Thursday, December 24, 2009

IT IS CHRISTMAS ALRIGHT BUT

Christmas is here (again!) and we Kenyans will start our urban-rural age old migration. This is probably the reason our wildebeests also have an annual migration from their rural areas (Tanzania) to their urban which happens to be Kenya. It might also be that we learned migration from the wildebeests and I get afraid when people say that when societies live together, they start looking like each other and it will just be a matter of time before we start looking like the majority denizens of the Maasai Mara.

This season always brings me the tender memories of yesteryears because chapatti was reserved for it and Easter which made chapati taste better. This was followed by mandatory new clothes and shoes. My shoes were always a size larger (my mom reasoned that I would grow into them before the following Christmas) the result of which was blistered heels for the better part of the festive season and the first quarter of the New Year. It was the same with the dress or the petticoat and on Christmas day we would be looking for a sisal string to hold either of the longer (the dress or the petticoat) – belts were an Adults Only affair. The only thing that fit during Christmas was underwear. It was the only time we did not see the girl-child trying to catch their loose underwear from slipping to the ankles.

One Christmas that will forever remain etched on my mind was one when my mom, decided that I had left the child stage and was now a young woman. So she went ahead and bought me a young woman’s beige chiffon dress and a black petticoat. For those of you who did not experience those yesteryears, chiffon was a see through material. Unfortunately, I was still a girl in my mind and so we went with my cousins as usual with the mischief of girls and went swimming in the river while we were supposed to be grazing.

There was one notorious cow named Wanjiru and she took this chance to look for minerals in our petticoats. Mine happened to be the one that was reserved for Christmas. So when we were through swimming and we were ready to drive the cows home, none of us had a petticoat because Wanjiru had eaten them. We knew this because we saw a part of my cousin’s pink petticoat disappearing into her (Wanjiru) mouth. Eliza, the faster of us ran into the house and ‘stole’ for us other petticoats and brought them and we pretty much forgot the petticoat story until Christmas day. I did not have a petticoat to wear with my chiffon dress! The only petticoat I had was a blue nylon one which clung onto my body because of static. The other nightmare was that the petticoat was halfway my thin thighs and the dress reached to my ankles. I went to church looking like the Secretary bird in a filigree skirt.

Another phenomenon of this season was the hot comb. If there is one inventor I would shoot purely for sport it was the guy who invented it. The damn thing (forgive my hostility towards it) never allowed two strands of hair between its teeth. Apart from leaving me in tears, it also left my nape and hands blistered by hot Vaseline which splattered in every direction. I was usually held down by my cousins to allow the hot comb find its way through my thick hair.

Today, Christmas is fun except for the urban-rural migration. I don’t like it but my mom won’t hear that I am old enough to spend Christmas in the city. As a matter of fact she believes that there is no Christmas in the city. She is also afraid that if I don’t go home during Christmas, people might talk, if you can imagine. I asked her what they would say and you won’t believe this but she said, “That you are pregnant or you ran off with a guy without a proper wedding” hahaha and she means it. This makes me want to stay in the city so they can talk but it would kill my mother and I just oblige and head home.

We pick our mats at Nyamakima and it is always a disaster. Twice I have arrived very early to catch a mat home and twice I have been given a ticket written No. 77 at the right hand corner meaning that I will be boarding mat No.77. I ask a conductor what No. is loading and twice again it has been No.15. What this arithmetic translates to is that I will be at the stage for 8hrs to board a mat and as if that is not enough, the fair is tripled.

Another nightmare is that we have to shop in Nairobi. This is a direct result of supermarkets branding their paper bags. I heard a telephone conversation (this is the truth) where a lady was talking to I believe her mother that she had shopped in all the major supermarkets. Grandmother then sought to confirm with the grandchildren that they had Nakumatt, Tuskys, Uchumi and Ukwala Supermarkets paper bags because she did not want to be the only one carrying green paper bags to women’s meetings. And apart from whole families traveling together and therefore making life difficult already, we travel in mats that are packed with all sorts of luggage in the name of Christmas shopping. Me, I have learnt to lie. Got to. I save all the branded paper bags in tip-top condition, then shop in Nyahururu and repack the stuff in the branded paper bags.

Having exhausted our finances on this extravagant shopping, we start migrating back to the city and since we are broke, we pack the mats with sacks of potatoes and flour and live chicken with kids talking about their Christmas experience and it is like boarding a train to the abyss. I, like the politicians have started to long for 2012 because I will get a break from this Christmas madness.

Merry Christmas to you all in readerland.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WHEN INSECTS MAKE YOU MENTAL

I have these insects that have erected their nests (or what do you call insect housing?) in my bed. They have decided that they are going to eat it down from below and when I discovered how they have been slowly sawing my bed, I was not just unnerved, I became hysterical!

My mind raced through the options and the first one was to call Hon. Ruto, the Minister for Agriculture. I remembered that it is his Ministry that deals with issues insects. The most scary thing that came to mind was what they would do to the mattress and even worse to me when they start sawing through my bones.

So I called the Ministry and when I asked to talk to Hon. Ruto, and explained what my problem was, the person who answered the call advised me to call the Ministry of Livestock. I forgot the name of the Minister but asked to ask to talk to him anyway but I was told he was only dealing with pastoralists at the time. If I tell you that my heart sank, I will be lying. I was alarmed, worse because the government no longer publishes a poster that the former regime used to publish that had all the names and photographs of Ministers. That meant looking for the 2008 newspaper that had the names of the Ministers of this bloated government only to realize that I had set it on fire in defiance of the grand coalition.

If I had not found a caption where the reporter had been kind enough to include the information that the Vice President S.K. Musyoka is also the Minister for Home Affairs, I would have been sawn through by now by the messengers of destruction that were sawing my bed. I was delighted to nail the right Minister since my problem was more of a home affair than an agricultural or livestock one.

By this time I was nearing breaking point. The phone rang several times and was later answered by a kind hearted lady who listened carefully and advised me to order a new bed from Kamiti Maximum Prisons. What the lady was advising me to do was to buy a higher quality bed for the insects to saw through. If this lady had been at the emergency calls when the Titanic went down, she probably would have asked a fearful voyager;

Lady: What is the colour of your seat?
Voyager: Orange
Lady: Get a green one!

The next person I could think of to help me was the Prime Minister but what was his phone number? And with this Mau Forest issue, I didn't want to bog him down with the petty details of my bed. The last person I could think of calling was my mother. Guess what? She was a great help - for a time. She advised me to douse my bed with paraffin and the insects died in their thousands. The result of it is that I was exiled from my bedroom to the living room for the following two weeks by the paraffin.

Two days after I went back to my bedroom, I noticed some saw dust on the floor. The little monsters were back! At night I didn't sleep because they were drilling the bed. I applied paraffin but they seemed to have carried gas masks and paraffin was not working anymore. What should I do? I have a strategy now which is to just let them eat the bed and I will kill them in one swoop when I fall on them riding on the mattress. Hahaha.











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AN OPEN LETTER TO HON. BETH MUGO

Dear Madam,
I am writing this letter to you because I am distressed by your recent remarks about your Ministry not having enough reagents to test whether what is killing us is cholera or not. The way you said with an obvious nonchalance, was as if you were talking about running out of rocket fuel and not reagents that would ultimately save our lives.

Let me start by pointing out that I have never suffered from cholera and so I would not presume to know an inch of how much my fellow citizens are suffering. But I did come close due to a rotten choice I made this past Jamhuri day. I hate to bog you down with my woes but on that day, my eyes and mouth formed an unholy alliance and later a coalition where they agreed that so long as it looked and tasted great, it was to be wolfed down.

I am not sure whether my stomach was cleaning up or sleeping when all the wolfing was going on, but an assortment of food and drink did end up there and what followed, even though I am afraid is not half of what would happen to a cholera victim, might probably help you to see things more differently and hopefully you will rethink your stand on the cholera epidemic that has hit our country. And because we are both women, I see no need to leave out any details and will be as graphic as I can possibly be.

Immediately my stomach learnt that it was 'overloaded' it started to rumble so loudly so as to exclude me from the other party goers so that it could deal with me properly. It then sent an angry memo to my knees which made them feel like they were made purely from Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. The Synovial fluid (my grandmother used to call it phinnochio juice) evaporated and then my stomach started to threaten to release the hormone and enzyme and other digestive juices treated 'overload' on to the lower parts of my body.

My brain had to work fast to look for a bathroom before the stomach fulfilled its threat. So on jelly like knees, I rushed to a bathroom, only to find women at the mirrors applying and reapplying make-up. The best help they gave me was what-the-hell-were-you-thinking dirty looks and you-deserve-it-glutton remarks. I couldn't stop to give them a piece of my mind coz I had to dash into a stall and so I blacked them out.

Thinking the nightmare had ended, I rose to leave but my stomach screamed 'Stop right there!' I remained holed up in that stall for the rest of the party period. My stomach continued to play this game on me on my way home. I boarded 5 mats because my 'captor' kept threatening me with more diarrhoea and I would stop the driver after paying full fare only for me to feel perfectly fine once the mat left. In retaliation, I have decided to fast until the New Year to teach my stomach a lesson it will not forget soon.

As I said earlier, I am not sure my experience is even half of what our fellow Kenyans who have survived the pandemic have gone through. But believe you me I would not wish this experience on you. I am not sure you understand what I am talking about, but please do get the reagents and doctors and other things that might help relieve the suffering of our people.

As I sign off Madam Minister, may I give you some advice. Next time you are talking about life saving reagents, rehearse before a mirror before dashing off to a press-con. You will at least learn to fake some concern for Kenyans.

Sincerely,

Gasheri.

Monday, December 14, 2009

THE HELL WITH NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

We are in the New Year season and as always we are coming up with all sorts of resolutions. Let me first state my opinion about New Year resolutions – they were invented by very mean sadists who wanted people to be depressed after the Christmas season. Another idea is that they could have been created by Mother Nature for stability. After peak pleasure during Christmas, the other way is down and she made sure that she did not give us a descent but a fall.

So I am sick and tired of New Year resolutions because I have had one for the last 20 Years that I made at midnight on January 1st and broke it at 7 A.M. the following morning, even though I would have broken it earlier if I had not been sleeping.

My take is that since I have turned out just fine even after breaking all 20 New Year resolutions, that they are unnecessary depressants that we do not need. Their only result in my life is that they make what I have always done with ease become difficult because they come wrapped in a gift wrapper that screams better. I think they are blind ogres facing away from us, and we just walk up to them and pat their shoulders declaring ourselves ready meals.

I want to advise us that whatever you have planned to do this year, remove the New Year resolutions tag and you will accomplish it. Those of you that will be trying tough things like quitting smoking and drinking relax. Wait until the newspapers have screamed themselves hoarse about New Year resolutions which will probably be in March, and then sit carefully and read the label on the pack of cigarettes or the label on your beer bottle. The cigarette pack is written in bold letters that ‘Cigarette smoking is harmful to your health’ and I insist that the government demands that they add ‘and only an idiot like me would light it up.’

Then there are those of you who have paid yearly subscriptions to gyms in the pursuit of loss of weight. Good luck! Especially if you are like me still nibbling on the New Year cake in the name of slow but sure. Gym time comes and the only 'sensible' thing you can think of is to drive away in the opposite direction from the gym because your whole body hurts from the last session. New Year resolution rears its ugly head and the next thing you want to do is crush into a tree. You tell yourself that since the New Year resolution is causing you so much pain, it is ok to pass via Marc’s Ice Cream to soothe your sore self.

So this New Year resolution fad is complete horse waste and you will save yourself a lot of trouble if you just join my club which is New Year resolutions no more.

You will also agree with me (and it won’t kill me if you don’t) that we Kenyan’s love our culture of being broke in January so that we can tell each other how broke we are. Can you imagine a January where you have money? I paid my rent before going home for Christmas and you can’t believe my landlord. He confessed to me that it sucked up all his ego because I robbed him the thrill of coming to my door and declaring that the house belongs to him and if I didn’t pay up he would throw me out and find another tenant. So now to keep up the façade, he is coming every day for a cup of tea. I think I prefer the nagging and declarations of being thrown out. Apart from building his ego, it will save me lots of cups of tea whose cost is going to be higher than two months rent by the end of January.

Happy New and Prosperous 2010!

Friday, December 11, 2009

PATRIOTISM THEN AND NOW

The joy of writing about our national holidays is that you can always turn in the same column every year, except of course for the election year where the national holidays are converted into political rallies. So during the non-election year, the president drones on and on about the achievements of 'my government' and then realizes in the election year that his government has achieved zero and he starts to promise us pie in the sky come the following year.

During the Nyayo Era,we kids attended the National Holidays with zest especially if one belonged to the 'exclusive club' of the school choir. To join this club, all one needed was a pair of black Bata leather shoes. We pleaded with our parents for this privilege and if they could afford it, or if they did not subscribe to an imaginary 'rebel' group, one was in. The only problem is that when the shoes were new, they were five sizes larger because they were meant to last the whole upper primary duration. When it was time to exit the 'club', we would pray for fire and brimstone to fall from heaven because the shoes had turned into feet mincers and so the senior members were always chosen to sing the really emotional patriotic parts because tears came easily. Our parents on the other hand were dragged from their houses and work places to the stadium in the same way the government deals with terrorist groups.

The mark of the Nyayo Era holidays is that the entertainment was superb. It didn't matter whether it was in the village where the Sub-Chief represented the president. We sang our hearts out. But then came the presidential speech and people behaved as if the president was hiding a beehive in his mouth and they were afraid of a serious bees attack when the president opened his mouth. So immediately the Vice president took the podium to welcome the president, all the adults would start scampering for the gates and clambering on the walls of the stadium to launch themselves out. The Administration Police would follow in hot pursuit with clubs aiming at the skulls of the fleeing adults probably to ascertain whether they possessed a working brain or in its place was a sac of air. In less than a few seconds calm would return and the president would go on to read a three hour long speech.

Today, the MC is notified on the eve of the holiday and he has to make arrangements for choirs at midnight. Small wonder we end up with the calamity that we call entertainment. Then we are treated to the protocol circus where in the Vice President and the Prime Minister do not know who is senior to the other. I am warning that if this is not corrected very soon, we will have a major limo crash as those two dash to seat on the seat that is deemed to 'be just below' the president's power-wise.

At least the president's speech is bearable, doesn't take forever except that with this president, however keen I am the only thing I hear is 'my government'. This is then followed by a treatise of 'Hakunaaa, hapanaaa, no, no, hiyo haitawezekanaaaa'.

From there we move on to the MPs' take on the presidential speech irrespective of the fact that they have emerged straight from slumberland! Depending on which side of the coalition they are on, we hear such big words as 'right on, divine, novel, splendid' or it was 'empty, a pail of hogwash ,balderdash e.t.c'. Then they all by mutual agreement, hop onto their limos and head to State House to gormandize our tax money. Wish you all an enjoyable Jamhuri day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PAIN AND SUFFERING

I am suing CKJ for causing me, a citizen of a democratic country pain and suffering. And I am looking for the best lawyer in the land - one who has sat in several commissions of inquiry. This at least narrows the number to quite a few but before you raise your hands, this is a serious case with serious money. I need compensation from the clothes line for the humiliation, pain and suffering the company has caused me.

I am the kind of person who appreciates instructions and I read them very carefully before using anything I buy including tea leaves to make a good cup of tea. I always do just in case there is a change in formula or content. I read the instructions on the pair of jeans about how to wash, dry and iron it. You must be wondering what went wrong if I had read the instructions and followed them. What was not in the instructions was the most important because I had bought the pair of jeans to wear it, right? You don't buy a pair of jeans or any other piece of clothing to wash, dry and iron it, do you? Therefore the company should have included the instructions that 'you should make sure you have buttoned and zipped the jeans before leaving the house' and maybe just out of concern for the consumer include the consequences of not zipping and buttoning the jeans, something like 'BECAUSE THE JEANS WILL FALL AND LEAVE YOU EXPOSED!

The long and short of it is that I am suing CKJ for leaving out that important instruction. I was walking in town in this uncertain weather we are now having where you leave the house in jeans and you want to throw the pair in a dustbin by ten in the morning because it is too hot or you wear something light and then go buy a jersey on credit by noon from your stockist, and then you wish you could return it by two in the afternoon because you are steaming.

A tout thought that I needed to be rescued from the weather and started those auntie greetings of theirs and insisted on taking me wherever his 'mat' was heading. I always have the courtesy to wave, meaning no or the usual 'siendi asante' but this particular day I ignored the guy and the tout, who would probably have been polite if I had been in the first place shouted to me in a rather loud voice considering I was close to his matatu "Auntie hinga mubuto."

For those of you who are not familiar with Gothic, this translated means Auntie Zip up your damn trousers! I thought he was just a little bit irritated by my refusal to board his 'mat' and was trying to mock me but when I looked down and saw an unzipped CKJ jeans on me, I wanted to burst into flames or mutate to an unknown life form!

If you think you are a good learned friend, please contact me. I also need an insurer who has a humiliation policy. I will be putting my millions in your basket.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CoE AND HARMONIZED DRAFT CONSTITUTION EXPLAINED

A learned friend was trying to clear up the harmonized draft constitution for me, specifically the contentious issue of power sharing between the President and the Prime Minister. I had looked up my dictionary to try and understand what is the difference between Head of State and Head of government and it turned out that the 'government controls the state'. Another definition indicated that they mean the same thing.

So my friend took the onus of educating me and the way he did it, he made sure that I understood that I am as sharp as a potato chip when it comes to matters of state and government. He used the following illustration;

The new constitution proposes that the people desiring to be President would go out as hunters to hunt for game (votes) and whoever brought home the gazelle or dikdik (majority votes) would become president while the one who brought more hares (MPs) would be the Prime Minister. The President would however give half the gazelle or dikdik to the Prime Minister because he brought more hares to the August house and he would become the Head of government while the President would become the Head of State. The President would be rewarded by being honoured to lead the greyhound brigade and officiate National holidays. The Prime Minister would run our lives including that of the President. I am not sure the above illustration cleared up the harmonized draft constitution. If anything it has only helped to confuse me more.

On the referendum, my learned friend continued with another dramatic illustration . He wanted me to rely solely on my memory of Likoni this time without the ferries. This to me is similar to asking me to imagine my life without me. Likoni without the ferries? At this point I understood why I did not become a lawyer - I am not given to strange imaginations.

Then he asked me to imagine that Japanese Engineers had built a bridge connecting Likoni to Mombasa and I couldn't help asking, "You mean the Japs can pull such a stunt?", obviously interrupting my thought process and I had to go back and start imagining Likoni all over again. This illustration proved to be harder to understand than the hunting one because I had experience hunting all sorts of antelopes when I was growing up on the slopes of the Aberdares. Bored by my lack of imagination, my learned friend asked me whether we would ask to vote for the bridge or not. I thought 'Why not, we could vote on whether the Japs used the right kind of cement.' Then I remembered we had argued earlier about whether it was in order for women to advertise cement on TV and the argument had almost broken our friendship and so I answered 'No' mostly to dissuade him from wearing me out with a third illustration on cement.

The CoE has produced the harmonized draft constitution and I, (who even after two indepth illustrations of the draft constitution still have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what it is all about)I am supposed to vote for or against it. Come on! And without my nose in the air, I have scored slightly above average in an intelligence test. Guess what will happen with the average and below average and those in the continuum to the left.

We shall leave them at the mercies of some politicians who describe the draft constitution as a 'Two Headed Monster With Two Centres of Power'. The same politicians who are now going for(according to Hon. Soita Shitanda)Kshs2000, much less than a bag of potatoes.

I am out of this constitution debate to grab a bite because just as so many of my fellow 'Wanjiku's' have stated, what good is a harmonized draft constitution on an empty stomach?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

U.S. EMBASSY - KENYA GOVERNMENT ROW

When Hon. Wetangula dared to retaliate against the U.S. Embassy's continual issuance of visa cancellation threats, I did not sleep waiting to get ideas for a major motion picture. I thought that the now self-proclaimed 'Mundu khu Mundu' would take such drastic correctional measures against the US Embassy and that we would wake up to the sounds of roaring Concorde engines racing against time coming to evacuate the Embassy and anyone who is remotely American. I wanted to be there to witness the historical occurrence and thereby quit writing this column and become a film producer. As it turned out, the Minister was as usual making empty threats, which he had made us think that this was a serious (un) diplomatic Tsunami coming against the U.S. It turned out to be little cans of hot air and now I have lost the opportunity to become a major motion pictures producer.

I am not one who gives up easily and I am suggesting to our media houses to stop airing this U.S.- Kenya governments tiff as a 'News Item' and produce a sitcom to be aired before or after the Prime Time News and a comic strip for the newspapers.I have written the first two episodes of the sitcom which only seconds 'Cobra Squad' in lack of creativity.

EPISODE I

Ambassador Ranneberger in an undisclosed government office with Hon. Wetangula, Hon. Mutula Kilonzo and the AG Amos Wako.

Ranneberger (handing out papers to the three gentlemen):Your visas to the US have been canceled. This declares that you are unwelcome, uninvited guests to the US.

Hon. Wetangula: I am a 'Mundu khu Mundu'

Hon. Mutula Kilonzo: Please SHUT UP! Please

Amos Wako (with his usual grin): I am retiring. I will head East. (A few seconds later) Wait a minute. I am going to sue the tar out of the U.S. government. You can't tell me where to go or not go.

The End

EPISODE II

(This second episode is informed by the way the U.S. assistant secretary for African Affairs, Johnny Carson has been reading what the media calls the 'Riot Act', pretty much the same way a mouse would dash for a maize cob in a starved cats infested field).

Ambassador Ranneberger and Johnny Carson wearing comical Jerry (from Tom and Jerry) outfits dash out of the Ambassador's residence, read the 'Riot Act' and dash back to the residence.
Outside, Journalists representing the Tom family, wearing comical Tom outfits take pictures and write notes.

The End

I will give tips for the third episode. Replace Johnny Carson with U.S. Ambassador for War crimes Stephen Rapp. This is a new one and probably needs to wear the Scooby Doo outfit. The only difference with Scooby Doo is that he too is afraid of the Kenyan press and dashes out and in of Ranneberger's house and straight to the airport.
Sitcom or no sitcom, this behaviour is unbecoming and the two countries should show more mature diplomacy between them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

ITCH, ITCH, AATCH!

I have developed this itch on my entire body and all I can say is that I am lucky to be sane.The itch began like the one that begins in your throat, then when you try to scratch your throat by use of oxygen, meaning you lock up the air way, because you are now a wise person and do not try to use the handle of a spoon anymore for this type of itch, it moves to the back of your nose and when you put your small finger in your nose, the itch jumps into the ears and the cycle begins all over again.
Frustrated, you look for a knife to slit your throat open so you can scratch it and the itch suddenly disappears.The itch is probably sent by a colleague at work who is eyeing the 'Employee of the year award', and must have it taken away because he thinks he will get the award and it is more thrilling for him to see your fallen face when he receives the award than watch you slit your throat open.

This itch I have developed felt like it had gone full circle and had discovered more ground to cover like the red blood cells and I could literally feel the itch flowing in my blood vessels. At one time it would be on my calves, probably where the red blood cells would stop to 'scratch' by rubbing against one another and within a three-hundredth of a second, it would move onto my scalp.

I decided (against reason) to go and see a real skin doctor when the itch felt like it had settled on the base of my brain- meaning it had the ability to move to the lungs and liver and who knows what an itch on these internal vital organs can lead one to do.

So I went to the doctor and after telling him what was wrong with me (the itch),he started asking me all these questions that were totally unrelated to my affliction - like

1.What have you been eating in the last two weeks?
2.Did you travel?
3.Have you changed your bath soap?

Of the three questions, I was glad for the last one because I was afraid of the doctor accusing me of being dirty and unwashed and this would honestly have devastated me.

I answered all the three questions in the negative which means the only thing the doctor should have said was 'It sure beats the heck out of me why you have the itch' But not a doctor. He went ahead and scribbled something in their trademark illegible handwriting on a pad and gave me two papers. One was for a prescription and one for a consultancy fee. I advise us to be asking for half the consultancy fee because we give the doctors half the information to help them find out what's wrong with us or we demand that they figure out what is wrong with us without our help if they want the whole amount. But with the itch, I wanted quick relief and didn't mind his incredulous charge until the third day, with the itch still there.

I visited the doctor again and he said that the itch was gone but my brain had been reprogrammed by the itch to respond to all stimuli as itch- so that when I felt hungry the brain screamed -itch! When the doctor says such things you think that the only option you have is a brain transplant, which he suggested, but I flatly refused. You are aware that what the doctor suggested meant amputating my brain and replacing it with probably that of a sheep or worse a university's student which means that I cannot relate anymore with my fellow Kenyans without throwing stones at their cars or setting buildings on fire. I went with the option which the doctor called 'knocking me off' for a few hours with piriton. It worked and now I am up and about, a few thousand shillings less, the itch gone and a perfectly working brain, thank God.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WHAT A LOAD OF BALONEY

Twenty years ago, it would have been suicidal to mention some words that have become household names in this generation. For example, it was considered treasonable to insinuate that someone was from a different tribe from yours. Calling out to someone by his tribe was considered very offensive. You would be considered as breaking the spirit of the Nyayo Philosophy when you shouted at your neighbour ‘Wee Mluhyia kuja hapa’ This was enough to book you a ticket to Kamiti Maximum Prison (FB) for a certain fraction of your life.

But this is not so anymore. In this era of coalition government, you can actually place a commercial on the television giving important anecdotes on such details as to where your wise ancestors chose to be born. The commercial goes like this; ‘Sisi wa….. (whatever tribe you come from) should be the ones leading this great nation because our staple food is ….. We declare to the rest of you that we are better than you. Therefore vote for one of us in the next general election’.

Another household word that my computer gets uncomfortable with is (get ready) -CONDOM. I can imagine how many of you who are reading this column at this very minute are having a hard time breathing. Who would have thought that this would be an item for a television commercial? But it is. And the advertisement is aired at the very moment your children are really concentrating on the telly.

Bored by the intrusion of the commercial they ask ‘Dad, Mom what is a condom?’ I suggest that we the audience of such commercials demand that the advertisers provide us with a gadget that refills our mouths with saliva. Or, they could follow up with the explanation of what a condom is.

They could help us by introducing a cartoon series that would teach our pre-school kids the S-word education. I can hear some self-righteous people muttering that it is my responsibility to educate my six year old on sex and bla bla bla. Send me a manual.

How could I forget the constitution? I am made to believe that this is an important piece of paper which our forefathers sailed in ships for years to England to write. It is not only in these days that our political leaders jump at every opportunity to leave the country on as flimsy grounds as ‘official duty’. I don’t understand why it had to be written in England . Or is it that Webuye paper mills was not milling paper then? Or could it be that there was no ink in the country?

Being the politicians that they were (the Lancaster lot), they came back with a piece of paper that politicians love to fight about to this day. I am told that the constitution writers came and hid it somewhere. Only four policemen were appointed to guard the glass-cased piece of paper. The secret of the constitution came into the open when one of the policemen had a quarrel that went like this with his wife:

Wife: I will be going out this weekend. Care to join me?
Policeman: You are not going anywhere!
Wife: I wasn’t asking you for permission, I was informing you.
Policeman: (shouting) Have you become another constitution? Do I have to guard you for 24 hours? And who is it that will pay me for guarding you? That piece of paper feeds us. Will you?

The woman in her anger went telling everyone that that loser of a man whom she married was a ‘paper guard’. These kinds of stories are known to spread very fast. By midday it had reached several politicians. Well known for their always-looking-for-something-to-do-because-there-is-nothing-to-do they hit the road armed with their new knowledge.

So now they have found the paper (constitution) project and have named it Wanjiku. I understand the problem politicians have with the constitution ranges from its color, size and texture. Some think it should be housed in a state of the art mansion; not so much for the love they have for the document but so that they can have their immediate families appointed as CEOs of a state corporation named Constitution Watching Over Inc.

Yesterday they were fighting to change the whole of it. Today they want its minimum deformation. As usual, they have found something to argue about in the name of keeping the government on its toes.

Discussion question for next week, how many toes does the government have?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moveme.com

Moveme.com is a website about a company in the UK that gives information and resources to people who are moving houses, whether buying or renting.

What they do
They have indicated on their website the services which they offer which include;
• Setting up new services online for example utilities like gas and electricity, phones, TV, broadband and water.
• They give clients quotes on removals from different removal companies.
• They give expert advice on moving both online and over the phone.
• They have unique planners and checklists for people who are moving.
• They also compare prices for home services

The Website
The website is very well laid out and a potential client is able to find their way around for the services they need. They have tabs for every service they offer which links to more details concerning that specific service and this helps save clients’ time.
They have also included various awards that they have received and this helps create customer confidence that they give good services. However, they can include comments from their satisfied customers.

Areas for improvement

Since their services are free, they should remove that information on how they earn their money. Most customers don’t query free services on the internet anymore. For example, people don’t know how Google or Yahoo make their money and yet are glad to use their services. The inclusion of the referral fee might cause some clients to deal directly with the movers because a client thinks that they can save money. The statement of helping customers save money by using the website is not convincing.

On ‘Who is moveme.com’ under about us, they launch directly into their mission without saying who they are. They should either tell the client who they are or ask ‘What is our mission’.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WRITE

The reason I write is because I have a number of brain cells missing. This means that I cannot get into any meaningful profession. When I say this, I am being very lenient (which is only human) with myself. I know some of you have been thinking that there is a job group ‘W’ for writers and are actually aspiring to be writers someday.

Writers are jobless people who help media houses to employ hi-tech, snotty employees who are referred to as ‘Editors’. The editors’ work is to press the spell check button on the computer. If there are no red or green wavy lines under the words of a writer, they call it a day and release the article to the press. Note: The editor did not see this.

The only advantage you have as a writer is that you don’t have to go to work at 8AM . You are usually given the time after the alarm goes off (usually 6AM for most Nairobians) to just lie on your bed and start torturing your brain to come up with a story that can fill in the gaps left by advertisers in the following day’s paper. There is coffee allowance too to activate your brain (or so the editors tell us).
Once you get to the office, you are provided with ‘working space’. The advantage of this is that you can play computer games the whole day. We also have free internet. These are the measly benefits you have been killing yourself to please an editor for. I can hear some unconvinced writers-to-be in the background asking the obvious, ‘Why then do you write?’ Here comes the ANSWER.

Writing is the only job in which you can have an excuse for unfinished assignments. There is a big scorpion-like hand-biting thing that visits writers referred to as Writer’s Block. When the editor asks for your assignment, you can tell him that the Writer’s Block struck. The block leaves them with no option but to send you on a day’s off.

Not so with other professions. Getting a day off can be reaaallllly difficult which means you have to wrack your brain hard (needs the extra brain cells that I don’t have) to come up with an acceptable excuse. This being the Kenya it has become, with two or more people eyeing your job, you do not tell those tired lies of catching the flu or killing a relative of yours every now and then. Today’s employers make sure that you have perspired their every shilling’s worth.
In the good old days, which our parents don’t tire of telling us, the D.O. walked through ridges and mountains cajoling people to go to work. Today, the D.O. is paid for sitting on a swivel chair and is promoted on the basis of how many rotations he makes for a certain period of time, and demands that people stay at home and not bother him with their joblessness.

The employees that the D.O. would round up were treated like kings. For a day off, you just called your boss and the following conversation ensued;

You: Hello.
Boss: Hello, what can I do for you? (Very polite and caring)
You: I have a headache
Boss: Take a day off. Take as long as you need to recover.

Today,

You: Hello, Sec, it’s me
Secretary directs you to this new creation of our times called the HR
You: Hello this is (your name) I am calling to request for a day off……
HR: You are fired!

Some are coping though. I have a friend who had to see a girlfriend whom he wanted to impress by passing his uncle’s office as his. The uncle would be away from the office on a certain afternoon and my friend had to be at the office since that is where he had directed the girl. His boss however, would not hear of a day’s off.
He (my friend)came up with this story of a running stomach. He walked up to his boss and before he could finish a sentence, he dashed off to the loo. He did this several times until the boss got suspicious at the frequency of his dashing out. Hoping to beat my friend in his own little lying game, he followed him to the loo. His face (boss’s) was almost breaking into a smile when he heard this sound coming from the loo. My friend has saved a ringtone in his phone that resembles the sound of his implied affliction. He got the afternoon off.

I am through with my writing assignment for the week. Isn’t that great? I mean, just burbling on the page and getting paid for it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Swine Flu Symptoms

I was going to write about Kenyatta day but I caught the flu and all my thoughts are now all flu related. I am not sure what particular strain of the flu I have- it could be the human flu or swine flu or bird flu or one that has yet to get into the baptismal pool, for example cat flu or fish flu.
With these flu-related thoughts, I remembered how a few months ago the whole world came to a complete standstill about swine flu. I got to know about it in a mat from a guy who told us that swine flu literally turned people into pigs. He also said that it had been lab manufactured by the Mexicans to export it to Kenya because our son Obama, had been elected president of the US before one of their own even though there are more Mexicans living in the US than are Kenyans worldwide. They, also according to the guy, were more likely to be a territory of the US than we are considering that they are America's neighbours while we would have to wait for the next evolution to be a territory of the US.
I went straight home to verify that 'News' tidbit and was glad I had not opened my mouth to another soul to retell the guy's story because it is the kind of story which when you repeat it, you confirm that folly has managed to wiggle its way into the 21st Century.
Our government acted swiftly then and before we knew it there were guys wearing masks, who looked more like they were harvesting honey at the airport than ensuring that the swine flu virus did not come into this country. The viruses must have laughed themselves sick, rolling on the floor right past the masked guys which explains why, months after the entire modern world has forgotten about swine flu, we are still battling it in our schools with the camera doting Minister for Public Health, Hon. Beth Mugo swearing every time the flu is spotted that 'the government is in full control of the situation'.
Other thoughts you have when you have this particular strain of flu that I have include a deep desire to applaud the government. Normally, we Kenyans love to criticize and blame the government for every woe under the Sun even if we bring it upon ourselves. We don't go looking for the government to pat it on it's back. But with the flu, I wanted to get out of bed and go look for the government and hug it for rationing water because I didn't want to take a shower and for rationing electricity because with this flu the lights are now blinding.
Fortunately, a good friend took me to the doctor and after some pills and several naps, I am back to being real Kenyan.
The first thoughts that struck me were about the several thousand cows (read tonnes of beef) the government buried after starving them. As you are well aware, the government, using our taxes, purchased cows from pastoralists, apparently to cushion them (the pastoralists) from drought and I agree (flu-free) that that was a brilliant move. Now, you would have thought that at the Ministry of Livestock or at KMC, there are trained fellows who would have known that with starving animals, you either send them straight to the gallows and can them and export them ASAP or you throw them a straw party to fatten them. But no. They drove them straight to the EA Portland Cement Company. Now, even you, who your Biology teacher would rather be kidnapped by Somali Pirates than admit you were his/her student because you left an indelible stain of shame in the school score sheet know that cows, starving or not, do not eat limestone or cement. But not the guys we have entrusted with the care of livestock in this country.
To my utter shock and surprise, when the cows started dying, the government acting traumatized through it's spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua, who by now should have realized that he tends to know too little about nothing, and should just the hell shut up, went ahead and came up with what he considered 'another brilliant idea' which was to buy healthier cows! So that they could starve them for longer? I don't know but I sure do know that the pills are kicking in and I am on my way to recovery. Fortunately, it will be way beyond Kenyatta Day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

AS A WOMAN THINKETH, SO IS SHE

‘Thou shall not confuse a rained on lion with a cat.’ This was the sound advice the Prime Minister gave some of his colleagues in the former government who thought that he was in the political woods. Today, true to his word he is back in the limelight. I am thinking of ditching the horoscope pages once I get a direct line to him.
Lion’s stories always captivated me when I was a child. I would ask grandma to repeat them over and over. I liked the lions’ fearless side and just how they overcame all their enemies specifically by eating them.
Sometimes I fantasized about being a lion. These thoughts usually came upon me when I was involved in what my mom referred to as ‘monkey business’- which means that I came home looking like I had used sand to bathe. The result was that the business always earned me a proper spanking.
It was during such moments that I wished I had a button that I could press somewhere on my body that would convert me into a lion – not to scare my mom, but to gouge on her. I shudder at the thought of this wish having been granted.
The other person who roused these wishes was my primary school English teacher. She seemed not to have heard the popular saying about ‘English having come by ship and the fish never learning it’. She demanded that we write and speak proper English. She made us write compositions over and over until she was satisfied that the composition was not a cross breed of our mother tongue and English. These repetitive compositions almost always roused my man-eating desires.
There is one incident that I will never forget as long as I live. We were taught the names of the young of things, for example the young of a dog is a puppy. The following morning, we revised the previous day’s lesson and unfortunately the question of the young of a lion landed on me. I had the word. But such words have the tendency to disappear when you need them most. Hard as I tried I couldn’t remember the word cub. So I feigned great thought and as confidently as I could, answered ‘baby lion’. It was as if I had stabbed the teacher with a knife right through her heart. She gave a long speech on why we should speak English and not think in our mother tongue. She later gave me a punishment of writing the word cub 100 times while kneeling down. Your guess is as right as mine. This is one word I will be whispering on my death bed.
She is the same one who introduced the ‘monto’ in our school. I am not sure but probably it was meant to be a ‘monitor’. It was a dirty piece of wood that was inscribed on all its six faces ‘MONTO’ with a ballpoint pen. It also had a dirty string by which it hang from the neck. It was given by the prefect to the first person who spoke ‘mother tongue’ in the morning, and passed on successively. The culprits were rounded up in the evening and given severe beatings. Most of us became dumb in school.
We were given the monto irrespective of whether we had quoted a word. Then, we didn’t know how to quote vernacular words with the index fingers in the air.
Sheng developed around the same time and though it was vehemently opposed by language teachers in school, it became an equalizing tool because those who spoke it were looked upon as ‘high class’ while those who spoke proper language scored the marks in class. I think it was developed by Frequent Monto Handlers.

I thought I had killed and buried those man eating thoughts in a part of my brain that bears the epitaph ‘Childhood Escapism’. The problem is that things buried in the mind resurrect at the slightest provocation.
These thoughts are now directed towards my editor. My editor is a good person and non-threatening. She is the opposite of my former perceived ‘prey’. You can imagine my confusion when I first thought of eating her. This got me real scared and I went to see a Psychologist. She called my condition a Same Sex Seniors’ Predatory Instincts Syndrome which she said is common in lions. She says it can only be cured by my spending more time with the editor. I want to trust her treatment but if you don’t see this column next week, guess what, the worst will have happened.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Revisiting Moi Day

When I was growing up, I had a few relationship problems with Moi day and every holiday that was made to remind me that I am Kenyan. Not that I hate being Kenyan, no. I am 'Proud to be Kenyan'. But in Primary school, preparing for Moi day two months ahead was a real pain. We had to practice all these patriotic songs such as Tawala Kenya and another that went Eh Moi Eh.... for more than two months every year for the 5 years that I was in upper primary.
At first the whole exercise was fun since it meant that you had outgrown lower primary until I reached Std 6 and there arose some more important things to worry about like puberty, a bulging chest, That Time of the Month and GHC.
For those of you who need a background of the Nyayo Era, the president used to dish out 5 acre lands as if they were the complimentary mints you are given by big hotels when you attend workshops. This was especially if you could sing his praise like a parrot.
So the teacher who was in charge of Music in our school would recruit us into the music club by force if she had to. She was not going to miss the 5 acre gravy train because we refused to sing. The most amazing thing about it all is that she thought I could actually sing. So I was recruited into the music club. I don't know why but we had to don white ribbons on our heads when we sang and so we had to maintain a minimum length of hair that could hold the hundreds of pins used to hold the ribbon.
When I got bored with all that Tawala Kenya thing, I thought that the only escape route I had was to cut my hair. You would have thought I had murdered one of my fellow pupils! The teacher used Sellotape to hold the ribbon on my head. After Moi day, when she finally removed the Sellotape plus ribbon from my head, it came off with my hair and left me with a 'hairless cross' on my scalp.The next time I was sure if I pulled off something as stupid as cutting my hair she would literally staple the ribbons on my scalp.
I did finally (thank God) graduate into Secondary school where I avoided the music Club like the plague. I now realize what a wrong move that was because today I would be a celebrity.
In college, we hated patriotism. I can't remember why but it the in-thing. So on National holidays we would borrow all the books from the library and spend the day locked up with books in our rooms. It didn't matter what we read but we did. I remember there is a time I borrowed a book titled 'The farm implements of Kyrgyzstan'. Those are the kinds of books you find in most college libraries which are usually donations from other international colleges.
Today, I enjoy Moi day because it gives me an opportunity to stay at home and rip-off my employer coz he has to pay me for not working. It is the only way to get back at ya boss and I hope we can continue to slug on with the Constitution review so that we can keep Moi day.
Good luck this Moi day and help someone.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CELEBRITY HOGWASH.

Lately the media has bonked us with images of some noisemaking hobos whose noise the media is promoting as music. I know that many Kenyan youths adore these guys and are even carrying their underwear to have them autographed by these feel-gooders. I have nothing against the so called celebrities except that my dictionary has a different definition for the word.
And so every time I buy a newspaper, and God forbid a magazine, I have all these little smiley faces on the photographs. Celebrity delivers bouncing baby, celebrity’s mobile phone stolen, celebrity visits restaurant and this is news. That we can call a radio presenter a celebrity should drive celebrities (including the radio presenters themselves to massive protests).
I know some of you are getting pissed off at this point because I am touching some raw nerves here. Hey, get ready for this; who cares? Just so you understand, I would like to give a definition of a celebrity. A celebrity is a person who has risen through the eyes of the public to such levels that they no longer talk about the person. They only talk about their goldfish and cats. Talking about them and their incredible achievements is like tilling a 10 hectare land with a fork. The only stuff their spokesmen give you are such important details in the lives of the celebrities’ pets such as appointments with vet doctors, pet doves getting depressed or even their little furry puppies attending ballet classes.
Reading our celebrity columns I would say is pure humour. Achievement – Released a single (What?) Which turns out to be a sentence repeated like a jillion times. The videos make you wish that Fadhili Williams (God bless his soul) would just rise from his grave with a slasher and literally chop off the celebrities’ heads and go back to RIP.
Then you are bombarded with comical talent shows where comical judges involve comical youths and walaah! You have all these comical awards with comical winners who also shoot a notch higher on the celebrity ladder solely by acclamation by homework-avoiding school kids.
We the non-celebrity masses are to blame for this celebrity situation. I had a very embarrassing encounter with one of these nutter fans one afternoon when having lunch (read chips) with my editor. Just after placing my order (thank God), this young lady came upto me and called me by one of those celebrity names. (I later discovered that I am a celebrity look alike) hahaha. The young lady, after giving me a new name, went ahead to request for an autograph. Before I could even explain that she was mistaken, she had bared her b*ms, and exposed this snow white inner garment.
When you find yourself in such a situation, your mind has to act very fast to get out of a very embarrassing situation. I grabbed my fork and autographed her by pushing it as far as it could go. I later shot out of the restaurant and as they say, the rest is history. To this day my editor believes he went out for lunch with the celebrity I look like. He can’t believe that I am capable of forking someone on the hindquarters. In the meantime, I understand that my celebrity look-alike is in hiding since the police are hot on her heels for injuring a fan. My editor too. I wish her good luck.
What I really think is completely bonkers about this celebrity thing is that they (the celebrities) are the ones always giving celebrity awards to themselves. So they advertise in the newspapers that they will be meeting in a certain place for a show and they start by singing their singles, while the organizers, who happen to be FM radio presenters award the singles’ awards. Then come the FM radio presenters’ awards and the singles producers present them with awards. This goes on through out the year with more awards being presented and more celebrities being made.
I should mention that the singles celebrities later evolve into FM radio presenters. Reliable sources say that FM presenters go on to jamming university corridors as MBAs. Can’t get university admission? – Produce a single; evolve into an FM radio presenter and hooray you end up as an MBA and later on to a Corporate CEO. God help the Kenyan corporate world!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A ROOMMATE I LOVE TO HATE

I HAVE THIS LITTLE WHITE FURRY KITTEN named Jerry that likes to think that we belong to the same species but different generations. I guess it is because she thinks that fur falls off with age. Sometimes I am also tempted to think the same except that in the
kidney of my memory is an eternally etched Darwin ’s theory. The theory suggests that the closest furred relatives I could have are the little thieving monkeys at the gate of Lake Nakuru National Park whose males’ leisure time is spent painting a certain part of their
anatomy blue. (Please do yourself a favour this weekend and visit our distant cousins in the name of domestic tourism. Be sure to close your car windows because these cousins cannot keep their little dirty fingers off your stuff).

From the way she looks at me, I know she wouldn’t like to go beyond a certain age where she might start to resemble me. I have come to this conclusion because every minute she is awake; she spends it grooming her fur. She starts with her paws, which she later uses on her face and then the rest of her body. Very special attention is given to the tail and whiskers.

Recently, I thought of helping her groom herself even better by being able to see the results of her grooming, especially the face. I did so by buying her a mirror and placing it on her favourite sofa. I wanted to surprise her, so I placed the mirror on the sofa when she was sleeping.

When she woke up and saw the other kitten on the mirror, she started attacking by clawing at the image with the result of her claws hurting. The thing that drives her completely berserk is that when she peers behind the mirror, she sees nothing and goes back to clawing the mirror. I have decided to leave the mirror in its position until she understands reflection. This could teach her that though we’ve been flocking together, we are not of the same feather.

Even though she is taking too long to understand reflection, she is still my best companion. First, she doesn’t interrupt me when I am watching my favourite soap opera and second, she doesn’t ask questions. But she recently earned me a permanent enemy in a certain lady friend of mine. I had invited my friend with her boyfriend for dinner. (I invite different people to convince my self that I still got some culinary art in my system). It hadn’t been my intention to invite both of them but my friend is the kind who, when you are her boyfriend, you separate only when you are going to work.

They arrived on time and we were having a swell time with a delicious meal when Jerry, feeling left out, thought it was time for some mischief. Being acquainted with my friend, she climbed onto the sofa and wanting to surprise her, (if that is what they call it in cat language) she jumped onto her head. Before she could even hold it, Jerry was sliding with her wig down her back and bang on to the sofa. As if that was not enough, she playfully dragged her ‘catch’ under the seats. As most of you have guessed by now, my friend was not wearing a wig over relaxed hair. She dashed out of the house leaving behind an amused boyfriend. I understand she has moved house and changed her cell phone number!

I am still wondering what to do with Jerry. She doesn’t seem to understand that she should at least retrieve the wig from under the seats. Since there are a few days to the weekend, the wig can be gathering dust. In the meantime, I am looking for a person who can tell Jerry (who happens to be acting as though nothing happened) in a language that she understands that I am aggrieved by her actions. Anyone there?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GOLDEN HEROINE

I have tried to ignore the on-going raging Semenya debate for a time now, but since it is not going away, I might as well throw in my siasa ya pesa nane (two cents worth) opinion. I have a three-pronged approach to the issue- a medico-layperson prong, a Kenyan prong and a female prong.
I'll start with a story I read in a magazine that today's doctors have so advanced that they are now able to carry out whole human body transplants. Caution:We should be very careful about this one because they will start zapping people off the streets and presenting them to their relatives as the new human transplants!
The story continued with the interview of one doctor who had carried out a human head transplant and, (the author noted) that the patient did actually live for 8 hrs with a new head or body - I am not sure who had died; the owner of the head or the body. Apart form my initial amusement and going back to the front cover of the magazine to ascertain that it was not an April fool's day joke, I think the article made hilarious reading.
I am not sure I would personally have a head transplant because that would mean that another person's brain would be operating my body (probably a sumo wrestler's) and then 'I' would think that I can wrestle guys and before I know it I would be in a real sumo wrestling ring, beaten into a tomato paste look alike. Fortunately, it wouldn't even happen because the longest a person with a head transplant lived 8hrs, according to the magazine.
The reason I am bickering about this advanced technology is not so much the transplants but that the people (doctors) who claim that they can carry out these amazing medical stunts cant tell what sex Sem is. Back in the good old days, determining the sex of a person was an eye job. There were no blood tests, no urine tests, no medical jargon, nothing. So I advise doctors to go back to the traditional way to determine Sem's sex.
The other prong is the Kenyan prong. Here we are, Kenyans, having lost the women's 800m gold controversially, and unlike the SAs who, led by their president, have come out strongly to defend their golden heroine, we left our 'Eldoret Express's' fate to medical doctors. I believe the gold belonged to us because even the little celebration dance Sem performed looked like Usain Bolt's, only with Sem's head transplanted on his body.
The last and most controversial prong is the women's one where I have only one question. How come no one raises the gender issue when men are lapped 8 to 10 times by Kenenisa Bekele? How come no one hunts them down for blood and urine tests to test whether they are male or female? These guys are allowed to slug-on on the track, even if they have to do the 10,000m until the following day.



So lets leave Sem to enjoy her new career and status because as we have observed, when it comes to gold, we can't trust nobody. I cant even trust myself!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A THOUSAND WORDS

The current water situation has deteriorated so much that it has caused some of us to be brain damaged. I am talking about the last time we were queueing for water the whole night and, there we were, several women who have respectable careers as we prattled on through the night and I am even ashamed to write about what we were talking about. Yes, ashamed! We were talking about two housegirls who had left their employers, who were now fetching water with us.
You would have thought that we would have the presence of mind to talk about say, the 'unlawful' re-appointment of Justice Ringera or the 'Shut up' bluff by Hon. Mutula Kilonzo or the Mau forest which was the reason we were out in the cold in the first place. But No. We were seated on jerrycans all night long talking about some two girls who had decided that they were not going to carry another jerrycan of water up the damn stairs again!

So woman No. 1 said: I heard them planning to leave. It was all planned on the balcony.

Employers (in unison and totally surprised at this revealing tidbit of information they had just recieved): And you didn't tell us?

Woman No. 2: Infact, they used to host some eerie looking men in your houses, while your children picked and ate whatever food particles they found on the verandahs.

Employers: Haki and you didn't tell us?

Woman No. 1 We have a 'mind your own business' policy in this plot.

One of us would leave with her filled jerrycan to empty it into her Ndakaini and come back with another tidbit of information that her mind had just unearthed from her memory. This new piece of information would spark off the memory of another woman and another round of prattle centered on the two girls now turned fiends, would start all over again and that is how we managed to sit all night long with each one of us carrying an approximate 500 litres of water up several flights of stairs.

We also have this neighbour who it helps to mention that he belongs to the Akorino sect who came to fetch the precious commodity. But even he has suffered some brain damage from the current water situation because (get ready) he came out to fetch his water in his turban, red T-shirt and checked boxer shorts. And I am not talking about the Akorino who wear funny yellow, purple or red gowns with stuffed headgears. I am talking about the suit wearing crowd, the ones who even if you pass them in the streets you don't notice them because they easily blend with the metallic electricity posts.

But you couldn't ignore my neighbour and therefore my enterpreneural mind clicked into gear, remembering the old adage that a 'picture is worth a thousand words'. I was thinking of reaching for my mobile phone and take a photograph of the poor guy and sell it to international media. Donors, on seeing the picture of the hapless guy would come with money in sacks to help us dig boreholes in every available open space! My mind then was working like a computer because I even thought of having a career change and heading straight to the mountains of Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden and take his photograph as he emerges from his tent or cave or hole or whatever other structure he calls home. Wouldn't it be fascinating, (not to mention that I would be the richest woman in the continent) to take a snap of of Osama in his characteristic turban and boxer shorts? I am getting ahead of myself but can you believe all this plan to get very wealthy was going on as my neighbour kept asking for his jerrycan because they all look alike and I happened to be the one at the controls of the tap?

So the government needs to do something about the current water situation so that we can go back to talking about the politics of telling off nosy ambassadors!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

AM I HAPPY?

The way I ended up writing about elephants and wildlife in general was out of a computer error (which in wildlife is referred to as random sampling). I wanted to be a computer scientist. Everyone wanted to be a computer scientist in our days. In those days, computers had just been introduced in the country and they elicited a lot of feeling. We were told that they (computers) could do everything. That people would be without jobs because the computers would do all the work and only those who studied computer would have jobs.

We were also told that they made everything easy and that by the turn of the millennium they would be pulling shocking stunts like telling you only what you wanted to hear (because you told them what to say in the first place) and driving the kids to school. I fell for this lie easily because I like everything made easy. I actually have a library of the ‘made easy’ series that was popular in our days.

Unfortunately this computer science craze coincided with the introduction of the 8-4-4 system. In this system, the educationists in our country decided that we could do all things (just like the computer). So they would meet in these hotels and ask each other, ‘What do we need to add to the curriculum?’ and they would say building and construction and homemaking and pottery and business studies and art and craft and we ended up doing so many subjects. We were used as the system’s test tube babies. I remember they made us build a traditional mud hut!

So with the computer error, I landed in a wildlife class. We were not given time to brood over where we had landed. We were loaded into the college bus and headed for Naivasha.

On this first field trip, we were asked to count wild animals on some private land owners. No sooner had we arrived at the farms than we were loaded into these KWS lorries and given some counters. We were supposed to press the counter every time we saw wildlife. The result was 37 buffalos. I felt like a class 2 kid in a game of numbers.

When the lecturers came, they asked us what the result was and they had these papers with tables and graphs. They wanted us to fill the number of animals in the sheets. They had listed all these animals that were very weird for a person who had hoped to be a computer geek - dik diks, antelopes, gazelles, tortoises (how do you sport a tortoise from a lorry that is cruising at speeds of 100km/h. To us, wildlife was the Big 5. Period. We did not spot them.

The following morning we were loaded again into the lorries and spent the day scurrying after squirrels, hares and lizards!

We ended up with a ridiculous award ceremony where the land owners were awarded for hosting the wildlife. The animals were the original owners of the land and now people were being awarded for hosting them? I knew I had landed into a jungle whose laws I did not understand.

The end of it all is that I spent the next 4 years cruising Kenyan roads. We spent 5% of the time in class, 10% in the National parks and the other 85% on the road and private ranches carrying out unproductive wildlife censuses.

Then at graduation, in the graduands booklet, I was listed under the computer science class with a First class honors degree. Except that there is no proof to this day, I think I had an alter ego.

I went out of my way to correct the error and the computer science certificate was shredded in the company of two witnesses.

I made a fake one later which I have framed and will use to intimidate my kids with showing them how sharp I am with the aim of pushing them as far away from computer science as possible. I still have the graduands booklet as proof! This is my hypothesis; Human children are not like elephant calves who do everything mama does.

Seems like the computer has not noticed that we are in a new millennium where it was supposed to replace the human race. With last year’s K.C.S.E results, I am thankful I ended up with wildlife. At least I don’t have to live with the fear that there will be no elephants in the country, unless of course we continue taking up their habitat and awarding ourselves for showing them great kindness.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clinton's visit to Kenya

The coming of Hillary Clinton left me with mixed feelings. First we were told that she came for a meeting which annually introduces the acronym AGOA, which is almost always followed by EPZ and then they disappear until the following year.
Experts claim that they are about trade but even Hillary had to talk about TJRC because, if you are talking about trade, surely there's gotta be a T somewhere. From the way she spoke of a wide range of topics, I honestly think she had come for the wildebeest migration. But you know Americans are strict with their taxes, so she couldn't have possibly hopped on a plane and announced like our MPs announce, 'Hi, I am going for the annual gnu migration in the Maasai Mara in Kenya on ya taxes!'
I could be getting ahead of myself but it might be that that was not Hillary. Rumour has it that for every congress person in the US there are 200 look alikes - most of whom are drawn from the marines. So it is very likely that our enterprising councillor who swore his undying love for Chelsea could have been professing his love to a Hillary Clinton look alike US marine hahaha! My reasoning is that it was just too easy for 'Hillary' to accept an offer for her daughter's hand in marriage to a complete wedding-ringed stranger, you know. I guess the real Hillary would have had him dealt with as swiftly as the Iraqi journalist who had the audacity to throw his shoes at former President Bush. Any mother would have.
As for the councillor, my only prayer was that there was no electricity in his house because the only thing that could save him that night from his wife was the KPLC Stima Loan application forms!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mat Mad

MAT MAD!

Are we sliding back to the matatu madness days? If you have answered this question, I suggest that you go back to pre-school and do research on rhetorical questions and write an essay on them. Then keep it for future reference. Of course we have slid back to the matatu madness days.

When Hon John Michuki fished us out of the matatu madness sludge, we suddenly developed this urge to go to and from work. We became a working nation. But not anymore, courtesy of one Ali Mwakwere, who treats the public transport docket as if Michuki carried it in his shirt pocket to the Ministry of Internal Security. As well he should have. Mwakwere brought in the diplomacy docket to the Ministry of Transport.

Atleast Dr. Murungaru brought in some notable changes like for example breaking the yellow line. With Mwakwere, there is absolutely no change.

The City Council also seems to have signed a MoU with the route 44 operators, where they fenced the stage so that all passengers along Thika Road are herded into underground tunnels. At first, we Thika road passengers had been duped to believe that these were ordinary safety measures. But it has turned out that the tunnels are traps to trap us into matatus. This is how they work.

A person emerges from the tunnel and finds a route 44 mat parked at its mouth, so that the only way to go is into the mat. Some local tourists just touring the city find themselves in this situation and so try to fit themselves into some small spaces that the matatu leaves on both sides of the tunnel. The touts are always on the lookout for them and they grab them and hurl them into the mats where they find terrified passengers cramped in the mat. Regular passengers on other Thika road routes have learnt to use the windows as exits to their respective matatus. The lost tourists are hurled right out once the mat reaches its capacity. I don’t know whether they find their way out of that man-made hell.

Leaving the bus stage is another tedious bureaucratic experience that we would appreciate to do away with. Vehicles are parked in front, behind and besides each other which results in reversing, hooting, banging into other vehicles as touts shout insults at each other for upward of an hour before we can leave.

As all this is going on, the driver plays very loud music and added to all the noise outside, one’s head is usually inches from exploding. The music causes the fillings in your teeth to vibrate and your ears to stop. One will once in a while try to lift up their head to see how everyone is coping and your eyes rest on a graffiti with this sound advice ‘If it is too loud, you are too old enda shags ukalime’ (another City Council connection).

There are those of you who still think that fastening your seatbelt in a mat is a safety precaution. Don’t do it on route 44! Those who do are driven straight to Mathare Mental Hospital , where you are kept under observation for the whole night.

Another thing you don’t do is ask for change. Do not give anything less than fifty bob and if you give any amount above it, kiss it goodbye. The typical response for those who think that Kondas are employed to do their math is that they are grabbed by the collar and dangled out of the vehicle for five minutes. By this time the vehicle is cruising at speeds that need only two passengers seated at the windows to stretch out their hands on both sides of the vehicle for it to convert into an air bus and fly. The driver also makes sure that the vehicle is balanced on its left side wheels because he has to drive on the road reserve bordering deep trenches because he has no time to waste on the infamous Thika road.

The Konda then brings in the passenger and drawls, ‘Do you still need your change?’ No one has been courageous enough to find out what other steps would be taken if your answer was yes.

Since we don’t see any help coming from the Ministry of Transport any time soon, the Ministries of Tourism and Sports can work together and promote route 44 as a tourist attraction. The Londoners would especially love the thrill away from their mechanical train and bus hours.

SOUND PARTY SAVING RECOMMENDATIONS

SOUND PARTY SAVING RECOMMENDATIONS

IT IS OFFICIAL. THE PARTY OF NATIONAL UNITY (PNU) HAS MUTATED INTO A PERFORATED NEW UNIT and, with lots of exaggerated preamble. The worst part about it is that some of the members are acting the way gazelles pretend to be startled by cheetahs when filming documentaries in the Mara.

All along the gazelles are aware that there are cheetahs and lions and wild dogs and other gazelle-eating animals in the tall grass and then when one appears they take off as if their eaters don’t try to eat them every five minutes.

Or their ancestors the wildebeests (actually they are grandparents of the gazelles), which go to drink water in places where they have a terrific view of crocodiles – nostrils, ears and the whipping tail, and then go right ahead and drink from a few meters. I think that the crocodiles are just usually going about their business like basking and are not usually waiting to eat the wildebeests. They probably just react to the lack of common sense displayed by the wildebeests, prompting them to grab one by the nose sending the others clambering for the walls of the Mara River and falling right back, compelling the crocs to just eat them. And they have done this since the Big Bang. At least that is what some scientists who were in the Big Bang have told us.

Now some PNU members have borrowed this leaf and are behaving as if they have not been part of the president’s cheerleading squad and campaign strategy, which is to hound politicians into a little known party around October of the election year. He then forms a cabinet that ensures that the country remains in election-campaigns mode for the next five years.

The recent bickering, we have been informed is about inheriting his job. Rumour has it that he (the president) has his eyes set on one Uhuru Kenyatta. Now, this is a guy who, even if I am not a politician I find too lucky. Apart from being the first president’s son, the second and third president’s have doted on him as if he is the only one whose blood has tested I AM PROUD TO BE KENYAN+VE.

This bickering has become pretty much like the Biblical Tower of Babel where the whole world came to a sort of a town meeting and agreed to build a tower that would take them to heaven. Now, if they had been as technologically advanced as we are, they would have known that their tower would have deposited them on Venus where they would have found scores of women and then be scorched by the sun to death. Unfortunately they didn’t and they ended up wasting their time and energy and God decided to help them by giving them foreign languages.

So a guy, who probably was 200 miles off the earth, working hard at the tower, probably asked his trusted assistant for more nails and the assistant in his new language heard milk, and ran off to bring milk.

In those days milk was not packed in sachets. It was packed in silverware or earthenware. So the guy brought the milk and his boss was so pissed off that he threw the silverware or earthenware carrying the milk into his assistant’s face forming a small crater on his face and sent him rolling down the tower. Of course this angered the rest of the workers who started arguing in foreign languages and at the same time wondering what was wrong with everybody else and the work on the tower halted.

What this uncalled for tidbit of information seeks to accomplish is to get PNU out of the gridlock that they have put themselves in. First, they need a preacher who is committed to the good book and one who will download to them all the wisdom he/she downloads from the book. That preacher, and as I am objective as I can be, would be me.

Apart from the expertise I have displayed above, I have experience and other qualifications – many of my colleagues would bet their malnourished wallets that I am a member of PNU. Their basis is the name I was given by my parents way before it had entered into the hearts of PNU members to form their party.

There is one who is too obnoxious for me to believe that we belong to the same species. In his belief that I am PNU damu, he brought me most of the party’s campaign paraphernalia which coincidentally proved to be quite functional for me. I am talking about caps and T-shirts and pens and others whose purpose I am yet to figure out.

I would like to state in print that I am party-less. This is because I am incapable of selling political parties in the usual manner that our politicians do. I am incapable of telling the voters that I and our presidential candidate are committed to forming a government that will provide three meals per day per family, free education and roads and then deliver wind pies for five years.

Instead, I channel my energies and a part of my measly earnings to the betterment of the youth, specifically in music. I sponsored one of them to produce an album and this is what he produced;

Kamanzi kananipatia ganji

Dum dum dum

Ati kameni – fall- ia

Tererere tererere X 2000

You can imagine my jolly pride at the launch and my telling everyone that I had sponsored the artist to produce the number. I have however observed that since the launch and every time the song plays on FM stations my colleagues give me dirty looks. I am starting to think that they are either jealous or that they know something that I don’t, considering that the song is in a foreign language.

I am therefore offering to be PNU’s official preacher and will not mind if they bring along some of the top athletes in the country.

Be Fashionable at own Peril

BE FASHIONABLE AT OWN PERIL

RECENTLY I HAVE BEEN HIT BY THE FASHIONISTA BUG. I found myself suddenly having the urge to read fashion columns and before I knew it I had started to believe some of the stuff they write.

The one that really caught my eye was an interview with a local model who said and I quote, “It is a shame for any woman not to have a pair of 4" stilettos”.

This came as a big surprise to me because all my life, I have assumed that stilettos were another name for leggings (or trouser stockings) and 4" was kind of bizarre to me. So I looked up the word in the dictionary and my first inclination was to take rat poison.

I have used my ‘meaning’ for stilettos with people I would have liked to impress and all this time making a fool of myself. I have also used the word on my friends and nobody corrected me. Either I have overly diplomatic friends or they know nothing about fashion or they don’t have dictionaries. My saving grace probably has been that they too are worn on the legs.

So I went ahead and bought myself a pair of yellow stilettos and kept it for the organization’s end of year party.

As many stiletto owners will tell you, lifts do not appreciate stilettos and so they break down as soon as they get you to your destination – mostly on double digit floors, ensuring that finding your way down is not effortless in the ‘must haves’.

The lift broke down on me during the party and I needed a sixth sense to get to ground floor with my toes in ten pieces or else they would be puréed when I got down.

My mind worked fast that day, which it rarely does. I feigned a sprain on my leg and Kimwaki (translates into bonfire), a colleague of mine helped me down the stairs 18 floors on his back holding my pair of yellow stilettos in his hands. I had forgotten the sprain by the time we got to ground floor and he found out that I had duped him. He is still mad at me.

He has attempted his revenge on me twice on the streets by trying to set me on fire with a cigarette in the name of a hug. Fortunately the city council has banned cigarette smoking in public places and he is yet to figure out another way of teaching me a lesson.

Our IT geek Wuod Nam (son of the lake) has promised to bail me out. He has warned Kimwaki that if he does not give up his obsession of setting me on fire, he is going to reconstruct one of his pictures from a fully dressed executive to one in boxer shorts and sell it as a front page photograph to major newspapers. He has already removed his blazer and shirt on the computer. I suggested that he punches holes into the boxer shorts.

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