Thursday, 18 December 2008


I have an informal employment offer in the works-nothing in writing yet. But I decided to look for a place to live in when the time to settle here comes. A colleague recommended a broker, whom I went out to see in Ntinda. Apparently real good. I go see the broker, broker says I give him UGX 20K (roughly Ksh 900) as some sort of fee. Seeing as it is that I am tired of living out of my suitcase in a hotel room for more than a month and a half, I duly give the 20K. We agree that once he gets a place that fits my description, I will give him an unspecified amount as ‘appreciation fees’. In my mind, that can’t exceed another UGX 20K. Sunday 14th Dec comes and I meet the broker, who is now with a colleague of his. We go around in my colleague’s car ( I fuel it), look at various houses, and I like two options. I promise to get back to broker by Friday, 19th Dec. That’ll give me time to see some other places with broker numero dos, who I’d also paid UGX 20K and we had an agreement to meet on Wednesday afternoon. Lakini before I leave, broker asks to add something small, Nyabo (ma’am)? I say, but we agreed on the 20K, and something more once I decide on the house? Broker says but now I came with him. Me I say, but that was not the agreement and I don’t know what agreement you had between the two of you blah blah blah. Broker says, now I’m begging, you can deduct from the other fee, but me I say no, that’s not what we agreed. So, me I refuse, but promise to get back to broker by Friday. By this time the colleague is pissed, as I am and I’m guessing broker did not quite say he had received something earlier.

Wednesday, I call other broker. Broker says to come at 5pm. Me I ask, with the K’la traffic jam as I know it at that hour, what can we possibly do at 5pm? Will probably take an hour to get to one estate, means we’ll be seeing the other houses at night? I tell broker, we agreed afternoon, 5pm is evening? Broker says evening is 6pm, and all this time I’ve been thinking afternoon starts after noon? Broker says good question, let me think about it, I’ll call you back. Broker doesn’t call back. 3pm, I go to broker’s office (at least this one has one, other one we met some place in the open). I tell him I’ve had a bad experience with another broker, I want my money back, will come back when I have enough time. After a while he gives it back, but then his cell-phone rings. Apparently there’s some place in Bukoto that meets my criteria. I get excited - Bukoto would be a v. nice place to stay at the range I am offering. So I have to give him back the 20K-I do. Broker tells me to go meet his agent (who I had actually met earlier at broker’s office) right away. Not that I know the areas that well. Well, I go and meet said agent at Kayunga road. Agent says he is working with yet another agent of theirs, so we wait. Other agent comes. Says I have to give 20K. Me I say, but I gave 20K at the office? Says he’s working independently, so I turn to former agent and ask you guys work how? I paid? Says there was a mistake. Calls broker in office, who says give other agent 10K and get it back at office. Other agent says it’s OK, I’ll show you the place, as long as I get a commission-eer, many landlords actually want 4-6 months worth of rent in advance. OK…. But other broker says we have to wait for a colleague of his. Colleague comes, turns out the place is quite different from what I’d described, and they’d described, and none of the agents had any idea. None had seen it. Other agent says he has yet another place right over theeere! So we go. Right over theeere! is not quite right over there. And, whoever has the key to the place had an accident, so is not around. Agent says we can look outside and then, what do you think? I say I haven’t seen it, so I can’t decide. I head straight to broker’s office, say everything looks very sketchy, I even feel like I may be being taken advantage of, can I get my money back, since I didn’t see any house? I get it back bila hustle. When this jobo comes through, it seems like I may have to do room-mate for a couple months. Or more?

As for right now, I am so looking forward to being home for Christmas after missing out three years in a row.

Friday, 31 October 2008


I was eager to go here, but then something else short-term opened up in my neighbourhood. My former mdosi was quite understanding juu we had agreed that due to budgetary constraints on her side that woulda seen me travel bila per diem allowances and get my lodging/housing covered only up to a point, I would be looking for something long-term at home. I’d have gone anyway, and used that experience in the ‘tell me an instance where you went above and beyond the call of duty at work’ interview question. And honestly, it was offering great experience. What I have now has potential to turn into a long running commitment. To be fair, I have offered to work for her (former mdosi) after-hours due to the time differential-seven, soon to be eight hours. We’ll see how that goes. But I’m very encouraged. Then there are the benefits of working close to home; seeing my family and friends often is priceless, I don’t have to freak out about the winter (the weather is near perfect all year round, I think), the people are wonderful, and the food? Wee wacha tu!

I just handed over my first weekly report. Goodbye Accra, hello Kampala.

Friday, 03 October 2008

East African Community

Today I returned home from the longest bus ride of my life. I was on a bus containing mchanganyiko maalum of people from UG, TZ and KE, among others. The bus driver happened to stop somewhere ( I still can't bring myself to pee in public again-yet) and some people from UG took the longest time to come back, at what point the driver decided to leave. Lucky them, they were not alone and one of their friends managed to convince the driver to wait. In the meantime, friend number 2 called one of them on the cellphone and told them to 'don't even run, fly!' As friend no.1 got back to his seat after the bus finally stopped, he mumbled something to the effect that the driver was not doing right by leaving his buddies since 'they paid money' to get on the bus. This ticked off a Kenyan man, who argued that there's no reason he should be inconvenienced in his efforts to make money simply because some people had paid money to get on the bus. An argument ensued, and went out of topic when the Kenyan man referred to the Ugandan man as 'young man'. The 'young man' felt that the 'older man' was taking advantage of his age to speak down to him. Friend no.2 told friend no.1 to 'shut the fuck up!'. Those we had been waiting for came in at the heat of the moment, and a man from Singapore asked the late -not dead, just late-gent (not the ladies who were with him) to apologize for inconveniencing everyone, which he duly did and enjoyed a friendly conversation with Singaporean the rest of the way.
It then dawns on the bus driver that there are additional people who need to get onto the bus and get off at the next junction where they'll take the bus to Mwanza, TZ, but there may not be enough seats. He then embarks on a mission to convince us to 'squeeze' for them, sometimes using English, I believe, so as to appeal to non-Kenyans and non-Tanzanians. For the first time a Tanzanian lady speaks out. "Kama wanaenda Mwanza basi waTanzania tubambane". It turns out there are enough seats for everyone. Oh, well, karibu kwenye Jumuia ya Afrika Mashariki. Yesterday I heard that a recent poll revealed the reason most Tanzanians are so opposed to the EAC idea is that Kenyan men would steal their women.

Note to Rose from Kampala: There was a certain middle-aged looking mzungu man waiting for you outside the National Theatre at about 10:30 am on Thursday, 2nd October 2008. It'd be a good idea to describe yourself or what you'll be wearing next time you go on a similar date.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

"You Look Beautiful, You are Fat!"

Some of the things that people are telling me as complements are ridiculous, like how fat I've become, how short, and generally how I've changed. I gained at most 4kgs in the 3 years I was away, and I'm surprised it's so noticeable. My response, "yeah? thanks!" while thinking 'that's what happens when you spend most of your day indoors sitting in front of a computer'. And that's the kind of life I'm looking forward to here. Some of the comments border on the absurd, like how I now have a behind, have calves (? the back of my legs, as in 'riu ona wina tukere').

Halafu I think the American ego may have rubbed off on me kidogo. I think hukos the customer is spoiled while here it's not always the case. Like, you could buy stuff and return it up to 90 days baadaye lakini hapa, it's not necessarily the case. I was so pissed jana when the driver in the ma3 I rode in the morning turned around when he saw a tow truck (break-down). I think the ma3 was not fully insured. Leo, they told me '40 bob tao!' and gave me back 50 bob back after I handed them 100 bob. But the driver later gave me the ka-10 bob. Halafu coming from Gigiri, they said '20 bob Odeon!' only for them to say kuna karao huko mbele and decide everybody has to shuka. Me, I asked for 10 bob back, some others refused to shuka so they took us to Odeon.

Overall I'm happy to be home, seeing, family, relatives and friends. I'm especially glad that my niece who was 3 months young when is excited to have me around, and I can forge relationships with my nephew and others that were born while I was away. I'm also making new friends, and that, too it's exciting.
Of course I've disappointed some people coz I didn't bring them the latest gadgets, and had to expalin hata mimi I did not have most of them. Neither am I dropping dollars/shillings everywhere, if anywhere at all, since I have to preserve my reservoirs. It's hard work explaining the life in America as seen on T.V versus in real life. Of course there are questions about Obama and my answer has consistently been "Obama is the next President of the of America".

Tuesday, 09 September 2008

At Home with Self

I got to Nairobi Sunday night. So far I'm liking it. Exept that on my first full day it rained sana and ma3s were scarce.
I haven't started tarmacking yet, in fact I go to my shags kesho to properly catch up with my folks.
I've met a college friend today and interesting to see how many people are trained as teachers but are going to different fields, yours truly included.
I haven't signed for internet at home yet, so I'll keep this short.

Friday, 05 September 2008

My $0.02 Take on Stato's Siasa

I am no US political commentator or expert but I hate the way the GOP is using terrorism and war as a political weapon. McCain use of his Vietnam POW experience is getting tired with me. He apparently used the term 'fight' 25 times at his nomination acceptance speech, with little in the way of what he will do to solve America's current problems.The last part of the speech ended with something like 'stand up and fight! fight! fight!' to a very enthusiastic crowd. At one point it felt like I was watching the Olympics with 'USA! USA!' everywhere. Almost like its the dems vs USA. Obviously I favour Obama but I may be biased seeing as it is his father was Kenyan. Not that it matters. If I were American at this point in time, I would vote for Obama. Primarily because the economy is screwed up, things are so worse off than they were during the Clinton time and it so feels like he has a plan to make America strong.

But as a Kenyan, I'm all for someone who can ship them jobs to Kenya or any other developing country for that matter. Outsourcing, and democrats hate that.That, plus really free (and yes, fair too, too, it doesn't have to be either or) trade, would do more for development than more years of aid. It's always interesting to see what side of the political divide seems to really care about global povery and how they plan to deal with it. As part of the international community, I favour America drilling oil on her own land. Juu if the war in Iraq (assuming it was about oil, not wms) and conflicts in many other oil-producing countries is anything to go by, I think 'drill baby drill' combined with renewable energy would do more to end such conflicts than the current energy situation in America. Well, at least as far as Stato is concerned?

Can't end without one more rant-did they (have to) go all the way to Rwanda to get someone showcase Cindy's personal commitment to charity, or did they look for her here? I'd hate for my unfortunate calamity to be used like that.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Independent Consulting/Cheaper Short-Term Housing in Accra

Some history is in order. 27 calendar days after hiyo siku, I signed a three month contract with an organization that does precisely what I had been looking for. A dream contract, if you may. Yes, prayers do get answered. I'd like to think they liked what I did after the three months juu they extended it for another five months till the last day of my OPT visa (allows you to legally work in the U.S. for a year after graduation). When the season came, I tried to persuade them to file for my H1-B (work) visa, even offering to pay for kila kitu including immigration lawyer fees. My immediate mdosi jaribud but word from huko mbele was that it's simply against the company policy. So I decided to do the jobo and have fun while at it. And fun it was. I loved the experience, met 'big' people, and even made a few important contacts for laters.

Sometimes before I left, ( my last day was a week ago) they floated the idea of sending me to Ghana to complete the final phase of the project. Bwana si I was excited. So the mpango right no is to get to Nai, work kiasi off-site, halafu go to Accra for like 2 months and then back nyumbani. Thing is, I am going as an independent consultant, that means sina benefits. Initially I thought it meant that I'm bila life and health insurance and the 401 (K) plan, but eventually as were talking it dawned on me that I'm gonna be meeting my housing expenses. Swali ni is this standard? If yes, anyone know of cheaper short-term living arrangement in Accra? Last time I was there, people talked of being required to pay a year's rent in advanced. If it turns out bad, shauri yako. I get to keep my daily U.S. rate lakini at the rates I saw for a decent hoteli two months ago, and with the Ghanaian cedi almost at par with the U.S. dollar, I would be giving way too much of my hard-earned $ to housing alone. I love the job, actually it has been my dream job, and I want to have been there a complete year. One way would be to work from Kenya till I absolutely have to be in Ghana. Help a woman out!

Thursday, 07 August 2008

Thirty is the New Thirty

I hit the big 3-0 this past Saturday. I can't quite remember how I felt a decade ago, so I can't say a thing about the 30 is the new 20 (age-escapism?) fad. I think that's one lie that's given people in their thirties an excuse to behave like they are in their early 20s.

Growing up, birthday celebrations were not a huge part of my life, until about 3 years ago when I came to the U.S. I have pictures from my first birthday celebrations, then life happened and that was about it as far as celebrations and associated records were concerned. Mum would occasionally make chapos to mark a birthday for one of us, i.e me, my siblings and youngest uncle who is two years older than me. Sometimes slaughter a chicken but other than that, no deliberately planned parties. Friends of mine celebrated my 23rd, then the 28th and the 29th when we hooked up later over here. The 30th goes without saying. Looking back, it looks like the past 30 were exciting. It sort of feels like I've lived several lifetimes (may be an exaggeration, but that's how I feel), from growing up in shags, going to boarding school, colle, stato and now excited about soon becoming a manzi/masa wa Nairobi. I even remember when death was such a big deal in my shags, then AIDS became common place and it was like "So and so died" "O, really? OK". People even started eating at funerals.

I looked for signs of aging on Sato. Other than one white hair that seemed to disappear as soon as I'd spotted it, I think I'm fwine. Looking forward to what the next 30 will bring. Baby siz's b/day is this week. Bro apparently came early and was born late July. May have some positive correlation with the fun of December. I thought of mentioning that to the concerned but we are old school.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


If I had a Bible handy, I'd look for the place JC tells me not to freak out about anything but let God know about it instead.
It's less anxiety and more like overwhelming excitement at seeing the possibilities vis a vis where things are, and worrying about finding my rightful and fulfilling space in it all.
Kenya is where my heart is, I'm just not sure why the 'decision' to go back feels like such gambling with my life. The worrying is getting out of control and getting me worried about it. Tons of the energy is going there instead of into what I should be doing to straighten things out.

We'll see.

Sunday, 01 June 2008

That GEMA 'Leaders' Get-Together is Not Sawa

OK, OK! One more political rant and I promise myself to be (almost?) done with politicians and the stuff they do for a living. It was with great disgust that I learned that the GEMA community 'leaders' recently got together to discuss 'our' political future. We aren't even done mourning those who died, nay, were brutally murdered during the tribally charged post-election violence, or tried the perpetrators, and these people are already at it, including (former) Church leaders?

Much as I respect people's freedom to associate with whomever they choose, I think in this context it does our country more harm than good. I long for that day when we shall be united and divided by our ideologies and opinions as Kenyans, not loyalty to our tribes. I understand it's gonna be a while before we totally divorce ourselves from our history, but my humble opinion is that tribal alliances for political mileage should be disbanded kabisa. As in illegalized. Down to making tribal chiefdoms illegal political tools. Yaani if you are a tribal chief, be one huko kijijini but do not represent your tribe politically huko mbele. The business of tribes voting as blocs stinks and should be done away with. This does not apply to GEMA pekee, as we all know. Remember the way we were mostly in agreement that there should be no special Muslim interests in a political party, or in the constitution? How about making these leaders ashamed of the tribal interests they represent? Where are the Christians that took to the streets then?

Full Disclosure: I'm still proudly Kikuyu, probably will always be. There is precious little I can do about that- just don't ask me to vote as GEMA, or Kikuyu. We are a country of 42 or so micro-nations with diverse backgrounds but we can peacefully, happily and proudly co-exist as one. It can be done people. But most certainly, not by killing all Kikuyus :-)

Disclaimer: This piece shall not be taken as proof of defection or an endorsement of 'other' politicians. My political perspective, if ever I had one, still holds.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Random Thoughts on Beauty

I do wear hair extensions once in a while. Sometimes someone will comment on how good my hair looks and I'll say "Thanks, I bought it at the beauty store across the street". But juzi someone at work told me about a documentary that was made recently about 100% Indian hair. I think it's usually very expensive to wear that 100% human hair. Apparently, the Hindu women whose hair is sold normally shave it as a form of religious devotion, halafu the monks sell it to Hollywood and the rest of the beauty industry. Ati asked if they would sell their hair, the women said hapana, and would not cut it if they knew it ends up in the beauty industry. I've never worn any human hair, but that thing is giving me a complex. I think the hair dye (most prefer to call it highlighter, as in it's not meant to cover up greying hair, but to highlight natural hair colour) industry is huge for white women, but I have no idea where their 100% human hair extensions come from. How come most of the beauty stores are owned by Asians. Maybe the answer is globalization.

Nature-we need to be proud of our natural/native looks right? I love that, it's all good. But as far as hair goes, it's not as easy for me. My natural hair is kiasi hard to keep neat, leaving me with the option to wear braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks to have a semblance of nature. Or go bald. Braids and cornrows are a bit expensive to keep up with. Dreadlocks? I hear it costs like $3 a month to keep those neat, but I don't want to lock myself in one look till I cut my hair. I don't have the shape of head that'd look cool when bald either. So I alternate between braids, cornrows and chemically straightened hair. Not the most authentic African hair, for all my pride.
Make-up. It's meant to enhance the beauty one already has? I've never seen a black woman blush, why do black women wear blush?

Hair and scalp lotion, face lotion, lip balm, hand and body lotion, moisturizer, and whatever for the feet-Ifound a product that rolls all these into one-shea butter. The Burkinabe (if that's what we call people from Burkina Faso) woman who sold it to me claimed to be 55 but looked like 35 so it must work. So far it's working for me.

Weight-now that. Funny thing to note that men in Kenya (at least where I come from and especially my cousins) prefer(ed?) larger women, but huku hivi every woman is trying to shed weight.

African models-they are very beautiful. I wonder if Alek Wek would still be beautiful if she was not 'discovered' in London. Say, by African standards. Better still, I wonder what are or were the African standards of beauty.

Sunday, 06 April 2008

$1 Per Citizen, or One $100 Laptop Per Child

I hadn't put the governments salaries dollar terms, but saw the light when I did. The long and the short of it is that it amounts to about$30m (as in thirty million US of A dollars!) a year for a cabinet of 40 Kenyan ministers . I'm not sure that includes the P and the PM salaries. For a country of about 30 million people, that's like each Kenyan citizen is coughing up $1 a year to pay the cabinet. Or better still, for the the salaries of the 40 thieves, each Kenyan could be earning $1 a year. If we can afford this, surely why would we even need donations for 1 ($100) laptop per child? Not that Kenya is on the list of countries interested in it. Maybe that just doesn't fall within any 'steak ministry' .

Talking of which I finally saw it much debated about gadget. Its criticism notwithstanding, I thought it is a REALLY cool gadget, one that can get kids easily initiated into the computer culture and getting creative with it. Got me wondering what Kenyans in the Diaspora would think of if someone suggested that they get interested and donate the dollars, and in return decide where the laptop goes, like your village or former school? Lets not kid ourselves, we are so far behind the 'information age' curve that we need to do all we can to even feel like we will catch up some day.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Buy Safaricom, Build Kenya

Here is my opinion about this Safaricom IPO (of course I have one, don’t I?) thing; if you have some money when the bell rings for the Safaricom shares today, buy. I would if I could. In most places, investment decisions are driven by fear and greed, but only in Kenya Kenya, by politicians’ whims. I feel like I’ve been preaching to stones but I will never tire of telling us to stop being held hostage by politicians every time Kibaki doesn’t budge. It’s been the norm for ODM to threaten the Kenyan government with mass protests every time the ODM side did not get what they wanted. Not that ODM goes to the mass protests. Last time I checked it was the ‘meat’, not ‘bones’ ministries that they wanted. And there seems to be no better means of getting them than asking you not to go to work (if you have a job, isn’t it sad?) but go protest on the streets. I want to ask you ODManiacs, what’s in it (protests, or boycotting the IPO) for you?

Let me tell you why I think you should invest in Safaricom and telecommunication in general-it’s not only growing at the speed of light (OK, that is an exaggeration) , but the innovations in place are making even the developed countries gawk. Do you know that mobile banking is a relatively new concept hukos? Less than 10 years ago, very few - and only rich- Kenyans could afford landline phones. In 2008, many, even the poor, have cell phones. That is development, no pun intended. Safaricom came in as only the second national operator and was able to sign in multiples of what Celtel had in a matter of months. As I write this, they are probably in their 8th prefix in the 8 or so years that they have been in operation. Their profits have been astronomical. Isitoshe, they have transferred billions of shillings to millions of Kenyans whom the banks could not profitably reach in their now 1-year old M-Pesa product. And you tell me I can’t own part of that growth if I could? Dream on.

Second reason; it’s your country, own as much of it as you can. Kenya ni yetu, au sio? Kwanza if you have shares, you have a say. If you had the chance would your rather; vote, or whine?

To the rumour mongers: No in my opinion, Safaricom never made any undue profits. They had the ‘second mover advantage’ that enabled them to learn what the then Kencel had not done right, and hit the ground running. While I’m proud of Kencel’s successor, Celtel as the baby of our very own Mo Ibrahim, they seem to think that Africa is one big market with no individual countries that are very particular (“Hello Africa! Tell me how you’re doing!” Sounds familiar?) in what they need. If my memory serves me right, Safaricom was the first to introduce the 100 bob credit that needed no scratch card. Safcom recently introduced a 20 bob credit that is within reach for most of its customers. Now that gets more people switching to Safaricom, increasing revenue, and yes - making profit. Add to that our peculiar calling habits, and again M-Pesa.

So if you have some money, buy! If you have some but would rather go mass- protesting because someone thinks for you, well, honestly dear, I’d rather you just shut up and drink the kool-aid. But if you miraculously survive and, a few years down the line someone fails to be P, VP, PM, DPM, M or AM of some ‘meat ministry’ and you end up feeling a strong urge to burn Safaricom House or Telekom House because they are ‘owned by Kikuyus’, ask yourself who prevented you from owning it, then go burn his house.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The Road in Flamingo

I just kumbukad this kashairi I wrote and submitted while chasing a scholarship in Dec 2006. I didn't have pesa za kuishia L.A to see if I'd be nominated for the USD 10K . Then the jamaas sent me emails mob sana trying to make me subscribe to a poetry newsletter or something. My goal was to get some money, not spend the little that I had. My shairi has a new meaning now. Its kiasi long but I hope you enjoy life in my neighbourhood in Naikuru. I doubt much has changed, except I miss my ex-boyfriend, in a weird sense.


The road in Flamingo is busier

than a hive in the morning,

Adhiambo can't cook enough mandazi

by the gutter to feed the Flamingo population,

Mburu's grandmother has to get to the market

before the sun rises and withers the Sukuma Wiki from Dundori,

Soni runs to buy milk at Sugunoi Dairy,

the only place with unadulterated milk in town,

thanks to the kind Kalenjin,

Atieno needs to get to Pangani before James goes to work,

Or, someone else will do his laundry

Mama Karuga holds her three-year-old Stevo by the hand,

and rushes along lest he misses his Math and writing classes,

And Mathenge better run to School,

if only to avoid the angry master-on-duty's cane.

By noon, Mama Nguo has already

made her rounds in Flamingo,

and sold her imported mitumba clothes on credit

Tomorrow she will collect the

cash from last week's sales

The man from Dundori has sold

one sack of potatoes on his bike

Nyaloka has sold all her omena

fish to her fellow Luos and Luhyas

Tony and Nini finished unloading the Coca Cola Truck

And Kariuki Wakiraini has sold his usual portion of sugar

and yeast to the chan'gaa brewers.

At sunset Teacher Wangu

finishes her after-school Math

and English language tuition to three-year-olds

Wangui braids her last customer’s hair

Wambui tips her fellow brewers about the

young police officers pausing as chang’aa customers,

as if she doesn’t know who drinks at whose house

Chali brings his grandmother’s goats home.

And Kimondo picks out new people

who might have cell phones worth some cash

Mothers sit at their doorsteps

cutting Sukuma Wiki to eat with Ugali,

Chatting with their neighbours across the open sewer

Fathers come home from the new mjengo construction job

Boys go to buy maize flour at Kariuki Wakiraini's

Girls light the charcoal jikos

And Kamau Wetu is already drunk enough

to give his daily political speech on the

deplorable standards of living in Flamingo

“Siasa mbaya, maisha mabaya”.

The road in Flamingo is full of mangoes in January

Pears in April

Guavas in August

Red plums in December

And every day,

The road in Flamingo is full of mourners,

boys running around with no pants on, and drunk men.

Monday, 17 March 2008

What Do We Want?

Well, now that the deal was signed-did both sides sign the same deal, ama one side did not read the deal, au one side amended the deal after it was signed? Whatever the case, good things must have happened for MK and RAO to be so cozy they are referring to each other as President and PM-designate. Works for me. At least it stopped the blood-letting spree to a large degree.

Sasa the part I don’t get is; why are folks so disappointed? As in would it be better if RAO and MK never talked to each other? I think it’s better for these guys to be calling each other those sweet things if it’s the only thing that can make people live peacefully. Yaani kama hatuwezi jifikiria si we just let them dictate how we behave? Ndio sielewi why people are feeling betrayed, coz the option of not feeling that way is the ‘bravery’ of RAO or MK as manifested by not engaging in discussion, and we know where that took us.

Another thought, the one I tried to put across in my last post; it’d be a great idea if we stopped looking up to politicians for our well-being. That way, you don’t get disappointed. I’m not saying don’t demand what is due to you, but nafikira to expect that things will be suddenly better because so and so is Councilor, Mayor, MP, DPM, PM or P (no hii serikali imekuwa tu kubwa sana) is to expect too much. I know that’s pretty hard in a country like ours where the majority are poor and politics is one way of getting out of poverty, but I’m convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that only a negligible number of politicians are in it because they care (for us). In one sense they are hustling just like us, you know? Only that the payoff is much greater. Like if you make it to bunge, consider yourself officially out of poverty. But they are kiasi too selfish given the reality of every-day life for most Kenyans. I read somewhere that they amuad to give themselves a huge lump-sum once one’s term is over, plus monthly ‘allowances’ to the tune of close to half a million bob. We! That’s the kind of thing they never argue about in the August house. The kind you and I never hear about until imeshapitishwa. Well unless it’s for only one of them as was the case with an increase for MK and Rucy. In that case, they make a lot of noise. I don’t elewa, why do we turn a blind eye to this? If equitable distribution of resources should start anywhere, that place is parliament. Hakuna vile they deserve that kind of money from the mwananchi wa kawaida’s taxes when mwananchi wa kawaida is stretching kindu 70 bob to get through the day. So bado sijaelewa why we deify these people. Even if we end up with the many posts suggested in the deal, lets put power in institutions and the various posts, not the individuals.

Kazi iendele....iendelee. AU ia....ianze. Whatever you think, you're spot on.

Saturday, 01 March 2008


Finally brethren -or is this just a start?-looks like our prayers are answered. We seem headed out of this nightmare of an election fiasco gone bloody. I was very worried a few weeks ago when Raila and Kibaki shook hands, maybe even smiled, in the full glare of local and international media cameras; only for fighting to break out afresh and claim more lives in the days that followed. I have heard that in most cases during the healing process, things initially get worse before they get better. It’s my hope that with the deal to ‘share power’ (must admit I’m not very clear whatever that means) signed and the promise of a truth and reconciliation committee, things can only get better. That even though the scars shall remain in our identity as a nation, they will serve to remind us that indeed we did get wounded, but are truly healed. That we shall one day look back and say kweli waKenya tumetoka mbali.

Now the hard part begins. Sababu for many people, 1,000+ and 600,000+ are not just numbers. It’s a son, a daughter, husband, wife, name them, colleague, relative or friend, even neighbour who was and is no more. At least not in the physical, if only to be positive. People’s lives are permanently changed. I am skeptical of the power of any power-sharing deal between ODM and PNU to ease their pain. Most people have to learn to love and trust again.
My lesson learned? Call me a pessimist, but I think there is us, and then there is them. Them-wenye nchi wa kawaida, birds of a father that flock to gather at whatever cost, and us-wananchi wa kawaida, the birds of a feather flocking together. I’m trying hard to be in a deal-was-signed mood, but its not easy to ignore the fact that while wananchi were butchering each other in the city and on the countryside, our ‘leaders’ had probably flown their families out of the country, and are probably eating and drinking together now, probably doing more deals than will see the light of the press.

On a positive note, I will never forget that day when I came back after chasing my HELB money, only to find chaos on campus after a student strike. When I lost my one and only bag with my most precious earthly belongings and my buddy traced me and delivered it intact, it didn’t matter that I was Kikuyu and he Luo.
Its time we wananchi wa kawaida got our act together. Wanasiasa now have the best forum to fight it out with constructive ideas and debate.
Let the good fight begin, and kazi ngumu sana ianze!

Monday, 14 January 2008


Amid the finger pointing, accusations and counter accusations between the top dogs on Kenya’s political scene, I dare say; at times it hurts to be Kikuyu. I can’t say I had not been warned. A colleague over here, I mean here in America, told me before the elections that if he were Kikuyu and owned any land in the Rift Valley, he would sell it before the elections-that at a time when I thought it would be best to invest in Kenya because of the strong positive message that a democratic election would send to the markets. It’s still credible to me that the ethnic cleansing was not a random act of violence by ‘wananchi’ against Kikuyus, but premeditated mass murder.

Thankfully, this only happens to those Kikuyus who settled in the ‘wrong’ places in Kenya. Well, until they come ‘back home’ to Central province. As I write this, my mother has to repeat something that my other relatives did in 1992 and 1997-welcoming some of our relatives from Burnt Forest who, as per our conversation on the phone yesterday, have been through the kunyarirwo (devastation, total destruction) yet again. But they seemed happy to be alive and have thayu (you really have peace? I almost asked). It’s very stressful just to think about. It is expected that the kids will join some schools somewhere since theirs have been burned to the ground. I don’t know how long it’ll take them to go back this time-I am hopeful that they will. And that is the Kenya I am going back to in August. Right now it is so tempting to remain here bila makaratasi so I can continue sending home a hundred bucks, a hundred and fifty on a good weekend, once in a while. Not that I’m planning to.

What I am yet to understand is why ‘we’ deserve this kind of treatment from ‘wananchi’ every five years since 1992 (except in 2002, but I’ll come back to that). One of the arguments floating around is that since 1963, Kikuyus have enjoyed socio-economic privileges that do not exist for other tribes in Kenya. There must be two types of Kikuyus. And I, and all the Kikuyus in my entire extended family, the two villages I’ve lived in, and all my Kikuyu friends must belong to the unprivileged type. Or maybe I just move in the wrong circles. But still, no one will stop to think about this if a politician thinks otherwise.

Land: In my opinion, that’s the main issue. Kikuyu people traditionally feel strong attachments to land. It’s almost spiritual, and in some cases it is spiritual. Would tribal clashes be over if Kikuyus didn’t venture outside Central? Central Kenya is only so big and its carrying capacity can only accommodate so many farmers. Those who could moved to other regions, including and especially the Rift Valley. I’m not aware of restrictions against people settling and owning land wherever they so wish in Kenya, if it is done in a just manner. Buying land outside your ancestral home is fair and just. I don’t know how many Kikuyus own land in Kibera and Mathare slums, though, where the violence started. It was poor people killing poor people simply because they come from the adui wetu tribe, as per some leaders. So, land is only part of the problem. My brother will definitely have to move his small business to a more Kikuyu-friendly area. Poor guy, he hasn't been at it for weeks. He looks too much like a Kikuyu to even think about going back to those joints!

Business: The selective memory again- Kikuyus don’t dominate business in Kenya, Indians, and now foreign investors do. Still this is no reason to burn down whole businesses and burn Kikuyus’ homes.

Government: This is where Kibaki made a major goof especially after the referendum. At one point a fellow teacher commented that the cabinet ministers’ list read like a graduation list. But, guys, cabinet posts don’t go to Kikuyus, they go to Kibaki’s cronies. And it really sucks that you all see GEMA as Kikuyu when it’s the only convenient way to see things. AND, we had one undisputed 5-year‘Kikuyu presidency’ between when I came to earth and when we had Kibaki as president. Compared to Moi’s 24-years, why does the bitterness in 2007/2008 feel like it has been brewing for ages, why?? Pre-NARC, I had never heard, “Kalenjin ni adui yetu” or any reference to “Kalenjins have led for a long enough time”.

Someone argues that even if Raila and Kibaki made up in public, the hate crimes wouldn’t go away? I beg to differ. Because the ghost of tribal clashes did not visit in 2002 when Raila said "Kibaki Tosha" and Moi and Uhuru were an item. Kenyans love peace, but only at the politicians call. Therefore:

1) We Kenyans must learn to think for ourselves and not see things only through the politicians’ lenses.
2) Politicians need to use their influence for the good of Kenya, not just to get themselves in office.
3) Should we redefine the concept of democracy? So that it's not just pure numbers that determine who wins? Because as long as there is a numerical tribal majority -call it Kikuyu /GEMA or whatever-in a country where tribes vote as blocs for ‘one of our own’, __________fill in the blanks.
4) We clearly need institutions in place that ensure that its not a winner-takes all situation.