Northern Kenya


There is a scene in the movie Scent of a Woman (‘Pacino plays a blind war veteran) where he – ‘Pacino – grabs this boy by the collar and, while brandishing a pistol at the terrified boy’s face, screams, “I’m in darkness! Do you understand? I’m stuck in darkness here!” Ah, such a defining scene. I can watch that movie a million times. I know how ‘Pacino’s character felt when he said those words. Sort of.

Unlike ‘Pacino, I’m not stuck in darkness; I’m stuck in the dark ages. Stuck in a cave: I wear a loincloth and I drag my dinner home by its horns, dead or alive. While the world around me changes, while it begs me to swim the contemporary wave I decide to sit at the beach and snigger as the ships of modernity dock in, carrying with them tools that make life now bearable. But I remain reluctant to tune into this whole jazz because I’ve not evolved enough to embrace modernity.

This is why I’m still an ape. So late last year, at the Uhuru Highway/ University Way roundabout I happened to have stopped at that jam and looked across at the car abreast and who do I see? I see this guy – a grown-ass guy – in a screaming white shirt and a blue tie. You know one of those snazzy dressed salesmen-like chaps who nowadays walk into meetings with their Chinese Ipads. He was doing something extraordinary as he waited for

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the lights to change; he was applying lip-gloss. Yes. Lip-gloss! The chap was moistening his lips. But who am I to judge, I remember thinking, maybe he had a big presentation and he needed to walk in with oiled lips. Maybe the lip-gloss brought out his mojo. I was amused at first, then I remember thinking, wtf?

I stared at him. I really stared. Then he turned and caught me staring and I looked away quickly, lest he thought I was one those guys. That whole charade really felt awkward (not him catching me staring, that was just unlucky, but him lip glossing) but the only saving grace was that at least he wasn’t using a small mirror or the car’s sun visor while at it. No, actually the saving grace was that he didn’t powder his nose after.

But that image of him lip glossing stayed with me for a while and when the opportunity arose I asked a bunch of females what they thought of a man who walked around with lip-gloss in their pockets just in case their lips dried out and most felt it wasn’t a big deal (gulp). “It’s cool, it’s metro-sexual!” they cried. At that point I felt that really, I was living in different times, that perhaps I needed to get up from the carrot and embrace the new world. A world where men applied lip-gloss as they waited for the lights to change green.

In 2008 I was to travel to Samburu for some trip and I was advised to pack a sunscreen because the sun up there doesn’t take prisoners. I sniggered at that suggestion and told them – jokingly – “I will pack sunscreen the day I start going for a Brazilian wax.” Yes, I’m a leftwing like that. I mean, I thought, I’m a nyeudhi; applying lotion is as far as it will go because really it starts with a sunscreen then it goes to tweezing my eyebrows then before long I will be going for a facial mask every quarter. I turned my back to sunscreen.

So I go to Samburu for a few days and when I come back my forehead is all peeling out. Literally. I looked like I had my forehead licked by a reptile. Moral of the story: Sunscreen is good for you. Sunscreen is good for men. It’s not weak to protect your forehead.

KTB has organized a media trip to northern Kenya. They emailed us a list of things they want us to carry and when I saw sunscreen, I smiled knowingly.

This is a one-week trip that will take us through Maralal, Loiyangalani, Koobi Fora, Marsabit and Isiolo. In exactly 30mins from how, we shall depart. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Turkana. I’ve always wanted to go north, to the unchartered land, forgotten by the rest of Kenya. Kenya’s stepchild.

Between you and me, I secretly hope that we will run into trouble, that our cars break down, or someone gets bitten by a snake, OK a spider. That maybe, if we are very lucky, we run into bandits who will flag us down brandishing their Kalashnikovs. That, at that instance, one of the escort cops in the van will pee in his camouflages as one of the heavily bearded bandits – their leader, presumably – bends over and stares into the van with cold snake eyes. That someone at the back of the van (a cameraman, hopefully from Citizen) will start crying and praying loudly. That the bandit will ask all of us to get out of the van, get us to our knees and force us to face Somalia and then pledge allegiance to some warlord with a name that sounds like phlegm. I really hope it will be very eventful, so eventful that some of us won’t make it back.

In a thumbnail, next Monday I might not be able to post something because we will be on our way back, hopefully without the escort cop who peed in his pants. If I’m able to, I will nip in and write two lines, but only to report that I’m alive. And that my pants are dry. So long, Gang.

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  1. Metrosexual my foot! For those who watched Two and A Half Men(well, before it became a steaming pile of crap, Ashton Kutcher and all) there was a conversation between Alan and Charlie…;

    Alan: I’m not gay, I’m metrosexual.
    Charlie: That’s just a gay man who can’t get laid…

    I agree. Lip gloss(balm is okay, those Nivea thingies), glossy nails, skinny jeans!!! No.
    Have a safe trip Biko.

  2. Between you and me, I secretely wish that the bearded warlord will grab the citizen reporter by the collar and breath into his face, “We are in the dark age here.”

  3. Maybe he had a presentation, oh wait or it brought out his mojo?? i am yet to witness how a man’s mojo is connected to shiny lips… :D. Well,don’t forget the sunscreen and may you find some bearded bandits to scare the pee outta you!! Ah yes, photos please.

  4. haha,

    You are watching one too many movies Biko, so glad i bumped into this site
    my new found guilty pleasure….

    1month running…

  5. Ahhh yes, many african men have shown a disdain for sun screen…then the sun decides to have a blast on their account and they learn fast…I think I’d have a bigger problem with chapped, ashy looking, male lips than with a lip balm wielding man (keyword being ‘balm’)

      1. I beg to differ sir. Have you ever met a man who gets dry lips, runs his tongue over them thinking it will make it better? The end result is his lips still look dry but now they look like he run a piece of chalk over them. If you are talking to such a fella the sight can be very distracting.

  6. ….get us to our knees and force us to face Somalia and then pledge allegiance to some warlord with a name that sounds like phlegm….lol

  7. I agree with you, the farthest I can go is sunscreen……..esp when in those hot and god-forsaken places….!!

    As for the trip, watch out what you wish for, you might just get a truckload of it…. Safe trip.

    1. First, i think you conned us.. This is not a real post. Its a post about to a coming post that may be late..
      But do have a safe trip Biko and i pray your creative juices pour generously.. Looking forward! I have been to Turkana during the moon dance. I hope you get to enjoy some of what i did!

      And oh yes, please let men be men! Leave the lip gloss, manicures to us! PLEASE!

  8. You sound like my cave man of a brother! The no lip gloss wearing thing changed when he went abroad and experienced winter! That cold dries your skin without mercy! Your lips get so chapped and the pain is truly unbearable. So as you gave in to the sunscreen, he gave in to lotion and lip balm.

  9. I wonder what Napoleon would have said if he lived in our days. Si he was a man among men?
    He probably would have gone for a pedi, massage, facial alafu gone out to kck some arse. He would have made metro kul hehehe!!! *shudder *
    Enjoy Northern Kenya and if you take a detour at Ngamia one give us some info on how the plots ziko

  10. I think Biko meant lip balm…..Biko,do you know the difference between lip balm and lip gloss???(i’d be disturbed if you did)…

  11. I assume that he used his driving mirror cos if he applied it without using a mirror at all, that would be more worrisome because it would mean he has mastered the art of glossing his lips!

    Have a safe one.

  12. Here, my thoughts on the modern man some time back.

    Safe travels Biko. Also, meet Mantyhorse.

  13. That the bandit will ask all of us to get out of the van, get us to our knees and force us to face Somalia and then pledge allegiance to some warlord with a name that sounds like phlegm.#dead n buried

  14. Hey Biko, plan to go for the Lake Turkana Festival around the 18th of next month organized by KTB as well. you will experience all those things in the last two paragraphs (without the Alshabaab) and more.

    Have a good one!

  15. Hehehe you should have scheduled your visit to Malaral in august in time for the camel derby. Anyhoo, i agree lipgloss is taking it too far. So is a man understanding fully what hair food is for. Actually i did a piece on the same last week on my blog that i think you should have a look at

  16. I’m with Sucrose, are you sure it wasn’t lip balm?
    Safe trip. And as for that war lord…this I want to hear!

  17. Salamz from Kenya to Turkanians!…..meanwhile…back in the ranch…why am i being asked to do simple addition below this?

    1. Like you I hate sites that ask for numerical or letters, but lately I receive an average 500 spam comments every day, mostly comments begging me to buy cialis or viagra. Mwiti did it to manage those spams because it’s a pain trashing those comments.

  18. Salamz to all Turkanians…..and am wondering do i now have to prove my mastery of simple arithmetic to comment ama izow?!!

  19. I dont support the sunscreen too, but with your bursting forehead, permission granted for you. Maybe you should also carry some lip gloss,is it, so that while the bandits give you chance to beg for your dear life, you will have a better presentation, lol.

    Take lots of pics, i need to know how my online acquired land near ngamia 1 looks like…safe trip!!

  20. As our people would pray to the God of the mountains, “Ramogi wuoth kod wuod dhako ni ma imie ruoth nikech owuotho gi gima ochwee gi lwet dhano”(Ramogi please take care of the son of this woman and grant him Journey mercies for he shall be travelling on a vessel crafted by the hands of man)

    Tell the warlord that not all who cry Phlegm phlegm shall see the kingdom of clear throat! I hope to God you get the Citizen camera man on video, it is the loud prayer I want to hear especially where he shouts JEEEESSSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSS (Pronounce the S’s like S and not Z)

  21. It is probably lip balm, a few years back I would have shuddered to see a grown ass man use such, but then I went to the west and the brutal winters taught me those lips had to be kept oiled or I would loose them. Nowadays I carry a lip balm in my pocket most of the time and I am as straight as a maasai spear.

  22. Weeeee! Ati protect your forehead? Si u told us ur from a “forehead clan” – that’s how you roll…anyway, safe trip.

  23. So, are you reaching for OIL from your nightstand? Tihi. The guy with the iPad is the guy who will cry loudly and wet his pants,.. so easy to spot. Travel safe Jackson.

  24. enjoy! the North has a certain romance, even the fauna there is different from the South. Hope to see pics in the next post

  25. 1. Lip balm is ok. I don’t want to kiss chaffed lips.
    2. Pictures, Biko, PICTURES. Okay, I realize I’m shouting but when you describe places, we want to see pictures. So come back from Northern Kenya with those pics so we can live through you. Vicariously.

  26. Hmmm, as for the class two Maths here! Lip balm for a man yes, but gloss Biko? So gay! Enjoy the trip and good Nikon pictures expected.

  27. 🙂 Always a nice read. A man lip glossing is a Total fail. But has this ‘ape’ seen the man-purse? It is a catastrophe. First off, man-purse sounds just so ‘wong’. And ‘wong’ isn’t a word, yet it doesn’t sound good either. 2nd, mothers don’t know who to call son, and who to call daughter. 3rd, It’s a FAIL, FAIL, FAIL – waste of material. Them men with [insert inappropriate word] thrive on salon gossip and magazines and make-up and is*t….and of course peeing on themselves :-). Hope your trip landed oil.

  28. Biko, it’s Tuesday!!! I’m a junkie for your page and you still have to keep me waiting? Not cool!
    Hesabu nayo?!

  29. For some reason, you didn’t tell us you were nominated for the BAKE awards. voted for you all the same. Hope it makes a difference.

  30. I think bragging ain’t ur thing but tell the ‘Gang’ bout the BAKE awards. I hope my vote counts coz I wish others would do the same. will start a campaign 4 u. hope u well en haven’t peed on urslf.

  31. lol.. Downloaded the movie, couldn’t help but laugh when he told his fat cat ‘When in doubt …!’

    BAKE awards.. wasn’t sure to feel sorry for you that you were grouped with such a bunch, or good that you’ll bag it without breaking a sweat!

  32. Glad you have learned that even with our dark skin, Africans need sunscreen–and that includes both men and women! And chapped lips are not a good look.

  33. Thanks to SavvyKenya’s blog, I saw this:
    Excited that my two fave blogs (@bikozulu and @savvykenya) got nominated. Voting as we speak.

  34. I have run into bandits before, who flagged us down, brandishing their Kalashnikovs… dont want to ever experience that,especially when they decide water isnt enough..You guys should have waited and gone during the Turkana festivals!!!Have fun driving through the ‘lagas’..I am sure by now you know what that means.

  35. l am in doubt l ask that you to buy blue pills. I can’t find my comment. I have right to complain, don’t l ? Congrats on the bake nomination. I wanna join the party when you win. Ain’t 4*2*5=40? Inakataa!!!

  36. so voted for you!all the best 🙂 and make sure your forehead doesn’t end up looking like a reptile licked it! hahahaha