THE EGOCENTRIC MAN

Image result for Kenyan men who drive big expensive carsSociety respects confident men. Actually it has a soft spot for them. They can get away with anything including beautiful ladies who get you thinking; Is she dating that guy, how so?  They manoeuvre dowry negotiations with some sort of ease. They always know what to say and how to say it.  They win second chances during interviews and get more recognition in workplace meetings. In essence, a man with no confidence is a goof. Nature is unforgiving, unfortunately.

What of a too confident man? A slightly arrogant type! Them that bite more than they can chew. Have you done business with these kinds of fellows? They have a thing for big man syndrome. They can be reckless in their talk. They are straight shooting and cut conversations into two; you either with them or not. And if not, they will dare to topple on every confidence you’ve amassed over the years. They are self-believers and assured type. They are full of conviction and wit. Have you seen them in traffic, driving cars that seem to massage their 35 years ego? They enjoy being served, referred and reported to. They live to delegate work and ask tough questions. They enjoy being consulted submissively with pick up lines that sound like; Sir, did you approve the payment for XYZ Ltd? They will take time to answer as if to first savor the demeanor being put across by this staff who’ll pose so humbly and politely.

You will find them in exquisite bars holding meetings with men of their match. You will easily identify them by their authoritative laughter and loud voices. Actually they are even louder while on phone. Holding humongous smartphones, they will get the eyes of a waiter just by the look. They will be here to deliberate on County tenders and influential positions in blue chip companies. They imagine the world should uphold and bow down to them. They have a problem with you who forms another center of power and confidence. They abhor anybody who threatens their patriarchal thinking. They have a way of measuring your confidence weight in a matter of minutes by giving you those firm handshakes and fixed eye contact for minutes. You’ll not sound bad when you refer them as busy bodies.

So, on this day you’ll have been scheduled for a meeting by one of this type, in his office for some biashara. You got introduced to him by a mutual friend who incidentally stumbled on an opportunity that he thought you’d do it justice.

Exactly 1 pm, you’ll check in at the reception area and request to enquire about a Mr. Chris. The light skinned receptionist seemingly not having such a bad day will evaluate you from head to toe as if to find out if you are one of those KRA officers. She will be donning those trendy specs that seem to elongate on either side, have her nose powdered and be dressed in one of those petite dresses that will do everything to flatter her body. She will ask:

Was he expecting you?

Yes, certainly.

You said you are from?

I’m Andrew, from F.C.P (Financial Consultants House). You will watch her eyes dazzle and come to life. And that will be a perfect juncture to give her your business card.

Just have a seat please.

The egocentric type of boss has no respect for punctuality. You will be compelled to wait for about 15 to 20 minutes. By then you’ll have gone through the day’s newspaper, cover to cover. You will even have attempted the Sudoku part and through to the Obituaries section. It’s funny how you’ll notice it then. Naturally, you always skip that page. From the background you will not help eavesdrop conversations in his office. You’ll be bombarded by deep voices and hearty laughter. You will also not miss utterances like; Sure Mheshimiwa…Will catch up sir….Will be in touch when you jet back in the country.

By the time these gentlemen walk to the front office, you’ll have questioned so many things. Like will he recall you? What will be his mood? Will he excuse himself to rush to the airport or run for a meeting with Bwana Governor? You see, when a client tells you he’s running for a meeting with the Governor or the County Assembly speaker….he is simply telling you mark my lane. He is one of those chaps, always meeting the big kahunas in town. He has connections with all the ‘right people’ from politicians to influential business persons. To add on, he is always in the know of every classified information in the business circles like which lucrative firm is investing where, which contractor met a particular Tender committee in a certain hotel. You mention to him of a financially endowed entrepreneur and he interjects you with a half an hour’s story of how he once worked with him or her.

Where were we?

As they make their way through the corridor to where you’ll be seated, you pensively wait for his reaction upon spotting you. It’s like Obama landing. Everything else halts including breathing. Suddenly the receptionist who will have been busy scrolling her phone all this time will bounce back to her computer, pretending to be occupied. When he finally appears, he will go like;

Oooh Andrew, you are here!

By then you’ll have stood up; strictly upright and giggling. Steadily feeding your eyes on his face just to have him not get twisted like you are unsure of yourself. You’ll reach for his handshake and mumble those empty conversations that lead to nowhere.

He’ll apologise for keeping you waiting for long and you being the needy person in this situation, will let that pass unchallenged. He will invite you to his office and drag his chair over to one corner to get his notebook and pen. You will notice how his office is quite spacious and organised. This will remind you of your Communication Skills lecturer mentioning something about space and authority. Bosses have bigger offices than the rest. It’s a matter of restating that they are firmly in charge and that they are the main guys and heartbeat of the organisation.

So you and your phone will make yourselves comfortable as you give in to forced laughter and smiles. He will indulge you on how business is performing on your end. You will sound Kenyanese with familiar statements like; Kung’ang’ana tu hii town.

So, you will reach to your laptop and get this proposal about this million dollar project coming up in a few months. On the 45 minutes conversation, you will be awashed with staggering numbers being thrown all-over the place apparently pumped to result to handsome results later. You will walk out hopeful and confident to have won his heart. Later, you will excitedly inform your girlfriend about this breakthrough coming your way pretty soon. This will seem to be the jackpot that you’ve finally been waiting for.

Three months down the line, reality will have settled in a rather depressing way. Your calls will go unanswered and so will be your emails. You will bump him in those coffee shops busy catching up with men who survive by striking deals. Be they brokers who specialise in doing business with the National or County governments or investors looking for vast land to develop. Your convictions will lead you towards walking to his table briefly. He will promise to give you a call in a few days.

This will never come to be.

In the end, you will realise egocentric men are not necessarily successful but rather, apply these gimmicks just for perceptions. Do they say life is all about perceptions?

PEPTIC ULCERS – BE IN THE KNOW

Image result for private hospitals in KenyaWhen people hear of ulcers what mostly comes to mind is that the victim is probably battling stress related issues or depression. I won’t call it ignorance but rather lack of information. I was in your position too before I met Austin and listened to his story.

I bet you want to be in the know about this infection that is not so popular but painful and draining. Join me as we go through Austin’s medical journey as I compiled it few days ago;

To what started as mild pains around Austin’s chest quickly developed to intense discomfort in a couple of days. When the pain became tough to endure having toyed with the idea that it could be stress which could somehow be solved by going easy on himself and opening up to close friends and relatives, the pain had none of this. When this failed to work, the most prudent thing was to call a friend to rush him to a nearby hospital one late evening. He was misdiagnosed with Asthma by the nurse on duty. The doctor was away. Be careful with private clinics. He actually learnt of the misdiagnose close to a week later when he checked in another hospital only to be treated for Anxiety Disorder. The doctor made him believe he was a Type A personality just like renowned familiar public figures to name a few –  Presidents Uhuru and Obama. Google defines Type A personality as more competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient, aggressive and self critical. They are short fused meaning their temperament can be slightly out of normal. They are also highly status – conscious, workaholics, rigidly organised, anxious and proactive. Type A personalities are highly vulnerable to stress related illnesses than the rest of the personalities.

Austin having been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder was prescribed with medicine that would make him relax his mind. The side effect was, he tended to sleep more. No sooner was he done with his dose after a month or so, than his chest pains re-emerged once more. He visited another different hospital and this time round diagnosed with stress. He was made to believe his body was producing excess acid which in effect, affected his esophagus, because acid burns, right? He was cautioned to avoid issues that would make him overly stressed and also consider engaging in hobbies that would relieve his mind off the serious stuff. In other words he was to embrace unwinding seriously than before and to have a strong support around him. The remedy here helped him relieve off the acid but had nothing to do with treating peptic ulcers.

Two months later the pains kept playing hide and seek; jumping from one area to another. It went to a point where his rib cage ached from time to time. Austin became convinced its time he had an X Ray of his chest. He booked an appointment in an established Mission Hospital where the result came with a clean bill of health. Here, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was advised to keep warm, avoid conditions that would lower his body temperatures unusually, exercise more and strictly drink warm water. He was medicated and got temporarily recuperated.

As soon as he was done with this medicine composed of antibiotics and pain killers, the pains resurfaced this time more angry, rebranded and confronting. Meanwhile, Austin was developing stress out of not getting a lasting solution about his pains. Besides, the checkups were draining him financially and disappointing. One day, he sipped tea and felt nausea. The next minute, he was holding his breath to stop untimed vomit. How so? With the pains stubbornly persisting he was dealing with another problem; of handling nausea. I remember him joking – I felt like I’m pregnant. No pun intended.

By sheer chance, one of his distressed siblings advised him to go to a reputable hospitable with a credible laboratory where he would be tested for amoeba. For your information, amoeba causes nausea and headaches. Austin identified another hospital where he had his tests done. This time round, he met a proficient doctor who diagnosed him correctly. He calmly told him his illness had nothing to do with stress but hygiene! How? Yes. He was suffering from an infection called Peptic Ulcers caused by a bacteria referred as H.Pylori. This was evidenced by the tests done from his blood and stool samples.

The doctor advised him to avoid taking meals and water from public places – Hotels etc. The bacteria is mainly caused by contaminated foods including fruits , water and spread from person to person. I assumed it’s through kissing. Washing ones hand regularly and thoroughly is also highly recommended. By all means avoid those tempting street mutura in your neighborhood, normally prepaid by this lad who is always in a dirty, dust coat. Please also ignore the aroma that comes from that kibanda that sells chips mwitu. Be careful with where you buy your greens too. They might have been grown in sewage rich areas.  The bacteria attaches itself along the digestive tract and triggers acid which the burns the esophagus which lead to pain around the upper part of the chest. As you read this, Austin has fully recovered. He has shed off the pains and carried along vital lessons.

He is worried of one thing; Social media. You know of those ‘forwards’ on Whatsapp that read – if you have this type of pain bla bla bla please consider visiting a doctor as it may be trigger a particular chronic illness bla bla bla…. They end with familiar conclusions that go like; please share with at least ten of your loved ones. 

These messages made Austin paranoid. They made him struggle with self assurance. He consoled himself with the fact that, most of these information spread across social media are mostly inaccurate and unverified. However, Austin has one plea to put across; that please do not forward any message on whatsapp or whichever platform especially to do with one’s health if you are not a clinical officer or health expert. This messages can easily trigger panic attacks to individuals who are not as lucky as you forwarding them. Lucky in the sense of a credible support system and people around them at that time of reading these forwards. They can easily get paranoid. They may also be living alone, you know. Think of what could happen when their blood pressure suddenly shoots up out of reading such forwards.

The issue of going for comprehensive medical checkups at least once in a year should be taken more seriously. It might be slightly expensive but; ….THIS IS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH! The cliche that prevention is better than cure is so true. In any case, the money we spend in clubs drinking ourselves silly just in one weekend is enough for a thorough medical checkup. Is that much to ask!

Lastly; Avoid alcohol as much. Alcohol worsens these conditions.

A GATHERING OF THE BOY CHILD – PART TWO

Image result for Kenya boys in public schools

Over the last one week, I have received many emails and Whatsapp messages; of some impressed readers, some who couldn’t wait for Part Two and a few others who dragged a seat for me, and gave me a dress down on how I was castigating the boy child which ideally, belong to. I’m happy though that a majority found sense in what I was putting across and partook in appreciating the cloudy reality that seems to hover around the boy child.

Itemised  below were bits and pieces that I was able to gather from this meeting organized by one, Moses Njoroge as pointed out in Part One of this article.

I was here seated with deflated humans just like me battling life fears and societal expectations that not only keep glaring at us but also toppling over whatever little confidence left behind.  Amongst us were men married to beautiful, spiritual and devoted women who perhaps were worried of what could their men be learning from this meeting. Was it about radicalizing them to be tougher husbands who shouldn’t show emotions nor accept to be corrected when they fail? Was it about telling them to be a bit careful on giving out money to their wives? Or was it all about emphasizing to them to be ignoring ideas fronted by their spouses? Far from it, this was a forum attended by gentlemen who meant well for their women. They were coming from a school of thought that was willing to learn something new; to approach life with a wider scope of people’s experiences and backgrounds; to laugh about their weaknesses and mistakes and more importantly to create new networks to bond and to empower the boy child in us.

Here is a wounded lion that is still expected to roar. He is wounded by imbalanced upbringing, lack of role models, under empowerment and steady rise of single mothers. He is sidelined by the media and all other stakeholders, who now put all their attention to the other gender at his expense.

We are grown up men struggling to let go hangovers of our childhood. If it’s not about dad’s who didn’t live up to our expectations rather succumbing to the wild-fire of alcoholism then it has to be how they ruthlessly battered our mothers right in front of our eyes. These imageries have refused to go or die of. They keep haunting us and replaying over our minds. They stubbornly question why we had such horrifying dads; insecure, unambitious and who loved the beer bottle than our family.

Some have learnt to cope with realities of dealing with dads who passed on when they needed them most. They died even before, these men who were boys then, learnt how to pee on their own. They were left to be herded by older sisters in the jungle of adolescence and moms who had no idea on how to instill these sons, manly attributes. The best they could do was to provide them with all they could afford but nothing to do with how gentlemen think and are wired. These boys grew up in an environment where there was no man to look up to and to identify with. Their dads passed on pretty early in life exposing them to tough rays of life that were not only itching but with far-reaching ramifications.

For others, it was a case of finding themselves being molested by close relatives and not knowing who to trust or talk to. A majority of us (men) being fundamentally introverts in some quarters have a tendency of keeping it to ourselves from a very tender stage. To some, they got it really bad in Form One after going through hostile environments full of bullies. These changed who they were and how they perceived people. It eroded every good virtue in them. Living in a chaotic environment has consequences and one of them is succumbing to the ugly mess of turning out to be as the rest.

Family gatherings that are expected to harness unity and create identity to an extended family are no longer fashionable to attend. They are now scarce and far between. You know, we are busy humans; busy chasing money, cutting financial shortcuts, bribing and embezzling funds. We’ll also be spotted in middle class functions drink driving to look cool, having sagged our pants and mentality as well, hand in hand with lasses donning waistline skirts and showing cleavages from here to I don’t know where. Uncles, who should essentially play a critical role in mentoring nephews; are in fact busier souls to have some time with. Family gatherings have been reduced to show offs and a place to trade subtle, perennial family feuds. We attend these occasions to enjoy beer with cousins we’ve not met in a hundred years. Unfortunately, there is nothing like mentoring of boys by the uncles and being shown how to skin a goat or having a sitting to learn about traditional cultures.

I recall one participant who co owns a company in real estate and land business giving very cold statistics on the gender portfolio of their clients. You’d imagine men are big in investing, right? Imagine the numbers don’t seem to add up in days of our times. In fact according to him; Out of 300 sales of land, only two pieces were bought by men, the rest being purchased by women. As pointed out in the previous article, women are deliberately investing more and spending less. For men, we’re doing the reverse; spending more and investing less. And included in our entertainment expenses is treating these same ladies (who own acres of land) by taking them out with cars on defaulted loans, and paying bills with credit cards. Shouldn’t that worry you?

Society should further be scared by the overwhelming number of singer mothers. The boy child should be scared even more. With all due respect to voluntary single parents, and their devotion to their children, I mean well for all of you. However, allow me to look at the bigger picture, especially on the boy child issue for the sake of this article. According to Pastor Gillis Triplett of Embassy Christian Church headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia; your son IS NOT the man of the house. He is your child! Most single mothers will never understand the psychological damage they cause by anointing their sons to be the man of the house. By falsely convincing their boys that they are men, these single moms pigeonhole their adolescents into a pressure-based environment God never intended for them to be in.

We are giving these young boys lots of emotional duress and what Gillis calls mom’s fanatical demands of manhood. You know, many single mothers are not in good terms with their ex-husbands. Note I used the word MOST not ALL. It is a case of subtle war between the two. So this boy child is brought up in an environment where he is quickly ushered to a war field right after birth. It’s a case of who succeeds in winning the kid’s trust over the other. Going by the statistics of the rise of voluntary single mothers; the boy child poses to lose big time as he is brought up by a woman who has very low regards about men generally. Meaning, in as much as the boy would be provided with everything he’d desire of, except for a dad, he will be hugely exposed to narrations of how his dad was or is a failure. How then, will such a kid ever admire being a great man if his world exists of none?

I’m aware of men who’ve got their acts together, so to speak. They have intentionally dared to be the most committed fathers and husbands they can ever be. They have persistently raised the bar for contemporary men notwithstanding the overwhelming challenges facing the male gender. I salute these blokes and encourage them to create forums in their neighborhoods to empower the rest of us.  No man is self-sufficient. And, we are human first before anything else. It’s natural for human to crave for acceptance, motivation, general empowerment and to be listened to. Men are of no exemption!

A GATHERING OF THE BOY CHILD – PART ONE

Image result for Kenya's boy child I met Moses Njoroge in the company of a very good friend of mine for coffee early this month to brainstorm on a totally different conversation, away from the boy child issue. It happened that along the light moments, he mumbled to have been organising a forum that was to bring together male professionals of the town (Nanyuki) to a meeting meant for purely networking. I quickly interjected, asking him why it was meant for exclusively male professionals. He immediately gave a brilliant answer that hadn’t caught my mind for this long.

Men only meet in clubs for beer and to watch football. They are unlike women who have chamaas and other informal gatherings where they share and empower themselves.” 

I listened as those prudent observations penetrated deep inside my heart and to the bone marrow. They played repeatedly rhythmically for some minutes. The faster they oscillated the more naive I assumed to have been. It was a fact, we, the gender that worships ego hasn’t found it imperative to empower each other. It perhaps sounds feminine, and weak and too metrosexual for men to empower each other; isn’t? But aren’t these thoughts misleading? I tell you what! Far too many men are dying from premature deaths out of stress related illnesses which could have been solved if only we reached to each other for help and advice.

Moses was coming in to feel this void that very few notice or get bothered about. He was here to create a springboard to motivate us and a vessel to air our frustrations and worries and in the process benefit from a platform where, being listened to becomes healing in itself.

In fact the many times men go out to clubs, it is mainly about catching up and talking about biashara (business). Actually, we talk for two minutes, stick to our phones for the next one hour. We drool at the curvy lasses, drink the cold beer, laugh mildly over a funny meme shared on whatsapp and get back to our phones for a whole one more hour. That’s what we call catching up! It has nothing to do with the hard surface stuff that bothers us. We never open up, not even to our friends. As men, we are wired to soldier on kama wanaume (like gentlemen). Men are supposed to be bravery and not cowed by life challenges; we assume.

But there is more than meets the eye.

At least this is what I found out when we met last Friday. To start with, I have never been in such a forum that has men only in attendance speaking about empowerment and rewriting history. Here were male professionals from all walks of life from lawyers, teachers, fashion designers, young entrepreneurs, journalists, mentors, aspiring politicians, accountants and many others, keen to decipher and write solutions to issues regarding the contemporary boy child. And in order to empower each other, we had to take an inside – out approach. That way, we were in a position to appreciate history, table the facts, predict the future going by the statistics and come up with realistic solutions.

This is what I found out;

For most us, we are struggling with big time baggage acquired along the treacherous trajectory of progressing from boy to man. From the looks of things, we haven’t shed off stereotypes and perceptions instilled in us, since our childhood years. In any case, that kind of thinking has hardened and grown roots. For instance, if you grew in an environment where your mother was always battered by your dad; if your father was a philanderer; if he was always found in the trenches drunk and unconscious; you are more likely to end up like him. What ends up in our subconscious mind is tough to neutralise. It’s in fact worse when one is brought up in unstable family set up.

Ponder this;

Why do we have more cases of husbands being extremely brutal to their wives? Why do we have more cases of men succumbing to cheap liquor addiction? Why are men dying premature deaths from chronic illnesses? One fact seems to address these questions. Nobody along the childhood path, not even our dads, uncles nor grandfathers warned us or rather advised us that during our adult life, we will be dealing with an extremely empowered woman who knows her rights; who is financially independent and more ambitious than her mother. See, the contemporary man still has the same archaic thinking mindset he bequeathed from his dad or the men he watched while growing up from his village. Unfortunately his female counterpart has in fact embraced new ways of approaching life far different from her mum. She is dynamic, competitive, a go getter, fearless, unbowed, educated, intelligent, self-aware, socially balanced and a dreamer. She wants to buy land within the first two years of employment if not earlier through a chamaa, to drive by 28, to take a business loan by 30, to have that PHD by 33 and to quit employment by 35.

If lucky enough to find an equally organised and ambitious man, she will settle down. But don’t be fooled, it won’t matter anyway since it is nowhere near her prime priorities. The contemporary woman is not intimidated by family expectations of settling down by the time she is 28. Unlike man, who will literally stop everything including life to at least get a partner and then signal God; “we can move on now” – the woman is having none of that. Men value marriage and kids and coming home to meet a homely house with dinner prepared and kids crying or jumping over him saying “Baba umeniletea nini?” (Dad what have you brought me?). Men admire driving their family to church or other social places like weddings or shopping and being addressed as father of two charming boys. They treasure such kind of a system where they are looked up to and celebrated as the supreme beings of the family.

Unfortunately, that reality is fast fading and replaced with an alternative that is not begging for acceptance. The contemporary woman is willing to bring something to the table too. She is earning more, spending less and investing wisely.

Was man prepared for this?

Who is he blaming for his current woes?

What are the statistics insinuating?

We shall find out in the next article.

Watch out for PART TWO of A GATHERING OF THE BOY CHILD.

WE, THE SOCIETY OF ‘APPROVALS’

The rich and the poor truly are from different realms: one has adapted to become an expert in material forfeit; the other has forfeited all they are to material, and thus is enslaved, by it.” – Justin K. McFarlane Beau.

We are the bubble that will burst soon from material enslaving and obsession with show offs. We perceive ourselves rich while in reality, we are heavily indebted humans. Not only have we shattered what is considered good but also auctioned the patience and virtual of becoming successful gradually. We are using shortcuts and loans to smell successful. We are borrowing way too much to look trendy and urbanite, naively passing the buck to our sons and daughters and their offspring. We are the people that believe in only living once by unfortunately have our priorities misplaced and swapped with the expectations of our peers. We live for the expectations of our families, family friends and for the status. We choose what to buy (not invest) to feed the imagination we have of what others expect of us. In other words; we have no time to hold candid and honest discussions with ourselves. We live for others. We live for approvals. Sadly!

You see, many of us have been lying to ourselves that we are wealthy and successful going by the lifestyle we brag of. But how are you rich, if your liabilities exceed what is rightfully yours? And what’s yours shouldn’t be necessarily what you inherited from your family. By the way, there is nothing wrong with taking bank loans, but there is something very wrong when that money is used for things which won’t matter two years from now. The thing is, we are borrowing not to invest but to finance our lifestyles. Since nobody will notice your sagging indebtedness apart from perhaps your bank, you will sink in deep s*** towing this demeanor like you own half the world and pulling no stops in social media streets selling your imaginary smooth life for all to envy. For how long? Remember, perceived friends can be a pain in the a** especially when you go broke or rather; when they stumble on the truth.

You and I should refuse to be put under any pressure by family and friends. We should vow not to care whether they approve us or not. It won’t matter because, what they seem to do is show no respect to our priorities, anyway! Look at it this way; do you go out every Friday because you have the urge to do so or to making us aware of your high end friends and fancy places where your boys and yourself, go to unwind. Do you get worried when your kids school in schools that do not meet the expectations of your friends or your occupational status? Or is it about the complexion of the girl you date? Or the engine cc of the car that you drive? Or the estate you dwell in? Or your profession? Or where you go for salon? Or is it about your not so 1 billion worth church which haven’t qualified to have church mums and dads? Dear reader; please cut the slack and start living. Drop the baggage and the blurring euphoria. Learn to choose friends, breathe life to your goals and passions, follow the basics in life and develop a relationship with money.

Speaking of money;

Many of us have been caught in the neck of woods of drowning in debt and the addiction of credit cards purely for approval. Come to think of it this way; why would one spend a staggering sh.5 million to hold a wedding that does not last a year? Practically, it means this couple rushed out, assumed much and got deluded by societal approvals. To others it’s all about the looks and the pocket size. Why? Because your family and friends put that as a top priority! Since the poor you would never contemplate shaming them, you marry looks and a bank account only to realise later your dissimilarities and approach of life are too overwhelming. Funny enough, you don’t quit but soldier own to pay the price of approval. And when push comes to shove, your hands and legs get chopped off!

There is a trap in the name of a bubble that we all fighting to be associated with. The middle class syndrome. We are grappling with all in our possessions, creating innuendos and perceptions in the streets of social media that we duly belong to this class of society. We are using financial shortcuts and bribing ourselves to this envied life. From our pricey phones to fancy apartments to where we go for shopping – we are borrowing to enjoy this life. But what’s in it. Only one thing stands out; The feel good effect. I like to call it, The Nairobi effect. By the way, to you Nairobians that seem not to speak the local dialect even when you visit up country; we are aware of which side of Nairobi you reside in. With all fairness, your up country is cleaner than where you live, so cut the slack. The tendency to pretend your heritage and background is not from the village is not only farfetched but pure disgust.

Dear imaginary middle class, I know you believe in faking it till you make it. While at it, don’t make it up with mortgages that seem to trounce your very existence. Please don’t fake it if you still owe HELB some money. Cut the slack too if you have been blacklisted by Mshwari and or have defaulted numerous bank loans. Spare us if you reside in a grabbed piece of land that houses your bungalow, financed by embezzled funds. The middle class bubble is very seductive but when a time comes for hard facts to spill; it will expose your annoying under belly. Your offspring will have it tough footing your lifestyle baggage that did little to make the life any better. Do you wish to die of curses or of Approvals? What’s in your bucket list? What’s keeps you awake you in the night? Is it your dreams or the expectations of others? Do you ever think of yourself or all you do is feed other people’s expectations?

Do your math!!

OFFICE CHARACTERS AND THE IN – HOUSE POLITICS

office set upMy Communication Skills lecturer would simply define Grapevine as the informal communication that takes place in a formal organisation set up. It’s similar to gutter press in the journalism world. This has to do with news that is not incorporated in the mainstream channels of communication. Now, depending on how grapevine is managed, it largely determines the nature of office politics. This reminds me of something. Slightly over four years ago, green and naive but hugely toying and struggling to carry the weight of unrealistic ambitions and soon after joining the job market, one of my brothers in law advised me to be careful about office politics. He indirectly warned me to avoid at all cost, to ever get caught in the crosshairs and crossroads of office politics. What he didn’t tell me is, that was easier said than done. For them that more often than not refuse to tow in the line of subtle oppression and status quo mentality, normally find themselves in the wrong side of office politics once in a while.

You probably have been a victim too, being haunted by cold wars and political machinations of the big kahunas and opinion shapers in the kingdom of your office. Normally, these characters naturally or overtime courtesy of their unrivalled skills or reputation tend to wield staggering influence which if you dare to go against, you’ll experience something close to being clobbered and roughed up to a moving car for god knows where. Your significant others will search for you in vain only to find you after a week, killing hours unwillingly in the dull and graffiti walls of Pangani cells. It won’t happen in the real sense but in the mind games and the bruising rivalry in any typical office. You’ll perhaps be sidelined and ridiculed for failing to be a sycophant of a camp that calls the shots.

This happens all over the world. In fact, office politics is a hot potato that many Managers struggle to either control or contain. From the giant blue chip multinationals in California – U.S to tiny NGOs somewhere in Africa, all seem to struggle with managing office politics.

But Why?…

This is because Office Politics is a platform where supremacy and ego’s heights are measured and tested. It’s a dark room so to speak that cartels information and dispenses it based on trust. In fact the more confidential information one has the more valuable he/she seems to be. By the way, nobody should hoodwink you that it is not similar to national politics. In fact, most offices entertain the bully-like Moses Kurias and Muthamas of this world. And just like in typical Kenyan politics, here friendship relationships never last for long. Actually, the main characters never bother to mind the so called subjects; it’s a game of numbers and changing goal posts. The one with a larger following is perceived to wield more power over the rest. But predictably, in the heat of trying to keep souls in your camp happy, a fall out and eventual spill out never fails to occur and recur every so often. When this happens, they are welcomed shoulder high by the corded opponents. Hahaha.

Exit office politics enter Office characters;

Kitchen Cabinet

They make the most trusted circle of the top management. They are very few in number say 4 to 8 or more depending on the size of the organisation. Normally, they dispense some unique skills or occupy influential positions which the management in most cases is never willing to let scot free. They brag of always being ahead of the flocks in terms of the latest updates in the company from drafts of warning letters, promotion leakages, changes of salaries, available vacancies, pending sackings and reshuffles of departmental heads and so forth. They are actively consulted and used to test the waters whenever a major decision is just about to be made. But they have to prove and exhibit a particular character; they must be extremely loyal. In other words they are expected to be sycophants who bend over to every whim, request, command and wish of the top management. Some naughty fellows will call them – The ass lickers!

Boss’s Pet

These are characters that head Kitchen cabinets. They are the ultimate – bend overs, if you may. They rubber stamp every cry or call from the top brass. They agree to everything suggested by the Management even if it is about drastically cutting their salaries. To them it’s all about wielding power at all costs. With this, they enjoy basking under the trappings of power be it enjoying expensive trips to Naivasha fully financed by company money or receiving windfall gifts every now and then. Having a liberal mind is never one of their fundamental human rights. In fact they auction it to chase the elusive power. You can call them power hungry monsters who pay the price by whatever cost even if its sleeping with the boss.

The Opposition

These are the Boniface Mwangi’s of this world. They are brilliant minds behind quiet revolutions in organisations, staff strikes and Go Slows. You’ll spot them leading demos in the streets bracing tear gases and daring to be screened live on camera never minding of the impending consequences if found guilty of organising the-never-legal strikes. These characters cannot just be fired as they are the necessary evil of a company. They are the company geniuses, creative minds and skillful lot. They are what the management labels thorn in the flesh! Woo unto you if you join this movement with no track record to show. A majority get into this camp through getting fired from the Kitchen cabinets. They are the Langat Margerers and Ababu Namwamba who in many a times bite more than they can chew. They are dare devils of the company, very intimidating and always daring to score from far distances. They so well understand the management psychology and how it is likely to react.

Project X Generation

Describing them as Party Animals might sound as an under estimation. Their social media images leave traces of hangovered characters who earn to live large and post their entire life on Instagram partying with who’s who and drinking to the most pricey champagne. They have this larger than life demeanor. They are Shaffie Werus wannabe who party 3 or 4 days a week. Red eyes and smell of alcohol is what they are known for. They take over tea and lunch breaks narrating their night out escapades and how they got home at 4am on a Thursday morning. Once in a while they get warning letters from the HR’s desk due to their extreme dressing code that has everything to do with leaving bare fodder and cleavages for anyone who cares to drool at. They also have a thing with earphones and headphones.

Mafisi Representatives

These are men (and women) who have a problem with taming their libidos. They salivate at every passing miniskirt or any exposed thigh. They brag to have slept with the highest number of office colleagues. Formed from across all ages in the payroll; they hit and run naive office interns and loosened married colleagues just for bragging rights. They have no particular taste for women. Young or old, junior or senior, fairly new or the experienced crop, from the enviable Kitchen cabinet characters to the chest thumping Opposition and the rest of them all; they turn around humans and run over without breaking a sweat. Going by their mouthwatering tales and cunning traits, they trap an overwhelming number. To them that dare not to cooperate, in most cases are normally treated with coercive threats.

The Junior Nobodies

These are souls who don’t matter to anybody. They dispense zero influence not even to themselves. They are the office people who rarely get noticed even when they fail to turn up in the office for a week. It’s even worse when they go for annual leaves; nobody ever gets hit by their absentia. They are quiet, dull men and women who speak less and perform tasks that have no substantial impact. They fit in the crowd and rarely standout in anything. They are not necessary intellects or known for anything that could excite the rest.

Gossip Dispensers

They are the undercover investigators and moral cops armed with rogue bloggers mentality. With this, they crawl and smoke out highly confidential information from its hideouts. They earn a living by making or breaking people’s careers effortlessly. They are the only section of the society that can get away with lies and concocted half- truths and happen to convince the rest to buy their story. They are soft killers at hire, if you may, who go to an extent of bribing money hungry Kitchen Cabinet characters just to get first-hand information.

Know-it-all IT Gurus

They brag of having the possession of all company passwords from protected WIFI pins to hacking cloud backup systems to tapping highly sensitive emails and phone calls. They are the same characters behind jamming LAN (Local Area Networks) if not interfering with CCTV softwares. These characters are heavily outsourced by the Opposition to furnish them with confidential information in their grip. This helps the latter to gain political mileage if not arm twisting the Management.

Now, even after this classification I’m not sure where I lie!! That said, somebody advised me that in order to safely swim across the rivers of Office Politics; is by simply minding my own business.

CONTEMPORARY KIDS AND THE OVERRATED BIRTHDAY PARTIES

Birthdays were not part of my childhood at all, for obvious reasons. They were too prestigious for our family and many akin ones in my village. In fact, the closest I came across a birthday hosted for me was when one of my sisters, fresh out of college happened to have fallen in love with a new hobby; that of baking cakes. So, my birthday and I found ourselves in the right place, at the right time, in the season when someone close to me had amassed a new skill. Predictably, she had to prove to us that she could bake and since my birthday was closing in, it was only rational to test her skills on the very day. I was actually lucky and honoured to have the village photographer attend, and document the memories to date.

29th of November was the day; should have been in 1996 or 97 there about when we still bragged of a cassette radio and listening to KBC English Service. That was in my formative years of life when closing school equaled to weeks of grazing our dad’s livestock. Grazing pastures were plenty then and life was more favourable. At least we didn’t grow listening to news of high school kids burning their schools (Apart from the unfortunate Kyaguli High School fire tragedy on March 2001 that left 63 students dead and Nyeri High School inferno in 1999 that claimed the lives of 4 prefects) or husbands turning against their wives and unleashing bloody terror on them. I will forever miss those days we listened to John Karani, Charity Karimi and the late Nzau Kalulu (RIP) of The Sundowner. The latter was today’s Jeff Koinange. The days when wearing a marvin, baggy trousers, oversized hoods and jackets was trendy. E sir was such a big deal! Rest in eternal peace, bro.

At least you now appreciate where my argument of overrated birthdays is coming from. However, that shouldn’t be construed to mean I’m against birthdays, in fact ebu invite me for one! Haha. That said, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend that is too familiar to you and I. Of adults abusing kids birthday parties and converting them to house parties and hook up bashes. See, the kid is left to wonder, who the hell could these drunkard adults be celebrating?

Yes, your jirani will knock at your door to solicit for cutlery and utensils for his one year old son bash. As you wonder how many people could have been invited, you’ll hope your precious plates and cups won’t get broken in the melee and excitement that comes with hosting a One year old’s birthday. Well as you’ll go out to peep, you’ll meet the sight of a tent in your tiny compound and several dozens of plastic chairs and some booming music. What will be unknown to you is that in a few hours’ time, about 20 – 30 adults with hardly any kids, will arrive to celebrate this one year old son who by now will be hugely disillusioned and disturbed by this staggering number of humanity.

Soon the show will start, just short of having some local celebs in the midst going by the hype and glamorous faces all over your landlord’s compound. You won’t even manage to dash to the shop or do laundry. How now? How do you walk to the clothing lines when a big time show is happening and some booze smelling next door? There will be lighter moments though, when your eyes will dart and stubbornly stick on those urbanite ladies with cleavages all-popping and more kilometers of thighs all bare and unperturbed by your gaze. Yes, these ladies will be here to celebrate a one year old and acclimatize him with what to expect in his near future. Mind you, it’s a kid these PYT (Pretty Young Things) will have never met or heard of before, apart from a few days ago when they got wind of a bash from a groupie Whatsapp message sent out to all who care. This is how it read;

Admin: Hey ladies; Satoo kuna bash ya birthday kwa Amoo, ule wa Subaru Forester ya blue. If interested tupatane tao stage ya gari za Otiende – Langata. Please guys, 2pm don’t be late.

Sasha: Kuna alcohol

Admin: In plenty

Stella: Ni yake ama ni ya wi-fe

Anita: Does it matter?

Admin: Ni ya katoi kake kana turn 1!!!!

Jenny: Am so in …walai sikuwa na ploti ya weekend

Admin: Come ready to mingle, ma sponsor ni kibao

Carol: Count me in guyz it’s time nimepata mwingine kile kimzee cha kipara ni mdomo tu na hakina any!! 

Keshi: wololo weekend made

Tabby: Following

Annie: Nimemiss Amooo…Can’t wait, alipata ata mtoi…gai!!!!

Milly: Woisheee mningonje niko na class upto 2

Nemoo: Dressing code

Admin: As you’d wish bora utese wanaume 

The kid will be confused and feel so uncomfortable with this kind of ambiance. He won’t even have a bite of the cake. His hunger senses will have hibernated at least for as long as these souls will be here. He will do thundering cries and steal the show all for the wrong reasons. He will resist every faked attention including the pleas of his mum and dad. He will disappoint and embarrass them with more cries here and more cries there. The crowd will pause for a moment for his address of unceasing cries, restlessness and a fatigued face armed with emotional eyes pleading with them to leave. He will try to communicate that he is not party to this mockery of a so called birthday, in vain. He will be scared by the smell of cigarettes and the sight of packs of Guarana littered all over.

But who said the show will come to a stop? Not after all the juicy Whatsapp invites and promise of campus-like ladies ready to be sponsored at a small fee plus free alcohol. So, the catchy music will play even louder dwindling and burying the cries of a son of man, who will have pulled a Riek Machar stunt by now. For Kageshi and many of you who detest watching hard news on TV, well this guy was the immediate Vice President of South Sudan who fled Khartoum citing fears for his life. This has resulted to rising tension in the country thereby frustrating the peace talks between the government and the Opposition.  

The show will sneak in to the early hours of the night punctuated by erotic dancing moves, streams of alcohol that will show no signs of drying up and all the debauchery you’d imagine of, in between. Later on, the already drunken souls will fire up their pricey engines filled to capacity by these PYT ready to cruise to the After Party somewhere in town. Meanwhile the imageries of the so called birthday party will soon crawl their way to the social media to smoother egos and to trigger envy for anyone who didn’t receive an invite.

That’s a birthday for a One year old in the days of our times, today! It’ll cost the host couple an arm and a leg to hold it, all for the wrong reasons.