My father hates Nairobi. He says it’s become uninhabitable – his words. There are two things that make him come to Nairobi; a death or a wedding. Over the weekend he was around for the latter and whenever he’s around I’m tasked with the thankless, and most colorless, task of driving him around. I say colorless because he hasn’t learnt to shut it while you drive him. He gives instructions; don’t go too close to such trucks, they always slide back on hills. Let that matatu go if he wants to go, they are mad (as opposed to?) Biko, why don’t you use that road, it will get us there faster (Yes, it used to get people there faster in 1989, now it will lead us into a wall.) Then he has this habit of turning down the volume of my music, I hate when a passenger turns down the volume of my music. Don’t turn down the volume of my music. Then every time he’s around he usually moans about the demise of the city; “Nairobi has changed very much, it’s become ugly. Nairobi is not what it used to be.” And I’m tempted to tell point out that nothing is what it used to be, that everything has changed, that everything has to change; it’s the dynamism of life. Hell, I wanted to tell him that he has changed himself; I mean he never used to finish his phone conversations with, “God bless you.”

His name is Simon. But the five of us call him “Daddy.” We have always called him daddy. Simon never keeps his hair. He shaves close to the scalp. He wears stubble, peppered with white hair. He has always worn Gillette Aftershave, never cologne. He has worn Gillette since God was a boy. I can smell out Gillette Aftershave anywhere in a crowded street and it always reminds me of the old man.

He wears spectacles – a rogue gene all the men in our family picked from him. He turned 61yrs in March this year; I didn’t call him to wish him a happy birthday. I didn’t call him because I didn’t know it was his birthday. You see, growing up we didn’t cherish birthdays. We didn’t go hoo-haa over birthdays. We didn’t blow candles or cut cakes. We didn’t buy each other gifts and cards during birthdays. It was not a part of our socialization process. It was never in the constitution of my family. Consequently I have never thought much of the whole birthday brouhaha. If you forget my birthday I will not get a hernia. I will not demand for a white forest cake bearing my picture or threaten to kill a hostage every half hour. I’m easy, it’s just a birthday.

My father is a scholar- an academician. He’s well read. His specialty is history and literature, that’s all he has lectured all his life. That’s all he has known all his life. I know nobody who reads voraciously, I know nobody who is fascinated more with Karl Marx and Lenin and Elechi Amadi. Growing up, while most households had a huge wall-unit (those relics which housed those cutlery for “wageni” hehe) we had a huge bookshelf creaking with novels and memoirs and bland history books that smelled of another era. He arranged those books meticulously and he would know by just standing before the bookshelf if one book was missing from that forest. And he encouraged us to read those books. The presence of that bookshelf, a simple wooden structure, intimidated me more than he did. It was a constant reminder of what I had to top and although he never came out and created a career path for any of us, that bookshelf represented the mountain we had to climb to be half the man he was. It was a monument of Simon, it embodied the man. I felt pressured.

My father has never laid a hand on me, or any of our siblings. Our neighbor when we were growing up – an irate Kisii man – always flogged his boys whenever they erred and I was always grateful for my old man for not being like him. He left the dirty work to my mother who I think got a self esteem boost from beating us up, Hehehe. That woman would beat you up as if you were venomous.

But at 6’1’’ tall my old man is an intimidating guy. He has the look of a man who is only two heartbeats from violence. He has large hands. He has wide shoulders. Since he is a teetotaler he never really grew a paunch. He swam. He played squash. He played soccer. He was always fit. He is a man who could take you on. And he has cold eyes. You knew you were out of line when he shot you a cold snake-like look. He would coolly look at you for a few endless seconds, then he would slowly look away. Then you knew better than not repeat whatever you did. I never once thought I could step up to my father, not when I was a cocky teenager, not when I was a young adult, and certainly not now when I’m a father because Simon is a different kind of animal. His presence might be silent but fills a room, his authority is subtle but obsolete. He’s a man’s man.

I have a friend of mine who has twin boys. The two rascals are two years old now and together they wreck havoc in that house. They tear down anything that was built by man. They stick cookies in the DVD player. They try to feed the dog their mom’s heels. They pee in the potted plant. They are a twin force of nature. And they are fat. I always tell my homeboy, “Chief, you are 35yrs old, join a gym for chrissake, trust me you will thank me later because trust me those boys will one day hit puberty – weaned on Youtube and Terrific Tuesday pizza – and one day, one fateful day, one of them will step up to you and stare you down. Then what? Then what when you are fat and wobbly and you throw a punch like a female dog? But if you are a fit sonofagun you will be able to draw the line on the sand when that happens, you will make it clear as to who runs that ship, as to who pays the damn rent in that house and if you miss that opportunity to stamp authority the politics of power would have irredeemably shifted in your household and things will never be the same.” He always laughs when I tell him that, saying I’m being too dramatic, but you wait. Pato, you wait. You’re going down.

My dad is retired. He’s happy in shagz. Happier than anyone thought he would be. We thought he would wilt. He wakes up and drives his battered – but much loved – 1984 Peugeot 505 some odd twenty clicks to some teachers college where he lectures part-time. He fills his days tending to his trees, he loves trees. He fills his days pruning flowers or cutting hedges. In the afternoons, when it’s hot, he sits in the verandah reading a book or listening to BBC or Ramogi FM, while my mom lies on the matt (or par, as we call it in Luo) trying to get his attention with some measly village gossip. He ignores her. And as the sun goes down, he helps the herds-boy herd in the cows in the kraal.

My old man doesn’t suffer small time, something I picked from him. He doesn’t know the art of small talk, so invariably – and perhaps because he’s a teetotaler – he hardly leave his home to visit other homes, maybe to visit his mother across the hill, or go to church. He talks only when he feels that the exchange will bring him value. He has the sense of humor of an exhaust pipe but he is nice to talk to because you always learn something new something deep. I have never heard him say he’s sorry, a very proud man and a bit of a snob. But everybody respects him. And the few who don’t respect him fear him.

I’m not close to my father. I’m not close to him because he handled fatherhood like it was an aristocracy. There was always a cloak around him, an air of supremacy. He provided. He was there. But he was never a friend. I don’t know how to be my father’s friend. I admire him immensely, I love him but I don’t know how to be his friend. To his credit he made an effort; every Sunday he took the whole family for lunch and we

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sat around the table and he asked us about school (he always asked about school) but those conversations, those meetings felt so sanitized, so stripped off warmth. I guess my mother always saw the weakness and filled it with her irrepressible humor and irretrievable sarcasm. But still I always wonder whether I would have turned out differently had the old man treated us like his pal, you know, bit more open to laughter. Me not being my father’s friend is not as hopeless as it sounds, I can assure you it’s not it’s just that I wish I could talk to him, confide in him, like I talk to my mom. I desperately want to be his friend, but I don’t know how to at this age.

There was a time Joseph Bonyo (business writer) and I were having a chat in Maasai Mara about our fathers and I remember telling me how close they are with his father, how they talk on phone for long, how they often go to the bar together and drink like they are brothers and I felt like pushing him in the swimming pool. I felt a little loss. I envied him. I have always suspected that men who are close to their fathers always posses a slightly stronger compass for finding the heart of their manhood. That those men posses more pronounced traits of manhood. I don’t know, I’m no Dr. Phil.

There are only three occasions my dad has betrayed emotions before me. One was when he hugged me (for the very first time) when I graduated. Second when I saw tears in his eyes when my mom was in ICU and lastly this time I was 11yrs old. It was on a Saturday, we were dressing up for church when my zipper caught my foreskin. Shit. A heartbreak is not painful; in fact the only thing more painful than a zipper on your foreskin is cancer. I yelled like a little girl. I didn’t call my mom, I called him. He came and spent half hour trying to free my foreskin from the blood zip, dabbing it with cotton wool dipped in methylated spirit. I have never seen him more worried. Two years later – iwe funzo kwa foreskin wengine wenye tabia kama hayo*– I went under the knife to the damned foreskin chopped off.

My old man always banged on two drums; the importance of education and the power of self discipline. He believed that as a man you were nothing if you didn’t have any sound education, if you lacked in education you invariably lacked in statue. But also he felt that if you didn’t respect yourself as a man, if you don’t have self discipline then you have no reason calling yourself a man. Once in a while when we go down shagz he will always roll out some nugget of wisdom. He’s always rolling out stuff like, “The only way you are going to get wisdom from your woman is if you pull your weight.” Or “The moment you stop paying your rent and sending your kid to school, that’s the day you will lose your voice in the house. Never lose your voice; it’s all you have as a man.” Or “Never look at the floor when you are walking, it’s weak.”

But it’s naive to sit here and bang on about my father and review his style of fatherhood because fatherhood is complex. He raised five, I’m struggling with one. But the little I’ve learnt is that like everything else in life, fatherhood is about finding the right equilibrium. And to find it you have face questions like; how much do you love and how far can you go in love before it starts being toxic to the kid? And how the hell do you instill values? When do you punish and how? And what the hell is quality time? How do you balance it when you leave work at 11pm and when you have a moment you just want to close your eyes for a shut-eye? How do you want your child to remember you? And when you take her to the hospital and the pediatrician asks you, “how does her stool smell like?” What are you supposed to say? I mean, what does stool smell like where you come from Doc? Does it smell like fresh grapes? Because where I come from stool smells like shit.

So jana as I drove old man around, he asked about the new job and I handed him the latest magazine. He studiously perused through it, reading and occasionally grunting.

“What’s your readership?” he growled. I told him. He continued reading occasionally taking an interest in a particular article before flipping over a page. Finally he announced, “Good edit, it’s a sound read.” But what about my forwarding piece, read my forwarding piece, I whined. So he went back and read my piece, more closely. He nodded at some point then finally closed it and said, “It’s nice, but always remember that you have to capitalize the first word after a colon only if it’s a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence and also not that colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material.”

“Huh?!” I asked.

“Watch that matatu, they are mad.”

Happy belated Fatherday to all the struggling fathers reading this.

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  1. always remember that you have to capitalize the first word after a colon only if it’s a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence and also not that colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material. HAHAHAHA sorry but you set yourself up for that one.

    Sounds like my Dad, he passed and I never got to have that ‘pal’ conversation. Do so while you still have the choice may be awkward but you will not regret it.


  2. Hahaaaa. Loved this! My father is always surprised when I call him up to wish him happy birthday. Every damn year. After all this time, you’d think he’d have caught on 🙂

  3. “That woman would beat you up as if you were venomous”.Hilarious,seems we have a lot alike my mum would beat us like after we are pulp we will be of medicinal value.I also had the foreskin predicament but mine had to get chopped off there and there.Good stuff Biko now i can start working.

  4. You grew up with a ‘forest’ of books around you..whether you read them or not…i believe they have shaped your writing….i had the ZIP experience too once…mine was on the side though……mum came to my rescue…nice piece but unusually plain

  5. Loool @ that last bit, I think that was a compliment Biko. My Dad used to play dodge ball with us and let us plait his beard and we are good friends. But he too has that I’ll-Kill-You eye so he never had to use his hands or voice. He still uses ‘the look’ on us if he thinks you’re being too loud or a blouse is too low-cut or your makeup is too much. Growing up and being a parent myself hasn’t changed the effect of that look me.

  6. ‘ But also he felt that if you didn’t respect yourself as a man, if you don’t have self discipline then you have no reason calling yourself a man.’
    That should be this year’s theme, it is sadly lacking in many.

    I love this piece,its a blend of humour, deep thought- you may be Dr. Phil just yet, and great word play as usual.

  7. aaaaawwww…this reminds me of my daddy..jana i sms’d him ‘HAPPY FATHERS DAY…MAY GOD GIVE YOU LONG LIFE TO SEE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN’…just as i had updated on facebook….normally he’d reply immediatly..’THANKS’…jana he didnt, i know soo many ??????????…in his the first born….he’s my best friend….Biko the way u feel with your dad is the way my relationship is with my Mum..i love her tho’..she’s my mum…thats all…the last time i talked to her was 2weeks ago…a text it wasnt a phone call!!!! happens!!!

  8. i guess majority of father wear that invisible cloak of supremacy and it quite seats well with them coz i cant imagine my father without i was not the kinda teen that moms n dads hope for when they say lets have a so it worked perfectly to remind me ‘who is king’ (something lacking in our generation) and i thank him for if. lovely read Biko

  9. The apple doesnt fall far away from the tree Biko……those books in the huge bookshelf shaped your destiny, you read them, and you wished on a star…..and the star granted you exactly that.

    God Bless Simon, reading between the lines, you got lots of admiration for your old man and even though you got regrets for the lack of that friendship…..there is an ace in his life that you can surely keep.

    great piece, a take by a son on his father. awesome

    1. Yeah. The apple doesn’t fall far away from the tree. First thing that came on my mind when i read this piece

  10. I obsess over perfection and I haven’t wanted to point out the issues of typos because the posts are really good so I’ve chosen to ignore them but today’s post has quite a few of them and so I’d like to request you to work on that please, I know you do not go back to read your work once you’ve written it or posted but it wouldn’t hurt to do so, at least, to get rid of the typos, thanks.

    Having said that I’d like to say that there are two things that I absolutely look forward to on Mondays: (hope I get it with the capitals after a full colon…LOL) Your posts and Kidikibudi’s comments, those two light up my Mondays. However, I am so sad after reading your post because I have such a relationship with my dad and it breaks my heart because though he’s changed, it doesn’t take away the years he was removed emotionally and cared more about being a disciplinarian than a friend and so my heart breaks over our relationship. *Sigh and sob*
    My only hope this Monday is to wait and see Kidi’s take on the post, maybe just maybe it might lighten the day.

    Very emotional piece, good read as always and get that balance right, you know, the fatherhood balance so that Tams doesn’t have the kind of relationship you have with your dad.

    1. Mayie Adhis,

      I am flattered that you think my comments passes for some lights up your blue-sy Mondays. Thanks

      This is some conundrum Biko’s thrown up my path today however. I wish I could relate with his admiration of his gentlemen’s gentleman dad. The story of me and my dad is a hideously woebegone one. He’s an alcoholic. Been drinking, since Jesus turned water at Cana.

      So, to Biko, I say you were one lucky chap to have lived with a dad who encouraged you to read. In my childhood, I didn’t need encouragement to read. I ran away to local KNLS library (8 Kms away- Bondeni, Naks that is) to escape the horrors of a drunk and distant dad.

      I am a momma’s boy. She saw me through college and visited me every semester and she was at hand to pry away my ‘koko’ from the zipper’s teeth. We still laugh today about it.

      Yesterday, by some stroke of fate I went with dad to watch Gor’s match at Afraha Stadium. It was awkward but I thought it could make for a fine Fathers day outing. But peeps from Nai who are more hooligan than Baghdad Boys of Kisumu messed it up for us. They were just too much even for my dad. We didn’t get into the Stadium and an opportunity to gain an entry into his aloof soul went up puff.

      He told me this: ‘I am happy you never turned out like that’ he said, pointing at a rowdy horde in drunken stupor leaning on the windows of a dangerously careening car. I am a tee-toller. Was he reaching out? I don’t know. We rarely talk.

      You are lucky Biko.

      1. Maiye indeed, you do not think you are good with words? See Kidi, you do make my Mondays. Just read your reply and i was grinning ear to ear over this….’He’s an alcoholic. Been drinking, since Jesus turned water at Cana.’ and this…’she was at hand to pry away my ‘koko’ from the zipper’s teeth.’
        Sorry to hear about your father, alcoholism and drug abuse are phenomena very close to my heart, i can not understand them and i very much wish i could. My dad doesn’t drink,infact, we couldn’t have coca cola growing up if he was buying because he considers it to be booze. He also would not allow anyone to do any sort of work even ironing clothes for the next day anytime past Friday 6pm- Biko will probably understand this if he went through the same -and yet there was such hypocrisy in this because he could do certain things past that hour because he was who he was, the MAN of the house and so you could go eat dust and play with the bees outside for all he cared.I’ll stop here now. Good luck with your dad Kidikibudi.

  11. such a nice read…..and I largely agree wit you on the fact that men who are close to their dads have a stronger compass for finding the heart of their manhood…..think they already have an ingrained foundation while the rest have to fight just to get that jump start….a lot of respect to men who fight everyday to gain selfworth….and to fathers who are ever so precious.

  12. That was the kind of article that you just cant read once. You have got to print it so that you can underline the juicy parts. But the problem is,all of it is juicy and you end up underlining the whole of it.
    ………………hw i wish i had one.

  13. I remember how close my dad and I were when we were young. We’d sit on his lap and he’d tell us stories and bring us presents.

    All that changed when we went to boarding school. Suddenly, my dad was a stranger whom we only asked for money for schools fees after showing him our report forms. And because we are bright kids, he never had much to say in terms of advice. Ours is a reading family, always tons of stuff around to read. My parents are both teachers so our family has this ‘academic’ air 🙂

    But currently, I’m back to living at home for longer than a month- after 3 years of primary boarding, 4 years of secondary and 4 of college, and it’s going to take time before my father once again becomes my friend. It’s like taking baby steps, we now talk technology, football and such. We hang out for nyam chom as a family and I can call him just to update him about my life without asking for money.

  14. Oh by the way Biko have you had time to sort through the posts those guys sent you on ‘To Write or Not To Write’?

      1. maybe you could put us out of misery by stating a deadline: something like.. “If you haven’t heard from me by … chances are you will not be part of the team”

    1. Seems like you have forgotten Biko so i will remind as i beg once more. i’d asked if it is possible to read some of the articles people wrote in to you and you had said yes, after you get an opportunity to sort through them hence my question today, so will we still have the opportunity to read ém?

  15. This was a lovely piece Biko, made me cry. My dad (God rest his soul) was a nazi but every Friday night he would cook for us (I would imagine him silently praying that the neighbours don’t spot him in the kitchen) but it made him more human to me. They set the bar really high for today’s modern Fathers.

    1. oooh, Karimi has something against you…he sure wants you dead.I can so picture the cold look you’ll be given. The man he wants you to be is the one who is respectful enough not to call him Simon.
      I love your blog please don’t die.hehe

  16. Savour every moment you have with your old man Biko it comes second to none…God bless him with many more years. As for Nairobi’s filth and roads filled with funny ex-Japan excuses for vehicles I can’t stand it as well so your old man has got a fun in me. That was a deep read, thanks bro.

  17. Thankx Biko… I came here expecting something to do with Fatherhood, and you did not let me down. When you become a father (and not just a Father through Inseminating neighbors’ heifers), and a responsible father for that matter, that’s when you start understanding your old man.

    A man must be Responsible, Pillar of Discipline, Security and on top of all a role model

    Trying to a good dad too…. but not authoritative

  18. I used to wonder too… if the relationship with my mum or the lack thereof, contributed to my being less wholesome. Now I don’t… Some people are friends with their parents, others are not. It just reminds me what I should do differently with my own kids.

    Thanks as always for creating a forum for us to discover that sometimes we are more similar than different.

  19. Makes me think of my DAD, well my relationship with him is what you have with your mum. The best that I could ever wish for.

  20. That was lovely, to put it very, very, very mildly. My father’s name was also Simon and he was very much like your Father though thankfully, sorry baus, he was very warm and we we’re great pals. And trust me if he was here, he’d have read this blog furr furr condition! Oh, and he’d have caught that colon vibe too 😀

  21. Fantastic read Biko. Utterly humourous.

    ‘Then what when you are fat and wobbly and you throw a punch like a female dog’…. haha.
    A man bringing up boys can’t afford to let himself go physically.
    I recall once my younger brother, having grown a little baby maustache, stepped up to Bw. Hamadi, my Simon.
    The pounding he undertook (my bro not my dad) epitomized the saying ‘alichapwa kichapo cha mbwa alieingia msikitini.’, effectively nipping the challange on his authority in the bud.

    I agree. Pato should really watch out:)

  22. hey, good read as always…you actually inspired me to start my own blog the other week. i love your articles very much. i appreciate this particular one-i lost my father at six so never really got to know him. my new blog is called.. thanks for the amazing articles. looking forward to the next one!

  23. Your dad and mine would get along just fine… mine was so anti-social that he would put off the TV and the radio when he had guests he did not particularly like and as if to add insult to injury, hold up the newspaper of whatever book he was reading at the time, like some sort of shield. We thought it was hilarious back then. It didn’t stop those guests from returning though… he’s quite a wise man, my father and his advice is cherished by all – including myself. I am very much my father’s daughter, I have come to realise as years go by… and now that we are miles apart… we get along quite well. Growing up he was a mixture of loving father (telling stories, the occasional presents, showing up for school recitals we participated in etc) and tyranny – discipline by the belt. We survived and I like to believe it shaped who I am today. Where your father lacked in warth, your mother made up for in abundance. Think of it as a good balance ;o)

      1. That’s right. Being consistent is something I’m still working on. I’m slowly getting there, though.

  24. Hey Biko!

    I love your writing, so first, congratulations on writing so well and being incredibly entertaining for a lot of people on the blogosphere.

    Just one thing – I know you believe in God because you’ve said it on your blog before. When you write that your dad wore Gilette since God was a boy, that hinges on blasphemy for me. There are other instances when I’ve read your blog and wanted to say something on a reference you’ve made to God, but I’ve refrained from it. Today, I can’t. This one made me really uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.

    I am certain that it wouldn’t take away from the beauty of your writing if you were more reverent of God. Please give it some thought.

    Have a wonderful afternoon and enjoy the rest of your week.

    1. I’m sorry this offended your christian sensibility. It was not out of any disrespectful because I have always believed that God has a sense of humor. But yes, maybe I have unknowingly crossed the line a few times with my tasteless blasphemous quips. Nothing that I can’t amend fortunately . I shall – in future- try and give such utterances a wider berth. But thanks for pointing it out in a grown-up way.

      1. I am not trying to start beef. Honestly, but once you start censoring your writing in order to avoid prodding people’s sensibilities, where are you going to stop. You have the right to express yourself as you want.

        We are not all christians, muslims, buddists, hindus etc. I am of the opinion that one should be able to take “religious knocks” without being offended.. I mean.. God can stand up for himself.. ama.

        I say let the man write as he wants.

        Last time I checked it said Kenya was a democracy with freedom of expression etc etc.

    2. I couldn’t agree more with you KenyanDream; Biko you are an awesome awe…some writer but Prity PLEASE regard God with the respect and reverence He deserves. It will not make you any less of a writter, I promise!

  25. @ nyar rusinga…same father…twins…hahahaha…smooooth lady you sound like you are hitting on Biko.

  26. I shed a tear at some point! It was touching! I love your Dad’s last response! If he read this blog u would get 06/20 in your grammar, sentence structure, tense,punctuation …

  27. @ Biko, actually I had a Guinness-soaked college life. A chipped front-tooth and the challenging spectre of trying to hack life with a wrong certificate made me realize what I needed to swim on dry ground- a clear head.

  28. this is my first comment ever. i was raised by a single dad and i am a girl. he was hands on-still is. we were three girls and i know it was hard for him. especially when fights revolved clothes, or petty girl stuff. he was strict in a sweet way-do not know how to elaborate that but let me tell you Biko my dad became my friend by chance-when my ex left me. so do not rush. it will come. oh-and happy father’s day!!

  29. Some of your readers take things too seriously that it makes me wonder…..Life is a beautiful journey and when you over process everything you will not enjoy the ride…… Great piece Biko.

  30. ‘He has worn Gillette since God was a boy’ – while the statement serves to show timeliness…tsk tsk…. its raw on God respect …..I think its an inappropriate simile. For honouring your dad with kingly words – simply saintly!

  31. …..and one day, one fateful day, one of them will step up to you and stare you down. Then what? Then what when you are fat and wobbly and you throw a punch like a female dog?…… That statement made this whole article worth it. Your old man sounds like quite the character. And father’s are clearly the only people who see mistakes in sentences where no one else can. Happy Be-lated father’s day to you too! 🙂

  32. hehe…i almost felt like i wrote this piece. i have a dad just like yours, educated, aloof and all that. we also don’t care much for birthdays (a habit I’ve carried over to my new life and gets me in constant trouble with the missus). btw, whats the magazine you edit? i need a copy.

  33. That was a timeless piece Biko, very commendable of you to honor your father though in a very indirect way. Should he read this post am certain that he would once again betray emotions and shed a few tears. Tears of a father who is very proud of a son who is not afraid to look beyond the mundane. It’s obvious that your father loves you Biko big time , and though you never got to strike a friendship with him, you can always start afresh with your baby girl Tams. Happy belated fathers’ day to you to.
    Bless you.

  34. My Dad also an academician, attempted to be distant at a point, the long drives home – 45 minutes; forced a camaraderie that I treasure even to this day. Some drives were filled with the VOK Swahili service tunes filling the background. Zero conversation.
    Happy Fathers day Daddy I miss you terribly.
    Biko thanks for the article. I will forward to the hubby, am sure the insecurities resonate with him at some level being the Pop of two.

  35. First comment here, the best post I’ve read from you. Made me laugh and tear up at the same time. I don’t have a relationship with my father right now, but I have so much to thank him for. The love and appreciation for good books and good music, focus and self discipline.
    ” if you don’t have self discipline then you have no reason calling yourself a man” My father made me a man (though I’m a girl), and that has served me well in life. He always said; “whenever you follow the popular easier path, you’re losing your way Kellie.”

    Watching my brother in law struggle to bring my niece up to be a responsible young woman, him rushing home to play with his daughter before she sleeps,all I can wish is that my children will get a father who is not only a friend, but a moral authority in their lives. Wishing for too much maybe?

  36. Biko, you are intentionally ignoring a question asked by many readers. Let me ask it, which is this magazine that you edit? I/we need to subscribe. Could be rude, but am demanding for an answer, name of the magazine to be precise.

  37. Thanks for the piece, I just remembered the trouble I underwent with my naughty foreskin! But also reflected on my ever absent dad, though he gets genuinly concerned about my affairs he doesn’t involve himself one bit. He is like a kasirikali.

  38. Very emotive subject it read like I’m watching glimpse of my interactions with my Old man he is in his seventies he was working for the government so we were drilled like soldiers never could approach him directly my mum had to act as an intermediary I’m all grown up now almost reaching the magical 40 where some genius I think was suffering from mid life crisis said life starts for me I see it as down hill from there on anyway that’s just me so back to my Dad with my advancement in age I’m still in awe of the old man.your piece is magnificent

  39. Not everyone gets to have a friendship with their parents. thats just life but it means you have to be different with your children.

  40. Tell me about a cloak around a father!

    Your Dad and the Gillette scent reminds me of a piece I’m doing about my mother and Ladygay body lotion. It will be up soon.

    Its my mother who messes with someone’s driving. Given half a chance, she’d make you crawl at a painful 30kph from Msa to Nrb.

  41. really honest, i find sometimes that its hard to be honest because we dont want to think hard enough to find out a truth we may not like… for me this piece showed that you have challenged yourself by thinking about your relationship with your dad and found the truth..hence i say, really honest..
    and ive just remembered, you and nobody else ever answered my question about whats wrong with a girl licking the can 😀

      1. LOL! i waited a year to be told that its ‘uncouth’ thought twas going to be a bit more sinister than that. hehe, thanks for the answer

  42. Yet again you manage to cut down the “cock’ in my “cockiness” and bring me back to what really matters… The masculine compass is a big deal for me right now and I often find myself straying off-course…regularly… your work often inspires me to keep seeking that which I can be proud of. Good piece Biko and a belated happy fathers’ day.

  43. Hey Biko,

    Request: Since I think you personally monitor the responses, kindly don’t publish this. It’s just that I don’t know of any other means to keep in touch with you. Oh and don’t tell me [email protected], coz i highly think it’s an alias.

    Anyhoo, i extremely hated this week’s post. Extrelemely! But “it’s not you, it’s me”. Hehehe. But really, i completely hated it. For personal reasons. Too many emotions. Maybe a little bitterness and the arousal of issues that had been put to lay. And it’s all your fault, hehe.

    Moving on, I was also just about to ask what the new publication is and how it’s going so far. Any online copies? Even if not the whole thing, just a page or two, maybe? Oh, and I sent you one or two reminder emails as requested, didn’t get a response. So you either must be reaaaally busy, must have forgotten (it’s allowed. hehe) or again, your email ad must be a fake. Hehe. You know, one of those we make up just for public consumption? Hehe. Anyhoo, do let me know if there’s any way i can be of help, (i really don’t mind pro bono), my email ad is as below.

    Have yourself a good one. 🙂

    (My apologies if this gets sent twice…this “Post Comment” thing is behaving funny.)

  44. this is lovely. evoked memories of my father, there are some similarities there: the bookshelf and reading like crazy; leaving discipline to the old lady; It’s a blessing to have a family patriarch like that, who is there for his family. I believe you can be friends with your old man now, just like me and my old lady – friendship with her developed when I was in my twenties. Growing up, my dad was my friend 🙂 Happy fathers day indeed.

  45. It hilarious and also a nice read, well spoken about the fathers on some issues that may tend to be similar.
    Nice way to wish a happy father’s day to all dad’s.

  46. Biko when I read what Dickens said, “reflect upon your present blessings,” you came to mind.
    I can’t imagine the world without you. I only know it would be a much different, much less comforting place. You’ve outdone yourself again.

    Hats off to you!

  47. Biko, this is the sort of read that leaves one thinking about all the things they love most about their dad. This is what Father’s Day is all about – celebrating the great dads, and yours is certainly one. Bless him.

  48. Biko, first belated Fathers’ day from one father to another! I read this post yesterday but did not post a comment because there are so many things I wanted to respond to such that I could have ended up doing a whole post! Anyway, a few things I did identify with: My dad never canned us, he always told us that canning kids was a woman’s work and that he would deal with us when when we became older. Thankfully he never had to though I must admit that my mom really wielded that cane on us! My dad gave me my first drink after I finished high school. For several years before he quit drinking, my dad would take his sons to the pub and buy us drinks.
    I also find it difficult to stand small talk (by coincidence that’s the subject of my latest blog post) just like your dad did. This is one of your better posts. Keep it up!

      1. I think it was an issue with blogger, they have been having some issues of late. Just checked at it should be sorted now

  49. Yesterday, my mother tried coercing me to wishing my father a belated happy father’s day via text. Still haven’t done it.
    In our house, the men never celebrated our birthdays either. Something to do with a dislike for cakes…add to that one more non-descript holiday to celebrate dad’s everywhere. Just not my thing.
    Good read though.

  50. @Emma…..LMAO, this is the funnest comment in a long time. Humor is great on such a grey day. Ask your man to read Knickers and get inspired, then maybe biko can help him with the writing.

  51. “Never look at the floor when you are walking, it’s weak.” Biko you are sooo your father’s son. Luo men rock this world….and we Luo women ….are the epitome of all factors in place. Kudos!!!!.brilliant writing!!!! Already looking forward to monday.

  52. he he he..that was quite refreshing!!! reminds me of my dad who still barks instructions at my 30 year old bro when driving…..oh and that comment by Kenyan dream..must say you do take criticism well.loved the way it was handled by u two .

  53. FABULOUS!!!! Your father and mine seem to have been cut from the same cloth, on quite a number of points. Education! Education! Education! My dad, Mr.M often told me “the one thing that can never be taken away from you is the knowledge you gain from being educated! That is the one thing that can never be taken away from you Shiru, so read hard!”

    Lovely post Biko!

  54. Good read Biko, i kinda love your dad, he’s got swagger…lol. My dad was opposite of your dad, he “beat us up as if we were venomous” he had figure that mum was too soft for our kind. He insisted too much about education, until he almost made me hate it. It funny that now we can sit with dad n chat away n have a good laugh, i never though that was possible, we have become friends, because i understood stuff he did, then that seemed so mean, they made us to be who we are.

  55. Your father must have gone to the same father’s school with mine.
    I think I like him , very much. Great writing as usual.
    Happy daddy’s day to all daddies!

  56. Nice Read Biko. My father has always been MIA to a point I got used to it. I am sure he even doesn’t have a clue as to when I am due for graduation.

    Also echoing Adhis query about the “To write or not Write” posts.

  57. This is really a good read. Funny, as usual.But it has a new element; its sweet. Happy Fathers day to you too, Biko.

  58. When I wake up before I take a shower, dress up and take my breakfast I log on and read your blog…….. over and over again. Does that mean I have a crush on you or am I a stacker???

  59. @Atieno Kwame you have made my morning……we Luo men definately rock and on that note I do acknowledge all my Luo sisters who also rock since we all know you are the epitome of beautiful, wit and sexuality……you go Ladies.

  60. This thing of making a big deal about a birthday is un-manly. Every day I get out of bed is my day just most of them I have responsibilities.

    Guess must be a ‘stacker’ too 🙂

  61. Biko, it’s been a while since I visited your blog. Greetings from NYC and my pals are now hooked..I will send you an invoice for the PR service rendered…….hope you’re well. See you soon… 😉

  62. Ok I have to own up too, Alice Ndungu you had to just make me do it this way…
    @Kimutai Cherono…you too LMAO… 🙂

  63. This morning I feel like am suffering from the dreaded brain freeze…shit it hurts. Then I read your blog and am all good and the comments are hysterical. Great post Biko!

  64. @Bikozulu, have been globe trotting searching for what I seem not to get from our kenya……..your guys is as good as mine…yes biko even kenyan men… 😉

  65. @Atieno Kwame, you add alot of spice to Biko’s blog. Your comments stir some debates that usual make me lol. You sound like a fun jaluo gal. Are you single? 😉 I have always wanted to date a wajaka chick, am told they are just tooooooo awesome is what I hear from the lucky few.

    1. Teren teren 🙂 I totally dig this boldness Mike, stepping up to the plate and asking wassup. My good man, go get her! Over to you Atieno Kwame.

  66. LMAO, Mike you are just too funny….am single ,yes very single with a beautiful 5 year old daughter. I married for the wrong reasons and love my current status(single, beautiful and loving it). As you say very suggestively Luo women are the most fun, yes indeed we are and you’ll never be disappointed. Am not interested in a relationship, I can do drinks…..and I know how to have my fun.
    Biko you are a trouble maker… 🙂

    1. And this, is my good deed for the week! Mike, only you can botch this up from this point on:, but I highly doubt that based on your recent seamless move 🙂

      1. well well well, who woould have thought that Biko’s blog could be a platform for…..what shall it be Mike and Atieno? Maybe Biko just might be the rogue priest to prounce the two of ya man and wife…tihihihi…..

  67. @Atieno Kwame, you cannot dismiss a good man like that. You never know, this could just be the right thing. Am 36years, just came out of 4 year relationship, stable as a racing horse. I work for MTN in uganda and I come to Nairobi every 2 weeks and I do know how to have my fun too. The 5 year old could just add the icing on the choclate cake…. 🙂

  68. @Atieno & Mike this is just so beautiful, the beginning of a potential friendship on social media… Biko your good deed for the year indeed.

  69. Am a first time reader of your blog and I have spent the better part of my morning reading and love what you write…Women, Knickers, Nairobi men, Simon( just love it!), Guest Writer, My Girlfriend & I, Bed No. 5 and the Coast post have stood out amongst others. You should start a dating line as well since I can see romance is in the air….

  70. @Nduta…the thing with Jangos and Kamba chicks is that they are sexy, romantic, beautiful, well contured (no spare tyres…and huge bellies…u know because they take care of themselves) and they make their men extremely HAPPY! That is the word up!!!!

  71. Biko, it was a pleasure meeting you yesterday, albeit briefly. I was star-struck (or something).
    Your dad sounds great. 🙂
    Belated wishes for Father’s day, I hope you had a good one.

  72. @mlefu, yes single and 36 years. I Will not just marry because it’s what every guy between the age of 30-34 years is doing and failing at it. Do you know the mean age when most men divorce? Well you got it right…A single man at 36 years is happier than a married 34 year old without a doubt and don’t ask me for statistics, visit a Psychologist’s office to confirm. People are marrying what is avaiable and 5-8 years(the test years) later ask them whether they would marry the same person, the resounding answer is a big NOOOOO!

    Marry for Love and chemistry and not because some chick got pregnant on you or you have no-one else and the clock is ticking or your friend are all marrying some high school sweetheart. If I remain single until am 39 years am sure the woman I will settle with will be worth spending every remaining years of my life with and I will be faithful because she makes me enjoy life and I connect with every bone in my body with her.

    1. Go Mike, i love how you kick ass, i wanted to do it for you seeing as Mlefu’s being so unreasonable but you did yourself. Atieno what you waiting for, the guy can clearly stand up for himself.

    2. Mike, at 36, tell me, what have you being doing with yourself since 20?,I will not mention sampling all available airports that came your way, I will not mention breaking hearts etc. if I had a sister and a guy your age wants to marry her at her age 25..that would never happen!!! What makes you think you wont go through the same stuff you married at 25 guy goes through? life cycle is just the same..the earlier you face it the better…anyway,you are one in a milion..I will let it pass.

    3. true dat mike. people nowadays marry to fulfill societal expectations and all other wrong reasons. @ Atieno, give the brother a chance.

  73. ok, this is turning out to be very interesting, Atieno & Ng’ethe, get a room!! lol. Atieno, u’ve got urself a good guy, he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. Hit it up guys n lets us know if the ship sails….

  74. This Mike guy sounds mature and in control…at 36 years he must have alot to offer. Atieno if you’re not interested let us know we can swing our votes that way!!! 🙂


  76. @Kambua…heheheheh LMAOOOO. Good analysis I must say and so true. Don’t forget to include the Luhyas as they come close to the Jangos. Anyone outside this circle is a raw deal, I know from experience.

  77. interesting twist to the discussions after Simon!! wonder if it will feature in next weeks post. anyway, i stumbled up on something Mr. Managing Editor…Nairobi’s urban perspective…thats whats UP!!! great read!

  78. Wonderful piece. A tribute to all the good fathers out there – and all the lucky people who have the grace to acknowledge them. I never knew my dad. He left home 3 years before I was born.

    Happy belated

  79. The boldness of Kenyan Men…i like. Verrry much. Go Mike N’gethe, Go!!
    Biko, a little advice, be the one to go to your dad for a friend, do not wait for him to come to you, he probably doesn’t know how…but you do… You want to.

  80. Biko, your Dad is sooo… different from mine. Whilst they share that education bit, my Dad is a real disciplinarian.He used to thrash me and afterwards tell me it’s the way of life and my grandfather brought him up the same way. Then we would laugh and call each other ‘munyambu’ kao for lion. We still do it over the phone and I am always sure every Saturday he will call me in the morning. We are real friends. Happy belated fathers day.

  81. I’m quite curious to find out more about you – actually read every single on of your blogs – and a lot of your comments – and you have a hell of a lot of comments! It makes me want to know more more more but I respect that you respect your missus and your private life. Question – what would simon say abou this post if he read it (if he hasn’t already?)

  82. The post is a nice read but I feel its not cool when you refer your mom as “that woman”, just my humble opinion.

  83. Hey Biko, for a zipper to have caught your fore skin it means you wore your trousers without a panty? just asking

  84. This post made me cry. No. I made me howl. It made me think about my dad who passed away when I was 18. I was just beginning to look at him as a friend and mentor after years of rebellion. I will never have a chance to know him, see him or listen to him. This pains me every single day. I just hope when all is said and done, I will meet him in another perfect world. Bless you Biko and bless all the good dads out there!

  85. I read your blog every monday and have never shared my comments. I have enjoyed reading this post and connect to the element of being a dad. A sinlr dad at that. Mike Ng’ethe’s comment on marriage is what ignited my interest to comment. I totally agree with him on the point of just marrying because of some filmsy reasons. I settled with a woman who after dating for a couple of years decided to get pregnant without preparing me on her intentions. I love my son whole-heartedly and with all the expectations from family, the woman and society I married her two years later. A year into the marriage I could not believe I did that and yet I never really thought about the process and years to come. I have taken my 5 year old son to take care of him and moved on to make sure that I don’t hate myself for staying in a hme full of nothing.

  86. @Peter, I wish you all the best and God’s blessings to your son. Better bring up a child in a healthy environment with a single parent then living a lie because it’s the norm. Your happiness is in your hands and not in relatives & friends. Good luck my man.

    1. See what just happened there? You comment with one pseudonym, then you log back on and comment as a different use, only you forget to delete the previous pseudonym. Question is why would you do that?

      1. The minute i startes reading the second Peter i knew something was UP-no offence Biko,just having some fun-because guys rarely comment and when they do, they do not send in encouraging messages to other guys.
        This Peter guy has left a bad taste in my mouth coz he’s reminded me of some guy who used to be a friend till he started playing such games sending texts with diferent numbers pretending to be someone else, i thought it sickening and bordering on psycho if not already full blown psycho.
        And i know i’ve been stalking your blog this week but i have nothing better to do, our company is changing systems so we are out in the cold, with work to do but no system.

  87. Read your article on Nairobi Men and Women and I hope that one day you’ll be in a position to write about the topics again since you can never exhaust them. Can you write about why men/women cheat and let us deliberate on it.

  88. A father must learn to show love and be strict in administering punishment during that tender age in the formative years of a child. However, he must learn to shift this role during the offspring adulthood to become a role model, mentor and mostly of all, friend. If you fail to recognize these two stages, and how to act in any of them, the ultimate result would be catastrophic failure or in the least, uncomfortable indifference. If you have some time, check out my latest short story and let me know whether I’m heading in the right direction

  89. One: Biko, when I first landed on this blog, I somehow started with the Uganda posts and I had the impression that you’re Ugandan. Oh my joy when I learnt that you are Kenyan. That ‘we’ can lay claim on you. He is ‘ours’!

    Two: Your posts are such a treat. Every time I stop by and read something, at the end I want to stand up and give a standing ovation. I love your prose.

    Three: You are such a ‘buster’. How you go on to pass and post comments of people who request to remain anonymous 🙂

    Four: Judging from the many comments of guys here with the ‘zipper’ experience, I take it as a warning to be very careful at all times with my son’s zipping. Maybe I’ll even stop buying him zipped pants.

    Five: I loved this father’s day post. I personally love my Dad to pieces, flaws and all. He’s a lot like yours. Especially the academician part. He is still lecturing at 63.

    Six: Post ya leo iko wapi?

  90. @nikittacole, you are such a sport…applications still being received….hehehe. Do have a great week ahead!

  91. I am new and I had to comment. Especially the foreskin part. I remember when I had just underwent the knife and the zipper caught my doo doo when it was still wounded. I yelled and He came to the rescue. today am a dad to a daughter and trust me, if any man tries to tell my daughter anything to confuse her, am picking a fight with him. I will ensure amereportiwa kwa Department of Terrorism Central Police Station…Good one Biko

  92. Amazing read as usual, but a bit too long. I like the ending…
    “It’s nice, but always remember that you have to capitalize the first word after a colon only if it’s a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence and also not that colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material.”

    “Huh?!” I asked.

    “Watch that matatu, they are mad.”


  93. Biko, love love your work…. fresh. Please do not get tired of hearing this because am pretty sure it is something that has been said before… how bad do you want to be a friend to your father? Tafadhali do not let fear hold you back, he has done what he should have done and been your father and a good one at that. Now that you are where you are and he is where he is your being friends is the next best thing. You will not know until you try, you wanna look back and say at least you gave it a shot…as for you and your fathering skills…. learn from him Biko….. just like the bookshelf was a mountain….. what type of father he was to you could a compass, a foundation. God is awesome in how He balances things out. My father was my boogeyman until a few years ago when l faced him my mother though….God bless her…. if am anything like her when l do become a mother… all will be well. There must be something that you admire about the job he did with you, there is always something.

  94. You’re such a lousy punk! Some of us gat no parents and we turned out better than right. Infact when i look at my cousins on both sides.. I think wtf!.. I sure am glad I didnt have none-of their punkass parenting.

    You on the other hand, really have issues if you are still watching “Dr Phil” to be a better dad. You are so whipped! Ha! Thought you’d have me teary eyed huh?

  95. Forgive me, am commenting as I read. Why the hell was your foreskin caught on your pants… hadn’t you ever heard of “underwear” or did your underwear have a zipper? Serves you right!

  96. this just reminded me of the man who brought me up aka dad. he is a strict academician and the other day he stumbled upon my cv and told me something somewhat related to what he told you after reading your article. he turned 65 in may and i thank God for him.

  97. i have read more than 10 times this piece.

    the points i always refer to:

    * the importance of education and the power of self discipline.
    *the only way you are going to get wisdom from your woman is if you pull your weight.
    *The moment you stop paying your rent and sending your kid to school, that’s the day you will lose your voice in the house. Never lose your voice; it’s all you have as a man.
    * Never look at the floor when you are walking, it’s weak.

    my 4 commandments as i go through life.

  98. Biko, I loved this piece. I always love your writing, anyway. But this one made me tear up a bit.

    Your dad’s just like mine. You gotta love him.

    When I grow up I want to write just like you.

  99. Unfortunately my father passed away when I was much younger. Now approaching 40 , I surely miss him. I in fact find myself being drawn to older men , just to hear them talk, the way they remain cool under whatever pressure. Just appreciate your dad when he is around.

  100. I have never been a friend to my dad. It is my sole wish to become one yet we find it hard. But papa I do love you.

  101. I know I’m reading this three years later. Father’s day was last Sunday and we got to appreciate our dads. Belated Happy Fathers’ Day, Biko. Nice read!

  102. Well I started reading your articles when you wrote for True Love on the last page.I was young but I loved your articles.I’m18now and although I supposedly belong to the new generation my father is like yours.And my greatest wish is that he’d be more of a dad and friend than a father and a presence.

  103. I have a love for reading that’s obsessive I have read so many novels but as per dear daddy I haven’t read yet simply because am yet to read river between you feel me

  104. I once saw my friend pat his fathers bald head and they laughed.
    I couldn’t even tell my dad his hair was short.
    And when i saw this it’s great to know we are many and that we can make it even under such situations.
    I’m not close to my father. I’m not close to him because he handled fatherhood like it was an aristocracy. There was always a cloak around him, an air of supremacy. He provided. He was there. But he was never a friend. I don’t know how to be my father’s friend. I admire him immensely, I love him but I don’t know how to be his friend. To his credit he made an effort; every Sunday he took the whole family for lunch and we sat around the table and he asked us about school (he always asked about school) but those conversations, those meetings felt so sanitized, so stripped off warmth. I guess my mother always saw the weakness and filled it with her irrepressible humor and irretrievable sarcasm. But still I always wonder whether I would have turned out differently had the old man treated us like his pal, you know, bit more open to laughter. Me not being my father’s friend is not as hopeless as it sounds, I can assure you it’s not it’s just that I wish I could talk to him, confide in him, like I talk to my mom. I desperately want to be his friend, but I don’t know how to at this age.”