Mojos

I have always asked myself, “who exactly drinks at Mojos?’

See, next to Mojos is Tribeka, the home of ratchets in Nairobi. In fact if Mojos and Tribeka were twins, they will be fraternal. And Mojos will be the less attractive but more sensible one. And Tribeka will be the proud and annoyingly vain one.

Tribeka is for fakes. I mean, in 2nd floor, Tribeka has a sort of red-light-themed VIP section full aquariums, lounge chairs where beer is sold Ksh 400 or something as ridiculously high as that. I mean, do you need a fish aquarium and a nice sofa for you to enjoy your drink. You are not a kid in Disney World to require a fairy world for you to enjoy your Tusker.

Drinks in Tribeka are scandalously overpriced, yet it is the most overcrowded club in town. When we allow to be ripped off this way, we deserve the top three politicians Nairobi has. Not to hate, but even the ladies who throng to Tribeka overdo their make-up. And more repulsively, is a young man who was schooled courtesy of Baringo CDF wasting all his first job salary on overprized beer and ending up with fake light-skinned women, before he has even finished paying his HELB loan. It is financial suicide even attempting to buy a bottle of whiskey in Tribeka. Unless of course you are an MCA, flooding with allowances from an oversea trip.

But Mojos. I think, Mojos draws its patrons by pricing its beers reasonably lower than its next-building neighbour. And for that it draws extremely dissimilar crowds. And that is why it is the reasonable folks who drink at Mojos. Decent chaps. Cool lads and lasses. Mojos is not exactly an attractive club. Well, they have a nice and wider balcony, but on from Thursdays to Saturdays, you have to get there at least 10 a.m for you to get a space on the balcony and inside by 4.31 pm, it is normally full and guys don’t get off their seats until late night. The crowd being older, they are through the adrenaline stupidity of club-hopping of junior years in college.

The only problem we having currently is that esides, nowadays women can sit in balconies and bar counters and take brown bottles. By letting women drink brown bottles from balconies and counters, we are a cursed generation. No wonder we deserve politicians in the ilk of Sonko, Midiwo, Duale and such.

Mojos is a man’s bar. Wide and expansive balcony, three inside bars, the two internal balconies and ground floor full of plastic chairs you are likely to see in bars in the Eastlands. By the way, if a woman agrees to sit on such chairs, wife her. In an era where every bar is investing more on softer, whiter lounge chairs, it takes some form of humility for a lady to sit on a plastic chair, with a table decorated with a fading Guinness table mat.

I have observed that Mojos is for the folks mostly in their first job, and yet to own a car. So they cannot venture out of town. And they are shilling-conscious, cannot west a cent on taxi. They drink their before boarding a matatu to Donholm, Kasarani, Zimmerman, and such estates that soak up graduates on their first jobs. One thing you see on faces of people who drink in Mojos, is the village innocence written all over them that no lotion, jelly or perfume that will ever eradicate. I can guess, Mojos is for guys like us who went to schools in the villages, attended provincial schools in our respective provinces, and got to University courtesy of HELB. Mojos is not for cool kids. Or pretenders.

Even the women who come to Mojos, are down-to-earth. No woman has ever treated me with attitude at Mojos. I could be wrong, or just luck to have never been sneered at with a beautiful women donning a weave. I have scarcely seen a woman with a face that looks like she plastered chalk on her face before applying red-paint on her lips. In fact, the women in Mojos like the men are mostly from the village. Born and bred in the village. Went to school bare feet. Carried water on their backs or balanced it on their heads, before education rescued them and plunged them into the city. Now they waste their nights drinking harmful beers even as their mothers urge them to get married.

I have not been paid to market Mojos, but I like how unpretentious the place is. It never even tries too hard. And how do you know that the place does not try too hard. For one, the toilets are mostly dysfunctional. In fact in one of the Mojos toilets, they have a picture of Michael Jackson to indicate Gents, yet Michael Jackson is not the best example of manhood. But villager men don’t know this. And neither do they care.Fake places have art paintings with words such Kings or Queens or such bullshit. The toilet flush system in Mojos does not work.

They have a huge ‘mtungi ya maji’ with a cut ‘Kibuyu’ to aid you in flushing your ablutions. Yet it is at the centre of the city, in no nobler a street than Kimathi. They know that village patrons come from the village where they use pit-latrines. And where they live they toilet stopped working in the first month they moved into their apartment before the water started being rationed. The taps only runs on Tuesday at 2.37 a.m and Saturday afternoon. So they equally flush with water from a pail.

Secondly, it is the comparatively lower beer and whiskey prices. The owner must have known that Kenyans are hard squeezed and every penny they save is worthwhile. He capitalizes more on the volume of business to break even. Thirdly, the place is overcrowded and the guys I bump into in Mojos are the ordinary folks I was with at university or we grew up with in the village. Fourth, I suppose even the man who sells samosas and mshikakis out of Mojos is cheaper than the one who sells at Tribeka. Because he knows that the crowd he deals with is humbler one.

People who go to Mojos do not judge. Neither do they order shots of creamier, pricey drinks in order to appear cool. Maybe to get high. You don’t have to dress to impress anyone in Mojos. You go in as you are. Next time you are there, observe and see if there is anyone dying to be seen with a label, or an iPhone.

And speaking of phones, the crowd in Mojos mostly possess the average man’s phone: Samsung. It doesn’t matter whether it is an S10 or S20, a Samsung phone is Samsung phone. Every Otieno, Momanyi, Nyakundi, Njuguna own a Samsung. However big, it is a Samsung. There are phones for individuals who want to stand out in a crowd. Of which, iPhone has the highest snob appeal. Someone with an iPhone 2 is comparatively better in taste than someone with a S6. We all know this and let us not even try to argue. And then there is the crowd that stick with Nokia, thankful that Nokia rid itself of the cliché that comes with crowds that Samsung currently suffers. It is a statement of defiance when someone gets stuck in the past with Nokia. As for HTCs, now that royalty. HTCs are not as ordinary as Samsung, Alcatel, Nokia and yet they are not stuck-up as iPhones.

Back to Mojos. Long live the owner(s) for giving villagers like a chance to enjoy my beer without being judged and drinking at slightly affordable prices. Just fix the toilets, get the cisterns to work, get a better DJs, the music is so repetitive that I have crammed the playlist. And we will sure keep drinking there. Until we afford our first car so that we can try other places out of town. The cost of Taxi is prohibitive.

Finally, my best moment in Mojos came earlier in 2013. I was hosting this German friend and showing her Nairobi. The club was so packed, you will be luck to find your way to the loo. Then around 3 in the night, that evil time in clubs when strangers start kissing and perverted men start planting their fingers in orifices as bouncers and waitresses look the other way cursing. And then there were these two fat women, really huge with huge and flexible asses like those you see in Jamaican videos.

They were high on something else. At some point, one of them was dancing to any other man who was willing. And boy, she could wiggle her ass, like it was an external appendage of her body. Then there was this slender man, young man fixed himself behind her and they started simulating a sexual act, as RDX’s ‘Bendover’ permits. My German friend looked them disgusted to the bone. I don’t know what was going on in her mind but, it was not something fancy. And to us, all along, we were wishing she was not with us, and we could have taken our turn behind her for free rubbing of her huge ASSets. ..

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If poor in Kenya, your life is cheap and disposable

The periodic deaths occasioned by imbibing of illicit brew mostly in Central Kenya left more than 90 people dead a while ago. We knew then it was not going to be the last time.

 

It used to take years before another round of unnecessary deaths from illicit brews happened. This time round even before the graves of the brothers in Central Kenya were covered with grass, more people died including an assistant chief, two university students and a high school kid.   Chiefs and other administrators always take the bullet for the incompetence of their bosses. It never stops the deaths. Sooner or later, it happens.

 

News in Kenya is so depressing, nothing inspires anyone anymore. On a daily basis, we are treated to political shenanigans that make us question what goes on in the mind of a politician when he wakes up in the morning. Then we have the exasperating crime that makes us question the laws of common decency and morality. Terrorists, more recently are over-determined to keep the police and journalist busy.

 

Beyond the gloomy diet of the daily news diet, every so often, we have news of unnecessary deaths that are totally avoidable and point the government’s failure to forestall them. Soon, old women will be lynched in Kisii and Nyamira counties in the name of ridding the community sorcerers and witches. Kenyans on social media will trade stereotypes and there will widespread condemnation of the act and that will be it.

 

Another regular is when militia or unidentified people descend on villagers killing and looting their property in rehearsed fashion. In the past we have seen it at Tana River, Bungoma, Mt Elgon, Kitui-your guess is as good as mine where next? A politician from the region will be linked to the attacks and we never get to know who are behind the attacks as we forget soon as politicians turn the clock backwards to endorse polygamy in parliament.

 

And of course we have the horrific accidents on various black spots that claim tens of people. Investigations time and again have revealed that the ill-fated matatu flouted certain rules. The government embarrassed at its weakness to strengthen certain laws will elect to settle the hospital and funeral expenses of the dead. And we move on. Or they introduce the alcoblow or temporarily suspend night travel. More people keep dying. Tankers will spill oil and villagers will gather to make a kill from the spill. And of course die in hundreds.

 

What connects these incidents that lead to individuals losing their lives needlessly is that is mostly the poor who are susceptible. Lives of poor people in Kenya are expendable. They are only useful when voting, attending political rallies, paying offerings and tithes to their pastors, and of course they will be the bulk of million signatures that CORD seeks for the umpteen the third referendum in as many political cycles.

 

Their problems are invariably valuable opportunities for a politicians to gain shameless political mileage. There are politicians who actually wait, possibly even pray for disasters, so that they can donate something and ensure their voices have been heard.

 

There is something inexcusably wrong in a country where politicians exchange fists in funerals. Ours is a country where politicians convert any gathering be it a church or a funeral into a political rally and mud-slinging is fairly common. The bereaved too don’t mind as long the politician raises the stature of the funeral and drops a few thousands in the name of commiserating with the family.

 

And therein lies the fact that for the politician and the ruling elite, a poor person life is of no significance to them. That is why they are always slow to act on mitigating measures to preclude such deaths. Some measures only require common sense and the government cannot claim lack of funds. Banning illicit brews, protecting old women does not need donor funding.

 

A good example is the absence of footbridges along Mombasa Road, yet individuals must cross the road at various points to board matatus to and from work daily.  Car owners are part of the conspiracy towards poor people, because they are hardly patient for pedestrians since that is how they have been reconditioned by the education system and the unfettered capitalist culture that blinds many as they climb the social ladder.

 

Thus, when the poor die, the government is quick to settle their funeral expenses. And attend their funerals to forage for votes. It is disheartening that more than five centuries since the days of slavery trade, the African elite still has a detached connection with its masses. We see death everywhere. From South Sudan, Central African Republic, DRC, Nigeria to Somali, hapless civilians are killed daily as the governments or rebel groups backed up by the various powers-that-be in the world watch over the killing and maiming.

 

The affected are mostly poor civilians whose only mistake is to be born into the wrong place in this cruel world. The rebels and government functionaries that wage wars have their families tacked somewhere in swanky neighbourhoods and prestigious universities in various countries that are stable and functional as they ensure that their countries remain third-world and mired in poverty eternally.

 

The ruling elite and the rich in Africa are a selfish lot, both deliberately and inadvertently. Given the wars, diseases, accidents, illicit brews, famine, drought and other ills that afflict the poor rarely affect them; they rarely care about the poor. They just want their votes and may be to be a market to their goods, mostly from their companies or smuggled to the country through their corrupt practices.

 

They rarely use the killer roads. They can fly or use their state-of-the-art vehicles that are comfortable and I daresay, less prone to accidents. When sick with lifestyle diseases, they fly abroad. They can afford the best rum in the world. Their homes are permanently connected to power, clean water and security is guaranteed. The business of existing to survive is left to the poor. Them, they live.

 

This explains why everyone in Kenya wants to cut corners and get rich instantly. It breeds the greed as you have witnessed in the matatu sector where private hands regulate the fares recklessly extorting the poor mwananchi. Touts and gangs control the routes. It explains the corruption that haunts every department of the government, where aliens are left to walk into the country for a ‘small’ fee that instantly transforms the life of the police officer, ‘lucky’ enough to be at the border.

 

And the immigration officer who pockets the money to give a national ID. Or the police who takes money from a matatu and allows it to carry excess passengers and break other laws. Or the chief and police who take bribes from illicit brewers essentially conniving with greedy brewer to kill innocent Kenyans who cannot afford a decent poison sanctioned by Kenya Bureau of Standards.

 

But the rich are different. When they die, they die differently. Their funerals are broadcast live to our living rooms. And when they die in large numbers, they are given a day of national mourning and national prayer. Even religion attends to the needs of the rich differently. As a poor man you are simply dispensable and your death is good riddance. That is the message from the government and the elite in society.

 

 

 

My 4-month ordeal of replacing an ATM card at KCB

KCB has so humiliated and dehumanized me over the last four months that I no longer feel human enough, worthy a bank account.

See, when my ATM card expired on March 31st, I had no idea that for four months, I will be operating without an ATM card, which is a vital tool of convenience in the 21st century. As I write this, I have even forgotten what it feels like to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. I have been terribly inconvenienced; I’m hurting like no one truly cares about me.

Here is a quick breakdown of what happened. My second ATM card, I had used since 2009 expired on March 31st. It had survived a mugging, being picked, or getting broken and lived to its expiry date. Which is a feat in a country like Kenya.

Earlier in March, I had gone to KCB, Kencom and had been assured by the elderly woman in the front desk that it takes only 5 days to replace an ATM card. I went away in the hope that I will come back at around March 20th and replace the card in time for the March salary.

Foolish move. Naïve optimism.

I should have known that KCB has government blood in it and things don’t work as efficiently as promised. March 20th came and I went to a KCB branch along Mombasa Road and spoke to some lady, who in a casual way told me that if it was a replacement of an expired card, it happens naturally. I just needed to place a transfer request from my branch in Kisii and hurray, it will be transferred to that given branch. And they will call me. A promise they never kept.

Five days later I went there and they told me that the cards are being upgraded to the secure new-generation cards that were to be effective from April 30th. Or there about following the government directive. And KCB given their subscriber base, it was going to take longer than the usual. Perfectly understandable. So for the March salary I had to do with Mobile banking. It is freaking expensive.

See, for you to transact anything financial through the mobile phone, you first dial a certain code and your service provider dutifully takes Ksh 5. If you make a mistake, like say type a wrong PIN or end the transaction prematurely; you have to start again and your service provider will mercilessly rip you another Ksh 5. Then to transfer, say, Ksh 1,030, it costs Ksh 55. Remember that I have to withdraw from MPESA and will have to part with an extra Ksh 27. That is Ksh 87 in total. Withdrawing from the ATM machine costs about Ksh 33 which is Ksh 54 less.

So I went back after two weeks, mid-April to check. The cards were not yet ready and they were going to release them, maybe in two weeks time according to the gentleman who attended to me and dismissed me, like I was a bother. Again, the young man cheated me that they will communicate. I waited. And I waited. End of April came, no ATM. Again the whole of the April salary, I had to use mobile banking. It is ridiculous to queue in the bank to withdraw Ksh 600 over the counter. Besides, banks can’t spare you to withdraw free of charge, even if it is their fault.

In May I was almost giving up. But, I tried patience. Ideally, I had enough reason to give up on KCB, but I comforted myself that given the government has a stake in the bank, things sometimes work out rather slowly. Mid-May I went to the bank, the cards were not yet ready. I had had a particularly bad day and I vented on Facebook to which I had more than 30 comments advising me to quit KCB. Upon which many urged me to join Cooperative Bank, Stanchart and oddly enough my good friend was adamant that NIC was the most ideal for someone like me.

Sheila, a great banker friend in Kisumu was merciful enough to dial up her friend who works for KCB, Kisii branch. The friend did call me, but I happened to be down at Olorgessaile Museum where there was a network problem. He never bothered calling again.

Again, the dumb, foolish person I am, I decided to be loyal and give KCB a chance. That means my May salary withdrawn through mobile banking. Like seriously, if you are withdrawing higher amounts, the more you have to bleed. I started feeling that there was a conspiracy by the banks and my service provider to deliberately inconvenience voiceless lads and lasses like me so that we can use mobile banking from time to time.

Nothing explains the vulgar profits these banks and service providers make. Kenyans are evil, I know them. I told myself I will go there after three weeks and give it a final try.

I went to the same branch on Mombasa Road earlier on in June. Thankfully the ATM card was there.

ATM CARD.NO PIN

So, they dispatched the ATM but forgot to send the PIN. I had half my salary in the account I was hoping I will use the card to withdraw. Now, the young man gave me the card and told me he will effect the transfer of the PIN from Kisii land as quickly as possible. He will call me. I was benumbed. The level of incompetence was beyond measure. I walked away. I convinced myself that I had come along way, so I can just wait. Nietzsche was wrong: What doesn’t kill you, makes you wait.

Mid-June, the young man did call me that my PIN had arrived.

Sent the PIN. Doesn’t Work.

So three days later I went to collect the PIN. I got there; the man pointed to the PIN envelope and told me that they had sent two PIN numbers. There were some numbers on the envelope, and I think I was under stress I thought he was referring to the two four-figure numbers on the envelope as opposed to the normally disguised PIN number on the envelope. He told me to try the ATM machine outside the bank and see if the PIN worked. I went there, punched the first number. It didn’t work. The second number got me to the point of withdrawing the money. Then it rejected the card. I tried again, the card got swallowed.

I went there and I explained my problem. He told me he meant the number inside the envelope. It was a miscommunication, but I take the blame that I acted rather stupidly.

He told me to go there the next day. By now, everyone knows me in the bank. I went there the following day they told they had not been able to obtain the swallowed card; I went there a few days later, when I was certain that it must have been withdrawn.

Card retrieved. Sent to Kariobangi.

I went there after a week and the lady I had often been checking with told me the card had been retrieved. But it had been sent to Kariobangi Branch. Now, in all my life I have never been to Kariobangi. Why would anyone send my card to Kariobangi. This is the same lady who helped me transfer my card from Kisii town. Now, why send the card to Kariobangi of all places? She told me to go there the following day. I went there a week later, now in July. Suffice to say that the June salary I have used the mobile banking. Being extorted for something that was not my doing.

Card finally arrives. The PIN does not work.

So I went to pick the card and tried to withdraw the money, hoping the ATM number that I was yet to verify will work, alas, it was wrong. The ATM machine told me that it was invalid. At which point, I was left with no option than decide to move to another bank. Now, I need that advice once again.

Sheila, kindly advice. This time round I mean business.