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?

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.

 

     

LADIES WHO WON’T STOP OFFERING ‘TEAM MAFISI’ SOMETHING TO BITE

ttthighI’m perhaps hugely conservative when it comes to politics of how women should dress their bodies. Truth be told, no man worth his salt is pretty comfortable when his lady displays her assets all out for anybody who cares to ogle at them. Take this to the bank, any man out there who walks with a lady flaunting all her skin must be wading in the sensational initial stages of dating. After sometime the same guy will drop the excitement exhibited by the popular Team Mafisi Sacco and Team Mabweha Sacco squad (Note there is a difference) at salivating over his chick. Vaunt your body in your digs but don’t parade it out there for every lad to analyse and draw imageries over his defeated mind. Some ladies would ask, how is that their problem? 1 Timothy 2:9 the Bible reads; I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

I remember at one time, my day job boss allocated me some task on bookkeeping for one particular restaurant. Incidentally, I came to realise save for the MD who was an intimidating, bald headed mid-forties chap, the rest of the Management including the Operations Manager, H.R.Manager, dropping down to the lower levels of Assistant Accountant, MD’s personal assistant and the receptionist were all females. I have nothing condescending to write about female employees, in any case 70% of my colleagues are females.  (But not once have I agitated in the meetings that we need gender balancing, only for the H.R Manager to shoot me off saying there are hardly any employable guys in the job market.)

Back to my storo, the interesting bit is; all these females wore skirts or dresses that over exposed their thighs. Deliberately or otherwise, their wardrobes had nothing to do with anything that extended below their knees. To them, that was not bold enough and quite unfashionable indeed. The receptionist was arguably the head of this informal department that raised temperatures and raced our blood flow unnecessarily.

Truth be told, brown complexion ladies in these handkerchief-long dresses cause more traffic than the rest. (High five to all my dark skins friends, I have nothing against you. Indeed our friendship knows no colour.) You get my point. This receptionist was an Asian-like breed. With curled, long hair that often danced at her waistline. Yes it was that long. Her legs were unblemished, screaming yellow. Gai!! And a baby face that seemed to have literally jumped over the adolescence stage. Teaming up with rest of the usual suspects, you should have seen the confusion these lasses brought to poor men’s souls working in the kitchen, waiters, security guys or chaps delivering supplies or patrons checking in to book for a weekend getaway.

This reminds me of one Mr. Otieno working as a barman in that place. He was one hell of a long man. (Long in the sense of somebody who had a height that is beyond what is conventionally accepted). Big up to this guy for orienting me to the a million varieties of whiskeys and taking his time to ensure I understood the difference between a gin, scotch and a rum, while I was familiarising myself with the stock schedules. If he was to read this piece, he would attest to what I’m writing today. Of ladies who left our mouth agape and helpless.

I kept questioning Mr. Otieno (was the most friendly bloke), of how they survived with all these collection of unmasked thighs, padded by unperturbed legs in high heels longer than hills in Kisii land. I could touch the pregnant levels of distraction hovering over those quiet corridors. If only the office walls would speak! We were one bunch of cornered souls questioning why life had to be this confusing. But why would a lady have a wardrobe of micro miniskirts from January to December. Is it esteem issues or simply something to do with a personality. Like the whole idea of being drooled at by poor men could be, lifts her moods in the morning or scares away Monday blues. Mr. Otieno and I wouldn’t answer this question. The more we indulged at it, the more intriguing it became.

I know at times you get stuck in traffic and sneak your eyes to the car interiors of motorists on the parallel lanes. Many a times you count not one or two female drivers with their uncovered thighs and all their extended families all out, sitting pretty in traffic scrolling over their phones. I’m not sure whether there was a memo dispatched before I was conceived that female drivers should drive while exposing their thighs. A section of readers will raise qualms with my reasoning citing how is that my business and why I am objectifying the female gender. Point is, I have consistently been vehemently against demeaning of the female gender. However that shouldn’t be construed to allude that as a society it’s okay to encourage ladies to walk in town with thighs widely exposed in order to look cool. It doesn’t sit well with my conscious. Forgive me.

In essence females obsessed with showing lots of their skin are actually perpetuating female objectification. They encourage men to pry on them lustfully. It’s not a question of men being unable to control themselves but of ladies inviting men to the mentality that they can be sex objects, you know!  Case in point; there has been a quiet discourse as to if the very beautiful Dj Pierra Makena uses her sexual appeal to advance her popularity ratings. If in doubt, visit her social media platforms. I’m also reminded of a YouTube clip of her in the gym hoping over this chap hanging on some suspended bars at his waist line, while she’s dressed in a hot pant she goes ahead to perform some very sexual exercises. dj Pierra makena

I recall one time Kageshi was upset by a rogue music video clip that happened to play on the TV screen that had chaps well-dressed but on the other hand, their female counterparts hardly covering anything. To that extent who would be accused of objectifying ladies? Why can’t video vixens dress decently? The very same ladies who lecture us on social media about how they should not be viewed as sex objects are the same that dash out on a Friday evening for a night of reveling, and in the process making it our business to familiarise with every scar on their upper leg or where their stretch marks start and fade.

 

 

AND SHE REACHED FOR A CIGAR!

Female smokers Nairobi CBD has five designated smoking zones which typically are not women friendly. (Hahaha sounds funny). Yes smoking rarely pays homage to gender or financial muscles. Not even to that slim lady in dripping dreadlocks in the heart of Majengo Slums to the swanky and sophisticated corporate woman who chairs boardroom meetings where her gender is normally outnumbered by her male counterparts in dark suits and well-trimmed beards.

Nairobi’s public smoking zones are perforated, congested and stuffy. No woman who spends her money in the spa would swing her hips inside a smoking zone filled beyond capacity with all the usual suspects who walk in unbuttoned shirts revealing their over-hairy chests. These female smokers park their cars in the middle of nowhere and puff, if not from balconies of their homes or from open air areas of pricey restaurants, where they cross their high healed legs, wearing dark leggings and skirts flagging up at their waistline and smoke as they view Nairobi’s beautiful landscape. And they never forget their menthol chewing gums meant to kill the smell.

With that in mind, I asked myself; who dates these women. I decided to do a simple research by asking eleven guys via my Whatsapp if they would consider dating a lady who smokes and that said if they would also opt for a marriage with her. Nine of them responded with an affirmative NO, emphasizing how they would not stand such a girlfriend while two said that was not an issue that would affect their relationship. I wasn’t surprised by the nature of the responses. We are still a reserved society that treats female smoking as an extreme taboo. It’s sort of ‘unfair’ to the female gender because the same apprehension is not replicated to their male counterparts. I personally detest the whole idea of smoking. In fact I can’t think of any of my close friends who smoke, male or female.

Having said that, the two gentlemen who were of the view that smoking for ladies is not such a bad idea represent a crop of society that is gradually accepting that female smoking is cool and trendy. Making it to the infamous list that has many of our borrowed Western cultures. Our grandmothers didn’t smoke. At least not for the two I know of. It was a man’s affair. But the Y generation will have none of that. They will colour their addiction with words like it’s just a shisha escapade, which is still smoking at the end of the day.

Why I’m also writing about female smoking this week is out of an encounter with a lady who walked to the office and happened to speak to me. At least I could smell her breath. It was very confusing. For a lady to be smelling cigar is a big deal to me. In fact it’s unacceptable. It’s simply not right. This lady was smelling cigar at 10am on a dull Monday. That tells me she is an addict. After further digging here and there I found out she is married to a white guy. Again I wasn’t surprised. Some women will do anything to appear ‘cool’ and to appease the mzungu guy.

I remember formerly working with a colleague who used to smoke. She carried this demeanor of a very innocent lady. She was a Muslim by faith. She was petite in size, very young, with a flawless skin and sweet eyes. She had eyes that could easily lure you to fall in love and ‘forget your people’. Anyway, she would sneak out of the office at 11am, walk down stairs hide somewhere and puff. She would then comeback looking pale, chewing and putting on a naughty smile heading straight to the dispenser to get some water. She would smoke at least thrice between 8am – 5pm. It happened for so long until we came to a point of accepting it was no more of a big deal. Initially, she used to keep it as a top secret. But anytime you would go to her desk, you’d smell cigar and ignore it not imagining such a beautiful lass would smoke. Not even her lips would leak anything to imply she smokes. By the way, how do ladies manage not to have those dry and dark lips smokers usually have? Overtime, she gave up on the baggage and decided to let the cat out of the bag. That smoking was part of her life.

The first time I had a close shave with a female smoker happened back in 2009 when I convinced my very good friend Kelvin Muteru to accompany me to downtown Nairobi to meet a former primary school desk mate whom I hadn’t met in like 10 years. I didn’t like the idea of meeting her alone. I was new in Nairobi and quite naive as well, then in my maiden days in college. It was an emotional encounter meeting a desk mate after 10 long and eventful years. Surprisingly, she hadn’t changed much. She still had the same complexion, personality, smile and laughter. But she had dreadlocks and her eyes were unusually red. Her lips didn’t say a thing about her smoking addiction, neither were her teeth.

Kelvin and I were dead broke only surviving through our parents pocket money which was not much especially for me. After exchanging pleasantries and the usual talk of how have you been , she reached to her pocket and unleashed a cigar. She called the waiter and asked for a lighter. She lit her cigar, pulled a humongous puff and let it on our faces. Burying Kelvin and I with a bluish, toxic flame that lazily wafted in the air. We both looked at each other, confused and in awe. Our eyes wide open and our foreheads full of visible blood veins. Have you ever heard of baptism with fire! That was one. Nobody saw it coming. That she smokes!!!

The conversation was never the same again. If my mum would only imagine where I was and in accompany of whom! God bless our parents I do not recall what we discussed post the ‘baptismal’ but I fondly remember her saying smoking was a normal thing that shouldn’t raise our hairs. We were very brief with her for obvious reasons. The more we hanged on at the joint the more costly it became. Soon after we got back to school, all my friends had gotten wind of my ‘smoky friends’ courtesy of one, Kelvin.

Bottom line: Smoking is extremely hazardous for either gender. Let it go if it’s a hobby before it develops to a habit.

THE MAN WHO MADE THE REST OF US LOOK BAD

alphonse-kambu1 I wrote this article with a very heavy heart. Saddened and shocked by this rare piece of two legged animal disguising as a male human being. So, last week we were treated with a gruesome news item of a battered woman one Ruth Gakii formerly married to a UNEP working guy, Alphonse Kambu. I watched that story unravel on my TV and felt defeated. I have never been more ashamed, for being a man. Dear readers, allow me to vent my anger in this week’s article as I try to make sense of what drives a man like Alphonse to wake up every morning and report to work with a happy face. I’m eager to decipher how he sleeps free of nightmares in the dead of a night if his actions are anything to go by.

When he dons his sleek suits and powers his car to life, driving all the way to his beautiful office in Gigiri (I imagine every office located in Gigiri is beautiful), what goes through his head? Are there infighting camps in his mind pulling in different directions every day of his life, thereby paralyzing his rationality? What is his life like; is he sensitive to pain or does it work in contradiction as far as he is concerned? Can the world afford to have such a cold, uncouth and brutal man alive today? I sympathise with Ruth Gakii and her family for the emotional and physical pain they were exposed to, since Alphonse the dare devil came to their lives. You would be forgiven to imagine guys working in blue chip companies and multi nationals are the last that should be expected to be struggling with such serious personality disorders.

The fact that this dude has for years battled and battered this woman in order to gain custody of their only kid is the most unfortunate of sad news. The guy whom I understand ironically works as a legal officer in the Division of Environmental Law and Conventions – UNEP has for far too long bragged about how untouchable he is. This kind of impunity should never have been tolerated in the first place. UNEP is an organisation of no mean repute hence it should have known better and raised eyebrows first and dealt with this guy firmly and decisively instead of turning a blind eye and purporting to be concerned when the issue is no longer in their hands. Borrowing from good practice models, ideally, serious background checks for employees of such organisations should be carried out regularly and thoroughly.

I feel cheated by the so called promise by them (UNEP) to ‘co-operate’ with the investigators. Their issuance of a statement that their organisation does not extend diplomatic immunity to such-like gross violation of basic human rights should be treated with a pinch of salt. Justice delayed is justice denied. As far as the public opinion is concerned, it seems like it is the case. We all watch news and all can attest that this is not the first time we have heard of Ruth Gakii being battered and mishandled by her ex-husband. UNEP cannot admit to be in the habit of knowing its employees better through local media. It’s extremely sad and unfortunate, to say the least.

And who is more daring than this Alphonse Kambu guy who is literally vomiting on our shoes and spiting on our very faces, not once, not twice but many a times. How do you go to a visitor’s house and totally disregard him or her? Is that African! Beating up your ex-wife in front of her mother and your kid! Dude, get a life. Who raised you? Where on earth were you brought up? Did you grow up in a family set up or were you raised in a zoo? Who taught you to trivialize women and all they got? When your family back home asks about the well-being of your family, what do you tell them? Does your conscious disagree with you or have you compromised it along the way with your evil theatrics? Did guilt give up on you? I have not heard more despicable news this year.

Mr. Alphonse, when you take your lovely son back to the mum while drunk, what can be said of you. Extremely ignorant, reckless and sickly! How then do you manage to sit in your office on a Monday morning in that picturesque headquarters in Gigiri with well-manicured lawns, chirping birds, artificial falls and more of a serene environment and deliver on your work? Does the quietness of one of the ‘coolest’ locations to work in Nairobi lull your evil mind to sleep waiting for the next weekend to stir the elusive peace in Ruth Gakii’s world? Or are you a man of different personalities which are unleashed or trashed back to where they belong, depending on where you are and who you are with?

Meanwhile to the people of the little known (at least to me) Papua New Guinea; you owe us an apology. How can you ‘export’ to our great nation a ‘wasted’ man with a rugged personality? A demigod kind of guy who objectifies women and imagines he should be worshiped by all if not his ex-wife. A man who roams with utter arrogance purporting he cannot be apprehended by the police. Surely, Papua New Guinea you could have done better. Kenya is a civilised nation that upholds the dignity of all, including women and so we expect all diplomats to toe the line and respect that, period! Alphonse made me hate his native country and left to imagine he is the best they could offer. Before I cement that thought in my mind I expect sooner than later the government of PNG to furnish us with a sincere apology addressed to Ruth Gakii, her family and the rest of Kenyans.

As if to add salt to an injury, a celebrated local actor Abel Mutua made bad jokes about Ruth Gakii on The Trend Show last Friday trying to justify why at times it’s ‘okay’ to beat up your woman. That was extremely shallow and insensitive. Now, to the many ‘Abel Mutuas’ of this world alluding to why Kenyan ladies shouldn’t get married to foreigners as if to say Kenyan men are wholly gentlemen and all loving; shed off that pedestrian thought. And by the way it’s important for them to say this prayer after me. “Dear Lord, I come before you, requesting you, to tame my slandering tongue, and give me wisdom of being considerate of others and learn how not to hurt them through my mouth. Forgive me my sins, especially my reckless tongue. So help me God. Amen.”

Free advice to you Alphonse; Kids are the most sensitive human beings. They are very vulnerable and have sharp memories too. Don’t ruin your kid’s life for your own aimless selfishness. Your son deserves a peaceful life devoid of an unpredictable dad with unstable emotions. The greatest initiative you can do for his benefit is to keep off from his life. He has made no sin being alive. If you need to sacrifice somebody to satisfy your beliefs, you better sacrifice yourself.

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.

YOU DON’T VISIT UP-COUNTRY TO PULL DUVETS

USA.using for low income residents. NYCHA administers rental apartments in facilities, popularly known as "projects". Spanish Harlem, also known as El Barrio and East Harlem, is a low income neighborhood in Harlem area. Spanish Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. 15.04.86 © 1986 Didier Ruef Its exactly 6 months and you haven’t been to your native village (not really a village)to check on your family. With this prolonged and over procastinated visit, you suspect anytime from now, your ancestors might summon you. Finally you embark on a journey back home. Along the way, in the deserted highway, you’ll gaze women sauntering home, carrying heavy loads of firewood. You’ll spot young boys strolling home too, with herds of livestock along that dusty road. This will remind you of decades ago, when your dad would insist that a shepherd must have a stick, anytime. Childhood lessons always seem to stick.You wont fail to notice funny ‘joints’ or are they pubs where men from the village frequent in the evening. They’ll have this funny names like; Destiny bar, UB 40 bar, Shallow bar and Paradise bar. You’ll smile about the names only to be interrupted by this passenger who decides to play Rose Muhando songs for two hours on his phone which is in loud speaker mode. (Some of the experiences that trigger us to worker harder to acquire cars.) The guy on the sit behind you, with a funny hairstyle will be chewing miraa or something closer to that. In that stuffy matatu, will be tired faces, perhaps of passengers harbouring thoughts of their loved ones or their ongoing projects back at home.

Thank God when you arrive safely for all we have on the roads, are impatient, aloof, ignorant and reckless navigators in the name of drivers. Before then, Your mum will have lectured you on phone why you shouldn’t travel at night (7;35 pm). Your dog will smell you a mile away and will come running at you. Nature has humour, how does a poor dog jog its memory to remember that you belong to that homestead. Is it not preoccupied by other thoughts for this six months, like whether it’ll be lucky to get a meal anytime soon. These are same village dogs that switch from carnivorous to omnivorous depending on the season. Now, your dog named Mugo for reasons you don’t comprehend will hop at you, placing its front limbs at your waste line. Its long tongue will be hanging out while its ears will be lowered. That’s a dog’s welcome.

The following morning you’ll wake up late (9:01 am) and it’ll feel like its 7’s. You’ll have been awoken momentarily by birds chirping,(how beautiful is that) unlike in Nairobi where you’re awoken by matatus hooting and conductors’ wailing. Why do nights run that first in up country? In fact you’ll be awoken by Kinuthia Igego’s roaring voice. (This dude is your village official escort, you schooled with him in Kiandutu Primary School. He held the unbeaten record of the loudest noise maker.) His instincts were right, that you came dead in the night, as he would put it. He would come in handy especially when on matters accompanying you around and updating you on the latest news in this side of the world. He’d also serve as your bouncer when you visit the local shopping center where everybody claims to have schooled with you.They’ll nag you, like street kids in Nanyuki. No pun intended. They’ll plead for sh.50 unrelentingly. They call it kakitu. Its very annoying. For Kinuthia, he has the skills of dismissing these chaps tactically and politely. If you make the mistake of visiting one of the local bars around, (not that you drink that much) business will come to a standstill. Kinuthia will appear overwhelmed. Every mzee present will claim to have been your dad’s best friend. In so saying they’ll be insinuating that they deserve you order a bottle of beer for them. You’ll momentarily feel like a celeb, wow!

In the evening your mum will send you to the butchery but she’ll later complain that the meat was not of the best quality. Mind you, she has a tendency of complaining about the meat since down memory lanes. Mothers are the best when it comes to truth. On Sunday you’ll attend mass at the local church where men, women and kids have their designated sitting arrangements. Like you have to part with your sisters; whose wisdom was this! Its been long since you celebrated mass in your local dialect. This means you miss some hymns and words haha…Thereafter there will be a fundraising. There is always one whenever you are home. Of course you’ll be expected to contribute generously. Later you’ll visit your shosh who resides few miles away. But before getting there you’ll meet delegates you were not meant to meet, along the way. Does it ever occur to you, that the more you prolong your visit home, the more broke you become. These guys will politely fleece every coin you have.

You’ll notice your shosh’s skin is drier. Her eyes will be fainter and sunken but she’ll still have maintained her trademark smile and intact teeth. You’ll not be surprised that she still wakes up at 3am to pray. Your shosh is that type that prays for 30 minutes mentioning his entire family by names, in the process. These are the same prayers that mitigate life’s challenges and scare the devil and his agents from your life. Never underestimate an elderly person’s prayers. You’ll find a chicken meal ready for you signifying you’re a rare visitor. The city has strained family ties. You’ll be distracted by something nostalgic. Her wall clock. This cloak will still be in the same place it was when you were 5. Still diligent and loyal. Dusty but alive. Steady with the even sound that signals a second gone.

I need to emphasize your mission home should be very impactful. You just don’t visit upcountry to pull duvets and watch TV during the day as you grab popcorns. You visit home to unlock forestalled projects, plant more trees and work your a** off. You guys who live in the city, its your duty to repair sagging fences back home or pay somebody to do that job. Since you gave up on taking cattle to the local cattle dip due to massive corruption and politics, ensure they are well attended and free from ticks. For ladies, your mum should never cook whenever you are around. Moreover, her sufurias should shine more than ever courtesy of your cleaning. Its an abomination for you to go back to the city without sun burns, aching arms and overworked hands. If you’re lazy in the city, you’d rather not visit up country with the same attitude. Its very important for your family to see your growth in life by being impactful at home.