CRAZY KENYANS?? This list of Kenyans (or people in Kenya at the time) felt that the adrenaline surging through their veins should not go to waste. Continue reading…
Am I the only seeing it? Continue reading…
Disaster in the city…again.
Same script, new players, same villain.
Something happened yesterday; a fire in a Nairobi slum killed tens of people in the span of a few hours. Media houses were in shock, as was the rest of the country, and they ended up showing extremely graphic pictures, disgusting the good heart of our nation, even those claiming to be tweeting to help.
As someone who has been to a human anatomy laboratory, and around the bodies of the deceased more times than I count, I can tell you for sure that you do not know how you will react until you get there. Instead of whining about our little consciences, it would have been nobler to start organizing counseling services for the hundreds of residents, rescue workers, police officers and most of all journalists who were there all day. I placed the last as the ‘most important’ for one reason, they had to take photos, and then edit them. At least police officers and rescue workers have counseling services, or an iron armor you develop when disaster strikes too often.
Sad as it is, the fire was prophesied once, two years ago by two budding journalists. They cheekily titled their story (or the editor did, I suspect) The Fire Next Time: Slum Courts Doom. Two Years later, on a rainy, cold Monday morning, doom did accept to be courted, actually it came and took away about a hundred people and ruined others. The fire next time became, well, the fire next time indeed. The government was frustrated because local MPs would not allow the forceful eviction of residents. Ignorance paid off again, as it did several borders away in Congo where it smouldered about 240 people trying to siphon fuel. Of the three disasters that plagued the Central and East Africa Region, killing over 500 people in two days, two were fuel related, and all were machine failures. Still, on the bright side, it was not terrorist-related (or self-inflicted) like the attack on the WTC 10 years ago. Now we blame God, the government and poverty.
When someone asked me why I agreed with @machariagaitho when he wrote in this opinion piece that the price of impunity (and in extension, ignorance) had been paid and yet this people were driven there by poverty, I answered using the adage that ‘Ignorance is no defense’. You cannot live on an oil pipeline and not anticipate danger. Hell, I even mumble a prayer every time I get into a matatu. The saddest thing is that we are a country, and a world, of idealists. I salute the journalist who wrote this, reading was disturbing, even for me. and by the way , just in case you are looking to buy the fuel that survived, read this first.
We want the subjective, sieved details, we want to see edited photos and talk about the disaster. We want photos of the better part, not caring that there is worse happening. We romanticize and we look at disaster subjectively. We act as if disaster is a new thing, and yet it has stuck with humanity all through. Poverty or no poverty, realism has taken a backseat and we are where we are no because we have denied ourselves the truth…
The sight of charred remains, still smoking, the remains of what used to be a human body. The disgusting photos of the half-burned bodies floating in a river, as the people standing on the riverbank hold their chins. Of a slum where one neighbor knows not the other. Where people have died with no identity. It is the greater equalizer, death.
Stalin said that the death of a million is only a statistic, as is the death of a hundred in this case. Even if only one person had died in this fire, it would and should have been a tragedy enough. But the truth is that we have too high a moral sense, unwarranted to begin with, and we sympathies and empathize, and it is a new morning, whats the news?
When I was in college, my financial accounting lecturer told a story about his near-death experience. He was a college student back when the first oil truck overturned near Banana in Kiambu County a little over half a decade ago. As he headed home, he saw the truck and the people getting pails and buckets to get fuel. He joined in; like any other good Kenyan would (I am making an assumption here). When he had his first bucket full, he ran home to get another and just as he reached a few hundred meters away, the truck exploded. Drenched as he was in oil, he did the first thing his mind told him to do, silly, as it was he ran back. What he saw still haunts him, the one memory of a woman running towards him, like a human frame of fire, screaming and wailing for help. She fell to the ground and started rolling in an attempt to put out the fire, but an oil fire can be an ass.
There is no moral to that story, except where one believes that experience is the best teacher, or the story that is retold after that. Do not misquote me; I know if another truck overturns, or a fuel pipe leaks, people will go to get free fuel.
I believe that the worst disaster is the disaster of human ignorance, that innate ability to refuse to listen to reason because we think the universe knows we are poor, or homeless, or unfed, or rich, or tall, or short, or framed, or justified, or beautiful. I have it, you have it, and it will be the death of us, and death is a good thing, living with the scars is much harder.
ION and on somewhat of a lighter note, Walking with my friend @wambumishi yesterday, we happened upon this leaflets (read printed papers) distributed all over.
Now thats a woman scorned. This I believe is a classic case of the propaganda war, slander her name using all possible jabs. A little advice to women, if he is going out with her, fight him, not her. Then again I know that hit on deaf ears, even the realist in me can not understand why this woman would choose to get this tryped, printed, and distributed.
The last lines are the kind that ‘send a chilly feeling up and down the culprit’s spine’
This is the Beggining
Now my friend and I are arguing about whether
Maraya in this case is the woman’s name, nickname, or an insult misplaced. Whichever the case, the four exclamation marks place emphasis on the point.
I knelt on a mat beside my bed today
I prayed for the souls of the living
For power and water and food
I prayed for a good life
I prayed for age, for a bumper harvest
I knelt and prayed to all deities
I lay prostate and offered my being as a sacrifice
Hoping and waiting
I prayed for the future of the poor and the Conscience of the rich
I prayed for the insomnia of the wise
For the oversleeping of the daft
I prayed for water, for a full stomach
I prayed for a special heaven
For Hades to be consumed by its own fire
I prayed for the balls to face tomorrow
I prayed for love, for music, for all emotions
I prayed for art and for science
I prayed for might and meek
I knelt and prayed for pain, against pain, for torment, against torment
I prayed for revenge and for forgiveness
I prayed for a small fire to consume a big fire
For a small god to outdo a bigger one
I prayed for muscle and for flesh
I prayed for a great country
For a truth, any truth, some truth
I prayed for darkness, and then I prayed for light
For rain, and then for sun
I prayed for the souls of the undead
For the memories of the immortal
For the innocence of the unborn
For the death of the dead.
I knelt there, and prayed for Satan.
Carrier of man’s problems, pervasive and persuasive
A place of peace in the midst of insanity and noise
For a breather where none exists
To wallow in life’s problems and listen to one’s own conscience
To plan and pan, to feel alive
To stare at the barman
Or at the one woman who will serve a pint without throwing a fit
The bar Stool
Raised, higher than all other seats
A place where the lone wolf can sit and wish he had friends
Where he can make new friends and pay his own bill
Some sit on it because it makes them taller
For the first time in a whole day, they feel bigger than they really are
Because hot girls seem to sit there when they are lonely
Because unlike the noise in the background
The drugs, the ruined lives, and liver cirrhosis
The gout and throat cancer
The addictions and pervasions in the background
The happiness in the midst of ruin
Unlike the riches burnt in the background
The school fees not paid and battered spouses
The abandoned families and lost jobs
The choking and yet tempting cigarette smoke
The death and despair, the dance floor
The madness that seems like hell
Where people of different world’s can meet and meat
Where deals have been made and governments brought down
Where independence has been won and history made
Where Prohibition and taxation can do no harm
Where everyone is here to enjoy and make merry
Some to make a living
Some to steal it
Some to forget the problems that life has blessed them with
To forget if only for an hour
Sacrifice for a moment of happiness they will want to enjoy on the morrow
To meet new people
Dance away life’s problems and scream like the voice box has no knob
To kiss and love away at strangers
People life would never have brought them close to
To run away from the darkness that is their lives
And yet, a different man and woman sit on the bar stool
A man who would readily give up his high sit to be on the background with friends
A woman waiting for someone, or waiting to forget another
An old man on the prowl, for women or for amnesia
A young man waiting for his meal
An old maid staring at the barman’s abs
A little high chair, staring at the pints in their bottles
Wondering whether everyone else has a story of their own
Some sit on it to run away from the madness, to ponder, stare, glare
Some sit on the bar stool, alone, because it is the only place quiet enough
Quiet enough to read the paper, noisy enough to be in on all of it.
Another random walk. Another blank page.
Clean and fed now, it all seems like a blur, becoming clearer as the words flow out 😉
Unlike last time, today was driven purely by the spirit of adventure. I was minding my own business (read surfing over 15 tabs at more or less the same time) when my friend Bill came to visit. All men know that after two males explore the topics of women, booze, sex (different from women, in a way) and money (genre includes cars and all that it can buy), what follows is the weird silence. Where ladies would normally fill it up with conversations of their boyfriends, hairdresser, or a good shoe she saw at Jade Collections, we men are not inclined to do the same. It is the spirit of the Bro Code 😉
So after roughly fifteen minutes of conversation, with all topics explored beyond all points of available research at the time, Bill and I decided to take a walk. It was meant to be random, no direction at all, and so it was.
We left, followed Thika Road for sometime, which I must say is turning up to be quite something (although I still think the foot bridges are overdue, I saw someone narrowly miss getting hit by a speeding car yesterday), and walked leisurely. First stop, a furniture store where I saw this nice sofa bed(huh?), nice ended when the lady outside told me it is worth 40K. You know that feeling you get when something turns up to be too expensive to be beautiful? Yup, that kind..
Where was I?
At the Kahawa Sukari (which always sounds like a different way of saying chips funga) turn, the idea to enter Cyber Inn (the CRAPIEST name ever given to a club) and find out how good their nyama choma is, but it remained just that, an idea. Then there is the place where Pause Club (which I always thought was ‘Paws’) used to be, that little deformed club that was actually just one triangle tent at the end of the petrol station?
Into Kahawa Sukari, and the journey began…
If you have ever been at the Kahawa Sukari shopping Centre, then you know that as a visitor, there is not much to see except a few shops, clubs and such shenanigans. For the keen eye though, the economy of that little shopping centre seems to be built on something else that is not visible, at first. That’s when you notice the posh cars following the road…and what used to be a big barrier for getting into the estate. Now, when you look at it from the road, it seems like a small estate, I have only been there once before, a few months before I joined campus, and I kind of got lost…but that’s an embarrassing story only my journal knows ;)..
Two packs of sugarcane worth 10 bob each and the journey began…we just walked in as if we know the place, followed the tarmac road. Proboxes and its cousins the Succeed and other ugly but still practical cars were in plenty, I think I almost got hit thrice because I thought they were leaner than they seemed, like we could both fit on the road.
Kahawa Sukari is a posh estate, posh in the sense that you can see the well-manicured lawns and the effort placed on making the outside of the houses fit in. There are small shopping centers, a lot of quiet and peace after you have left the business of the highway. Bill asked me a funny question, it was funny to me because I was thinking it too, ‘how comes I do not know a single person who lives here?’. It is not like I would have dropped in or anything, but none of us knows anyone, at all, or has ever known anyone, who lives in this Sukari place. It is an upper middle class, mildly rich place, the kind of place you move to after several promotions, with or without quotes. It gives you a sense of what the gated communities such as Tatu City will look like when and if the court battles and greed ever end.
We stalked a girl for a while, okay, I just said that to sound creepy, we did not stalk her, she just happened to be headed the same way, and she kept looking behind like we were rapists at 3 PM (very few freaks have those kind of balls missus). Anyway, it is a boring place, there is little to see except big houses built on one of the few tracts of land that the Kenyatta family has sold. There were huge gates, monstrous houses, too much effort on the outside appearance, except for one guy who had what seemed like the empty crates side of EABL and KWAL combined on his balcony…trophies?
So we kept walking…
An hour later, we came to what we had been looking for, the end of the tarmac road. For the seasoned adventurer, this is where the learning begins. But it had already begun a few meters before…At the end of the tarmac is an academy whose name escapes me. It looks posh-ish, not exaggerated, but you can tell that only a good payslip can afford it. Next to it, next like sharing an electric fence (‘sharing’ in that one side erected it and the other has to live with it) is a public primary school with dilapidated buildings, and children with torn uniform. My camera was working, but I could not bring myself to take a photo of the school sign erected a few meters in. There is no gate, no fence except the one that divides them from Kahawa Sukari. It is Irony at its crudest…
Anyway, where was I? The end of the tarmac…yes…
And the snaking earth road where we had to hop into the tall grass to escape the dust from passing trucks and Proboxes (this things are everywhere!). 200 meters and we found the stage where those tiny matatus (if you can call them that) behind Engen dock, were in Mwihoko.
Mwihoko means hope in Kikuyu, and its on the other side of the valley from Kahawa Sukari. Its situational irony, or the person who named it wanted to pass a message. There is little to see in this place, the dilapidated houses, the new apartments, the dust, the clay soil…When you look behind you, the beautiful houses from where we just were in this journey. This are the unofficial servant quarters of the Sukari side, I presume. This is where the gardeners, house helps, drivers, watchmen, out-of-town thugs, come from. It has little to show except for open fields, and in the horizon, the Eastern Bypass. I actually saw a plane take off from afar, then when I was going to show it to Bill, it was not there anymore. I am sure I saw one, at least I was at the time…
Yes, Mwihoko was not the end, we just walked into the town, getting dusty in the process, with the early evening sun doing what it does best. The valley stretches for miles and miles, with little civilization in the dry river between the two humanities. It is a weird balance, yet it shows the perils of capitalism, the way some have and some do not, and in most cases, it is a fault of neither. So whom do you blame for such an imbalance?
We just followed the road, staring at the little children with running noses outside their houses as we passed. Mwihoko is not a slum, at least not in the context of dilapidated houses. Actually, after a few turns you can see nice houses, and fenced plots of land. There are no paper houses, at least in the parts I saw, and there is breathing space. Some houses are so good that they seem lost on this side of the valley, but somehow, they seem to fit in…
SO we walked on…
Then we got to what looked like an open field, it was not a field, it’s a huge tract of undeveloped land which am suspecting belongs to that family from Gatundu. Its an expansive tract of land, I think it took us about half an hour to cross it, and on the way we saw a couple of teenagers making out, that, or they were miming at each other, cows in abundance, and a lot of excrement. I cannot say here whether it was all animal or not, but I bet there is something from intelligible life from other life forms there.
At some point I thought we would emerge somewhere in Mwiki, or the backside of Kasarani (which sounds so wrong), but when we got to the civilization we had been seeing all along, I knew where we were, Kimbo, where I was in my other random walk! Phew! For finding, we had not gone so far, and darn! For the dust attack we were just about to endure…and endure we did. We walked all the way back, sometimes walking for hundreds of meters without saying a word. There was little to see, at least for me, until the turn where we could escape the dusty road and head back to Wendani, but there were more than three weddings. I am not one to show concern for such ceremonies, but the dust…I guess someone will have to take a very long shower before those honeymoon perks can be viable.
- Then there was a road (thats Bill on the left)
And there was litter of cute dogs, cute, until their mother growled from underneath them when I went too close. I guess today’s walk was somehere between 12-17 kilometers, which is not the longest I have done in the name of randomness, but it ranks as one of the most random. Bill said he got three coats of dust from the changes from tarmac, clay soil, weird looking dusty murram, and the dusty soil whose name I did not care to even guess. That, and that the Nakumatt attendant almost held her nose when I walked up to her.
So, where to next?
Walking in the streets today, something weird happened
Two weird things happened
A little girl, two little girls
Walked up to me as I hurried away
They each held on to one of my hands
And prayed that I give them a coin
I looked around, and saw
The mother’s menacing look
Like a pimp with a camera in the hotel room
Daring me to hurt their little children.
So I hurried away.
One let go, but the other little girl
The other little girl did not
She was not so little
Maybe seven, eight years old
She held on and walked at my pace
Half jogged even, as much as her little strides could.
I ignored her, or tried to, and walked even faster.
Twenty metres, she still did not let go.
Thirty metres, fourty, fifty…
I knew that at some point she would have to let go….
I was looking ahead, at something else…
On the road a few metres away, a young boy sat on the back of his mother’s wheelchair
A not so young boy
He sat there, his legs swinging away as his crippled mother
Manouvered her way through the midday traffic.
Unfair, I thought..
Why would he burden his mother even further than she was.
How unfair could a child be, I thought
So unfair as to not see his mother’s plight
Just add weight to he already burdened life
Just sitting at the back, on the big box
Maybe she was a hawker, and the box bore her wares
So, it was even heavy without the little boy.
But then I saw something beautiful,
A balance of nature between mother and son..
When the road started uphill
The not so young boy disembarked
And pushed his mother’s wheelchair,
Helping her negotiate the traffic…
Back to the little girl who would not let go
I ignored her because she was clean
And I knew one of the women looking at me was the mother
I ignored her because
She should have been in school
Because she has a future ahead of her, whether bright or not
I walked away because I saw in her eyes (when I did steal a glance)
A desperation for something more…
Then she did something I did not expect.
When she saw that it was all futile
She stopped, causing me to slow down because she still held my hand
She pinched me really hard.
When the eldest of my sisters decided to move out at 23, she was exhilarated. She was going to move to a house in Eastleigh (Back then, pirate cash had not quadrupled its population), or more correctly, a room. She had found the house on an ad in the papers, and when she left to go pay rent, she was sure she was now free to be her own girl. A few hours later she was back home, crying on my mother’s lap, conned out of her first KShs. 12, 000 attempts to complete freedom. It was a ‘normal’ swindle, two con artists, a man and a woman, the man was the spotter, and the woman was the ‘manager/agent’. The transaction took place in front of a building that was still under construction, and then they told her to wait as they got her the key, and they disappeared. When she tried to follow them, she found, well…. A forked road.
Its 2011 now, many years later, and con artists have changed with time. I am highly suspicious of people, even my friends, so I have rescued myself from being a sucker a few times. My old man showed me a text he had received, seemingly sent to a wrong number asking for a fifty bob so that the sender could call for a taxi to take his child, who had just been bitten by a snake, to hospital. It’s a fairly simple con, the sender is trying to exploit your emotions, especially now with Kenyans4Kenya when you feel that you owe the world for having made a few hundred thousand, or millions. The sender is working on numbers here, if twenty of you send him a fifty bob, assuming that no sucker feels that he has to send a thousand shillings, then our con artist will have a thousand shillings, probably to fund for a bigger scam.
How To Beat It: Don’t send it! Delete the text and feel guilty about it later, if there’s a child who is dying from snakebite, and God wants him to live, then he will live.
The MPESA scam:
This is the most ingenious scam I have seen so far. I first heard of it from an acquaintance I made while queuing at Barclays Mama Nina Street one evening (one of the only three bank branches that operates till 2030hrs btw). He was a middle-aged talkative man, and he narrated how he had almost sent his own KShs. 10, 000. It’s a simple scam…You receive a text saying ‘Transaction______________ Complete. You have received KShs. ___ from ________. Your New Balance is ______. Then you get a call from the said person requesting you to send him or her back the money and to cut, say, 500 bob, for the hustle. See the ingenuity in it?
It works simple, the sender/caller sends you a dummy text, and then calls you before you are done reading the text. The ploy here is to get you to send you your own money, such that while you think you have just earned 500 bob just for being a good citizen, you are actually just saving your own money.
How To Beat It: First, MPESA texts are sent from MPESA, never from a normal +254-7____ number. Second, the text has no typos or weird spaces, con artists are all about hoodwinking, and they never really take time to take care of the details, so when you notice a typo, check for the other factors. Such typos might include wrongly placed capitalizations, weird spaces or miss pelt names. Third, always have a rough idea of your MPESA balance. Like I said in the previous point, it’s all about hoodwinking, if someone sends you money, it is added to your normal balance. Therefore, if the con artist sends, say KShs 2, 000, and you had the same amount, then your balance should be KShs. 4, 000. But the con artist does not know how much you had in the account, and he or she is operating on pure guesswork. If it doesn’t tally, suspect!
How To Beat It Even faster: The con artist is a magician; most of them are first talkers, smooth operators. They will call you immediately after they send the text and ask you in a very polite voice, with a very detailed convincing story, to suspend them back their money’. Because it at times happens, where someone sends mistakenly sends you money, or vice versa, it is easier to just ask them to whom the text confirming the transactions was sent. Get it? I Asked some JONATHAN TIRO (obviously a fake name) that and he hanged up and never called again.
The Millitary Jobs scam
I wanted to join the military, I had a plan about how I was going to become a jet fighter pilot and all, and join a family tradition, from one side of my family that is….as do many other Kenyans. I don’t regret not joining, but I know it is not the same for everyone. So, what do you do if you have a younger brother like me with a love for guns and fatigues, when you get a text saying “Siz, Major amenipigia ameniambia ako na vacancies kumi za recruits and kumi za cadets. Ambia James na vijan wengine watume Kshs. 20, 000 ndio tu-book hizi vacancies…”(Siz, Major has told me he has ten slots for cadets and ten for recruits. Tell James and three other young guys to send Kshs. 20, 000 for booking)
How To Beat It: A tempting offer huh? The Millitary DOES NOT SELL vacancies! Okay, at least officially. We all know that there’s a lot of corruption and nepotism going on at these recruitments, but do not fall for it. No matter how desperate your situation, I am sure you can do something much better with that money than feed a con artist for a week.
The Jackpot Scam
These lazy Con artists cannot even think up a good scam. They simply hijack an ongoing competition, okay, maybe not really hijack, they take advantage of the desperation to win a jackpot. They can go with one of those weird Citizen TV competitions, or the Safaricom ones. The NTV one has also become popular for cons, although some are completely made up. They simply send you a text claiming that you have won a certain amount of money, a tempting figure for a struggling Kenyan, say Kshs 500, 000, and then provide a number you should call to confirm your details. When and if you do, the person on the other side tells you to pay a processing fee, that should cause your tail to tingle (got that from the animation “Over The Hedge”) but you would be surpirsied how many people fall for it.
How To Beat it: No Competition will ever ask you to pay a processing fee to get your winning, It is against the rules of the Betting Board. Don’t even call the number, all the one’s I know will call you with a certain number. If you are participating in a competition, the SMS ones, save the contact number so that you don’t fall for a scam. Don’t be too excited, follow my No. 1 Rule of Life :Suspicion & Cynicism. Seek details and information, and if your instincts tell you anything but to run, sue them, the instincts that is!
How To Beat It Even Faster: I know we all dream of waking up to a jackpot, but that’s not happening any time soon. If you have not, or are not, currently spending all your life savings sending SMSses to a competition, and you get one of these “You Have Won…”texts, ignore it.
The Prank Side: I pulled this one a friend of mine sometime back. I took her phone, changed my contact name to SAFARICOM, and then sent them a text later when we were seated next to each other. You should have seen her JUMP, if I hadn’t laughed so hard, she would never have figured it out (For once, YOU CAN TRY THIS AT HOME)
Most of this scams started in Kamiti Prison, and when the story became public a year or two ago, other bored, scam-dry, idealess con artists, probably in brothels in River Road and Luthuli, upped the game.
Have you ever fallen for such a scam? Or Know of any other? Share…the detail that is….
The blank page stares back…
I have told some morbid tales in my time…
Every writer knows that a good story is one that he or she can write about over and over again, in a hundred ways, and never tire of. It is a bit of an over-stretch, I know, because even I cannot bring myself to read stories I have written….all am saying is, I have written this story before, but I doubt you have read it.
Where to start?
1997: Kenya is facing the worst rains in recorded history, the torrential El Nino rains are causing mudslides and flash floods in almost all areas where it normally rains. In a public primary school in a simple village in Central Province, the rain pounds the buildings and erodes the ridges. In the middle of the night, the entire girl’s washroom’s block gives way, or rather, sinks within itself, and is swallowed in, well, that stuff that is under a long haul latrine…
The Board meets the next day, officials from the Ministry are all over the place. Should they close the school? They decide against it and instead, get the ground covered, and convert one line of boy’s washrooms for use by the ladies. No one complains, who would dare, no one has foreseen the complications of a girl peeing on one side, and on the other, a cheeky boy is peeping through the wooden partition, get images that will probably haunt him, in a nice way, for the entirety of his life…
A new trend emerges in the two years before a new ultra-modern line of washrooms are built, boys tend to avoid their urinals and washrooms unless it is an utter necessity, girl’s hold it in (This always sounds so wrong, like its an army one should let out) and everyone gets an education…
All is well, until one day, something extraordinary happens…
During a break/recess (whatever the children call it these days), a group of boys plays football (its not really round, but it once was, and a rose is a rose even in Russia) made of string and paper, and probably sponge. They are divided into two teams, sweaters and shirts, and the battle will go on until the thirty minute break is cut short by the sound of a bell ringing from the Class Seven East, 100 metres away.
All is well, until one boy needs to take a piss, should he go all the way to the washrooms, all the way across the field, towards the classes, through the hallway, down towards the toilets? And pee at the risk of a girl peeping through the partition at his privates? The humiliation… Its far, and his little class Four legs will take the entire fifteen minutes left on the clock to get there and back even if he runs like a madman, or more correctly, boy.
What is this little boy to do?
Then *bulb* above head…
He walks to the edge of the field, near a shallow ditch that is used for short jump, and when filled with grass, flipping (dislocated shoulders and arms, story for another day.). He lies down on the grass, like he is planking, then looks around him. Everyone is busy making the best of the time they have left, some girls are playing volleyball fifty metres away from him, but they are too engrossed in their game to notice him. The Class Eight pupils have the entire football field, and his friends are playing on without him… there are the lazy ones just lying on the grass, basking like lizards, flirting, sleeping…but no one seems to be paying attention to him.
He quickly opens his zip, reaches for it and pulls it out and then lies on his stomach. Just before he starts the hose, he feels a hole right on the spot where he is about to do his thing.
He can pee and pretend he is doing that thing adults (and some Class Seven kids) do at night…is this not his lucky day?
So he *inserts* it (you cringe) into the hole he just felt on the ground and opens the hose…..
In the hole, a different story is brewing…
A frog was just minding his own business, doing what frogs do in the late morning, in their holes-cum-homes. It is a pretty boring day, nothing much happening in the frog world except the noisy kids again…
Then something interesting happened in the frog’s world…darkness!Where did the sun go, all of a sudden…the frog wonders, then a small snake (which you know is not a snake, right?) touches him (or her, am not sure) and then starts throwing water (which you know is not really water, right?). OH NO! you can see where this is going…a frog has to defend himself, or herself, or themselves?
Above the ground, the little boy’s little soldier rubs against something that feels like the ground, its shallower than he thought. Then he opens the hosepipe, and rolls his eyes…
Under the ground, the frog’s instinct’s go into high gear, this is his holiday home, his playground where he entertains his frogs…he has no weapons, none at webbed hand really, what is he to use against this monster of a thing (its actually pretty small, but who is to tell the frog that)….oh wait, he has his mouth!!!So he attacks…
Above the ground, the boy feels a little pinch, then his little soldier feels weirdly warm, then pain, as if something is sucking it in…
The little boy tries to pull it out, the frog pulls it back in as it sinks its frog teeth in this bad bad spitting snake…
The boy screams, in a field full of screaming children…he screams as loud as a scream can be, but no one hears him, or rather no one thinks he is screaming for help…is he? Is it, maybe, delight??
What is a little boy, who’s little soldier is in the mouth of a frog in a hole, in a field full of screaming children to do?
Then the bell rings and the children, all of them but our little-boy-who’s-soldier-is-in-a-frog’s-mouth, run towards their respective classrooms.
He is screaming his head off now, the pain is taking over.
Then someone hears the screams and runs back, another one follows, and another one follows the one who followed first…
They ask him what the matter is, but he cant talk. He is crying, his whole face cringed like he just saw the devil get raped. In the middle of his cries, they make out the words help-me-up. They try to pull him out, but he is in pain, and the frog won’t let go. They try again, and they succeed. They turn him over, and his little thingy is all bloody and swollen, sticking out of his dirty khaki shorts.
A few centimeters away, a frog hops out of a hole, and runs for his frog life, traumatized, in dire need of frog therapy.
Our little-boy-who’s-soldier-was-just-in-a-frog’s-mouth is rushed to hospital, where the doctors decide that they might as well circumcise him, make him a man, as they remove the frog venom, or saliva, whichever works for you. They are traumatized too, but its funny in a way, a morbid mortician-I-like-to-be-sucked-by-a-frog-kind-of-way.
He comes back to school destroyed, in need of therapy and amnesia. The girls stare at him in sympathy, the boys in jealousy at the boy who got his first blow job from an actual frog and the teachers, experienced in life and harboring sexual fantasies of their own, in awe that he lives…
The story, as the new washrooms come up and a new big thing happens in the little primary school, slowly becomes a legend, and is soon forgotten by many….almost forgotten, until one day many many years later, a boy who witnessed the last part and then filled in the other parts as the story spread through school, now a man with morbid experiences of his own but none matching that one, writes about in his blog…
Dusty. Tired, hungry and in the dark. That is Kahawa Wendani and I right now.
Since my bachelor pad is less than a minutes walk from Thika Road, I tend to exist without really exploring my neighborhood but today, the universe conspired against me. Bogged down with writing contracts, deadlines and no inspiration at all, I called one of the few people who know me well enough to know that a ‘writer’s block’ is a code red state for me. She offered several solutions, the most striking of which was something I used to do some years back, walking. I did not think it was a good idea at the time, but when KPLC decided that I have been paying the bill for too long and they want to help me save some money (scoundrels!) I decided to walk to Nakumatt Wendani and window shop (and maybe buy a pack of Tic Tacs). If you have ever been to Kahawa, then you know that the paved road ends just at the turn to get to Nakumatt. Beyond that is what looks like, and probably is, the dustiest road in Kenya (I thought that for a time, but I have had a change of mind). In a moment of randomness, I ventured towards that stretch of dust, walking with the pace my old man taught me-Which reminds me, it is his 65th Birthday today, and am sure he is doing what he does every evening, walking-the dust was unbearable at first, but a faint heart never found new shores.
The only aim of taking the walk today was to explore and get inspired, and that I did. I now know I live in a cocoon of apartments and well-developed residences. I found the real Kahawa Wendani as I ventured further and further inside. I also know why the boda boda guys at the stage are increasing by the day; there are people who live far from the road, dusty, dusty far. It reminded me of Kiambu, where I was born on bred, the serene atmosphere, the simplicity of the neighborhood, the bougainvillea fences and mabati gates, the incomplete houses and unfenced-interconnected homesteads. I knew it was only time before I found a river, and after following the road for sometime, I found the bridge, but that’s not exactly my idea of a river, it looks green and slimy. So one mark off for this place being all-natural….
When am walking with no direction except where the road leads, I adhere to a few rules. You could call it my guide to safe random walking, but it has worked for me so far. These are the five simple things to remember:
- Blend in! It does not matter whether you are walking in your estate or your shags; try to look like you belong.
- Dress simply-There are two reasons for this, one, unless you are walking in a posh estate, a simple jeans-t-shirt-jumper-rubbers will do. Two, refer to Rule 1 above.
- Walk confidently-Not necessarily fast, confidently. Thieves and con artists, and wayside Jehovah Witnesses, can tell a sucker from miles away. If you walk as if you are lost, you will be. Even if you are lost, try to walk like you know where you are going. Ask for directions from shopkeepers or guards in uniform, preferably those who are alone, and preferably women ( I know the last part is stereotypic and a shot in the dark because women are blessed with many things but direction-telling abilities, but it is less likely that a woman will screw you up)
- Follow the road: Keep to the center of the road if it is deserted, or to the walkways. A road will always lead somewhere, of that you can be sure. Where a road exists, people have made it going to a place of importance to them. If you follow the road, even when you are lost, you will find a feeder road, or something that will get you back on track.
- Be paranoid: You are walking randomly, note, not aimlessly, and the natives of the place can tell you are headed nowhere. If you think you are being followed, walk fast, and follow rule 4 above. If your instincts tell you to run, and you are fit enough to do so, then for Heaven’s sake SPRINT! You might look like a lunatic or a budding marathoner, but it is better to be safe.
but I digress….
Then I saw a guy in his shamba in gumboots, digging so hard you could tell he is being paid for it. Mind you, it was five in the evening, which tells you he might have been doing this all day, or it is his idea of a side gig. Then I passed the village goons, okay, I think I overrated them, they were teenage boys in Arsenal T-shirts trying to look tough. I walked past them, and found the residential ‘bridge’ between Wendani and Sukari (I wonder what pervert named this places). On one side are the posh houses, with well-maintained lush lawns and gleaming walls, telling stories or upper middle class people trying to outdo each other, and on the other, the simple houses of people who have been watching the world change around them, without them. I eavesdropped on two old women discussing ‘tights’, the new fashion in town, they were 70 years old at the least, and they were sited about ten meters from the road. One said something about ‘airitu’ and ‘thuruari’ ( Girls and pants) and I pieced the rest together because I doubt they were talking about boycuts.
As all good roads go, the one I had been on for about forty-five minutes turned out to be a feeder road for another one. This is where you learn to tell whether you are decisive or not, you get to a bigger road and you have to decide whether to go right or left, the former will lead somewhere to Githurai, and the latter will lead to Sukari. I chose the former, not because am mad or I wanted mbogas from Githurai 45 (forte fae) but because I have always wondered how far inside it stretches. Turning to Sukari would have led me to the boring posh estates, somehow a part of me wishes I had taken that option…
I passed a church, then a school, then another church, then a deserted homestead, or so it seemed until a girl emerged pushing a wheelbarrow with three mitungis of water. Right behind her was her younger brother, he could not have been anything older than 13, with three on his wheelbarrow too. Water is an issue in this sides, and by the look of things, so are clothes. This story sounds familiar, where life is so hard that when you get home from your primary school, you must do all your chores in your school uniform. It is no easy task, looking for water, and seeing that young boy so determined to outdo his younger his sister was quite something…anyway, I digress.
I got to Kimbo, which is basically the shags of Githurai 45. If you have seen those old matatus with number plates issued a decade ago, with broken windscreens replaced with clear-but-now-dusty-as-hell paper bags somewhere in Githurai 45, then they go past here, and its far. I have not encountered such a health hazard in the recent past, but any one raising their kids in this place is signing a waiver for their child’s health. The road is so dusty it is impossible to see five meters around you. Since it is busy enough, you can bet that a car will pass every minute, and with it, raise even more and thicker clouds of dust. Then you see the four year olds minding their own business, playing and jumping onto the road before they disappear into their homes, and you know asthma and a million other respiratory diseases have a future. That, and the fact that for the entire stretch of the road until I emerged in Githurai 45, the drainage trench on my left was full of sewage, greed, weird-looking, smelly sewage. It looks like it has been building for quite some time, a year maybe, and yet a few kilometers away, we boast of a 30 billion shilling road.
I could have stopped one of those creaky matatus and saved myself from the dust outside for the dust inside, but that is not fair to the art of walking randomly. I chose to walk, but I got one disposable hanky from my pocket and held it to my nose for the entire four kilometers. I doubt any description of the amount of dust I encountered would do it justice but suffice to say that if I had not followed my Rule 1 on blending in when I started, then by the time I was halfway to wherever t was that I was headed, I was as dusty as the next guy, if not dustier, because the damned dust seemed to be picking on me.
Girls? I did see one, she was busty! I think I saw them first and then I saw her, but I could tell she was underage because she was looking at me ( And statutory rape is not really in my bucket list). So I ignored her, or rather I turned to steal a glance on whether in a few years, I should make the walk again. I should…
Pregnant women? One, and she looked moody as hell, or she is in a sneering competition…
I wish I had carried a camera since my phone was dead ( no thanks to KPLC again). I saw a sign saying VUNDI WA VIATU and I cringed, like you just have…and then there was End Hours Revival Ministry, MABOYZ KEG, MABROSE ENTERPRISES….
Anyway, two hours after starting my journey, I emerged under the flyover on Thika Road. I was dusty as hell (I think hell is more of smoky, but it must be dusty too), tired, hungry and now extremely paranoid because it was 7 in the evening and I was in what is perhaps the most insecure place in this lairs. I found nothing that qualified to find its way back as a trophy, but the blue jeans I am going to scrub in a few hours will probably tell the dusty tale for years to come.
I stood at the cliff and looked at the setting sun.
I hurled myself to the hull and let the wind guide my flight.
I drove off the cliff with everything I had.
I stood at the brink of life and death, and held mine in my hands.
I drove the dagger of pain through my own heart and let the blood drip down.
I swore I would never let life show me where, but I did.
I killed myself today, so many times that I could die no more.
I took the gun and shot myself through the mouth.
I pulled the trigger and felt the impact.
I left my own body, and looked at it.
I looked down to my own lifeless self, a mass of nothing but what was.
I enjoyed the sensation, the border between the living and the dead.
I killed myself and looked for a white light, but I saw none.
I ended my life with despair and hanged myself with ropes of failure.
I took success and shit on it.
I took religion and pissed on it.
I took everything I ever believed in and buried it with the dead and dying.
I unplugged my own life support, looked at the white hospital ceiling and waited for the darkness.
It never came.
I killed myself in the hope that humanity would recognize me.
I wanted the world to be less of one person’s problems.
I wanted to free my friends from their penance.
I wanted to make my enemies happy, so I pilloried myself first.
I tied the sturdy rope on my shivering neck and stood on a stool.
I kicked my own life away and got a little hard.
I spit on my own vanity and drank the poison.
I felt despair, I felt failure and I hated the world.
I felt the cold air strike my face as I flew down the tall cliff.
It made my cheeks hard and frozen; I flew like a bird and hoped to be free.
I knew I would relish the opportunity to meet death, but would I like him?
What if it was a she?
Would she like me? Why would she, I had given myself to her, like a fool.
I am dead because I killed myself, but I have been waiting, and there is still no white light….just a dark cloudy and gloomy sky…
If you have not watched this movie yet, you should look for a cliff and throw yourself off of it, or hit your head on the wall until you do.
Considering that Hollywood releases thousands of movies a year, and by the time they get to Kenya, they are in their tens of thousands because of additions from Nollywood, Bollywood, Riverwood and Just Wood (I made the last one up, if it existed it would produce gay porn), it is possible that you have not. But then again, with 50 bob moviestalls being the newest business in town, you don’t have to go to the movies to stay entertained.
Paul the Alien is a 2011 movie I can only describe as funny and fresh (no movie can knock it off that pedestal yet, I have watched it four times). The storyline is simple: two British geeks are on pilgrimage to all those places where people have sighted UFOs. They accidentally encounter a cocky alien outside Area51 and he takes them on a mad adventure. The entire story is on the road to the site where a spaceship will land to get Paul, the smart-ass alien. It is a mad race from federal agents, and a deranged father of a young girl they kidnapped. Paul has been held captive for sixty years since his spaceship crash-landed in Area 51 and he is now one run from his captors.
I know it’s hard to picture a cocky alien but Paul is one smart-ass you haven’t witnessed before:
Graeme Willy: You are an alien!
Paul: To you I am, yes.
Graeme Willy: Are you gonna probe us?
Paul: *Why* does everyone always assume that? What am I doing? Am I harvesting farts? How much can I earn from an ass?
and what would happen if they caught him?
Graeme Willy: Paul, what happens if you get caught?
Paul: Graeme, they are going to cut out my brain… Yeah it’s fucked… kinda a buzz kill… Let’s lighten the mood, shall we? Clive when did you last get laid?
Paul will overturn everything you think you know about aliens, a completely new perspective:
Clive Gollings: What if we wake up and find him inserting a probe into our anus?
Graeme Willy: Well apparently they don’t do that.
Paul: [Paul wiggles his finger inside the hole of a bagel] Anyone want one of these? Yeah? Anyone?
That last part was my favourite, but if you don’t like Paul, I think you have something against cocky aliens.
Paul: [Paul is posing on the couch as Graeme prepares to draw him] Are you gonna draw me like your French girls, Jack?
[blows a kiss]
Or daft FBI agents:
I love this particular part where he scares two rednecks:
Paul: [to two rednecks] Hey fucknuts! Probing time.
I also think the geeks are somewhat demented
And did I mention that Paul does weed?
Paul: [Lighting a joint and takes a hit] Do you guys partake?
Graeme Willy: No. Thank you.
Ruth Buggs: I’ll partake.
Paul: Are you sure? It’s pretty strong shit. I get it from the military. I think this is the stuff that killed Dylan.
Graeme Willy: Bob Dylan’s not dead.
Paul: [smiles] Isn’t he?
There are tens of lines that will make you laugh when watching Paul, and you can’t help thinking maybe aliens aren’t so bad after all.
And then he says:
Paul: This is America. Kidnapping a Christian is worse than harboring a fugitive.
I know this is not a standard movie review, but there are very few movies I have watched more than once and wished I could watch for the first time again.
If by the end of it you don’t like little green guys, get a refund.