Wednesday, September 09, 2015


We faced death square in the eye. This one moment would be the scariest in my life. And it stretched on for what felt like an eternity. But the story begins somewhere else. Somewhere warmer and less death-y. A few months prior to this we had started up a group on Whatsapp. A group to act as a channel for our many frustrations. I am lucky in the sense that I get to work with some of my closest friends. And the conversations went on in this group.

It was an all-boys club. About 15 guys who would just talk about everything and anything that would be on top of their minds. A platform for sharing memes and venting about work. And then suddenly it became more than that one fateful Saturday afternoon.

The plan was simple. The boys would get together over the weekend and climb a mountain.It was meant to be an escape. A metaphorical obstacle to surmount in place of the real ones that plagued our lives. On Friday night we assembled at one house and prepared for the trip. Food, drinks, video games and laughter were shared. Brilliant by any standards.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn. The crack of dawn is not pretty. It was a chilly and wet morning and nature seemed determined to ruin this trip before it even started. As the drizzle covered the earth in misery, we got into four cars and left the city. Nothing was going to get in our way. This was going to happen come hell or high water. Turns out we were going to get both.

The drive was fantastic. Lively conversation and wisecracks from people half drunk on wine and the idea of a weekend of possibility. Mercifully the clouds cleared as we descended into the belly of the Rift Valley and Mt. Longonot came into view. Our destination was set. Breath taking is the only way you can describe Longonot. A play of superlatives. Suffice to say it’s a visual masterpiece.

The climb was largely uneventful save for the melodrama of an individual who shall not be named. “Go on without me. I will only slow you down.” He shouted at us as he writhed on the ground halfway up the mountain. Victim to a hangover after downing endless glasses of wine. (Picture a male version of Courtney Cox in Cougar Town only darker, fatter and nothing like Courtney Cox apart for a penchant for drinking wine out of an over-sized wine glass)

Monday, November 10, 2014


In the race to capture viewers the national broadcaster has been falling behind private entities. The dwindling numbers are based on the fact that their main shows were brand new in 1972, and their breaking news usually involves news that's been in the public domain for months.

In an attempt to make up for the shortfall of viewers, KBC is rebranding with a new face to capture the imagination of potential viewers. Under the tag line "Come on guys. Please watch us", the state broadcaster is aggressively marketing itself as the 4th most popular activity to indulge in when you can't watch other channels coming in close after contracting cholera, watching paint dry and kicking MCA's in the crotch.

The rebranding also features a more youthful tone with KBC being ditched in favour of KBX to attract the Xaxa and Xema generation. It will also comes with a bouncy ball reminiscent of children's music shows so that these viewers can keep up with complex words such as "And" and "The". The logo changes to feature a man shrugging as if to say "We don't care if you watch."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Happy birthday Kenya. You are now 50. I keep trying to figure out what Kenya would be like if it was a human being turning 50. Would it be the woman with the silver streaks in her hair? Aging gracefully as time ticks slowly away. Crows feet barely visible on her face. Her body nurtured by the land and full of strength and vitality. Or would it be the 50 year old man? Firmly in the clasps of middle age. His Ferrari stuck in traffic as he revs loudly to get the attention of those driving a Toyota that has seen better days. Adorned in clothes much younger than his age but determined to fit in. 

The mental imagery shifts from person to person. Those who think we have so much to celebrate versus those who think the country has fallen further and further into an uncontrollable dive. It hardly seems like there is room for middle ground. A look back at 50 years of our nationhood means you are either incredibly proud of strides we have made or embarrassed by where we find ourselves today.

I'll begin with a caveat that I am not a historian. And they say history is written by the victors so it only reflects what those in power want you to think. It's hard to divorce the path our country has taken from the leaders we've had. I happened to be watching this documentary about our country's presidents and the information was disturbing. It wasn't about the presidency as much as it was that every person interviewed repeated the words "took over power" rather than "took office" in relation to the presidency. In effect, it points to our view of the presidency as a tool of rule rather than a tool of service. We decide to become subjects rather than employers.

Americans talk about their founding fathers with almost divine reverence. Like they couldn't do anything wrong. This is despite the fact that George Washington owned slaves and grew weed. That's the position I find ourselves in. Where we need national heroes and can't seem to let ourselves see history for what it truly is. Our founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, is hardly the democratic he is painted out to be. He ruled with an iron fist and may have been the reason why Kenya is so ethnically divided. Moi perfected the divide and rule tactics of the colonial powers and Kibaki was at the helm of a country that was hopeful for a new beginning and ended up brink of an ethnic civil war.

Friday, August 02, 2013


She stood across from me and the smile slipped from her face just long enough for me to see her wince from the question. She looked up and must have realized I was on to her and so she did what she was good at. She changed the topic. But I wasn't going to let her get away with it. Not this time. I was hanging out with my ex-girlfriend after years of patchy communication. We'd dated just after high school and for a few months she had been the centre of my world. She describes it as a point in time when Cosmo & Wanda were our best friends.(If you don't watch cartoons then google the reference.) Then I had left the country for a year and by the time I came back our relationship was no more.

"He's my hubby."  she said evasively.

"So you're married?" I asked.


"Is that a yes?"

She took a deep breath. Straight forwardness had never been a characteristic of hers. It drove me mad. As far as I can remember it was always her defining feature. She was brilliant, independent, funny and talkative. But underneath the surface she was a mystery shrouded in an enigma cloaked by a puzzle. She spoke in parables which at times I didn't fully understand.

This was the first time we were hanging out in years and the friendship came back rather naturally. Despite that there was an air of resistance on her end. Her words were measured. Her smile a bit too quick. But I prodded. The story finally tumbled out in a few brief sentences. She had gotten married to someone she was madly in love with a year before. So much so that she had dropped her aeronautical engineering degree in the United States to be here with him. My jaw dropped. But the story went on.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I didn't have a bad childhood. It was pretty good when you factor in the usual things like going for doof mparararo (swimming in dirty ponds or rivers especially after the rains), tree climbing and games that left all sorts of scars on various parts of my body. My parents were your run of the mill parents which means they messed me up about the same as anyone else. I was brought up to survive as a Kenyan which means I was given survival skills like the ability to reconnect what Kenya Power had pulled asunder. (Please don't tell them. I am still scared of the sound of motorbikes because of this.)

In addition to my parents, television also served as a very huge influence. And it is for this reason that I am freaked out by the idea of being a father. Why? Well think about it. Think about some of the ways in which parenthood is depicted on the screen. 

One of the things that keeps me up at night as a potential father is the choice between a stupid kid and an ugly one. Which one would you go for? I mean a stupid but good looking kid will be nice to look at until they get to the age where they can form words. Then what? Do you just have them stand in the corner and shut up because every word makes you want to throw them out of the window? Do you just nod and smile when they shout out things that cause traffic to stop? 

Monday, July 15, 2013


Identity. It has never been an issue for me. I know myself. I am secure and safe in my knowledge of who I am. Lately though I found myself questioning it especially from a cultural point of view. What exactly gives us that sense of belonging? Our parents,our language, our surroundings? A few weeks ago I travelled back to my shags (ancestral home) for the first time in about 12 years. Sadly, the reason for my travel was my aunt's funeral. I had never met her. She was my mum's older sister and had only featured in a handful of stories that I could remember. The reason for this was because she had suffered a mental breakdown years before and had thus been confined to a rather secluded life.

We packed the car and left for Kasipul Kabondo with my younger brother and mother. The beauty of the country played out in an endless vista as we drove into the Rift Valley. Past the parched expanse of Narok and into the breath taking coffee covered hills of Litein. I drove as my mother and I talked while my brother alternated between snoring in the back seat and ridiculous stories. During the drive, mum filled us in on what her childhood with her sister had been like. In many respects, she felt the version of her sister she had known had been gone for a while. So while there was a great sense of loss it wasn't exactly like someone she recognised. 

5 hours and loads of junk food later we drove into our homestead. The last time I had been here was to bury my father. I was barely 12 then. Now I looked at everything as an adult. The corner of the grounds where a goat had head butted me, (Hilarious now but terrifying then), the well I almost fell into during a thunderstorm, the paths I had taken when taking the cows to the river. It had all changed yet in the change were vestiges of a time gone by. What had once stood proud and grand was now run down and shabby. But it was home. My home.

My uncle walked my brother and I around the place explaining the changes. My brother and I exchanged confused looks. He rattled off names of relatives we hadn't seen in years & could hardly remember. Then he walked us to my dad's grave to pay our respects. In a corner of a desolate field is where my father's remains lay. A clump of weeds grew around his grave and a beehive was somewhere near. The latter ensured that we could only pay our respects from a safe distance.