil my blood. Often, I say things that rankle some people, especially women with feminist inclinations.

There are matatu touts who want to keep your change. Men we pay the best salaries to do their jobs who steal from us. Girls who want to spike your drink and rob you every piece of electronic. And men who want to rape a girl because they bought drinks worth, wait for it, Sh 7,000. Domestic house helps who treat children cruelly.

There are pastors who are too seedy, fleecing their ignorant congregants. Even mainstream churches are now being run as businesses, and every church day, church goers are pawns for fundraising, to meet the material aspirations of their preachers and church big wigs.

There are colleagues who don’t do their job. You are always covering for their ineptitude, and laziness (especially laziness). There are people who borrow money, but they never return. There are people who borrow your car or a gadget and have no class whatsoever, because they will return it either too dirty or broken and they have no capacity to apologise or clean their mess.

Is it that some people were born naturally stupid? Or they just have the arsehole gene?

Then there are people who don’t like taking responsibility for their actions. People who grow up oblivious of the actions of their consequences. People who drink and drive and when arrested, they can own up that they just screwed up. Or people don’t like using rubber and when the consequences show up, they act surprised. For men, in this case, they take off.

There is so much to ruin your day, every day. You can choose to take these petty annoyances to heart, or you can chose to manage what makes you angry, and the duration it will make you angry, before you hit the bar for beer, or pick a novel, or a blunt to focus on what makes you happy.

There is nobody who has never been betrayed in life. Nobody who has never been hurt. There are so many things beyond our control. Maybe you were born short. Maybe, you are unattractive. Maybe you are broke, and your friends are spinning Landcruiser V8 and getting laid more than you do. Maybe your landlord is Satan himself. Maybe you have made a couple of bad moves (cheated and get caught, just own up and deal with the consequences, don’t try to spin some shit around, accusing your partner that he or she drove you to do it. Accept that you are a hoe, or you had your hoe moment and live with it. Maybe you can change in the future)

When these things happen, they have the power to corrode our body, mind and soul. It is natural to be angry, to be bitter. But my beef is with people who dwell on the bad stuff, they forget the beautiful side of life.

I have a simple prescription.

If you have been betrayed by lover, don’t revenge. Leave revenge to the gods. Remaining calm, picking the pieces and moving on, is the best revenge. Don’t try to prove anything. Just carry on. If you are the offending party, and you get jilted be responsible for your action. Ask for forgiveness, if none is forthcoming, move on. Regret, but whatever eats your conscience, remember you made the choice. In life, pick what you want, but pass by the counter and pay the price. People screw up, pick a lesson and move on. Do it as fast as you can. Before, if you have been fucked, or you fucked, you can’t unfuck. Live with it.

If your relatives have misbehaved, maybe the uncle who promised a job does not pick your calls, don’t hold anything against him. Maybe he is not place to help you. And if he didn’t come through, knock on other doors, and should you succeed, live your life proving a point to yourself, not to the people who let you down. It is very human to want to brag, to want to show off, but, if you can overcome this, boy, you are good to go. This is especially an affliction of black people, to want to prove a point. Often the other people don’t care, they have their own battles, to care about your Mercedes. Or even if they cared, so what!

Don’t let anything in life to corrode your soul. Once something makes you mad, once you make sense of it, adjust as quickly as possible. If it is someone’s bad behaviour, get the courage to call it out, don’t let arseholes get away with it. If you are a woman, and there is a male colleague who is a bit too touchy in office, and it makes you uncomfortable, spell it out from the word go, and put the nigga to his space. You will save yourself many a cringeworthy moment, and also other women in the future.

If someone betrays you, tell them, or if it is too much, try and overcome it as fast as you can. I know some betrayals run so deep, but remember you have a life ahead of you.

You will be shocked how short life is, once you hit 25. And you will start spending every freaking second of your life doing good things that make you happy: eating good food, reading great books, traveling, good sex (what is good sex exactly?), and other better pursuits in life.

Become the centre of your gravity. Determine your destiny. I am not saying that you start worshipping yourself or get rid of your friends and family. Or become too transactional. Just understand the human capacity to hurt and betray, install enough shock absorbers in yourself so that when they fuck you up, nothing shocks you so much. Once you absorb the shock, recover and live your life as a champion.

When you insist walking around with grudges, you end up becoming bitter, and petty. When you are persistently petty, you end up living a very miserable life, where you want to prove a point to other people but not yourself. You will build a big house unnecessarily, buy a big car, unnecessarily, and other endless pursuits and it is exhausting when you work for other people but yourself. Because they will always demand more and you will keep chasing after waterfalls.

Man. Just do things for yourself. Pursue what makes you and your partner, family happy.

PS

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1.Creative Writing (Fiction and Non-fiction)

2. Blogging|Vlogging and Social Media Content Creation.

3. Opinion Writing

4. Journalism Basics.

Log onto www.grammedialab.org for details and write to info@grammedialab.org for enquiries.

The Mind Games People Play in Clubs

In my younger, stupid days, I used to get a kick stealing numbers of girls in clubs, right under the noses of their stupid boyfriends. It is one bad habit, I have actually struggled to overcome. Sometimes I sympathise with the boyfriends. Often, I don’t. Especially, if they are the stupid type in jackets, browsing on their phones as their girlfriends are exchanging glances with me.

My friends too have picked the habit.

The worst I remember is one of my friends, who was then dating the hottest 25-year-old in East Africa. That 25-year-old had an ass that our then girlfriends hated, because she dressed it to piss them off. She was not afraid of anyone, that girl. Where is she now?Now, this hot thing was giving my friend a lap dance, but my friend was eyeing some girl on the table far away who was dancing the raunchiest dance I have ever witnessed. The dance that bouncers look at and you can see them twitching in anger (if older and likely to be a father of a daughter ) or lustfully (if young and randy).

My friend winked to the girl on the far-off table, and soon, they had gone to the toilet, I followed them out of drunken curiosity, only to bump into them on the toilet corridor exchanging that hot and wet kiss that made the man dizzy, for a second.

Life.

He came back, feigned innocence in front of his girlfriend, who was so happy and I watched my friend acting normal, and I asked, how are some people such good actors. But many girls have surreptitiously given me their numbers and went ahead and kissed their confused boyfriend to fool them, and see why I have trust issues…

***

There used to be a club on Old Mutual building in the 2000s, called Seasons. I once asked my cousin Eman that we go there, because the DJ used to play some dope-ass music like that, and he asked me, “Is that club of bored couples on Kimathi Street?”

Indeed, Seasons was a club of bored couples. It was mostly thronged by guys aged between 27-40. Now dating or being married in this phase of life, relationships have a way of disintegrating and becoming too routine, too boring. Few people have the fire to sustain excitement in a relationship or marriage. And there is always one party that wants more.

Being depressed, I was not exactly interested, but it was a moment of reflection: That despite my depression, there are always flashes of life’s beauty all around and this evening they had come in the version of this decidedly devious sexy woman with an ass she shakes to strangers for drinks.

I was young and impressionable in the late 2000s, and I would go there and all I saw were men who had dragged their unwilling women there. Or the women had dragged their older boyfriends who couldn’t stand the noise and couldn’t hide their disgust at the noise and debauchery. My best memory from the club is my friend Farheed giving me some powder and lying to me that it was tobacco…He asked me to place it under my tongue and man, after 10 seconds I started seeing my thighs enlarging to elephantine proportions and feeling dizzy. I requested that I be taken home. That night I dreamt Mariah Carey giving me a fellatio. It was that bad. Because it has never been Mariah Carey. It is always Kelly Rowland.

Anyway.

I often go to clubs as a purely an anthropological excursion. Since my type of music hardly gets played in woke clubs, I hardly enjoy any music in clubs after the old American hip-hops has been phased out, minutes after 9 p.m. and the 12 minutes old Kapuka songs are given sometime around 2 a.m. As a result, I have a totally different distraction that keeps me busy in a club, as my friends get themselves silly drunk or socketing their girlfriends or random, strangers. You gotta appreciate the generosity of Nairobi women on the dance floor.

Me, I am the creep, perched on the tall stool, watching your girlfriend and signaling her to give me her number. It is one thing I that I have perfected so much that early this year when this girl refused to give me her number, I was furious like I had a right to it.

Earlier, when they came in and ordered a bottle of Jameson and sat to a table next to us, we had exchanged that knowing looks and that had been going on, to a point I had thought we were on the same page. In fact, they had even danced with us, in that familiar way, but when time came for me to get the number (for my friend George who wanted it: true story), she said NO. I thought she was kidding but I spent 30 minutes of my life persuading her, and like a joke she flatly refused. That girl.

***

Never understood why girls do it: Give their numbers to strangers in the presence of their boyfriend. I think girls suffer from this, “guy-on-the-table-syndrome”.

There was one who long time ago, lied in the open that I am a campus class mate and forcefully gave me her number. It caught me off-guard.

Recently, I was seated at counter of Craig Lounge in Southfield Mall. The counter is nicely curved and the set up gave me a view of a drama that had been unfolding for nearly two hours.

There was this woman, about 30-33. Great ass, great floral (black and white) dress. She was passably beautiful. She had been dancing to the live band, a bit inebriated. Her ass had been the centre of attention the entire evening.

Then there was this man. About 36 or 37. In the company of a woman who was hard to define who she was to him. The woman, equally plump, beautiful, and actually sexy in her red dress, was seated away from the live band, minding her business and at some point, she came and sat at the counter two seats away, facing me and mindless watching the band. I was not interested in the band, so was facing away.

The man would come, check on her, buy her a drink and go back to either dance or sit away from her. Maybe, it was man and wife, having a difficult time and wife was implacable and the man had ran out of ways to placate her. He had stopped worrying about it.

When the band finished their thing and were collecting their tools, the man came to the counter and sat facing the woman, blocking my view of her. I had developed some chemistry with her, despite her pissed off demeanor. Now, the other girl, the one in the black dress and with a devious ass, sat behind them, such that she was looking at me, and the man at the same time, and the man’s wife had her back to her. The wife could not see what was going on between her man and the girl.

Now, the woman with the ass is what you call a devious seductress. When our eyes crossed, she gave me that wink that stirs your loins and confuses your brain. She stood and danced, shaking her ass so well, and we watched with the man, stupefied. Men like such unsolicited gifts in a club.

Being depressed, I was not exactly interested, but it was a moment of reflection: That despite my depression, there are always flashes of life’s beauty all around and this evening they had come in the version of this decidedly devious sexy woman with an ass she shakes to strangers for drinks.

I nodded in approval. But the man with his boring wife got their first. I saw her point to the black ice bottle. And the man nodded to the waiter at the counter. From then on, I watched in horror as the woman seduced the man in sign language.

The man stood next to his wife/girlfriend/ex, or whatever, and watched as the woman seduced him, by dancing her ass in the rehearsed provocation, and when she turned, they would wink each other. It went on to a point, they needed a room. I was jealousy. Jealousy knows no bounds of sexual provocation.

All along, his woman was on her phone, or gazing to space in the opposite direction, totally preoccupied by the imminent threat she was facing. Maybe her house was being closed due to rent.

The man and this woman who had been eye-fucking each other, left and went to the toilets and took their time there. As I walked out, almost the last person as the club was shutting, I saw them coming back… I knew that they had established a date for the following day, even though the girl looked like she wanted it, there and there.

I think when people go out, with or without their partners, they have some expectations of getting laid, and alcohol, provides the right environment.

What sometimes surprises me are the ‘civilized’ men who let their women dance with strangers. Such magnanimity scares me. I certainly won’t stop my girl from dancing with another man, but it will make me disrespect her.

***

Clubs are places of sin. While I have met men and women who are disciplined, the risk is always there. They are more of exceptions than the rule. You may be a very innocent, disciplined man who drinks three Tusker Lites because you want to be sober because of an early day in the morning, but devil always sends a young woman bearing her cleavage and nipples that pierce your eyes, sorry skin, to sit in the next table. When Diamond Platnumz comes, she will dance, and you will beckon her for a dance and she will rub you ever soft, and you will lose your head. All your chastity will go.

I have seen girls who want to be so disciplined. But they have such in indisciplined and distracted boyfriends. Sometimes I want to whip them. Like the 20-somethings boys on their phones, not paying attention to their girls. And girls are easy to distract. They see a tall guy in designer jacket, a good watch with Hennessy on the next table and they are intrigued. They don’t care if he is a wash-wash guy, or a peddler. Or a hit and run monster.

Beware of lone men, and exclusive company of men in a table with a JD or Hennessey. Or John Walker (as long as it is not Red Label-that is bad chang’aa).

These men solely exist to steal numbers of girls from the clueless men.

There are two tricks that men use to get numbers from women.

The first one is that they will steal glances at each other, long enough. The glances become winks. I always like it, especially when a woman tricks their boyfriend…Maybe starts to dance on the man to distract him, all the while she is sending signals to a different man to dash to the toilet where they will meet to get the number.

The other one is in the dance floor. Sometimes a girl connects so well with a male dancer and giving her number is just natural.

What sometimes surprises me are the ‘civilized’ men who let their women dance with strangers. Such magnanimity scares me. I certainly won’t stop my girl from dancing with another man, but it will make me disrespect her. It lowers her dignity in my eyes. I remember this girl who refused to even dance with my friends, and when she did, she did the polite, decent dances, no rubbing.

But I have seen some men give up their women to the dance floor and after a while I see the girl whispering to the stranger. And a number is exchanged.

***

I rarely follow through the numbers I pick in a club. My friend usually jokes that if you pick my phone and search for the word Mojos in the contact list, you will find a list long enough to vote for an MCA. Carol Mojos. Emma Mojos. Risper Mojos. Sharon Mojos.

Occasionally, I have met the girl whose numbers I took, but it strikes me how awfully alcohol distorts our perception. Rarely do they live up to the expectations; physically, intellectually, and every other way. I feel bad for wasting their time and raising their expectations. I am terrible that way.

Two come to mind. One was on Lang’ata Road. Long time ago. She was the tall, slender, light-skin extremely beautiful under the illusion of the neon lights. She had come in with her man; a short, brusque man who looked like he likes fighting. There was something dark about him. Like he is a Shylock or something. For the entire period, our eyes locked with the girl approximately 7,769 times. When the boyfriend went to the toilet, she snatched my phone and told me, “umeshind ukiniangalia sana, wacha nikupee number before akuje”.

I was flattered. We met the following week. Her teeth grew on each other, and she was too slender than I had seen her in that club, and she lied that she was a student at the University of Nairobi, when I asked her which campus, she said, “hii ya tao…”

We were done.

Then, there are those girls who either give the wrong number or give you and never pick your call, promptly block you. Or those kind enough to tell you, “Come’n we were drunk, you took too seriously…”

Long time ago, a very hot one (save for her weave) gave me her number. She was called Margret. When I called her to Nofolk for a cup of tea, and she asked me, “kwani you work there? It was the worst put down in my life. I never  recovered.

***

Either it is the alcohol. Or something about young women that makes them so darkly adventurous. To be totally unafraid, and disloyal to a man spending a fortune and risk it all, to give a stranger a number (and giving a number is a tacit acknowledgment that you would sleep with the man, because he is not meeting you to talk about global warming or how Kinoti and Hajj are fighting corruption without fighting corruption. Any other excuse for giving a number is BS).

I have a simple rule. Don’t go out with your woman. I have seen men who catch their girlfriends misbehaving and often it gets nasty. One time, some girl was slapped so hard, I am sure she saw Japan.

Or if you do, be vigilant. Watch any man around who looks like a threat. Or a man whose eyes are on your table. When your girl will disappear to the loo, or for a moment, watch out, if the man is there, or any of his friends. Because, there is a telepathy, and when a man senses dangers, sometimes they use friends to get the number. Your girl too can use her girlfriends to get the number to the handsome man in a polo-shirt, who will sleep with her, in exactly 10 days.

NOTICE

Gram Media Lab will be offering workshops/bootcamps starting April on the following courses:

1. Creative Writing (with emphasis on humour): ideal for creative writers, bloggers, script writers.
2. Blogging|Vlogging and Social Media Content Creation. 
3. Opinion Writing
4. Journalism Basics. 

I’m part of the team that will be teaching the Creative Writing and Opinion Writing.

The 30-hour classes can be taken either within ten weeks or a month-long crash course (9 hours weekly).

The classes are ideal for those talented or with passion for writing and content creation.

If you have that brother, cousin, or friend you think can benefit from the short but intense peer reading, writing and editing exercises with a talented pool of established writers/scriptwriters and content creators you can send your inquiries to:

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People in the Streets

The alarm goes of at 4.30 a.m. in Runda. The rich man jolts into action, stepping into the treadmill, more as a feel-good-make-belief that he is conscious of his health than actual working out. He is thinking of the day ahead.

He will meet the greasy Indian businessmen in his office at 5.45 p.m. They have a small problem at the port. KRA wants Sh 500 million. But the rich can make one phone call and the fine or the tax can disappear. Then he will meet another greasy, fat and obnoxious black tenderpreneur at 6 p.m. He wishes the black, fat guy washed his eyes clean. The white stuff in the corner of his eyes has a way of making his blood boil. But this particular tenderpreneur is a trusted general, loyal to a fault. But he hates that he is too squeamish. Sometimes he acts like he killed someone and the demons possess him.

From these two morning engagements, he will be Sh 100 million richer. And the skyscraper he is building in Upper Hill whose construction had stalled for a few weeks ago, will resume tomorrow. Because the greasy Indian and the fat tenderpreneur bring their kickbacks in cash. In American dollars: that currency of decadency and moral decay.

He gets an erection thinking about the money.

He steps into the shower. He likes it cold. A throwback habit to his stint in the military. He doesn’t have to shave his beard on this Thursday morning, since he shaved yesterday. But he notices his pubic hair needs to be trimmed, indeed, the 23-year-old he is currently ‘sorting’ mentioned that as a joke and even offered to shave him, an idea he thought was fascinating. Maybe he will take the offer today. That little girl drives him crazy.

As he towels his body next to his bed, he looks at his wife. “Lord, I hate her!”, he thinks. “Why is she so fat? Why the nasty weaves?” He can’t hide his disgust. The wife he hates and despises ensured his suit is ready and the house help will ensure his shoes are squeaky shiny. He dresses and like every day, at 5.10 a.m., his driver a man treats like trash will be at the car park. He will enter the car and will not bother even to say ‘hi’. Instead, he will call the construction manager, who was on top of his wife for a morning quickie, who must pick the call, or risk a barrage of insults…Work resumes the following day, he learns.

Down the vehicle comes, in a cold, uncaring Nairobian morning. At 5.30, he is in office and the Indians are ushered in, and his day is off to a flying start.

***

Somewhere in middle-class Nairobi a single-mother who dumped a good-for-nothing man wakes up, checks her Instagram, then tries a bit of Twitter before she checks the time and discovers, she is running late, then steps into the toilet for her quick ones and twos, before doing an extremely hot shower.

She will take about 20-30 minutes trying get the right dress, to match her heels and handbag. Also, she has a date with this yuppie, divorcee and she want to impress the man, who she thinks may commit. But little does she know that the man is an accident waiting to happen. He hits and runs. This particular monster knows the vulnerabilities of single mothers and he knows what to tell them to get into their panties. He has a Ph.D in that. 

She settles for a floral dress, brown mostly, and brown shoes. And brown handbags. She makes a note to pass by the salon, before meeting Kevin. The oldest Kevin she knows. He is 37.

At 6.45 p.m. she enters her Mazda Demio and hits the road. She is listening to Capital FM. And on the co-driver seat is a book that she is current reading. It gives her positive vibes. Maybe it is some Robin Sharma. She is slow reader. Maybe a disinterested one.

The back of her cars looks like an abandoned store after a hurricane, 23 pairs of shoes, two months stock of People Daily newspapers that she picks at the T-Mall roundabout.  Then, there are jackets, dresses, magazines. She has not washed her car in three weeks. Mainly because she is lazy and she lives leads this lonely life, she no longer cares much. Except when she has a date, like tonight. She makes a mental note, to take the car to a car-wash. The one she sees on Ngong Road, near her work place.

***

Jeremy is pissed off. He didn’t hear the alarm go off. It is now 6.10 a.m. He has missed the before 6 buses where he pays Sh 20 to the city centre where he waits at a downtown restaurant. Now, he has to pay a maximum Sh 80, and people no longer give tips, at least not to men. Women in the restaurant often receive.

He slept late last night because of a silly football match, and to compound his problems he lost his bet. All his Sh 500, went down the drain (or the Sport Pesa accounts). Such his life. This has not been a good amount. He had to contribute for his cousin funeral costs. His dad had a tooth problem, and he had to sort that one too. Then his wife in the village equally had her demands. Now, she owes Tala, Okash, M-Shwari, Equity and every instant mobile money platform. And his betting has not yielded much since he last won Sh 6,000 back in August. Since then, he has spent nearly Sh 25,000.

As he enters an Embasavva, he sits next to a very beautiful woman who is reading on her iPhone. He knows she is beyond his rich. For now. The bus is loud beyond human comprehension. The driver is playing Bongo. Bad bongo music. He has no bundles, so there nothing much he can do on the internet. He must endure the bad music. Luckily there is no traffic and the bus literally flies to the city centre. He makes it in time before his manager, a 47-year-old misanthrope makes it. The manager has a way of humiliating men he supervises, and often treats women in fairly. He tries to seduce them, but they all hate him. Most women mock him, he has a bad breath 24/7. But he thinks he is the best thing to happen to humanity, since smartphones were invented.

***

At 8.15 a.m buses start pouring people into the Nairobi City Centre. I usually arrive the same time, on the Syokimau train. As I walk from the train, I wonder what the people ate at night, that is, if they ate anything at all. I wonder if they got laid, the previous night. You will not know, because people know how to wear serious, forlorn faces in the morning.

We all pour into the streets, disappearing into the buildings, the numerous stalls on Moi Avenue, jua cali sheds, to the construction sites, shoe shine boots, to fruit vending stalls, to hotels, restaurants, and every other place where people go to fetch their wherewithal from.

I walk up Moi Avenue. Moi Avenue and Tom Mboya Street and Accra Road are perhaps the busiest roads in Nairobi. At any given point of a weekday, there is precisely the same number of people aimlessly, or purposely move up and down, in perfect sync.

These people have dreams, hopes, fears, anxieties, or are confused as me, yet to find their purpose in life.

Do you ever stop to think about what is going in the minds of the people moving up and down in this concrete jungle, we call Nairobi?

Maybe the bespectacled man in a suit walking up Mama Ngina is a professional con, about to swindle an ‘innocent’ woman her hard-earned cash. Innocent is in quotes, because, were it not for her greed, she will not lose the Sh 2 million she is about to lose to the smooth-talking criminal.

Maybe the girl walking down the street who looks quite perfect and you can marry, has serious self-esteem issues and going to a dingy room down Riverroad for an injection to enlarge her boobs or her ass. Or she wants to bleach. Maybe she works at night and light-skinned women get picked more than she gets picked. Maybe an older business associate who once bleached advised her to do so.

Do you sometimes, like me think that among the endless flow of people in Moi Avenue could be aliens posing as humans trying to study our peculiar habits. Like sticking chewing gums underneath tables in public places. Or using public toilets without flushing.

Do you sympathise with street children who have no place to use as a toilet, and have to wait at night and use alleys to relieve themselves?

What do you think of the homeless, who sleep in the street, so comfortable, because they have nothing to lose? Do you get pause to think how Nairobi homeless deal with flu? We pampered ones, rush to the chemist at the first thought of a sneeze to get anti-histamine. Do we ever think of what happens to them when they are sick?

Do you ever stop to think of the sick minds that use the disabled and toddlers to beg in the streets? You know, there are normal people who have housed these disabled people and drop them in the streets at 6 a.m. and collect them in later in the day. In between the day, they often come to collect the ‘loot’.

Maybe the person walking down the street does not even have fare. And has to walk to South B. Or to Nyayo Stadium to catch a cheaper bus to Embakasi. When was the last time a poor person gave you a survival story? Do you know how many people go without lunch in Nairobi?

Sometimes, when in a tall building like ICEA, I look down and pin on a single individual and I want to get into their brains and know what their biggest problem is. I see those who walk briskly and wonder what is pushing them…Maybe they have a pressing long call. And can’t afford to use the kanjo washrooms. Sh 10 is sometimes the difference between life and death. Life.

***

The rich man will seal his deals by 6.30 a.m. The first in a day. The greasy Chinese may or may not come today, because his schedule is a bit tight (there is a highly inconveniencing visit by a village church choir, but he must deal with them, because he is eyeing a political post in 2022. His advisors told him women group are the best voter bank. He has to attend to them). Still, he will give the greasy Americans an audience of course. Americans want to supply some software. His advisor has told him that it is a totally bogus and useless software, but the kickback America promise is scintillating. He needs every penny to finish up the skyscraper in Upper Hill.

He goes for breakfast at the five-star hotel a walking distance from his office but because of his insecurities he can’t walk he has to be chauffeured there. At the five-star, he is treated like a royalty. He patronizes the place so often; the hotel benefits a lot from his generosity. He drinks the tea alone. Thinking about deep stuff. Like how he will devour the 23-year-old new catch. She is a nice, nubile, but sumptuous. Her boobs make him feel like he is 21. Her ass was curved by sculptor with an eye for perfection. Her feline facial feature makes her all the more desirable. She looks the type who disdains her male agemates. And she has a way of fucking his brains out of him.

For her troubles, she lives in her own house in Lang’ata. Own compound. He normally sneaks there on weak nights and spends there until morning. His wife cannot dare ask, lest he beats the crap out of her. He has paid the rent of the place for a full year, has paid for the young girl’s school fees at USIU and she accompanies him to every journey overseas. Only his Personal Assistant knows and plans for everything. He finds the young girl intelligent. The young girl in her free time wonders why men like the vagina and can give so much for it.

The young girl rarely uses a matatu. She lives an expensive life, she rarely wonders what will happen when she grows older and Mr Rich wants another 23-year-old.

She uses part of the goodies from Mr Rich man to alleviate the poverty of their family and the father was the most relieved when she settled the medical bill, last time, he underwent surgery to excise some malignant growth in the stomach. The bill was Sh 227,000, thankfully, because it is a missionary hospital The father wanted to question where the money came from but he knew better: His daughter is so beautiful.

***

The middle-class single mother goes through the day, enduring her terrible boss, with the hope of meeting her date. She doesn’t bother to call. Lest the man thinks that she is clingy. She has learnt to be a better person, not to send the wrong signal. At 4.30 p.m. she will go to the salon, spend Sh 4,500 making her hair. At 6.30 p.m, she will be down and will take her phone to check if the man has called. But he has not. She calls him, he does not pick. She calls again. He doesn’t pick. She is now confused.

He will text a few minutes later, to say that he forgot and rushed to a meeting out of town… “not possible today, will call and we panga…”

She will exhale. Wonder what is wrong with men. Or with her. As in, why didn’t he call in time, if he knew he won’t make it. It is a crazy world. She has wasted her dress, her shoes, her handbag, and her new hairstyle.

***

At the end of the day, I wonder if people go back home fulfilled that they have met whatever objective they set to fulfil. Many are the dates that have been cancelled on me when I had endured the Mombasa Road sun in a matatu. Many are the bad deals that I have endured a cold morning, foregoing my sleep to be in town in time. Only for the other party to waste my time.

On the bus, on my way home, I wonder how many people whose time was wasted. How many people wasted other people’s time? How many dates backfired. How many hoped to be laid but didn’t. How many expected to cut a deal to save them from the landlord but didn’t. How many went to a mjengo site but were rejected, and now sit wondering if they have been rejected at a mjengo site, where can they turn to. How terrible must they be. How many women endured abuse in their workplace? How many creepy men touched women’s buts unwillingly? Maybe, they are female commercial workers and last night there was no randy customer, and it was cold in a nasty way.

When we go home, our children don’t know what we went through the day for them to enjoy that toy, for them to be in that school they attend.

They sleep. Wondering if the 2 units remaining of electricity will see them through the night. Wondering if the fever the kid is developing is serious or not. Hoping the parents are well or managing. They dream into the night about better days ahead.

Yet, tomorrow, we will wake up, with hope, that one day, one day, that one elusive one day, maybe we shall be rich, may be we will be flown to Mauritius, or we will fly our clandes there. May be some want to win that lottery that will instantly change their fortunes. Or some people are disciplined in their dreams and expectations, all they want is a fair system for them to pursue their dreams.

And tomorrow, they will walk the streets, with hope, fear, anxiety, annoyance written all over their faces. Each trying to fulfil their daily wish, be it sex, or a meal, or a deal, or a date. Or a sale. Or a job. You will never know, because you have no access to their minds of the hundreds of thousands who enter the Nairobi CBD every day.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Gram Media Lab will be offering two courses in Creative Writing (with a bias to humour/comedy writing) and Journalism Basics. Classes start on April 5th. It is a 30-hour class. There are 20 slots available for the April class. For inquiries, email: info@grammedialab.org cc snyanchwani@gmail.com

The Stranger Beside Me

Isn’t it funny that when you meet someone and fall in love, you never for once think that one day you will be enemies?

Those first few weeks leading to the first shag are usually heady, uncontrollable as the two lovebirds are happy to connect at a spiritual level. The calls. The random texts. Naught ones especially. You only sleep once you have chatted for like an hour. Ah, and those long phone calls. As a man, you are helpless, how a girl can hold you spellbound like she is a demon. Indeed women are demons. Once she bewitches, as a man, you can lose your head. You know, when you lie on bed and she is lying on her bed on the end and you just talking. And now, with the video calling technology, you can video-call, face-time, and you feel so close, yet so distant. And the first night of action!

And as men, we fall in love with specific things. I once dated a girl, because I loved her nose. And her smile. But it was mostly how her nose sweated, on a heavily hot January sun. Also, there was something about her naivete. Men love women who are naïve. Not in a way to exploit them. But there is a submissiveness that we love. Not because it makes them weak. It is all figurative. Submissiveness is the highest form of subversion. A woman who affects a certain naivete can easily get an iPhone from her boyfriend than a know-it-all, tequila-shots-guzzler. By naivete I don’t mean, being stupid. It is simply a woman wearing her feminine side. Like when she comes over and decides to cook fish in a novel way, and texts you, “si ukuje na unga, yenye iko hapa haitoshi’…You receive such a text and you can leave a Champions League final to take the flour home. Most men, more so my generation believe in that damsel-in-distress nonsense. Nothing makes a man feel like a hero than giving his girlfriend his jacket, even though she left home in chilly weather…

When two souls are in love anything goes. Back to those good night sexting. How lovely it is when she sends the nudes, trusting you that no matter what happens, the nudes will not end up in some blog, just when her career is about to peak. When people are in love, you do stupid things. You do bad things in a night club. I always see those folks seated in a dimly lit corner, and you can’t see the man’s hand and the girl is suppressing her excitement. Or when you go to a car park and you see a car jumping up and down.

Love is a powerful drug. I am talking of a love that goes beyond good sex that also perverts the minds of people. When people are in love, the sex can be mediocre, and they can still stay together. But we also have those relationships predicated on sex. Where a woman is so good in bed, she can make you read Mandarin, just by how she makes you lose your head. It is a rare gift, to be excellent in bed. A man can drive across the country from Kiserian to Komarock, 500 miles, on a Tuesday night for some action. Ditto, a man who knows how to touch all the spots, from A to G, if you know what I mean. Women have been known to lose their heads too if they encounter a man who lays the pipe like he was born to do it. Comedienne Sommore has called the process where a woman gets so addicted to the man’s game, dickmatization. Where a woman can give a thug access to her bank account because the man knows the right places to touch and the things to do with her body, that makes her scream her head off.

The problem with life is that all these things are too fleeting. After a year or so, boredom kicks in. It takes discipline and maturity to carry on with life with or without the excitement (sexual or emotional) of the earlier days.

I am always curious, what happens, that two people who formally loved each other can have their relationship degenerate to a point one can kill their lover. How do people become strangers in a marriage?

A few months back, I visited a couple who used to be so much in love back in the day. You know these guys who are always kissing in clubs, hugging, tagging and everything to annoy those of us, less gifted with the public displays of affection. Their chemistry was so good, it was inflammable, you couldn’t risk lighting a cigarette near them, it would explode.

You know the couple that calls each other “Babe”, “Swts” and all the annoying sweet nothings that can be cloying? They were the type. A few years down the line, one kid, and all the love is gone. The man told me he doesn’t understand the wife any more than he understands the people who vote for Jubilee and are now complaining.

The wife amejiachilia. She is not the hot 20-something we all used to have a crush on back then. She dresses like a middle-aged woman who runs a wholesale shop. She wears those wigs women wear when they have accepted, they are not growing younger. The man now even contemplates on cheating on her. The man still loves her, but the wife is a stranger to him.

It is not the only couple I know that are strangers. We know of many men who get entangled in protracted divorce cases in their 40s and 50s. And often there is some bad blood in the air, they hardly ever see each other eye-to-eye. My cousin Fred recently asked, how do two adults who have shared their nakedness, particularly noisome farts, have kids together can get to a point where they can’t sit down and rekindle the love. There are several theories one can advance.

One is pretense.  I have discovered that women are especially good actors. During dating, if they think you are the one, they can pretend, and go to extra-lengths to cover their rotten behavior that you will not see until she is settled in marriage. Women can smile to your stupid cousins, tolerate your mother who has a stinking attitude and even take in your friends with smelly feet or bottoms. But once married, children have arrived and she feels settled in marriage, her true colour starts surfacing. If she is naturally rude, that will surface. If she was the unfaithful type, she will resume, nothing can tame her. She will look for simple excuses to justify her immorality.

Men are not good at pretending. He may temporarily quit drinking but soon or later, his colours reveal themselves. If he was a philanderer, he will not stop. He will become slightly disciplined. No woman can stand and say that the man changed down the line. Extremely few men can shift their behaviour to extremes. However, for women, most men are always shocked after five or ten years of marriage the woman their wife becomes.

It was Albert Einstein, the most intelligent man to ever walk on the surface of Earth who said, “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Inevitably, they are both disappointed.”

The second reason why people become strangers is growth. Women especially grow and harden, losing their softer side that first attracted a man to them. Becoming a mother, adjusting to a demanding career often exert so much pressure on a woman. Also, women like comparing themselves to their friends, peers, and relatives, more than men. Being competitive, they tend to be aggressive. This aggressiveness often becomes toxic as they sacrifice family, marriage to ensure they get to the top. Also, women are blind to the fact that life is unstructured. There are no guarantees in life. While a good thing, they never factor the present realities. It is in this phase they take to church, believing some creepy pastors, or joining some Chama with questionable values. They never notice as they are sucked into the world of crass materialism. Often, they never want to listen to the man. When they succeed in their pursuits, it is often at great sacrifice. When they fail, it is also at great sacrifice.

Men, rarely grow. And when they grow, it is for the worse. They get sucked into alcoholism. Or addicted to their job, forgetting the wife and the wife can be so lonely at home, she starts getting ideas.

If only couples can grow together, the better. But rarely do you find a marriage where there is true equality to necessitate equal or timely growth. In the days of our fathers, one couple sacrificed, so that the family can grow. We live in a period of different economic realities that make both men and women work harder. Women especially are alive to the fact that the marriage may end in divorce, and they want some cash of their own. This is a good thing, but it betrays the trust necessary to cultivate a marriage. If people could work with the assumption that marriage is for forever, then people can make the necessary adjustment. A woman can sacrifice her ambition to let the man work as she raises the family. Or if the woman is the breadwinner, the husband can take more responsibility at home, hoping that the wife can do the right thing. But when a woman is a breadwinner (something they are not wired), they tend to take a tyrannical approach, denying the man the peace he may need to support the family as she works. Roughly, about one in 2o women are comfortable with the idea of a stay-at-home husband. Whereas any man would be happy for the wife to stay at home, as long as he can afford. But the human heart always yearns for more, no woman lately likes sitting home like our mothers.

Lastly, is the aspect of adventure. Millennials are an adventurous lot. Millennial women, more so. Having read (50 Shades of Grey) and watching stuff that lies to them that they can have it all, most millennial women have this notion that they can conquer the world and get everything: great marriage, high flying career, great guaranteed sex, beautiful kids, a home, property and all the whole shebang. Problem with life is that only one percent of the population goes ahead to have it all. Not many colleges educated women to know about the limitations of life. So, most millennial college women settle for marriage and if it does not meet their expectations, they become restless leading to them making some catastrophic moves, like cheating, pursuing academic papers they don’t need, making investments just so to keep up with the Joneses.

Many kill their marriages for their careers. Many sacrifice motherhood for the allure of the high flying corporate job, only to end up in their late 30s unfulfilled, and they have to adopt some false philosophy to cover for the emptiness they feel.

Thing is, both men and women need something besides a career and lots of money in the bank. A career and money is only useful if, at the end of the day, there are people to share with the joys and pressures and pleasures of the job. As a woman, you want a man at home who you can bitch to about how tough work was. As a man, you also want a woman to comfort you after a tough day to tell you, it is all right, maybe holding her to sleep, will give the energy to wake up and make money to please her.

And you can’t live on your own as two adults. Kids are a good distraction, as they add to your routine, some good inconvenience to help you make sense of life. And the bond a nuclear family creates is what gives you the energy to wake up. Even when a marriage fails, and a woman ends up a single, a child can give more meaning to wake up and go to work and provide for the kid. And for the man who decides to become responsible, even separated, working knowing that your money will be inherited by your own blood, can give you the impetus to live.

People who never marry or have children (except for those who are gay, and are comfortable in their own company), tend to have a very lonely adulthood. That is why even gay people even want to marry and even want to adopt. Because the older we grow, the more we want something bigger than us, to live for.

The problem is, in the past, people use d to understand these basic facts of life. Until some flimsy ideologies came and poisoned people. You have women who listen to the Chimamanda Adichies of this world, and they internalize these ideologies without any context, only to discover when it is too late that the Sheryl Sandbergs of this world were once married, and have children, even as they mislead many women that they can have it all.

So, as you work on your marriage, know what sacrifice is. Both men and women, you need to remind yourselves why you fell for each other in the first place. Even when you are tired with each other, thinking that there is better out there, remember the green grass across is probably growing on a sewer.

Learn to be contented. Know sometimes things don’t work your way. But above all, remember, it is worth it, to stick in, as long as there is no abuse and each party is willing to sacrifice and pay their dues.

Peace.