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

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Support Their Dreams. 

I casually scroll down my Facebook feed and I see this post by my all-time favorite writer, Jackson Biko, though he likes this other,more native name: Bikozulu. 

This post is basically about the naughty Devil that often sticks out his nasty hand to grab innocent, ambitious, lovely young ladies, mostly from marginalized communities, their self-esteem, their big dreams and their whole life in general. This outrageous demon that I’m talking about, has its definition simplified in an aweful three letter acronym (which I strongly believe that it should be written in small letters): FGM. 

Well, to those who find this word sort of new, it shamelessly stands for Female Genital Mutilation.

I understood the meaning and all that happens in those cracked, smoky small huts (those rooms are regarded sacred by those practising the act though) better when I first read, No, I actually travelled with H. R. Ole Kulet  in his book; Blossoms Of The Savannah. By the way, I recommend this book to anyone who loves meeting young and of course beautiful girls and get to share in their amazing stories of splendor and bravery. Ole Kulet,who to me seems more like a feminist though he is male, ceases not to amaze me by how he makes sure that by the time you flip over the last page, you feel like putting aside that book, get on your feet and shout your lungs out, saying:

Will you support me in stopping this vice that has its shameless cloud dangling above us! “

At that time you get this extraordinary will power of making people aware of the harmful effects that these young ladies are exposed to once they get the ‘cut’.

Besides that, we have not mentioned anything about the state of hygiene that pervades that ‘surgical room’ where girls’ dreams are shuttered. The ‘surgeon’ herself, (they are mostly old ladies) does not clearly remember when she last washed her filthy hands. She cares less about sterilizing that blade as she goes on to the second and third girl. 

What about the health risk behind FGM? 

“FGM can and it does kill! ” Read a post on Guardian Australia.

It simply has no health benefit to the one subjected to it. 

Well, when all that is said, I know very well that you are probably thinking:

What can I do then?”

You already have the answer. You can support all those organizations that seek to stop this act which in recent times, ultimately qualify as an odius activity.

By ‘supporting‘, it doesn’t necessarily mean denting your wallet, No, you can as well speak against this torturous act. But first, do not just read this article and move on to other activities, which I presume are equally important, share it widely in support of these ambitious, young girls with big dreams. 

Simply support Their Dreams.

Picture courtesy of sad girl silhouette.

My Moment of Shame. 

My Moment of Shame. 

I comfortably sit on this minibus, note the sarcasm. It has free Wi-Fi though, that is why I am able to write this article easily. The strong perfumes worn by our brothers and sisters in their unique, respected hijabs and kanzus insults my naive nostrils. Anyway, what can I do about it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I sit in silence but I awkwardly get these psychic feelings. Please note, I apparently do not posses any psychic abilities. I just get some sort of sensations which are indescribable.  I get a feeling that something terribly bad will happen. I wholly trust my guts. 

I wonder if this feeling is courtesy of the book that I have been reading lately. Ghost Files by Apryl Baker. I know what you are thinking right now, that I am a geek! I know right! 

I choose to keep my thoughts to myself while the minibus navigates our congested roads. 

As I approach Starehe School and Centre, which is a few metres away from my home, something totally bizarre happens in the matatu I am in. There, at the back, two seats behind me, a fair young lady with sandy blond hair (which I strongly believe it’s not her natural hair) struggles. 

I steal a glance at her and what catches my eyes are tears, real tears, making wet tracks down her face. What is happening there? Or maybe this is the feeling I earlier on had, it must be, because the atmosphere here is not anything that can impresses anyone. 

The helpless lady is surrounded by four men. Are you thinking what I am thinking? That cannot possibly happen in a public service vehicle. It must not happen in any case! The few metres I had talked about earlier on now seems like a thousand miles! 

The same men are now trying to access her soft flesh underneath. This is absurd! I’m I having a Deja Vu? I believe not. Mind you I am supposed to alight that matatu.

What must I do? Should I scream or cry? Wait a minute, I cannot possibly cry, I am a tough lad and crying appears not to be in my genetic makeup. 

Unfortunately, I alight that matatu and it drives away quickly. I feel frustrated as I walk towards our estate. I should have done something at least! I curse myself for being so stupid and insensitive. What if it were my sister, mother (God forbid!) or my girlfriend?

As I walk up the stairway, I swear that nobody will know what I encountered today. It is shameful to narrate to someone what actually happened only for them to toss this other question to you; 

“What did they do then, to rescue her? ”

That is the moment you feel that shame mount on you with its  full force, not bothering whether it makes you uncomfortable or not because you fairly deserve it!I call that moment, the moment of shame. 

Courtesy of Nairobi Matatu culture.

Being a Nerd 

Being a Nerd 

You briskly walk to Parklands Baptist Church on a Saturday morning, it’s chilly but you psych yourself up that it will be a great day after all, to have another riveting, insightful and enjoyable session with the ever enthusiastic PACE coordinators who you often find at the entrance, with a smile and delighted to usher you in and dutifully direct you to the room where the training would take place. 

After a minute of tracing your name on that check in sheet of paper that sometimes lacks some people’s names, you now find a suitable spot where you will be for the rest of the day, I mean until you hear Doris announce the final remaks she has before calling out for the team leaders to pick the contents of the brown envelopes that hitherto lie on that table at the back of the room. 

Because you are a geek, and you willingly left your glasses at home because it doesn’t seem to match with your awkward outfit, you sit at the front row. To absorb every information firsthand. To recognize what cologne Jacob is wearing so that you check it out in the stores. To be picked by Madam Peggy for the various activities that call for volunteers. 

About half an hour later, you get a break and possibly an icebreaker is anticipating your return for the next session, which according to your schedule, it’ll be taken through by Mrs. Ochola. 

After the exciting energizer, which always leaves people with radiant smiles on their faces, you now lend her your ears. She casually begins by asking us how our previous week had been, what level we’ve reached in regards to our various projects and to just turn to the people next to us and utter a word, phrase or sentence that will form the basis of the discussion for that day. She neatly writes the heading of what she’ll talk about, on the white sheets of paper that I’d hang on the blackboard earlier on. 

Madam Peggy is articulate, it’s a fact though, she always seems to punctuate every sentence with the word ‘lovely ‘ after you’ve provided a response to any of the questions that she randomly asks in her speech. She displays slides and expects us to make short notes as she continues. Her choice of words always amazes me because as a propeller head, I always get to learn how a word, that I’d recently read in a book, is used in spoken language. She picks a variety of words that are frequently used in the SAT reading tests, which to many people sound like she has turned the training into a rocket science lecture. 

After she has wrapped up her talk, she kindly asks Doris, Gathua, Fiona and Charity whether they have anything to add before she adjourns the meeting. Meanwhile, Fiona passes over feedback sheets which I dutifully fill, while I think of the way I’ll structure my sentences in order to make sense, I steal a glance and notice that Fiona Nyaanga has already finished hers and she hands it back while Noah Kyalo whose beside me, struggles to also finish his too. I quickly give a rating of five out of five and scribble the reason for that rating and walk out of that room to go and have my burger at the outdoor cafeteria within PBC. 

As I walk towards the queue, on my left, are a bunch of girls taking selfies, I find no reason to bomb that photo because maybe that’s a snapchat story, an instagram post, who knows? 

On the benches I notice Regina Gachomba, adjusting her glasses and possibly asking Noah about the latest SAT books in stock. She’s terribly nervous about getting those books so that she can prepare properly! 

Laurence Bugasu’s nose is buried under his white smartphone and doesn’t seem to bother about anything, let alone anyone. 

Clem borrows my phone and it is obvious that she sees these ‘awkward’ apps that I have. I have Ted Talks, Khan Academy, WordPress and even a dictionary. To her, it is absurd. I do not have Snapchat, the last time I logged in to Instagram, was a month ago, my Facebook has not been updated, the music on my phone is not worth playing in public, because honestly, who can dance to Kari Jobe’s song? I honestly can’t! 

I scroll across the books that I have on my e-book reader app, oh I forgot to mention this app, I also have it! As I dig my jaws on that small burger (why didn’t Charity give me two pieces?) and once I’m done, I bid everyone, No, Tracy is the one who makes sure that she has said bye to everyone. 

I leave PBC wondering if I’ll still be a dork for the rest of my life.

(All the characters are real people who I once worked with at PACE) 

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. 

October 20th Part 1

On that day, I was invited by my good neighbour for a sleepover. Mr Andrew’s son is one of those few people I have remaining, that I can call a friend. 

We devoured on the delicious meal that was meticulously served by Kevin’s mother. At that time, his father had not checked in yet. I could actually sense the sensation of concern that pervaded that dining room that had pictures of this beautiful family hanging in African-themed frames. 

“Thanks for the meal Mrs Andrew! It was sumptuous! ”

“There’s no problem John, you know that you’re always welcomed to this family. You’re like one of us. ”

“I’ll wait for Kevin’s father, let Kevin lead you to his room. And good night! ”

I quickly replied back and walked upstairs with this good ally of mine. 

Scarcely had two hours elapsed when we heard the final roars of an engine that was almost getting stopped.It was Mr. Andrew. I quickly woke Kevin who was fast asleep and snoring in a way that surely pissed me off  to inform him that his father had arrived. 

“OK, it is fine! I’ll meet him tomorrow!”He said in mid-sleep .

That was a rare gesture! I thought. Why can’t he even go to say hi to his father? Who knows, maybe he might have brought him something that will evoke in him some positive interest if not enthusiasm? 

I rolled back the fragrance-laden duvets and tried to catch sleep. 

Suddenly, my heart was somewhat filled with trepidation. I knew something was not right! (I usually trust my guts. Trust me!) 

I heard an air-piercing yell from downstairs. It sounded like Mrs. Andrews. 

“Kelvin! Come here! ”

Was I having a Deja Vu at night? This was ridiculous! 

Kevin was alarmed and stormed out of bed to behold whatever that was transpiring downstairs. 

I was caught between two stools. Should I go or let them sought themselves out? 

I could actually not arrive at a decision. 

The screaming became persistent even after I assumed that Kevin was already there. 

I was worried! Why did I come for this stupid sleepover? I sobbed. 

“John! ” Yelled a voice familiar to Kevin’s. 

Even as I write this article, I still remember the awful scenes that I saw. 

Mr. Andrew, a man I had respected, thought of as a role model, was drunk, his pants were loosely hanging mid-thigh, and he was strangling his wife! 

This was insane! Mrs. Andrews however, held the phone that I occasionally saw her husband with. On closer examination, I realized that it was her husband’s smartphone. I was shocked if not flabbergasted! 

What demon was in this man whose teeth were set on edge? 

I paused. 

…to be continued 

Of Kenyan Comedy and their hidden meaning. 

It is evident that I have recently started to get used to our local TV programs that are aired on an almost daily basis.

They are utterly exhilarating! They are honestly good if you can give them your precious time. 

Moreover, we often do not think beyond our noses as far as these programs are concerned. We will just laugh, think about what Njoroge said and totally forget what happened once you’ve pressed that remote control to catch up with your favorite reality show, the news or your all-time soap (the females are sufficiently represented)! 

Well, do you know why ‘Awiti‘ uses that deep Luopean accent? *

Kalekye‘ often speaks like her neighbour back in Ukambani. 

While ‘Njambi‘ communicates like her authentic grandmother back in Nyeri. 
But why do they do this while they can actually speak normally if not express themselves eloquently? 

Here is the reason. They have first of all accepted the fact that they are proudly African and most importantly, Kenyan. 

They fake (actually do it intentionally) in order to represent that indeginous person upcountry so that they get represent in such a celebrated show. In other words, they want to promote National unity in a way that is hilarious. Which is actually BRILLIANT! 

So, the next time you sit to catch this rib-cracking KENYAN program, think critically and remember that these people mean good for our country. 

*corrupted word for how Luo people of Kenya pronounce their words, especially English words.