Category: Thoughts

Second Letter to Mama and Papa


Sorry for being too quiet. Things have been pretty busy this side. I’m not to take the whole blame though. I was wondering why you guys didn’t respond to my first letter. I thought maybe the angels set a bar but then brushed it off as illogical. Anyways, I’m fine. This is awkward to ask but how is the going over there? Grandpa says it’s all merry so I can only imagine how much fun you guys are into. It makes me kind of jealous. I heard one time this preacher say that when we go to heaven, we turn to our youthful lives. You guys must have fallen in love again because dad would become irresistibly handsome and mum, a beauty.

Mama, I’m an uncle of two now. Big Sis has two children, Harriet and Hamlet. Hamlet is this 13-year old energetic young boy whom I’m made to believe acts like I used to. Playful and aggressive, he’s dubbed kichwa ngumu. It might be a phase in his life but I can’t resist sympathizing with his mum. If he’s a replica of what I used to be, then mama, I’m deeply sorry. Trailing behind him is Harriet. She’s two classes behind her elder brother. Harriet is an angel. She’s laid back and would make a perfect grandchild for you. I love the way she twitches her eyes, takes a deep breath and informally shouts my name, “ankooo”.

As for dad, Kenyan politics is all different now. We never grew up together that much but I’m certain you were a fan. Do you remember young Uhuru Kenyatta who used to walk most of the time with fierce mzee? He’s the president now. Kenyatta’s legacy still thrives. Sadly, they still haven’t established those behind the deaths of Robert Ouko and J.M Kariuki. Though you can now shout “Hatutaki Moi” without fear, intimidation is far from over. That aside, I’m growing to be as handsome as you used to be dad. The boys are good so is big sis.

Sad news; your business empire is no more. I can’t point an accusing finger but that’s exactly it. Dad, you were the greatest businessman I knew and mum the greatest manager. Things went sour immediately mum left. It’s no big deal though. That’s what earthly treasures do. They come and go, right? Half way with my university education, it’s been quite a journey. Haha…Mama I know what you’re thinking now but let me just put it straight. I haven’t found the right woman for myself yet. A whole life still ahead of me, I’m in no rush. I have an eye for one though.

Looking forward to your response this time round. I miss you guys so much but till we meet Inshallah.


The distance is nothing compared to our bond. Although same breath we might not share, we live side by side each and every day. Someday in glory, we shall celebrate to the applause of the heavens. So stay put, wipe the tears and cling to the hope.



The Only One Like You.

A jovial mood sets in. It happens, probably because the exams are finally over and you can’t wait to restore Breaking Bad from your ‘recycle bin’. For ladies, it’s time to go home – meet family. The last paper was done hastily, trying as much as possible to balance excitement and focus. A tactical sweep of the exam room showed total calm, even for the ones alien to tranquility. A good example would be Jose, the crazy schmuck in your the class, who earned the title speeder because of the time he takes to finish his papers. Well, he calls himself a choppy – word used to describe those in love with books – but everyone knows too well what Google can bring out of a ‘genius’. You take a deep breath and slowly retreat to match the rhythm.

It’s a different mantra for the boys; ‘East West, free Wi-Fi is best’. This is the time to make those huge downloads before going home. You figured anything that’s free deserves total attention. Most students have already left by now and this is good news. Not only will internet speeds hit an all-time high, but you’ll also avoid the preying eyes of those quick to judge; women. In a sudden twist, two of your great buddies inform you of a change of plans. Something has come up and scheduled day for going home has been edged closer; matter of hours. Worst still, the school’s bandwidth has just gone down. Communication to your Indian employer cut short. You resort to buy your own internet bundles to chat the way forward with Rajesh. Rajesh is your first employer. Despite poor pay from the article writing job, you always find yourself after him to renew your online contract. Rajesh is offline, last seen: a month ago. Tick tock, you’re on the move.

The journey home is no different. You’ve done it uncountable times, never been a fan. Nauseating feeling marred with constant headaches worsen the five hours trail. This at times leaves you wondering why it features in the list of hobbies of most girls. You arrive home to cheerful hugs of your younger siblings – experience has shown you this is a mere way of saying umetuletea nini this time?. Mama is still at work so you settle in, take a nap then wake up to your younger brother’s nagging character. Keeping his tone in check, he narrates to you the story of how baba Jonny – a local celebrated farmer – slashed his chickens to death. Apparently, the father of two came in one evening from a drinking spree, sharpened his grass cutter and tore the birds to pieces. Credible source had it that this move was in protest of the daily sukuma wiki meal mama Jonny prepared. You laugh not thinking too much of their fate.

It’s only after supper that you get a quiet nice time with your mum. She asks how you’ve been fairing on, quick to notice you’ve lost quite an incredible amount of weight. Deep inside you’re like “you’re to blame, the hustle was tough”, but you suppress it. She informs you that Sarah came home a week earlier. Sarah is a childhood competitor who lives few blocks away. Back in the days, your mama used to vehemently insist Sarah wasn’t supposed to defeat you in end-term exams. You didn’t understand why but then thought that boys were just supposed to lead. Probably that’s the very reason why you’ve always been intrigued by the fact that it’s always ladies first in many queues you’ve been in. You kept the gap and never disappointed. Now both of you grown-ups, you’re among the few in university at your local. The comparison is still on. Sometimes Sarah’s mum comes to your home to scale if her daughter is on the right path by your books. This has brought Sarah and you close. You laugh at the fact that your parents expect you guys to chip in to the family budget from what they regard as ‘hefty’ HELB loan.

The third day home and boredom is being well felt. You log onto your Facebook account to see what the world is up to. All your friends seem to be doing something fun. A normal human you are. You put on your Sunday best, think of a ‘swaggerifiic’ pose then ask Toto to shoot you a photo all smiles, making sure the home theater, plasma screen and Xbox are well seen on the background. Next, you post the photo on your account. Hash tag, ‘just chilling in my hood, nice moments’. Now the short holiday seems long. You take your phone then put it down wondering why it’s always you who should start all the conversations. Finally you swallow your pride and ask those in your circle when they’d be returning back to school. The answers are a shocker. It is only then that you realize you’re the only one like you.

This is a story of what started as crazy idea turning into a realistic work. A group of passionate hackers, developers, I.T enthusiast and fans of hackathons meet at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology with a main goal of solving various problems affecting communities. Now for those not familiar with the word ‘hackathon’, it is actually a meeting of the said groups that team up to try to solve a particular problem within 48 hours. The main task therefore is identifying a problem.
I had attended such an event before so this wasn’t a new deal for me. I took my time in trying to settle on a perfect proposal to work on then immediately noticed a lady had been flanked by a couple of guys. Curiosity got the best of me and couldn’t resist joining the group keenly listening as the lady explained what she had in store. Turned out to be some kind of a solution to the problem farmers do encounter in trying to settle on market prices for their produce. Honestly at this point the whole idea didn’t seem that catchy to me so I resorted to finding another serious problem on the internet. I failed. Nothing came up. Guys who had seen loopholes made specs of what they came up with and it was up to the rest of the crew to make a decision on who to join in accomplishing the task at hand.
Still undecided, we went for lunch then and it was at this time I got to meet Jane. She made it clear to me how the situation was on the ground for farmers. Jane had been in the country for well over a year now and had volunteered to be posted in rural Ukambani to pitch base there and feed her organization on the happenings. What interested me was the fact that she had let go an otherwise well-off life in upcountry west of New York to months of hardships at a rural village in Kenya. The question was in the period her stay there, had she learned something? Apparently, yes. It dawned on her how local farmers had it difficult in trying to settle of the right market prices for their farm produce.
The turning point; I was now more than sure that this is something I would love to see solved. Together with a friend, we pledged to help her quest and soon a couple of guys joined us to form a team of nine. 30 or so hours later, Lipwa Poa was born. We settled on the name Lipwa Poa because our main aim here was trying to see farmers get a fair share of their handwork and evade being exploited by middlemen. It wasn’t that easy though. First, the option of Internet was ruled out since a larger share of local farmers doesn’t have access to Internet. Consequently, a web-based or mobile application was out of topic. We needed to come up with a text-based service since most farmers do have phones with minimum features as compared to the smartphones. We also settled on a framework to work on and brought our heads together on how the structure of our database would be like. I’m not going to go deeper into the system but at the end, our system was up and running. We set up a gateway, did a test, saw it passing and got to marvel at what we had accomplished.

The Lipwa Poa team

The Lipwa Poa team

Now the system would see farmers register with us, post prices of their commodities in various locations and be able to retrieve prices of various commodities in their market regions. All this done via short message service (sms) with a specific format. Sending messages for registration at normal charge rate and posting prices at a fee of ksh. 5 bob per sms, our business model was all inclusive. The service would also offer a platform for firms in the sector to advertise various products to the registered farmers.
The journey could be long but we’ve achieved half or greater part of it. Our wish is to see the system operational so that farmers ‘walipwe poa’. You better watch out, Lipwa Poa could be out anytime soon!


Storm Cloud Marriage is a love story revolving around Sandra Harris [daughter of a wealthy Chemist Edward Harris] who is determined to find her true love in totally unpredictable world. Set in her [Sandra’s] home town Norwich, Robert Leigh manages to shell the next move [that Sandra takes] leaving a reader glued to the book and yearning to break the suspense. Through the first pages of the book, the reader is introduced to all the main characters –Edward Harris, a frail father and widower who runs Harris Pharmaceutics. Randall Pearson, a well-bred, well-educated chemist who rose to be the Managing Director of Edward’s company and Barry Chadwick, an accountant with an Advertising agency who was to be caught up later in a love triangle with the former.

Sandra grew up viewing Randall as her dad’s handpicked choice for her. This didn’t go down well with miss Harris resulting into a strong hatred for him to a point of mental attack of hives at the mention of his name. Sandra had snubbed joining an excellent local art school for another in London –away from home. Determined to make it on her own, she declined her father’s offer of being bought a studio and gallery for a job at Causten Advertising. “I want to get a job on my own merit, Daddy, not yours.” she had told her father. The new workplace was soon to see her start dating Barry. Their relationship grew up so fast to a point where she threw her pride to the wind and admitted loving him. But in a sudden twist, things went sour –pushing the door shut, he hungrily reached for her. Never the gentlest of lovers, tonight he was rougher, his mouth fierce on hers, his tongue insistent as it harshly probed the soft inner moistness—her old fear took over.

‘No, Barry! I can’t!’

‘Why not?’

‘It’s no game. Sex is special’, Sandra found herself saying.

Deep inside she knew she had strong love for him but couldn’t bring herself to the intimacy. Years back, Mario [a young Italian] had been an ideal escort then one night –refusing to take her vehement ‘NO!’ for an answer – had roughly begun molesting her. The household had heed to her cries and now that ugly scene was threatening to spilt her from what seemed her future. News that her father had been taken ill sealed the darkest hour of her life. Recuperating from the severe heart attack, Edward Harris made it clear his dying wish would be to see his daughter tie the knot with Randall [his hero]. “It disturbs me more not seeing him! He’s good company Sandra. I wish you two were friends.’ The old chap had told her daughter who was at his bedside. What followed was a series of vitriol exchange that pitted Sandra against Randall. Slowly Barry faded from her mind. Pearson the Paragon [as Sandra had privately dubbed Randall] found himself trying to prove his love for her while she tried her level best to prove their mismatch. They were too desperate: he cold where she was warm, analytic where she was intuitive, reserved where she was impulsive.

Barry regarded her as a sex object and Randall as means of securing his position. Sandra found herself taking a niche at her artistic work –being a graphics designer – after moving in with her now husband Randall from a honeymoon in New York. She had said Yes to a man she didn’t love a bit. Edward was happy. The two were getting airtime from the media and she had to feign her love for Randall on the limelight. Days of living together didn’t wither her hatred. One evening Randall grabs her and Sandra loses the will to fight back. What was to be a rape ordeal ends up an intimate session leaving Sandra a virgin no more. Writhing with shame, questions clamoring to be answered popped up in days to come. Why did she loosely give in to Randall? Edward Harris’ death set Sandra free from the Paragon. She moved out. Then did it dawn on her she had slowly fallen in love with the man she hated. How had the hatred waned?

The hunter became the hunted. Edward Leigh gives the story a gist; it takes two to tango. Packing her memories away, Sandra embarks on a journey to win the heart of a man who had lost hope in ever winning her heart. Was Randall ready for this? Had he moved on? Will she let go her pride and do the proposing? This is an example of a classical happy ending.

The Nairobi Sessions is a web series that features big and growing musical talents. Award winning super producer David ‘Blackman’ Muthami is the man behind this creative idea. The weekly series is aimed at celebrating Nairobi’s vibrant music and urban culture.

The show has already kicked off big hosting a couple of artists that get to do unplugged versions of their songs. Here’s the crazy part, the performance is totally unrehearsed thereby showcasing a raw deal of the talents. The 2009’s Groove Awards Producer of the Year Blackman sticks himself on the guitar in the 4 minutes session curating via YouTube.


Blackman Muthami

Songbirds Sara Mitaru and Nanjira were the first two artists to be featured on Nairobi Sessions both of whom are signed to Blackman Entertainment label. Sara Mitaru performed a live acoustic version of You Said while Nanjira settled for her latest single Walking. Coincidentally, both tracks have were written by Blackman.

Others who have done their thing include Sage(real name Barabara) who performed So Alive that is a massive hit now. She has previously worked with Muthoni Drummer Queen before launching her solo career. Naomi Wachira who started singing from a tender age of five also made an appearance singing her track I’m Alive. Mumala did her single Where did the love go and later teamed up with rapper Rabbit performing hit song Adisia. Blinky Bill of Just A Band performed “Twende Kazi/Get Down” while Sara Miratu’s younger sister Wambura Mitaru who is a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston wrapped the list(as at the moment) of the appearances with her song “Radi na Umeme/Thunder and Lightning”.

The show also involves International singers visiting from Africa and Abroad. One of such is Uganda’s RnB sensation Maurice Kirya who made a stop-over and performed his track Worth The Wait. The show is promising. Blackman clearly got this right as he has managed to showcase us the new breed of Kenyan artists that seem unstoppable in their bid to take over. The show will run throughout the year. Check out the videos on YouTube.

Here’s younger Mitaru doing Radi na Umeme, I loved it!

A paint on the 9th commandment.

She was the kind of woman who said, “I hope this special day is infused with beauty and light and that all your hopes and dreams crystallize into a loving reality emanating from an equally loving universe.”  He would have been more comfortable if she just said. “Happy birthday.”

He was the kind of man who said. ”Whenever I see one of those tired, middle-aged, balding schmucks pushing a baby carriage down street behind this thirty-year old, yoga-fed, Pilate-sized, armoire shopping , second wife, I can’t help but feel a wave of pity for the poor, toad-like bastard.” She would have been more comfortable if he just said. “I don’t really want more kids.”

She was the kind of woman who said. ”What difference does it make if I’ve slept with rock stars, movie stars and sports legends? You measure up quite nicely to all those guys.” He would have been more comfortable if she just said. “Stand still while I stab you in the heart with my intrauterine device.”

He was the kind of man who said. ‘I’m a worn-out, emotional wreck who’s incapable of anything resembling warmth, love and intimacy, but I have a lot of money and you’ll never want for anything.” She would have been more comfortable if he just said… No, actually she was entirely comfortable with the way he put it. In other words, the way I put it.

Maybe the Mayans were right

A post-poll Kenya goes down on its knees. The aftermath: a shambling economy and a trail of over 660,000 internally displaced persons. Sorry for taking you back, I was only trying to make a point here. Five years later and lessons seem not to have been learnt.


The birth of a new constitution in 2010 marked a new chapter for the country, the craze that followed the promulgation ceremony only lead to one conclusion; birth of a new nation. At least for anyone that minded to take a look could see light at the end of the tunnel under the new dispensation. So when some regions of the country experienced acute chaos in party primaries five years later after our lowest point many questions begin to pop up. Dirty politics is rooted in many societies even in the west. That is beside the point. The difference lies on the citizens. Politicians still incite you to turn against your brother? Shame on you! It’s a pity that people can be so ignorant.

A minute past midnight of 21st of December last year and a buzz breaks about a failed apocalypse. The mayans are laughed at, they were wrong. Come a new year and one may think they were right after all. We are buying out time. Just like a football game, our existence here is only kept by the need to break unknown tie. A period of extra time that is very short. Our time might just be up. We are a failed state. A timebomb looms ahead, 20 days as from this day lest something is done. The black messiah where are you? So were the Mayans right? Just maybe….

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. 

~Berthold Auerbach

Weka usitegemee bahati, mtaka cha mvunguni kuinama ni sharti…“, starts off a female vocalist then pops in a male voice, “Ruka kwenye hewa zama kwa maji kama chewa…“. Meet a local duet of a 2009 African Achievement Award winnning Mzungu Kichaa featuring afro-fusion Dela in African Hustle.


The song came out late last year and from the beginning one thing is evident: inspiration. African Hustle is a positive message of putting effort in what we do and reap off from our hard work. The song is a mixture of Bongo Flava, a wildly popular Tanzanian style of hip-hop that uses arabesque melodies with elements of afrobeat and dancehall sealed with afro-soul. Mzungu Kichaa is white, Danish who grew up in Tanzania and came to fall in love with the local culture seeing himself adopt a local Swahili name that means crazy white man. He sings in fluent Kiswahili and is well know in East Africa.

The Track is a fresh single from Kichaa’s EP Hustle released on first December of last year. Dela on the other hand is a Kenyan neo-soul singer who happens to be one of Kichaa’s favorite locally. “Africa will rise up with African Hustle..” the star throws in some line, happens to be my best part; the message. For a lover of Afro-soul, this is a must listen. The song is available on iTunes.





Young men from upcountry moving into big cities in search of greener pastures has almost become a trend. Nothings tells this story better than Nairobi Half Life. Mwas(Joseph Wairimu), a young village boy aspiring to be an actor dreams of making it big in the city.


The movie starts off in a rural setting characterized majorly by the use of local dialect. The young man’s innocence is evident here. This dramatically changes as the dude makes an entrance into Nairobi; the sound track makes a shift from the local Agikuyu song to urbane hip-hop. All things seems to go wrong for Mwas from the moment he sets his foot on the ground. He loses everything. The rest of the story is all about trying to make a living in a world full of crime, deceit, corruption and injustice. You might have to close your eyes at some point. Aside from the dirty picture: love. The story is twisted in amazing drama exposing the grim side of a big city. The wrap is what most might term as a happy ending but for my case it was an emotional one.

The film is directed by Tosh Gitonga and has become a success partly attributed to the massive social media campaign by the production company, One Fine Day Films. It has attracted a crowd of 10,000 since its premier September last year grossing well over 7 million shillings in local tickets sales alone.


A passenger’s terminal characterized with hordes of people is what I had expected; I was right. It was minutes past noon when I arrived at the place, took a shelter from the scorching sun under a standing by young lady’s umbrella; she gave me a smile that caught me by surprise. A call came in from my host, I was to take a matatu heading for a small town East of Eldoret about fifteen kilometers from the hub.

A clear label read ‘number 13’ on a board placed on top of a green matatu, this was my ticket. Vehicles plying root thirteen were different; one of those that were popular back in the days that saw six passengers sit on opposite sides facing each other. More like an enclosed pickup. Two others got to sit on the far end as if to mediate between two opposing sides. I would later learn that only these type of vehicles were able to endure the pathetic road that lead one to the small town. Life is all about facing situations, realities and challenges. Here I was, facing strangers and trying my best to put a friendly face to an otherwise total alien world. Anyone looking for a comfortable ride was mistaken and as a sicker inside the matatu read ‘plan b: buy your own’, it was perfectly right. My grandpa always said that we should accept the situation we are in and using what we have at the moment in the hope that things will get better in the future. I got to see the point.


In no time we were on the road. The matatu was overcrowded. The three extra passengers had to squat since there was no more sitting space. Among them a middle aged woman, whom we were locked to eye contact for a while, each other seeming to pity the other though it was quite clear that she deserved all. Then it hit me that I was selfish. I had only thought about myself. I had been thinking that it was only hard for me but at least I was in a chair compared to some stranger lady. Due to to the overloading, the driver had to drop his ‘token’ to the witty traffic police in a couple of road blocks; in life there are many injustices. Just before we took off the main road into a rough road that leads to the small town, the driver takes a sudden halt that causes as to be pushed forward. This leads to a random thought in my mind. When we face hard times, we are not the only ones. Most at times, we tend to think that life is unfair to only us. No. More passengers were picked up. This left me shocked. Among the new passengers was a young lady with a baby. I could tell she was a new mother. The lady had to hand over her kid to a girl that sat at the far end as she had to squat. The girl seemed not to know how to handle the baby and she was soon crying. That led me to another conclusion. Life at times forces us to watch as our loved ones undergo pain in our watch. We want to do something but it becomes entirely impossible and all we have to do is sit back and just watch, just like the lass did, watching her child crying from a distance.

A closer look and one could see a sigh of relief as we delighted from the vehicle at the small town. Reaching the destination is what mattered most and not the means under which one had to endure. It was almost a norm as my host would later tell me. I took a deep breath as the conductor collected fare from the individuals keenly looking as the young mother was being reconnected to her child. The child enjoying every moment of breast feeding that she had been denied from the moment she fell on the hands of a stranger. I was happy.

Janet's Planet

Please note this is not an official Peace Corps site. The views expressed are not those of the government or the Peace Corps but are Jane's own, unofficial musings about her life and travels. All material is intended for friends and family, not the paparazzi.

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