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Category Archives: Musings
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.
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.
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…
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…
There’s a new craze in town, bunnies!
Chatting about a business venture with a friend of mine the other day, he happened to mention that he is in the process of setting hatches and getting into the rabbit business (no, no, not the Hugh Heffner kind, the more furry, less Blondie, more animal-like kind). Rumor has it that a kilo of rabbit meat is currently retailing at anything between KShs. 500-800, more if you can find a sucker. Its good business, given that they take about six months to breed, but let’s not get into details Google can readily furnish you with…
I once reared rabbits, and that was long before I had caught the naming craze, otherwise I would have named them anything from Minions to Durex. They were three small cute things that lived in a raised hatch I had bullied, nay used hypnotic powers, to convince my dad to get built. It was a simple thing, but sadly, no photos exist. Suffice to say they all died from some mysterious death syndrome (I just made that up). Either I fed them with the wrong weeds, or our gardener poisoned them, or their souls were abducted by aliens, either that, or am just bad at keeping things alive.
Anyway, fast-forward to last year when I went to visit my favorite auntie (that kinda sounds wrong, but I digress) and spent the day with her, moving all over the capital city and its environs running her errands. The last was a visit to a home-hostel she has in Karen, where I found, in the backyard, these cute animals (and others, all of them cute and looking so yummy, in a food-menu kind of way)…
Demented as I am, I sort out the gardener and sort his side of the story (did I just jump the gun there, okay, I wanted to know how he breeds them, scratch that, how they mate them!). The next thing I know, and this is proof that there is a hidden mental disease somewhere in all human beings, the conversation between four adults, with yours truly being the youngest (and thus the one with the most questions) turned to rabbit mating. You would be surprised to learn that contrary to popular belief, it is actually possible to watch rabbits mate. Look at the following picture closely….
Kimani, the gardener, taught me several things.
- The doe is taken to the buck’s hatch. They cannot mate if the reverse happens (which goes to prove that masculinity is actually a universal gene among the males). He said ‘the buck will get confused’ and a fight will ensue. My auntie used the words ‘fur will fly’ because rabbits are territorial to a fault.
- The shag starts immediately: rabbits have no foreplay, either that or they are fast at it, because they start mating immediately the buck steps into the does hatch/cage. Hold your pants perverts, it happens so fast that by the time you actually realize that it is a marvel of nature you are witnessing, the buck will have fallen five times with a grunt (fallen, you ask?)
- Yes, the buck mounts the doe from the hind end (in a non-gay, non-orgy, non-lets-try-something-new way), mounts, thrusts too fast to count, then falls off with a grunt. It doesn’t end there, the two will mount each other for as long as the doe is in the buck’s cage, and for the sake of the sanity of the poor doe (assuming it’s not in on the game) please remove it after one or two, or maybe four falls (a mount is denoted as successful if the doe gets pregnant)
- He has a way of checking whether the mount was successful, something he ‘learnt as a boy’. I googled this part before typing it because I wanted to see whether there was any science behind it, because it sounded like crooked voyeurism at the time. And true as Google is a search engine I found this “when you remove the doe from the buck, you might want to check her genitalia for the presence of sperm, seen as glossy moisture around her vent.” So it is true, and this is where you might want to remain objective…
- Sometimes, the buck becomes all-macho and thumps the cage floor, most likely notifying the neighbors that he has successfully conquered (Do not try this at home, unless it’s an orgy or it’s the Playboy mansion and you are Heffner).
So those were the five lessons I learnt from Kimani before we took one doe and placed it in the buck’s cage, just to see whether it was all true. True, the minute the doe sets its foot, the buck starts circling it and…I’ll let you finish off the other part (no pun intended)
I was using my Sony Ericcson, so I had a good camera, but methinks the buck (which by the way, has some a Maasai name that escapes me) was a tad bit too horny because all the photos I took were fuzzy.
I found this online,
and topic-related video on YouTube (its for ‘educational purposes’, what was that?)
The moral of the story is, if you are thinking of going into this bunny business, apart from feeding them and supplying them with water and pellets, you have to establish a practical mating schedule for them. I know it will make you feel like a pimp when you have a notebook where you write
Mated:_______________ Mated With:______ Successful?
Second Mating:_________________ (if the first one was not, well, successful
This should ideally be posted on each cage because it keeps it easier to keep tabs, especially if you have someone else taking care of them. Remember that you only keep tabs on the does (just thought I should clarify that)
Also, remember to study your market and eliminate the middle man (no, no, no, now we are not thinking mating still are we?). If the past is prologue, then the market will be filled with bunny meat in a year or two, supply will shoot up and prices will go down up to the level where they balance each other (Yes, economics is a side passion). It promises to be a lucrative market, and its start-up costs are fair.
The next big thing, cats?
_ (Which, by the way, are the only domestic animals you can never see mating)?
Small, innocent, dirty, naked boys, oblivious of civilization, with little care in the world except to live to see tomorrow.
Where does one go when there is nowhere to run, when there is no one to run to anymore?
Where does one go where prayer does not work, politics are rotten, and capitalism is a killer? Where does one go when it hits…
Their innocent faces, made in His image still, small innocent faces who know little of what it means to live.
Downtrodden, thin, miserable, hungry, emaciated, weak, sickly, the life drains from their bodies as their stomachs grow bigger.
Two little boys, hand outstretched, reaching out to the only meal they have had in several days.
Their faces are the tales of young lives with so little, and yet, so much, dreams of food, anything, now that all their fathers’ cows are dead and eaten.
Their mother is suckling the ninth born, or is it the tenth, counting is a bit fuzzy in this times of life and death, hunger and satisfaction, love and war, tears and joy.
There must be a bigger world out there; there must a world beyond the stars where not everything is so fuzzy.
Where is God that he should let them die like this, we ask, and look upwards for an answer, as if we expect His voice to boom down to us of how we have killed who we are.
We are rotten beyond measure, the maggots feed upon our conscience when this little faces are cast in the news, kill us in the comfort of our home as we go to bed.
The idea that someone else does not have, has not had anything to eat, drives a knife through our hearts, so we wake up and pray to Him, to give them food and a long life, and we give alms, more so that we should live again, inside, than for them.
Their little ribs stick out of their chests like the strings of a guitar, complete with a thin body to pluck, fingers, frets, strings…..and the thin neck that supports that seemingly enlarged head, behind those big eyes where a big smile exists, somewhere.
From the look on their little faces, you can tell they have been in their idea of a food fight, like small kids for whom manna is brought by big trucks from the city, manna that they will eat even if it is rot, if only to kill that sensation they have had for the year.
Small, naked, thin, malnourished, where is God then? To whom do we blame this for, where is all the food, and if it is there, why not here, why here, year after year? Happiness is relative, the world is ending, and we are ending with it…
One looks at the bread the healthy youth donning a red jacket gave him, he can already feel its warmth cruising down his stomach, he has to eat this slowly…
The other clutches at it, his previous one having been shared, and some landing on his face and head, he wants another piece, he needs another piece, he needs many many more pieces…
The third one clutches at his too, his other hand outstretched, he was fighting with his friend earlier, but there’s more, perhaps enough for everyone, he must get some to share with his small sister, too young to walk, too weak to learn how to….
The other stands, confused, the jigger on his foot, the itch on his ear, he is confused, is this really food? Is this a dream? What is happening, am I really here, now, eating?
The last one has had his fill, he was the first one here, he jumped the line. He watched as his friends fought but he’d rushed home with his first share, to feed his wiry, old and feeble grandmother. She ate with her eyes open, and slept, or went to where those who sleep forever go, he ran back, this time for himself….
Five little faces, small booklets of tonnes of tales, where the sun touches their faces as they play, they pray to Him who might listen, that theirs is a penance they will to understand, but the quagmire is norm.
They feed, but no one gives them water.
Ladies,u might want to wear goggles for this one!
Lets take a hypothetical situation;
So am in a club(the 1 place every1 is bound to use the washrooms?),the inevitable call of liquid nature beckons,so i walk 2 the gents,calmly,the unmistakeable urinal glares @ me when i stroll in.Two other guys are already there,so i take my place between them.
Zip unzip,and my eyes on the wall as i start the journey to relief.This is the part i never get to understand,why do we,after the first few seconds when our eyes are on the wall,then decide to lower our eyes??It always happens,i gaze down at my ‘future’,and then look right,then left,the other guys almost simultaneously do the same,then our eyes meet as if to say ‘sorry’ to the ‘handicapped’ and, ‘wtf!’ to the’ multi-talentd’! It is the defining moment…
The two guys who preceded me are done,and they zip up,use the sink,and leave.Am alone now,feels kinda lonely being the only king in such a large kingdom,but just before i can start sinking into urinary loneliness,the drunks start staggering in.This are the most interesting lot you’ll ever meet in the washrooms!First,they struggle with their zips,then fumble with the ‘king’ and when at last they do find it,they struggle to find aim!the irony of the matter is,its the traditional urinal,u don’t need aim,so long as its out,your good to go,pun obviously intended,!!Aim becomes relative,unless of course,there’s something on the ‘trench’ you are trying to move,as your first achievement of the day.
The detriment of having drunks as ‘mates’ in the washroom is that they might just decide to do the one thing you should never do in the gents,talk.Lets be frank guys,talk is distracting,relieving oneself is one activity that has been proven to require maximum attention,you can’t even donate blood when doing it,try it,its impossible.But drunks forget good manners that come with the ‘package’,annoyingly.
Impossible to forget is that time when you have been holding it in for so long that you feel like exploding,and then u happen upon a loo,heaven!You close your eyes and start emitting sounds that would make a blind man doubt whether he stepped into a loo or the private wing.Then you dont care who or what is next to you, Osam (RIP)a would join you for a piss,and you wouldn’t even realize it until the CIA take you in for questioning.
Finally(and this part is for the ladies and kanjo)why does it seem like bad manners whenever you see a guy doing his thing at a somewhat unnatural spot?isn’t it at the discretion of the answerer of the call of nature?? Unless he is doing ion the wall of a toilet, do not adopt the moral high ground, remember that time you were hiking and then…. and guys, two shakes will do, anything more than that, you are playing with it!
And the question i have never gotten an answer to,are there urinals in the ladies washrooms?and if there aren’t,why aren’ we addressing the gender imbalance??
That, and do porcupines have tits?
(First published on Facebook as a note on Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 5:44pm)