Pop and color it….. Am talking about Book launches!

Last month was particularly a good one for me. I said it to one of my friends and he was like,” you are lucky, me I was paid a quarter of my salary”. Well, that is really sad, how is he going to survive this month surely? My readers from Europe, America, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda as I thank you for the marvelous support through your readership, am also asking that if at all you pray, remember our country Kenya, the political situation is very tricky on us! Nonetheless, no one should use this statement to spread malicious messages.

 

Congratulations once againAdipo Sidang’ for winning the Burt Award 2017. Adipo who is the author of Parliament of Owls doubles up as my neighbor back in the rural area as well as my mentor he challenges me a lot. Long live Le’ Poet!

Why month was great is that I drunk a lot from my literature gods. Talk about Story Moja Festival it was one of a kind! The Book Fair it was excellent. Congratulations one againAdipo Sidang’ for winning the Burt Award 2017. Adipo who is the author of Parliament of Owls doubles up as my neighbor back in the rural area as well as my mentor he challenges me a lot. Long live Le’ Poet! Finally, we launched one great book, let me call it the newest bride in town, “ Me Vs Me: Conversations with my Tomorrow”. Well this not about the review of the book, however, it’s about how the book was launched!

I have attended quite a number of book launches and this one remains the best one ever! We had one early this year Run, Cheche Run by Tony Ontita and one remarkable thing about that launch was the creativity of the décor. We had two humans well decorated by fruits and to date, I still ask myself if anyone ate the fruits! There was cool music, the venue, IMAX was certainly the best and again, the food was just amazing without a doubt, East African Publishers that was absolutely great!

The Me vs. Me book launch taught me the following tips to those planning to deliver a book any time soon:

Have a team: oh yea we usually have committee members for each and every event. You can’t plan a book launch by yourself, even while writing it, you had people working on it. There was an editor, a designer, a printer the draft reader, the person who forwarded the book you know such things. Your team will help you in sorting out the venue, the date, invitation lists etc. etc. this team should be made up of people you have known for long. This will help in the allocation of duties and the outcome will be great. Better still you can hire services of a planner (I just created a job opportunity ‘book launch planner’)

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Kevin Odongo with the ushers of the day!

 

Choose an easily accessible venue:  The CBD is always suitable for book launches or its peripheries. Most people are not good timekeepers, therefore, choosing a venue that is quite far will be indirectly telling them not to come in a not-so-polite manner. There are many awesome places within Nairobi that can offer a serene environment for your book launch.  The Gothe Institut, Nairobi National Museums, Rooftops, Restaurants, Carren Blixen Gardens, Auditoriums ( UoN Towers, Strathmore University ) Kenya National Theatre, Michael Joseph Center etc.

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Guests following up the book launch session.

 

Better still you can hire services of a planner (I just created a job opportunity ‘book launch planner’)

Make payments of the venue early enough to avoid inconveniences.

 

Theme: have a theme for your book launch. It makes the whole event very colorful. It is very advisable that the theme should go hand in hand with the colors of the book cover. For instance for Kevin Odongo’s Me vs. Me was orange and black. The ushers who were also the organizing team decorated the Ford Hall beautifully with a fabric of the two colors as well as dressed in the mentioned colors. The ‘Groom’ or rather the author dressed in the two colors and I must confess he looked stunningly smart!

 

 

The sound system: we really want to listen to music. We also don’t want to strain the MCwhile he talking by “we can’t hear you, louder, pardon please”, and he ends up taking concoctions for a croaky voice. The sound system boosts the mood of the mood of the occasion kindly hire the services! We also want to dance during the launch, book nerds are not boring as people believe them to be.

The MC: ensure that he as an idea of what books are. You do not bring in an MC because he is funny, no, let him be funny and relevant to the occasion. Again the author is not the MC during this day. Who has ever seen a groom talking during his wedding except for the time he takes his vows?

 

Call all your invited guests to remind them of the event for logistics as well as other arrangements such as catering. If they are bringing in a friend, let them tell you in advance so that you brief your suppliers adequately.

Who has ever seen a groom talking during his wedding except for the time he takes his vows?

Lastly, have very few performances to save on time. If there must be speeches, kindly let them be brief as possible. Not everyone needs to talk that day, the brief the speeches the enjoyable the event.

 

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Dr. Job Mogire giving a speech during  a book launch

 

A book launch should be more like a wedding, it ushers in the mood of reading automatically!

Me vs. Me book goes for 500 KES if you need one email me at jahaw000@gmail.com or talesofrumona@gmail.com

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Reading is fun……this is how to do it!

Last week a longtime friend of mine asked me, “Rush, how do I develop a habit of reading?” Of course, I gave her a few tips to help her with that. I would call that a first aid. She has been waiting for a full treatment, and here it is.

 

  • You are not reading for an exam….relax your mind!

We are unlucky that we have gone through a school system where set books are introduced and are meant to be tested in an exam. Most of us read the set books not because they really loved reading but because it added up to grades. The results are, detesting of reading became a norm. “After these exams am never reading any novel again!” the shared sentiments in a large percentage of students. Apart from going to the library right from pre-school, my reading habit was inculcated by my teachers of English. Wherever Mr. Charles Thairu is, God bless you, sir. Mrs. Emily Odhiambo inculcated the reading habit and further hitting on the last nail that ensured am a good reader that I am today. She ensured that all of us bought novels and encouraged us in class to read and exchange the novels.

 

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posing with a book!

 

 

She gave me the permission to read more than forty Pacesetters the liberty to meet Barbra Kimenye, Cyprian Ekwensi, David Mulwa, Margret Ogola, and John Kiriamiti.

“Girls, you are forty-two in this class, why don’t you make sure that before the end of the term you have read everyone’s book?’. She gave me the permission to read more than forty Pacesetters the liberty to meet Barbra Kimenye, Cyprian Ekwensi, David Mulwa, Margret Ogola, and John Kiriamiti. In short, before she brought the examinable books, she brought the fun in reading. As an adult who has conditioned reading to exams, try having that fun in your mind that there is no one to examine you!

“After these exams am never reading any novel again!” the shared sentiments in a large percentage among students

  • You do not have to read in a library

Most of us associate books with the library and add seriousness to it. Mrs. Emily Odhiambo told us to be reading in the matatu.  At first, I thought it was very crazy. How will people look at me? I tried it, and I kept doing it over and over, that means you will never find me boarding a loud matatu!

Find a peaceful environment like the Nairobi Arboretum, Memorial Park, and a coffee shop, the rooftop, at the balcony or any place that offers ambiance. As for public places you need to be strategic in your timings. There is no way you can be reading in a noisy place.

 

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you can actually read anywhere…..

 

 

  • Create an ambiance of reading

When we are having baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties and graduation parties, we usually set out the theme. We decorate the place to a point where if anyone is coming even without prior knowledge, they won’t have to be told what the party is all about.  Reading too requires such preparations! You can have dark rooms, soft music, and a drink on the table, you can have a snack and in case you suspect someone is going to distract you, have a pin on the door “am in Nssuka kindly do not distract (according to the location of your book). Make sure that the room is smelling nice, spray a nice aerosol.

 

Find a peaceful environment like the Nairobi Arboretum, Memorial Park, and a coffee shop, the rooftop, at the balcony or any place that offers ambiance. As for public places you need to be strategic in your timings. There is no way you can be reading in a noisy place.

  • Join a book club

Operating as a lone ranger is quite dangerous. You can easily give up on reading apart from that, it’s always good to know what others are reading. Below is a list book clubs that I was able to get through asking out my friends.

  • The Text Book Center ( TBC): Entry is always free and they meet every first Saturday of the month from 10.00 am- 12pm at the Sarit Center. The book club chooses a book which they read for the whole month and when they gather, they discuss the book.
  • The Twitter book club. They have the read of the week and you can always email them at TwitterBookClubNG@gmail.com for more information.
  • The bookClub KE. They meet every last Sunday of the month, even though they are on a sabbatical leave, they are organizing a retreat as from 15th- 17th December at Lake Elementaita.
  • If you are in Nakuru, the Kenya National Library Services organizes a book club too every end month. They had one today and they were reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
  • Story Moja in Spring Valley has a book club for children aged four years to six years. They meet every Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.

You have a book club? Why don’t you share it in the comment box?

A book club will always keep you on toes and eager to keep reading more and more.

If it is a must you borrow from someone, have one of the same value for a swap

  • Have a home library

Vera Omwocha keeps telling us in a certain group to budget for books like we always do for clothes, food, shoes, and pizza. Peter Ngila, on the other hand, recommends a book and says it’s the prize for pizza. Keep buying books. If it is a must you borrow from someone, have one of the same value for a swap. Always return books, keep them clean and use bookmarks. Savanis bookshop just a few meters from Lagos House sells books at 100KES. You can also decide to check on bend over bookshop they also have nice novels at reasonable prices. Prestige Bookshop in Moi Avenue is my small Ibadan should you want varieties and Magunga Williams has an online shop, find him on FaceBook!. Where do you buy books? Any online platforms where anyone can get books legally without having to steal from the writer? Please tell us in the comment box.

Am currently reading Weight of Whispers by Rose Onyango, how about you?

Have a lovely November, and should you know of any book launch, feel free to share too.

Photo Credits:  Dan Yule Unique.

Photo Models: Janet Machuka, Faith Mutheu and Rumona Apiyo .

Article Edited by : Gidion Makenzi.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY…..

 

I rarely watch Sci-Fiction movies leave alone reading any book that I perceive to be such. But Monday afternoon got me in one of my friend’s room in school. Being the entertainer he is always been, he suggested to me a movie , no he begged me to watch the movie of some genre I always consider unrealistic. Yes those movies which say some aliens will one day invade planet earth and we will be rendered homeless. Oh Lord have mercy  on science and its lies! Oh, we were just from lunch, so my friend slept the whole time as iwas watching the movie.

 

 

The genetic foods are more of a curse than a blessing because the births are multiple

Nicolette Cayman as a politician living in 2073 -see why i hate these movies we are already 69 years ahead SMH-  mother earth can no longer contain her children. The resources are overstretched and the there is a greater crisis looming. The genetic foods are more of a curse than a blessing because the births are multiple. In a bid to solve the problems, she comes up with the ‘Child Allocation Act’. This Act restricts every couple to have only one child and should there be a case of unwanted pregnancies the children, are put into cryo-freeze — a long-term, suspended animation, where they’ll be kept on ice until the world’s problems are sorted out.

 

Monday doesn’t come back one day!…………

The most interesting part of this movie is that Terrence defies this act. He is able to bring up seven girls -the Settman Sisters- in his house that is heavily secured by technology. For safety reasons, he gives them a name, Carren Settman and further gives them names according to the week. So each and every one of them went outside only when it was their name-day! for a long time the personality of Carren Settman works quite well, however, Monday doesn’t come back one day! After waiting for long, they decided to let Tuesday out and again, she doesn’t come back, it is now quite obvious that they are in danger. The cat was out of the bag, but who let it out is the question?

 

what happens to one of you…..affects the rest of you….Terrence

What happened to Monday is one interesting movie that makes me question womanist nature. Does it mean that as we fight for gender equality we make women more dangerous and men a safe haven? The writers of the movie Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson leave me in awe as they are able to show how in 69 years technology will be more sophisticated. As weekend approaches, get that Maasai sheet, a friend, hot coffee and wrap yourself on the sofa!

 

photo credits: Netflix Official Site

Grave Secrets

This month I will celebrate my fortieth birthday. As a woman who has lived it all, I still feel that my life has just begun. Looking down the line, success has been my red carpet. Achievements have been my wine.  Great men, have had to give me a standing ovation.  Lots of women look up at me with great zeal. Grandmothers go to bed with a content smile, I made them proud. I walked in their counsel. Not even one word of theirs was a waste. As I look far beyond from my office as the Minister for Gender and Social Development, I am the exact definition of what we call strength of a woman. The words of my mother echo at the back of mind. “It is the woman who breaks or builds her home”. Just then I remembered that I have a house not a home. My son and my loving husband have been my supportive cheerleaders.  My husband resigned from being the MD of the family business to help me campaign for my political seat. Now, that I never asked of him, he did it voluntarily.

Even when the waters were overwhelming, I looked upon her like the biblical Peter I walked on the murky waters of political power. I rubbed shoulders with the pigs in the mud of politics and I walked out head high always.

My mother-in-law had been the greatest source of inspiration. She handed the leadership mantle onto my hand. It was the best moment in my life to see such a great woman trusting her little girl with so much responsibility. She said, she could see a warrior in me who needed to be awakened. Time had come, her works made me suave through the hardest of time in my political career. I was able to meander through the dirty, murky political waters. Even when the waters were overwhelming, I looked upon her like the biblical Peter I walked on the murky waters of political power. I rubbed shoulders with the pigs in the mud of politics and I walked out head high always.

My desk…..my desk had a dossier. It was meant to bring me down.  well played trick by my opponents. Well, this bullet was strategic. It was right through the lungs. I was breathless.  I had money; I could buy the oxygen all the same. But where will I hide my face? What will be my legacy? Did they not say that the end is better than the beginning?  What will my generations say about this decision am going to make today? Will they say, this daughter of Eve, like Cleopatra run away with her tail in between her legs? Will they read the chronological turn of events on how the great Titanic sunk again?

“Madam, your mother-in-law requests for your audience”. That was my secretary’s voice that interrupted my arrested thoughts. I couldn’t wait anymore more. I just nodded my head and she was in. “Mum, the dossier, we are finished, mum how could you do this, without my knowledge, mum when did we start having secrets?” all this while she was grave silent. Her eyes told the sad story, “daughter, its true, I admit I was wrong. I have no way to meander through this one”. She was looking up to me for salvation. She had saved me all the other times it was my turn to maneuver through for her.

“Jahawi, don’t tell me you did not drink from my cup of wisdom and expertise all this while”, those were the words she used whenever I looked or sounded like a rained on lioness. Wherever I refused to act like the tigress she had given birth to. This time I was overwhelmed. I was weak, I was clueless, and I had no strength. Time was not on my side. The claims on the dossier, the evidence of corruption was monumental it was a heavy burden to carry. There was no way out of this. She had squandered lots of money the time she was a minister. All her foreign accounts were discovered, honestly, there was no way out.  “Mother, how could you? “, the argument took a toll of us. We were all shouting and doing that blame game like prowess’s. Tired and frustrated she walked out on me.

The next day she was arraigned in court and I was there like her pillar of faith. Only that I did not know this gem was not going to last for another day. After the court session, the media was all over us but I kept mum and kept my mother-in-law from saying anything too. It worked quite well. She later on gathered all of us together for dinner at my place. My son, Keitaro, was missing; he was at school in Texas and was due home in a fortnight. Hence we were the three of us, mother, my husband and me. She was happy; she never mentioned anything about the case. She narrated to us old stories, revisited past memories we laughed too much that night,though hers was a heartily laugh. My husband seemed to be in some far country. I had to strike a balance somewhere and be sober.

The next morning it was Aisha’s scream that woke us up! She went to wake up mother for her morning prayers. She was no more. She had passed on, peacefully in her sleep. The doctor said mother had succumbed to cancer. Another big skeleton that almost killed both her son and I. a week later she was buried, the court case was dropped, the main suspect was no more, and however, we returned all the money that was claimed to be stolen by her.

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Ever since I got the dossier about my mother- in-law’s shady dealings, I noticed my husband had introverted from me. He was always somewhere in his thoughts. I never seem to know. When he slept out one night I became more anxious. After his mother’s death he completely shut me down. I would find him asleep or he would come home at two in the morning. I gave him the space to wallow and moan his dear mother.

However, when he did turn up at the airport to pick our son, I knew he had lost it completely! He came home looking all plummet found us having dinner. When he saw our son, he was more astonished and he sat on the table where we having dinner. I didn’t want to confront him on the issue. All was well until Keitaro said he was not going back abroad but preferred schooling back at home. I was so happy that he would be near us finally. The look on my husband’s face on the other hand announced a contrary belief.

“No way, you are going back to Texas!” he said it with some brutality that had the final say and no one could question that. I kept mum. Nevertheless, the resolute Keitaro stood up and told him he was not going anywhere. Just because he did not turn out to be a pilot he wanted him to be, he won’t use any small opportunity to get rid of him. Not again. He was staying in Kenya and taking his music classes at Daystar and would work at one of the finest music schools in the country. Conclusively, he had to deal with it!

 

That is how dinner ended and goodnight said.

 

After some few days my son noticed the gloomy dad and asked me “Hey momma, what’s up with your nigga”, “Keitaro that is your father, I demand some level of respect,” I said. “Okay sorry mom, what is wrong with your hubby, sorry what’s eating dad?” the humor was meant to cheer me and answer him as well. This young man knew me too well.

“Son, am confused as you are, but since grandma passed on, he has been like that”, I said. Totally forgetting that no one told him that grandma had passed on. He was disheartened, sad and completely torn. I permitted him to mourn his grandmother. We went by her grave side though it was late in the evening.

We later on went out and had dinner and carried some for my husband. However, he was not at home when we came. That is when it dawned on me that he could be cheating. The thought of sharing a man I have had to myself for twenty years nearly chocked me to death. I had to act fastest.

On the other hand, Keitaro was coping quite well; he got the job at Riara as a music teacher as he waited for his admission at Daystar University. He seemed happier.

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Today I came home earlier, I wanted us to go put with my husband. Have a talk over dinner. I changed my mind and resolved to watch a movie like we always did whenever we had time. So he came home from his office, had a shower and he dressed up and said he was going out. I tried persuading him to stay, my efforts were rendered futile. He left the house with my pleading landing on deaf ears, I decided to follow him to wherever he was going. Though at a safer distance.  We ended up in a woman’s house. I stayed outside where I had packed my car for the better time wondering and pondering on the next sane action to take.

“This is not right Nick, go back to your wife, and am tired of this filthy affair!” the woman said.  Before I could hear my husband talk, I walked in, he was shocked. I hadn’t seen the knife on his hands while peeping on the door knob. on seeing me, the girl, Rita became apologetic, “Hey, madam am sorry I didn’t want to, I just found myself”, said the frightened lady who was shaking like a leaf. My husband was raging in anger he was threatening to slit her throat by now. I tried calming him down.

He shouted at me and asked me, “Where were you when my mother needed a cover up for her sins? What did you do as minister? After everything she did? You sacrificed your family for your ambitions! What is it about women and feminism? What do you think you women are? Some sort of goddess? Why does life have to revolve around you?”, Just then, the woman, the bloody slut tried to run off and my husband out of anger and rage stabbed her.

Blood was all over the place. He stood there confused like a zombie. I summoned up courage to check on her pulse, she was dead! My husband remained numb for a while. It was by accident that he stabbed his mistresses. There she was lying on the floor. Blood oozing from her stomach like a waterfall. I held Nick close to me, I knew he needed a shoulder. The man who erupted few minutes back, was hopeless and torn. He cried and blamed himself I told him to give me a chance to correct all my mistakes. I held his trembling body and led him to the car. I drove him home using his car and gave him sleeping pills after ensuring he was asleep, I went back to Rita’s apartment. Wore gloves looked for any evidence that might implicate my dear husband as the murderer. After ensuring that there was absolutely none, I drove off to the beach. Here I am, covering up a murder case for my Nick who was cheating on me I discarded all the photos, clothes and music records that had names of my husband.

“Where were you when my mother needed a cover up for her sins?

At five in the morning I went back home. As I was driving, I could hear the voice of my distraught husband in my mind, crying and lamenting of women and their selfish egoistic ambitions. I had actually traded my family for my political career. I had not noticed how emotionally I had killed the man. I got home and slept next to him.

It’s the light from the window that woke me up. Looking at my watch it was 7.30 am I immediately called the office cancelled all my appointments and took a day off. I had to be there for Nick.

Keitaro knew nothing and he was not supposed to know anything.

One week later, Rita’s body was discovered in her house after investigations it was concluded that she was attacked by robbers. I knew it be would be aired on the news and I had to ensure that Nick does not watch it not unless I wanted to awaken the guilt that was eating him up. So I came up with the idea of a movie.

Well, what I was not prepared for, few days later, was that my son was also dating Rita and had learned of her death through social media. He totally broke down. He cried on my shoulders telling me how he loved her and that  they had plans.

I  acted like I knew nothing. I comforted him. So Rita was sleeping with my husband and dating my son?  Another secrete to carry to my grave.

Taveta Road

 

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Taveta Road

Magdalena

Its six in the morning, everyone like me is rushing to work, school, home from night shift, to business or is travelling. The morning is chilly, trench coats and boots are the order of the day. Am not any different, I still have a hangover, I didn’t get to sleep well, our neighbor decided to let us share in her plate of misery.

These Oga men have become many particularly in South B. So this middle aged woman probably married and divorced or completely unmarried and stable got herself one of these fine boys from Lagos. The boy was handsome from what I saw on the photo she was crying tearing into pieces. Let’s call him Ike. He was the boyfriend to Magdalena, who was a rich woman. She drove a V8 and was the bank manager of one of the leading banks in Kenya. She  also had a business stall at Taveta Road, she used to sell fabric from West Africa, shoes and handbags from Uganda and men’s shoes from Italy .She was   well-connected and by all means   efficacious.

It was during her last trip to Lagos where she met Ike who was masquerading as an importer. I mean most Nigerian men are into importing and exporting of electrical business. As life would have it, they fell in love. Ike was forty years and unmarried and Magdalena was a thirty-five year old spinster. Well, this is marriage made in heaven. Bliss was all over them and not long before the two were into each other’s arms minute after minute. Six months passed on and nuptial arrangements were underway.

Well, how we got to this point of her keeping us awake the whole night, Ike precipitously vanished with her six million life savings into thin air without a trace.

“He came driving carelessly yesterday at around ten at night,” said Daudi our security man . “I stopped him to caution on how he was driving, I mean this is an estate not some highway”, he continued. “The young man came out of her car hurling insults at me, I nearly used my rungu on him if it were not for the friends that were with me”, concluded the angry Daudi. “ am sorry Daudi”, one of us offered their empathy knowing how these men from West Africa washed with Kenyan money can be arrogant. “Do you also summon up that day you affronted me because he called you here claiming that I had refused to open the gate for him and in real sense, I had just questioned which house he was going to as part of our formalities”, Daudi divulged to us more information As they say, fear the gate man most, he knows more than you can ever imagine. And the day of reckoning you do not know how he will say it and to whom he will narrate to. That is how our legendary Magdalena lost her V8 and the whole neighborhood could not sleep. Two days later she jumped from her house four floors up, she died instantaneously. What a waste?

“The young man came out of her car hurling insults at me, I nearly used my rungu on him if it were not for the friends that were with me”

The helpless mother

Five yards after Magdalena’s shop on Taveta road, I meet Farida. Her skin is wrinkled besides she looks like a sixty-year old woman. Her breasts are too drooped and yet the baby on her laps is pugnacious to get milk from the dried breasts. The baby screams sending chills down our spines, remember it’s an early morning. We all turn to guise at her, the foot-travelers of course. Farida, is changing her baby’s filthy diaper, the disgusting odor is stouter to the nose leave alone that one that from City Mortuary, this one is genuine stench! It is palpable that the baby’s butt is burnt and even though she dark in skin texture, one could see blotches of ‘red’ on her skin.

“This woman is only twenty three years. She came here last month and ever since that corner with a sack of clothes has been her bed. She has been admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital thrice. The baby has been falling sick, first pneumonia, malaria and recently I heard its cholera. The baby must have nine lives I tell you. She has lived on despite that. Once in a while Vaite gives her milk from his shop.  From what I hear from Vaite, she was in campus and fell in love with another guy from the same school. They dated for six months before the hades broke loose. Farida and her boyfriend broke up, but she couldn’t just let go. So this one morning she decided to go try and give the man some morning glory, may be that would get them back together. Upon arrival, she was shocked to see her best friend’s shoes at entrance of the door. She climbed up the window and caused a spectacle in the whole plot. She broke everything breakable in the house. Having in mind that she used to pay rent for the house the guy lived in, finance his expensive lifestyle in addition to this, she had numerous sponsors that one day the boyfriend caught her with. I hear from that day she has lost everything and that’s how the corner became her home”, concluded the girl in a skimpy dress that exposed her curves in minutiae.

the disgusting odor is stouter to the nose leave alone that one that from City Mortuary, this one is genuine stench!

She had a blonde old weave and very many metals on her body in the name of pierces. Who does that? I asked myself. I gave the shopkeeper a thousand shillings to give Farida whatever she needed for her as well as the baby. I called a friend of mine who is a Social Worker to come and see if they could help Farida.

 

The girl with skimpy dress

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the girl with the skimpy dress

“You seem kind, God will bless you for us”, she said oozing smoke from her nostrils facing the heavens to signify that God is somehow accepting the smoke from her, perhaps because it was cascading in straight wave, God had probably said yes. How we mock God is funny, am sure He laughs at our folly day in day out.

Me: So what is your story? Aren’t you feeling cold with that kind of dress this early morning?

Her: did I complain to you Mrs. Good Samaritan (she said mockingly, this time puffing the smoke onto my face, I almost spewed)

Me: My names are Jahawi, what about you? (I asked, while extending my hands to exchange pleasantries).

Her: Damn! You are too strong-minded to get a gist of me.

By this time, I was waiting on Fiona to come with her rescue team and pick up Farida, so this lady was my perfect loaf around mate. I had made a call to the organizer of the writing workshop I was to attend at Parklands that I would be late because of an emergency, in reality, it was a case of emerge and see.

Her: Well, subsequently seems to that you have all the time in the world, am Nancy.

Jahawi: So Nancy what trade do you do at Taveta Road as early as six in the morning dressed like this? (I said with the tone of am- your-mother)

Nancy 😦 Shocked with my words) Niko wera, I just attended to my last customer, hii job yetu si rahisi. Sasa nitafanya nini na hakuna hustle ingine.

I could tell the anger, pain and frustrations that clouded her life in that instance. I also noticed the smell of cheap liquor from her mouth she was drunk too. From what I gathered is that she is a dame of the night. But why gorgeous Nancy?

Niko wera, I just attended to my last customer, hii job yetu si rahisi. Sasa nitafanya nini na hakuna hustle ingine.

Nancy; I was married, well married or so I thought. My husband worked with the GSU he was a very strict man who wouldn’t shillyshally to beat me up in case I cut up. He was older than me by far. I married him because of the levels of paucity.  Standing before you is an academic dwarf. Being the first born I had to drop out of school. Am a woman who doesn’t believe in going out without a fight. He hit me because I hadn’t cleaned his socks, I insulted him and run away to my father’s house. I remained there leaving him with a two-year old baby. When I went back, he was already three years talking. Instead of calling me mum he would call me by name. I used to hate the boy! He looked like his father! Two years later I got another baby boy. By this time I had learnt not to fight the man not that he never beat me, he did. But I was planning my retaliation. After three years, I got a set of twins, two boys. And with that I felt so ready to retaliate for his maltreatment. First, I made sure that I dashed away every soul related to him. I did well in that. Secondly, I used his money to open a stall at Taveta road for myself. I also shopped for a young boy to warm my blood. Our philandering affair went on well for six months before he could find out. He pointed a gun at me, were it not for our last born, I would have been six feet under. I ran away, this time nowhere to go, my shop became my home. Soon I lost all my clients because there was no money for supplies anymore. I was thrown out and that’s why I ended up here.

Jahawi: I have no words scrupulously.

By this time, Fiona was here, she took Farida and as we drove off, I said to myself, “ I must come back to Taveta Road”.

Confessions of a Nairobi Hawker

Some people start life with what I would call the perfect aura. The aura that glows beautifully and it is difficult to hide it because it is noticed by everyone. Soon, their bright colors fade and they go dim as if they never commanded any attention when their buds tear open. That is the story of my life. Once upon a time, my aura was whiter than the lilies with the specks of pink and yellow. With time, it faded to pale brown. What many people do not know, is that I dearly miss my colors and I would love to reunite with my ever attractive essence. All the same, my past which is like a whirlpool has dominated my present with my permission and it has suck me in. I am afraid, I will never go back again. I am black.

I was born in Mariguini sixteen years back. I grew up in what many people will call hard life. At the age of five I was old enough to take care of my siblings because I was heavy for the woman who used to carry me on her back daily from four in the evening to ten at night while hawking in town. I was a toddler but I remember the many times I was tied on the back of Mama Wambo who was quite huge. She was strong and times I still think that she was a man masquerading as a woman. My mum (who is late now, she died of AIDS, we will talk about her in a moment) narrated to me on her death bed how she gave birth to me at fourteen years. Her school had to stop immediately. They were poor and she wasn’t bright at school either. She would go to school without sanitary towels. In fact, when she started her menstrual cycle, it was her class teacher that gave her the mother-daughter advice “Nyaboke, welcome to womanhood. You are now old enough to give birth. You are only ten years, but then if you have sex with a man even your classmates, you are likely to get pregnant. Abstain from sex at whatever costs my dear girl. Womanhood comes with toughness and responsibilities, it comes with maturity. I know all these is hard for you to grasp but we will continue talking about it”, said the wonderful angel in form of a teacher. “You should bath at least twice a day when you are in your menses. Change the pad after six hours and in case you have cramps or feel moody, just know it is okay. It is normal. You will also have pimples, though not a must. Do not shy off its part of growing”, concluded Mrs. Ogola. She later on bought me sanitary towels enough to last me three more months. She knew that my mother was a total drunk who had no time for me or my siblings. She was always drinking chang’aa with the men old enough to be her father. Two months later she was transferred to another school and that’s how I started using old clothes as my sanitary towels, when lucky I would use cotton wool or toilet paper .My dress always had a red spot and soon the news that I was bleeding had spread to the rest of the pupils.

My father on the other hand, was the bread winner. He was always ensuring that we go to school. He bought us books, came to school meetings, he was our pillar though we really let him down except from my elder brother Ochieng’ who heeded to his advice. Unlike us, he never tasted alcohol, went to jam sessions at Florida 2000 , he focused on his education and he got himself a scholarship to study medicine in the USA where he is now a doctor. That beautiful mansion  back in the rural area, he built it.

One day, as I was at home preparing to go to school, Ben, my mother’s boyfriend found me dressing up. Our house was a single wooden room. The man, even after telling him that my mother wasn’t around wouldn’t leave so that I dress up. That’s how he raped me and disappeared from our hood never to be seen again. True to Mrs. Ogola’s words, I gave birth to you. I loved you despite the circumstances surrounding your conception. I named you Pendo! Life became particularly hard for me. I had to endure words that cannot be said to you from my mother. She would go drink purposely  come home and rain on me abuses. She would wake up the whole area to tell them how much of a prostitute I was. That she did not know the man who impregnated me. My father would shield me from her attacks and even rented me another room somewhere far from home to protect me from my mother. He wanted me to go back to school and complete my education. He believed that an educated woman was a precious gem. However, I was broken. I saw myself as prostitute. Day in day out I saw myself in the words my mother called me. And that’s how I ended up here, in this bed, with this incurable disease. My days are numbered. As I watch you walk right into my footsteps. Pendo I struggled to raise you my daughter. It was helluva for me. Day in day out my father supported me though, he had other responsibilities, yet he was a just a watchman who would go for even six months without salary.

 Mama Wambo

When Nyaboke moved in to our plot, I felt pained by her situation. What kind of a mother treats the daughter like this even after being raped by her own boyfriend? I could not comprehend the magnitude of how barbaric her actions were. I tried helping her as much as I could. I was a hawker with three children. So she would baby sit them for me as I went chasing around with the city askari commonly known as kanjo.  The arrangement worked well for two months till my last born baby started weaning. Nyaboke was such an industrious girl. She would clean up the house, prepare food for my kids, do the laundry and she stole my heart with these actions. She won my affection when she could feed my toddler and hers too and still manage to take care of the other two. I decided to be paying her three hundred shillings per month in addition to housing her. Her father was grateful for easing the burden on him. Despite all I did to her, Nyaboke still carried pain inside her which was evident in her darken eyes. Who could  blame her, she had seen hell on earth thanks to her mother.

One Friday night while selling shoes at Ngara. One of us advised us to be going down to town, Globe Cinema round-about where more customers were concentrated. Determined to make more money, I followed the advice and that was the first time I was caught by the kanjo. We were twelve in the van. The kanjo drove off in the city roughly hurling insults at the other hawkers, whipping some, taking their merchandise and causing mayhem in the CBD. All this time my heart was pounding as time passed by. It was twelve in the midnight.

kannjo 2

hawkers running away from kanjo.

 

“Songa hapa mama” she said. Right there and then she asked me remove my blouse which I did. If this was the price I had to pay for my release so be it! She pressed my breasts which were full of milk to ascertain that in deed I was a mother. Breast milk splashed on her face and that is how I was out to go home to my family.

The rest of the hawkers in the van seemed to be used to this life. They did not look amused by any of these not even with the fact they were not in their houses but roaming the streets of Nairobi at night. At last we got to Koinange Street and they gave the men two hundred shillings that was their cost for freedom, they were set free. Njoki and I were the sacrificial lambs we were taken to Central Police Station. I would never forget that night. It was the busiest night for me. I kept going to the dilapidated washrooms and for a moment I believed the ones in Kijiji were cleaner.

At two in the morning, one female officer came to read for us our charges, and informed us that we would be arraigned in court very early in the morning I pleaded with her and told her that I had a six month baby at home besides, she was not in good hands to have mercy on me for the sake of the baby. My tears too moved her. “Songa hapa mama” she said. Right there and then she asked me remove my blouse which I did. If this was the price I had to pay for my release so be it! She pressed my breasts which were full of milk to ascertain that indeed I was a mother. Breast milk splashed on her face and that is how I was out to go home to my family.

 

When I got home, Nyaboke was much tensed though she had managed to lull the babies to sleep. I eat the food she had prepared, took a bath and went to bed. That night, an idea came to my mind like the way a vision comes. If the police woman could release me out of sympathy for my baby, that means I could carry a small baby on my back as a way of preventing the kanjo from harassing me. Yes! Babies earn women sympathy, that’s why the rest of the women who had babies on their backs were only shouted at plus abused verbally. That I can handle. Now whose baby will I use? My own Angel was quite big and heavy. Then Pendo, Nyaboke’s daughter came into my mind. She can be easily carried, she was light also easy to run with. After all, I was housing her mother she cannot decline to let me go with the girl for few hours. I would be doing her a favor in fact.

Malaya nyinyi, hamna mabawana!”

The next morning I talked to Nyaboke and after much persuasion she gave in to my idea. It worked, kanjo never dragged me into their van ever again and I was able to sell peacefully except for the occasional “Malaya nyinyi, hamna mabawana!”

Two months later, I noticed that Nyaboke had started looking different. She was always smelling alcohol and very sleepy in the morning. She was also having lots of money on her whenever I   checked. I suspected that she was stealing from me but my money was never missing.

“Hehehe kwani hujui, sikuizi alijoin squad”, Mama Tuma my neighbor said sarcastically when I inquired from her. This woman had a habit of eavesdropping to every conversation and she was the CNN of Mariguini. By that she meant, Nyaboke was now a prostitute. I was not shocked, but at least now she started working and getting some income. I was actually getting tired of feeding her and her baby not to talk of carrying her along when I went hawking. Not for long though as soon as she hits four years I will look for another baby and work the same arrangement as this one too.

******************************

Pendo, and that’s how I joined prostitution, I lived as my mother once called me. At least now if she called me one, she would be justified. It wasn’t easy though. I remember day’s men will chase me out after sleeping with me without payment. Some would give me ten shillings. One day my friend Carol was found dead floating on Nairobi River, the dead tell no tales though. My other brother is rotting in jail for stealing a phone .Nancy, she passed on after being beaten to death by the Administration Police after a woman she allegedly stole from paid them one thousand shillings to force the truth from her mouth. My daughter, one day I was flogged by some Asians and dragged on the tarmac for demanding for my pay. Here I am wasting away, courtesy of AID’s.

Pendo, and that’s how I joined prostitution, I lived as my mother once called me. At least now if she called me one, she would be justified.

That was too much for me to take. “But who will accept me?” I asked my mother. “I grew up seeing you sleeping with different men mum and I started this business at the age of ten. Why didn’t you stop me?” I asked tears strolling down my eyes. “Pendo, am sorry, I am, and I mean it. My father, your grandfather will accept you just as you are. Go to him.” She said. I walked out to get her lunch, we had been talking for long. One hour later I came back with food. The bed was empty, the look on the nurse was enough to tell me she was gone. I felt dizzy and fainted, I can’t tell for how long but when I woke up. The doctor met me with, congratulations you are six weeks pregnant” and she walked away.

photos: internet

 

She strips naked,
The sagging breasts,
The stretch marks on her waist,
Her butt,
She tries posing,
Her fading smile,
Tears roll down the cheek bones,
They wipe out the cheap make-up,
She drops down the cheap smelling wig,
Her head is bald,
When she looks at me,
She doesn’t even recognize herself,
She got a heart of winner,
But looking back at her,
It’s someone else,
She hasn’t seen the best of days,
What else can I do?
She trusts me that much,
With me,
She tells me all,
Every morning,
Every evening,
She let’s herself loose,
Just for me,
Guilt is killing me,
I wish I could do more,
But!
Am just a mirror on the wall.

©Rumona Apiyo

KIAMBU HaLf LiFe

“Okay ladies, I have really tried to call the guys that might take us out tonight but none is forthcoming”. Said the disappointed our beloved Nyar Kisumu .I hope you still hark back to her –she was the ever drunk babe- .

It was a Good Friday,  I tend to ruminate that the reason as to why there more debaucheries  and lechery committed on such a day is because somehow, Satan was in charge for a moment.  The good book is clear, “Jesus was in the tomb”. Wherever given the ride, he (Satan) takes full charge and joysticks excellently. He had arrested our minds and we were ready to go out and get intoxicated with the unholy spirits of the night where there is that noise that is more powerful than the one found in exorcism centers.  We had dressed in what others will call handkerchiefs. Our faces painted, with beautiful shades that looked ‘better’ than the Dura coat colors. This is despite the fact that cats and dogs had called their long distant cousins, the mice to join in the competition of raining. One more last thing, we were poorer than the church mouse. We didn’t have even a kobo to call our own.

Needless to say that ladies are always advised to carry some little money just in case there is an emergency. In our own case, something had to emerge, for us to see the reality of the saying by miss independents.

Nyar Kisumu had okoad jahazi worth 250 Kenyan shillings to get us sponsors. By the way if you have noticed, today am not Holy Mary praying for sinners, If you can’t beat them, join them!

At around 12 am, we got lucky and some guys from Juja boys ( JKUAT) sent us five hundred shillings to get a taxi or better still a matatu to Natives where we would have all that fun we had been craving for. We called our boda boda man, Wafula who probably was in  the process of kunyandua mama watoto or the side chic because he came panting and sweaty  on a rainy weather . We fitted on boda boda ( five of us) and he off we sped  to the stage. Nothing was coming in between us and those disco lights. Just a seconds after we alighted ,the phone rang, and there and then the ‘heavens’ had finally smiled at us. Martin, the banker, was sending a taxi to pick us to Westland’s. He had some other friends too, probably the same profession. So we decided to abandon our first destination which was Natives and ignore all the calls from Juja poor-boys who can only afford five hundred shillings.

“Wasichana nyinyi ndio Malaya ya hii area? Sindio” (insert the Kalejin accent) came the voice behind us.

nairobi

police stopping us

We all turned in shock and disbelief. How dare you call us prostitutes? Our thoughts, unanimously. We were all freezing in cold, the rains were in pause, perhaps not to ruin our make-up and spoil our night.

These were three police men in those navy blue long rain coats. Salivating on us. “Woiye sisi si malaya, tunaenda out tu”, Nina the tunnel said.  “Wapi vitambulisho?”the tallest one retorted. “Vitambulisho hatuna, tumepoteza wallet na hatujachukua zingine” I answered. “warembo, toeni kitu ya kukunywa glass ama tuite landrover iwabebe”. The second one who was now moving closer said sarcastically. Nyar Kisumu gave them the remaining change meant to take us to Natives. These small boys from Juja must have sent these policemen to us. They were witches. They wouldn’t let us enjoy the little money they sent to us?

“Wasichana nyinyi ndio Malaya ya hii area? Sindio”

“Hii pesa ni kidogo sana msichana” and within minutes the land rover was here already and all of us asked to get inside. For some reason I wasn’t tensed like the other time when found with bang at Kahawa. “Lakini mko na uchinga sana, yaani munaenda wapi pila pesa?” the tall officer asked. Again, our savior, Nyar Kisumu started making calls to sponsors to send the men in blue uniform one thousand shillings so that we do not sleep in the police cell. This time it didn’t take long before one black-angel appeared. “tuma hio pesa kwa hii agent number na utume ya kutoa pia”, the police officer who had been quite all along said. I almost puked when he opened his mouth, he was really smelling chan’gaa. Nyar Kisumu sent the money and by this time we had gotten ourselves a lift to town. We picked a taxi and headed to Westland’s where Martin was waiting for us. He paid the taxi man as we go into the club. Before getting intoxicated with the unholy spirits, Nyar Kisumu called the Safaricom Customer Care and asked them to reverse a withdrawal she had made earlier on which was done quite first than usual.

“These policemen think they are clever, we are better”, we tossed to our intelligence and got to the floor dancing as we waited for the drinks.

telegraph

it was a night of partying!

Edited By Gidion Makenzi

Photo Credits: Internet

DRY

Movie Review; DRY

By: Rumona Apiyo

Gone are the days we would fold hands and watch young teenage girls get married off to old men and abandon school. That was Africa for you. Thanks to the Muzungu’s education, now we fight for girls more than we do for the boys. For such a scenario in Kenya, women will demonstrate the whole day, the members of parliament, the nominated ones and more so the female will call a press conference to condemn such a backward and ferocious action on the girl child. Non-Governmental organizations wouldn’t be left behind at all, the president will set up a commission of inquiry to look into the matter and a political leftover will be happy to chair the commission. Continue reading

Night Changes

Nyque Ambetsah

Valentine_Man_and_Woman_Silhouettes_PNG_Picture

In my drunken stupor I could see her

Her eyes uneasy perhaps trying to see past my dark specs

Her boobs now shining maybe the sweat from the stolen waltzing

The strange hands on her rare touching the rough patches on my heart

The blue red green club lights blinking to this deep engulf

That reminds me of the rainbow just before the rains, she’s safe

Heart’s smiling to the cadenced accomplishments

But mine aches, bitterly weeps pinching me to my toes I feel this

Seeping through my backbone my  veins swell

Breaking my diamond ring the smithereens to hell

Loosening the knot that i lived for rather entrusted

That one day she’ll say no to whatever seemed to sway

A sound heart listens to what the mouth speaks

And  I spoke rather preached about, her to her till she stinked

And now my heart can’t stand the stench

I’m…

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