Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Open letter to the one who makes my dreams


Dear,

Thoughts are but a fragment of my dreams, sometimes broken in tiny little pieces that feel like sand between my fingers, rough yet teasing, but sometimes, like beautiful wild flowers carressing my cheek with soft petals and enticing my mind with sweet smelling perfume

You are my thoughts, not a fragment of my imaginations, but real, thick skin, a sculpted chin, strong arms and the most alluring voice

You make my thoughts,I smell you in the wafting scents while in my sleep i dream, a mix of musk and cinnamon, embodied in a bottle that could be named rouge, deep, loving and even heart breaking; dangerous.

You are my dreams, sometimes broken, and sadness touches my brow, but sometimes,you are like the sweet humming bird mingling with my senses, and when i wake my mind wanders into what the day may hold, the sun rays stealing through my blinds, in my mind i sing a song that could be you;

You make my dreams, dew drops of paradise wrapped in stories that only my imagination can tell, playing with my mind in ways that quicken the pulse in my chest, your lips that reveal that wicked and wild smile and your eyes are as strong as a hangmans noose, holding me captive under your gaze

You are a not a fragment of my imagination, you are my thoughts, you make my thoughts, you are my dreams, you make my dreams...

Find me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Little Red Riding Mood


Little Red Riding Mood.......

I am anxious tonight, and in need of that feeling you only get in a good nairobi night club 

The girl in the green dress and big hair walks up to the mic

Her throaty laugh sends the crowd into that mood that i've been searching for

One that says says this night has just began

I sashay to the dance floor when she belts out that Afro centric  Jazz that lights up any night

The karaoke tonight is especially dazzling....

And I see him, white shirt, searching.

I follow his lead, and his eyes, they dont leave her

The Red one...

Young and beautiful, with laughter in her eyes

And she walks up to the stage for an old time karaoke hit, 

She could be a singer,perharps an actress

and in Red, something between a Godess and a mermaid

Him The Mister in white

makes no move, she, in Red, catches his eye

Red& White, White & Red

A carafe of wine is placed on her table

She lifts the glass of red wine to him

he lifts his glass of white wine to her;

Is this the beginning of white & Red nights?

Is this the beginning of a blossoming flower?

I wonder....

They meet, the colours change, she is white, he is red

Are they one? 

Are they in a little Red Riding Mood?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Loosing My Religion


Religion: Faith, belief, creed, conviction:

Last friday, I had an overdose of Brufen and something else from the chemist downstairs in my office, deliberately,
I had a tight day at work, and I had to be well, when i stopped by, Phillip, the chemist, said

"hey, long time, how are you," and i replied

"I have been well, until today"

I had not slept well, a horrible toothache kept me up.

Whatever he gave me, i took,  in doubles, and the day sailed smoothly on.

Friday night i had a toothache from hell, I went from praying to cursing,and then a lot of cursing,  nothing worked.
My daughter and nanny were away that night, and the pain felt worse, so i took off to the nearest chemist at midnight.

I got that famous "touch and go", but even with lots of touching, the pain did not go.

Every 15 minutes or so I had to be up standing, pacing around the house, then down every few minutes.

Until 8.00am that morning, I was loosing my religion.

For 11 hrs, I talked to God, non stop, he has the power to make this pain go, or even a little relief,I thought.

If my daughter was in as much pain, I would do whatever it takes to make that pain go, even if it meant finding a doctor in the middle of the night to take that tooth off.

That's what real parents do.

This morning, Robert my old friend, Suggested I read "Mere Christianity, By  C.S Lewis."

You see, It's not just about the toothache, but about life, about pain, about caring, about parenting, about love...

Questions about who Ihave known as God now torture my mind....

Am I loosing my religion?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NO TEQUILA PLEASE, I AM A VIRGIN


This is an exerpt from something i am writing, i hope it is something you would like to read.....T.C


It was a warm evening, the club was just filling up, and I sipped my Martini Bianco as I toyed with the olives in my mouth.

Joe was back in country after a 2 year stint in Sudan as a pilot with the UN, we did not say goodbye when he left.

A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into him at the Kenchic on Ngong road , on a Sunday Afternoon when the girls and I had nothing to do, after lots of gossip in a neighbourhood cafĂ©, we decided for that nicely done chicken on our way to check out dudes at the Jamhuri car bazaar, and right there on the queue, I see him, Joe Kweku, tall dark, and as handsome as always. My heart skips a beat; I couldn’t believe it was him; we exchange pleasantries and contact details, again.

The first time I saw Joe was outside the Phoenix Players’ theatre. I was there to watch the British farce, A private life, I got there too early and waited outside as the others arrived, I always enjoyed standing there,looking at people chatting, hugging, kissing, eyeing each other…It was always a funny sweet indulgence for me, after having broken up with my college sweetheart, Phil a couple of Months earlier. I perhaps wanted to see myself in that bubble someday.

So when this guy on a red Kawasaki motorbike rode into the parking lot, we all turned to look. Men and women alike, he parked his bike, and walked in as if none of us existed. In my mind a track was playing to his stride, strong and purposeful with every step, he had two tickets in his hand, I stared, unashamedly, after all, in his world, I did not exist. But In my fantasy, the other ticket was mine. He walked towards me, held my face, looked into my eyes, and kissed my dream goodbye.

The stage manager soon rang the bell, but I waited outside, I still wanted to savor this blend of beauty and mystery who rode a motorbike, and walked as if he owned the land he walked on…If he was a thriller, he would be a deep, dark and mysterious one, if he was on my plate for breakfast, he would be the sweetest maple syrup playing tricks on my tongue.

As everyone else went into the theatre, Allan, who acted in a couple of plays at the phoenix, walked up from the parking lot, we always thought he was gay, and today he was very excited, he just got admitted to the bar, and was up for a celebration,

“Hey girl, will you join us tonight at the courtyard?”
and before I responded, a deep voice was on the other side saying

“hey, Al, what time is it man, the play will begin in a minute?

it was the Kawasaki eye candy.

Hmm..so that's who the other ticket belonged to! Al the advocate watching "a private life" with with my dream man?

He walks over to say hello.

Girl meets boy, boy meets girl, and girl thinks boy has gorgeous eyes,.... and gay?

Later that evening,Al, Joe , me and a couple of others go to the Courtyard, and it becomes the place I call heaven for a while.

I had my first shot of tequila amid cheers from the boys, despite my screaming, “no, no tequila, I am a virgin”…and Joe's eyes could leave mine all the while i screamed about my tequilla virginity, his eyes were like a kindling fire, one that had burned several times, there was no virginity vibe in those diamonds his eyes were.

It was a wild night and we ended up taking a ride at midnight on the red kawasaki around the courtayard as the boys cracked football and your momma jokes over whisky and several shots of tequilla.

Joe was not gay after all.

Barely a month after that, Joe was posted to Sudan, and now, today, two years later, I am siting at the bar, martini in hand, sucking on the olives, which are neither sweet nor sour, waiting to see him.

I glance at my watch, its 8.33pm; he was to be here at 8.30.

Just then the man who rode a red Kawasaki walks in, with his usual charm he walks over, calls the barman and orders for tequila even before he says hello

And I say, in a firm voice, looking into his deep dark eyes,

“No tequila please, I am a virgin.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

JOURNEY FROM THE SERENGETI


I had watched it on TV for eons, the millions of wildebeest crossing over to the Maasai Mara after depleting the magnificent Serengeti of all its green grass. The untouched pastures of the Maasai Mara lures the gnu’s into making the champagne colored plains in the heart of the African Bush one of the most spectacular wildlife locations in the world, this time of year, and I was one of the many who came from all over the world to witness this great migration, thanks to being the director for our tourism programme, Destination Kenya.

The plane was scheduled to leave JKIA at 1100hrs, and we were uneasy, the airline had just received a big hit, a crush in Somalia, where Ali, an old friend of mine was co pilot also perished. So when we were told we had been placed into another plane, there was a collective sigh of relief.

1300hrs, we board the plane at Wilson Airport, the captains smooth voice tells us Keekorok will be the first stop, and in my mind I play out my scanty filming schedule, and rethink the skeleton scripts I wrote based on research only and all I could wish for was to be able to do a Recce before, in production speak this means going ahead and planning with the location in mind…but that has not been the case (or can’t make much cents sense at this point in time, so hell, my goose is cooked. Producing a documentary or film about a place you have never been to is not one of the easiest things on earth, but armed with my laptop, contacts, presenter and cameraman, and the hope of Msengeti, the lodge manager on the other side.

we board the plane and sit with Adam of Sekenani camp, and for the half an hour we are in the plane I pick up bits and pieces of what’s going to make my great script for Destination Kenya. Nini and Kelly are all heated up about deep sea diving, bungee jumping and other extreme sports, as my tummy coils at the thought of my free falling mid air, accidents happen, that’s my excuse, so I pretend am listening as I try to work out this whole Mara filming, and I keep my fingers crossed as I hope the two days we have there will pay off.

About half an hour later , we land at Keekorok airstrip , the team is excited, and I see Francis Msengeti, the new lodge manager of Sarova Mara. He just moved here from Shaba, which in my own experience translates as the land of the Gods. Msengeti comes off as a very serious fellow, and when I first met him with another team of journalists a few months earlier in Isiolo, his ‘do not mess’ looks put us in our place; Giggly journalists, as we had been referred to in the recent Adam magazine by the lithe Biko. Anyway, When Joan of Sarova told me he would be the one with us in the Mara, I knew we were in good hands.

The CNBC placard was waving by the time we touched down, and before long we were on our way to the lodge, coming face to face with a lion that lay in the middle of the road, and the job began, Nini miked up for a quick piece to camera, as Kelly began filming. A very encouraging start , and my mind was now racing with words and structure for my now shaping up script.





The Maasai welcome at the Sarova beats any 5 star I have I have experienced in the few countries I have been too, the ethnic touch of song and dance, coupled with the high jump and deep throaty sounds of the Maasai men at the entrance, the very essence of the Maasai Mara invites us into this lodge that will be our base for this excursion, Msengeti has made us feel very welcome already, and as we make our way into the beautiful tented camps, I wonder when I can bring my daughter here, or even if I would afford it, and am told when the season is low, with good planning practically any Kenyan can experience the splendor of the Mara, that’s plan number 1 when am done filming this thing….




After a sumptuous continental buffet, I sit with Msengeti to plan the two days we are here, and the schedule he has in his hand puts my heart to rest, will be tight, but really smooth.I am glad to see the lodge brimming with tourists. It is full house, I am told, bookings are tight too, and looks like this will be the trend for coming months. I flash back to January this year, when I went to do a post analysis of the post poll crisis on beach tourism, it was a dreadful revelation. White sands has closed one wing, had a handful of tourists who were leaving in a week…but here, only 8 months later, the Sarova Mara is operating at about 90%, and deep inside I smile…slowly things are happening in this industry that supports over 2 million people directly and indirectly.

5.30 pm…Sundowner CocktailWe meet at the reception to go count the sun down, it could be every girls secret fantasy, should that special someone propose as we enjoy a Manhattan cocktail…I am a hopeless romantic, soon it feels as if we are driving into the sunset, the bonfire and table for 2 makes for perfect filming, and my mind goes on hyper mode, links, PTC’s as we watch the sun go down…this sundowner is one of the most beautiful setups, and am glad am working, this is no place for a single woman!

It was beautiful and the rest fell into place, starting with waking at at 5.00 am the next morning for an early morning game drive, this time driving into the sunrise, experiencing the morning in a Maasai manyatta in sekenani , drinking warm milk right from the cow, and freezing as the Maasai morans stare down at me and Nini, asking questions about our hair, mascara, lip gloss, picture this 10 men staring at you for one hour flat, no it’s not flattering, it’s scary!James Ole Tira, walks with a funny limp and I always wanted to ask him why, and decided against , he was a lovely man, a Maasai chief as well as our guide for this trip, we set up his main interview with the backdrop of the hills, he told us stories about the Maasai and how they stick to their culture in fluent English, even if he has never been to school. Kisio, the driver, kept dropping little gems of information as we moved from one place to another during the game drive. And I quickly caught on the lingo, “ tuna tafuta wa juu” when looking for the leopard..or “ kichwa yuko wapi” when asking about the Lion.

I have been on several trips to National parks but I had never seen so many animals! From the 10 different species of the antelope, to the Zebra, wildebeest, elephant, and birds: I loved the lilac crested roller!It was smooth; the programme went better than I had dreamed of. From the tented camps…fishing, mini golf, bush dinner, Boma dinner, salt lick dinner, view deck dinner, pool side breakfast, garden breakfast , buffet lunch, and when we were done, we sipped our beer and listened to Komora & Krensa at the fire place in the bar…cracking jokes about sex , journalists & hoteliers.

The wildebeest refused to cross the river. The Baks himself was there that weekend, and the ODM wildebeest said, bilaz. They live in the Serengeti, they hadn’t heard about the coalition. We camped for hours on end by the river, as the lead Zebra sniffed at the water and turned back, did you know that the whole pack of wildebeest is led by a zebra, Jah knows why, but that’s a fact!So we extended our stay by a day, thanks to Msengeti, but still the frigging animals stayed on the other side of the Mara River. But we got to experience the hot air balloon, filmed a lot especially the millions of wildebeest that refused to cross the river!



When I knew I had enough material for the prog, we gave up watching the river watchers, and settled for a game of poker by the pool at Sarova. Nini is too good at it, so is Kelly, we even managed to convince Msengeti to join us for a bit, and the thugs beat me at poker, thank heavens it wasn’t strip poker!



It was day three and our last evening at the Sarova Mara, and we wanted to have a good wrap, and we did! Let’s just say, it ended very well. It comprised many things, including staying up till 3.00 am watching Sin City, which in my books, is one of the best movies ever made, but it would have been so much better if I had a hand in mine…two is company.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I HEAR GITHONGO IS BACK IN TOWN


I hear Githongo is in town.

I do not celebrate; I wonder what he is here for. After ducking away into European warmth, there is only so much to do back home, the zoo is still the same, the monkeys, the very size and colour. Nothing has changed.

1500 hrs, at the Hilton hotel, I walk in and notice the amount of dreadlocks and tattoos that mark the presence of the civil society, and we joke about the irony of having this press conference at the grand Regency Hotel, I found it funny, some did not. For some strange reason I revisited JM Kariuki’s threadbare story and this being the last place he was seen alive, after a cup of coffee or so.

Upstairs in the Tsavo room, the event was just about to begin, and Muthoni Wanyeki was calling the crowd to attention, a huge crowd here today, lots of TV and Radio crew, I hear some stations are going live, interesting, for a man whose last days here were pegged with death threats, back on the invitation of the Prime Minister.

I must say that the civil society has the most eloquent speakers in this country, one after the other they came to congratulate Mr. J or the ‘Anti-corruption Czar’ as the dailies like to call him, for being a brave man, the whistle blower who became a celebrity for uncovering the dark secret that Anglo leasing was, even though we may never really know what happened.

We already know more than we should anyway. We're Kenyans.

I mean, we say,
“Hi how are you doing?”
When we really don’t care how that other person is doing.
“I’m very fine”
I lady replies with tears in her eyes at the funeral service of her husband, who died of a long illness bravely borne.

But hey, thank the heavens for a P.S who was brighter than Munyakei.

Munyakei was The Goldenberg blower who did not realize that only big fish can deal with the big fish, and when they get afraid, they release the little but lethal Piranhas while you can take off to wine and dine in British bliss,Munyakei could only afford to relocate to Mombasa where he embraced a new religion in his search for inner peace.

Munyakei should have known better ( ask Kwani’s Billy Kahora)

But we, Kenyans love to forget.

It’s easy to think you can get away with whistle blowing; here,but it is a crime in itself. Both Mr J and Munyakei know this as a fact.

So when Mr.J stood to speak, you could almost hear a pin drop in the hall, an eager audience waiting to listen to magic, and I hoped he would deliver.

He didn’t.

He can’t.

He is not the policy maker.

He gave Suggestions

Unfortunately,  I do not care about suggestions, I want solutions.

But he spoke well; Mr J.

He asked for Amnesty for economic crimes.

But our sophisticated elitist criminals know the right professionals who can immediately start doing the paper work on how much they will return to “the Kenyan people’

How about public accountability for crimes, your noble suggestions sir?

J, have you been away too long?

This is Kenya my boy, we follow the deny rule.

Deny. Deny. Deny.

Have you noticed that The Laico Regency stands tall next to that parking lot that just got a new layer of gravel on Loita Street?

Just asking, you might be interested.

Welcome home J.

I still wonder though if you are here on a visit, or to have a cup of tea with PM and the civil society, like John Kufuor did when he came here in January. Do tell….

Gladwell Otieno, step daughter to Mbugua the great then stood up to speak, the little dynamite had some tough words for the Kenyan government.

“A government that is not legit does not have the moral authority to tell the high school students not to go on strike” She said.
She even reminded Mr. J on his use of the word ‘dilemma’ “ because we use the word ‘crisis’ to describe the killings of one thousand Kenyans after the disputed elections.

Miss Otieno asked Mr. J to get over the euphoria of returning home, I second her.

Welcome home Mr. J.

I thought to introduce myself to you sir:

I am a mother, a Kenyan, waiting for lower inflation levels, so that with a thousand shillings, my monthly grocery will be taken care of, just like it was before 2007.

I am dreaming of a reduction to double digit on the Kenyan pumps, am a Gemini you see, I am allowed to dream, and you are very welcome to join me in my hopeless fantasies.

Mr. J, after 3 years in the UK, getting gifts of Kenyan tea, which you don’t even take, what are you bringing home?

You see, In 2002, I held on tight to my ID and Voters cards, I can still remember the precise emotions I went through, hoping and dreaming for a better home.

When I heard that you were coming back, I did not think you were a great man, or that your return meant something in the war against corruption, I just thought you missed home, and when R.O invited you over, you said yes, after all, nothing beats the Nyama Choma on Waiyaki way on a lazy Sunday Afternoon.

Welcome back J.

The Civil society knows that it has been vilified by the policy makers. That’s what you get when you decide to help the silent opposition to carry a metal chain along parliament road.

So does the civil society know that nothing is going to change, as long as the political caste is still the same? This class which seems to be designed in ‘that’ way?

Why does the civil still talk, big angry words that raise the dust and get me all encouraged and dreaming again?

I cannot answer that question.

Mr. J, welcome home.

But I will not listen to you. I will be a Kenyan.

I will sit back and wait for you to fight corruption, so that you can get exiled in Britain or whichever G8 country you choose to go to.

I will sit and wait for the prices of maize meal to come back to 65 shillings. I will watch the news and hope that you make some impact.

But I will not get lied to again.

I will be a Kenyan, mind my own business, pay my bills and sing the national Anthem.

Just don’t ask me to join you in the public fight against corruption.

I don’t have the strength to.

But Mr. J, welcome home.

BECAUSE OF YESTERDAY I AM TODAY

First was the box of Godiva chocolate
That turned my already tuned on self
Into a sweet creamy dream
You took me there,
Yesterday.

Then there were the flowers
Lilies, orchids and those of the wild
No roses,
For you knew my tastes and colors
Their soft petals caressed my senses
Those that fired every time I saw you
And I fell in love over and over again,
Yesterday.

I remember as if it just happened
The way you tried to impress me with your cooking
Fried ¼ liver and spaghetti sprinkled with cheap cheese
And after dinner, laying on your raffia couch
Catching up on season 4 of lost
Cuddling, laughing and playing like little children
Yesterday

When you found me
I loved, I knew love, I wanted love, and I gave love
Wholesome,
When you went to work very early,
I woke up to kiss you goodbye,
probably a little some some,
Walked you to the door with a packed sandwich
And remembered to dip the salami in Ketchup
Even when I insisted on mayonnaise
Yesterday

Your phone was yours
And I never bothered
Your life was yours
And you wanted me as part of it
And I was but a sauce
That sweetened the life you led with fire
Yesterday.

Then the phone calls began
2200hrs and you reduce the speaker volumes on you phone
I am home, you say
And I don’t ask who.
Then the beeps began
With you calling back immediately
And then Friday you did not come home.
Yesterday

Love is not dynamic;
I do not know how to trust
When you did not sleep in our 6 by six wrought iron bed
Cold and questioning
Yesterday

You dare ask me?
What happened to the girl you knew yesterday?
She grew up,
She learnt the new meaning of trust,
only to a certain level
Learnt that love can go wrong
that her heart can get broken
That he who was her blessing
was also her curse

Because of Yesterday, I am today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

TRUST ME I AM A JOURNALIST

Trust me I’m a Journalist
At 9 o’clock every morning
When the opening bell rings on the NSE
I am there, to see the trading begin
Bull Run, what’s the demand for the green back,
Safaricom, is the share price up?
Why? So I can tell you where to put your money
I translate the indices, points up or down, when to buy, when to sell
Then serve you with the simple arithmetic that tomorrow you can add peanut butter
To your daily dry bread and black tea
Trust me I am a journalist

I may be the last one to leave the club every evening
The one whose name everybody knows
But I still take the matatu home after clubbing
While you sashay into your Range Rover sport
After Listening to my witty stories of dining with Raila, holding the chain for Ababu,
Coaxing Kimunya, laughing with Kajwang and ducking from Martha
After those wonderful nights, you leave, and I wait for daybreak
Because taxi…not my style.
My number 11 to south B will be here at around 4 am, till then
I get the vibe from the waiters, and the sad mistresses who are always left behind
And that makes the juicy vibe you like to catch in the gossip columns
“Reliable sources”, quote un quote…
Trust me, I am a journalist


You see I know everything
It is my job to know who, what, where, when and how
And to help you understand that, lets pick a doing word
And use it with every pronoun I said above …say screw.
So, who …what, where, when and …sometimes how
That was Lesson number one in my news writing class, the 5w’s and an H
With that in mind,
I need you to trust me, I am a journalist

I am an ICT specialist
Do you know that the price of bandwidth in Kenya costs 100% more than it does in South Africa?
That’s the price of speed, or lack of it, should that under water cable ever become a reality
The 59 BPO licenses that have been issued will finally turn to offices
I just made up those numbers up, trust me on that, I am a journalist

I am agriculture expert by the way
A green revolution in Africa can, and will happen
If only we focus on farming again,
Make life worth living in the grain baskets of this country
Then Africa will feed itself
You see the price of fertilizer kept many farmers away from the farms
If African governments walk the talk, then we won’t be hungry for long
Tanzania will create a fertilizer factory,
And then we shall, typically of Kenyans
Bull doze into duty free trade within east African countries
If only they can safaricom shares
Trust me, I am a journalist

I am also a professional tourist
I have visited all the hot spots in this country, for free
I am paid to experience the luxury, the beauty and the sheer pleasure
Of best kept exclusive secrets on the shores of Lake Victoria where Bill Clinton and the likes
Drop by for a fishing weekend,
Or in the heart of Mombasa where Halima charges ‘whatever I can get” for whatever kind of job, fishing, blowing…you name it
You see that’s part of my job description
Spoiling the indulging senses of fresh breezes with musky sweaty scents and shots of heroine in the dark Malindi night
I know how to sniff a party, and I can tell that the whiff is good quality
Trust me I am a journalist

In my lifetime
I have also been a thug, a street girl, a parking attendant and a jobless corner one
Sitting outside mama Njeri’s seven up shop in Jericho
As we share the single cigarette till we almost smoke the filter
Chatting up the boys about a bottle that can blow up houses
And toys that kill, in pain…but also in pleasure
Ask Boni odinga or Mohamed Ali, he even knows where the toys are bought, and I am not talking about guns
(And ladies I don’t have his number)
But I Trust him he is a journalist

I interview the other experts all the time, and to ask relevant questions with depth
I have to be proficient; I am paid to be that, so you can believe me
I have ethics by the way, which I strictly adhere to, make an entrance
Attend all the cocktails, swoon over the beauties, men and women alike
Woo them with my charm, words and ‘I am a journalist”
And when it’s time to leave, let them go, number 11 to south B will start again at 4 am
So there’s time for inspiration for tomorrow’s news
Trust me, I am a journalist.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Five writers, One voice.

 1500 hrs: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

It was one of those days when time just stood still, my SAA flight to Jo Burg was either running late, or I got to the airport too early, traffic on Mombasa road isn’t the sexiest place to get stuck in on a Friday Afternoon.
So with extra hours to kill, I roamed the duty free shops inside the Jomo Kenyatta international Airport, wishing I had an Ipod, however much I hate the way those cords stick out of people ears. I had packed in a hurry, and forgot to pack a good book. So I look for a book store, passing by some Nigerians speaking rather loudly sitting on the floor, their plane must have been running late. Either that or they had been left, they were not happy, Nigerians are very loud people, that’s normal, but when they are angry, the voice meter hits red and stays there.

" Oga? how you think am gon go home now, me I had a godam meetin in abuja tonight, now am still here, how many dollar you think i lose , are you gon pay me now, this airways of yours should learn a lesson, ours is called Virgin, maybe you should make that your national airline!! You behave like silly uncivilized Africans..."

Being Kenyan, and black, I walked quickly past, peeking into the duty free perfume shop, glad I did not carry my credit card. I reached the book store, and I got excited again, I love the smell of new books, rows and rows of freshly unpacked hard and soft covers. I have always admired Nancy Friday for the crowds she manages to pull, and as I flip through 'My Mother, My self", another title catches my eye.” Africa, the Shackled Continent.” Africa’s past, present and Future.

Being a journalist has taught me three things,
• Look all you can
• Ask the right questions
• Doubt all the answers

I have high hopes for Africa, Zimbabwe may be a disaster, and Darfur may be an eye sore, but deep down I am a dreamer. Because there must be a reason why when world economies continue to tumble, our growth rates act as if we live in our own little world, and may be we really do, so when that yellow soft cover book titled the Shackled continent caught my eye, I knew I had to get it, even if I realized in anger that the writer was in fact a foreign journalist who had "studied the African continent".

Why would I read from a man who thinks he knows Africa? With great restraint, I did. It made a great read, new insights on how a non African looks at this continent, and an urge deep inside me curled up, hoping that next time I read such a book, the writer will be a name I identify with.

1900hrs: Kengeles, Lavington

It's a cold evening, the Kwani literary festival had began and tonight was special, the line up of writers taking on the mic was impressive, and I was hosting the event, I was nervous, It was a first in many ways for me, I have continuously shied away from hosting public events, crowds make me jittery, but this time, my friend and mentor, Ndoro, told me once, " if you know you should do something, and you are not sure you can, then you must do it." That changed the way I look at life these days, so when Mike of Kwani asked me to host it, yours truly said, “Yes, Anytime."

'Grandmothers winning smile' was the first book of the night, and the writer, Stanley Gazemba has this beautiful way of making me feel like am back in my grandmothers kitchen in Kapkatet, Kericho district. It's after dinner, and the embers are dying away, and the stories of hares, and hyena's and Luanda Magere, a hero from the neighboring tribe, who fell in love with a Kalenjin girl.

Gazemba hopes selling Grandmothers winning smile will enable him buy a Mercedes that will drive him to the readings instead of connecting several matatus to the Sunday Salon. Something Bantu Mwaura dismisses as a pipe dream, saying you can’t live on writing in Kenya today. The book is only 200 bob, but the true worth of history that African books tell cannot be measured, just like the stories gogo used to tell us in those young days.

The Luo from Uganda, David Kaiza, who had been teased about speaking backwards by our own proud folks of the lakeside boda boda country, was in the house tonight, his story was a journey, deep and questioning, on ethnicity and asinine sovereignty of tribes, something Kenyans have refused to look at in the eye.

He took me through all the emotions a human being is allowed to feel at a literary event, laughter, anger, sometimes contentment and lots of questions. I had been in the places he talked about as an African, felt the things he had felt, and when I heard his story has been picked up for Kwani 5, I knew it is a must buy. African stories, told by African Voices, that's what gets me going these days, believable stories of Boda Boda Mayhem, and the role that history and perception play in shaping present day East Africa.

He has the X factor this next gentleman, has the calmest of voices, and the most penetrating eyes, Kalundi Serumaga, and his story, unsettled, appears in the little kwanini? I got in my gft bag after buying a ticket for the fashion for peace event. It is a very unsettling read, I find out he is the son of Robert Serumaga, the man who courted controversy in Idi Amin's Kingdom in the early years, a chip of the old block this one, he reminded me of a crush I once had on a butcher back home in Kitale when I was 8 years old. But that’s a story for another day.

When he read out "unsettled," the events of early this year flooded into my mind in the most disturbing way,(I wrote about my experience in an earlier blog here called My Brain, My Tribe) He may be from Uganda, but I felt like an idiotic Kenyan that day, me and other Kenyans present knew the truth in that story. Just because the Brits called it Kenya and some big shots wife thought Nigeria is a good name to give a blocked out huge tract of land does not mean we belong here, Serumaga says, we are either visitors or servants. Some of his writing also appears in a new anthology that Rasnah talks about below. I wanted to hear more, so when he gave me his card, I promised to look at his website, www.serumagacentre.org.ug and www.ashrineformyfather.com.

Trust me, when a man has that X factor, you click 'browse internet' on your phone just when you are out of his sight.

Missionaries, Merceneries and Misfits.
Voices of Rasna Warah and Bantu Mwaura speak from this anthology that pokes big holes into the aid system from the developing world, questioning their role in developing the very third world they in blindfold. Theater for Development got its fair thrashing, and anyone who has been in the theatre world must hear him out. An article about this book quotes that aid stunts growth, feeds corruption and oils the cogs in the wheels of a highly dysfunctional development industry, I couldn't say it better.

Sunday salon really is a meeting of great minds, as the evening wore on, I asked for dry white wine, which the waitress had loudly told me, "Mia Mbili", as if I was a little girl on daddy’s budget. I joined Betty Muragori ( Better known as Sitawa the 3rd Namwalie) and Kalundi for a drink, but left for home shortly after, wishing I could stay on, but I had to be at work at six am in the morning.

Life goes on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WHEN KWESI COMES TO TOWN

When Kwesi comes to town
Everything comes to a stop
Nothing matters, no one matters
Not even the wild Nairobi Fridays, or the weekly doze
Of DJ Leo at the black diamond which gives me the ultimate high
or the mad parties at Wanja's favorite tequila pub
When Kwesi is town, I lose my diary, my watch and my planner
I find my heart, and it beats…hard, fast,

"Hello Chebet"
"Guess who is in town?"
He says with his slight Accra accent that gives me a tingle
Excitement is hard to hide
Even after years of being female and trained in the art of faking
When Kwesi is in town,
Everything is different

Mysterious, Kwesi has a twinkle in his eye
But I can never call him mine
He knows, he sees, he smiles
As he teases me with his travel stories
He laughs, and flirts with the waiters
In an ever so attractive way
As we listen to jazz at the intercontinetal

He loves the music here tonight
And flirts with me about taking me back with him to Accra
I laugh like a little girl,
I close my eyes in endless dreams
That are nowhere here nor there
We chat, laugh and talk about our busy lives
Of the people we have met or never will meet
The things we have done or never will do
And as I look, listen, and soak the night away
I feel like a helpless 16 year old geek with a crush on the football captain

I am afraid
I like him more than I should
Worlds apart, but he brings me back my joy, innocence even
He says he misses me when he is away
But; miss you, and… like you
Are the warmest words that we share
Maybe, just a roll in the hay on this cold Nairobi night?
I wonder, feeling like a nun trapped in a whore's body
I lose my funny bone, and I want to get away, so after a few more jazz hits
Kwesi takes me to my waiting taxi
A hug, "good night," he waits till my taxi drives away,
I look at him until we take the curve, good night, I whisper to myself
When Kwesi comes to town, somehow,
I find my heart.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Diamond in the rough....Over a mocha last week at Java, Mo* my friend for ages filled me on the man in her life, I try to re live her story

My phone beeps.

J: Hi
Mo: How are you doing man?
J: good.
J: so? (I do not respond)
J: Tuesday?

I pause, Tuesday?

Let me first put you in the picture. My name is Maureen, All my friends call me Mo, and I work as a program manager for a local NGO. I am beautiful, and if the attention I get from men is anything to go by, then I am very attractive. I am high maintance type of girl. I earn a decent salary, live in a posh neighborhood, drive a good car, in short, I live good life, God has been good ( I regret to call His name sometimes, later you will understand why.)

I am lonely, and often times, alone.

When in my house at night, I wonder who to call, talk to, laugh with, joke with, and no, not my women friends, I have plenty of those, but someone, a man who will smile when he sees my number calling, who will want to be with me, laugh with me, fight with me, I want a lover, a friend, a man, my man.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not desperate. I have one, him, J.

But he is not entirely mine you see. He is married, happily at that, three children to seal the pack.8 year old twin boys and a 4 year old little girl. His wife, lets call her Jo for now, is a beautiful woman. We are in the same circle of friends so we bump into each other regularly at weddings or at church.
Here the 50 mile rule does not apply, but I manage to keep a respectable distance.

I do not respect that marriage though, I would be lying if I said I did, but I respect her as the first lady, she comes first, I come second.

Period.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of interesting men. In the NGO world, they come in all shapes, sizes and colour, and the pockets are deeply seated, if you may. Nice respectable young fellas, some looking to settle, but, for one reason or the other, I am still to meet one I will foolishly fall in love with.

Because, I want to fall in love.

For now, J makes my dreams come true, at least some.

He wakes me up in the morning sometimes, via sms, and I love to hear my phone beep to his text...and I am always hoping for one that says, " Morning sweetheart, I woke up thinking about you today, and the beautiful way you touch my heart”. But this remains a dream.

"So, today?" it reads, and I can’t wait to respond, “Yes”.

He is a busy man, my J. He hardly calls to find out how I am, he hardly responds in the way I long for him to do, but still, I stay.

Why can’t he make me feel like a woman? With sweet words and surprise candle lit dinners? I am only 27, and I know a few men who would love to make me the woman I dream of, But I stay here.

J is old fashioned, and romance to him is a thing of the white man. He says, he knows how to provide and do other important things required of a man in a relationship, so when he gave me the keys to the brand new Red SLK 500, then I knew what he was talking about.

I have been romanced by the men i have dated before, I have been courted like a star, spoilt and taken around the world....before something happens and we part ways, sometimes with huge scars in my heart. Many times, I use this to justify this thing with J.

"So, Tuesday?"
Is his idea of being romantic, I have learnt to deal with it. I want babies, but with him, that can never happen, he has a well planned family, and if we get foolish, they may be twins.

So why do I stay on?

Because he is a diamond in the rough: deep down, a little gem, and for now, the greatest reason why I smile.

I receive no flowers from him, or cards or gifts in fancy packages, we operate on a cash basis, I ask for a gift, we valuate it, and he gives me the money, (that way I get exactly what I want)...and we tread very carefully.

My attraction to him knows no bounds, and even if he spends every night with Jo, I sleep with him in my heart.

My diamond in the rough, makes me whole for now...and that is all that matters.

Period.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pages of my heart...Terryanne Chebet: AFRICA IN LABOUR

Pages of my heart...Terryanne Chebet: AFRICA IN LABOUR

AFRICA IN LABOUR

Africa is in labour
summon the village elders
to make a prayer for the royal birth
the brain child of heavenly matrimony
as the fields turn golden
ripe...with harvest
let the celebrations begin,
the ululations of the African woman,
pour libation to the ancestors with pride
for Africa is in labour

The anxious mother writhes in pain
her eyes shut as the memories of yester years fill her mind
years of slavery, exploitation, poverty,
the aftermath of racism and war
burns like acid rain
The beautiful pain of childbirth

Africa's children lay scattered in the dust
torn apart by untold calamities
that rock the womb of black heritage
she prepares her already full breasts for the coming child
as tears stain her milky bosom

Africa is in labour
the naming ceremony is just about
the royal cockerel is at the shrine
it crows...several times
if it crows 3 times, it is a girl,4 times, a boy
6 times it crows, a child..just a child

Africa bursts into celebration
A child is born
A black child is born
and sound of the African drum fills the air
Africa rises with every beat
Grandpa, blow your kudu horn,
uncle, play your marimba
mama, pluck your nyatiti
let the horn of Africa, down to the cape
burst forth for this celebration of colour

The women ululate in awe
the children break into dance
the men sit around a bonfire, warming their liquor
celebration
For a child is born
Africa is its name
Africa, my Africa...

come see the re-birth of black culture
As Africa rises from the dust
to soar into the heights
of black liberation.

The chief holds the baby up in the air
'Africa will open her eyes, and bury her songs of old
she will recover her unrivalled beauty
and heal from her wounds of affliction
shades of black will be her crown
time surely has told
and Africa, will rise again'

come,
join me celebrate
the rebirth of Black Africa

BACK TO THE BASICS

Back to the basics;


I have continued to battle with words that sound politically correct in recent days, including trying not to read between the lines in our daily newspapers, when indeed, the news is all between the lines. But in the same way that one loves with the heart and not with the mind, then, one can only be correct or wrong, disregard political, and it’s corrected-ness or lack of, that has found us a place with the pigs, even when our so called intellectual minds sit, sipping a chocolatey mocha, loving the nightly news or the bevy of beauties gracing the screens these days, the back and forth news of Premier today, no Premier tomorrow, sharing today, no sharing tomorrow.

But, the pain that’s deeper in my heart, is that I have smelt burning, not flesh, but concrete, black smoke, money and hard work smoked up to the heavens that shot them back down for discoloring the pure white clouds above, on that day when traveling back to Nairobi from Kitale, my mind racing with Kalenjin vocabulary, just incase we got stopped and asked what the name of an onion is in my tribe.

I smelt burning, on my way to Eldoret in Soy Centre, and I clutched on tight to my little girl, praying to reach the airport safely. That was the day the mind of my very Kenyan brother turned black inside, DO NOTE: this is politically correct language.

My gal, is half tribes…if today, she was in the schools i went to, beautiful places hidden in the scenic rift, beneath the dry river beds of western Kenya and looking up to the hills of what was once the white highlands…would I, in my right mind, take her to school there, I would like to be politically correct at this point and say, I will evaluate the situation first, and as we love to say it these days, now that( uneasy )calm has returned to the country?

Or do I say, you know, education is a very important tool in this day and age, and where one takes her child, depends on how well one sleeps, and in that case, I would find a school next door.

I dream, me, the Gemini is born to do that. I Dream about sunset years spent soaking the sun in the canaries, sipping a cosmopolitan after years of investing wisely in the Nairobi stock exchange. But now, I have had to double my old mutual premiums that will take my girl to that school that knows no tribe, and better still guard against the inflation that now means with 100 bob in my hand, I can only get 3 packets of milk and a balance of one bob, which will not be enough for the spinach, emergency matchbox and a 250gms of salt, like it was mid 2007.


And inter tribal relationships, where do they fall? Just when Otieno’s mother was getting used to the fact that Wambui is here to stay, the breaking news started scrolling, 8 dead in Kisii, 7 burned in Burnt Forest…my fingers, that were alive with youth and anxiety, soon broke out in a sweat, shock on me, how blind could we be, taking to the queues at the polling centre's from 5.00 am, and not see that this was going to happen?


So, how do I start the healing, when I believed in my heart that only the old and un educated were the tribal ones?


You see, the first question my aunties asked when I told them I was dating a kikuyu, in September 2003 were was, how will we tell your uncles?


And now, I would like to pretend that I come from a family where another tribe means an equal, lovable person, but that would be a lie. I speak for a percentage of Kenyans, but I do not have the figures of this percentage. But now, how much more will we revolt each other, how do I, one who thinks intellect comes with literacy, begin my own healing?


I have learnt, in a few crippling weeks, that a book, ink, a pen…does not equate statesmanship, does not equate freedom, and does not equate healing.


Way back in the day when the white man came, they say he took the land; we kept the bibles, and learned to hold a pen. But even then we fought, and tried to stop the snake that is now the Rift valley railway. We fought to get our land back, fought he that came with both sugar and pepper. We took the sugar, and stumped out the pepper, and stayed around long enough to sniff into the dizziness that divides us into tribes, proud tribes that guard our land with a vengeance.


One brain, one mind, one thought, only that our weapons are different, I carry my desperation on my keyboard, others carry bows and arrows, farther away, some carry machetes.


And now I have to put my house in order. How do I be a Kenyan, love Otieno, Mutisya, Njoroge, just the same way I love myself?


How do I begin to love again?


PS- We all are Goliaths, the Davids’ are long rested, with grass already growing on their graves, so I pray, tell me, where do I begin?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Brain, My tribe

Just last week, a friend and I got a thirsty throat and our next stop was the inevitable Kengeles Koinange, right next to our office at Ambank House, and once the Rum and tusker malt started flowing, we got talking; on the men seated around us, to relationships, commitment, flowers, or lack of on valentines day, commercial properties of love, when is love really love, or what is the cost of love these days? It can be in the thousands…or better still millions so, when he, the one right across, whose attention I got while wrapping my fingers suggestively around my 100% human hair from the UK, tells me he runs a dairy farm, I ask him if it’s the family business.


You see, if it’s not, its love in the thousands, and if it is the family business, and he is the adored son of the man who practically owns that town, centre of the great rift, it is love in the millions, with probability of growing, maturing, if with tender loving care, to love in the billions. Another double rum is placed on the table, a few tusker malts cover the apple red’s table lining, the proud way the Luo’s like to do when out drinking, someone makes that famous joke, and after being on first name basis for the last 20 or so, he asks…”and what tribe are you?”

The million-dollar question.

Why does he want to know what tribe I am?

The questions start racing in my mind, and I don’t have multiple choice answers

Of note is that I have been watching the news a lot lately, the throat slitting headlines now remain etched in my mind, until another gory headline appears on my used to be my very light newspaper( read tabloid)..Militias prepare to go to war…

“What tribe are you?”

What tribe am I? How does that affect the price of my Meakins rum this rather adulterous looking Thursday evening, or looking at long term options, how does that affect how much you will love me?


What tribe am I? Do the millions in your family account need know what tribe I spur from, the egg that hatched me is human, only carried by my Kalenjin mother, sad, that my tribe is blamed for burning, killing, hate campaigns that make me now want to hide…but still I am proud, made proud by community, that which has seen Kenya, the name in athletics..(read Tergat, and all the other Kips and Cheps) and even with our English as lacking as it may be, I am proud, that, I speak the language that my mother taught me, that I am different from the Americans, who understand, speak and love only that one language.I am proud that one day, when I get married, my mother will receive a number of cows. I am proud, that I have an ethnicity, and the vile humour that runs in the blood of those that curse the culture divide.It is a beautiful divide, it introduces me to the beauty of a ngurario, and the sour love of mursik, it beats me in the bull fights in luhya land, and makes my blood run at the lusty waist beads of the Taita woman.

I am a Kalenjin, and am proud that I can tell my brother, in my tribe, that there is cow dung in his path, so he can step the other way.

That’s my culture, that’s the African culture.


So what tribe am I? I am the tribe that seats in the middle of the country, and boast that I own the Rift valley, because, you know, I do. I was born in the rift valley, and the soil that I step on, I own.

I am the tribe that loves, that shares, but,one that does business too, yes, even with land.

I sell my 40 acres of fertile land which my grandfather inherited from the white man called Masta Chosep (Master Joseph) to the best offer.

I am that tribe, that jokes about the Kikuyu having a thieving record, we see that everyday in court, and the Luo’s being the stone throwers…lets just start with the primary schools in Yala…and the Kamba’s being overly loyal to the Indian traders, and the Luhya’s being the cooks, the watchmen and the Boda boda kings..

So when did it get so bad, just last year, right here and right now, we would be laughing our heads off…at the very same jokes, and now, I cannot even say my tribe to a young handsome man who runs a dairy farm, whose love is worth millions, and if treated with tender loving care, love in a billion.

“ I am a Kenyan”, I say, and I f I was a dog, at this point, right here, right now, I’d tuck my tail between my legs, and let them stay there FOREVER.

Shame, guilt…what became of me, an Independent, educated, young, sometimes sensible, making it big in this world of today woman?

I cannot say my tribe, because, in the Kenya of today, just a few weeks after December 30th, my brain shrunk to the size of a tribe, I am that tribe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Intellect

Intellect?
the faculty to reason objectively(oxford)
To think, to see ahead, objectively, cleverly
Such a little word
Yet so ignored,and we think we are...intellectual.

Intellect?
Is that what will save Kenya from a sunken hole
where some of our African Brothers and sisters have sunk into for many years?
Afraid to come out
even in starlight
yet we seem to enjoy, the smooth slide into darkness
we left intellect at home to sleep
on the queen size oak Lamu bed
in the mansion we live in when we are happy

Intellect?
is that what it's called when i talk about the FTSE as if I was born in the bourse?
If I rise above the politics
and settle with hoping that politics and economy can be oh so very different?
Am I intellectual?
Or am i just optimistic?
and when I do not know my trivia,
but I follow the resilience of the Kenyan markets after poll violence?
is that intellect
Or I am just being foolish?

When I know, what's to buy, and what's to sell
Stocks and shares
that build the world
Bills and Bonds
That rule the world
Then am I intellectual

nonintellectual? Kenya?

Because I read the news everyday
ashamed at the gory details that slash the very economy we sweat- ed to build
press, politics, analysts.... intellectual
hanging dirty linen in public
freedom? non intellect?
to fore see....that without the teargas,
Masai Mara and the white beaches in the South coast
and 10,000 families
would be beaming with white joy
billions in taxes to the tight lipped tax man.
Not to deny, but to choose not to show.
maybe the shilling would strengthening by the day
the NSE would be a smile away

Intellect?

Friday, January 18, 2008

COURT ME

I am tired of having drinks,
or a great time with your boys at the pub
Laughing and poking at European football
Talking boy stuff...
On the high stools downing beers
In brown and green bottles
Looking at the display of legs and bossoms of girls in the bar
while making inroads into the take away girl for your boys

You see if you look at me very carefully
I have got curves curved out across my body


So, listen, I want you to court me;
In the old fashioned style I heard from Aunty Jane

I am tired of shots of tequila
Then revert to a raunchy night
In the blue moon on your balcony
That's if we even make it to the balcony

I would like a good morning Kiss,
and to bring you breakfast in bed
Probably a little dessert that you get to choose
See, I have even been reading the karmasutra lately


See, I want to be the girl your mother wants you to have
To have to gorgeous babies with you
A little boy and a little girl
And go shopping for little pink and blue booties

I want to cook for you
Those exotic meals I read on True Love magazine
I want to be everything you want in a woman

See after those boyish nights, and being "one of the boys."
I know what you are looking for

But first, I want you to court me

Big Man, Little girl

I watched the big man
raising his brow and smiling a'shy
I looked as played with his eyes
to entice the little girl
The girl who touched his heart with fire
I watched the big man
so excited, he could'nt hide
As he looked into her eyes
searching, hoping to find
what his eyes said so loud
The big man hides behind a smile
afraid, maybe the little one
hasnt found it within
So i watch the big man
his eyes begging, asking, calling
...and the little one hides
she knows, she feels; she likes the big man

Terryanne Chebet

Growing up a lady

I grew up in the countryside
And was raised just like any other child in the village
I remember being woken up very early every morning,
Even if we had nothing to do
Children were not to be lazy
So we had to find things to do
Run in the dewy grasses; play with any of the farm animals that had now become pets
Many times we went to the shamba boys hut
He always lit a fire that we would gather around
He had the sweetest stories
ARNEST was his name…later I learnt in English it pronounced Ernest
He was from Uganda
He told us stories of the cannibals of Uganda
He said never to eat meat in a Ugandan house
And he swore he wasn’t one of them
For these stories, I would pay be young again..
I have a little girl
Nine months and her whole life ahead of her
If I lived in a farm now
Would I let her go for fireplace stories?
In this country at this time
I cannot answer that question
How about hide and seek, up in the trees, and deep in the Napier grass
Together with boys and girls her age
I cannot answer that question
I cannot carry her with me in a sling bag until she is 18
I cannot build a wall around her
I cannot let her be an island
But it scares me to death to let her grow
How do I let her grow?
In this age, this time, these horrors,
But I grew up in the countryside
No TV, no computer games, no movies
Just sheep, goats, maize, rabbits…
And what did they teach us? . Love, just love and more love
That one question I can answer


By Terryanne Chebet