DOWRY DAY IN EMBU

dowry D-day will finally be here. Culminating a series of family and friends meetings all for the sake of ensuring this day turns out to be a success. As I’ve said previously in this blog, as weddings are huge to ladies so are dowry occasions to men. A man who goes ahead to pay dowry, is not a small man. In actual sense, in his circle of peers, he stands to cement his territory for having ‘fully complied’ with traditions. It’s important to also appreciate; the occasion is financially draining at this day and age, coupled with a commercialised aspect in between. So any man who commits to go full throttle deserves a pat on the back.

You being Stevo’s (Stevo is the dude paying dowry) insider cum confidant, you’ll have been sneaked to this Whatsapp group of his inner circle which essentially deals with the nitty-gritty of the big day and ensuring all plans take shape. Meanwhile for Stevo, he’ll leave nothing to chance. From text messages to lengthy phone calls, a total of 200 friends, family members, colleagues, business partners, acquaintances and so forth will be invited to these endless evening meetings. Mind you only half the number or less will turn up. You’ll gather, deliberate and raise money. For young lads it’s never in vain. In fact, if you never show up in such meetings, nobody will show up when you’ll be in the same situation. Talk of Karma! But more importantly, it’s more fulfilling being part of your friend’s life achievements especially when it requires of you to support.

According to my kienyenji research, three out five ladies from Embu are paid for dowry. I’m even sure most of my readers have attended a dowry thing in Embu, meaning there is something special about Embu ladies. The jury is out. We leave it at that. So, on this day you’ll be embarking on a journey to Embu. This gets so exciting for guys living in Nairobi, for no good reason though. Putting a bunch of crazy friends in a convoy of cars, to transverse up country with all the fun that comes by, becomes too costly to miss. You’ll be cruising along Makuyu stretch, on this first Saturday of the month, nodding to some good hip hop music from the talented Khaligraph Jones. There will be heavy traffic but this will be overshadowed by smell of fresh air outside of Nairobi (pun intended). Observing humans all the way from Thika Road to Makutano Junction busy selling their wares across the highway, or far in their farms tilling, brings out tremendous patriotism within us.

You’ll make it to Embu town some minutes after noon and pull off at an agreed rendezvous. Here, you’ll finalise logistics as you sip quick tea and as you await souls from the rest of the country which then you’ll proceed as one longer convoy. It never gets this blissful. As all these unfold, you’ll quickly fall in love with Embu town. Apart from realising natives here speak with ‘heavy tongues’; you’ll savour the clean air and environment. The roads will be up to standard too with hardly any street family in the vicinity.  Before long you’ll again embark on the final part of the journey after conducting some short prayers, seeking blessings for what’s ahead.

Embu is beautiful gosh!!  From the very green forested farms, to the range of sleeping hills, to the smell of fertile and rich habitat. Rivers will be draining quietly to the lowlands as bulls pulling carts make headway to the highlands. And this will be such a big deal. Your bunch of friends will scramble to take pics of bulls pulling carts. It never happens in Nairobi you know! And funny still, not in their up country either. That work is done by donkeys. The day will be chilly but won’t erase the joy drawing from your faces. The atmosphere will be akin to Limuru Road heading to Gigiri. Birds will be chirping in this fresh ambiance with beautiful roads that meander through the calm and serene locations.

After one hour or so drive, cars ahead will start hooting noisily with their hazard lights all out screaming, “The visitors have finally arrived”. Why do Kenyans do this! hehe. Waking an entire village from car hooting. Again you’ll realise Embu people don’t fence their homesteads. At least for many. After further prodding, you’ll be reminded there is a relatively low criminal rate in Embu. In other words, Embu, Meru and Kirinyaga people have a history of strong belief in traditions of not trespassing nor pilfering. You don’t just go stealing, you’ll be made to regret.

Anyway, the turn up will be impressive going by the number of excited assemblage and variety of cars parked outside this homestead. And that’s how you judge a man. By how many friends and family members he commands….. Few minutes after, women will lead the pack in traditional songs suggesting the visitors have arrived while making their way to the gate, carrying baskets of shopping, mainly food stuff. In Africa you never visit empty handed. (This shopping is shared among the welcoming women, it’s not part of the dowry price.)

The guests will be ushered to the preserved tents and once settled will be invited to queue for buffet to calm their murmuring stomachs. Appreciate that the man paying dowry entirely foots the food budget of the day. Speaking of food, it’ll be a combination of traditional foods like Mukimo (An Agikuyu traditional meal), Nyama choma, fries, pilau, plain rice, black beans aka njahe, peas, fruits and veges. There will be sodas and mineral water too in plenty. This will be followed by family preambles conducted by this fairly young MC with a heavy accent too.

Interestingly, as this happens Stevo will be directed to a certain room to identify his wife from a group of 15 ladies divided into three groups and tied with lessos from head to toe. If he makes a mistake of identifying wrongly, he’s penalised a colossal amount. Luckily for him, he manages to identify her from her shapely hips and the fact that he had entered into a deal with her to pose in a certain way, makes things easier for him. (This is a top secret amounting to corrupting the system and punishable if discovered.)

The day becomes more eventful when Stevo and the wife change to traditional attires and are taken through more activities. The highlight turns out to be when Stevo is served porridge from a calabash but not before a series of other theatrics according to Agikuyu traditions. (The husband doesn’t just accept porridge. The wife must sooth him by polishing his shoes, combing his hair, cutting his nails etc..).Later all the guests are served this nutritious porridge as close family members from both parties make way to a highly guarded room for dowry negotiations.

This will take an hour or two before the white smoke is seen coming out of the hut, signifying a deal has been arrived. Part of the negotiations will involve Stevo’s side officially delivering items demanded by Wazees from the other end. This include five FAT goats, ten crates of soda, five crates of beer, a 90 kilogram bag of sugar, a 20 litre bucket of fresh honey, two pairs of bed sheets, a blanket for Stevo’s father in law and the icing on the cake; hefty loads of money. Meanwhile for the guests, it’ll be time to catch up, exchange pleasantries, network and move around while taking dozens of pics from the picturesque view to flood the IG later amid some good entertainment and more drinks. (Again it’s important to appreciate no matter how long the negotiations take place, the visitors aren’t supposed to spend the night in their laws homes.) The hallmark of the negotiations will result from donation of one crate of beer to the visitors as a sign of appreciation.

By now, it’ll be minutes to 7pm when you’ll power your engines back to Nairobi for the After Party where you’ll get down all night celebrating a life’s achievement.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY PRESIDENT – ALCOHOLISM

imagesMr. President, I hope this letter finds you well. Am aware you are a busy man. Having said that, am requesting you to spare utmost five minutes of your busy schedule to read these 1,000 or so words of my two cents thinking. Its about matters alcoholism in the context of your passionate appeal and directive on immediate stoppage of illicit brew production. I must admit its rather unfortunate that you had to personally intervene to this growing life threatening menace while we have institutional bodies like NACADA, KEBS, Public Health and Provincial Administration mandated to regulate and monitor the whole business of alcohol supply.

Am fairly young bwana President,(barely 30 hehe) and terribly sympathise with my generation. Am deeply concerned about our outright worship of alcohol (read mainstream beer/wine/whiskys) and illicit brews which lowly financially endowed youths are hooked in to. I can relate to your anger where unscrupulous entrepreneurs are sending our generation to their deathbed with no iota of remorse. I fail too, to comprehend why a young man would gulp a drink whose name is Rest In Peace packaged with a coffin image.

Here is my advise; Please reign on the Provincial Administration. To start with, give a terse warning to all chiefs. Meaning, any chief who fails to contain illicit brew in his/her location in the next 6 months should be immediately dismissed and put behind bars. Secondly, zoom to the OCPDs and Administration Police. They are the rock bed in matters corruption and protecting sacred cows in this scam. They either run these businesses in the periphery or have their girlfriends or relatives managing them. What this means is that their entertainment joints, be it pubs or wines and spirits dens are untouchable. The worse that can happen for them its to be warned that NACADA officials will do a spot check on a said date. This means they not only operate outside the mututho hours (5pm – 11pm on weekdays and 2pm – 11pm on weekends) but also become susceptible to selling illegitimate alcohol products. No chief or police officer should run an entertainment/bar business. That should be very clear.

Speaking of mututho hours, I know of a small pub where I always pass by while heading to the office, located less than 300 meters from a public primary school that opens 24/7. For very strange reasons, occasionally I find young ladies completely passed out at 8:00 am on weekdays. This bar sells anything from illicit brew to 2nd generation liquor. I don’t understand how it operates with this sheer impunity in a town’s CBD. The entire Provincial Administration is part and parcel of this tragedy. There is no way for instance, Murang’a County can net 1 million litres of illicit brew and business goes on as usual. Mr. President, chiefs and OCPDs in this region should have been sacked and prosecuted by now. The buck must stop somewhere. If this government shows more seriousness in fighting this war through nationwide enforcements, it can be worn.

There is no reason why my area chief down in the village( not a village per se) nets 1,300 cartons of 2nd generation alcohol and fails to destroy it, remains in office. This is the same chief who purports to be fighting illicit liquor now while he has been in office close to 20 yrs now. The habit with chiefs and police has been, seize off the liquor, take it to a police station and later release it to the market. The police are bribed to release it. The media will have reported how the police unearthed a major illicit brew cache. These monkey games must be reigned on, now.

The other group that you should prevail upon are the NACADA officials. Am not surprised that the top management level of NACADA is always in limbo from matters conflict of interest and corruption. Its officers on the ground can only be assumed to be incompetent or bribed to turn a blind eye. Until recently there has lacked enough sensitization on alcohol abuse, alcohol qualityness and alcoholism status in this country. The big boys in this game of alcohol brewing have been trying to vindicate themselves through adverts in national newspapers. The notion here is that there is good and bad alcohol. That’s a big lie. In a country so hooked to alcoholism, where the female gender is attempting to oust the men in alcohol imbibing; we have a big time problem. In my opinion adverts on alcohol and cigarettes should be completely banned.

KEBS and KRA should be put on notice. For the latter, there is no way its stickers can be so easily faked without them addressing the issue. Its either they have been compromised or are too incompetent. KEBS and Public health officers on the other hand have not been hands on to apprehend business men and women trading illicit brews in established outlets. Its one thing to give a clean bill of health and its another to ensure only the legitimate products are on constant supply. Bottom line is; heads must roll for Kenyans to take this renewed vigour seriously. Otherwise your government will be a laughing stock’s subject. County governments must also be advised to apply a formula on the number of bars a given area can hold. It should not just be about anybody who can raise the licence fees. The benchmark should be set very high. In fact I have am on record suggesting licence fees should be in the region of a million plus to discourage any Kamau, Ochieng’ or Wambua. Not to mention that no bar should be any near a residential estate. And to cater for the poor who must drink, kindly remove excise duty on Senator Keg to make it affordable to many and to discourage infiltration of illicit brew in the market.

Alcoholism will first be won by eradicating illicit brew and 2nd generation liquor. Enough said, lets walk the talk sir.

Regards.

ENOUGH OF CHOPPING OFF OUR ‘THINGS’

ggffaa What would give a 25 year old woman, gusto to chop off his 26 year old man’s private parts? That’s a very young couple, to start with. How does she pose and where does she hold? Does she initially quarantine him and carefully cut off these parts King’angi calls transforma? Or does she batter him down and do these things while he lies low helpless, since his weak anyway, in body and spirit and because men can’t scream for help when butchered by their wives!! Does she strap you up like they tie cattle in the village during deworming season in a cowshed. Am bothered by my mind not reconciling with a picture of lady daring to get hold of me armed with a kitchen knife not to stab me but to chop off! auuuch. Dear women whom some married so blindly, you’d rather shoot him if you are too offended than torture him with such an ordeal. In my opinion that’s the ultimate humiliation a man can go through. Men are sensitive people and they care about perceptions especially when its about their immediate families.

Ladies, if you are so mad with your man, just pack your belongings and go back to where you came from, or somewhere to start life. Its way rational than castrating an already circumcised man to vent your anger. You cannot just be chopping off our most treasured body parts to make a statement to the whole world on how frustrated you are with your alcoholic man. It doesn’t justify anything. If you make your bed, so must you lie in it. You’ll go and rot in prison, and if you bribe yourself out as many do, you’ll live with humiliation too, forever. Young boys will be warned by their mothers to keep off your daughters and family. Fellow women will isolate you and for a long time you’ll be your village’s outcast. Life will be terribly tough for you, especially when neighbours and erstwhile friends befit you with this kind of stigma.

Chopping off a man things is not only barbaric, but so evil. How does your mind convince you to get hold of that knife that pills potatoes and decide to misuse it. Do your kids stand there wondering what’s happening or do they peek helplessly. You’d rather go and commit suicide and live us in peace. I don’t want to compare you to those dogs that mauled to death that poor watchmen. Enough of that. Until when will society be treated with this kind of awkward stories when a family gathers to have dinner? How do you look at your mother or kid when these headlines emerge on our TV screens? From Whatsapp groups to the maize vendor across the road, to the salons, these terrible news are retold over and over again by sorry lips. We’re baffled and annoyed. Parents from Nyeri are a worried lot that their daughters might lose market. It’s not a fuss. Stereotypes in this country sell big time. Personally I’d think twice when dating a lady from Nyeri not because of anything else but apprehension. You are never too sure.

Having said that, lets switch focus to dear fellow men. We’re battling an unprecedented war. We’re under what Kimaiyo would call s-i-e-g-e. You male species that have chosen alcohol over marriage, your rightful place is hell. You cannot be imbibing something that can power a plane, discolour growing grass, make you smell like a walking sewer and claim to be a man. Men are not supposed to have protruding, red eyes and shaking fragile bodies because they’ve not cocked something. You are sinking deep this name called MAN. When women, reach a point in life of holding demos because you’ve miserably failed to impregnate them(Is there a better word), not because you are impotent but just because you chose alcohol over them, then society is shuttered. Am overwhelmed by this kind of stories and the humiliation men are going through because of an addiction that threatens posterity generations. For how long will we be the laughing stock of a nation. Why are we giving young boys a hard time while growing up? There is nothing that crushes a society than an identity crisis.

I feel ashamed of women lamenting of men performing poorly in bedroom affairs due to alcohol. Is it a curse or evil spirits sent to finish the Gikuyu men and generally most men in this country? Its a matter of concern when only a handful of women somewhere in Limuru get pregnant after years of marriage. Its a tragedy when nursery schools close down due to lack of pupils. Not that they are denied the right of going to school but because there are none! What does the future hold? The lucky that manage to conceive sire weak kids because their dads have replaced blood flowing in their veins with alcohol. This menace have made these chaps to also lose appetite for food, am told. How worse can it get?

Its funny how creative Kenyans can be, attributing this madness to all sort of allegations; some citing these cases as solutions to tyranny of numbers to others that can’t be typed. As a society, we must have a sober meeting point and indulge on why men from particular regions have succumbed to alcoholism. Why is bar businesses booming than any other sector in these regions and why? Is Mututho hands on or is it all about PR? Is there a deliberate supply of killer brews in certain regions? Why are bars opening hours not enforced and what are the consequences? Why have chiefs in areas witnessing upsurge of illicit brews not been sacked and brought to book? These queries if answered will be the first step in containing alcohol euphoria by men of this country. By so doing will be beginning to find a solution in addressing this peril than when women decide to CHOP OFF THIS THINGS. THE LATTER IS MORE DETRIMENTAL, INHUMANE AND REGRETFUL.

MY AFTER THOUGHTS & ENGAGEMENT EUPHORIA

6117-07562879Its on this rainy Thursday evening. Close to a fortnight ago. I have been left alone in the office. Its quiet. It feels blissful. The silence is fulfilling. Its been a long day. I have been hitting the keyboard all day. Drifting to emails staring at me stubbornly, demanding for responses. At times, staring at the computer screen for minutes, to figure out solutions for myriad of tasks. Papers would be scattered all over the table, waiting impatiently to be attended to. Oftenly my immediate colleague would interrupt my silence, and pass on some fodder. You know of the office politics and chit chat. She would prompt me to check on Biko Zulu’s website (bikozulu.co.ke). I would interject her; letting her know, I visited Biko’s site 5 hours ago but couldn’t manage to read it due to workloads. Speaking of Biko, I don’t know whether am the only one who happens to be taken on an alluring journey by his words, flow and depth of creativity. Anyway, enough of Biko for now. I will pen about him in the near future. Remind me if I forget. On this day, am also battling a cold that sneaked to my body while in Embu the previous weekend. Embu is damn cold. Or was it the season? I have never been to such a green, hilly and spotlessly clean town. And of people with heavy accents.

I drift to Facebook, to ‘like’ photos of acquaintances and people I have never met. I have to like their photos, even if some are not so appealing. Sorry, zero chills. But I have to ‘like’ anyway, lest I will be labelled mean or jealousy. This generation has crazy problems haha. The silence in this office, is rewarding me with that peace I needed. Peace makes me write. Peace triggers creativity in me. It heals a day’s wounds and frustrations. It straightens my conscience. It makes me go on a journey of reflection and self evaluation. I ignore my phone all this time, though it seems to vibrate every 2 seconds. Blame the Whatsapp groups. A heated conversation must be ensuing. I look away, I don’t seem interested. At least for now. Lest my peace will vanish.

I drift over the window, and peer at weary souls walking home. Of people who perhaps had a bad day with their bosses. Some of them would be entrepreneurs agonising over low sales. Some would be thinking about their loved ones in a distant town. I watch mothers, padding fast, along the streets holding their sons and daughters from school. They might be thinking on what to prepare for supper or of the well being of their 1 year old toddler left under the care of their 3 weeks house girl. At an advantage point, I hover at men heads presumably carrying along burdens of their families and dreams of a generation.

I remember my colleague muffling to me about this fashion blogger who had an engagement somewhere besides a lake I didn’t learn in school. I should sue my Geography teacher. Lake Michaelson, only found in the small plateus of Mt. Kenya. I’d only assume. This said chap pulled a first. Its never a cup of tea for everybody to hire a chopper for 100k an hour just to propose to a lady and recite sweet nothings expecting OMG moments from her. So this couple, armed with a photographer and the pilot who also happened to prepare something warm for the couple savoured a lifetime’s dream. They kicked, somebody’s bucket list. They were engulfed by a water body, dense forest and buzzling nature and its kids. Their breathed fresh air oscillating between the appealing flora and fauna. Clearly this lady, must have been visibly moved and excited to see dreams unfold. She must must have felt lucky and blessed to have this man.

This engagement left tongues wagging and many chaps grappling with sleepless nights. Their ladies now have a benchmark and a reference point. As a man you’ll be judged with how far you are, from affording to take your girlfriend to such a high end engagement spree. Poor men!…..I had an interesting argument earlier in the day, with this colleague over the pros and cons of pulling such a surprise to your girlfriend. I was of the opinion that men should not be judged with the depth of their pockets, in isolation. All other attributes should be brought on board and be judged as a package. I could see her pupils’ dilate, wishing she was this lucky lady. The association of Kenyan men should sue the said chap, for making us look bad. We’re now judged harshly and unfairly. Our adam’s-apple bulge with fury anytime we’re bombarded with this kind of expectations.

Congratulations to the beautiful Sharon Mundia. May the engagement bore more breath taking experiences.

Enough of my thoughts. Have a thoughtful day.

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