Sunday, December 29, 2019

When hard reality strikes

Grasping with a job loss is always the hardest part for many. Consider the long process of looking for a job, including underselling one’s worth just to be employed. The sad reality in Kenya is that you’ll hardly find a company advertising for vacant positions the traditional way other than relying on internal references and thus cutting on hiring and recruitment costs. And in many instances, many of the job adverts in print media are simply companies PR stunts, as the hires to fill the gaps are likely to have been identified long before prospective applicants are subjected to job interviews.

  That many a Kenyan will have worked with different companies before hitting retirement age, or venturing in own businesses, is not in contention. Gone are the days when employees used to work for one employer their entire career lives, unless in the civil service.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Of Foolish Things We Do in Name of Love

It was an evening like any other. I sat sipping tea, while watching a sports channel, where a thrilling but  recorded Formula One race was showing. 

  And then…

  …the phone’s screen lit up. Then that tone sounded. It was a text message from a strange number.

  Receiving messages from strange numbers has become a norm, and most are from inmates doing time at our correctional facilities. How they manage to get one’s contact number escapes me, unless someone at one of telecom services provider is in hand and glove with the fraudsters.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The New Landladies in Town

Perhaps he was renowned for the simple life he led. If there was any frugal person under the sun, it was him. Unbeknown to many back then, he was also a miser. For, despite being in a good salaried government job, he denied self and his family the luxuries of life. He used public transport to commute to his work, having turned down the company’s offer for a car based on his seniority. His children attended local public schools, unlike those of his colleagues who were schooled in high end private schools as has become the norm for children of civil servants. If you asked him why the choice of school for his children, he would have told you private institutions were mere cash making business entities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Are We an ‘Illiterate-Literate’ Country?

That there is a dearth of readership in the country is not in contention. Majority of Kenyans, so it has been said, will read in order to pass examinations. Rarely do we see youths engaged in literary discourses outside the domains of learning institutions. And with plenty of idle time at their hands, most have their eyes glued to their smartphones going through social media sites updating their status, liking posts, befriending or simply following strangers.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

When Speaking Your Mind is a Crime – Pt 2

Truth, they say, hurts. And that is the reason the sycophants of the politicians will, in their praise and worship of their master, attack one like vicious dogs let loose. They are like artists who depict their masters in exaggerated details thinking everyone will see a princely person behind the false façade. I’ll illustrate this with a story.

A mono-eyed king happened to rule in a certain kingdom. One day, he was invited to attend a state event by the ruler of another kingdom across the border. The king, elated, decided to first send an emissary bearing his portrait to his would be host before the great day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

When Speaking Your Mind Is a Crime

The last thing I would want to be is a sycophant singing praises to our irredeemably corrupt politicians. It is not lost some politicians are performers, though, and can deliver on their mandate. What makes for an interesting observation, however, is to see the people some of them surround themselves with.

  Be it the employees in their offices, the paid for bloggers and the cheerleaders, its inescapable some of these people are behind the negative image or perceptions the public have against them. Forget those rosy posts on social media or blogs that are purportedly to enhance a politician’s image, for, far from it, they tend to serve the contrary.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

‘I Married Myself’

The first time I saw her was that Sunday I had stopped by this club to wind down for the weekend, and catch an English Premier League match on the giant screen. She looked very gorgeous, no wonder she was receiving generous tips from male patrons who could not help keep their eyes off her voluptuous bums each time she passed to take or serve a customer's order. Perhaps the reason those who invest in pub businesses hires good looking ladies is because of the magnetic attraction they have on men, no wonder you’ll find males making repeat customers to simply drool after the petite skirt wearers, and do their wallets damage in the process.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When the Customer is No Longer the King with GOtv Kenya!

Before Kenya’s migration to digital television content, there is no doubt many were content watching at least a maximum of six free to air television stations on their box TV sets. Those were the days some brands of basic mobile phones could access analogue television stations, unlike today where you need to download apps to stream the same on your smartphone.

  Prior to the enforced 2015 switch off of analogue signals, many, including yours truly, found it convenient to wind down for weekends at social places to catch part of the entertaining English Premier League matches. For others, yours truly included, invested in pay setup boxes, with GOtv being an option over others in the market. What informed the choice for same was how Multichioice, which owns DSTV and GOtv, tempted many football fanatics with a variety of entertaining European sports. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Take That Break by Winding Down in Style

For some, weekends presents that chance to wind down in style. It could be to hang bingeing with friends, or to taking that excursion that will see them arriving back at their work posts looking refreshed and reenergized. The introverts would rather be domiciled in the safety of their residences perhaps as couch potatoes, or for others, being hooked to their social media accounts ‘catching up’ what they may have missed during weekdays.  

  For quite long, my weekends have taken a predictable narrative. Each other weekend, I’m to be found in a social joint staring at the giant screen following a premium English Premier League match. Well, many a football fanatics would rather watch in company of friends and not in comfort of a sofa set, with the unwritten rule being a responsible man should be home and dry before or by the time of 9 O’clock news.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Baruku River, the Lifeline of Lake Elementainta on Decline

The state of many a river in Nakuru County is wanting. Whereas in the past the rivers were perennial, today many are seasonal or simply abstract channels in a Martian landscape. Human interference coupled by rapacious greed, more than weather change, is highly to blame as degradation of forest cover has led to this scenario where even natural springs have dried up. To say some rivers in Nakuru County are simply a memory of the past is to be economical with the truth.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

There was a Perennial Spring….Where the Birds Once Sang

Whenever I take nature walks, I’m at times amazed at the quick change of the once breathtaking sceneries. Where thick canopied trees once stood in forested areas have been rendered bare almost bereft of any vegetation, with exception of few shrubs here and there or food crops where the areas had been farmed.

Taking a hike the other day to Dundori hills within Dundori ward in Nakuru County left me surprised as there was not a single stream or rivulet to be seen for miles within the said hills.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

And a Coin Saved is a Coin Earned

Looking at the pile of one shilling coins accumulated over two years, an idea occurred to me. Why not take the whole lot to a blacksmith to be smelted and fashioned into an object that will grace my table stand?  But a contrary idea had me thinking otherwise. What if the authorities of the day caught me in the act and charged me with defacing a government property, nay, a national currency?

  Even if the sophisticated safe breaker in Kenya had gained access to my house and pried the little simple safe box open, he no doubt would have got a heart attack wondering whether it was worth the effort seeing that, despite one shilling coins still in circulation, no one would gladly accept them!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Of Bizarre Happenings Defying Human Logic

It may sound stranger than fiction yet it is true. It is what would make for a rich plot in one of Nollywood or Bongowood movie that had witchcraft or elements of mysticism as a central theme. Yet these happenings, and rare sightings, bordering from weird to bizarre, and defying human or science logic, have from time to time been reported with the authentication of the same proving a hard sell.

  Not long ago in a Nakuru County village, a woman was sent packing by unseen forces believed to have been sent by her co-wife. She happened to be the first wife of a now deceased prosperous businessman. He had built her a house on a small acreage of land compared to his second wife. He and the latter were living on a vast track of land in an imposing bungalow. As is known that no woman can stand the sight of the other one sharing her husband, the first wife believed the second one, younger to be her own daughter, had taken her husband away.

  This first wife would complain her share or property, especially the land, was small and didn’t befit her status as the first wife. She had several children compared to the’ interloper’. She camped in the home of the second wife and took charge of the land as hers. The husband kept warning her to desist and return to her home or she would ‘see’. Sadly, he died before he could make any peace deal between his two wives.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

And the Long Walk Made a Difference

Whereas walking long distances was a pleasurable pastime, over the years, this form of exercising was increasingly becoming a thing of a distant past. Other than walking, biking over long distances, especially from my home village to Nakuru town, and back, about 20 kilometers one way, was a beloved hobby.

  But close to five years, both of these pastimes became irrelevant. Not that because I had adopted a sedentary lifestyle, but because I had one of those migraine attacks that made it impossible to religiously use the bike as often as possible, with exception of riding it within a safe radius of village streets, where, if I had that dizzy feeling bordering to a fainting spell, I would safely push the bike home.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Funerals: Where Lies Bind Us Together

Before the advent of colonialism in Africa, big and elaborate funerals were never heard of. In some customs like the Kikuyu, when one was one a death bed, it was fashionable to take such to the bushes to die, or miraculously recover in case of a grave illness and come back to the community, only after a special ceremony to ‘welcome the dead’ was done. And in case one died in one’s own hut like at the night, the standard practice of the time was to drill a hole at the back of the said hut for the hyenas and other scavenging animals to drag the dead body out and carry it to wherever. Touching a dead body was considered a taboo and a special cleansing ceremony was conducted to the ‘offender’.

  Fast forward. Death is a big business minting millions for those in the industry. Be it that nondescript village carpenter or the morgue owner, the hearse operators or paid professional mourners, the buying of burial places or seeking crematorium services, the dead ‘blesses’ several along the process.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Broken Love

No one paid attention to the man who sat at the furthest corner of Murira Pub consuming copious glasses of whiskey. For those who glanced his way, they saw a man slouched forward on the table with a wide brimmed hat partially covering his face. Being a weekend, Murira’s pub was full, and noisy as music boomed and patrons shouted themselves hoarse in an attempt to communicate with each other.

  Karanja, the patron with the wide brimmed hat, was in a foul mood and his mind was in an overdrive. He swirled the glass and gulped down the contents that left a searing fire in his throat as it coursed down to his stomach. As he refilled the glass, his eyes were bloodshot.

  He could still hear the voice of Linah ringing in his ear following a phone call hours earlier.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Until I Meet the President

It is a different scenario when handlers or diary keeper of the president deems some people unworthy of a president’s attention, or views them in different light.

  Since 2017, an athlete by name of Maryanne Wangari (pictured), a resident of Nakuru, had tried in vain to reach the head of state and present him with a glass vase trophy she won in a road race in Germany.

  Her story begins in 2012 when she registered for the Nairobi Standard Chartered marathon, and emerged almost the last. Disappointed with her rear finish, she decided to throw in the towel, and call it quits. But a talent scout who was at that event spotted her, and seeing much potential in her, took her, with others, to Nyahururu for rigorous training in ‘making athletes out of novices’.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tale of a Path

A century ago, a man appeared in this village following what was more of an animal rut than a footpath. He wore an animal skin, the standard wear of the day, before colonialism came to Africa and the colonized adopted the Western attires. Legend has it the man was a messenger, and was only armed with a sword tied to his waistline which was for self-preservation from wild animals than for antagonism. He had a headgear where coloured feathers, purportedly from an ostrich or peacock, were stuck. Anyone who witnessed him from far off knew him as an emissary of a tribal chieftain more than a spy heralding a raid.

  And as he approached a cluster of huts that calm morning, young men on lookout noticed him and gave out the warning whistles that any able bodied man within the clusters of the huts armed himself with whatever weapon he could get. The man with feather plumed headgear kept on walking making every effort not to reach for his sword or make any hand movement that would be misinterpreted by the village warriors who were now taking strategic positions. Then he suddenly broke off his walk, stood still, and raised his right hand up with the palm showing and waved. It was a gesture he was coming in name of peace.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The suave con who charmed his way to our pockets

 His name was Muraya. That’s what the man introduced himself the morning he came up the winding path to my home. He was in white gumboots, a white lab coat and an equally matching white cap. He carried a cardboard with papers attached by a clip with a businesslike countenance.

  My first impression of him was that he was a veterinary doctor. I’ve not heard of a major livestock disease outbreak or an ongoing vaccination. The least I expected to hear was quarantine the moment he opened his mouth.

  Not so. He said he had come from Nyeri and represented Nguku Nene Poultry Farm. He spoke with ease of a seasoned salesperson and it appeared that this was his forte.

  There was no doubt that he was a persuasive speaker. It took him less to make me ‘see’ and buy into his plan. Already, according to the list he showed me, some of my counterparts were for the idea. It was this simple. With Sh3, 000, Nguku Nene Poultry Farm would supply some farmers in my village in Nakuru County with some grade chicks, poultry feeds, troughs and brazen jikos for heat where electricity lacked.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

When Mixing Work with Pleasure left me with Egg on the Face!

Teacher Neema was the new face in the village school. She had what was a typical bewitching smile, a well proportioned behind and an ample bosom with a revealing cleavage that made every male staff member drool after her. It was hard to tell then why she had chosen to teach in such a godforsaken village school that offered no quality education and little value for money.

To begin with, it was a private institution with a confluence of Early Childhood Development and Education certificate holders, diploma graduates and a slew of untrained teachers. Salary was pegged on one's seniority and the level of training or experience garnered.

I, being an untrained teacher, was in the lowly third tier with a salary nothing to write home about. Basically, it was a wage and not a salary that saw one go broke in a week or two of the pay day.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Clear the Mind of Clutter with an Excursion to your Backyard

Standing at the summit of a hill or a mountain and looking at your surroundings from that vantage point can be exhilarating. It is as though you’ve conquered a strong giant and you can jump up and down giving out whoops of joy to the delight of none other than your satiated heart.

  Mountaineering is one of my hobbies, but over the years, I’ve given it a wide berth owing to the ups and downs of the life’s rat race. Of course, we all gets encumbered with cares of life that we hardly takes note when lethargy sets in and our pastimes slowly becomes things of a remote past.

  The other day, I reignited this idyllic passion and set to the east of my general residence. The hill is simply known as ‘Kirima’, which simply translates as hill. It has been denuded of tree cover with few trees scattered here and there with surrounding peasants given minuscule plots to farm. These handkerchief sized pieces stretches all the way to the rocky summit. And how they manage to climb up or down through narrow footpaths that winds through ledge-like rocky outcrops is simply amazing. And it makes for an interesting observation seeing, when they are carrying down farm produce, they have to make delicate balancing acts that gives impression the body is being gyrated to counteract laws of physics.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Of Watchmen and their Bizarre Tales

Watchmen, or security guards for that matter, have emerged as a force to reckon with. With the insecurity on an upsurge countrywide, you're sure to find this cadre of employees in almost every building entrance. From public buildings to private homes, gates are nowadays manned by security guards with menacing eyes aided by four legs canines.

  The high and the mighty dreads stepping on their toes let alone pinching their noses or lecturing them on values of 'knowing people' lest they find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
  And like your maid, or house manager as has become the common term, who becomes an integral family member of your household, and who you can't easily dispose off with, the same is true with watchmen and security guards. In an era where everything appears contractual, your powers to hire and fire at will are greatly curtailed. Oral agreements are now admissible in courts as bidding as formal ones. Thus, you can't dispense 'casually' with this lot unless you're willing to part with an arm and a leg in termination settlements.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

When a Charming Teacher almost Ruined my Career

It is often said that men will do dumb things, including forsaking their families, in order to please a skirt wearer when the fools themselves can be dumped for another 'enterprising' broke around the corner. This maxim holds true as I discovered after falling over myself trying to please a female teacher some years back.

As I reminiscence over this, I have to come to conclude that indeed women and business do not mix, and trying to experiment with both can be a recipe for disaster.

After my ECDE diploma, I started my teaching career in a private school run by an American Christian organization. They had first set camp in our village where they had come to help eradicate the jigger menace before coming up with a health center. These missionaries later decried the high illiteracy level prevailing and came up with a 'noble concept' of establishing a school to address this – not that there were no schools about. This was before the advent of free primary education and it wasn't an unusual sight to see school going children working alongside their parents in the rich peoples' farms to help eke a living tilling gardens.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sam Wachanga: My 21 Years as an Alcoholic

For twenty one years, I was enslaved by the demon of alcohol addiction. I was always inebriated most of the time. But what I thought was a cool lifestyle became a problem not only affecting me but my own family and was to cost me two marriages in the process.

  But how did alcohol came to enslave me? I was born forty six years ago in Nakuru County. My father loved tipple much and would brew his own beer, the traditional muratina, and drink at the comfort of his home though he was also a social drinker who would stagger home from pubs as well. In his drunken state, he loved to regale us children with stories, though many were improvised versions from his drunken stupor. I thought alcohol was good stuff seeing how it was rendering him into a griot or great storyteller especially the ease with which he effortlessly narrated one yarn after another.

  My dad indirectly influenced me to like alcohol. He was ever in a jovial mood especially when drunk and I thought happiness was to be found either in the bottle or in his beloved home-made brew. Out of curiosity, I began experimenting with alcohol. And before I knew it, I had not only liked its taste but had already fallen in love with it!

Monday, January 28, 2019

My downfall to the pits of alcoholism....and living to tell the story!

 My name is Isaiah Kagiri Waititu. I teach geography and business studies at Gatero Day Secondary School in Laikipia County and has been to the abysmal depths of alcoholism and back. I grappled with alcoholism demon for close to 20 years. A duration in which I would get employed and abscond duty, or get sacked, from 10 private schools! I would get in and out of two relationships in the process in addition to doing immeasurable disservice to scores of secondary school students. Today, I had since been rehabilitated and I am a staunch anti-alcoholism and drugs crusader working with several organisations.

  I began sneaking out of school to take chang’aa and other cheap brews while I was in form two at Leshau High school in 1993. You see, I hail from Leshau area of Nyandarua County and therefore knew the school’s backyard well. A glass of the killer brew was retailing at ten shillings then. Surprisingly, I managed to score a B- (minus) of 66 points in the KCSE.

   I was born in 1976 as the third born in a family of seven children. I believe its peer pressure that pushed me to alcoholism for nobody else in our family had this problem. My drinking problem intensified after my form four in 1995 while I was waiting to join university. However, I was to work as a lorry loader in Nairobi first.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Mwauras: We found a Calling in Gospel Music

I can say that we unofficially launched our gospel ministry during our wedding day in November of 1988. I had met my wife, Lydia Indeche Were, during our student days at the Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC) and ours was love at first sight.

  There was one thing we shared in common, we loved singing. We were active members of the college’s Christian Union and were also involved in worship and praise activities as well. However, music is something I traces down in my family line.

  I (George Mwaura Ngotho) was born in Kipkabus in Kerio Valley in Eldoret to a polygamous father. He had two wives and seventeen children. I come from his first wife who bore him ten children. The other mother had seven children. The old man was ingenious in that he saw great potential in his many children. He took scriptures seriously in seeing children as a blessing and a heritage from the Lord, and the one who had a quiver full of them was blessed indeed. As a sign of giving thanks to God, he cobbled a choir comprising mainly of we children which he named Ngotho Choir, and which had ten children at most from both wives. It derived its name from him, for his names were Isaac Ngotho Njuguna. He passed on not long ago at a ripe age of 92 years. We would sing at Shangwe A.I.C Eldoret Church where we fellowshipped. An elder brother, now deceased, was our choir master.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

We Have Truly Become an Individualistic society

That the communal spirit of the yore is no more in the once closely-knitted African societies is not an understatement. Individualism spirit has become a new norm that it is not surprising one can pass their next door neighbour with hardly a greeting or an acknowledgement of any sort. Gone are the days when a community would rally behind their own like during making of houses (the traditional types), with individuals left to figure out how to put up houses on their own nowadays.

  It is no longer fashionable to drop to your immediate neighbour’s home for a chat unless it is vitiated by urgency or you have booked an appointment beforehand.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Fallacy of New Year Resolutions

Making New Year resolutions has become our pastimes if not a hobby on each New Year day. Hardly do we achieve any if all of the resolutions or attain the set goals. And in most instances, some of resolutions are carried over from the previous years.

  Given that old habits are difficult to break overnight, it is not difficult to see why most of us will be in similar situation perhaps indulging in some of those vices we have tried to break to no avail. It gets worse, however, if addiction to something moves to the next phase making it hard to quit.

  But why is it success rate of quitting a habit lasts for a few days before one relapses to old ways again?

  Some of the resolutions made may require help from others other than going alone. Everybody, so it seems, has a strong willpower to do a thing but lacks the courage to do so. A lady who was an alcoholic for thirty years tells me each succeeding year, she would make the vow to quit the bottle and concentrate more on raising her family. And each New Year day, she would make same resolution but within a few days, she would hit the bottle hard.

Of the pious religious lot

It remains to be seen when coronavirus pandemic is declared contained worldwide, places of worship will be same as before. But given th...