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The Other World

We get on a small plane. We land in Lamu. A smiling, diminutive swahili man with a stubble loads our luggage onto a kart. Twenty minutes on motorboat we dock at Majlis Resort. I whatsapp a picture to a friend whose husband is turning 40 and asked me for romantic place to take him. I write.  “I picture him lying on this hammock, cold beer in hand and thinking about his life and your lives.” I whatsapp the same picture to the owner, Federico, and write, “I’m back home.” He replies, “Great, how long are you there for?” I ask him where he is, because he is a wild one Frederico; he could be in Saudi riding a camel, or cycling up the French alps, or mooring off a coastline in Spain or running shirtless next to a hill in China.

The hostess shows me to the exact room I stayed in the last time, I can still smell the perfume of the ghosts that live there. Later, I eat a burger at the restaurant while reading  ‘M Train by Patti Smith’ as the rest of the boys splash water in the swimming pool, one of them wearing ugly swimming shorts. That night I sleep naked against the white sheets, under the rotary fan with blades chopping away at the air like a boxer on his 10th round. The AC is at 30. When I lose sleep at 3am, I stumble to the balcony and sit, on a lounge chair overlooking the ocean and the blinking lights of Shela across the channel. I open my kindle and read for an hour.

The next morning we get onto the same motorboat and we go all the way to a port where we jump into a white 4X4 . Off we go. The sky is blue and the ground is still soggy from last night’s rain. We pass army personnel with their massive artillery. There is a sense of pride that seeing an army guy evokes that doesn’t happen when you see an Administration Police, or worse, a traffic cop. As we pass Mpeketoni area I roll down my window to try and listen to the souls of the departed.

We get to Witu and load lapdesks on our cars then set off again, driving  deeper into the heartland of Lamu until we  get off the road and drive further into the interior. Poverty that had been subtly rising all around us becomes more bold. There are less and less children wearing shoes then less and less adults wearing shoes. Houses turn into mud huts and tin roofs become browner, then they turn into grass.

We stop at our first school. It’s not even a school. It’s two blocks of mud houses, with gaping holes on the walls. There are no doors. No desks. No seats. Children cluster together curiously, these dirty children with torn clothes hanging from their bodies like they survived a bomb explosion, which is what poverty seems like, an explosion. And it singes your conscience. The boys have pieces of clothes for belts. The girls uniforms are so torn they have to wear other old clothes underneath to remain decent. I shudder to think of the ones getting into puberty and dealing with menses. Almost all have barefeet. The teachers, these poor professionals who are entrusted with raising a generation, don’t look any better than the children they educate; they look resigned, hanging onto a very thin sliver of intention. They sit silently under trees marking dog-eared books. All around us poverty stares back at you with unblinking snake eyes.

The headmaster gathers his cast of desperados. We hand them these lapdesks called the Tutudesk, these improvised desks that children from poor schools without desks can use to read and write from. Easier to write on them than balance your book from your knees. We also hand them special footballs that don’t deflate, which seem to excite them more than the desks because they are children after all. A few scatter off to play, laughing. Group pictures are taken. Someone gives a small touching speech while squinting in the sun. The children clap for us and it evokes such guilt in me, I turn away. We don’t deserve the claps, they do, for their stoicity.

We bundle in our cars, an entourage of four, and off we go go back into the bushes and narrow paths that we came from.

We have five schools to visit, a whole day’s work, then we have another six schools in rural Kilifi.  In total we have 4,000 lapdesks to deliver and hundreds of balls to give away. At the schools I try to talk to the children; “What is your name?” How many children are you in the family? Do you like Arsenal or Man-United? What would you like to be when you grow up? How old are you? Can you remember when you were last happiest? Who is your best friend? Why are they your best friend, what do you like about them?  When did you last dream and what did you dream about?  I’m shooting in the dark, looking for an angle, a  narrative, that elusive golden thread, but the children have the confidence of a fridge magnet; poverty has subdued them, held their confidence in a headlock until it’s turning red in the eyes. They don’t know how to engage me, they are weighed down by inferiority complex, they see me as a unicorn, a completely different animal from them because I have shoes and they don’t. I constantly come up short. They stare at me blank-faced.

I mostly watch them play. Or I stand at the back and watch the team give another ball, another lapdesk and give another speech and take another picture that elicits another applause.

Funny things happen. For instance after a lapdesk is handed one of the drivers says to the gathered:  

“Isuzu!”

The children all scream together laughing, “Tosha!”

“Isuzu?”

Tosha!”

“Jameni nyinyi ni vibogoyo? Mbona hamna raha, aah, jameni?

The children giggle.

Isuzu?”

TOSHAAAA!”

That shit makes me so happy.

Then we pile in our cars and we move to the next school.

Then something odd happens.

As we are headed to the fourth school we stop at a fork in the road not knowing whether to take a right or left. At this junction is big fig tree and from it hangs a signage: Mganga wa Kienyeji, written in red and a phone number in blue. It’s the traditional medicine man. I take the number. I don’t know why, but I do. It’s one of those things you do and you can’t explain, like when you open the fridge and you stand there thinking, “what did I want in this fridge?”

At the next school, Bora Moyo Primary School – one mud-walled block, a toilet, a small open kitchen, a big football field – we gather in a principal’s office. He shows us the free laptops from the government of Kenya. He’s holding them like you would a human skull at Kariandusi prehistoric site. Like it might detonate. I’m amazed that the free-laptop project actually kicked-off even though the schools have no power to power those laptops.

So I step outside from the principal’s office because the irony in that office is drowning my lungs. From under a tree, I call the number for the traditional medicine man . It goes unanswered. Ten minutes later as I’m peering into a mud classroom my phone purrs in my pocket. It’s the medicine man flashing me.

I call him back and walk away from the classroom. I tell him I’m from Uganda and I need his help. He asks me where I got his number and never in my life did I ever think I’d answer that question this way because I say I got his number from under a tree. I want to giggle at that but I catch myself because he would find that odd because back in Witu it must be normal to find numbers under a tree. I can safely say it here that very few of you reading this will ever claim, in your lives, to have gotten a number from under a tree. I’m a pioneer.

This mganga speaks like a TV evangelist. His swahili is well arranged like a musical note. I tell him I will try and explain my problem but my swahili is terrible.

Children are now gathering near the principal’s office. Handymen are offloading the lapdesks and the balls. I tell the medicine man that my business is bad and I suspect that there are people who are responsible for it. He asks me what business I am in and I tell him I’m in printing. I print t shirts and posters and I recently bought two massive water tanks which I use to deliver water to rich people’s homes in the city and that has been doing great until recently.

Behind me, Duncan Muhindi of General Motors is giving another speech while holding one of the lapdesks. A horde of children are gathered around him, eyeing the balls. The teachers are all grinning, hands held behind their backs.

I tell the medicine man that lately them rich folk don’t want  my clean water anymore, and the printing business is not making me money anymore.

He pauses for a second and says that he knows exactly what’s happening to my business. I press my phone harder against my ear and ask, what?

Kwanza nitasoma nyota yako, ndio nijue!”

“Nyota? Niko na nyota?” I ask him.

Kila mtu ako na nyota,” he scoffs. “Ukituma pesa kidogo, nita choma majani zangu nijue shida iko wapi.”

Majani ya chai ama?” I ask and he makes a sound that could pass off as laughter, I can’t tell though because I’ve never had the honour of hearing a medicine man laugh before.

He says wants to burn leaves and shit to know who is curtailing my success. Seems fair to me. But he says this process is 600 bob, “na ya kutoa.” That makes me smile; ya kutoa. Kenyans and kutoa. Well, 640 to burn leaves to tell me who is cockblocking my business efforts seems about OK, wouldn’t you say?

Behind me, our driver is saying,

“Isuzu?”

Tosha!”

“Isuzu?”

Tosha

Ahh, jameni, watoto wapendwa, nyinyi wanyonge kweli? Hamna nguvu?”

Giggles.

“Isuzu?”

“TOSHAAAA!”

If these kids ever grow up and buy a Ford truck, it would be the greatest travesty of our times, I think to myself.

I ask the medicine man if he promises to give me a name of that person cockblocking my  biashara. He says he will. I M-Pesa him 640 bob. He flashes me (rolls eyes) and I call him and he says he has received and that it will take 20mins to burn his leaves and tell me what is going on with by business. “You will give me a name, your promise?” I ask again he says he will. “Kuwa na imani, ndugu.” That should have been my first warning; him calling me ndugu. I don’t trust anyone who calls people ndugu or dada. But I was in a euphoric state of hope given that we were on a CSR mission as it were.

We pile back into cars and off we go through narrow sandy roads, through small patches of grassland, through small sleepy centers where blank-faced men in shukas sit lethargically under trees. The medicine man flashes me and I wait until we get to the next school to call him back because I don’t want people in the car to hear me speak to a medicine man.

When he picks he launches into a long spiel in his preacher voice. He says there is someone who doesn’t want my success in business (duh) and this someone went to another medicine man who buried my nyota, under a tree and that’s why my water business and printing business is suffering.

I ask him who that is. I need a name.

We are at Moa Primary school now. Muhindi is standing on a football to show how resilient and durable the balls are. The ball deflates but once he steps off it, it goes back to its shape. The children gathered stare in awe at this magic ball! He hands out lapdesks to another group of children, explaining in surprisingly fluent swahili how the desks work. Behind the school, somewhere in the bushes, the biggest lake in the County, Lake Witu flows unbothered by these new visitors.  

Jina siwezi kupa sina kioo ya kuona huyu mtu….” the medicine man tells me.

Nani ana hii kioo?” I ask.

Mtu huyu ni mtu ako karibu nawe…” he says.

“Ni nani?”

Siwezi sema kwa uha….”

Ni Fred?” I cut in. “Anaitwa Fred sivyo?”

Hapana…

Ni nani, Benjaps? …Jen? …Hanafi…?

Taratibu ndugu yangu…”

Ama ni Tamms?”

The team is now taking pictures with the teachers and children.

I tell him I have to go, I will call him. I forget to call him.

We get to Kilifi after eight pm, bone tired. My room in Kilifi Bay Beach Resort doesn’t have running water in the shower, and no phone in the room, so I have to drag my weary self all the way to the reception and ask to be moved to a new room. I’m irritated, hungry and tired and so when the medicine man flashes me I call him back and  I bite off his head. I tell him we are not bloody going to have a conversation until he gives me a freaking name! Find a goddamn kioo wherever you can and give me name. We had a deal. No name, no conversation. I hang up. Then I feel bad. But just a little.

He calls me at 10pm I don’t answer. He sends me a please call me. I don’t call him back. I’m sulking.

I fall asleep under a mosquito net. The AC at 30.

The next morning we are off into the heartland of Kilifi. Kilifi is wonderful and scenic. At the first school I call the medicine man and ask him if he has a name for me. Did he burn his leaves? Did he find a kioo? Who is it? Is it Eric? He says, look, I don’t have a name but what we need to do is make sure that this guy doesn’t curtail your progress any further.

And how do we do that? I ask.

“Uta nunua chupa mbili ya damu ya mbuju.” He says.

Ati nini?” I ask.

“Uta nunua chupa mbili ya damu ya mbuju.” He repeats.

Mbuju ndio nini?”

He says Mbuju is some type of animal from the sea. He needs that to do his thing. So I guess I’m to go fishing and bleed this mbuju animal of its blood, not just blood, enough blood for two bottles. Then somehow I’m to courier to him this blood.

Naenda Nairobi leo, hiyo damu ya mbuju naweza pata Moi Avenue?” I ask him.

He says I can only get it in Lamu. I tell him well, I’m out of Lamu. I wondered how he can’t tell I’m no longer in Lamu, I mean after all he’s a medicine man, he can always burn his leaves and GPS my ass. He says he has a solution; he can buy me the mbuju blood and get on with the business of blocking my enemy’s efforts.

But I need to send him money.

Hmm.

No shit.

I ask him how much and he says 9K. A bottle of Mbuju’s blood is 9K, so that’s 18K. Now 18K is a bottle of some fine-ass single-malt, instead he wants me to spend that on two bottles of Mbuju blood.

I tell him I will call him back. I type “Mbuju” on Google- 6,600 results and nothing on sea animal. I type “Mbuju sea animal,” 256K results, and nothing on our Mbuju. I call up my friend who speaks swahili sanifu and ask him what Mbuju is and he draws a blank. “Huyo mnyama simfahamu.” he tells me in a way of showing off my saying “huyo” before mnyama.

Tumia “huyo” kwenye sentensi. (Alama 30)

-Huyo dada ana kiuno ya Mbuju.

At the next school in Ganze subcounty, we give out desks. I peer into the mud-classes and it’s heartbreaking; they sit on small pieces of wood set against stones. The floor is dusty. School bags that are plastic bags hang from pegs against the mudwall. There are holes in the wall, as in if you are seated at the back of the classroom and the class is boring you can sneak out of class while the teacher writes on the board and he wouldn’t notice. It’s a heartbreaking way to learn.

The children take one of the balls and run off to the football pitch behind the block. Duncan hands out desks and shakes the hand of their headmaster. A journalist pulls aside one of the teachers for an interview. I lean under a tree and stare at the children laughing and chasing the ball. Amazing how even in this desperation they are able to quickly find pockets of unbridled laughter.

Pictures are taken. The chaps from PLAN International grin. The teachers grin. The journalists grin. Grins all over.

“Isuzu?”

“Tosha!”

Ahh, hii shule ya Dulukiza imejaa vibogoyo kweli! Changamkeni majameni!”

The teachers and kids laugh.

“Isuzu!”

TOSHAAAA!”  I also say loudly,

They have brainwashed me. I will come back to Nai, sell my car and buy a DMax and drive it around in a stetson hat and tell everyone that now I’m rearing pigs.

Later I call the medicine man and tell him that I don’t have 18K. He asks how much I have? I tell him I don’t have any money left, didn’t I just mention yesterday that my business is down?

Unaweza pata pesa ngapi?” he asks. I tell him I can’t borrow money from anyone, besides now I don’t trust any of my friends. If only I knew who is behind my failure then I’d know who not to ask for money.

He sighs like he’s about to do me a favour and asks me how much I have on MPesa currently. I say I have 920 bob but it’s for my gout medicine. He doesn’t know what gout is so I explain to him that it’s a disease that affects people who eat meat and it makes them walk with a limp. He says there is a possibility that my friends are responsible for my gout. Haha.

I tell him no, meat is.

He says meat doesn’t cause such problems, people do. “Hayo ni mambo ya binadamu.”

I say, yes, you are right – butchers!

He says the person jealous about my business is very close to me and that I should be careful.

I ask him how close? Like we have lunch together close? Or is he the guy who washes my car?

We are getting back in the cars. It’s starting to drizzle. The children are off to play football in the rain. Out there my water and printing  business is suffering because I can’t afford two bottles of Mbuju blood.  Life goes on.

165 Responses
  • Angela Darcy
    23.05.2017

    Good read as always. Thank you Biko. Your stories make me feel like am back home..




    18
    • Angela Darcy
      23.05.2017

      I think am the first one. Yay!




      11
      • Lizzy
        23.05.2017

        I love the way the medicine man story was embedded in the school visits story…I however feel nothing for Isuzu…hehe!




        4
      • Kisenya Jesse
        23.05.2017

        I thought this stopped.




        6
      • Kemunto
        23.05.2017

        well well well……can we have a round of applause, fireworks and a choir singing behind there “hallelujah” for the first person who has actually read the post and commented first




        39
      • Riri
        23.05.2017

        And fortunately it’s just a thought! I thank the good heavens!!!




        0
      • Charles Kagana
        23.05.2017

        The bitch irritates the gang, then 5 morons ‘like’ it. Can you’ll get the hell out of here?!




        8
        • Awino
          27.05.2017

          Kuwa mpole. Yes, it is irritating when someone comments that they are first, but let’s not call her the b word 🙂




          4
      • JJ Kamotho
        23.05.2017

        Angela Darcy…grow up. And I promise they won’t charge you a dime for that




        8
    • Emma
      23.05.2017

      You thought wrong




      0
    • geof
      23.05.2017

      Totally agree,,




      1
  • Biegon
    23.05.2017

    Mbuju mbuju mbuju




    4
  • Josee
    23.05.2017

    54 years after independence and Kenyans are still faced with abject poverty. We must do better.




    15
  • Purity
    23.05.2017

    Hahaha. Let’s get this mbuju blood and rescue your water business yawa! #Wagangachronicles




    7
    • Njeri
      25.05.2017

      Hi Purity,
      I am always on the lookout for blogs to follow, so when I saw you are associated with one, I clicked on your name… It links to a page by someone Nor, obviously a man–
      I’m not sure if it is a broken link, but I thought I’d let you know – Just in case! Cheers




      0
  • Rih
    23.05.2017

    . Only you. Only you can engage a medicine man.




    14
  • Carolynne
    23.05.2017

    Good read,as always




    1
  • Joseph
    23.05.2017

    Damn…those kids man, I feel for them. And its actually very hard to start a conversation with those kids. I remember once I visited some children’s home ,and happened to successfully initiate a conversation with a boy called Kevin. He told me he wants to be a pastor when he grows up. I realized that he really looked up to the pastor who owned that home. Because maybe he’d never known anyone better than the pastor. To him the pastor was the greatest person he’d ever known.

    Then this irony of laptops in schools where they sit on stones and wear tattered uniforms. Damn, this life.




    45
    • Wesh - Peter Wesh
      23.05.2017

      Smh who needs desks when you can watch cat videos on a laptop?




      10
      • Awino
        27.05.2017

        Hehe or videos of goats singing along to Taylor Swift?




        0
    • Moesha
      22.06.2017

      So painful. I once initiated a conversation with a kid in budalangi and all he wanted to be when he grows up is a bodaboda rider in a small centre called Nambengele. Even telling him to do that in busia town wasn’t lucrative to him




      0
  • Lisa
    23.05.2017

    The medicine guy part is hilarious




    2
  • nimo
    23.05.2017

    hahaha! funny im curious as to how the lapdesk looks like.




    3
  • T.N
    23.05.2017

    No 3. Great read! Thanks




    0
  • Maggie
    23.05.2017

    nice read!




    0
  • Davi K
    23.05.2017

    Hilarious. Well in!




    4
  • Emmah Njoroge
    23.05.2017

    Waiting for the end of the medicine man story. I suppose it’s one of these “first to comment ” people cock blocking your success Biko.




    66
    • Jeremy
      23.05.2017

      Hahaha …. Biko there you go.




      0
    • Beth
      23.05.2017

      Hahaha. Biko this could be true




      1
  • Dennis
    23.05.2017

    I used to think that Luo Nyanza had been marginalized until I went to Kwale County. Poverty.




    2
  • Carol Ohonde
    23.05.2017

    Huyo lol! Mbuju……….;-/
    The poverty in this country is draining to the soul when you are exposed to it yet every day rolls into the next without solution………..




    1
    • mospet sasa
      25.05.2017

      BIKO BIKO.. why make a Meru man cry!!! I cry for those kids man. We need to do better in this country. And your mganga guy is a local local mbuju blood. chupa mbili itoke wapi kw a non-existing animal kwanza from the sea?? ehhe!




      2
  • Donnah Siso
    23.05.2017

    Huyo dada ana kiuno ya Mbuju…Biko you never cease to amaze me. Nice read as usual




    4
    • Waithera wa Mbugua
      23.05.2017

      Hilarious! Lol. Huyo dada ana kiuno non existent…




      8
    • Awino
      27.05.2017

      Biko, kiuno cha, not kiuno ya.




      0
  • Wesh - Peter Wesh
    23.05.2017

    You know I actually remember chanting that Isuzu – Toshaa thing as a kid but I can’t pin it to a specific timeframe. No shit Isuzu people are consistent with their marketing. 20 years later and those kids will be chanting the same thing. Perhaps one of them will be the pig farmer with a DMAX and a corny attitude.
    Biko I know what mbuju is but you got to send me 1,000 na ya kutoa and I’ll email you the answer.




    70
    • Patrick Thuo
      23.05.2017

      Let him send 2,000. We are talking about two mbunjus here. As one of my friend keeps saying, we are struggling with the very same issues our founding fathers warned us against; Ignorance, Poverty & diseases.

      That mganga though. Can we give him a tender to eliminate the poverty. With that kind of thinkig=ng, he could definitely set an example to some if only he did some legit biashara.




      5
    • Mwanamali
      23.05.2017

      Ok, so I wanna know what mbuju is too. Naeza kutumia deposit kwanza alafu unitumie answer alafu nikutumie hiyo ingine? #KenyanThings




      4
    • Nostalgia
      24.05.2017

      @Wesh – am now officially curious as to the primary school you attended. Did the Isuzu people visit with balls that don’t deflate too? You have a story to tell my friend!!




      1
  • Nao
    23.05.2017

    Just asked a colleague from Kilifi about Mbuju and she has no idea what that is. I had missed reading something nice like this, great piece.




    0
  • Mark
    23.05.2017

    This Mbunju must be a dreadlocked Reggae-Swahili artist, Mbunju Mbanton. Otherwise, a thoughtful narration on education, poverty and hope. http://www.zurikiki.com




    16
  • Benson
    23.05.2017

    Happiness…………., If only that term had the same definition for all of us. I lack happiness because i don’t have this or that yet those kids find happiness in chasing a football around.




    5
    • James
      23.05.2017

      If we all lived a simple life as the little kids this world would definately be a better place to live in.




      1
  • Jeremy
    23.05.2017

    The Tamms part is hilarious. We need to start a paybill number to get biko revive his business. First you need to invesigate these guys commenting on your posts “im the first one”




    10
    • Julianna
      26.05.2017

      Please interpret for a non-Swahili speaking Ugandan. I usually miss out on some of the jokes!




      0
  • @clif_the_tall
    23.05.2017

    ‘Mbuju Banton’ must be knowing what this Mbuju thing is!! Right??? Poverty is ugly, It is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit at all. We got a long way to go as a country. Great read, nice humor amidst the saddening state of affairs in the other world.




    38
  • Ading
    23.05.2017

    Now that you mpesad the mganga , he has your your full names, what if he decides to trail you with his juju antics??.careful what you wish for Biko. haha




    3
  • Kimani
    23.05.2017

    Kiuno CHA not YA mbuju




    4
  • Jen
    23.05.2017

    BikoZulu




    3
  • Wakweika Felix
    23.05.2017

    Thank you for sharing Biko! Those children remind me of how different most of our lives are regardless of physical proximity.




    1
  • Mbuju wa Njeri
    23.05.2017

    Mimi I’ll get you that mbuju blood at 8k
    I have a guy hapa chini Grogon atatupea na 4k for 500ml




    12
  • iyan
    23.05.2017

    So when you went outside to ready on your Kindle.. did you like, you know. Put clothes on?




    34
    • Gathoni
      23.05.2017

      Iyan, really?




      1
    • CK
      24.05.2017

      You read my thoughts




      1
  • Teryl
    23.05.2017

    That level of poverty is sickening.
    Some cry for laptops and iPhones,others simply cry for a mere desk and a pair of shoes .Sad.




    4
  • Jeff B
    23.05.2017

    “…There are holes in the wall, as in if you are seated at the back of the classroom and the class is boring you can sneak out of class while the teacher writes on the board and he wouldn’t notice. It’s a heartbreaking way to learn.”
    There’s nothing funny about the state of these schools ad the children going to them, but that was so funny.




    1
  • Wambui
    23.05.2017

    “Huyo dada ana kiuno ya Mbuju”. I die!




    0
  • Chris
    23.05.2017

    We get to Witu and load lapdesks on our cars then set off again, driving deeper into the heartland of Lamu until we get off the road and drive further into the interior. Poverty that had been subtly rising all around us becomes more bold. There are less and less children wearing shoes then less and less adults wearing shoes. Houses turn into mud huts and tin roofs become browner, then they turn into grass.”
    Biko breathing life into Words….Poverty Caught and bottled up for the social scientist.




    4
  • Mwanamali
    23.05.2017

    If anyone figures out what mbuju is, please let me know… How is it that every time I read Biko, I get mind blown… Every damn time!




    2
    • Mbuju wa Njeri
      27.05.2017

      Biko is drinking that mbuju blood chini ya maji. His creativity is not of this world.




      0
    • KK
      31.05.2017

      He is very good at it….I have laughed all day




      0
  • Irene Agatha
    23.05.2017

    Would have loved to see a photo of the lap desk.

    Just remembered that there was a time we were waiting to cross the ferry
    at Likoni and there was this young lady who was all by herself by the ocean drawing water
    with a water bottle. There was a security guard standing there. He drew close to her
    and asked her why she needed water from the ocean. “Kwani ni mganga alikutuma?”
    Ha! ha! Didn’t hear how the rest of that conversation went.




    6
  • jane
    23.05.2017

    This story is sad and intriguing at the same time.




    1
  • Mish...
    23.05.2017

    Do i appreciate my life after reading this? But why laptops when you can build them good structures, get them books?




    1
  • Lauryn
    23.05.2017

    I laughed out loud…..’on the mbuju part’…… but the deplorable state of those kids classrooms is sad….damn sad!




    1
  • Mina T
    23.05.2017

    Torn between humor over the whole mbuju business and aggravation over how these children are forced to grow up.
    Awesome read 🙂




    1
  • Ronald
    23.05.2017

    There is no dignity in abject poverty. It’s actually sad to imagine what the teenage girls go through. I couldn’t imagine anything that those people could be proud of Kenya . They don’t owe us their loyalty. The successive governments have failed them over and over again.
    Then, what were you thinking? Ati msichana ana kiuno kama ya mbuju? You should feel guilty for having such thoughts and quickly accept relagation to a mental institution. That was hilarious! It got me totally unawares! And it surely deserves the 30 marks.
    ‘Biko ana akili kama ya Mbuju.’
    My 30 marks too, I guess I have earned.




    2
  • Kisenya Jesse
    23.05.2017

    Just wondering if giving schools/pupils laptops was the best idea from the government. Maybe fixing classrooms and providing basic facilities in these schools would have been ideal first. Anyway, this is Kenya!




    1
    • Jeff B
      23.05.2017

      Upside down priorities, i guess




      1
  • Martha Nderitu
    23.05.2017

    I have totally enjoyed… You are really brave to even call that typa mganga. What if he whisperes evil spirits into your brain!




    3
  • Jean
    23.05.2017

    wow




    0
  • abdullah omar
    23.05.2017

    only somebody who has been to Amu can smell the ghosts of Amu.but i dont see that Amu in this piece!




    2
  • Reen
    23.05.2017

    The irony of having laptops in such a poverty-stricken place, no electricity, no water but hey, look laptops *sad*
    PLAN intl still exists? wow, kudos to their awesome work. That Tamms part is hilarious, i just roared out with laughter.
    Amazing piece Bikozulu, and to imagine that it’s the same country but it feels like a totally new other world you just wrote about.
    Now i’m in the office chanting Isuzu TOSHAAA too ☺☺




    3
  • P K
    23.05.2017

    I wouldn’t mind trading my life right now for those kids’ life. Just sit under a tree or mud hut and repeat after the teacher.

    Why does everyone commenting on mbuju actually think you have a printing business going bad? Please disabuse them of the notion. Pretty please with a mbuju on top




    1
  • wanjikuWaNgigi
    23.05.2017

    smh




    1
  • Qui
    23.05.2017

    Hahahaha. Great read!

    Couldn’t help feel for those kids though
    Sad!




    0
  • Lisa
    23.05.2017

    Hehehee. Engaging the medicineman that much and giving him so much hope of getting 18k without feeling a thing, Biko Yawa!




    0
  • Manywele
    23.05.2017

    As you find out about “Mbuju”, can we see a visual of that “Lapdesk”? Very keen to see how it is helping the kids back in Lamu and Kilifi. A good thank you for Isuzu assuming they are the company that went down there to give out the desks.




    0
  • Susan
    23.05.2017

    hahahhaahaha……what an adventure with the medicineman. ” I dont trust anyone who calls people ndugu or dada”. Sad situation for the children learning in those schools. Matiangi should read this and do something about the learning environment of those children.




    1
  • It’s painful that we have pockets of stark poverty in some regions in Kenya. The laptops in places without electricity is like a hot slap on the face, an insult, misplaced priorities.
    Poverty robs one of their confidence and dignity whether adult or child. How can you find words to talk when your tummy is rumbling and you’re garbed in tatters?
    On the topic of medicine men or witch doctors, I shake my head when I hear people consult them. What they do is to compound the problem so that they start a cycle of never ending problems, because Satan is not a giver, he takes and takes some more. If there’s a problem with the knee, he simply transfers the problem to your elbow, so now your knee ‘is healed’ but your elbow has a problem so you run back to the witch doctor for that. It’s wisdom to run to Jesus Christ for solutions to any problem. He is the answer.




    14
    • Gladness
      23.05.2017

      Ignorance.Inherited way of living.Lack of exposure to better things. Poverty is a disease, it requires healing and restoration just like any other diseases. Sadly, poverty is not a priority to fix in the third world. It’s a means to an end to certain people. Powerful people.
      Check out mogumo.wordpress.com 🙂




      0
    • Teryl
      24.05.2017

      Amen




      0
  • Nava
    23.05.2017

    I’ve always seen those Mganga Mashuhuri posters all over electricity poles but I never once considered dialing any…now I feel some cheekiness creeping up on me. Let me await my storo-bonus




    4
    • Caleen
      23.05.2017

      Nilipata number kwa mtu was stoma,




      1
    • Miss Adeny
      23.05.2017

      Yeap! Also tempted to try.




      0
  • Eric
    23.05.2017

    The only Mbuju I know is Banton, but withiiut a ‘mbi'(m). Great read aas usual.




    0
  • Ranji
    23.05.2017

    Ha ha ha,,this is a very beautiful read.Maybe Benjaps is the one responsible for your woes…he he he he




    1
  • Riri
    23.05.2017

    The coastal region makes one wonder what their leaders do with allocated funds. Anyway, Biko you made my day; every time I travel I do so many crazy things that when I sit back I wonder whether I leave my b****s at home as well. Looks like a got a partner on that. But anyway, great work!




    0
  • Nyar Oyando
    23.05.2017

    Who in the world would call you Dada Biko? Are you beautiful by any chance?




    2
    • Dickson Kinyua
      23.05.2017

      Foreheads can be misleading




      8
      • Liz Muli
        23.05.2017

        Hahaha, people will kill me one of these fine days.




        1
  • Kish
    23.05.2017

    Haha only Biko would dare engage a medicine man without breaking a sweat.

    Good read as always.




    0
  • Githogori
    23.05.2017

    Shamba la sheikh Abaghada
    Lango la Simba
    You should have bought Baniya at Witu
    We cry destitution but we haven’t seen shit until you venture out to the cracked heels counties of this Great republic. There you’ll keep quiet and feel like whipping yourself
    Pssst. You should experience that massive piece of artillery go off, damn its chilling even with the hell like temperatures of lamu




    1
  • Aly
    23.05.2017

    It’s sad that there are people who consider it a privilege to own a pair of shoes. As the gang, how can we help these children?




    1
  • Dickson Kinyu
    23.05.2017

    I do actually drive a Dmax and I rear pigs. We should be frens. You can trust me, I’ve got nothing to do with your water and printing woes




    4
  • EDWIN CHIRCHIR
    23.05.2017

    The medicine man probably twisted the the name. May be Mbuju means Jumbu. Try searching for that.




    1
  • Josephine
    23.05.2017

    I feel for those kids. To think that lacking money for a school trip in primary school was the worst thing ever, then you read how these children are barely clothed and do not have the basic needs that we took for granted is just heart breaking.
    Good job Biko. Nice (but heart wrenching) read.




    1
  • Kevine
    23.05.2017

    To those kids, they are just living life. You find it weird that they go around barefeet but they don’t; unless they have experienced the other side of life.

    I started wearing shoes when I went to form one. It was normal for us to walk barefeet.

    I have scars on my limbs that remind me of that life. It looks weird now that I was walking barefeet and in tatters. Back then, it was the way of life




    3
  • Marion
    23.05.2017

    Good stuff. I like how you have mirrored CSR as brainwashing because it is actually so true. and the alienation from reality, obsession with camera and all that nauseating joy…hard truth!




    3
  • Wambui
    23.05.2017

    Nice read




    0
  • Gladness
    23.05.2017

    Refreshing as always. Read my wild insights from mogumo.wordpress.com I am somewhere in between a feminist and a realist.




    0
  • Kennedy
    23.05.2017

    “Kiuno ya mbuju” only the medicine man can explain that to us

    On the shoes and lack off…………hmmmmmmm been there done that




    0
  • Mary
    23.05.2017

    Beautiful piece Biko!




    0
  • Liz
    23.05.2017

    Poor Poor Fred…On another note,i think the govenor of Kilifi can do better to uplift his county.You just have to pass Arabuko Sokoke forest to know that living in stone houses is a priviledge.




    0
  • Charles Kagana
    23.05.2017

    We, the people, know who has sponsored this piece (piece?), and it’s not General Motors. It is that one man who always criticizes our efforts to bring in affordable maize to wananchi, provide (bring in?) electricity to slum dwellers no matter where they live, and provide digital learning to all our children bila ubaguzi kwa kona zote za Kenya through laptops.




    1
    • TheBlackKennedy
      23.05.2017

      Hahaha.

      I love the way you think.

      Cheers




      1
    • ces
      24.05.2017

      You’re kidding right?




      0
  • Betty
    23.05.2017

    hahahaha,,,,,,,,,,,,,he can always burn his leaves and GPS my ass




    4
  • Doug
    23.05.2017

    This is the only story I’ve read word for word since Pay Forward.




    0
  • Caleen
    23.05.2017

    Viuno vya mbuju mko wapi??!……




    0
  • Susan
    23.05.2017

    Ati, Ama ni Tamms? Biko you are so naughty!!
    The level of poverty at the coast is disturbing. Most of us however just know the rosy side of coast. I used to wonder how counties in coast would be allocated more devolution monies than those in ukambani (having schooled there and witnessed poverty first hand) until I visited the rural coast!




    0
  • Anne
    23.05.2017

    Am appreciating my life so much more after reading this. Great read as always. Be blessed.




    0
  • TheBlackKennedy
    23.05.2017

    SPECTACULAR…




    1
  • Jude Paul
    23.05.2017

    I marvel at how these children are stoic and can afford to be happy. Nice read and above all nice work from Plan International.




    0
  • Ayuma
    23.05.2017

    Tumia “huyo” kwenye sentensi. (Alama 30)
    -Huyo dada ana kiuno ya Mbuju.

    Naenda Nairobi leo, hiyo damu ya mbuju naweza pata Moi Avenue?” I ask him.

    Hahahahahaha . . . . . . these two phrases have got me rolling on the floor, Biko u the MAN, do u talk like this in person? If I was given a wish right now, I would say just to spend an hour with you n am sure to burst my ‘arse’ out with laughter.




    0
  • Barbs
    23.05.2017

    I laughed to tears. How do you just disappear to go make a phone call to a Mediceman. I am already picturing you under that tree!




    0
  • Blain
    23.05.2017

    Great read. You ought to find that 18K men or that business will go way down. I tried it and it works perfectly.
    Think i’m second here. 🙂




    0
  • Cold Turkey
    23.05.2017

    An ad within a story?




    0
  • Betty
    23.05.2017

    Great read Biko. I havent laughed that hard in a while. Looking forward to Next week.So sad about the kids though.




    1
  • Mso
    23.05.2017

    That night I sleep naked against the white sheets, under the rotary fan with blades chopping away at the air like a boxer on his 10th round. The AC is at 30. When I lose sleep at 3am, I stumble to the balcony and sit, on a lounge chair overlooking the ocean and the blinking lights of Shela across the channel. I open my kindle and read for an hour…….Naked?




    0
  • Tito
    23.05.2017

    Biko Biko Biko you kill it every single time. The mbuju business cracked me up while empathizing with the hapless souls. Hii iko mbuju




    0
  • Njeri
    23.05.2017

    The substance of the story is sad; sad that there are people all over Kenya who live in such abject poverty, while the so called leaders line their pockets.
    The humor though – lol. Thanks for the laughs.




    0
  • Hyxoul
    23.05.2017

    ….GPS my ass… mbuju…. daktari toka kitui…




    0
  • Fions
    23.05.2017

    I’m loving the funky new website design. Cheers!




    0
  • Unknown Warrior
    23.05.2017

    Biko, Wuon Tamms!!
    Goodness knows how I enjoy your writing!! As you arrive on 4th Floor this year, I will asking the Heavens to keep you around for eons to come coz you are simply INSPIRED!!!
    LMAO, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS!!




    0
  • Sabby
    23.05.2017

    Torn between laughing and crying… Great read…




    0
  • Kelvn
    23.05.2017

    Mbuju!! Biko never lose that magic pen you use..
    Alaf the comments here are the icing on the cake




    0
  • Wamuyu
    23.05.2017

    Sometimes am not sure what to think of Coastal poverty. I know a man who has a title for 200 acres of land in Lamu and is employed in middle management. Why does such a big land owner need a job? That answer am sure is a clue to poverty at the Coast.




    0
  • Switch
    23.05.2017

    You still went ahead to send him 640.
    I cant stop to think how the medicine man saved you on his phone.




    2
    • Kadipo
      24.05.2017

      Biko sees the 640 as a CSR to see what the mganga would do. I see it as a loss. Iyo ungewapa hao watoto maskini wakanunue nayo mikanda




      1
  • Gerard N
    24.05.2017

    I really enjoyed reading this piece….




    0
  • Emmanuel Dennis
    24.05.2017

    Hahahaha! Biko you are special.




    0
  • Milka
    24.05.2017

    Curiosity+guts=amazwballs! Hahahaha..very funny. Glad you did it




    0
  • Mamu
    24.05.2017

    Continue ….continue… Please continue. You had me glued wallah… Felt like I was part of the outreach team. Karibu tena kilifi. And that mbuju godforsaken man is a con artist. I




    0
  • Miriam Mwangi
    24.05.2017

    Looool!! That medicine man storo! I have died. Not yet though.




    0
  • Kadipo
    24.05.2017

    The new page looks ugly.

    But the story is lively. I love the mganga story. Ati damu ya nini??? Huyo mnyama hata mi sijawahi msikia.




    0
  • mtk
    24.05.2017

    Hmm…gr8 read that…




    0
  • flo
    24.05.2017

    Very interesting how you paint the poverty, even your distractions serve to emphasize it even more.




    0
  • Simba
    24.05.2017

    “Bora Moyo Primary School” what a name!

    The coastal towns hide the real Coast region, there’s abject poverty in those lands. 40 km inland and you are in a risky totally different world :(.

    Nice read, thanks!




    0
  • Nyangau 001
    24.05.2017

    Nice read Biko. I live in a country in West Afr with such poverty if not worse. So I can relate with that picture of kids with torn clothes without shoes. C’est pas bon.




    0
  • Jacinta
    24.05.2017

    I grew up in Lamu… Didn’t have a desk for NY first 2years of school… And yes, there were holes in the wall. I know there is hope for thise children. As for mbuju… Never heard of it




    0
  • sept.
    25.05.2017

    the irony for me here, is how you managed to write a heartbreaking story bout poverty, esp touching on children who probably don’t hold much hope for a better tomorrow and still manage to add that you burnt a whole 640 on a mganga who ofcourse couldn’t solve your ‘problems’…. someone could probably have benefited from a pair of slippers no?!?!




    0
  • Anna Banana
    25.05.2017

    That witchdoctor though .
    Awesome read as always.




    0
  • Erick Wabwire
    25.05.2017

    I presume for ‘nguvu za kiume’ I might get a prescription of four bottles ya damu ya mbuju. Haha. Maybe be go deeper in the sea to find that mbuju thing.




    0
  • Kay
    25.05.2017

    Just wondering do men like being taken to romantic destinations? I thought that’s a girl thing?and men just tag along for the hopes of getting laid from the girl being I.pressed by how romantic the place is….




    0
  • Johnson
    25.05.2017

    The Mbuju guy “con artist” should be awarded a tender by the County Government of Lamu to eradicate poverty and laziness at large……




    1
  • Okhwa Papa
    25.05.2017

    Interesting read…as usual. I like how the Mganga story is creatively used to spice up the main story..great writing. In a country that we are said to waste upwards of 300bn on corruption, we shall be judged severely some day in future if the poverty narrative in the story is allowed to continue




    0
  • Wa Mso
    25.05.2017

    Ha ha…Biko, that part on Bunju and gout tickled me-huyo Bunju.
    That said, I’ve always wondered how many millions a classroom/school with desks would cost coz successive national governments have left some regions quite neglected; it feels criminal that these kids have to endure the deficiencies in their schools. Tragedy is that even the County governments seem clueless yet you wouldn’t expect them to think twice on what to prioritize. For them flags and titles-Excellencies and First Ladies-rank higher. Nkt.




    0
    • Wa Mso
      25.05.2017

      *Mbuju
      And thanks for restoring “sharing is sexy”




      0
  • tonnienamu
    25.05.2017

    Its sad how poverty denies some kenyan kids a fair chance at life, nevertheless i appreciate all your efforts-GM/isuzu,Plan international you Biko and other partners




    0
  • EggLayer
    27.05.2017

    Finding a number under a tree is sic. Hhaaaaaa this Biko got humour unprecedented.

    Kiuno cha mbuju….guy you are jocularly comical.




    1
  • Wanjiru Muigai
    28.05.2017

    Biko you denied the medicine man a chance to be rich…… Maybe you should have a pay bill we your fans changa funds to get you mbuji blood…

    In other news to you have master class outside Nairobi..?




    0
  • Joy Rugz
    30.05.2017

    “Huyo dada ana kiuno ya Mbuju”
    Give that man 30 full marks!




    1
  • Malaika
    30.05.2017

    My take home. Take pleasure in simple joys like those kids with the football. Live for the moment…




    0
  • mercy
    30.05.2017

    “Children cluster together curiously, these dirty children” I think saying those children were dirty is more dignifying than calling them those “dirty children”.
    Same with “The teachers, these poor professionals ” these poor professionals…
    Dirtyness can be removed, poverty can be changed..I think we should associate things that can’t be changed like that, for example, that tall man,

    I just have an issue with the way you have potrayed poverty here.
    Like its something desks and balls brought by donors flagged by many cameras and journalists, can cure.

    And that question, ” when was the last time you were happy?” It implies so many biases on the person asking. Like happiness can be put into boxes and counted. Like happiness is in any way connected to not having shoes and clothes.

    My advice to anyone who genuinely wants to help scrape out poverty, go stay or work with such kind of a community for a month.
    It will help remove this “poverty-porn” that the middle class has. And see that ‘charity’ though desirable does little to help out those children struggling with abject poverty.




    0
    • Damaris Roulette
      07.06.2017

      Great response Mercy!
      But Biko never said the desks and balls will fix the abject poverty he saw. He simply chose one point of view in which he was a part of and used that ‘eye’. He is smart enough not to have such a narrow perspective on the issues the people of Lamu and Kilifi have. I don’t see lack of dignity in describing the children the way he did. It’s like saying ‘watoto waliokuwa wachafu means different from ‘watoto wachafu’. There is no permanence in these descriptors that he used. Every journalist will have a bias depending on the angle they choose to direct their focus. So you are right, happiness can be counted; the same way sand between my toes can evoke happiness, a pair of shoes indeed can be a source of happiness. I call it influence where we can; so they passed balls and desks. The problem we should all be having along with Biko and the principal is those laptops in a no-lectricity region.
      So true about helping. Mother Teresa lived amongst the poor to not empathize with them but to experience poverty with the people of Calcutta. The ‘poverty-porn’ is such a great way of describing the phenomenon amongst the middle and high class.

      Our government has to change for us to see change at the grassroots level.




      0
  • Midudi Midudi
    05.06.2017

    Hahahaaa…you have made me search for this word “Mbuju” on google..




    0
  • Damaris Roulette
    07.06.2017

    Biko, I love how you take me to wonder where the story goes, then you elevate my spirit with excitement of what’s to follow, then in a twisted manner you switch gears and I’m hungering for more of what I didn’t know in the first place…. then you drop these lines that make me pause, go back, re-read, pause, then keep reading on. Your climax to your stories come in unexpected ways, and that’s why I love each and every article you produce. Your humor as you expose the Kenyan nuances, spoken word (like ‘I’m almost’, in God is a Gentleman) takes me back home. You have a way with words that is naturally uplifting, grand, yet so simplistic in writing. You have a stalker in me; but I imagine you have an army of them. Lolest! Good thing your spell keeps them at scroll’s end, that they may still enjoy the lyrics in your life that you spew on your blog.
    God bless you!




    0
  • Kokoth
    10.06.2017

    This is dope!!!




    0
  • Joseph
    10.06.2017

    I was hoping to see you on the NTV feature tonight…




    0
  • Es
    18.06.2017

    Another flawless beautiful read Biko. You amaze me; I can get you Mbuju blood for 920 bob just #sambazachapaa @#thingsihear




    0
  • Mwakisha Makoko
    19.06.2017

    Huyo msichana ana kiuno cha mbuju” translation “that girl has nonexistent waist” hehehe




    0

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