Monday, 11 January 2010

I'm Back

As my Zimbabwean colleague would put it, I’m bek to werk. That is, back to work. It was good to be home and away from UG for some time. The trip itself had kidogo drama, with my flights delayed both ways. I fikad at my house at 3am leo morning, and had to be at work the same day. But, I’m a KQ shareholder, so I won’t bash them much. Here’s a recap of my time away from my home.

Got to spend time with my family. My niece and nephew, those kids are growing, yawa! Even took it upon myself to tell PKW kadogo a few things about boys and sex . PKW kadogo is my cousin’s kido, and is turning 12 this year, and we are named for my cucu. My mum seems to be ageing a bit faster than I’d have expected. She complained that siku hizi watu wanaishi kama wazungu, with kids and gradkids away from parents and grandparents. Told her she can always come stay with me when she is old(er) and I have a family. And I mean it. It’ll be awesome, I think. Interestingly, seeing my family made me feel a bit old too. Imagine I saw PKW kadogo’s mum pregnant with her when I was 19, going on 20!

Time with friends fro seco. I think there is nothing like friendships za kitambo. You know, one of those when you haven’t seen each other for five years, meet up, and ongea, mpaka it feels like you were never apart? With one of them, we spoke mpaka the husband flashed her phone—aende akalale.

Time with my friend that I met kwa mtandao. Kasichana, thanks for inviting me to the Kenya-Cameroon friendly match on Sato. Thanks to you,I can now be counted among the people who have seen Etoo, Song (? The guy who plays for Arsenal) and Congestina live. We lost. 3:1. Wana-Cameroon waendelee hivyo hivyo especially kwa finals za World Cup in June. Woi, I hope at least one African team will get to the semi-finals. Gosh, I hope the stadium is going to be ready.

Not enough time with the Man, but every second was well worth it. We even had a mini-crisis which we kinda created by failing to plan, and got through it intact.

Became increasingly aware that depression is a terrible disease. A relative of a friend, whom I knew, committed suicide in ’08. She was 30. Second time I was hearing this in the last couple months, though the other friend’s dad committed suicide in the early-mid 90s. I think many people, including me, are never aware when they are depressed, thus never seek help. And what you think is your support system can be your biggest detractor. It may be hard for people to support you if they don’t know you’re sick and don’t even recognize a disease in the first place. There is a case for mental health awareness in Kenya.

Had conversations that made me to (more seriously) think about retirement. Yaani, gone are the days when people would retire and go grow sukumawikis or have a ka-kiosk huko shagz and that would sustain them. These days, some maybe lucky to be in the village sinceyour expenses may not be as high as those of townfolk. Luckier if your kids are doing well enough to take care of their kids and take care of you. Not many Kenyans put retirement living into their plans. We have a lot of young people to take care of, and it’s a matter of time till we have a lot of old people to take care off. I used to hate nursing homes with a passion, but now.....someone better think of expanding that business model.

Matatus: I ride them all the time in UG, they are called taxis. Cabs are called ‘Special Hires’. Over here they are white, with a broken blue strip, not pimped hata kidogo. In Nairobi, they come in many colours, music and DVDs. I rode in many ‘SMS ONLY’ matatus. Yeah, the music was that loud. And Tanzanian music seems to have taken over. But then matatus went on strike last Monday.As my sister-in-law put it, watu wa matatu ni watu wa njaa, hawawezi enda long. Sure, they were back Tuesday night. I really hope we don’t get as many bodabodas in town. Ama they outlaw their operation in the CBD. Kajini they are doing a great job between where the matatus drop people off and homes in shagz. Made a new friend. A broker, can imagine that?

M-Pesa scare. Sent 10K to someone by mistake, using 0710, instead of 0720. You should have seen me running from Maggie’s to the Safaricom Customer Care Centre on Moi Avenue and dialling 234 at the same time. I ingiad the Maggie’s kitchen while looking for the exit. Luckily 234 went through real quickly and they reversed the transaction. But I couldn’t re-send or use that particular amount of money until after 72 hours. Apparently, people had gotten into the habit of buying lots of merchandise, paying through M-Pesa, and immediately calling Safcom claiming they sent the money by mistake. Then discard the SIM card and get another one. Kinda makes SIM registration sensible, when I think about it. J.N., the guy I’d sent the money to by mistake, asked me to send him 100bob air-time sababu hakutumia pesa yangu vibaya. I didn’t. M-Pesa’s real cool. I even M-Pesad the mama who did my hair the fee.

Rain, rain came our way: a lot of Kenyans had prayed. It poured. Yaani, in my village it rained every day. When I went back to Nai, I M-Pesad my mum enough money to plant 100 or 125 trees. Also realized that forest land at the small centre not far from our ka-market on the way to town has been demarcated and settled in by, I think, previously landless people. Used to be a forest 10 years ago when we moved there. Also, wonder of wonders, wells in our village had dried up during the draught. Imagine that, and we don’t have rivers. Potatoes, which we;ve sold for as low as 200bob a sack, had hit 5K bob.

Real estate (flats and houses): I think now that the roads are being repaired, real estate value in some places is shooting trhough the roof. Was last in Kitengela in December 2004, and now people have built up the place like no one’s biashara. Nyumba poa za kuishi. It’s becoming a well established town with all the social amenities. Was in Kajiado, and some guys actually commute there daily from Kitengela. Then I met this guy who told me that he’d bought 2 parcels of land for 70K each in early 2008, and just sold one for 500K. Then again, some people in Central Kenya will quote millions for an acre, even though they can’t justify that. I think it may be a bubble. There are flats coming up almost in every direction you drive from Nairobi. I should be a shareholder in one of those cement-manufacturing companies. Or HFCK, or the other banks financing the developments. I also imagine that it may be better to buy than build a house. Saving me the hassle of building from scratch. Just a thought.

Other resources (cows, land). I think the Maasais, at least the ones I interacted with, are a very rich lot.

I feel rather excited about 2010, like it has great things in store.
I wish everyone a happy, health and prosperous (for real, not just because that’s what people say) 2010. May God guide you and help you accomplish your plans in 2010 and beyond.


Cee said...

Welcome PKW, naona tuko wengi wanaotarajia lots of good stuff in 2010. Your post about Nairobi just flashed some great memories aki :( :( As for mambo ya MPesa did you watch the criminals of Kamiti using Mpesa to con people???? Kweli wakenya, very fast at improvising good for evil.
In other news, soma hiyo Locks in 24hrs. I wish you all the best too in 2010....

mrembo said...

Really nice to read of your trip.. made me little homesick.

Glad you had a good time and wishing all the best to you in 2010.

bomseh said...

Everyone is talking about good stuff happenign in Janhuri. 2010 is the Return of the Prodigal Son year. I have to come witness all the good stuff myself. I am tired of living away from home.

KR said...

Nice post and you do sound like you covered quite a lot for the holiday. Good for you!

Goodluck in 2010.

Anonymous said...

I'm FUMING on two things.. Number 1-You didn't make the Mpesa mistake to my phone. Number 2- You were in my town & didn't holla at me! My new year resolution is to meet ALL my Online friends this year. That includes YOU!

PKW said...

Cee: Nakwambia tuko wengi. I didn't watch the kamiti thing. Thanks for the locks post.
Mrembo: make sure next winter ukuje nyumbani. Is there a way you can un-spam me on you blog. My comments never show.
Bomseh: Karibu nyumbani. You won't regret it
KR: Yeah, and thanks. Na wewe pia
Raymondchepkwony: M-Pesa, ai, with the 10% promise, I'm glad it wasn't you! And, when youmake resolutions, YOU fulfil them, not the other way round.