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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

NAIROBI HALF LIFE.

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.

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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 newbie joins twitter and after a while starts to pick up in this amazing world of social media. Then someday he spots a tweet from one of his following and it’s from a client with his name. I have been in those shoes and went like ‘I want this’. There are various ways of building a twitter app most of which are tedious as they require lots of setup and above all, require prior knowledge in coding with some programming languages. That might be a miss for a person like me who was just starting on python-django framework.

For this to work. You must have a python installation on your computer so probably it will be relevant and make sense quite easily to python users. I took the steps bellow to creating my new twitter client; tweets posted from my Ubuntu terminal.

 Step 1: Downloading Tweepy.

Tweepy is a twitter library python that basically handles all twitter functionalities per say. You can install it in your system using pip install tweepy or downloading it from https://github.com/tweepy/tweep then manually installing it.

Step 2: Creating a new twitter application with Twitter.

Log into your twitter account then navigate to http://twitter.com/apps/new to create a new client. It should look as below. Fill in the details making sure the access type is read & write. The name you give is what will appear in you tweet as via say me. Click save once you are done. The next page will be the OAuth tool page will have Consumer key, Customer secret, Access key and access secret. Take note of them.

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Creation of a new twitter client

Step 3: Connecting Twitter account to the client.

Open the python shell (type python on the terminal). Then input the following filling in your Customer key and secret from the OAuth tool page.

>>> import tweepy

>>> auth = tweepy.OAuthHandler(‘PASTE YOUR CONSUMER KEY’, ‘PASTE YOUR CONSUMER SECRET’)

>>> auth_url = auth.get_authorization_url()

>>> print ‘Please authorize: ‘ + auth_url

Copy paste the generated url to your browser and navigate to it. You should see the window as below. Click on authorize app and some PIN will be generated for you. Enter the PIN in the terminal and proceed as below.

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Authorizing the twitter client

>>>auth.get_access_token(PASTE_YOUR_PIN)

>>> print “ACCESS_KEY = ‘%s’” % auth.access_token.key

Make a note of this ACCESS_KEY

>>> print “ACCESS_SECRET = ‘%s’” % auth.access_token.secret

Make a note of this ACCESS_SECRET

Step 4: Sending tweet from the terminal via your client.

Open a new python shell and enter the following replacing it with your OAuth values.

>>> import tweepy

>>> auth = tweepy.OAuthHandler(‘PASTE_CONSUMER_KEY’, ‘PASTE_CONSUMER_SECRET’)

>>> auth.set_access_token(‘PASTE_ACCESS_KEY’, ‘PASTE_ACCESS_SECRET’)

>>> api = tweepy.API(auth)

>>> api.update_status(“YOUR TWEET”)

In the last line, the values in the bracket ie YOUR TWEET becomes your tweet. You can replace it with what you want to tweet. If it goes well, that tweet should appear in you timeline. Save the following as a script in your system(use .sh extension) as below and know that you have understand, you need to paste your values.

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script to save

To send a tweet. Open terminal then to open type ./NameOfYourScript.sh “YOUR TWEET”. It should send your tweet to your timeline. There we go. Enjoy having to tweet from terminal that basically ends up having your tweets posted from your client.

ROUGH BUMPY RIDE WITH LESSONS.

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.

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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.

MyPal: AN ANDROID KILLER APP.

One day you wake up and in the usual rush that is almost becoming a norm then later remember you forgot your phone in the house. Think of it. Your workplace could be miles away or maybe you are a student and have to catch a class. What do you do? Here is what I think. You get to your best friend then explain to him or her what happened in the hope that they may help when you need to make a call. But times have changed. The friend might have to turn your request down because his credit has got way ‘better’ things to do or maybe he just doesn’t have credit on it. I’d say you are to blame but of course I am sympathizing with you. This scenario gave birth to an android app that is the solution to the problem; MyPal.

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A group of students converges on the 22nd of December 2012 at Dedan Kimathi University for an annual hackathon event. In the group are two students from JKUAT university who later team up with other three students of the host university to form a group that would answer the previous question. The team has 48hrs to sit down and plan on turning the then idea into a reality; an app. I was part of the team. The two visiting students had actually extensively researched on the problem and had figured out that it was workable. The task at hand was to code it and basically add some other features. In about 30hrs, MyPal was born.

MyPal is an android app that seeks to solve a couple of problems. Let me take you back. Realizing that you have forgotten your phone, this app will make it pretty simple. All you have to do is borrow a phone; here’s a thumbs up, it doesn’t have to have credit. What MyPAl does is to query your phone, send to your friend’s phone any number you want retrieved and then you can make a call from your friend’s phone with the charges on your sim card. Here is what the app allows you to do:

  • Query you phone for specific contacts. You just have to remember the first two letters of the contact name.
  • Retrieve saved messages from your phone.
  • Save a new contact to your phone.
  • Forward message to other phone.
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A screen shot of MyPal app.

Then came another idea latter. What if you misplaced you phone in your place but you had put it in a silent mode? The app allows you to change the mode of your phone( to either silent, vibrating or ringing modes) from your friend’s phone. Thereby in the above situation, it will be easy to find your phone. All this is possible through a couple of specific query methods that you make for each operations. No worries, the queries are provided for in the app’s help button.

Pros.

The app basically has lots of advantages but the main one is that your friend’s phone does not have to be an android phone. If at all your friend’s phone is not an android one or say it doesn’t have MyPal app, all queries are made through short messaging service(sms).

Thumbs down.

On the down side, the might have security issues in a situation where users have same passwords and make same queries though this is highly unlikely.

You pretty much understand the app now and know why we settled on the name MyApp because basically it’s all about borrowing a pal their phone. The app is currently not available on Google Play since there are some improvements that are to be made and the two guys are also to present an improved version in Nairobi early next month. But it will roll out soon. I have it on my phone and I love it. Matter of fact, sometimes I make sure I forget my phone :). Watch out for it!

GO HOME SANTA!

The alarm rings at exactly 12:00 midnight to signal the onset of a day of merry. I hate myself for spoiling what was a nice dream. All my nice dreams have either featured an Asian hooker or on the brighter side, a rogue nun. I get out of my bed and head straight to the balcony to see what the world was holding out there; nothing. No cheers, no fireworks sealed with dark lifeless skies. Then I pull one of those not so common stunts, something close to a walk of shame and back to my sleep.
A gentle slap by my niece wakes me up in the midmorning. I rush to the kitchen to ‘spoil’ myself only to be greeted by the usual not-so-happy face. As I drink my black tea served plain trying all the best to feel the sugar in it, the lass narrates to me how times are hard and how I should go out there and get myself a job. Here’s the part I love, she always says I’m someone people can look up to. I believe her. As we walk to church, I take a peep to my neighbor’s place and see a husband and a wife who from the look, one could tell they had recently quarreled over something and were trying to make out. Ask for my opinion and I’d say that was a missed shot.
The service was all in a mess; front pew remained unoccupied for the better part but this was saved courtesy of ‘mama Kanisa’ that came late. One could tell by the number of people that went to receive the Holy Communion that the previous night was spent against Father’s’ will. We took handshakes on our way out then a promo car passing by, loud music on, reminded me that it was not just an ordinary day but the day Jesus Christ was born. A friend of mine offered a lift to town that was to be the longest journey of my life. The town is barely three kilometers away mind you. Lingala music from back in the days that I’ve always hated played as we were being told of how things were wrong and that we as friends had failed them. My sis took the blame on me saying that she had done the better part of everything and every other activity was on me. Being a good man, I apologized. Unlike the past years, the town was not that crowded.
We cross the street to a local mall to see to catch a glimpse of what was trooping people there. Alas! My little queen gets the sight of one Mr. Santa, frees her hand off mine and runs towards him. I hurriedly follow her as my sis goes for some ice cream. Reaching halfway to where Santa was, she slows her pace certainly to show sudden mixture of excitement with fear. Fear for the unknown. I slow mine too. She picks up and heads towards him as if to give a warm handshake or perhaps a hug. Before I knew it she was screaming at the top of her voice while Santa tried to get her to calm down. I run and get her to my arms, the kid was shivering. Sis comes by and takes nana into her arms. I take two steps behind then as the crowd that had come to see what was happening started to disperse; pause. Then I turn back head to where Santa was, look straight into his now red eyes, take his autograph book and without much thought write GO HOME SANTA.
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STUPIDITY AS A WEAPON.

Stupidity is a poor ability to understand, that’s just as far as my dictionary is concerned. I beg to differ. Now I’m sounding stupid, right? Ok, have a deep breath first before turning the nudge into some hard push. Digging into the archives and one can get how past big names came down because they refused to think, yea to think not to understand. This is far from stupidity. Thinking and understanding go hand In hand but not always yet the former comes first. Sometimes I love being called stupid, because at times I think I am. Mr. Genius, accompany me to a pub, let’s do some tequila shots and we put it straight who is closer to intelligence.
It is normal to get angry at someone so is it to get hungry. Disagreements do happen perhaps to remind us we are human. I get to love guys who take it to their fists to bring order on table, sadly which is not always the case and term it uncivilized because it is. And, yes the ladies who spit all the shit at each other in the broad daylight. Guess why….because you get to know what they feel and hold against you, but what happens to those who conceal. Picture this, I get a friend’s back on day one but come day two, we are strangers. Complete strangers that I get cold shivers when we bump into each other on the corridors. I explore every possible way to find out what’s the big deal but the friend cum stranger cannot talk. I don’t like this man, not at all. I’d prefer the facts being put straight on my face because facts are always one thing, the truth. Such people always insist everything is okay yet it is all clear things are not alright, so what happens here? Stupidity comes in. I go like everything is fine, in fact very good. The title ‘stranger’ is so perfect for a friend for that matter. And greetings are so overrated so how amazing of us not to greet each other when we meet. I loved it when you acted not to know me, drama is my thing so lady, nice show. You ought not to answer my texts because I’m an angel and don’t need two-way conversation. When you make errors it’s so okay, when I make, it’s a sin, because I think you’re more than our breed. Your space lies vacant in heaven, and we only hope we’ll make a rejoinder to eternity when the day comes. Of course you shall be happy seeing us kissing your feet.
We can’t share a roof no more; perhaps I will cause it to fall on you. Maybe I just have some unknown powers. You’re the eighth wonder of the world so I will worship you, continue kneeling and begging you to be my ‘stranger’. I hear you speak badly of me, which is so perfect because after all, I lack something good to speak of me. Above all, I’m unapproachable. You can’t reach me; tell me this is how I wronged you because I have no ears. You can’t tell me you didn’t like it when I did bla bla to you because you’re my slave with every freedom to keep quiet. But why do you seem nervous when you see me. That’s not how strangers react to each other. Try harder to conceal everything and let’s pretend the more, because above all we love it, and it’s what we should do.
The cravings are on, I have eyes. The game is working. They say some things are just inherited so blame my fore fathers. I can’t shout, my voice has good use elsewhere nether can I cry because I’m a man, past boyhood, trust me, so for the time, I STICK TO MY STUPIDITY

AN OPEN LETTER TO MOTHER

Dear Mother,

Greetings from your flesh mama. I tried to draw the definition of missing but realized just in time it would be impractical so I just had to put it in all caps, perhaps hoping it will make sense, I MISS YOU. You always said time flies and for sure it has yet the bond seems to even grow stronger despite us being far yonder. I’m still maintaining the ‘baba’ figure, though all grown up now. You won’t enjoy caressing my goatee as you used to do while you bathed me, I mean it’s quite in a mess now but so was dad’s. The muscles, mama, you remember how I used to admire father’s?  Now this is different. A new definition of masculinity, yet I still feel it’s like nothing. I still outsource my entire protection from you mama. You always wanted me to be responsible, all the best for me is what you had on your mind and I really do appreciate. Mum, you remember beating me up when I ran outside naked during bath time. You warned me and said some things are not to be seen, as simple as that and no explanation given. But I’m kind of confused, girls here mama do rounds in semi-naked outfits. I mean, is there something hidden from me? You told me it was bad yet it’s quite the opposite of that and people love it. They call it being part of our time and it makes the girls instant celebrities before the eyes of fellow young men. Mama, I don’t and will never doubt your teachings. I know little of Bible but I believe this is not it. Please don’t start forming pictures, I haven’t tried anything crazy nor have I any plans. Ok, that aside, here’s something to cheer you up. The promise mama. The one promise I made to you after dad’s untimely departure. The promise that I will never lay my hands on alcohol let alone the thought of it. I’m proud to tell you that the promise is still held onto and swear it to the heaves today that it will never be broken.

The one packet of socks that you always insist I have them with me is still intact. My friends are also adopting the culture from me all courtesy of you. That reminds me mum; you are a genius, never shying away from the truth. They say birds of same feather do the flocking together and I have been cautious on whom I pick as a friend, I mean these are the ending times. You always warned me against bragging and I think I now understand better. Experience can be the best teacher. I got your mail and though it’s been difficult I’m doing all the best to implement the talk-less do-more policy but you said it was father’s idea and oh yes! I can make it. Mama, your son also has the crazy side. I got myself in some brawl and I now have a scar on my forehead, a small one. Wait, no need for alarm, I’m good. Probably this happened because you never told me that I don’t have to fight to prove I’m a man. I’m not blaming you mum, far from it but my point is parents can’t teach everything and some things we just have to learn for ourselves.

As I put the final ink on this paper, again remember I LOVE YOU. Greet everyone for me. Papa especially, tell him I miss his crazy stories and though it might sound childish, I yearn for them. Mum, I’m sure grandma always wanted to hear from dad how he was doing relationship wise back in the days. You understand what I’m saying…Ok something is cooking and mum your son can choose a perfect one. Trust me. Let’s just leave at that because you will come to see what I’m saying. Till we meet mama, do me one favor, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FOR ME

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Your Son

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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