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The Idiots Killed Him, Vote Wisely!

My great grandparents must have cast a spell on me when it comes to Isukuti. This traditional set of shirtless drummists and dancers wearing hats made of Leopard skin drive me crazy. They do this magic perfomances in a circle. Each member holds his drum firmly by the side like a lost rib, tilts forward just a little while standing on the toes to make it easy for them to swing while dancing. Their skinny bodies expose the countable ribs which mysteriously look like guitar strings. I have a strong feeling these form part of the instruments they play because the beautiful instrumental rhythm that results gives an impression that there could be more instruments than what meets the eyes. Even when moving, they maintain the circle. Some members act as ‘eyes’ to performers who move in a reverse manner by rubbing their butts together. It looks as if the butts Hi-Five, but since there are no five fingers, just two blocks I guess they Hi-Block each other, if you know what am saying. These performers sense directions according to pressure difference on the butts as cued by the ‘eyes’.

This is what brought me to this political rally. Watching my tribe’s men make beautiful music and dances with passion and grit. In a twist of events a certain man grabs a purse from a lady about five meters away and takes off. He disappears like a flash of lightening. I moved like Mr. Flash in real life! ‘This man should enroll for Men hundred meters Olympic competitions.’ I thought. In five seconds he was fifty meters away. This was way before the lady contemplated raising an alarm amidst the ululations! All we could see were his heels patting his shoulders as his figure grew smaller!

His victory was ephemeral. As he turned to check whether anyone pursued him, he ran straight on to a tree. He knocked it with all the zeal he used to run and fell still on the ground. He tried to get back up on his feet quickly. He couldn’t make a step. I saw him stoop down and hold his knees. Like all the weight had been transferred to his head. Nairobi being Nairobi in an instant people gathered quickly, I don’t know where they came from but there was already a crowd. People armed with stones, canes, metal and all imaginable things that one can clutch and use it to hit a thing (Not even a being).

A rain of stones fell on him. They made it rain on him. In a second he was reduced to a motionless being. There was a lot of shrieks and sharply drawn breaths. Women were tightly holding their mouths, horror written on their faces, like they had just played witness to a horrific event that would forever change their lives. I remember not wanting to look at the man who’d just been hit. I remember dreading to stare at a result of men’s unfortunate handiwork he’d turned out to be. I remember thinking, “God, don’t let this guy die, not on this bloody day!” 

When I finally get the spine to look at him my heart sunk. He looked like an archeological remain discovered in a pile of rocks. The Homo Sapien Sapien Pschophantae. Suddenly the mob runs back to the venue of the political rally. Back to ululations, dances, good music and euphoria. The waheshimiwas had arrived. They were welcomed heartily. The whole field had uniform T-shirts with all kinds of praises for the politicians. The whole arena went back to life. Indeed it was a ‘good’ day.

 

I stood rooted, unable to comprehend the flash of events that led to Mr. Flash’s splashing. I was chocked with anger. My heart bled. Could it be true that these people driven by anger about something deep down and they are just using this moment to channel it to the wrong person? Is there something more than what I saw? I felt like my whole body was being squashed by the hypocrisy of my fellow countrymen when I remembered this words by an oppressed African son, 

“It is in our nature to sacrifice small thieves and elect big thieves into power!”

 

With an average per capita income of roughly US$1 a day, sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world. Africa’s real per capita income today is lower than in the 1970s, leaving many African countries at least as poor as they were forty years ago. With over half of the 700 million Africans living on less than a dollar a day, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of poor people in the world – some 50 per cent of the world’s poor. And while the number of the world’s population and proportion of the world’s people in extreme poverty fell after 1980, the proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in abject poverty increased to almost 50 per cent. Between 1981 and 2002, the number of people in the continent living in poverty nearly doubled, leaving the average African poorer today than just two decades ago. The 2007 United Nations Human Development Report forecasted that sub-Saharan Africa would account for almost one third of world poverty in 2015, up from one fifth in 1990 (this largely due to the dramatic developmental strides being made elsewhere around the emerging world).

Life expectancy has stagnated – Africa is the only continent where life expectancy is less than sixty years; today it hovers around fifty years, and in some countries it has fallen back to what it was in the 1950s (life expectancy in Swaziland is a paltry thirty years). The decrease in life expectancy is mainly attributed to the rise of the HIV—AIDS pandemic. One in seven children across the African continent die before the age of five. These statistics are particularly worrying in that (as with many other developing regions of the world), roughly 50 per cent of Africa’s population is young – below the age of fifteen years.

Adult literacy across most African countries has plummeted below pre-1980 levels. Literacy rates, health indicators (malaria, water-borne diseases such as bilharzia and cholera) and income inequality all remain a cause for worry. And still across important indicators, the trend in Africa is not just downwards: Africa is (negatively) decoupling from the progress being made across the rest of the world. Even with African growth rates averaging 5 per cent a year over the past several years, the Africa Progress Panel pointed out in 2007 that growth is still short of the 7 per cent that needs to be sustained to make substantial inroads into poverty reduction.

On the political side, some 50 per cent of the continent remains under nondemocratic rule. According to the Polity IV database, Africa is still home to at least eleven fully autocratic regimes (Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, The Gambia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda Eritrea, Gabon, The Gambia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe). Three African heads of state (dos Santos of Angola, Obiang of Equatorial Guinea and Bongo of Gabon) have been in power since the 1970s (having ascended to power on 2 December 1967, President Bongo has recently celebrated his fortieth year in power). Five other presidents have had a lock on power since the 1980s (Compaore of Burkina Faso, Biya of Cameroon, Conte of Guinea, Museveni of Uganda and Mugabe of Zimbabwe). Since 1996, eleven countries have been embroiled in civil wars (Angola, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda). And according to the May 2008 annual Global Peace Index, out of the ten bottom countries four African states are among the least peaceful in the world (in order, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan and Somalia) – the most of any one continent.

Why is it that Africa, alone among the continents of the world, seems to be locked into a cycle of dysfunction? Why is it that out of all the continents in the world Africa seems unable to convincingly get its foot on the economic ladder? Why in a recent survey did seven out of the top ten ‘failed states’ hail from that continent? Are Africa’s people universally more incapable? Are its leaders genetically more venal, more ruthless, more corrupt? Its policymakers more innately feckless? What is it about Africa that holds it back, that seems to render it incapable of joining the rest of the globe in the twenty-first century? It is me and you friend. We sacrifice small thieves, and elect the big thieves into power. Entrusting our goats under the ‘Noble’ leadership of Hyenas and Leopards. Then when the Leopard eats our goats, we kill our neighbors.

 

Back to Mr.Flash, the idiots killed him. We killed him. You killed him too, with your vote. Next time, Vote wisely!

 

EXTRA PAIN FOR DYING YOUNG & FOOLISH

Do you know how it feels when you stand for four hours, thinking hard and using every stint of your senses, to try and make sense of an abstruse experiment and nothing comes of it?

 

And then, after the frustrating four hours, the lab technician who has been giggling and grinning all the while, staring at his monitor with earphones across his head and a pitch black veil, walks towards you with a cluttered face like the angel of death, ‘Where are your results? ‘

 

You look at him blankly and he looks back. He sneers at you and looks at the equipment he gave you. For a moment he burst out laughing and says, ‘These pieces of equipment do not work. Find time and come back to repeat the experiment using better equipment. ‘ With that, he walks away.

 

Some people are alive just because it is illegal to kill them, I think to myself. Although it’s the thousandth time, I just never get used to the frustration it brings. Feeling hungry, defrauded emotionally and desperate, I walk sluggishly to my room and lay flat on my empty belly. All the while, my stomach is rumbling as if there is a power shortage in my body and my whole being is running on emergency power from generators in the stomach.

 

The heat got too much making me uncomfortable and a bit restless. I got up and adjusted the window. Just as I was compressing the curtains, a huge body brushed through the parallel arrangements of glass that made up the window and broke them all. I was terrified. I peeped through the curtains to see what can only be described as a lifeless human body lying on the ground. Two thirds of the head compressed into the chest. Blood gushed out of the ears and nose. A small depression on the ground formed when his head speared the ground. He had gone to the roof top of the sixth floor in the building to get high. Amidst the excitement, he tripped and fell straight down ‘six feet under’. From a ‘He’ to an ‘It’. All his friends disappeared. 

 

In my first week on campus, I received the heart breaking news that a very close friend was found dead in his room. He had been out boozing all night with friends and came back before dawn. He slept henceforth, never woke up to tell the tale of his experience. Not even to his village which had been called upon every year, to raise money for his fees ever since he lost his parents. There was speculation that he had been poisoned by a friend after they fell out over a girl who denied them both because she was seeing some filthy-rich politician. She was found dead under mysterious circumstances. She was last seen in a multi-million party at the politician’s home in the city.

 

In my second year on Campus, a lady from the neighbouring campus was found dead on the highway, minutes away from the City. Rumour has it that they were headed for a night out with her lover when an argument erupted.  Things heated up. Both of them were high; neither of them was willing to come down. He pushed her towards the busy road. She was instantly knocked dead by an oncoming over speeding vehicle. He ran away and left her lifeless body there, bleeding profusely.

 

Several months later, I woke up to see a former classmate in all news sites; WANTED! He had stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death using a kitchen knife because ‘..she led me on.’ He was later found in a dungeon attempting to commit suicide. He was one of the politest and respectful students I had ever met in my former high school. In my 4-years tenure as a prefect, I had never found him make a single mistake. Life has acerbic ways of throwing surprises to us though.

 

Last year ended with yet another tragic news. An acquaintance was found dead in his room. It is said that this was caused by an overdose of some illegal drugs. Apparently,  it wasn’t the first time that the drugs had brought him complications. Unfortunately, none of his parents or family members knew a thing about his addiction to drugs. All they knew was their gentle, polite, down to earth son, brother and role model who was beyond reproach when around family and relatives. In fact, the evening before his death, his mother had sent him money because ‘he was selected to participate in an academic trip after emerging top in his class’ as he had said. Ironically, all his colleagues in school knew a complete opposite of these traits. They knew him as a rogue, violent, abrasive drunkard who consistently received warnings for his poor performance. The sad reality for most young people.  My question is, How many more young people need to die before common sense resurrects?

 

We are angels when around family but demons at school. We are virtuous around parents but thrive on vices around temporal friends. We boast about how skillful we are at living a double life and laugh at how smart we think we are, having fooled the world. We would rather be enslaved by someone who feigns-love for us than take advice from someone who truly-loves us! We hate those who are real with us and love those who fake it all to please us. We run around social media on cheap quotes about ‘our haters’ yet our lives have nothing significant to attract self-love. We go to extremes to do stupid things to massage our frail egos. We want quick money to show ‘them’ we are indeed making it big. We get sponsors (sugar-daddies, sugar-mummies) and give our bodies in exchange for petty acquisitions. All these because we want to prove to ‘them’, that we don’t care what ‘they’ think. 

 

People would actually stop worrying about what others think of them if they realised how seldom ‘they’ actually do. Most young people poison their lives thinking they are punishing parents/brothers/sisters/friends/haters only for reality to kick it, when it is too late. Nobody really cares. When you acted all-knowing and too smart for them, everyone retreated and got busy with their own races. 

 

The tragedy of most young people is not fooling parents. It is that of fooling self and spending the rest of your time proving or disapproving inexistent beings (‘they’,’them’, ‘haters’). Nobody hates you when you are a Nobody. You are too insignificant to be hated. You are just like a kitten, chasing it’s own tail, and getting mad about it. Then finds itself in the fireplace burning to death. Its soul remains alive, grumbling with the pain of dying in oblivion. 

 

That is why I believe, there is extra pain in dying young and foolish.

Dot Com Love

“Mum, how did you and Dad manage to pull through four decades of this seemingly abtruse marriage thing?” I asked.

 

She burst out laughing heartily. Her shoulders constantly moved up and down as if she were dribbling a ball coinciding rhythmically to the high and low pitch of her voice. Probably that’s the background beat accompanying her laughter, I thought. Her chubby cheeks formed beautiful dimples as she smiled gleefully. Her perfectly round-shaped owl-like eyes meekly stared at me. Some utmost satisfaction set in as the laughter dwindled. Dumb-founded I stood there, with a stern face, waiting for the BIG SECRET.

 

“It’s easy son. When we grew up, if something broke, you’d fix it, not throw it away. We appreciated the fact that every good and beautiful thing comes through patience and hard work. Unlike in this Dot Com generation where, if you experience a slight challenge, you just put a Dot and COMmence on something/someone else.”

 

As the reality of her words pierced through my heart, I was embarrassed. I felt like a fat kid stripped naked in a stadium full of teenagers. Living in this generation which boasts about being the most knowledgeable human beings in the history of humanity and yet it is shameful that we have failed to grasp the most basic of human emotions, Love.

 

We’ve made relationships hard. We’ve continuously failed at love. Humans have suddenly become inept at making relationships last. We’ve forgotten how to love. Or worse, forgotten what love is.

 

We’re not prepared. We’re not prepared for the sacrifices, for the compromises, for the unconditional love. We’re not ready to invest all that it takes to make a relationship work. We want everything easy. We’re quitters. All it takes is a single hurdle to make us crumble to our feet. We don’t let our love grow, we let go before time.

 

It’s not love we’re looking for, only excitement and thrill in life. We want someone to watch movies and party with, not someone who understands us even in our deepest silences. We spend time together, we don’t make memories. We don’t want the boring life. We don’t want a partner for life,  just someone who can make us feel alive right now, this very instance. When the excitement fades, we discover nobody ever prepared us for the mundane. We don’t believe in the beauty of predictability because we’re too blinded by the thrill of adventure.

 

We immerse ourselves in the inconsequential of city life; leaving no space for love. We don’t have time to love, we don’t have the patience to deal with relationships. We’re busy people chasing materialistic dreams and there’s no scope to love. Relationships are nothing more than convenience.

 

We look for instant gratification in everything that we do – the things we post online, the careers we choose, and the people we fall in love with. We want the maturity in a relationship that comes with time, the emotional connect that develops over years, that sense of belonging when we barely even know the other person. Apparently, nothing’s worth our time and patience – not even love.

 

We’d rather spend an hour each with a hundred people than spend a day with one. We believe in having ‘options’. We’re “social’ people. We believe more in meeting people than in getting to know them. We are greedy. We want to have everything. We get into relationships at the slightest attraction and step out, the moment we find someone better. We don’t want to bring out the best in that one person. We want them to be perfect. We date a lot of people but rarely give any of them a real chance. We’re disappointed in everyone.

 

Technology has brought us closer, so close that it’s impossible to breathe. Our physical presence has been replaced by texts, voice messages, snapchats and video calls. We don’t feel the need to spend time together anymore. We have too much of each other already. There’s nothing left to talk about.

 

We’re a generation of ‘wanderers’ who don’t want to stay in one place for too long periods of time. Everyone is commitment phobic. We believe we’re not meant for relationships. We don’t want to settle down. Even the thought of it is scary. We cannot imagine being with one person for the rest of our lives. We walk away. We despise permanence like it’s some social evil. We like to believe we’re ‘different’ from the rest. We like to believe we don’t conform to social norms.

 

We’re a generation that calls itself ‘sexually liberated’. We can tell sex apart from love, or so we think. We’re the hook-up-break-up generation. We have sex first and then decide if we want to love someone. Sex comes easy, loyalty doesn’t. Getting laid has become the new getting drunk. You do it not because you love the other person, but because you want to feel good. It’s all the temporary fulfillment we need. Sex outside relationships isn’t taboo anymore. Relationships aren’t that simple anymore. There are open relationships, friends with benefits, causal flings, one-night stands, no strings attached – we’ve left very little exclusivity for love in our lives.

We’re the practical generation who run on logic alone. We don’t know how to love madly anymore. We wouldn’t take a flight to a far-off land just to see someone we love. We’d break up because of the long distance. We’re too sensible for love. Too sensible for our own good.

 

We’re a scared generation – scared to fall in love, scared to commit, scared to fall, scared to get hurt, scared to get our hearts broken. We don’t allow anyone in, nor do we step out and love anyone unconditionally. We lurk from behind walls we’ve created ourselves, looking for love and running away the moment we really find it. We suddenly ‘cannot handle it’. We don’t want to be vulnerable. We don’t want to bare our soul to anyone. We’re too guarded.

We don’t even value relationships anymore. We let go of the most wonderful people for ‘the other fish in the sea.’ We don’t consider them sacred anymore. Even though we promise to be together ‘Forever’ we actually mean ‘Till we meet someone better!’

 

There’s nothing we couldn’t conquer in this world, and yet, here we are ham-fisted in the game of love – the most basic of human instincts. Evolution, they call it.

You Only Live Once!

3 am in the midnight, am Skyping with a long lost friend of mine who left the country years ago to the ‘Land of milk and Honey’ (USA) to pursue her grand dreams at Stanford University. She spends a long time telling me about how much has changed in such a short time. Her perspective of life; her priorities, her desires, her pursuits and generally her dreams. It’s all giggles and jokes until she poses the question,

‘What should I expect back home Danstan?’

This question was timely. It came just as I sipped the last drop of my coffee. I felt it warm my tongue and tingle all my test buds. Engulfed with the depth of the question, the coffee sloughed down my gullet gently warming my intestines. By the time it reached my stomach, I felt a burning sensation that made me feel void and terrible. It’s when it dawned to me, indeed, even more has changed back home.

As men we are too timid to go out, work and generate hard earned resources to give us gradual wealth. We need quick cash. A betting spree has infested the nation, thus leaving our responsibilities, future and dreams to chance, hoping that someday we’ll wake up to a jackpot, buy a mansion in the leafy suburbs, buy our dream cars and party all day and night ad finitum. Meanwhile, we take the screenshots of our paltry gains and post them to our 5000+ followers on social media. Then we purchase red, yellow, green and orange sneakers with complementary shirts and a selfie stick. Together with 16 baddies, we pull resources and hire a ride to be used to solicit campus divas and naïve high school leavers. In a nutshell, we ‘YOLO’! So dear friend, make sure you spare some dollars for our dear betting sites. But if you can’t don’t worry, you can use your fancy shoes/socks/dress/trousers as security to get instant loans.

Our ladies have a different sense of direction, thinking of nothing else except how to look good, turning up every other weekend and seeking men’s attention using their ‘Sponsors’(sugar-daddys’) money. Steady posting obscene and indecent pictures on Facebook and Instagram fishing for complements and likes! A breed of girls with nothing more but a pretty bleached face and fake bodies to lust and sleep with. Dear friend, the only qualification you need is an infinix/techno phone with 53 photo-editing Applications.

Men, what will your kids inherit? Stocks? Bonds? Trust funds? Or the 90 pairs of shoes/Gucci belts you bought?

Ladies, being popular on Facebook/Instagram is like sitting at the cool table in a cafeteria in a mental hospital!

Finally, we make triumphant entry into today’s reality; big houses, small families. More degrees, less common sense. Advanced medicine, poor health. High income, less peace of mind. High IQ, less emotions. Good knowledge, less wisdom. Number of affairs, no true love. Lot of friends in Facebook, no real physical friends. More alcohol, less water. Lots of human, less humanity. Smart devices, foolish users.

Welcome home dear friend!

Dear Mama

My mama knew if she raised a king she would never be a slave. So she was always home raising her voice against any vice that courted me, not drunk in bars raising glasses and toasting to vanity. My mama told me some actions deserve Question Marks. So when politicians incited us to kill those not from my tribe she told me ’… only a FOOL won’t STOP until he puts another being into a COMMA.’

Mama taught me that ‘…before you call it a blessing make sure you didn’t sin to get it!’ She taught me honesty as the best policy and compassion as the only definition for humanity. She raised me to be a gentleman, with enough respect to regard you and still confident enough not to let you step on me.

The woman who raised me is special, not because she is just mother, but because she has a special relationship with God. So whenever mama prays extraordinary things happen. I mean, have you seen me? I am a walking miracle, her answered prayer.

My mama was absolutely compassionate. If you slept in the couch, you will wake up in bed, well tucked in. She spat on a handkerchief to wipe your face if you hadn’t washed it well. If she ever tried to remove anything that looks like dirt from your face she’d use her saliva. At times she’d even forget and try to wipe out birth mark for she wanted you to be flawless. She had special cups and plates for visitors. There were home decorations set aside for holidays like Christmas when we all had new clothes except her. Every new born baby would have a newly woven sweater. She’d buy oversize uniform with the aim of making you use it all along school as you grew older. She had a special drawer for keeping paper bags after shopping so you would use it to carry your books to school.

Some days even Superman is just Clerk Kent, that’s why I am NEVER into those fiction tales. I live with an all-time superhero, my mum is still a superwoman.  She never went to the fancy colleges, never did linguistics, but she has a doctorate in reading my mind and has mastered the art of speaking to the heart. She has touched many, not with hands but with her magical words.

My mama loves soul music, the kind we of my generation need for soul regeneration. It hurts a man to see his mother cry, it literally rips you off your humanity. I have seen my mum cry, and I felt my heart bleed molten acid. I have seen her struggle when odds were against her. I have seen people dismiss her and step on her. But hey mum, I have grown up to be a legend. I am making an empire, NOT just for myself, but mostly for you.

To all the mothers out there who keep trying to explain to their kiddos who God is, how they were born, why her sister is different and why Teacher Mary has two bumps in her chest, I celebrate you.

To all mothers out there whose backs alternate between ferrying firewood to cook for their family and carrying their babies. I celebrate you

Hail mothers who go fetching water at the pond with Toto on their backs, who toil in the smoke filled kitchens, who cover their kids in pieces from old blankets because they think Pampers is somebody’s name. I celebrate you.

Hail Women who struggle to create a family where the odds are pitted against her. Who cover the sofa sets in kitambaas otherwise meant for sweaters just so as to build a home. I celebrate you.

Hail single mums, Earth has not seen ladies as selfless as you. How you give up your lives, for that of your offspring. I celebrate you.

I raise my two hands (and both feet) to young and immature ladies who mess up and find themselves pregnant and opt to keep the babies, leaving the much preferred abortion route. You are a rare breed. How you offer to be mothers at such moments of trial is so amazing. I celebrate you.

I celebrate all mothers. Only you know how hard it is to transform a fugitive, mischievous, playful brat like me into an admirable Man Of Honor!

Man Of Honor

I drop my knees on the ground and raise a cup of porridge, making a toast for you Ketty Kakai Wanyonyi!

Happy Mothers Day!

‘THE CHROME MEGA BASH WITH SAUTI SOL’

Chrome Sauti Sol Billboard 5x12

For many, the synonym for Kisii is Banana. The Kisii people Love bananas so much that they have painted their roof tops yellow. I am told that Kisii ‘sponsors’ (sugar daddies), wear yellow suits and green caps to resemble bananas. This is the most attractive thing a licentious mischievous young Kisii lass can ever wish for. Before the 29th of April, 2017, the closest I’d ever gotten to Kisii was buying a banana from the annoying vendors who block your face with a bunch until you yield in to their unspoken command.

So, roll on April 2017 and an evening called The Chrome Mega Bash with Sauti Sol (sponsored by EABL), set a new dawn for my skewed perception of Kisii. The breathtaking scenery of this magnificent city that sits on the lush hills couldn’t be adorned any better by EABL. Even though my pastor had shed some light to me about the essence of liquor in someone’s diet, I had sworn NEVER to walk down that road again it. Not because I have anything against it, but simply because of the memories of our deep past interaction that left me with a massive tummy.

This was a serious turn on for the ladies while a turn off for the dudes. In fact, an eyesore. Girls kept touching it every time to know how huge my bank account was, without thinking I know it gets them heated. I am changing rules here folks, love your six packs dearly enough to hide it beneath a layer of tummy fat. New rules. Facts only.

I had married the bottle. The classic way. Liquor was my mistress. I imbibed her top shelf rum and vodka friends alongside her third-rate outlawed mates. I have no memories of a better, more intimate and passionate kiss than the ones I got from the pretty lips of Red Label, Black Label and Street Wise. I used to drink everything, I am not racist so I can’t be “alcoholist’ * to discriminate drinks. This was the case until I met this bae Chrome. She made me faithful instantly. And now that it is cheaper than petrol, do drink, don’t drive.

Nimrod is not a name you come across any other day in your class full of Brians and Kevins. His personality is one of a kind as well. So down to earth, hospitable and kind. Nimrod (EABL, Marketing), welcomed us to the VVIP with some long, fine sticks of well roasted Nyama Chomas, samosas and sausages. This was crowned with a bottle instructing us to Keep Walking. This is the man behind the Chrome vodka. He made sure we got the best of what the event had to offer. He made reservations for us at the best of tables and ensured we had best security and attendants. Still, he checked on us to ensure we were perfectly fine. You could definitely tell that his personality was spiced up by something external…and just when Sauti Sol got to the stage, the Chrome kicked in…

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Sauti Sol, Kenya’s golden boy band and our gift to the world are nothing short of spectacular on stage and it does help that the lyrics to their music are easy to master and sing along to, while they perform.

It was my first Sauti Sol show and as much as I had enjoyed the DJ sets and the other artists’ sets, it was a whole different level when Sauti Sol came on stage. Their energy was crazy and they had me thinking that their abdomens would hurt so bad after the show because of how vigorously they shake thier bam bam kwenda sukuma. All their songs were fun, to listen and dance to, Shake and jump.

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While I didn’t know all the tracks they performed that day, I still enjoyed every single moment, finding myself shouting at the top of my lungs whenever they asked if we (the crowd), were having a great time. I was still blown away by how the crowd was instantly drawn to them. Immediately Polycarp, the fancy fingers stepped on stage… everyone who had sitting down went as close to the stage as security would allow.

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At a time when music is largely muted on social issues, Sauti Sol deals bravely with poverty, class and consumerism. They do so in a way that not only avoids the pitfalls of sounding trite, but manages to be beautiful too, drawing on ancient mythology and sermonic cadence to tell stories of the everyday.
They clearly understand that the power of language is as much in the telling, as it is, in the script. When they finished their show, the whole atmosphere of the event had changed. Whatever conclusion the crowd might have drawn, what’s striking is that Sauti Sol’s message couldn’t be ignored: the conviction and drama of their performance forced a reaction and colored the rest of the evening! It was definitely a Happy Chrome Day!

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Dear Mr. Interviewer

You don’t Look like an Engineer! ‘

The interviewer said mockingly as he looked at my RaeDan designer suit; Cut to precision, bold across the shoulders, gentle lines around the waist, the perfect inverted triangle: black, satin lapels, perfect length. I was sleek. Well dressed. Super confident. Eloquent, courteous, knew a hell lot about my role and most importantly I listened not to answer but to understand. I ran my hand along the surface of my silk tie and sat down.

‘What is this?’

He asked mockingly as he raised a Neon screwdriver test light.  The device is a form of a screwdriver. The tip of the tester is touched to the conductor being tested (for instance, it can be used on a wire in a switch, or inserted into a hole of an electric socket).

‘I don’t know Sir!’ I lied to massage his ego and to confirm his doubts.

‘What is with the Photography, Leadership and Motivation Speaking? This does not help you in engineering. That’s why you don’t know what this is. How comes you scored highly in the aptitude test you did yesterday? Young man you need to identify one thing and concentrate on it. You need to have things figured out now. You are in 5th year. You have no time…”

Dear Mr. Interviewer, I thank you for giving me the job despite your spending 30 minutes to scold me. I am grateful for ‘an opportunity to help me figure out one thing in life!’  But with all due respect, I humbly reject it. I thank you for showing me a perfect example, of what I never want to be.

Firstly, being in my 5th year doesn’t mean I am going to die. It’s a lie that I don’t have time. I do have my whole life ahead of me.

Secondly, I don’t want to have it all figured out for me to explore my abilities. When am in leadership or photography or designing bespoke suits, I don’t do it because I need help in Engineering. If I were that weak, the 4 solid years wouldn’t be such a walk I the park.

I have done 123 Experiments in the Electrical Engineering Laboratories of the University of Nairobi. Every other time I submitted my report after each experiment, I discovered everyone in class got different results. Guess what? We all passed! My lecturers kept insisting that, the life of an Engineer is purely based on the experiments. Since the experiments are built up on theories we learn in class and assumptions of uncertainty, we can only infer from the results, we can NEVER HAVE ONE CONCLUSIVE FACT FOR ALL! This is the most spiritual statement I have ever come across in the School of Engineering.

Why is it right to experiment on the theories I have been taught in class for the past few years but you want to patronize me for experimenting on my inborn talents that now click 23 years old? Is it right to only live a life experimenting on Newton’s relativity theory but it is absolutely wrong to experiment on my ability to make bespoke suits for men? Or my ability to speak to such a lady as Herfrica who was sexually abused by her biological dad; who held a PHD in Human Psychology? Is it wrong to give her hope for tomorrow because this isn’t related to engineering? I shouldn’t offer a shoulder to cry on for my brother Mwangi Kip Otieno, whose house was torched and his family lynched as he watched during post-election violence?

And why should you always judge me simply because I am honest enough to show you that I am human being with diversified interest. I can NEVER be a perfect fit for your organization’s mission and vision! Organizations and Companies have one mission and vision but a human being cannot have one line for their personality. A human being is not a machine, say a vehicle to be described by one conclusive title e.g wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles, aircraft or spacecraft. People can do much more beyond a title or company’s statement of vision or mission.

Conventional Wisdom says that a person should focus, they should find one thing they’re good at, put the blinders on, stay focused on it, and never get distracted. Apparently, I don’t buy conventional wisdom.

I think what gets us into trouble is that we get trapped by titles, and somebody describes and says, “You’re an Engineer, or you’re a Doctor, or you’re an architect, or you’re a politician,” and we buy into how they describe us and stop seeking. We allow people to put a period and define us by how they met us where I believe life put a comma. It’s been my life pursuit to see how much is in me.

There is a seed in all of us, and we have time to produce what is in the seed. The notion that there is only one tree in the seed is really a myth. There may be a forest if you give it enough time. So if you nurture what’s in you and don’t limit yourself by job descriptions, titles or people’s expectations, you can evolve out of one seed into a tree and out of that tree comes a forest.

I think the key to being able to do multiple, functional occupations or interest is to find the common thing. Whether I designed a suit, did photography, gave motivational talks or wrote an article or anything that I aspired to do, a common denominator is my intention to communicate my love for humanity. I want everyone who comes across any of my work to feel important. And once you find your common denominator, its manifestation can be in design, in print, in films, in spoken word et cetra. But one thing that connects it all is that my work communicates my immeasurable Love for humanity.

Yes I Don’t Look like an Engineer. I will NEVER look like an Engineer. I don’t just dress up to repair machines, I dress up to meet human beings and make them know that I value them. I can’t lay low and have mechanical feelings. Being human is my Style. Not using Force is my Attitude. Helping others is my Happiness. Doing maths is just my Interest. Listening to my heart is a Hobby.  And Yes I am an Engineer but chasing my other dreams too.

Dear Mr. Interviewer, the next time you watch 9 o’clock News and admire Larry Madowo’s suits, made to measure. Epitomizing craftsmanship in all aspects. Impeccably tailored from a variety of high quality fabrics. Cut to elegant slim fit and the light weight construction. Or you see Johnson Mwakazi’s dazzling shirts. Or HopeKid’s creatively mixed-color match. Or when you pass by Villa Rosa Kempinski and see camera flashes striking from that SPA in the balcony where POTUS Obama used to spend his nights in Kenya, always know that these are done by  this person here, who doesn’t have it all figured out.

Kind regards,

The Grand Danstan!

Who Was Your Valentine?

I fell to my knees and begged to have her back in my life. Every single cell in my entire body and soul wanted this relationship to work out. For almost six years, I had lived a happy life because she was my world. I adored her to bits and never imagined how life might turn out, without her. She looked at the book I had brought her in a bid to salvage our relationship. I knew it was rich in knowledge about Love and that it would work miracles. She picked it up and smashed it on my face. She kicked me out of her place. I walked away in tears. It was hard to take in all the humiliation despite my genuine attempts at making things right.

 

One month later, things weren’t getting any better. I thought time would heal the pain but in fact, it worsened. My health deteriorated. I suffered from myself. Every part of my body ached. I took on an eight hour journey back home, my all-time assured therapeutic destination. I would stay home until everything faded away, then I would travel back to the city with a renewed soul and spirit ready to take on a new life.

 

Immediately I got home, my mum embraced me warmly. Her hug was priceless. I felt like a toddler being lulled to sleep. All my siblings ran to the living room, each giving me a warm welcome home in their best preferred ways. It was all giggles and laughter until mum popped the question,

 

” Where is Nana, my Daughter-in-Law to be?”

 

Everyone turned and looked at me in silence waiting for an answer. My mind was blank. I hated myself. My whole world was crumbling in and there was nothing I could do. I wish they just understood how much I was hurting. Yes, I am an African man who is a rock and shouldn’t ever confess that at times my heart is vulnerable. Yes I know that I am supposed to do what most men my generation do; pretend and hide my insecurities behind the bottles and barrels of liquor or a fleet of women. But I just cannot be that.

 

A part of me was really mad at everyone. Do you mean they couldn’t just appreciate me as Dan without the lady I used to introduce as Love of My Life? Was I just a door through which they got to see her? Could they not understand? But who is to blame? Definitely not them. They couldn’t understand what they didn’t know. I lied that I was just home for an academic trip and that I was travelling back the next day. At least I managed to pull one of those many excuses we are used to whenever we are trying to run away from reality.

 

The next day I was on my way back to what I was running away from – City Life. The thought of living in the harsh city life while trying to find my lost pieces crashed my dreams of ever being whole again. I sat in my enclosed house for three days thinking. I didn’t know the kind of places I like hanging out at. I didn’t know the kind of dressing I like. I didn’t know the type of movies I enjoyed. Frankly, I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know what makes me happy. It’s funny that I couldn’t make myself happy but yet expected someone that I loved to do this for me. All along, I had dressed for her, watched movies she liked and hung out at the places she loved and thus we were happy. Now that she was gone, I was left alone not knowing myself or anything about me. I had lost my identity.

 

Your happiness is way too high a responsibility to be bestowed on to another human being, take charge. We spend our life moving from one partner to another and blaming the previous one for not making us happy. We develop deep hatred for a set of group of people because the person we dated from that tribe, community, nationality or race didn’t make us happy. We blame others for failing to give us what we cannot provide on our own. We develop conventions about this and spread it to our circles.

 

If I asked you to name the things/people you love, how long will it take to name yourself? Have you ever asked yourself who you are besides your lover, friend, family or relative? Are you defined by someone else’s identity?

 

I beseech you to embark on a journey to mould yourself. The self is not something that one discovers, it is something that one creates. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow, it may not happen next year. But eventually you will discover yourself. Don’t wait for death to liberate you from your earthy imperfections. You are exactly the same after death as you were before. Nothing changes; you only give up the body. If you are a thief or a liar or a cheater before death, you don’t become an angel merely by dying. If such were possible, then let us all go jump in the ocean now and become angels at once! Whatever you have made of yourself thus far, so will you become hereafter. Even if you reincarnate, you will bring that same nature with you. To change, you have to make the effort. This world is the place to do it.

 

One day it just clicks. You realize and appreciate what is important and what is not. You learn to care less about what other people think about you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And you smile heartily. You smile because you are truly happy and are the person you’ve fought to become.

 

People say that so and so is happy because they found the Love of their life. But the love of your life is not someone you find, it is someone you become. You are the Love of Your Life! Stop looking for people to make you happy. Start creating yourself!

 

Henceforth, will you be your Valentine?

This is a must read for anyone who cares and loves Kenya. We can’t let this go!

So as weird as this might sound I dreamt about that story, not in the way I will describe it but roughly. The clearest part of my dream was of a tanker in the middle of Kenyatta Avenue, right at that intersection of Koinange Street, it’s long cold snout pointing towards GPO. The whole street was deserted, not a single soul in sight, a breeze blew loose leaflets down the vacant streets.
There were stones on the roads and all sorts of debris; shoes, spent teargas canisters, handbags, lipgloss rolled towards drainages, an open notebook facing down, a teddy bear, mobile phones that had been trampled on, broken spectacles, a child’s lone black shoe, motorbikes felled on their sides, napping in this ensued melee, hats, a novel by Clancy and plastic water bottles. There were cars parked in their spots with windscreen caved in, some with doors swung open as if waiting for an important person to walk out of a building. Nobody came. Nobody will come. The buildings were hollow with emptiness, broken windows, naked mannequins, their clothes stolen from their unresisting stiff plastic limbs. When I looked up, over the skyline towards Eastlands area, black smoke bellowed into the sky. If you listened keenly you could hear a faint scream, like the sound of a strange bird. A chopper whirred away in the horizon.
The air was rent with burnt rubber and fear and desolation. KICC, now a mockery of development, stood out for once, hunched in this emptiness. Our Parliament – the theater of comedy – sat silent for once. A few military guys leaned on their cars smoking cigarettes and laughing at a joke.
The entrance of Intercon Hotel was bare of that tall elegant doorman who stands there in uniform, he would not be bowing to anyone. If you walked into the foyer you’d be met by broken glass and a bunch of lone suitcases that would never connect with their owners. Down the street, a half drunk bottle of Yamazaki sat on the counter of The Exchange Bar at The Stanley. At Nation Center, the military stood guard with guns. Traffic lights blinked amber.
Tom Mboya street was a ghost town – a transistor radio played Kameme loudly from an empty shop. River road; dead. Museum Hill overpass, dead. Our National Museum, dead…ironically. If you stood at the roundabout at Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway and looked east, you could see all the way to the hump of hill leading to Nakumatt Mega. Not a car in sight. Not a human. Uhuru Gardens across echoed with the the carcass of democracy and free speech.
Only cops, military officers, stray dogs and cats, and ghosts of a dead nation walked the city. At night bands of hoodlums prowled in alleys, ducking into empty shops to steal shoes. Nairobi as we know it was dead. Nairobi in ruins. A city that had turned into an oxymoron. The Mau Mau and our founding fathers turned in their graves.
Elsewhere, in the outskirts of the city we fled. Luos, Kisiis, Luhyas, fled towards Nyanza. Kikuyus fled walked towards Central. Kalenjins left for the Rift Valley. We only carried things that we really needed; family, clothes, food, water and lots of prayers. While we previously drove cars now we were all on foot, every last one of us and we all gravitated towards what we knew, home, shags, dala, gicagi. We also carried fear and uncertainty. We were weighted by the unknown, by terror.
We left everything we owned in our homes. Our microwaves would never warm any meal again. In Runda the electric fences still hummed with current, fencing off empty homes. Abandoned dogs, pedigrees that cost 250K a paw, barked incessantly from hunger and lonesomeness. Luxury cars lay parked in compounds. We left all our money in our accounts, now useless. M-Pesa had gone down a week ago, right before power went out in most parts of the city. Everybody was mteja. M-banking was a dodo. Fuel a rumour. We all ran away from the stench of death in the city, a city now framed by smoke.
When we passed by dead bodies lying by the roadside, we covered the eyes of our crying and terrified children.You had already paid school fees for your child next term? Oh he/she won’t be needing that. No bells would ring. There would be no snackboxes to pack. There was no single bus leaving the city. No water in taps. The expatriates had all fled, there will be nobody on Sankara’s rooftop bar chugging bottles of Krug Grand Cuvee using their “hardship” allowance. No planes took off in JKIA, our national liner, KQ, sitting on tarmac with no pride left in its belly. Military vehicles swarmed the airport with military guys drinking alcohol from duty free shops. Nobody was going to land into JKIA to go look at the wild animals in the Mara. In fact, the Mara was so deathly silent, that wild animals started coming out of the park to look for humans to stare at. The trains stopped moving. The young brilliant guys who had started excellent hopeful startups had watched them all go south. The Kenya Shilling had become paper, a prophesy of Luo Dollar and Octopizzo’s song “Bank Otuch” coming to pass; pesa surely, is otas!
The radio only played the national anthem, over and over again, a sound that we would associate with desperation.
All this happened because all the tribal shit that we casually played with online had now come to pass. Luos had turned against Kikuyus, Kikuyus had turned against Luos, Kalenjins had turned against Kikuyus, Kikuyus had turned against Kalenjins, Kalenjins had turned against Luos, Kambas had sat on the fence, Merus had fought for Kikuyus, Luhyas had fought for Luos. Then when we had gotten tired of fighting and hacking each other because of our last names. When the city had sunk into desperation and suffering, it had become about class, and the poor had come for the few rich who hadn’t left town; climbing over their walls, raping their wives and daughters, breaking into their safes with machetes on their necks and fleeing into the waiting lawless darkness.
Nairobi’s hope had died. Then there was nothing left.
The only thing that continued working was fear and hopelessness.
Kenya was done.
We made headlines on all the major networks. CNN kicked us while we were down on our knees; a hotbed of a mess. Wazungus shook their heads and muttered, “Kenya? I couldn’t have seen this coming. Africa is indeed cursed.” Talking heads compared us to Rwanda, then Burundi, then Central African Republic. It was open season; comment was free. We had become savages. Donald Trump, now the president, sent peacekeepers down; big burly men in dark shades standing legs apart at roadblocks while tyres burnt cinematically in the background. The French dropped us relief food. Even Somali, broken as she is, stewed in a broth of war, looked over our fences with puzzlement. The UN stayed in meetings, deliberating, looking up the word “genocide” on Urban Dictionary first before they acted.
We had all lost.
All of us.
We were done.
We had become refugees.
We crossed through our borders with our children. Thousands and thousands of us, mostly the middle-class because the wealthy and the ruling class had left as soon as the fire started burning. Now they were in Milan and in Switzerland and in London eating caviar and swirling merlot and cognacs, an eye on a burning country they once professed to love.
We crossed the borders clutching our children’s trembling hands. Children we named Liam and Tamms and Amani and Zenani and Hawi, a generation of modern post-internet children, free and alive to all the possibilities that escaped us, children who were to save us from tribalism but whom we now had failed terribly.
Tanzanians welcomed us, yes, but would end up treating us like the poor cousins who had come a-visiting. Ugandans opened their borders to us. Museveni, who we constantly mocked on social media, mocked and taunted and made memes of, now said graciously, “Let them in, let those Kenyans in but check their pockets, nobody should come here with hashtags! Not on our soil!” Yoweri had become our father.
And we shuffled into Uganda in our old shoes and battered faces and weary souls and we were given a section, a large tract of land where all these humanitarian bodies perched on us, like vultures on a dying animal. They pitched huge tents for us and we lived like goats in a pen, taking a shit in the bushes, showering from sufurias, queuing for food like slaves. Refugees. Even our shadows were miserable.
We had become a disgrace to ourselves, a spectacle to the region. We had stripped ourselves of all dignity and had become beggars. No hashtag would save us. In fact, our neighbours would create a hashtag;
*#SomeoneSaveThoseKenyans* on our account. Imagine that, a hashtag by Ugandans and Tanzanians and Somalis, these people whom we felt were inferior to us; we mocked that they couldn’t even spell yet they were now saving us. Oh how the tide turns. Kenya, the oasis of peace in the region, was no more. Kenyans On Twitter had become a rubble of collapsed hubris. Regret cuddled with us in our wintry refugee tents.
Used to instant showers, warm beds, and all these things we currently take for granted, now we craved a place to just put our heads to sleep, a peaceful place where nobody could kick in the door and drag us into the darkness because we had the wrong name. In the sprawling refugee camps, grown men silently wept in darkness. It rained in Uganda. Daily.
Chaps from Amnesty International would show up like they always do, and talk to defeated men, place fatherly hands on their shoulders as the clouds above rolled in with more rain. It would rain and rain and rain and we would huddle under the tarpaulin and listen to news from home, aching to go back and do normal things: buy bananas at Zuchini, go to T-mall and do an M-pesa transaction, sit in evening traffic along Uhuru Highway listening to a drive show, have a meeting at Java Yaya over a granola with strawberries and honey, run at Karura, buy a Jambo Jet ticket online, like a picture on Instagram, you know, simple everyday things. But we wouldn’t be going home anytime soon. Nobody knew when. Kagame would meet Uhuru, Yoweri would meet Kagame. Magufuli would meet Raila. Uhuru would meet Raila.
As refugees we would sit all day and all night, sit in miserable clusters, wondering how it had all gone to the shitters, but knowing very well how it had come to this. Our children, now with their tattered clothes, would stare at us with empty looks and only find fear in our eyes. And all this shit started because we thought we were immune to war, we thought we would not be broken by tribe, it was all fun and games hating on Facebook right up until the crows came home to roost.
Now we had tanks in the streets

**Think twice before you Share any article on tribalism: Think Peace, Think Kenya.

By Steve Biko

2016 Highlights: The good, the bad and the uncertain

Style Summit Africa

From major international events such as the Brexit vote (yes Brexit had a major impact on fashion) and Donald Trump’s election, to award ceremonies, fashion shows, the growing use of African fashion in music videos, and the passing of a global fashion icon, the 2016 fashion industry has seen many highs and lows. Care to take a walk down memory lane?

2016

The global fashion industry was thrown into a state of chaos and uncertainty when the U.K. voted in favor of Brexit. Why? To sum it up it’s because the fashion industry is a VERY global and mobile one. The UK relies on interns, manufacturers, contractors, designers etc from all over the EU and other parts of the world. For Africa, this would mean barriers to our exports of footwear, fabrics, apparel etc. For more on the impacts of Brexit on fashion, see this article by elle.com. Similarly, one…

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