Zanzibar. Dar. A Book.


Warning: Long post ahead (2,500 words), read in bed. Or at your virtual beach.

This will sound mad. But do you sometimes wake up in the dead of the night and lie there, anxious that perhaps there is a book out there you will die without reading? A book that was “written for you”? No? OK, what about a play? A painting? A movie? A small movie about a boy in Basra who dreamt of a life beyond herding goats. A boy who tried to wrestle free of that life, but – tragically – never left. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that boy’s departed dream?

Do you think of those things at 3am, when the dogs outside have out-barked themselves and the still and the blackness of the night has turned into a cliché? Aren’t you curious that out there exists some body of art that shifts, albeit a little, your whole existence? Well, I’m sure it’s out there. An undiscovered author, or musician or painter or, or, or someone who created a piece of art so profound it seems to know you exist.

I think about shit like that at 3am. When I can’t sleep. It fills me with a harrowing sense of foreboding. This question about my existence and mortality and tasks and experiences that will never cross my path. It’s just me, right? Say it.

Well I found that book. Rather, it found me.

A little background. For the longest time I read books. Then I stopped. You know the way you pull chairs for a chic you have just started dating then after a while you stop, not because you don’t fancy her anymore but just because you stopped? That’s what happened to me and books.

Then, circa 2009, I started reading magazines, because that was my new literary cool: GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Men’s Health, The New Yorker, RollingStone, Time, National Geographic…Ate them up. Then early this year I stopped pulling chairs for magazines. My lasts obsession, UK’s Sunday Times, stopped floating my steamer too. I became a literary orphan. Then last week I remembered Nick Hornby. I discovered Nick way back in 2008 and he had a large impact on me with the fluidity of his prose, his dry English wit and his crusty sentences that hardly ever went over 17 words.

So I went to that bookshop at Yaya Center to seek nostalgia. They didn’t have any of Nick’s books but the book attendant recommended some chap called Peter Biddlecombe, who sounded more like a beekeeper than a writer. But who was I to turn my nose; I was a literary orphan as it were.

So I bought one of his books called Never Feel A Stranger, which – I’m sorry to disappoint you – isn’t creepy as its title suggests. It’s actually a travel book, funny-ish, and quite sarcastic. And the clincher? It’s written in the first-person. I can’t stand books written in the third-person. This was the first book I was reading in three years. Excuse me, I’ve been busy.

On Friday I land in Zanzibar to 1) Interview this top fashion designer who is supposedly a big deal internationally and locally. Then 2) I sat down with this amiable tycoon who owns a one-month old restaurant called Six Degrees South in Stone Town, an elaborately snazzy eatery set by the sea. Over wine and honey-glazed prawns I sat with this tycoon (he’s called Saleh) and he rattled on about the restaurant and the dream preceding it. It always stems from a dream.

Then we talked about his toys- private plane and his Range Rovers and his small three door Japanese job that he uses in the island and all his glittery trappings that come with boatful of dough. Then, because I’m obsessed about opening people’s “vaults”, I asked him what money hasn’t been able to buy for him so far and he sipped his Sauvignon Blanc blithely and said simply that he “has been very lucky.” The ocean groaned.

Next morning, together with Mr. Biddlecombe and his dry wit, I hopped onto a small plane to Dar es Salaam for this Chef’s challenge thing, which Diana, Nick and the very cool cameraman, Moses, were to cover for Dstv’s Mashariki Mix.

When I got into a Wi-fi area, I saw this email, from a pal of mine called Kish. She was enquiring about my health and my miraa addiction (jokes) and informing me that she had found a writer who writes like me, a John Green. Have I read his work? I wrote back and said no. She then emailed me this e-book called “The Fault in Our Stars.” Honestly, I didn’t really care to read it. But the moment I read the first paragraph, it was like breaking my literary hymen and immediately I belonged, to, uhm, something. Like my literary bereavement ceased. Am I making sense?

The book is about this extremely witty 17yr old girl called Hazel, a stage 4 thyroid cancer patient, who carts about this oxygen concentrate tank wherever she goes. She spends her time at the cancer support group, movies with her pals and to visit this boy she likes, Augustus Waters (Gus), who is also a cancer survivor with one prosthetic leg and talks like an intern at J.P Morgan. This book is book about three or so teenagers battling cancer with admirable humour. It’s also about some book they are reading that they keep talking about, a book written by an egghead prick of an author. Look, you got to read it.

In the opening paras Hazel says:

When you read a cancer booklet or website or wherever, they always list depression as among the side effect of cancer. But in fact depression is not the side effect of cancer. Depression is the side effect of dying (Cancer is also the side effect of dying, almost everything is).

I was sold. I read it at any given possible opportune. And it drained my emotions, that book. I thought of little else than Hazel. I dove into her world full of pain and bravery and disease and oxygen tanks and the boy she likes- Gus, who in spite of his one leg, will often make your laugh out loud.

Later, I, together with Diana, Nick, Moses went to this chef’s thing, which was being held at the Southern Sun’s garden. It had stalls with lots of wine and food and cheese and folk milled about clutching on plastic cups of booze or soda and nibbling on something greasy and making small talk. The only thing louder than the music there was the MC. It was another odiero event, brimming with the glitterati of Dar; the fashionistas and all these folk who genuinely believed they were important to the eco-system. It was like Blankets and Wine rolled together with the fashion high tea. Certainly not my milieu. I feel lonely in big crowds, in places where women wear those extraordinarily large hats and large shades and the men prattle about Formula One.

Through this entire highbrow hubbub, I thought of Hazel. And her oxygen tank. And Gus and his prosthetic leg. Eventually I stepped out of the garden area and sat under an umbrella and read the book from my phone. There is this point where Hazel is saying:

There will come a time, when all of us are dead. When there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Cleopatra or Aristotle, let alone you. Everything we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all these – she gestures encompassing – will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon, maybe it’s a million years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever…and if the human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone does.

Tell me you don’t love that kid.

I told Diana I was leaving, going back to my hotel- Slipway Hotel- some 25mins away in an area that was supposed to be their Lavington. I read the book in the cab, and successfully – almost – ignored the chatty cabbie. He informed me – helpfully- that Kenyans love beer, choma and women and asked me if I wanted a girl. I grinned and told him I have one already, she is five. He laughed and went back to the road. I went back to Hazel.

At Slipway, which is this mall by the waterfront, I sat in this café called Classico Café and ordered this thing called Chicken Saltimbocca, which is chicken wrapped with bacon and fresh herbs then served with mashed potatoes, baby vegetables and cheese sauce. TSH, 18,000. Best. Meal. I. Had. In. Dar.

Hazel was talking about a time when she was in remission and the doctors had tried these drugs that weren’t working and she had fluid in her lungs and she was in ICU with pneumonia and waiting for her death and his dad was standing by her bed, trying not to cry and losing that fight and when he did she describes his cries like “am earthquake” and his mom is kneeling next to her bed, holding her hand and whispering to her, “Are you ready sweetie?” and she nods, saying she is ready to die. Then the mother breaks down in her father’s chest and whispers to him, “ I will not be a mom anymore.” And it kills her (not literally), and she says she tries to let go, to embrace death, but her cancerous lungs wouldn’t let go, and it struggles for air…

I quickly looked up. Because I felt this deep distress and sorrow flooding my system. Excruciating passage. And I felt so sad, and I looked out in the sea, at the small little boats bobbing in the sparking midafternoon sunshine and I did something I have been avoiding to think about since I stared the book; Tamms. And I think how I would handle if I had a sick terminally sick child who was in pain and shit. How that would literally create a crater the size of a stadium in my heart. And I feel a bit angry with myself for allowing those thoughts.

Then I dialed Tamm’s number and it was off. So I sent her a whatsapp message to her phone and it stayed on one tick for ages. It’s still on one tick. Kids!

When Hazel goes to her cancer support group, she often has to go up the light of stairs (she’s a very self sufficient young lady), and I find myself wanting to get into the book and helping her with her oxygen tank. Or her purse. I really do. I would carry Hazel’s purse from River road to Riara Road. And I’m anti-carrying-purses.

I finish lunch. Then as I wait for the bill, I think of my departed mom. Nowadays thinking of mom doesn’t strike me with that nauseating sorrow it used to, just this inexplicably profound loss. I get jealous when I see someone with their mom. Or when they look at their ringing phone and go, “let me take this, it’s madhe.” It sickens me up with jealousy.

Before I showered, I sat on the edge of my bed and read. I read slowly. I try to soak in paragraphs. I often repeat pages and sentences that impress me, or I re-read dialogues that I find sexy. I take notes on my phone. I obsess over new smart phrases. At some point the sun started to set and from the hotel room the oranges drown the room, so I Instagrammed the picture.

Then I stepped into the shower. I whatsapped Diana and excused myself to the rest from some plan to see the town by night. I wanted to find a nice bar to review, and on recommendation I took a cab to The Cape Town Fish Market along Msasani Bay. No bar comes close to this bar in Nairobi: set by the sea, it’s done in whites and blues and it serves great south African wine.

I sat at the bar, ordered this glass of pinotage called Fat Fish then I bowed my head to my phone and did some reading.

To my right was a gentleman on a first or second date. I know because he was trying so hard to be cool and likeable and he was speaking too much English, which in TZ is invariably bad English. Most Tanzanians can’t speak English to save them from gout. But one would excuse him for really digging in his oars if you cast a glance at his date; she was a stunner.

To my left were three japs having Sake. To my immediate right were two odiero ladies who looked like they came to Africa to fight Malaria. Or Poverty. Or both.

Since there was WIFI I Whatsapp Kish and thanked her for the amazing book and went on to enthuse at how this was the best book I’ve read since God was a boy blah blah blah. I went on and on about it (I can be dramatic) until I realized I was whatsapping alone because she had either slept or passed out.

Back to the book: Gus’s best mate – a cancer survivor too- loses his eyesight and his girlfriend and it gets real teary in the book. For me that angst is helped by a breeze blowing through from the ocean and then they start playing Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows. When was the last time you heard that track? Then they played John Mayer’s “Heartbreak hotel” and all these songs followed, songs that you’d hear in One Tree Hill and it set a spooky soundtrack for the book. I would frequently come up for air, to find the “English” Tanzanian guy has ordered another cocktail for the chic, the chemical warfare was on. Assad would have been proud. He spoke more than the lady, but I silently rooted for him, even though his English didn’t.

After two glasses of wine, I settle the tab, climbed off the bar stool and took a quick glance at how “English” Man was fairing. The tide didn’t look to wash for him. She was tediously supporting her head on her hand, and not in that rapt attention way, but that stoic tolerant way. And the level of her drink hadn’t gone down much. English man was at sea without a sail and as the cab pulled away into the night I prayed he had an ace up his sleeve.

This book is a nirvana. It’s a painful book – if you open yourself to pain – because really cancer is painful. But the author makes cancer charming, he almost romanticizes it. Almost. It has many laughs, but it’s a different kind of laugh, like when you were a kid and you knocked your shin and it hurt like hell but people were watching and you didn’t want to cry, so you laughed. A pain-peppered laughter. But a laugh nonetheless.

I’m on chapter 11. I dread finishing it, because then I will feel like an orphan again. Here is something Hazel wrote, that struck a chord:

…. Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird and evangelic zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put together unless and until all the human beings read that book, and then there are books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection for it feels like a betrayal.

That kid is talking to me.

Notice to High Schoolers:
I’ve had the great honour of being invited to give a talk in the upcoming literary fest, The Hay Festival in Nairobi next week. I will be handling the “Creative Writing Master Class” on the Friday Sept 21st at The National Museum.

If you are interested you can sign up by registering on The class only takes a maximum of 30 people. See you there, gang.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

    1. Winston Churchill said, “You will never get anywhere if you stop to hurl stones at every dog that barks at you.” Life is dynamic, Karimi, I try not to get caught in yesterdays hype. Neither should you, mate. 

  1. Great to have high school back to ‘normalcy’ not that it was abnormal.
    I must say I have finally found a phrase for the current condition I suffer from “a literary orphan”

  2. Great ti find that teh novel is not dead and can never be replaced. What I find is that I gluttonise any good book I find, finish it too quick then am spoilt for anything mundane. Actually thought would be good do get a book club together but ‘dudes of Nairobi’ would laugh their asses off at such a suggestion.

    Great post was actually thinking jana that we were due one 🙂

  3. I always wondered why as a writer you never really mentioned books much.. Now I know why. Good for you for discarding your literary hymen, and as one who discarded hers thoroughly( still literary :-), I read I think a book a week I’d go insane otherwise), I know the feeling when you read something that seems like it was written for you, to you and weirdly by some part of you(if that makes sense). The inducers of ‘ weird evangelical zeal’. Welcome to the club, Biko, it’s good to have you back.:-)

  4. Jackson, while mine might…no,definately shall not come close to your emotional experience with the book, I remember the first time I read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, all else was bland, faceless, silhouetty gray…i was emersed and then some. So does this page do to me when im in traffic to Ongata Kingdom. Happiest diasporian in the sojourn to this far south.

    1. I locked myself up when I started reading that book and did nothing else till I finished….and I just stumbled upon it one saturday morning. That was the end of my plans for that weekend.

  5. I’ve really waited for this post. please send me the book too, I would really want to get into their world while reading a great book.

    1. I’m sorry I can’t, Manda. It would be unfair to the writer. I should have bought myself a copy – and I will buy all his work from this point on, to make up for this one. However, you can buy it off Amazon. Thanks for reading. 

    2. Funny you should mention John Green:

      If you prefer paperbacks instead of E-books, Bookstop at Yaya had stocked some of his books. It would be worth a visit

  6. I am thinking of Hazel. This story touched my heart because there is always someone in real Life living that Story. And to Know it could happen to you or someone you love…well…
    I have come across Books that I felt were written specifically for me so I know what you mean. Great article as always Biko.

  7. I read alot….just as much as most Kenyans:-) So I made this secret vow to read more and build my grammar, over and above admiring your writing, I will impress my book club with all the flowery words you have used here!

    Great reading as always.

    1. Great to finally know someone here has a book club! I find Nairobi quite a literary desert.Would you,Kare,find it in your heart’s gladness to point me to the direction of bookclub? I would make an agreeable acquintance.

  8. I have a terminal illness and the pain of seeing my mother cry or my father literally lose his mind when they see me in pain is crippling. It’s an undescribable experience but The Fault In Our Stars found a way to mirror what lives of terminally ill people are like and helped me find words to console my folks with
    ~I want more
    numbers than I’m likely to get, and God,
    I want more numbers for Augustus
    Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I
    cannot tell you how thankful I am for
    our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for
    the world. You gave me a forever within
    the numbered days, and I’m grateful.~ Hazel.
    An amazing book.

  9. I simply want to thank u for being there for me. I had a baby a few weeks ago n his nocturnal activities keep me awake the whole night. I find solace in reading through the amazing stories u tell here as i try putting him to sleep. May God bless the work of ur amazing hands.

  10. I read your posts and I laugh out loud………………..this one however made me laugh just on the inside, it brought some pain………..whenever you talk of your mother it always brings tears, as I watch my mama fight to keep alive, but yes I do have the 3am moments………….

  11. The book you have written about is similar to one by Carol Kruckeberg “What was good about today” a true story about her young daughter struggling with leukemia, also a great read.

  12. “he chemical warfare was on. Assad would have been proud. He spoke more than the lady, but I silently rooted for him, even though his English didn’t. ” … best line..

  13. I’m glad this was a LONG post Biko! I really love your style of writing. I’ve never loved books, i’m trying to change that, Paulo Coelho currently speaks to me, as im in my early 20’s and i’m ‘finding myself’. Lovely post, keep ém coming!

  14. 1. This reminds me of post i once did for a friend suffering from cancer. (PINK RIBBONS >>> lydia.m.dibz )
    2. I am looking forward to seeing you at Storymoja Hay Fest.
    3. Great post as always, Biko

  15. Just finished the book. Don’t know whether to love/hate the author for making me fall under the spell of the Hazel- Augustus star, only to take him away. But that’s life for you. Or rather the universe’s need to be noticed. Shouldn’t really blame mr Green. Don’t know why Shakespeare thought ‘parting such sweet sorrow’- it’s monstrous and excruciating and just plain sucks. Nothing romantic about death. Anyway thanks for making me read it. I think I needed to.

  16. Reminded me of something Micheal Douglas (He was recently diagnosed with cancer) said on NBC’s “Extra” last night…”When you are ill…enjoy it. Because there is nothing else you can do!”…Found the book at my local Lane library and will def bury my nose in it. Thanks for the find!

  17. ….I finish lunch. Then as I wait for the bill, I think of my departed mom. Nowadays thinking of mom doesn’t strike me with that nauseating sorrow it used to, just this inexplicably profound loss. I get jealous when I see someone with their mom. Or when they look at their ringing phone and go, “let me take this, it’s madhe.” It sickens me up with jealousy…..
    – story of my life-

    Great read though…

  18. thanks for a good read. Jogn Green is a great writer, teacher and amateu historian. He runs a very active youtube channel whith his brother.

    They make a very interesting pair and have losd of funs around the world

    1. John Green is a BIG deal overseas. I also love his 13 minute history lessons on You Tube. He opens up one’s way of looking at the world. It is a shame that most people here do not know him (or other similar writers) especially upper primary and high school students as that is his main target crowd. Then we’d have more teens who are thinkers. But I think it has to do with Kenyan’s attitudes towards non-required reading an attitude we pass on to our kids.

  19. Biko, this was a great book. I had the pleasure of making Hazel’s and Gus’ acquittance early in the year. It made me laugh and it made me cry, and just like you, I never put it down from the moment I got it.
    I think I’ll go back for a second read.

    In the meantime, great piece as always.

  20. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is that book for me. My grandma has Alzheimer’s Disease and this book is about Prof. Alice as she struggles with this disease.

    Great post, Biko.

  21. i read often…its an easy way to counter the monotony that life can be…my most profound reads would be sister’s keeper by jodi piccoult.
    2. the kite runner by khalid hosseini.
    i learnt something profound about love….and i seek it hence

  22. A reason to sign up my daughter for Story moja on 20th. I was hesitant but if great writers like yourself will give a talk, then she is in!! One more thing Biko, if you see a kid asking for a snap with you, please agree. I cant to wait to see your forehead….

  23. This brought tear to my eye coz last year I lost a friend to cancer. This year another one is doing chemo. I will look for that book.

  24. I am your most loyal aficionado; do an impromptu test on past articles and I will prove it… I had no way of asking you to forward me “The Fault in Our Stars.”. Thank you

  25. I am disappointed Biko!
    I started to read this at work, then I thought I would save it for later so I could soak it in. Kumbe the kitabu you are talking about is TFIOS – every kid in the US talks about it so that’s how I know about it (don’t attack this diasporan, i don’t have any writing skills to compose a rebuttal)!!!!
    What will you be raving about next? 50 shades of grey??
    How is Farouk doing these days? Now there is something to write about!

    1. Whatever time we discover whatever it is that we are to discover is the right time.I had not heard of this book till today thanks to Biko for that.
      Kui i think you are a week or so late to the bash Biko party,that is sooooo last week’s news,you know what we are serving this week? Suggestions for a book or two to read.
      Get some knowledge in you and stop this hate will yah?

  26. The same chap has also penned another one titled ‘Travels With My Briefcase.’ Essentially, it embodies what travel writing should be. And as to the undiscovered author, here are two of my pieces. Please post them on your blog-if you think they deserve it. I’d appreciate feedback on my writing. Thanks. (One is titled ‘My Wife Roselynne’, while the other goes by the title ‘Of Bananas and Oranges’.

    A referendum is coming up in the next few days and politicians are having a field day as they use, misuse, abuse but never refuse taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The referendum- a hullabaloo actually, as one politician puts it- is about the clamour for a new constitution.
    History is about to repeat itself, so we are told, as this so called clamour for a new constitution started about a decade ago. Those were the days of ‘saba saba’ and ‘mbili mbili’ when I was a tiny kid and could not understand what all the fuss was about. As such, the history of this monster called ‘katiba’ as told by me may or may not be true. Still, I am going to be a politician someday and so it does not matter.
    When I was a tiny kid, some people were burning tyres on roads and throwing stones at motor vehicles. Some say they wanted a new ‘katiba’ while others say that they wanted a section of the old document repealed. Doing so, they argued, would translate this our country from an autocratic state to a democratic republic. A quick look at a political dictionary shows that the word ‘democracy’ comes from two words:
    1. Demo: to demonstrate, for example, demo tape.
    2. Cratic: to rule
    This is to say that were Klown to become a democracy, then it would be a country of demonstrations’ rule. When the doctors wanted a pay hike, they would take to the streets. When teachers wanted a big salary, they too would demonstrate- Solidarity forever….When students wanted to skip mock exams, they would break classrooms’ and dorms’ windows, torch a building or two, too, for effect. So, here we have a possible scenario taking place after a few roads have been boiled off their tar.
    Klown’s Headmaster (KH): Bwana DM, what is wrong with the people?
    Discipline Master (DM): It is this thing called ‘saba saba’ and ‘mbili mbili’, Sir.
    KH: What about ‘saba saba’ and ‘mbili mbili’?
    DM: It is inciting people to incite other people, Sir.
    KH: (With all patience gone.) Who are you?
    DM: I am Mr Maporomoko, Sir?
    KH: You fool! I mean, what are you? You nincompoop!
    DM: The Discipline Minister, Sir.
    KH: Well, then. You know what to do.
    DM: Sir, yes Sir! (He is summarily dismissed.)
    So, Mr Maporomoko, alias the DM, goes and gathers his disciplinary people. They set up a task force to look into this ‘saba saba’ and ‘mbili mbili’ thing. It is rumoured that this ‘saba saba’ and ‘mbili mbili’ thing is originating from a particular troublesome clique. This clique is to be uprooted and so we have widespread unrest in such dorms as the Menengai and Longonot.
    As for the instigators, they are escorted to some building in the capital, Naroobelly, called Ikinyo House. Translated, it means that people who are taken here are stepped hard on by big footsteps. These footsteps take many forms. Some take the form of pliers and other harmless things such as cigarettes. The harmless cigarettes are lit and used to burn some very private and sensitive parts and the pliers to squeeze out some information from the culprits about this ‘saba saba’ phenomenon.

    Rumour has it that all this beehive activity took place in the basement, accessed by a single express lift from the top floor. An express lift as such meant that the lift could not stop at any other stage, say, the third or fifth floor. Well, after a few visits to Ikinyo House, some of the instigators changed their minds about the whole ‘saba saba’ thing while others went underground. Others went on self-imposed exiles while a few found themselves dispatched to higher glories. The brave ones trudged on.
    “Chama ni ngapi?” You would be accosted at night as you came home from your favourite watering hole. This from a ruthless gang of ten wielding machetes and other assorted crude weapons. Instantly, you would sober up and answer in a trembling, barely audible whisper. “Mbili mbili.”
    “Ati unasema moja moja, eeh” And the machetes would be raised high, ready to bisect, dissect or multi-sect you, the sobered mlevi. As your life flashed before you, you would unconsciously muster the strength and literally shout.
    “Chama ni mbili mbili!”
    At this, you would be escorted home home with a barrage of kicks and cuffs aimed at all parts of your anatomy and given a stern warning to remember that ‘chama ni mbili mbili’ in future. The next morning, more roads would be illuminated by burning tyres and the riot police, FFU- Fanya Fujo Uone- would come and clobber wananchi with tear gas canisters. The wananchi would retaliate with stones and when the going got too tough, dash madly for cover. The not-fast-enough ones would be cornered, beaten senseless and dumped into waiting Blue Marias, Jaza. Yes, that marked the genesis of great athletes from Klown- wananchi who had to outrun the FFU to avoid being mashed into pulp.
    Yes, those too were the days of ‘gathirikali’- relief yellow maize from the government donated by Western countries. In those countries, such maize was used as cattle feed. During those times, sugar and milk were scarce commodities and could only be bought at ‘Ha Frieser’ – at Frieser’s place. This Frieser had a depot for storing the milk, sugar and other foodstuffs.
    One day, the FFU came and broke open the doors to the depot. They looted it and once they had departed, ordinary citizens descended upon it in hordes and cleared off everything. The citizens were very happy, elated actually. Why?
    Here is why. This Frieser was an opportunistic fellow. Sugar was scarce and so was milk. So, when you went queuing to buy sugar, you had to buy tea leaves as well. When you went to buy milk here, you had to buy margarine and bread as well. This despite you being allergic to margarine and bread because of the ailing state of the economy.
    More FFU came and more tyres got burnt on the roads. It reached a point where if you happened to be well-off and had a car, you had to remove the tyres at night and keep them under tight security, not in your garage- but in your bedroom! Otherwise, they would be used to make a good bonfire on our roads. Donors started threatening to withhold aid and as people chanted ‘Tiba ya Katiba ni Ratiba’, multi-partisanship took rein.

    To return to the present. Those that chanted ‘Tiba ya Katiba ni Ratiba’ are now in power. They are now running the government and singing different tunes to reflect the changed times.
    But before that. Campaigns. “You will have a new constitution in a hundred days.” The citizens were promised; given pamphlets to that effect too. PR stunts. Turned out in large numbers and voted the scoundrels in. The effect? The citizens are encouraged and discouraged in turns to eat, drink and dream ‘overripe bananas’ and ‘rotten orange’ a thousand days later. ‘This’, they are told, ‘is the panacea to solving all your problems of political indigestion.’
    This oranges and bananas circus started somewhere in Domas- a touristy place. Delegates were drawn from the width and breadth of Klow. The newspapers reported when they first met.
    “Baba Shei, do you know who invited, nominated, elected or selected those delegates to represent the ‘Adhiambos’ and ‘Wanjirus’ of Klow?”
    Apparently, Baba Shei does not know. “Come to think of it. Who sent these so-called delegates to Domas?” Baba Shei ponders. He runs a café where I have to drink tea whenever I need to read the day’s newspaper. “ Well.” he concludes, “ We Klowns are a patient lot.” So, we keep vigil and wait.
    These delegates meet people under trees to collect ‘their’ views. In churches and in schools, in mosques and in prisons. They came when I was in school and all the students had to meet in the main hall to give their views on what they wanted in the new ‘katiba’. Two of them- an old man and a middle-aged woman. The old man did almost all the talking while the woman nodded for emphasis. Bet she went home with a crick on her neck from all that affirmative nodding.
    “Si mngependa elimu ya bure hadi chuo kikuu? Si mngependa tiba kwa magonjwa iwe bure? Si mngependa umeme na maji ya bure? Si mngependa kazi na makaazi ya bure? Si mngependa chakula ya bure? Si mngependa mvua ya bure? Si mngependa…” On and on, the old man rumbled, imposing his will on us by uttering rhetorical questions. He then embarked on a lengthy lecture about the fight for freedom, the second liberation he called the Domas draft, and a host other freedoms, rights and liberations. When he was done, off they went to another school to ‘collect’ more views.
    After they had left, a group of us sat down to reflect on the weighty matters the old man had pronounced. Yes, free education up to university was a good thing. Then, everyone would be a doctor or an engineer. So, if everyone acquired the title ‘doctor’ or ‘engineer, the job market would be saturated. So, what good would a title be if you had no job? This would translate into doctors resorting to the herniation of passers-by tracheas and engineers applying Newton’s Third Law of Motion when parting people with their cash. Crime would spiral out of control- creating jobs for insurance agents and wardens to man prisons. Indeed, according to our little understanding, this Domas thing was not going to be practical.
    For a few days, during which acquaintances of like-minded fellows are made, things run smoothly. Views of Klowns are expressed and jotted down by the secretariat. Every word, comma, and full stop is negotiated until it reflects the views of all Klowns. At this stage, partisan politics are highly discouraged, frowned upon even- for was this government not voted in on a platform of zero tolerance to corruption?
    However, some rules, like the rule of change, never change. One of these rules is the ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ rule. This is so as one day, the delegates rise up and decide that they have become familiar enough with each other- common familiarity expressed as contempt for the rest of Klowns. The press is called, and with relish, they air their grievances.
    “We will not continue drafting a new constitution as we are operating on empty stomachs. As you know, even a lorry has to be fed on petrol in order to move goods.” Says their spokesperson.
    Expounded, it means that a new ‘katiba’ is likely to be history in the foreseeable future if their demands are not met. These demands are for an increase in their sitting, standing, and listening allowances. At present, the same are not commensurate with the hard work they are doing. They state that they would have gotten more by engaging in business and as such, the allowances must reflect that.
    As is normally the case in Klow, the government dismiss this as ‘porojo za siasa’. The delegates boycott their national duty of creating a new constitution. Talks are held, a consensus reached and everyone, excluding Klowns, is happy. Once more, the process of creating a constitution for ‘Adhiambo’ commences. Weeks later, after endless dallying-and-dallying, a new constitution, said to reflect the wishes of Klowns, is in place. The Domas draft.
    Unfortunately, the Domas draft does not go down well with a section of the government as it seeks to clip presidential powers. This section- his kitchen cabinet, has other ideas. One of this being the promotion of domestic tourism. This promotion takes the form of retreats to Kavasha and Tirifi towns – Sin, Sun $ Sand Hotel. The original Domas draft is doctored, nursed and presented to one Nwanko, A.G. Consequently, the ‘Nwanko draft’ is published and a date gazetted for a referendum to either reject or adopt it. Simple majority.
    Prior to all this hullabaloo about a new constitution, the government (a section of it?) had tried to create an Opposition of Disunity by sowing seeds of discontentment- an exercise in futility. This government calls itself the ‘Government of National Duty’ and to enhance its credibility, it had hired PR expertise to market itself. Said PR: This is a government of ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ which will go a long way in enhancing service delivery to the people and the ‘equitable’ distribution of the national cake.
    However, the same government has some rebels in it out to cause havoc and chaos. The rebels are as a result of a pre-power agreement that the media keep referring to as MOM- Memorandum of Misunderstanding. This MOM had a clause to the effect that were it to come into power, the collision coalition would create the post of an executive premier. Once the coalition came into power, though, this clause was conveniently forgotten; so claims the rebels. This is the cause of a major opposition to the government from the government.
    Enter the religious people. Some are opposed, some are proposed to the passage of the new constitution. Time passes, ‘wide consultations’ are done, allegiances shifts. The wise ones advise their followers to make independent decisions.
    Three months to referendum day, earthquakes start being felt in all corners of the country. The earthquakes take the form of title deeds- dished right, left, centre, and relief food. The relief food is meant to entice communities to vote for the constitution, or perhaps sustain them till referendum day. Afterwards they are on their own.
    Meanwhile, the t-shirts and caps people are wishing that every day was a day prior to some sort of referendum or other. Demand has exceeded supply and cool profits are being made. Orders come flowing fast and the employees are working overtime. Everyone in this industry is happy. The Orange team has orange t-shirts while the ones for the Banana team are white with a yellow banana printed centre-stage. Same case with caps.
    The media people are also partaking a share of the spoils of this referendum thing. Whole pages of dailies are devoted to ‘whys’ or ‘why nots’ one should or shouldn’t vote for or against the passage of the constitution- Advertiser’s Announcements. There is talk, speak and print of ‘marginalised groups’ and ‘minority communities’ being cared for by the Bananas while the Oranges insist that the Bananas have gone bananas and are out to create an imperial system- a Banana Republic, they call it. As for the Oranges, they are out to carry an Orange Revolution.
    Meanwhile, Adhiambo, the common ‘mwanachi’ talks of the country being divided against tribal lines. She murmurs about how true leaders live for politics as opposed to Klow’s politicians who live off politics. As is usual with the politicians, though, they are too busy carrying out campaigns to listen to Adhiambo’s bickering.
    As such, the biggest earthquakes emanate from the mouth of politicians. This verbal diarrhoea- as the news people call it- manifest itself in many forms such as mudslinging and smearing of names and reputations. ‘Basinde’, ‘Kahii’, ‘O musii’, ‘Pumbavu’ and other derogatory terms become part of Klowns’ lingo. In a school somewhere, an innovative principal convenes the students’ Journalism Club to a meeting and challenges them to come up with a report on the merits and demerits of bananas and oranges according to the politicians. Here is an excerpt from the report:
    “…in conclusion, bananas take a short time to mature and can be eaten to satiate hunger. As for oranges, they are readily infested with worms, rot quickly and can give one stomach ulcers when consumed excessively. However, the proponents of oranges argue that oranges quench thirst while bananas soil clothes and that banana peels discarded carelessly are responsible for many broken limbs in the republic.”
    The newspapers are no different. Divergent and convergent views are expressed, analysed, criticised and concluded – by ‘political analysts’ for hire. Opinion polls are published now and then while social media is awash with hate speech. A typical article may state that, “In Eastern Klow, bananas are cultivated at the back while oranges are grown in front of the homestead. The garden at the back of the house is considered a disgrace…” Presumably so since deceased persons are interred here.
    Another article may hold the view that, “The banana symbol was personally picked by the president as a disguised analogy to the presidency and his tribe since banana plants produce suckers which perpetuate the old plants when they die.”
    Soko Mjinga too has its fair share of referendum politics. A drunkard who passes here has been given an ultimatum to change route if the bananas fail by a section of women traders. An excerpt of their conversation follows below:
    Drunkard: Ndizi ama machungwa? (The women are supposed to shout ‘Ndizi’ emphatically but choose to indulge him).
    Women: Machungwa!
    Drunkard: Ndizi!
    Women: Hapana! Ni chungwa!
    Drunkard: Kwa nini chungwa? Mkitoka hapa usiku si mtaenda kula ndizi?
    Women: Ndiyo! Lakini si machungwa mbili kando ya hiyo ndizi ndiyo inapee ndizi nguvu ya kusimama?
    Drunkard: Aii! Nyinyi wanawake hamueleweki. Yaani tunataka kupea nyinyi mashamba mnakata!
    And with that, the drunkard staggers away.
    Meanwhile, more opinion polls are carried out, forcing some politicians to switch sides so as to remain relevant. Oranges to bananas, bananas to oranges- nobody wants to fade into political oblivion. Popular songs are corrupted and turned into political songs to ridicule a certain politician because ‘amepotea’ or to welcome back a repentant, has-seen-the-light prodigal son or daughter. Another poll is conducted and further realignment occurs.
    On the last day of the campaigns, two rival parallel rallies are held within walking distance of each other. People attend them in hordes and droves, with some being ‘imported’ from the countryside to bolster numbers. There are the fanatics who cling to every word the politicians utter and there are the open-minded fellows. The latter ones take a stroll to the rival rally to hear what miracles are being promised there whenever a boring politician stands to address them. They are donned in neutral outfits.
    Referendum day. Public holiday. Ensures high voter turnout. As early as 4 in the morning, queues have already formed. Voter after voter, they get inside the polling booths and make their choices. A tick here, an X here, a thumbprint there. Some votes will be disqualified as they have multiple marks- a tick for the oranges and an X for the bananas. They were told that the X would stamp out the bananas. Spoilt votes. Agents are everywhere, checking out for regularities and irregularities. Voter after voter till 5 p.m. when voting ceases.
    Results start trickling in. You win some you lose some. From the referendum results, a political non-entity will become an overnight political bigwig. A political godfather somewhere will fade into oblivion as the results will reveal that he was merely a paper tiger. That is, if he doesn’t re-invent himself. Some will lose fortunes while others will gain fame. Still, in politics, there is no permanent enmity, only a clash of ideologies and principles… ahem… only a permanence of interests. Constituency to constituency, region to region… the results are tallied.
    The next day, another public holiday, the overall results are announced. Hurray! The Oranges have carried the day. That evening, the president suspends parliament and dissolve his cabinet, which is neither cohesive nor balanced.
    Meanwhile, Klowns, a patient lot, breath, watch and wait.

    My Wife, Roselynne
    “Hi.” She greets me in a lilting voice. I check her. She has put on a skirt suit and looks very working-class. Her breasts are firm and she has exposed enough of her cleavage to get any man aroused. Her legs are well formed; brown thighs. I bet I could bed her within a week at most. I beckon her and get a number. Her phone number. I will call her later, for right now, I am in the middle of something…
    Now she comes. Roselynne. My wife. A scowl crosses my face and remains there. I feel cheated. On a visit, she goes in front and I hang back. Three years, one child (a girl at that!) and she looks ‘beat’. Her face haggard. She is not there yet but will. Soon. Most do. Biology says, I have XY chromosomes. That I am responsible for begetting a son. Still, she can time her ovulation so that I fertilize her on certain days of her cycle and bear an heir. This, a herbal man told me.
    She wears a cheap dress and headscarf on her head. A typical housewife. Very unglamorous, she is… me being a lawyer and all that. She does not suit me at all. She reminds me of my pastor. Of his powerful sermons that filled our church pews; that filled the offertory. Of his stories. One concerning a young man.
    This young man, he attends church regularly. He prays for a wife. God directs him to one. She is a real beauty and his heart beats fast. He prays for guidance. God puts sweet words into his mouth to carry to the object of his desire. She hears them, nearly swoons and a wedding is arranged.
    Honeymoon night. He kisses her slowly. He removes her blouse. His manhood withers at what he beholds. Breasts- very wrinkled. His mind is in a daze. He thinks quick quick and sends her to fetch water. As she returns with a glass of water, her dangling breasts go swish swish like a limp windsock on a relatively calm morning. Within a year, what God put together, man has separated. Lesson: be careful what you are praying for.
    She hands me the briefcase I had forgotten and asks if I will come home for lunch. I curse her. When last did she see me return home for lunch? For God’s sake, I have to work! She keeps her silence. This woman, very stupid. Which is one of the reasons I stopped paying bride price for her. I reckoned I did her parents a favour by getting her out of their home. Fact is, if the world was fair, they would be paying me a monthly retainer for her upkeep.
    In passing, she asks “Was that our new neighbour Jane you were talking to?” So, she has seen me to talking to the girl. I get more cross, the scowl more pronounced. I accuse her of sleeping with that huge monster that is my other neighbour. I have seen the way she smiles when he greets her. She is just being nice, she says. Yes, I admit, ‘cause in the world’s list of fools, I am number last.
    At the office, my secretary has on a black miniskirt. When she uncrosses her legs, she reveals a red panty. She is good at her work. Her professionalism – which includes her golden thighs – has attracted many clients for my lawyer business. Big fish clients. Frequently, I pay her overtime so that I do not return home early to my matrimonial hell.
    My other two partners are out. And so are the six junior lawyers in our employment. Representing our clients. Making money. Me, I am the de facto leader of our business arrangement. Netting clients for them. The day is slow and my mind wonders to Roselynne. My about-to-turn-into ex-wife.
    Five years ago, I saw her and my heart beat like an isukuti drum during a marako festival. My glib lawyerly tongue got into overdrive and told her many things. Built a vision for her of things to come. She was studying to be a nutritionist. I even wrote her some poems. I must have been foolish then. Daring and foolish. Sample this:
    When I lay my eyes on you.
    My heart splits into two.
    When I survey your firm breasts.
    My manhood comes out of rest.

    When I look at your legs
    I quickly reach for a beer keg.
    To preserve my sanity.

    When I dream you nude
    My mind becomes rude
    Sends signals to spew.
    Many a night, quite a few.

    When I look at your legs
    I quickly reach for a beer keg.
    To preserve my livity.

    I was also young, naïve and honest, with little time to compose something grand. Pursuit of money -presumably of happiness, saw to that. Nowadays I would write a sensible ‘poetrical’ poem. With my first salary, I took her out to dinner at Meridian Nexus Hotel.
    Knives and forks, she knew not how to use. I was disappointed. I resorted to taking her out for picnics at Uhuru Park. That too gradually ceased. From then on, ‘innings’ instead of outings. Inside my house. Do laundry for me, wash utensils, cook and clean and then make love to her. Revert that last bit to mean sex. Never mind I had not married her then. Before her, I used to hire someone to do the same. Wish I could have retained their services.
    Last week was her birthday. She reminded me a day after and acted hurt. I called her anatomical and animal names and told her to go to hell. Heck! I hardly remember mine. She reminds me, bakes a cake and gets a present for me. Is it a silly birthday or house rent? You choose. You women, very thick-headed.
    Made an excuse and sent her upcountry. Invited Jane to stay for a few days.
    My friends have gorgeous wives and beautiful mistresses. Like Jane. She smears her face with mud and scrubs other funny substances on it. I find that distressing. She accompanies me to the pub and drinks herself silly, inviting all men towards her. I find that repulsive. Says she is a liberated lady. Why can’t she be like my wife? My church-going wife who used to attend kesha to pray for my salvation. I reasoned my absolution was between God and myself and stopped her.
    For the last three days, I have been having indigestion and diarrhoea. I look sickly pale. Has she given me a love potion or is it the fried, fast food we are always having? Nothing for breakfast. A soda and two cakes for lunch. Chips, chicken and another soda for supper.
    My dear wife, I scolded her for being so old-fashioned. She had studied nutrition instead of going for a real career and as a result, made me suffer considerably. Here’s why.
    My friends, beer-belly’d and wheezy of breath. Me, if I was a woman, they would describe as slim and petite. In other words, agile and athletic. My friends, they say, a successful lawyer body should reflect the success, meaning the beer belly, gout and diabetes. Now I know they secretly envy me for being so fit and healthy.
    My dear wife who I am forever scolding. Sweet potatoes, milk, an egg and fresh fruit for breakfast. Packed pilau and vegetable salad for my lunch (wanted to bring hot lunch over to my workplace but I restrained her). For supper – managu, posho-milled ugali and liver. No magadi, in the stew; bad for bones she says. I would have been ashamed if my friends came over to stay for some days.
    Lunch I carried to work and gave to my secretary. Said that she was saving her lunch money and would be glad to survive on it. Accompanied my partners for chips, chicken and soda lunch. Now that I have time to retrospect, I realize she- my secretary- was on to something. In future, always carry lunch for two.
    Received a call yesterday from mum. My presence was required. No, not more money. My PRESENCE! Got that!
    My mother, I have built her a nice bungalow and three cows. My father is out in the second-hand pick-up I purchased for him. A goat is slaughtered for me. Almost. Rather, my pragmatic mother had stored some pieces from a recent feast and retrieves them. I go out to inspect the farm.
    The farm is very well tended that it brings to mind cherished childhood memories. So cherished that for a moment, I think of moving back to live here. Only for a moment though. An affliction of city-litis, accompanied by money-mania can never allow me the pleasure.
    The figure clad in a leso is tilling the ground. Her movements in perfect synchrony with the whistling wind. I watch her for some time. So comported, so peaceful, so serene. Covered in dirt, she is achingly beautiful. I can feel my manhood stirring, a vein furiously throbbing on my temple. Sensing the presence of another being, she looks up. A radiant smile lands on her face. She abandons her hoe and comes flying into my arms. I crush her and kiss her savagely. Recalls that I haven’t touched her for three months now. Momentarily, she submits herself wholly, then gracefully, playfully, disentangles herself. Full of concern, she asks if I am sick as my colour is not good, pallid even.
    With my right hand, I lightly trace the little bulge on her belly. Scan shows the baby is going to be a boy, she lovingly informs me. I smother her with another round of kisses. Holding hands, we walk back to the house, the hoe forgotten. Makes a mental note to later tell her about the house I am building. Our house.
    A pause to think, caused by my father’s entrance. A month here and my wife is full of vitality. Her skin taut. The haggardness gone. I don’t suspect my mother; she is full of wisdom. If it was my sister’s husband being a dick-head, she might have advised her on various concoctions to make him bring home his salary – not her son though. Those things, she well knows, misfire sometimes.
    My father talking. Really, a recap on the matrimonial wisdom already imparted to me by mom. I have always feared him. Never been close to him, so I listen reverently. Not the give-and-take as it was between me and my mother; a guilty sinner reasoning with God. My wife is still in the kitchen, presumably cooking.
    Perhaps, I should have my lawyer head examined. I resolve to be nicer when we get home. I feel I ought to apologize, but it is a womanly thing to do. An act of admission of guilt. A challenge to my manhood. In my house, I am always right, even when I am wrong.
    I excuse myself and go outside. No endearments this time. “Listen Jane, I am coming home with my beloved wife, ROSELYNNE”.
    First, I am an African, second I am a lawyer. I rest my case.

    1. Now where’s the dude that tore into me a couple of weeks ago for writing a 4 sentence comment ati I was hogging the comments. Go wild, man. Righteous rage with the frothing and whatnot. Show ’em who’s the head boy in this here high school.

    2. The creativity on this planet is simply scary. You come across a book, a blog, a mag that halfway through you’re already sad that you’ll never discover anything so well written ever again….and time and time again this belief is shattered. I’m looking forward to reading this book. I think I love it’s style.

    3. Thanks men. I’ve already compiled an anthology of short stories infused with poetry in between titled ‘As Untold.’ Being relatively green in the publishing world, the next frontier is to get the anthology published. As such, I’d appreciate any help or suggestion on that end.

  27. I looked at him again in amazement, this young looking handsome chap that was now handling my marketing consultancy. Although I could see a few old scratches on his now baby-soft skin, there was nothing much to tell the tale of his past. His Zanneti Italian suit sat neatly on his shoulders, and the room fragranced with his obviously expensive cologne that I later come to learn was a Hugo boss(yes, I’m that kind of a woman that will ask you what cologne you are wearing if it impresses me). He may have mentioned that he had bought it in Paris, but I really didn’t take much attention into the detail, I was more interested in the person than his Rolex watch and expensive cologne or his very Italian attire. He was living the life, one that only few wish for, one that a lot dare to dream about. He was rich, judging from everything I came to learn about him, (ok, yes, I goggled him and I asked his secretary a few weird stalky questions) but at that moment when I looked at him I thought I had seen a ghost. I stared at the name on the desk again and yes, it was him. We used to call him Kimlewa. That of course was not the name his mama had given him, it was the nickname we had given him because of his habit.
    Kim was a ‘kalewa’. We grew up in the same village, many many miles away from the city. He was the man that all parents had dreaded that their child would turn to. He was the guy that would walk from every chang’aa brewing homestead to another in search of alcohol. I remember one time before my family left the village he had been beaten into a pulp for stealing his mother’s bag of beans to sell and make a little money for ‘mama pima’. Kim was the kind of guy that would spend a stormy night by the roadside, and wake up to go back to ‘mama pima’s to drink. He would abuse women, and got into fights every so often. Nobody wanted to be like Kim, nobody even wanted Kim, except his very humble church going mother. I think she prayed a lot that woman. You could see the pain in her heart whenever she stood at the pulpit to deliver a sermon, she must have been tormented by the fact that while she saved souls, no one could save her beloved son. She was a darling of the community this woman, but the community did not want anything to do with Kim. He was an outcast, a dirty drunkard with a dirty language. Kim wore dirty clothes, always smelled of booze and when he wasn’t drinking, he was staggering home in search of some food. His mother was always there for him; she loved him and prayed for him. Kim was what many would refer to as a gone case, he was beyond help, and he was a hopeless junkie. He was young when we left the village.
    Now, this man, this dirty drunkard sat right there in front of me, he did not even recognize me. I indulged him in a talk. I saw his face get clouded with some shame, but then his eyes shone like he had this hope in his life and like he had overcome so much that his past did not haunt him no more. We talked and reminisced about the village. What most of you urban people don’t know is that the village is like one huge extended family where everyone knows everyone, where people share the little they have. In the village, men sit in small circles while playing draft while the women prepare dinner and as the children play hide and seek under the moon light. Oooh how I miss the village! Kim remembered me, I was a little younger than him and he made fun of how I was overprotected by my dad that the only time anyone ever saw me was in class and in church. We chuckled a bit .We even made fun of him back then, but I was so curious, I wanted to know how someone can come from being a dirty unworthy drunkard to a big CEO of a marketing company that was renown all over the city. I wanted to ask him if he had a gene in a bottle that had granted him such wishes, or if he was in some sort of cult that had made him a fortune. I did not. I took his number after my consultation time was over (yes, it’s like going to a therapist, you pay by the minute) and a week later I invited him for coffee in one of those nice places in Westie.
    I really can’t wait for this coffee date. I am not interested in his material stuff and all, well…of course it would be a good thing to have a man with all that, but no, I am not interested in him that way. If anything, I am not interested in any man, or woman (I mean it’s a free and happy world, right?) but that’s a story for another day (not the free world, but how I’m not interested in men or women). I am interested in knowing how Kim got up from the ditch, and without a stagger managed to rise and shine. I want to know how within just as little as fifteen years a man that would have amounted to nothing finally amounted to all that a man would want to be. I am interested in understanding how self-realization played its part if it did. I am intrigued by this man Kim.

    (If you have read this far you are possibly wondering why I had to post my creative work here ? I did just so I can get a comment from anyone who cares to read. I would have loved to be a guest writter, but my inboxes have gone unreplied, which is ok anyway. Lemmi know what you think of my writting guys.) poetbaibe of poetbaibe poems and

    1. a first timer to this ‘high school’. But I locked my self up for days trying to read all the stories. I must say this is my new favorite blogger. Biko, ur stuff rocks.
      2. I couldnt help but notice ur piece poetbaibe, I donot understand why no one left a comment coz its great. (Nw seriously gal to gal, really wanted to read more, like wat happened afta that date? Was it cult? Lol I seriously wanted to read and know more. Great piece poetbaibe. Thumbs up.

  28. I’m not impressed with this post. It’s like dotting… do people still say that? All you’re doing is telling us about where you were, what you drunk and ate, and who you did that with …all in the guise of telling us about a book……

    you can do so much better than this?

    1. Dotting? Trust me that when I’m down at Msasani Bay, I’ll want to try out the Chicken Salti-something or perhaps look for Saleh’s joint. Each writing dot has a category, this one falls under travel.

    1. Thanks Njeri.I’m just a young man with a passion for writing; though lost in the quagmire that’s the publishing world- i.e. haven’t the foggiest idea how to approach the same. As for the two stories, they are drawn from my complete collection of short stories and poems titled ‘As Untold.’ I’d appreciate any help to publish this anthology.

  29. I always wondered if you read books/novels. Took me forever to jump onto the first person narrative. Now I find I can read anything, as long as it is good. Romance novels are my first love and for the past 5 years I have been having an on and off relationship with them.

    I find even my favourite authors churn out crap once in while. Plots become monotonous and stale. Then once in a while a gem of a romance story turns up and oh… the beauty of it.

    During my “off romance” periods I read everything else except horrors. I have a nice growing collection of young african writers. I am yet to find young Kenyan novelists..

    I have always wondered does my being a reader necessarily mean I have to be or want to be a writer.

    Before I go, I wanted to ask, have you ever read a book that leaves you feeling emotionally wrecked. The story stays with you for a long time and you are left wishing you had never read the story. Case in point Uwem Akapan’s “Say You are One of Them”

    It is for this reason I do not read books without happy endings. No point really. Life is hard enough as it is, why add more misery.

  30. I used to read,would go as far as locking myself up in the loo with a torch when my roomates had to sleep and couldn’t stand light but then i became a literary orphan. I am currently reading pushing on 30 and having a swell time with it but i must get this one.
    I think the creative writing class is full now but i would really love to attend,let me confirm if it is or not.
    Keep writing Biko

  31. I do appreciate how people show interest in a good book. If only they’d would take it a step further and purchase it, it would be enough motivation for such a literary genius. Thankyou Biko, direct them to Amazon

  32. You are a creative Heroe, Sir Biko. But then again, perhaps you probably already know that. My utmost prayer though is that this path you chose or rather chose you, will unfold you to the defining realization that while life sometimes hands us a deck of bad cards, God is still a good God Biko. Look beyond yourself and trust that He is in control. Trust that in due time He’ll make ALL things beautiful for you. Yes? Bless you. Cheers…[]

  33. Ni nini hawa na ma comments reeefu. This post did not feel like 2500 words to me,that is how much fun I had reading it.That book is now on my want list.As usual the humor is out of this world!
    Awesome post.

  34. Biko, thanks so much for this post. Just finished The Fault In Our Stars, and yeah, its great. Poignant, and quite hard to put down-been reading it into the wee hours…..
    Suffice to say, I now have new book-guy, please read an share more books.
    Tommorrow night I start My Sisters Keeper……Chapter got me hooked, butJohn Green wob the coin toss….

    Thanks bro, and be blessed.

    1. Big Up Biko.

      Always awesome reading your blog.
      Found myself laughing so hard as i waited to be attended to by the doctor.


      Kindly send the book if you have it on soft to the above email.
      Will appreciate.


  35. Biko you were in Dar and did not say anything??? 🙁 God knows i would have moved mountains to see you and that forehead… Anyway next time say something maybe… a good read and that Hazel girl made me sad

  36. I googled you. I know that phrase sounds wrong. I just wanted to see the man behind the words. You’re not half bad. I don’t have much to say about this post though.

  37. Aii Biko, I was going for Storymoja coz of your class. Now you say it only carries 30 people?!! Can’t you get the organizers to “re-organize” that? please. Loved the article, and loving Hazel – she’s bookmarked on my kindle.

  38. Hello Biko,

    Kindly, please email me the book! The email up here is sureal! Thanks mate!

    Excuse my manners, this was a splendid read as ever, i just pulled a chair for it!


  39. With or without amazon i will read that book and rate it myself,i found out that what others think is a gud book might not be so so for me.i liked the part about whatsapping Tamms tho n it still being one tick…kids!disturbs me why ur kid has a phone with.whatsapp-what does epic post though

  40. Been a while since I commented. Even on a sad day, your words are a pleasure I can always rely on. I like to postpone visiting here until a moment I know is so unsalvageable in its misery that only a few special pleasures can bring out the sunny side. Thanks Biko.

  41. Great read Biko as always,

    That class you’re handling on creative writing, was it a one day thing, I really would love to be part of it, if it’s ongoing.

    I’ve been a literally orphan for a while too…came from one extreme, literal addiction to books to this extreme. Could you send me this book via this email please? Thank you

  42. After the final page of that book I had to give myself some time to awaken all my senses. I was in some addictive space somewhere. Your friend is right though, both of you share a certain spark to writing and somewhat unexpected humour!!

  43. I got that book, or rather the pdf version, immediately after reading this post…haha…Hazel is already cracking me up…it is so much fun!

  44. I don’t know why it took me a while to read this post, I think it was the 2500 words warning. Funny enough I think I have the book on my kindle cloud cz a lot of people were raving about it but I haven’t read it. I’m the opposite of you, I read around 50 books per year especially since amazon kindle makes it much easier. I only slowed down so as not to fail in my exams.

  45. Halfway through this post I stood up, went to the counter and through the wonderful miracle of what they call InterLibrary Loans I should be delving into the pages of this book in the next couple of days! *Excited!

  46. I did not like the book:( It was touching but I found the overall plot a bit mediocre. Maybe I expected too much after you vouched for it so enthusiastically……

  47. Great post Biko, I had to come back and read through it again after you inspired me to look for this book. I lost myself in Hazel Grace and Gus’ pain and emotional journey, enjoyed every bit and even cried through some pages!!
    Just so you know, you’re not the only one who worries about dying before discovering a profound book or whatever…you have company. I’ve been a literary orphan since I finished the Harry Potter series way back and I used to really pray to live long enough to finish the series.
    Am just now crawling back to my reading habits (helped greatly by some contemporary romances i.e E.L James and Sylvia Day but hey, I am so hungry for books now so it’s a win for me. This is where the self righteous will start throwing daggers at me, but come on people, it’s never that serious) Am proud to say I read an average of two books in a week now.
    Your blog inspires me so much, thank you for sharing your brilliant thoughts with us.

  48. Amazing write up Biko…touches the soul…I have a friend who got married to her boyfriend in September of this year…he was battling cancer…He succumed to pneumonia last week.They were married for exactly two months…her fbook status the day he died…”I can die knowing I felt love.”…Here is a write up I wrote way before he died…Before he died He said she was his angel.I would love to read this book Biko will download it on my Kindle..thanks for sharing…

  49. Biko,

    A very insightful piece. What I enjoy most about your writing is yr imagery & your writing in first person. One feels like they know really know u. It’s captivating & personal.

    I got a Kindle for my last bday after incessantly requesting my best friend (who lives in the US) over the years to buy me books or send someone to bring. ‘They take up so much luggage space’ she complained. She insisted I get a Kindle which I vehemently refused. I loved the feel of books – the touch, smell, dog ears etc
    I sent her a list of books early this year and in response, she bought a Kindle, uploaded the books & sent it.
    Initially I ignored it, I was afraid of change. Then last week I went on leave and decided to give it a try and I have

  50. Just settled down to read this post, been busy. A book about cancer struggles is one I wanted to get for myself and my mom. And you were on point about 3am moments, and ‘one tree hill’ type of music

  51. 1) TFIOS movie comes out June 6 2014… so that should be interesting… and also check out Vlogbrothers 2.0 on YouTube- it’s a good time
    2) Maybe check out more of Green’s books- Looking for Alaska (this one’s demented and beautiful… it got a Printz award too); An Abundance of Katherines; Paper Towns; and Will Grayson Will Grayson
    3) You write more like Nick Spalding in ‘Life… with no breaks’ and ‘Life… on a high’ than John Green 🙂

  52. I finally got down to reading “The Fault in Our Stars”, two months after I read this post, thanking God that being a Literary Orphan was “normal”.
    This is to say thank you for the tip on this book and to John Green as an author, just opened me up to a whole new world. Thank you!

  53. i read the book.i know exactly what you are talking about.i havent read a book that has haunted me weeks after my reading it.the characters feel so REAL like someone you would meet and have a chat with.:)

  54. So Biko,I read this post some time back, then today I walked into the house and found a movie “the fault in our stars”. I have to say, I cannot even bring myself to watch it, because I am afraid it will certainly do the book injustice. I have not read a book in a long time and I promised myself that the next book I read will be about Hazel.
    Thank you Biko, for sharing about it and motivating us to ‘break our literary hymen’

  55. Watched the movie,. raw deal I know but never have I gone thru’ such emotional upheavals in 2 hours. by jove!! Hazel Grace & Gus, Always. 🙂

  56. If you loved this book, you will love April fools(can’t remember the author though). I watched Fault in our Stars and it was amazing!! It was an injustice though since I would have loved to read the book first then watch
    then movie. Read the book. you will love love it!!

  57. After scouring your social media sites I finally found this review, thank goodness. Buying the book this weekend, thought I’d look for what you said about it first coz I could have sworn I saw a pic on your Instagram and it wasn’t there.

  58. Biko the book is really awesome, though I saw the movie early this year. Same humor and pain at the same time. Great work above and just to mention, when I read a good book, I always have a pen with me to jot down great phrases. The dictionary in my phone is also very handy. I sometimes save phrases on my phone drafts just to re-read them later.(felt so much connection with you:)).

  59. I just funished the book. I broke down a couple of times. Its heartwrenching. I loved it. And i dont think am going to forget Augustus Waters anytime soon. He broke my heart.