Matatu Chronicles

She sat at the first seat. I had been behind her in the line as her older boyfriend kept her company. So many people go to upperhill…or rather to visit sick people in Kenyatta because there is always a line on that Citi Hoppa route. I wondered why the owner decide to give his business such a queer clandestine name. It’s like a grasshopper that never settles…always hopping and traipsing around in Nairobi. So this girl was really entertaining her guy. I assumed he was le boyfriend coz he kept leaning over probably to smell her long ass hair. She was quite the looker…freezing up in that line because she looked like she had had a night of debauchery and dint carry a change of clothes. So the Citi Hoppa gets here and on we hop and because I’m a sucker for following up stories I decided to sit nect to her. Why she chose the first seat baffles me considering her short dress. Everyone lighting the bus was met by her caramel toned thighs and she dint bat an eye. I loved her confidence. Immediately the bus left the waiting bay she calls her friend called Mwende and they launch into full on Kamba. I’m glad you can’t tell the Kamba on me otherwise she wouldn’t have said half the things she said as I sat there. I think she used it for anonymity in the full bus to give Mwende the juicy details of the night before. So I took out my book as I always do and pretended to read but my ears were all on her. I know….I know it wrong to listen in. But by Jove. I couldn’t help myself. I can’t even translate the things she told Mwende because as many know…mother tongues have a way of making such talk to border on obscene….especially Kamba…I would know. I left that bus thinking…poor guy probably in love to the point of waiting on her to go not knowing he is only good for the goodies he provides like the pink S-4 she was rocking

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I really hate going for interviews in a matatu but what can you do when you are financially challenged? You squeeze up in the back seat coz you can’t wait for another mat as you will be late and the only seat left is the one at the back where because of your tallness you sit tilted. You console yourself that its better than the front middle seat which overheats your legs. Plus the awkwardness of getting in and out in your heels and tight fitting official skirt is too much as the top of your head knocks the roof of the matatu and ruins your perfectly combed hair. You are a bundle of nerves and this is not helping at all. The mat gets on its way and as you leave Moi avenue those bumps do more damage to your hair. Some professor looking character seated next to you exclaims at how “a matatu with no shock absorbers is dangerous”. I almost laugh at his ridiculous observation but then he is old and looks like he will cry from the pain of being thrown up and down. I’m so glad to get to my destination. That matatu was three seconds away from killing us on the road.

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I got into a threesome a while back in a matatu. Before you jump and exclaim at my lewdness..let me explain. Travel for long distances is not a joke in a matatu. Even before you have left the CBD, your legs and ass are already cramped…probably from the anxiety of what awaits you. And eating before is usually the worst. My nausea comes to the helm and keeps threatening to break out of my poor mouth. But for the most part, you end up getting acquainted with your fellow passengers despite the fact that you dont even talk. It’s because of these huge ass touchscreen phones.  You don’t even have to struggle like when people carried around those huge brick like Motorolas and Ericssons that had a screen the size of a matchbox. Nowadays you see everything someone is doing on their device without even trying too hard. Just a tilt of the head or at night you read through the window. So if someone gets dumped the whole matatu joins in the dumping. So it was with all this new generation phone funfare that I witnessed this poor girl have a most disastrous journey home. The boyfriend kept asking why she went home and why she couldn’t spend Easter with him. I think he was being overly sensitive. A girl should be able to go see her family without being made to feel like she has committed treason. So she started off with very angry messages which seemed to only anger this guy more. Talk about stocking the fire. She finally had enough and put it on silent and into her bag from where she fished out a packet of tropical heat crisps. Thin girls get away with munching on anything and the waistline remains intact and no love handles hang about when you sit down (that is what I call blessings). I think she got bored again so she decides to take out her phone to scroll instagram or snapchat (these apps are too many to keep up with by the way!). The boyfriend had gone all dramatic. He apologised then got angry then dumped her…in 10texts and 15missed calls). Her whole mood changed. Suffice to say…she left the matatu a very sad confused girl

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Matatu mugging is like a fad in Nairobi. Especially in good old Githurai. They watch you the minute the matatu stops to pick up passengers hoping you grip the phone a little less tightly then they move in for the kill. More often than not. The phone ends up in their hands. But there are some rare occasions where these muggers mess with the wrong ones. I once sat next to a man who was very small and looked like he was bullied in high school. You could smell the being a target on him from a mile away. He was on his phone from the minute he sat playing this candy crush game that never ends (what’s up with that? I want to get to the end and feel that sense of accomplishment but I’m stuck at level 219!) I was sure that phone was as good as gone. The matatu was just getting into town at Ngara. Some lad in sagging jeans thrust his hand in and attempted to take it but small guy was not having it. He poked the guy’s eyes! With his middle finger! The guy left screaming obscenities. That was a lesson in not judging a book by its cover

Book/Author Review: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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So… my resident favourite author is in the news. Chimamanda is back! Relax now…another book is not yet here (but soon…very soon). She has been making waves since she spilled that she just gave birth to a girl and her troubles with depression during an interview on Lunch with the FT Both great news because she could sure bless the world with a mini-Chima(though its not a guarantee she will have her mother’s literary capabilities-we can always hope) and also that he coming out shows she is not above human realities and struggles. So I thought…what better time to urge you to get yourself one of her gems.

No one makes me both indecisive and alive, two emotions that should not go together, like Chimamanda. I’m at a level where I have read all her books, from the short stories in the thing around your neck to the stories spanning decades and continents in americanah, half of a yellow Sun and purple hibiscus. I can’t pick a favourite. She is that good. Very rarely do you find authors with such talent that any book you read, no matter what the genre or style, leaves you with longing and awe as to why the story is ending. I was afraid of writing book reviews about Chimamanda’s books as I thought…”hell. I don’t think I can do this woman justice”. But then, I can’t not encourage others to read these books…that’s why at the moment all my copies are on loan…its the first book I recommend my friends to loan from my library.

I read Americanah once a year. I think her books have some kind of raw honesty you don’t see everyday. Plus an author who understands sarcasm always stays winning. I first read purple hibiscus when I was on holiday in Voi and I just related to it page by page…it was full of punchlines on religion, hope, morality,  family issues, siblings…all under the veil of war in Nigeria. Reading her feels like a story telling session wuth your favourite grandma.

But nothing brings out the toll of war as Half of a yellow Sun. I got to learn about the quality of life, how its not always black and white, how you can’t influence what others do but you can influence your reactions and attitudes about it and how people should not be boxed into age-old prejudices of what makes a person good and acceptable in society. Anyone living in Africa can relate with her books coz she is honestly just genuine and it comes through in her writing.  I can’t find something critical to say about her writing, despite that I’m sure she is as flawed as any other person, I’m in love with her views. But her writing is truly genuine, true and she has something to contribute to the world. I’m sure I’m a certified groupie of hers since I’ve read more than just her books. From interviews, to Ted talks to Vlog reviews.

Americanah:
It is a book about love, race, hair, continents. It is so smart about so many subjects that I can’t even cover the scope of it. It is witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic, both worldly and geographically precise, a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us. It never feels false. There are some novels that tell a great story and others that make you change the way you look at the world

Purple Hibiscus:
It’s not the book that entertained me the most from the Chimamanda collection but it brought to light how countries rose after colonialism and how religion brought by the same influenced households and families. Pleasing fathers,  silent mothers, perfect sons and fearful daughters. The book’s heroine comes into her own to become an extrovert. It’s just a refreshing read

Half of a yellow sun:
Kenya went through post election and this book talks about how a nation can implode and the aftermath of that kind of chaos on those left behind. It’s a story about loyalty and betrayal and how public and private allegiances collide

Go out and buy a copy for yourself this year. In bookshops it goes for Kshs.1000. You will find yourself nodding to her, crying at the emotional parts, laughing at her sarcastic wittiness and closing the book to take in something deep and reverent. Her books require some open mindedness and attention. Actually just buy all of them…it will be a delight. Nothing beats this Nairobi cold like a good story.

A book review and a reflection: The defining decade

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I know. I know. It’s been a while since I wrote a book review or a blog for that matter. I have a perfectly good explanation. I’ve been busy with work. Okay now that I’ve said it out loud it sounds very flimsy. Anyway…a series of events which the good Lord will call fate led me to read this book. It’s a serious book but It made me think a lot about the next ten years of my life. Don’t say that’s boring. Trust me you’ll need this shit.

So I don’t have a job now. Not the end of the world but its bad news that many have been through. I’ve realised people only like talking about the good stuff in this vain-driven world. It’s always the nice holiday, the sexy boyfriend, the spectacular food. I wish someone would post a photo of burnt food coz it’s realistic and it happens. Even in this blog sometimes I refrain from talking about my personal life but I figured what else is there to talk about if I can’t be real and ‘say it like I mean it'(you know!)And with bad news always comes the “what happened?” question. The same old answer can be so exhausting! I thought of making up all these stupid reasons why I was out of a job like “I was caught embezzling” or “I had an affair with one of the interns” or better yet “I drunk too much at the office party”. But lets face it, it sucks especially when you keep seeing all your friends ’employed’. And what beats being let go on a Friday?….why its being let go on a Monday! You probably have the whole week planned out topped by a LIT night around the town on Friday night.

First days are a bitch! I had a mountain of business cards which I thought of writing on with a highlighter crazy things like “GoT analyst” or “Feminist Miseducator” or Bitch-face specialist”. What a waste of business cards! But then you start looking at the positives like now you can sleep, have weekends off….the positives people. And for me that includes blogging and reading books. So my unemployment lead me to this book. At first I was like “I dont need this shit”. But then I had heard a Ted talk about this Meg Jay and coz I had enjoyed It I figured why not. I can safely say it was a most thoroughly enjoyable treat. It’s packed with sensible seriousness for the 20-something who has no clue that the time Is now to play, work and have a fun-balanced life while avoiding the stress of the future in style. It doesn’t tell you what to do but it gives you a clue on how to go about your own unique situation. It’s a good navigation especially for many my age who have just finished school, probably on their first job and without a clue how to go about ‘adulting’.I couldn’t put it down. It’s that epic! A few excerpts from it:

“Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are. Some identity capital goes on a resume, such as degrees, jobs, test scores and clubs. Other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look. Identity capital is how we build ourselves -bit by bit, over time. Most important, identity capital is what we bring to the adult market place. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want”

“Most things in adulthood come from the strength of weak ties”

“I feel like an incredible failure. In school there was a formula. It was pretty easy to figure out what to do so you’d know where you stand. You’d know you were living up to your potential. Sometimes I think I should just go to grad school because it would sound better and I could get As again. I don’t know how to get an A in my twenties. I feel like I am failing for the first time”

“Adult life is built not out of eating, praying and loving but out of person, place and thing. Who we are with, where we live and what we do for a living. We start our lives with whichever of these we know something thing about”

“Pundits and parents worry that marriage Is dead, dating Is in demise and hooking up Is the new relational medium”

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook. As we age, we feel less like leaves and more lie trees. We have roots that ground us and sturdy trucks that my sway, but don’t break, in the wind. We become rooted in the confidence that problems can be solved, or at least survived”

“Our attitudes and reactions are our last human freedoms. We may not have control of every situation at work, but we can control how we interpret them and how we react to them”

“For work success to lead to confidence the job has to be challenging and it must require effort. It has to be done without too much help. And it cannot go well every single day. A long run of east successes creates a sort of fragile confidence, the kind that is shattered when the first failure comes along. A more resilient confidence comes from succeeding and from surviving some failures”

“Knowing you want to do something isn’t the same as knowing how to do it, and even knowing how to do something isn’t the same as actually doing It well”

“Life itself still remains a very effective therapist”

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness”

Its a great book….anyway don’t take my word for it; please get yourself a copy. The defining decade by Meg Jay

Redefining what it means to be a man

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Its Father’s Day, a day when people go online and post about how their fathers have shaped their lives, toiled for them, given them what they never had themselves and how they have been there for them. It might be true and it might be a farce given that social media promotes the culture of pretense. But on a positive more lighter note, its good to see what other people view as good fatherhood. Its good to see that there is something greater than #deadbeatdads motivating young men out there to be better men. There are people who have grown up without fathers or mothers and do not get to glorify in these days set aside for parents. Some were a little lucky to have father and mother figures who have allowed them to participate in the fathers day and mothers day hashtags when they crop up. But after all the posting is said and done, what can people draw from all this. Its something despite being designated a day should be marked throughout in action. In the spirit of making an impact that matters its good to put Father’s Day into perspective.

Many dads now will probably not enjoy the attention since men shy away from public displays of affection but they will enjoy the lunch date to go grab a beer and talk to their kids about what is going on in their lives. Others will just be content to spend a lazy Sunday home after going to Church with the whole family. Others still will just be more than happy to know the school fees is paid and the home is fully stocked for the next one month or week. Others yet have pregnant girlfriends and this just acts as a reminder that more responsibilities are on the way and its time to step up to the plate. There are also others who will feel their “biological clocks” ticking and know its time to stop playing, settle down and start a family. But in all these scenarios, those looking up to the trailblazers are not in the least bit encouraged by what they see ahead.

Men keep complaining that the boy child has been neglected. After years of boys being appraised, girls and their growth took center stage at the beginning of the 21st Century, much to the chagrin of the male populous who might feel left out of the bandwagon. This has culminated to more girls in schools and more graduating and joining the workforce compared to the male child. So as women create mentorship programs and sensitize their own, men have not stepped up to the plate to do the same. The effect of this, a whole bunch of new generation guys who think its okay to be irresponsible, wayward, rude and downright childish. Before I go on, I would like to say that not all guys in the millenial age bracket fit this description and I am only speaking about it because majority of girls out there have encountered one and its clearly something akin to an epidemic that should be discussed. I have seen the likes of Biko with his Whisky dads something and Caroline Mutoko’s vlog on youtube talk about this key issue. Father’s day should not just be a day to celebrate dads who did right but also speak up about what is ailing our society on men NOT doing it right. Its about time the society asked ourselves what is happening such that so many young men out there have no sense of being a good man, are being brought up by single mums, why divorce is on the rise or why so many cases of domestic violence are being reported every year. Despite there being three sides to every story, I believe one way to fix this is to encourage more men to help the young understand that being a man is so much more than an ego and height.

Just like every man defines himself and every woman defines herself, there are some virtues that would do well to be instilled in kids as they grow up. Don’t be a single mother that raises her son to view men as the scum of the earth as they will grow up expecting to fail and fall into this categorization. Rather bring up your kid to understand the importance of humility, respect and loving others as yourself. Dads should also not show their kids fear, because they will grow up demanding it of their children and what a culture to propagate to the next generations. I’m inspired by the beautiful stories of people who view their dads as the heroes in their lives and it warms my heart.

As people wish Father’s Day to their fathers and father figures, Im hoping its not just to fit in with the latest trend of the day. Let it come from the heart and let it speak the truth and let it be something that a young person will see and aspire to be for their kids in the future.

Happy Father’s Day

 

 

The Politics of Kenya

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I did  random survey, Millenials (as the world has come to call radical 20somethings) do not want to vote. They simply do not see the point. They would rather have that free day to sleep after long days of working or better yet go have a day out with their friends doing what millenials do. The country feels like it is slipping into the abyss of madness as we have witnessed in South Sudan and other war torn countries. A situation which is seemingly becoming acceptable as a norm rather than the exception. This is despite most people vowing that after 2007 we would not subject ourselves and our future generations to come to such inhumanity in our souls.

Every day a fire we thought was dying keeps being stocked. I personally blame these politicians. They have the might to send their children and families overseas should shit hit the fan in the next few months. Meanwhile, they are happy to advocate for more hellfire with the excuse of “we are fighting for your rights”. No Mr/Mrs/Miss politician! You are not fighting for anyone but your self gratification. I know power is intoxicating, in whatever environement be it as a politician, in the corporate world or in the sports arena. But Kenya is slowly erasing the line it viowed never to cross again. Are we really back in the era of assasinations, public funds looting and never ending riots. Maybe we simply never left. That could be the case here.

This is primarily why the youth do not see the point of voting anymore. Ask any youth in your vicinity, Its a waste of your time because you will think the guy charming your county with promises of grandeur will make a difference, not knowing that it is all a facade and you are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Im worried about my country, Im worried about what this constant bickering reflects to our future generations. I am worried that the next elections will precipitate a war of humongous proportions. And the saddest part is that im not thinking it alone. Only that people are too busy trying to amasse their wealth and hit the next paycheck.

But as i nod off…there will be no paycheck and deal tomorrow if Kenya crashes and burns due to the idiocy of some politicians not to let  sleeping dogs lie with their grudges…and if Kenyans keep giving them the amo to keep at it

A poem for “those” days

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Resist the urge to listen

to those who try to tell you

who you should be;

you know yourself better

than anyone could.

But also resist the urge to be deaf

for there are things about you

you only learn through someone else.

Resist the urge to be hard

for in softness lies formidable strength.

But also resist the urge to be too soft,

for there are times when you should not yield

times when you should put yourself first.

Resist the urge to be selfish;

you must learn to share parts of yourself

if you are to establish genuine connection.

But also, resist the urge to be too selfless

there are some things you must keep only to yourself;

these are the things you cannot afford to lose.

Resist the urge to be stuck

we are made to evolve, to eclipse ourselves.

But also resist the urge to give in to everything

for a person needs an inner compass that will stand firm

despite all the ways it is being challenged

Resist the urge to be safe

you don’t get to live life twice.

Drink in as much of it as you can.

But also, resist the urge to live without stability.

Carve out a life for yourself

that you don’t have to escape from.

And most of all, resist the urge to think when you must feel

for there are moments that can only be understood when felt.

But also, resist the urge to be driven by irrationality.

You are more capable than you think. 

You are not a prison.

You can master yourself.

 

Who are you?

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When we define ourselves in our minds, who are we? I ask myself that question from time to time because change is constant. And you have to be phenomenal to have a strong growth game. Always re-inventing and introducing yourself anew to the world. Nowadays with the onset of technology, you can actually tell whether you are growing. A scroll down your timeline. It can reveal a lot. Like when you began doing something or when you stopped speaking a certain way. Which makes it awkward when people tell you that you have changed. Hello! People don’t work that hard on themselves to stay the same. The world that has been reduced to a small village is making it harder to discover yourself. Before you can walk, there are all sorts of websites, videos and blogs telling you HOW YOU SHOULD FLY. It brings up a whole spectrum of the new 21st century problems. And its easy to assume that life is going fast nowadays compared to then, but as you grow, the circle that is your life is closing and tightening. So less time to even know who you are. Especially being in your 20s. Its like groping around in the dark for the end of the tunnel only to discover the tunnel is already full of other confused people just like you

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. I think defining yourself is the most important thing you will ever do for yourself. A good way to do this is to examine how you react to different situations in your life. Your reaction to an earthquake in Haiti, a movie scene, a friend’s plight, instructions from your boss, a blog post…your reaction shows what you think of yourself. It reveals more about you than about them. This world has created wanderers out of humans. People don’t stop to examine who they are, where they are, why they are. All in a rush to catch the next train, the next trend, the next relationship, the next job. Easy question but very hard to answer because the process of stripping away what the world around you defines you as is not easy. This weekend… find out who you are.

“So much can be said in a glance. Such ambiguous intensity. Both invasive and vulnerable. Glittering blank, bottomless and opaque. The eyes are a keyhole through which the world pours in and the world spills out. And for a few seconds you can peek through into a vault that contains everything someone knows. Whether the eyes are the windows to the soul or the doors of perception it doesn’t matter because you are still standing on the outside of the house. Eye contact isn’t really eye contact at all. Its only ever a glance. A near miss that you can only feel as it slips past you. There is so much we keep in the back room. We offer up only a sample of who we are. Of what we think people want us to be. But so rarely do we stop to look inside as our eyes adjust and see what is really there. Because you too are peering from behind your own door. You put yourself out there, trying to decide how much of the world you let in. Its all too easy for others to size you up and carry on their way. They can see you more clearly than you ever could. Yours is the only vault you can’t see into…you can’t size up in an instant. So we are all just exchanging glances, trying to tell each other who we are. Trying to catch a glimpse of ourselves..Feeling around in the darkness”

Female Humour

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Has anyone ever asked you if you are funny? I mean life is never that serious right? You just let it rip. But whether you are laughing for real or using those lol types or the smiley faces on whatsapp that have all sorts of variations (i swear you could find a smiley face of hippo laughing at this rate!)…laughing is the sugar of life. Different things are funny to different people. I could find someone jumping off a waterfall hilarious while for someone  else it could be horrifying and terrifying. The crux of the matter is just simple…dark humour is the best kind. Especially when its witty, sarcastic and downright in-your-face. And who better to make you laugh than a pretty female. Laughter ranks up there with good sex. A not so good looking guy can warm a girl’s heart with a good sense of humour. (its the truth)

So are you funny? This only counts if its an external opinion coz…no one audits their own ability to make people laugh? If your parents told you you’re funny, chances are you ain’t! Parents love everything you do…almost. Unless you are Eric Omondi. If you have ever been expelled from school for pulling one up on a teacher or dishing out some nasty ass comment back and then you came back a hero and suddenly your popularity score card hit the roof…here is your Certificate from the Honarary school of Funny People! I had this friend in high school who at one time ceremoniously stood and said she knows without a doubt that she does  not have a funny bone, she had funny BONES. I don’t know if she was high or just bugged out by that Kiswahili class but the teacher just asked her why she thought so and she gave such a classic answer. Her reason was quite simple. She was now in form 3 and had no tits (Guys were crazy about boobs back then, still are! They would jump off a building if it meant landing a hand on one) so she figured she had to make up for the fact that she had a moustache…and no boobs! People have the wierdest senses of humour. Girls’ senses of humour come from many different place. Maybe your parents were funny, or you grew up in a funny environment where family time involved watching Kevin Hart or Ridiculousness on MTV, or your life was so messed up you had to be funny to crawl out of that misery. funny1

And female humour is just coming of age. In the 50s there were no female comedians. But guess what! It ain’t the 50s no more! No guy would want to admit that his girl is funnier than him. Its like the new  socialite in town. People for sure are terrified of funny girls. I mean how dare you be beautiful and intelligent…AND funny! I mean who do you think you are?! A magical person with boobs!? I think its quite easy to be funny. I asked a couple of guys I know if they think they are funny and they all said “Hell yeah, I’m funny”. So i followed it with how does one become funny. I kid you not, 90% told me…”just say whatever the hell comes to you mind..WHEN it comes to you mind”. Pretty foolproof if you ask me.

Laughter is so important. If you don’t laugh at the shit around you on a day to day basis, you will LOSE YOUR MIND! But there are so many different types of laughs such as:

  1. When you are doing a sweet cute laugh where you want to look pretty while laughing to that guy you want to impress
  2. The whole howling typa thing laugh with your whole body…while snorting(haha)
  3. The drunk laughter that comes from the pit of your belly
  4. The office laugh, especially if its your boss who just gave you an earful and you don’t wanna admit that he got the funny gene too
  5. The silent laugh where you are trying to not break the things around you
  6. The evil laugh that sounds like you can make a baby cry if it was in the room
  7. The fake laugh which happens more than real laughing nowadays. BTW…Its not funny. Its like faking an orgasm. Like, what’s the point? Who are you helping?
  8. The friend zone laugh for the guy who you think is funny but you dont wanna send the wrong idea and have him thinking you are attractive (oops sorry!)

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Laugh your heart away, even if you have a weird laugh, it wont ruin your chances. People with a sense of humour are always winning. And isn’t winning what life is all about?

*Laughs are not deal breakers!

 

 

 

Overstimulated

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“Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology”

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This is a post about honesty. Because we are living in an age where honesty stands to be an a word we reminisce about but whose meaning we will have forgotten. The world we live in now feels like its bombarding us with information. You are suddenly damned if you comply and damned if you don’t. How did people live before computers, mobile phones and wi-fi? Hasn’t technology made us a selfish generation? Separated us from life’s treasures. We will miss savoring the beauty of a sunset in the pursuit of a selfie to share with the world on instagram, facebook or twitter. People go to restaurants to take pictures of food instead of eat it. Touch screens have made us actually lose touch with life. We no longer have the patience to have conversations without abbreviations. Kids being born now know nothing about a world where people wrote letters and learnt to pen down emotions as opposed to using smiley faces as the new expression currency. And while some may argue that times have changed and we need to embrace that change, does it have to come at the cost of our souls? Because even a quick survey with the first 20 people you meet on any day on what they cannot go a day without… 90% will definitely say their phones.

“The average person spends 4 years of his life looking at his phone”

How absurd life has become. Social media has rewired how we live and everything about our lives. To reminisce about an old photo you have to wait for Thursday for a #ThrowBackThursday or Friday for a #FlashBackFriday. I spoke about honesty because very few will admit that media has reduced their human connection. More friends on Facebook do not mean you have strong bonds with the ones you love. More often that not its an inverse relationship. The truth of the matter is that we are living in the generation of over-stimulation and vanity.

“The more social media we have, the more we think we are connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other”

Is there a solution? Most people would feel they have no control. Because shutting off means not being in the know and in a world whose currency has become information, that is not a viable option. I personally spend 60% of the day in front of a screen working. Its the job territory that demands it. But when do we take a step back and say…you know what, I need to shut off from technology and just take a walk and see the world.Because it really is a double edged sword. Is social media replacing our interactions or adding to it. I tend to think even our brains are being rewired to this new integration as people move from non-verbal signals to  verbal ones. We are lacking that feeling of saying with glances and invading others and letting others see us with the authenticity that eye contact brings.

The past is indeed a foreign country seeing as how far we have come and the changes that keep happening in each day. We will keep loving social media and making it a bigger part of our lives as we advance into the future. How that affects who we are as people, how meaningful our interactions are and whether realness is a thing of the past is something we can only wait and see.

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For now; let me leave you with a few quips and repartees on how people have viewed social media:

Tweeting is talking into the abyss, filling a void in your life by avoiding real human contact

An open Facebook page is simply a psychiatric dry erase board that screams, “Look at me. I am insecure. I need your reaction to what I am doing, but you’re not cool enough to be my friend. Therefore, I will just pray you see this because the approval of God is not all I need

How different would people act if they couldn’t show off on social media? Would they still do it?

Social media is an amazing tool, but its really the face to face interaction that makes a long term impact

BOOK REVIEW: ECHOES BY DANIELLE STEELE

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So I am the kind of person who did not history that much in high school. That said, I always found innovative ways to learn something about the past whatever it may be so that I could understand the present and make a mind frame of the past. With such background I think it was why I enjoyed this book so much and why I’m so thrilled it is the first book I’m starting the new year with. Gives me something to hope for and think about deeply as the year starts. Clean slates as many would like to call it.

I have always loved Danielle Steele books because she is one strange woman. To be capable of writing and weaving different scenarios from different countries that she herself has not lived but with such clarity…I believe she is one gifted woman. Plus, the fact that she has been married severally and divorced and she has a horde of children the size of a football field. Some of her life seeps into her writing sometimes. I don’t know how old she is (I will have to Google that) but I don’t think she witnessed the horrors of the world wars. And speaking of which aren’t we in such blessed times that we have not had a world war in over half a century…especially when the first two were less than 20 years apart. It speaks to our growth and capacity as human beings.

The book generally centres on the life of a Jewish family and how their daughter’s fate becomes entwined with that of a French nobleman at a time when the Germans and the French were at war. It culminates the beginning of world war one and how the family went on to be affected by the second world war their conversion to Christianity notwithstanding. It’s a good read for a fresh perspective on how bad it got and the whole source of the Hitler policies. It may be a work of fiction but Danielle does a fine job of weaving fact and fiction to create a compelling read. It will make you think of your history, of how your parents met, of how some things inherent in your present are echoes of the past from your family like the habits you have and convictions. It will make you analyse who you are and the kind of person you want to be. But more than anything, it proves that in as far as love is such a powerful driving force, an even more compelling attribute of our humanity is HOPE.

Add this to your book list for 2016 because in my famous words “You have to read this!”

PS: One of my new year resolutions is to stick to my book reading challenge and share the books I have read with you guys so that we can promote the reading culture. Fingers crossed. 1 down…51 more to go

Happy New Reading Adventure Year!

She Leads Africa

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Media presence in the current age of globalization is everything and one such organization that brings this light our perfectly is the She Leads Africa foundation which has roots in Nigeria. Many people may not have heard about it but the good news is that it is building traction with presence in more than half of the African continent and global ambassadors from Media personalities, celebrities and women in business. They do live interviews, professional bootcamps, online campaigns, competitions and social awareness

It has been featured in Forbes Africa, How we made it in Africa, CNBC Africa and the Huffington post among others proving its reach and diversification. Its main aim is to uplift African women along their journey towards professional success. Such platforms exist to connect excellence and aspiring talent, offer mentorship and strengthen the female community. They also provide funds and open channels for women aspiring to do great things in all sectors of the economy. It is truly inspiring to see these leaps and anything growing a woman financially grows a community too.

The relations through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and their website offer events across the continent to build relationships with fellow young women and mentors. With partners such as Intel, Huawei and GTABank, the future is looking bright for this Pan African Organization. This it does by assisting women entrepreneurs to turn their start-ups into major corporations proving that Africa is the new hub for investments and business development.

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The better thing is that the organization does not only offer financial help but also advisory and connections to scholarship programs with their Twitter and Facebook feeds boasting of so much advice for the young African woman on the rise in her life and career. It is simply a one stop shop for growth and investors should look to growing the Africa woman because any business that does not in some way touch on a woman, her life or her family is losing in the long run. Founders Afua Osei and Yasmin Belo-Osagie are looking to reach wider audiences and elevate the African woman and growth prospects are looking positive for She Leads Africa.

For more information on how you can be part of this amazing journey, go on to their website, find them on their social media(Links below) and join the next big thing in Africa

http://sheleadsafrica.org/

https://twitter.com/SheLeadsAfrica?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

The shipwreck that is African Leadership

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Africa’s notorious propensity to have “funny” leaders is out of this world. All these presidents, most whom, despite knowing politics to the tee, know nothing about economics on a global scale and are just conversant with mere basics. They rule with iron fists, not understanding that we are out of the woods of colonialism and dictatorship. It should be a requirement for one intending to pursue presidency to have a background in Finance or Economics at least and if not…we will gladly take Political Science because I hope some of the technicalities of running a country should be basic knowledge. Africa has such growth potential as evidenced by the uptake of business in various sectors and industries of the various African economies. But all that is in vain if the rot that ails us starts at the top with corruption, fraud, tax evasion and the likes being the norm.

Currently, South Africa is the latest country to display this arrogance at how the world works and how “not caring” will eventually break the country at its very root. This is not just a South African problem, look at our own country for instance. We are experts at sweeping dirt under the rug, firing people when they oppose the rule and doing a complete overhaul of the country leadership. Hiring three different ministers in a span of a week or reshuffling the executive branch of a country does nothing if the core issues are not ironed out. Accountability is lacking when leaders assume they can get away with being pompous, extravagant and outright disregarding the rule of law. Yes, there are leaders who are trying, but trying is not enough, Africa just needs better stewards of their economies and largely their countries. Leadership is not just about being at the top, it’s about the right amount of “dreaming and squeezing the lemon” in tandem.

What the Tanzanian president is doing should be lauded. It is telling the “nobles” and “elitist” members of society that the country is not just theirs but of the people. Using public funds to further personal agendas is a classic case of selfishness and blatant disregard for the welfare of a country. I like that non-government owned companies are paving the way by declaring their wealth. No minister in his right mind would want that but then they will do it. They are accountable to the public at the very least. But what good does that do when the wealth they are declaring was amassed through fraudulent means? Do we solve a problem or coat it to look less ugly and evil? The policies and ideologies that revolutionaries have advanced of selflessness, mutual respect, transparency and consideration are what will take Africa and the rest of the world to the next decade. Because money and power are just but fleeting greats in a world that is changing on its axis day by day. But then others would digress and say:” Don’t hate the player…hate the game” …What do you think?

Alternative Investments

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Are you tired of the same old boring investment ideas? Do you want the thrill that comes with trying out something new? In this era of investor education and maximizing if returns, it is paramount that one understands all the options that are out there for someone. This will not only boost your confidence; it also gives one bragging rights in “insider knowledge”. No one will ask you what bonds or stocks are. Everyone knows that all too well or at least has an idea. The key is standing out and alternative investments as an asset class provides exactly that.

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So, what are alternative investments? These are generally investments that do not fall in the three traditional types i.e. stocks, bonds or cash items. They are highly preferred by high net worth investors (most of whom hire professionals to do the same for them) and institutional investors who have fund management departments and have to know all facets of investing.

Alternative investments include hedge funds, managed futures, real estate, commodities and derivatives contracts. For a market that is still young and in the throes of becoming a world class investment avenue, these are some of the avenues that are picking up in the country. Kenya at the moment has already established real estate as a key investment sector and this is more so with the introduction of REITS. This growth and branching into new avenues of investment is proving that Kenya has high potential for growth with more alternative investment options being in the pipeline for roll-over. With Kenya approaching Vision 2030, this is the place to put your money. Despite being complex in nature, knowing the basics is a good point to start. They are favorable because the returns are high and some of them offer good liquidity. And the notion that they are only for people with a lot of money is a baseless idea. Yes, you need money, but why not start small, with a couple of friends and moving forward. There is no ripe age for investing. Investing only requires heart and getting out of the comfort zone (investments are not waters for the cowards or as we commonly like to say…” risk averse”). And just because alternative investments are not that diverse in Kenya, we live in the era of internet and YouTube and global villages…the learning curve is at your fingertips. Just to be prepared always. That interest in the whole notion of putting your money or your ideas in something and betting on them for the future. That is the whole core of alternative investments. Who knows…it might be your cup of tea and in a few short months or years you will be the next Warren Buffet. Your dreams are valid! Live a little and put that spare money into options, swaps, futures, REITs…the point is to start

Book Review : Very Valentine by AdrianaTrigiani

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This book… at first glance looks very romantic. Yes it is a romance novel but it is the kind that is infused with so much detail about adventures of an extraordinary and unforgettable woman as she attempts to rescue her family’s struggling shoe business and find love at the same time. Amazon calls it “Poignant, funny, warm, and red hot”.

I am one of those people who because I love reading, i have lots of friends who love reading too. We(my friends and I) are in the habit of going to each other’s places and before we start indulging on entrees, kuku, drinks, the latest news and what not have you… our idea of conversation starters is “by the way…uko na books gani mpya?”. The same applies for whats-app conversations which will include sending books via emails and offering updates on book releases and what not. In the end, our book collections are some-what communal. I daresay we love it that way. That said… this book I chanced about from a friend during one of those “meets”.

The cover really strikes you as a fairy tale kind of book but as far as romance and reality goes… this books aligns the stars of these two dimensions of life just perfectly. I’m not one to give spoiler alerts but I will let you in on what it is about.

Basically its about this girl called Valentine(Cliche, I know! But kinda cool too) who is a shoe maker( I know what you are thinking…”do you mean like a cobbler?”). it centres on these two Italian families: The Roncallis and Angelinis. She makes custom made shoes and its a skill that has been passed on down generations. The company is going under because… well because people like Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Louboutin etc… are doing booming business at her expense. She has to juggle all this pressure from her family to keep it going while managing her personal life. She is the funny one in the family and as a result… she has some pretty hot and heavy suitors( Her being Italian and all). And the clincher….she is dating a chef and how they met is as memorable as it is funny!

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Girls… a combination of food…fashion…and shoes!! Need i say more. Also it has recipes on some signature Italian dishes. This one I recommend for the girls because honestly men…unless you are from Venus by some accident or something…it may bore you along the way. If you are looking for a good companion on that Friday night you are too tired to go out, this is a good alternative to let your hair down with a glass of wine on your cosy bundle of joy that is your bed.

You can find it in most supermarkets that have a  book section, at book shops in Nairobi or from the street hawkers who are more than happy to source it for you if you can give them the book details and a little “Motivation”. Unfortunately, I could not find a free download but when avaliable in the future I will include the links. Another source is Amazon or Kindle if you have the money. It has two recent covers as I’v shown so you can get any.

Happy reading…

Teacher Teacher

Kenya has been a bunch of nerves these past couple of days…but then again Kenya is always dramatic. Like that child who is never satiated…we are always seeking for more. For those who don’t know (and I’m saying this lightly because the only way you don’t know is if you live under a rock…in the 18th century) our country is going through a strike mania…AGAIN. It is so funny how it only happens at certain milestones in my life…when I am finishing school steps. Bummer…I wish I enjoyed a strike albeit just one. For those who went to schools where the teachers don’t strike(Halla private school people) you get where the melancholy is coming from. Anyway… one thing we all have in common whether you went to public school, private school, igcse, ivy league, home schooling…whatever it be…you all had TEACHERS.

I was sipping some hot cocoa watching the teachers of Kenya strike yet again and I daresay they are the most amusing bunch of people you will ever be fortunate to meet. I bet at this point you are trying to remember…”what was the name of that teacher who used to beat the shit out of us” among others. We have laughed with them, at them, for them…we have shed tears and waged wars with them that would make the the world wars green with envy. They have taught us and I’m sure they would say…in secret…that we taught them too.

If you are the kind of kids that were shipped off to boarding school you have a ton of comical stories to last your great grand children. Those teachers that beat you with rulers and whips and sticks dipped in pilipili before corporal punishment was abolished(kids nowadays don’t know Jack about punishments!) Beating that seemed as though they were exercising demons from your already frail malnourished self. The mischief that never ended and the teachers who would have better served as spy agents and C.I.A because they always always caught you.

The teachers you had crushes on during your adolescent years where every word they spoke tasted like honey and sweet essence in your mouth. You struggled to impress them with your short skirts that exposed your nubile young flesh and others with wit that surpassed theirs to leave them in awe. The sports coaches that pushed you to the max till you felt you would die or kill them…whichever came first.

The funny ones who always had jokes. Who came with an extra funny bone and insulted you while teaching you a lesson and making you laugh (that should be a superpower). They also shrubbed according to their mother tongues(no fault of theirs) and you could not stop bawling in laughter until they gave you the evil look. Their stories…heart breaking, funny and just a little sassy helped carry you through the days that seemed to drag on forEVER.

Then there are the university teachers. Those who believed you have to struggle to get those master’s and degrees because…heck because they had it rough too. Those who came to teach you about life instead of books…Those were the best because they knew its no good if you are book smart if you can’t be street smart. The taught you life is beyond those four walls and those familiar faces and you had to get with the program called life.

Yes they had their own lives. But for short periods they stuck in your life as you tried to understand it through their eyes and yours. I have too many teachers but not as many as others and I salute them all. I owe my love for English, writing and books to them. I owe learning innovative ways to pass exams and cats from them. I owe being a little smarter to outsmart them from them. I owe the punishments that taught me right from wrong. Most of all I owe strength and putting your game face on even when their personal shit had hit the fan from them. Hate them or love them, your teachers have been the anchor that has showed you the best and worst of crazy life.
I see more and more stories of teachers in remote parts of the country….of their devotion and sacrifices (forget the ones who dint show up to class. Though they did teach you something from that also!)

I hope you get paid…because we appreciate you more than your salaries will ever show.

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