DAD, ITS BEEN 15 YEARS…..

DDDOn that Wednesday, 5th day of April, the year 2000, you were pronounced dead in a hospital bed. That short illness had overwhelmed your soul. I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of that loss. I didn’t foresee the tough impact beforehand. Forgive me for my age then. I was only in class 5. 10 days later, we would bury you on that rainy afternoon. I fondly remember carrying your portrait throughout the burial service. Even before you passed away, relatives and friends spoke of how we resembled each other. As you would expect, I cried profusely for nature robbing my only daddy at such a young age. I seethed with anger and experienced long thoughts about you dad. Images of your last days in this world still remain vivid in my mind. Though from the onset you were the most courageous man I had known in my entire life, you seemed inundated. The illness had taken a heavy toll on your health. You looked disturbed. Few days later, trooping back from school one evening, we learnt you were admitted in hospital. It wouldn’t be for long, before the good Lord took your soul.

One of the challenges I have encountered ever since, is of friends sharing stories about their dads. It always affects me to date. I feel disadvantaged to some extent anytime those stories are told to me. I find myself prodding,” what if daddy you were alive?” Nevertheless, I have learnt to accept what happened, over the years. As they say, time is the best remedy. Frankly, it has really helped me heal. It’s now 15 years since you passed away.15 years marked by harsh challenges, disturbance, victimization, lack of mentorship and father figure and barrage of questions. All this is courtesy of the enormous vacuum you left to your very young family. In retrospect; I count many successes too, over the period. I have made mistakes and achieved quite, as well. Your absence triggered a rather unusual mental strength and self-drive. It has never been easy though.

I fondly remember the rich legacy you left behind. To me, Christmas occasions have never been the same again. During your time, it meant, embarking on nostalgic visits to our grandma. Not once did we miss to surprise her with a ram to mark the occasion. Every evening you’d never fail to bring home a newspaper and a paper bag of bread and a half kilogram of meet. Speaking of newspapers, you exposed me to the world of reading newspapers at a very young age. In fact, my writing has everything to do with reading newspapers. I wish you were around, to give you a pat on the back. I remember your dark suits, brown shoes and red ties. My siblings and I would smell you from a distance.

Your authority in that house was visible. Your soft side would surprise us in many occasions. Not once did we tour Nakuru at the popular Uchumi Supermarket, then, for shopping. This was a really big deal to us. You stopped at nothing in making our lives comfortable. You also had this chemistry with your cows. You consistently ensured they were in great shape and sound. I recall you putting on your navy blue overall coat, and juggling across the shamba to cut napier – grass for the livestock after a long day in the office. We would do grazing together on weekends. You nurtured me to love this skill. I still do it to date, whenever I visit home. To my brother and I, you inculcated major responsibilities in us at a very young age. Fast forward now, I thank you for that wisdom.

You were a big fan of Country music especially on that sunny Sunday afternoon. You’d also listen to BBC news every weekday in your bedroom. In fact, I remember this radio that was not just handled by anybody else apart from you. You were also a very generous man. A good number of my relatives benefitted from your kindness by paying for their school fees and even uplifting them. You’d invite my cousins in many occasions and share a meal together. We revered and adored you dad. To us, you were a source of pride, entitlement and hope. You were an inspirer, a mentor and a bundle of joy.

On 15th April (10 days later) we buried your remains. Customarily, we shoved soil and wished you to rest in peace. Tears freely dropped down our cheeks. No one would fathom how wrenched our hearts were. You died with big dreams and many nuggets of wisdom. To this day, my objective is to protect that legacy you worked so hard for and probably improve on it. Rest in God’s love and peace DAD!

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A MAN’S MISERY AND THE MARRIAGE THAT NEVER WAS

qqqFinally you caved in to your family’s pressure. From your siblings constants reminders, to your uncles who demand to know why hujapata mtu. (why you haven’t found a suitor). When you last visited your mum, she was like; last weekend we attended Njoroge’s wedding. Njoroge was your deskmate in primary school. She went ahead to allude how beautiful the wedding was. To start with, you were unawares that Njoroge had a wedding. You have not met Njoroge since the KCPE photo session over 10 years ago. Your mum in other words, is insinuating time is running out. You dislike her for a second, you fill misjudged. You hate the world.

All this layers of perennial criticism become heavy on you. You give in. Remember you had vowed to your friends you’ll marry when you hit 30. After you’re done with your masters class. After fully servicing your car loan. Soon after buying and fencing your ka – plot somewhere in Isinya. Not that you’ll settle there, its an investment. Its courtesy of stubborn advices from your elder siblings and cousins, who are always like, mwanaume ni ka shamba. That you need to invest your money wisely before you marry. Because once in that stage, it will never be easy. Problems will include fighting for the remote, as she will insist on watching Have and Haves Not, while you wouldn’t contemplate missing out JKL interview, as Jeff hosts The Larry Madowo.

You have this lady whom you’ve dated for eight months now. And she seems she can ‘handle you’. Apart from her pestering with questions like, babes uko! and occasionally going quarantine for 2 days after prolonging time with your boys watching football. She normally expects you to be back after 2 hours only for you to add 8 more. Nevertheless, she seems like she has enough shocks to handle your erratic behaviors. She is loyal but not submissive. She picks on simple responses from you and it turns to serious arguments. However, looking at the emotional investment and challenges you two have weathered, the devil in you convinces you to propose to her. In any case, she has spoilt you with many gifts until you lost count.

You invite her for dinner one evening, and the proposal goes down well. That’s one of your few achievements with her. What you don’t know, is that she understands you are not a spontaneous man. In fact she read your mind since you conceived the thought of proposing to her. You know of these ladies who go through your phone book and go deleting potential mpango wa kandos( Your colleagues’ sisters and that charming waiter who makes you feel like a man after days of hurled words by your one week old wife). How you ended up having their phone numbers is a million dollar question she is pursuing. In fact before you know, she is stalking all your movements from Facebook to Instagram. You randomly take her phone to call somebody as your phone is without units and m-pesa is undergoing maintenance. You’ re tempted to navigate to her gallery after that phone call only to meet faces familiar to you. You’ re surprised and scared at the same time, but aren’t sure how to react lest she’ll dive over your belly to have a look at what seems to fascinate you. Your heart accelerates its beating. You try to join the dots on how you got pinned down. You’re 200% sure those faces and your wife have never met, leave alone them being friends. At least not in this planet. 2 days later it dawns on you that your wife monitors your Whatsapp’s chats and records some phone numbers for subsequent investigations.

Soon, your marriage is in shambles. This is the story. The dowry budget went over the roof after her damn uncles ‘extorted’ you. You haven’t recovered from that ordeal, of watching your hard earned money go by the wind. You decide to punish her by scrapping off the marriage plans. In retrospect you realise, your wisdom was the beginning of your downfall. This particular decision opened a can of worms. Worms that left nobody standing in that marriage. Arguments commenced from then. The chemistry vanished. The humour, the hearty laughter, and bed night stories took to their heels. You felt lonely in this so called marriage. You were in a web that held you captive. Your wife turned to a monster. A monster that was now threatening your very existence.. You had never considered throwing in the towel. But now thoughts of you running away from your wife seem palatable. Before you know, your wife drops the bombshell that the two of you need some space. That space eventually came and sealed your fate. Its one month now and you seem to savour your freedom.

Your task now is to manage the torment you’ve caused to your family….To be continued ..really!

A STRANGER’S DREAM, INSPIRATION AND THE LESSONS

sss2It’s slightly after 9pm on this Sunday night. Man – U has just humiliated Man City in this hyped derby. From a gooner’s perspective, I feel a bit nervous. Nevertheless, we’re still number 2, I console myself. I drift along the corridor, alone, checking over my phone. I meet this security chap towards the exit and he stops me. In my mind I’m a bit agitated. Why would he stop me now, in any case, I had been in that hotel for god knows how long. Didn’t he see me? I remain patient, he’s like, “hi, would you be having a hint of a school where one can study computer?” He bubbled. I was surprised. I expected him to ask something security – related. Why would a security guy be bothered by computer studies? That’s for high school leavers who were not lucky to get the exposure in school or home. Forgive me for stepping on your toes. I passed through the same stage too. In fact, during our times, it was so ‘cool’ to learn how to operate computers. Am not sure of now, its so basic, I presume.

Anyway, I had some leads for this chap. He was so glad. I left, pondering on that conversation. This guy made my day. One, because I’m not sure why he chose to confab with me, amongst the hundreds of patrons who frequent that hotel. He and I were complete strangers, until we had that brief conversation. Second, I was impressed by the fact that this chap had a dream, a valid one, no matter how ‘small’ it was. He was not comfortable with the status quo. He was need of growth. He had a desire to add value to his life. He was willing to pay the price, by sacrificing his meager salary and get a computer studies course. He was willing to start from somewhere. To do the baby steps. He had this vision in his mind. He was now researching on his ideas, even if that meant approaching random strangers on the course of his duty. He was acting on his ideas. His passion was visible. Why I say so, is because many of us inquire from our friends. To him may be they didn’t offer much, and that would never be a deterrent. He chose to try strangers. That’s passion right there and positive attitude too combined with self drive.

This hombre inspired me. I learnt lessons. To be self driven. To confront the future and domesticate it. To ask questions and not to keep dreams to myself. Not to sit on my ideas as many of us do. Dreaming is not enough, actualising your dream by constantly coming up with a time plan is what matters. This guy was not shy of his dreams. Don’t be shy of your dreams. Don’t be intimidated by your friends who drive alluring cars. Who have bought plots all over and who are invested left right and center. Learn from them, get to know the mistakes they made and lessons learnt. Start your own baby steps. Put your eyes on the prize. Stay on the move, don’t accept to stagnate. Pay the price, wake up early, work hard, manage your time wisely, network, research. Don’t live in a closet. You’ll never grow. Remain hopeful, have the right attitude like this security guy. Be confident and defend your dream. Pray day in day out.

sss1Dear reader, make somebody’s day. Hug a stranger today. Share the love. Give free advice. Mentor someone. Don’t treat people below your cadre with contempt, as they say you’ll need them while coming down. Thank a waiter for good service, or your barber or the salon dude or that chap who cleans your car. Spread the love. Give way in traffic, if you’re in a position to. Say hi to your gardener as you leave for work. Smile to that office cleaner. Blow kisses to those nagging street children. Share with them the snacks in your hand bag. Check on a friend. The most precious things in life are priceless. You’ll notice, they’ll be surprised by your simple traits. Its because we’re living in selfish times. Of self centered people who only care about themselves and their immediate families.

sssSharing, caring, and loving are the virtues we need to embrace more. And carrying along others in our trajectory of life. To love others a little more than ourselves. By so doing, you’ll have a rich legacy. Your eulogy will be punctuated by beautiful words people can relate to and which will ignite memories. The world will miss your presence when you’re long gone. And most importantly, your creator will be proud of you.

Your challenge everyday should be bringing joy to somebody’s life. Let’s try that.

147 VICTIMS OF A RELIGION

147So, last Thursday, several terrorists descended on the only public university in Northern Kenya and within hours, ( read, Kenya’s unpreparedness) wiped out 147 young men and women, full of life. Its very costly for a nation to lose young people. It was more disheartening to fathom that they were shot dead for having different religion beliefs with the perpetrators. Their young lives were cut short out of selfish, nefarious indoctrination of persons who don’t mind shedding blood. Its very sad for somebody to die while the parent is on phone trying desperately to convince an Al Shabaab guy to pardon his daughter. This is a true story by the way. Its unfortunate to die having put your hope against hope for seven hours only to be shot on the head, and your face disfigured in seconds. Am sorry for every parent who lost a son or daughter in this melee. Am sorry to you Christian, who is prodding so many queries and trying to understand the rationality of these extremists. I count on you Muslim brothers and sisters who declare disagreement openly on social media and on the streets with these wave of indoctrination.

Am perturbed by the new crop of terrorists. Techno savvy, well dressed, intelligent and who resemble your next door neighbour who just graduated from campus. Its now even harder to discern the so called ‘suspicious fellows’ who now prefer to meet in coffee shops than dark dungeons or in some mosques deep in the estates. They will plan meticulously for their next execution in school, offices or homes in the leafy suburbs.  Kenyans are a bitter lot. We are angry with the government handling of the Garissa attack. We are mad with the politicians who now purport to produce a list of terrorists in Northern Kenya. We are very mad with villagers who harbor and hide these villains. I was taken aback by a fellow on social media who claimed to have had the knowledge, that one of the four terrorists who was alleged to have graduated from U.O.N, was undergoing indoctrination and didn’t report. Its wrong to hide these guys. Whether you report and police don’t take action is not a worse mistake than you having the full knowledge of these terror cells and covering them up or not reporting. You are equally guilty of abdicating your responsibility as a citizen. God will punish you too.

KENYA-SOMALIA-UNREST147 is indeed not just a number. In that list, are young people who meant everything to their village. Some were the first to step on a “University door” in the history of their extended family’s lifetime. For some, their parents had to part away with their precious ancestral land just to make sure their sons and daughters got a university education. Here are families who survive from hand to mouth just to reap the fruits of their sacrifices later when their children are done with campus. For these families to come to terms with the events that led to the death of their children is a horrifying experience. Their kids paid the ultimate price of their faith. They died the season Jesus died. They died because they wouldn’t recite a shahada prayer. They died because in the eyes of a terrorist, they’re ‘wanafiki'(hypocrites). They died of a war they had nothing to do with.The question is, for how long, will Kenyans die in the hands of delinquents who are out to drive a pedestrian and inhumane ideology?

The President’s spokesman said it is a learning curve. For how long will young lives die, dreams be shattered, parents lose their goldmines, as the government ‘learns’? I listened to one of the callers in an evening show talking of how, with just  3 attacks, Kenya is capable of losing over 500 lives. He went further to put across that, a country like Pakistan which is hit by terrorists more often, loses an average of 13 – 40 people. Meaning it would take like 12 attacks to equal Kenya’s 500 deaths. For Israel, you need 100 attacks to achieve the same. Bottom line; it all boils to preparedness. Kenya’s disaster management and preparedness is ailing in the I.C.U. If I was to give a scorecard I would give it an ‘E’. Its laughable that we would rather send Interior cabinet secretary and his I.G, Boinnet in the first chopper available than the RECCE squad. Sadly, our government is obsessed with P.R and has its priorities upside down.

Speaking of RECCE squad, I stumbled on something shocking on social media from investigative journalist, Dennis Okari, that a guy with over 10 years experience earns a gross salary of sh.24,000. I even stumbled on one of the chap’s family raising funds to bury their son who died on the front line saving lives and battling belligerence minds. To say that the government is disorganised in the whole handling of Garissa massacre is an understatement. From Kisii, Bungoma to Kiambu and many alike Counties, tears and wails rent the air, as bodies of the poor souls were embarking on their final journey. I particularly draw attention to a lady I spotted on the newspaper, Angela Nyokabi aka Jojo, young, cheerful, beautiful and full of life. A couple of my friends on Facebook poured resentment and anger to the government and consolation to Jojo’s family. Though i hadn’t met her, I was touched by their messages. Rest in peace Jojo and all your colleagues who didn’t deserve to die a cold blood death.

After many years of rampant and runaway corruption from Immigration offices across to the border officials to the lazy chiefs who sit on intelligence, finally the chicken have come home to roost. That can only be mitigated when we learn very fast. Otherwise young and innocent lives, talents and legends, devoted parents and hardworking citizens will be wiped out in an eyes’ brink, all due to greediness of some few government officials. However the entire blame should not be solely directed to government, you and me that sit on intelligence and cover up terrorists are equally culpable.

I sympathise will all families that lost their loved ones. Your daughters and sons didn’t deserve to die such a brutal death. Am sorry for your irreplaceable loss. May the Lord be with you as you confront the grief and as you come to terms with your loved ones demise.

GONE TOO SOON, SWEET, ANGEL SAIGA

SSGAngel, I met your dad for the first time few years ago, in 2009, to be precise. I would later meet your mum, the following year, long before you were born. You were born when our friendship had been cemented and stamped that it will last and surpass all challenges. You were born under our watch, 2 years ago, and on Friday 3rd April 2015, you died still under our watch. In fact the same day you passed away, we had a fruitful meeting, in which your dad had issued an apology that he couldn’t make it. It’s after we had dispersed, slightly after 9pm, on the rainy Friday night, that we received a text from your dad, news that literally shocked us. News that came without warning, news that we were not prepared to receive.

I console with your parents ( Mwaura & Jane Saiga). What a beautiful family it was. Angel you were the icing on the cake. You were the oomph of the family. You were the cradle of the family. Angel Saiga, you were envy to many. Death blew away a lighting joy, the cutest baby I ever laid my eyes on. To your family, you were an adorable and worthy investment, a source of pride and joy. To close friends of your parents, you were very symbolic. In our WhatsApp group, formed over two years ago, your photos have served as our profile pictures.

Angel, you came to birth, conquered and you’ve now left without a heads up. All your friends were left agonizing and scampering for your last memories. We were tearful and mad with death. Death that plucked a young, beautiful flower and its fragrance. Your family was by your side, till the last seconds, as you fought for your dear life. Unfortunately/fortunately, God chose to take you back. Your mission had already been accomplished. Your days, in this world, were over. Brief and sweet. We didn’t see it coming, and as you would expect, to us, the news were harsh, hard and too overwhelming. You remind us that life is way too short and that we should not waste it leaving somebody else life. That we should endeavour to be as original as we can.

Our hearts are bleeding with bitterness. Our eyes are awash with wrenching pain. Our minds are predisposed with paranoia. We are experiencing irreconcilable news. News we initially treated as bad jokes. Some of us went a notch higher; to convince our minds that we were just having a bad dream that would come to pass. Only to wake up and encounter an obstinate reality staring at us, annoyingly refusing to edit the news to something more palatable. In your last moments, your parents did all in their powers to save your life. Including, whispering prayers persistently, to your creator. They must have told him, Lord please do something.

Since then, many of us have prodded questions to God, asking him why Angel Saiga. Agony, grief and frustrations have been our second nature for the last three days. Your passing away, terribly hurt our soft sides and totally overwhelmed our shock absorbers. Just like a tattoo would do, indelible scars of a loss we didn’t contemplate, of you Angel Saiga will forever be engrossed in our hearts. Our mouth are lost for words, our eyes are too tearful, our minds too burdened to digest the sad news, our hearts too weak to put a brave face.

Angel, you were the sweetest munchkin, the most charming kid ever and too lovable. Gone too soon Saiga. Fare thee well Angel. Back to the angels in heaven. It was more than delightful having you.