HALF A MAN

HALF A MAN ‘Are you sure you wanna go.’ Wanjiku asked her younger sister, Wacera. ‘Yes, I do.’ Wacera replied putting on a gorgeous red dress on. ‘It’s Valentine’s Day and the English men did say ‘half a date is better than none.’

‘What a waste of a perfect dress.’ Wanjiku rolled her eyes. ‘And no the English men said no such thing.’ She watched as her younger sister looked at herself in the mirror.

that little red valentine's dress

that little red valentine’s dress

‘I haven’t been in a serious relationship ever since Martin and I broke up.’ Cera spoke to her sister through the mirror. ‘And you know how long that was, two years ago.’ Wanjiku laughed. ‘ Ciku I gave him the five best years of my life.’ Cera went on. ‘So twenty to twenty five are the best years of someone’s life.’ Wanjiku asked as she adjusted her sitting position on her bed. ‘Duh!’ Cera retorted. ‘Fact, women reach their peak at twenty five, and then it all goes downhill.’ Wanjiku just laughed. ‘Cera, come on, you are twenty seven. Second, you cannot go out with every single guy out there just because you are desperately looking for the one and you don’t want to spend valentines alone.’ Wacera grabs her comb and starts working on her hair. ‘Cera, you have dated Omondi, Mutiso, Khamalo, Kimani, the list is endless. What are you trying to do? Unite all Kenyan tribes.’ Wanjiku joked. Wacera turns to face her sister. ‘I have dated a Moha, as well as Kip… somebody. I cannot remember all their names. At least mother will be happy; I am dating someone from my own community. Besides the English men also said you have to kiss many frogs before meeting prince charming.’

she wants to kiss frogs

she wants to kiss frogs

‘There are guys from your own community that pronounce their names and speak in simple English words here in Nairobi.’ Her sister said. ‘In fact there are guys who speak simple English here in Nairobi from all other communities here as well. Where do you meet these men, Cera, they cannot even pronounce your name. Cera is there a website or place where you go to meet people with weird accents and once again the English said no such thing.’ Cera rolls her eyes and puts on her shoes. ‘You will never understand.’ Cera seemed saddened. ‘You are married. At times a half a man siz is better than none.’

cartoon-girl-broken-heart-17712782

Cera stood at the matatu stage waiting for her date to show up so that they could together. He did show up like thirty minutes late. He did not even apologise, he tried to hug her immediately, and she gave him her hand instead. ‘Come on, ‘he insisted. ‘With that sexy dress, you have to give me a hug.’ He tried to pull her for hug and she pulled away.

‘I said no!’ ‘It’s okay.’ He forced a smile. A couple of minutes later a matatu stopped and Cera attempted to enter but he pulled her back. ‘

Eric.’ She was startled.

‘This one is expensive; fifty bob to tao, tunaweza pata ya twenty.’ He told her. She was losing her patience already.

‘Let me tell you something about Kikuyu guys.’ Her sister had told her.

‘They are cheap dates. Most of them anyway.’ Cera breathed in, trying to calm herself.

‘But hizo za twenty zina jaza watu hadi kwa aisle and they’ll mess up the way your dressed and my hair.’

‘Cheap is the word Wacera not comfort.’ He said in a matter of fact way. ‘You need to save dear.’ Cera felt uncomfortable as he dragged her into the already filled matatu, she sat down but he had to bend over uncomfortably over her. Just before they made the last turn to get into main road reading to town, they were bundled out after the makanga heard they was a police operation going on. Cera seemed frustrated, lost in her own angry world. ‘A date for valentines Lord and this is what I get.’ She said in between clenched teeth. ‘It’s not like I was asking for a room at Villa Rosa Kempinski.’

VillaRosaKempinskiNairobi-hjEric turned frustrated at her. ‘Now we will have to pay another twenty bob to town.’ Cera did not say anything as she stared at her dusty feet, she felt tears fill her eyes but she managed to wipe them away. Five years was a long time to date someone and then for them to marry someone else six months later. The ‘I love you’ had to mean something. ‘Wacera, dear.’ He started. ‘Maybe we should walk; it will take us like thirty minutes only to get to town.’

Cera was shocked; she was wearing heels, who in the world ask somebody out so that they can walk to their date on a dusty road. The temptation to take out on of her heels and attack him was getting real in her mind. She was even more shocked when he started walking.

s5

She tried to but her legs would not move even a bit. Eric turned. ‘My dear, we need to start walking before the sun comes, otherwise utachomeka.’ Still Cera did not move. ‘Is he serious?’ she wondered out loudly. Eric walked to where she was. ‘I see the shoes.’ He looked at her feet. ‘Aki hata nyinyi wamama mnapenda viatu zingine. Izi muachie wazungu.’ He seemed angry actually to her utter shock. Had she just called her ‘mama.’ The word raced through her mind and she felt her heart fill up with anger. ‘

Wewe enda na matatu.’ He suggested. ‘Mimi nikupate huko.’

‘Uko serious?’ she asked him finally.

He finally noticed she was angry. ‘Dear are you ok?’

‘Please don’t call me dear.’ She almost yelled but managed to remain composed. ‘I think I should go back home.’ She turned to leave, but he pulled her back.

‘Hey Wacera.’ She turned. ‘There’s a matatu coming, if it’s empty twende.’ He suggested. ‘It’s just I did not want to stand again, it can very uncomfortable you know.’ An hour later Wacera and Eric are seated a restaurant, going through the menu. “They don’t have Ugali.’ Eric noticed.

‘You don’t have to eat Ugali every time you go out.’ Cera said.

‘Their food is so expensive kwani inakuja na insurance.’ Eric went on. ‘Everything here is no unhealthy.’

‘I am under the impression you do not like this restaurant.’ Cera said. Eric noticed once again that she was getting angry. His phone rang and he went outside to pick it up.

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Cera watched hopelessly, she took her phone and started chatting with her sister on whatsapp.

Cera: You were right

Ciku: about what, I am right about all those guys that you keep dating

Cera: He’s talking on the phone again

Ciku: I told yah

Cera: My main worry is that he might run away and leave me alone

Ciku: Make sure you ask him for something that he leaves behind every time he goes out to answer is phone

Cera: Thanks for the tip sis

Ciku: Bill ikikam go to the toilet

Cera: What if he walks away when I’m in the loo

Eric comes back and sits down and moves close to Cera as their drinks come along.

‘So what do you do?’ Cera asked.

‘A lot, I am into import and export, I am in the taxi business and also I am in real estate, as in business ya kuuza na kununua mashamba.’ He finished off with a hearty drive. ‘

Then why do you seem so broke.’ She muttered under her breath. ‘

What did you say Wacera?’ He asked her. ‘Nothing.’ She forced a smile.

‘In fact if you want a car, or credit just say and I will sell it to you.’ He said.

‘The keyword was sell.’ She told her sister that evening.

Cera ate her food silently as Eric was on the phone most of the time.

‘Please pretty red dress.’ She said as she took it off. ‘Pole sana for wasting you on that man. Who made me cry and laugh at the same time? I promise you the next date will be memorable.’

‘I told you so.’ Her sister walked in. ‘I know I married but am I happy no, what else would I be doing home on valentines night, if not for like the millionth time I had to ran away from that maniac because of his drunkenness and at times violent behavior.’

Cera smiled in a sad way.

‘I know you are supposed to kiss many frogs, but you don’t have to go out with them.’ Wanjiku advised. ‘You can tell from the word, don’t waste your time Cera.

“I haven’t dated many guys.’ Cera defended herself.

‘Samson.’

He was too short.’

‘Matt.’

‘the guy had a constant cold, always!’

‘Mutiso.’

‘He had a shao accent.’

‘Kimani.’ ‘he had a bulging stomach, eew!’

‘Liam.’

‘He wenged like he had lived in England his whole life.’

Wanjiku smiled. Well, I don’t have a point from the above discussion, but all I know is that while mkate nusu in Kenya is very significant. Not having a man in better than a half a man.’

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Rest in Peace Wangui

REST IN PEACE WANGUI

Rest in peace Wangui, a mother of six children who never paid attention to you as much as they were supposed to, and a wife to a man who never really loved you, at the very first opportunity he got he left the country to stay at his married daughter’s house in that land of ‘milk and honey,’ what man leaves his wife to stay at his daughter’s house, a daughter he had already ‘sold’ to another. Abomination! A man who would have done anything to get away from the woman he never loved, it’s only that Kamau was a poor man, whose looks were rather wanting, he would have married another wife and it was not for a lack of trying, and the disdain he showed her in life, he showed her in death by not attending the funeral, let alone planning for it, a grandmother of five beautiful children that she never got to meet, not even one. She died as she had lived, alone, with the pain in her heart and the pain that burned through her flesh as the fire ate at her, screaming for a savior and someone to save her but there was no one, not that there ever was.

See, after her husband left for the land of ‘milk and honey,’ her in laws finally found the perfect opportunity to send her away, with nothing but a few clothes in an old bag. She went back to her father’s house, where her aged parents gave her a small piece of land where she build a small mud hut and tille, though her bones ached but she needed to survive and fend for herself as she had done all her life, by then her children were all grown up and had left home, they had abandoned her. Had she failed them as a mother, by nursing each on her breasts until they could nurse no more, had she not woken up early every morning to make them breakfast so that they went to school with full stomachs, had she not made sure that their clothes were washed every day and when they were dry she would fold them neatly and place them under her worn out mattress so that the creases would not be as visible. Had she not sat with them at night listening to their never ending stories, laughing like their jokes were funniest in the world, even after a long day of picking tea leaves, she always made sure she had time for them.

Then a few months after leaving her husband’s house, a rumour came out and people started whispering whenever she passed, then they started ignoring her. None of this mattered, she had been ignored her whole life, she was used to it. Then one day her elderly mother called her. When she entered the mud hut which served as a kitchen, it was full of smoke but the tension was so high, she did not even notice it.
‘Maitu (mother) what is it?’ She asked.
The elderly woman looked unusually frail than usual, she sat at the furthest corner of the smoke filled room, near the window, her eyes spoke of a desperation she had never seen before. Wangui bend over three stone jiko to determine why there was so much smoke.
‘Mwari (daughter)’ her mother started. ‘When you came back here you told your father and I that your husband had abandoned you and you’re in laws had chased you away.’
The elderly woman started coughing uncontrollably.
‘Mother!’ She rushed to her side. ‘Let us go outside and talk about that issue.’
‘No!’ the elderly woman resisted. ‘Why did you come back to your father’s house?’
Wangui felt tears pierce her eyes, initially from all the smoke, then from the disbelief she sensed from her mother’s voice.
‘Why haven’t you’re in laws come for you?’
‘What about your husband? Wangui, he has not visited us since your ruracio?’
‘What about your children, why would they abandon their mother?’
Wangui struggled to wipe her tears away. They had forced her to marry Kamau, that’s why he never visited, he never cared about her, and the promise of finally getting a share of the vast acres of land filled with tea was one that he could not resist. That’s why they chased her away, so that she could not get a share of the land. It was always about the land.

‘I told you mother.’ An all familiar voice said.
Wangui turned towards the door. It was Susan, her sister in law, the wife to her deceased older brother.
Wangui seemed shocked.
‘Wa Eric what is this all about?’
They were interrupted by their mother’s coughing.
‘I will explain it to you.’ Wa Eric started. ‘Your husband left you, that’s has happened to so many women, but all of your six children have abandoned you, now that is not normal my in law.’
‘Mama Eric.’ Wangui moved towards her as the smoke pierced her eyes. ‘What is this all about?
She remembered walking into Wa Dathia kiosk and her former friend now turned foe refused to sell her anything.
‘Crocodile tears…’ Mama Eric said.
Wangui wanted to explain that they were actually smoke tears, she turned to her mother. ‘Mother what is going on?’
Mama Eric went on. ‘You are not coughing in a room full of smoke… I told you mother, her in laws chased her away because she is a witch. And she’s here to kill all our children.’
The word ‘witch’ seemed to echo throughout the mud walls as she followed her in-law out.
‘Wa Eric!’ she said in shock. ‘You are the one spreading rumours about me. I am not a witch and you know it.’
‘Then how come my grandson has started getting sick when you came back here.’ Mama Eric accused her. ‘Your father’s condition has deteriorated since you came back to this land and don’t think I don’t see it, your house is surrounded by mithaiga (herbs), to protect you and cause the people of this village to fall sick and die, that’s what you want, right?’

Wangui was shocked. ‘How would people dying benefit me? Wa Eric, I am an old woman, I have lived my life, I have worked and eaten from the sweat of my brow… God has been…’
Wa Eric interrupted her. ‘I spit on your words.’ She spit on the ground a couple of times as the elderly woman joined them outside. ‘Do not mention the name of God with your dirty mouth you witch! May the God of Isaac, Jacob and Abraham cause your witchcraft and sorcery to destroy you?’
‘Wa Eric that is enough!’ The Elderly woman cautioned her. ‘Mzee is sleeping; please do not wake him up. You too Wangui!’

Wangui went back to her hut, the loneliness that night filled her mud hut it reverberated through the mud walls right into her heart, and it tore right through her soul, her very being was shattered, she cried as she had done many times before. She knew her in-law wanted the land that her parents occupied to go to her and her children, and no one else but to spread rumours that she was a witch, and that she was responsible for her younger brothers’ death and misfortune (they died at the drinking dens, with no wives or children) that made no sense and the villagers seemed to believe her. Yes, she had visited a witch doctor once, in the days when she was a young wife who longed for her husband’s love, but he seemed to hate her more.

Days later, her father died and the situation moved from bad to worse out of the frying pan into the fire as it is said, then a strange disease seem to sweep over the village and everyone seemed to believe that she was the cause.
‘I think you should leave the village for a while.’ Her elderly mother advised.
‘Maitu (mother)’ She said dejected. ‘Mwangi’s child was hit by a vehicle and they are saying that I looked at him with bad eyes, mother you know I have not seen that boy since I came back here.’
‘Mwari (daughter).’ Her mother started. ‘An incited mob is very hard to convince otherwise, nothing will satisfy them but blood, flesh human blood. Please go my child, people in this village do not mean you well.’

That night she called her daughter Wanjiru and explained to her what was going on. ‘Mother I don’t think that is going to happen to you, but I will speak with my husband and I will let you know.’

Wangui started packing her belongings hoping that her daughter would come through for her.

‘I doubt they would harm my mother.’ Wanjiru said to her husband Peter as they got ready for bed.
‘If the villagers want to kill someone they would have killed all those corrupt leaders who have stolen millions and killed hundreds because of that. Like the money meant for anew maternity ward in your mother’s village that was embezzled, it was in the news the other day, imagine how painful it is to lose someone because a leader took the money and built his mother a house and bought himself a Harrier to match.’ Peter responded.
‘Or the man who raped and impregnated that disabled girl, he still walks free in that village.’ Wanjiru added.
‘See, Mama Wangare.’ Peter smiled. ‘They have bigger problems than your lonely old mother; she’s the last on their list if they have one but we can go pick her up over weekend and she can go back when she feels safe from those backward villagers.’
‘Baba Wangare, you do know that the masses will take out their anger and frustrations on poor people like my mother and other petty thieves because the bigger thieves are untouchable.’ Wanjiru said thoughtfully. ‘I don’t want them to touch my mother.’

That Sunday as Wanjiru and her husband made their way to pick her mother but something happened in a church at the village, or somebody said something at their church that morning. An exorcism of a beautiful young lady, who seemed unfortunate not to find a husband took place, as she slithered like a snake, eyes rolled at the back of her head, foaming from the mouth, in a trance like state she confessed that Wangui was her accomplice nay the lead witch in the village. She was delivered but the villagers decided enough was enough; the raging mob gathered at the village centre and made their way to Wangui’s mud hut. Wangui’s elderly mother rushed to get the police. Wangui pleaded with the mob, but the evidence was too overwhelming as they beat her up, before dousing her with petrol and setting her and her mud hut on fire. They stood guard as she screamed for help, no one came to her aid, and no one ever did. The police came a couple of hours later to pick the badly burnt hardly recognizable body up, Wanjiru and her husband never made it to the village, they were waiting at the mortuary to receive the body.

‘Why would they call you a witch?’ Peter asked a clearly disturbed Wanjiru. ‘You haven’t spoken with your mother for years.’
Word had reached them that the villagers had been made to believe that Wanjiru was her mother’s accomplice and that through sorcery she and her husband had accumulated a lot of wealth, to make it worse the villagers swore they would not allow Wangui’s body to be buried in the village.

So you see Wangui died alone, was buried alone in a public cemetery far from her people and most people attended her funeral only came to confirm if she was really gone. Like they came to mock her one last time, for being so miserable in life and death in equal measure. Maybe her tombstone which she would never get because the wooden cross would eventually fall off from neglect and nobody would come to visit her grave for a very long time, should have read ‘here lies Wangui, a miserable, lonely, unwanted woman with nothing to show for all her years of toiling under the sun, dead for a course she never believed in. abandoned in life, shunned in death. May she rest in peace if she can find any!’

Hopefully in the afterlife, you will finally rest in peace Wangui. You surely as hell deserve it!

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Cameroon bye bye

BYE BYE TEAM CAMEROON

 

If there’s an African team that didn’t deserve to play in this World Cup, that would be Cameroon. Literally, no wait…seriously, they didn’t even qualify, well they did on a technicality. Then when they got the golden opportunity they decided to start with some drama, men with drama not so cool, they went on a strike and refused to go to Brazil if their allowances and bonuses were not paid, I wish they had just let the opportunity pass, declined to show up in Brazil. Not that its Samuel Eto’o’s work to pay player allowances or Alexander Song’s, but they are among the world’s best paid players, their leadership of this team could have been crucial. Once they landed in Brazil everything went from bad to worse, here why: –

  • They played more as individuals and not as once as a TEAM. I saw Alexander Song and Neymar showing more team spirit than our African boys during the game. (Well in another league, in another place, they are.)  Cameroon was a team of unequals and you bet they proved it more than once. Their egos were way bigger than their team spirit and game, and their side shows kept us entertained but for the one billion African fans they were hugely a big disappointment.
  • Their game was too physical, I found it wise to say a silent prayer every time the ‘boys’ took to the field. ‘Dear Lord, help this team to be slow to anger…no red cards, just the yellow please…thank you.’ I mean did you see poor Neymar pushed from the back, while he was already off the pitch, that meaningless physical assault came out of nowhere. They were also physical towards each other, I get it whenever a team loses at such events the tendency is to blame another team member, but do it in the dressing room, but the golden rule should be ‘headbutting your teammate is not cool.’

Now that Cameroon are out of the world cup, I would hope before the next tournament not hear about strikes, I also hope they deal with their issues at anger management classes because in all their games they truly deserved to loose, and most importantly, I hope they learn to play as a team, not as big names that play for top clubs in Europe and poorly paid home grown players.

Oh well! Adios! And please return the bonuses, as a sign of good will.

 

Guys the whole world is watching stop it

 

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WORLD CUP AWARDS 2014 (HUMOUR ARTICLE)

WORLD CUP 2014 GROUP STAGES ROUND ONE AWARDS

The most anticipated sports events the ‘World Cup’ is here and it’s been nothing but spectacular, mostly and all the teams have played at least a game each, so because of being so entertaining and presenting their countries so well, awards must be given, so here goes: –
• Netherlands (Most interesting team so far), thanks to the Flying Dutchman for reminding us just how beautiful this game is supposed to be.
• Joachim Loew, German Team Coach (Hottest coach of the tournament, the guy is yummy, I doubt this will change any time soon) If you don’t agree there’s something wrong with you!
• Neymar, The Brazilian Forward/Winger
(For being the hottest player of the tournament, move over Cristiano Ronaldo, there nothing hotter like a man who can swing his hips and is easy on the eyes.)
• Cameroon (Most disappointing African team), come on Samuel Etoo and co. I wish they would have carried the same passion they had when demanding for better ‘wages’ from their government. Hope it will not be a case of ‘we came, we saw and we’re conquered.’
• Ivory Coast fans (For supporting your team the best way you know how, shaking your tushi’s like they knew they hot, which they were.)
• Japanese fans (Picking up after yourselves, is there a book Kenyan parents can buy, because some really need some tips, case point have you ever met some of those rude parents with equally rude kids in public transport who will not give you their unpaid seat until the tout tells them to!)
• Team Brazil (is my team for the ‘diva’ award, they went down so quickly, and stayed there, someone cc this to Catherine Alouch, you got some competition girlfriend.
• Nigeria verses Iran (boring team award) who said a draw has to be boring, I dozed off a couple of times. I mean the Nigeria we know would have entertained us to the final minute even if it meant losing!
• England (for the most obvious team of the tournament so far, overrated, underperforming, and mostly disappointing! That was so obvious, despite changing tactics, hiring Steven Hawking a Theoretical Physicist you still managed to disappoint as usual! Yet we always expect more from this team.
• Brazil: (Patriotism Award, both team and fans, singing the national anthem from their hearts, . Maybe one day we will all be proudly Kenyan, coz right now we are not, we are proudly tribal, if our team did make it, we would be worried about what tribe was not represented and which one was over represented.
• Didier Drogba: (He still got it Award). For proving that he still got what it takes to take his country forward and make Africa proud.
• All African fans: (Forever Hopeful Award) for always hoping that ‘this world cup will be our world cup!’ One day it will be an African World Cup!’

More awards will follow soon. Keep watching the world cup!

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Mother Knows Best

A mother always means best, but is it always the the best that she is passing to her daughter.

I was beaten by your father for over twenty years; it had made me more mature hasn’t it. Back then I behaved like a child and the beatings have made me wiser, truth be told, at times as a woman you cannot help but behave like a child, we gossip, we engage in activities that bring our husbands to shame, and men are cannot understand why we behave the way we. So Judy in the end remember the following: –

  • Men are sexual creatures, they cannot stay without sex, my daughter, your man will stray, but no matter how much he strays, he will always come back home to you. I have known your father has had so many women throughout our time together but at the end of the day he always came back home to me. The affairs have hurt me, but at no point have I ever attacked any of the women that he has been dating. Do you remember Halima your friend? You brought her home one day, and she served your father a lot especially during those periods when I was upcountry. You thought she was your friend, right? There are times as a woman the urge just dies out but for men they cannot control it. My daughter did you ever lack in anything while you were living with your father. He gave you everything, as long as you love and respect your man, he will always be there for you and your children.
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Mother Knows Best

A mother always means best, but is it always the the best that she is passing to her daughter.

I was beaten by your father for over twenty years; it had made me more mature hasn’t it. Back then I behaved like a child and the beatings have made me wiser, truth be told, at times as a woman you cannot help but behave like a child, we gossip, we engage in activities that bring our husbands to shame, and men are cannot understand why we behave the way we. So Judy in the end remember the following: –

· Men are sexual creatures, they cannot stay without sex, my daughter, your man will stray, but no matter how much he strays, he will always come back home to you. I have known your father has had so many women throughout our time together but at the end of the day he always came back home to me. The affairs have hurt me, but at no point have I ever attacked any of the women that he has been dating. Do you remember Halima your friend? You brought her home one day, and she served your father a lot especially during those periods when I was upcountry. You thought she was your friend, right? There are times as a woman the urge just dies out but for men they cannot control it. My daughter did you ever lack in anything while you were living with your father. He gave you everything, as long as you love and respect your man, he will always be there for you and your children.

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The beauty of place 2

I was scared… now any normal Kenyan should have heard the following about Turkana, its very hot, insecure (cattle rustling), hunger prone and God forsaken area. Yet the first time round there was my boss advising me to take anti-malaria pills, the second time they were talking about Yellow Fever, yes that was scary but sorry to admit it, I didn’t. Turkana sounded like on scary place full of real snakes that I had seen on TV only. I was not even excited about seeing Lake Turkana. It was one of those jobs that you needed several encouragements to go, the ones that you ask is the money really worth it? What’s the adventure in such a place? I headed out knowing so much yet so little.

 

The journey started on November 16th in the morning, I was looking forward to see the Rift Valley, there’s a point a the journey where you can be able to see the Rift Valley in its majesty and its breathtaking, I don’t think the driver understood that concept or maybe Kenyans don’t realize the beauty that they are endowed with. Passing through so many Kenyans town was amazing and some for a strange reason, also owing to the fact that I think too much reminded me of the post election violence and I failed to see the beauty in the midst of all the smoke. Oh forgive me, did I say I tend to over think and my imagination always gets the best of me. Burnt Forest was beautiful but it reminded me of something that Kenya went through when I was in Riruta Satellite which was relatively calm.

 

All the violence that I saw during that period was on television, the tension was there still, my friends from different communities as I did not see eye to eye at that point, it felt as if they were saying its ok for my community to be killed in the Rift Valley and I thought I am a Kikuyu, the only difference was that I was born in The Great Constituency (Da-goretti), if the tides changed I might have been among the numbers.

 

Point being the Post election violence did a lot of damage physiologically as well. Considering that I grew up in a cosmopolitan division, the post election and my University seemed remind me that did not matter. I have never thought about the ‘T’ until those two moments.

 

It was amazing going through all these places that were in Kenya and I never thought I would be able to get there, I enjoyed the road trip, I saw Nakuru, Naivasha, Burnt Forest, Eldama Ravine, Eldoret among others before stopping over at the all lovely Kitale town for the night.

 

Kitale Town

In Kitale the likely hood of being hit by a Bicycle is a higher than being hit by vehicles, at the hotel we stayed, their services was amazing, , apparently I passed through all these Kalenjin towns and did not get a tatse of Mursik, I do regret that. I would have preferred that to the ordinary Nyama Choma.

 

The next day after a boarding a bus at ten in the morning for Lodwar (the town that I thought was in North Eastern) which to my annoyance departed at 12 midday, people just kept moving in and out of the bus, I wanted to ask them if there were thorns on their seats but they were way older than myself so I kept my annoyance to myself. We passed through Kapenguria that was raining heavily before finding myself in Lokichar where all my fears were magnified when I saw a man presumably Turkana walking around with a gun, the small town of Lokichar was surrounded by bushes, my heart went silent with fear, I remembered all the stories about cattle rustlers and I began to wonder about the place we would set up camp, was it safe, was there somebody employed as a security escort. We were supposed to spend the night in Lodwar I wondered if they would be hotels anyway.

 

As we approached Lodwar at night, I was pleasantly shocked to hear some taxi drivers who asked if I wanted a ride start speaking to each other animatedly in Kikuyu, later on I would learn that Lodwar is a cosmopolitan town, Kenyans and foreigners from all sorts of life converged at the small town, though the municipal councils of all these towns should know that poor urban planning is repeating itself in all of them. There was no street lighting in Kitale and Lodwar. On the other hand it was good to no that where other people see insecurity others saw opportunity. And Lodwar is such a welcoming town.

 

The next day we drove off tour camp site, about fifty Kilometers from Lodwar and 20KM from Kalokol a small town near one of the many shores of Lake Turkana, and from that time onwards I fell in love with Turkana, the people, the geographical and the fact that everything my pale anthropology professor taught me finally made sense. You see in class they spoke of Koobi Fora whenever we were revising we would ask each other ‘is this place in Tanzania or in Kenya’, but having visited Turkana I will not be forgetting that anytime soon.  So why should every Kenyan visit Turkana? Here are my reasons.

 

  • Ever thought of going for a road trip, or are you the sort of person who loves adventure,

 

Turkana is the place to go. Its over 600KM away, and you get to go through some of the major towns in Kenya which are all part of the Great Rift Valley. You can stop by Kitale for a sleep over, enjoy the cold for one more time, laugh at being Kenya, and enjoy the Nyama Choma and hospitality over a cold soda. See endless bicycles and avoid getting hit by one. And sample the beauty of a nation so beautiful, I guarantee by the time you are through, the words of the National Anthem will ring true. ‘And our homeland of Kenya, heritage of splendor firm may we stand to defend.’

 

 

 

 

You will get to go through different geographical settings that are beautiful that makes you realize why tourists are crazy about it. Kenya is a small country indeed but every place is just different. The next time round I flew to Lodwar it only took roughly over an hour for temperatures to soar to 38 degrees and my sweat glands to become highly activated. By road the change in gradual and more spectacular, the towns, the forests, the heavy rain in one area and an hour later the dry country side.

 

 

 

The highway towns and their notorious reputations in connections to the truck drivers, amazingly towns like the one below and others like Lokichar have a thriving night economy. Seeing dark grey rain crowds in one town and none in the next for one month making me long for rain and love any one cloud you saw in the sky.

 

 

 

 

  • Adventure, I have heard friends, young and in the corporate world who long for a weekend get away to Naivasha or Mountain climbing in Mount Kenya. Turkana provides something different wherever you go, when I went back to Turkana earlier this year, I visited so many different places courtesy of the field school that I was attending including Lothagam, Kerio Valley, Eliye Springs, Kalodirr, among others. And they are just different geologically speaking.

 

I climbed a lot of hills, measured the depth, height of the river Turkwel as well as crossing it on several occasions until the rainy season entered and the river transformed from this nice

Beautiful river that my fellow students and I loved to play around with, at times cross and when the geology demanded measure and learn how a seasonal river became perennial, the beautiful dam named after this river and its effects on the river, the garden just next to river and the beautiful vegetables that we had the privilege of consuming one of the evenings.

 

Small sand dunes on the banks of the river and most amazingly the evidence of the various stages the river had gone through, evidenced by the various depositional materials thousands of years back different in color and texture on the cliffs on one side we could easily tell which direction the river was moving towards.

 

As well as being a personal favorite for singing out loudly, that small hill near the river was way better than the bathroom, playing in the sand, watching the sunset and crossing for the sake of it, talking to the bright Turkana children who showed us and easier way of going round the hills and to us back home when evening fell.

 

It also the river I enjoyed playing with the Turkana children, more so the young boys, throwing the small palm like fruit upstream and trying to catch them so that they would not float away.

 

Or when the rains started, we could hear the Turkwel flowing heavily at night, reminding me of the small river that originated from the gorges that you could hear from kilometers away. More than just being a fun river to watch, it’s actually a source of life because women fetch water for use in this river. And during the rainy season there is also fish. Ultimately this river flows into Lake Turkana.

 

Lake Turkana

The Turkwel River before the rainy season

Easy to cross and play around with, whose sunset is to die for to this mad raging river?

 

 

In Lothagam was where we slept under the open sky full of stars, even the threat of hyenas and hearing scary American stories (culturally speaking they weren’t scary) couldn’t keep me awake under the beautiful romantic evening sky In Lothagam the next picture: Some shade

 

Geology of Lothagam was different in the places that we visited we geologically different and represented a different time period and formations such as ‘Nawata’ which the Americans pronounced as ‘No water’ with a weng.

 

 

Beautiful Lothagam the different colors of the formations can be clearly seen.

 

Lake Turkana is also adventurous in its own right, its crazy devilish winds almost carried my tents away, you could literally feel it being swayed side ways and every other way. Meaning most nights I was awake, earlier this year we slept in rooms but in those nights, when the crazy winds were blowing its simply crazy, during the day it’s the sand storms that carry day, when I stayed in a tent I had sand in it everyday. The fisher men have to wait until its calm so that they venture out, so when a boat ride was suggested I was excited at first, growing up my parents took me one too many times to Uhuru Park, so I wasn’t scared when we were going to Central Island on Lake Turkana, yes fellow ignorant Kenyans that Lake that marks the end of Kenya on the maps is a very big lake with three islands, I visited one which has three crater Lakes.

Central Island

 

approachingCentral Island

 

The boat ride to the beautiful island was scary to say the least, going across the waves, most of us including the most experienced swimmers among us held on for their dear lives, at some point I thought it was fun, I had a life jacket anyway, that was until on the ride back too much water got into our boat and seated at the back I realized the situation was not good because the captain for lack of a better word was in panic mode but we made it anyway.

 

  • Tourism, most people think that there is nothing to see in Turkana, but there’s too much to be seen, ever heard of cultural tourism added to all of the above sceneries that you can see. Also Turkana is the best place for honey moon that quiet place that newlyweds in the world, longing for that feeling that they are the only people in the world. TURKANA is waiting for you, while Mombasa is too crowded and by plane it takes roughly over and hour.

 

Sunrise at Turkana Basin Institute

I never knew that I could love nature so much but each time I saw the sunrise I ran to get a closer look. Then again you can sleep under the open sky anywhere in Turkana and nobody will ask you. Most parts of Turkana are safe and it’s only when you get closer to the border of Turkana and other districts than you might experience insecurity.

 

As far as cultural tourism goes, the Turkana culture is amazing and original, a wedding ceremony goes for close to a week and just watching them in their Mohawk and traditional wear, it will make you think about other pastrol communities and how forgotten these cultures are and the potential that they hold not only to the people but to an entire nation.

 

One swim in this Lake and you become addicted.

 

 

 

At a wedding in Turkana, my good friends Kasha and Meadow enjoy themselves, in the same wedding I saw a camel go down literally. Camel and donkey meat are delicacies, the donkeys are some of the laziest in the world. They do no work at all.

 

The nights in Turkana are filled by song and dance, the young people both men and women gather around at a dancing ground and they sing and dance the night away. And its not a disco, its African, a tradition that most ethnic communities in Kenya have done away with.

 

In some places you might see hyenas which I am very scared off; they do after all have very powerful jaws for breaking bones. On other side of the Lake there is a National Park called Sibiloi.

 

 

The legend of this cliff is amazing apparently it a ‘jini that swallows goats’ whole.

 

  • Education, for all the geology, anthropology, archaeology, history and ecology students Turkana is the place. They don’t say east Africa is the cradle of mankind for no good reason. Without Turkana and the fossils that it has provided we wouldn’t even come close. So many people are into evolution yet ignore the place that it all cam from.

 

Namaratunga                                                               Fossil

 

Namaratunga is a site that dates to the middle Holocene that is around 3000-4000 years ago, for anthropologists the people have an interesting account of the mass burial ground. Among the fossils found would include the Turkana boy (Homo erectus), most of Turkana is evidenced by extant Lakes, and is littered with artefacts such as pot sherds and egg shell beads.

 

Also for the ecology students I had the chance of learning about invasive species such as the Prosopis (Mathenge) and its harmful effects. We did a lot bird watching, in Kenya we have over 2000 different bird species. In Turkana there was the Somali crow a very black bird in a very hot place.

 

  • A quiet time, I love being quiet, a place where I can be alone, talk to myself, think, no wonder I love such places as Turkana I can sing loudly and not have a care in the world.

 

 

Me being quiet.

 

It’s the perfect get away, its peaceful, no rude people shoving around like in the streets of Nairobi.

 

As a writer and Anthropologist I found Turkana a place full of stories and a culture that is unexplored. And I hope over the next few weeks I hope to bring that into light, it was inspirational as much as it was fun. I get to learn about their people and their unexplored beauty, the high levels of poverty made me realize that Turkana has long being dependant on foreign aid, but if Kenyans played a part, it wouldn’t need aid. We saw what simple irrigation can do a small piece of land without altering the land, because while the men graze when can dig. Truth be told most vegetables we had were from around Turkana not Nairobi or even Kitale.

 

The ultimate truth, the beauty of a place not being in what you hear or see on the TV but on visiting and realizing the beauty yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stroll on the lovely crater lake on central Island Lake Turkana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Beauty of a Place

 

Last year I got an opportunity to work as a field assistant for a researcher from one of the universities abroad in Turkana, Kenya, I wasn’t excited. Unlike when I had received a scholarship to attend a field school in Tanzania that August, I suppose the only joy was that it was my first paying job in the field. Well, for Tanzania I was looking forward to the chance of being a foreigner, it was my first time outside Kenya, I relished the cultural experiences, and being an anthropologist I actually meant that.  Tanzania did not disappoint, it was beautiful, I loved staying in a tent for six weeks, walking around the river bed alone, the one hour trek to a hill and then climbing it for another hour, getting to the top dead tired but one look at the scenery and it was breath taking. The terraces up the hill and the Stone circles that we excavated that were built around five hundred years ago, it was marvelous because I asked myself what were they thinking (the people that lived five hundred years ago), where did they go?. The evidence of their existence the potsherds, some beads, an iron arrow head and trying to decipher what it all meant.

Mountainside view

The dinners under the open sky each night for six weeks, as well breakfast it was amazing, the evening sky was serene in every sense of the word, romantic should be the word. Watching the sun rise was amazing, and Engaruka was not as hot as I expected it to be. Meeting people from different countries in the world was a phenomenon experience.  The cultural diversity meant I added an Irish man, Welsh and two English men to the people that I knew. Amazingly I learnt in England your accent varies depending on where you are from. The Liverpool accent is very different from the London accent. The Yorkshire accent was the most interesting one, especially if you have read the ‘secret garden.’ The Tanzanian’s did not disappoint, I mean you ask for directions and they end up taking you to the place.

A lesson for Kenya would be in countries like Wales and Ireland, the languages Welsh and Irish have survived the test of time, meaning they are not about to be classified dead any time soon.  Yet in Kenya we are busy, talking from an anthropological sense killing innocent languages. Most languages in Kenya are in danger of becoming extinct, and the fact that a good number of children living in urban areas cannot speak or understand their mother tongue.

The way to the archaeological site

An archeological trench dug by my colleagues.

In the photo below my colleague Steve works on a trench at the bottom of the terrace.  On site it was work, off site it was great learning that Tanzanians’ rarely talk about politics even when it’s a month away to the general election.

In movies when people speak of going away to find themselves maybe they should go to such places, unlike the noisy Nairobi life it offers a serene environment, quiet and simply amazing.

Lastly I got to sample a national park in Tanzania, at first I was scared that it would be very expensive until I saw the notice: –

EAST AFRICANS: 1500 Tshs

Roughly around eighty three Kenya shillings, and the park was well maintained, and there were animals every where.

Most importantly I learnt the truth about the Tanzanian people, I stayed with around fifteen students from the University of Dares Salaam, and the secret to being united is not in hiding your ethnic identity.  If you ask a Tanzanian what their ethnic group is the answer is never ‘Tanzanian’ they answer ‘Sukuma, Jita, Chagga,’ among others. Worth noting Tanzania has over a hundred and twenty ethnic groups. In every region just as in Kenya there is a specific ethnic group that lives there.

Back in 2008 I stayed with a Tanzanian family for a couple of days, later on they told us that they were like foreigners in that region since its predominantly Chagga and they were from the Haya ethnic group, both man and wife. But in Tanzania it did not matter where you are from you could won land anywhere in the country. The beauty of Tanzania is that they embraced diversity.  Argument being Kenya is made up of forty two ethnic groups, our tribes as people call them don’t divide us, politics does.

The tents we stayed in.

The food was different, the hotel culture was different, a little bit slow for my usual Kenyan self but the food was amazingly different, tasty and cheap. Chapati is more of a breakfast meal and the warmth and hospitality of the people reminded me of the African Spirit.

The touts were definitely nicer and patient, but it had to come to an end, one month later in October 2010, I got a chance to be a field assistant in Turkana, Kenya, and my expectations were not the same. I was actually scared…

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Cultural Complexity

Complexity of Culture

They say ‘one man’s meat…well that old saying seems to apply to culture in the very same. Anthropologically speaking cultures are so similar yet different in equal measure.

Culture is best described as that ‘complex whole…’ complex I suppose because it varies from one society to the next. All societies in the world have culture; culture is universal, shared and very specific, making it all the more attractive to an anthropologist. For instance the raging debate among some Christians about female and male dressing, if they were to study the bible in its cultural context they would realize that both sexes wore long flowing robes cut differently to suit each. One of my lecturers in campus told an interesting story of how the British forced the Zulu men to construct the railway to their annoyance, owing to the fact such hard tasks in their society was actually done by women. Yet the British must have been thinking such hard should only be done by men, in Western societies gender roles varied the ones in Traditional African Societies, different kinds if thinking thanks to the socialization process.

• The Mohawk is style that most Kenyans think originate from Northern Africa, forgetting that it might be authentic Kenyan, more typical of the pastoralists’ society. Among the Turkana it’s a special reserve for the women, young and old. Asking around some say it’s for aesthetic purposes, other say that some styles are a marker for young girls who have been betrothed or as they put it ‘booked’ by other parents for their sons, some styles they said were a sign of witchcraft and touching a child’s head would result in sickness. A young white male we were with in Turkana had a Mohawk, whenever the Turkana saw him they would start giggling and at times laughing. I bet you can guess why.

A typical Turkana Mohawk.

• Now that’s the Turkana, the Maasai who are the better known pastoralist society have the Mohawk as well but only the young men adorn the hairstyle, this I have observed in Tanzania as well, among the Maasai living there.

• Its funny how in Nairobi and some parts of the Rift Valley women in the past have been stripped naked for dressing ‘immorally.’ The word ‘immoral’ is not black and white as is defined in the dictionary. The Turkana women can easily get away with walking around bare-chested. But if you try and lift a little Turkana girl up, they hold on to their skirts tightly to avoid showing what they consider private. After staying in Turkana for a while you realize that what’s sexual in one community is not for the other. While people in other parts of Kenya protest women showing just a little cleavage, in Turkana showing both is natural, but just a little bit of thigh and you may be easily branded an ‘immoral person.’

• Funny enough the City Council of Nairobi outlaws the selling of donkey and camel meat, in Turkana these are delicacies. One of the local Turkana people asked if I wanted to see the butchery so as to verify their claims, I didn’t. But my fellow field school students and I did see a butchered camel at a wedding ceremony. Some say that donkeys are kept for dowry purposes, camels and donkeys do not carry heavy loads around, leaving women to carry fifty kilogram sacks of charcoal at times for over twenty kilometers to town centers such as Kalokol among others. The only time the two animals carry heavy loads is when the family is moving from their Manyatta in search of new lands. On a normal day the donkeys and camels are busy moving around grazing and at times for the camels browsing am sure the donkeys from Limuru would be envious.

• ‘Mutumia’ if you are a Kikuyu basically means wife, at times it used to refer to women in general. But if you are a Kamba it means ‘Husband’ or ‘man’. Funnily enough in Kikuyu the word means one who is quiet, as opposed to ‘Muthuri’ which means ‘one who chooses.’

• ‘Tata’ in the kikuyu language means aunt, yet in Kisii it means ‘father.’
• In the Maasai and Turkana communities it is the women who build houses, in other societies in Kenya it is men who build. It’s not that men have abandoned their duties or they have nothing to do but carry their Ekichoro’s (traditional stool) and sleep under trees in the village centre, they had duties such as herding which have been lost with time. Though in times of need these men do sell their livestock so that they feed their families.
A Turkana Manyatta homestead

So at times when two cultures fight, more so in a modern society like Kenya, they are fighting over what they don’t understand. Ultimately one’s man meat should NEVER be another man’s poison, culturally speaking anyway.

Pictures courtesy of Turkana Basin Institute Students class of 2011

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Article: Funny Swahili

And there was Kenyan Swahili, there are some words which will always confuse me and maybe funny while at it:-

§  Nasikitika                    Nasitikika

§  Kukanganyana           Kukanyangana

§  Mimba                                    Miba

§  Lewa                           Elewa

§  Lowa                           Lewa

I had an American ask me after a turbulent ride to the Central Island, Lake Turkana what ‘I am drenched’ in Kiswahili is and a guy jumped in “ Niko na maji.”(I am with water). I laughed. Then I gave my own answer, slowly and unsure. “Nimelewa.” I thought twice about that, ‘Nimelewa’ is I am drunk, and then thought about it for a minute, water, sea water definitely has never made any person drunk. “Nimelowa.”

 

I remember all these because I am in a field school and there are some Americans who we are trying to teach some Swahili words, in exchange of learning new exciting languages such as Spanish (America is a very diverse country, remember cousin Barry). But the last thing you want to do is teach Swahili when there is a Tanzanian involved because they will be out prove that Kenyan Swahili is the worst kind in the whole world, hence making Swahili look like a foreign language in the process. For instance we (all Kenyans) know that a Leso is what we (women) tie around our waists or wrap ourselves, with some writings on it. In Tanzania, a Leso is a handkerchief, whilst we must all admit that our Swahili is not the best in the world, A leso in Kenya will never be a handkerchief, I thought that was kitambaa cha kutolea makamasi (I doubt we have one word for that) and a Kikoi which by all means is Kenyan is not a male garment, and Kanga being any kind of fabric, in general terms other than a Leso, though I stand corrected.

 

So who is fooling who, are they not both dialects of the same language, or is the Tanzania version way superior to the Kenyan one? If ‘Bibi’ in Kenya is wife and Tanzania it is grandmother, is the former one wrong and the latter right. Is ‘Mwakani’ within the year or is it in the coming year as the Tanzanians insist, does anyone have to be wrong?

 

I am not writing about the bad Swahili that we use every other day, the point of emphasis is on basic words that are Swahili in the very sense but seems to mean different things to different Swahili speakers. It should be basic knowledge Zanzibarians speak different Swahili than the Tanzanians. Does it mean that the Tanzanian Swahili is incorrect when compared to it? And speaking of Kenya is bad Swahili just another of the language many dialects. Is Swahili itself as a result of intermarriage between the Coastal Bantus and the Arabs? I am sure they did not sit one day and decide that they needed to write a new language, it developed over time. Forget about sheng that has been around for decades and since we are never young forever it tends to die with a generation, think about Kenyan Swahili. That might actually be a genuine dialect.

 

  • Bad Swahili phrases that I have heard and might use a lot

Nasikia njaa or niko na njaa, I must admit I use that a lot.

Niko kwa nyumba, You can only be ndani ya nyumba

 

  • Notice how words in certain languages lack a one word translation in other languages, for instance there is no English word for Ugali and Mukimo, in the same way valentines would be siku ya wapendanao translated from English to Swahili.

 

  • Also notice how hymns loose meaning when they are translated from English to Swahili. There might be a consolation in Blessed assurance (Ndio dhamana). The verses are spot on: –

Ndio dhamana Yesu wangu

(Blessed assurance Jesus is mine)

Hunipa furaha ya mbingu

(Oh what a foretaste of glory divine)

Heir of salvation

Mrithi wa wokovu wake…

 

But the chorus…

This my story this is my song

(Habari njema raha yangu)

 

In short the translation would be Good news oh my heart. Close enough, hymns like ‘Come thou font of.” The Swahili translation is totally different from the English one and depending on which one you are used to then one doesn’t make sense.

 

  • The thing about our national language, it has translations for various countries from their original form to Swahili but leaves out others, was that under the assumption that Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda while Russia is ‘Urusi, Portugal is Ureno, Mozambique is Msumbiji.

 

Then Swahili time is so different from the English time. “Set the alarm at 9:30 while in actual sense they meant 3:30 in the morning, my Tanzanian friend does that all the time. Saa moja should be one o’clock, not seven in the morning. I am not complaining neither are most Kenyans since you get used to time in many different languages. For most Bantu languages this is not even a problem for instance in Kikuyu, thaa mugwanja is one o’clock though mugwanja is seven in Kikuyu.

 

Lastly, is Friday the last day of the week in Swahili since Saturday is Jumamosi the first day of the week, mosi means one after all.

 

Studying language is interesting because language is the museum of culture, it reminds us that we are not Americans that is why snow is not a word in most African languages, its arbitrary and makes sense to its speakers only. For instance ‘Ngui’ the Americans may not know that it’s a four legged creature that they call ‘dog’ unless I or you told it to them. Neither are Americans Italians no wonder they don’t have an English word for Pizza.

 

My American friend, who is fluent in Spanish, when I write down the word Jose, short name for Joseph he pronounced it as Hoze, Making languages so interesting to learn because it’s all about culture.

 

 

 

 

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