Friday, 29 January 2016

TRIBULATIONS OF THE BOY CHILD

He hesitates when his name is read out.Many times his name has been read out and all he has ever received is regrets.He fears this is probably going to be no different.But he is a courageous lad.In the fifteen years he's been alive,he's seen it all.He's been through the kind of stuff most people never get to go through their whole lives.That's why he's approaching this situation with caution.The world has bruised him,and made him wiser in the process.He doesn't even hurry things up any more.Even this day,when he woke up ,he took all his time before embarking on the treacherous twenty kilometer walk,to his county headquarters town hall,where he and other short-listed education bursary applicants were to know their fate.Having done this journey the previous year, and the one before,he was of no particular hurry to have his heart broken again.But he got off,after all the cows and goats were taken care of.Its the first thing that he has to do,no matter the day,no matter the hurry.

Along the way,the county's fuel guzzlers sped past him heading to the same venue.He suppressed an urge to make an attempt to flag one down,fearing the fate he would suffer in the hands of those burly,mean men that alight from the vehicles,whenever they make a stop by the road-side Nyama Choma Ranch,owned by the Governor's personal assistant.He has seen them before,because across the road,as his father's cows graze,he would lay under the shade to quench his thirst using water from an old, dirty bottle he always carried with him.

So when his name is read again,he mutters a short prayer,and heads for the dais to receive his verdict.His shorts,the same pair he's gone to school with this past year,now has holes at the back,that expose his back-side.The two girls with pony-tail hair and shiny clothes, seated at the front momentarily abandon their phones to gaze at this boy heading to the dais with torn shorts and obviously no under-wear.No one seems to wake up to the irony that they too, though far more endowed,are here for the same thing as this poor boy.They nudge each other and giggle under their breaths,as they gaze at this walking bundle of poverty walking to the front.Their mother rebukes them half-heartedly as she too,suppresses a laugh,heaving heavily in the process and the gold-chain around her neck is yanked out of her blouse.She clicks,then curses in Harlem-made English,and throws it back to its place carelessly like its of not much value.She's getting agitated with all this waiting.Its a children's bursary meeting for Pete's sake,not an I.M.F board meeting,and she and her girls have a long drive back to the capital,once they receive their letters.So the organizers had better hurry things up,or she will call the Education Secretary,he being the one that sent her here,with a word that her girls must make the list.This way,she can avoid paying school fees altogether and spend the cash on that holiday in Mauritius.

Society Laughing At Itself

The Chief presiding officer doesn't shake the lad's hand,maybe because you can spot the cracks on them from a few meters away.In the ensuing confusion the lad drops his letter and, as he bends to pick it up,the entire dais erupts in hearty laughter.Even the outside catering boys from a nearby four star hotel,as they collect their cutlery and left-overs from the dais, follow suit.Its their left-over food that actually led to this costly slip.Who wouldn't have?. For the boy's buttocks,both of them,are now officially out,having broken the last few remaining straps of thinning strings that kept total nakedness temporarily at bay.But you can only hold on to a cob web for so long.The end had to come.Though he's used to life's humiliations,rarely does it happen in front of such an affluent crowd of on-lookers.He has no desire to be a stand-up comedian,so he refuses to to participate in this laugh.He bows his head in shame and runs out,only stopping to get his breath when he could no longer hear the laughter.Only to realize that he is leaning on the gate of a police post,the same one he spent two nights in,for grazing his father's cows by the gate.So off he goes again,but because now darkness is setting in,he feels a familiar calm that comes with having to hide from humanity,because one is not properly clothed.Finally,the ordeal is over.

He does not know the contents of his letter yet,but he takes solace in the fact that he had scored more marks than most of the applicants that showed up,including the two rich girls with pony-tail hair.A man will always be a man and he can't stop thinking that the girls must really be beautiful.And clean.Clean is what caught his eye.They even carried handkerchiefs,in a world full of leaves and grass.What a waste,he wonders.Why such kids don't blow up the entire exam,he fails to understand,yet they will blow their noses at the slightest opportunity.If he doesn't go to high school this time,he might just give up.This is what he fears most,for he knows he has the ability to become a literature lecturer,in one of the colleges in the capital.But no one will take him and he is beginning to blame himself,thinking he is probably the problem.If there is nothing tragically wrong with him,why won't anybody give him a chance to study?Why is his own country so afraid of him?Why won't anyone give him the chance?. Why is it that every time he tries to appeal to humanity for help,all they see is his torn pair of shorts?Every time he has to queue,the girls get picked and he is told to go fend for himself "like a man".Even through the radio,whenever he has come close to one ,all he's heard is what this and that person and organization is doing to "rescue the girl-child". He is not against girls being rescued from all that outdated cultural practices throws at them.But he wonders why,unlike the girl,in his case,the society chooses to make sick jokes on him.Or why,in its quest to free the girl,it will imprison the boy.At this point,even hope would do.Or an assurance from someone somewhere that his existence is at least legal.Maybe that phrase "girl-child", sounds more attractive and catchy than "boy-child".And the donors will always go for the fancy phrases,to attract more funding.He simply doesn't understand.He shakes his head,but stops immediately,for having waited for this letter the whole day,he's had nothing to eat and is only now realizing that his head hurts.

Valley of death

As he nears the valley notoriously called the valley of death,he is filled with apprehension.He doesn't know whether to proceed or retire for the night in the farm by the road.In this valley,many lives have been lost.Gangs are known to share their loot in this valley,and anybody walking on foot here has to be outright crazy.He thinks about his father's cows and the whipping that would be sure to befall him,should he not take them to graze first thing at dawn.And with that, he shelves the idea of spending the night out in this farm and decides to soldier on.If anybody wants his life,then it must be worth something,he says to himself.And the system may not see it,but eventually somebody else will.

The fuel guzzlers speed past him again,as they head back from the bursary function,sweeping their powerful lights around him,only to leave him in more darkness.Momentarily blinded now,he misses the head of a deadly panther by a whisker.Or rather the panther misses him by a quarter of a millimeter.How God takes care of those who no one wants.His heels ache.His entire torso follows suit.But he so far away from home,and the letter that may eventually transform his life cannot spend a night in the bushes.Its like leaving your first new car in a Jua-kali garage for a week,alongside the rusty Tuk-tuk.Something is wrong with that picture,he reckons and laughs,so that birds nesting in the nearby bushes frantically jostle for fleeing space.So he troops on.Though he's walked to school all these years,this particular walk has been particularly brutal,because its being done on an empty stomach.At least in school, the feeding programme has given him a few grains of boiled maize and beans that pass for lunch,everyday for as long as he can remember.And for that ,he is eternally grateful.Though the boys all have to wait for the girls to be served first, so they can scramble for whatever is left , they,and he in particular have never been bitter by this show of preference.He understands pretty well that this programme was meant for the girl-child.The fact that he gets anything out of it at all,is to him a bonus and he is thankful,but doesn't know to whom.All he knows is someone has kept total starvation at bay for him,for fifteen good years.If there is a God out there, it must be Him,for no human has shown any particular interest in his welfare.

The Temptation.

He arrives home at mid-night.He has nothing else left in him.He's literally dragging his feet now.He can barely remember the political speeches that took all day.Not much was said about education,which even he could see is what this function was supposed to be all about.Political groups were formed before their own eyes.Loyalties were declared while others were severed.Careers were ended while others were began,this same day.The huge strides being made by women and the girl-child, was applauded by speaker after speaker.More was pledged towards the girl child.A certain non-governmental organization,in search of more funding, that pledged to throw in a few boys here and there,was threatened with immediate de-registration. And as Marufuku Shida now fans the fire, so he could read the final few sentences of his regret letter,he can feel his head spin and the whole world crash around him.For a whole day,he's entertained the thought that his day to leave all the poverty behind,may have finally arrived.How could he have known that it was the wrong kind of entertainment.He is staying, after all.His dreams have,once again,come to a grinding halt.He will live to fight another day.But his biggest worry now is if he even wants to live.He is a criminal that has never committed a single crime.He was born a poor boy.Nobody will have a poor boy.Tragic.

Though he's heard of a discreet recruitment of young boys to a rag-tag militia in a neighboring country,he looks at his letter of regret one more time,as if expecting to find a sentence he'd missed. Its the core business of this militia to maim,kill and generally wage a senseless war against his country. He has no desire to be a traitor to his country.But a young man can only stay discriminated against for so long.If his country rejects him,someone else will welcome him.Your trash is gold to someone else.So he gives a quick thought to the recruitment.Then he pushes the idea to the back of his mind,and hits the sack,a real sack that pass for a bed,to suffer endless hunger-induced nightmares.For now.

Kinyuagm@gmail.com.

Friday, 22 January 2016

TWO BREEDS,ONE MAN

It is with so much sorrow and regret that i wish to observe the demise of the man.Or rather the unfair relegation of  yesterday's 'real' man to the backseat.I mean the kind that took pride in smelling of a little sweat and urinating on trees ten meters away,while placing one arm on his hip to increase urine spurt mileage.The kind that would single-handedly pluck out a pick-up truck's engine and set it back to its place in record time.
The kind that would kill and skin a he-goat with their bare hands and dissect the insides with their teeth.Any bull that dared to break out of its enclosure,was dealt with summarily without having to call the fire-fighters and the anti-terror police.This breed is slowly but surely dying out.And its being replaced by a special breed of men that apply make up and visit the washrooms for short-calls carrying tissue and napkins.

The new breed is financially endowed and polished all the way to the fingernails.They are always hugging everyone and enjoy watching Oprah with their mothers in law.Its therefore my pleasure to revisit this man,who is in danger of extinction, in his hey-day,while also going over what to expect from this new guy that is now taking over.

The brute,Ancient man.

This man,now fading into oblivion,is sadly broke and therefore not an attraction.He walks around in the best clothes of 1993,when he ran the town.Dressed that way,cops always mistake him for the notorious jail-bird that may have just been released from jail,as they seek to explain how a man could be looking so 'yesterday'.What used to be his style of life has now turned to means of survival.He is an unfortunate victim of the modern world.He has been rendered irrelevant by modernity and he,like a male lion that has outlived his usefulness as king of the pride, is now being kicked out, by the young lads.
The sisters have now known that it doesn't take physical strength to change that flat tire.Computers and robots have taken over car repair so the sight of a mechanic in a half-buttoned,oily overall is becoming rarer and rarer.What required brute strength and muscle now only requires one click of a button and its done.The sisters now all know how to change that bulb in the bedroom,so what's this kind of a guy for.Modernity seems to have yanked the ladies off this man's arms.The cops and the estate security have since taken over the security of our sisters at night. And with majority of them driving their own cars,who needs to be escorted by this male who will probably demand payment for services rendered anyway.And you can be sure the last thing in his mind is money,buddy.Chances of him even being 'kept',have narrowed dramatically.Because the delivery boys will carry the new fridge into the house for free, so the man might as well head back to Kimilili,where he came from.

Situations made him important.Now those same situations have turned against him.How tables can turn in less than a decade in a changing world.Because of this,his ego is bruised.Even his frame has started wasting away,because good food is hard to come by these days.He can only entertain those who are willing to listen to his tales of yesteryear.Because yesteryear is where he belongs.Automatic cars are all over the production lines so who needs this macho driver,when a sister can just step on the gas, take aim,then voila!, we are home.Kids don't mill around him in admiration any more.They pity him,because the bucks have long abandoned him.Now he's taken to hard liquor in the backstreet because that's the only place that still has time for him.And at this rate of modernization,soon he'll belong to the museum.

Sad state of affairs,when a certain breed of men,has to face extinction before the rhino.

'New Kids On The Block'.

This new guy carries a mirror and visits the washrooms to 'freshen up',just like the girls. He is loaded with lots of cash,because this is his time.No prizes for guessing why his table is milling with all these "star struck" women.He is skilled and has a job that attracts six figures.He ends his sentences with 'duh' and throws in the 'am like' phrase, whenever his mind goes blank.
He doesn't do 'brown bottles' anymore because they are not classy and the lowest he'll stoop, is Heineken,because of its links with the Steven Gerald-era of Liverpool F.C. He's given the barber a wide berth for hygienic reasons, preferring instead to acquire the services of a qualified beautician.His finger nails are not for plucking off resistant meat from the bone.He holds the bone with his finger-tips,then frowns as he chews his meat,like he's on Malariaquin.
He has his 'me' time which he uses to treat his nails,toes and hair.He hates bone marrow soup and has never eaten meat from a goat's boiled head.He has no use for Kang'ethe,the butcher cum Nyama choma specialist in the local pub because he can't stand his soiled white apron(Now approaching black,having surpassed brown on new year's eve). He doesn't understand the need for a little dirt on a man's apron nor does he entertain the thought of a sweaty man handling his meat with their bare hands,moments after handling change for the previous customer with the same sweaty hands.He smells of roses and wears designer underwear bought in Dubai.He has a tattoo of Ricky Ross,in a bid to get that 'gangsta' look,but that's like trying to make a cat look scary to a Chimp.

If you are a lady who happens to  get married to one,place two seats in front of the make-up table.And buy him his own make-up kit to avoid early morning fights--he's still the man,and probably physically still stronger than you.

The Irony.

But given half-a chance,ladies will cheat on this new guy with the watchman.Because the carnal urge to bed the real primitive, hardened man will not go away.Nature seems to embarrass you when you least expect it to.That's why a committed Subaru-driving man, with plaited hair and an acquired accent, living in the plush Kilimani, will not understand what their woman was thinking when she cheated on him with the rough gate watchman from Bukhungu.Because he has always provided for everything she has ever needed of him.He has even held the napkin-box for her,as they both watched their favorite soap,crying in turns over the unfolding events.He has engaged in all types of girl-talk and can sing all Celine Dion's songs backwards.He waits patiently for hours on end for her in the salon.So much so that they've now placed a seat for him at the corner,complete with the Cosmopolitan magazine and make-up guide.He gave up watching his news for her and no longer talks politics because she finds it offensive.He's given up his football on Saturdays for her,and even when he visits the sports bar,she's always on tow,so she can ensure they leave before seven.He no longer throws rounds for the boys at the bar,and prefers instead to accompany her shopping for the best lingeries in town.And now he's at his wit's end.

Change is here and embrace it we must.But as we prepare to lay a wreath on the man of yesteryear,may we please recognize his input and importance.It was not wrong.It has just outlived its usefulness.It was good while it lasted.Let's now give it up to the new kids on the block,albeit grudgingly.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

WEIGHTY MATTERS.

 I am not Silas Nyanchwani by all means.Though i have read countless works done by this maverick,charismatic writer and relationships expert, i cannot claim to be an expert on relationships myself.Nor do i aspire to be.But that doesn't mean that i am clueless either. I can recognize a suicidal man when i see one,especially when treading around the touchy issue of a woman's weight.

When your woman starts posing questions concerning her weight,that my friend,is your sign that,for you,hell may have just shown up to your doorstep.Because this question DOES NOT have a correct answer.No man has ever gotten it right and you are not about to be the first.You are doomed,whichever way you answer.And once you give a wrong answer, appeasing the woman is an uphill task.That's why a color-blind guy will be seen hovering near the florist,with no idea what to buy.All he knows is he needs to appease some angry woman,and he's read somewhere that flowers does that pretty well.Only for them to be tossed into the trash-can,when he finally makes it home.He may have plucked them off someone's fence,but that's beside the point.
Or he might decide to go the designer lingerie way. Never mind the fact that he will probably get the size wrong anyway,and end up escalating the tension even further. Maybe we should examine why 'no' will earn you a few nights inside the  shepherd-dog kennel,and why 'yes' will earn you the death sentence,preferably through starvation and slow strangulation.

'NO'

A guy who answers no,is at that particular moment wishing he wasn't born a man.He knows he is done for.Trying to withdraw the answer will lead to a small earth-tremor,so that's out of the question.He has always known his day in court would come,but no one told him it would come this early.And because a woman only asks this question while standing before you,arms akimbo,the guy's exit route is blocked.Crawling out through the woman's legs would be outright dumb for then, he would have his neck trapped between her ankles,a rather unmanly sight.Every move is being watched.And he can't say he is temporarily blind,for this chic knows her man well.

'No' means he is a liar,especially if she knows she's got inflated boda-boda tires around her waist.So she'll accuse the man of always telling lies about everything.He'll be accused now of having lied about the day he was born,his age and even his feelings for her.The only thing she is sure of at this point,is his sex.Or she wouldn't be there at all.

'No' means the guy is dishonest.And she will yap on and on about how much she's prayed to nail herself a honest man,only to get a lying orangutan in a suit, for her troubles.She will state categorically that domestic abuse starts from dishonesty and she is unwilling to take her chances with a man showing those signs.Quoting research findings from a source she can't immediately recall, she'll state that a man who lies about weight,will lie about anything,including his whereabouts. And because of that, a bell need to be clamped tight on his neck,so authorities can tell where the poor bloke has headed to this time. And who he is with, as well.And with that,an otherwise outgoing brother,who enjoyed throwing rounds for the boys,now suddenly starts watching the seven o'clock news from his couch.

He'll be accused of being too engrossed on other women's looks,to take an interest in his own.He'll take the blame for all the deep fried chicken this woman has been known to swallow in whole.I mean,what's a neglected girl supposed to do?. If he is out with the boys,the smart thing to do for a chic,would be to lie on the couch, hugging Fluffy the teddy-bear,with just two to three take-a ways of chips,to kill the boredom.

He is squarely to blame for the bludgeoning stomach and the non-existent waist-line.This lying bastard must also be the reason the woman keeps procrastinating gym sessions,choosing instead to watch people working out on The Fitness Channel,as she cuddles her cat,while drinking its milk.In her mind,she'll assume she's the instructor,and take one more sip.Because of this man,now she's turned into a slob that rolls,where she was supposed to walk.If the item she wants in the supermarket is at the first-floor,she stands at the bottom of the stairs,looks up,then cries.Because if she begins the upward climb now,she has no hope of making it to first floor before dusk and she knows it.Climbing the damn stairs is a man's job,she'll mutter as she frantically reaches for her phone to call this useless man so he can come and climb the stairs himself.The price you pay for saying no!

'YES'

A guy who goes for yes,is outright suicidal.Not much can be done to rescue this one.His demise was confirmed the moment that thought began forming in his half brain.He is a dimwit that has no clue.He deserves every moment of torture that will come his way,for embarrassing all living things.

If you answer to the affirmative,then be ready for total starvation in the bedroom.This is where i will ask such a man to carry their own cross,and leave us out of his twisted mind.Because if you are starved in this area,you loose weight from the loins, onward to the the brains,so please starve alone.Lunacy follows closely thereafter.All because you wouldn't call a  fat woman skinny. Call her Tyra, Beyonce or even Naomi Campbell.No matter what you've read, leave Oprah out of this one.Call her Ann Kagame (The Rwandese President's daughter has effortlessly managed to make all professional models look old and wrinkled), even when the blind can see she is slightly fatter than the women in Afro-cinema.Either that,or you can start wearing your jeans to bed.Because there will be someone else in jeans,tighter than yours in that same bed.

Admitting that she's fat, means you are no longer attracted to her.And trust me,you don't want to go down this road,because you will loose.Admit it only if you have all along been looking for the exit door from the relationship,fling or whatever it is you reckon you have.Because she will hold and use this against you. You've hit her below the belt,and that's treason in her mind.
You will be branded a loser who doesn't know how to please a woman.You will be called man's greatest liability since Alester Crawley.An experiment gone awry.A waste of skin that would have found better use making footballs, than covering your sorry mass.And you are lucky i added 'M' on the word 'Mass',or it would have described you better.You will be the topic of discussion in the next five Chama meetings.All women will click their tongues,then roll up their tinted car windows when they see you.Others will click,then walk away swinging their behinds,the moment you show up.Its war,buddy.Its war.And you started it,but now its others who'll end it.Word about you will spread like wild fire in women circles.Even the local hookers will give your table a wide-berth.At the bar you will be served by Mwangi and Mugambi,bearded men with oil in between their finger nails and who spit green froth as they speak.Shiku will stare at you from the corner,wave half-heartedly , then go back to watching her soap.Yours is an unpardonable crime.And that you committed it in your own home makes it even worse.You deserve death by firing squad,if all women were to have it their way.

This,i guess leaves us men in a rather peculiar position.And as long as the questions concerning weight keep coming,we have no other choice but to keep on lying.Or running from it,though a guy can only run for so long.This we all know.So ladies,take this or leave it--we'll answer all questions you ask truthfully,and honestly.But on this one,you have to settle for a lie.



Sunday, 10 January 2016

TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN COMRADE AND SOLDIER.


That day,you sat across me,sipping fruit juice from that tall glass, i couldn't have guessed what was going through your mind.I remember how you hugged me when i honored our meeting,despite knowing too well that i don't hug men.As a rule.Then you sat back to laugh sheepishly at my reaction,for i was  both clearly taken aback and baffled.You didn't like the fact that i was in no mood for a meal,only a glass of water.You know,had i known that you were subconsciously trying to say your good-byes to your best friend,i would have approached that last meeting differently.But you kept it to yourself,didn't you.
Not many things,you kept from me.I can't sit here now that you are gone and say that.I'd be lying if i do.To me your life was like an open book.Even where it wasn't, you made sure that you made it so.As a friend i couldn't have asked for more.Looking back now,i can only begin to fathom what sacrifices you made,what pains it caused you.And that you pulled off that last meeting with a straight face,not even once betraying the turmoil that was inside you,was to me the most ironic feat you have ever pulled off in my presence.

Hill of Peace

Look,i don't know how things look like over there(Heaven i mean,where you surely must be). For no one ever makes it there,then write back a report of what they've seen.But God says its cool.....like nothing we can ever imagine.Beautiful,peaceful.I believe him.I don't know if,if given a chance,you would want to come back.Because your description of beauty and peace,you derived from that hill in the outskirts of town that you always went to,whenever you wanted to write something.You said it gave you a feeling of being the only one in the universe,and that from there,you could let your mind wander and be truly free.That your imagination and creativity were at their very best,away from all else and every one else.

And to be honest,i didn't believe you.I thought your mind is your mind, and from wherever you are, you want to use it,you use it.Surroundings not withstanding.Yet i couldn't have ignored the fact that every time you descended from that hill,lap-top in hand,you always had a victor's smile on your face,writing being one of your most successful battle-grounds.Maybe that's why your thrillers did so well.Maybe that's why your commentaries on social ills were always so spot-on.Maybe that's why they felt so alive and real.No reader would dare put any of your works down,once they start reading.At least none that i know of,both now and then.

Unfounded fears.
 
But the days you tagged me along,so we could see if the air atop the hill would work for me too,my fear of snakes wouldn't let me settle down for any constructive writing.Every time a twig moved,a branch snapped(oh,and they do that a lot out there)or every time the wind blew on the grass,producing that 'swooshing' sound,you'd laugh your head off as i,like a born soldier,would snap up onto the rock behind us,on which you placed your lap-top casing.And even though i laboriously wrote a sentence or two,i always had to do it all over again from the comfort of my room.I laughed every time i went through my work later, for one would have been forgiven to think that whoever wrote the texts may have probably done it from a parachute,on its way down to the hard ground!. But not you,my friend.Not you. As you confided,everything you wrote from that hill was final.Amazing.

But i'm mad at you,because you never prioritized on how to help me get over this fear that i have of snakes. Or the thought that one could be lurking nearby somewhere. I say that because,come to think of it;that hill,our hill, will never get to see us together again.I would have been the one to go up there to tell the rocks,and the trees,and the insects,and even that howling dog that we never got to see, though it kept howling each time we ascended up there,that my friend,our friend,you,is no more.But i won't,because i keep thinking some cobra will spit on me.Or some two-headed Anaconda.
Now grass will tragically grow around the spot you used to sit.The path you walked,uphill and downhill,will in due time be covered by vegetation again.Maybe even the dog,will this time descend and show himself up to the world,or give himself up to the dog authorities, if he is some kind of a criminal dog in hiding,or alienated by other dogs,having committed a serious crime in the dog world.Maybe when he can't smell your scent anymore up the hill ,he'll reckon the world is gone, and so are his crimes,then opt to come down.

Blind Loyalties

Now,you left before i got to ask why you always tapped your feet on the ground,each time you wrote something.You may not have noticed,but the spot where you sat,had turned into a tiny,little desert.Ironic because, you kept writing about how to care for our environment,yet the one spot you frequented,you turned it into a desert!. And the topics that made you tap your feet most,i guess,must have been the ones that meant most to you.Like when you wrote about the spirited defense of  a corrupt regime,by a section of the population that considered the regime as 'its own'. And the suspects of corruption as 'their sons'. You took off your sneakers,maybe to inflict some gentle pain on your own sores,as if that would drive the point home better.
And i tried to reason with you,saying that three quarters of the demonstrating crowd didn't even know why they were on the streets,or why the international community was slapping their 'sons' with a travel ban and assets freeze.All they knew was that 'their people' were under attack by some 'other people',in the same nation,thereby dividing the nation even further.And because of that,they saw it reason enough to spill to the streets to defend 'their people' at all costs,even to the extent of bloodshed.
But you typed on,clearly agitated by this blindness and loyalty to tribe,and 'our own' mentality,that so afflicts this young nation,that has seen its wings virtually crippled and almost severed.And even though i felt your frustrations,its the tapping of your feet that i couldn't wrap my mind around.and almost laughed at,but decided against it after taking one look at your face.
I guess i'll never get an answer to that,unless i make it to where you are and not to a different place.

Collective Condemnation

As i write this,i have a copy of The Late Ken Saro Wiwa's 'Silence Would Be Treason',beside me.Knowing it to be one of your favorite books,its mere presence near me is comforting.I may have my own issues with most West African novelists,and their portrayal of the continent as one huge, uncivilized,almost primitive area, but as you always argued,a man should be judged by their own individual deeds.Even God,you argued,has repeatedly said He's interested in a man's own heart,not a community's.Or a tribe's.I guess that means if you fix one man at a time,then soon you'll have the whole nation fixed.Maybe that's the secret Africa,and more so,Kenya misses.That even if we all collectively burn each of our neighbors houses,because of a wrong supposedly done to us by the neighbor's father,mother,leader or god,we each will stand before the final authority,God, individually.
I hope when you stood before Him,He had only praise for you.For yours was a life that made a mark on this part of the planet,whether civilized or primitive-your articulate articles being an accurate pointer to that.

Active Participation Against Corruption and Injustice.

The activists,your fellow activists,though heart-broken,still have the desire to fight on.Your demise has left a gaping hole ,yes.But the zeal to speak for the weak and the down-trodden has never been fiercer.

Yesterday,we gathered for a little demonstration in celebration of your life.We didn't make it past Freedom corner,the spot where our mother's faced the dreaded General Service Unit,those many years ago.Teargas canisters literally fell from the sky in their hundreds,as overweight policemen,tired of all the running,chose to use the shortest fly-dispersion methods at their disposal to ensure we dispersed,so they could go back to their beer and Nyama Choma before dark.And the traffic cops could proceed with their fifty-bob taking ritual as usual,at the height of artificial traffic jams,specifically created by them,to maximize collection.

Yet,when paid hooligans and idlers close the streets for hours on end, as their corrupt leaders are paraded to court,in a carefully choreographed show of willingness to fight corruption,these same overweight cops,blinded by a monthly token of willful slavery called a salary,stand by and watch.But between these two gatherings,ours would easily be the peaceful one,by anyone's either quick or detailed assessment.

System Turning Against Its Citizenry.

Take for instance, the day we demonstrated against the fencing off of Mwanainchi Primary School playgrounds,a public school attended by slum-children,whoever those are, for 'development',by an unknown 'private developer'.(By the way,if we can tag little kids 'slum-children',because of where they come from,i wonder why we act surprised when they grow up and join the enemy,say a nearby terrorist cell).The clobbering and the arrests,were totally unprovoked,because all we did was chant against wanton grabbing of public land.How could we have known that this 'unknown developer',would turn out to be the police chief himself?The look you gave me,as we both lay injured across each other in hospital,said it all.I knew that look-you were willing to give your very life to the struggle.I saw a fire in your eyes,that has to date,been the source of my own fire.

And just in case you don't follow the news from there,just know that the project has since been abandoned and the kids do now have their play ground back.They may not have decent housing in the slums ,but at least now they do have their play ground.And movie makers must shoot their clips of endless columns of  shanties to entertain their audience in the West,so slums must remain.That,i understand.But you must ask St.Peter to tap your back,for your efforts were not in vain.Even though i know it still must pain you to play back the memories of a cop, in a torn sweater, running after and clobbering with a stick,a ten year old kid,who's only wish was to have a place to play,to live a kid's life like this cop probably did himself.Yet i insist you must also look back and be proud of moments like when the American President,in recognition of your noble efforts,took note of you in that gathering of the civil society.Its moments like those that will not allow me to draw back to my cocoon and hide.Silence here,would surely be treason.

Consequences of Abetting Corrupt Practices.

Well, there's nothing i can say about the drunk truck driver who rammed into your little car,that we fondly called 'Mr Bean',ending your life so unceremoniously.You see,the fela had gone past many police road blocks (Or,like you used to call them, "state-sanctioned toll stations,that have nothing to do with security"),each time bribing the officers,so he could continue his drinking spree inside the driver's cabin.He didn't even realize he was going off his lane,even as we sped to the airport so you could catch that first flight to Mombasa.When i saw the truck,though i instinctively swerved,it wasn't so i could save our lives.Those, i knew, were over even before the crash itself.

Waking up in hospital,therefore,with only some cuts and bruises,and with you gone,was a huge surprise.I took one look at the white gown of the doctor,and thought i was looking at God Himself,thinking i was dead.(Somebody get the good doctors off those white,long over coats,before a patient wakes up from the dead and,upon seeing them,dies again).
So my friend,corruption did cut your life here short.But it prolonged your legacy,in an ironic way-that your life's legacy,rather than start later,starts now.Your books have never been read this far and wide,and at the U.N convention on crippling corruption in third-world countries,your article about the International Criminal Court was read in tribute to your deep insight.Your assertion that the reason most African governments felt targeted by this court, was because they fuel,rather than curb,that which this court was formed to fight against, was not lost on almost all the participants.
Your Mum,as she received a medal in your honor in front of a cheering crowd of world dignitaries, shed tears of anguish for loosing her son,mixed with pride for being the mother of a gallant soldier of equality and justice for all.Some quarters still insist that you were assassinated by people who felt that you were interfering with their normal schemes of looting.But as your friend,take this from me;that the only one who assassinated you, was this monster that has been welcomed,fronted and defended so vehemently by government after government-corruption.

Shalom

I hope that you will watch over me,as i dodge more teargas canisters and live bullets,meant for armed robbers,even though the last time i stole something was from my mother's bedroom, over two decades ago.And that was a crisp,new Sh.20 note with the sole intention of knocking myself out with a full loaf of bread,soda and Kaimati, a nondescript cluster of oily, ground wheat whose origin no one seemed to know.But Kibae,the shopkeeper not only declined to make this huge sale, he frog marched me back to my mother to explain this sudden acquisition of 'wealth'.I am in no mood to talk about beatings of any kind,so i will skip what transpired thereafter.Let's just say,by the time my mother was through with me,we both knew one thing for sure-that for as long as i was going to live, i was never going to steal anything from anyone again.Period.Stealing was aptly,authoritatively,summarily buried that day from my life.By a mother determined not to be overrun by her son and a shop-keeper who wasn't related to me.Today,bar-owners will sell alcohol to twelve-year olds,wielding countless a thousand shilling notes.I will not get into that either.

I will keep you posted on what happens next,now that the general elections are around the corner and politicians,after their five year sabbatical leave in the capital,are now back to their tribal cocoons,to whip up tribal emotions that will translate to votes.The few thousand deaths of peasants,that will most likely occur as a result,being a rather small price to pay.

May God give you a good spot,from which,even as you rest,you can watch life for us unfold,maybe even send an angel with your wise counsel,and pray that we don't mistake him to be from the 'other tribe' and set him on fire.But for now,my dear friend,May you rest in eternal peace,AMEN.

Friday, 8 January 2016

LET PASTORS BE, SERIKALI TAFADHALI.

Its yet another Sunday.That's like saying,its yet another payday for me.See,that day which people think is for resting,is actually my one major working day.I sell miracles to the blind,that's what i do.By saying the blind, i probably mean you.I'm wearing this long, multi-coloured coat that has become the Kenyan uniform of Pastors like me.My only problem is the shoes.Its been raining and i still don't own a car so they are muddy.But my flock will take care of that.Before they buy me an old jalopy through their nostrils and preferably at the expense of their children's food,they are going to have to wipe my shoes every Sunday,before i step into that church.They actually jostle and fall over themselves to be the first to do so.So am not really worried about that.Its the car am worried about.Because i've realized that though i want to drive like my peers,this art is next to rocket science.Sometimes art can also be science,especially if a Pastor of my repute says so.Manipulating cars in the street isn't exactly my everyday food.Manipulating the bible is.

I kiss my unwilling wife a half-hearted good-bye and step out of the house,heading for church.These women!. Why would a woman think that she's always going to be the only one in a celebrated Pastor's life?. What is one supposed to do with all the other women who not only want personal prayers but also want private sessions of preaching and casting out of demons that are known to reside in their bedrooms? Is a pastor supposed to neglect his divine calling,all because of his wife?One Wife?. I guess i will have to pray about that. Preferably in Sophie's house,for there i know i will find some real peace.Sophie,by the way,is a bar-maid.But i pray for those too,so worry not.Didn't Christ Himself speak to a prostitute?I go a step further,in pursuit of true deliverance for them..i hug them.Privately.In their rented,little backstreet rooms.A pastor who neglects the backrooms is not worth their calling.Rhoda, my public wife gets some information that i have been blessing lots of women in the neghborhood and now she's sulking like a jilted teenager.She won't even come to church with me today,would you believe that!.Now am going to have to lie to the flock about her wheareabouts.That she's sick or something.Or better still,she broke her leg and can't walk.If she's seen later walking around that's even better.A miracle will have occurred.In the Pastors own home.After laying on of hands by,who else,me the Chosen Pastor/apostle/disciple/prophet/God's own messenger.

Last Sunday,i had urged my flock to show up each with a seed of not less than a thousand shillings,in obedience to the instructions of the spirit. I warned them that they will only have themselves to blame for the consequences that will befall those who will chose to disobey.I spoke to them about some guy called Ananias and his flamboyant chic Sapphira,in the book of Exodus,(Either that or Genesis.Pastors are not memory cards)and how they dropped dead because they wouldn't pay seed to this maverick guy called Peter.So am doing my Math,before the sermon starts.From a flock of fifty,if forty show up,we are talking forty.Forty thousand just like that!. Simple arith..what do they call it.I know it ends with 'tics' and has to do with counting.Oh,arimetics(sic).That's going to be enough to buy Sophia that decoder she was sulkng about and have enough left to take Suzzy to this hotel everyone is talking about in Isiolo.This is going to be a great day.

As i approach the compound,am beginning to notice unusual movement by the church door.And noise.My flock only makes noise when i tell them to.They would even sing naked if ask them to.No one can see me though,for am standing behind a thicket that i had insisted not to be cut off.A prophet always sees things before they happen.
On a closer look,i see clearly the big bust of Sophie.And if that she is waving in the air is my missing red underwear,its time i crawled away.I can't believe Suzzy's here too,wearing one of my shirts!.And is that my wife?.Even if i wanted to strangle her,now,where would i do it from,seeing as this might as well be the last time my feet are both rooted in this town?.If i knew the book that spoke about Jonah and the big fish,i'd try to summon it now so i can willingly be swallowed.For this ground doesn't look like its going to open up and swallow me as fast as i would like it to.My days at the top,seem to be drawing to a close.Because even the media people are here.I hate cameras,except when they are recording something good about me.Everybody has their 'sell-by' date.And mine seems to have arrived,complete with the evidence.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

ALL IN A DAY'S TRAVEL.

ALL IN A DAYS TRAVEL.

Am standing by the road.What i want to do,is to hop into one of those flashy matatus plying the Nairobi-Meru route. Meru is where am headed,from Chuka,having attended a class in one of the colleges in this little dusty town,whose main mode of communication is vulgarity.Language without vulgarity is frowned upon here.You want to belong,better learn the most obscene words and expressions as fast as you can.I chose not to belong,that's why after every lesson,i leave.That and many other reasons.

Anyway,in comes this beautiful Mat.Its doesn't ply this route,of course.This one is 'foreign'.I can see a number on its windscreen.Its 58,meaning it does its thing within Nairobi.But that is not what catches my eye.The speed.That's what catches my full attention.Especially because i have been attempting to flag it down,so can also get that Nairobi feel.It doesn't stop,but literally flies past.My heart sinks.You do not speed past me like that,without as much as an acknowledgement.Couldn't have seen me,i comfort myself,of the driver.But am worried about that speed.It has been raining all morning,and only a complete moron would have failed to notice that.So the speed just doesn't seem right.

Any way,i hop into the next thing on four wheels.It happens to be an old jalopy that seems to be literally walking.And with a limp.Inside,its raining mud,even though it stopped raining about half an hour ago.We are cramped up together like some lifeless things.I say lifeless because no one forced us into this situation.We all knew what we were getting ourselves into,yet we willingly obliged.Some are hugging unwillingly,others are breathing their neighbors foul breath.I spot a lady who's head seems to be stuck in a certain old man's coat pocket.I can't wait to alight,but as i said,this jalopy is walking.Uphill,downhill..its just walking,not even once attempting to sprint.We are all sweating so i can't tell who is this who's sweat smells of urine.

A hour later,after a grueling uphill struggle,this jalopy screeches to a halt in the middle of the road.Everybody is struggling to look outside.The lady who's head was lost in the old man's coat pocket,is moving her limps frailly in an attempt to break free.The old man is clearly agitated at this total invasion of his Sunday best clothes by a total stranger,the age of his grand daughter.I crane to look outside too.But my window won't open.And there's mist all over so the attempt to wipe it with my palms turns it muddy..The conductor,who has been struggling to open the door,finally succeeds.The door opens,producing that sound mostly heard in police cells,as they either open or close,either way spelling doom for you.People spill out,like beans from a torn sack.I spill out too.I take a moment to breath in my first breath of real oxygen in an hour.Then i look to the direction everyone is looking at.Then i let out a low sympathetic scream like everyone is doing.Because out there in someone's farm,lying on its side,wheels still rolling like an overturned cockroach,is the beautiful Mathree from Nairobi,christened Tamasha.