Violence is synonymous with elections in Kenya. There hasn’t been an election in the recent past where tensions didn’t simmer, boil over and eventually lead to deaths, including those of innocent children. The violence is of varied forms; hired goons by politicians, sore losers, criminals taking advantage of the mayhem and police using excessive force, firing stray bullets and killing innocent people.
It’s distasteful to the point that people temporarily relocate during elections. People go to their rural areas in fear that their neighbors of the other tribe could turn against them because of their competing candidates. Those who are privileged move their families out of the country for that period.
Continue reading Is it possible to have peaceful elections in Kenya?
Sometime in 2019, Pitson called an Uber to pick him up at Karura Community Chapel. When the uber driver arrived, he was surprised to find that he was picking a young man and not a mzee. That’s because Pitson had sounded like old man on the phone, his voice raspy and hoarse like that of Mzee Moi in retirement.
He had lost his voice and it was a nightmare for a person to whom singing is second nature. Some intruders called vocal nodules had grown on his vocal cords, probably due to overstraining his voice, and they had to removed surgically.
Continue reading Pitson – On life in the Valley, Gospel Music and Songwriting
The maternity ward in any hospital is like an active war zone. Newborn babies with their cries are like bullets flying all over the place. Nurses are the rescue crew, doing their best to get those injured to safety. Doctors are the generals, giving instructions and strategies but not getting too involved, unless very necessary. Mothers, they are the bombs, going off involuntarily all over the ward with every response to a contraction. Occasionally a mother would hobble into the delivery room, assisted by a nurse, some almost on all their fours. Others would be wheeled into theatre.
And then there are the men, the fathers, who are like kings and politicians who start wars they will never actually fight in.
Continue reading Not Urgent, but Very Important
A few years ago, a plane took off from Juba with three planned stops in different parts of South Sudan. On arrival at the first location, the grass was too long on the airstrip and the pilot could not land. People were actually cutting the grass. He decided to go to the next airstrip and it was flooded because of heavy rains that had earlier pounded the area. They could not land. Looking at his calculations, the pilot realized that there was too much weight on board to reach the third airstrip. He had expected to drop people and luggage at the first two airstrips. They ended up flying back to Juba without landing at any of the locations. The team that was being flown was frustrated because their plans had been thwarted.
“That’s the hardest thing to do as a pilot, making those tough decisions that safety comes before anything else. You really need to be careful. In this case it would have been risky to land in those locations. At the end of the day, they were grateful that we safely arrived back in Juba” says Daniel Loewen-Rudges who was flying a Cessna Caravan that day for Mission Aviation Fellowship.
Continue reading Mission Aviation Fellowship’s unique contribution to the great commission
You can read part 1 of this story here
While living the life in Mombasa, Wanjohi got sick. He had measles, but it was first misdiagnosed as malaria at an estate dispensary. He hadn’t been vaccinated against measles as a child and as an adult, it got him proper. He was sick, so sick that he couldn’t move or do anything for himself. Being alone in the house made it worse. He was dying. It’s the neighbors who took him to hospital after noticing unusual quietness in his house and the fact that he hadn’t been out, or brought any girls into the house.
In his mind, Wanjohi thought he had HIV, he figured that his promiscuity had caught up with him. He could see the suspicion in the neighbor’s eyes as they arranged for him to be taken to hospital. His girlfriends’ came to visit him in hospital with depressed looks, as if to confirm if their suspicion was true.
Continue reading The Trials and Tribulations of Wanjohi part II
“What have you come here to do?” asked Wanjohi’s mother, astounded that her son was standing right in front of her.
“I have come to visit my mum,” he answered. “You don’t come to visit us in ushago so I decided to come myself.”
“Who have you come with?”
“Hakuna space yako hapa, you cannot stay here, huku ni kwa wenyewe,” she said bluntly, shaking her head, “you cannot spend here, I am giving you fare to go back to your shosho and don’t come back here unless I have invited you.”
Continue reading The Trials and Tribulations of Wanjohi part I
Ecclesiastes is a peculiar book in the bible. Parts of it sound like rumblings of an old drunk while others sound like the wisdom of a consummate king at the prime of his rule. Other parts read like the stories of an unfulfilled grandpa ruing the missed opportunities of youth that he wishes to relive. There are brilliant verses but also others which I personally find preposterous and which will make you question whether they belong in the book.
If you read Ecclesiastes without knowing who wrote it, you would get the impression of somebody who had a great life and then somehow lost it. There’s a tinge of frustration and a generous serving of reminisce.
A book that starts with the words ‘Everything is meaningless’ seems to be all out for disruption. But in those words, and many others in subsequent chapters is a clue of the author’s philosophy of life and which I believe is key in understanding Ecclesiastes.
Continue reading What’s your idea of a fulfilled life?
One fine evening in 2010, while Allan and his colleagues were partying at Carnivore, one of them requested Allan to host a late-night Rhumba show on his behalf. He accepted. Allan worked at Radio Citizen as the morning show co-host and comedian (under the alias Oloibon). After a couple more drinks, he made his way to the studio. He had done radio for almost ten years and it had become second nature to him. With confidence hitting the skies, he knew he could do it, even with his eyes closed.
But not that night, he had drunk one too many and while in studio, and his eyes literally closed. The radio went silent, like an eerie night in the forest, no one was speaking, he had dozed off.
Continue reading Overcoming my battle with Alcohol Abuse
At the medical camps in Mt. Elgon held in early June 2021, one man said little and did a lot in the classroom turned consultation room. He took more time with patients, delving deeper, probing to understand their health conditions, explaining it to them and also helping them manage beyond the medical interventions. He is a recently graduated medical doctor who, as a child, couldn’t see his future beyond the slopes of Mt. Elgon, having been made uncertain by a family misfortune and the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) conflict.
He assisted the other medics in the room and being a native, consulted more with the elderly who couldn’t express themselves in Swahili or English.
Away from the consultation room, he was discreet and chilled, a man of few words who would pass for anyone in the street. Nothing in his expression says he went to a primary school that had only three teachers and almost dropped out of medical school. And that is just a glimpse of his story that he had shared with me as we had dinner one of the evenings during the camp. We had to meet after the camp for a longer chat. We did, in Kimilili, at a blue-walled hotel that was nearly empty. The interior looked like it had gotten a recent facelift except for the antique wooden counter. We were served soda madiaba (the 500ml glass bottle soda). It was the only size available.
Continue reading How adversity shaped one of Mt. Elgon’s newest doctors
I would often find her in the office backyard, radiant, smiley, posing, absorbing snapshots of her life that unbeknownst to me, signified her transformation. I would never have understood. There was a time she hated her pictures, she has very few of them from her past and even if they are modest, she would never show them to anyone.
At work, walks to lunch or occasional banter with colleagues would sometimes elicit distressing comments and questions from her (especially if it was about men and fathers) but she would somehow make them look general and distant from her.
There was more beneath the surface that being together in the same office would never have revealed. A recent comment on Facebook on a post about gender-based violence – seen by my wife- prompted a call that led her to sit down with me and unveil. “It is time to tell your story,” I was blunt on the call. She went silent for almost a minute muttering “wow” a few times as I let her process the solemnity of sharing her story.
A few days earlier I had sent her a ‘we need to talk’ text. Having worked with Grace for almost five years, I knew I had to be direct. She’s a hard nut Continue reading Finding my self-esteem