Archive for January, 2014

Challenge: The Lost Art of Letter Writing; Write a letter

Huma Kaoga Kaseu

On Friendship (The Lost Art of Letter Writing)
Dear Catherine Ngusye Nzissi,
You wrote, “The power of friendship is beyond measure….” a fact that I don’t dispute. The transcending nature of friendship only exists when occasioned in its most pure form which often is not the case. Yet i don’t find fault in friendship as it were nor does the note here referred seek to paint true friendship in bad light. My address is the relationships that ensue in the guise of friendship which is always nothing more than convenient acquaintance. That’s why he asks, “what good are these friends, when I’m just as alone. What is the point to these friendships, if i don’t feel any different? Or may be sadder still sometimes. Watching them dwindle as they do.”
Then you wrote, “If one feels like an island in the midst of Gold and Silver…” This I also find holding truth. No man can exist alone because as you might already know we are social animals. However the notion that a man cannot exist without friends is a fallacy for that is the case all of the time everywhere in the world. people maintain relationship as long as there is something they are gaining from it…and as soon as the juice of their indulgence runs dry or curtains fall on the event occasioning their consociation; do the warm smile turn into cold sneers, do the praises turn into vile gossips, do hope shared turn into envy n fatal jealousy… he writes, “….and memory tells you stories, but they only make you want to cry. Memory presents its evidence, but it’s a mistrial.”
To dress the eminent divide they say “WE JUST GREW APART.”
I’m therefore informed for those reasons to say, – WE CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT OTHER PEOPLE BUT WE CAN, AND DO EXIST WITHOUT FRIENDS (in the righteous meaning of the word).
You summed up by saying,” Negro, you got it bad.” which view I also share and agree with and that’s why in the note he wrote “I’d say goodbye if i thought that i could actually go through with it. but i know my own weaknesses.” which weakness is; I assume all persons friends before they prove convenient acquaintance and are erased from my purpose or I’m erased from their purpose by time. YES, I GOT IT BAD and so has everyone else. Difference is that I noticed and now I’m aware of it, which knowledge makes him write in the note,” it feels like life is something beyond your grasp.”
In conclusion he writes, “Maybe it’s just tonight, but anyone who knows me knows it’s not. Maybe it’s just a mountain I’m climbing to find the top. but anyone who knows me knows what I’d do then.” my appreciation to every single soul that has dared tangle with mine and to the very extent all that i have met and is yet to meet in my life’s journey…
Your Friend,
Huma Kaseu.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi


Dear son,

I really do hope you are fine. As you continue to make our family name shine, I am glad to call you mine. You know we worked real hard to get you into the best college. Ever since you were a kid throwing your tantrums in rage. Now you have the potential to grow into a sage. They say youth is lost on the young. But I know this will not be the case as you have never been uncouth and one day your name will be sung. Our country’s hopes of coming out of the murk continue to diminish. That you be a pioneer of great leadership is my only wish. I know it is much to ask, but soon I will leave this earth. All I want is for the ashes to finally leave the hearth. Rise up like a newly born phoenix. Spring gracefully and stealthily like an adapted lynx. I see your mother drive in. She still works hard and that’s our win. But age is catching up with us. It’s your time, my boy, to quieten the fuss. Shadows cover our majestic country now and down goes the sun. Get the right friends and with them light up the intellect of this country, my son. We will always love you and glad to have you.

Your father,
In rhyme and lyric
Edwin “TDB” Mukabi

 

Amos ‘kelele Kelele’ Tabalia

Dear Dad
I hope you are fine and doing great. I am happy and doing fine. Class work is proving very easy this term. From the look of things, I am sure that this term I will take the first position. This time round, I am so sure of myself unlike last term when I promised the same but due to unavoidable circumstances, I ended up in position 144. I seriously do not understand what happened but I think the class teacher made an error somewhere and interchange my position with the stupid person who was declared number one. Anyway, let us forget that. I know my place is around position 1 or 2. Even the History teacher told me so. They say I am very bright.
However, in my concerted efforts to make number one, there are various things that you are obliged to do. The first one among the many is a certain physics book by a certain American called Abbot. This book has made wonders in the world. It is like knowledge itself. Buying the book will not only show how committed you are in your dream of us becoming number one, but also allow you to share in the greatest piece of knowledge artifact in the world. The book is made in such away that you do not need to read it, but sleep on it. Knowledge assimilates from the book, which in this case is under the mattress, through the porous pores of the pillow, and directly through the Medula Oblangata, which we learned in class that it is that part of the heart that makes the hand think and write correct answers. This book is a physics book but it gives knowledge on every subject, Kiswahili, Music, art and Design, mathematics and even CRE. Buying the one book, will be like buying all the knowledge in the world.
Dad, this book has made the president of the United States, Bill Gates to invent cars, bicycles and even electrical bicycles that use petrol. It also made the pope of Iran become wise like King Solomon, who is a great angler in China. My point is that we need this book. We will be able to see things that other people cannot see. Luckily, for me, I managed to make acquaintance with one man who has the book. He is the current number one student in form four. He is selling the book for 30,000 shillings. However, because we are great friends, he has agreed that if u send 300 shillings by the end of the day tomorrow, I will have the book for keeps. Do not even think twice Dad. Just go and take the money under the pillow in mum’s bedroom and give it to Mr Makali. Wrap it in an envelope and do not tell him that there is money inside. If he discovers that we have encountered this book, he will try to snatch it from us. Do not also try to buy the so-called book from the local bookstores. Those guys are cheats. Big Cheats. Those are abbot books from china. They are not only expensive but very useless and complicated. Do not come to school because u will make the book to disappear. The money has to be given to me.
Lastly, I know that you are a good man and very clever. Do not be cheated by other people that I am cheating you. Bring that money and we will be number one. Salimia mum but usimuonyeshe hii barua. I will close by quoting what the great essayist, Wayne Rooney said, “You are my Man and I am your Man”. I love you people
Yours sincerely and loving you very much son
Amos

Kagure Njagi

Dear Cereal Thief,

How are you? I hope you’re well (fed). I am writing this letter to get something off my chest – something that has greatly puzzled me since the week before Christmas.
It was a bright Monday or possibly even Thursday morning and I had one thing on my mind – cereal. I remember happily trotting to the kitchen, my mouth salivating like a bell was ringing and I was one of Pavlov’s dogs. It was the kind of cereal with nuts, granola, corn flakes and most importantly, enough sugar to feed a family of four. Trot, trot, trot into the kitchen I gaily went, arriving at the fridge where I was sure to find my sugary treat. I scanned the line of boxes: Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops, and Honey Nut Cheerios. End.
Sometimes my eyes play tricks.
Again: Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops, and Honey Nut Cheerios. End.
Once the horror had subsided, the panic reduced to a manageable level of blood pressure and the shortness of breath passed, I convinced myself that it must have been a mistake – after all, I didn’t label the box. I proceeded to make myself a lowly piece of non-sugary toast on that bright sunny morning.

It has come to my attention that I was mistaken in assuming (and there lies the problem) that you had made a mistake and assumed (there lies that problem again) my box of cereal was your box of cereal as another box has ‘disappeared’. Like a house cat that marks its territory by spraying urine on walls, I now understand the value of labeling and placing one’s name on one’s possessions.
That having been said, I hope and pray that you will reveal yourself in the next three months seeing that when that time period expires I will evict the premises and move on to better things and better places and, goshdangnabbit – better ROOMMATES!

Your patient, secretly passive aggressive roommate,

Kagure.

 

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Challenge: Write on religion or the lack of it

Namde P.K.Wandera

Religious Pudding

When I look at my brother, I don’t see a Muslim, I see my brother.

When I look at my sister, I don’t see a Protestant, I see my sister.

When I look at my friends, I don’t see Muslims, Christians, Hindus or Pagans, I see my friends.

When you look at me, don’t see a Catholic. It is just me.

“If I do good, do not laud my religion.
If I do evil, do not condemn it either.
It is out of a personal conviction.”

Huma Kaoga Kaseu

Atheism
If God were real, I would not be unlike him
If God were real, I would not have to ail
If God were all knowing why need he test my faith?

If He knows to what extent I’ll buckle, why suffer me pain
Why have me live so I die
If that’s the nature of God then the state of the world is explained.

Ivy Mutisya

Dear God, Sir…Erm…Hi!
No, that’s not right.
Wait, one more time.
How should I talk to you?
Where do you find the time to listen?

Conceited in my prayers,
Let my vanity not take up your time.
Let’s try something new:
HELLO! Hi…How are you?
Not happy huh?
Not proud of me? Yeah?
Me neither…

Today there’s a real crisis,
But I don’t deserve your grace,
I’ve wasted so much of it already,
Still my eyes are tightly shut,
I’m searching for you.

What’s the appropriate title?
God? No…too remote, My God,
Yeah that’s it.
How about Father? Baba? Hmmm
Father Almighty! Too rehearsed,
Not that I doubt that you are mighty…
Oh boy, I’m wasting your time again.

I’ve been quiet…it’s not been easy,
You are always but a breathe away,
I know you know how I’m doing,
I shouldn’t bore you with the details,
But maybe if I explain myself…
I find myself succumbing to the floor,
Oh no! Looks like I’m gonna pray again.

Patti Achieng’

of religion and complacency

Pious zeal resonates in every step they take, conviction written all over their eager faces. Belief manifest in their tightly clutched bibles, rushing to a tickling of ears. Salute man’s innate need!
A tickling of ears, a tickling of ears, long replaced a thirst for truth, a thirst for knowledge, a thirst for faith built! So they stream to their minsters, unwittingly submitting to doctrines unproven, too unBeroean to verify dogmas, dogmas fashioned after avaricious beings, lining their already fat pockets with paper, paper the pious whine while giving, yet they don’t stop to validate what they hear!
Pugh! I say!!! Search for the truth!!!

Morris Kiruga

“Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know…”

My penance piety does not suffice
As the fray takes toll upon my mortal
As the dagger slices and dices
The fort crumbles…

Hope and pray I be reborn
To dive into the fray one other
To face demons whose fire I stoke
That my soul for peace to have
My heart for ants to feed

Yet death hath become this life I boast
All good fights have come to this
The moment on which I stand
The weapon upon my hand
Broken sheath under my feet

On this day I am born
On this day I die
I must hope and pray
That one day I learn to hope and pray

Eyes gaze beyond the clouds
For an omen I might see
This fort mine blessing and curse.

Immortality it might be
The bright light that cometh my way
Into the last good night I’ll ever see.

“…Live and die on this day
Live and Die on this day.”

Wanjiku Kinuthia

REWARD OF AN APOSTATE

“. . . Oh, that my god will none of me! That is an old sorrow! My god was Beauty, and I am all unbeautiful, and ever was. There is no grace in these harsh limbs of mine, nor was at any time. I, to whom the glory of a lit eye was as the shining of stars in a deep well, have only dull and faded eyes, and always had; the chiselled lip and chin whereover runs the radiance of life in bubbling gleams, the cup of living wine was never mine to taste or kiss. I am earth-colored and for my own ugliness sit in the shadows, that the sunlight may not see me, nor the beloved of my god.

But, once, in my hidden corner, behind a curtain of shadows, I blinked at the glory of the world, and had such joy of it as only the ugly know, sitting silent and worshipping, forgetting themselves and forgotten. Here in my brain it glowed, the shimmering of the dying sun upon the shore, the long [gold] line between the sand and sea, where the sliding foam caught fire and burned to death . . .Here in my brain, my silent unrevealing brain, were the eyes I loved, the lips I dared not kiss, the sculptured head and tendrilled hair. They were here always in my wonder house,my house of Beauty.

The temple of my god. I shut the door on common life and worshipped here. And no bright, living, flying thing in whose body beauty dwells as guest can guess the ecstatic joy of a brown, silent creature, a toad-thing, squatting on the shadowed ground, self-blotted, motionless, thrilling with the presence of All-Beauty,though it has no part therein.

,–“not with that still ecstacy of [flooding] joy wherewith my own god filled me of old, but with impetuous, eager fires, that burned and beat through all the blood-threads of me. ‘I love you, love me back,’ I cried, and would have flung myself upon h neck. Then he turned on me with a ruthless blow; and fled away over the world, leaving me crippled,stricken, powerless, a fierce pain driving through my veins–gusts of pain!–and I crept back into my [old] cavern, stumbling, blind and deaf, only for the haunting vision of my shame and the rushing sound of fevered blood . . .

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

THIS IS MY PRAYER

Jealous Almighty, loving God
Extend your arms, consecrate me
Sustain my soul, oh my Lord
Up, my spirit goes, let it be
Soon I sit on thine right hand

Closed heart, thy love sets me free
Holy One, let me live righteously
Redeem my friends, my enemies flee
Inspire me; show thine glory
Stand with me, I know you paid the fee
Temptations are at bay, do expose their folly

Light of the world
Illuminate the darkness
Vengeance is thine own, thou sayest
Elevate their reasoning; time to right their wrongs
Satan, prince of darkness, gnashing of teeth is nigh

Zaynah McAdam

A letter to God
Dear God,
It’s been awhile since we talked. Really talked. All I’ve been doing is perform the customary litany, ask for something or thank you for the general. I kinda miss those days we used to have a chat, when I could tell you anything. The days I was but a toddler, whispering something to you whenever I got the chance to.
How I miss it. When I used to tell you my secrets and dilemmas, and not just conclude you know it all like I seem to be doing of late. Remember the day two of my childhood friends had a fight? And I came to you, asking for your advice. Beseeching you, to show me how to fairly judge and deal with each of them. I narrated to you every bit of what happened, we talked over it; and the next day, you showed me the way. (Between me and you, I don’t think Ashley got over that blow to her head. You think that’s why she turned out the way she did? ) Yes, I remember it very clearly. And I’m sorry for being away for far too long.
I blame it on myself, for letting the worldly belonging and earth dwellers beguile me excessively. Being too busy and knowing too much now, is not reason enough for my truancy. Neither does having a lot in my mind excuse my absenteeism behaviour. And today Dear God, today I want to make amends. Or at least try.
Not because I have problems I need you to solve (don’t I always seem to have those), and not because I have a favour I want to ask you; but for my soul cleansing, my most satisfying benediction.
I want you to be my convoy in all that I do. I want to feel your heavenly presence once again. Trust you and worship you; Let you show me the right way. My soul desire, to rekindle what I felt before. Before everything in the world blinded my eyes and blackened my heart. I want to go back to the days when I believed entirely in you. That nothing can discomfit you. That all I had to do was let you guide me through it all. That period I believed you want nothing but the best for me. And that everything happened for a reason.
But one question I want to ask. One question my All-knowing Lord. How far should I go with our talkfest? I am certainly nothing close to your pious prophets, and cannot even compare with their most trusted disciples. I obviously know not what issues they brought to your presence. Should I ventilate about the trials and tribulations in my life? Should I talk about home and school? Can I reprimand my own friends and family? What about the date I had the other week? Is it okay to discuss about the boy I have a thing for? Or even what we did last weekend? Or, is it required of me to stick to my faith and issues concerning my piety? I’m I supposed to stay clear of the worldly possessions…
Give me a sign oh Creator of heaven and earth; for the last thing I would want to do is get into your wrong books and face your wrath. Yes, I believe in your boundless might, as much as I Don’t believe in Santa Claus. (It is my hope that no kid is reading this, if so….then too bad)
Until I get the answers to this questions oh Merciful King, all I can do is tread on thy path with caution. Until then, this letter is as far as I can go. I just earnestly hope that then, will be soon.
Yours faithfully,
A believer.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

When I look at the stars, knowing full well that they are giant balls of light far away, and I see God. Not some malevolent man with a vendetta against mankind, or a bored old fogey with nothing better to do than to watch people make mistakes, but a shining light, a guide to life and knowledge; whose purpose is not to sanction evil done in his name, or chastise non-conformers, but to point, like a compass, to wait until we find ourselves, until we launch questioning ships into a vast, unknown ocean of doubt and despair; until we look inside for the light that banishes all darkness.
That is my religion.

Challenge: Write on “Nairobi Living”

Rehema Abdul

Lots can be said about living in the City in the Sun-(the English doesn’t make sense but hey it has stuck with us for so long) and living in this City brings a lot of emotions from her inhabitants and to the passer-bys. From the ruthless drivers who knowingly cross the red lights and drive on pavements and shout insults to those who cross their paths to men who have been emasculated and keep ringing local stations complaining about the women in their lives and have no courage to do something about it. With communication lines opening up through the web and airwaves to mobile technology-Nairobi is on the map and a MUST LOOK out for City with upcoming Metropolis cities coming up with Konza and Tatu on the way to achieving Vision 2030, not forgetting the gap is set to widen as the rich get richer and the poor can expect for this to get worse with inflation rates dancing up the curve and politicians running around with promises they know so well they won’t keep.

Why I love the City of the Sun still, it’s the only place you will get the same guy who was rudging for a matatu in the morning politely queuing for another in the evening and you are astounded at the chameleon tendencies that he possesses. She reacts more often than she acts and in a sense, she is a sleeping giant and has no idea about this. The potential is so immense and no one has ever told her what she can do. She can literally shake the world. I believe the awakening will come from within when she quiets to listen to what she really needs and wants and acts without being controlled by few individuals and mass reaction will be mass action.

Eric Mugendi Nyaga

If there is anything this city has in abundance, it is people. An odd mix of faces, shapes and colours, caught between the pages of life, forming odd lumps in what can best be described as a diary of nothing much, just heading from one end of Metropolis to another, from Ngara to Community, past sweeping, soon-to-be-completed overpasses, heads bowed in silent acceptance, all the while filled with calculations of how much has been stolen from them, ergo how much they have to steal, prices adjusted for inflation, the cost of looking away as the same guy who wanted money for an operation last-week-but-one approaches with hope, asking for money for ‘care’, the smell of chips cooked in transformer oil and chicken that’s been taken for a spin, the odd puddle where clean clothes are soiled by grinning, air-conditioned yahoos with their hire-purchase Vitzes vying for space on the street with a million other metal monsters, trapped in a contest of who gives way to whom, and a brief stop at High Court for airtime…
Back to walking, head still bowed, our intrepid city-crosser reaches Uhuru Park, where the preacher and the odd camera-man angle for willing buyers, and the grass is the wrong shade of brown. Up some stairs, past the massive flagpole and the accompanying panorama, into one of the nondescript buildings, avoiding the lifts (too crowded), aiming for even more stairs.

Upward mobility.
And so, our hero starts to walk up slowly, scraping the mud from his shoes, all the while trying not to think about how this journey shall have to be made again tomorrow…

 

SirFelix Full-ee Okaka

I open my eyes and I belch out sweet relief when I realise I am not in the City in the Sun. Scratch that..Lets go with the weather and call it The City in the Rainy Clouds.
I do not hate Nairobi. Just that in my scale of preferences it doesnt feature that high up.
I was under the illusion that I ooze Nairobizm by virtue of the fact that I studied in some marquee school along China Superhighway.
How wrong was I. I touched down in Nairobi with the verve of an exploitative multinational company waiting to discover oil from bare ground in Turkana. KTN was my company by circumstance(Kenya Tarmacking Network).
The conductor shouts ‘hamza salasa’ and I stare blankly at him. I heeded his call and boarded the matatu(i saw on twitter that they call it jav). You see how acquainted I was with the Nai-dialect).
I had to tweet something about me ‘veni vidi vici-ing’ Nairobi. I was sitting at the back seat with my kabambe 3g phone which I still insist is not a China phone tweeting when my window was suddenly opened and I felt my phone leaving my hand.
Pause that…
Random fact..research shows that twitter addicts develop strong thumbs as an adaptation to the tweeting.

Play.. The phone remained stuck on my hands but the trauma of my phone being grabbed lasts till today. The ‘salasa’ conductor grins at me and says ‘karibu nairobi kijana’.
I felt naivety creeping up on my back.
With the ‘nyanga’ full we left for hamza salasa only to find out ‘salasa’ was actually the fare charge.
I would have asked the beautiful lady beside me to verify that but the size of the headphones she put on after trying to strike a conversation advised me otherwise.
I was stuck to listening to some mbusih guy on radio saying ‘kung’uta miwa kung’ kung’
‘Hamza mwisho,the conductor shouted.
Paranoid me alighted while the mbusih on radio bleated ‘mambo mbbrchaaa.
Welcome to Nairobi.

Noel Mwachala

I came from a tropical island to the city in the sun, my arrival was marked by heavy dark clouds that soon begun to spit at me, run, run, watch them run, then watch my step as i run. Water is life the why are we running? Some look like they need some life in their existence, maybe the life raining down will only make their existence wetter making them targets to drying, remember this is the city in the sun.

Jonathan Paul

Yesterday after work, I joined a crowd next to an ‘Iko-Toilet’. We all had a common enemy; rain. Someone was feeling my back pocket; they would only find a KBS bus receipt there. A lady sprinting across from us slipped and I heard several people sigh, some from disappointment; others from relief. A young girl with pink, red and blue braids and boxing shoes was popping gum noisily in front of me. The street boy on my left looked at me and asked ‘utanunua phone boss’ producing a handset written ‘NOKLA’ at the back. That was my cue to leave.

Edwin Thedivinebandit Mukabi

Arrive in the city in the sun.
This city has lost its sons.
This is not a humorous pun.
Life was ended by guns.
It’s true we had our fun.
But now my nose runs.
As silent as a virgin nun.
Shadows creep and my soul burns.
The tropical tribalism gives me a permanent tan.
Politicians bribe my friend and his vote turns.
We all do what we can.
Survive the traffic, take home those daily buns.
Its hard enough to be a man.
But the peace of our women, this city shuns.
It murders our grandmothers.
Sexually abuses our sisters.
For all their love, no one bothers.
It’s high time we protected our daughters.
In this city, we feed from our sweat.
That is except our so called leaders.
As the rain falls and the ground is wet.
They print out their lies, we are the readers.
One day it will get better, I bet.
We are still young, look at our baby-feeders.
The stage is finally set.
We are not selling our city to the highest bidder.
The streets of Nairobi are calling.
The time is NIGH, we ROW to success, the city in the sun we shall BE again.
NIGH-ROW-BE!!

Morris Kiruga

Alighting from the matatu at OTC, does anyone call it that these days? Am in the city now, I was once a stranger but now I know, I have a mental map of the entire city, the inner workings of what they used to call ‘the green city in the sun’. Someone, or people, died on this spot a few months ago, I do not feel the presence of their ghosts, but not to worry, I might still be human after all. So am walking up, towards the unofficial stage behind Khalsa Primary & Secondary (How do those kids study), through the pathway into Bus Station, this place, kids, used to be a mess. You could get lost in this tiny place, and let me not even mention the furor that was the neighboring KBS stage.

It is better now, I tell myself as I navigate through the human traffic, past Tusky’s. I must be ready to furiously shake my head here, because South C matatu conductors can be stubborn. Past Ukwala now, there’s Afya Centre. It was the Hilton before the Hilton, where you met your date or a stranger who did not know any other part of the city.

But am walking on, jumping to avoid being hit by a Langata-bound matatu that just did a U-turn in a place full of human traffic. Cross Tom Mboya Street and head to the walkway that leads you past Nakumatt. Now Moi Avenue, to my left, infront, another Tusky’s. The bushes and shrubs separate us, but I know a bit to the left is the Co-op building, the site of the 1998 bombing. People died, many people died…

But I turn and walk right as I cross the street. Am trying to avoid human traffic, but clearly my chosen path is no better. On the other side I walk on, Kenya Cinema, where almost anyone with teeth watched their first movie, went for their first date, now just a shell, or what’s left of it. It closed up last year, no?
Up, up, a little past the noisy Samba Restaurant and I take a left because Kencom Stage, perhaps this city’s busiest bus station where the conductor who screams himself or herself hoarse is not the one who picks your fare. Hard times this, even that they had to subcontract, it’s an art too, I hear.

Am on the Aga Khan Walk side, walking on, through Reinsurance Building and across Taifa Street (I think). Infront is the High Court Parking lot, where I bought the amulet that has been donning my right wrist for the last three years. I did not buy it from a witchdoctor-cum-judge, but on a weekend when it transforms into Maasai market.

A little to my right, City Hall Way, and then a quick left. Behind me International Life House, and next/across the short street, the monstrous Hilton Hotel, with a Bata shop on its ground floor where I have met more people than I care to remember, inside whose arcade I cannot stop myself from staring at the phone display, sometimes the watches, the occasional shoe polish.

But am not headed there, am crossing the road, away from High Court and towards St. Ellis House. A quick turn right and there’s where the City Fathers sit and plot about plots and morgues with broken fridges and occassionally build consensus by throwing chairs and punches at each other. On my right, is Nakumatt, formerly Woolmatt, next to it Salama House, my first workplace several years past, a building on a street (Wabera, named after the PC, or DC, Hussein Wabera) that I did not know existed until my first day on the job…I smile, memories…

Timothy Mugambi

Like a weed.(seen it all before)

Take a step into the road, all like color-blind fools.
J-walk out of convenience (partly out of choice), speeding past everyone,
missing each face that passes by. You made them all into a collective blur.
Head down inside, yet the rebellious one holds it high to the world. Too self-conscious
to discover the simple truth, “they really don’t care”.
Woke up with the unknown urge to please “them” ,an had the gut to lie in the mirror to lie that You are ruler of Your own destiny.
Slowly moving traffic, You are the drug moving in the veins of the city… intoxicating it with a mediocre air of self preservation, an identical cog in this well oiled machine, but You make this city high every time You break the mold.
Slip into the second hand shops, get some thing to impress them all. What they’ve seen all so many times before, yet You’ll rock this.
Heading off home, so You start a scrum-down on the commuter line… as if home is some constantly shifting fictional palace. An elbow here, a grunt there, a shove, a push, and a mean sheng word to top it all off. Unknown , You all get in.
Seated like a scholar, in self imposed silence…listening to the crazy radio presenter feeding out their verbal effluence to the poor soul that will listen.
Hey, You never missed a thing, You’ll do it all again.
… or not

Ivy Mutisya

‘Eish…Sura mbaya..hebu songa! ‘ I turn back to see a high-school boy heckle at a group of young girls. The girls from a different high-school cower and turn the eyes to the ground. Each of them having the exact same thought, “Did he mean me?” One day it won’t matter to them…I walk away not saying a word, neither one to reprimand nor to encourage. I hate public transport…They dropped me off at Ngara again! Odeon, my foot! I don’t want to seem intimidated by the environment or the distance to “actually town”, a scared woman is an easy target. Chin up…Bring it Nairobi. “Eh siste na si umebeba…” man walking next to me, a little too close for comfort. “Erm..asanti?” no ignore the bugger, I’m a lady. That’s not how you talk to a lady. Bigger strides, maybe I can shake him. “Malaya wewe, kwani umebebea nani?” If I laugh he will only get madder. So here I am on display for good old Nairobi, Strange man in tow insulting my outfit (picked out with public transport in mind) and not a word from a soul neither to encourage nor reprimand… and now the question I see other women (which is what I am now…most of the time) recognize on my face…”why do Nairobi men hate their women?”

Zaynah McAdam

_The NIGHT, BOYS AND A CRISIS In Nairobi City_
How could she have forgotten about the withdrawal. Arianna scolded herself well knowing exactly why her sister’s money was still in her Mpesa and why it had eluded her all evening. And it went without saying that it had everything to do with warm-eyed lovely face with an enchanting smile. The thought of Joe and the wonderful evening they had, automatically brought a smile on her face as she trodded away towards Zeep. Dinner at Dancing spoon has never been that delectable! A quick glance at her watch told her that it was almost midnight. Perfect timing! Just when the matatu was about full, she had remembered about the money. The money she had promised her sister to go back with. Not to mention it had been in her phone all week. She had to get to an Mpesa tonight!

Arianna hastened her pace hoping that it wont start raining, because the cold was already getting to her. But obviously that wasn’t stopping people from gong into the Creamy Inn some paces ahead. Immediately she got to the Mpesa stand just next to Zeep, she anxiously reached out for her purse to remove her ID card and absently asked the attendant if she could withdraw some money. The lady claded in a green and white t-shirt rudely claimed that they were closing up. Not that it surprised her; the ladies at that particular Mpesa were often- if not always- moody.

With frustration, Arianna walked away taking her right, then quickly crossed the zebra-crossing without having to look much to the right, left and right again, since the road was almost deserted. Plus she was not ready to deal with the bunch of street kids that were heading her way. She rushed past Ibrahim Electronics and that extensive piece of glass at the foot path in front of Sarova Stanley, which she frequently wished was a mirror.. Looking around, there was no Mpesa in sight. Sad to admit but the only place she could get help that time of the night was if she went all the way to Lifestyle. Not that she had a choice anyway.

Three minutes later, Arianna was going past the pretty blue I & M building and heading straight on. Pulling her jacket closer, she wondered why there was no much light on that particular street. And a sigh of relief left her as she took the corner at the Barclays building, and walked towards the staircase infront of Lifestyle. Arianna has never been so glad to see so much light! And thanks heavens the Mpesa just before the chemist was open. Her quest for an Mpesa had finally come to an end.
No she would not go check out the pretty bracelets and colourful bangles that were displayed at the stall opposite Nakumatt Lifestyle, she told herself after the money was in her bag. She knew herself too well. Plus she had already spent quite a fortune on the jewelery she had bought at Maasai Market over the weekend.

Standing infront of the glass doors, next to the cake-stand outside Lifestyle, Arianna hoped beyond hope that she would bump into somebody she knew. The thought of walking all the way back to the other side of town alone was close to traumatizing. But no one she knew was in sight. There was only one way out of this one. Call up Duncan. The guy she had refused to go out with on countless occasions. The one person she was sure would to come to ‘her rescue’ the moment she called him. He did say he was at Lifestyle Lounge after all.

Despite having ignored his calls all day, she picked up her phone and scrolled down to his number. She hesitated a bit, debating on whether she should really press the green button or not. Looking at the darkness and secluded roads stretched infront of her quickly made her mind up. She had no choice but to call Duncan. The one person she didn’t want to see earlier was the one person who could help her right now.

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