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.