Archive for May, 2013

It’s not everyday that I write about inspiring experiences, so for this piece I’d advice you to grab your popcorns, sit down, and read discerningly. Take your pencils and notebooks too, for you are bound to pick out a great life lesson from this doozy.

The other day I was attending a function at a well heeled mall, The Junction. It was a book fair where aspiring writers and readers were to mingle with their favourite authors. Connoisseurs of literature, top notch journalists, inspirational pundits, and established authors were to be in attendance.

I was rushing frenetically towards the Railways bus stop, shoving myself through the phalanx of hawkers who had almost barricaded the road. However, the merchandise of a particular hawker caught my eye and I halted at his stand. He was selling pens.

A lot of hawkers were also vending biros around that place. But what was so special about the ones this particular hawker was selling? Well, they were certainly the most beautiful pens I’ve ever set my eyes on. They were of varied designs, and they were all really pretty.

“How much does one cost?” I asked, half-expecting the seller to quote a price higher than the Times Tower.

“Ten shillings each,” He replied.

I was taken aback by how cheap such pretty pens could cost, so I went ahead to scrutinize them. They were of dismal quality; it was crystal clear that they would need a miracle to last a week. “These are probably made in China,” I said to myself as I mused over the Chinese chicanery and mendacity of making tawdry products but giving them elegant designs and marketing them at cut-rate prices.

“I’ll take two,” I pronounced as I handed a pound to the vendor.

You might be wondering why I decided to purchase the pens even though I knew they were trinkets. Well, their designs were elegant and sure to impress. Jones loves to impress.

At the function, which had been christened Author’s Buffet, I had a chance of making a few new friends with whom we shared the same vision of becoming published authors some day. Among my new-found pals were Dennis and the beautiful Alison. (Alison has a great blog by the way, you’d be damned if you don’t give it a visit.)

I also managed to interact one on one with luminaries such as Kinyanjui Kombani, Bonnie Kim, Joyce Mbaya, David Mulwa, Binyavanga Wainaina and Stanley Gazemba just to mention a few. CEOs too were in attendance, and I had a very insightful chat with the CEO of Faulu Kenya on how he rose from being a hawker to a banker. I might share it with you some day.

But one person whose company I particularly took pleasure in was John Sibi-Okumu. For those of you who own television sets, John Sibi-Okumu, who popularly goes by the moniker JSO, needs no introduction. However, for the sake of a few troglodytes among us who probably live under rocks, allow me to familiarize JSO to you.

Image

Posing with JSO

John Sibi-Okumu is a local and international TV personality. He has starred in a few local and international films, taking no prisoners in his craft and grabbing many awards along the way. In Journalism, professionalism begins and ends with JSO. He has served previously as a talk show host at KTN, and currently hosts his own show daily on Kiss TV.  Tune in to Kiss TV any evening from seven and you will see the guy hosting JSO Live, where he interviews the who-is-who in our society.

My chit-chat with JSO somehow landed on blogging, and I took the chance to blow my trumpet by bloviating a little about this blog of mine. He was so interested that he brought out his executive diary and asked me to doodle the URL of my website in it. His interest piqued a notch the instant he noticed my fancy pen, and he didn’t try to stifle his admiration.

“That’s an executive pen you’ve got there young man.”

“Thanks sir,” I supplied, grinning widely to myself like the proverbial Cheshire cat.

You’d be wrong if you think his regards for my ten-shilling-pen ended there, because the patriarch of journalism extended his approbation further by asking, “Where did you get it from?”

Answering that question was not as easy as you might think. To begin with, we were at a mall where a pair of trousers cost twenty five thousand shillings. You could smell affluence all around the place, and it was clearly out of bounds to the hoi polloi. How did I even manage to sneak in such an out-of-place item?

Careful not reveal the exact place where I’d bought the pen (am sure Railways bus station isn’t somewhere JSO frequents daily) and also not wanting to tell a lie, I managed a smile as I said, “I bought it somewhere around town.”

My self-esteem was faltering, and I wished the designer suit clad man wouldn’t ask any more questions about pens or even stationery for that matter. However, the guy probed further. “Where exactly? I’d sure like to get a pen like that one.”

I would bet my house (if I had one) that the last thing he expected was for me to tell him that I’d bought the pen from a street hawker.  He anticipated that I would name a reputable bookshop, that I’m sure. Again, there was this small matter of price. Surely, a person who appears on TV daily is no pauper. Writing implements used by journalists, especially the cream of the field, are bound to cost several hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of shillings.

“I cannot really remember the exact place,” I said.

I could see disappointment registering all over his person. Clearly, my pen was something to die for.

“Why didn’t you give him the pen as a gift?” I can hear you asking me. Well, as I earlier mentioned, what I bought were trinkets. You know, like that thirty bob gold chain you buy on impulse only for it to be discolored and loose its luster a day later. “I can’t give anyone such as a present,” I thought as I handed him back his diary.

What’s the moral of my story? IMAGE IS EVERYTHING.

I am sure the scribe saw many pens at the function, but only mine caught his attention. Why? Because of how it presented itself (sic). Its image made it stand out from the rest of the crowd. It was UNIQUE. In life, try as much as possible to be unique. It will help you stand out from the clutter and shine. Wear your best. Your hairstyle; let it be something distinctive. Your nails shouldn’t look the same as the next person’s. While everyone else goes for skinny jeans, Polo T-shirts and shamballas, why don’t you push the envelope and emerge with your own swag?  Distance yourself from the boring mundane ‘standard’ and come up with something more exciting. Try to look more than the part.

You might say, “But Jones, I don’t have enough cash to look the part!” An interesting factoid is: my pen wasn’t the most expensive either.

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CONFESSIONS OF A SOAP-AHOLIC.

My comrades are on drugs. They’re hopped up on ecstasy, hyped by Bluemoon Vodka, topped up on Cannabis Sativa, puffing on sheesha and acting like a bunch of marauding dim-wits on a midterm break from the Mathare Institute of the Insanely Profane. It’s disgraceful and makes me really furious.
You may want to know why am concerned, and I’ll tell you. According to my own uncorroborated research, these campus half-wits are already dangerously low on the brain cell count. Why they’d embark on a mission to fry the remaining few brain cells by taking drugs is a question not even Mutahi Ngunyi is in a position to answer.
Those of a certain age would recall that in the halcyon days, when decency prevailed, comrades only enjoyed a few tipples at the student center to cut loose after a laborious week. Beer was sacrosanct, and a drink was never imbibed on Monday afternoons. Juxtapose this with what is currently the case at my campus. Students are ever drinking; you’d think they are canvassing for their livers to be named employees of the month. They even drink in-between the lectures! For the skint, cheap spirits are the poisons of choice. I haven’t had a chance to taste Satan’s urine, but I am sure it tastes better than these fatal concoctions that are imbibed by my comrades in the name of enjoyment. Enjoyment my foot!
If you host a party in campus and marijuana does not make an attendance, have you really thrown a party? Bhang is to campus jamborees what laptops are to babies nowadays. And unlike in the past when people used to smoke it like chimneys, it is now consumed more discreetly in birthday cakes and cookies. Everyone appears calm, shy and reserved at the beginning of house-parties. But as soon as the birthday cake is cut and passed around to unsuspecting guests, the most asinine and vile revelry unfolds on the floor. The madness that ensues is such that you would be forgiven for thinking you’re at an asylum. Elite bong-toting dope fiends go ahead crown it all by inhaling flavoured sheesha.
A word of advice: If you enter a room and find all its occupants are glassy-eyed and grinning like Cheshire cats for no reason, kindly bolt the door behind you and run faster than Semenya. Chances are that those guys have just popped some ecstasy pills, a trend that’s really catching on. Girls, beware of date rape by being extra cautions with your drinks, as odds are it might be spiked with Rohypnol enough to bring down an African bush elephant.
Why would one intoxicate himself silly to a point whereby he sees no ill in taking a nap along a flyover? There excuse is that they take drugs in order to escape. My million dollar question is; Escape from what? The fact that you converted a six figure HELB loan to vodka in one weekend? Escape from the fact that you forgot to swallow morning after pills last month? Oh, please! Spare me the malarkey!
They’re higher than kites, these comrades of mine. Booze is their wine, weed cookies are their sacraments, and the peddler is their priest. All in all, Inebriation is their religion.

P.S
I would never have written this post without steadfast support from my friends Lameck Orina and Christine. Thank you guys!

The Soweto Affair

Posted: May 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
I actually didn’t want to go anywhere for the weekend, I preffered to stay in and do my writing instead. Mum wanted me to accompany Koi and her mum to some kids’ festival where Churchill was to be in attendance, but I refused flat out. Jones to a kids’ festival? Doesn’t sound so exciting.
But I wasn’t to stay at home all the same. I was to take my cousins Bobo and Nyambu back to my grandmother’s place in Soweto. I made a resolve that although how much my grandmother might beg me to stay over for a few days, I would only sleep at that place for one night. It wasn’t like my writing would do itself. To lend credence to my resolve, I didn’t carry with me any change of clothing. Heck! I even left behind my toothbrush!
So we arrived at Soweto at dusk and as usual, Shosh was excited to see her favourite grandchild. We chatted for like 30 minutes then she left for the kitchen to make me some tea. I used this chance to leave the house for a breath of fresh air and also to perambulate around the ghetto.
Soweto is sandwiched between Githurai 45 and Kahawa West. The residents of this place don’t like it when you decide to call a spade a spade and refer to the place as a slum. They’ll take it more kindly if you sugarcoat it and refer to is a ghetto. ‘Ghetto’ makes them feel bad-ass, while on the other hand ‘slum’ implies that they are veritably poor.
Soweto is where I grew up as a kid, though I’ve got no idea for how long. Most of the houses around this place are made of either tin or mud. It was really dark as trudged along the narrow corridors that separated the houses, but I had no worry about my security. You will be surprised that though the streets here look seedy, the levels of crime in this slum… err, ghetto are relatively low.
Some of the places smelled vile, but the ordour was within manageable levels. I stepped on a squishy paper bag, prayed that it didn’t contain human defecations, and hopped, jumped and skipped over various brooks that ferried sewage across the slum. I was taken aback by food vendors who were selling their githeri and fish just besides these pools of fetid sewage. But when my mind flashed back to the stuff we used to take in primary school, I suddenly put a moratorium to my disdain. In fact, I reached into my pocket and removed a pound, with which I bought mutura from the nearest vendor. The mutura might have contained enough salmonella to bring down a grown African bush elephant, but it was the sweetest thing I’ve tasted since Moody Awori ceased to be our VP.
I continued forth with my perambulation while wondering why so many sewage streams riddled my path, while none of the houses in Soweto were self contained. I finally found myself at a lagoon where all the sewer brooks poured in their contents. These lakes were surely a health hazard, as the place was open, unprotected and judging from the acrid stench that emanated from it, untreated. There were children playing football around that place without a care or worry about how dangerous the area is to their health. The way they carried on their business with reckless abandon, you’d think they were in the precincts of State House. I looked around and then the answer to my earlier query availed itself when I saw some lavishly built apartments in the upper horizon. Those people had self contained houses but the municipal council had not designed their drainage systems well. Instead, every time an affluent person flushed their toilet, their shit would trickle down to the Soweto, where it would be channeled to the lagoon. SMH!
Lost in thought, I forgot I was blocking way for other pedestrians, and was brought from my reverie by a kid pushing a wheelchair who asked me to give way. As the wheelchair was pushed past me, I got a chance to glance at its occupant. My heart sunk with empathy and remorse when I spotted the sprog who sat on it. The Kid had deformed limbs and neck, an observation that pointed to an erstwhile polio attack. It beat me why, fifty years after independence, our children are still being decimated by preventable diseases such as poliomyelitis. Judging from the sewer around that place, I concluded that the mortality rate in that place must be quite high, because if polio doesn’t deform them, Typhoid will most certainly send them to an early grave.
The proletariat of this place surely needed some help. The children especially needed a saviour. A true altruist who won’t help them just because they want to use their poverty to fleece cash out of NGOs. I resolved to myself that when I become rich (and that’s very soon) I’ll become a humanitarian and dedicate my energy, time and resources to the kids of Soweto and slums all over. Make sure they get good healthcare, decent clothing and quality education. This is a promise I’ve made to the kids of Soweto. I won’t renege.
Not surprisingly, I started making up scenarios in my head of how Soweto will be like when am finally a part of it. A swimming pool to keep the kids busy and away from mischief, a Jowal-sponsored football team, a hospital nearby… Like a bolt from the blue, it struck me that I couldn’t manage all this by myself, even if I had all the money. I needed someone by my side. Someone like a soul mate.
Most of the girls I knew back at the university were so ostentatious none of them would even last a day in the ghetto. I knew that my wife would probably go postal if I suggested we visit the ghetto, and would protest vehemently if I asked to tag the kid along. True, not many of the girls I’d met were humble and down to earth to take a walk in these debilitating slums. Most of them are used to a life of unadulterated bliss. To make them stay even a night in Soweto where toilet paper (even the toilet itself) is a rare luxury will truly be a Herculean task. It was when I started missing Del’s simplicity. Her favourite snack, Mutura, spoke volumes about her axiomatic minimalism. But she was my past, I wouldn’t want to go back there.
How about I got a girl from the ghetto? She could be my soul mate, who knows? The fact that she has been brought up in the ghetto will mean that she understands perfectly what the ghetto’s daily struggles are, and will be able to offer the best help based on first hand experience. But then again I had my doubts.
Most of the ghetto chicks don’t make it beyond high school when it comes to education. And when they do, they usually end up scoring D’s and that signs a death warrant to their academic dreams. But there ought to be one or two diamonds in the rough, don’t you think?
Again, most ghetto girls are sluts. HIV here in the ghetto is as common as common cold. You know, when you are a girl growing up in the ghetto, there isn’t much form of entertainment so you just engage in coitus as a favourite pastime. Abortions are the order of the day, and nearly everyone born around here is an unwanted child.. Also, with such high levels of poverty, very few girls would resist the temptation of having sex with a man for as little as two hundred shillings. I knew it would prove a very hard task to find a girl with closed legs around here. But I hoped there were one or two diamonds in the rough.
I aborted my long train of thought when I realized I’d made my way back to my grandmother’s gate. Outside the gate stood my cousin Nyambu, conversing with another short but incredibly cute girl. Had the gods heard my thoughts and decided to answer my prayers with this cute girl now standing in front of me? There was only one way to find out. I moved forward to say hi to the girls….
TO BE CONTINUED.

Amicus Scrabblae

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized
Everyday, I get more and more convinced that the only reason why grown men play scrabble is because it’s the only socially acceptable way to explore their curiosity about jumping onto other men. For those who don’t know what scrabble is, gather around me as I explain to you the Byzantine nature of this dastardly sleazy game. Scrabble is a game in which guys the size of a tractor (Injera, Kidinga and Tiger Woods come to mind) scamper around in tight shorts chasing after an egg-shaped ball. Why is everyone so confused?

Oops! Sorry, am conflating scrabble with rugby! But you can’t blame me, can you? After all, these two games are eerily similar.
Now, let’s assume that we all know what scrabble is and go straight to the reasons why I play the game, shall we? Yes we shall.
1. Am Too Good for Hockey

Once upon a time, before I discovered goat-screaming and deer-dancing, I was a very lonely guy. There wasn’t a game I could engage in. That is when Chris Ng’eno, the hockey captain at that time, approached me and urged me to join hockey. My experience at the hockey pitch is one I’d prefer never to recall. If you can call running around the field like retarded penguin on drugs athleticism, then I was easily the greatest athlete Nakuru High School has ever known.

Again, hockey was an extremely dangerous game. I had to show up at the pitch wearing a wire-gauze around my groin so as to protect my future (unwanted) children. I still do that while walking around Nairobi though, this city ain’t safe.
My only moment of joy came that day when I scored the only goal of the match. But the limelight went out five minutes later when I came to a realization that I had veritably scored an own goal. Can you believe it took me a whole five minutes to realize I’d scored an own goal? My teammates were so mad that after the game, they all went Django unchained on me. They beat me with everything they could lay their hands on, including hockey sticks, boots, and fists. Some of them even used their nails! By nails, I mean they brought out hammers and nailed me to a nearby tree for three days!
Okay, the last line in the last paragraph is baloney, but you get my point. From that day, I divorced hockey and went scouting for another sport. I contemplated trying golf, but changed my mind when I discovered that impecunious guys like me would need to sell a kidney or two before they could afford entry into a golf club.
Thank God I later met Joel Birgen, my current scrabble captain, and he introduced me to the game. The rest, as a wise ruler called Mugabe once said, is history.
2. It Prevents me From Catching a Girlfriend
Other than Goat-screaming and deer-dancing, scrabble is the only thing I can really sink my teeth in. It’s so addictive that I usually stay in the house to play scrabble every night. I guess this gives you an idea of how wild and exciting my life is. But then, maybe I’ve just assumed my role in the society as an 83 year old senile man.
Unlike other kids who rambunctiously go out for raves and gormless jamborees, I prefer to stay in and do scrabble instead. Besides, am not in a rush to contract the latest version of venereal warts as those who go out for bashes are.
Even at school, it’s either calculus or scrabble. I stopped attending parties long ago when I was invited to this bash but they insisted one should bring along their own date. I brought with me my calculus book, after all my female cousins refused to accompany me. Worst party of my life!
Plus, scrabble prevents me from doing some very bad things like smoking weed, downloading porn, drinking Bluemoon, and catching a girlfriend.
3. It Strengthens my Gray Matter.
Nothing keeps the mind sharper than a little word jousting with your peers. In fact, when compared to other asinine games like NFS, FIFA, kalongo, kati and fornication; scrabble comes out as the most stimulating, scintillating and thought-provoking game ever known to man. The only games that come even close to it are goat-screaming and deer-dancing.

The strength of scrabble lies not so much on what it does to the body, but what it does to the mind. The other day I fell through the window from the fifth floor and hit the pavement head-first. Instead of calling an ambulance, they had to call someone to repair the pavement. This is a true testament to how playing scrabble has strengthened my medulla oblongata.

Another thing, scrabble gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re creative enough, you can bottle these juices and sell them to people as refreshment.
It has come to my attention that today’s youth are woefully obtuse. Most of these nitwits are more concerned with the growth of their hair than by the brain beneath it. These are the same ninnies who need to swallow pain killers every time they change their minds, because they’re just that stupid. Out of sheer concern, I am writing a missive to the Ministry of Education asking them to inculcate scrabble into the curriculum.
4. How about Better Spelling?

 I am a rare species, and the government ought to protect me and house me in a museum after I die. This is because am the only young person remaining who can spell words like ‘thanks’, ‘sorry’, and ‘success’ correctly. In fact, for this rare ability, President Uhuru should award me a holiday with a masseur of my choice. Heck! He should even crown me Moran of the Burning Spear! And do you know why I deserve all that? It’s because scrabble and Jones go together like Noah and pine-wood.

I have always reserved a special place of hate in my heart for people who rape the lexicon with asinine and discombobulating (I always like to use that word) spellings. This is a sorry generation of young people who are reliant on lethargic short form communication and must end every sentence with an emphatic LOL. You really have to wonder what the hell runs through the minds of these young people when they take a perfectly sensible word like ‘sorry’ and ruin its etymology by making it ‘XOWY’.
Let’s put a moratorium to this asinine trend by playing scrabble. Is that too much to ask?
5. My Crush Plays Scrabble.

I know it’s none of your business, but it behooves me to inform you that my crush (Not President Uhuru’s daughter this time) plays scrabble too!

Whenever I turn on my computer and find that she’s online, I bubble with joy as I inbox her “Wanna play?”
When she says yes, I celebrate by doing a little deer-dancing before rushing to the bathroom for a quick shower. I also brush my teeth and steal my mum’s perfume before the game starts. Never mind she (my crush) can’t even see me from the other side.
When playing against her, I make sure put down words like honey, love, sweetpie (a bingo), sexy, et cetera. It’s really disappointing how she never takes a cue.
I always let her win on purpose.
6. The Board is Uncensored.
This Image has nothing to do with this story

If you think am nuts, then you’ll be utterly flummoxed when I introduce you to my roommate, Otongolo Donge*. (The real name has been changed to protect the identity of my real roommate, Sebastian). (I still maintain that the picture at the beginning of this post has nothing to do with this story).

From a distance, Otongolo Donge looks like a paragon of good morals. But on the board, the façade crumbles to reveal the most amoral and vile creature the world has ever known. While the game lasts, Otongolo Donge’s salacious side gets revealed as he makes some very degenerate and unsavory moves.
His favourite offensive is f**k, and he usually strives to play the insult early during the game. He then proceeds to put down other raunchy words such as sucker, faggot, and others that I can’t post on my blog because my grandma is reading. (Hi grandma!)
While playing against Otongolo Donge, I try to secure a place in heaven for both of us by playing holy words like Bible, Jesus, cross, and Abraham (a bingo).
But despite his saucy and perverted moves, Otongolo Donge usually manages to wallop all his opponents. Nay, he smashes, squashes, pummels, flattens… Okay, you get the point.
One day, while playing against Otongolo Donge, I put down the word ass (I swear I was thinking about a donkey). The devil then took a hold of my friend and made him put ‘hole’ just beneath my morally upright play. I was so offended that I reported him to the nearest police station the following morning.
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