I turned on the shower only for the head to spit dust. It was 5.20 am and I had already stripped down to my skin. I had thought I would enjoy a hot shower before going back to the cold. This depressed me. I tried to do the routine pre-shower dance, but even that did not cheer me up. It made me feel even dumber, actually. Jumping up and down naked in front of the mirror? Why do I even do that?
But time was running out and I did not want to miss a matatu. Well, actually not so much miss as find that the price has doubled. If you are at the stage at 4.30 – 6.10 am, the conductors are begging you to board it with 20 bob. Come one minute past this time and that motherfucker charges you 40 bob. ‘Mama can’t you see there is jam?’ they will rationalize. Come past 7.00 am and they will not even tell you the fare, you will just find out halfway through. Where you have no choice but to pay it. Declining means getting thrown out in the middle of Gikomba market. Where the overflowing sewage has mixed with rain water and collected in crater-sized potholes that you have to wade through because matatus are on the side walk. You will imagine this and reckon that an extra 20 bob should not be something that will make you smell like shit the whole day. Transportation is a problem in Kenya. But all that will soon change after this coming general election because we are voting for change.Um… it’s actually the same people who have been running things since I was born but they said they will change so we believe them because they even made posters. POSTERS!! Who wouldn’t believe posters?!
But anyway, I was telling you about how I am still wearing the same boxers as yesterday.
Since I did not want to miss a matatu, I just licked my armpits, put on clothes and left.While in the matatu I kept thinking, ‘
Please don’t let a cute girl with a good sense of smell sit next to me. Please don’t let a cute girl with a good sense of smell sit next to me. Please don’t let a cute girl with a good sense of smell sit next to me.’
But thankfully no cute girl sat next to me. Actually no cute girl ever sits next to me. There was this one time I was this close. She boarded, looked around and saw that the only empty seat was next to me and got off. I had showered that day so I do not know what this bitch’s problem was (Aaaaah. Insulting women who reject me, like a true Kenyan).
So, no cute chick. It was those huge men that squeeze you against the window for the whole journey. And guess what , he stunk. Yeah. More than me. (I would like it to go on record that, just because I had not showered did not mean I stank. See, due to my biological configuration, my sweat glands are fucked up, so I rarely sweat). The smell of this guy made my suspect he also had no water in his home. Probably for a couple of days. This was sad. And we claim to live in the best, most advanced city in East Africa! How messed up are the other towns then?
I will tell you. Our undergrad field work saw us go to Ukambani, Kitui to be specific. A portion of the area comes off as okay but we went into the deeper parts which is as dry as my sweat glands . Even worse, the villages are not connected to piped water. So as I was here complaining of how there is no water in the tap, there is a high chance that a kid in Ukambani has grown up his whole life not seeing a tap in their house. The guys there cannot even fetch water from the river because they are all dried up. Greedy companies upstream have re-channeled that shit to go to factories used to make us beer or something. And it does not rain that often either so they cannot be collecting that rain water. I was there August 2011, they told me they has seen rain the year before. I mean actual rain not that 30 minute drizzle. The largest river in that area was River Tiva and it was dry. Its width could fit 10 school buses bumper to bumper.
What the folks do there is make sand dams from the sediments that are deposited by the once-flowing river. It’s kind of a neat trick. These dams trap sand brought by the river. When the river dries up they dig up the sand and fetch the water that got trapped by the sand. But this being Kenya, people steal that sand and sell it for construction purposes leaving the bed with no trapping mechanism. So next time you are building that 5 bedroom mansion using cheap sands from Ukambani, just rest assured that there is a high chance a kid died of drought because of you.
Women created self help groups however to solve these crises. They run the local boreholes. Dug by the remainder of the money donated by well wishers NGOs. They sell water and use the money for maintenance. 20 liter Jerry can for 2 bob. But still locals cannot afford it because of the poverty there…. What! Whole new blog!
Something else that you will notice when you visit most of these villages is ran by women (cue Beyonce) . From the shops, to the water fetching to the beads-threading. Mostly women. Where are the men? In the bars, they say. Husbands go out looking for construction work (because they are men and cant be caught dead doing women’s work like selling water and shit) and after earn they have to celebrate immediately, in a pub, with the coworkers (and hookers. Or whores depending on how happy they feel). What about the family? Well fuck them! The wife stayed all day threading beads. Let her use the money she got to feed the kids. Manual work is hard work and at the end of the day all a man needs is a cold drink (or warm. Doesn’t really matter as long as it has alcohol) and soothing pub music. Not to go home and hear the wife bitch about school fees. Why would he pay school fees only for the son to be unemployed. Let the little bastard the construction business with the dad and help him steal sand. He does not need a certificate for that.
I guess what I am strongly trying to hint is that Kenya as a country is still fucked up, no matter how much you want to ignore it. And it is not like the place is poor. The locals are. But not the place. I have this theory that the drier your area, the more natural resources you have. The area is always dry because the sun hits the place hard. But that can be turned to an advantage with the use of solar panels. Have the locals independent of the national power grid. To light up the homes at least.
Ukambani recently discovered 400 tonnes of coal in Mui Basin. But how exactly will that help them? With the current level of corruption we might as well as forgo mining it and burn it where it is because it would not help them that much anyway. Plus, the smoke generated will cause enough pollution for us to seek international grants to find a solution to the degradation of the environment and that means even more money to be eaten.
I do not want to sound like a pessimist so I will say, again, that there is hope. We have the general elections coming up in March and that is the time we can vote for change. A time for youth to actually realize the shit our fathers have been dragging us through and saying ‘STOP’. But is that really possible when the leading candidates are the same old guys we have been seeing on the news?
Look for example at the presidential aspirants. On one side we have the current Prime Minister who is/was the MP of the largest slum in Africa, since 1992 (I dunno how that works. Is the PM still the MP. If you point out ‘yes, because they both have the same letters’, I am going to kill a cockroach and pretend it is you.). His running mate is the current Vice President and has been an MP for a constituent in UKAMBANI, Kitui to be more specific, also since the 90’s. Change my ass!
The other leading candidate is a suspect for the 2007 post election violence . His running mate? Another suspect . Fun fact: The 1st is suspected of inciting his tribe to go attack the tribe of the 2nd suspect because the 2nd suspect started it. Kikuyus vs Kalenjins tribes. It was bad. But people seem to forget about it. Or feel better now that the two ‘enemies’ are now ‘friends’, running together and shit.
What about the other candidates? Now this is where things get even sadder. According to what I am hearing, the other candidates are either too new that they are inexperienced or have too little Y chromosomes. That is right, after living in a household where your mother is the one that sacrificed everything to raise you while your father is somewhere fucking another woman (or man, let’s be orientation sensitive here, shall we?) you still do not think a woman can lead a country. Do not get me wrong, they are not saying the present female candidates are not fit for office . It is just that the thought of women leading us is too hard to swallow. Doesn’t go down the throat well. It’s like swallowing a piece of Lego brick.
Do you want to know their reasoning? Well I would tell you but the matatu had arrived at my destination so I had to alight.But I will continue this thought processes the next time I am in a quiet matatu and I have forgotten my earphones. Until then, try as much as possible to shower today okay?