Change of Guard

We travelled home over the weekend in a bid to spend time with family and check up on Mom since she had a recent bout with malaria; a fight she won gracefully albeit with a lot of effort. I remember calling her over the phone and listening to her voice shake with a distinct high pitch only attributable to the illness. The world around me crumbled like a cookie since it was the worst state I had ever seen or rather heard her in. A shred of surrender in her voice is not something I would expect from the strongest woman from Wakanda, yet at that moment, it was all I could hear.

I was beside myself with fear listening to her shiver accompanied by laboured breathing. My heart almost ripped my chest from vicious thumping and I had difficulty getting a hold of myself. There is something about being out of sorts that makes you very philosophical.
Especially not with a shiver and laboured breathing. I started thinking about life and all the things I was yet to accomplish for and with her that needed sorting. I zoomed out for a second and all my life came in plain view. It was nothing I would have imagined. My strongest human was now a cause for alarm.

I remember discussing with Kijedi Wesley – a friend from the office who I was with when I made the call – about the oddities of this thing we call life. One minute you are the centre of attention and care. Next, you need to take custody of the person who cared for you. And the fun part is that you never see it coming. It all happens in the blink of an eye. It is suddenly required of you to become strong for them even if you haven’t mastered your walk. From then on, you become the caregiver rather than the recipient. I have brother and sisters who care about her in equal measure, of course, but it is the change of guard happening so subtly that it can only be caught by a keen eye that interests me.

My childhood memories are often marred with recollections of when I had an incessant sore throat that had the doctor’s on my mom’s speed dial. I struggle with those things so much that I have been contemplating having my tonsils removed. I was such a random visitor at the hospital that I had the entire procedure of events from check-in to check-out mapped in my head. My tenacious sore throat led me to learn big vocabularies a lot earlier than my peers.

I used to throw around words like guggle, Listerine®, and mouthwash in a sentence like nobody’s business. In all fairness, I might just owe some of my writing to my stubborn tonsils. Whenever I was down with an infection, I always got treated to chips, a drink and an assurance that things would be better for me. I was in the safest of hands and nothing could seem to stop my ambitions.

I wanted to become a doctor at some point due to the random visits to the hospital until I saw planes at Wilson Airport and the tables turned. I would be cooler being a pilot. I would fly over mom’s house and wave her goodnight once in a while. Fast forward, upon finishing my degree in statistics, I, all along, thought that I would fit the suit of a statistician but my artistic sense kept pulling me towards things that inspire my expression – writing being one of them.

Now, she sometimes calls me Prof short for ‘Professor’ or Prince. Who knows? I might be a professor of something. These words have power, you know? It, however, better be something that inspires the artist in me. About the Prince name, coming to think of it, she calls me something that I have lived a quarter a century being since, not to sound the least boastful, I was born of a queen. (I deserve an AWWWW at least).

Here I am now with all these titles endowed upon me by her and all I can think about is making her happy and ensuring that she knows a good life. We all age with time but it hurts a little seeing the strongest people we know going down that path. Transmuting this heaviness into a desire to achieve and make them proud is the biggest flex anyone should work towards.

I am out here taking second and sometimes third jobs to make sure that she gets the best things life has to offer. All we pray is that the ones that did well by us live long enough to see us succeed and make their lives better through whichever means we can.
If you still care to know, she is doing fine and well, thanks to the vegetables and lifestyle choices she makes. She is busy working on her rabbit venture and things are picking up well. If you need rabbit meat, want to make a business proposition on the same, or need training on rabbit farming and the likes, hit the comment section and I will hook you up. She is friendly and will recommend a book for you to read. You better be a fast reader since they never stop coming.

High School

High school. A place where lifetime alliances are built, hearts are broken behind a random school bus, and all food tastes good. If your school had a yellow bus (right before Matiang’i switched up the rules), then you might not agree with my sentiments regarding food. For us who had little in the way of options sank our teeth through hard bread with our eyes closed like in one of those fancy McDonald’s’ commercials. We had no liberty to be choosy or grumpy. We took whatever we were given with religious devotion.

It was a place where entertainment Saturdays, visiting, and closing days were circled out on the calendar, counted to by the minute. A place where the Avril Lavigne and 21 Pilot fans saw themselves as having sophisticated taste while the Riddim fans were a self-proclaimed life of the party. The fight regarding the scheduling of music always ensued between the two groups. At my school, this topic was so hotly contested that it was decided that the uptown-ish rock fans get a sorry thirty minutes during supper – before the movie – while any other time that presented itself was allocated to the others. Between the two factions was a rather neutral Hip-hop group that sort of bridged the divide. Many neither hated it nor loved it. It was more or less tolerated. It soon became a meeting point for both divides so nobody contested when it was played. Nature has her way of bringing about balance.

Academia did a number on us so whichever escape we could get did us good. We who attended same-sex schools had a hard time living up to the dreams of being doctors and what not while discovering ourselves. The first strand of pubic hair or beard does something to a man. They make you see yourself not for who you are but for who you want to be. You want the world to bow to you and the most beautiful ladies at your beck and call.

Cognizant of these developments, we made good of opportunities like Science Congress, and Music & Drama Festivals to bring us closer to nothing else but girls. We would borrow a shirt or fancy shoes and iron trousers overnight to look good for girls who we had little courage to break the ice save for the few of us who had loafers or moccasins on. The shoes did the talking for them. 

Many guys got letters to carry back with them for lovers. If the lovebirds on either end of the chain were lucky, these outings lasted more than a day so they had a little more time for mail correspondence. The guy in between was a postal service of sorts.

Girls brought our worlds to a stop – as they still do. It was no mystery that Lugulu Girl’s and my school, Friends’ School Kamusinga, never shared a closing date because of the mayhem that we would bring on the local towns when we met. Kumbe (so) they knew!

Those of us who could not sing, narrate, or explain complex scientific experiments stayed in school waiting for the lucky ones to come back with stories of how they managed to steal a kiss from a girl behind a classroom. They were the stars of the show for weeks on end, but that too wasn’t enough to calm a man on a journey to self-discovery.

As far as the rumour goes, food in schools was laced with kerosene to help calm down the beast inside. I’m not one to say that our food was but there had to be a way to taper down the energy we all had. 

Napoleon Hill, in his book, “Think and Grow Rich”, is quoted saying,” … the major reason why the majority of men who succeed do not begin to do so before the age of forty to fifty, is their tendency to DISSIPATE their energies through over indulgence[sic] in physical[sic] expression of the emotion of sex. The majority of men never learn that the urge of sex has other possibilities, which far transcend in importance, that of mere physical expression”. 

I tend to believe they (the school administration), using this book as a manual, did everything in their power to keep us moving.

He proceeds to write that, “the desire for sexual expression is by far the strongest and most impelling of all the human emotions, and for this very reason this desire, when harnessed and transmuted into action, other than that of physical expression, may raise one to the status of a genius”. 

Yeah. Many of us turned out bright students after it all.

Every school term, we had a myriad of activities that highly recommended that we break a sweat or anything we found in our way (just not school property). We had inter-class games and inter-house drama, music, you name it. We had to stay in motion lest we get pushed to the end of the tether by our virility. 

Our class was lucky to have the crème of talent. It’s no surprise the class was almost empty because a good number had attended music festivals back in form 3X – of course with reprimand and backlash from the teachers’ fraternity.

When it came to athletics, we had a few guys who were a definite pick for all games. There was no second-guessing their availability. If it meant putting them in a cask for a stubbed toe, we would for them to play. The guys were prolific machines who knew how to put up a good fight and entertain the crowd. 

Our swimmer, Phobian Toili, was so well built that I often pictured him swimming through the sand. Coming from the Coast of Kenya, where learning to swim is as much a rite of passage as it is a survival mechanism, we had no better man for the job. He was as built as a bison and watching him slice through water was a sight for sore eyes. We watched with awe as he made to one end and back albeit with much effort due to old man physics. There’s nothing that stood in his way. Not even the skimmer.

Brian Kadenge, on the other hand, had a fancy set of feet. He could duck between players with so much finesse that opponents were left to their devices during rugby matches. He was good with dummies and sprints and was a spectacle to watch. He and one Nesdie Kasamani knew how to pile pressure on opponents to their suppression. Nesdie was so resilient on the pitch I doubt he ran on glucose like the rest of us. 

During football games, he was the man to beat with slim chances of success. Such a prolific athlete he was that we were almost sure of the ball ending on the opponent’s score line once served by our goalkeeper – Cohen Andove. Cohen, on the other hand, could shift direction mid-air like the fucking Airbender while ducking for the ball. With no gloves, an oversized shirt and slightly knocked knees, he looked timid but was not your ordinary goalkeeper. I bet he could save our economy given a chance. Sadly, it is no ball.

Our basketballer, Joseph Obiero brought the house down, I swear! Given the technical nature of the game, there were instances where, with no exaggeration, it seemed like he was playing by himself against five. The guy could dribble the ball so close to the ground and cut between frustrated opponents and by the time he made it for the layup, they were shy of coughing blood. He was so easy with the ball that it was intimidating to even think of defending against him. One thing is for sure. It is the NBA’s loss that he is not playing for them because I know this machine of a man would give Steph Curry a run for his money. Imagine a man from Kamusinga benching LeBron James and whispering “nice game” in his ear while rubbing his head. Anyway, there’s no limit as to what one’s imagination can do. 

The guy that featured in all of these was Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala – holder of Kenya’s 100m record and the man whose picture is appended on this post. This man was your go-to guy when any game needed someone to make a run for it. Countless times, he made rugby tries, scored football goals and served Obiero with the so much needed pass for the deciding layup. He was an integral interlink that held all of our teams together. With the speed of light and the agility of a cat, he helped us win the games we had left to fate simply because he had something in the nature of bionic feet. Most of us put up a fight for the biscuits issued to winners at the closing assembly but it seemed to be more than that for him. After all, biscuits can only last you so long. He had a goal of running like Forrest Gump. And he, honestly, scored more than one in that pursuit.

If anyone of us could foretell the future, nobody would have said that one of our very own would carry our flag to the Olympics. Despite the many tribulations that have crowded his past in the arena, he has always outrun them with such ease. The star is now en route to the Olympics after putting up a show in Nigeria and the world is watching. 

Kenyans are prolific runners but certainly not in the sprint category. Here’s a man from Kitale rubbing off the stereotype and making us re-live the potent feeling of success we did years back. I am urging us to garner support for him as he puts us on the map. Akina-Blake and the rest won’t know what hit them. This time, it’s coming home.

As he writes his story, Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala will go into the books of many who knew him as not one who wrote his story with the stroke of a pen but by the strides of his feet. 

From me, 

Godspeed (literally) to you, Ferdy!

Things to Consider when filing that Job Application

For some time now, I have been collating applications for some job posting online at an institution I work with. The posting – a 3-month talent program – has attracted applicants from a myriad of professions, some of whose experience even I admire. 

Given that it is an internship, the feedback has been overwhelming. It is somewhat disheartening coming to terms with the gaping disconnect between education and employment in Kenya. By the end of the week, we had received applications in the north of 100 – most of which showed individuals who, for lack of better words, were ‘over experienced’ to apply for the internship. 

The undergraduate program attracted applicants with Master degrees and those with years of industry experience with the target group not making a quarter of the applicants. Whether the situation of employment in Kenya is dire or people don’t want to read between the lines before making an application are questions I can’t answer. The bottom line is that there is a lot to be done.

Many people have an education but even that is not enough to land them a job. Cut-throat competition has seen qualified individuals miss a job just because they didn’t dot that ‘i’.

In today’s feature, I will try to give my two cents from my time applying for jobs (it’s funny yet sad how this turns into experience), reviewing and helping friends with applications, and following advice from successful job applicants. Here are some areas you can improve on to help you edge out your competition. Feel free to add any more in the comment section below. 

The Cover Letter is an ego massage campaign

Typical job applications require one to write a Cover Letter and attach their CV. Information on the two needs to be as congruent as it needs to be specific to the job application. Also, when companies ask you to write a Cover Letter, they want to know about you as much as they want to see how much you know about them. 

Many job-seekers apply for these opportunities and all they talk about is themselves and the things they have done without showing any knowledge of the position or company they are applying for. It’s akin to praying for something you don’t know about or (pardon the pun) non-consensual sex.

Recruiters love it when applicants massage their egos. In a paragraph or so, talk about the company, what they do, select achievements, and all the important aspects that make you want to join the company. Get as intimate with the company as possible. Show them that you know them. Make them trust you. Warm up to them so that they may warm up to you. There are no two ways about it.

Mention the facts and stick to important information

What facts, you may ask? Recruiters want to see numbers and information vital to the job. Tell them how many projects you have worked on. Tell them exactly how many leads you have converted to sales in the past year or so. Show them that you understand the job you are applying for. Mention vital experiences you believe will position you as a good fit for the job. 

Many people say that they have been ‘gaining skills’ for some time without mentioning the specifics. It is not enough to say that you gained skills with little effort going into expounding the exact skills. Recruiters cannot read your mind so don’t leave them asking questions about you because you are not there to answer. 

State the exact skills. Expound on how the experience you gained will be of importance to the company. Remember that you are not the only one applying for the job so inferring some of these skills might uniquely identify you from the rest.

Also, information regarding your marital status and physical address is of little value to your job application unless specifically requested. Stick to the vital information and keep a yardstick’s distance from mentioning hobbies and skills that do not beef up your application. We can all work under teapot-pressure and with minimum supervision. But don’t make it the reason for your application. Show them value.

Ask yourself what benefit it brings if the recruiter knew that you swim or dance. If the answer is ‘none’, highlight, delete.

Mind your grammar 

It is a no-brainer that your grammar needs to be good if not impeccable when filing that application. No recruiter will take you seriously if you cannot start your name with a capital letter. Date your application and follow general grammar rules. Nobody is asking you to be Shakespeare. Just don’t be someone he would ignore if you met in the streets. If grammar isn’t your forte, pass your application through free grammar-checking platforms like Grammarly. It will help you a great deal in capturing those grammatical errors that miss the eye.

Save your cv and cover letter in your name

For God’s sake, always save your applications with your full name. It is as frustrating as it is annoying having 100 CVs named ‘CV1’, ‘Final CV’ or some random numbers that have no significant meaning to the recruiter. 

Given the numbers, recruiters have no time to open each document to know who the applicant is. I think it all boils down to not being lazy to capture the little details. Don’t be the one whose applications always take a trip to the trash can. Make it easier for yourself to be picked.

Do not append your photo on your CV

A job application is no beauty pageant. Insomuch as we may choose to ignore this, it is commonplace truth that adding a photo to your CV adds no significant value to the value of your application. Trends in job application procedures indicate that more recruiters are using AI-enabled software to scan for keywords in your application. This further stresses the need for job-specific modifications for each application you make. However, such software is not designed to read images and, therefore, these images end up occupying space that would otherwise have been filled by more important content.

Also, remember to save that CV in PDF format. Since your CV might pass through a lot of hands, its contents might be distorted during the process. That’s not something you want to happen. Right?

Most importantly, understand the job requirements

Many job applicants, especially in Kenya, ail from a self-prescribed disease of rushing in to file applications without having read through the requirements. I know it is important not to self-reject but if you do not fit 50% of the required criteria, you are a burn-out job applicant in the bargain. I am always beside myself whenever I see an application where the applicant has no prior experience and skill necessary to warrant consideration for the job, save for their ability to “work under maximum pressure”.  Confidently, they sign off by echoing that they fit the job requirements and “hope to hear from management soon”

I’ve got news for you. You are wasting your life away making those applications if you do not understand what you are applying for.

Before you sit to work on that application, be sure to read through the qualifications. Ask yourself whether you would have given yourself that job if you applied. If it’s a no, your guess is as good as mine.

In conclusion, remember to keep that CV short. A resume’s purpose is to get you an interview. Not a job. So stick to the vitals and be concise. Recruiters don’t have the time for stories. 

In case you are wondering, the application for the positions I started by talking about are still open. If you’re an undergraduate student seeking an opportunity to learn and work with creatives in Media, Software Development, Marketing and Public Relations, Dairy production, Branding, Fashion & Design, and Hospitality (Food and Beverage), or happen to know someone who fits the shoe, click here to sign up for the ‘CoELIB Centre Talent Program – 2021’ or send the application in their direction.

Mic drop!

I Found Peace

It’s yet another Valentine’s Day that is quite understandably, not as red as past ones nonetheless, a good one.

Before we continue kindly listen to this song by Macklemore featuring Saint Claire called ‘Excavate’. It does a great deal setting the tone for what I am about to talk about: https://youtu.be/FyO9fCtIwL8 . You’re welcome!

I don’t know about you but on my end, by the time I was drafting this, I was lying in bed combing through my contact list to find the people that hold me down for a candid chat of reassurance while the rain outside humming in the background. I’m trying to be one with my emotions because there’s nothing manly about being dead inside.

And so, to the few male friends of mine who I might have sent texts brushing close to the border of intimate affection, next year, same time, same place! I know it is a red zone for you. But if it’s all the same to you, I am just trying to be a complete man.

Sometime back, I thought that Valentine’s is all about lovers knocking one another up and breathing deeply through pregnancy scares weeks later. I never for once thought of my mom, my immediate family or my friends as my possible Valentine’s.

There’s something in the way of how they do those adverts that are misguiding. It’s never clearly put but often implied that Valentine’s is for the horny. Sheets, rose petals, a bottle of wine or people reaching for one another’s throats embodies the whole affair. Which is understandable because they have to make money even if it gets to exploiting our bodily desires.

You can’t take your brother, sister, or random friend for such an experience without raising eyebrows and serious questions on morality. That’s why many people never quite celebrate the day when in essence, the people they’re supposed to be celebrating sit an arm’s stretch away from them.

Valentine’s day, as should be all other days, is a time to reflect upon the good and the bad times that build us into a family. A time to capitalize on our faith in one another and make it known that we are appreciative of each other. It’s a time to share moments with the people in whom we find peace.

It’s surprising the lengths we go to spend our lives and time with people who we don’t love and who don’t give us peace just because, for some reason, we don’t want to be left behind.

The big question that sits before us to decrypt this Valentine’s is, what is this thing we call peace that we spend a lifetime chasing?

For a moment, pause and ask yourself, what it means to be peaceful. What do you do when you’re not at ease yet all you want is serenity?

Answering these questions will give us true insight into the reason for this day and possibly guide us and our deliberations.

I was put to task to explain the phenomenon of peace some time back at devotion in respect of one of our office staff – Mr Josephat Gichuki (may he rest in power) – who left us sometime back.

I soon realized that I simply could not find the words to explain what peace meant to me. I stuttered around my grammar trying it out but it was to no avail.

All along, if anyone prodded me, I would say that the very thing I sought in my relationships, my undertakings, and ultimately in life is peace. This state of calm that I so desperately always want to attain now seemed distant. Like a mirage on the horizon.

You see, we all wander to the ends of the earth in look for something so evasive yet so obvious simply because we can’t know it when we meet it. We spend our lives looking for something we aren’t familiar with and in so doing, we waste so much time only to realize it, often when it is too late, that the very thing we were looking for was close by – in the people we love and respect.

Peace is the oneness of mind and spirit. Where there’s harmony between the two, peace prevails and so does love. Love is a product of peace. You fall in love with someone because, in mind and spirit, there exists a balance.

That is why they say that a mother’s love is unconditional. Because from the offing, her soul and mind are in one place, still for her baby.

As we sat around a circle coming to terms with the loss of our brother and intermittently crying our hearts out, it never occurred to me that in that way, our souls and minds were seeking balance. We were finding our peace.

Whenever discontent between the two arises, then peace wanes and so does love.

Whenever people of a nation, a family, and those in a relationship take up arms and go to war, an upheaval between mind and soul is almost always certain. Sometimes it never needs to get to the point of weapons. The little things like a benign ego, insensitivity, or a friend who never quite pulls you up when you need it or never tells you the truth when you surely don’t want to hear it are the little causative agents for discomfort.

We egg on write-offs of relationships hoping that someday something good might come out of them. Only to hate ourselves more and find less meaning in life, love, and all that encompass it.

Someone said that we should not always depend on karma to act. ‘Jifunze kutusi watu (learn to insult people)’ when they deserve it. Which loosely translates to ‘Just know your worth, dummy!’.

It’s no use staying around people who don’t build you and hoping for a change.

Someone also said that you’re paid not what you want but what you’re worth!

As we count yet another Valentine’s Day, do you think the value of your worth is appreciated enough? More importantly, are you appreciating the value of the worth of your family, friends and those you deem dear to you? Most importantly, is your mind and soul at ease with them, and for them?

Call Me Old-fashioned

About a week ago, my friends and I had an impromptu visit to the watering hole. We haven’t been celebrating each other that much in the past years so it came as more or less a natural resolve to step it up a notch in 2021. What better way to catch up after months than to banter over snake tears?

Well, there are many other ways to but it’s not like us to partake of them. We don’t have a book or cook-club to be at. None of us is sporty. I might be the only artistic one and the rest are football fanstics. I am not.

Not to toot my horn, but I’m quite a cook. However, our idea of catching up doesn’t involve standing around a simmering pot of rice on the stove pouring out our feelings. Secondly, we don’t know how to handle feelings. Like scrambled earphones, we try to pull out strings of our emotions hoping they make sense to the better of us. We appreciate each other in the oddest of ways. Never too openly. Scratching just at the border of vulnerability. Draping our appreciation in jibes and humorly fashion.

If one of us moved to a bigger house, we’d be like, “bro. Yaani umeamua kutoka kwa shida. (So you’ve resolved to alleviate poverty)? Rent ni ngapi (How much for rent)?”. Instead of, “wow, bro! This is a nice place you got”.

Then someone will ask why men have a higher mortality rate than women. I’ll blame it on feelings. Well, maybe a tad bit on alcohol, man tax, societal pressure, viagra, you name it. But feelings? You salty motherfuckers! We put up a brave fight by holding them in right to the end to the point of saturation. It’s not always the best of fights but we do fight anyway.

Soon, we arrived at the establishment that blared deafening gengetone music. The music was so loud that I could almost feel the decibels push my thoughts against my skull. The place had an outpouring of revellers in accordance with Covid-19 standards. I could tell by the brush of hot air that brushed my face once we crossed the entrance. Ni Mungu tuu anatulinda (it’s solely God protecting us) because Covid would’ve slapped the shit out of us by now!

The bouncer at the door is someone I know but never quite know. We have been in the Niaje (Hi!) phase for so long that it is actually embarrassing to ask his name. We greet and that’s it. Never standing around each other too long lest guilt starts creeping in.

We exchanged the usual short pleasantries and we walked in. Blinded by the low-hanging neon lights, we scurried for a table to sit at. We were lucky to find one right off the counter boiling over with patrons. The place was so busy I often wonder how possible it is not to make a fortune out of the alcohol and club business. Then I was reminded that it’s not odd hearing stories of waiters and other staff colluding to sell their own crates of alcohol at a club, competing with the owner of the very place they work at.

Enyewe (no doubt) not all of us are made for business. Some of us are at best customers. Business needs titanium balls and an exceptional heart. I say this because I have never recovered from the pain of almost drinking 20 litres of mango juice I couldn’t sell some time back. If God wills it, I will give you a detailed account in future. I still have episodes of post-traumatic stress thinking about it.

Anyway, back to the club. The DJ treated us to some bad-decisions music as we made our order. Now, my friend. There are perks of clubbing around campus students. Their energy makes them the designated life of the party. They sing along popular song lyrics and make you almost consider calling women ‘njege’ and buy weed. The downside is that many are broke. There’s no sin in that. I for one can’t recall the countless times I had to cook rice without oil. Just barely getting by.

At some point in the night when our sobriety scale had tipped, we somehow found ourselves outside to catch a breath only to come back to an empty table. We had made someone’s night. They emptied our gin bottle and made away with a full bottle of beer. But we were gradually losing the sense of feel on our faces so they kind of did us a solid.

As my sobriety and that of my friends wore off, I noticed my friend, Solomon, from the office sitting opposite from me. The dim lighting didn’t leave me much of a chance for a clear vision so I squinted just hard enough to catch his facial detail but not too much to give away my intoxicated demeanour. He sat with a group of beautiful girls sipping on something brown. Something dirty. The kind that wakes you up with your brain rapping so hard against your skull like it demands emancipation.

Among these ladies sat one in black ‘thotfit’ – a skimpy dress with lacy detail on the back. She had a round bum that made my friend – Brian’s heart pulse from his throat. Every time she stood up to take a leak or visit the counter, his face lit up and he fidgeted in his seat. He at one point pulled a Kenya Music Festival move – writing his name and number on a piece of paper and passing it over to her. This guy would fall to the sky if that’s what it took to get through to her. He didn’t.

Her friends were busy swaying to the waves of the music like a tube man at the entrance of an amusement park. As the men in the establishment were lurking for a drunk babe to take home or grind their nether regions against, we were racing against time to gobble down two litres of gin and beers. We could certainly use any help we could get since we aren’t heavy drinkers. Sooner than we anticipated, the soaker of the group arrived. The guy is such a heavy drinker that he got a pot-belly from it. We left him behind ordering more after hours. It takes a gallon to fell that one.

We invited one more friend but he showed up with his friend. Seven was the number. Quite a bummer, if you ask me, but since he was already at the table, and since we needed big enough a number to handle the job given the time constraints and the amount of snake tears, we obliged.

Dear men,
I thought it needless but now find it handy to say that it is bad manners showing up with an extra friend to a party you’re invited without prior request from the hosts. What’s worse is getting ass and sharing the host’s booze WITH THAT ASS at the table. Worst? Sharing the alcohol (you haven’t paid for) with some other guy unknown to the hosts. It doesn’t matter whether they saved your life or voted for Biden. You don’t give out booze you aren’t paying for.
Is it too much to ask?

This guy did it all.

Curfew time was fast approaching. We spontaneously shot up to music we knew. Everyone in the club was drunk and were up in the air singing along to their favourite songs. Solomon from the office was long gone. I asked him the next day where he had disappeared to. He said he had just come for his house keys from his girlfriend (one of the girls he shared a table with) and went home to nurse a sore throat.

“You shared a table with her,” I ask.

“Yes. We did,” he replies.

Which was confusing because by the time we were fondling with our intoxication, three of the girls on the table he was at were either bending down low dangerously rubbing against genitalia or sitting on one. Brian’s kryptonite and himself had disappeared to God-knows-where. Together or not together was above our paygrade. We were too drunk to care.

The one with the roundest bum (who turned out to be Solomon’s girl) gave at least one serving of ass to a different set of guys. She was so generous with her posterior I wonder how she was able to sit up straight the next morning. Mentioning what I saw to Solomon, he acted so calm that I was confused. I for a moment thought he was fucking with me.

“She went out to catch a breath and was back under the table,” I told him. Concerned.

“There’s no fault in that. I’m okay with it,” he says.

Fuck!

One would have mistaken her for someone picking up bottle tops in the dark because she was down there for quite a while. I tell him all this but he is abnormally unshaken. Like a scene from a movie if you ask me.

I am dumbstruck by his demeanor. He is so calm and collected like his woman openly giving ass is no big deal.

He says that if it were him he doesn’t mind doing the same. That he sees no point being a buzz-kill when all his partner wants is to have some fun.

The strength with which Solomon looks the other way with when I tell him about his woman’s escapade entitles him a serious Yelp review for ‘most chill man in the planet’.

Call me old-fashioned, insecure. I can take it all. But a feeling synonymous to me chewing on shards of glass would wash over me if I got to know that my woman was out at night all by herself having ‘fun’.

Asking about whether he might consider marrying her, he said a weak ‘No’.

He hasn’t admitted to being in an open relationship yet but it’s beyond question.

Laughing at Our Own Folly

It’s been a minute since I touched base with you, my readers, thanks to something in between a lull and my struggle with perfectionism. A good friend of mine, whose name I will withhold in respect to their love for anonymity, thinks I am doused in pedantry. The two coupled by my poor reading habit last year brush close to the border of an explanation for such long a layover. My nature has it that I can’t write without prior reading because it’s impossible giving what you don’t have. To give more this year, I took it upon myself to move mentally, financially, career-wise, and in my social lifeIf that doesn’t warrant more reading and writing, we should most definitely schedule an exorcism service. Where the holy water at?

Erstwhile, I was scrolling through channels on my TV on a slow-moving Saturday afternoon. I happened to land on one of those many channels on our TVs that got me wondering how they turn a profit. The guys hardly ever advertise but still manage to stay on day after the next. Thanks to them though, we who are yet to enjoy the leisure of Netflix often get a plethora of free movies to claw back on the afternoon bore when we have nothing else to watch. My search for something to drift my thoughts from the milk and cookies resting atop the kitchen counter led me to a wrestling match.

Between me and you, I have never gotten the gist in wrestling. For the almost quarter of a century of my stay on earth (pretty old huh?) I am often divided regarding the authenticity of the whole affair. Guys in tight bodycon underwear, with veins popping on their faces like a can of worms from anger slapping each other chests around the ring to the amusement of thousands of fans, seem pretty stage-managed to me. Or is it? Where do they draw the line between entertainment and actual pain? I wouldn’t let anyone punch me in the face for a year’s supply of milk. I love milk!

My guilty pleasure is that of sitting through a wrestling match just to check whether they actually sting the others’ faces with punches. I bet they go back to the dresser, remove the tight ass pants and laugh at our folly and later discussing how fun it was throwing each other against the ropes like school girls. 

“Next time cringe when I fake-punch your throat. We want them charged enough to stake your loss”, one would tell the other. 

Wrestling and the theatrics of dating couples aren’t chalk and cheese. The same way campfire horror stories about The Undertaker gave us sleepless nights is the same way relationship drama haunts my nightmares. 

Watercooler gossip has often led my friend to tell me a lot regarding his love life and the tribulations he is going through. Many a time, before I got it to my head, he would bicker about how salty the whole affair was. How desperate he wanted to throw the spanner to the works and move on, only for him to move in with her after I had taken my time to pour out my wisdom to him. 

It took me a while to acknowledge that whenever people in relationships outpour their sentiments, they are never quite looking for a contrary opinion. It is mostly for your entertainment, not a channel for counsel. 

All they really want is to hear their own thoughts on loudspeaker. Opinion peleka BBI. 

Another friend of mine has the cadence of a good listener. He’s a sucker for turtle-necks. Not sure if that’s related but I thought to toss that out there in case it’s a thing. He gets me thinking, “Man, I would kill for a long neck” because he looks swanky in them (turtle-necks). Let’s call him Jakom. Yeah. You guessed it.

He sports a fatherly demeanour that respectable girls would go for. So, naturally, he is the go-to guy for counsel whenever people’s relationships are on the rocks. He is a good-looking guy but he has that desperate vibe that comes from being a good schooled boy never asking for much more than a kiss. Maybe even refusing them, so whenever he confides in me, I do well to listen intently.

A lady he has been giving his two cents for a while now has had quite a rollercoaster for a relationship. I gather she is smart, hopelessly romantic with a home for a heart. I know her from campus. She had the street cred of a badass and a round bum to keep heads turning. I know how motivated she can get when she wants something to work. 

She is having some sort of hard luck in her relationship. And that’s where an oracle for my good friend comes handy not knowing that he’s playing the metronome to the music he doesn’t quite understand.

It’s better being unhappy than uncertain, so she outpours to him more often than always hoping that my friend would give her some much-needed closure and deeper understanding of the tribulations she has to sleep through. 

She is trying as best she can to salvage the remains of a relationship whose salvage cost clearly outweighs the value of her peace. It’s good talking about these things but of what good is it if no follow-up cation takes place? 

Between a miscarriage, infidelity, and emotional drain she can hold on for so long. The guy is known to her kin as she is to his. But that doesn’t stop him from open cheating. She was heavy with his child but four months later had a miscarriage. I think she might have been compelled to procure an abortion but who’s to say. She left home to be with a man who does not get her. If only he could see himself in her eyes.

She is in denial regarding the whole thing falling to pieces given the effort she has put in. She desperately wants Jakom to tell her that there are grounds for hope. Something he doesn’t promise because he’s not the boyfriend and that’s not how shit works.

Every so often, my friend tries to make sense of her predicaments, sometimes with fail, and give his sentiments – her taking the high road. The lady and her man are still together, gaslighting each other. She is blind to the fact that what we want and what we do not want has no effect on truth. She stays in the rickety relationship, hurt and heavy, hoping for a miracle that might never happen. 

Like the opponents in a wrestling match, she would laugh at Jakom’s folly, utterly disregarding his advice of dumping her man’s ass. Or maybe she just has no clue on how to go about it. My friend, with his patient nature, keeps the advice coming knowing all too well that she does nought putting it to use. 

I think Jakom is spitting in the wind but who’s to say. She went back home once after Jakom’s relentless pleading. Let’s hope this time it’s ‘permanent. 

If my old man were alive, he would scoff it off citing it geriatric speak for ‘mind your freaking business whenever possible. You can have a mistake of content but never of intent. Sometimes it is good to let people solve their relationship problems alone. It’s no use helping up an individual who is relentlessly kicking their legs. You weren’t there when they were making lifelong commitments to each other. What makes you believe for one second that you need to be there when they break them?’.

Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash.

Closure

It’s been a minute since I last wrote on this blog. A lot of things have happened, not to excuse my complacency, but some of which directly or indirectly affected my writing. A plethora of these ‘things’ have been emotional, circumstantial or some which I could not quite wrap my head around. Since I last wrote, I have met new people, moved around a lot, come to the appreciation of the fact that I’m my happiness, learnt a lot of things about myself and the world around me – things I am unpacking a day at a time, got used to wearing face masks, got tired of them but still wore them anyway, and so much more. I will be keen to share some of them through my writing if The Big Guy wills it. 

Touching base

I’m a man of art. I’ll, therefore, start by briefing you on my escapades in this front. I have developed some interest in woodwork lately. How the contours merge over the surface edges and the feel of glossy varnish on wood spike my desire to learn one or two things about the art of wood. Or maybe it’s just that my carpenter does an (insert expletive) job that I’d better do it myself. At this rate, I might just enroll for carpentry classes. Sii TVET zilifunguliwa na Magoha (weren’t TVET institutions opened my Magoha)?

I have also gone to great lengths to learn Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. A little knowledge of graphic design won’t shock my brain. Would it? I’m also collecting acorns and placing them in random patterns in the house. For what good, I know not yet. I might be the low budget Picasso of interior design Kenya might have been looking for. 

Speaking of art, my brother – Brian Andanje – has embarked on a socializing cards project that might revolutionize how you bond with your workmates, friends, and for the toddlers, fellow kids. ChiLL-WeLL Icebreaker Cards are designed with human interaction in mind meant to break social barriers and invoke meaningful engagements for an awesome creative, and fun learning opportunity. 

And no. It won’t cost you an arm or a foot either. I will append contact details at the bottom of the article for order placing purposes. Meanwhile, stick with me.

My life balance is good if not better. My love life is fine, thanks for asking and my health has been great save for a recurring tonsils problem. Typing it then reading it aloud makes me admit that I need to have them checked out. Careerwise, I’m at a place where I feel like my job isn’t as fulfilling as it should. I’ll be damned if my boss read this but by ‘fulfilling’ I mean: it is not fertile ground for growth for reasons best known to me. 

Anyway, rarely in life do we get what we ask for. But that doesn’t mean that we stop working towards attaining them. You better catch my drift lest I incriminate myself further and be back in the house Monday before mid-day.


My dad took his charm with him to heaven when I was shy of my fourth birthday. All that is left of him is his pictures, a hazy memory of him walking me to the hospital to sew the nick on my lip, and his name. The rest is grey and blurry. I couldn’t tell his face from a caricature because not much of him is registered in memory. 

In his dated pictures, he is seen sporting neatly pressed suits with white socks peeking from his loafers. That guy must have been the ambassador for white socks because, boy, he wore his neatly. With a little moustache to seal the ensemble, he was quite trendy if you asked me. I bet my mom – a high-school teacher of Geography and English by then – had it rough warding off desperate girls drooling for her chiseled army man.

Pairing shoes

Not to brag but Brian – my elder brother – has a deep voice as do I. I wonder if he had a deep voice too. I never quite registered it in memory. He looks tall in his pictures and so do we. Your guess is as good as mine that he might have also had a heavy bass. I often wonder how his touch felt. Did he touch at all? Was he even good with emotions? Was his handshake firm and shaky like a bob sledge hammer handle or soft and gentle? I always wonder how much of him – beside the name – was passed down to me. 

With memories of him falling further back in my mind, the one thing time can’t rub off is the identity he left behind and the power it has drawn into us ever since.

I was writing this article whilst listening to Shalom Manasseh’s ‘Asyai’. If you fancy decent Neo-Soul you best give this young lad a listening ear. It’s not too late to be in spirit through till the end.

Some people call me Innocent. Some, Sarowiwa. Most, Andanje. My mother calls me Enoch. Like any other mother, she hoped (and still does) that I would walk in the ways of The LORD like the Biblical Enoch did. What better way to affirm it? 

I have had a rough childhood with ‘Sarowiwa’. Kids laughed at me and taunted me a big one citing the name ‘difficult’ or even ‘impossible’ to call out. ‘Who names their child Sarowiwa?’ they’d ask. My mind was built on Kevlar thanks to a strong mom so I eased through adolescence fairly well despite the jibes. It’s my heart that took a beating sometimes. I thought of going to court to have them changed to something fancy like ‘Branley’ or ‘Seth’. If only I could voice it to Mom without a whooping following close. 

If you’re asking, which I know you’re not, they also called me ‘Guilty’ – the opposite of ‘Innocent’. As a child, anyone would agree that such little things come as a huge challenge. It was more difficult for I who was raised without a father and I had to answer all the time when asked why I didn’t know my father-tongue (if such exists). 

But that’s nothing tough skin can’t beat. It took some balls to get over the mockery. It was like getting the ocean to sit for a portrait but I somehow did it. Silence could really be a weapon sometimes. I might have had it rough with people who don’t know the appropriate questions to ask but what really boggled my mind was what value was in my name.

I now Identify as ‘Sarowiwa Andanje’. Mostly, it’s plain and simple ‘Andanje’ – my father’s name – all the way. Let me not get started with the misspellings I have to deal with. 

Hio jina yako ni ngumu (Your name is difficult). Hauna rahsi (Don’t you have an easier alternative)?

“I am a Pan-African. But hio jina ingine ni (the other name is) ‘Innocent’,” I reply.

The same goes for Brian. Most of his friends (at least those that I have heard) call him Andanje too. I’ve heard my little sister Deborah identify herself with the name. Although, I notice, she has taken up my step dad’s name with much ease. It’s hard to tell whether my mom wants us to do away with his (my dad’s) name entirely. She has it on documents but has taken up my step-dad’s name on special platforms and occasions. 

I wonder if she would find it in her to change her name for a second time. How was it the first time? How is it for any of you who change names for spouses, children, etcetera? What informs this decision? What does one lose if any? What does one gain? Does one become less of a human being if they didn’t have a name? What’s in an identity? Hell, is being nameless an identity too?

I am less as uptight, as I am religiously conservative. I, equally, don’t know if I would change my name to my spouse’s. At least not yet. Not until I get to know the beginnings of it. Not until I know why it wields so much power. I wouldn’t want to lose a part of me I am still a stranger to.

The road to Malaha

Brian and I have never openly talked about our father. Between you and me, we are partly strangers because we have never gotten to share on the man whose identity we so jealously guard. We joke about things we have in common be it Arsenal Football Club, prospects, home, Mom, but never about our name and the man who passed it down to us.

We had a quick chat once about paying our ancestral home a visit but it was one of those topics whose succeeding asphyxiating silence is smothered by talk about the weather or how annoyingly disrespectful Boda-boda guys are. He is eleven years older than me so he must have pretty fond memories of my old man. I, however, haven’t found the balls to ask him to give me his account of the Myth and the Legend that was my dad. Did he stroke the sun with his touch like I thought he did? Did he make ‘white socks Ambassador’? Was this mountain of a man adamant to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine? What was it like for him being an ‘Andanje’?

I’m sure he turned down the offer of a Glock when he joined the army. Why the hell would he need it? Mobutu ain’t got nothing on him! 

Every other day I own my name to the very last letter, I try to peek behind the canvas of my innocence only to see nothing but darkness. Brian mentioned that my dad hailed from somewhere in Kakamega County called Malaha. A disagreement with my paternal family after my dad’s death, life, and many years later, we settled in Bungoma County, Tulienge village. A locality with a diesel posho-mill sending echoes through the valley and residents shouting from a distance in a thick Bukusu accent. So, whenever someone asks me where I come from, I’m torn between telling them where I spend my Christmas or where my identity is rooted.

One Jackson Biko, whose writing I am an ardent fan of, recently did a narration about a guy who spent a fortune in search of his dad. The two-part series called Bastard I & II sought to offer in-depth insight into a man’s journey to finding his long-gone father. The story spoke tonnes about me and to me. It’s like he had me in mind all along. It probably fuelled the drive to write this article. You better read it sometime.

Hell, I know why I am but who I am? That’s a question only time would answer. “If you want to know the nature of a man, look how he carries his father’s name,” they say. I carry this name with so much honour but between us, it remains just a name the further this legend of a man fades further from my memory. 

The name, I have no problem carrying. But what’s in a name if one can’t draw meaning from it?

Malaha, 

Here I come.

(Oh, before I forget. Kindly contact 0722527702 to get more information regarding the ChiLL-WeLL Icebreaker Cards.

Secondly, I have an online money-making gig that might be your next big break. All you need is a phone, maybe a PC and sturdy internet connectivity. Click here for more details.

Chao!)


Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash.

High Maintenance

We all have that one shirt we save for the first date or the one that is faded around the collar but we are having a hard time disposing of or the ones we wear on Fridays when the weekend mood weighs heavy on us. Then there’s that pair of striped happy socks that go along with any pair of shoes. Brown shoes to be precise. I’m not much of a vest person so that leaves you with the liberty of filling it in. The same goes for our favourite day of the week or our preferred morning drink that is at best a morning drink. Any time after that is a bummer. 

We are designed to like things based on the satisfaction we derive from them. Just as our cousins from the mountainside have a numbing admiration for country music, we all have some binding attachment to these things that in many degrees define us. That we can choose one shirt over the other furthers the reason why you shouldn’t go to prison – freedom.

Back to clothing. Picture that Monday shirt that doesn’t seem good on a Saturday, or those chinos you remove once you reach the house because they’re too pretty for creases. Envision that old baggy shirt you drape yourself and sink into the couch in after a day of uncomfortable fitting jeans. Well, there are men for shirts, trousers, jeans, you name it. They are mere accessories traded off depending on the occasion, functionality, and well, the disposition. Another piece of clothing waiting to be worn, dirtied, washed, rinsed, and picked over. Some know. Some could care less. Some don’t have the faintest clue but live by it. All of them being a means to an end – quenching the desire of womenkind high on entitlement.

Luciana loves her attention frothy with a fizz at the bottom. She for a while rallies a few of her friends on a fitness journey that, to my surprise, is standing the test of time despite the unforgivingly cold weather that has tormented one too many for the past few days. One can’t help but notice her posterior sloshing around in her yoga pants every morning on her way home from a session of (cardio – read ‘attention scouting’). She the loudest of the group. You could hear her thoughts from the way the bevvy carries itself. Something has to match hers. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

She is seeing this particular guy who is set for life – or at least seems to be. The guy, buffed up like a bison, drives her to her bed after gym sessions regularly. He’s cautious of any attachment, not taking her to his house because within resides a woman who is said to be his ‘wife’. Rumour has it that he kicked the mother of his child to the curb and now hosts the one in his house. It’s all in the grey area because, well, rumours stick to be so. But we both know such allegations are never far from the truth. Let me not pick sides. 

He’s the sex guy and knows well to keep it that way. He hardly ever spends any money on her. Well, on condoms maybe, but nothing too frugal. A bag of chips once in a while. And off he goes to be with whomever. I think he understands who he is dealing with and does well to act accordingly. 

She can’t live on sex and clout alone. One can only take so many pictures on the passenger side of a car. She has needs. Rent. A change of clothes and a dietary regimen to maintain. She knows it all too well that she can’t trim belly fat on a solid starch diet. She needs a georgette, spinach, and broccoli diet. She needs not only to talk about pizza but eat some too.

This sets precedence for our guy with so long legs they give him a jaunty step. Let’s call our unequivocally kind friend Mike (because that’s what he calls himself). Being a woman from Western Kenya, she lives up to the humongous appetite stereotype peddled and does good to eat as much as she can at his place after a losing streak to Indomie. The sorry lad once complained that she broke half a dozen eggs in a day and proceeded to make herself tea and carry it to her house somewhere past midnight.

Huyo msichana anakula!” he’s often recorded decrying.

He is the food guy who happens to have Wi-Fi in his house which she vehemently protests over whenever the network is shitty. Talk about entitlement. He plays his role somewhat religiously knowing he will never get more than a hug. He recently bought a 25kgs bag of rice and he can swear not to have eaten half of it. your guess is as good as mine regarding who ate most of it.

To digress a little, we should have a discussion in the future regarding whether men have any pure intentions when doing favours to womenfolk. I’m not pointing fingers but you can sense a tinge of anger in a man who was denied sex all over his tone. I often believe it’s the old madness of one playing with mud and hoping it doesn’t spatter on them tormenting our naivety. 

We all walk at different speeds. Sooner or later we pause to catch a breath. 

She seems to be having her pause now since our gym buddy is retracting (replace with ghosting) after having enough of her. She feels used, I bet, but that’s what you get for playing with mud hoping it doesn’t dirty you. It’s of no consequence like vegan cheese. Why not just eat it already? I believe she is getting what she deserves. Take my sentiments under advisement, nonetheless.

The neighbour she dumped her appetite on isn’t around so she is stuck to the proverbial ‘zero-grazing’. She is left to the guy she keeps bugging with her ‘nitumie 100 bob nitakurusiha’ text messages.

Luciana, like many unsuspecting girls her age, is high on entitlement. The guys around her likes maintain this high by passing favours just to get a slice of ‘the cake’. Lucky for some, they don’t struggle at all since they have her under her wing. life sucks, right? Some genuinely feel that something could become of it to no avail. Hawakosangi! What they both forget is that it can sometimes get difficult helping someone who doesn’t know they need the help. 

So Luciana will move to the next guy with bugger muscle or with a bigger car. They will have astronomical sex for a week, maybe takeout for a month but it will not be enough because her addiction to some sense of entitlement will only grow by the hour.

Before long, unbeknown to her, the guys remain to be some guys who do some things. Accessories to an end. Dogs. Then the fire of toxic feminism will consume them fueled by the notion that everyone is out to get them.

I thought these things were pretty obvious. 


Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash.