Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ni Kuhama, Baby!

I've been so lost! Life took over. Life is good, thank Ngai.

Bado niko na Safaricom, thanks to M-Pesa. Safaricom-Airtel is not the kuhama I'm talking about.

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm now living in Nairobi. Sort of. I actually live in a county in Central Province, but if I can take a matatu to the city centre for between Ksh 40-60, I can call myself a Nairobian, right? Some people actually live in the Rift Valley Province (Kitengela et al) and call themselves Nairobians, too, so I can get away with my living-in-Nairobi claim.

Anyway, I will be back with details baadaye, in the coming month(s). Hopefully with more great news on top of what I already plan to share. In the meantime, I will keep you up with some storos from .KE and/or .UG. If I get the time :-)


Masa wa Nairobi.

Friday, 18 February 2011


Our office was closed Thursday and Friday to allow people to travel to travel if need be, and practice their democratic right to vote. I came to be with The Man. If you ask me, I think or rather feel like the process will be peaceful, and M7 will win. Or ‘win’. In keeping with my decision not to do politics, I won’t elaborate. Of late though, I’ve felt like putting in my two cents regarding local politics, the broke gova that used USD 350m for the campaign, and the Uganda shilling that has depreciated more than 45% against the dollar since I’ve been here. Because? I pay taxes; 30% PAYE, 18% VAT on every item I buy in supermarkets (which is already about 15% more expensive that it would be in a Nairobi/Kenyan supermarket), and UGX 100,000 each year in infrastructure tax- the potholes in my hood were filled with soil and a thin layer of tarmac in the recent months. The National Social Security Fund requires that I contribute 5% of my gross salo to the fund, though to their credit, my employer matches that with 10% of my gross. So the rate of return on my savings is encouraging. I just hope won’t NSSF have gone burst by the time I leave or need the money.

Most of my Kenyan friends are either out of UG or have bought food to last them a couple weeks, ensured there is enough cooking gas, water, the cars tanks are full and generally done the kind of things you would have done if you were in Nairobi or some parts of Kenya in early 2008. I can’t blame us. I however think the dynamics are different in UG compared to Kenya in the sense that the two main contenders are from the same region, or largely, community though one is more liked by the Buganda Kingdom constituents than the other. Said Kingdom has 3 candidates in the race.
This was not meant to be a siasa post, as is the blog. In my personal life, things are going well. Last week I went to have my ruracio (that’s dowry) event dress made.

The ruracio is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I just finished informing my close cousins. It’s not a huge event since this is only the first, and sometimes it takes decades before you truly belong to the other family through an event (for lack of a better term) called ‘gutinia kiande’. Nothing has changed regarding the wedding. We are going to have a traditional marriage and then a civil deal to make sure we are both on equal standing regarding our rights in the marriage in the eyes of the state. The Man still thinks we should have a church wedding down the line, but as far as I am concerned, either the Christian and Civil marriage offer me the same rights, so there is no need for the other if one has taken place. At the same time, The Man thinks it is important to have a church wedding when we have the budget. In which case then, I feel like we should just let it remain a customary marriage till we have the church event. My parents are busy doing what they need to do to ensure that The Man marries me in proper Kikuyu customs. I’m excited about it. I was considering asking my mother to tell my father to ask the men who will be negotiating on behalf of our family to not have any fancy ideas of ripping of The Man and his family. But then my friends think if I chose the traditional route, I may as well go all the way and let things take their natural path. I even asked the man if it’s a good idea and he thought otherwise. He should know- as the only male child in his family, he has taken an important role in selling off a few of his sisters. This year has a lot of good things in store for us.

The dress: I went with a Kinyankore design. Why? Because the Kikuyu dresses I’ve seen don’t look appealing to me. I could have had the brown dress with beads and shells that I think of as the Kikuyu cultural dress, or a Maasai design in recognition of the fact that my grandmother came from there, but I didn’t have the time to get that done when I was home (Yes, even me, I have Maasai blood!). I also happen to like how Banyankore women look on their Kuhingira (the traditional marriage rite, they call it the give-away ceremony in English), with the beads on the head, cute earrings, and beaded gloves, and I decided to go with the look. Interestingly, the material I chose is closer to the Indian sari than anything. If anything, is there cloth that we can call Kikuyu or even African wear? In my opinion, no, just the style. When the tailor lady was taking my measurements, she was talking to me in Runyankore, because my colleague who took me there is Munyankore. She looked really good on her Kuhingira event, so I requested her to take me to her fundi. The fundi later learned that I’m Kenyan and Kikuyu and was asking me what our traditional dress is. I told her we don’t have one. When she asked what my ancestors used to wear, I told her animal skins. She laughed. In the small talk that ensued, she asked how many maids I will have for the event and when I said none, just two of my close friends and relatives, she looked astonished-because there was another lady whose Kuhingira attire she is making, who has 12 maids for the Kuhingira alone. Which will be followed by a church wedding with a different set of maids. I feel like most people in Uganda have two weddings-the traditional one, and the church one, sometimes held in consecutive days. Or maybe two large events. Which kinda explains all the mass text messages in November and December from friends and strangers alike: so-and-so invites you to her wedding/kwanjula/kuhingira meeting taking place on…….Last year I got one of those from a guy who helped move house with his truck when he was having his introduction ceremony in Busoga (community that lives between Bugisu in the East and Buganda in Central Uganda, around Jinja, just before you cross the Nile into Buganda). I think he sent the texts to everyone on his phonebook. I kinda just ignored them, but we later bumped into each other in a restaurant in Jinja, where he handed me my invitation letter and the budget. I asked a Muganda fiend why they have two large events, and he explained that usually, the church even is more inclusive when it comes to the grooms side.

That’s it for now. I need to be at work on Monday, but I’m thinking of chilling and watching for people’s reaction when results are announced on Sunday.

Friday, 07 January 2011

Salamu za Mwaka Mpya na Updates

The year is still effectively new for me since I haven't blogged since October 2010 so pokeeni salamu za mwaka mpya from huku kwa PKW . I've been contemplating closing this blog or making a quiet exit since now my life involves other people, and I'm not sure I can write about them the same way I write about me. I can't be an 'issues' blogger so it's either me and my life, or nothing. There are still interesting things to say, so hopefully I will be around much longer. I feel too 'young' to retire, though other bloggers, some who started blogging as recently as last year, have chosen to 'retire' their blogs. I think in blog-speak, retiring a blog is a nice way of saying you have quit, like the politicians 'stepping aside' all over the place. But the advantage of being a politician is (I think?) you keep collecting a full paycheck from that place called aside where you step. Sorta like being at advanced stage in Monopoly the game, and getting a 'go to jail' card that allows you to stay in jail, therefore not pay any rent, and collect rent on all your properties. Not a bad place to be at that point, eh?

The rest of 2010-since I blogged, that is- went well for me, and so were the holidays. They were very, very good. I got to spend time with the almost everyone in Man's family (that I hadn't met earlier) and thought they are awesome. For some reason I earlier thought that being the only male child among five siblings meant I wouldn't be as welcome by the rest; I was wrong. He also spent some short time with mine and we both thought it went well.

I don't do new year resolutions because for me the new year is just a way of marking time, with nothing markedly different from the previous day/year. Except maybe the mood and an excuse to indulge, slaughter another animal and such. My goals are all over the place in terms of when they are set. Some things I purpose on when I get an idea, or when something happens in this life of mine or another's life. Some start at my birthday. I remember purposing sometime towards the end of last year to have an attitude of gratitude, and to be nice to people. I'm not some mean woman, but I also want to be purposefully nice. On two occasions last year I told some two people off. One was apologetic for upsetting me, and the other relationship has remained hivi hivi since. I don't feel guilty because I felt I had a 'right' to be mad, and it's nice when this person doesn't get me down with their negative comments/opinions all the time any more.

My decision to be nice got a test on New Years day, and it (not it is 'it' not 'I' :-) kinda failed so am glad it wasn't a New Year's resolution. The Man and I could not get a Mololine or Prestige shuttle maatu from Nakuru to Nairobi late in the evening on Jan 1st, yet we absolutely had to travel since we again had to travel back to our respective places of work from Nairobi the following day. So we decided to use the regular Moloine matatus. But the place was parked with people and no matatu in sight. One came by and people struggled to get inside, and I imagined they had purchased their tickets earlier. The Man went to get our tickets, but the attendants were not selling any, or saying anything. So we decide he goes and checks out akina 2NK matatus and others, while I waited at Mololine in case another matatu came, when I could then force my way in and hold a seat for him. Then this mama decides to ask me a few questions about Mololine, and initially I respond nicely. Like this: Woman:"So there are no tickets?" PKW, "I think so, we couldn't get some either" Woman, "You get one and wait for a matatu?" PKW, "Usually that's what they do during peak time like today, but it seems they are not offering any today" Woman, "So the matatus are all gone?" PKW, "I don't know, I don't work here". Oh well.

Besides being nice, I want be real with people more often, instead of say, diplomatically lying to them when I want to say something that's not too agreeable or nice to their ears. I'm not sure how being real and being nice will mix in some situations, but mix they will have to. Take for instance this friend of mine with whom I used to make plans with, but who never followed any of the plans up with, or at least tell me in advance that she wouldn't be there. Only when I later saw her the following week and ask would she explain what happened/ why she couldn't make it. This person has the audacity to think she could call on me one day to do her a favor pap!. She calls me out of the blues after ignoring several of SMSs, facebook messages etc, and tells me to do her a favour that involves staying up past midnight. I think "No way", but then I have the burden of finding out a way to precisely that, including lying, and that's what I do in the end. I hate feeling used, and usually don't let people do that to me. Then there is a mama that I hosted for a few days to a week when she was here shopping for merchandise to go and sell in Kenya. Juzi she calls me and indicates that she wants me to go shopping for her (have you been near Owino market?) and send stuff on the bus. Clearly, there's no lying around this one; I'll just tell her I can't, but she's welcome to stay at my place again as long as she needs to.

What else- I still don't have a car but I think I should be getting one maybe by early Feb or later, pending something I am waiting on. The funniest thing is that I remember telling a friend 10 years ago that I'd get a car in 10 years. Because back then it looked impossible, so I gave myself what I thought was reasonable time. I wonder what would have happened if I said I'd get one in a year's time? Banange, they used to tell us to watch what we say because it happens, and this the second instance it's happening for me.

As for this year, within the bigger picture, there are two specific things that are close to my heart that I really am praying to God (besides doing my/our bit, that is. Prayer is the least you can do!) that they work out ASAP, though logically, one is not even supposed to work out till later in the year, like after August, but it needs to work out even sooner, like today. I trust that they, among the other things, will work out fine. But if they don't, I will be grateful for the situations as they are now, knowing full well that I prayed for them to be this way. It's all about gratitude, remember? Still, it's funny how yesterday's answered prayer is today's situation that needs prayer. Guess it's meant to be that way, otherwise, how are we meant to mark progress?

There's a lot of exciting things in store for me this year, and for that I'm very grateful. I wish you my readers the very best for this year and beyond. May God, if you believe in Him/Her/It smile on you. I think there's a big 'movement' out there that believes the Universe is the one that does stuff so if that's your chosen path to the higher powers, may you get the best that the Universe has to offer. No offense but personally I think the Universe was created and is at the mercy of the creator (and we humans), who in English is known as God and by many other names in different languages, religions and faiths. As for you who believe in no outer powers, work hard, be strong and trust that things will work out just as you want them to ( I do, too!).

Nawatakia mwaka mpya uliojawa na heri na fanaka.

PS: Maua, I saw the tag, but gosh, don't I hate tags? Besides the hot scrap award where I talked about myself, I really don't want to talk about myself any more than you will read here. Sio kwa ubaya lakini, tumeelewana?