Kenya is currently ranked one of the most happy states in the world and this goes a long way to extend my complaint against the survey board. i keep seeing polls in the tv that always gets my opinion and those of my pals wrong everytime. who these people consult for the surveys is yet to be clarified but when half of the nairobians are forced to take swimming lessons on the streets the hard way you all agree it is not a happy moment. What do we expect anyway, the guy on tv for synovate is white and was probably surprised to find out we don’t live is grass thatched manyattas nor fight lions for sport as most tourist expect is the norm for us maasais, too racist? I cant blame them though, our whole Kenyan brand abroad is based on speared courageous men hunting lions, winning marathon medals (practice they think is obtained running from lions), alshabaab and our most recent achievement barrack obama. For this image I totally blame the government. However am a proud Kenyan son my cowardice towards lions notwithstanding. Being a Kenyan is not a bed of roses, a lot goes into becoming one of us it becomes more than just citizenship or belonging it becomes an art. Am not talking about the guys driving range rovers and porches I mean real Kenyans, the cogs of this country, the mwananchi. We might not be chasing after wildlife anymore , well except our beloved poachers, but we all have had to learn and adapt to our society, to our beautiful Kenya.
There are pivotal skills any mwananchi acquires yet its not the logarithms and calculus equations they wasted our time on at school . don’t get me wrong, school is important, but school is not survival let alone how they beat the math table senselessly into our minds, choked us on the landscape of Switzerland and forced me to know a bone in my finger that can fracture and I still wouldn’t feel it, all in the name of education. They ddnt do that in your school? Then am sorry my friend but You are not Kenyan. That said, am an A student, don’t listen to me. However,Kenya made all its citizens expert thieves through nothing more than just living. Let me explain. Every Kenyan residential area is made of a seasonal weather road unless you live in posh estates like muthaiga , runda… where in most these places its foreign soil ,`so no south C and kileleshwa doesn’t cut it, still very Kenyan. If you don’t own a car you have learnt the skill of walking like a Kenyan when the rainy season knocks. The roads turn into water mashes so deep that frogs make a new home while the dusty pathways now nothing more than puddles of mud backing the European stereotyping if we live with frogs after all. We could complain but our county MCAs spent all the infrastructure funds in London learning how traffic lights work. It goes red, then yellow, then green … 100 million went into that or so they say, Kenyans. But we have to go on, go to work, to school or to the shop affirming the new Kenyan motto, itabidi ujipange aka jipange. Is it me or does this motto save the government lots of criticism, anyway not todays topic. one foot wide footpaths develop on the sides of the roads that are flooded and are so small they create “ manjams” on opposite sides of the road as only one person can use it a time. We form queue behind the person we find, waiting for the opposite traffic to cross quickly on the muddy footpath. The ordeal really begins when we start crossing. The mama with a sack on her back behind you is in a hurry to get to the market and people on the other side are waiting impatiently for the line of people using the path to end . You have to move quick despite the slippery terrain or have to deal with insults from every side . its like walking on a tight rope and very infuriated people behind and infront is not helping, yet you have to walk. You clear your challenge, this is a good day. Some days you are wearing rubber shoes with little or no treads for the grip knowing each step could land you in the pool of water beside you. When the rains get worse and the slippery footpaths are engulfed by the road water, stones are placed in the less muddy areas on the road stretch .Bear in mind the surface of the stone that is protruding above water is fit for only three of your toes yet the jamaa tip-toeing in front of you left a slippery batch of mud on it. oowww and again, you have to walk. This is officially one of the bad days. Over looking people crossing such a stretch you make certain realizations, Not only does the gorvernor have to go but Horning this skill from your childhood to 18 makes you as good as any tight rope expert and the creeping skills would do you good if you ever changed careers into the more dangerous kind.
With all the jubilee and cord fiasco everyday , Kenyans have finally understood how negotiations work. More so a financial term called pre emptive settlement. While the skill we have mastered doesn’t come close to the actual financial jargon, it steals a glimpse for negotiating. We negotiate on everything these days and not just for the gikomba clothes that we buy. Matatu touts have made the skill increasingly necessary with hiked fares every time a cloud hovers towards the city . mind you It doesn’t have to rain, it just have to look like its going to rain. Runda people don’t know what am talking about, taxis and all. Rain is nairobis worst enemy from hiked fares to traffic jams to the realization that masinga dam was built in the wrong place. “tao ngapi?” becomes a common question lest you get into your usual 10 bob stage and they are chargin 100 sh the extra 90 bob termed as risk allowance . however the resilience of Kenyans to brave the rain due to a 20 bob hike until the touts slash off an extra 10 bob ili tukutane katikati is applaudable and a show of their negotiations skills, well , or lack of depending on your pov. A month of paying the extra fare and the next negotiation is happening with your landlord. The less learned landlords of ago who would believe your pay got held up by the rain too but they have been replaced by menacing agents whom you never see until a second padlock ensures the security of your house even from you. This is it, you have to talk your tongue dry, plead, beg, cry even virtually kill your mother for sympathy, anything goes. Take it from me, don’t waste your time, they are carved from the same soil that made central kenya and you have better chances taking the safaricom loan, paying your rent, then buying a new line . how do you think all these whatsapp statuses of ‘I have a new line…’ come about? A new era good thieves is emerging too, good being relative, the kind that don’t steal everything and beat you senseless. Thieves nowadays talk as they rob you, hell infact some just ask you for a specific amount and let you be,while others you can talk down to let you have a certain amount back after explaining your whole rent situation. Some Nairobi thieves are even kind enough to ask where you going and leave you with just enough money to get home. Everything considered, It’s a great deal and very humane but goes against the logic when you try to explain to your landlord how your rent was stolen yet he saw you get off the matatu without a scratch. I take the good thieves thing back. while being hospitalized after an attack is not a willy feeling it goes a long way for sympathy mostly if all you had on you was 500 but the landlord doesn’t know that now does he? When you walk into the police at night the story remains unchanged, how good a talker you are determines How much you part with and where you are gonna spend the night , negotiate.
Kututhika. I came up with that term all on my own and I agree, it needs some working. This is the ability to MOMENTARILY sober up in minutes if not seconds while alcohol still cruising top speed in your veins. I said momentarily since the sober effect does not last very long depending on the circumstances. Every drunk knows why kututhika is a necessary skill for any Kenyan but again, lemmi explain. After the first ten drinking escapades with your pals you will have learnt the downside of booze. I don’t mean liver cirrhosis , drunk driving accidents or sleeping on the gutter, no , those still happen. I mean the serious immediate effects like losing your phone, wallet, keys and waking up in police cells. 20, 000 shillings lost later, kututhika becomes mandatory to master lest make friends with onyi the downtown cell bigbody .Everyone tries to take advantage of the drank, may it be the club waiter, the taxi driver, matatu touts or friendly policeman (if such exist). Your momentary sobriety springs ten beers later when the waiter brings a 10 000 bob bill that shocks the brain into action. The kikuyu in you is awoken. am no math expert when am drunk but I know if I guzzled 10 000 worth of beer I would be passed out preferably in the toilet seat singing in my mother tongue. Almost everytime I drink myself silly the waiters try to rip me off and likeGeorge bush said “ fool me once shame on you, you wont fool me twice” , for an American president that man really needs to learn english. Every beer bottle I buy stays on the table or below the table until I decide to leave. When the unreasonable bill is tabled I sluggishly reach under the table feeling each bottle to do the math. Granted, its not the best of calculations as my shoe more oftenly than not falls under the equation as bottle, but nevertheless cuts the excess bill by less than a half. Yet its not just the waiters that target you, Natasha , a very hot chille, (the hotness viable only when drunk) usually strikes up a conversation at this time. She will listen to anything, from embarrassing details of how your wife beats you, to the gross things you do in the bathroom and even your cries about MAN –U, all while slowly edging towards your pocket. Need I say more? After a while men develop funny antics such as hiding money in their socks like the stereotipical Neanderthals Europeans already think us to be yet Safaricom has this thing called mpesa, ever heard of it? However, Be advised to take out the money before you start drinking coz four beers down the password numbers become jiggled up and trust me, those thieving waiters will have a field day if you don’t pay.
Walking out of the bar you are an easy score for thieves as well as policemen. So If a group of suspicious looking men walk upto you , immediately unatuthika, they are armed and any wrong move could be your last. Am not scared of dying, nevertheless , I know what they will be whispering in hush tones to each other at my eulogy if I die when drunk. If its thieves run or they will rob you. If its police , cooperate, its easier, give them their chai walk away, don’t thump your puny chest with these guys or you will wish they were thieves. if you drunk all your money you join the rest of the broke club in the mariamu. run and the risk of getting shot is high, nad the headlines of tomorrow’s paper will read about the armed gangman shot dead after a fierce police fight in which an officer was wounded and admitted…. We know their drill. And if these four don’t get you ,the matatu tout will definitely scavenge your pockets for anything left in your including your keys. But on occasion after too many close calls you get home safe with your cash , pass out in the sofa, wake up in the morning missing 5000 and mama junior will be smiling, she never smiles. I will let you know when I find the solution to that one. am I paranoid, maybe, then its not paranoia when They all out to get you.