I finally can breathe.

I finally can breathe.

2:30PM

I walk towards the matatu parked next to Pumwani Maternity Hospital as I slowly sip my cold bottle of Glacier water that I had bought from an incredibly kind Somali woman who runs a small shop that hosts a few other Somali men that are seated in a group in front of that kiosk. These men, holding up expensive mobile phones, (I feel jealous that they can afford gadgets that are ridiculously worth a plot of land in Ukambani!) have swollen cheeks as though they had the same jawbreakers that popular cartoon characters, Ed, Edd and Eddy used to have! They are talking, actually swallowing their words, in their rich Somali accent, but wait, do Somalis have an accent? I mean, I don’t have anything personal with Somalis though!

I slowly approach the seemingly tired taut and ask him how much the fare is. He shoves at me his right hand’s clenched fist and goes further to say, “brathe, tao ni hamsini kwa sababu ya jam!” (Brother, the fare to town is fifty shillings because of the traffic jam!)

“Fifty shillings! At a time when I’m only supposed to pay twenty shillings? This is absolutely absurd!” I think to myself but choose not to share with anyone my thoughts.

Without a word, I slowly walk towards other bystanders next to that lady who hawks smokies and eggs in a movable white oven ( let’s just call it an oven because seriously I don’t know what to call it, OK?) this young lady with extremely black irregularly drawn lines in the section of her eyes that is supposedly meant to have one’s eyebrows sit, is chopping some onions, juicy tomatoes and some tiny green peppers, she does this meticulously and when a potential customer approaches, she quickly empties the ‘salad’ she has prepared into a lunch box whose lid has been punctured and has a long table spoon sticking out of that hole. Her customer orders for a smokie and she quickly takes the knife that she used earlier on for chopping her salad and heartlessly stabs one smokie that was caught unaware. She now holds the ‘dead’ smokie atop a small black plastic sachet and again, without blinking an eyelid, she skillfully dissects it and asks the arguably hungry sweaty baldheaded man whether he’d like his smokie to have her special salad and when he accepts that incredibly amazing offer, she quickly stuffs the salad on the hitherto dead smokie and dutifully hand this man who now has down his baggage to taste the undeniably sizzling smokie. He takes two intimidatingly enormous bites and the poor smokie is nowhere to be found. He goes ahead to order another one and as usual, our inhumane lady stubs another little brown smokie and now operates it quickly as she receives the greatly folded fifty shilling note and hurriedly stuffs it into her red, tomato-stained apron and gets back to dressing this man’s snack. The man, after spending hypothetically what I’d been told by the taut previously, happily walks away and at that time, a black minibus with red lines of car paint running around it like a hula hoop around a ten year old little girl’s waist, stops by and another dusty, dark skinned young taut slams the minibus’ door and yells:

“Tao mbao! Wale wa haraka! Tao commercial mbao!” He repeatedly yells this mantra as if he’s been bewitched to say it over and over!

I walk in modestly and seeing how dusty the seats are ( apparently I’m in a pair of white khakis) I shove the idea that I’ll dirtify them and I heavily plop myself on to that goddamn dusty seat and within minutes, another passenger, a mature jacketed man sits next to me. I pull out my phone and try to put the remaining Tunukiwa Bundles into good use lest they expire. I open my WhatsApp and countless messages trickles in, the number of chats adds up to 99 and the story section in the middle has this dot (what colour is it by the way?) to show that there are some statuses I have to view. I click on to a few people’s statues and once that loading circle disappears, I see memes, memes on why Uhuru Kenyatta didn’t attend the Presidential debate, some other people’s stories have a hilarious video of a couple that have been asked to kiss each other in a wedding. (You don’t expect me to explain what that crazy man does to that poor bride of his!😂) I click on to my own statues and check out how many views it has gotten, admit it people, we all do this shit! Then without any forewarning, my phone vibrates, I know what that means, [Dear customer…blah…blah…blah…] I saw that coming though!

Now I’ve switched off my data and eagerly waiting to get to school and dandia the incredibly fast WiFi that allows me to at least log on to Instagram and Snapchat, you know what these apps do to our bundles, right? 😑 Then two women in buibuis board this minibus and sit in the seats that are right behind ours. They engage each other in a lively chatter as the taut now shouts out, “mtu mmoja!” When actually there are still four vacant seats! The devil is surely a liar. The two women continue with their chitchat, but now I get interested in knowing what they are talking about. Udaku utaniua! They speak in this arguably terrible coastal accent, and why do all gossipers, (here I’m talking about those women who are seasoned in this art) always try to pull out this accent that is best spoken by our Coasterians?

“Nakwambia huyo mwanamke ana mimba! Lakini mbona yuaficha? Ya Rabbi, kwani atatufichia pia mwana?”

I really don’t know where that conversation is heading to but I listen keenly. Now the taut has come to demand what is due to him. The young chap motions to the man next to me to hand him his fare which he honourably does and sits still as the driver, the typical Nairobi driver speeds the minibus that hitherto sounds like a tool box that is being tossed on the ground countless times! I stretch my hand and give the conductor [this term now leaves a better taste in my mouth!] my two-ten shilling coins which he closely examines 😕 before he goes ahead to the other passengers.

Our two women haven’t stopped talking! Suddenly a Jubilee branded car bearing the photo of Charles Njagua Kanyi [I’m simply talking about Jaguar!] passed by, this car, with speakers attached almost everywhere, was playing: “Huu mwaka lazima niwashangaze!” A major hit by this aspiring candidate vying for the elective position for member of parliament for Starehe. Speaking of surprising us, do you think he’ll find his way to the National Assembly? Give your thoughts in the comments below! 😁

One of the ladies behind me comments:

“Huyu ni Jaguar anacampaign na nyimbo zake yeye mwenyewe! Nakwambia mie namwona akiwa mbunge wetu tarehe nane!”

We’ve reached Ngara and the two women sadly have to alight!

“Twashuka baba,” they tell the taut, “Tumeshukuru sana!” They thank the taut and walk away.

Show’s over? 😖 Not yet! 😂

The taut quickly picks up another lady with spectacles and a bushy weave sitting on her head and the driver supposedly takes on the route that seem not to be in line with what she wanted and she quickly and furiously yells at the driver and conductor:

“Weka! Weka! Weka! Hausikii uweke! “

The driver ultimately hears her out and stops the minibus for her to be wekwad there!

Then enters another man. Now this one is not a passenger, he’s a vibrant marketer of merchandise who is constantly on the move to different markets, simply put, he’s a hawker! No need to sugar-coat it! He is a typical Nairobian hawker who comes to advertise his products.

“Ningependa kuwaambia kuhusu ID holder, hii ID holder inakuwezesha kuweka kitambulisho chako, kadi yako ya NSSF, pia unaweza andika nambari yako pale ili ukiipoteza ID holder yako, unaweza pigiwa kwa nambari yako! Leo nawauzia hii ID holder kwa shillingi hamsini pekee! Kuona ni bure!”

Nobody shows the least interest of wanting to own one of those ID holders and our aspiring businessman’s hope incredibly dissipates. He alights the minibus and we head to town. When we get to Globe roundabout, there’s an impenetrable traffic jam and as every persons’ conscience would dictate, we all alight that minibus and leave the driver and his taut to suit themselves out, apparently, even the taut himself walks away on the driver and lets him sought his shit out alone!

I quickly walk towards Garden Square to catch the 4:00PM bus that arguably most Strathmore student always want to board. We patiently wait for the bus as some people catch up on some light talk as others, (like me) crane their necks just to be alert when the tad blue bus shows up.

Thankfully, in the Strath bus there are no crazy people like the ones I’d met earlier on. I finally breath!

There is pride in rarity. World Vitiligo Day 2017.

There is pride in rarity. World Vitiligo Day 2017.

“John Mark, why do you like posting awkwardly creepy things on your WhatsApp stories? The other day you posted a picture of a girl with freckles, that freaked me out, you also shared another photo of a young boy with Heterochromia iridium, and now you want to show us a lady living with vitiligo? Get your shit right!”

This is what a friend of mine, whose name I won’t mention here said with a tone that wouldn’t be used to announce one’s good grades, especially in Microeconomics, the tone that you wouldn’t use to sweet talk your girlfriend or boyfriend or any other person who you regard as special. 

What was wrong about sharing photos of the undeniably​ beautiful Winnie Harlow? Did I offend anyone with those photos? 

If you find these question invalid, please quit reading!

Well, let’s continue, if you don’t mind. We all have something, be it a character, a habit or a condition that is refreshingly unique about us and it always makes us feel proud about having it, like Winnie, she has vitiligo and guess what, she’s a super model who once featured in Tyra Banks’ show, America’s Next Top Model, she boldly embraces her rarity, she is a representation of the few people that have enough courage to accept what they have and flaunting it.

It is through Winnie Harlow that I learned about vitiligo, how it affects people both psychologically and emotionally. I also learned about the World’s Vitiligo Day that is celebrated today (June 25th) in honour of all those 65-69 million people living with this unpredictable skin condition. This day is also meant to spread awareness and raise funds to assist in the research that will help find a solution to this skin condition.

Did you know that Michael Jackson, also suffered from vitiligo from 1986 until his death which occurred on June 25, 2009?

I’m sure you didn’t know about that, because all we knew about this sensational musical star was his dance moves and his nose, let’s not talk about his nose, shall we? 

As the world marks its 6th celebration​ of World Vitiligo Day, I’m pretty sure that there are some questions that you have concerning this condition. 

These questions and answers are provided courtesy of Skin specialist and cosmetic plastic surgeon, Angelica Kavouni. 

Q:What is vitiligo? Who is affected by it, and why?

A: Vitiligo is a skin disease where pigment cells (melanocytes) don’t function properly, or die. All skin types are susceptible to this condition – there doesn’t seem to be one skin type that is more susceptible than others. The main symptom of vitiligo is depigmentation, which is most prominently found on the face, hands and wrists. It tends to become more obvious on dark skin and patches often start small, before growing in size over time. New patches can also form too.The causes of both remain uncertain but we believe that the patchy loss of skin pigmentation is due to immune attacks on the melanocyte cells. It is thought that some sort of defective gene is most likely the cause. Vitiligo is sometimes also associated with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, when ultimately the melanocyte cells become inflamed and die.

Q: Can anything be done? What can help?

A: Treatment expectations need to be handled carefully as the patient is unlikely to regain full pigmentation of affected areas. If you are a vitiligo sufferer then it’s probably best to consult your GP who will then refer on to a dermatologist. Steroid cream can often be helpful – sometimes combined with ultraviolet light (UVB) therapy. ‘Younger’ lesions (less than three years old) stand a better chance of a speedy response and changes can be seen within a few months whereas older patches can be more resistant. Some patients report that their lesions improve with combination therapy of vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements with exposure UVB light. Personally, I have found the Obagi Medical Skincare range (including their chemical peels) offer a way to blend the patches making skin colour more uniform.

Q: Is there anything else that can be done? What do you recommend?

A:Sufferers can be stigmatised for this condition because it’s seen as ‘different’ and often need psychological support, so it’s important to be open with family and friends, who can help when you need it. Camouflage makeup is very useful and, with the wide range of mineral makeups on the market, coverage can often be easily achieved and maintained – for both men and women.Lighter skinned sufferers should avoid tanning the affected areas as darkening the surrounding areas will make the lesions more noticeable. There is always the option to depigment the whole unaffected skin to make the lesions less noticeable, but this is a dramatic option which brings with it huge life-long sun safety issues.

Happy World Vitiligo Day 2017!

Ripped Manners. 

It is ridiculously amazing how everytime I walk into that shower, or when I am doing some damn laundry or worst of all, when I am doing some stupid dishes, (this is the point where you curse yourself for being that African dish washing machine, that automatically gets controlled by only one yell coming from your mother who is probably resting her feet on that overstaffed ottoman stool in the living room) I get these incredibly brilliant ideas about what to write about.

“Should I write about that smokie pasua I recently had in Mada?”

“Wait a minute, that fashion cop with her long and baggy skirt, can’t she make a perfect blog?”

“What about that old man who sat next to me in that matatu thinking that maybe by being near the driver, he would probably arrive in town before those restless high schoolers at the back, can’t he feature in any of my articles so that he can consider himself a celeb for even a day?”

All these ideas dissipate when I turn off the shower, they magically grow wings when I have hung those countless clothes, they usually vanish when the dishwasher has been been turned off. 

That is the time when I get back to my ripped manners. Where writing is only essential when you are penning down notes from that nondescript lecturer, where reading is only prudent if you have a CAT or a RAT soon, where answering  questions regarding Cashflows earns you the title, ‘accountant of the week’, where your statements balancing is something to be so proud of to the extent of feeling that KPMG should consider your application as their Chief Auditor.

Well, these behaviors form such a significant part of our lives, they make us believe that life has some certain unit in which it is calibrated with. Speaking of calibration, did Lucy Gichuhi, Australian Senator representing the state of South Australia for the Family First Party, follow these standards? What about Sarah Ikumu, the 15-year old aspiring singer from Milton Keynes who is in year 11 and currently studying for her GCSEs, was she bound by those ‘principles of life’ that dictate our living?

Tough questions, Huh? 

I wouldn’t need much inspiration, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in herself, is a powerhouse of motivation. These are the people who miraculously open our eyes and make us believe that life owes us no shit! Yes, I’ve just typed shit in case you are wondering if what you are reading is an error in my typing, No it isn’t! 

Like rugged jeans, we will probably be new at something at some point. We will have to harness some skill in that yoga class we often skive, that course unit that you attended the first lesson only and thought that you should not read too much because people might think you are overreacting, that WordPress blog that has more drafts than published posts, that crush of yours, who after a struggle of sitting next to, you updated your statuses on all your social media accounts, ‘finally, I sat next to him or her…’ Heck! If we do not take up the challenge, we slowly fade, our fabric becomes a better rug than a cloth and ultimately, we become those second-hand ripped jeans or jackets that give crap a run for its money. 

You did not wake up today to be mediocre, over to you darling…

A beautiful spirit that we should adopt.

It’s exactly one month since I last wrote an article and my readers have been asking me:

“Ulienda wapi?” Which loosely translates to, “where did you go to?” In Swahili. 

I always laugh at this question because it’s not only hilarious but also senseless! I have been reading, seriously reading! I have also spent that same number of days knowing college and understanding this coveted ‘campus life’ which many people who have gone before me, arguably praise and exalt. I am a late bloomer.

College is incredibly great, but what I like most about the campus I’m in, is not the food, not the buildings, not even the good people we have around, but the beautiful trees that stand both within and without the school. I just love them irrevocably. Everyday when I draw my curtains in the morning, I look at how gracefully they stand out in the chilly mornings of Lower Kabete and they remind me of the late Professor Wangari Maathai. The most loving mother of the environment we ever had. God rest her soul in peace! 

                                ********

In my bus rides to college and back, I always find a spot near the window, ensure I have the bus fare in coins, lest the taut breaches the contract we had earlier on made when boarding the bus, and once everything is safe,(here I’m talking about my phone and backpack) I’m carried away by the trees besides the road. Besides the beautiful jacaranda trees that stain the road with their purple flowers, the palm trees that are evergreen and the other species of trees that I never learnt about in school, your sight won’t miss the countless works of architecture brought to life by the most skilled masons, architects and doubtlessly highprofile engineers. 

These mansions and villas spell on thing; wealth. They belong to stinking rich people. They belong to those people who flourish in secured homes. They belong to those people who everyday take the back left seat of their cars and get driven by meticulous chauffeurs to work. They belong to people who probably spend their weekends in some golf course, a certain high end hotel that serves food made using foreign recipes and when they are running late after work and their chauffeurs claim that they went to pick their kids from that International school you are probably thinking of, they are quick to call a cab. Not just a cab, mind you, Uber works well for them. They can even pay double the amount so long as their safety is guaranteed.  

Albeit I admire these people’s way of life, my heart has a soft spot for trees. I always think of all those buildings and others that are in their early stages of construction and I think of Prof. Wangari Maathai; Kenya’s Internationally recognized change agent when matters environment are at hand. Did you really read that carefully? Internationally recognized! 

When they wanted to do away with Uhuru Park and have constructions there, more specifically a massive statue of the then head of state; Retired President Daniel arap Moi, she condemned them and they did throw all sorts of nasty names at her but she gannered support from other few people and had a freedom corner there, where they planted trees. She was selfless, a character that is really lacking in us in recent times. She spoke the language of nature. Maathai punctuated all her sentences with the word ‘environment’, she seldom spoke without mentioning how sustaining the environment would do us more good than we could imagine. 

Everytime I use Professor Wangari Maathai Road, I wonder whether I’ll keep her spirit alive in myself. I usually wonder whether I’ll ever drive sense into people’s brains and make them understand that our environment will sustain us if we sustain it.  

I read this quote from the internet recently and it moved me. It read:

“Learn character from trees, values from roots and change from leaves”~ Tasneem Hameed

This is a powerful quote that not only uses the example of a tree figuratively but also speaks about our lives. 

Planting trees is a culture we should cultivate. You get the pun? You do not need to be a professor for you to plant trees. Wangari Maathai said:

Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and we should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.

Now that January is over and it has been ushered in by rains, don’t wait for another time, plant trees. Let her spirit live in us. Let us appreciate her efforts and our country, won’t be how it threatens to be. Our children, the ones we nurture in our rising continent will also appreciate our efforts but would be reminded that they have another great granny who used to love trees and that she advocated for the conservation of the environment. 

Now that we are in the month of love because of its fourteenth day, let us show love to trees and most importantly, our environment.

Enjoy your February and know that, ‘Nimerudi sasa!’ to mean, ‘I’m back!’

A photo of the late Professor Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

You’ll soon join the dots. 

Early this year, I attended an interview that was being held at Parklands sports club. I actually received a call from Githinji Mwaura, one of the volunteers who sat in the United World Colleges (UWC) Kenya, national committee. I had to travel all the way from Eldoret; my current town, to Nairobi; my birthplace. I had feelings of both excitement and uncertainty ulternating ruthlessly in my mind. This was actually the first, real interview I was attending. The other ones, the mediocre ones I had attended at school when I was vying for Deputy president, did not appear to be those that had you worked up, stressed out and utterly exhausted.

I boarded the 10 pm bus. I had never travelled late in the night before, so I had to be watchful, owing to the fact that I had heard that some bizarre things usually happen during these travels. My phone was tightly tucked in my jeans’ pocket while my earphones snaked up my shirt to my ears, and as always, I was listening to Kari Jobe. We had earlier on been warned about cocking our heads out of the windows. I mean, that was so obvious! Why would a self respecting person dare to do that whilst it was cold and very late? I even doubted whether that driver was aware of what he was saying. Well I sat there, my arms folded across my not-so-broad chest and enjoyed the sweet, soft voice of Kari Jobe.

Hours later I was in the heart of the CBD. Lights, vehicles and many people stained the city. When people talk about ‘working around the clock’, I totally understand because that’s exactly what I saw. I quickly plopped into the taxi that was nearby and was on my way to Eastleigh. I arrived minutes later and quickly unpacked every luggage I had so that I could at least catch some sleep and head to the interview hours later, needless to mention that it was already Saturday.

“Wake up!” Screamed my stupid alarm. I could not dare snooze it lest I’d be late for the interview and also the traffic, there is no need to talk about that, right?  I wore a pair of simple pants and a decent shirt. My document wallet (seriously, how many documents does a form four leaver own?) was clutched tightly under my arm. That day I had sworn that I’d carry myself nonchalantly because it would have  done me no good to be tense.

I briskly walked into that boardroom where other intellects had already settled. I mean, any random person would tell that these interviewees were certainly smart courtesy of how they behaved and were dressed. Everyone shot a glance at me as I mad my way past the door. I ignored it and found a vacant seat where I plopped myself onto. I found myself spontaneously talking to the lad besides me, who told me that he was called Collins and that he had finished Form Four from The Maseno School.

“Good morning everyone! We’re about to start but first, I want us to introduce ourselves, that is: Tell us your name, the school your were in or currently are in, and just tell us something interesting about yourself.” Said one of the panelist, whose name I had not gotten right because when she asked us whether we still remembered her name, my colleagues twanged her name, and that really baffled and irritated me. Who did they think they were? I know, a bunch of insensitive intellectuals that had no sense of respect for their naive counterparts.

Most interviewees took less than a minute to introduce themselves, I personally remember stuttering all those details in a matter of seconds. I even wondered if I’d still hold on to that oath I whispered to myself earlier on about carrying myself nonchalantly.

Once the introduction was over, I remember letting out a sigh of relief and ‘thanking God’ under my breath. We continued with the other group interviews which were done outdoors. I had to admit that I’d never played charades before. I found it interesting and educative too. The other activities that succeeded charades had us sitting on the clean marble floor, cross legged, Indian style as we discussed the pros and cons of Devolution, a system of governance that had recently set its roots in every county in Kenya. I was baffled by how articulate my colleagues spoke, they actually inspired me, to say it modestly.

The interviews were finally over. It was Saturday by the way and as if that was not enough, it was Valentine’s. I totally had nothing better to do. Wait, I had my smartphone and free Wi-Fi was available. In retrospect, I had a lot to do that day as I waited for the phone call I had been promised.

A month later, I received that call that I’d really anticipated. The lady’s voice on the other end was calm and casual. I had to muster enough courage and confidence whilst I spoke to her. Well, the news that hit my ears was not good. To put it plainly, I had not been accepted!

I lay in my bed and had these melancholic thoughts erupting in my mind. I had failed. I was nothing but a big failure. In Steve Jobs words, I’d say that,“…that was bitter tasting medicine, but I(the patient) had to take it…” I had to accept the truth and live with it. I later found out that Collins would soon join UWC Singapore and I felt proud of him.

In March, that was some weeks after I had gotten over the whole thing and I remember swearing that I would live life forward and later come to connect the dots backwards. I got Noah’s number from his brother. He was my longtime friend that I had been separated from for half a decade since we moved to Eldoret. We had a lot to talk about but I never told him my aweful story. Then he spontaneously broached the subject about PACE, an acronym that stood for Promoting Access to Community Education. I had no idea what that was and I had to go offline while I ran a quick Google search and found out what it was about. When I came back online, he asked me whether I would be interested in joining the organization, the response I gave was quite obvious. 

“Yes, I’d love to!”

I soon became a PACE fellow in May. After a successful interview that I’d gone through. For once, I believe in my capabilities. I accepted the fact that sometimes it did help to fail. I came to see this blessing in disguise objectively. I sort of felt like this was my intuition and I had to follow it.

I remember meeting new people who’d later turn out to be incredible people. I remember the countless trainings that I attended and even played charades, but this time, with some bit of idea of what the game was all about, I would make up all the signs until people wondered how I knew that. I would tell them that I had learned it from UWC, but I would not dare mention that I failed in that interview because it was not worth living in the past while you could confidently enjoy the present.

A year was enough for me to clearly understand my niche. However, this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t failed. I wouldn’t have found my intuition if I hadn’t stumbled in my pursuit for achievement. I dare you not to fear failure. I mean, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and a little bit taller.

Sooner or later you’ll come to join the dots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see you grin while you look back at some of your mistakes that turned out to make you who you are today. In fact, I’ll be delighted to share in your reflection and perhaps pat you and encourage you to move forward never minding if you’ll make mistakes or not.

P.S. What a great way to end the year. It has been a crazy year! Now I can’t wait to go to school, seriously!

Be kind Nature, as we are being Nutured in Africa. 

For me, it is far much easier to hold a cooking stick than grasp a machete. I can conveniently operate a blender, a cooker, and any other kitchen appliance as opposed to running a mill or a generator. Keep in mind that I have testosterone running through my veins. To say it modestly, I’m 100% male, and an African male at that. But what explains all this? What is the reason behind it? Is it nature or nurture? Yes. If you guessed the latter, I’m glad to tell you that you are correct. 

I have spent close to half of my nineteen years on earth with my mother. That is the reason why I can confidently cook, do the laundry properly, do the dishes with much ease and clean the house (turns out to be my favorite) thoroughly. I do owe it all to her, but a larger percent of credit goes to this seven-letter noun here; nurture

I’m sufficiently made to believe that if I had stayed with my father for the same period I had with mother, then, dishes wouldn’t be in my list of vocabulary, I would hate cleaning the house with immeasurable passion and what about cooking? Heck, I’m a full-blooded African male, remember? Instead, I would delight in repairing stuff, I would dutifully offer myself to repair a punctured wheel soon as I notice one and of course listen carefully to what the mechanics say in the garage as if I were to take an examination on that matter discussed, the following day.

Nature, on the flip side, does play a pivotal role in the moulding of a person. This takes me ten years back when my Standard One teacher asked us what we would like to be in future. Actually, it was “…when we grow up.” I cannot clearly remember what I said, but I guess I did say something like ‘Doctor’, ‘Teacher’ or ‘A soldier’, these were the only popular careers we knew at our age. However, I bet a good amount of money if I had heard any of my classmates say they want to be ‘Politicians’.

Four years ago, when I was in high school actually, the same question that I had been asked a decade ago, was being asked to me once again. This time, with much awareness, I said that I wanted to be a Journalist. Yes. I said that without any shame, I did not feel intimidated that other friends of mine said they wanted to be Nurses, Engineers, Doctors, Pilots, Actuarial scientists, just to mention a few. But still, no one said they wanted to be ‘Politicians’.

You see, in Kenya, most people like to refer to our leaders as politicians. Actually, they confuse ‘leaders’ with ‘politicians’ .You’ll always hear Maina, Nyongesa, Adhiambo, Mueni and Kipchoge argue that, “Hawa wanasiasa wanatunyanyasa!” (These politicians are harassing us!) There is a big difference between leaders and politicians. Here’s the difference, a leader, is anyone who has authority to direct people in a certain way, while a politician is anyone appointed or elected into the government and engages in politics.

“Great leaders are nurtured.”

How many times have you heard that phrase? Countless times, right? To me it’s almost becoming a cliché. Africa, unlike other continents has great leaders. African leaders are utterly unique in their own way. They stay in power until they cannot move a muscle, let alone make sound decisions. Need I say that they rule with an iron fist?

Let us keep in mind that while “Great leaders are nurtured,” Nature also plays a role. Mostly seated at the back, watching carefully and waiting to take centre stage once it is called out. But how were we brought up? Let me help jog your mind, we were always lectured to about the ills of the government, we were always told of how most ‘leaders’ anticipated slots in the government only for them to add layers of fat in their initially skinny beings. Needless to mention how our History teacher emphasized the fact that some of these leaders lived lavishly in  high-end residential areas like Runda, Kileleshwa, Lavington, Karen and the likes only for his or her  people to languish in runaway poverty in that place I cannot mention. 

Ellen Johnson Sireleaf, the Great president of Liberia (if you think of calling me a feminist, there you go, choice is all yours), said that :

Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed. 

There you go, we are not poor, and speaking of management, who leads us? Our good leaders. Nature, our African nature, has taught us to be selfish, egocentric and insensitive about what we do. Therefore, if we will be nutured to be be mindful and responsible citizens (I bet this phrase features in most high schools’ vision statements) and yet nature fails to uphold those virtues in us, then it will all be pointless. 

As Africans, let us be watchful about what we say and do because there is where our children learn and pick up some habits. Let us trust that our nature will make us and our offspring thrive as we nuture them in the best way possible. 

The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. -Ellen Johnson Sireleaf. 

Let us always get nervous when we think of that wonderful Africa we all desire to have. I strongly believe that it is surely possible. 

After graduating, I hope to visit some schools and I’ll ask the kids I meet there what they would want to be when they grow up. I hope to get responses like,”I want to be the next leader of a Kenya, Uganda, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Egypt, Ghana, Swaziland…” You name all those African countries you know. 

With that, I’ll be certain that indeed our nature will be able to nuture people of substance. 

L

October 20th part 2

Mrs. Andrews received a flurry of slaps that left horrible scars on her beautiful face. 

I felt like crying, storming out that living room and head home but it was late and normally, at home, door knocks at such hours often go unanswered. I was utterly confused about what action I was supposed to take. 

I stood there, watching Kevin’s mother crying, her lesso that often  flowed flawlessly exposing only her peeping, well manicured toenails hitherto remained scattered on the cold tiled floor. 

I empathized with her. 

I tried to imagine if she were my mother. Would I still stand there? Would I commit a taboo by confronting my father? 

At that time, Mr. Andrew was breathing faster courtesy of the exhaustion brought by his henious acts. 

Mrs. Andrew went to fetch a duvet and made her way to their leather couch to catch sleep. 

She asked us to go and sleep. We obliged, without any word. 

The following day I rose early, ready to leave that house. I packed up my pajamas and quickly made it to the door before anyone stopped me.

 However, Kevin’s mother was already in the kitchen and had made breakfast. She asked me to have breakfast with them before I left. 

The previous night’s scenes alternated in my mind stressfully. I possibly couldn’t snap out of it! I didn’t want to seem rude and so I obeyed, without a word. 

A couple of seconds later, the previous night’s beast walked into the dining room. He had guilt written clearly on his slopy forehead. He slowly sipped his tea and ate his bacon paying  close attention to table manners (at least he had some manners though!) 

The silence on that table became awkward. I quickly finished all of my plate’s content and thanked the Andrews.

 I left hurriedly lest I get myself in trouble or better still get grounded by my parents for failing to fulfill my promise of being at home before noon. 

Well, along the way, those awful scenes of the night before kept flashing in my mind. 

I was not sure whether to narrate everything to my parents.

First of all, would they believe me? How would  they think of the Andrews? 

I decided to keep my thoughts to myself. 

Nevertheless, I had witnessed domestic violence. I write this article to everyone out there, this is a big issue that affects our society. Women, more often than not, become victims of this abuse. 

This is such an awful behaviour that ought to be condemned in the strongest words possible. 

Speak out! Don’t allow yourself to see someone else  languish in pain while you can do something about it. 

Save a soul. Save the future.