Conversating with a sheep.

So I've been thinking, rather than trying to coax you useless buggers into conversations you don't want to have, why not go out and find the conversations my own damn self?  A new year, new things, yes?  No?  Ah well, it was Woolie's idea, he says what will really get you all engaged is reading about one of the many characters that squat at the bottom of my page, like you do, once in a while (more like never, but let's not split hairs).  He then volunteered himself, all humble like.  Yes, I did see the set up, but I'm in the middle of a nasty case of writer's block right now, I'll take whatever I can get by way of inspiration. That and I really like to ask questions, so...  Ladies and gentlemen, a new category, conversating with...

ALEX: Before we get into it, I need a soundtrack. What's your jam, Woolie? Pick wisely, my friend, I feel very strongly about these things...

WOOLIE: Stand by me, Ben E. King.

Classic...very nice. Why?

I listen to it when things are a bit bumpy.  It reminds me how fortunate I am to have really good people around me.  People who have stood by me when the seas were a bit choppy.  It makes all the difference.

Aaaaawwww...  Can't really argue with that can I?  Now Woolie, tell me, what's the story with the sheep?

There's no story really, what you see is the real deal.

So you're a sheep, a real sheep? :-)

I prefer to think of it as a humane sheep. I have the soul of a man...

And the fingers...

Sorry, I don't follow what fingers? :-)

Well you type quite well, can only assume you have digits, rather than hooves, or are your hooves digital?

I see what you did there...

Clever, no?

I have to use a voice recognition bit of kit to put my thoughts into words. You must have noticed the delays...

I thought it was the hooves...

I agree it is quite unusual...

That's not the half of it. Ha! I've always wanted to ask...

Yes, please, ask away....

Where exactly are you, are you here in Kenya or over yonder?

In a field far far away, out of Kenya. A sheep in exile, someone once said.


Funny you should say that... I have never identified myself with that word, diaspora. What does it mean? Who decides who is or isn't in diaspora?

I've never thought to google the definition, but I've always assumed it refers to a national living outside the motherland.

Originally the term referred to Jews as they had been scattered around the world following the sacking of Jerusalem....

Haiya! For real?

Yes, the term was specifically referring to that. It was modified (in Kenya) to mean peeps living outside the motherland.

So why don't you identify with it?

What does it mean? A collective noun bunching together who?

Anyone outside...

Call them expats. But even then what possible similarity do they have other than the current national anthem they are listening to is not Kenya's?

So your objection is the random grouping? Expats sounds temporary to me, like a two year posting in Kazakhstan. Emigrant?

The objection is to the collectivisation. Woolie has little in common with the the young lady now living and working in Berlin who drives a green BMW, or the young man in California who owns a used car lot. It seems silly to bunch all these random types together for a simple short hand.

Thing is, Woolie, we need a term to refer to the collective. It's not that we're saying you're all the same, just like calling us all Kenyans doesn't make as a homogeneous entity, diaspora is simply a distinction between those of us here and those of you out there.

I totally understand that last point, the distinction, that is.

Is the distinction relevant?

Is the question. The trouble with making distinct groupings is the mischief making that then follows.


It is no accident that people feel the need to divide us - those in Kenya and those outside. Unfortunately the human condition remains dynamic, these people that would sit neatly in little boxes marked A,B,C or D are constantly on the move, making the diaspora tag almost meaningless.

Do you think your view on Kenya and our madness differs from that of mine, because you live outside?

Not at all. My view on Kenya and our random eccentricities is informed in part by living in Kenya and also by observing Kenyan behaviour away from home.

Why the ambiguity, on the blog?

Ambiguity about....

I mean, why do you write like you're in Kenya?

Oh I see. That is deliberate.


Hahahaha! Yes.

Are you trying to deceive us, Woolie? Hahahaha... Is this part of the sheep persona, wooly and mysterious? Does wooly have one or two l's, by the way?

Woah! I agreed to an interview, not 20 Q's. :-)

Deal with it...

Right, there was plenty here. When I said deliberate, I meant that the post dictates my location.

It's part of the story, you mean?

Yes. Should a writer's location really matter?

If your location colours the story, so to speak, doesn't it matter?

Woolie will be in Kenya if the story warrants it and in the UK when that is what is called for, I let the reader work that out for themselves...

So Woolie is a jet set sheep then? :-)

I would have said un-tethered. :-)

Nicely put.

An excellent question deserves an answer, no?

Thing is, if today Woolie is on the farm harvesting a bumper crop, and then next week he's playing detective on Broadmoor island, we have to wonder what this Woolie bugger does for a living.

If the reader can identify with either of these two scenarios or indeed both.

The reader identifies with Woolie, but Woolie is all over the place, literally.

Then Woolie being here, there or anywhere becomes immaterial and is just a fantasy...

He's a bit like Tintin...

Nobody has questioned that Woolie the sheep writes, see?

I did, right at the beginning. :-)

So travelling between two points is a piece of cake. You like things neat and orderly, I think

everything in its proper place...

I like a thread I can follow, logic...

...sensible but restricting - like a bra. Am I allowed to say that?

Hahahaha! You just have.

Your people will edit it, no doubt.

No edit, save for the odd typo. What does a sheep know about bras?

I have my moments, shall we say. :-)

You favour fiction on the blog, one true love of yours?

I like fiction. It is liberating, it defies definition.

An escape?

An escape perhaps or a rejection of conformity. Here is the deal: I often wake up to conflict, who am I, what am I doing here? Just like everyone else. At such times, I feel extremely affronted that anyone could chain me up and put me in a box marked X, Immigrant, Ethnic piece of .... Asylum seeker, Diaspora, space hopper....name it, even aliens sometimes. :-) In fiction one gets to write the rules. You choose the location, the story, the weather... as you say a temporary escape from insanity.

And Woolie being this amorphous creature in time and space, that's part of the fantasy?

Ehe. A talking blogging sheep - who survives from one chriso to the next. It is a fantasy and a bit of a cover story.

This sheep story is most complicated, wouldn't it be easier to just let Woolie be a man? Strange man, but man nonetheless...

Only if one wants to complicate it. There are layers upon layers but I feel a human is able to handle that quite well. Children's TV thrives on this sort of duplicity.

True. Do you see your Woolie tales ever making it to a screen?

Woolie the sheep writes stories about his adventures with Babu and others....this could easily be adapted. Of course you would not see Woolie as a sheep then. :-)

You've been blogging for almost 7 years, how?

If you enjoy doing something, and it is not illegal, immoral or fattening...

Where do the stories come from?

Situations - you spot a comic moment, or hear about a tragic event. There are as many stories out there as there are people, places and events. As I say, I like it because it is not something that I have to do, I am not compelled to do it.

Something you love to do, right?

Does it sound clich̩...I love to write... That is bullshit Рoops, sorry...


I like to tell a tale or two. Do we like the sounds of our own voices? Of course, helps to drown out the other voices in our heads, competing all the time for space and influence.

Do you ever get tired, or frustrated? It's lonely this blogging thing, or at least it feels that way to me sometimes.

Hahaha! It can be tiring when one is trying to shape something and it just won't work. It can be frustrating when you sound like a lone voice, but I have never found it lonely. The words on the page - when you get it just right - they comfort one. Like a letter from a lover....

That's quite brilliant sir, I'm a bit lost for words now. :-) Tell me about your audience, who are they? Do you know? Do you want to know?

The audience is varied and is essentially Kenyan given the nature of my ka blog. I respect the comments of three that speak and the silence of the millions of others. Beyond that...all is well.

Millions, eh? Hahaha... Has your audience gotten smaller over the years?

It waxes and wanes...I think on the whole it has probably lost. By that I mean every year a whole fresh lot of kids attain the age of maturity, the blog should really be growing in readership injecting fresh outlook and reflecting the cultural changes of our time.

But even as a fresh bunch is coming in, the old lot are drifting off, no? Do you feel like you need to evolve, appeal to the younger audience?

I do sometimes...it is a horrible sensation, the need to keep running so as to stay on the same spot.

Spoken like a geriatric bugger.

Indeed. I have no qualms about ageing gracefully.

You have to admit, your blog appeals to a similarly geriatric bunch, what with tales of hair dye and all... :-)

I do not hold that against my readers. I have spoken of issues such as hair dye and been pleasantly surprised that it touches a cord with some younger twenty somethings. You have to remember Alex that age is a very temporary thing....I will not be 27 forever....so to speak.

But that's not something a 27 year is ready to grasp, is it?

And they should not have to. Live each year as a permanent residence.

How old are you, Woolie?

I'll be 49 next birthday...

For real?

Yes, I have the scars to prove it.

:-) So what are you doing perambulating all over the interwebs at your age? Is that ageist of me?

I think it is a relevant question. The search for answers did not begin with the phenomenon now called ICT. People through out the ages have sought answers to their questions, answers that would offer them fulfilment. The interwebs arrived at the best time for Woolie, he would otherwise be stuck at the British council library....with 'not for loan' library books.

Does it bother you that the interwebs is seen as a young man's game? I don't know of many bloggers past 40, not Kenyan anyhow...

It doesn't bother me at all. I do wonder though that one can hold such a view, sincerely, it would mean of course that there is nothing that an over forty could possibly have in common with holder of such a view.

Let me put it differently then, do you find that your age puts you at some disadvantage, online? Locks you out of some of the conversations?

If there is a certain age - a tipping point where one loses all relevance - I have not been made aware of it. One may not enter into certain websites where certain discussions are held, but I hardly see that a disadvantage.

What do you like to read, online?

I read all manner of things - blogs covering enough topics across a wide spectrum, I read a bit of poetry and I am subscribed to several audio book websites... In a nutshell, I do and certainly many people my age do exactly what everyone else is doing online...

Everyone else is reading gossip and surfing porn. Hahahaha. Sorry, inappropriate.

I will not stand here and throw stones. No, it is not inappropriate, porn is the most visited genre online, that is just a plain fact, sad but fact.

Do you have any favourites?

Favourites of what?

As tempting as it is to ask about porn, I won't.  Hahaha...  What are you reading currently?

I am reading a Khaled Hosseini book, 1000 Splendid Suns.

Ah yes...you put me onto Kite Runner, still haven't forgiven you. Ha!

That was put onto me too and finishing that it was inevitable that I moved to the suns. I'm also reading a book of shorts by Roald Dahl.

Online reading, links you recommend?

Go to audible.com and also booksshouldbefree.com, I found many classics there...

What's your favourite classic?

A Tale of 2 Cities.

Dickens? I'd never have guessed...

Yes...I like the idea that even today you can go to Plumstead and follow Shooters Hill on the A2 road...

Eh? Hahahaha...

The book begins with a stagecoach going to Dover. The coach is overtaken by some riders and the passengers are scared thinking they have been jacked... The opening lines...immortal. It was the best of times it was the worst of times. Just like now, today. :-)

What do you think of the discussions Kenyans are having, in the forums, blogs, twitter...


Don’t laugh...

I am amused because there are so many aspects to what is going on in this so called "social media space". Kenya was catapulted from an age of censorship right into an age of free speech without a half-way house, it has taken a long time for people to recognise that free speech does not give you the right to shout 'Fire!' unnecessarily in a crowded cinema. Free speech means responsible speech.

Do you think we've learnt that yet, going by what you see on the forums?

We are coming of age....but take 100 babies born on the same day, they will not all walk on the same day. There are positive changes...and also some pretty nasty challenges.

Are you active on 'social media'?

I'm not that active, but I like a good tweet, and follow a few interesting tweeters. I guess the term social media...is a put off of sorts. :-)

It is, no?

It is certainly not social...this media.

It is most definitely not. Hahahaha. Wait, I should ask why you say that...

Why social media is anything but social? Perhaps a definition of social would be in order. People have called facebook and twitter and others social media, I view them as people traffic. Just like the bunch of cars all together on Msa road, nothing social at all about that...it is just loads and loads of people going somewhere.

Social to you means a community...

...with something that binds them together. I grant you, it is a loose term so how can it be binding?

What about the forums? Those are a community of sorts.

Forums bring people with special interests together. There a good ones and not so good ones...

Do you have any time for them?

Definitely. I think we all do. Every time we type a search term, "my butt in the car has died" we get results from forums. :-)

Butt? Typo, Woolie? :-)

I meant battery, Alex....

I should hope so, otherwise you've taken to killing people in your car and then talking about it on the interwebs.

I will let that comment slide... I am no killer but your point is made. :-) I once changed the whole toilet in my bathroom from a forum. There are extremely useful forums for all types of subjects under the sun. I have plenty of time for them and participate in them myself.

So the niche forums you love, as we all do, I suspect?

We all do. The bathroom post was done by an elderly gentlemnan in his 50's, a former plumber. The no interwebs for over 40's movement is still-born.

Hahahaha! You wont let that slide, will you? Apologies, Woolie, I was just being a mchokozi.

Just saying, he posted videos and shi.. Stuff the 20 somethings would have no clue with whatsoever.

You steer well clear of siasa on your blog, why?

I choose to, isn’t there enough siasa about? Some say too much. There are many wonderful political blogs out there and if I feel the urge to say something, I will do so there.

Are you apolitical?

I am not apolitical. It is just that... We discovered this beautiful medium just the other day, why do you want to give it up to the politicians?

They've taken everything else, no?

I used to be a listener of talk radio when there was nothing else about. All political blogs are full of polarised ranting and all manner of bigotry and tyranny. Anyone with a contrary view is a stooge, or worse.

Even the liberal ones? Allegedly liberal ones?

I am afraid the liberal ones are the worst. Politics is that ....poly tricks. A dirty game... How will you wrestle with swine and retain your dignity? There is nothing worse than a person with a conviction, in my humble opinion. This world has been around for 4 billion years and we been area for about 40k years. All the skulduggery that you see today has been around before...and will be around again, full circle. So no, I eschew politics kabisa.

You write on social issues though, often.

Like every one else I have a conscience that wants to say something every now and then.

Do you find it easier to talk about serious stuff, like violence in families, through fiction?

Yes. Fiction has the advantage that it can be used to discuss anything. :-)

Is your audience receptive? What do your stats tell you, are the stories on heavier issues popular, well read?

The audience is there for some issues...but my comments sometimes suggest that I have shocked the reader...they did not expect it, sort of thing.

You do like to shock us Woolie. :-)

It is a useful tactic, when one wants to confront a disturbing issue, head on. I will say one thing here, I have a particularly strong feeling about domestic violence...


It is something that sadly I have experienced in my own childhood and later on in my line of work. I have seen the horrible scars that it leaves on all the people involved. I have seen that it is the single biggest social ill that cuts right across the divide of the classes, and I have seen that there is little to suggest we are dealing with this problem as effectively as we would like to think.

Are we dealing with it at all, I wonder?

All the government agencies and NGOs think so...but I don't know.

Is writing about it cathartic?


Is writing your therapy, so to speak?

It helps to get one's thoughts in some sort of order. But I do not think there is a self-help therapy, when things are this bad only professional help will do.

You don't like therapy?

I worry about self therapy, is it not just...bottling it in? Saying mwanaume ni kujikaza?

When you explain it like that, it does sound like a load of malarkey...

There there, I am just saying...

On a lighter note, what's your favourite meal, to cook? You like to show off on the blog, pies and stuff...

I will say, I am fond of so many dishes...nothing though comes close to me like ugali, with a nice chicken stew and some lovely cabbage. That is me. Cabbage made simply, a touch of curry powder added to some softened onion and tomato...heaven on a plate.

Cabbage? Woi... Hahahaha! What does the clan Woolie go mad for?

Clan Woolie prefers I do my favourite chicken and mushroom pie, which they now swear by... :-)

Wise people your clan. We'll be waiting for that post. :-) Thank you, Woolie.

It has been a pleasure.... :-)


Sex, Lies and BS.

Have you heard?  Sex makes us smarter.   Excellent, no?  This is the best news I've received this year.  However, and there must always be a however whenever you read something on the internet, I should probably investigate this woman's claims, just to make sure this isn’t another one of those 'quail eggs prevent AIDS' type scams, no?  See, I read over this list and I got that tingly feeling on the back of my knee, the one I get when my bullshitometer is screaming.  I'm just saying, geniuses on the internet have been known to lie to us.  Hell, I lie to you all the time, no?  No, I would never lie to you lovely buggers.  

Ladies and gentlemen, we are back in the sewer, and what better way to kick off the year than with a post on how good sex is for you, us.  As always, fragile, love making, hearts a-fluttering types exit stage left, and kindly take the uptight prudes with you, last thing we need is an uppity idiot sneering down his, or more likely her, nose at us as we frolic in the muck.  My people, round here we like to frolic sans judgement, no?  No?  I'm the only one frolicking, aren’t I?  Ah well...  This will get quite rude, enjoyably so, and scientifically crude, and it will have a most offensive soundtrack to boot.  Fuck it, I may even throw in a personal anecdote, or two, just because I can.  Welcome to the sewer 3.0...

Mr Thicke is back on the playlist, and the third time is most definitely the charm.  The number of panties that got bunched last year on account of 'Blurred Lines' was shocking.  'It's sexist!' they bellowed.  'That video demeans women!' they foamed.  'Those lyrics advocate rape!' they thundered.  'What's this?' I thought, reading the allegedly rapey lyrics they'd quoted, 'Robin is many things, but misogynist has never been one of them...'  Then I listened to the song and I forgot about the noise, because the song is so damn funky, and sexy too...

Ok now he was close, tried to domesticate you,
But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature,
Just let me liberate you,
Hey, hey, hey,
You don't need no papers,
Hey, hey, hey,
That man is not your maker,
Hey, hey, hey...

This is sexist?  Really?  Go figure.  Please bear with me, I'm about to embark on a lengthy detour, but I must bitch about this nonsense.  I was happy to forgive the idle liberals, with crap taste in music, and let this sleeping dog lie, until I read this shit last week, Carrie Cracknell: erasing Blurred Lines. For theatre director Carrie Cracknell, whose new show takes its title from the song, Blurred Lines is a red rag. When I wonder whether it's prudishness that makes people recoil from it, she argues: "It's really easy for women to be accused of being prudish, but there is an absolute line about sexual consent that cannot be blurred. The rage I feel in relation to that song is about the idea of strong men, fully dressed, animalising and brutalising a group of scantily clad women.”   Eh?  Animawhatnow?  See, I had never watched the video, no need to, I figured it was a bunch of skinny girls dancing around a fella, such as they do in pretty much every music video, but brutalising?  Haiya!  I proceeded to watch the video.  Can you say bollocks?  Nary a g-string in sight, only one topless woman covering her itty bitty titties, and the man singing into some girl's ear.  What the hell is brutal about that?  Then I watched the other version.  Same girls, same fellas, same stuffed dog, same crap shoes, and not much else.  Yup, all three girls are topless, and wearing g-strings.  It's brutal, and anima...that one.  Brutal, I tell you, I was horrified.  EH?  What the hell is wrong with these people? Get the fuck out!  Just a thought, life would be a lot less hectic if we stopped fretting over other people's breasts.

I hate these blurred lines,
I know you want it...
But you're a good girl,
The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty,
Go ahead, get at me...

How on earth is this sexist?  Crass, perhaps, but far from misogynist.  Detour over.

10 reasons why sex is good for you?  More like 1, and two halves.

1. It’s legit exercise?  No, not particularly.
You'd think that sex would automatically qualify as exercise, what with the lovely exertions one undergoes in the process of chasing an orgasm, yours or someone else's, but what about those langa idiots who just lie there?   I'm 98.97% sure every man reading this just nodded and muttered, 'Lakini...' having encountered such a woman at least once in his life.  Gentlemen, can I get an amen?  I'm amen-ing too, I've encountered several myself.  Truth is, there are some in our midst who consider vigorousness a bad thing in bed, preferring the sedate missionary position, with no more than 27 thrusts per session, less if possible, never breaking a sweat.  Strange, but to each his own, as long you don’t come anywhere near my bed.  As for the rest of us, shagging in all manner of strange and delightful ways, I hate to break it to you, but you're not really working out as much as you think you are. Despite claims to the contrary, research disproves The Myth of ‘Sexercise’; “The authors write, “Given that the average bout of sexual activity lasts about 6 minutes, a man in his early-to-mid-30s might expend approximately 21 kcal during sexual intercourse. Of course, he would have spent roughly one third that amount of energy just watching television, so the incremental benefit of one bout of sexual activity with respect to energy expended is plausibly on the order of 14 kcal.””  So that's a no on the exercise thing, but it's still a hell of a line, no?  Wanna come over and...bite lip suggestively...work out?  Not sexy?  Dammit.

2. It makes you happier?  Why yes, it does, but not all the time.
It seems logical to say that sex makes you happy, but what about bad sex?  Or boring sex?  Not all sex is the same, now is it?  According to these scientists, If you are happier after sex, it’s not just because it feels good, its not the sex/pleasure that gets you happy, its your engagement as you have sex that does it.  “According to this research, done by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, happiness arises when we are fully engaged in the experiences of our bodies in the present moment; when our attention is completely filled up with our body sense (embodied self-awareness).  The Science study shows that when we are distracted by thoughts, doubts, judgments, daydreams, and other ruminations (conceptual self-awareness), we are inevitably less happy with the activity. In fact, we missed a lot because when we think, we can't at the same time be available to access the flow of feelings and sensations in our bodies.”  What the shrinks are saying is that you get happy because you enjoy it because you're into it, and the more into it the better.  “From this ordering of activities in relation to happiness, you might think that people were happier doing inherently more pleasurable things. The data revealed, however, that happiness was higher when people were more fully engaged regardless of activity: the type of activity did not matter as much as being focused on one's embodied experience of doing it without being interrupted by distracting thoughts.”  Yes, sex can make you happy, but not all the time.  Put differently, you have to be in the moment to have a happy moment.

3. It makes you live longer, and prevents heart disease?  Hmmm...
The problem with this claim is that its kinda hard to verify. On the one hand you have the likes of Dr Oz throwing this at you, “When one has an orgasm, a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone is released. This can increase immunity and also repairs tissue and keeps the skin healthy. A recent study illustrated that men who have at least two orgasms a week live longer than men who have sex just once every few weeks.”  Sounds impressive no?  But hang on a minute, a man who's having sex at least twice a week will tend to be a. more active physically, hence higher libido, b. more content, what with the willing partner on hand and all, and possibly c. less stressed, hence higher libido, again, in which case the man lives longer not because of the sex but because he's just better taken care of, so to speak.  I'm just saying, my grandma lived past 80, and I'm pretty sure she wasn’t getting shagged on the regular, seeing as how grandpa died when he was kendo 70, and he had two wives.

Dr Oz again, “Sex can improve cardiovascular health! Studies show that men who have sex more than twice a week have a reduced risk of having a heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.”  Eh?  Am I the only one who thinks the man is making this shit up?  That’s the same study he's quoting, I suspect.  Suspicious, I kept looking and found another study, this one in a Harvard journal no less, Is sex exercise? And is it hard on the heart?: “A report from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study agrees that sex may be protective. The subjects were men between 40 and 70 who were randomly selected residents of the Boston area. A total of 1,165 men were eligible for the study and agreed to participate. None of the men had cardiovascular disease when they enrolled in the 17-year study; 213 of the men had erectile dysfunction and were analyzed separately. Among the 952 men with intact erectile function, men who had sex once a month or less were 45% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than the men who had sex two or more times a week. The link between sexual activity and cardiac health was not explained by conventional cardiac risk factors or a man's satisfaction with his relationships.”  Well that's okay then, sex is good for the heart.  Or not.  “Although the American and British findings are heartening, they do not prove that sex itself is protective. Another explanation is that sexual activity reflects a general satisfaction with life that is good for health. And it's even more likely that the men who had sex infrequently may have been burdened by social isolation or by smoking, drinking, drug abuse, or diseases that impair libido and potency.”  You gotta love these doctors, can't even agree amongst themselves.

4. It reduces cancer risks?  Yes, but it may also increase said risks.
They say sex, ejaculation to be precise, reduces the risk of prostate cancer (WebMD says yes, Mayo Clinic says no), but unprotected sex increases the risk of cervical cancer and oral cancer.  I don’t have a prostate, so this sex that's being peddled is not looking all that beneficial to me right now.  Just saying.

5. It reduces stress and its a painkiller?  Thank the gods, it really does.
Remember oxytocin, the cuddle hormone?  According to Psychology Today, “Sex apparently unleashes a bevy of chemical compounds into the brain, starting with oxytocin, otherwise known as the bonding or cuddle hormone. Studies show oxytocin levels become elevated in women during childbirth and breastfeeding, as well as in fathers who are involved with their partners and babies. Oxytocin similarly increases with sensual touch between adults, and peaks during orgasm.”  I can see a couple of deviants rolling their eyes, thinking that I'm about to advocate love-making and all that fluffy shit, but no, turns out this little hormone is good for much more than bonding.  “Conjecture aside, research consistently shows that oxytocin not only increases emotional connection, it also promotes a sense of calm and well-being, and reduces the effects of stress (as measured by blood pressure and cortisol), all of which are relevant in reducing perceptions of pain.”  And there's more, “Additional substances, released through skin-to-skin touch with peak effects at orgasm, similarly contribute to pain relief and well-being. These include serotonin, our body's natural anti-depressant; phenyl ethylamine (also found in chocolate) which activates the brain's pleasure center; and endorphins, a natural painkiller that reduce pain awareness and generate feelings of elation and euphoria.”  My lovely deviants, the bad news is, cuddling will inevitably lead to bonding, but the good news is, the bonding will be painless.

6. It boosts the immune system? Does it now?
As flimsy as this one sounds, they may actually be onto something here, Want to Prevent Colds? Have Sex Weekly.  “In good relationships, lovemaking is deeply relaxing. Many studies show that deep relaxation, the kind that results from meditation or visualization/guided imagery, stimulates the immune system.”  It sounds a little suspect, no?  “Lovemaking is also a powerful form of social support. Many studies show that social support revs up the immune system, and helps prevent colds. At the University of Pittsburgh, psychologist Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., studied 276 healthy volunteers, who completed a survey of their social ties-to lovers, friends, family, and organizations-and then had live cold virus squirted up their noses. Those with the most social support were least likely to catch the cold.”  I've just discounted this immune story, unless someone can show me something a little less fluffy.  Love keeps the cold away?  I only get a homa once a year and I get love a lot less, so fuck that.

7. It makes you feel better about yourself?  It's sex, dammit, it's not a bloody miracle.
The idea of having sex to make yourself feel better about yourself offends every fibre in my being.  Really, every fucking one of said fibres wants to reach out and slap the fucking idiot who put this idea out there.  Yes, I'm a little pissed off, and yes, I shall explain.  From the minute we hit puberty, sex is held over our heads as a threat.  You have to have sex to fit in with the cool crowd, don’t have sex or you'll be a 'bad girl', if you love me you'll have sex with me, sex is love, you have to be good at sex, you have to give him sex whenever he wants or you'll lose him...on and on and fucking on.  And then you grow up and realise it was all a load of bullshit.  The liberals out there sell sex as some form of enlightenment, as if having sex will suddenly make you whole.  As if.  If you have sex when you're feeling shitty, then when the sex is done you'll still be feeling shitty.  You don’t like who you are?  Odds are screwing the hot man at the counter wont make you like yourself more.  You want to feel beautiful?  Get naked, stand in front of a mirror, and fall in love/lust, with yourself.  That man whispering sweet nothings in your ear won't change a damn thing, not if it's your head that's a little fucked up.  Ati sex makes you feel better about what now?  I'm all for more sex, hopefully more good sex, but this is evil propaganda, right up there with 'you complete me' type bullshit.  Fix yourself, then fix someone else (the second fix doesn't have the same meaning as the first, clearly).

8. It makes you smarter?  Of course, just look at me.  Kidding.
This one is the flimsiest of all of them.  I know people who are exceedingly smart and not particularly sexual, just like I know people who are close to genius and most deviant.  It's neither here nor there.  I do feel smarter after a particularly good shag, but I also feel smarter after a glass of wine, so perhaps I'm not the best example here.  I leave you with this, 6 Famous Geniuses You Didn't Know Were Perverts and this, Secret and Sordid Sex Lives of Scientists: Photos.  Ah Einstein, you sexy little genius you...

What do they make dreams for,
When you got them jeans on,
What do we need steam for,
You the hottest bitch in this place,
I feel so lucky,
Hey, hey, hey,
You wanna hug me,
Hey, hey, hey,
What rhymes with hug me?
Hey, hey, hey...

If Mr Thicke is any indication, sex does not make you a smarter musician, sexy, but not very clever.  Good thing he stole the right tune...


Why serial killers are racist, and such like fiction.

Why is the serial killer never black?

Now I understand that all these serial killer shows and movies are not African, and therefore often have no Africans in them, but surely, not even one loose black guy once in a while, stalking people and turning them into body suits?  Are they trying to say that black killers aren’t good enough to kill in a serial fashion?  Or is it just that they’re not TV friendly?  I think this is the lowest form of racism, assuming that black fans don’t want to see one of their own on screen, decapitating strangers with butter knives.  See, these serial killers are almost always extremely intelligent types, too intelligent some would argue, always coming up with elaborate plans and rituals to kill and evade capture, and the fact that they refuse to depict black people in such cerebral, and depraved, roles suggests, a. we are not intelligent enough, or b. we are not depraved enough.  Either way, it’s deeply racist.  Listen, you white TV people, us negroes we got killing skills too, we can abduct and dissect and bloody mummify with the best of them.  We even have special basements where we play Bach while sawing a leg off just so…  Hang on…no, we don’t.  Us black people we don’t do basements.  Bach, maybe, but never in a basement.  Aha.  I get it now.

Why don’t serial killers listen to Tupac?

For the longest time they kept telling us that gangsta rap was too violent, too misogynist, demonic even, but I ask you, when have you even seen a serial killer getting down to ‘I wonder if heaven gotta ghetto…’?  No no no, these geniuses are almost always much enamoured by fancy classic music, or head banging metal.  This can only lead me to the conclusion that a fondness for hip hop automatically precludes psychopath tendencies.  Put differently, if you have to listen to classics, listen to classic rap, that way you will never, ever kill any one, not serially at least. 

Why do the serial killers always kill the black guy first?

It’s standard for any movie with a random black guy making up the diversity numbers, and especially in the cheaper slasher flicks, that said black guy will die first.  It’s just the way it goes.  For why now?  Olympic records show us that black men are faster runners than white men, so if it’s a matter of running away logic dictates that the black guy dies last, no?  No.  That bugger will die in the first 30 minutes of the film, 15 if the film is about high school students on holiday.  Hell, I watched a trailer for some shark flick where the black guy died in the 2nd minute of the trailer.  The trailer, I tell you.  Do you know how insignificant you have to be to die in the trailer, kabla movie ianze?   Granted, in this case the serial killer was a shark, in a lake, but still, racist that one... 

Why are serial killers so obsessed with patterns?

If you keep doing the same thing over and over, eventually you will get caught.  The cops may not be rocket scientists, but even they are not that dumb.  Seriously, for buggers trying not to get caught, these serial chaps are not very clever.  I know, they are driven by compulsion and whatnot, but perhaps they need to be compelled to be contrary?  Come on man, mix it up a little, butcher knife today, power saw tomorrow, rifle the next day…be creative, dammit.  Better still, how about not killing damn near identical people?  Ati he kills young women between the ages of 20 and 20 and a half, with blonde hair and 36D boobs?  Boss, can you be serious and kill whomever you come across?  Crazy mother…  And speaking of which…

Why are serial killers so obsessed with their mothers?

Given half a chance, a man is only too quick to blame all his problems on a woman, and it’s almost always his mother.  Sijui she used to beat him, or she never loved him enough, or she breastfed him till he was 9.  Bollocks.  If a man has mommy issues then those are his issues, he has no business painting my toenails as he strangles me in his bathtub, calling me 'mummy' and shit…  Mscheeeew!  Just once I’d like to see a guy killing men who remind him of his evil pa, or better still, kill the useless politicians who remind him of his local, and useless, politician?  Come to think of it…

Why don't serial killers kill the idiots we’d like to see dead?

You know what show I would give my right arm to watch?  The show about the serial strangler who only murders thieving buggers.  Stop laughing, this is a good plan.  Imagine if Onyancha had been bumping off the idiots at kanjo who put chalk in our water, instead of chlorine, or the langas at KNH who steal medicine and sell it in their pharmacies, or the MP’s who give themselves random pay hikes whenever their bums twitch?  The serial killer can be a force for good, is all I’m saying, but noooooo… he’d rather run around killing the girls who look like the girl who refused to shag him when he was 15.  Bloody nkt!



A new year.  Another year.  As we get older it starts to feel like the years are rolling into one long month, with some hot days and some cold days, some wet days and some dry days, and all the while everything keeps rolling on, uninterrupted.  It feels like it was only a few weeks back when last year began, I was sitting right here, looking at an almost identical sunset, trying to figure out where the time went. How do I reflect when it feels like no time has passed?  Still, the least I can do is share a lesson learnt last year, that you may not repeat my mistakes needlessly.

Bag lady you gon’ hurt your back,
Draggin’ all them bags like that,
I guess nobody ever told you how,
All you must hold on to is you, is you, is you…

As always, kindly press play.  Incidentally, the one lesson I did not learn last year, or the year before, is when to stop begging you to play the tunes.  Clearly.  You should play today’s song, it will take you back to a time in your life when you were unfamiliar with the concept of baggage, assuming you’re about my age.  When I first heard this song, watched the video actually, I was captivated by the harmonies, and the colours, it was, is, a stunning video.  It took me another five years to hear her, really hear her, and now, another seven years later, I sing this song like she wrote the damn thing especially for me...

I said, one day all ‘em bags gon’ get in your way…

Have you noticed how the older you get the more stuff you lug around?  If it’s not family drama with the parents and siblings, it’s familiar drama with the lover, spouse, ex, best friend.  Crap at work and crap at home.  Money fails and Jesus tales, sex foes and baby woes.  Politicians on our minds and the taxman on our asses.  Cops checking our breath and doctors checking our breadth, both frowning, and fining.  Now I could sit here and give you a long speech on how you shouldn’t let your problems get you down, how you should live life one day at a time, dance like nobody is watching, run through the flowers…all that fluffy stuff that will make you feel oh so uplifted.  I could do that, but I won’t, we both know I am rarely, make that barely, fluffy, and even when I am, I am in no way encouraging.  What I can do, however, is share the words of wisdom I’ve learnt to live by, as spoken by the great sage, Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Fuck fear, drink beer.  Profound, no?  No?  Probably not, beer tastes quite bad.  How about, ‘Fuck fear, drink wine!’?  That doesn’t rhyme, does it?  ‘Don’t whine, drink wine.’  Better?  Not really, that doesn’t have quite the same je ne sais quoi to it.  Yes, I speaka da francais.  Kinda.  Okay fine, I don’t, but my google does, and google is my...say it with me...friend.   Ah fuck it, let’s drink some wine.   No really, that’s not a slogan, let’s drink some wine, right now.  If there is one thing I’ve learnt in this life, it’s that a glass of wine is always a good idea.  Five glasses, perhaps a bit too much, but the one is a good thing.  Wait, I have digressed, no?  Ah yes, the wisdom of the man in the tight black t shirt...

Fuck fear.  Drink beer.

That’s a simple way of saying life is too short to be cautious, playing it safe and all that jazz.  All it does, that seemingly wise caution, is leave you frustrated, wondering at the bloody what if’s.  What if I had taken that job?  What if I had left, or more likely hadn’t left, that (wo)man?   What if I had more money? What if I was skinnier, or taller?  What if I had a bigger car, or a better house, or a fancier pair of shoes?   What if I had been buying whiskey by the bottle, would she have had a drink with me then?  What if I hadn’t agreed to go home with him that night, would he have called me?  What if I’d done the arts degree I wanted, instead of medicine like my father insisted?  What if I pack it all in and move to Malindi?  What if I quit my job and become a filmmaker?  What if I get back with my ex and she leaves me again?  What if I like weed too much and get addicted?  What if I’d voted for the guy from the other tribe?  What if Jesus comes back?  What if, what if, what if...

Fuck fear.  Drink beer.

I can’t tell you how to resolve the more existential problems in your life, faith, purpose, religion, morality, those are deeply personal and better suited to a blog with pictures of a sunset, or happy babies.  I can, however, shed a bit of light on the other problems in your life, love and sex and everything in between, those are problems I can speak on with some authority, seeing as how I often lack one or the other. Or both, depending, but that’s a story for another day.

Bag lady you gon’ miss your bus,
You can’t hurry up, cause you got too much stuff,
When they see you comin’, niggas take off runnin’,
From you, its true, oh yes they do,
So pack light…

Some days you get to the point where all the junk you’re carrying around becomes too much to handle, it starts to weigh you down, or drag you back.  On days like that, you need to ask yourself, what would Stone Cold do?  Okay fine, you can ask Jesus too if that makes you happy, but start with my guy, he’s a lot simpler.  I’m all for learning from the past and embracing your flaws, but when the past is keeping you from moving into the future, and flaws are being used as a bullshit safety blanket, then perhaps it’s time to let it go.  All the baggage we haul around, walking around like wounded antelopes fleeing from similarly wounded simbas, this story must end.  It is no way to live.  

Girl I know, sometimes it’s hard and we can’t let go,
When someone hurts you oh so bad inside,
You can’t deny it, you can’t stop crying,
So, if you start breathin’, t
hen you won’t believe it,
You’ll feel so much better, 
So much better baby...

These lyrics are from the album version, not the one you're listening to, in case you're wondering why I'm writing something other than what's playing, and (possibly) what crack I'm smoking today (you know I can hear the joke you've just made in your head, right?  No really, I can...).  The reason I put up this version?  Listen to her riffing, from 2:50…garbage bag lady, Gucci bag lady… let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go… plastic bag ladies, baby baggin’ mommas…betcha love can make it better…  I’m convinced that Ms Badu is not entirely sane, but dammit if this song isn’t the sanest thing ever put to song.  The best bit is you can apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in.  Really.  The answer to any question you have ever had about your love life, or the lack thereof, is in this one song.  Yes, the song you refused to play.  Yes, I’m like a dog with a bone, but you already know that, no?  And don’t go thinking her lines only apply to women, gentlemen, this song works just as well for you too, if her concerts are anything to go by.  I’m just saying, this baggage story is gender neutral, no?  

This year, when you get stuck, ask yourself, W.W.S.C.D?  That's right, F.F.D.B.  

Fuck fear, drink beer.  

Or wine.  Yes, or water.  Yes, or tea.  Dammit, I am not being literal, you bloody alcohol nazis (read, Mututho), just drink something, anything...  Yes, whatever you want...  Can’t a girl get poetic around here?  No wait, this girl actually can’t get poetic, which is why she uses lyrics, and slogans from the shirts of wrestling legends.  Clever, no?  Probably not.

Happy new year, my lovelies, may this year be kinder to you than the last.


Africa Rising? Part 3


Agra's Africa Agricultural status report states: "There is growing public opposition to GM crops in Africa that is best described as a fear of the unknown. Unless milled, the import of GM foods is banned in Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. More important to seed-sector development, these bans signal the arbitrariness and unpredictability of public policy."

Agra is an independent organisation based in Kenya that aims to double the income of 20 million small farmers and reduce food insecurity by 50% in 20 countries by 2020. Critics of the group accuse it of showing its true colours after initial coyness over GM foods.

"This report clearly indicates their full support for GM crops, and their intention to use their influence to open African doors for Monsanto's and Syngenta's patented GM crops," said Teresa Anderson, international advocacy co-ordinator for the Gaia foundation, an advocate of food sovereignty that asserts the right of people to define their own food systems.


With Ethiopia planning to dam River Omo and the possible threats to the future of Lake Turkana, a look at the politics of dam construction.

Is the World Bank blinded by an outdated ideology? More likely, its return to mega-dams is driven by institutional self-interest. A strategy paper leaked from the bank in 2011 recognised that the increase in project size "may seem somewhat at odds with the goal of scaling up activities in areas where many potential projects – such as solar, wind and micro-hydropower ... tend to be small". Yet, the paper argued, the "ratio of preparation and supervision costs to total project size" is bigger for small projects than large, centralised schemes, and so bank managers are "disincentivised" from undertaking small projects.

The WCD concluded that while “dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development,” in “too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, by people displaced, by communities downstream, by taxpayers and by the natural environment.” For example, dams have physically displaced 40-80 million people worldwide, and most of these people have never regained their former livelihoods. In many cases, dams have led to a significant and irreversible loss of species and ecosystems, and efforts to mitigate these impacts have often not been successful.


There's clearly no shortage of cash, but, after 10 years of elevated income, the country still performs poorly across a host of development indicators – literacy is 34%, under-five mortality 169 per 1,000 live births, and the country was 184th out of 187 in the UN's latest human development index. There is a chronic lack of skilled professionals – a handful of gynaecologists, one psychiatrist and a few hundred midwives, for example.

"Most countries have a fixation with infrastructure, especially when there's a windfall," says Alan Gelb, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. "Part of it is genuine, because there can be a physical transformation, but governments often end up paying a very high price and there is a tremendous opportunity for corruption through the contracts-issuing process."

The Niger delta, home to some of the biggest oilfields in the world, is heavily polluted from five decades of living with the oil industry. In June, an explosion at one of Nigeria's major pipelines spilled 6,000 barrels of crude into the creeks and swamps around Bodo village, killing several people. In this special investigation, John Vidal visits the region to find out why oil and the delta's residents do not mix. They speak to traders and visit the communities most affected, and ask what can be done to develop the area to the benefit of the people living there.

"Is it because we are Nigerian and poor that they offer so little for the damage they have caused?" said one fisherman at the Bodo meeting. "This would be different in the US or London."

"Crude oil is the same in every country. Does the black man not also have red blood?" said another. "It is a big shame on Shell that they are unwilling to pay a fraction of their profit as compensation after subjecting the people and the environment to such unthinkable harm they would not dare allow in their home country," said the Nigerian environmentalist and chair of Oilwatch International, Nnimmo Bassey.

Allegations of corruption, residents disgruntled over property compensation, indecisiveness over the best infrastructure (refinery or pipeline, and how big?) for the industry, and painfully slow government bureaucracy are responsible for Uganda's delayed oil production. Countries such as Ghana, which discovered oil later than Uganda, have already started production.

Some Ugandans still doubt that a government whose president has already declared that "it is my oil" will use revenue from the industry to benefit the people. Their reality – the poor-quality services and poverty – has not changed in spite of the billions already paid out by oil companies in the pre-production stages.

If history in the Niger Delta is anything to go by, it is far from guaranteed that the population of Turkana County will benefit from the potential oil revenue. The existence of corruption has already been raised. During a two-day consultative meeting held in the regional capital, Lodwar, in June 2012, community leaders accused local officials of illegally acquiring title deeds, misappropriating community-owned land and using intimidation and violence to displace communities within the region’s oil-rich Ngamia 1 and Twiga South-1 localities.


While Bila in Johannesburg goes into the townships to photograph the fashion and street cultures, Lukhovi visits the garbage dump of Dandora in the east of Nairobi for his series Scavenging Boma, to show the hope that can radiate from even the hardest of realities. "I want to show South Africa to the world and the world to South Africa," says Bila. Lukhovi adds: "With my images I try to show the hope and success of people. Our continent is full of blessings, and even though it gets tagged as lost, there are more the enough beautiful and exhilarating stories to be told. Photography is the best medium to show these hopeful sides of the continent."


Africa Rising? Part 2

In keeping with the theme of posting random links, more reading material for you.  Enjoy.


Developing countries receive about $136 billion in aid from donor countries each year. At the same time, however, they lose about $1 trillion each year through offshore capital flight, mostly in the form of tax avoidance by multinational corporations. That’s nearly 10 times the size of the aid budget.

Because rich countries include debt cancellation as aid, it is only fair that we include debt service payments as part of the equation as well. Today, poor countries pay about $600 billion to rich countries in debt service each year, much of it on the compound interest of loans accumulated by rulers long since deposed. This alone amounts to nearly five times the aid budget. Using this metric, economist Charles Abugre calculates that the net flow of aid from the West to the Global South over the period 2002 to 2007 was minus $2.8 trillion. And that does not include the capital flight that I mentioned above.

Mo Ibrahim’s overall message is that things are improving in Africa, but in a slow and complex fashion. Rather than ‘Afropositive’ or pessimism, he calls for an Afro-realism, which means ‘be patient and study the numbers’. This may not be the sexiest headline, but it does do justice to the fine quantitative work that makes the Index on Governance possible.


The most popular view, supported by the likes of the New York Times and the World Bank, all powerful influencers of how the world thinks about Africa, puts the number of AMAC’s at more than 300 million, a diverse basket that includes all sorts: cattle-ranchers, road-side food vendors, taxi drivers, railway pensioners etc.

But this view has its critics, and though they are not as often heard, they shout when they get the opportunity, saying things like: only 5% of African consumers qualify for the ‘middle-class’ tag. If that position was valid, it would mean the AMAC class has suddenly shrunk from 300 million-plus all the way down to about 40 million or 50 million people (bearing in mind that even the exact population in Africa is debatable due to weak census data in many African countries).

But that is not even the most disconcerting view. Someone has actually said that there is basically no middle class consumer segment worthy of any serious analysis in Africa at all. Mind you, he is not just some party-pooper who just walked in from the street; he is a serious finance professional who only happens to hold the view that Africa has only two super-classes: the uber-rich and a large sprawl of poor people who nevertheless are inclined towards consumption (perhaps in just the same way that Asians are seen as inclined towards saving). You can of course choose to interpret that view to mean either that the celebrated AMACs are just poor people who have developed a habit of living above their means or that they are low-income earners with rapidly rising wages. But however you choose to spin it, the fact remains that your target consumer base has now shrunk to zero. From 300 million to zero, now that’s something.

Failing states without social safety nets and with poor health care, collapsing municipal and state services and a general lack of opportunity to thrive are major drivers of migration.
This the underlying reason that Sengalese, Somalians, Chadians or numerous other African nationals seek refuge and opportunity in Europe. They are no different to Salvadoreans, Mexicans or Columbians seeking Elysian fields in the USA or Canada. These millions of migrants assume huge risks on their perilous journeys and are prone to further exploitation and abuse at their eventual destinations.

Globalisation sees increasing liberalisation of trade in goods and services to the advantage of the developed north. While immigration of skilled labour is embraced by the north - again exploiting scarce African resources - the same does not apply to unskilled migrants. Africa has effectively been reduced to the role of a captive, continental-scale colony, where its land, resources, environment and people are exploited by the developed world.

While the Time article reports that 25.1% of drinkers in the WHO Africa region drink too much, it fails to mention that the majority of people on the continent don’t drink at all, according to the WHO data. The WHO estimated that in 2004, 57.3% of the “Africa region” were lifetime abstainers and 70.8% reported not consuming alcohol in a year. By comparison, only 18.9% of Europeans and 17.7% of the United States population were lifetime abstainers.

So now it's your turn. Take this quiz, compiled by RNW, to find out how corrupt you may be...

Over the past decade Angola has been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. GDP grew at an 11.6% annual clip from 2002 to 2011, driven by a more than doubling of oil production to 1.8 million barrels a day. The government budget sits at $69 billion, up from $6.3 billion a decade ago.

But predictably, precious little of the windfall has made it to the people. Some 70% of Angolans live on less than $2 a day. And by the government’s own count, 10% of the country’s population is scrambling for food due to drought and bureaucratic neglect. So where’s the money going? Start with a paranoid president-for-life. The state security apparatus sucks more funds from the budget than health care, education and agriculture combined. A lot is clearly stolen: Between 2007 and 2010 at least $32 billion of oil revenue went missing from the federal ledger, according to the International Monetary Fund, which later tracked most of the money to “quasi-fiscal operations.” Angola comes in at 157 out of 176 nations ranked by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. It trails shining stalwarts of participatory democracy such as Yemen and Kyrgyzstan. And it’s within this environment that Isabel dos Santos has surfaced with an estimated net worth of $3 billion.

Dr. Mukwege says: “The perpetrators of these crimes destroy life at its entry point. The women can no longer have children. Often they get infected with AIDS… Their men are humiliated. So the perpetrators destroy the entire social fabric of their enemies, their communities, their future generations, without even killing the woman. A line has been crossed here, which should have been an absolute taboo. But because those parts of the body are not usually visible, it is not as obvious as other forms of mutilation.”