People who have not been close to death should not speak about it. Death is an academic Degree; you are only an expert when you have survived it and won the hat. Personally, I know death. I have seen death. I have dressed the scent of death on my body and ground my teeth in its darkness. I have been dead, buried in the unequivocal desert of its nothingness, yet, I am still here, or am I not?


It began on a Sunday – I am a church person. Meaning I go to church because I was born and brought up in church. If you ask me about my beliefs, I might stammer a little as I concoct an appropriate response but what you should know is that I go to church. I play the Piano and I have pretty decent vocals. My church congregation loves when I lead the praise and sink into a trance when I lead the worship. I am pretty good, but death does not care.


That Sunday, which is like three Sundays ago, I left church midway. I had earlier alerted my piano player intern that I would leave in the middle of the service for an expedition in another county. I was to leave in the company of two others and my girlfriend who was not really my girlfriend because the church does not allow the idea of boyfriend-girlfriend association. It is a law I have plenty of reservation on because I am also a believer in love. You do not stand in front of love and ask it to stay on pause because your church does not allow it. It does not work like that. When it rains it pours, and there is nothing you or your preacher can do about it.


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Cuffs of Stupidity.


Living in Nairobi is not an easy task. Surviving is not difficult, but then, surviving is not the same as living. The other day I was just minding my own business, reporting to work, my first job, for the first day, then all over sudden, I found myself in a police cell. Mind you, it was my very first day at work where I was supposed to make an impression of positivity and intelligence but there I was in a cell with drunkards and smokers hurdled in a corner for two hours, for simply being stupid. This is a true story, I swear! You know you people like carrying me stupid so much.


So this is what happened, it had just stopped raining but there was still faint traces of light downpour sparkling reluctantly to the struggling rising sun. I had just alighted from a matatu from Kiambu, and I was headed to board another to Mombasa Road where I was starting out as a Software Engineer. I was new to Nairobi, I actually still am. I never master anything in this town. It is as if buildings migrate at night. But recently I have mastered how to get myself to Kencom anytime I am lost. The other day, the one before this one, I went round and round Archives Building like thrice trying to find Choppies Supermarket at Commercial. I was frustrated. I ended up asking a taxi driver who pointed a place I had been through twice! I felt stupid. It is in Nairobi that the forest monkey realizes that it cannot outsmart the grasslands of the savanna with its climbing proficiency.


Anyway, on this day I alighted at Commercial. The day before, I had asked kina Francis the Lone Puppeteer to draw me a map of the city and for like an hour and a half, they described to me where to go and where to assiduously avoid. They told me that if I found myself on Luthuli Street, I would come out of the other end with neither money nor shoes. These people are good at scaring people. I, therefore, paid more attention to where I should avoid more than where I should go.


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Upside Down

I was born a boy, or at least I thought I was until I had my first period at age sixteen. I was used to boy cardigans, shorts, boxers, vests, shirts and the like. My background was a humble one, where the only thing that mattered was that we had food at the end of the day. A meal a day was our entitlement, and I am not cantankerous, that was way better than other families in the neighborhood. I had a mom, only a mother who conceived me as a result of her night job as a commercial sex worker.



School was toughest, while boys prided themselves in football, catapults, throwing stones, exploration, fighting and automobile toys I was not amongst them. When the girls were preferential on plaiting, manicures, pedicures, dolls, and gossip, I was also not amongst them.



I was a fence sitter in the world I was born into, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was a loner, sticking to the shadows and the dark corners watching my world all around me crumble into a thousand and one pieces. I was alone physically and emotionally. I knew I was not normal, and therefore never tried to be ordinary. My world was upside down.



But then normalcy is a figment of human beings imagination, In Africa, elephants and lions at their parks have their lives turned upside down too. Elephants attack their human neighborhoods, destroy their food crops and stumble on anything that stands. Lions escape from the parks and roam the streets like human beings. This is simply man’s doing, elephants are conventional creatures, they follow the same path to the river each day now and fifty years to come. The moment humans develop a road or a fence blocking these creatures from their usual path to the water; these animals feel threatened. What they used to know no longer exists and they are frightened by every aspect of this discovery. Lions take to the streets from Nairobi National Park to Lang’ata and invade human space while elephants leave the Tsavo to the maize and millet plantations annihilating everything in their path.



Puberty was late. I know this because, at thirteen, the girls had begun whispering and desolating themselves speaking of their first periods. The boys had started lifting weights and staring at each other’s chins waiting for the first beard to sprout. I was in neither of these groups, but I still put on boys clothes.



At some point at the age of fourteen, depression took over, and I would cry myself to sleep. My mother would wake me up in the middle of the night so that I could stop screaming. Whenever she was at work, I would cry all night long until the neighbors go accustomed to the shrill therefore never came to my aid. I longed for someone to hear my scream and respond, understand what I felt but that never happened because my judgment in this world had been passed, no normalcy would be bestowed on me.



My mother pulled all strings to make ends meet, and when it was not enough, she pulled more strings until there was no more left. She preached values and Christianity to me with the hope that I would become a better person than her. She applauded good grades and condemned laziness, yet secretly beneath her iron skin and tight eyes, I could see the fear beneath, wondering what exactly to do each time and prompting questions to forces unknown for the mystery bequeathed upon her inexperience.




These wild animals go out on a rampage, the Leopards of Nakuru National Park leave the park to oust life unnecessarily from livestock, draining one after the other of blood then moving on eccentrically. Elephants instill fear on the very core of humankind by stumbling upon a lone farmer working on a lone farm in the rural wild. Elephants go ahead in Botswana raping Rhinoceros and killing them for sport. And the question that prevails is why the world largest and the serenest land mammal is turning into a despicable monster.



At the age of sixteen, on a weekend doing laundry with my mother, the unexpected occurred. I had my first period. My mother was petrified beyond words and after she directed me on what to do she told me I had to convert into a girl. The woman in me was becoming dominant and claiming human rights perhaps chanting, ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better and in heels.’



It was horrific. I had grown up being a boy and practicing the values and absence of values in males. You see, I was born with both genders physically. I had always thought myself more of a boy. Mother took me to the hospital where an old lady in spectacles announced the dreaded news that my female organs like the uterus and ovaries were more prominent therefore the objective would be a prescription to reduce the hormone testosterone until I was wholly or almost a girl. I declined the offer and cried a lot. I was determined to remain a boy even in the blink of impossibility.



The next day we returned to the hospital, and I was prescribed estrogen inhibitors to prevent my girl organs and promote my male organs. The hurdle with this is that the doctor could not determine the results, therefore, I was on my own setting a path full of uncertainty but then who is ever definite when it comes down to life?



Meanwhile, global warming shifts the marching of the penguins in the Arctic; polar bears face extinction while another series of animals are already extinct. Human beings have their character of being mean and cynical whenever it comes to issues of life and death; therefore, the wild cats are gunned down in the streets by the same people supposed to protect them. The two thousand remaining rhinos in Africa are hunted for their tasks while the elephants are also facing extinction continue to be the most hunted animal in the black continent. This is just a single bit of an illustration of what a little adjustment to routine can do to the world.



What then was I to make of myself who had my whole life upside down? Writing my rules as I encountered them because there was no Google or YouTube to tell me what to do the morning I woke up and found my sheets drenched in blood, red as crimson. When my mother had enough of the misfortune and decided to consume the same powder used to kill rats herself and leave this world? I was an eighteen-year-old living in Bondeni Slums in Nakuru in a little wooden house just a few meters from the mosque with no one to answer my ever multiplying series of questions hoping that one day it life could be normal.



I am still not certain whether I will marry a man or a woman or if any will ever accept me. Adversity has taught me better than to be hopeful. I still scream at night, now in a more civilized way where no sound comes out and its more of a soudless hiss. Upside down is my normal and I will serve you at Magnolia Resort in Nakuru as your waiter on the bar, and you really won’t find out that my life is not even a fabrication in your imagination. I will be dressed up as a lady but who cares anyway?



Upside Down.



Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri


The Writer:



Dennis Peters


A Day in Nakuru

Just about the time you get to the junction at Bahati that separates those willing to go to Solai and those about to move to Bahati and beyond, the pressure changes and the scent of something very familiar fill your nostrils. Nostalgia kicks in and all you want to do is tell everyone in that Matatu that you were born here, you grew up here, and puberty happened to you in this place, you even had your very first sexual encounter within this region, and there is nowhere you know better than Nakuru. Then, of course, you turn to the person next to you and notice that she are busy playing Candy Crush and do not even give a shit, so you keep your calm.



Both my sisters studied in this region, both in Bahati Girls, so this junction is very familiar, I never missed any visiting day. Visiting Day meant good food and good drinks like Christmas; I would have been a buffoon to miss any. Last week when I got to this junction traveling from Nyeri to home for the weekend, what was at this conversant junction was a rude shock. A new encounter that sent me into a frenzy of anger and unanswered questions. We had hit a traffic solid wall.



Kids from the Nairobi are used to traffic. I have friends who plan all their schedules an hour early because of traffic in Nairobi such that it becomes part of them their entire lives, – to be one hour early. Us, people from other places than Nairobi, we do not appreciate traffic delays. We frown when we hear that politicians are having rallies at Afraha Stadium because we know that that is an ordeal that will throw us off our plans and probably waste thirty minutes that we would never be able to recover. We hate guests, and it is not about the guest that makes us hate them it is because we like order and fast flowing traffic.



I closed the book I was rather enjoying, Blackass by Igoni Barrett courtesy of Kate Njenga. A magnificent book and it is true what they always say about African Literature, once you go African you can never go back. Blackass is a book I would recommend anyone to read. I digress.



Our driver parks the vehicle beside the road like everyone had done and we begin the wait. I was not sure who we were waiting for because the roads had been cleared but it wouldn’t require a bachelor of science degree to figure out that it was either the president or some egocentric politician who was headed to our town. The wait was uncomfortable; we had been seated in the same matatu for three hours and my ass threw in all sort of complaints about my weight. But an ant has no duty to quarrel with a boot, so we all held on to the shreds of peace we had.



It was not long until someone in the matatu casually exclaimed that ‘The Prophet of God’ was on route to town that was the reason for all the commotion. Immediately the matatu doors flew open, and people started sweeping the roads and singing praise songs to God. The Prophet Doctor, Awour was the reason for all the fuss.



Now, let me confess something, I am not a religious person. I try, but I am not, Actually I do not. I am not an evolutionist either; I appreciate Darwin’s work as a scientist, but I see a lot of stupidity in his theories. Truth be said, I do not care much about where we came from really, I am just here to serve my time and go. I appreciate however religious people, I have been on that side of life too. Therefore I know their antics is to preach to me whenever I throw in comments that differ from the good book. However, I have read the good book, and I can tell you a great deal about it. I also know religion is as important to a government as much as a budget because religion stands for order and allegiance to a supreme being who punishes the evil.



There are things I do not appreciate, one is switching on the T.V and discovering that the person who made me wait beside a road for thirty minutes because he has an escort is busy filling up the airwaves selling hope to the needy and recruiting multitudes to a lifetime of voluntary slavery. I know that I waste a lot of time on the T.V. I watch stupid shows like Young and Hungry. Am I proud of it? No. Do I know if Gaby will ever date the guy that is always hitting on her? No. Do I watch the show because Gaby is entirely hot and blonde? Yes. So, I am not a person who constantly has a full plate of activities, but I would like to have the choice when and when not to waste my time.



Dr. Awour signifies everything that is wrong with our society today. Yes, I know there is Facebook too but this time I am particular. This generation, all the young people move to the city and big towns to grab opportunities and grab a piece of the large pie we call life. What we do not pay attention to is the population we leave behind, the hundreds that never got to high school or those that quit high school half way in the village, the thousands of our parents with very little education and all they do is plant a few crops, harvest and feed then repeat. The old, who have no one to take care of them and slowly poverty gets to them, and they live one day at a time never knowing when their kids in Nairobi will come back. This is the population that have become devastated with life and therefore it is not a surprise that when a Dr. Awour appears selling false hope and healing poverty and disabilities like he has the almighty on speed dial, the entire flock, flocks behind him and exalts him to a place only God should be.



I do not have anything against Dr. Awour except stopping me beside a road. In fact, I admire his hustle. Many live to eighty years and beyond with neither an escort nor such a bushy beard. I appreciate that a man got to hustle and bring food to the table, buy like three Range Rovers and use an entire floor of Merica Hotel anytime he is in town. What I do not understand is the hundreds that spend the night outside the same hotel hoping for a miracle to be bestowed upon them because the prophet of the gods is in town. What my very intelligent brain cannot fathom is those sweeping the tarmac for his ‘holiness’ vehicles to pass through.



Life is tough, hope and faith are what makes the days go smooth and the future look brighter. I might be an ignorant clown behind a laptop, but my eyesight is clear enough to point out our mistakes. Hundreds of you are in the cities and in big towns having a good time with a five-figure salary at each end of the month forgetting the people we know and left in the village. I have been keeping tabs on them so I will tell you what they are doing, they are in Nakuru streets singing Hallelujah and celebrating an early second coming. They are spending a sleepless cold night in the fields in flocks waiting for a miracle from a mean God who will only bless them if they stay awake all night, cold and hungry. They are blinded, not physically but by a baboon beard guy claiming to have God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a Whats App group.



The very sight of this desperation hurts me like a bullet. It is better when the callous Al-Shabab terminates life because they do not torture them first and play with their sores then feed them to the mongrels scavenging in the dumpsites. We cannot ban the imprudent prophet from appearing on our airwaves because he has the money to pay for it, we cannot even ban him from gathering people by the thousands to Nakuru in a court of law because the only lawyer I know is Magunga and he kind of quit law for blogging, so we have no hope on that field. What we can do however is visit those we left at home, not even to give them money as much as see them and spend time with them such that they do not go to Dr. Awour charades and deceit gatherings. We can call home and find out how they are doing because I might not believe in God but my belief lies with the people, with each an every one of you. My faith is in humanity.



That is about all for a weekend in Nakuru. Otherwise, you guys are doing okay?


Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri


The Writer:



Dennis Peters


Men who do dishes

men doing dishes

I have always found it improper for men to do dishes. It is like using a whole transit lorry, those that are fond of that Gilgil route, very large, very old and very slow, carrying containers written MAERSK, a word I cannot even pronounce, is it an initial? Anyway, unless you have been on that Nakuru – Nairobi highway, you do not get it. It is like that huge truck with that enormous container being used to deliver a single tiny package, say, an infinix phone. It just ain’t right.

All I am trying to put across is that men are born and raised of mettle, their bodies are essentially metal built. When we were young we were often told not to cry like girls and I never not once wanted to be a girl so I never cried. One day I fell from mom’s boutique which was on the second floor in a certain town, Nyandarua County, I rolled over and over down the stairs and even as I went down I knew I would not die or cry. I was not a girl. So I survived. Not a single tear was shed, actually there was, much much later when mom had told me sorry a hundred times and constantly asked if I was okay. Point is I cried because of sentiments not pain. I was not a girl.

But men should not do dishes at all. Have you ever imagined doing that Bachelor of whatever you are doing in school for four dramatic years, I call them dramatic because campus is like Hollywood too much drama of people trying to be who they are not – actors, but that is a story for another day. Then after you are done and graced in a six figure ceremony later you end up updating Internet Explorers for companies for people like us computer scientists. Or running a Kibanda for our School of Business brothers and many sisters. Your talents and achievements have been misused, washed down a dirty gutter leaving you naked and humiliated.

The other day I was coming home from school and my neighbour was doing the dishes outside. The dishes were so many and to add on that he had his kid tied to his back. Any good person would have wanted to help out, take the baby or something but I am no Mother Teresa, I just watched a little then ran to my house to type this story. So there he was scratching a sufuria and turning it round and round, poor sufuria. You could even tell from a distance away that that sufuria was in anguish. Now, this guy is one of those big guys who probably used to play rugby in high school then stopped. He has a very large stature and big hands. I would like to imagine that his kid could comfortably sleep on his palm and turn comfortably! He is huge like that.

I wanted to ask him where his wife was but then that would be wrong, suppose he asked me what I needed his wife for? No. I am very well endowed with martial arts but not enough to face a giant carrying a baby, plus, those large hands would probably snap my neck aimlessly and I would lie there trying hard not to cry – like a girl. My option was only staring, no one can ask you for staring at them unless they are women. Women feel insecure when you stare at them, they will wonder if they have white hair or green kales on their teeth, and if they do they will mock you for stalking. Piece of advice, leave them alone, do not say shit, let someone else do that on your behalf, okay?

The thing with men is that they have got so much energy, energy that can work an entire day in a construction site and come out unfatigued. Hands that can dig or type the whole day and finish without any blisters. It is therefore undermining when we are asked to do dishes. We do not say it but it is true. We will not do it as aimlessly as ladies do. Ladies have a way with dishes that just speak volumes of ease. They will grab that pan gently and scratch it like they are friends, like they have known each other for a while and the pan will assent to be cleaned and the end result is magnificent. I cannot do nothing like that, I have always thought the harder you scratch the cleaner it becomes, No?

I later learnt that Mr big hands had annoyed his girlfriend (not married) the previous night and she had left without the baby and with a whole bunch of dirty dishes lying there. She should have at least done the dishes, don’t you think? Now it may appear as if am quite fond of gossip but I learnt not to cry but never to say NO to a good story. Decent tales add spice to the day, gossip or not, plus the government have always suggested Nyumba Kumi, this is my way of contributing. If Jay was caught red-handed cheating – I want to know, you remember Jay from Moving Out. He was busy with another lady when another lady showed up, dammit! Chuck your phone and take the video and when I come home from school we will share these videos, pity where we have to and laugh a lot even when it is superfluous.

Neighbours are imperative as though it may seem. I remember the first day I had come to Nyeri from Nakuru, the red sticky soil had assailed me quite often and I had to watch how people walk in order not to slip. Hilly and muddy never thought I could one day walk comfortably. But life is all about learning, I bought better shoes, adopted better walking style which lowered my centre of gravity and I owned this place like a bad behaviour. Now Nakuru is a strange place but Nyeri is home. They say a lot about it on the media but those are just outsiders, inside we laugh, eat, sleep and talk the same language and when Chania River, Muringato River, Zaina River and Sagana River continue to flow around us, we feel safe and are one with the flow.

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters