Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The gloves came off a while ago. It became a two horse race and then donkeys joined and then donkeys became the good guys and vice versa. The very foundation of this presidential race continues to befuddle many Kenyans daily. It's never politics as usual in this great, sovereign nation of ours. Presidential campaigns involve a whole lot of ass kissing. You head to a new place and promise the people a whole lot of things you know you will never ever deliver while they scream their hopeful little lungs out. Then you kiss babies and dance to weird traditional music and sitting on low stools to be installed as an elder or watchman or deity.

A Bouquet Of Miraa For Your Consideration
But the trend is changing and this wind of change is being brought on by the opinion polls. They keep showing a pretty tight race so all 1,965 candidates have shifted their game to accommodate smaller groups and more specific niches. This was all kicked off by the rather disturbing image of the Right Honorable Prime Minister reaching into his jacket to retrieve a wad of miraa and proceed to chew it court the Meru vote. After all when in Rome.....

So to keep up we might see new things on the news for the next couple of months. I can imagine some random politician dressing up in a watchman's attire and walking around with a huge torch and black mamba for a photo opportunity. This would obviously mean he/she understands the plight of the lowly security agents    and would thus make pledges about heated cubicles for those cold nights, coffee makers for that adrenaline rush and obviously zero rating of mosquito repellents, torch batteries and bicycles.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The sniffing had us scared for a while. The swarming was uncomfortable and the smell was getting much worse. I picked out the biggest guy I could find in the cell and made a beeline for him. This was going to be my guardian angel. Well a guardian angel who had been mugged by a bunch of drunk sailors and nibbled at by a hungry cat.

Pulling up my pants (boy was I missing my belt) I stood next to the guy. Lets call him Killer. Why? Check your dictionary. His mugshot is under the word killer. Killer was just staring at the wall. Barely moving. If he wasn't on his feet I would have assumed he was asleep. I inched closer and his eyes strayed from the wall and landed on my shoes then then travelled up the length of my body to my face.

"Una fegi?"

He asked it like it was the most logical thing to ask. The question caught me so offguard that I actually reached into my pockets to check. Nothing. Then I remembered. I don't smoke. I tried to figure out what to start with in terms of conversation. Hmmm. What would Killer's mind be stimulated by. What would he find palatable in terms of jail small talk.

"Ulifungiwa nini?"  My less than perfect translation of every prisoner's pick up line: "What are you in for?" I swear this was the translation of his reply. "I was robbing this woman and she wouldn't give me her bag. So I beat her up. And the cops found me beating her up." The tone of his voice made him out to be the victim. Like somehow the woman didn't understand the etiquette that goes along with the mugging. Like she was just a complete lunatic for not going through with the process. Like she owed him. I took a step back. Killer was crazy.

A few minutes later the cop in charge started calling people up. One by one, they would walk to him, whisper furiously outside the cell and then they would disappear and not return. The hawker was first. Then a steady stream disappeared. He called my name and, completely petrified, I walked to him. He said something incredibly complicated in Kikuyu and I stared back at him. He repeated it and the same blank look stayed on my face. Despite everything my first impulse was to laugh. Why would this man naturally assume I understood him. Exasperated, he threw me back in the cell and finished with everyone who spoke the lingua franca.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Since the terrorist activity started in the country we have become accustomed to the constant checks by the security apparatus. It's become a way of life. A manner in which we all give up a bit of our privacy so we can get felt up for the greater good. Kenyans are actually happy to go through this inconvenience if it means making their country a bit safer.

That said though the security guards over the last couple of months have painted a rather interesting image of what terrorism is like.If you have no idea what I am talking about then  I will ask you to recall your last pat down or car check as you were entering a public building. Remembered? Ok. If you have watched any of those detective or crime shows you will know that they come up with a psychological and physical profile of the unsub (suspect to you lesser mortals). From the actions of the Kenyan security guard we are able to draw a fairly conclusive image of what the Kenyan terrorist looks and acts like. Join me as we descend into this murky world.

1) The Kenyan terrorist only drives crappy cars. He is never seen in flashy cars because that will obviously draw way too much attention to himself. That's why when the Range Rover drives up to the security guards they salute and wave him through while the guy in the old Peugeot has his jalopy checked from hood to exhaust. You can never be too careful with these people.

Monday, November 12, 2012


There we were. A bunch of misfits all squeezed up into the back of the pick up. There was an eerie silence. Like the first day at school and everyone was trying to find their place on the pecking order. Everyone seemed terrified. Well except the hawker who just looked like this was his original weekend plan. He sat in the corner and quietly counted his money. Then after a few minutes he took a wad of cash and stuffed it down his pants. Yeah that was the look on my face too. I thought he was bulking up his junk to look more impressive in jail. Misplaced priorities. But I was wrong.

I was by far the youngest law breaker...well if you don't count the crying toddler. But I am pretty sure he hadn't been nabbed on his own. That said I wouldn't put it past the City Council to arrest a 2 year old for jay crawling.The silence persisted while we drove around town picking up more people. They had the same confused look every time they would get forced into the back of the truck. Why am I here? I have a date/child/wedding/class to attend to. 

My friends kept calling to figure out where we were. We were everywhere. The City Council were basically being Noah and this filthy little truck was their ark. They were determined to get at least one of everything. When we left town the conversation suddenly picked up. It's like somehow some volume knob had been replaced and everyone found their voice. Topic of conversation? How innocent we all were. The charges ranged from the ludicrous to the laughable. They all involved potted plants, alleged littering or breathing on the wrong side of the road. Or as kanjo would refer to it: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. In fact the only person who looked completely guilty was the hawker.

Friday, November 02, 2012


I would like to start this story with an important caveat. This actually happened. It did. How do I know? I was there. As you will see from the story.

Two of my biggest fears: Motorcycle & Kanjo.
My friends will have you know that I have a very very unhealthy fear of four groups of people. One is midgets but that's only because they play sinister characters in movies and can punch me in the groin in a fight. The second group is Kenya Power technicians. Why you may ask? Well when I was young I had a great understanding of electrical engineering.  So when Kenya Power would disconnect the power I would promptly reconnect it. And from then I would freak out about hearing that motor cycle because the evil men would be coming to sentence me to a life of darkness. To this day the sound of motorcycles sends me to the bathroom where I curl up into the foetal position and sob like a little girl. Just in case anyone from Kenya Power is reading this, I stopped doing my electrical moonlighting when I was about 13 after a particularly nasty shock. It's not exactly painful. It hurts you in ways words can't quite describe. At any rate you couldn't make me touch a postpaid electric meter with Eugene Wamalwa's nose.

Third and fourth are held by the cops and kanjo. And that is the point of this whole story. It all started one bright Tuesday morning. *Fade into flashback* My friends and I were going to Coast and we'd decided to take the train. (Second class is pretty awesome when you have friends to travel with.) So the meeting point was the Hilton jobless corner. With about an hour and a half to the train departing, we were waiting for the rest to arrive. Some of you will know that some of the concrete seats there are broken. The one I was on had the bottom part broken so I was seated on the top bit. My first mistake.

Minutes later some woman walks towards our group. My first assumption? She was lost. Then she walks past my group of friends straight towards me. My assumption now? She is incredibly lost and I am the only person who can save her. So she walks up to me and takes my hand & asks "Hivyo ndio wewe hukaa kwa nyumba yenyu?" Taken aback I shot back in the only way I know. Sarcasm. "Ndio!" But she got the last quip. "Basi hii si nyumba yenyu!" Then she started dragging me. For a second I thought of struggling but there was a huge guy behind her. One of those burly dudes with a hairy chest and top three buttons undone with a gold chain hanging there.The idea of struggling evaporated.