Thursday, October 22, 2009

Villains and Psychos

A long lost Congolese journalist and Academic friend of mine has remembered me by way of an email. And that was very comforting and good of him after all these years of teaching at a UK varsity. The only discomforting thing is that he only remembered me as part of a large list of email recipients of a lewd forward. So I dont know whether to smile or frown.

And the forward is rather bizarre. It shows several worm eye-view pictures of the renown mutwashi dancer and musician Tshala Muana. My friend was criticising the singer for her appearance during the show.

The pictures reveal a very stylish Tshala, clad in a long flowing dress but not wearing any panties. And that was my friends bone of contention. He was angry that the musician was not showing good picture and of the DR Congo and was instead showing her 'goods' to the public. And I wondered who between Tshala Muana and the photojournalist who took the pictures has a problem. The musician could have decided to wear less undergarments due to her size (elle est un peu bien enveloppée) and vigorous dance to reduce on sweat for all I know! But looking at the angle from which the pictures were taken it was impossible to miss an upskirt on the dancer given she was on a raised platform. Am even wondering had the journalist obtained pictures of her undergarments, would it have been less worrisome? it still would have pointed to a sick person , going out of his way to catch details of the musician which were not for public consumption.

It just reminds me of similar pictures I have seen of other prominent personalities like Martha Karua, Amani and even Pasaris. All of them just showed me evidence of irresponsible and really very very sick journalists!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Face Book and Its Alienations

In the days when a TV was a possession to behold, I used to curse a friend of mine who would promptly turn off the box when I went visiting. I used to think he didn't like me enjoying the moving pictures playing on it. One time I braved it and complained to him but he said that the TV prevented him from connecting with his guests. It was his practice to switch it off when he had friends since he valued a one to one conversation more and did not like any third party interruptions. He also never liked the direction of his causerie dictated by the events displayed on the magic box.

But that was then. Today am just finding out that unlike my friend, a ubiquitous facility called Facebook is quickly alienating me from my friends and even relatives. Just the other day, I discovered that I had not met our close family friend for almost 3 months when in my mind I thought we have been with her at least every other day. Because of Facebook, I have been able to know everything that was going on in her life and so I hadn't made time to pay her a visit or even call. Her status always updates when she goes to church, misses out on water, buys a new water tank for storage or when looking for a new house-help! So when I met her and insisted I had been a 'good' friend you should have seen her shock. For a definition of a good friend is not one who keeps up with you only on a website!

But I like the site. Even though I never update my own status (it has to do with my soldier cousin's comment about the site) I normally find it quite interesting. Facebook has made me know most of my friends based on what they update in their status. One of them is a smooth operator and always has sweet words for the fairer gender. Another is a funny man who always sees the ticklish side of life. While another will all the time praise the gods of inebriation.

I have also seen who among them are born leaders. The ones who always updates the others when he meets a long lost acquaintance. Another complains and blames everyone but himself about corruption and mismanagement of public affairs. While a yet another shows split personally syndrome. Wanting to mask her stories while at the same time reveling the juicy details of them. Its also good entertainment especially on the phone when waiting for someone who cant keep time or whiling away the moments.

On another note, today marks the start of KCSE 2009 exam. The one opportunity for young men and women all over the country to determine whether they will move from Mathare to Muthaiga or from Muthaiga to Mathare. Whether they will brew changaa to survive or charge people an arm and a leg to do life saving surgeries. In Kenya, nothing provides a life changing chance than the dreaded national exam called KCSE. No wonder there are so many cases of cheating!

To all candidates, its a big success wish to you all from Odegle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heads in the Sand or Plain Charlatan?

This week the media has been on the case of young people with stories of sex and related subjects. Predictably each media house has gone out to find what they would think was the juiciest of the underage sex stories to tell. (Are these houses managed by one person?)

So one came up with the story of a study which found out that young people have started engaging in sex at a very tender age and most of them are procuring abortion. The reporter said that in his time underage sex was unthinkable yet now things are 'shagalabagala'. Well that is what I too heard in the '80s and '90s when I was growing up. Our parents and adults always told us their days were saintly days! Never mind that this reporter appeared to be no older than 23.

Another media house went to the air with the story of young people buying and trying out sex enhancing drugs. They even had hidden cameras and managed to get viagra and other sex enhancement drugs from a street vendor. She was shocked that these drugs were so available to young people. She even wondered how come the youth knew about them. Well this is someone who works for a TV station that advertises Zoom in national free viewing TV in broad daylight. Zoom and many other such drugs are actually available over the counter in of all places supermarkets!!! In my view you do not need a hidden camera to find out that people both old and young buy them all the time. And again remembering my own youth, I started hearing about a drug called 'kukumanga' (sp) when I was in class five. I wonder why anyone would be surprised that kids know about these things.

But a third TV was not be left out of the 'competition' on kid sex stories. They went to bed with the one about brothels and strip joints which they said are surprisingly available in Nairobi. O boy! Is that really news? stories of karumaindo and riva rodi are almost as old as Nairobi itself. And Strip joints? They have full color A3 size posters all over the streets of Nairobi!

But maybe its not only Kenyan media. A friend sent me a youtube link with a story told by this American journalist about underage prostitution in the Kenyan coastal towns. Where kids as young as 13 are being paid by rich old men from Europe to engage mostly in unprotected sex. I would have been shocked had I not also been sent a website hosted in the US of A calling itself child models website. In reality it was full of pedophile fodder. Kids some barely 3 years pictured naked or with the subject of the photo being their panties or lower torso. Someone has to be acutely sick to in the first place host such a site, update it and even collect money from subscribers. What even of the subscribers themselves! Does that even begin to compare with the 13 year olds of the Kenyan coast?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Picking your Poison

In my current calling (where I earn my daily ugali) I have been facing a number of options on the people whom I work with. The options range from the funny to the absurd.

Take Mr. T for instance. The man is what you need for your ego in this trying Kenya especially when the good Lord decides to hold back rain for a year. He looks at me as the leadership masterpiece with unmatched intelligence, foresight and strength. He praises my fashion sense (I can assure you this is my weakest link though) and will ask me where I bought those shoes so that he too can buy. In our meeting he nodes in approval when I talk and quotes what I said ages ago some that even I have forgotten! Downside? Mr. T's assignments are always at best 1 week late! However he always has very fitting explanation for any such delay or any flip up.

What of Miss Y? O boy! For starters I find her beauty kinda intimidating especially since am happily married and also her boss (probably she knows it) when am talking she is always restless showing body signs to suggest am talking trash or too much. She fights everyone at every opportunity. Any time I have any significantly urgent and delicate task to be done at whatever hour (even night) I would quickly but nervously dial her number and give it to her. Naturally if it was after hours she would take me through a long litany of gripe which she refers to as a 'piece of her mind' after which I would thank her and disconnect the phone. After an hour or two she would send me an update sms and an email detailing the job done to my satisfaction.

But Mr. D is the guy who when around would stammer every word and fidget and basically fail to say anything coherent. Its impossible for him to do anything unless you expressly tell him to and direct him how to do it and so on.

Really to succeed how do you pick your poison?

On another note i was deeply encouraged by Geoffrey Owiti Oyoo winning Churchill's Top Comic competition. The young man from a fairly humble Kibera background 'walked' away (he said he couldn't drive) with a new Isuzu D-Max)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Know Birthday, Will Travel

A friend of mine has been denied a simple US visit visa for what I find to be the feeblest of reasons. That he did not know the birth day of the sister he was to visit! I don't know whether its derisory or woeful. And in either case who is to be laughed at or pitied. The drift is that after I heard the story, I did a quick and dirty 'survey' on my friends and discovered that a majority of them did not have such information either. In fact they dint even know their own parents birthdays. Birth years, yes but not the day! Am told in the first world things are so good that they don't have grounds for divorce so such mundane issues like not remembering your significant other's birthday can cost you a marriage and send your kids into full lives of stress and related abuse.

But I would understand them, its probably just a cultural thing. In Kenya celebrating the date of birth is quite a new affair and again its mostly done for kids below 5. The fetes normally fade in significance as years advance. However even the birthdays I have attended never even looked like such. Picture this one where we went to celebrate the first born's first year. There was bbq (nyama choma, kawaida yao), crates upon crates of tusker, pisner and even my favorite WC. There was mukwangala and even mugithi the dance that gives neighbors and friends the moral right to hold each others wives at the waist. I wondered how that was a kids birthday celebration. I even wondered if it would be remembered at a random questioning eg at the embassy!