3E vs 3S: Petty Nairobi politics

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As we count down to August 8th, 2017 when Kenyans vote en masse, Nairobi is split right down in the middle. On the red corner is the youthful and flashy Mike Sonko and his troops, while on the blue corner (more of orange, really) is the stoic Evans Kidero and his brigade. In short, 3E vs 3S – Sonko, Sakaja, Shebesh vs Evans, Edwin, Esther. But this post is not about Nairobi politics. Rather, it is about my friend Edu.

Now, Edu, a school mate in high school, can get pretty petty when it comes to politics. Whereas the average Nairobian will be voting along tribal lines, party affiliation, ideology (SMH) or candidate’s performance (gubernatorial debates, work, perception) or such other consideration that guides or misguides our politics, Edu is above (or below) such. He is voting for the 3S: Sonko, Sakaja and Shebesh.

Now, back in high school, we were Northerners – 1North, 2North 3North and so on. Now, us Northerners and Westerners were just regular guys (the Hufflepuffs and the Ravenclaws, supporting cast if you will). Not so for the Southerners and the Easterners. While the Southerners were the troublemakers – strikes’ ringleaders, instigators, drug abusers, book thieves and metal boxes’ breakers – the ‘defectors’ were mostly Easterners. Which is to say that the Easterners were the school’s administration’s spies, selling out their fellow students for prefects-ship. In summary, the Easterners were the Slytherins of our high school days while the Southerners were the Gryffindors.

And it is for this reason that my friend Edu is rooting for Team 3S: Sonko, Sakaja, Shebesh. Talk about pettiness!

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Superdad (to the tune of ‘Superdad’, 2 ½ Men)

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Dad, on weed, high as a kite
Thought he was superman, picked a fight
Got a black eye dark as night
50 miles per hour, was his flight.

On that night, he gave us such a fright
With sleight of hand, became a knight
His step sprite, his alibi airtight
Such a sight to see him fight and bite.

When it was daylight
We thought it was a bombsite
Egg white, frost bite and leaf blight
Lesson, ‘never bring knives to a gunfight!’

My dad thought he was a superdad
My bad; such a dog beatin’ he had
Now sad, now mad, he sings in a band
He now wants to be a grand dad.

adminSuperdad (to the tune of ‘Superdad’, 2 ½ Men)
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Shake It Up Combo manenos

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What is your weekend plan? If you are a typical Kenyan, then you live for the weekend. Know the drill? Monday blues. Tuesday catching up on work. Wednesday crush things. Thursday throwbacks… on to Saturday.  The plan: nyama choma with lots of kachumbari, football, a cold frothy beverage…

Well, Steers is now pumping a little weekend into every weekday, Monday included. This is courtesy of their Shake It Up Combo- beef kachumbari, burger, medium chips and a large shake (my fav is strawberry, finger licking yumminess!).

What is good about this combo? Let me break it down for you. For someone raised on combos (combi- if you will, high school lingo, and no funny memes while we are on the subject), this offer is godsend.

  • Primo: githeri, avocado, BB
  • Seco: Disc (chapo) that has swallowed a samosa; else, mandazi pregnant with a slice of avocado…
  • Beyond seco: nyama choma, kachumbari, chapos…

See how Steers were missing out on a large niche market of ‘combo’  (Psss… ‘Kombo’ means crooked in Swahili) people? Well, yippee! We finally have been recognised.

And the highlight of this story? Meeting Mwalimu Rachel124 live-live (mwarimu witu tisha, niweka wega good…) and the HBR 103.5 FM Crew at Steers, Uchumi Ngong Road, a combo of deliciousness in music and food.  Enyewe, she is more beautiful in real life than in billboards, but do I say!

Anyhu, hurry there and grab your Shake It Up Combo while the kachumbari lasts. And big up to the skates guy for the coupon. For thee unlucky fellow, the combo is affordable. 600 Kenyan shillings.


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Men, women and friendships

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The scenario: Imagine you are the fifth chap to board a matatu. Inside it, randomly located, are three ladies and two gentlemen. The matatu sits 33 people. Where will you seat? If you are a guy, you will probably look for the two or three adjacent seats which are unoccupied and sit on one. If you are a girl, most likely you will sit next to one of the three ladies and pretty soon be chatting about her hairstyle or other girlish stuff.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what differentiates men and women, and by extension, how they form friendships. Whereas a man likes his space, a woman likes to feel included; to feel as though she is part of the conversation. Thus ladies are able to form friendships easily; true friends and false friends; hairstyle friends and ‘chama’ friends. Men, on the other hand, are a different breed.

Friendships among men: A man just doesn’t form random friendships; acquaintances yes, friendships no. Every friendship is deliberate, calibrated and cultivated. Does he have the same interests as me? Social standing? Values? Is he likely to hit on my woman? These and others questions have to be answered before a friendship can be let to flourish.

That said, there are some social norms that guide friendships across the sexes. Follow them and you are guaranteed of lifelong and firm friendships.

1.Know each other’s boundaries: There are areas that are a ‘No-No’ in our lives. Areas that can only be accessed by special permission. Know these areas and do not infringe on them.

2.Respect: Each one of us has multiple personas that guide our actions and behaviours as determined by the particular role we are playing at any given time. These include being a father, a friend, a neighbour, a mentor, an employer and so on. Sometimes though, these lines do cross; and when they do, it calls for wisdom to manoeuvre them. For example, there are certain things you do with your friends and which are not acceptable when your family is present. In this case, family comes first, then the friendship.

3.Be your brother’s keeper: Being a true friend calls for looking out for each other. When a friend is down, you pool resources and rescue him; not scorn at his mistakes. That is the sign of genuine friendships.

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Our electricity supply was cut off yesterday and so; today I had to do with a cold shower. Now, we are in the middle of the cold June weather and it was freezing; so you can feel my apprehension at having to take a cold shower. I had timed my alarm clock to wake me at the usual hour, which it did. Well, it was dark and I was afraid to stumble around in the darkness and break something valuable. Plus the small matter of reflecting on how a cold shower in the middle of the cold June season was likely to affect my health and my life; possibly for the worse. So I snoozed in for another half an hour; only to be woken up by the sun’s rays two hours later.

I brushed my teeth and then showered- usually, it is the other way round. Then I rearranged the house and did the dishes. Then I darned a torn sock. Eventually though, I ran out of excuses and had to take the shower and go to work. When we have power and I wake up to some jazzy music or news from CNN or Al Jazeera, I take a long, leisurely and refreshing shower; nothing under fifteen minutes. However, today was different. In less than three minutes, I was squeaky clean, fully alert and daring to go. I promised myself to be taking more cold showers, more so on week days to improve my productivity.

And so it is with life. The warm, snuggly shower represents our comfort zones. That phase we get stuck in when we are lulled that our lives are secure or just perfect. That phase when we let ourselves go- our bodies, our spirituality, our goals … that phase when we stop dreaming and start dying. The cold shower, on the other hand, represents discomfort; discomfort at having to take the icy plunge and move forward. Ultimately though, only the cold shower can make us grow and purify our bodies and souls and enrich our lives.

So, today friend, what is it going to be? The warm, deceptive shower or the cleansing cold shower? Only you have the answer.

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Reflections on the road

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What is the worth of a human being? A dollar? Two dollars? A million dollars? A billion dollars, perhaps? Nothing? Those were the questions that were running in my mind on my home. We were in Ngong Road, almost near Motherland Motors when we came to the scene of the accident. A young man, probably in his mid-twenties- had been knocked down. Clad in jeans, a t-shirt and office shoes, he lay in a pool of blood. From the colour of his blood, it was apparent that he had been dead for ten or so minutes. The impact of the hit had dislodged his left shoe which lay some ten metres away.

Nearby, a crowd had gathered and I couldn’t help but wonder how death is eerily fascinating, drawing us closer as a species. At that moment, I am sure no had a thought as to the possible tribe of the young man, his political affiliations, his religion, his assets or the other artificial concepts we create daily to divide us. What the gathered crowd had was pity, anger and remorse. Pity at his shameful death and pity for his kin, wherever they were. Anger at death for robbing a life full of promise and anger at the over-speeding, hit-and-run matatu driver. Remorse at their powerlessness from the finality of death. The mood was depressing; accentuated by the grey skies ushering in the cold July weather. The crowd would keep vigil until he was taken away to the morgue- for you do not desert your own.

As we proceeded with our journey, the matatu was silent. The driver too was reflective- no overlapping, driving on the pedestrian lane or over-speeding as is normally the case during the evening traffic rush. This behaviour was generally duplicated by the matatu drivers; as though to atone for the heinous deed of their colleague and revere the fallen young man. Silently, I muttered for his soul to rest in peace.

So, I resolved to pursue my dreams and live a fulfilling life. I resolved to love more and to critic less. I resolved to see more of the people that matter most in my lives- my parents, siblings and friends. I resolved to be a good neighbour. I resolved to take more risks in the pursuit of my dreams. I resolved to be less complicated and share my real emotions. For when death visits, there is no running away. So, here is my ode to the young man.

Like a vase of flowers

Like a vase of flowers freshens the morning
Fades in the evening
I’ve been here, I’ve been waiting for the end
To come
I don’t know how much longer
But I am going just to wait, for the end.

Could I be the one, knocking on heaven’s gates
Could I be the one singing with the angels
Lord I wanna be among the numbers
That is marching on your ways.

Like the sunrise, glorifies the morning
As the sun sets, rubies in the evening
I’ve been here, I’ve been waiting for the end
To come
I don’t know how much longer
But I am going just to wait, for the end.


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Moving houses

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Two weeks ago, I moved houses. I moved houses not because I was in rent arrears or had fallen out with the landlord or my neighbours; I just felt I needed a change. I had dwelled in that house for five years and knew all its nooks and crannies. Further, the neighbours had come to know what to expect from me- namely small and humorous talk to brighten a dull day, an easy source of credit, connections, and loud music. This last bit tolerated because of my other redeeming virtues.

However, I felt I had become too comfortable; too complacent; stuck right in the middle of the comfort zone; stuck in routine… That is when I knew I needed to move. Now, moving houses is not the easiest of things to do. Firstly, you have to hunt for a house (the phrase ‘hunt for a house’ being literally true), then convince a landlord or agent to let you the house- a rather hard task if you happen to be a bachelor. Then, you have to get acquainted with new neighbours- some of whom may feel as though you are encroaching on their space. Then there is the actual moving- my bones still ache a fortnight later.

And so it is with our lives. There are times we become too complacent, too familiar with ourselves, our jobs, our relationships. At these times, something in us dies. The drive, the energy, the passion gets lost somewhere in between. Life loses its lustre. Days become blank canvases fading away under the glare of a harsh light. The moon loses its song…

Then we have a choice. We have to cast the die. We have to cross the Rubicon. We have to shake things up, do things differently, alter routine. It doesn’t have to be something as dramatic as moving houses, changing jobs or cutting off relationships, it merely means reinvigorating by doing things differently and reclaiming that lost glow back into our lives.

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Two pence worth of a miracle

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Jimmy was dying. Slowly. Jimmy, the boy with a cute little smile, playful eyes and engaging blabber. He was two years old. He had a hole in his heart requiring open heart surgery to seal it and return him to normalcy. Now, Jimmy’s parents were regular folk like me and you- hardworking and responsible to feed and school and raise upright citizens.

Said the last doctor they visited- by now, all their savings depleted. “For this kind of surgery, you require a hundred thousand pounds. Then again, heart specialists are only a handful and the waiting list is from here to Timbuktu. Only a miracle can see you through this.”

Jimmy’s parents shed a tear, for they were devastated. Jimmy, the boy with a cute smile and engaging blabber would be no more; his life slowly ebbing away. That night, they were too drained to cook supper and went to bed hungry, save for Sally for whom they bought a pizza on the way home.

Now, Sally, the adorable sister to Jimmy had overheard the conversation with the doctor. Early in the morning, she sneaked out of the house clutching her two pence ice cream money. They had studied in school that you went to buy medicine at the chemist if you were sick, so there she went. The chemist was just around the corner and she was there in a minute, though it could have been two.

Tap, tap, tap. The little fingers, barely reaching the counter, scratched the glass. The chemist came over and closely peered at the little child who was the first customer for the day.

“Morning child. How can I help you?” The spectacled lady was nice and helpful.

Depositing her two pence on the counter, Sally replied. “Can you sell me a miracle?”

The world went still. The gentleman on the corner seat shuffled his newspaper shut and ambled over.

“Child, what did you just say?”

“I want a miracle for my brother. He is sick and the doctor said only a miracle can see him through the month. So I came to buy a miracle for him today.”

Sir Henry Garvin, the world’s renowned neurosurgeon quietly pocketed the two pence. With Sally guiding him home, he took hold of her hand.  That same week, arrangements were made for Jimmy, the boy with playful eyes and engaging blabber, to have his surgery at the expense of the good doctor.

We too can have our two pence of a miracle if only we but believe and act on it.

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A True Friend

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Through life’s valleys low
When you are feeling low
When you are about to slow
Yes, I’ll always be about
To carry you high.

I say be of good courage
And remember the old  adage
Cause even when you are out
Yes, I’ll always be about
To make you smile.

You feel like giving up
When you’ve hit a bump
That’s when you want to slump
Yes, I’ll always be about
To encourage you.

Sometimes you want to die
When on the couch you lay
You want to say goodbye
Yes, I’ll always be about
To make you live.

A time to laugh, a time to cry
A time to rest, a time to try
A time to sell, a time to buy
Yes, I’ll always be about
To help you try.

Family comes and goes
Friends come and go
Money too comes and goes
But I’ll always be about
To guide and guard you
On life’s treacherous journey.

adminA True Friend
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