The Matatu Terminus.

There are two types of people you will find at Githurai 45 matatu terminus; those with crisp suits and awesome shoes and those without. However, do not judge either of them. Those without suits might be owning a matatu fleet for Ngumo line sacco but choose to live in the cheap outskirts of the city. Those with suits may just be counter boys at Nairobi chemists or ill-paid bankers. Again do not judge by gender. The women who wrap their heads with old scarves have probably educated two sons and a daughter with profits from their lingerie business at Gikomba market. The slay queens, well, might just be university girls like me with dented pockets and seriously not bothered by life-we are here to impress.

The goal is one, we are here to get to the city center where the money is ‘minted’, where the world-class university is situated, where the politicians hang out. We are on our way to search for a better life. You’ll see some of us looking frustrated. Actually, all of us are frustrated, we just have different elasticity points when it comes to venting out frustrations. Today, it is muddy at the terminus and there is a slight shower pouring over us, caring less about those of us who are too poor to afford umbrellas. However, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. It’s especially a profitable day for the matatu touts who have hiked the fare to a hundred shillings. A hundred shillings just to get to the city! I will tell you what you can do with a hundred shillings, you can buy tomatoes, sukuma wiki, onions, half a kg of maize flour and a quarter liter of salad oil. Yes! You can have a meal from a hundred shillings, the money they want us to spend on bus fare.

Staged at the terminal’s entrance are shoeshine boys. They call you from miles away, “Sister, ng’ara na ashuu” (Sister get your shoes clean for just ten shillings). Sometimes they will catcall you and when you refuse to respond to their calls they will insult you. But you do nothing and say nothing because we sort of live in a society that draws a thin line between a compliment and an insult. The most impressive thing about Githurai, nonetheless, is the warmth of the people around you, so as you stand waiting for the touts to lower the fare prices, you will most likely make a friend. The best of those are old men-they know how to hit off conversations. Before you know it an hour is gone and you have had an entire debate on politics, the education system and of course, why don’t millennials have any respect for the older generation.

Let me get you back to the frustrations. You can see a few people making calls. Do not be fooled that they like giving morning pleasantries to their forlorn loved ones. They are trying to apologize to their bosses for being late to work. They are trying to ask their classmates to put a signature against their name on the class register. They are trying to get their clients to stick around for a little longer, “Boss, niko hapa Muthaiga, nakuja- itisha chai ntalipa” (Boss, I am at Muthaiga, I am almost there, order for a cup of tea. I will pay.) As if not enough, the matatus at Githurai play loud music. It’s hard to tell if this is a marketing gimmick or a mockery to their soon-to-be passengers (to remind them, they are not the cool guys).

However, when you are about to give up and get back home, one old matatu will appear and the tout will shout, “Tao 60 bob! Tao 60 bob!” And now, I have to run for this lifetime deal!

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WET FRY FISH FILLET

 

Hello everyone
I’m sorry I’ve been gone for two weeks .Took a short break .Taking breaks is healthy .White meat is also healthy 😛
For a long while (most part of my life actually) I have not cooked white meat and blame that on my mother (hi mom:))
So I found out that around Ruiru where I stay ,they sell fish fillet from as low as 100bob ,and I decided to try make fish fillet .
I’ll teach you how I made this ,it’s super easy ,super awesome, very satisfying and the whole process is fun 😊

Ingredients
1. Fish fillet
2.One lemon
3.Two tomatoes
4.An onion
5.Chilli
6.Garlic
7.Cooking oil
8.Salt to taste
9.Wheat flour

Procedure
1.Cut the fillet into slices the thickness of your finger (if you have tiny fingers like mine try something slightly thicker than your finger )
2.Spread them on pallet .
-Grate your garlic (or use mashed or garlic powder ) then sprinkle on both sides of your fillet slices .
-Squeeze your lemon and spread the juice on both sides of your fillet pieces .
Add chilli if you like and a little salt
3.Marinate (or chill )for about 15-30 minutes .
4.Coat each fillet piece with wheat flour .
5.Shallow fry until golden brown then set aside .
6.Place some oil on a pan ,then add chopped onions and garlic and cook till brown ,then add your tomatoes (I prefer to grate my tomatoes so that they’re pasty )
7.Cook for five minutes and then add some of the lemon juice and salt and then add your fillets
8.Cook for ten minutes (keep stirring so they don’t burn ).
9.Serve hot !

I had this meal with ugali and I tried having sukuma on the side and it just didn’t work😂
Bon apetit!

Nkatha Muthoni

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Letter to Jenks.(Hacks to Campus Life)

 

Dear Jenks,

I know I do not say it as often as I should- but I am proud of you. I am proud of the little and great journeys that you have taken. Do you remember when I did that motivational talk at Lily Academy when you were in class seven? You came to me crying, scared of what life held, yet you made it. You made it to attend one of the best schools in this country and you have now made it to another stage of life.

I know you asked me to guide you on how to deal with the next journey in University. I am afraid that it was too big an ask, but I scribbled a few hacks that could help. I know these hacks herein seem too hard to follow but that is why they are hacks not rules. They are just guidelines and tips that should help along the way. They are not exclusive. You do not even have to follow them if you feel that they are too many or too strict.

But do discover your own hacks and rules. There is no perfect way to live this life.Here you go:

  1. Eat at Fritaz and Sanford(and eat chapo smokie at Klabu)

Nevertheless, save enough for Fogo Gaucho*

Campus may make you feel that you need to keep it classy. You don’t. Buy fries from the cheapest joints in town-they serve more than KFC. Take your supper from Klabu* (I will be happy to take you round the joint.) If possible, shut your ears from the noise that the food at the student’s cafeteria is horrible-it is honestly very much edible. Remember, HELB is a loan that you will have to pay back, so use it well if you decide to take it.

However, save up and try good eat-outs in town; they will blow your mind away.

Diet if you want to-if you feel that your body needs it but Milano’s* still has the best ice cream in town.

  1. Love truly and deeply

Fall in love truly. Do not rush love because you are finally in campus and you can do what you want. Only date when it feels right and if it is right. When you say, “I love you”, look deep in his eyes and mean it. Let the love you find flourish. You will not find perfect love-it does not exist. But the other night, my friend told me, you will have to learn to take each other with all your flaws.  However, be wary, know when too much is too much. Know how far is too far. In so many words, I am saying you need to know when to walk away (or run) and leave.

Break up with him if he does not make you happy. When you break up, unfollow him on Face book if it makes you sleep and keep the no-contact rule if you need to. Scratch that;Keep the no contact rule until you heal.

Oh and before I forget, Public Display of Affection is an offense in Kenya, at least in Nairobi. However, if you need to display it, please walk around with 2000 bob in your M-Pesa.

  1. The most important sex organ is your brain.

Lotsa boys seemingly always translate to lotsa sex for most people. I think you know by now that most of the hostels and washrooms in campus come pre-installed with condoms. This is largely to say that schools are aware that the campus population is sexually active. I will not nanny you on the right or wrong thing to do about virginity or having sex. It is entirely a personal decision. Refrain from thinking of it as a moral or religious rule that you need to adhere to (Prof. Gakuru taught us this semester, that this world is neither moral nor religious-it is real). I have heard arguments that border on this, “you need to know if he is the right fit”. Refrain from such thinking. Make the rules for yourself and choose yourself first-not your boyfriend.

Learn how to get rid of campus bullies; they are the easiest to lick.  They are characteristically always huge, they are campus goons-you will know them when you see them. They force you to hug them, grind on them in parties and date them. They are not many, but they exist.

  1. Question your assumptions

Question who you are as a person, question what you stand for. Question whatever your parents and teachers have taught you over the years. Question whether feminism is valid. Question the country politics and public policy measures that you hear on the news. Question what famous people say.  Question the impact of religion and doctrine. Lucky enough, you will be exposed to learning theories in some of the units in campus. Analyze and critic them beyond the classroom. Whenever, you are asking questions in class or having conversations, argue from a point of facts, not emotions or feelings…or quotes.

  1. Read

Read everything. I recently found a 1923 Kenyan Report by the British colonialists in the library. It made me aware of how easy it was to colonize us. They documented our behaviors, our attitudes, our culture and even created the stereotypes for us. They colonized us because they had the knowledge about us. So read to liberate yourself. Your friends will taunt you for reading too much. They will tell you, ‘degree ni harambee’ but do it because when all is said and done, we all die alone.

The truth is that you might even not find the time to even read-create it.

Subscribe to blogs that speak to you. Read magazines to pamper yourself and read journals to enlighten you. Read the constitution; and do not only read the Bible because you are Christian-read the Quran. Get a favorite sitting spot at the library and read books by Malcolm Gladwell-they will make you rethink life. Read books by feminists: – Gabrielle Union, Chimamanda Ngozi, Sherly Sandberg and Elizabeth Gilbert-they will make you understand why feminists stay true to their course. Read Grisham’s novels, Ngugi wa Thiong’o books and read comics.-Just read.

  1. It is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.

I will give you a free pass on this one. The easiest thing to do in campus is to cheat during exams. There are many tactics as you will learn and most of them are amusing. But remember the easiest person to be is yourself. Attend classes, read for your exams and do them diligently. Set targets for yourself and stretch yourself to beat them. Then reward yourself. Pass exams for yourself not for your parents. I will beg you, if I have to, that you do not cheat.  The other flimsy argument that I have heard concerning cheating in exams is, “we will all have to go through graduate training when we get employed after all.” This country does not need such crappy argument. Learning concepts without copying them will teach you how to retain content, how to reason, how to solve problems in new angles. So fail those exams if you have to but do not cheat.

“To thine own self be true and then it must follow as the night is as the day, that thou can’t be false to any man.” William Shakespeare.

  1. Learn and create.

Forget BOMA but remember you are a bomerian. Remembering you were in The Kenya High School will give you the false assumption that you are learned-you are not. Keep the values they taught you but relearn everything afresh. Learn and fail. Learn how to learn. Watch ted talks: listen to podcasts: listen to Steve Jobs’ commencement ceremony speech at Stanford. Stay up late with guys from architecture school when you are free. It is fascinating to watch them make models late into the night and I promise they are hot.

Apply to and join fellowships. Save up and travel. Take a foreign language class- Chinese at The University of Nairobi is free. Learn how to play a musical instrument. Learn code and build beautiful websites and apps. Simply create. Volunteer during the holidays, PACE* is a great place to start.

  1. Friends will disappoint you.

Nevertheless, do not let small mistakes ruin friendship. Learn how to save the most important friendships and do not be scared about watching the rest trip and fall. Let people go. Remember your friends’ birthdays and buy them gifts. I once bought a friend a shaver for his beards and it felt perfect, yet it cost me less than a 100 bob. When you admire something in someone else, tell him or her. Lift others up and hug your girlfriends when they are sad. Be authentic about friendships. Never pretend that you like someone if you don’t-it will only hurt you. It will make you anxious around them. Avoid loud and aggressive people too-they are a vexation to the spirit.

  1. Party if you are type that parties.

However, have pleasure with a conscience…because the opposite is a social sin. Alternatively, if like me, you are not as loud, take night walks with a friend to clear your head. Have deep conversations late into the night. But do not kiss. The night has a way of making people vulnerable just like alcohol. Know your boundaries because once you cross that line there is no going back.

  1. Social Media

Social Media is really the revolution.  But learn early that it is a fallacy too; it brings out the vanity in us and if you get too hooked-you may become bitter. None of us has life put all together. We only post our lives highlights there. If you sit around my squad (Richard and Regina), they will tell you, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Don’t live in that world, always comparing your life to the glitz and glam on Instagram. You are your own self and you are perfect.

We fail to admit it, but social media is addictive. Its apps are engineered that way. Likes and comments are delayed in a bid to make you log in again. So take selfies, post and forget about them.  But on the upside, steer meaningful conversations; find good human beings there and meet for coffee or mutura* and if you can; make money from it.

  1. Clothes, make-up and wigs

Thrift shop for clothes and shoes at Gikomba, Ngara and Githurai.  Buy make up and wigs on Dubois Street. Your life will be so much easier and cheaper. I hate the arc that girls make on their eyebrows: but by all means, carve yours to perfection. Wear red lipstick and forget what others say. Do not struggle with high heels when going to class but learn how to make an appearance: a statement when needed.

Wear wigs and weaves. There is nothing unafrican about them and delete contacts of boys who critic them-they cannot afford them or you for that matter. Better yet, grow your natural hair thick and long. I am willing to write you a hair regimen to follow if you need one. (Trust me, I am an A student in You Tube) but always remember-you are beautiful even without make up.

  1. Sponsors

God and this world need men and women who are true to themselves. Men and women who are not too lazy to work nor too proud to be poor. There is nothing wrong with coming from a poor or humble background. Are you broke? Sit with your brokenness! I know it is such a mean advice to give. But sit with yourself and listen to your old, boring sad music. If you are going to get a sponsor, get him because you are in love with him. Don’t stretch yourself thin paying for expensive photo shoots-your mum can take your pictures perfectly.

If you can, start a small business, sell clothes, sweets, charge to apply nail polish on nails. Watch the business fall and crumble. Only then will you realize the value of money and its vanity too.

  1. Keep your principles and know your God

Liberals will tune you to believe that there is no God. Now more than ever you will question God, you will question the Bible. But with time, learn to remind yourself of the relationship you have had with him. Write down your doubts about him and Google. I mean Google questions like, who is God. Why does God allow evil if he is all-powerful? Write down your prayers so that when they are answered you have proof that he exists.

Do not bend your principles for anyone. The last time we talked, I told you most of the people who are lost in campus don’t even know they are lost. Just don’t exist, live, see every day as an opportunity to seize.

  1. Find happiness.

Find your personal space and peace. Find moments to be alone, to think and to meditate. Catch up with old songs that get you. Make vision boards. Tear them, make new ones, and make them beautiful. Watch movies alone and cry. Watch How To Be Single. Sing in the shower. Hum while walking to school. Be positive and do not live in your head. Cry when you need to. Do not hold it back because one day it will either break you or turn you into a monster. Trust that life is good, love is powerful and the future is full of promise.

 

  1. Extras

-Find a mentor. They have been where you are before. They know better.

If possible, mentor someone too.

-Save or even better invest. I know friends who use their HELB loans to buy shares and trade in the stock market. Buy shares from small start-ups that look promising. However, do not be naïve or else you will be duped.

-Tolerate your roommates. I know in BOMA they taught you how to dress after taking a shower-in campus some of your roommates will strip.

-Say hi to security guards, cooks and lecturers when you meet them on the corridor-they are human.

-Make mistakes and forgive yourself. Apologize when you are wrong and truly mean it. But don’t fret when you are not forgiven. – forgive yourself and start all over.

-Make bold statements and change your mind tomorrow because every day is a learning experience.

I hope these will help.

Love,

Susan.

*Fogo Gaucho-Brazilian steak house in Nairobi

*Klabu– food joint on Mamlaka Road where university students eat.

*Milanos– An ice cream joint that everyone needs to try out. It’s on Kaunda Street I think.

*PACE International– Promoting Access to Community Education is a volunteer program run by Peggy Ochola. The program posts young people to volunteer as teaching assistants in underprivileged primary schools.

*degree ni harambee- Famous campus slogan that insinuates that attaining a degree requires collective efforts.

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MEET THE MEATBALLS

Food Blog by Nkatha Maureen

Hello guys,

I’m new here and it’s scary ..to be honest.
But I’m here to teach you how to make edible stuff 😊
We’ll start with my all time favorite..MEATBALLS !!


These babies are so satisfying, they can go with practically anything and they’re oh so delicious .
The best part is that making this doesn’t strain your pockets that much 😊

*Ingredients*
.Minced meat
.Garlic (a few cloves finely chopped ,the rest grated)
.Mixed spice
.Two Bulb Onions finely Chopped
.Coriander
.Tomato Paste
.Cooking Oil
.An egg
.Breadcrumbs
.Salt and pepper to taste
.Two tomatoes (blended or grated)

*Procedure*
1.Place your minced meat in a bowl and add grated garlic cloves ,finely chopped onions ,mixed spice ,pepper and salt ,finely chopped coriander and mix well .
2.Add the egg to the minced meat mix and mix well .
3.Add a fair amount of breadcrumbs and mix well .
4.Let it sit for fifteen minutes then make sizeable balls and place them aside .
5.Heat some oil on your pan (quarter a cup) .
6.When the oil’s hot ,place your meatballs in the oil (and don’t let them cluster too much )
7.Cook for about five minutes and then flip them and let the other side cook for five minutes .(You can flip them again,though you don’t have to because we’ll be cooking them again)
8.Remove from the pan and set them aside ,and drain off the excess oil from the pan (I will cook them in paste in this same pan)
9.Add to the pan the chopped onions and garlic and let them cook till golden brown .Add the grated tomatoes (you can use tomato puree instead).Add a little salt and cook for five minutes .
10.Add in the tomato paste and a little water .Give it a mix till the sauce is not too watery and not too thick 🙂
Cook for another five minutes then add your meatballs and stir .Cook for fifteen minutes (give it a stir in between because you don’t want the paste to burn )
11.Serve!!!!
I have so far had my meatballs with Spaghetti,Rice and just recently with Viazi Karai:)

Remember you are not restricted in whatever way. Throw in whatever you want .Be free .Experiment .Create your magic !
bon apetit!

 

 

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Nkatha- The New Zest in Here.

Moving into this new blog earlier this year felt like moving into a new house. It felt exciting -tingly actually-but it also felt scary. Everything felt so new and so delicate that I was even afraid to tamper with it. I met a friend called Allan who wrote a few code lines here. Everytime he tweaked something I felt a stomach flip flop.I felt robbed of comfort and belonging-yet that is how change is meant to be.

I am afraid that my fears grew deeper. I allowed life’s passing winds to blow me offshore and I probably even forgot why I started this blog. This blog was meant for hope and dreams. It was to cross beyond leaps and bounds. It was for breaking from average…it was supposed to let you know that we all go through the same crap and we choose our paths. It was to try new stuff out and to fail at them. It was for liberation, for growth and for new ventures.

So last week when I met Nkatha after a long time, I thought that we could give the blog a new perspective. She blossoms and radiates with love and joy. Her food enthusiasm is amazing and I thought she would do a great job here talking about my second love-food.

Maureen Nkatha, is a musician who likes making good food and experimenting in the kitchen. She says she hates routine cooking (the whole ugali mchele githeri kinda thing). Her inspiration is from her favorite cooks and food bloggers especially Kaluhi.

Okay, you know what; I cannot keep paraphrasing her words. Afterall, she will be the new resident food blogger here for a long while.
So Nkatha take it away…

“I try out some of the food and give it a twist (my kinda personal touch):)
I’m also a perfectionist and when I experiment on stuff and it turns out really bad I feel really bad 😂and I love compliments regarding the food I make 👅
My favorite ingredients should be garlic and coriander (just warning guys cause I’ll use them a lot). I also love potatoes (another warning here everyone-cause you’ll see lots of those).

….And eggs 😂😂and meat.

Yeah

Side note:

This should help everyone(boys and girls) make anything (fancy or just simple). The end game is to have fun ,get full and be proud of yourself.🐱”

Miracles are everywhere.

This post had been titled, “Lessons are everywhere.” But here is the thing with writers, we are always unsettled, always looking for a better way to phrase words. You are standing at Archives waiting for your girlfriend and a line pops but you can’t even remove your phone to type it. You are asleep and in the middle of the night, God sends you this powerful opening statement that you just have to wake up to write it.

In fact, the word God in that previous sentence was important -because I came up with the title of this piece in church.

So I am seated in church at a teen’s class that I sometimes facilitate. I feel unsettled for two reasons.One, I had not had breakfast. I had figured out that if I sat down to have it, I’d get late. But there is just a way hunger deals with you in church; especially when you are seated behind kids whose mother carried milk and mandazis to silence them during the service.

And two, which is probably the only important thing I’m writing so far is that I have been doubting God and His power. So I am seated there pretending to be listening to the facilitator but deep down I was contemplating on the safest way of quitting church and quitting religion altogether.

For the longest time now, church has been a routine and on this Sunday, I was feeling guilty for making the effort.Guilty that all I do, is go to the class, teach about God, a God that I do not understand, a God that I am angry at, a God who I feel does not care, a God who knows we are not going to prosper but anyway takes us through the whole cycle of moments of intense hope and then moments of intense despair. The routine was growing weary; teach teens class 》》 attend the main service》》vanish-vanish because I do not want to carry my father’s huge bible from church to home…lest hot boys think of me as too churchy. While he is giving it to me, I have to withstand small talk from his friends who are old and have the same old cliché questions.

Old man: Ooh, so this is your daughter?

Inner me: (Smile Susan, smile!)

Old man: Which campus are you in?

Me: University of Nairobi.

Old man: (Eyes growing wide with admiration.) That is wonderful! Graduates from The University(Insert African-British accent and emphasis on article ‘The’) always get great jobs after school.

Inner me: Lol. (Smile Susan, just smile)

Old man: And what course are you studying?

Me: Political Science.

Old man: (turning to my dad who is having a conversation with someone else) Excuse me.Excuse me Mr.Mwai…you didn’t tell me you have an intelligent daughter here.

Old man: (Turning to me) Make sure you work hard………….

Inner me: Okay yeah,Susan it’s time to drift.

Afterwards, I will meet my mum which is a totally different case scenario altogether.

Mum: Ríūrí mūkuruga kí rūngi?(Now, what shall you cook for lunch?)

Then she will answer herself followed by a million instructions. “There is githeri there…just chop onions and tomatoes to make stew and also put some *warus and soup. Don’t cook dry food for us here. Then si you boil some rice and steam cabbage na usishurie* .”

Okay yeah I am done with the kuyu meal.

“And wash the dishes and do not use too much water.”

Susan drifts again…

I drift too many times. So anyway, I was telling you about how I have had my doubts in God. I have questioned life’s meaning. For the last two years, so many things have not worked out in my life. Which is hard to believe and to understand, because I think I have always had a lot of things come easy in my life. I grew up being called smart, intelligent, a leader. I have always topped in my classes or been among the best.

Now, two years down the line, life has been staring at me every single morning and saying… ” You aint shit.” I have worked, put in the effort, trusted in this God…yet again life has stood before me countless times with
that same sentence. I have been at crossroads whether to trust in this same God who says he has good plans for us and this same God, who watches good things happen to good people, innocent people.

Guys do you remember this story I wrote called, “Help Metrine”. You can find it here btw, if you’ve never read it. She got 300 marks in KCPE and got an admission to Lukenya Girls High School. But life again is here telling her… “You aint shit” She cannot afford school fees…and even if she could, her medical condition keeps failing her. So again why would God let the most dedicated, hardworking and
humble girl go through all this?

I do know how it feels to work hard and not get what you want. I know what it is, to trust God and not
have a clue of whether He is telling you to wait or He is just somewhere seated whistling and the turning
to Angel Gabriel to say, “This girl, does she know how many kids are dying of cancer and how many I
have to heal? She is asking for what again?”

Sometimes I think God gets bored of our prayers and turns to Angel Michael in mimicry,

God: Angel Michael, please give me some water. Just water. Michael, I am sorry for the day I stole your
pen. I just needed to write Willy’s name in the book of death. I am really sorry. But Michael, just water. I
promise I will give you my ball to play with tomorrow; after you give me the water. Please Michael, as
you are giving others juice, please give me water, just water…

Angel Michael: God, what are you trying to do?

God: I am showing you how boring human prayers are.

So as I am seated there in class and Kajohnie comes in. Kajohnie is one of the oldest teens in that class. He owns a barber shop at Toez. But you rich folks of Instagram wouldn’t know where Toez is. He seems overly excited which prompts the facilitator of the day to ask him why he is overjoyed. Kajohnie tells us he has a testimony. But I am not as interested to listen. I assume it’s usual stuff. I had a cold, then God healed me. Or ooh, I didn’t have cash last week alafu nikaekelea bet ya 500, game kuisha
I had 1500. You know, usual teen stuff. But Kajohnie tells us that from the barber shop, God has blessed him and now he has opened a Movie shop! Now he has two booming businesses! And well, this
acclaimed political science student has only semester one grades to show for in two years…

I am inclined to believe at this point that God works like drip irrigation. Sometimes He doesn’t flood you with success lest you forget the struggle and become too entitled. He just drips you with small miracles. Today he gives you an idea to partition your kasingle into two and begin your barber shop. Tomorrow by
luck you ekelea a bet and get 2000 bob to buy 2 shaving machines. Then the other day you get one customer, then two, then 5…and by the end of the year you lose count. The next year you move into a
kabedsitter and then you have enough cash to start a movie shop.

Last week, I called a close friend to tell him of some other chap. He has been a conductor for the last six years I’ve known him. He is always so frail and so desperate to get passengers board the matatu which
he has squad for. So if by any chance he sees me going somewhere, he will pester me to death, “Msupa joh! Siunijenge aki, hii ndio gari inaenda, hio ingine utasimama .” So last week, I met him and he wasn’t the guy pestering me to board the matatu or collecting fare; he
was the one driving it. I called my friend to tell him, “Imagine the day this guy was given the car keys and told he will be the one driving that matatu.”

People, miracles are everywhere. They are in opening your eyes every morning to a new day, they are in comfortably taking a piss, then walking to the living room for tea and bread. Miracles are in seeing the rising and setting of the sun. Miracles are in having an opening sentence for my blog at midnight and in having 10 bob to buy credit and publish this piece. Miracles are in being privileged and knowing what
the internet is and being able to read this post. Miracles are in having a girlfriend who can stand all your
crap and in having a boyfriend who prays for you every day.

Miracles are in having a shirt to wear tomorrow, even if it is wash and wear; because there are people who have none. And sometimes they are bigger, like the fact that you will have supper tonight. Imagine how that is a fact to you, but just a prayer to millions of others. Sometimes it’s a scholarship, a new car,
finding true love, fulfilling your passions and sometimes it’s moving into a new blog which you need to subscribe to now!

But whatever the case; Miracles are everwhere.

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Let’s get political.

I  will be very brief and precise to take you through CPS 101; Introduction to Political Science…
Trust me will you? I am among the very few who entered the examination room with neither a mwakenya nor a phone. While still at it; my naivety must have made me believe that guys on campus cheat more in class. I was wrong; as we probably are wrong about most things, girls are the brains in cheating; at least in my school.
But I digress…

Politics 1;- The authoritative distribution of resources and values in any society.(David Easton). So if you thought that politics is people throwing words at each other…you were wrong.If you also thought politics is void of peace, honesty, integrity, service ..you need an English class on the meaning of values.
However, to make it easier. Let’s dissect this argument a bit more deeply. If politics is about authority, then it means power must be sought or contested for. It then makes sense when we say that politics is about the ‘haves’ and the ‘ have-nots’; that when those elected into power have authority they will control the resources; and here is what happens, naturally, the haves will first allocate to themselves these resources which are scarce, they then will pass the remains to their kinsmen and relatives; then their supporters and if anything remains, if at all it does; it passes to ‘others’. So if you unconventionally and perpetually ask why politicians only help their people while in power. The answer is simple; it’s their job description.

Politics 2:- Politics is about who gets what, when and how. (Harold Laswell). You know, when I was a kid. I always insisted to my parents that I want to be president. My mum would hear none of it. She would point out in a quick rejoinder that politics is a dirty game…Well, folks, she was rights. Politics is nothing short of a dirty scandal. If any of your politicians woo you into believing that he wants to play clean politics; ferry him to the church by all means.

Politics 3:- God did not create man as only a social being but also a political animal.( Aristotle) . Given this scenario, man is happy indeed only when he engages in politics– He is eudaimonia( I know…the word sounds like the Kikuyu word for demon ‘daimono’) But that is it…man happens to be a political animal through and through. And if by now you still haven’t got the hang of it; reread definition 1 and think about competing for jobs, buyers and sellers in a market, parents at home, class rankings. Everything simply is politically ubiquitous.

****
When I attended my first political science class; this information was not presented this way. It felt more of a justification of who is the right political animal.
Probably, this is where it all goes wrong, that those with the right information give it to us wrongly.Or that probably we the receivers of information receive it wrongly. You see… I don’t think the problem with our country is ethnicity as much. Ethnicity is actually a good thing if you checked up its definition.I think the problem is that we are ignorant. That we do not understand politics. That our judgment is clouded by politicians who use our ethnic backgrounds to their advantage. The truth is, I do not think they are wrong, I think they are in politics. I think we are the ones who are wrong…I think we miss the point..because in this country what we need is a leader.

I think the problem is us, the electorate who appreciate gossip more than information. You will quickly skim through this piece and since the title is not, ” President cheats on his wife” or “SGR has failed”, you won’t finish it. The problem is that right from high school to campus we are not committed to excellence, we are committed to getting it the easier way. Have you heard campus kids complain about how our country is corrupt? Ooh..they are vicious … and have you seen how they have great cheating skills during the exams?… I honestly cannot read the difference and I have no respect for you. I think you are a menace to this country.
Politics is complex, but we decide who we want by ceasing to be ignorant…about everything even about our own actions.

                                                                       ******

Lesson is over,

I guess that was easier than 3 hours of lecture.

Enjoy your evening.

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Help Metrine.

Life is weird people; and what is more, is we all think it’s unfair. Even the Christian who believes in a just God is still faced with the dilemma of understanding why a merciful God would allow bad things to happen and especially to the good people and to people He claims to love. The atheist and scientist are thrown off guard in trying to prove theories and create solutions, but they never get to an ultimate point of gratification. Probably, this is the spice as well as the gall of life.

****

Imagine you are 19-years old but in class 8. You have lived more years backward. Does that make sense? Let me try to demystify it. You have lived for a decade doing nothing except fetching water, collecting firewood and doing house chores and then you have to start school, ten years later with kids who still have diapers on them. With kids who have to learn how to spell. It makes sense more to you than anyone else that time is an illusion; for so much has passed in its existence. You pass through life because that is what we all do; pass and then die; then people read our eulogies and say we passed away.

In this 10 years, you know only your father and your siblings. Your mother died long ago. You do not know how a mother cares for a child. The emotion doesn’t even ring in you; three, four years later when you have your first period; you handle it on your own. It’s not an exactly bad life as everyone in the village lie the same sought of life as you. It’s a small cocoon which you have managed to survive in. But then disaster strikes; and then you realize; misfortunes do not come singly but in a battalion.

One night after election results are announced, armed men hit your village. They are people you know; your neighbors. You play with their sisters, you fetch water at the river with their mothers, your father works at the same mine or construction site with them. But apparently today; you are no longer a community; today you are tribe A and tribe B. They harass you and torture you and then kidnap your father, and that is the last you see of him; it’s now almost ten years later and you do not know whether he is still dead or alive. Sometimes you think about him and it shivers you, your lips tremble and you get panic attacks…but you never cry; no you don’t cry…where do more tears come from after 10years? Post-election violence left you with nothing but bronchitis which worsened when you lived at the police station; the only place that was safe around you.

A small ray of light flickers when your aunt comes and picks you and your siblings and brings you to Nairobi, the big city. She seems kind, no, she is actually kind. We can just blame poverty at this point because finally, you have to sleep in a single room, which is a wooden shack with a mad flood and old roofs. It is not exactly the big city you have always perceived in your mind. The room is a six by six and you share it with your aunt and her family; a total of 18 and to sleep, you have to lay the mattress horizontally and you all have to sleep across it in order to fit. I will not reiterate that your aunt has his husband there. Yes, everything unfolds under your watch.

You start school at the nearby primary school and constantly you are position one. The teachers love you and you start thinking that probably one day you will get out of this poverty. You start crafting how you will be a doctor. You want to become a doctor because a while back they diagnosed you with polycystic kidney disease. It’s like two demons living in your body…one in your lungs and the other in your kidneys and they both have some collaboration to make your life miserable. Your life entails medicines and more medicines and you live with pain and nowadays you just consider it as that bad friend who is probably teaching you a lesson in life.

But there is still hope, a lot of hope, so you live and strive one day at a time; until someone decides to cut short that dream. Someone strips you off all your pride, dignity and everything that matters. Someone chooses to regard you not human but a sexual object; they rape you and defile you and threaten to end your life if you tell anyone. For days on end, you walk around wishing they actually killed you because you no longer understand life. So much has happened that life is not really worth living and now the doctor informs you that you have to live for two people; you and your expectant child.

*****

There are just things in life we cannot explain and I’m tempted to veer off right now and talk about how unfair this situation is. But this is not a hypothetical story. It’s a true story of a girl I taught at Mathari Primary School in Mathare slums, Metrine Tamnai. She was my best student, had the best handwriting in my class and her compositions were more than admirable. She was neat and when you see her you cannot tell she is 19; you cannot tell that she was older than me; her teacher. You cannot tell that she has a kid; a son. You cannot tell that she is sick or that she lives in a house that is impoverished. At times, I wish she could look desecrated and defeated, probably, it would earn her help; but not Metrine. She is a fighter. She is the strongest person I have known my entire life. She deserves this chance and it behooves us to give it to her. We could talk more, but I just think today I will tell you that at least life has given you the fair chance to control some things; for others, they have no absolute chance of doing it. They have been left with one strength in them; the will to fight on.

Metrine’s condition has worsened. The polycystic infection is eating up her kidneys even faster; she needs your help. She is due to start her dialysis urgently and her dialysis kit costs Ksh 30,000. I would literally beg if I could, for you to help her for you to sacrifice just a bit of your money for this girl. She needs to fight for herself and her son and the many people she will treat in the future. It behooves us to make that step.

Her youtube video is here https://youtu.be/bTW1kOruLZs

And to contribute to help Metrine:

Go to MPESA, Select Lipa na M-PESA,

Enter Paybill No. 891300 Account Number 10893

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Sometimes you just write,write and write some more.

If by now you deem me as a hopeless idealist and fantasist, I would not judge you. God knows you are right; but so are we all. We are all forlorn dreamers who are scared of the future. We are scared of leaving our lousy girlfriends because we are hopeless romantics who think they will change or maybe we are too scared someone else won’t come along. We are afraid of trusting people because we have been hurt in the past. We somehow forget that that is the thing with life, people will always disappoint you, and that’s just about it, pain and hurting are inevitable. If you are a writer like me, you are hell terrified of writing another blog post because you still cling to your previous success. Crap! We are more petrified of death than we are of giving meaning and worth to the life we are living. My list goes on, so let’s get this settled; your rightful description; a frightened dreamer.

When this blog started, I had an anomalous feeling about it, almost shifty. First, I wasn’t given options ati would you like to write or not… I was just told, “We will be writing,” and that was it. That word ‘we’ was simply forced rationalization and not even close to romantic coercion. Secondly, who even calls a blog ‘Voice of an African Child’? What exactly is there to be voiced, land grabbing, women’s rights, corruption or are we just a Ghafla News sub-outlet?

Then, there was the whole combination of the writers, the guy who wrote to you about looking like praying mantis (which I totally concur with btw), when you read his work you just start laughing and then you read it again and just can’t stop. Then there was the other guy, no one understands him, today he writes an article on politics and you are seriously thinking he should be president and the next day he is talking about lying to his crush and your feminist side just does a whoosh. Interesting enough, there was also this girl, you read her poems and you just get daunted and the depth of her words just intrigues you for days. Finally, there was me, and I did not know where exactly I lay.

You see the thing is you can’t place me as a writer. I neither write creative fiction nor nonfiction. It’s just something, a set of words pulled together and sought of makes meaning. Even worse, my writing is imprudent, I can only write when my hands get the hold of writing, and those days just never come. I just felt like everyone else had a niche; they had a carte blanche to be called writers, poets, comics and I didn’t fit. In fact, I have had my hand in poetry for five years now and I blogged the poems religiously for four of those years. But truth be told, I have felt like a poetry fraud for those five years. Whenever I have written them, I have felt like I have swindled rhythm of its right and quintessence. Consequently, when the blog came, I felt not worthy of writing, I contemplated of quitting on days on end and before you judge me again, please be sure you did not give up hunting that girl you’ve had a crush on for months.

The truth is most of the times I have stared at my computer screen for hours, even days and I have had nothing to deliver. The truth is you have struggled reading for your exams and you just don’t follow through. The truth is that you have tried business ventures and nothing seems to work out. The truth is you have been hurt in all your relationships. The truth is that you have every right in this world to give up and quit. The truth also though; is that this is life. This is adulthood, and nothing comes easy, nothing happens spontaneously. You work and work and then when you become a perfection of the practice people naively call you an overnight success.

Fairly, it’s us who make the choice to fear things in life, it’s us who give the ultimatum on quitting. The fear to succeed and the momentum to succeed is simply self-made. Thus, however way you pull yourself, you are just a frightened dreaming soul.

When Harvard did not come.

When you fail once in your life, it destroys you. Doubt slowly sidles into your life, sluggishly, more like slithering, then nippily, thoughts race through your brain. You start questioning your whole life. You wonder if you are what you are or what people claim you to be. You suddenly have misgivings about whether you were smart, clever, beautiful, intelligent. You doubt whether your gait is right while walking or maybe it has a slight limp that no one ever told you about. You wonder whether your voice has the right cadence to make you sound like an archetypal of excellence. You question whether reading more books will make you sound brainier; then you sink deeper into questioning if Chimamanda Ngozi’s ideologies will help you live a more substantial life or perhaps, you should just stick to Daniel Steel or Grisham’s popular thrillers.

Then you suddenly start reading Harry Porter; because everyone who gets an Ivy League school has read Harry Porter and has watched Grey’s Anatomy and at one point imagined themselves as Shonda Rhimes. Then when you ultimately get down the path of self-validation, you affirm to yourself that you can actually beat all the odds and become the best, you gain confidence in yourself. That hope feels great; it feels like a tiny flickering candlelight in a dingy basement. It feels like the same joy you had when maybe five years ago you were the best in the country or you wrote the best composition in your class. It reminds you of the day your dad told you he believed in you. Words that he will probably never say again especially if he is African. So you clutch that little ray, of maybe I could do this. Then you start reading Allen Cheng’s blog prep scholar on hope to raise your SAT score by 240 points and for hours, days, weeks, you craft up a plan, you feel energized, pumped up and ready to face life.

And then there is always this by Ernest Henley,
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods’ maybe,
For my unconquerable soul,

In the clutch fell of circumstance,
I have not winced or cried aloud,
Under the bludgeoning of chance?
My head is bloody but not unbowed,

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms the horror of shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds me and shall find me unafraid,

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Then you fail again. You lose that poetry competition you had viciously prepare for, you fail yet another exam, you get rejected by a small community college, it simply is not a big failure. So what you do next is you pick up your pieces, one by one, and trying putting them back together. Fortunate enough, this time around you have more strength. This time around your connections are more solid, you have Person A at Harvard who can throw in a peer recommendation, you have a Boss X who can throw in a good word for you. In fact, you believe you are 6 people away from the president. Unfortunate enough and also true, is that you put back the pieces of your broken heart together with super glue and forget that your heart is just a fist-sized muscular organ.

Probably, if this second failure happens you will be just fine. But the third, fourth, fifth…the tenth time, you are a mess, a wreck, who can’t cry because you are immune to pain. You don’t need people anymore because when you were a gang, hanging out with friends who shared a dream, you thought you were a team; but their lives seem to be going on perfectly and yours is not.

So when I opened my last rejection letter to Harvard University last Thursday, I had no tears in my eyes, I actually laughed and I was like, “Ooh okay, crap!” and then I walked out of the room and sat at the balcony, with a blank stare for fifteen minutes, not knowing what to think and I actually fell asleep. I in fact only woke up when a friend texted, “Should I call you a Crimsonite yet?”
I chuckled actually, and slid the phone right back into my pocket…and then I walked back to my room thinking, how do you forget a good dream? How do you whitewash or brainwash it? What do you call yourself again, a fighter or just a persistent fool who should settle down to what they have? Do you give up just yet? But you keep thinking of the eleventh failure that will come along or maybe the hundredth and you just do not have any more strength; only the will. At that moment, you realize that this Thomas Edison quote,” I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” is just mere cliché or by perchance a race that is really grim to run. You figure out that other people, your parents, your peers who were a step ahead gave up at this same point where you are at or probably earlier.

Essentially, you do not have another plan…and you gather your next move; is yours, devoid of influence, previous data or any hullabaloo quote you have ever read. You finally realize, that you are perpetually hitting a brick wall and you have two options, to either keep hitting that brick wall till one day it topples or to turn around and walk away. While at it, I think that is the hardest of decisions in life. But only you can make it for yourself.