Namaste bi…Wait that’s Kevin Mutua’s greeting on the Sanaa Whatsapp group. It’s been a cold 2 months and now we are on the 3rd one. Heed Eddard Starks words : “Winter is coming” and Ebola might be the Whitewalkers. Just thinking out loud.
I found it fun when I found this template. Seems people have direct answers for most of this stuff. But as usual my brain always reads too much into simple words so this is my version.
Making: Love? No? Ok, making time count. I am trying to get loads of things I have procrastinated on before done. Like editing my poetry script and hopefully publish the best 30.
Cooking: Way too many eggs!! I have them in everything. Rice, Toast, Spaghetti etc. But I am craving that protein and energy due to my new workout regime. Twice a day at 7 AM and 10 PM is hard work especially after a long day’s at work.
Drinking: Tusker. But that’s too common. So the new thing I’m drinking is Kate’s Organics Green Tea. I have had it in my work locker for a while now. It’s a great stress reliever, antioxidant and yes, that secret weight loss method I have used before. Dropped 5 kgs in a month. Now dropped 15 to date. Oh but don’t think that is the only thing you gotta do. I don’t take sugar at all and remember working out mentioned above.
Reading: Game of Thrones. Been at it on my phone for 3 months now. Had to find something to do once the series was done for the moment.
Wanting: To find a football pitch with a real organised team close to work. I am tired of my own where the pitch has so much gravel that every time I fall, I’m ruled out for 2 months. How will I ever manage to impress Wenger’s scouts??
Playing: I wanna say her but I am single so mmmhh let’s say Candy Crush but I got stuck at level 86 four months ago and I kind of gave up. I have therefore for the moment joined the bandwagon of hating on those who send requests on Facebook.
Wasting: Sleeping hours. I sleep for about 4 hours daily. Except on weekends when I overdo it. I need to sleep more. But that means I need to slow down my brain without using any drugs. Proving to be quite a feat.
Sewing: My vests?? I think I should just buy new ones or just stop working out. Or both. My biceps are 12 inches now. I think. I know brag brag brag…so my sleeved vests suffer.
Enjoying: Watching arsenal’s pre-season games. Sanogo is coming of age but that kid Bellerin is who I want to see more of. Damn that pace!!
Liking: My renewed OCD to clean up for myself. No more washing ladies and I have managed to do my washing and general cleaning 5 times now.
Loving: The fact that I found these bunch of misfits we met while in high school. All of them. There was Ann, Tracy and Nyambura. And all of us finally, all of us reconnected on Facebook. It has been a long 10 years.
Dreaming: Of Premier League glory. So close and possible I can almost taste it.
Hoping: That she understands my French. My words, my poetry, my only mastered language. 😀 Who is she? I have no idea.
Marveling: At these Dubai water fountains that dance to “I will always love you” in tribute to Whitney Houston. The science and the art that went into this is amazing.
Needing: 3 table spoons of codeine filled cough syrup so I can get some sleep. These coughing is making me lose so much sleep.
Smelling: Absolutely nothing. The almost 3 month cold spell has done well to work against my flu immunity and I get like a bout every 2 weeks. So now my nose is blocked. Food tastes like cardboard. (Don’t ask when I ever tasted it but I did.) But worst of all, I hate the coughing that makes girls shun you just at the moment when you need warmth and hugs. 😦 😛
Wearing: This awesome blazer. Well worth the price. Even the camera guys at the Heineken Desperado Launch could not stop taking photos of it. 😀 Thanks B.A.K.E for the invite again.
Noticing: Despite my initial criticism of Instagram, 2 weeks without an android phone is killing me. I also miss Instant Twitter. Follow me at @TheDivineBandit and http://instagram.com/thedivinebandit I won’t follow back today or this week either but I will when I come back to a 100+ notifications.
Knowing: I’m like 3 years away before the nudges at family events to “get married” become full on body charges followed by a scrum down and a neighbour’s daughter as a try. That sounded mean but I had to clear the sports analogy.
Feeling: Happy despite the blocked nose, inflamed throat and erratic coughing. I am alive and so is all of my nuclear family and my best friends and friends. Most that I know of are in good health. Feeling a bit sad when I think of Robin Williams. A little is an understatement.
Eating: P….Pus…It’s spelled Pistachios damnit!! I like indulging in some exotic nuts..Ok this keeps sounding wrong. So I guess I’m done. 😀
I had a harder time coming up with a title for this post than I had writing it. This is because I always knew how I would tell the story. How I would pass the story across. How despite my Kiswahili influenced phrase translation, I knew most of my audience would get it. That’s because they are Kenyan. When they read this, they don’t apply a particular accent to it. No, they use that familiar pronunciation that most are accustomed to. Yes, that way Kenyans speak that makes people always question where I’m from every time I travel. They seem to easily recognize the Oga and other Western African accents, I have been told the Tanzanian’s English is more sing-song than we can tell. And of course in Omugurusi’s country, they are easy to identify and well popularised by the hilarious Anne Kansiime.
Most of us especially writers insist on writing British English despite the fact that it’s harder to speak in the same accent. We have “U’s” in humour, favourite and all our endeavours. See what I did there? We also have “S” in place of “Z” in the past participle of most verbs. I actually forcefully use the S in my posts no matter how many red lines appear under my words. If you have been on my blog before, you will realise that these first two paragraphs are what I use to get my mind to focus. ADD is a bitter gift and a sweet curse. But I have the hang of it now.
About 3 weeks ago, I was to do a post that would have started with the simple phrase: “I HATE KENYA!!” My reasons would have been justified. As far as my perspective was concerned. See, I had been in Angola for just over 2 weeks. In those 2 weeks, I had to contend with knowing blood was flowing back at home. My brothers and sisters were getting killed or maimed for life. And this had prompted quite an emotional post from the south side of Africa. Ironically, here I was in a country that had experienced civil war into the 21st century. They had obviously learnt their lesson from what I could see around. They all mostly speak Portuguese and marry without discrimination on tribe or colour bases. This is saying a lot. The country has a machete in its flag for Chrissake. And yes, I know that was not the intended meaning.
Back to why I hated Kenya at that particular moment. I landed on a Monday at 3 am. And I was still a bit sad from the news I had read while abroad. I was supposed to be off work for the next 2 days due to travel and jet-lag. But I had a conference on Tuesday and so despite the fatigue, I was up by 6 am to pick up a Ugandan guest who was here to attend said conference. Long story short, by 8 am that day, I was not nodding off to sleep at Geographical Information Systems conference. I was standing in a stuffy, ammonia smelling, wall graffiti ridden room at Kibera Law Courts.
Yes, I had been arrested. For failing to use a pretty non-existent pedestrian crossing as I crossed Waiyaki way. Yes, I was at fault as long as the rule of law is concerned. But, yes I would do the same thing over and over as I told the cops as other guests at the back of the “Maria” tried to negotiate for their release. The thing is, on Waiyaki way, it does not matter where you cross the road, (that is unless you have a foot bridge close to you), you still have to rush across it like a demented oryx who learnt how to walk from Bambi to avoid getting hit by the onrushing traffic. See, no one slows down at the said pedestrian crossings. Some cars actually seem to speed up near them so as to avoid traffic that might be caused by people crossing. It does not help the case that the road is sometimes widest at these same points. I tried asking why not arrest the reckless drivers first who have made the pedestrian crossings unusable. I got comically stupid answers like “We will start with you today then we will move to the drivers.” Yes, you would have to use the Pedestrian crossing for the moment and if you got hit while following the law, they would make sure the driver paid heavily for your physiotherapy or your funeral. I had to pocket just to avoid slapping the tiny brain out of his ear.
But the arrest alone was not the reason I was so angry at the country. Neither the fact that I had to wait a whole day, standing till my old sports injured foot hurt like hell to pay a one thousand Kenya shillings fine. Nor was it the fact that some people charged the previous day with the same offence had been fined 20K or a month in jail. I thanked my stars I was not one of them. No, I was angry at the fact that in that one day, we were about 1000 people that were charged with such a minor traffic offence. I was angry as I saw a man arrested carrying business wares in a paper bag; weep at the fact that he could not afford the fine. Yes the poor would become more poor. But most of all I was angry at the fact the perpetrators of Mpeketoni attacks had gone through traffic blockades without getting arrested. I was angry that the grenade attackers had evaded these same cops. This great law enforcement order that could arrest 1000 people in one day for not crossing the road properly. Yes, they had missed an internationally re-known terrorist who would end up bringing terror and bloodshed at Westgate. Yes, my innate patriotism was gone. I could not afford to be loyal to this country. The next chance I got for better pastures, I would not even cross the border chewing cud. But that was 3 weeks ago.
My rationale is always too strong. So with time, love for my country has come back. As always we know who to blame. But we always forget about the man in the mirror. Yes, 26 years since the Michael Jackson hit. We still sing along without taking into account the lyrics. I will not adopt a holier than thou attitude and pretend I have not been in the least bit tribal before. But I have over time always worked to negate any history I might have had with that ugly attribute. I actually stopped using my actual second name so that one could not easily tell what tribe I was from. That way we could act with no prejudice. Be friends unconditionally. My 7 best friends are Kalenjin, Punjabi, Meru, Giriama, Luo, Kamba and Taita. I did not choose for them to be. No, their personalities are what makes them be accorded such honours. I have to state that I am Kikuyu otherwise this will not make sense. In that cell, my best friend was a Luo. Yes, in the eyes of our so-called leaders, we are supposed to be water and oil. They make jokes that never can you eat Omena with Githeri. Such shameless and archaic analogies.
We had been talking since the bumpy, overloaded, no-safety belt ride from Waiyaki way via Ngong road to Kibera. None was benefiting from the other. We just shared jokes and political quips. But by the end of the day, the relationship was forced to become symbiotic. He had no one to pay for his fine at the bank so I had my best friend do it for him. And with his knowledge of the Luo language he made sure he negotiated with the senior cop so we did not sleep in a cell. He was a brother in alms. (Yes I spelled that right). We even took the same cab to work from the hell in a cell. “Omera, Nyasaye ogwedhi”
I have written a post on how I was taught how to love growing up. One thing I was not taught is how to hate. I was actually taught of how evil that would be. How much of a sin that was. In later life when certain people have driven me to such an extent. i have only learnt of how consuming hate is on the person producing it than the one receiving it. It is a cancer. And its consequences are almost as deadly if not worse.
Yes, we called Luos, “Mera” growing up but that had loads to do with the repeated phrase; “Omera” . Which I later came to learn is one of the most endearing words in the language as it means “my brother”. I admired the Luo workers who used to live in Central Province then. This number has since significantly dwindled. They were hardworking, astute, muscular and if you know me then you would knowI kind of very much followed in these footsteps. (Just like being Luo, GymRat is a lifestyle 🙂 ) I have said before, I am a child of the world. I really do not care where my good qualities come from. All humans are my brothers and sisters. My enemies are those who try to oppress them or hurt them regardless of their creed, race or tribe.
Because whichever political rally you attend, whomever you vote for. It’s that neighbour you sell your wares too, that driver who drives your kids to school, that friend in your network who informs you of a vacancy at his workplace. That is your real friend. When in need, your wedding committees, your burial and funeral arrangements, your hospital bill Harambee does not have IDs being checked for tribal name tags. Yet, all and sundry who have known you, have respected you and have loved you will show up at your door.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children
We are the perfect generation to exact change in this country. We are not the leaders of tomorrow but those of today. We can change two generations at once. We can change our parents and make sure our kids never learn otherwise. They learn nothing but love. They never learn to be Luo, Kikuyu, Kamba or Kalenjin. Teach them to be Kenyan. Yes I know it will be not be easy. Nothing worth it ever is. You cannot give up on this. The whole country will depend on you. Your heroism will be unsung. Not a single verse will be written in your honour. But I will stand too. I am sure as hell that I am not alone. My brothers and sisters from all parts of Kenya already ride with me. Are you willing to join me? I am not a Kikuyu, I am not black. #IAmKenyan
This will not be poetic, this will not be prose.
And for some time the thorns will outshine the rose.
The book will not be written. The history not recorded.
The wise will understand for the message will be coded.
The blind will hear the message and communicate it to the deaf.
The couriers will be the dumb so the secret will never be known.
We will have not seen, heard or said anything evil.
The war will be fought by the crippled, master minded by the bald heads of cancer patients.
You see the battle will not need brute strength.
The lid on the jar is already open and the concern will be how to get it back on.
The man in the mirror will already be one with his reflection.
The step of the Boy Scouts will sound like the army, but we will not hear it.
The bubble wrap around this new world will sound like gunshots but we will not fear it.
Peace, love and unity will be tissue thin but we will not tear it.
Ever had an idea hit you and actually makes you wonder how dumb you must have been minutes before it occurred? No? Happens to me every 6 months as I look back on my life. And I laugh at how smart I thought I was then. This is what recently happened when I realized that I have never written of my travels despite having visited a couple of countries. I am not yet the “Up in the Air” type but still I have been to India. Yes I like mentioning that because in my planned travels as I grew up, that was never in the plans. I have passed through some really hot (and not in the beautiful kinda hot way though they are) places like Qatar and the UAE. I left my jaw at the Ethiopian airport. I wonder how the Ethiopian men maintain their sanity with that much beauty floating around them. No wonder they are always doing long distance running. One has to get a way to get rid of the dhaaaasttt you know. 😉 And I have been to countries where my French versatility really came as a great help. But never have I ever been at a loss like I am where I am now. To be surrounded by people whose only knowledge of English are the words yes and no. Not really their fault. I should have learnt Portuguese. But for now I have to contend with loads of sign language and “Portuguese-lised French”.
My woes started as soon as we landed, it was funny at first but then it became very annoying. We landed in the middle of the airport. About 2 kilometres from the actual airport. (I am not sure about the distance, I have said before on this blog how messed up I am at estimating distances). You see the thing is, we had come in the huge Boeing 777-300ER and the Luanda airport could not accommodate it till some planes moved. So we had to stay right smack in the middle of the runway and wait. But tell that to the travelling group of about 40 Chinese guys. No. They stood up and started getting their luggage and heading to the exits. This was despite the explicit instructions from the pilot to stay seated. The flight attendants had to get each one of them back to their seats but 10 minutes later they were up again and at the doors. I laughed my heart out to the chagrin of the cabin crew who were very annoyed by now. I kept wondering why they were in a hurry to get off the plane. Was Angola moving and I didn’t know? I am rarely in a hurry when I have no control of the factors influencing time.
We finally made it into the airport and we got to queue as usual at the passport control/immigration. I have never really cared which is which. I had 10 of the Chinese clique ahead of me, fast talking in Mandarin, (I think) while carrying bags so big they looked like they were KDF in training. I try not to judge or be prejudicial based on race, tribes etc. But something happened that had me chewing on my spectacles (yes, I still say that instead of glasses) to avoid spilling the bile that built up in me. I had more venom on my tongue than a cobra that has its flute hypnotist playing the “Toklezea” tune. You see as we got in, they were checking for Yellow Fever cards before ushering you to passport control. Many of the Chinese guys did not have theirs or had put them way too deep in their big bags. (Yes, that happens to someone with so many fanny packs, they look like they have the Batman utility belt. 🙂 ) Anyway, most of them were behind the 150 t0 200 or so other passengers. Soon some of them started coming and checking with the 10 ahead of us (you know language barrier and all, yes I thought I had it bad till you see a Mandarin vs Portuguese conversation). I don’t know how it happened, neither do the other passengers as no one complained. But 15 minutes later, all the 40 Chinese guys were ahead of us. SAY WHAAAT??!! That single moment almost made me hate a whole race. But I am a pretty rational person so I simmered it down when I remembered just 4 years ago I had a really huge crush on one of their ladies. 🙂
That aside, for the first two days here, I had to drink juice yet I really wanted water at the hotel. You all know “Water thirst” is unquenchable any other way. Poor me. Only one receptionist speaks English and he works during the day when I’m off to work. Finally my Wi-Fi worked and I Googled the word. I felt silly. Again wondering how stupid I was 2 days ago. Aqua would easily become agua. SMH. But that was not to be the end of my woes, coming from the office very late at night one day meant, I had to take a motorbike as the actual taxis are very expensive, like a 100 dollar expensive and they offer no receipts. This would mean reconciliation wars back in Kenya so I opted for the cheaper 200 Kwanza option. A friend from work negotiated the price and told the driver/rider the hotel name then he left. So 5 minutes later, we are cruising on a highway, no helmets on and me holding the motorbike carrier so hard I almost pull off the mesh. My Kenyan man genes can’t allow me to put my hands around a man’s waist. I’d rather die (almost quite literally as that is what would have happened if we hit a pothole or bump). But I was more worried about the guy not having gotten the right hotel name and then I would have ended up disappearing in Angola and working in a diamond and oil mine to save enough money to get back to Kenya. Of course my family would want me back but I guess the more interesting search party would be Sanaa Book Club running tags like #BringBackTheMane #KeepTheBandit on Twitter. This might seem like a joke but it almost happened in Vadodara, India. Having been to more urban provinces like New Delhi and Bangalore. I ended up wandering past the “English literacy” zone. So I was stranded outside a market, jewellery, sun glasses, saris in a paper bag trying to explain to 5 tuk tuk guys where my hotel was. Never felt tears sting the eyes so much but I couldn’t cry. They finally flowed from relief later at the hotel as I hurriedly packed for a flight that was at 1 AM if I remember well. I had got back to the hotel at 11 PM having cleared at the market by 7 PM.
They tell you that certain gestures are vulgar in certain cultures. No one told me about English words (I thought they all meant the same everywhere) and so surprise…..surprise when everyone looked at me shocked and in disbelief when I asked about the clubbing scene. So apparently, a club in Luanda is a brothel or are brothel like. And not chips funga brothel-like. Like naked or 1/16th dressed people kinda brothel. House parties are the norm here for most young people. I am yet to confirm this. Nairobi men would thrive in this kind of environment. That is unless the below happens but I hear that is rare here. 🙂
One thing I have learnt from travelling is that home is not just where the heart is. No. Whenever I travel I miss my country so much and I’m nostalgic to the point that the “Bonoko” audio file I have on my phone provides solace. Home is where I’m understood.Home is where my jokes are laughed at. Home is where my family is. Home is where my best and oldest friends are. Home is where I love with a fierceness that scares even me. With the corruption, the lies, the blood, the tears, the potholes, the afandes. I love my home. Blood will flow for the moment but we shall be peaceful again. Home is in my prayers. Home is where I love so many people even those I don’t tell, those I can’t tell, those I won’t tell. Home is Kenya. Home is 4 days away. 😀