Deep Dives. Part Two.

 

 

Nataana Leshan had been brought up in a traditional Maasai home together with three Maasai Morans as her brothers.  All her life she had felt the warmth of family, the protection of brothers and the appreciation of culture. She spoke perfect Maasai at the age of twenty and was not afraid to shove it down our throats of how distinct her exceptional language made her. So many times we would be engaged in a basic conversation, and a Maasai friend of hers would join in, and they would automatically switch to Maasai language. It was rude, and it was mean, but it never bothered me, although it should have. I would be kicked out of the conversation just like that, and I would do what any normal Kikuyu would do when everyone is busy speaking Maasai, I would grab my phone and click on my Twitter App.

 

 

For the longest time, when we the Kikuyu tribe were not busy fighting Luo’s for politics, then we were busy fighting Maasai’s for land. Regardless how many years it had been since 1982 when the battle of the Rift Valley lands terminated between the two tribes, it was always a general feeling that us, Kikuyu people, were land grabbers in the eyes of the Maasai’s, not even the internet could make that fade off.

 

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Campaign Girls

 

 

 

Elections found me working for an aspiring governor. A big man with a big smile for the crowds and deep pockets, deeper than the boreholes he dug for the locals to aid in their water problems. He knew what to say and when to say and the exact ways to mould it when saying it. And when he said it, even when it was gibberish, the red flags went up high, and the locals pledged their loyalty. He had made his fortune from his family wealth, but when he spoke about himself, which was quite often, he said of how his intellect had made him a successful business person. He gave us tales of his big cup of excellence, and like the dummies we were, we sat by his feet sipping slowly in coveted admiration.

 

The March long rains came and fell with both hands, the water gouged out deep channels and swept away twigs, leaves and the top fertile soil. With it, we marched into the rural areas and dived into the locals’ conscience and asked for their votes in the primaries. We met them tilling their gardens, feeding their babies, taking out urine drenched mattresses from last night’s atrocities by the young boys, basking, and drinking. Sometimes we met their dangerous unwelcoming dogs or abandoned houses, but we never relented. The Jacaranda beautiful purple flowers collected into small groups on the murram roads beneath the intrepid trees and with it, the beauty of Central Kenya shone like the morning star.

 

*

 

I got a job as a Data Entry Clerk for the big man’s gubernatorial campaign. I cannot correctly recall how it happened because it took place while I was under the magnificent alcoholic haze. It was in the club back in 2016; our Governor-to-be was having expensive drinks with his friends on a table close to ours. My friends and I had just completed our final examinations in campus, which was the reason we were draining red wine like we had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Our neighbours were getting louder with each bucket of ice they ordered the waiter to bring.

 

It started out as a dare. The big man thought he could make his way to Parliament and his friends sneered in disbelief. A little later, he said bluntly and insistently, ‘I will even run for governor to prove you idiots wrong.’ That is how his campaign started. He bought drinks for every lady in the club that night and when he approached our table, and we told him our reason for celebration, he instructed us to be at his house 8 am on Monday, he would be the first to hire us. Our salary would be Ksh 30,000. That is how my two friends and I got our first job, on the same day we cleared the last paper in campus.

 

His gubernatorial bid was a dare. But then, a wise man once said, it is not how a race starts, but how it ends that matters. The next day, after the hangover had subsided, I called home and broke the good news that I had completed my four years in school of nursing and at the same time got a temporary job. My parents were elated, mostly because they never had to pay my rent again.

 

We worked from his mansion. He had three, so it did not matter that he used one of the houses as the campaign headquarters. The living room was the size of a basketball court and the bathrooms the size of my apartment. The carpenters came on Monday and converted the living room into an open office, and right there we began working. I would receive massive amounts of money and distribute it to the campaign ground workers to distribute to the voters. Every voter we asked for a vote was entitled to a Ksh 200 note. Most of my days would be spent chasing Ksh 1000 loose change in 200s. In a day, around Ksh 500 000 crossed my hands.

 

My other two friends did other things in the office daily, and as usual, there can never be a group of women without gossip. It started three weeks after we started working. The big man walked in rage and flew upstairs, we all stood stunned in awe wondering what the devil had done. A little later we heard struggling and screaming from upstairs from a lady. What surprised me most is that within those three weeks, someone was living upstairs and we had never seen her. A little gossip later we learned that it was the big man’s wife. It was against the rules for the wife to leave the house. She stayed locked up as the big man made plans and money for the family. I was infuriated and just like that my admiration slowly started turning to abhorrence.

 

It was the mansion’s custom to burst open a bottle of whisky at the end of a successful week. The big man’s whisky cabinet was bigger than his bathroom which was bigger than my apartment, so I hope that can draw you a vivid picture of its size. In those parties, I discovered Hennessy, Platinum Label, and Jack Daniels. Beautiful drinks that cost more than my salary. It was in one of those parties that things started to get incredibly wrong. I was standing by the printer when the big man approached me and asked why I was working on Saturday while I should have been enjoying the river of whisky courtesy of the big man almighty. I was dumbfounded that he cared. Then it happened, he put his hand on my bum and made to grab it like I was his. Part of me was immobile, astonished with despair like those rats that lose hope in laboratory experiments and lie down in the maze to starve.

 

His wife attended that party in particular. She was the one going around serving the drinks. I was even more scared about her feelings about my ass in her husband’s hand than the actual big hand that tried again to grope my unlucky ass. I did not speak, I was frozen but moving away from him. I took a seat and waited for my shock to subside before I took my things and left the ‘office.’

 

When I left I was so sure I was never to come back again. As if the night was not yet done with me, as I waited for a matatu to take me home, which was extremely unlikely considering the neighbourhood it was, the big man’s driver pulled over and told me to get into the car, that he had been ordered to take me home. I was one part resistance, two parts grateful so I got in, and he ferried me back to my place.

 

I could not help thinking about my situation. I was certain that this would never have a chance of a good ending. I drifted back to that moment when he placed his hand on my bum and then tried to do it again. I was so sure that other people in the office had noticed. Even his wife. When I called home the following Sunday afternoon, it was to say that I would be going home. Mother picked the call and could not stop ranting about how happy she was I had not asked for rent. That I was a big girl now, taking care of my problems like a grownup. I ended the call exceedingly sure that there was no going back. I had to make a living for myself.

 

 

*

 

 

Monday morning found me debating whether it was all worth it. At 10.00 am when it was two hours past the time I was supposed to get to the office, I got a text message. It was from the big man according to Truecaller. It was short and extreme in brevity. It was like it was typed in a speedy, careless, go-to-hell sprawl, like something I would write fast before going out to the grocery market. It said, ‘report to work.’ The big man was calling; it would be rude not to answer. So at midday, I walked into the office like a loose girl doing a walk of shame on a Monday morning.

 

The primaries came, and we lost. With it, we became an independent party and even pressed harder for votes. The campaign speeches grew longer, and the Ksh 200 notes increased to Ksh 500 notes. We used land cruisers to get to places young boys had never seen automobiles. We promised electricity to people with no roofs and fertilisers to individuals with no land. We even hired bloggers, and I sent them Ksh 1027 to post nasty, made up rumours about our primary opponent. Still, after all that, the poles still said we were 2% behind.

 

It was a battle to the bone. One that had started out as a simple dare now had become a serious life or death situation. Secretly, I hoped he would not win. He was arrogant, disrespectful and beat his wife. That was enough to make sure he would never get my vote. By the time we got to the final polls on 8th August, he had already bedded my two friends and increased their salary to Ksh 40 000. All but me.

 

The final poles threw him off the gubernatorial seat by a 9000 votes’ margin. A very close shave. He had lost but had made a huge impact on the county. He did not seem bothered by the loss. In fact, even before the announcement, he had me allocate funds to a big party of all his campaign staff.

 

I decided to bring my boyfriend to the big man’s party. Partly because the big man smashed my two friends, they seemed to have grown distant, so I had no friends and also partly because I felt I needed security. At the party, the big man insisted that I was to dance with him and when my boyfriend gave me an okay look I let him take my arm to the middle of the room. It was the longest ten minutes dance I ever had. When I came back, I found my boyfriend already ordered a cab to take us back home. He was furious. These young men and their possession pride (rolls eyes).

 

 

*

 

 

A week after the election, after we had cleared out and our contract terminated, I got a call from the big man. I was curious, so after some few relaxation stunts, I answered the call casually. It turns out, they needed to keep five employees for permanent employment and I had been shortlisted, so he was calling me to let me know that I was being called in for an interview.

 

Before I could make a response, he told me to carry my documents, and he would have the driver pick me up within the hour. This smelt like a distasteful disaster but I had to keep paying my rent, so I got ready in my skirt suit, made my hair look professional and put all my documents in a folder. The driver in a Range Rover was waiting as I left my apartment.

 

I got into the car, and the car sped towards town, then past town towards God knows where. I got unsettled and asked the driver where we were headed, and he briefly announced that we would get there when we got there. Without further options, I accepted my fate and drifted back into a fretful doze.

 

The car came to a halt about 200 kilometres from my apartment. It was a colourful modern hotel. A place where green dominated and nature displayed all its beauty. I now wish I had more time to let the beauty sink in, but my legs trembled and my mouth felt dry. I felt like an anchorless red balloon was floating on my stomach. Quickly I got my phone and shared my location on WhatsApp with my boyfriend and my sister. If I died, I wanted them to know where exactly to start looking for the body.

 

I found him relaxed under a gazebo sipping some expensive German Whiskey. He was in a Bahamas coloured short and a baggy checked shirt. A nasty combination of prints but that was barely within my range of fucks to give. He smiled and stood up to make a handshake with me. I was determined to make this an official interview, so before he even ordered me a bottle of 1800 Italian Wine, I handed him my CV. He pretended to read then threw it aside. In a statement that seemed too calm to be a threat, he assured me that I would get or not get the job depending on what I had to offer him.

 

There are points in life when a woman must accept that she is prey yet besides it, be determined enough to be fierce to level up the predators in the ecosystem. For certain, I knew I would never have sex with him, yet it did not matter, I was in the middle of nowhere, and the choice before me was not even a moral one, more than it was a survival one.

 

I was too engrossed in my thoughts that when he enquired whether I had a boyfriend, I just shook my head distractedly. In plain simple bare and definite words, I opened up my thoughts to him. I let him know that I would not sleep with him in any circumstance even when I needed the job this much. I looked directly at him and told him that I had a boyfriend waiting for me at home. That I love him so much to cheat on him (*rolls eyes, we had only been dating three months). I told him of the family I would want to have with him, a family of three or four kids. All girls. I told him of my accomplishments and what they meant to me. Of my rent and my parents. My fears and my aspirations.

 

I was talking consistently for more than twenty minutes that when I was done, I just stood up and made my way to leave. I did not even know a way out. I just walked. I could feel my heart pounding in my arms. I was certain that in the middle of my pressured outburst I may or may not have called the big man a sexual predator. One part fierce, two parts stupid. The elephant in the room would be how to get home.

 

 

*

 

 

As I type this story, I am home waiting for a call to know whether I aced that interview or not. Otherwise, I am just among the 40% unemployed Kenyans out here.

 

*

 

 

***Based on a true story***

 

 

Dear Mother. Part One. By Mukiri Gitiri

 

 
Mother, today I would like you to listen to a story that happened many years ago. I would like to suggest that you lose that judgmental temperament you are always carrying around the house, at least until I am done.

 

 

 

What was that mother? You promise? Okay. Now, it was five thirty in the evening. I remember feeling awfully tired but also happy and excited for my first weekend in the University. I had just survived a five-hour lecture on calculus. Math was never my thing, I will not lie, and I only pretended to like it so that I could make you happy.

 

 

 

Mother! You promised you would be silent! If you start judging this early, I will take this story to father instead. Okay? In my defense now that you asked when I applied for a course in campus I specifically signed up for intense Chemistry and Biology. To this day, I have no idea why there was Calculus, Algebra, and Statistics in my unit courses. To be entirely honest University was a disappointment, I had expected to be marveled by the lecturers, the lecture rooms and the students, turns out the lecturers were just old and tired educated heartless morons, the lecture rooms were similar to the ones in Chogoria Primary, only that the seats were sponged and the students were just a bunch of competitive social climbers trying to figure themselves out. That is a long sentence mother, let me catch my breath.

 

 

 

I hated small talk with my classmates. I disapproved a lot of things. Come to think about it; I was probably a sad and frustrated girl doing more observations that associations. On this particular day, I left the class in the company of a girl friend of mine, headed to the hostels. It was a silent walk. I loath silence but at the moment, my inexperience would have had me talk about Calculus differentiation and broken test-tubes, so I held on to my silence like a mother does her child. I did not want to be the buffoon that brings the classroom out of class. This was University, studying ended the moment you swept across the classroom door frame.

 

 

 

Alternatively, I would have started a chit chat about lipstick, weaves and camel toes but I did not even know what a camel toe was.

 

 

 

What was that mother? No! I am not going to tell you what a camel toe is. You can google after this story is ended. Now, as I was saying, I was really bad in conversations. I had stayed away from the close girl to girl friendships because I could sniff trouble and drama from a mile away. Another reason I was bad at this kind of engagements is that my knowledge outside the classroom was as tiny as a teacher’s pension. I could not even tell the difference between Beyoncé and Rihanna. Yes, mother, I could not tell shit!

 

 

 

I am sorry. Yes, I will mind my language mother. I had cool roommates though. They assimilated me into a gang we called the Room 3 divas. We even had a Whats App group. I had always felt that they were to cool for me. I mean, they could rock a thigh long dress and six-inch strappy heels on their second day on campus. Oh! And Rihanna’s signature red hair covering one eye. They were clearly absolute divas.

 

 

 

Mother, correct me if am wrong, but there is a scowl expression on your face. Can you wipe it off? I do not like it. As, I was saying before you rudely interrupted with that damn scroll, I was one of them, not by any qualification, but by the geographic existence in the same room. They would dress for hours as I watched and learned and then they would ask me how cool they looked. My opinion mattered mother, I was important. I was their coolness thermometer, measuring how cool or hot they looked. When you do this for a while, you are bound to pick a few tricks, soon I had to throw away my baggy trousers and flat shoes you bought me, no offense, and I just had to. I started becoming more like them and less like me. We would dress up together for class now, and take selfies later. I would have shown you those selfies mother but my phone mother, my phone was the Huawei Ideos you bought me, its pixels was almost zero mother. Not that I am complaining, but I needed something that would flatter my face and put some beauty filters, something that would paint me to their standards mother. I am not a liar; I just needed to fit in.

 

 

 

Now this particular Friday Evening, most of the people were headed out from the hostels for drinks and stuff like that.

 

 

 

No, mother, the drinks were neither coffee nor tea. Others were strolling chatting loudly in English with some occasional loud laughs hugging, smooching and touching. Yes mother, touching. I was bored, so when I got a call from my cool friends, the ones from the land of fish and English, I did not even think twice about it.

 

 

 

See what I did with the words mother? Fish and English? Come on, you can laugh a little. This is a funny story mother. That day mother, I rocked a 1950’s floral skirt. Its length would have made you kneel before God. Don’t curse mother; I had a pair of stockings inside, everything was well covered.

 

 

 

When the boys called, I was overwhelmed. All my life I had been a good girl mother, a little backward and uncool, but good. Your kind of good. I was a determined uncool girl. It was the first time a boy had called me on my Ideos Phone mother. I love to stand out mother; maybe I got it from father’s side of the family. I hoped back into my cubicle, took off the stockings and put on grey boots. As I said, mother, I was a determined uncool girl with pretty grey boots, a short skirt, a tiny top that would make you ask where they had taken the rest of the material and an immensely adventurous spirit. That day mother, I left my decency in my dressing cabinet together with the rest of the material for the top I was in.

 

 

 

No. No mother, do not gasp like someone just died. I am still here, am I not? Shall I move on with my story?

 

 

 

Okay, mother. Now, I got to the boys’ hostel across the school. You will not believe what these boys gave me; they handed me a FIFA pad! A FIFA pad mother! You know what that means? They did not look at me like the sexual object I had tried to transform myself into, mother. To them, I was a bro. Maybe my grey heeled boots did not make me tall enough, or my legs were not long enough to be sexy, or even I had always overestimated the prettiness on my face. I was disappointed beyond words.

 

 

 

Do not look so relieved mother; the story is still far from over. These boys mother, were not only from the lake but also from Nairobi City. The good side of the city where there are tarmac roads and gated communities. The kind of Nairobi that is green and cool, colored by flowery yards and fences. The kind that they do not have to use Mwi Sacco or MSLs matatus. A different kind of Nairobi where their fathers made collection cabinets of wines and expensive vodkas. Alcohol that was more expensive than the school fees we paid at school.

 

 

 

The kind of girlfriends these resourceful boys had used to put gel nails; you know what gel nails are mother? I too didn’t know. The only gel I knew is that one girls in my primary school would use to force their hair to curl. Oh and silica gel from my chemistry class. I was a sad little girl mother.

 

 

 

When a boy from the next room came in and invited me to the next room for a private party, I thought that it was your prayers mother, which had landed me such an opportunity. I hear you praying for me in the middle of the night mother, make sure you will never stop mother.

 

 

 

So your prayers landed me to a private party. By the time I got there, there was smoke from all kinds of smokable drugs, even bhang mother. It turns out bhang is not only for demented, hopeless people but also cool kids too. The smoke was mixed with the stench of alcohol that made me flinch with inexperience. In the room, there were guys already rubbing their crotches viciously on the behinds of other cool girls with even lesser material on their clothes than me. It was fucking awesome!

 

 

 

Sorry, sorry mother, I got carried away in the heat of the moment, I will not curse again. Well, if you want me to finish the story here, I can.

 

 

 

What was that mother? No, I am not ashamed of myself. Your tone is rising mother, take a deep breath mother. I would like to continue with my story. Now, this guy, that had been sent by God, courtesy of your prayers to save me from the bro-zone, poured me a drink, and another and another. Only the first gulp was nastier than the look you give me when I pile dirty dishes in the sink. The more I drank, the more my clothes felt loose, and the more I became a better dancer. I swung my hips in all kind of angles, and the boys loved it. They loved me, mother! I swear they did!

 

 

 

I was so drunk that when the party ended, and one of my male party mates carried me in his arms to his room and started to work on my clothes, I did not have the brain capacity to stop him.

 

 

 

Tears mother? Really? You are going to start crying for something that happened four years ago? Well, if it gives you any peace, I did not lose my little pink flower. At least not that day.

 

 

To be continued…

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

Moments 2016

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A girl completes a KCPE exam, gets a good grade and proceeds to High School, secures a good college through a decent score. She finds herself on the front bench of a lecture in School of Business, Jomo Kenyatta University. She completes her course successfully.

 

She leaves school, ready for the world full of unemployment, cold-hearted bosses and a paycheck consisting of a figure barely able to pay for decent housing. She moves from Juja to Nairobi, ready to advance her business career by any means possible.

 

The first job is late and disappointing, always is. She works as a secretary for a law firm in the city. The pay hardly holds her life together as it is and after six months, she quits. Her salary had remained fairly constant despite the promise of a gradual pay rise after the third month. Mostly, though, she quits because of the persistent sexual advances of the boss.

 

Again she deeps her feet into the large pool of unemployment, this time with six months’ experience. By the grace of a distant uncle, the girl manages to lie the corporate world and land a position as an assistant manager in a government office. The pay surprisingly rises to triple the number of times at the previous law firm.

 

Now she can afford good make-up, holidays in coast and almost expensive dresses. Her social media profile represents success at a young age to the very detail. The expensive coffee brunch at Java and apartments in Karen can hardly be referred to as anything else but glory.

 

She now has time for boys. She engages in half-baked relationships with a few young men which are often a disaster. Men, like it has been said more than a hundred times, are dogs. She tries a few women too, which also fails terribly, as if to say, women too are bitches.

 

She gives up on her social life and focuses her energy on her career. It takes a short time for her to be promoted to department manager of the same firm. She barely talks about it but her new four wheel drive CRV openly tells the tale to anyone who is interested enough to listen. She buys a piece of land just about the same time that the thirties catch up with her.

 

The thirties are barely any better, pressure from the family begins to amount on her social life. They notice the expensive gifts during Christmas and the new cars but what they want is a man. A man to procreate, and fulfill God’s commands accordingly.

 

He is late. He shows up at Moca Loca Cafe in Nakuru as she is having brunch coffee with her friends after consuming litres upon liters of Italian Wine at Club 64 the previous night. She barely notices him from her mild headache and dehydration but he notices her. He is a fairly handsome tall, dark and handsome guy, with a good car, big soft hands, and a good haircut. The only problem is that he has sunglasses inside a cafe, but since she has been waiting for 35 years, that she can fix. His name is Peters Denis. Denis with single ‘N’ and a Peters that comes before a Dennis.

 

She grows to adore him and rely on him. Nobody even notices the fact her salary is double his when she is promoted to County Business Manager. She however fails terribly trying to make him stop his sunglasses behaviour and in despair, she concludes her attempts. Suddenly, the holidays have more bliss and the house is a bit warmer.

 

Her Denis is more in love with his books and his writing but it never bothers her. She actually joins him in reading his 2016 African favorites like BlackAss by Igoni Barret and Born a Crime, stories from a South African childhood, by Trevor Noah.

 

Eventually, the gods smile upon their union and hand them twins, two beautiful girls. Lee and Dee.

 

A girl is no longer a girl but a mother and a wife. Problems start immediately after this realization dawns on her.

 

It starts with the simple mandatory question of who should quit their job to take care of the kids. Arguments spring up like an active volcano and it is suddenly not a home but a house of politicians where everyone is out for blood. Holidays are no longer done by the family but in secret with secret young male and female illicit companions.

 

Divorce comes around the time the girls turn seven. Our girl suffers and so does his Denis, but mostly the twins suffer the anguish of separation.

 

This was not a happy story, by the way, my 2016 was shit, I don’t get why I should make yours any better. Happy 2017 though, Yes? We’re still friends, No?

 

Happy 2017 people. Dennis Peters over and out.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

Beneath a Suit

 

He gets to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. He puts on a suit but what intrigues me is what he has beneath that suit.

First is a smell. A lethal stench that appalls anyone within a twenty feet radius. It is the whiff of fermentation, staleness, anger, hate, boredom and crises. It is the scent of something unwanted and displeasing. A repulsive scent that suggests laziness, bad relationships, failure and neglect. It is the highlight, rather, a drift of the middle age. The smell of last night’s mistakes, arguments, unfaithfulness, overspending, disorganization, chaos and wastage. It is obnoxious.

Then there is his piled up paperwork on his desk. A desk that is accustomed to underutilization. The seat behind the desk stares into space, waiting and anticipating for something that never happens. The computer placed on the desk has its network cable disconnected and the power cable switched off. It is supposed to be processing files, serving customers, fulfilling the company’s mission and vision, instead, it just sits, disconnected from the global village, alone and isolated, feeling odd amongst its peers. The support stuff often dust the desk occasionally but the paperwork is not their jurisdiction so it breaths in all kinds of brown dust.

The first thing he does in the office is to send the guard for the day’s newspaper which he sits in the office for an hour going through. He likes being up to date with current affairs, one would think it is for the noble reason of being informed but a closer look reveals that the paper gives him arguing points amongst his mates in the course of the day. They sit by the office kitchen talking about history of politics and politics of history. Discussing trends, presidents, testosterone and girls.

After lunch is usually the peak of his day. He loudly boasts of the number of beer bottles he poured down his gut during the lunch period. His workmates listen in silence, the scornful ones responding in murmured silences. Deep down they know that he needs help but all of them are either to restrained or solely apathetic. He then engages the office ladies in a heated discussion accompanied in uncanny flattery. He boasts. He loves doing that shit. He thinks of himself as a personality infused with charisma, little does he know how many enemies he creates in every gratification he declares upon himself.

By the time the office clock stops at four, it finds only an after-scent of a combination of his inexpensive deodorant, his ego and his fermented lunch snack in the office. He has managed to get an intern to do his work as well as recruit a peer for an evening politics discussion over two or three. One turns to two then to three and four. By seven o’clock, the peer workmate leaves for his family just about the same time he asks for a half-litre KC vodka to spike his beer.

Eventually, it is only him, a table full of empty bottles and a lot of stories with no one to listen. The clock hits ten and he staggers out to the streets. He heads home to a family he rarely sees or speaks to. He eyes are red as crimson, knees weak as a fig tree, stomach empty as a temple on Friday night and a gut full of toxic death. He gets home on motorbike, barely holding on to reality.

On Fridays, he leaves home directly to his favorite seat by the beer shelves. He never goes home on Friday evenings, On Saturday he comes home, hungry and moneyless reeking of whatever girl got paid to do a job that must never be spoken of in broad daylight.

On Sundays, he is nowhere to be seen while on Mondays he lies on his bed until midday nursing a three-day hangover, occasionally quarreling with his wife or his children who lost trust in him. The people that once looked up to him but now look down on him, waiting and wondering when he will choke on his drink and give them peace because they lost the patience for change. Change is a mere mirage, mainly an outcome of false hope or pretense that never lasts long. People never change. Situations change, relationships too but people hide their wickedness burying the reality behind their dark pupils, but deep deep down, the devil reigns playing catch ball with his horned allies.

Tuesday is the start of this story.

He is a friend, workmate, brother, uncle, dad, cousin, grandfather, follower or ghost follower. We all have someone that needs to slow down on his drink. We don’t want him to do therapy, therapy don’t work on no black man, neither do we want him to join a support group because that’s a Western thing, yet we don’t want to lose him because as much as we have fangs and serpent poison on our tongues, we are still humans before we are anything else. Our cynicism is proportional to the number of times we have been disappointed hoping and praying that he will get better.

He never does, God hates alcohol so he even ignores all words that end in ‘hol’, he spams such prayers and it is then that we have to be little gods ourselves and show that our humanity goes beyond faith and hope. The popular and Iconic writer, Bikozulu, once said, “What they need is simple acts of love from people they care about”. Shove an alcoholic on your bosom and show him love and the alcohol will find the exit on itself. Get him a gift this Christmas that is not a bottle of whiskey or a bible and you will have planted a yearning of sobriety in him.

We all start drinking because it is fun in high school or in college. Turns out it is fun. Eventually, when college is over, a girl walks out on us, a job becomes too hard to obtain, a scar becomes too tough to rub off and life shows us utter callousness and we think to ourselves, maybe we need to have fun like we once did. Maybe we need a little inebriation so that we can reach our fun nerves that make the world soft like toffee and the music fulfilling as paradise. We set on a course that becomes difficult to abandon.

Now we drink when boss man fires us, when girlfriend leaves, when laptop breaks down, when the day becomes slow, when the day was too fast, when we are hungry, when we are full, when we have a lot of work, when we do not have work or any day we find ourselves alive. The scary part is that we cannot stop. Soon we have no any real human connection, yet a lousy job we hate, a toxic relationship, a minuscule salary and a lot of stories with no one to listen.

We are 45 years old now, life is no longer ahead of us but behind us. That is when we get to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. We put on a suit but what intrigues me is what is going to be beneath that suit.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

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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:

 

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Dennis Peters

 

Climbing Mt Kenya. Part Four.

Mt Kenya from a distance

Mt Kenya from a distance

Sunrise over the hills at dawn

Sunrise over the hills at dawn

Have you ever seen the sunrise over the mountains at dawn when the ground is still wet with dew, water still frozen to ice as if moaning the absence of sun during the night, snow converting slowly to a pool of water trickling subsequently down their accustomed path, serene, peaceful and your breathing disorienting the natural order of things because it is too heavy. You have not, but I have so grab a seat, get your popcorn and go for a rest room break because today it is going to be a long read.

The Final Account

DAY 1 SUNDAY: All turned up.

Today is Sunday 22nd February 2015. The big day we climb Mt. Kenya. Our trip is composed of around 84 students and staff, two school buses and of course the Deputy Vice Chancellor DVC is seated back left of his own Toyota Primio vehicle. We gather around the school at 9 am filled with feverish anticipation ready for departure and as soon as the flagging off is done which includes singing, speeches and prayers we are racing down in KAY bus across the school compound into the highway. Amongst my friends is Francis, Esther and Trica. We are all turned up and the selfie game is on, going live on twitter #Climb2Educate.
Our journey is from Dedan Kimathi University past Narumuro, Nanyuki, Timau and finally KeSAL, the Kenya School of Adventure and Leadership. At KeSAL we camp all through the night and this becomes the first camp which we often refer to as Base Camp.

In Nanyuki we make a stop to shop and lunch. Nanyuki is the kind of town that is so tiny yet very modern beginning with their large Nakumatt Mall and 3 star hotels. The number of white people in this region is predominantly startling considering the ratio according to my calculation of locals to whites being 3:1. Now I know it might appear as if I am a racist which I am not, am just saying there are very many white people in Nanyuki. That besides my point we get lunch and in what appears to be an entire lifetime we get to KeSAL, of course with many more stops like one which Esther had to take a groundie in the middle of the highway.
KeSAL was a cup of coffee considering there was electricity and network bandwidth. At night however the temperatures hit below ten and that was when things started to get real. We get divided into groups each with their own instructor. Francis, Trica, Esther and I have a way of sticking together so we get to the same group with the name Nzoia, our instructor being Mr. Rono. KeSAL is more or less like a military camp.

Part the crew during departure

Part the crew during departure

Whole crew in Nanyuki

Whole crew in Nanyuki

Esther's Groundie

Esther’s Groundie

The Climbing Instructors

The Climbing Instructors

DAY 2 MONDAY: I think Esther fed on adrenaline for breakfast.

So, here is the thing about mountain climbing, you walk in a single file each a step behind the other like penguins in Madagascar during migration, walking is done in designated groups each of twelve and of course the illusion gender must be considered, the slowest is the pace-setter and is always on the lead the rest follow behind, the instructor does not necessarily have to walk with you he can disappear as fast as he can appear but he is always there when there is a problem and finally and most fun, you sing as you walk like “If I fall in love in a camping school, take my ass to home, tell my momma I’m a shame… blah blah” as if to remind you camping is for fighters not lovers.

As early as 6 am the bell is rang and we get up to a little bit of working out before we hit the road. On top of the five day change of heavy clothes already in the bag an enormous sleeping bag is added. Most of our bags are barely good enough for camping so we tie the sleeping bag on top and immediately after breakfast which includes boiled eggs, a loaf of bread, green tea and a banana we set the ball rolling.

So we are matching along a rugged terrain of uncharted country where every sight and sound is unaccustomed the only thing that seems familiar are your friends of which you secretly begin to discover their other side after you have been walking together more than fifteen kilometers and that’s just horizontal distance leave alone the thousand feet of altitude you are gaining with every kilometer. No music, no bandwidth and batteries are running out and that is when I begin to observe Esther. Esther is the kind of people you would expect to see on runways of beauty pageants not mountain climbing and all through in my mind I knew at some point I would have had to help her carry her bag. Well, this does not happen not even once in fact most time keeping up with her is entirely impossible and Mr Rono has to occasionally ask her to slow down. What actually comes as a rude shock however is the fact that the load is equivalent yet I ask for breaks but she wants to keep moving. Must be the adrenaline, perhaps when we had eggs, tea and bananas she had adrenaline for breakfast!

We get to our second camp at around one called the Solo Camp which is just an open field where we set up tents and this where I begin apprehending that civilization was simply fading with the altitude. Remember in the eighties when you would fetch drinking water from the same point you took a shower then head home with your water barrel on your head to find your momma making flour using a pestle and mortal generating some kind of dissonant and raucous rhythmic sounding that makes you feel home then when the Ugali was ready you would all sit around the heath and pass gossip of the long day especially about which cattle fed on whose plantation then you would all spread your mat around the fire father, mother and tens of children sharing on bedroom which is also the dining room, more or so like a bedsitter but the rest room is outside. That kind of civilization. In camp there is no gender so Francis, Esther, Trica and I shared a self-contained tent of which I expect no questions about, am I clear?

First lets take a tent selfie

First lets take a tent selfie

Supper later around a camp fire

Supper later around a camp fire

DAY 3 TUESDAY: Are we going to die?

In this life, I have only felt close to death twice. Only twice. The first time was after watching Final Destination Movie and the second time was spending a night at Majors Camp which was our third and final camp. At Majors Camp, there is no camp fire because there is no wood lest the negligible vegetation which cannot make fire. Cooking is done using three litre gas cylinders carried by some support professionals called porters. On a bad night when there is no cloud cover, the temperatures drop to negative fifteen to negative twenty but on a good night of which I was unfortunate enough not to experience the temperature could rise to negative eight.

I often consider death when I cannot sleep considering sleeping is like death practice. Anyway we are all asleep Francis, Trica, Esther then me in that order, today has been a long day so sleep comes instantly I even forget I had to document the activities of the day. So there I am dreaming about my future sports car and priding myself on being a connoisseur of beautiful imaginary women with my assortment of other lucrative enterprises living an idyllic fantasy life. The dream is too good so I turn over in the little tent and that is when my face lands on the wall of the cold tent and I wake up screaming and cursing. Deep down I am assured that I will not be sleeping tonight in this God-forsaken wilderness but like Jesus who persevered in the wilderness for forty days this was just my third day! (See what I did there?)

In death you see the beauty of life. Perhaps that is the reason I begin making this poem:
Gentle silences
Like a snowfall
Soft, hushed
Soothing as a whisper
Of summer wind
Quite as the passage of stars.

(Read More)

Determination at its best

Determination at its best

The plates. You have to carry your plate.

The plates. You have to carry your plate.

DAY 4 WENESDAY: I want to go home to momma.

When Francis got tired of walking, unlike me who resolved to silence, conserving the little energy left and cursing in my head, Francis would begin to preach. Not really the Bible kind of preaching really but his own version of the Bible let us call it the Prince Francis Version (PFV). So today we hike from Majors Camp to Lenana Peak 4985 meters above sea level and back to Majors Camp a total horizontal distance of about thirty kilometres which sums up to fifty plus kilometers altitude gain considered. We are woken up at four and by four thirty we set out. Cold wind blows unapologetically through the hills and we clutch our jackets our gloved hands buried deep in the pockets begging for warmth.

You and I always consider a pain killer in case of a headache, stomach ache or just anywhere. In mountain climbing, painkillers are forbidden and the only solution to your body wiles is water. This morning all water we have is frozen to ice but the instructors keep emphasizing the importance of water when gaining altitude. “Maji ni muhimu, maji ni uhai, kunywa maji ata kama ni barafu” (Water is important, water is life, drink water even if its frozen to ice). So you have to sip that cold water if you want to get to the peak, a cold sip that makes your body shiver and wish you could go home to mommy and have a nice plate of millet porridge or morning pancakes. The jungle is not for quitters and as far as Esther and Trica are walking, you have to keep walking unless you want to be called a sissy who never made it to the peak.

I was telling you about Francis, so he is behind me and we are struggling through the rocks slowly then he begins “I am as strong as a horse, call me black stallion and I will make it to the Lenana and dougie 4985 meters above sea level”. I am too tired to laugh or shake my head so I let out a little sigh which is more like a cry but deep down I know Francis is right, I want to dougie at Lenana, do crazy poses and post them on Instagram to tell all those bragging idiots online that they could have been to Zanzibar or Bahamas for all I care during Christmas but none of them had faced the intrepidity of Mt Kenya, none of them had done a dougie 4985 meters above sea level. And today we did get to Lenana, we did dougie and did crazy poses, we walked until we could walk no more so we crawled, cried and begged (exclude me) to the top, to Africa’s fourth highest peak Lenana.

Trica was always the most silent among us but that changes when we start our way back from Lenana and it starts snowing heavily. The snow appears to have called a reserved energy tank in her and she begins snow fighting all the way to camp. I think we should call snow selfies snowie invented by Trica because she took a hell lot of them. We had conquered Mt Kenya our task was done, only thing left was a night at the cold jungle and we would be headed back to base camp for bonfire and barbecue.

Whole crew made it to the top

Whole crew made it to the top

We are 4985 meters above sea level... Teach me how to dougie!

We are 4985 meters above sea level… Teach me how to dougie!

Let it snow. The cold never bothered us anyway.

Let it snow. The cold never bothered us anyway.

Told you i did crazy poses

Told you i did crazy poses

The Bible they talk about at the peak.

The Bible they talk about at the peak.

DAY 5 THURSDAY: Back to civilization and the age of electricity.

The journey from Majors Camp to Base Camp through Solo Camp is quite a silent one and took about seven to eight hours. In my head I cannot wait to get to my laptop and type a story of how I almost died for all of you to read. I write Instagram captions on my Medulla especially the photo I was dancing under a snow storm. Tired but smiling 95% of us made it to the peak an achievement not most human beings could brag about.

At night an enormous bonfire is made and we dance and party till dawn. The barbecue is all you can eat roast, fry and boiled meat.

Lets build a bonfire and dance around it.

Lets build a bonfire and dance around it.

DAY 6 FRIDAY: Welcome home heroes.

A welcome home party is clearly set out on our arrival to Dedan Kimathi University the guest of honour being The Chancellor Dedan Kimathi University. Certificates are given and the party does not stop there.

Welcome home heroes.

Welcome home heroes.

Add this to your resume.

Add this to your resume.

From Left Trica, Dennis and Esther.

From Left Trica, Dennis and Esther.

Well, today I woke up with the kind of feeling that you have been ran over by a train severally but a story had to be told. A story of this being the largest gig dennispetersblog has done that comprises a series of four articles:

Climbing Mt Kenya
1. The Genesis (Read Here)
2. Aim for Resilience (Read Here)
3. Elites of the Society (Read Here)
4. The Final Account (Read Here)

Working with great people and societies:

1. Antony Oroko – Lead Publicist Climb to Educate.
2. Tabitha Wanyoike – Mentor and Consultant.
3. Sam Kairu – Arts and Events Coordinator.
4. Zawadi Society – Equipment.
5. BAKE DeKUT which was association that handed me this assignment.
6. Mr Rono – Climbing Instructor.

And special regards:

1. Team Nzoia.
2. Esther Mukiri.
3. Trica Wanjiku.
4. Francis Ndung’u.
5. Sam Munyiri.
6. Evans Mariga.

Photography by:
1. Sam Munyiri.
2. Dennis Peters.

Meet the writer Dennis Peters.

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters

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