Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I love Mondays

I love Mondays……

I have to tell you how I acquired some two new best friends.... CID officers in Nairobi Central Police Station.

This all happened on Monday so I just want to reiterate the fact that Mondays are in fact my favorite day of the week…..A feat that I realize is unique to me…but then again, I am Sikiliza and have been known to have macabre and weird tendencies…

It all started when I was stopped dramatically (with sting-operation-like qualities) in the streets of Nairobi on Monday morning and suspected of being a car thief…err yes I know how silly it sounds…Sikiliza a supposed car thief.

For those who know and love me and haven’t fallen off their chairs laughing perhaps would recall that I am a certified pedestrian. Not so much because I cant afford to own my dream car…but also because I have never thought of a vehicle an asset (unless I want a ride, but I can count on matatus, cabs or friend’s cars for that) I would much rather buy land or a house frankly….Anywayyyyyy as ludicrous as this sounds I found my self in the middle of a heated debate that escalated tp dizzying levels with a taxi driver who had hired out to me a car for a couple of days and its owner who’s paranoia set in when I delayed to return it by 12 hours or so …I expected that I would be financially penalized for the delay and had not at all been prepared for the drama that ensued.

At this point let’s get some facts highlighted, here is a list of what I am sure I would never steal in my current lifetime….

Money in Banks

Cars or any motor-engined vehicle

Boyfriends and/or husbands under the age of 38

Books in foreign languages

Public Coffers


Used Underwear

Any kinds of closed shoes

Tight T shirts

DISCLAIMER: this list was written out at ungodly hours (0430hrs) and so I cannot be held liable for its content

Back to the dramatic events….I was then interrogated and asked to return the car by the officers which I did….

Then some twit in the car-owner entourage decided that having the car was not enough and proceeded to say he wanted to have me investigated as I was a “stranger” and might have been doing err…“strange” activities with the car during the said hired period….and before my anger set in, the CID officers asked him to step out take a moment to realign his line of logic ( we were at the time giving the man the benefit of doubt as having some credible intelligence…somewhere …somehow even though we had not really come across it so far), record his complaint in the Occurrence Book (OB)and come up with a criminal charge to charge me with….

I was aptly advised to record a statement by the CID officers who I realized where very perceptive gentlemen. I was huffing and puffing there pissed at the major inconvenience and I guess I didn’t fit into their profile of a criminal.

They were impressed to learn that I was a writer and even more to realize that I was not a name dropper even though I have had coffee with their boss (don’t you just hate that!)….I must point out however that I would have really ranted if I was mistreated…I am pleasantly surprised to realize that Police Commish Major Ali’s concept of approachable police officers and customer service has paid off…A vast improvement from the last time I was in his office complaining to him and his deputies about my mistreatment from a police officer based at the Ongata Rongai Police Station (this is a story for another day) …..Now all I need is to know that at some point the officers will have computers so when I tell them my publication is on-line they can actually get to see it!

All in all I left the Police station much happier than others and with resounding lessons that made me realize that I take intelligence in others for granted…Perhaps my friends and family have spoilt me and made me to think that we were all weaned off not just with pawpaw’s and mangoes but also with commons sense and basic rationale…It would seem that I was very wrong…

This is a tribute of much appreciation for the amazing honest and professional police offers we have and the Nairobi Central CID Department!


Friday, 2 November 2007

Party Crashers....

My brother and I crashed a party once in the mid nineties going on at some poshish 5-star hotel poolside in the city.

As soon as we got there we saw a bride and groom a bridal party and immediately warmed up to it and immediately felt right at home like we were meant to be there. Wedding receptions are such nice parties to crash because you can pretend to know at least one of the people getting hitched. We notice lots of disapproving stares but our stuff-you attitude got us by…Besides we figured that the only possible reason for the stares was the fact that we were very casually dressed...and that is a real understatement!

So the extroverts we were, we decided to give the bride and the groom compliments, hugs and kisses…wishing them the best in their new life. Everyone seemed flustered by the move including the bride and groom who had their jaws open. It did not bother us so much then and immediately proceeded to help ourselves (quite generously I might add) to the well spread food platter and super wine. I mean what is a party without food and drinks anyway???!!

After some time we noticed that the quorum was pretty subdued no, actually they were down right boring. We were thinking of leaving the party altogether and go do something more exciting … leave the snobs alone until we recognized a reporter friend of ours there. Finally! A warm blooded human! We needed to know what was the deal with the not-too happy newly weds and their sour-puss guest was( I mean that was bound to be an interesting story to hear) but to our surprise………………..she burst out laughing.

When she let us in on the joke I felt like the biggest fool because the "wedding reception" we gate crashed was actually…the merger between Pharmaceutical Bigwigs Sterling Winthrop and SmithKline Beecham! The theme of the cocktail was a wedding…a bride and a groom…. CRAP! …I died million deaths when I realized the gaffe….

Moral of the story when you crash a party…make sure it's a real party…


Pillow Fights

Pillow fights – those were the only legal fights allowed in the house. We'd send missiles across the living room ducking behind the chairs as the pillows scuttled across the room leaving trails of feather stuffing. It was a delightful game of war me, my brother and sister played staging ourselves on different corners of the sitting room.

I was the youngest….the baby sister (kid sister sometimes) at first there was threat that I would win the game because I was the only left handed in the family (and apparently we aim good) but honestly I sucked that the game. My head always popped up from behind the sofa in time to get a pillow hit me square on the face. Usually, the trophy for this game was loads of laughs and teases from the winners to the looser (in this case the one who got hit more) – most of the time I was a sore looser and tears would spring up as soon as the poking fun began and I would run to mama and tell on them. Sometimes to really piss them off I would tell our oldest brother Jim who would hiss and bark at them to stop picking on me (while I safely behind him chortling in glee at the fear on their faces). Shee and Swes would stare me down with muted threat almost saying, "Let me catch you alone…" you may have guessed correctly that I was a rather spoilt brat getting about in mischief and all kinds of trouble.

In time our pillow fight contest promoted itself to the next level by spiking the pillows with the TV remote or worse my dad's ashtrays. Most times the game either ended in tears, near concussions or grudging draws bruised faces and egos. It was a fun time, not for the furniture though which I am glad to say did survive. The house was always alive with some kind of monkey business going on one on side or the other…but out there, in the big bad world nobody and I do mean nobody, could pick on any one of us and get away with it. I must have gotten the best deal though, with not one but two big brothers and a no-nonsense big sister many bullies passed up great chances to bully me in school. In school I was like a neon light for them, I stammered, could hardly speak Kiswahili (which most kids spoke all the time) and was left handed in a predominantly rightie public school. I hardly conformed to majority opinions in school and even though I was not a geek or book worm, many found me different and strange. But armed with the veiled threat of the wrath of my big brothers and sister if anyone picked on me made me live in a bubble of relative peace most of my childhood.

Now, several decades later, my brothers and sister still call me kid sister some times baby sister (and I aint no kid or baby you know) and everyone is up and about doing their own thing. Whenever we meet up though we are kids again. At times even I can see there protective faces when they sense an invasion into our otherwise separate lives. Every high or low we face, we are no more than a call away from each other…. And that I must say is my most special gift from God to make up for all the crap in the world today.

So a toast to you all Jim, Swes & Shiru for being champion siblings winning the annual "Sibling" award for just under 30 years now and still going strong…….

Never run along corridors.

Never run along corridors.

This is a lesson I learnt rather painfully when I was about 10 years old. I ignored my parent's pleas not to run and jump off chairs and doing tumble turns on the carpets….and I was actually quite good at it…

They'd go "Don't do this don't do that!" "Act like a lady!"…or "that's going to end up in tears and don't come crying to me when you hurt yourself!" It was like a song. But, I had speed and I was young I felt indestructible. The last thing I needed was someone telling me what I shouldn't be doing….

So one wettish evening we were holed up in the house horribly bored. The rain messed up our play time outside so we were all bursting with hyperactive energy….my mum called out to me while I was in the kitchen making mischief. I shouted back "Cooooming" and promptly zoomed off towards her bedroom. Then she called out again and this time I realized that she was in fact not in her room but my brother's which was on the right and side hand of her own room. Now you do remember that I was perhaps moving at the speed of a light car and so the split second decision to go into my brothers room (his door was open) was grossly miscalculated and I took a hit at the door frame head on. But that collision wasn't the real issue, at the time my mouth was open and so when I landed on the floor with my jaw I literally sawed my tongue into two….Lets put it in perspective….Have you ever bitten your tongue? Do you remember the excruciating pain? Now, quadruple that and double whatever you got and imagine you were 10 years old and what do you think you'd come up with?

It was a hysterical bloody and screaming mess that evening. Everyone was crying and I was the loudest. And , I couldn't even cry properly….my mum got a towel and ice and held my mouth and horribly severed tongue to the car and got my bro to hold me on our way to the hospital. My dad was playing around of golf and word was sent out to him on the 16h tee that he was needed at the hospital As Soon As Possible!

Well not to drag the story...I was rushed in to the theatre and the kind doctor calmed me down and I got a local anesthetic. I didn't understand why I just laid there and stared at his surgical mask as he drew needle and talked to me as he was sewing up my tongue. I was so calm it the midst of all the chaos. Am not sure how long I was in there but as soon as I recovered and my mum got a few prescriptions I stared showing off my stitches to my brother and anyone else who cared to look. The hospital staff said I was among the first to be stitched with the new stitches that got absorbed and didn't require to be removed (to everyone's relief really). So there I was gauze and all...mouth open trying to talk ….it was a drooling terrible mess…I was showing of my new stitches talking in incoherent speeches saying…"aaahhh aaaghhh ahh ahh aha " and come to think of it, everyone kind of indulged me perhaps because they knew that the worst was yet to come. All hell broke loose when the anesthesia wore off!

Needless to say, I was not in school for about a month and social activity was cut off to give my tongue time to heal… I could only ingest liquids and even then it was torture…for ages my mum had to boil my fruit I had to take vitamin supplements for a while…it took me a whole year to muster the courage to eat an orange or pineapple as it was…. The stitches healed nicely and whenever I get the urge these days to run through the corridors when I am late for anything I always slow down and think of it as a tribute to my hardy tongue that survived and now wags and wags and wags endlessly! One of life's hard lessons….


Nilipokutazama ukitabasamu niliduwaa

Mapenzi tele rohoni

Ah! Lo kipigo moyoni

yanitoa jasho konde mie

yupi huyu aliyeniduwaa??

Usiku kucha si lali

Sili wala siwezi

Kukana jinsi

ninavyo hisi

Na tamani kukupapasa

Labda pia kukubusu

Ah! Lo kipigo moyoni

yanitoa jasho konde mie

yupi huyu aliyeniduwaa?

A Tribute To Mama and our Old Garden

My mother had lots and lots of gardens at the house we grew up in. Among others, there was a special rose garden that we were banned from since we always stomped our way through causing havoc, picking out all the flowers. Also, the thorns sucked so we were happy to settle for admiring them through the dining room windows while having breakfast each morning before school.

She also had these amazing rock gardens which we invaded. They were great for playing in ….there was also a brilliant Nandi Flame tree that had awesome flowers and dropped these amazing orange seeds we collected for absolutely no reason at all…. the pepper trees were great but one always ran the risk of a fat hairy caterpillar falling plop on your head(depends on how bad one wanted to swing really) and the avocado tree which we climbed up to spy on the neighbor's kids (this was before we discovered MONEY and that we could harvest and sell the avocado's at the market but that is another story).

Waaaaay before I came into the happy family picture, my mum was relaxing in the house taking a few breaths from an otherwise overactive child AKA my big brother...this must have been late 60's. If truth be told he had thrilling adventures each day of his early life. So many incidences like having a bean up his nostril (and it germinated because he was too chicken to say, eventually after pain and horrible discoveries it had to be surgically removed), to poking knitting needles in the power socket to see the sparks fly and still be alive to tell the tale…well so you can imagine as she took a pause in her rigorous routine…that silence (rather no screams, wails or annoyed neighbors calling) was precious in the otherwise chaotic life of raising a hyper toddler.

But then, the house was too quiet and in no time she was up and frantic shouting out my brother's name wondering what he could be up to (this is a scientific fact by the way, silence and mischief go hand in hand, ask parents).

He wasn't with the usual suspects (pet dog in its kennel)and not in the familiar places so she went out to the veranda to look around and sighed with relief to see him playing in the garden peacefully. she heard him cooing and giggling (a very cute belly laughter we hear) and wondering what he was up to.

That's when she saw it. Its body glistened in the high noon sun and it was as fat as her arm.

A snake.

It slithered round my brother and he was so fascinated by it he lifted and played with it (the kind of games only kids and fools can play with otherwise dangerous animals) and threw it down and laughed and laughed and laughed…..mum almost had a coronary there as the serpent slithered and twined itself in and around her son's body…her mouth went dry and she tried but could not call out my brother to get away from the danger he was facing. He turned around then to meet my mum's terrified gaze and said,

"Mama look! My friend!" pointing at the horrid creature.

My mum beckoned frantically for him to move away to come into the house ….but my brother didn't see the fuss and blatantly ignored the orders.

My mum ran to the phone called my dad and promptly announced to him that by the time he got home his only child would be dead. Then she rang the emergency number asked the cops and fire brigade that her son was in mortal danger and was playing with a snake in her garden.

Now …now, I must take a pause and explain to you the scenario.

We grew up in a small town with little or no exceptional activity and everyone knew everyone else. So a frantic emergency call from a mum in the suburbs was perhaps the highlight of that month. Picture this, the police, fire brigade and wildlife rangers zooming across town and a panicky father racing home to face the worst.

When the convoy got there my mum was that time was really in no state so she just pointed toward my brother and was led away…it could get ugly. Then the rangers tackled the business at hand…

Luck was on their side because like all kids the sirens and lights got his attention. He tried to get up and go see the fuss growing by the second at the front yard …the snake settled heavily on his lap and he was having a hard time getting the new pal off. The rangers realized it was a puff adder and desperation set in…the snake was miffed by the activity going on around him and was fretting. But my brother tough nut that he is yanked the forgotten friend off and zoomed toward the ambulance and police cars oblivious to the pee-inducing terror he caused everyone. Mum and baby were united.

Till today we don't know why that snake didn't take a nip being a viper and all …perhaps it just figured he is a kid and cut him slack.

Either way, my bro is a real true champion (even today)….and so was my mother for that matter who raised 4 hell raisers and still maintained her awesome elegant calmness and mesmerizing beauty...oh and we cannot forget her sanity…

A tribute to you Mama


Rest In Peace

A Dodo Bird Called Nakuru

I recall brief moments of panic when my mother remembered half way through her shoping that she left the car unlocked when we parked in the streets of Nakuru. Mad rush paying getting change of mostly a penny or shilling because everything in Nakuru cost something-and-90 cents or something-and-9 shillings at the end to give you some (very) false impression of a discount. Reaching the car poking her head in and looking around shiftily the hawkers and or idlers around reaffirm her, "Mama tulikuangalilia gari." Nothing was pinched thank fully. She promptly tipped them (this is where this parking attendants/ chokoras aka Choko's now in all towns and cities spewed from)….

Needless to say it didn't really matter if you locked the car or not…most times nobody would take anything…And the pickpockets knew you by name and always said hi..they really just targeted 
gullible newbies or tourists who just begged to be robbed flashing hundreds of dollars infront of 
their eyes... I thought it a quaint trait to have in addition of course to being touted the cleanest town the country.

I moved away from Nakuru for 10 years and would occasionally go down to see the folks and get to breathe some real air not that dank stuff in Nairobi. Nakuru like many places today has changed, for one its not the cleanest town anymore (surprise.. surprise) and it seems everyone is a lot older …the newspaper guys, hawkers and those at the market giving me wide toothy grins happy to see me after yonks….they always ask about my dad (yet they live in the same town and perhaps see him more than I do) and always have something to say about me getting fat and when I am intending to finally get married. Like surrogate parents there eyes twinkle with pride when I tell them what I am up to in the big bad city, they are bound to tell me what their own children are up to (most times it's about them gone to America for good and what they hope is a better life) … I would feel somehow nostalgic and pleased and end up buying off some stuff from them for the sake of it….

I used to pride myself when much younger in knowing all the Nakuru cars…now I can't. The town has grown and the one main street along Kenyatta Avenue is swollen with masses of people...many I can't recognize…

On the flipside I am horrified to see so many shops closed on the main street and hung on the doors are second hand clothes…beautiful fleece jumpers of all colors. (My son and I cant resistget a couple of sweaters amid our whining on what is happening to the once wonderful main street). Many businesses have failed and others have mushroomed….the old street my mum had a florist shop is now the main second hand street in the town centre…a "sunshine boutique" get anything from sneakers to football boots, bras, socks, handbags school bags…ok you get the drift…

The street boys are now men…they are still in the streets and always remember to say hello. I stopped fearing them because I realized that they would not do much to me as a child in the small town as everyone was watching and they stopped bothering me altogether because they realized that I had not one but two big brothers (a sure force to reckon with I assure you) who would track them and release their wrath on the sorry bullies. They have street families now but as he tells me his children are all in school- what with the free education and all that he can finally see some kind of future for his off spring glad they can rid themselves of a life in the streets if they work hard at it….

Nakuru. Its strange and quiet…may be strangely quiet…. After 3 days here I have ants in my pants and I crave for the matatus blaring music, the hustle and bustle with mean Nairobi citizens trying to beat the jam and head to work then home or home then work, the loud and late night bars of Nairobi, a couple of demonstrations and a riot or two… I can't imagine why?

My mounting irritation has reached record heights and I feel like I finally cracked the code called Nakuru. To my amazement, a local leading supermarket still closes every lunch time (what time are peeps suppose to shop???) and so does almost everyone else…. Going to pay my dad's internet bill at half one, the office is closed as all the agents go for an hour's lunch… I look at my watch and wonder what would stop me from detonating there and then…..Ever had of that??? Which offices still closes at lunch time these days?? Nobody's shoping and nobody's paying bills….If you say something about it you get these knowing smiles " Yes you know in Nakuru we like peace, we are different…not like Nairobi" and I wonder why they wonder why their shops run down and close….I am curious to know how low we are going to have to go till they realize this and wake up from the euphoria of an indolent business mind..Why should the whole town have their lunch at one o'clock….no wonder I once waited for 45 minutes for 2 sausages and a fanta in a restaurant between one and two o' clock….

So it hit me that the reason my mum didn't need to worry about anyone stealing from her car those days (don't try this in any town now though…) was really because they were too complacent to do anything about it….and that complacency is still there for sure…

Ahem, meanwhile, since its one o clock now and in true Nakuru tradition, let me have some lunch first and think about more about a solution after two o'clock…..


Power in Your Hands....

I am having a great time going through the motions of exercising my democratic right on the 27th of December at the General Elections...the churning's and endless rantings of the wanna-be states-men are at a titillating frenzy...

I believe that if I told one of the candidates during a campaign trail to stand on one leg, hop and pull his ear he just might consider it...

I am happiest at this time when Kenyans realize just how important their vote is...and just how powerful they actually are when all the sycophantic and pretentious candidates go on their knees to beg...I wish though, Kenyans would realize that they have this power throughout their lives as their approval or disapproval on state issues is the key to the direction we take as nation...

I'd say, tone down the drama, learn the policies proposed, make an informed choice and cast your vote holding ransom the succeeding candidate to quit the blame game and fold up their shirts and work diligently with some amount of etiquette and less greed...