Going Green.

Grass aint greener

Green. Such a gentle colour. Peaceful. Calm. Beautiful. Usually conjures up imagery of rainforests and lush gardens. It’s the banner we environmentalists and wildlife lovers fly so proudly. Then there is that oh mighty dollar and more recently those legalized weeds folks in Cali love. Sadly it is also the colour associated with envy and jealousy, you know that green-eyed monster? Usually seen in the people standing beside me in church when I start singing. Keep calm folks, Heaven’s choir has no qualification except presence.
I was admiring the spectrum of colour found in a rainbow one lovely afternoon at that Java at the Junction when I hear my name being called out in a rather pleasant voice, somewhere between Toni Braxton and Kelly Rowland. I turn to see a pretty, young lady approach me waving her arms quite animatedly. I quickly go through my database of tall brunettes and end up short. Memory, always need more. I try my best to match the lovely damsel’s joy as she invites herself to join my company. After pleasantries, I figure it would be rude to continue talking to a stranger but remember blunt honesty hasn’t served me well in the past so I nod my head and smile like I had just met my long-lost sister. She catches my drift rather quickly and says, “you have no idea who I am do you?” I half smile and half choke as if English had suddenly escaped me.
After confessing my sins and awkwardly giving all my best excuses, the lady introduces herself as Sophie*, an old neighbor of mine from Nyali, Mombasa. It all comes back to me; Portuguese, sister to Andrew*, a rabble-rouser and frequent partner in football. She says I haven’t changed a bit and I try my best not to lie. It’s her birthday she says, big ‘ol 22, would I mind joining her friends for a movie? Who ever said no to a freebie? So I join her crew of equally long-legged, summer-clad friends for the film. Two hours, one large cake and several glasses of things I can’t pronounce later one girl offers me a ‘special’ cupcake. The glint in her eye tells me to decline without hesitation. They laugh and make fun of me in Portuguese, I respond in Spanish and suddenly no one is laughing. I think to myself that maybe my language skills have rusted but instead realize a senior gentleman is standing behind me with a rather disapproving look. If I found my daughter and her friends with some random chap who was gobbling up all the cake, I’d be none too pleased either. I take one last slice of cake, a rather large one, say my goodbyes and return to Java. They don’t pay me to say that btw, they are just that good.
As I wonder what led to the invention of the delicacy that is cake, the gentleman, who turns out to be Sophie’s dad joins me. What is it with the Portuguese and manners? Anyway, he orders a strong coffee for both of us and loosens his tie. He looks at me and sighs deeply. “What plans do you have for my daughter” he asks menacingly. Right then I want to say the only plans I know of are the ones the Lord has, good plans for her future but I see the timing might be wrong for saved jokes. I assure him that besides his daughter possessing the looks of a supermodel and the class of an aristocrat, my peasant self had only just met her. He weighs me up and seems to agree with my evaluation of my nil chances and sips his coffee. I didn’t know whether to feel insulted or relieved.
Mr. Gonzalez*, as I later learn is his name then produces a handkerchief from his bespoke suit’s pocket and wipes a small tear from his eye. I freeze mid-cake and wonder what I am about to go through. A grown man crying rarely, if ever, ends well. In between stolen glances at his daughter’s party he tells me a tale I found very difficult to swallow. And I am known to swallow ugali, boiled egg and a banana with ease.
Sophie’s dad had been married for 37 years. Happily at first, then reluctantly and finally nonchalantly. But the gig was up. He had been in several affairs over the years and he’d finally been caught. The wife would hear none of it, she was moving back to Lisbon. The proverbial poop had hit the fan and boy did it stink. Before me was a broken man. Tasked to him was the duty of telling his children why their mother was leaving, why family dinners would be no more, why Christmas would be cold in the Malindi heat, why Sophie’s wedding seating arrangement would be a battle, why lawyers would be circling like hungry sharks, why…just why? He didn’t even need a response from me; neither did he wait for one. Here was a man who had accepted his fate and would let the chips fall where they would. There was a hollowness in his eyes that betrayed the gaping wound in his soul. Crushed, realization had sunk in him. The dance with the devil was over and there was no shoe left behind when the clock struck midnight in this story.
“You look like a good, young man” he said. I thought of asking him to repeat that into my phone recording for future conversations with Sophie and her friends but again, wrong crowd. “Don’t be an old fool like me”, of all his regret and guilt what really pained him was a rather simple truth. “You know, to be honest, it’s never worth it.” It’s never worth it. Sophie came over and pecked him on the cheek. “Papa, Dom is just a friend, don’t kill him okay?” He nodded and she left as I chalked up yet another member of the sisterhood. The convent grows I thought to myself, oh well. He snaps me back into the gravity of the present with a question, “have you ever been in love?” I swallow hard and stare at the rainbow silently. Mercifully, he continues, “when you lose true love my boy, what are you left with?” “It’s not hate; you’re left with nothing, just nothing. No one and nothing.”
As quickly as he came, he suddenly rises up and leaves. I want to raise the small matter of the bill but figure the chap has more pressing matters to deal with. Besides, I ate more cake than the birthday girl, evens out. The rainbow begins to dissipate as the sun begins its advance against the beautiful, grey, cold weather I love. It has been a long, hard week. Drained as I was, I look at Sophie and can’t help but feel the pain that would surely be coming her way. I am no Sensei (in the Kung Fu Panda series I take more after Po than Shifu) but a word to the wise, it’s not worth it. It really isn’t. In the bigger picture, no fleeting moment of stolen passion and illicit lust can replace genuine love. You’d rather stay alone than hurt together. The grass is always greener on the side being watered.

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My cousin recently acquired a green card and is moving to the US. Mostly for medical reasons but also to work and live the American dream. Where if you work hard and pay your dues, there are equal opportunities for everyone to make it. At least that’s what it used to be. Now Trump’s nightmare is the stuff of legend; everyday news delivered in tweet. The home of the brave and free has lost its lustre. America feels neither brave nor free. If the pseudo war in Syria or N.Korea explodes, we are all in for a right, fine mess. Asked if I would consider relocating to the US, I flat-out said no. Not in 2018 onwards. And the pick of the cherry is that Donald does not believe in global warming. Going green? His green is an imploding economy surrounded by a wall of fear.

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My ex asked me to her house. Sounds like the beginning of a bad idea right? Well after pursuing her Masters in London she was building her online start-up and needed my help creating an ad. Money has no emotions is my motto, so I head over to the sprawling family estate and build a product we are both excited about. I wish her the best in her endeavours and start to leave. Her mother, bless her soul, says it would be rude to go without lunch so would I please join them? Mothers and I get along. Indian food always makes me happy, chapatti makes me happy beyond level Pharrell so I head out a very jolly chap. I am accosted by Ashok*, the eldest son of the house, he has a couple of green sweets and hands me one. “Tell me vuot you tink eh?” I swallow one little fella and savour what I think is mint, chamomile and vanilla? Close, he says. The magic ingredient is actually miraa. “If I can have this approved by the government, I will have the first khat sweet!” Ashok looks like he just discovered the cure for slow WIFI, I look like Pep Guardiola after Pogbacked. Ashok reminds me of a bad episode of Rick & Morty, I dodged a bullet there certainly. I head home thankful for the presence of honest friends in my life. If I mail you with ideas on how to turn those strands of fibre on maize cobs into a successful hair line business, blame it on the khat.

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1. Delightful Sound: Maître Gims – Brisé. One of my favourite French songs, Monsieur M delivers a passionate accusation to a cheating boyfriend from his scorned girlfriend. You need not be a fluent French speaker to understand this creatively shot video. The Congolese roots are not lost on you either, with beautiful riffs and a haunting harmony throughout the song; this is a track that will stick in your mind.

2. Must Watch: The Last Kiss. What happens when a young couple is rocked by the misdeeds of one? Boy meets girl, boy loves girl. They live happily ever after. Kapish right? Well boy meets another girl and paradise is distorted. This is a tale of just what happens when your sins come back to convict you. Follow the stories of Michael, Jenna and their friends as they face the realities of aging and decision-making. Zach Braff plays the lead in this to perfection.

last kiss

3. Worthy Read: Ernest Wamboye’s The Human Temple is a book I am itching to get my hands on, the reviews sing high praise. And based off a book of his I HAVE read, it is bound to be great. But if you haven’t, do get yourself a copy of his book, Lust and the City; a guide on sexual purity. In the day we live in, sex is a big deal. In this book, he draws from a rich well of Biblical wealth to address the question of sexuality in a world saturated with opinions on the matter. Masturbation, pornography, the Spiritual significance of sex and more are addressed with honest revelations from his own life that shed light on a subject most of us shroud in a cloud of darkness.

 

* not real names.

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Be Nice.

Google recently changed its motto from the simple, “don’t be evil” to “do the right thing.” A subtle but profound statement on the expectations of the code of conduct in a corporate world.  One of the most baffling attributes of the human species is their rather shocking capacity to be mean and plain bad to each other. What is it that drives us to be deliberately unkind and blatantly rude? It’s like we’re trying to outdo each other for jerk of the century award.

I find myself at the new Carrefour at the Junction often on my way home and twice now I have had to wear my Batman cape. You see that chap in the movies sweating over which wire to cut in a bomb about to detonate and take out the entire city? Yep. Me. All day. Everyday.

Carrefour, bless them, happen to be a pretty decent supermarket. Good prices, enough stock and tellers with actual change. In the eternal words of that great American poet, Charlie Sheen, ‘winning!’ So one day I arrive with my cousin who has managed to work herself into a frenzied panic about some last-minute shopping. We get there just before they’re about to close and I excuse myself to go get Obama’s autograph. Oh you didn’t know he paid us a surprise visit last week? Well he didn’t; surprise.

I finish my business and head out expecting to find my cousin almost done with her shopping right? Wrong. Very much so. I instead walk into the eye of a Category 5 hurricane. Apparently the watchman had ‘frozen’ dear cousin out. The supermarket, he so eloquently puts it, was about to close. With a smirk, imagined or real depends on anger levels, he adds that maybe we could try tomorrow morning? Ah boy.

That set off my cousin. Not tik tok small time venting, think big; like boom bang exploding. She threatens hell fire, hurls curses only a true Kisii witch would know and promises that the matter would reach the President. I sensed it might have been the wrong time to throw in a couple of presidential jokes so I instead shepherd her to the parking lot and told her to give me five minutes. Essentially she was in time out.

I get her shopping list and go back into the dragon’s den. I find the watchman still steaming as you would expect and apply the thickest coat of sweet talk I can find. I ask if it’s been a particularly rough day? (If I was him I’d ask quite sarcastically what gives that impression.) Luckily he doesn’t share my penchant for puns and says indeed it had been a rough day. I apologize and proceed to plead my case. I inform him that a young boy’s fate lies in the balance. Would he live with himself knowing little man had gone to school without mayo in his sandwich? Who would want that on their conscience? I explain the situation at hand and why it was paramount that I shop tonight. Would he please help a brother out?

He sizes me up and peeps over my shoulder for any sight of Wonder Woman. I assure him that my cousin had gone back to Themyscira and won’t be returning anytime soon, bad day at the office I assure him. She’s usually so much nicer. Lies of course but family sticks together through thick, thin and every other pizza size in between. In truth, said cousin can be a handful, the poster girl for RBF; the only nice thing on her is usually Nice & Lovely. And that on a good day.

He lightens up a bit and lets me inside the supermarket. He even tells me who the supervisor is in case I need help. Well what do you know. I buy an assortment of unnecessary necessities that any boogie youngster would need on their birthday in school. Card, balloons, confetti…yada yada. Kids these days. Whatever happened to bringing in the herd after a long day in the field? Or felling that pesky millenium-old tree for mama’s fireplace before single-handedly killing a mammoth. That there was a celebration folks. Anyhoo, I pay the cashier a compliment on her lovely dreadlocks, pay up and hand my new BFF some yoghurt on my way out. He asks if he’s seen me somewhere on TV to which I laugh and humbly shoo his wild imagination away. I also inform him when exactly my show airs and also the reruns. I bid him farewell and return to an overjoyed and thankfully calm cousin.

Second time I was getting myself some food for a barbecue and at the till I encounter the makings of a revolution. Apparently the system had failed and the poor teller was being harassed by a horde of angry Nairobians high on their self-importance. You would think half the Cabinet was stuck here in the midst of  a national crisis. They get redirected to another till where they sulk and throw the dirtiest looks to the young woman manning or is it womanning, the till.

I assume the lady is new on the job because she looks awfully young. I approach her and she immediately waves me away saying her till is closed. I tell her that I was just saying hi. Looks like you guys need an IT guy and I’m IT. She gets the joke luckily and we strike up a conversation. She is new on the job as I thought and was supposed to be on lunch break. Hungry, tired, inexperienced and out of luck…throw a bunch of cranky overgrown babies speaking over you at the same time and you have a concoction that can break down Bruce Wayne himself.

Ten minutes later and many, perhaps too many IT jokes later I swiftly closed that tab and took the Windows of opportunity to wish her all the best in her new Office. She said Word and I knew she’d Excel, girl had that right Outlook. I joined the new queue where the last lemon face was still being served. After all that huffing and puffing Miss Grumpy had managed to be all of one second ahead of me. Sips lemonade.

My final reading comes from the book of Jacmil, chapter bakery and verse chapati. Now if you don’t know better ask somebody who has lived in Kinoo; therein are the sweetest brown chapatis ever made. I find a small, elvish looking rastaman quarreling with the lady at the counter. Apparently she’s making pancakes too slowly. A tall, ebony princess flicks her hair and chimes in, “unatueka sana aki! Hatujakuja apa kukuanglia, ama hujui kupika?” As a huge fan of tall, dark chocolate, I wonder how one can be so pretty and yet so mean. Come to think of it, isn’t the whole Rasta movement about peace, love and puff puff pass? I and I affi very disappointed you knuo say?

Rastaman takes his pancakes and leaves in a huff. Melanin poppin looks at the display and says, “nifungie ii chapo imebaki…na ata inakaa ngumu.” She clicks most dramatically and leaves. The bakery lady takes a deep breath and looks at me expecting more vitriol. I know the look. It says, “do it son, nijaribu tu, I need just one more bleep bleep to try me and iss going down, try me!”

Try her I don’t. I ask how she’s doing and she says fine curtly. Ok. Someone’s feisty methinks. I ask her how she can be so sour surrounded by such sweet stuff? I peek a small smile. Almost there methinks again. So I ask her nani amemkosea akaliwe chapati kama iyo mawe slayqueen amebeba? She laughs and asks if I actually want something or I’m wasting her time. I tell her if the customer is always right…I might be her Mr. Right, no? Bingo, we have a winner. We both burst out laughing and she leans over the counter and asks playfully where my wife is. I sense that my flirt meter is in red and pump the brakes before I end up in an oven of trouble. I enquire if at all there might be any more of those world-famous brown chapatis left. And what do you know, she produces a couple and swears me to secrecy. Officially, that day’s batch is over but who’s counting. I say thank you and leave feeling like the Gingerbread man. Such a confectionary criminal I am. The cake life chose me folks. That’s why my friends call me icing.

So what am I getting at here? You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar but you can also fly with more honeys than vine ja? My point is being nice not only increases your quality of life but it makes your relationships a whole lot better. No one wants to be around a grouch. Being intelligent is not the same as being a smartypants nor is being blunt an excuse to be brutal. If I have a pentagon shaped head don’t be making fivehead jokes all the time. I know. So your sister looks like a gas cylinder in that dress, there’s a nicer way of saying don’t wear that. Even those perpetually late friends deserve some courtesy when pointing out this irritating flaw. Making late jokes the whole time is a no.

Now I’m not saying you become a doormat. There is such a thing as too nice. But temper honesty with compassion and truth with grace. This world could be a whole lot better if we were all nice. It’s nice to pay your debts, use the dustbin, respond to texts, give way in traffic, return that excess change, keep your paws off her well done hair, not catcall and weird out that poor girl trying to go home in peace, actually mean what you say, say sorry and thank you. Try it. Be Nice. Unless you’re actually called Nice…then be nicer.


1. Delightful Sound:

Barbara Wangui- Be more barrio (Sheppard cover). The Barbz has been churning out amazing covers for a while now and with that soulful big voice and infectious smile she encourages you to be more friendly. It’s not often that someone does a cover better than Boyce Avenue so enjoy this one:

2.  Must Watch:

Long before Black Panther we were celebrating Black pride on the TV series, Blackish. A rib cracker that does a humorous take on racial tensions in America. This crazy family will have you in stitches, so it’s a good thing the amazing Tracee Ellis Ross plays a doctor hehe.

3. Worthy Read:

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. Following two former Harvard room mates after they graduate, this is the story of the clash of culture, class and Christ Himself as an American and a Chinese man navigate a friendship put through the toughest test ever. In the end, “real gold fears no fire.” A gripping page turner with an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Pure bliss. Enjoy!

All I Want.

Odd thing death. Even more odd however is life. For the living, dying seems like an inevitable curse. Delay it as much as you can, ignore it, dread it, give it no recognition until you stare that cruel fate in the face. For the dying, life becomes a precious journey, a gift. Treasured, loved, relishing every second and recognizing that one final breath here is one first there. Home becomes a reality; an unshakeable state of being, not just a place. Not a thing, not a feeling. “You are home”, she once said to me. When you die, you are home. I thought she meant you have arrived home. But she said it again, “no silly, you ARE home, you’ll see.” She repeated those words to me in 2001 and again in 2010. And one last time on Saturday. Why would a beautiful, dying girl say that to those she’s leaving behind? I want to say I finally understand it but I don’t. Not fully anyway. Probably never will. But I will keep my part of the deal; to the living, here are the words of Holly Butcher. Words that gave hope and comfort to my amiga on this other side of the world. She wouldn’t let me say her name nor would I, for her family’s sake, but she did insist I share this letter from this Australian gem.

I thought I had shed my last tear ages ago but you had to break out the big guns huh? Onionfest reunion will be on me, best believe. You better save me the best seat in the house aye? I don’t know the arrangement in Heaven’s dining hall but you better have avocadoes in hand when I see you again. To songs no one else listens to, jokes no one else laughs at, films no one else watches and books no one deems worthy of reading. To sunrises you loved because they were new beginnings you said. To listening to God laugh while getting soaked in the rain. I hate funerals and goodbyes, so you know not to be upset when you don’t see me at yours. All I want is to be home. Not when I eventually exit stage left. Not when I learn to stop being naive…or daft as you called it, not when I make it, not when I succeed, not when I have all I’ve ever desired. I finally realized all I want aren’t things or people. All I want and all I need is to be home; here, now, today, tomorrow, forever. You fought well champ, rest easy now. See you soon.

 

A bit of life advice from Hol:

It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey- most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy.. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared – I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to it’s inevitability.. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us.. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

I have dropped lots of my thoughts below as I have had a lot of time to ponder life these last few months. Of course it’s the middle of the night when these random things pop in my head most!

Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people’s days.

Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.

You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.

Let all that shit go.. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.

I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise – Be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.

I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body- even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.

Remember there are more aspects to good health than the physical body.. work just as hard on finding your mental, emotional and spiritual happiness too. That way you might realise just how insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is.. While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not.. Be ruthless for your own well-being.

Be grateful for each day you don’t have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is shit but be thankful it isn’t life threatening and will go away.

Whinge less, people! .. And help each other more.

Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; More than I could I ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.

It is a weird thing having money to spend at the end.. when you’re dying. It’s not a time you go out and buy material things that you usually would, like a new dress. It makes you think how silly it is that we think it is worth spending so much money on new clothes and ‘things’ in our lives.

Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewellery for that next wedding. 1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/ buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.

Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too! Amen sister.

This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn’t have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves.. strange! It might seem lame but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. Mind you, it was also easier to do in our house because we had no little kiddies there. Anyway, moral of the story- presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas. Moving on.

Use your money on experiences.. Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.

Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water.

Get amongst nature.

Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo.. enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.

Random rhetorical question. Are those several hours you spend doing your hair and make up each day or to go out for one night really worth it? I’ve never understood this about females 🤔.

Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colours the sun makes as it rises.

Listen to music.. really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.

Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that.

Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing okay?

Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not.

Work to live, don’t live to work.

Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.

Eat the cake. Zero guilt.

Say no to things you really don’t want to do.

Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life.. you might want a mediocre life and that is so okay.

Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.

Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true.

Anyway, that’s just this one young gals life advice. Take it or leave it, I don’t mind!

Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save 3 lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.

Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year – a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.

..’Til we meet again.

Hol

Xoxo

-From Holly Butcher,

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/dying-womans-inspirational-and-moving-final-letter-goes-viral/news-story/89c6036ccdcde5c0522a23a5c10265eb

Hafter Herekshons

The only thing we Kenyans love more than a good fad is evading responsibility. If ever there was a lot prone to washing their dirty hands clean of their dirty deeds, they reside right here in the 254. And now ‘after elections’ is the new catchphrase.

1975962

Why is the loo not flushed? Tuongee baada ya kura. Mbona hujafanya homework? Tuongee baada ya kura. You guy is how that 2k? Tuongee after 8th. Babe I’m late; tuongee after 2022. Why are you throwing litter out the bus window? Kidero haokoti anyway; tuone after elections. That raise you promised Madam? Uhm we’ll talk after elections. FYI she ng’oad this very badly due to her heavy tongue and I wanted to laugh but I was too angry to point out that legal would advise strongly against any chatter that would lead to a sexual harassment suit.

My landlord tried that on me, ati he’ll fix the security lights after elections; I told him pia rent ntalipa after elections. Tonight I bathe in a halo so bright from new security lights, I look like a Beyoncè poster gone wrong. Your boy don’t play.

All In a Day’s Diversion

I happen to have the fortune of not needing to get into town often since my journey, like Gulliver takes me round the world, well mostly from Kinoo to Hurlingham anyway. I get a matatu through Kawangware and another through Yaya. If I’m feeling like some exercise besides chewing, I’ll walk to ILRI and get a matatu from there instead. My people were long distance traders FYI so yeah yours truly can walk that walk.

This day the clouds are a bulgy puff of black, threatening to let loose great drops of rain at any time. The winds were ever so gusty, like they were late for the skytrain to Colorado to cause a tornado. My kind of beautiful weather this. Anyhoo I get to Kawangware and notice PB Riruta girls are out and about doing community cleaning. Let me just say for the record, PB alumni are the bomb dot com.

PB

 

I walk to my usual sweet banana vendor and eat a couple of bunches, grab a free watermelon and walk towards the stage. Wait, watermelon slice, it’s important to specify it was just a slice people, jeez; what are we, savages? Past the annoyingly loud Kibera javs are the ominously huge and pleasantly silent buses of route 46, well usually. This day however I spot not one bus, zilch. Sheesh, tough luck; so I peruse through primary school books like I’m immensely interested in better Insha writing and Social Studies past papers are my jam. After awkward minutes of passing time, a bus appears and I’m so relieved I’d have offered to take the next squad washing the old rickety thing.

Nimble as a cat, I hop on. And bump straight into a hefty, not so nimble woman carrying enough terere to feed Bungoma and Kakamega counties, trying to alight. I say trying because her sacks of vegetables were splitting open and she was recovering every single precious leaf before they hit the ground. I tried to help, futile really; I say tried because she kept snatching the leaves I was collecting for her rather than focusing on her own salvaging operation. Where is the trust yo? Cue BEP’s Where is the Love…

Minutes later, I smell like a fresh farm produce pickup from Kirinyaga and my new t-shirt resembles those green Safcom promotional tees. It was originally grey in case you were wondering. Before I can hop back into the bus a small, corn-rowed dude nudges his way past me rudely and gets on. I ignore this slight by a slight man I could easily sit on and turn into a permanent part of the bus steps; only that dude chooses this opportune moment to connect his cheap earphones to his cheap excuse of a phone and plug those to his cheap, dirty ears. Ok I can’t confirm if his ears were dirty, I was just hating on Dirty Diana, with his corny corn rows. Nkt.

I have been at the door of this bus slowly moving through the traffic at Kawangware stage for the better part of 3 minutes when I spy behind the bus, a city council marshal marshalling a black, plastic pipe. I think it’s supposed to be a rungu but for lack of a better description we’ll call it a pipe. He points at me in a manner likely to suggest he wasn’t greeting me in the fashion of Shikuku, Moi or Jomo with their various hand toys. It occurs to me I neither give off the aura of a conductor nor a rascal, so pray tell, what am I doing hanging out of a bus? I assume this was the thought of said Marshal now galloping at me, pipe in hand, like a rhino charging down the Mara plains. Oh sweet mothertree of all avocadoes, this is about to get dicey.

ngwaro

 To be continued…

Coulda Bean Us

On my way home on Friday, I see the most incredible sight, an overturned cereals trailer. Now keep calm y’alls, nobody was hurt (I’m not a sadist…unless we’re playing Monopoly). Thing is it was a freight truck carrying sacks of beans. Beautiful beans! Nyayo, Sura Mbaya, Yellow, Indian, White, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Navy beans, Pinto…all types of beans of all shapes and sizes. I was in bean heaven I tell you, for those of you in the dark, I am a serial cereal killer. The only reason I didn’t get off the matatu was because I didn’t have a bag and also I doubt the good Lord would want me rejoicing in another’s misfortune. Mostly though it’s the bag; you already know I’d be repenting over a plate of mbosho garnished with avocado.


 

That morning I get invited to a wedding by my cousin. It’s he’s fiancee’s best friend’s big day and of course he must support. Quid pro quo kind of thing since their own wedding is in December. So anyway, I’m busy samboling (like my teacher used to say) various Ugandan beans when his girl says, “this couldv’e been us but you were so slow sebo…mschteuw.” Now there is a way a woman speaks and you can tell it’s a joke, all is well. Then there is another way and what you need to do is take cover, for Winter is here. I perceive very quickly that this scenario is the latter and make my way to the gents posthaste. My cousin has a habit of leaving me his messes to clean up, call me Mr. Kaplan; but I wasn’t taking this one for the team. If you were somewhere in Karen this past Friday and saw a long queue of regally dressed Ugandan men outside a portable loo complaining loudly, that was yours truly. Now I know my future wife is reading this thinking, “how embarassing”; remember, this could’ve been us but…


 

1. Delightful Sound: There are singers and then there are sangers. People who take you on a journey aboard riffs, hooks, melodies and rhythm. The King of R & B is one such sanger. For all his drama, demons and controversy the man who puts the R in and R n B knows how to get you there. The Gospel industry might have shut the door on him for good but I still pray for the tortured soul that is Robert Kelly. I believe I can fly, When a Woman Loves, Fiesta, Ignition, Bump n Grind, Storm is Over, Trapped in the Closet, You Saved Me, Happy People, Same Girl, I’mma Flirt…the list goes on. The man has churned hit after hit from the chocolate factory. My personal R.Kelly favourite? With a subtle ciello intro and sweet acoustic progression throughout the song, the ode to all the homies lost in Chiraq stands out; I wish.

2. Must Watch: Steve Carell has been cracking ribs ever since he could speak, I suspect he cracked his mama’s rib on the way out. Nowhere is his genius on better display than in The Office; adapted for US audiences from the British sitcom of the same name, this is the home of all bad jokes and puns. This is ground zero.

3. Worthy Read: There is hardly a better weaver of words than one Eoin Colfer, a genius who created the mystical wonderland of Artemis Fowl. Delve into the world of fairies, goblins and a humanity unaware of what lies under the surface as the teenage prodigy finds himself at the crossroads of good and evil.

 

 

Women of Faith

My mother, bless her soul, would always smile lovingly whenever we would watch the Women of Faith conferences; and laugh as I declared to her that one day I would sneak into one of them to enjoy the music. Profound wisdom saved her the blushes of pointing out to an inquisitive, naive boy the obvious deterrent to my attendance of an all-female seminar.

I remember that tape; it was one of her favorites; Darlene Zsech in that regal get-up, an image I have never forgotten. 27 short minutes, but what epic minutes they were; classic after classic, music that moved your soul. This is almost two decades ago mind you. So it was with great trepidation that I suggested this particular playlist to a cousin of mine who’d asked for my favorite all-female musical performance.

Here we are, in between a Willy Poze and a Jimmy Gait; hard pressed to find nourishment for bleeding ears. I knew for a fact this kiddo had no idea who Plumb, Don Moen, Ron Kenoly and Switchfoot were; she had not grown up on Family FM and Hope FM. She did not imagine that trap could be a tool used to capture prey, she had not spent hours trying to sing Lenny LeBlanc’s ‘Above all’ for her PPI class. There was a generation of musical heritage missing from her platter; no Gaithers, no Fred Hammond, John Kee; she had no idea why Mark Cohn was walking in Memphis or who Diana Ross was telling to stop in the name of love. I doubt whether Donnie Mcclurkin or Robin Mark have ever made it into her iPod. I forced Alice Kimanzi in there along with Elan and Mwanga, to bemused queries of “kwani saizi Elani wanaimba gospel?” Hehe, sigh.

I could have given her the norm, your everyday radio pop and afro something but then she hears that every day I figured. So why not dig into the archives and let her enjoy music for the ages? If your friend has ever asked for your phone to play music, you understand the fear; what if they hate it, what if they think you’re  not cool or with it? Your library has been painstakingly sourced from far and wide, your precious as Gollum would say. It speaks of what you love and who you are. So you can imagine how much of an old geezer I felt when recommending said video to these teen youngin’ whose ringtone is some chap I couldn’t comprehend screeching like a car coming to a sudden halt over some ‘sick’ beat.  Skree skree.

Therein began an interesting discourse. So Dom, what’s your opinion on open marriages? Huh? Wait, weren’t we on music? Apparently we were on everything. Faith, sex, worldviews, love, hate, responsibility, purpose, meaning, lust…you name it. Over the course of 3 years we had passionate disagreements, discussions and vulnerable heart to hearts. I’ve been here before, talking to teenagers at the crossroads. It’s hard, sometimes frustrating work; but darn it if it isn’t fulfilling. The aforementioned cousin tagged me on Instagram for the first time last week, doing an amazing cover of Wonderful, Merciful, Saviour. She who had been too ashamed to be associated with ‘ol boy as I was not ‘cool enough for her feed’; si nililala na viatu. An a capella and sweet worship; I was so proud.

She made me promise not to reveal her identity here, nor post the video of her crying at her baptism. I’ll respect that. So let me talk to you now. Are you say, 12 to x years old, female, and confused about life? Yes? Read on. If not, worry not, we’re an all-inclusive joint here at the Batcave; read on as well…and return your sister’s phone, it’s no longer funny.

Everyone and their avocado have an opinion. On everything! How you should dress, walk, talk, who to date, where to school, work, when to marry, how many kids to have, where to take them to school, where to shop, go to church, not to go to church, travel…sheesh; it is a lot. But keep calm and trust. If ever anyone went through life having completely figured it out, I must’ve missed it. We’re all messy lumps of clay (except maybe Alice Kimanzi, she’s a lump of gold aki and Kaluhi Adagala; that one is a beautiful scoop of avocado). We all make mistakes, trudging along the corridor of chaos trying to get a grip on the walls of uncertainty; don’t let this engulf you. The storms of life come fast and thick, don’t let them bury you. For this you must have faith.

Faith in what exactly? Money, career, beauty, love, power, independence, achievement, family, friendships, education, talent, religion, intellect? While all these things may give you temporary security, satisfaction and sense of significance; believe me when I recount the words of King Solomon, “tis all vanity!” There was a boy who once asked me how a man with that many women could be dissatisfied, what about the wealth? Was it not enough? The truth, shocking as it may be, is no. For anyone you consider the apex of their field, who pursued that with a singularity of purpose forsaking all else, observe closely what happens just after their peak; there is almost a sense of betrayal. “Is this it, is this all I get?” This is oft the cry. It’s loneliest at the top of the world they say. Alexander conquered most of the modern world, and for what? Tesla, arguably the greatest inventor ever, was consumed by insurmountable grief and died miserably. So the list goes on; Michael Jackson, Prince, Pablo Escobar, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway (not to be confused with Baba Thandie), Kurt Cobain, Guru Dutt, Steve Jobs etc. I’ll draw your attention to one particular case, that of Brad Delp of the band Boston; his suicide note said simply, “I am a lonely soul.”  1 in 1 will die; the question is will we live when we leave? And until then who are you?

What do I know about women or faith? Of the former, absolutely nothing; the only woman I’ve ever understood was my mother. So I shall dwell on faith. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I define faith as the naive, absolute trust in Jesus Christ. Once I was asked, “do you have to bring up Jesus in everything dude?” What does He have to do with global warming, making homemade milk shakes or college applications? Well, when you view the world through the eyes of Love you cannot fail to see His fingerprints and workmanship everywhere. I care for wildlife and the environment because He made them, I don’t Google most of my recipes; instead like my dad, the inspiration for most meals comes from the Master Chef. Yes! The Father rejoices in seeing the joy it brings to enjoy food He has provided.

What do Catholics have in common with those folks celebrating Sister Rosa’s resurrection? How about those folks in the Advent, why is their music different from the glamorous Pentecostal Church pop scene? Honestly? I steer clear of arguments on religion. My faith is based on two facts I hold eternally true: I am a great sinner and Jesus is my only salvation. The rest is a beautiful journey following the Master; unique to me as yours is to you.  If you can look past the inevitable disappointment humanity will serve you, the sadness tragedy brings and the despair that occasionally afflicts us all; Christ is the light that will guide you home. The rest? The rest is living. Living in faith.

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1. Delightful sound: One of my favourite bands of all time comes out of Russellville, Arkansas in the shape of Deas Vail. Boasting rich melodies, ethereal harmonies and agonizingly beautiful lyrics the collective fronted by classically trained vocalist Wesley Blaylock continue to bless. Sixteen, God rest ye merry gentlemen, Shoreline, Atlantis, Still, Do you hear what I hear, Birds and The things you were are but a few of their best works. I personally recommend you start with Light as Air and Desire. Sweet!

2. Must watch: Becoming one of the highest grossing franchises of all time while scooping Oscars at will; Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings is universally acknowledged as film royalty. I subscribe to an annual pilgrimage of the extended version in epic 1080p, it deserves no less. Long before Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen, Wasp, Jean Grey and Storm there was Eowyn, Galadriel and Arwen, who fought the evil of Morgoth and Sauron in Middle Earth.   

3. Worthy read: In a world of Ugandan school mischief, journey with the enigma that is Moses. A fine product of Mukibi’s Educational Institute for the Sons of African Gentleman; along with King Kong, Itchy Fingers and Rukia, follow as the late great Barbara Kimenye tells the most hilarious story told to young adults all over Africa. I literally literary lost myself in these books as a child and I still laugh myself silly reading them today. Enjoy!

 

You don’t think I’d forget the subject of this story did you? For Ruth, the first woman of faith I knew, and all daughters of the Most High, He who began the good work in you will be faithful to complete it:

https://youtu.be/lqvPiT479r4?list=PLsAYAJM5BBUYF6g795Pud8FiPDPRVyJB0