UNMASKING COLUMNISTS (Here’s what you din’t know about them)

This could be the last blog from me, sobs! I’m taking a sabbatical. How I will miss writing.

Unlike other professions where individuals, upon age catching up with them, start masquerading as consultants, in writing there is no room for that. Once you stop writing, you can only become one thing: Irrelevant! Ouch! Thus, no writer, in his right mind, ever yaps about being a retired writer. Have you ever heard of such nonsense?

You are as good as your last piece. So you can imagine, with some readers like myself with a memory span that can only be compared to that of a bedbug, how will I remember anything about you if the last time you wrote was weeks ago? Readers judge writers harshly; you are either good or bad. No room for in between. No one, for instance, ever bothers about how recent you began writing, when you have sentences yearning for punctuation or your grammar is chaotic, readers roast you!

I suspect some impatient reader is already seething with anger cursing, Malesi, please stop beating by the bush, save us the gibberish and just get into it-already!

Ok, I hear you and in that case, here we go.

First of all, to avoid any of them suing me, for poking fun at them, I will include myself, thus usage of ‘we’.

Be mindful of our by-lines. Some of those are not our real names. Wait until you see our Government names on our IDs! We write more than one column, especially those of us who write humour. We always have another column in which we redeem ourselves by pretending to be serious by crunching figures, comparing GDP (Pundits, hope I got the spelling for that correct!), and the economy.

Folks, whatever you do, please! Please! Please! for crying out loud, avoid wanting to meet us! You will be disappointed. We are not as witty, funny, and intelligent as we sound on paper. My friend, the processing is quite different. We are boring as hell and with a devastating sense of humour! You will have to tickle yourself to laugh at our dry and stale jokes! And again, we don’t use those bombastic words in general conversation. Forget about the pomposity, it’s only on paper where we threaten you with vocabulary.

I swear, we are not as good as our works suggest. See, we have first, second, and third readers (including spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends) who go through our works and correct it before we send it to our editors to further tinker with it! When you hear most of those intelligent, witty and humorous writers speak, they sound and shrub (big time) like Papa Shirandula!

Ever wondered why we fear blogging or publishing stuff by ourselves, say on social media? Its because, without our editors Midas touch, our Achilles heels¬-thinking in mother tongue and attempting to reproduce the same by writing in English and thinking and writing in bullet points will be noted by readers.

Some of you have even, again and again, insisted that we give stand-up comedy a try but one thing you don’t know is that we either stammer big time or God blessed us with some heavy accents. I mean, after all, why twang with lots of difficulty when you can shrub with a lot of ease, in fact, effortlessly!

And there is this common question you guys like asking us; Malesi what inspires your creative writing?

I am sorry to reveal to you that, in a bid to sound philosophical, we, unfortunately, always lie when answering that question.

Much as we always sound angry, bitter, and often come out guns blazing, don’t mind us. In real life, we are pussycats. We are ridiculously polite. In fact, in real life, you might just confuse us for nuns or monks who have taken a day off at the nunnery and monastery, respectively! Thing is, we can’t even harm a housefly, even if it landed on our lips and defecated there. Bottom line is, from our hair follicles to toe nails, we are sissies! I sit next to one in the office and I still can’t believe he is the one who spites fire and brimstone in a certain column, excessively polite and cant shout you would think his throat was made in china!

We are in the habit of depicting the African bread as always having fallen down with the buttered side facing down. But what you don’t know is that, as much as we like to kick a storm over the poor leadership and get our knickers in a twist over corruption in government, ever since we discovered that its just a game of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and that it depends entirely upon ones ability to strategically position themselves and know how to play, we secretly envy them (politicians).

We, in fact, even wish we were in their positions because, like them, we also want to have homes in different locations- in our rural homes, in Nairobi and even install a third wife somewhere in between those two locations! Unfortunately, the only difference is that when they, unlike us, access and stick their hands in the public coffers, we are either buying the pata potea lottery cards or we are fasting and saying fervent prayers as we actively participating in bonyeza ushinde and tazama chapaa! Poor souls!

Once in a while we run out of ideas and we only cobble up mundane stuff (after all, the editors end up polishing them up) to avoid missing the next meal. We at times repeat the same sh!t, year in year out, especially when we are writing those relationships columns. You doubting? Buy your favourite r/ships columnist beer, and when he is on his fifth bottle, toss that question in his direction… You see, my point exactly!

So you thought they never read your mails? You are mistaken. A colleague got me whistling in amazement when he reminded me of a ‘letter to the editor’ I send him close to a decade ago, when I was a mere fan of his. So be duly advised, when you hate what we write and you really want to tell us off, please; don’t use clichés to abuse us. Ati idiot or kumbaff, don’t waste time abusing our grandmother either. We are immune and have developed a thick skin for such. Put in a little effort and get creative about it. Guess what, we not only dignify such by replying but also publish it haha! For instance, I am still reeling from pain I was subjected to when a reader asked me to go hug a, well, transformer!

Last but not least, if you chose to be mean by not leaving encouraging comments urging us to keep writing, be prepared to see us go back to our previous jobs- pickpocketing, robbery, et cetera before depression finally makes us commit suicide but be prepared to have your names mentioned in the suicide notes we will leave behind!

It’s been real folks. Catch me later, or better yet, always pick your copy of Crazy Monday pull out in the Monday Standard Newspaper.

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OF AFRICANS AND INFERIORITY COMPLEX

Africans have a habit of not just looking down upon themselves but their own, their social standing notwithstanding.
For instance, respected African leaders have, in the past, done crazy things that left many tongues wagging. The most recent incidents include, when the former Nigerian president, Olesegun Obasanjo-an African leader held in high esteem world over, in all his glory and not forgetting behind the dignity of an African presidency, adorned in a nicely embroidered agbada complete with a cap that befits an oga of his stature, was among many Nigerians who fell over each other jostling for space before queuing to, haha, shake hands with Fareed Zacharia-a celebrated journalist! Did I just hear someone, not only in a rhetorical manner but in a sneerful tone, ask who the hell Fareed Zacharia is?
Look, ordinarily, it’s a journalist who would have had a difficult time booking an appointment with a president- and in fact, nine out of ten times, in vain!
Its little wonder then that syndicated international journalists and media in the west , when a car tyre accidentally bursts in down town Nairobi, they report, and in screaming headlines, in their websites how ‘tragic’ it is or better yet, how Nairobi is on ‘fire’! But when we have a sober and sensible historic presidential debate-for the first time ever, it merely gets mentioned under ‘in other news’. And I digress.
Not long ago, in another shameful incident, the Malian Prime Minister travelled all the way to Paris not to meet his ‘counterpart’ as we like putting it, but to seek audience with the French Foreign affairs minister! Just Imagine!
This African inferiority begins quite early in life. In school African kids are hardly taught to differentiate fear and respect. Perhaps, that is where this whole campaign to restore self-confidence and pride among Africans should begin.
This brings me to a heart wrenching incident- which rubs kilograms of salt on the injury-that happened to my PhD holding friend, God bless you Mathenge!
He wanted to travel abroad, to America to be specific. It was during his search for visa at the airport that he came face to face with the fact that being an African is not easy! Other than being taken through more than one visa interview, he was subjected to so many other sweat inducing hurdles. Surprisingly, the interviews kept on degenerating to petty issues making him feel so humiliated and angered. And guess what, he was, nevertheless, denied the damn visa. Mind you he was not going to do something illegal or even one of those the west frowns upon like begging for handout and borrowing but had been invited-by fellow intellectuals, to attend some sort of exchange program forum!
Now, contrast that with how arriving in Nairobi is bloody easy for a mzungu nursery school dropout, masquerading as a tourist only to come and not just to smuggle away tusks but kill the remaining few elephants! Or, a fake NGO type (with aforementioned academic credentials) coming to initiate (inspect, evaluate, or whatever term they use) ‘development projects’ and yet in actual sense his only contribution-if any at all, to that thing we passionately call ‘nation building’ can only be realized through jobs whose main or perhaps only qualification-which most of local boys already boast of anyway, is muscle!
The fellow does all that rubbish- answering silly and obvious questions, online, at the comfort of his home and better yet, on a laptop while in bed! Never mind, upon disembarking at JKIA, we-Africans suffering from massive inferiority complex, throw him a bash! We, with our primitive energy, mill over him, break into some isikuti jig; women will ululate and dance themselves lame. And in the process decorate the bugger with tribal necklaces; to guard him from fatigue that characterizes such frenzy delirium and pandemonium, we quench his thirst with cold fermented milk!
And in keeping with African hospitality, donate to him not just a Maasai shuka but also an indigenous esoteric name! At the end of all this razzmatazz, he, let me pause to click lest the volcano forming in my chest erupts, enjoys the same respect and honour we accord important chaps upon achieving remarkable feats like successfully rigging an election-being lifted up shoulder high before being deposited at the air-conditioned V.I.P lounge to cool his heels!
Isn’t this one of those many painful paradoxes that infuriate you and make you, like an enraged bull in a china shop, want to kick yourself as you scream: Only in Africa!
Rally, what’s wrong with some of us Africans?
UNBROKEN NEWS or is it BREAKING GOSSIP?
*Whispering*The good people of The Standard Group, just when this blogger was about to sign a deal with The Star Newspaper, threw money at the problem and I’m not only going to write for them but yours truly will be the editor of that humour magazine –Crazy Monday! I hope you will not grumble and protest, when the tone of my writing changes, claiming that oh this is not the Malesi who earned his stripes on social media, oh he now has a diminished ‘street’ credibility. Kindly understand it’s a family paper and certainly my writing might change, esp. the tone and whatnot. How I will miss using some words, sh!t!
All in all, make sure you pick your copy every Monday; it will be a Seriously Laughing Matter!

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HOW A CHEMISTRY TEACHER RUINED AN ‘INTERLECTUAL’ TO BE

While walking down the street-in Nairobi, the other day, I saw my chemistry teacher-Mr. Matikho a.k.a man-k (the man who single-highhandedly ruined my chances of getting into any serious profession in this country by giving me-and I believe a host of many other hustlers, an extremely poor foundation in Chemistry) look alike. The sight of that man instantly, and in a rather painful way, reminded me of one fact which will infuriate-beyond human endurance, most hard working parents who paid our fees back then: We never ever not only finished but also successfully carried out a Chemistry experiment.
They were either incomplete or we ended up with the wrong results, and to either of the two scenarios Man-k always had a classic yet boring and monotonous way to sum it up-“ we will assume that this thing was successful !” And folks taught by Man-k can back me up on this. Man-k’s Achilles heel was that he was always time barred and overly frugal with specimen! You see, honestly, Man-k was too mean and the quantity of reagents and specimens in his scoops during experiments spoke it all. You would hear backbenchers, albeit under their breath, inaudibly chide him of how one would be forgiven for thinking that the money used to purchase the reagents and specimen was from his pocket! Man k was so mean and i even suspect if he was to run for any of these political offices politicians are vying for, he would have not wasted any money printing posters but instead he would have insisted on using word of mouth!
As the sage goes, mgala muue lakini mpe haki yake, given, Man-k was a brilliant chap, an intellectual if you like. His only handicap was in passing across the knowledge to our heads. Partly, due to the fact that he speaks too fast and hardly audible- would give rappers Twister and Busta Rhymes a run for their money! Much as he introduced us to some nice sounding terminologies and names, some of which (and I confess) I only came to know their correct spelling long after I cleared high school, I have never been faced with a situation in life, for instance, in general conversation in which-just for the sake of sounding intelligent, I can incorporate them. Anyone who has ever been confronted with a situation in life in which he used words like pipette, Bunsen burner, and burette to step forward!
You see, Man-k would waste half of the double lesson setting up apparatus and equipment for an experiment. And just after we had launched into experiment, and thing seem to shape up and start reacting, you would hear the stern-faced Malaba-the time keeper (or was it Anyembe, Whatever), vigorously sound the bell. Mind you, that was when we had just started recording the observations and before we could see the final results. And there was no way we were going to waste one more minute in the laboratory because Mr Olenja- a sadist, was waiting at the door in our next class to bang heads of those late –even for a minute, for his Mathematics class with a blackboard ruler.
Strange enough, you would hear Man-k yell- with his commanding soprano voice, “young men, time is not on our side, we will assume that this thing was successful”. The flame will turn into blue, some whitish residue will collect at the bottom of the beaker, blah blah…ok? And funny enough, we, very tired and bored would respond sheepishly, in fact in unison, “yes”! And the lesson always ended in that fashion. But sadly, the examiner, and only gods can explain this, set exams from that tail end of the experiment, which we never saw anyway. How would we have passed?
Were it not for Man k giving me poor foundation in chemistry, I would be wasting time cracking stale and dry jokes or doing social commentary in newspapers. Instead, I would be some serious chap squinting my eyes into a microscope and mixing chemicals somewhere in industrial area. Or better yet, other than my silly ‘one plus one equals eleven’ discovery that was trashed, I would have perhaps discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS. Or even bagged a Nobel in chemistry! Who knows!
Tikho! Tikho! Tikho!
Adopted from

http://www.facebook.com/groups/23481299944/10150286908644945/?notif_t=group_comment

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WELCOME TO BULIMBO

You notice you are in Bulimbo- that village where my beautiful mother got married, when your car(if at all those unroadworthy third hand jalopies qualify to be christened such) gets stuck in mad and in the process breaks down and the only available spare part or tool at the nearest hardware shop is, well, ehh, a sledge hammer! Or when you hear virtually everyone refereeing to dry cells (radio batteries) as mawe (sic)! I mean, where else would one- knowingly, buy a bootleg movie- at 50 bob, and still complain bitterly about its third-rate quality, if not in Bulimbo? It is a typical African village.

So unique is this village that their interpersonal communication will leave one marvelling  From older men habitually talking to themselves, to their female counterparts being able to accomplish some notable feats, traditionally considered to be men’s preserves (which I swear some boys masquerading as men in Nairobi cannot accomplish, anyway). A case in point is beckoning an individual in the distance by shrilling a high pitched whistle-makanga style! Women of Bulimbo have a penchant for gossiping, at times the presence of their subject notwithstanding. And the funny bit about it is that when they gossip about an individual who is within earshot, they inaudibly do it without moving their lips! Gory stuff is exchanged but under their breaths before being punctuated with some giggles and rapturous laughs! You are giving me teeth (euphemism for cracking someone up), one of them would tell the other in a bid to coax her to spill more beans. Here, during meetings, when people don’t beat by the bush to kill time, they grant, do uncalled for clearing of throats, eehs, aahs, and unnecessarily pause when putting across serious points, for special effect-perhaps! Vintage village communication, I tell you!

In Bulimbo, business and my people are two strange bedfellows. First of all, not once or twice have I gone to a ‘hotel’ for lunch only to find the darn thing temporarily shut down.  And upon inquiring about the whereabouts of the proprietor, only to be told that they had dashed to their house for a short-well-deserved lunch break! How do we even achieve that pipe dream-vision 2030, with such jokers masquerading as businessmen? If that doesn’t justify my pessimistic optimism nature of neither seeing the proverbial cup half empty or full but constantly filling and emptying at the same time, what else does? Even with your PhDs you don’t fit in-just like that. You must take time to understand the dynamics of the social life of Bulimbo. This village is simple in a very complex way!  The village wisdom here will blow your mind. For instance, on the small matter of virtues like honesty, as a neighbour  you are subtly judged by the very simple gesture of whether or not you ever surrender eggs that a desperate-for-privacy neighbour’s chicken lay at your place!

All along I have known this place to be very welcoming and friendly but my last visit proved otherwise. It amazed me that some strange and antisocial traits-from Nairobi, have in filtered into this once lovely village. We have these dingy and smoky hotels at the market, where men-each, buy a cup of tea and while a way time as they gossip-with decorum, of course. While there, I bumped into a rude shock upon seeing ‘NO IDLING HERE’ stickers all over the place. I saw that and I was like dah, like seriously, where else do they expect villagers to idle- and kill time, if not at the hotels and barbershops. Beneath tree shades-a preserve of women, hell to the no, I mused. Tell it to the birds, I dismissed with a tired wave of the hand as I planted myself on the bench at the veranda.

A hotel so dirty that even no self-respecting house fly would venture in without donning protective gear like gloves and gumboots, ha! And here they are, in a rather pompous way, proclaiming that they-‘management’(I saw that word and I could not help but somersault on the ground with laughter, wondering whether these jokers even have the roughest of idea of what management is all about) abhor and frown upon idleness. Since when, I was tempted to scream. Before I could walk away in protest (probably to search for a nice tree shade to idle under)one rather conspicuous sign post in the next building arrested my attention. Naming them on this blog will scandalize their business but the thing is, it was a wretched hovel boasting of massage services they offer. Bulimbo! Bulimbo! Bulimbo! A massage parlour in my Bulimbo? Never ever.

Was this the same good old- but very primitive, Bulimbo where in a primary school that I was attending many years ago, the headmaster- a tall weary and emaciated chap, sulked for a couple of days on the account that a new teacher unaware of the staff culture, had made a habit of over-zealously arriving early and unwittingly parking his bicycle against a tree that was, although not indicated, always ‘reserved’ for him? Ha! (Those were the good old days before headmasters could even afford the then fashionable 504 Peugeot jalopies. And for your information- you who is perhaps reading this and chuckling, back in the day bicycles were not for every Tom, Dick, Hurry and Kamau! They were a perfect example of what students of economics at university call goods of ostentation and only afforded as a means of transport by serious people like Headmasters and a few progressive and upwardly mobile teachers. Mind you maintaining that said means of transport was not easy also. People of a certain age will tell you there was a certain levy called county tax. Failure to prove that you had paid upon being flagged down by a council askari you risked the darn thing being confiscated or being arraigned in court.) I could not believe that this was the same Bulimbo now oozing sophistication!

However ,despite this and other ‘sophistications’ and ‘development’ here and there, like folks paying to defecate at the market latrines, we are still lagging behind in as far as certain serious areas are concerned. A case in point is the medical facilities which are still crap. When my relative fractured his hand at the playing ground, upon being rushed to the dispensary, those on duty took him in for an x-ray examination and guess what? He was asked to go home and it was after critical analysis and examination of his x-ray results that they will, and you guessed right, call him! They took his cell phone number! In such a situation, isn’t laughter the best medicine, I mused. I tried to jog my memory-in vain, to think of any veterinary officer maybe he could have ‘done something’. So desperate was our souls that I almost suggested we rush him to the nearest carpenter!

Jobs

Concerning jobs, very little has been done. Most of the jobs available one does not need much training, only one and very important qualification is needed- muscle! And you are good to go. If you are fortunate enough to be among the very few who make it to University, you must always brace yourself for the agony that comes with it. When a neighbor’s cow wants to give birth you –the university guy, is the person they look for, your rocket science degree having nothing to do with animal midwifery notwithstanding. Even after making it very clear to them that your training restricts you to a limited scope of expertise, folks will still find it necessary to nag you to provide an ‘experts opinion’ on a matter you have no idea-of course no consultation fee is provided after all! Just because an individual works at a hospital- as a cook or a watchman perhaps, when a villager falls sick they always find it necessary to seek his council or ‘to do something’. For Christ sake, what does a watchman know about bacteria?

Insecurity

In that neck of the woods, insecurity is rife. Like I once told you, so high are the levels of this menace that nothing – nocturnal insects like mosquitoes included, hardly venture out at night. In fact, the levels of insecurity In Bulimbo are inversely proportional to spread of malaria, imagine! Africans doing research on the cure of malaria and campaigning for its eradication don’t pop the champagne yet, relax, I’m yet to release the full report. And someone will still ask me what my contribution to civilization is? Like seriously? I hope nobody spreads malicious rumours that Malesi has suggested that we create conducive environment for insecurity in a bid to curb malaria! But I’m working on it.

To the extent of discovering how insecurity can be ‘useful’, clearly, I and insecurity have come a long way. Were it not for my guardian angel and my supreme nature that always conspire to keep all the savages in check and protect me, I would have been dispatched to hell long time ago. You see, my old man subjected me to it at quite an early age. If you are reading this and you think sharing a room  with axes, machetes, hoes, spears and other crude weapons is not sufficient insecurity, how about you step forward and point out what is. In a place where it’s taboo for circumcised boys to sleep under the same roof with their fathers, sleeping in the store/ granary is never an option but mandatory (Competing for resources –especially space, with uncooperative insects like bedbugs and cockroaches was common place. Even after accidentally injuring-by stepping upon, some of cockroaches, I would still spot them -the following day, defiantly crawl across the floor with a limp- haltingly! Thorough entertainment for sadists like yours truly back then). Never mind that that store is always ridiculously positioned next to the gate!

As if that is even sufficient to make me use ‘insecurity’ as my middle name, I live with a Nyeri woman-a crude weapon in as far as street and bar wisdom goes. Ha! In Bulimbo you get attacked and robbed not just at knife point but you are fixed like a snake-in the process. Even when you immediately surrender all the cash, you can never avoid the beatings and torture. As a man, your privates are squeezed- proper, as they strangle you and in the process abuse your grandmother, imagine! While all this is going on, one of them  goes straight to two places; your socks to retrieve that 50bob we always hide there- for emergency(just in case, you know), and in that tinny pocket patched on your underwear before embarking on ransacking other parts that they are never sure about-your pockets and wallet. Woe unto you if you are in the company of your wife, they must touch her inappropriately and fondle her.

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OF YOUTH AND THE ‘COOL’ SUB-CULTURE

You notice you kids have grown up once they stop asking silly questions like where they came from or when they don’t just stop but refuse telling you where they are going but bother asking you for fare!

Some sociologist, I have forgotten his name, said that unlike growing old which is mandatory, growing up is optional! At times young people amaze me a lot, especially when they get to that infamous stage when they are, 24/7, under the influence of some rogue hormones. At some point, to them image is everything. They want to be famous. When they are not trying to get themselves on YouTube by all means necessary-by trying to be musicians, they are trying to speak like P.Diddy (am not sure if that is the noun he is using this week-he changes them like we do to underwear) and if not, then definitely they are trying to look ‘cool’ by cutting that Lil’ Wayne look-tattoos all over their torso, grills on their teeth and sagging pants(I have never understood how they manage to hold the pants in place because some are always too low but they never drop down).

Last Sunday while in church I saw one such ‘cool’ young man who inspired today’s blog.

In his frantic effort to make a statement, he arrived a bit late. A behavior that, for decades, I have always thought is a preserve for women-arriving late for functions, church services, classes, meetings name them, ostensibly to monopolize attention of all and sundry(to them that has always been an opportune moment for ‘show-time’). This young man-vertically challenged, stocky, sagging pants, allow me not to describe the piece of leather on his feet, a tear-drop tattoo, and with baby dreads, oh, one more thing stood out-his intricately chiseled nose like that of Kibaki, strolled in with swagger complete with that Eastland’s new fad-a small empty bag strapped on his back! Jesus Christ, son of a carpenter, even in church some young people want to look ‘cool’? I wondered.

Of all the places he chose church? I mused. To me this was not just a scandal but a code-red kind of situation! Before I could squeeze my lungs and scream out loud security, the young lad planted himself right next to me. Just like any other self-loving citizen, I got nervous with one thing stuck on my mind; Al Shabaab is in the building! Jittery of the impending terror, I slowly turned over to my kid bro who was next to me and gave him ‘that look’ as if to ask him to urgently unravel the ‘riddle’. He didn’t even think twice about it, it’s called ‘swag’, he shot back albeit under his breath.

As a safety precaution, after I almost wet my pants as I gathered courage, I leaned over to the Youngman’s side to know him and compliment him for apparently looking ‘cool’ and what he thought of the day’s sermon (a bit of tete-a-tete, you know) with the hope that, in case he was planning to do some 9/11-ish kind of activities, he would be kind enough to spare me. He murmured that he is Andrew. The wax in my ears made me hear something like…I am Nduru. Immediately, one question came on my mind. Where are you always on Fridays and Saturdays when Djs and Vjs all over town are always looking for you? (As in… ikibamba sana wapi nduruuuu?) But I successfully managed to resist the temptation of asking…

 So ‘street’ was this young lad that when it came to that point where brethren shake each other’s hands as a sign of peace, he, instead, observed that age old ritual by performing that clenched first bump! Gota mbuyu…chukua uzito mzeiya he went on. After enduring the torture of sitting next to this character who gave me all the reasons to suspect him for a suicide bomber, upon receiving the Holy Communion, I hurriedly sketched the sign of the cross whilst on the isle as I walked out in huff. I called it a day.

In another unrelated incident, on my way back home, there was a small accident on the super highway which caused a bit of a snarl-up. While in the gridlock I noted something that tickled my funny bone. At times watching young people behave can be a source of entertainment, I tell you. There was this young guy (trying to look cool, I suspect) who, to me, came off as a proper rogue bachelor in the making. The kind I will not want near my daughters. A bit of a freak, I must say. From the corner of my eye, I noted his naughtiness. He started by winking at some cute older lady on the next lane in the jam. And when the jam worsened and no car was moving he started doing some weird stuff-in a bid to get the attention of the older lady, that got me in stitches. I don’t know how exactly he was doing it. But I suspect all he was doing was to alternately tap on the gas and clutch pedals-momentarily, making his car to rhythmically move back and forth in a rather suggestive way, leaving nutty onlookers-with minds in the gutter, to use their imaginations. Bonking? huh! Just when the Sunday summon was still very fresh on my mind, just imagine. Even the lady who had all along been ignoring him could not help but crack up uncontrollably.

Why am I even blogging about this? The moral of these stories is that at times the whole concept to desperately trying to be ‘cool’ messes up ones social image and misrepresents ones personality.

Good news

At the begging of this millennium I was chanced with the opportunity to visit The Netherlands. And while there, other than the culture shock that I bumped in to of seeing trees without leaves and even asking my host why they didn’t just cut them down all together, I discovered a lot. How we go about some things here is totally different from them.

 It amazes me that in this country when one is going for a night out, unlike in developed countries(like Netherlands)where you are encouraged to go ‘spoil yourself’, ‘have fun’, have a blast and enjoy yourself by ‘wasting’ yourself on liquor, all you are issued with are threats-vitisho baridi, watch out(for Al Shabaab), take care, be safe and whatnot! Ever thought about it? How do you even enjoy, with all these safety precautions? It sucks being Kenya at times!

While there-away from my authoritarian parents, I decided to do things that I had never had an opportunity to do in Kenya. In Tilburg nobody knew me except my host and that offered me an opportunity to do anything. After all I had nothing to lose, nobody knew me anyway. I could not resist the urge to go out shake a leg.

With the luxury of being chauffer driven around sampling entertainment joints I could not resist some temptations. One night I went round sampling entertainment joints until I landed on one, a proper club where loud speakers don’t whisper but blare. Talk of serious boom boom twaf! Forget this poor quality sound that engulfs Nairobi night life. The place was packed to the rafters and the electric atmosphere was palpable. Once I settled in, language barrier made it impossible for me to make any choice in as far as the kind of soft drink I was to use was concerned. I wanted to look cool and in an attempt to ‘fit in’ I poured it in my glass and gulped some copious amounts, it turned out that what I had consumed was beer. Yuk! The only difference was that it was not branded Tusker, Pilsner or any other common brand I see around here. That was Grolsch. That was the first ever beer I was imbibing. Ever since, till three months ago, I had never looked back. I and beer have been the best of buddies.

 For a very long time beer has always made me act funny and look retarded. For instance, it has always made me hate –with a passion, two types of people. Firstly, the guys who are always sober whenever I’m high as a kite and think that I am an idiot and secondly, the guys who are always high whenever I’m sober and start acting in a rather idiotic way. The truth about beer is that no one enjoys it. Drunkards enjoy the state of being high. Not the taste of beer. My friend, beer is bitter and no one likes the taste. Those who drink only do so because they have to-get high       

And in that case, coffee, for almost three months now, has taken beer’s place in my life. But from the look of things, I must concede the fact that coffee-a drug, if scientists are to be believed, has a long way to go if it at all intends to outdo beer in as far as intoxicating brothers is concerned!

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A NUTTY SCHOOLMATE

I don’t know about you but I have always had fond memories about my school life. Look, like I have always said, many boys have ‘passed through my hands’ (sic). There is this particular boy who, if my memory serves me right, I singlehandedly mounded his character and personality albeit through unorthodox means-bullying! This boy, instead of rewarding me, he has been avoiding me (like we all do to older underwear in our wardrobes) you would think I owe him some child support! But that a side.

I must confess, I had some wacky characters for school mates. I met one, a couple of days ago. In this day and age of peeling back masks you don’t just throw names around with reckless abandon, just like that! No you don’t. Kenyans nowadays have a penchant for litigation. In that case, to avoid not just being accused of libel and defamation, but also scandalizing his name, let us call him Mr. Chicks!

So there I was, in the neck of my hood, busy chewing a recycled gum as I read a borrowed newspaper at a verandah of a barber shop. Full-time hustlers, you know how we do. Of course, not reading per se but scrutinizing the possibility of getting a full-time job at the, eh, well, obituaries! Talking of obituaries, I have to confess, and I highly suspect am not alone, in the wake of rampant careless deaths that can be classified as unnatural-being dispatched to the other world by, for instance, being clobbered senselessly by council askaris (a good example is that bugger who, a week ago, attempted to ‘reason’ with them and of course they gave it to him-banged him on the head with a knobkerrie fitted with a tractor’s wheel nut. One-touch! Twaff! And that was it.) Or being a victim of mob-injustice! Whenever I pick the newspaper, I always head straight to the obituaries to check whether am featured, just in case! You never know! It’s upon missing my name and portrait that I excitedly flip backwards to bother about the headline. And I digress.

The place is noisy as hell (as if I have ever been to hell).Some idlers busy parroting about politics. I try but with very little success to tolerate the torture. The two buggers sandwiching me are engaging each other in a heated argument about football, punctuated with swearing, cursing and in the process they are spraying saliva in my face! Before I could scream out loud, ‘gentlemen, enough!’ out of the blue, Onyango, oops, sorry, Mr. Chicks shows up. An old pal with whom we engage in some animated banter, trading pleasantries, you know, as we reacquainted ourselves with the vibrant camaraderie that existed between us, back in the day. Throughout the tete-a-tete, as he tells me about how he had moved into my neighborhood,I attempted to put on that corporate-like unruffled calm poise but with very little success. The fresh memories of the last nutty secret he had intimated to me, which his presence conjured, could not could allow me to handle the chuckle I had been suppressing- all along (It had downed on him-quite late in his life, that he had not undergone the all important cut that distinguishes boys who masquerade as men from real men! And being a brilliant chap that he is, he took full advantage of his two weeks hospitalization, thanks to malaria that necessitated his admission, to negotiate with a doctor who agreed to secretly give him the cut).

You see, I not only grew up with Mr. Chicks but went to high school with him. He was a crook that any serious parent would not want near their kids. The one that comes to your house and the first thing you notice is his shifty eyes! And you can imagine those were the days when discipline was taken quite seriously. And we used to get the beatings quite a bit, you know! Unlike today whereby any random adult is not allowed to punish errand kids but instead report them to parents (and even when reported, what happens is that they are called in for some parental advice. And while at it, they enjoy the luxury of sipping on something or doing injustice to some snacks-with impunity! When the brat comes out, you will see it, with the excitement of a scientist who has just ‘discovered ’an already existing thing, looking all clean and tidy making you-the adult, who reported him/her to not only form at the mouth but seethe with rage as well. And while at it, a terrible volcano builds up in your chest! But you only manage to cool down courtesy of your long-standing experience in the corporate world) during our days you would flogged by any adult. Upon being summoned in the house for any case of social or moral transgression, my friend, you were lucky to come out alive. You were to be given a thorough beating akin to that accorded to snakes. At best, one would come out amid whimpers limping, a dislocated joint, bruises all over, tattered clothes, sweating like a pig, with a few traces of blood all over your clothes!

But that was not enough to stop Mr. Chicks from introducing our peers to the forbidden fruit at quite a tender age. Who doesn’t need some immoral support, anyway? Mr. Chicks was charismatic, to say the least. We could not resist his company. One outstanding memory that meeting him rekindled was those moments we used to play house-that childhood game.

When it was time to play house, Mr. Chicks-a typical bully, always assigned himself the role of father. And that of mother, he assigned some beautiful thing, and again to avoid libel let’s call her Cutie. Cutie was younger compared to most of us then. But her beauty was heaven sent. Her tinny upper body never gave anyone the slightest clue of how she was blessed, ass-wise! Apple bottom. She had some yummy, Angelina Jolie-like succulent full lips. Her shy mammary glands(boobs ,for the uninitiated), Ngai let me stop and swallow some saliva- I am now thirsty, had the potential of making Dolly Parton look like had a long way to go-boob-wise! Need I talk about her Tina Turner-like legs? This was a well put together piece of art. In short, her beauty would make a cripple man walk or the blind to see. In fact, let me just say that words can’t suffice me to accurately describe her .Her beauty would make the infamous Grinch not just to love but to celebrate Christmas!

Of course if you played that game, you definitely recall, there was always that session-which everyone who played father, eagerly awaited. I wish you saw how Mr. Chicks used to rub his hands in glee as he rapidly whirled his tongue in his mouth during such moments. At that point everyone was always ordered to sleep (Mr. Chicks used to force us to close even ears, just imagine!) as mum and dad, eh, how do I put this without sounding like a pervert, got busy-doing what mum and dad do, if you know what I mean. Nosy being my middle name-back then (just to clarify before ladies start rolling eyes and giving me ‘that look’) I could never resist the desire and temptation to eavesdrop on Mr. Chicks as he regaled and coaxed Cutie to participate in that activity that was then referred to as ‘bad manners’. I couldn’t help but loudly swallow saliva as I pretended to be fast asleep!

My friend, being small bodied was a scandal. In fact, that was my achilles hill. I mean, how do you make a guy like Mr. Chicks –built like a KDF battle tank, to play kid? One day, I gathered enough courage and insisted that I must play dad. Which, after fruitless frantic begging before resorting to arm-twisting, Mr. Chicks reluctantly assigned me? But Mr. Chicks being cunning and crafty as he was, he immediately assigned himself to play, and you guessed right, the irritant cock that crows at crack of down! This was a well thought out strategy to ensure that I don’t enjoy the fringe benefits that comes with playing dad. No sooner had I whispered in Cuties ear that, eh, ‘we go to Mombasa raha’ than Mr. Chicks ruined everything by crowing. Kokolikokooooo! Click! And the way I had some greedy fascination for the forbidden fruit? The disappointment was worse than that experienced by a Chinese tourist on an expedition to far flung places, for instance, Timbuktu, Shamakhokho, or Bulimbo-that village where my beautiful mum got married, and hurriedly buys some intriguingly unusual, excitingly strange and ‘exotic’ souvenir and only, upon returning home, on a closer scrutiny while having an intimate interaction with the it, stumbles on the sticker ‘made in China’! That was and still is the closest I ever came to engaging in horizontal acrobatics. Just for the record, a couple of decades down the line and am still a virgin and proud about it. And that’s how knavish Mr. Chicks was, and I suspect still is.

And that is just one incident, the catalogue of his crooked ways was quite long. That he was so immoral-a freak to the core- and had some weird penchant for visiting some dingy brothel in a nearby shopping center to the extend of him one day ,while on the closing day assembly ,to save time, got busted while putting on a condom is a story for another day.

By the way, I mess with people. I pick up on people. At times I get so personal-the essence of blogging. I take no prisoners. But at least I don’t perch myself on a moral high ground. I also reveal some of my own dirty secrets on how we used to steal things while in school. All men reading this know how cool it was back then to not only own an electronic gadget, for instance, a pocket radio but to smuggle it to school .This was a fad, huh, nostalgia nayo! Nowadays their –young people, equivalent, and I suspect, could be the mobile phones. I remember one night when I went to visit a friend of mine in his cubicle and his roommates had this nice made-in-Japan transistor pocket radio-palito, which they were ‘listening’ to while dosing off(no, may be sleeping).You don’t wanna know what I did. I stole the darn thing. How did I go about it? I took it and stealthily tiptoed away as I gradually turned up the the volume to make anyone who could be listening to imagine that the darn gizmo was still within earshot!

 

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FATHERS’ DAY WENT UNNOTICED

I bet you also dint know that last week had a fathers’ day hidden somewhere. No fun-fare, no media frenzy no nothing! Sobs! Folks, this was a scandal! There is always a lot of brouhaha and enthusiasm months before Mothers’ day. It’s a different case when it comes to father’s day. Fatherhood is a thankless, unsung and unappreciated social status, so I think. At this rate, if you are a young man craving fatherhood, think again. It is unfortunate that society seems to be down beat about fatherhood. And if journalistic generalization is anything to go by, fatherhood has a long way to go if at all it intends to be esteemed as motherhood. In interviews, for instance, I have never heard men being asked how they manage to successfully ‘multitask’ as fathers, husbands and career men! Being a father is a tragedy, I tell you. It seems the whole concept of being a father is, at times, unavoidably necessitated by circumstances-biological, and unfortunately always considered a social accident!

You see, there are certain aspects of our personality which only fathers can socialize in us effectively, for instance, discipline respecting authority, hard work and success.

When I vividly remember-back in the day as a child growing up-the kind of treatment we used to give our father, I can only grin with guilt. He would arrive home, after exhausting his ‘primitive energy’ on the grind –hustling for his wife and kids, to a very cold reception. Assuming he had, for instance, passed by a barber shop and therefore looking so fresh and so clean, nobody bothered to compliment his well trimmed thick moustache! We believed that fathers don’t like compliments. The gifts, rewards and incentives were just part of his responsibility. In fact, it was helter-skelter upon his arrival we would scamper all over the place. Whoever had comfortably sunk in sofa with legs propped on the table would hurriedly sit upright. By the time he would ask about who messed during the day, everyone had wet their pants. He would look at you and if his instincts told him that you are likely to misbehave the following day in his absence, he would wake you up and ,of course, give it to you in advance-a thorough beating!

Mum on the other hand, the moment we would smell her perfume-a hundred meters away, we would trip over each other and with the speed(coupled with the curiosity) of a Kenyan dashing to a fertilizer bomb blast scene, enthusiastically meet her before clinging on her skirt! And in the process we would even, but unsuccessfully, attempt to do to her that thing that Kenyans always do to a crook upon being announced a winner in an election-lifting her up sky-high! Yours truly had this weird habit (I was told) which I allegedly had a penchant for and therefore used to do it quite a bit-innocently getting inside her skirt! Getting me from beneath there was quite a process! I don’t seem to remember what used to motivate me. But it was all love.

Father’s presence in the house could only be compared to that of a bogeyman of some sorts. It meant total order and discipline. As a man, by the time you discover that your father was, all along, doing the right thing, you probably have children who think you are dictator! Once in a while, we would abruptly get into small fights ,forgetting that he was just there quietly reading his newspaper, over crust bread(oh, nothing was sweet as ile mkate ya kando) ,the TV remote control or at times just making a nuisance out of ourselves by trading disses-something frowned upon by him. When enough was enough, to arrest our attention, he would pretend to be clearing his throat. When that strategy would yield no results, you would see him slooowly raise his head off the newspaper. With a frown of seriousness spread across his face, he would peer at us (like a scientist expectantly does to specimen in a test tube awaiting results) before angrily roaring one word-the name of our older brother, Boii! And that was it, case closed! Everyone would scatter for safety as Boi would bear all the blame of ‘disturbing kids’. I used to find it funny because at times even when Boi was missing in action you would still hear him yell ‘Boii’ and it would still restore sanity anyway! Talk of a father effortlessly stamping his authority and instilling discipline to his children. Him like most other fathers, had no (and still doesn’t have) time for sophisticated and time consuming strategies like ‘time out’ or making deals (do this I will buy you that).

Our mum used to be handicapped when it came to matters authority and discipline. After countless slaps, beatings- with the aid of a bathroom slipper, deafening yells, endless ‘parroting’ and uncalled for banging of tables, we unfortunately remained uncooperative. In the absence of father, the only thing that used to suffice was one famous statement which I know many can relate to-‘I will report you to your father’! Jeez! That used to make us immediately cooperate.

Father always knew how to encourage success and hard work. For instance, he made us change our attitude towards Maths, the most dreaded discipline in academia. He used to claim that Maths is the easiest of them all for its all about ‘playing with numbers’ and proceeded to ‘salt’ the lie by claiming that he used to banged straight As –always! It was until just the other day that a visiting loud-mouth classmate of his made it clear that, like many, our fathers Achilles hill was and he still suspects is mathematics!(You see, if you are old and you think your secrets are safe with your age mates –just because you suspect they have forgotten, think again.)

As we grew up, dad had a classic way of making us feel safe and assured us of our security. Whenever we unwittingly attempted to scrutinize the state of our security by asking whether he could beat up the most fierce wrestlers like Yokozuna or even the Undertaker, he used to give a very confident and emphatic ‘yes’. And for special effects, he would dismiss them with a tired wave of the hand accompanied with a sneer! I mean, what else would scare you in this world when you have a father who can beat gigantic and fierce wresters? A real father, I tell you. He doesn’t have to tell or teach you how to become a father, he just behaves like one and all you are left with is copying.

Fathers have very creative ways of restoring confidence in their children. They always create an impression that they have solutions to all problems and answers to all questions. Even those that mum can’t handle are always referred to dad. When we spoilt anything; you would see him tinker with it and pretend to be fixing it amid clicks of disgust as he mumbled some incoherent things. He would later on issue a stern warning and ban anyone from ‘touching’ it, only for him to bring in a real fundi the following day to fix it during the day while we were away in school.

It astounds Malesi that, in almost all households, all kinds of compliments are always directed to mothers. Her hair, nails, clad et al. Even when her food is undercooked or tasteless or when she serves something that remotely looks like ballast, which one can hardly collect with fingers before squeezing together to form a malleable eshironje (sorry, I meant bolus, for those who don’t understand Japanese) that can be used to drag and shovel sukuma wiki in ones mouth, we still shower her with glowing compliments about her culinary skills lest she sulk and make us miss the next meal! No one ever stops and ever says `thank you dad for paying rent, school fees, that heavy hospital bill ,providing security or even for buying the meal that mum prepared so well. After all this, the only reward we give to our fathers is, well, affording them the luxury of having a monopoly to always sit to one particular special comfortable chair designated for them! However, wife and kids always conspire to relocate the chair ridiculously next to the door (so that when thugs break in, he is the first one they deal with! I suspect.) Gosh! Women and children! Click! Such is the tragedy of being a father.

On father’s day it’s still them who spend! Chei! The only difference between the two occasions is that on father’s day they (fathers) spend less! Surely, is this what fathers deserve? I am eager for that day when fathers and men by extension will start being taken out for romantic dinners, being pampered with gifts ,compliments, our wives flirting with us(imagine we like it),eh,ok,well,being given liberty to peacefully gossip or even whine without women rolling eyes and giving us ‘that look’!

Other privileges that fathers had like having the monopoly of holding the remote control(so that they could be in time to flip to the next channel whenever anything ‘dirty’ like a condom advert popped up)and dictating which channel to watch ,are now lost to children. The only entertainment fathers enjoy on telly is news! When he is not watching –by force, a Mexican soap opera, he is watching wrestling and if not, then he is, definitely, watching a Genge music video! Thanks to the modern day kids!

The only other privilege that fathers still enjoy-especially in a place like where I come from where people are genetically predisposed to eating chicken-is having the privilege of eating the gizzard-a tasteless piece of muscles combines with tendons which, when not well prepared, a self respecting hyena will not dare touch it!

The idea of him being a final decision maker is always a public relations gimmick! Like in our case ,whenever mum and any other girl masquerading in the house as a woman was-in the spirit of ‘slimpossible’- dieting, all of us, father(the bread winner, imagine!) included, had no other option but to be content with subsistence on whatever fad diet she served! A leaf of sukuma wiki, a piece of carrot, a slice of bread, a sip (not a gulp) of a ‘miracle juice’-some loliondoish kind of concoction. Sobs!

Gosh! Someone still craves fatherhood?

But anyway I, however, in all honesty ,find fatherhood so ethereal and in fact do subscribed to view that concerned authorities in academia ought to accorded it a study of its own. Even if it means a crush course! Firstly, this is due to the fact that I get pained to the bone whenever I see so many aged boys who not only masquerade as men but as fathers. Secondly, some women, either by choice or circumstances, take up that role with absolutely no idea and iota of trappings that come with it-their performance at it is always pathetic! I say this because mothers seem to be overrated at the expense of fathers. When in actual sense they complement each other .Probably, this is due to the fact that mothers spend most of the time around the house, managing kids. Unfortunately society conveniently forgets that fathers too participate.

Fathers, contrary to popular belief that its only darkness that brings them back home, they actively participate in matters family albeit indirectly outside the home by engaging in activities we collectively refer to as ‘nation building’. I mean, folks, there is more to fatherhood than meets the eye! And to those who have been unfortunate not to have good fathers, my appeal to you it to participate in the creation of one. It’s all about nurture not nature. It’s my hope that all real fathers out there had a happy one.

 

 

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