Campus survival; hustlers’ stories

Starring; Kevin Munguti, Alex Kirui, David Gitau, Ndeda Paul Peter Oduor, Boniface Mwalii and Silas Nyanchwani
In my final WEEK in campus, I focus on the means we have used to stay afloat in Kenya’s most expensive city with the most demanding women. With the indulgence of my friends and largely partners in crime, I move on to share some of the highlights of our stay in campus; unedited, uncensored.

If you are a man under 25 and you have ever impregnated a woman, raise your hand. What was the feeling? I bet it is more dramatic than that pressing long call that threatens to burst open your rectum. It is more frenetic than the pressing long call from a surging bladder after having one too many. It is feverish. It is scary.

One, it always happens when one is desperately broke with another demanding issue. Two, there is always that persistent doubt whether it is you or that other man, it is impossible to trust a woman these days.

I have found myself in one such situation that we shall return to in long while.
Pato, Wizzy saga
In July 2008, I was in a situation. I had just been handed over my first long holiday. Three months. Three freaking months. No job. No internship. Nothing financially rewarding to look up to, other than my inconsistent freelance writing earnings that would only amount to a salon fee if I was dating. Thank God I never quite did.

I could hardly feed on that without knocking up on my sister’s office to borrow money. A very emasculating thing, especially if your beard is just sprouting out. Going up-country was not an option. Taking care of cattle and tea-picking are the least inspiring tasks I know and the old man is such an enthusiast of farming. He believes any man who scorns farming is not worth the two balls and the penis bequeathed to him by nature.

We cleared from our prized rooms in campus, I took my stuff to my uncle’s place across the fence from my hostel and I joined my cousin Patrick and his buddy Wizzy. Patrick had just cleared from Lower Kabete and Wizzy from the College of Architecture and Engineering having studies Bachelor of Commerce and Urban Planning respectively. We were shacking up at Joe’s place in Mamlaka, having broken into the adjoining room that the occupant had just cleared campus.

The two were with their girlfriends. Wizzy had impregnated his four year, campus girlfriend and she had decided to keep the baby. Patrick was having issues with his girlfriend who was tired of dating the latent potential in him. See, Patrick is your typical bad boy with looks, swag and energy to match and there isn’t a lady I have met when with him who didn’t drop a compliment such as; cute eyes, good height, funny guy and all those other tiresome compliments, especially when they have to pass through me. So this girl was so blind to the reality that Patrick was a broke ass and was not going to get his shit together anytime soon. But his animal magnetism just gets him going in town.

Engineering students normally have a provision to keep their rooms for their internships. We bought one such room and moved in with Patrick and his girlfriend Ciku. It was an uncanny arrangement, given that there was only one bed and anyone familiar with Mamlaka knows too well that there is, but a thin corridor to accommodate a mattress and barely one individual.

I used to sleep down and Patrick on the bed with his girlfriend and that meant that all other activities could only take place during the day so as to have a peaceful sleep. Besides, Patrick was in such a bad a shape and their relationship was going straight to the dogs. And these guys loved each other. And they used to quarrel. I could wake up deep into the night to find them quarrelling and fighting but the most interesting thing is how they used the word swits in their conversations and quarrels.

Swits was their full stop, comma, semi colon, full colon, dash and hyphen in their conversation. Even when Patrick was in the verge of hitting her, it was always swits. Dramatic couple they were, I must concede. Ciku did manage to see the light and drop the loser (No my cousin ain’t a loser but at that moment, he was as a good to her as a broom without a stick.)

Why am I sharing with you this story? Simple, come Saturday the University will spew me out in order to pave way for others and that de javu is creeping in. Lately, we walk around the word ANXIETY on our faces. FEAR on one cheek and a TEAR rolling down the other. We are in a state of inexplicable panic and my boys are confused. Suffice to say that my boys laughed so hard last year when we saw fellow fourth years confused and so nervous it hurt.

But our nervousness is unfounded given that we have pulled it off in this city where life can be insufferable. Basically, there is nothing we haven’t done to stay afloat. In the thickest and thinnest of things we have survived. How?

Davies has held to his job as a civil servant even when the perks have not been really commensurating. Back in time, he gave freelance writing a shot and got a few things published with the Standard, but it was demanding and he chose to stick with his job and the monthly stipend from the Ministry has kept him alive with the ever unreliable HELB. He has led a modestly good life that befits any college boy.

Kevin is one hell of an individual. If there is one thing that he has thought me is the power of positive attitude. He has been working with a middle-sized company that does just about anything. I don’t even know how is business card would realistically read. This week, he is down in Busia dropping something. Next week he is an event organizer hosting high flying guests in one of the five-stars, mostly Hilton…Another day he is stuck in the office doing God-only-knows-what…But nonetheless he has led a life and the weekends he offered the rides to ride the women in town have been worth. Kevin, I owe you one and that should be the spirit, but punguza masom(get the drift).

Paul, a notable thespian is another one. At one point, we broke into a room in campus to stay around and witness the East African University Sports that took place in our university. A benevolent brother gave us meal cards when our last cent was gone and we ate like players. In the meantime, Paul had joined a theatrical group that stages plays for high school kids. He didn’t quite succeed with it for reasons as flimsy as that ladies in the group were so much into him and that meant that little or no work used to take place. The envious bitchy boss sacked him.

But Paul has been one of the guys who have kept the University Travelling Theatre alive and vibrant. A talented chap, we have done a couple dirty stuff like attending Consumer Insight researchers and posing as accountants, when our knowledge in accounting is no more than that of a cockroach for a measly Ksh 500 or shopping voucher worth the same amount. Also we have helped Module 2 student do assignments for a measly Ksh 200 when in the thick of things.

But I knew we had crossed the line when I met Peter doing an assignment about armed conflict in Somalia. This was the height of academic fraud. Peter and military science; fish and chicken. Alcohol and tea. Peter has enjoyed a considerable career with the Standard. When they couldn’t publish him around, he even crossed over to Uganda and had his article run in the Monitor (owned by the Nation).

His interest in the PR industry has seen him land a good deal with a moderate company and this can easily be a launching pad for a good career in the PR business. This boy got nerve. But he has been part of the syndicate that helps many a Parallel student handle their assignments. At one point he was teaching Module 2 students a unit he had not been taught and was the most difficult ever since Science and Technology…fraudster.

Alex or Lex is the kid in our block. He is only 22 and I swear if this kid was in a place where imagination is allowed to do the magic, he will be Kenya’s answer to James Cameron. Alex has one quality that we wish many kids would have these days…that deep belief, conviction in what one does. Alex knows what he wants and pursues it with all the zeal he can muster.

He is a talented cartoonist who has worked with the Nation, Standard and Kass Magazine. He has tutored a college on animations, a field he now wants to venture into fully. Guess what, the next big thing on telly might just be from him…watch this space. He has done all sorts of design dirty works, sometimes without pay but he is now, sharper, better and understands this town than any other person.

This brings me to Bon-I. Bon-I. Bon-I discovered that life is one big scam and doesn’t care how you put two ends together, granted you don’t kill. Bon-I has come to a conclusion that in this town, everyone is a scam, and regardless of the job is a thief. Even as we venture into showbiz, he is duly aware that it is all about fleecing here and there and sitting as you wait for the cheque to mature.

We began with Bony by involving ourselves in the not so lucrative campus politics. The big spenders we are, meant that we always kept ourselves busy chasing after shadows and every promising moment brought much disappointment than it brought chumes. We attended Synnovate/Steadman researches at the Sarova Stanley posing as pilots when our only interaction with the airplanes has only been the photos and the escorts to the JKIA.

But we have come a long way. Somethings we did were dirty. Dirtier perhaps. May be we stooped too low but we were basically surviving. Nobody knows how rotten I am than Bon-I and the reverse is true. At his request I will spare everyone the details, but one thing you can be sure is that we were within the limits of the law and have mainly fed ourselves from our writing activities for the papers and elsewhere to stay afloat.

On my part…I am your typical hustler with no fewer than 15 deals running on my head concurrently. There is that Magazine for a constituency that I’m working on. There is that magazine for the school that I’m working on. There is a book I’m editing for someone. There is that relative who wants some fake document from River Road or some institution and willing to pay. There are rich students who want help with the assignments due on the very very day and can buy lunch and drinks afterwards. There are foreigners who want my help. You can only do so much. All these I juggle and while I often deliver some bad quality stuff, it is matter of necessity.

It wasn’t always an easy story. My pseudo participation in student politics did earn me access to quick cash that disappears like it is cursed and a fat cheque at the end of the day but I have learnt that such kind of money keeps on disappearing and accounting for it is a futile exercise.

But what really helped me is that I never quite dated or met a demanding female student, even though I met a few needy ones. The few needy ones I met, I could handle. Some were admirably independent even though that meant I cede power. Dating for a male student is an impossible task. I have gone out with first year female student who vowed never to date anyone in campus and I really sympathized with the male folk.

But the highlight of my hustling came when I took a chalk to teach some kid in Umoja II and I discovered that I had forgotten everything I received in High School. Too bad that even what I have received in campus is all gone. Did they say 8-4-4=00

And Nairobi, better be prepared, we about to invade big time.

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