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?

DEAR STUDENTS, PLEASE CUT THE SLACK

Students strikesAbout a 100 students have been charged in court for arson related cases in the last one month. Moreover, close to a 100 high schools have been closed down following the unfurling unrest among students. The unwavering strikes have had pundits citing reasons to do with extension of 2nd term, mind you, for just one week and the archaic anxiety brought about by form four Mock exams. Some have even gone ahead to allege it’s all about Matiang’i leadership style! If you ask me though, he is one of the most hands on C.S in the Jubilee government. By the way, it’s time he cracked on the clueless County Educational Officers, as all they do is sit and wait for a hefty salary at the end of the month.

There has been this misconception over the years in the minds of many students that the world starts and ends with them. We were in that stage too, toying and flattering with the same euphoria. We used to imagine we were the end game and the creme of the world. We believed the world looked at us with awe and admiration and that it would literally stop, sit back and wait for our nonsensical mindsets to steer us to burn schools and pull a see no evil, hear no evil. Nobody could have convinced us otherwise. Dear students, we’ve been there, done it and come to regret it. Please lend us your ears and while at it, kindly cut the slack and the hype. It won’t matter a thing in a few years.

You see, there is something about uniforms that hides our family status. It blurs hard facts creating an impression that we are equal and will forever be. The truth of the matter is, that’s far from the truth. It’s colonial and cheating. Come to think of schools in developed countries and why they don’t emphasize on school uniforms. The philosophy behind this, from my imagination is to help these kids develop self-identity and appreciate backgrounds will always differ. That hasn’t been felt in Kenya. I say it again; uniforms have a way of creating artificial uniformity which is misleading to me, from where I sit. Let students appreciate they are different and must chase their individual dreams. Dear students, the moment you walk out of that high school gate having successfully sat for your KCSE exams if lucky and safe to be out of jail, reality will coldly welcome you to the other world. To the world that puts you to your rightful place. It has no time for slack and mob justice syndrome. Never. Here, everybody carries his or her cross, baggage and dream(s). In here it’s all about how you far you push your envelopes; how you trade your skills; how you amass networks and not how wealthy or poor your family is. You can also get away with impunity anyway but if not lucky, you will die a young death and a painful one for that matter. So dear students, please cut the slack.

Woo unto you especially, that is funded by a bursary scheme or harambees. No pun intended. If your parents sacrifice everything to have you in school and all you do is conspire strikes that burn classrooms; may the good Lord speak to you in a special way, now. May He wake you from the messy ignorance you are swimming in. You know, it is extremely annoying if you burn a school while your relatives have combed the entire community soliciting for small donations here and there just to give you what they didn’t benefit from. This is what we call parental love, boy! I also assume that you have come across an idiom that says; You never throw stones if you live in a glass house. Nature can be punishing and unforgiving.

Dear young girl that is chauffeured to school in pricey cars. Please don’t inconvenience poor kids’ dreams with your selfish influence. After organising for a strike, your parents will bribe their way, and ship you to another school. This is Kenya, right? Your life will move on seamlessly but you’ll have cut short someone’s only hope. Those students you badly influenced to join you in organising to burn classrooms will have their fate sealed by poverty and misery. Their parents will not have the stature or the evil monies to bribe their way to other schools. Their kids will have to drop out school sadly and get married at their young age if lucky not to get pregnant and start the journey of single motherhood before they celebrate their 18th birthday.

On the other hand, parents fixed to the corner by hard economic times will have to approach their chamas and Saccos for emergency loans. Yes they will do so to pay for your selfishness that had dormitories and classrooms torched. You even torch your books and beddings seriously while some of you don’t even have enough beddings at home. Why do you allow yourself to be drugged by this stupidity? Imagine it won’t matter in few years. You will never meet with some your so called friends after completing your KCSE. Some will do well in life while otherwise will have it rough. Some of you will have the potential of even employing some of these so called rich kids. Please dare to prove me right by not joining them in torching schools that are your only getaway to your dreams. Don’t allow them to mess with your future. You know what; Life cares very little about your family background. Actually in most cases it doesn’t. Imagine you all have a blank cheque for your life. It’s all about who you let in to your life and whose opinion you choose to buy. Life is all about creating something with what you choose. If you choose bad influence and slack from rich kids who believe their future is cut out, or from students who have lost hope of life; you’ll have sealed your fate for the worst.

To some of you, it will feel momentous when one contributes to the pattern that adds to the infamous staggering statistics of schools torched. Momentarily, your peers will celebrate you. How foolish is that and how long will it last? How much will you cost your struggling parents while even having you in school smoothly without being sent home for fees is a problem?(No pun intended). Dear students, it’s all fun and games until when you check to your parents’ humble homes only to be welcomed by reality. This is when you realise, the uniform no longer matters but rather, is the devil in the details. You realise how much uniform hides from reality. Who lied to you that you were born conjoined at the hip with your classmates? That’s a fallacy you need to drop before it’s too late. Their lives will be fixed by their influential parents but what about you who can’t afford a lawyer or can’t relate to the term – Family doctor?

Promise to stop this madness, dear student.

Address to parents:

Parents must step up and cede from overprotecting their kids. They must drop the shenanigans of treating their children with kids gloves. This alone, has immensely contributed in the soaring indiscipline cases in schools. Just the other day, it was reported that a parents’ association had bailed for an out of court case with one of the affected schools. Now, what will stop this delinquent kids from torching their schools all over again given a chance?

A MEETING OF SORTS: MR. X & I

Mr.x2On this afternoon, I get a text from a close friend reading that there is this gentleman, whom we shall name Mr. X, in dire need to meet me to have an important conversation. I immediately call my good friend to dig dipper. She doesn’t disclose as much, only alluding that Mr. X has some great opportunities if only I’d be interested. We end the conversation. By the way, the text had his number. At least my number wasn’t given out without a heads up. We call that courtesy. Well, I take my time wondering what Mr. X could be having in store for me. I even start questioning, why me and not any other person. You know how fears and doubts can tread on someone? Shame on them. May these demons of self doubt die premature deaths.

This was last week….

Thanks to the temptations of thinking that the grass is always greener on the other side, thoughts of me calling Mr. X were receiving National spotlight in my world. It could be the turnaround I have been waiting for, you know! I thought. They say opportunity knocks once, meaning it should be grabbed with all vitality in our possession. In this very competitive life, one cannot afford to pull a seat and wait. By now, I was on adrenaline, my mind going wild, occasionally throwing random thoughts that probably my dreams could come sooner…my savings could grow confidence and my tight budgets could loosen. I was on a mental treadmill trying miserably to control my jumpy heartbeat and the roaming mind. Speaking of my mind, it literally downed its tools on whatever it was working on, took off the dusty apron for the day and ran after the building illusions. As for me and the rest of my body, we pulled duvets and watched in amusement. “This is it!” I mumbled to myself.

In few minutes time, I was calling Mr. X, resisting an overwhelming anxiety. I helplessly listened to my phone requesting him to pick up from the other end. My fondly gadget remained so hopeful but unfortunately it didn’t come to be. Something else interrupted in a few….My call was hanged up. How? Jesus Christ of Nazereth? How does Mr. X hang up on me? It doesn’t happen especially when you sort to reach me through somebody. Mr. X c’mon. That was a mistake which I wasn’t taking lying down. How could I? At least not when I had a whole pregnant mammoth of illusions, expectations, built castles, racing hearts, shivering hands and anxious eyes eagerly waiting for my State of the Nation address. This build up of momentum couldn’t be in vain? Surely Mr. X

I retreated to the penthouse with my very trusted confidants eager to build a counter narrative, a Plan B & C and a painful exit strategy if need be. I was here chairing a tensed meeting, clouded with uneasiness and simmering frustrations smoldering from the cracks of vague hopes. Seated with me were my Instincts on the right, which serve as my National Intelligence docket. Present too were my emotions tough to persuade not to overreact. I had to give them (emotions) a dress down speech, on how to behave and be hopeful. In our midst was my Ego pulling no stops in giving indirect subtle threats and ultimatums to Mr. X lawyers. You see you have to give it to my Ego. It’s okay to liken it with one Nkaissery. Fiery loyal, protective and gun blazing. Dare me hehe. My P.A was also present having been represented by my Personality. My lawyers were in the vicinity too hired from the enviable Kageshi Kingdom. The chiefdom was in a crisis if you may, and summons had to be honoured.

Straight on the agenda was how to prepare for Mr. X:

  • How organised and ready was he to find us?
  • If he’d ask for some commitment fee, could our Treasury be in a position to honour?
  • How quickly were we to do our maths in finding out if the deal was exploitive? He could be a cunning salesman you know!
  • What if he didn’t call or pick up our calls ………after having the whole nation after us? It’s like Obama cancelling a nostalgic and over publicised trip to Kenya. But we rode on an assumption that Mr. X was a very busy man and could be calling in no time.

Meanwhile we kept the bulging battery of journalists around penthouse guessing on what could be cooking

And he finally called. From the onset, I could sense he was a salesman all hidden by the wishy washy preambles. Keen to listen, careful with his words and bringing along, a well -oiled confidence. Make no mistake he had mastered his game and was here to pursue a target. To catch and confuse a seemingly naive soul, a gullible taxpayer and an impatient youthful employee scared of stagnation.

So the eagerly awaited deal was all about joining his establishment, for lack of a better word, that partners with hotels across the world and endeavors to bridge the space between holiday enthusiasts and holiday destinations. He is a senior official in this organisation and his work is concisely to recruit, recruiters. Don’t get twisted. He is the chief of them all and have set base across 29 countries including Kenya. From the eye infectious sandy beaches in Singapore, rolling high walls in China to one of the longest suspension bridges in the world sandwiched by a thick forest and wild animals in British Columbia, what else could you ask for. The thing is, this package comes with discounted bookings in thousands of hotels around the globe. The trick is; the more people you net in, one gets a commission but Mr. X gets a tidier sum of money. It’s like being your own boss but having to part with huge commissions for the big brother. You recall the euphoria about GNLD back in the day? It’s the same concept.

Call him Mr. X. He is defined by zero chills and the art of conviction. He is a self -believer, has a feel good effect and good at charm offense. He can sell you land in Pluto, convince you to lend him all your savings or share your wife with him. He knows nothing about uninterested clients. They never exist in his world. He has this witty smile that talks of the devil being in the details. Even without having met him you could tell he looks straight to the face with eyes that can audit your life and find out about your bank balance in seconds.Funny enough, Mr. X doesn’t understand how to end a conversation. He calls for 30 minutes with a Safaricom line with no indications of hanging up soon. He will call when you are preparing evening tea, have it ready and taken, listen to him as you clean your dishes, as you dust your carpet, as you watch the news, as you say hey to your neighbour, without him getting bothered of the background noise or of your annoying yawns. He takes no chances. The fact that one has to raise a minimum capital and pay a monthly charge if he/she fail to maintain at least 4 active members was my point of departure with him. That was too much work for me.

Meanwhile, all my imaginations came grand halting, hitting down with thunders of frustrations and salivating for my blood like the armies of the movie, Game of Thrones. The annoying part is, thanks to Mr. X’s marketing skills I didn’t know how to say No. Yes, I’m one of those who nod when they mean No. I belong to the school of thought that is afraid of hurting people with cold Nos. Haha. At this minute, Mr. X is waiting for my appointment and I have no clue on what to tell him. Anyone willing to help..Andreaders?

Surely Mr. X

HOW WILL YOUR EULOGY READ?

AliI have always wondered how my eulogy will read. Isn’t that suicidal though? Shouldn’t I book an appointment with Madam Grace the lean bodied, tall woman, with crops of grey hair who on this day will be donning one of those flowery dresses worn on a sunny wedding day which will seem to flatter her waistline and make her not seem a day older after 28. I’ll pop to her Counseling office and find her reading “How Women Decide” by Therese Huston. I’ll not miss the sparkling glass of water, half filled. She is one of those that takes water religiously and from look of things; I will be left to conclude she is ageing gracefully. She will sag her specs, hold my right hand and be like;

Young man, what’s your name again?

Andrew.

Andrew, you don’t look an inch closer to having a troubled life. Why do you bother about your eulogy, really? By the way what do you do for a living?

I’m a practising accountant, writer but they call it blogging, business man, student, and child of God.

You said child of God

Yes.

Wow, you are incredible.

Hold that for a minute…

Last weekend I found myself inside an over speeding Matatu being shoved from side to side from careless overtaking and outliving screeching breaks. That was me agonising if I’d make it to my destination, only comforted by faint hopes from a loosely fitting and dirty safety belt. I tried in vain to Toa Sauti backed by an elderly man seated next to me while the rest of the younger generation remained stitched to their addictive phones with their older counterparts seemingly struggling with sleepy faces perhaps not agitated by the unbecoming driver, after going through scarier stuff in life than being in a speeding matatu. The fact that my very dear life hanged precariously at the mercy of a driver who seemed not excited by life anymore was nerve racking enough to make my heart jump out my juvenile chest. Interestingly I had this to think in that one hour’s journey;

Just what if the worst happened and we crashed? You know in Africa, a son of the soil never dies before siring at least an offspring. It’s catastrophic, a worse tragedy than death and daunting period for the family. They just can seat next to that boggling reality. They will perform sacrifices at 3am under an aged Mugumo Tree that has stories to tell of how it made it to this day oblivious of the growing threat from timber enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. They will skin a he-goat without blemish, smear themselves with raw stuff from the intestines while facing Mt.Kenya, half naked, each holding a fly-whisk singing to Mulungu traditional songs and pleading with him to pardon me for not leaving behind a son or daughter to bequeath and keep our family name alive.

But who said we shouldn’t write about death? I know it’s still considered a taboo equaled to haunting one’s death in many African societies but this is 2016 Andreaders! It’s through writing about death that should help us audit our lives. Was it last year that I read on the gracious column by Carol Mandi of Sunday Nation about eulogies. She talked of how a group of people were tasked with writing about their deaths assuming they died that particular day (Today). They were asked whether they were proud of their lives, their achievements or lack of them and whether God would be proud of them. They were then tasked to write another set of eulogies this time round having achieved all they hoped to, in their days here on earth.

As expected, the second set of eulogies was way different from the initial one. They were enviable and conquering. But who knows if they will live to have such eulogies? It’s through such conversations that should help us cut the slack and the baggage that clogs our daily lives and align them to our goals. And goals shouldn’t necessarily be about, incredible homes, intimidating cars, plum jobs and beautiful kids and traversing the world. That’s too obvious and cosmetic. We should have bigger dreams and more inspiring like;

Resolving to be better human beings – Kind, honest, prayerful, who speak less and listen more, who look after the elderly, who give time for the less fortunate just to be with them and appreciate them, who mentor boys and girls from marginalised parts of the country without asking for a fee, people who donate to the poor and vulnerable amongst us, who resolve not to bribe or to accept bribes, people who promise not to litter while driving along highways, or drive while drunk. Souls who don’t grab land or fail to pay taxes or brood a bevy of sidekicks from all walks of life just because they are powerful and influential.

Promising ourselves that we won’t leave our families under the mercy of being undressed by shame and undignifying life kept in top secret when we are long gone. Imagine that’s part of what matters, like being good role models to our kids, nephews and nieces and instilling in them the spirit of hard work, diligence and of being responsible fathers and mothers. It’s not about your bank balance, or where you travelled before you hit 40 or how a party animal you were in your 20s. It won’t matter. And people will definitely forget that, as they attend your burial. But the vulnerable lives you touched, and thousands that you inspired in your own unique and small way will be remembered for decades. It will affirm young dreams, rejuvenate emaciated hopes and usher positive energy to souls across the nation(s).

Come to think of Mohammad Ali. Rest in peace legend. Have you heard or read of a more decorated human being? Classified in the same level with great icons like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, William Shakespeare and many others. What an incredible persona this guy was. A brewer of positive energy, liberal, conqueror, phenomenal and greatest of them all. This reminds me of a function I attended whose chief guest of honour was the celebrated CEO Julius Kipng’etich. He talked of how, many rich and successful people aren’t free. They are slaves of money, entitlement and fine things life has to offer. Mohammad Ali was not only free of mind, but more importantly never a sycophant of anybody. Many of us are sycophants of our jobs, bosses, families, spouses, friends ……never speaking up our minds or being true to ourselves.

Every month I get to interact with souls that earn 9k, who work in below 5 degrees temperature levels, nine and a half hours a day, 7 days a week plucking export flowers  or arranging and packing them meticulously for overseas markets. They spend their days standing or bending depending on the department they are in, all in green overalls and white gumboots, and warm gloves and with like two -three sweaters if they work in the Pack – House as is referred in the Flower industry. They take cold food since there are no luxuries like staff rations or a kitchen for that matter, not even canteens. At 1pm, a horde of them will walk in droves, speaking loudly and excitedly making their way out to take numb food that can’t be warmed and that will sink to cold stomachs and be expected to warm cold bodies that have been standing for hours in ice low temperatures. But one thing stands out, every time I mingle with them: The hope in the rays of their eyes is touchable. They live a day at a time in peace with reality but aggressively doing their best with what they have, all along supporting their needful families. A good number of them are single mothers living in shattered houses that ask for a rent of sh.1,500 and who ensure their kids attend school and have a meal in the evening. What of you? Where does your heft salary end up at the end of the month? Are you investing or expensing it in entirety?

Will your eulogy lie between the lines that you were an above average, industrious, incredible and awesome human being. Note that above average has nothing to do with education papers but the whole package of your existence. How you interacted with people, the legacy your friends, close relatives and maybe your kids will write about, 30 years from now. Fundamentals and life principles you instilled in them that will be too deep rooted and relevant, decades after you’re gone. That’s the benchmarking we should all set for ourselves, not living empty lives and borrowing heavily to support a lifestyle that has nothing to do with our goals apart from disorienting us from the very same goals. We should die trying, refusing to bow down to life challenges. Our lives should be themed with aphorisms like – Lose unrelentingly…I’m a consequence of my choices…I take full responsibility of my mistakes…I didn’t live somebody else’s life…Lord I repent my sins and those of my parents and generation…I’m sorry to whoever I wronged intentionally or otherwise…I’m the greatest of them all in my Kingdom…No word or action will ever distract me from my goals…I lived to conquer my worst fears…I tasted freedom when I ceased being a captive of my imagination…It’s been real being alive, time for the next phase…My transition won’t not only be televised but experienced by many!

That’s the spirit. Let’s create the best from our potentials as it lasts. You just never know! And to whom much is given, much is expected.

 

MY LUNCH ‘LOCAL’

jymoDuring my life in college I belonged and still do belong to a squad by the name Cattle Dip. In fact our Whatsapp group has been in existence since this social media platform taxied safely in our lives and became part of us. The close to 10 of us were using all manner of tricks to survive in Nairobi mostly living with relatives then, who too had their fair share of survival struggles. Basically, the resources weren’t enough. Naturally, we devised ways and mechanisms to survive in this city. From having the sh.50/- lunch at Ngara Market to walking from Vision – Paramount at the Globe roundabout to Uhuru highway – Haile Selassie intersection or at times paddling further to Nyayo Stadium to catch  a sh.20/- mat to Mombasa road. For most of us our daily budgets revolved around sh.100.

This type of life slowly sinked in us to an extent of nurturing a belief that no man should spend as much for lunch. Four years down the line, I have had issues with hotels that overprice meals they offer. But whom I am to protest, its either you take it or leave it. Not that I still frequent makeshift places for lunch nowadays, however, the nostalgic feeling hasn’t hanged it boots in my life just yet. With tight competition and thanks to offering the same type of menu which is rather visualised than placed somewhere, these vibandas battleground is left in the service delivery zone. How they serve the food and approach would-be-customers breaks or makes their jinx in surviving in this quite profitable market.  Of late, we’ve seen the likes of Deputy President William Ruto, Hon.John Sakaja and many other bigwigs make much publicity capital out of visiting these places mostly associated with low class citizens.

Enough of that;

I’m sitting in this favourite lunch joint waiting patiently for my order. Normally, if you are a familiar patron the waiters or are they referred as waitresses will welcome you with a high five or those affectionate handshakes that are always followed with a thunder. It’s the unwritten rule in this joint. Call it a ritual if you may or a marketing gimmick that has worked for many walk-in customers. Imagine a place where waitresses ask how your day is fairing on? You know, in Marketing they teach us about customer satisfaction and valuing. This is the magic that leaves us badly loyal to this small hotel that has one fan, 18 seats, two waitresses and buzzing noise from busy humans and their cutlery . It’s the same magic that makes many of us find our way to this hotel even when we find ourselves in the other side of town.

The two, slender ladies from head to toe but big hearted and with even ‘bigger ‘ smiles serve with sheer passion. You can always tell they love what they do and they love their boss too, and the customers as well. They refer us by our names and gladly find us a place to sit even when it is tough to find one or when those short-fat-daddies that Biko writes about occupy two seats. These ladies always depict genuine smiles to customers with their familiar phrases, “Umeagiza?” Now to you who attended Kiandutu Primary and later proceeded to Komothai Girls Umeagiza is a Swahili sanifu term meaning; Have you ordered?

These waitresses never have those times-of-the-month mood swings. Never. I envy how they enjoy what they do not like some of us who sit behind a computer doing accounting stuff dealing with mean-looking emails from auditors or stubborn clients who will not pick your calls or respond to emails. You will work under tight deadlines from the seniors and also put up with long impromptu meetings all in a day’s work. But what of serving food to hungry humans who will only be there for a maximum of 40 minutes. Here patrons don’t stay for long since they have to excuse the rest that are trooping in carrying their weathered bodies along, having been bashed by the humongous sun that has seemingly outmaneuvered the rains or were they floods! The only time I came close to eavesdropping a deal, was when I sat next to souls negotiating for a car from car brokers and in a record, 40 minutes, the deal had been struck with me as the unintended witness who couldn’t help but listen.

Moreover this is not a place for rendezvous, where you catch up with your girls for coffee or for prolonged lazy lunch breaks with your-significant-other with nothing to show but a toothpick on your hands, you will politely be chased by anxious eyes from patrons next on line struggling to hold their ever bulging tummies. Here, you don’t make long phone calls or wait for someone while keeping yourself busy with the newspaper, where do you even place the paper when fixed in a stuffy hotel clutched by six people in one table with all manner of confusing meals from Matoke beef to Kienyeji special. How do you even order for Kienyeji(Mukimo) for lunch while in a tie. How do you even make it to the office thereafter still in a tie, bracing the scorching sun and having taken Kienyeji special! 

By now you could guess my favourite order, well; I can do Matumbo-Chapati any day of the week. Yes Matumbo which I learnt lately it’s also called offal. This joint understands the art of cooking Matush. As many would fear, my stomach has been safe and happy for the six months i have frequented this place. By the way, the order is accompanied by Matumbo soup, to soften the chapoo for ease of pricking with a fork. Now, who on earth orders for Matumbo soup? Haha. Is it thick? Does it have crawling earthlings or floating stuff? How’s the taste? Kageshi couldn’t believe I take those things as she referred them until she gave in to my convictions lately. She took a friend to the same place recently and she called me immediately marveling how delicious the food was. On that juncture I’d recommend Dr. Stacey whom I wrote about, sometimes back Dr.Stacey And My Limping Leg to try my favourite meal in this hotel behind Kenol – Nanyuki. Doc, I dare you.

 

     

WHO WILL MENTOR THE MEN IN US?

mentormen

 

When my Research lecturer gave us an assignment on writing a proposal, my mind juggled with so many topics for some days. Ultimately, my Proposal heading read; A STUDY ON THE PLIGHT OF THE BOY CHILD IN KENYA. It is no coincidence that I’m passionate about the male gender threats and prospects in this country. At times I will sound harsh to them (I included)with criticism, sometimes supplying sympathy and reassurance all in search of mentoring avenues for this incredible human species. It is also not a coincidence too, that this is the umpteenth time I’m writing an open letter to dear men.

I start by affirming the riddle; You never throw stones when you live in a glass house. My perennial criticism however, is not baseless but out of anger, shock and disappointment  on how low we have lowered the bar of qualifying to be a gentleman. That said I can confirm the following;

A majority of fathers have miserably failed to be good role models. A good number of us have also welcomed the idea that it is humanly normal to have several sidekicks, not even one at your disposal! That man is the greatest loser from the upsurge of single parenting is not being emphasized either. Alcoholism has shattered our dreams, emasculated everything will hold dear and disenfranchised our families. These four facts have costed us immense reputation and track record. They have weakened our enviable history we bequeathed from our grand fathers. Furthermore, they have peeled every tasty flesh in man’s legacy and reduced us to mere scavengers with no heritage to hold on; left us bare, feeling vulnerable and battling with exposed flaws.

Enough of that.

Fellow men, I confirm to have partaken in dealing with the burden of unprecedented pressure, contemporary man is grappling with day in day out. If it’s not to have a loyal wife, then it has to be a decent car then expectations evolve to an imposing piece of land, then a mansion worth inviting humans to attend for the official opening. That done, they call for a million dollar wedding and before that you save for a commercialised dowry occasion. From there you will be required to steer and show direction to a family set up that is bleeding from over empowerment. You will be expected to hold this same family in one piece dealing on the sidelines with a mother in law who is briefed daily on the metamorphosis of your behaviors and bank balance. You will also deal with mother in laws who will dare you to stress their too educated but fragile daughters. You will grapple with village men who expect something small every time you visit up country. You will either deal with it willingly or from their manipulative skills. Your kids will be expected to go to schools that cost an arm and a length. A lot will be expected from you in ensuring you give them decent upbringing. Dear men, I know the weight of expectations from close family members. Out of circumstances you will be compelled to be ambitious and opportunistic. In the end you will be worshipped for being wealthy regardless of where you amassed it from. The quicker your bribe your way to riches the sooner the celebrations will start otherwise the reverse is also true.

However, there is more that matters to man. To achieve all the above we need to cultivate a strong foundation. We need to bank and invest on mentors. But who will mentor us, really? To prove how tough it is for a man to celebrate his 35th birthday sober, spiritual, and full of life; here’s some of the challenges.

Not so long ago  a couple of my classmates and I gathered to catch up after we found out one of the day’s unit had been cancelled. A spontaneous convergence had taken place whereas the rest had hurriedly left on learning the news of cancellation of the class. Within no time, a heated conversation was growing and soon enough we were basking in laughter and tears of joy. The cost of leaving this elusive gathering was too high. I savoured every minute of this encounter since it’s not an often thing. You know how evening or weekend classes always have students in a rush even when it is unnecessary. If it is not hurrying to get to class on time then it could be to head home before the rains pound or before it gets too late to prepare supper or it could be to catch up for a big game with the boys. These students are always on adrenaline. Every single announcement of cancellation of class brings along its fair share of impromptu events and activities that must be honoured. In fact, these students live for the cancellation of a class!

Anyway, we laughed and sympathised with each other on life’s experiences. The dominant topic of discussion was about the plight of men in this day and age. Why this arose was because a lady who was scantily dressed made a mistake of passing next to us. Yes she was badly dressed. She had a kikoi to cover her exposed thighs given that she would sit down at some point in the day with her waistline-long dress. I never get the drift but I leave it there. That dressing was a game changer to our conversations. Thanks to her, it resulted to us sharing the most fundamental aspects of life. We came clean and unashamed of our past mistakes. For once, there was no judgment or eye -rolling.

A lady in the group spoke of how one of her male colleagues who by that time was a bachelor had been trapped in a love web with a lady that used to clean his clothes over the weekends. The banker dude had fallen for a Mama Fua. It all began when the said lady started by leaving some of her items in the bachelor’s digs every time she came for her kibarua(hustle), deliberately. This dude didn’t decode the signals right on time until she left her undergarments. They guy still unperturbed remained mum. The following weekend, Mama Fua came late and so her task ended in the late hours as well. She said she was worried to go home in the night. It was risky for her. The guy suggested to escort her but his suggestion was outwitted skillfully by Mama Fua. Mama Fua spent the night in his house and ……..one thing led to another. Whatever magic that lady used worked soundly.`

Since then, the poor guy fell for this damn woman with all his naive heart and soul, wealth, time, inheritance and with any other resource he owned. Oblivious to him, Mama Fua was a single mother. Daring enough, she brought her kid to live with the new dad. It became impossible for this man to cut links with her. Friends and colleagues tried in vain. When word reached the dad, his result to anger and condemnation bore no fruit. The only thing that worked was to literally pack the belongings of his son, uproot him and leave Mama Fua with the house all for her. He had to also influence a transfer of his son to another station in a different town. It worked.

We moved on to this bloke who confessed to have been enfeebled by this female colleague with unrelenting and disturbing theatrics to woo him. Clearly, this guy had been pulling uninterested looks to this chic who in turn seemed not to be in short supply of tricks to lure him persistently. He got trapped to this female colleague type of play. He naively chose to play in her court. By not admonishing her and telling her he was not comfortable with her moves, he made the lady assume silence meant affirming her motives. Not once, did this ingenuous guy find his coat sneaked in some scribbled notes confessing her love to him.

At another end, a guy broke to us how he dated a lady who was few weeks pregnant by the time he started hitting on her. Oblivious of what was to shock him, they warmed for a relationship with the lady throwing all the signals that she wanted to be laid as soon as possible. Were it not for Jesus who did a miracle to this lad, making him be patient enough, by now he would be paying school fees to a son or daughter he didn’t father but having been convinced it was his.

From my assessment, the society has negated its role of mentoring and looking after young men with the presumption that having gone through campus/college life, they are mature enough to make sound decisions and steer a life independently. On the other hand, too much concern is put to ladies which at some point means living with their relatives even with they get jobs. They are monitored constantly and every decision they make questioned by their parents. They truth of the matter is, young men soon after getting employed and living away from the watchful close relatives, fall into the gaping holes of naivety. They are never advised beforehand, that living in far a town away from family comes with a lot of trust and responsibility. Lest they will be swallowed by conniving eyes and tricks of swindlers who come armed with the so called love. The most regrettable mistakes men make don’t happen when in High school, not even in Campus or thereafter but during their formative years of employment. Evil has undying love for new money.

Guys with promising career prospects are getting duped so cheaply for lack of solid foundations and principles. They are dating and divorcing interchangeably. They are marrying the wrong spouses out of peer and societal pressure, raising kids they didn’t sire unknowingly, get battered and humiliated by their so called wives and scamper for help in bars when they meet female barmaids, who devour on whatever else that is left. In the end, we bury these promising young men, in their miserable state having been drowned by alcohol, HIV, depression, senseless society pressure and anything in between.

What young men are pleading for, is the society to churn out enough good role models who can advise them from childhood to even when they attend parents’ day meetings (before they are abolished by Matiang’i) and beyond then. Men need to be monitored, held accountable and reassured that there are people out there who cherish them and hold them highly. Parents should also cease from imagining that since their sons have landed fancy jobs after campus, that their parenting concludes then. In fact real parenting commences from this stage.

A very Happy Birthday to one Joseph Wairia a huge fan of this blog back in TZ….Bro, may you live to be a great daddy.

 

 

 

WEDDING COMMITTEES & THE CHARACTERS

weddingThe other day a female friend sent me a text message reading that I had been invited to a wedding committee. Actually, she was not really a friend but one of those people who possess your number by mistake. You know, there are those people who shouldn’t have your number, but they have it anyway and there is nothing you can do about it. The bad thing is that they will use it to invite you to wedding committees while in reality the two of you can’t sustain a two sentence conversation. You console yourself with the fact that your number stays dormant, cold and feeling out of place in their phonebooks. It’s hardly used.

Back to the wedding committee; What followed is that I was added to a Whatsapp group!

Two things;

One – If I have to be in a wedding committee then I have to be a mutual friend to the couple.

Or

Two – I have to be invited by the man, meaning that dude will have been my friend by the time he is inviting me to this committee.

If neither of the two – I will show up at your wedding day with my present of course!

The thing is, not everybody should be part of a wedding committee. There should be a criteria and something like benchmarking in deciding who should or shouldn’t qualify to this endeavour. This shouldn’t be a meeting where you gather acquaintances, would-be friends, frenemies, secret admirers, phantom friends or familiar people. And by the way, as a lady leave the functioning of the wedding committee to the man. You can help him come up with the list of trusted friends and relatives but this does not mean going all out fishing and combing-clean social media streets smoking out friends (stalkers) and dragging them to wedding planning forum half asleep. Neither is it a time to start looking for erstwhile friends whom you haven’t spoken to in a decade and then converting them to wedding committee members.

You know, there is something beautiful and manly about being invited by the man to this kind of a committee. From a man’s perspective, it reads recognition and appreciation. My point is, as a woman please focus on the gown, wedding cake and that humorous lady who perfects in cake cutting as she engages the crowd. Men are poor in these three tasks.  And for your information, a wedding is an expensive affair, save enough before imagining of who should be invited to the committee.

Assuming you will be convinced or feel the need to attend one, this is who you will meet. By the way it’s terrible to bank wholly on the wedding committee. They will fail you big time if you are not cautious. This is how it plays out;

You invite a hundred fellows, 30% turn up, 70% will never show up, respond to your texts nor pick your calls the moment they smell you need to part with their money. The 30% that turn up, 20% will only attend the maiden meeting just to be noticed and to see who has been invited and who didn’t make it to the list. These are people obsessed with titles and big man syndrome. This is how the rest will unfold:

Observers

Among the 15% out of the 30% that choose to attend, will be a group of the so called Observers. They will check in on time but will never contribute a point. They remain nailed on their seats, mum and occasionally on their phones. You can label them see no evil; hear no evil kind of people. They are mere observers rich in silence, big in attendance and zero on impact. End result – huge disappoint.

Phony People

These are quite interesting creatures better than observers. They contribute just one point in a two hours session and then drift to their pricey phones. Here they take selfies projecting how they are holed up in a big-wedding-planning and share them on social media. They will regularly walk out to pick calls and later comeback to remain glued to their damn phones. They will make it their point to ensure everybody notices their expensive smartphones by the time the meeting is done. Normally they walk in possession of two to three phones. End result – Below average

Technical Appearance Groupies

These chaps will check in to be seen they attended. They show no regard to the agendas of the day or any concern to how the wedding plan is progressing. They show up for 5 – 10 minutes and walk out in disguise of making a phone call. End result – Zero

Apology Lot

They throw perceptions of being very busy people. If they ain’t catching a flight, then they could be driving up country if not jumping to an important meeting. They specialise in giving apologies even on the actual wedding day. End result – Miserable

One Hit Wonder

They show up either on the maiden meeting or the very last one. They are a huge disappointment if one banks on them. They come to assess and gauge whether they should attend in future. They are big on promises but zero on delivery. End result – A mistake to have been invited!

Noisemakers

They are very social guys. They make friends effortlessly and create networks in minutes. To them, they view people as viable avenues to market their businesses, get county tenders, clinch jobs for relatives or buy or sell cars. End result – Fairly reliable.

Trusted circle

These could be close relatives, office colleagues or trusted friends. They are the main decision makers and major initiators of meeting agendas. They are tasked with specific responsibilities from Committee leaders (Chairman, Secretary & Treasurer), Transport Managers, Entertainment heads, Tent & Decor docket and tasks to find the best and affordable Photographers & MCs. End result – Extremely important

Big Kahunas/Financiers

Normally very influential personages, they are extremely critical. They have resources or connections to ensure the wedding is successful. They will avail cars, seek wedding venues and finance the wedding budget significantly. End result: extremely helpful

Wedding committees have been watered down over the years for two main reasons. One, the organisers have not been paying attention to the principle that no everybody should be invited. We are obsessed with numbers which in many a time end up to disappoint. I can confirm to have participated in a lean wedding committee that ended up delivering beyond expectations. The advantage with a small team is that, it’s easy to manage, to allocate specific tasks and to hold them accountable. Again, a smaller team works harder to prove they are equal to the tasks allocated.

Secondly, we are people that do weddings just to be noticed. That said, a majority don’t save enough for the big day but burden relatives and friends to finance their budgets. We do weddings we can’t afford just to smooth our egos and form the talk from the villages, church, office and to other social circles.

Let’s cut the slack and do weddings when we are sincerely ready.