See the World Through My Eyes

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10 Lessons I Learnt from a Billionaire

ck

When I first showed up at Capital FM for work I didn’t know what to expect but I knew what I wanted. I wanted to learn how to be successful. In my mind, there was only one man who I could learn this from, Chris Kirubi. This part of my life story started 5 years before when I was working for Tedd Josiah. He is one of the most iconic Kenyan music producers from whom I had learnt invaluable lessons that I still apply today.

It so happened that one day we were cleaning the studio offices at Blu Zebra Records when a card fell out of a magazine stack. On picking it up, I noticed that it was no ordinary card. It was ivory in color and it had an emblem that was raised on the card’s surface in some sort of waxy print. It looked sophisticated and the texture gave off a rather luxurious feel to it. The name on the card read Chris Kirubi and the details were arranged in a simple and neat manner that was laid-back-confident. The name was familiar, I knew this was one of the top businessmen in the country and I also knew what most people at the time  knew about him; that he had a court case going on where he was being accused of having fleeced a state owned supermarket chain and cab company. Regardless, I held on to the card and went about researching all I could about his empire and what kind of man he was. In my quest to know about him I couldn’t differentiate what information about him was true and what was myth. In the end, I decided I would meet him one day and find out why he was successful.

Fast forward 5 years  later, I was seated at the Capital FM reception waiting to be interviewed for a graphic designer position by the then marketing manager Angelique Bennaars. She took me in for the interview and later told me I had had been accepted into the company and that I was to start immediately as an apprentice under one Mark Mwera. I was led to my workstation that was tucked away in a corner. It was stuffy and hot but it was where I got my first lesson from ‘Chairman’ as everyone at the station called him.

1. Know your people
You see, CK has a habit of always visiting his businesses without notice and you would be surprised to know that he knows all his employees personally. On my first day as he was passing my corner on his way to the studio, he stopped and looked at me and asked me, “Who the hell are you and why are you using my machine?” I was dumfounded, and for a moment I didn’t know what to say. “I’m the new designer…” I replied in a scared voice.

“Did I interview you?” He asked now with his voice raised.

“No. But I was interviewed by Angelique”, I said trying to assert myself.

He came over and ordered me to leave my machine and get off the premises because he didn’t who I was. Anyway this scene replayed over the next few days until he realized I wasn’t going anywhere and so he let me stay and work. He also warned that he would throw me out the window from the 19th floor if I didn’t work hard and deliver outstanding work. In the end I got to understand the concept behind his actions because this is how  he runs his empire. He makes an effort to know his people. From that time, he never forgot my name and made it a point to know what my life goals were. To date he remembers I told him I would accomplish more than he ever did [the challenge is still on]. I also realized that the man knows everyone who works for him, be it in his corporate businesses or even manufacturing plants. It’s hard to find an employee in any Kirubi’s companies who hasn’t interacted with the Chairman. As a result I have learnt that as a leader when you make an effort to personally know the people working for you, what you get in return is a sense of ownership towards your organization by employees. One feels motivated to perform when you know that your boss knows you personally and appreciates the role you play.

2. Only Buy Into What You Would Like to Own
On asking him what I should consider when buying stock his answer was simple. He said, “My approach to choosing the company whose stocks I will buy is based on a simple objective; owning the whole company. That way, my decision will be based on logical thinking and not emotion or speculation. When buying always ask yourself, is this the type of company I want to own? Does it’s business model appeal to me and is it easy to understand?

Over the few years I worked in his company I studied his investment patterns and I realized the reason why he was successful in the stock market is because his investment style was long term and the motivation was to be the majority owner of the company in question. Later he would say “I don’t invest to make a quick buck because doing so defies the laws of nature. When you plant, it is only natural that you nurture your crop  and patiently wait for the crop to mature. Harvesting before the right time will be robbing yourself off the greater potential of what you would have gotten out of your investment. This has always been CK’s approach when purchasing anything not only stocks. This year (2015) he made Kshs. 2.8 billion from the sale of his UAP Holdings stake after waiting for 10 years.  Read the story here

3. Be Your Product’s Best Salesman and it’s Most Loyal Consumer
You will always catch CK selling and hawking his products shamelessly regardless of where he is.

Once we were having dinner in a posh restaurant and the waiter brought us a certain  brand of bottled water which visibly offended CK. You see, CK is a shareholder of Nairobi Bottlers, a bottling franchise of the Coca Cola Company which produces it’s own drinking water known as Dasani™. The water the waiter had served us was another brand that was a competitor and CK’s loyalty to his brand is the reason why he was offended. Anyway he went on to ensure that the restaurant changed their brand of drinking water by selling the Dasani™ brand to the restaurant owner. The condition he gave was simple; if he was to dine in that restaurant again they had to be his customers first. It was the ultimate statement of loyalty in business.

On normal days, you will always catch CK stopping women on the streets of Nairobi to ask them if they have used his Haco hair products and what he can change or add in his offering. One of the most memorable quotes I got from him is ‘A good salesman will be rich. A good salesman who sells a product he can stake his life on will own the world’. As for his lifestyle brands, one would expect CK to use imported sophisticated expensive brands but you’d be surprised to know he uses the very products that he manufactures as proof of their quality. Check any Haco products and you will see his signature. It’s that serious.

4. Loyalty is Not a Word You Throw Around
After almost a decade working for this great man, I decided to move on and put into practice what I had learned. It was the hardest thing to do and I ended up leaving a big part of my heart at Capital FM. These are the people I spent most of my time with and eventually they had become my family. Nevertheless it was time. I had tried quitting many times before but would always change my mind the last minute because of one thing – loyalty. I had been treated well and the company had made huge sacrifices for me even when I didn’t feel I was worth it. What I learned from Dr. Kirubi is a lesson that every leader should take very seriously. Loyalty is proactive. You offer loyalty first before demanding for it. I remember one day out of the blue CK interrupted a Digital Media Department meeting and said “It would make me sad if even one of you turned out to be a failure in future. I will do everything in my power to empower you, be it in your work here at the company or even in your personal business” He then paused and added “Anyone who works for me is my friend and family and I am loyal to them regardless of what role they play in the company.” In the years I have worked for him, CK has always shown loyalty to his employees especially in their time of need. Even now after leaving Capital FM he is still loyal to me and it is the one reason why I will always answer his call and be ready to show my goodwill.

5. Every Member is Important
Every year in his companies, CK always gives what has come to be known as the chairman’s speech. It’s a special event for everyone who works for him because it is the occasion where he declares his stand. It has become a tradition that I strongly believe has played a vital role in his success. One that would recommend for every company. During this speech he reminds all his employees [whom he prefers to call team mates] of the vision of the company and the state of the business. He always assures his people that regardless of the state of the economy or business, he will do everything in his power to protect everyone’s job. In one of his speeches which I came to regard as my best he said “I feel rich and wealthy not because of the money we have made but by the fact that through you I have played a major role in bringing up all these families. That is the reason why I look forward to every new day”. He will always finish his speeches by mentioning every person by name (regardless of their position in the company) and telling the rest why this person is important to the business. This however is just a small part of what he really does on a daily basis. CK will always make impromptu visits to his companies and randomly pick on any employee with an aim to motivate them. He is one of the most powerful motivators I know and it is because of one small detail. Every member of the team regardless of their role is just as important as the next. His actions speak louder than his words.

6. First Get the Numbers Right. The Money Will Come.
CK says the difference between the current crop of young people and the young people of yesterday is attitude towards patience. We want to invest very little but have big returns and in a shorter than normal timeframe. When we first started developing the digital arm of Capital FM his first directive was for us to build numbers before we started selling our product. At the time we thought it was a risky move to spend three years just building and testing the platform while we looked for a strong audience base. It just didn’t make sense at the time because it meant putting money in and not expecting any returns for a long time. A four years later, we were probably the only digital media outfit making money from the internet locally. You see, many digital media companies don’t get to break even and it is very hard for them to admit. The reason is hidden in the numbers. When you have a big audience to talk to, your return on investment grows automatically. When you have a steady supply of quality content your profitability is extended by virtue of repeat usage and referral. We learnt this hands on. I later came to realize that this is how he approaches all his business ventures -Take time to prepare, test and fine tune your product as you increase your customer base and in the end money will be a by-product of your offering.

7. Your Presence Should Be Felt
When I was working for him I saw how CK carried himself in the presence of individuals who may be wealthier and more successful than he is and I learnt one big lesson. You are as important as you feel and people will treat you as importantly as how you present yourself. Most likely you will never be able to tell if the person CK is talking to is more successful than he (CK) is. Why? Kirubi walks with his own atmosphere and always owns any gathering he attends. He dresses fashionably and his scent always seems to denote power and influence. He makes sure he is the centre of attention and is eloquent so that his every word is solid and full of confidence. When visiting his businesses he will always put on one of two masks; rebuke or praise – employees usually cannot predict which mask he will walk in with. What this does is it creates this undeniable presence of a man whose every decision will have a heavy impact on everyone’s life. He can call anyone and ask about the progress of a particular project just to show you he never forgets. This keeps employees constantly focused on their deliverables without putting unnecessary pressure on themselves.

Asserting his presence ensures CK always has the upper hand in any deal and negotiation.

8. Your Life is Your First Business
Chris Kirubi will never involve himself in something where he does not stand to gain. Secondly he will never live beyond his means. One day he took a workmate and I for a drink at the bar downstairs. He started by clearly stating that we were only going to drink for an hour since he had guests who he was supposed to meet later. As we ordered our drinks I noticed him frown as I made my order and I instantly knew I’d done something that he didn’t approve. You see while he and my workmate had ordered a beer, I had gone ahead and ordered two doubles of a single scotch whisky.

“How can you engage in the same nonsense that the young man seated behind us is doing?” He barked while pointing to a guy in his thirties who was busy entertaining two digger looking type girls with a bottle of rum on the table. “You should never order a drink you can’t afford. I’m not saying you won’t be able to pay for this but I am telling you ask yourself what percentage of your salary you will have used to buy this drink.” I got him loud and clear because I knew he lived by this principle. In every aspect of your life you need to live within your means and this will be your best motivator to work hard to move to the next step. Likewise every action one involves themselves in should lead to an outcome of positive gain failure to which it will be time wasted.

9. A Leader Does not Delegate
Yes you heard me right. In the years that I worked for the man, I never saw DJ CK delegate work even once. Instead he used his skills as a salesman to sell ideas to his employees. He would come up with an idea or a challenge and start breaking it down himself in excitement. It was always fun to witness how his mind works. The surprising result of his proactive nature was proaction by his employees. Everyone wanted in on his project because he had sold it to them first and not ordered them to do it. Soon every team member would assign themselves duties and the job would be completed half the time it would have taken if we had followed a conventional format. It somehow always reminded me of the show ‘Pimp my Ride’ where the garage owner sells his idea to his team members who in turn share what their contribution will be towards restoring the featured car. I acknowledge that every company is different but I believe for any person in management, this principle will get you great results that are good on time and quality. When you delegate you are forced into an uncomfortable zone where you have to rely on mediocre business systems to drive your machines (workers) to produce.

10. The Eagle in the Sky Holds the Sharpest Vision
I have always been interested to hear people talking about the companies in which they work. One of the things that strike me is how frustrated many people are with their jobs. One would expect that these frustrations are caused by poor pay but surprisingly they arise from lack of a clear understanding of one’s duties and roles in the company. This is caused in turn by a leadership that lacks a clear vision that is easy to understand  and explain. Many people often find themselves in roles they are not supposed to be playing and are not passionate about – this has become the source of their misery. CK has always had a clear vision of what he wants and how he will get it. He is always reminding his employees why they are in his business and the roles they have to play to achieve his vision. In addition to that, he is always asking employees to have a clear vision for their own lives. If you were to walk into Capital FM offices today, all you will find are happy faces of people who know what role they have to play towards the vision of the company which is clear and simple to understand.

There are many lessons that I have learnt from this man that would constitute volumes if I were to write them down, so this is just but a start. What have you learnt from your mentor lately?

 

Have You Found Yourself?

purpose One of the biggest challenges of our generation is knowing what our purpose is and how to achieve our dreams.

I’ve talked to many people but sadly most of them don’t seem to know their purpose and what they want from life. I too have struggled with this question all my life and I still am. I hate that it has become the monkey on my back and I hate that I have to wake up everyday to look for myself. I can’t concentrate at anything I do and I have turned into a hopeless scatter brain. I feel like time is running out and the prospect of growing old and miserable, haunted by dreams that never materialized scares me. It makes me go into panic; a miserable state that can be observed by looking at how many things I’ve tried in my life.

I have tried starting my own business more than once and I have tried going up the ladder in my career and still, there is this nagging feeling that I am just not where I want to be.

When I’m at work I find my mind wandering to distant places and I am fearful that maybe those places are where I should be instead. I observe other people and suddenly it looks like everyone is getting onto their path. They seem happy and everything they do looks deliberate and based on a well defined purpose.

So is it that I have failed in finding my path or am I expecting [unrealistically] too much from life? Do I have the wrong paradigm of how life works? Is my purpose locked in this ‘uneventful’ job that I don’t seem to give the appreciation it deserves? Am I part of those who will never amount to anything? Is that my destiny?

On the other hand I also see many people who are like me. People who don’t have a clear plan of what they would do if they won a million dollars today. People who procrastinate and are always anxious because they are not sure of the future. One day you are excited about this new idea you’re pursuing and the next day you’re not sure if it is what you want. Your life goes in phases that come and end as fast as a flame on a matchstick. First there is the ‘I need to buy land phase’, then comes the ‘I need to start saving phase’ and today you’re on the ‘I need to start a business’ phase and the cycle never ends.

I’ve heard people say that you are always in the path that God wants you to be but I am beginning to doubt that. Why? because if this is where He wanted me to be, why am I not happy? Why do I feel like I am in limbo?

I have seen many of our parents live their lives in simplicity and mediocrity; retiring at sixty five and immediately going into the last phase of life where they miserably wait for their sunset. Somehow it has always felt wrong because [I believe] life is not meant to be a mere existence and a process that is predictable as to how it ends. What happened to dreams? At what point do dreams die? Is it to late for my parents to start dreaming all over again? Why I’m I getting sucked into the same cycle of broken dreams and surrendering without a fight? Why is this the more comfortable path to follow?

I’ve had a good career so far; it would be ungrateful for me to ignore that. Learning new things has been the best part of it all. Being challenged to do the impossible has kept my adrenaline pumping and like a junkie, I want more. I want more because there is this strong unshakable urge inside me that tells me I have a higher purpose. Something I can write my name on. That THING that I can do for free and not worry where money will come from because it will be automatic. That purpose that will make my life count for something. I want to be remembered for something great!

I have looked for it everywhere and I am willing to do everything to know why I am here. Sometimes I wish God would use my friends, family or even a stranger to tell me what is it that I am good at so I can dive into it NOW. Or maybe that’s not the way He speaks, maybe it is. But at the end of the day I just want a nudge in the right direction. Or maybe I have already been nudged but was too distracted to feel it? Where is that ONE clear hint that will show me which door to knock? Or maybe a hint is not supposed to be clear after all?

Whatever and wherever my purpose is, I have decided I’d rather die trying to find it. I can no longer sail blind in this darkness. I need to find a beacon and I need to find it sooner than later. I hate losing sleep over things I can’t decipher. I hate to be a person who always changes his dreams because he doesn’t know where he is going. One thing I am sure though, is that I am here for a purpose. What it is, I don’t know. So I’m going to start my search and I will hunt down my purpose to the ends of the earth if need be.

Last week I decided I will put all my dreams on paper because I had a feeling they will lead me to my purpose. It was a challenging experience to decide on what I want for my future, but it’s a start. After pasting cut-out pictures of what I want in life on a white page, I am starting to have this strange experience that I like. For some reason, I feel like I am on to something good and long term.  For once I am pretty clear on my dreams and when I would want to achieve them. How I am going to achieve this is the billion dollar question. Whether this yields anything only time can tell, but I can’t shake off the conviction that this is probably what I should have done years ago.

You see when I was young, my mother taught me this trick and it got me my first car. She told me to write down what I wanted in future and keep it where I could see it every day. I bought a car a few days to my twenty fourth birthday -which is the date I had written down. When you are a child belief is raw and unadulterated, but as you grow older logic gnaws at your dreams and suddenly they become fantasies. I guess somewhere along the way I forgot the basics; that you have to visualize what you want because it’s the first sign that you can and will most likely get it.

It’s time I started all over again. After all, maybe life isn’t about finding yourself but creating yourself.

I’d like you to take a moment and ask yourself this simple question. Have I found myself?

Heirloom

heirloom

My grandfather was a young boy when he first saw them. They had six digits on each limb and very smooth skin that glowed unlike normal humans. Though they looked human, they spoke without opening their mouths in a way that was clear and a language that could not be described. They said to him that they meant no harm and that they were from a place far away in the stars…

They say children observe without inhibition. To my young grandfather, these strange people were a subject of curious fascination. They would speak to animals an even plants. They would do very unusual things that are impossible for a man to do. A few months before he died, he whispered to me in a way that was almost incoherent that he had seen them again. He said he had been walking along the stream that ran at the foot of his land when he saw them standing by the boulder that marked the last beacon of his land. He claimed they hadn’t aged at all. He hadn’t seen them since that time in the forest but it now seemed like they had never left after all. He had spent all his life trying to tell people what he saw. Naturally not one ever believed his fantastic tale. You see when he was young, my grandfather had a habit of creating these imaginative tales to entertain his parents and siblings. At one point, they started worrying that spending months in the forest herding cattle with his great grandfather had started wearing him down mentally. Eventually, they gave in to the realization that these stories were a part of his personality.

His great grandfather was also a man with a reputation of telling strange tales. Contrary to modern theory, he claimed that the Kikuyu had come from the far north, a place called Nekemte. Disease and constant attacks from the tribe of tall and dark people from the west had forced his ancestors to break into small bands and head south. The common understanding was that they would later regroup at the foot of the mountain of God. It took them many years and by the time they reached the mountain it had been five generations. They later came to settle at the foot of Koraba that is now known as Mount Kenya. In his narration he claimed that on reaching Koraba, they found these strange looking people with six digits on each limb; who did curious things. On consulting with God, the tribe seers declared these creatures evil and a danger to mankind. They directed the clan to organize themselves in readiness for war. They engaged these beings in a battle that lasted one hundred moons. In the end, we won and killed them all. At least that was the narrative according to the legend of the time.

When my father was a young boy, he too went herding cattle with his grandfather for months at a time in the forest. In those days, the land was still wild and so vast that they had to place beacons everywhere they stopped so they could find their way back. These journeys were long and lonely at times. After all, there’s only so much two people can tell each other after spending months trekking through the forests and wastelands. My grandfather would always tell him that if he ever saw anything strange and frightening the best thing to do was to keep calm and still until it [whatever it was] passed. My father was to later see many frightening things like lions but never anything strange. He too considered my grandfather ridiculous with his ludicrous strange tales.

Times changed and following the invasion by the british my grandfather went into the forest to fight as Mau Mau. The war lasted many years and many of our people were killed in what later came to be known as the struggle for independence. He had seen many of his comrades in arms die in the most undignified ways. He had experienced the horrors of war in an involving way that would be etched in his mind for the rest of his life. When he came back, he was a changed man. A far cry from the story teller he had been in his better days. The forest was gone, and all he had left was a five acre piece of land and a wife and children that he hardly knew and needed to reacquaint himself with. Of all the stories of war that he later would tell his children , one stood out. When he was in the forest, he always felt like he was being watched by the strange beings from his childhood. On dark silent nights, he would feel their presence. It was they were always watching him. The day before he got out of the forest he thought he heard them call out his name. They spoke in his head and just as before it was clear.

In the years before he died, he was a shadow of his former self. He was quiet most of the time and unable to feed or clean himself. He would come out to meet the sun sitting in his favorite colonial era chair just staring into space as if in a trance. I believe he got tired of speaking to a world that would not take him seriously. He still had that strange light in his eyes of a boy who had seen something incredible. He died still holding on to his tale.

During my grandfather’s funeral, I noticed these two strangers who were standing by the grave. They looked ageless and their skin was smooth and it seemed to glow. Their faces showed no emotion but strangely I felt their sorrow. Deep and hollow. It was a feeling I had never felt before. When they looked up, our eyes met and for a moment the earth stood still and and I felt my knees give way. I collapsed on the ground. I could hear a woman’s voice in the distance telling mourners to give me space to breathe. I felt them loosen my shirt and they started fanning my face. When I came to, the strangers were gone but I knew who they were.

Though this is a work of fiction, I dedicate to the memory of my grandfather whose tales captivated my mind ever since I was a young boy. He died before he could tell his story.

If they Ask

whiskey

Some people have mentors others have role models. I have godfathers. This particular one loves whisky and the occasional cuban. When the ice starts splitting in his glass you can be sure what he says next will change your future.

After clearing his throat, my godfather proceeded to tell me a story he had told many a young man before me. A story that I heard from my other godfather on the day of my wedding.

The story is about a man and his wife who lived in their mud and thatch homestead on the edge of a thick forest. The wife did everything around the house. She cooked and cleaned while the man tilled their land, split firewood and looked after their tiny herd of goats. The couple worked hard and were thankful for the simple life they had created for themselves. However, they were the laughing stock of their village because it was abnormal for a man to help his wife in work. Villagers considered him a weak man for openly caring for his wife and helping her with work. After all, a real man is supposed to enjoy the ‘benefits’ of marriage. Men would wake up late and head to sit under the great tree to enjoy traditional brew while they waited for sunset.

One day as the man was splitting firewood [so the wife could make them a meal], a huge venomous snake slithered out of the firewood and poised itself in an attacking stance. The man was terrified and let out a loud scream. He ran off screaming into the kitchen hut and jumped into the ‘itara’. [This is where firewood is stored in the roof of the hut to keep it dry.]

The wife was plucking tomatoes when she heard her husband’s desperate screams. She immediately rushed to where she had left him splitting firewood and found the snake still erect and ready to strike. Instinctively, she picked up a thick piece of firewood and started beating the snake’s head while screaming. She swung her stick until she was sure she had squashed the snake’s head completely.

Their neighbors heard the commotion and came rushing to help. When they got to the compound they found the wife sitting on the ground crying.

She said, “I was chopping firewood when this big snake attacked me. But my strong fearless husband came to my rescue and beat it to death. He fought it with such courage that it stood no chance! In fact, he has just gone into the kitchen to bring kerosene and some matches so we could burn it.I would be dead were it not for my husband!”.

When the husband came out from his hiding place, he was stunned beyond words. There stood the whole village cheering him for his bravery. He was after all the real man of the village and his wife was the luckiest woman in the world.

You see the woman knew she had married a coward but she also knew she had married a good man nonetheless.But this snake ordeal was their secret to keep.

When two people spend time together, they start discovering their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, these [strength and weakness] aspects defy the expectations of society.

I have seen men who’ve lost their jobs and agreed to stay at home and watch the kids while their wives brought the dough. I have seen women who have the guts to protect their families while their men go into panic because they lack the courage in adversity. Most of all I have seen couples who still love each other despite these ‘unusual’ and overlapping strengths and weaknesses.
Some women can’t fry an egg while some men can’t install a light bulb.

While I advocate for every sex to try their best to learn and improve on their natural roles, I also acknowledge that for some it may never change. We all come from different backgrounds so it would be unfair to judge the one you love based on your idea of the man or woman of your dreams. Love ignores such details.

The most important learning is how you talk about the one you love in their absence. This is the PR in a relationship. When you talk negatively about the man you’re with to the world. You cut off his feet and deny yourself the chance of ever making a good man out of him. Someone once said, ‘A wise woman knows the importance of speaking life into her man. If you love him; believe in him, encourage him and be his peace.’

The same applies to men. Like us, women come into a relationship with many faults that need fixing and adjusting to. This is natural. We’re all raised differently and have had different experiences that shaped how we behave now. Instead, always try to understand the genesis of that particular trait that you don’t like. You will be surprised that you’d have turned out the same given her circumstances! When you talk about her to others, paint her as the perfect picture. After all, perfection is how you choose to look at it.

In the end you will realize that the world feeds on your shortcomings and soon your words work against you. Be careful what you say about the ones you love.

The Little Voice

cotton

Your gift will be your burden until the day you make the decision to follow that little voice that first spoke to you when you were a child. You will learn that people will always be ready to pay you to enable them accomplish their objectives but never yours. Therefore you will forever be a slave because of your fear of doing it on your own. A fear fueled by the threat of sleeping in the cold, hungry, naked and in debt.

You are gifted. A professional at what you do. You work confidently and diligently running your master’s ship but you are still uncertain of your ability to row your own boat. How then can you claim that you feed and clothe yourself? Is it not your master that owns the shirt on your back?

Every evening your master goes happy to bed and thanks the Lord for the blessings bestowed upon him. He smiles because he knows beyond a shadow of doubt that you will show up tomorrow early to till his land. Another step closer to his dream. Deep in his heart he knows that God created all men with an equal chance at happiness. Only some chose the hard road and the rest chose to embrace the warm bosom of mediocrity.

In mediocrity, there are three meals and a warm bath at the end of the day. These good tidings are not for a celebration but to sooth and rejuvenate your aching bones for tomorrows till. In mediocrity there is pride in being called a faithful slave and their is gladness in being trusted by the money lender. A slave; you feel accomplished and respected when the master places you in charge of other slaves.

Your gift will be your burden until the day you make the decision to follow that little voice that first spoke to you when you were a child. Now you have nothing to call your own. Your horse and brick house are the lender’s. A lender in a secret pact with your master to make sure your work to their benefit until your crown is grey. It is how the world works. Your horse will grow feeble and die before you have fully paid for it. Your brick house will crumble before you realize you were never meant to own it. And all the while the master and the lender’s children will be waiting to take the little you have left. Just like the vultures that prey a dying old toothless lion that lacks the strength to fight back.

As you watch the sunset in the squint of your weak eyes, you will always be in deep thought. A mixture of regret and despair. Were you not the slave that new the seasons by heart? Was it not your position to distribute rations to the other slaves? Didn’t the master always say that it is you he trusted the most?

Oh you good slave. Your gift is now your son’s burden because you didn’t follow that little voice that first spoke to you when you were a child.

Why We Will Kill Again

violence

We are living in fear and our lives are under threat. Insecurity has demonstrated that it doesn’t matter where you are but as long as you are within kenya’s boarders you are not safe. I hate to break it to you but we are to blame. We are getting paid for the sins we have committed as a country. We allowed ourselves to be compromised and now we are crying. For a long time I was bitter with the colonialists because I believed they found us living in peace and disrupted our way of life. I have since had a change of mind and I now believe the blame should heaped on us and our founding fathers. I respect the many who fought for our independence and I strongly believe they had the best intentions. However, when we got independence the few [that we call our founding fathers] got into power messed it up for the rest of us.

The colonialists herded  us from our ancestral lands into reserves and grabbed our fertile lands for themselves. But after independence, our founding fathers grabbed and bought the same lands [formerly our ancestral lands] from the colonialists for themselves. They never repatriated the indigenous Kenyan people to their ancestral lands instead they conspired against us. THAT is the first crime they committed against us. Many of our forefathers and their cronies became wealthy by buying off land soaked in blood and the tears of Kenyans. All the while, Kenyans suffered from disease and poverty in the reserves. We lost our dignity and our cultures. We have lived in lands that we didn’t feel comfortable in. We lost our integrity and took up the same traits we saw in our corrupt founding fathers. We got into the cycle of grabbing and stealing because we knew we had no one fight for us. From fighting together against colonial we turned to fighting each other because the resources were not enough. There was not much land to go around. Since our founding fathers knew system they had engineered would eventually turn against them, they made us hate each other. It made more sense for them to uses Kenyans to kill Kenyans to achieve their selfish gains.

Their ploy was a success. We started comparing ourselves to each other and we suddenly realised the Maasai had huge herds of cattle and tracts of land. Knowing that made us feel inferior. It made us uneasy that the Luos were more learned and assertive. We suddenly assumed that the Kikuyu were all thieves because most of their leaders were in power and they had wasted no time in stealing resources from their fellow countrymen. We were taught to be cautious with each other. And like a lover scorned, we let these notions simmer in our hearts because we were afraid of talking to each other. Our forefathers  had managed to deflect our attention from them and they gained whenever we fought. They held on to power and won elections whenever they made us spite each other. They marginalised us and made our ambitions to be based on our ethnicity. They are still winning. The sad truth is, our forefathers had made us think they were tribalist just like us but unreality, they were partners in crime. They were united by wealth and the secrecy that is bred in shared ambition. Their children attended each other’s birthday parties and even shared bank accounts, businesses and property. All the while, the poor Kenyans were busy sowing the seeds of mistrust between their children and the children of other ethnicities. They taught us to step on each other’s heads to climb the various ladders in life. They taught us that the only way our tribes would exist is if all the others ceased to exist. That was the first massacre.

Our current crop of leaders were the first children of our forefathers. They became our leaders because they had the resources needed to ascend to power. They had learned well from their fathers on the secrets of power. They are sworn to each other on secret pacts. They understand what it means to keep the wealth in their families. They know what it means to use us to remain in power. Since this is the lingua franca of politics and power in our country, anyone who comes to power is forced to play by these twisted rules or risk losing their keep. We have become addicted to politics of tribe and not merit and that is why any leader who ignored tribal politics never makes it far. We always blow in the direction our seemingly caring leaders blow us. This is why we will always fight and kill each other.

Lately, there has been a wave of partriotism that seems to be working albeit a slow pace. We have started shunning tribal politics but it is still not enough. There’s much more that remains to be done. However, the ruling elite that runs the country’s affairs behind the curtains is growing uneasy. They know that their institutions of ethnic politics are under threat. This is precisely why they are switching to religion based politics. They know that next to tribe, the other thing that most Kenyans hold dearest to their hearts is faith. This has the potential of turning into our worst nightmares. The big question here for us Kenyans is whether we can see through this ploy.

So what do we do to get ourselves out of this nightmare and bring peace and prosperity to our nation?

To our president Uhuru Kenyatta, you can end this by dealing with the issues that were the genesis of our current woes. First and foremost, find a way of giving back to Kenyans what they lost. I’m talking about land and resources. Let there not be a Kenyan living in misery because of the sins our founding fathers (yours included) committed. Surely we have enough land to settle disgruntled communities and enough to provide food for the hungry masses! Have we ever rewarded those that fought for our independence? You assume that all their children want is money and since they must be many we cannot afford it but I say let’s give them something better than money! Let’s give them scholarships and let’s make health be affordable for them by waiving medical costs for all of the documented freedom fighters. Look around! Even developed countries may have their own problems but  never forget their veterans. As it is, we are an ungrateful nation and that is our undoing.

In regard to the poor who live in slums and survive on crumbs,  it is common knowledge that if the government wanted to pull down all the slums in Kenya and replace them with decent housing and infrastructure it would. Let’s take away the very misery that our politicians use to win elections. Poor people will always lack the power of choice as long as they lack empowerement. Empowered people can never be held ransom because they are a free people. Let’s pay the same people to build their own decent housing and to improve their living conditions. That’s the first job creation exercise that will be much welcome. Decent housing brings equality and suddenly poor Kenyans won’t have to fight over space, water and money.

Of insecurity, let us re-design our approach. Mr. President, at your word, you can disband our security apparatus and replace it with a tailor made outfit because you really don’t have any other option [unfortunately]. What we have now doesn’t work because it is deeply rooted in cultures that were established pre-independence. Our security officers are corrupt to the core and this will forever be a thorn in our side. I say disband all the disciplined forces structures and let’s start on a clean slate. Let’s start with patriotism at the primary school level. We should do away with the scouts movement [that was established by a white supremacist] and replace it with life skills and patriotic school clubs and syllabi. By so doing we will have changed the perception of any young person that joins our disciplined institutions at childhood. At your word, make it the burden of the state to make sure anyone in the disciplined forces will never have to worry about housing, health  and life insurance. A poor, sick and homeless person lacks dignity and loses his power of choice. By providing the above, corruption will wither away and patriotism will be nurtured; the state protects you and you protect the state.

Still on insecurity, let’s find out why our people are turning against their own to carry out acts of terror and crime. Is it a lack of purpose in life? Is someone else taking advantage of a void in society? That is what we need to address. Confronting internal homegrown terrorism with force is a temporary fix and it almost always fails in the end. I say we confront it with a strategy that will give the youth a sense of purpose. It takes longer but the results are long lasting. As long as our young people lack purpose, they will always be internal mercenaries ready to fight for any cause that gives them a sense of belonging. Let’s also investigate why a people displaced in one county get to be resettled in another. To me, that sounds like a cause for conflict. We are all Kenyans but let’s be honest with ourselves, location matters. In the recent Mpeketoni massacre a few things stood out. First the population is largely made up of a community that was resettled on donated land. My big question is, did this resettlement come at the expense of the local indigenous peoples? Did this resettlement have a negative impact on the cultures of the existing peoples? Is there a reason why these formerly displaced people could not be resettled in their original lands or a place close by? I believe that any resettlement should be planned delicately to avoid future conflict. Let’s shoot straight. We know the underlying cause of ethnic violence. It is our leaders. Both the leaders that are the cause and those that take advantage to meet their own ends.

On our invasion of Somalia (yes I said invasion) I say we bring our troops home now. We have seen through experience that this was not our war. We know that there’s a bigger war going on that is based on neo-colonialism. You can imagine what would have happened had we gone into Sudan to ‘liberate’ the Sudanese. In African culture when your neighbour and his wife are fighting, you should know better than to come in-between them. They will eventually make up but they will label you as their enemy. Let’s concentrate our resources in making sure that our people are safe within our borders. I understand why we went into Somalia in the first place but I also understand that by doing so we unconsciously became part of someone else’s bigger plan. Did Somalia need liberation? My answer is no. We didn’t act on a consensus from the Somali people. We also didn’t act on the consensus of the Kenyan people. We live in a country where a few individuals have the script of what’s going on while the majority are meant to just tag along. Therefore I strongly say we committed a mistake in invading another nation. We broke the nature of our relations with other countries. We are supposed to be a neutral state but we gave that up for more suffering. We might have had great successes in bringing down the strongholds on terrorist organisations in the horn of Africa but we have suffered more as a result. We have been attacked within our boarders more times in the last decade that any time before. We live in fear yet we are supposed to be the beacons of hope to people of other nations who flee their countries in fear. It is not too late to change our mind. Let’s just bring our brave soldiers home and put our house in order first.

On corruption, let us agree it is the mother of all our problems. I have a simple suggestion to our leaders. For once, do the right thing. Agree to end corruption. As with most challenges, the devil is in the details. Our justice system has serious flaws. A person who steals a chicken receives a harsher sentence than a person who steals peoples retirement money from a scheme. Bribing with a policeman with kshs. 10,000 will always be a better option than sleeping in a cell, going to court and paying a hefty fine of kshs. 100,000 because of overlapping. You are to blame for creating these ‘revenue streams’ for corrupt poor and homeless policemen. I think this situation just requires common sense so I will not dwell on it; just fix it.

We have become a nation of ranters and experts on everything (I included) but I hope this article will be read by our children if not you. Maybe through them I will change our country. This is my contribution to our freedom. Tell me yours.

How to make a Rosemary, Garlic and Tomato Focaccia

michaelngigifocaccia31 Have you ever had those days when you’re on a break from work, weather’s gloomy and there’s basically no plan for the day? Well, last week I woke up to one of those days. I’m used to a long work day and so naturally, a free 12 hours with nothing much to do will always throw me off balance. So this time instead of dismantling and trying to put back my old car (as is my norm) I decided I was going to do something different. I decided to make a Focaccia (pronounced fokacha). I called my boy Brayo who also happened to be on a break and invited him over to document the whole process. Well, I have to be honest I had to lie that I was calling him over for whiskey. We set up our lights and cameras and we set about making the ultimate brunch, focaccia. As we filmed and got creative on a modest 3 year old bottle of Knights, I couldn’t help learning life’s lessons from the cooking process. Apart from enjoying the woody taste of this bronze award winning liquid, here are the lessons I learnt.

1. It takes the simplest and easiest-to-find ingredients to make the ultimate focaccia

500 grams white wheat flour, 100 grams brown wheat flour, Salt, Cooking oil (preferably Olive oil), Black pepper, Chillies, Garlic, Tomatoes and Rosemary.

michaelngigifocaccia1 The  same applies to any relationship in life. Be it with your family, friends or spouse. At some point we’ve all been guilty of complicating our roles and expectations when relating to the people we love and care for. We never stop to realise that sometimes all these people need is our presence and concern. A person who truly loves you will tell you that most of the time they just want you to be there and just to listen. That is far more valuable than material gifts which may never fully satisfy the needs of a person. Your parents don’t need you to build them a fancy house to show them that you care. Sometimes all they want is a visit from you. Your girlfriend or wife loves the finer things in life but if she were to choose between that and good company she would go for the latter. So slow down and go back to basics. Reach out to the ones you care about and you will have the best quality of life.

2. The flour is most  likely clean, but sieve it anyway. It helps the final product cook evenly and turn out surprisingly soft.

Sieve the white wheat flour in a mixing bowl and add the brown wheat flour (without sieving). michaelngigifocaccia2   michaelngigifocaccia3 Whatever your situation, always check and recheck before sending your work or opinion out there. After 10 years as a creative, I can tell you that sending out work before checking and rechecking is career suicide. This also applies to all other situations in life. Never do or say anything unless you are sure that it fits the intended purpose. Have you ever sent out an email to someone that you later wish you hadn’t? You end up feeling dumb and miserable and sometimes there’s nothing left to salvage. When your chances are clear just step back and recheck. It could be the difference between a life of misery and that of happiness.

3. Add yeast to the mixture. You do want soft, puffed up and nice textured bread don’t you?

A table spoon of yeast will do. michaelngigifocaccia4   It goes without saying that goals in life start as an idea. An idea is dead if it lacks motivation. Motivation is the yeast of future success in life. It is the promise of a bird that is not yet in hand. Motivation keeps an idea alive and natures it into fruition. Motivation may come from anywhere but it will always be procrastination if it does not come from within you. That is why most of us have a history of starting things that we never finish. In the words of the legend Bob Marley, Lively up yourself – motivate yourself.

4. Mix the brown and white flour with the yeast, create small ‘well’ with your fingers and add water to fuse consistently.

The water should be warm and for even better results, add some olive oil to it and stir before pouring into the mixture. michaelngigifocaccia5   In this day and age we often find ourselves pursuing so many things that in the end our lives become one huge rat race. There’s too much to be done and so little time and resources. In the middle of this confusion we end up losing ourselves. If you ask me, I think we lack the very ingredient that is meant to keep our lives from coming apart; spiritual nourishment. You can always tell when you are spiritually malnourished. It is when excitement and calm are the things you long for. You become successful yet still unhappy. You love your family and friends but still it is not enough. If you want everything and still be able to enjoy your life, you cannot ignore your spiritual self.

5. Knead the mixture.

Do this gently for about 10 minutes until the dough’s density is consistent. Add water or flour to ‘tune’ the mixture to a soft dough. Test the dough by hanging it horizontally from one end. It should drop slowly. Finally dust your table surface and knead the dough into a sphere. michaelngigifocaccia6 michaelngigifocaccia7michaelngigifocaccia9michaelngigifocaccia10michaelngigifocaccia11michaelngigifocaccia12   Challenges in life are important because they serve a purpose. Out of these challenges we become stronger and wiser in our approach to similar challenges in future. We need pressure in our lives because we are created to constantly seek a better life for ourselves. It is in this pressure that we learn to appreciate and to take care of the little we have.

6. Place the dough in a clean bowl and seal with clear wrap (it’s easier) and proof for 30 minutes.

I didn’t have clear wrap so I improvised by taking brown food wrapping paper and tying it using my shoe lace. So if you lack clear wrap, just be creative. Allow the dough to rest in the sealed bowl for half an hour. This allows it to rise due to fermentation by the yeast. michaelngigifocaccia13 michaelngigifocaccia14 Looking back at my life, I regret the many times I have had an excuse for not being able to perform a task. I remember at one point I said that all I lacked  to execute a business plan was capital and so I shelved the idea. Another time I said it was too involving when all I needed was to make do with the little I had. Many times I had knowingly ignored the conviction to improvise where I lacked the right resources. Instead I complained and gave excuses. Improvisation coupled with patience (proofing) would have seen me be at a better place than I am right now.

7. As the dough is allowed to rise, prepare the vegetables and oil the baking pan.

Chop tomatoes into large dices and crush a couple of  garlic cloves. You can also finely chop some chilli if you savour spicy hot flavours. After this pour some olive oil into your baking pan and season with salt and black pepper. michaelngigifocaccia23     michaelngigifocaccia20   So you have put in the work and you are patiently waiting for the results. In the meantime, get off your ass and do something! At the least, prepare for success. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius as you  prepare for the final step of your cooking. By this time, your dough has risen. Take the dough and place it on your oiled baking pan and spread it evenly by gently massaging it with your hands. You might want to oil your hands prior to this.    michaelngigifocaccia22   8. Top with garlic and tomato and season with salt, black pepper and rosemary. For our focaccio, I used my fingers to press in the toppings (garlic first) into the dough. I later sprinkled it with salt , blackpepper and rosemary. Lastly, I splashed olive oil on top of this already sweet smelling dough. michaelngigifocaccia27 9. Throw the dough into the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees.

Make sure you keep checking on it so it doesn’t burn. Turn the oven off when the focaccia attains a rich golden brown colour. michaelngigifocaccia15 michaelngigifocaccia28   Books have been written on how to live a productive life and how to achieve goals. There’s always someone somewhere who knows the steps to financial success or the 10 habits of successful people. And while it is recommended to take in good advise, it is also important to know that you are different. You are allowed to tweak your plan. At the end of the day, no one else can beat you at being yourself. Therefore not all rules apply to everyone. So always cook while you check your results until you are satisfied.

10. Finally, I present to you rosemary, garlic and tomato focaccia!

Drip some honey on the now sweet smelling focaccia to give it that tasty explosion. This goes well with wine or whiskey. michaelngigifocaccia32 michaelngigifocaccia33 michaelngigifocaccia34   Sometimes all you just need to do is sit back and enjoy what you have worked for as you think of what you can conquer next. Something out your comfort zone. In this case, who says a man can’t cook complicated things? Any way the whole reason for making this focaccia was to do some food photography for our design portfolios. Food Photography by Asaph Brian Change and myself. Check out my photography portfolio on www.michaelngigi.com

Lessons from the Broth

Michael Ngigi:

I am re-reading this.

Originally posted on A Day in a Dog's Life™:

By Michael Ngigi

I’ve always had a long standing interest in culinary arts. Every once in a while I shop for cooking ingredients (mostly stuff I’ve never tasted) and experiment with the aim of discovering a new recipe. I have always been fascinated by how varying tastes in ingredients come together and produce great tasting food. Think about it, how can pepper, salt, honey, chicken and heat come together to form the best roast chicken? I doubt you would eat ground pepper by the spoon with nothing to accompany it, not even water!

Every year, I take a few months off animal products to rejuvenate my taste buds. I’m on my second week this year. During this period, I take time to learn how to prepare tasty vegetarian meals. For those of you who think veggies can never be tasty think again. Take time to visit an oriental restaurant and…

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Landing Cave Men

CAVE_MAN

It’s been ages since I wrote a post. I missed you and I have so much to tell you. It’s been quite a ride I must say but first, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Do you realize  that A Day in a Dog’s Life is probably one of the first books written publicly by an author together with his readers? That makes me a very proud man. I am thankful and hopeful that this book will be sold and pirated widely. A Day in a Dog’s Life is now selling on Amazon so let’s get online and buy. In the meantime, let’s write another one. Time’s a wasting.

I won’t lie to you, like most of my friends, I never thought it would turn out like this. The idea of being seriously hooked to someone let alone being attached for life was never one I toyed with. I was never really a ‘bad’ guy in my previous life but the mere thought of bidding farewell to the free world scared me. It would never have occurred to me that I would find my way home in the end.

We got married on a lovely morning on the twelfth of December, on an arc over a sparkling pool of blue water. You should have seen the green dew bathed grass glittering under the warm yellow of the sun as my circle of friends made every effort to make this day a dream. And after waiting a century-long seven minutes for emancipation, I finally saw her. I felt boyishly stupid. Even after three years, my insides still melted whenever I saw her. She looked outrageously beautiful in her iced out white dress and little silver ballet shoes. I couldn’t believe how badly I wanted her and even though weddings are normally scripted, I couldn’t help miming an ‘I love you’ to her as she cruised to me. Too bad she couldn’t ignore me because I spoke to her heart. Love was thick in the air as we met on the bridge that I could feel the water steam below. Had this gone on any longer we surely would have set the place on fire.

Yeah, that is me going all emotional. At this point I don’t really mind being a wuss because it feels right. So far so good; I think we’ll be okay. Please don’t ask me how marriage life is or when we’re planning on having a baby because we’re just riding the wave. It’s more fun that way. There’s no formula to it. You wake up each day to work on your boat lest it starts leaking. There will be bad days but more importantly, there will be great moments. You fight, you make up. You love and piss each other off and through all these times you learn to respect the one you’re with.

I will tell you some truths that most married men would find uncomfortable. The reality of their pasts and the turbulence that led them to become love’s greatest martyrs. Ask any person who’s ever been married (willingly out of pure love), it is a great feeling and for a moment your life flashes before your eyes. So why did I get to the point of giving in? Why would I leave the pursuit of all the lovely women I have met in my life to settle for this [annoyingly beautiful] woman that is the love of my life?

I’ve had a good life. That, I must admit. I’m talking about dating and any kind of relationship that a man and a woman can possible have. I remember the first kiss I got was when I was about seven or something close. I can’t remember well. Here’s the interesting part, it was this girl who was about fifteen years older than I was. I’m sure she didn’t kiss me because I was this hot dwarf alpha male. I just happened to bust her kissing another girl and I got curious. So In exchange for my silence I got one wet kiss from this head buzz of a girl on knees. I’m sure she found my kiss wanting but I didn’t care. Think of it like Halle Berry trash talking you as  a bad lay. I’d be least bothered. Well, this girl was definitely not a Berry but I thought she was hot at the time. Well, kids tend to appreciate beauty in an awkward way. Boobs first and everything else is a complication. I think every kid under thirteen is a hippy on the inside coz I had this awkward crush on this girl for a long time after the experience that she became my religion. I hope my parents will skip reading this part.

Anyway moving on, sex soon came and luckily, I had it with a much older and experienced girl. Then there came the dry high school years where you just date and write lots of sob letters from ‘prison’. I always hated how we had to be locked up most of the year. We rarely saw women and to some, that was the beginning of an array of disorders that today’s man comes with. How did we even survive those four years? I think we were constantly emotionally confused and desperate but it was part of growing up. I hated school; I’ve had a few good memories of high school though.

Then came the college years where dating opportunities were in plenty but very few were actually viable.  At some point I dated this girl that hardly knew a word in english or any language that I could speak. So we just settled on facial expressions to communicate and cuss words to fight. Good thing we were both broke and she’d never been to a date so it was a good thing to my empty pockets. She was a refugee and I was a runaway and this gave us some sort of consolation. I’ll tell you about it a story or two from now. Naturally it didn’t last and we both had to move on. That was a long time ago and I skimmed through a number of relationships each time believing that I’d finally got it right till I got to a point where I wanted something serious.

That’s when I experienced my first bout of cold feet.

Why is it so hard for men to get to that point of proposing? Why do we fear commitment or making promises? There was this pal of mine who had this girl who was always pressuring him to propose because she was ‘running out of time’. Every time he took her out for a date she’d start saying yes even before they could pick their order from the menu. He found it annoying and suffocating how she kept on sending him pro marriage emails. Then came my other friend who was with his girlfriend just because she was a good lay. She couldn’t boil an egg to save her life and she lacked manners. He left her at the altar when he considered that she’d promised him a threesome on their wedding night. Why the hell would a man in his right mind marry a girl that doesn’t see the awkward nature of a threesome on the night of their marriage?

There are so many reasons why men are afraid to commit and every one of them is valid. One thing I would advise any man who hasn’t reached that commitment part of his life is, explore! Meet all the women you can find. You always believe you’ve met or seen the most beautiful woman till you venture out of your small scope. There are WOMEN in the world but like in a convenient store, they come offering different things. Most of us are afraid of losing that one that we think is the only one we have. We rush in too fast for the kill like hyenas even when there exists some doubt. Beauty alone doesn’t cut it (although it must be present). Don’t end up with someone YOU don’t consider beautiful. At the same time, this beauty that you behold must be genuine. There is character and a whole list of other things. What I have come to consider important is the realisation that the person who you end up with is and will be DIFFERENT from you in many aspects. We are raised differently and our ways and opinions don’t have to match. With that said, don’t be in a hurry to commit and most of all, take good time in knowing and developing yourself.

To prevent cold feet, it is advisable to blurt out all your secrets while still in the romance stage. Love, lust & infatuation makes a good buffer for telling one another your past sins and mistakes. It is at this stage where anything can pass and be forgiven. Never at any one point imagine your exclusive partner will forgive you for waiting until the two of you get serious to tell him that you slept with his brother. It only breeds resentment. Remember. There’s always a valid reason for every fight. Since a man and a woman are created differently, they will almost always be at war save if they choose to fit into one another’s shoes.

CAVE_girl

There are things about a man that will never change. He will always need his cave time whether married or not. A man without cave time has baggage that no woman can handle. Cave time is how a man deals with his problems and challenges. Secondly a man will always value his associates; both male and female, family or friends. I think we’re just wired to stick to and pay homage to what makes us who we are. I wouldn’t advise any woman to tamper with that aspect in a man especially during dating. If he ever catches the slightest whiff that you have reservations about the people or things he values most, he will drop you like a hot potato. I wouldn’t advise any woman to try replace any friend in a man’s life. It’s easier and much more fulfilling to create your own space in his life. Take time to understand the things you can’t change about him. Find their origin and just understand. If you can’t take the implications, then jump off that boat early.

Dear women, a real man is wired for risk. He will lay down his life for anything he finds important even soccer. The worst you can do is try turn him into a wuss because you will have to live with it. Let the man fight and get all the scars he can get. Let him dismantle everything in the house just try reassemble it however destructive he may be. Let him go fishing and drinking with the boys so he can have gripping stories to tell your future kids. The boy in a man never dies.  Avoid accompanying him to the garage or to the bar to hang out with his boys. Men hate that. You can imagine how awkward it would get if your boyfriend was chatting with your girls at the salon while you were in the dryer. I know you get what I’m trying to say. Sort that out. If you are the type that will blow your man’s phone with those surgical-location-based-trick-questions, just don’t get into a relationship. Sort that out first. You’ll turn him into a liar and he’ll resent you.

Finally, I’m no professional on issues of marriage as I’m still new in the field but I have a few things I can talk about confidently. First a wedding is not a marriage. It is an event that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. A marriage is a lifestyle and an experience that should last an eternity. It also happens to be a school where two stupid and selfish people learn to rely on each other and efficiently achieve goals as a team. Therefore is it not wiser to plan more for marriage than a wedding? Think about it. Loving and taking care of another person has more meaning and fulfilment to it.  Sometimes you will have differences and conflict but at the end of the day you learn to appreciate your individualities. Secondly, don’t force yourself into it if it’s not your time. Dear women, the whole story about a biological clock is still not good enough as an excuse to settle for someone you’re not sure about.  As for my brothers, take your time to shop and ponder on who you want to settle with. That is all.

Magna Cum Laude

magna

These days I find everything funny. I have resigned to the fact that after the rain comes the sun. After a feeding frenzy comes a satisfied fart. Every new set back in life looks like the end of it all. When you survive it, you can’t help basking in the cameras and flood lights. Suddenly, you’re an inspiration and you secretly fantasize that Hollywood will eventually do a movie based on your crap achievement. You have become this prompt status updater who wants to advise all the miserable people of the world. You’re stupidly sure that someone will learn from your over exaggerated weak attempt at own-ball-licking. You wish this moment can stretch longer like a hot mess of chewing gum. Who are you to think you’re so smart? Who gave you the right to think you’re such an entertainer?

So today I choose to tell you a story about someone I know. Maybe you’ll learn from it or at least use it to look like a smart ass in the bar. I won’t charge you. After all, this is a true story.

Mr. Macharia is the typical Kikuyu man. At 60, he is happily retired and lives in a townhouse with his wife of 35 years. He’s never stepped into a kitchen unless there was a ‘rat’ situation that his wife could not deal with. Old Macharia believes that women should always be served the softest parts of a goat, namely the tongue, liver and kidneys. That young boys should be left to fight over  the ears, knee caps and charred hoofs after everyone else has had their fill. After all, they’ll have all their lives to fend for their own goats. He believes that girls belong to the kitchen and boys belong to the fields to watch goats and hopefully get a chance to fight off  hyenas while they are at it.  He believes that a man should grow a beard unless he’s a woman. A woman should not be seen hanging around a butchery because she may be tempted to leave her man for a kilo of meat offered under the counter by the butcher. He doesn’t believe in inheritance for daughters and finally, he doesn’t trust ATM cards and light skinned petite women. In short, he doesn’t give a belch what you think. The world should have order and it would be stupid to fix or service something that’s not broken.

This one time he decided to have a drink at a popular joint in Kasarani fondly known as ‘Carwash’. With him were two young men  almost 40 years his junior who happen to be his errand boys. Drinking with younger men has never bothered Macharia. As long as they’re not childish, a man is as good as the next man regardless of their age. That is Macharia’s policy. Anyway on this particular night just as the three were about to finish their beers, two light-petite women strolled into the bar looking dolled up and supple. Their restless but confident eyes were a sure sign that they were in the bar on ‘business’. Seeing that everyone’s stare was on these wobbly-bottomed-sex-hungry looking  bad girls, Macharia did not waste any time. He jumped from his seat and escorted them to his table. Macharia has always been a winner and since he looked like a wealthy old man, the other patrons at the bar gave up trying to signal the stunner girls to their tables. You just can’t fight old money with some little cash from your ages.

He ordered wine for them and suddenly, they night seemed to liven up for the three men. Now in every situation such as this, the man that’s buying the drink has to get the most beautiful girl while the rest of the men are left to fight for the rest. In this case, the ‘young boys’ were left to fight over the ears and hoofs. Being a seasoned pick up artist, Macharia was quick to lay down his terms of engagement with this hot take home girl. He made sure that she knew the rules. All of them. That he would buy her drinks and any other refreshment she needed for the night in return for a ‘steamy session’ thereafter. She agreed whore-heartedly.

After a few hours of heavy drinking and dirty dancing with the little girls, Macharia popped his pill and declared it was time to go and sort the ‘other issue’. The young men bade him goodnight and said they would stay on with the ‘hoof’ for a little longer as they pondered over who among them was going to take her home.

Once outside, Macharia went on his cellphone to try find a cab to his favorite lodging or ‘kichinjio’ as it is known among his peers. His date Shiku however, had other better ideas. She reasoned with him it was not good to waste money on cabs and lodgings when it could be used in better ways like paying for her campus fee. Clearly, Macharia had never experienced such a smart hooker. He gave in and was eager to go because his pills were kicking in. Things were getting conveniently hard. You see for Macharia an erection is a blessing. It’s hard to come by and it is equally hard to know if it will happen tomorrow. They got into his car and drove for 15 minutes before going off road into Ngomongo. A hard knock neighborhood located in the valley behind the Moi International Sports Centre. Macharia remembered he had been here before in the early eighties to buy some land. He’d even forgotten where his plot was. It was still out there somewhere, but that will be a story for another day.

They drove through the slum occasionally shining their headlights on random hoodlums here and there. The stench of burst sewerage was overwhelming. It felt like driving through a huge ass. After a maze of turns, they reached Shiku’s house. Sorry I hadn’t mentioned her name before. In a bit you’ll know why. So Shiku lived in the middle of the slum in a one room house that stood by itself, surrounded by what appeared to have been future plans of an unfinished construction. Her house was right smack in the middle of one of the most unknown and feared neighborhoods in Nairobi like a queen bee’s pod.

By this time, Macharia was so hard he was pulpitating. He gripped Shiku’s buttocks as she fumbled with the padlock. This caused her to drop the padlock in surprise. Macharia trusted himself. He was a go getter and straight to the point. It was rumored that he had the strength of a ram when it came to women. That once he worked on a girl she’d beg for her life from the opposite side of he room wailing loudly in bewilderment. Maybe that’s how he came to be known as the ‘carpenter’. Shiku tried to grop for the padlock in the dark but had to give up as Macharia pushed her into the house in his wild uncontrollable heat of lust. He kissed her and at one point his tongue was deep in her throat but it felt like there was a struggle. He couldn’t understand why she kept on pushing him away. After all he had made it clear how it was going to go down. She slithered out of his grasp as he tried to tear off her top. They went on like this until Shiku spoke up in a rather terrified tone. She blurted that he was scaring her and that she was fearful he’d strangle her. This stopped Macharia in his tracks. He had never been accused of been rough with a woman let alone a prostitute. He had always known he was a romantic. Smooth lined in every way. Maybe it was the pilled. he fought himself down. With his erection now humbled, Macharia started comforting Shiku in low soothing tones. Telling her that he wasn’t a bad man and that he’d wait till she was ready. And as if to test him, Shiku dared him to hold her and spoon her till she fell asleep. This way they’d wake up in the morning to make love.

Macharia gave in and spent the last few hours to dawn caressing Shiku and running his mouth all over her neck and back until he fell asleep.

Macharia woke up in a start. Shiku wasn’t there. He quickly ran to the window and sighed. At least his car was still there, intact. He got out and sighed again. There she was, coming from the kiosk a few feet from the house. She had a funny scared look about her. He could feel the anger flare within him and he wasn’t about to let her give another excuse. He had bought her drinks and it had to pay off. He beckoned her to come back to the house  and do due diligence but she had other plans. Without warning, she started screaming at the top of her lungs. In the most whorish of shrieks, she shouted that he wanted to rape her and strangle her. This being a slum, a crowd soon formed and was in no time baying for Macharia’s blood. They were carrying, whips and stones, ready to smash his car and lynch him. The tension between the haves and have nots is usually a deep rooted one. Macharia had not option than to beg for his life and a chance to explain himself. He narrated how he had met Shiku the previous night and how they ended up in this standoff. Now in the hood the people’s court is usually very fair. For after hearing his side of the story they asked Shiku if it was true. She admitted it was.

Now the crowd turned on her and demanded that she pay her dues to the ‘poor man’ who had even volunteered to drive her home in his expensive Audi. They forcefully pushed her into the house and vowed that they’d only let her out if the old man had satisfied himself having her.

Inside the house, Shiku desparately tried every excuse in the book to get off but Macharia would hear nothing of it. She said she was on her periods but Macharia brushed it off saying he liked his sex messy. She tried the STD card but he countered by saying it still didn’t scare him as he had only a few years to live too. Then finally, she told him that she wasn’t a woman to which he laughed until he fell down in an epileptic giggle.

“Why don’t you remove your pants and I will go!” He dared her. “If you’re a man I’ll fire up my car and go home in peace!” He continued laughing like a mad man.

Then slowly, Shiku unclasped her skirt from behind and let it down. Then she turned round. There it was. Cello-taped to his right thigh. The biggest and longest Macharia will ever see of a man’s fire arm.

Macharia is a quiet man these days. As I said. He hates light petite human beings, both male and female…whatever.

….

It feels great to be back on the scene doing my thing that is writing. I especially thank all those who sent me hate mail during my disappearance.  A lot happened while I was away. I married the love of my life and I guess that was the best part. I’ll tell you about it in my ucoming post ‘Of Cold Feet, A Man & a Marriage’.

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