Day 7: Asante.

I have never been so happy it's Sunday evening.  Not even the thought of Monday morning tomorrow can bring me down.  Ladies and gentlemen, this little experiment is finally over, and the end couldn’t have come any sooner.  I didn’t think I'd live to say this, but I am all talked out.  Wait, that's not entirely true.  I have a few choice things to say about the idiot MPs who felt the need to act like fools last night, but that can wait.  Apart from that I have nothing to say.  Although there was this brilliant article I read about porn addiction and how its complete bollo...no...nothing to say tonight.  Tonight I let other people speak.  

I present to you part of my current playlist, inspired/created almost entirely by the brilliant people I follow on twitter (while it is still the work of the devil, I've finally accepted that I have sold my soul, and embraced it.  Most of it.  Well, about a tenth of it. I've digressed...).  I'd love to take credit for what you're about to see and hear, but save for putting them in some sort of discernible order, this list has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the kindness of strangers.  

That's also a disclaimer in case you get offended by something and you feel the need to rant huko chini.

First up, Ms Eartha Kitt.
Have you ever listened to someone and you sat up straight, goosebumps on your arms, back of your neck tingling?  That's what happened when I clicked play on this clip.  Ms Kitt speaks with such clarity its a little frightening, no one should be this sure of themselves, right?  Wrong.  We should all be so lucky to know our minds this well, and speak them without fear.  When I finally find the documentary from which this clip is taken, you best know I will return to this most fascinating woman.

In keeping with the theme of women speaking their minds, Ms Janet, who's been on my playlist since December.

I'm not sure how to explain just how important Janet, last name Jackson, is, I suspect I’ll have to do a separate post on her.  This woman was and still is the shit.  Ignore the dodgy Tyler Perry movies, her genius is almost as great as her brother's, hell, she only loses points because his voice was in a class of its own.  'You want this' is what a sexy video should look and sound like, oh ye younglings fond of girls shaking their thonged asses for the camera. I'm just saying, Nicki ain’t got shit on Janet, never has never will.  Useless fact, back in the day we all wanted to look like Janet. We didn’t have the body, or the face, but we had the braids, dammit.  Another useless titbit, I can still pull off the MC Lyte rap perfectly and my sister still does that kuteremka dance step like the aspiring video vixen she was back in the day.  Yes, my family is a bit special.

Special, in a good way, describes this chap quite aptly...
I had never heard of dub poetry before I played this clip, now I can't get enough of it.  This was a bit of a mind fuck for me, reggae plus rap/spoken word.   Its gorgeous music and words that make sense.  Brilliant, and so confusing to my lover's rock loving ass.

Speaking of spoken, this is my latest crush...
Smart, articulate, gorgeous, funny as hell, and she swears like a sailor.  How can I resist Staceyanne Chin?  I've had her playlist on in the background while I work for the past two weeks.  I think I love her.

I also love these two...
This reminds me of the Whedon version of 'Much Ado About Nothing', the one in B&W.  It's the rapid dialogue cum poetry, fascinates me to no end, probably because I talk quite slowly (because I think even slower).  I figure if poetry reminds me of Shakespeare, good Shakespeare, and mind you I struggle with the bard, then it's a keeper.  These two are brilliant.

Speaking of brilliant...
So I've been getting music lessons of sorts from these two junkies I follow, they who like to fuck up my playlist at random, because they can.  Its a bit fuzzy how I ended up at Chuck Brown (it probably had something to do with Chef, the movie), but I’m glad I did.  This is funk, pure unadulterated funk.  As is this one...
You know how you click a link to prove someone wrong?  I clicked on this because I thought there is no way it could be anywhere near as funky as he claimed it would be, its a random white dude for crying out loud.  I now have all of Mayer Hawthorne's music.  Woi.

I could keep going, but I suspect I’m already pushing it. One last one, to say asante, for keeping me company this week.
Thank me later.


Day 6: syn·co·pa·tion

Ooh, I miss that syncopation,
I guess I'll never really understand,
She gave no indication,
that she was loving any other man...

Folks, these musicians have been lying to me all my (not so) innocent life. When I first heard this song, 'Syncopation', I thought the word meant in sync, as in, together. It's a bloody love song, for crying out loud, what else could the word possibly mean? Then I'm googling the lyrics, last year, getting ready to stick it in a post and lo and behold, that is not what the word means, at all.

syn·co·pa·tion [sing-kuh-pey-shuh-n]
  1. Music. a shifting of the normal accent, usually by stressing the normally unaccented beats.
  2. something, as a rhythm or a passage of music, that is syncopated.
  3. Also called counterpoint, counterpoint rhythm. Prosody. the use of rhetorical stress at variance with the metrical stress of a line of verse.
Simply put, syncopation is a general term for "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur."  Wikipedia 

Now I ask you, how does the man miss a disturbance? Is a disturbance not a bad thing, sir? Bloody nkt! I'm starting to wonder about his Caribbean woman now, in light of his comprehension problems, perhaps she was from Sudan or something. Don’t look at me like that, you don’t know where I’m coming from. Billy Ocean practically a small god when I was growing up. When this man sang about the mythical love zone, I was the idiot looking at his curly kit and thinking how lovely it would be to pat (dry). This man was the man! And this song was a lovely tale of longing...

When she holds me, her body does strange things to mine,
When she loves me, then I know she's one of a kind,
She's really special,
She knows what good love is all about,
Ooh, yeah...

Happy love song, without a doubt. Or not. In verse two he reveals...

I can't imagine, my baby with somebody new,
Oh, no, no. I'm so confused, that I don't know what to do,
I took love for granted,
and now I'm left here all alone,
Alone and crying,
You're all I'm wanting,
so girl won't you come back home?

Clearly my attention span as a child was wanting. If I had stuck around long enough I might have realised that this was not a happy love song, more a tale of abandonment, and longing. And it was a bloody riddle.

I wrote that intro ages ago, and then I tossed it in the trash once I realised the song and the post didn’t fit together. Problem is, as with all good songs, Billy was stuck in my head, and the bloody word with him. It's such a lovely word this, syncopation. Musical, no? It got me thinking about music, and why we love what we love, what makes one song a good tune and the other a mess of sound. Don't fret my pet, this post isn’t about music, it's about dating. Why do we pick the people we pick to date? More to the point, why are we often syncopated with the people we date? (Syncopated is a real word. Yes, I saw you frowning.) Is that disturbance in the rhythm the key to a good rhythm?

Do you ever get the impression you and your lover are not in sync? I do. All the time, man. If I had to point out the one thing that went wrong in my relationships over the last couple of years it would be this, we were not in any sort of rhythm, all the damn time. Sure, there were odd moments of happy melding of mind (and body...), but for the most part I felt like I was in a reggae song and the bugger was playing classical music (I can't think of two more different genres). When I was getting excited and falling, he was getting cautious and pulling away. When I was hesitant, he was barrelling full steam ahead, scaring me off with his enthusiasm. When I was committing, he was still playing the field. Any example you can think of, odds are I’ve been there, done that, read the book, saw the movie, went to the damn theme park and bought the fucking t-shirt. And why exactly do I tend to end up with discordant partners? This is where it gets good. I’ve always believed that the best matches are two people who are happy to be together while remaining individuals. That 'and two shall become one' story has never held any appeal to me. Why would I, fully formed brilliant creature that I am (ahem) want to become part of some mutant creature with 'one heart'? Then what the hell have I being doing with my life all this time, I ask you? I should have just stayed home knitting sweaters, no? Before you laugh, I’d just like to point out that I can knit like a mother..., but I still went out and got me some other interests and skills, because that's what life is about, no? I figure, until I'm a complete person, only then will I be able to have a complete relationship.


The more complete I get, the more I find out I will never be complete. There’s no end to this growing (up), is there? I’m pretty sure I will never get to that day when I can sit back and say I’m done. Strange thing is, I’m fine with that, these days anyhow. I have to be completely honest with you, these days I love knowing I don’t have it all figured out, it means I get to keep learning, plus I can't be held criminally liable for any of my frequent fuck ups (ignorance can be a defence, if you play dumb enough, and flash some bosom). Haven’t I told you how much I love to learn? That's how I finally figured out that the complete relationship is a bit of a myth, like unicorns, only less pretty. Complete implies finished, which implies static, which implies dead. Dead relationships aren’t relationships. That analogy may have run away from me, and disturbingly fast. Moving right along. My (possibly misguided) independent streak is why I always look for similarly minded independent types, which would be great except for the minor matter of, well, independence. People who don't want to couple tend to make lousy coupling partners, if only because they don’t see the need to couple. Folks, stubborn and stubborn rarely make a good match, is all I'm saying, but dammit if it doesn’t always make for interesting matches. Troubling matches, but interesting all the same.

For those of you playing the song (all two of you), listen to this bit at 3:19 (ignore the lyrics, listen to the music)...

Ooh, how I miss that syncopation.
(Baby's found another.)
(Baby's found another.)
(She's found another lover.)
Ooh my baby.
Woooh, how I miss that syncopation...

My understanding of syncopation is that 'tripping over itself' rhythm, kinda like they're skipping beats every so often, like a scratched CD, but somehow not skipping anything. It sounds broken, yet whole. This is not a technical description, clearly, but it might be the closest analogy to the nature of relationships I've made yet. This is what my relationships feel like most times, skipping, tripping, slightly unpredictable, not entirely settled. When I was 10 years younger and much more dramatic, it was the most exhilarating feeling ever. I loved the inherent instability of the awkward pairing of two idiots who wanted to be together, yet didn’t, it made me feel blissfully untethered. These days, however, not so much. Listen, I'm all for a little disruption once in a while, but tripping all day every day? No. That requires way too much effort, effort my old ass has no time for. These days my theory is simple, if we're not in sync, then maybe we shouldn’t be syncing.

Or not.

I’m not sure.

I started this post off as an anti-syncopation ode. I was ready to declare that in the year of (y)our lord 2015, I was no longer going to date buggers who couldn’t match my rhythm perfectly, nor I theirs. To hell with this never ending quest for like minded independent (read, stubborn and unyielding) spirits, I was convinced that I was going to change my ways and become a 'one heart'-er. In this year of (y)our lord. Then I sat back and listened to Billy a couple more times. The reason this song is so brilliant is because of the syncopation, without it this would be just another bland love song, monotonous woowoowoo bullshit. Put differently, breaking the rhythm makes the rhythm better, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. See, now I finally understand why he's pining for this woman...

You see I never had a lover
who could make me over like this, like this...

Billy didn't lie to me (thank you, gods of all things R&B), disturbance is something worth pining over. Disturbance, it seems, is a good thing. Lovers don’t have to be perfectly matched, if anything they work better when they're not. Ignore everything else I may have said tonight to the contrary.


Day 4: I CAN make you love me, if...

I knew if I waited long enough, and prayed to my gods hard enough, that one day someone would figure out how to make a man (or a woman, who knows?) fall in love with me. I knew this day would come, and it finally did. Strictly speaking, that day came 20 years ago, but let's not split hairs. It's official people, a couple of questions and four minutes of gazing into someone's eyes is all you need. Can I get an amen?!

As tempting as it is to use Foreigner as today's soundtrack, I shall curb my fondness for 80's pop ballads and use a 60's soul classic instead. Granted, I'm using the cover done in 1982, but it's not a ballad so...

I need love, love, ooh, to ease my mind
And I need to find time
Someone to call mine
My mama said...

Back in 1997, a couple of scientists conducted a study on close relationships, not specifically on romantic relationships, eventually creating a set of 36 questions that, when asked in sequence, create closeness between the respondents. Simply put, the questions help in bonding. Dr Aron explains (36 Questions for Intimacy, Back Story):
The basis of the 36 questions is that back-and-forth self-disclosure, that increases gradually (not too fast), is consistently linked with coming to like the other person you do this with. We just made it a systematic method that could be used in the lab. In more recent research by Harry Reis and colleagues, another factor is also proving very important - being responsive to the other's self-disclosure! These factors are important for both starting a relationship, and even more important, for its continued quality.
She then goes further to explain that this is not a recipe for love...
We had not created the 36 questions to help you fall in love. To do a good job of that we would have needed to do a study with people who, above all, came into it really wanting to fall in love, and we were not in that business!

The reason for that disclaimer is this article, causing a great deal of buzz the past two weeks, To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This, in which the author describes trying out this experiment, albeit in a more casual setting, and falling in love.
I first read about the study when I was in the midst of a breakup. Each time I thought of leaving, my heart overruled my brain. I felt stuck. So, like a good academic, I turned to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter.

You can see how I got hooked by this article, no?
I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony. Let’s try it,” he said.
You're loving the science too now, aren’t you? But wait...
Let me acknowledge the ways our experiment already fails to line up with the study. First, we were in a bar, not a lab. Second, we weren’t strangers. Not only that, but I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening.
And so it came to pass that 36 questions later, plus the recommended four minutes of staring into each other's eyes, the happy couple was suitably enamoured with each other and are now in love. Aaaaawwww...

Now, the romantic in me was slightly wet of eye at the end of that article. The cynic, however, she that writes this blog, she was having none of it. '36 whatnow?' she scoffed. I went off in search of the questions, and the original study, convinced it was all a load of guff. Not so much as it turns out.

The questions are grouped into three sets of 12 questions each, of slowly increasing depth, starting off with a simple, 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?, graduating to 13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?, with the last set starting off with, 25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ...” By the time you're on the last question, 36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen., you've pretty much gone past most of the boundaries you normally maintain when you meet someone new. The idea behind this is quite simple, the mutual self disclosure creates a feeling of intimacy between you. Incidentally, I can't find any reference to the eye gazing in the original study, but I skimmed through most of the methodology, so perhaps it's in there somewhere (shakes head vehemently). I'm leaving that bit out, it sounds a little creepy, even for me who loves to stare at people.

Question is, does this intimacy created by the question and answer sequence lead to attraction, or does the attraction need to be there from the beginning? Put differently, can you ask someone you like these 36 questions and get them to like you back? Come now, that's all we really want to know, isn’t it? The short answer. Perhaps. What's important is both parties have to willing to open up for this exercise to work, which then means you can't ambush that guy you've been stalking with a bloody questionnaire and expect the magic to happen. That said, assuming both parties are genuine and don't hold back, then, voilà! You'll fall in love like the author of that lovely tale, or, as was originally intended, you become friends. 

 The scientists issued a disclaimer at the end of their paper:
So are we producing real closeness? Yes and no. We think that the closeness produced in these studies is experienced as similar in many important ways to felt closeness in naturally occurring relationships that develop over time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the procedure produces loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other relationship aspects that might take longer to develop.
You can't sue them if it doesn’t work. Now you know.

You can't hurry love
No, you'll just have to wait
She said love don't come easy

But it's a game of give and take
You can't hurry love
No, you'll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time

No matter how long it takes...

Can you make someone fall in love with you? 

 From the NYT article:
Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed.
But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.

It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.
Ms Catron seems to think so. 

I’m inclined to agree.

Don’t look so surprised.

What they describe here is not too different from what you experience during online dating, or a holiday fling cum love affair, or a long evening with good company. That intense rush you get from getting to know someone very well, very quickly, this is what its all about, see? This is why, she wags her finger, meeting strangers on the internet is so bloody dangerous, its an experiment! Wait, no, sorry, that's my conspiracy theory gear kicking in. Ignore that bit. Seriously though, internet dating, much like all dating, is basically one long questionnaire. You start off on favourite colours and before you know it you're talking about your pet dog Simba who was run over by your father that evening he came home drunk, and all this in a matter of hours. It's the Aron experiment, on computer. Same thing happens when you have a mind fuck night, talking into the wee hours with a (former) stranger about anything and everything. The questions themselves are not the point of this exercise, what matters is the order in which these, or any other questions are asked.

Dr Aron explains:
...please know that those 36 are only suggestions. If you are going to use this approach with more than one person, or more than once with a particular partner, you may need to make up new questions so your answers don't become rote. Whatever questions you use, they should gradually escalate in personalness. If you don't want to rewrite them, you could use every third or fourth from the list of 36, one or a few from each of the three sections, but always include the ones that build the particular relationship, such as the three things you both have in common.

What she's describing is exactly what we do when dating. We ask questions to find out about the other person, the questions getting more intimate as we open up more to each other, and the questions tend to focus on finding commonalities. All this experiment does is expedite the matter, says the non-scientist with a degree in google. It also explains why we bond closely with people who, a. ask us about ourselves, b. listen to what we tell them, and c. tell us about themselves in return.

No, I can't bear to live my life alone
I grow impatient for a love to call my own
But when I feel that I, I can't go on
Well, these precious words keep me hanging on, I remember mama said...

You can't hurry love...

Bottom line.  Dear Phil Collins, mama lied.  Love can in fact be hurried along.

Line after the bottom line.  Yes, I can make you love me, if, and only if you want me to.

Line after the line after the bottom line. I've been right all along, you foolish buggers, asking questions is the secret to love and happiness. If only you could hear me laugh my evil laugh right now... For the record, I am going to milk this story the entire year. Don’t look at me like that, this is manna from heaven, no? Exactly. I'm thinking a new Dr A series...


Day 3: On the bus...

This was definitely not one of my more intelligent plans.  Who the hell does 7 posts in 7 days?  ‘Do we not have jobs to go to?’ she asked herself last night, as she shrugged off the fast waning urge to blog.  Then I woke up this morning ashamed, ‘Surely,’ I implored myself, ‘surely you can scrabble together a random list?’  I know, it’s cheeky, but when all else fails, write a list.  The interwebs is built on pointless lists.  To wit…

A Not Particularly Useful List Of Things I Thought About While Sitting In Traffic Today.

1.      Why are the traffic cops still controlling traffic at the roundabout, when the lights work just fine?
I’m not sure how many more times I can rant about this before I lose what little is left of my mind and stone a cop.  Seriously, government of the great county of Nairobi, what the hell?  Buggers installed newfangled technology and ef’thing, complete with a countdown, at great cost.  And then?  Just when we hit the all important critical mass of drivers obeying the lights (and no longer hooting at you when you’re the one idiot that stops at a red light, because stopping at a red light is such an insane thing to do), the cops come out and shit goes right back to fuck.  Throw in the lack of parking and the CBD becomes a no go zone for drivers.  Which is why I was in a bus…

2.      Why is the aisle in the bus so bloody narrow?
Now listen here bus fabricator people, some of us (read, me) are slightly wider than a coin and therefore cannot slither through those little gaps you falsely label aisles.  Don’t laugh at me, you try weaving through that slit carrying a huge hand bag, trying not to rub your ass in some strangers face, or decapitate another with your laptop bag, all while trying not to trip over someone’s awkwardly placed feet or (my favourite) the omnipresent gunia of whatever, and this while the bus driver is swerving in and out of whatever lane he clearly doesn’t think he should be in.  But hey, it’s only for a minute or two, while you make your way to your seat.  Ptuh!  What seat?

3.      Why, oh why, won’t other passengers make space for you (me) on the back seat?
It’s bad enough I had to squeeze my way down the entire length of the bus, but when I got there these buggers wouldn’t make space for me.  These two women, irritated at my sudden intrusion (mind you, its not like I popped out of nowhere all magical like, they’d watched me walk towards them for a full two minutes, bumping and apologising my awkward way down, only for them to stare up at me blankly), these lovely women moved apart a whopping two inches, and then looked up at me with a shrug.  Now I’m a laid back kinda chick myself, not looking to start nothing, but these women were looking to get smacked.  The conductor is shouting to me from the front of the bus, ‘Kiti huko nyuma!’  The women are nudging the men beside them to move.  An additional two inches was created.  Four inches of clear space, narrower than the aisle.  ‘Songa huko nyuma!’ he hollers.  No further movement.  He stomps down the aisle at speed (how do they do that?).  ‘Boss, hii space siwezi toshea,’ I tell him, pointing at my hips, hips wider than four inches.  He looks at the four inches, then back at me.  He nods.  Kiti huko mbele!’  Stop laughing.  Listen, my hips are not that wide, they're just not 4 inch skinny, dammit.

4.      Why are bus seats so small though?
Those geniuses tried to make space for me.  They didn’t try so hard, but they tried.  Problem is, those seats are made for children.  Small children.  They are not nearly wide enough and they have barely any leg room.  As for the genius who thought a seat that sits three was a good idea in a bus, well…  The one thing I regret about the Michuki Rules and the changes they wrought was what they did to the buses.  Remember the old KBS/Stagecoach buses?  The bit with packing us in like sardines wasn’t good, but when the buses weren’t overcrowded they were the best thing ever.  Bright and airy; comfortable seats without unnecessary accessories like head rests; an aisle wide enough to walk through without having a discussion about your hips, or ass, or boobs, or your belly (ahem); slow enough that you didn’t need a seat belt and a prayer to feel safe…  Good times.

5.      Have you noticed we don’t litter at bus stops any more?
I didn’t think we’d ever stop tossing our tickets wherever as we alighted.  Not too long ago you knew where the stage was not by the sign but by the rubbish on the ground, and the obligatory maize seller.  These days, not a scrap of paper in sight.  Well, the odd scrap, but not a ticket, at least not in the CBD.  Who would have thought?  Perhaps now we can stop throwing crap everywhere else?  No?  Baby steps.

6.      I don’t think those hand held scanners work.
Either that or they are finely tuned, very finely tuned.  I didn’t think so either.  Makes for a reassuring gesture I guess, although it gets me thinking, if the bus is jacked, or god forbid blown up, can I sue the bus company for negligence, assuming I don’t die? 

7.      Bus drivers have split personalities.
When I’m driving, the bus driver is the one guy I can count on to cut me off and then swear at me.  When I’m his passenger, he’s the nicest fellow, happily chatting to me like we’re old friends, telling me about his kid who’s just started school, even as he’s cutting off another driver to his right, and swearing at them.  Split personalities those ones.  In fairness, I should point out that I may, possibly, drive as badly as he does, and I definitely swear at other drivers worse than he does, and I'm almost as charming to my passengers too, but in my defence, I already know I have several personalities all up in here (motions at hips…yes, you can nod…).  Guess that means I should become a bus driver.


Day 2: What's going on?

Around the time of the Mike Brown shooting, and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, I stumbled across John Legend's Marvin Gaye tribute concert held in LA.  He was one of the more vocal celebrities, speaking out loudly against a system that treats black men, people, like shit, and in the process he got treated like shit (online) for his troubles.  This was the backdrop to his concert, held 11 days after the shooting.  The first half was standard Motown fare, the duets, all very lovely and mellow.  Then he took a break and came back wearing a 'Don’t shoot' t-shirt and let me tell you, the second half was definitely not Motown (where Motown means fluffy love songs designed not to ruffle feathers).  He brought out a bunch of young poets and these girls, nay, ladies…  Brilliance so profound it's all you can do not to kiss the screen (I know I always say that, but watch this and tell me you didn't want to...).

This young lady says in 3 minutes what we’ve been struggling with for a year.  Helplessness in the face of tragedy is the curse of our generation.  We’re constantly bombarded with all manner of information, all day every day, with little we can do to change the situation, no matter how horrific it is.  Like she says, 'the best I can do is tweet about it...'  She was talking about America and I was thinking about Lamu.

Not long after the Mike Brown incident, we found out about our own not so little police killing, and because our cops make other cops look like amateurs, ours was even more horrific, because we are nothing if not ambitious.

Have you ever been so angry you can't speak for fear of screaming?  You know that anger that gets you visibly trembling, insides churning, fists clenched, vein on your forehead throbbing, mouth twisted into a cross between a sneer and a snarl...  I'm angry.  I have been since August, last year.  I was angry all year come to think of it, but that month I finally tipped over the edge, from angrily resigning myself to the shit that is this world we live in to seething anger at the shit that is this country I live in.

All it took was the death of a 14 year old girl...

On Monday 25th August, the Nation reported:
The mother of a 14-year-old girl allegedly shot dead when police opened fire on a house on Saturday morning as she slept on wants the body exhumed.
In that opening sentence, the Nation unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly (credit where credit is due, the Nation were on top of this story from the get go), encapsulated just what is wrong with our police force. They killed a child and tried to hide it.  

From Tuesday 26th...
The girl’s uncle Hussein Zani questioned the manner in which police handled the shooting after the killing of the 14-year-old at Maweu village and her hurried burial by the local administration 16 hours later.  “We are still in shock and puzzled as to why the police and local chief buried her even after our objections,” Mr Zani said.  He called on area chief Samson Chale to tell the family who gave him the authority to allow the burial yet the family had requested that an independent postmortem examination was done first.

But Mr Chale claimed he was a family member and he saw no reason why they should not bury the girl after the police released the body on Saturday. “I am a family member and the deceased’s mother Umazi and her husband Mwandaza attended the burial,” he said and denied receiving any complaints to stop the burial.

Now when the chief is mentioned, you know this story can only get worse.  It did.  The then inspector of general things, Bwana Kimaiyo, explained what happened that night...

Our top cop claimed that the girl attacked his officers with a panga, and they responded in self defence.  The County Commissioner for Kwale goes on to explain that these cops only realised they had shot a child when they took her to hospital.  His tone of voice is particularly galling, but we'll come back to that later.  The official version: as many as eight armed policemen storm a house, they get attacked by a person with a machete, they fire in self defence, and then rush this assailant to hospital where he, later she, dies.

From a witness account...
“We heard a commotion outside before the police officers kicked the door open. They first lobbed tear gas cannisters in the house before they entered demanding to know where my uncle was,” the boy explained.  He went on: “Kwekwe jumped off the bed and told them that uncle was not in. However, they still went ahead and shot her in head. She fell on the floor.” He said the officers continued shooting even after killing her. “Then one took her and they hurriedly left with blood still oozing out of her body,’’ said a traumatised George.

His 67-year-old grandmother Grace said she heard gunshots from her house which is a few metres away. “I feared venturing out because it was raining heavily that night,” Ms Zani said. “It was later that I learnt my grandchild had been killed.”  “Since we did not know where they had taken her body, we started tracing blood stains. We later found her naked body at the Kinango District Hospital mortuary,” she said.  She said mortuary attendants told them that Kwekwe’s body had been found in a thicket and that her killers were unknown.

Have you written these men off as monsters already?  Not so fast, here's another WTF moment...
“Soon after killing her, they realised I had been watching. One of them ordered his colleague to finish me,’’ said George, who was in the company of his grandmother Grace Zani.  “However, the officer who was being ordered to shoot me said I should not be killed because I was too young to reveal anything. That is how my life was spared,” he told the Nation on Wednesday.

George, the witness, is 10 years old.

These cops killed a 14 year old girl and dumped her corpse in the bush.  When her body was found they tried to cover up the shooting with a dodgy autopsy report, claiming she died of a heart attack of sorts, and then burying her without her family's knowledge. And when the family and press started to sniff around they claimed it was self defence, and tried to threaten them into silence.  

I have to detour here quickly to take you forward to December and the Al Jazeera documentary on extra judicial killings. One of the comments I kept hearing at the time, from people who didn’t (or didn’t want to) believe what they saw, was that those interviews must have been faked, because the cops were too blasé about killing people.  Blasé isn’t the half of it, is it?  Detour over.

Based on an investigation by the police oversight body, in early October the Director of Public Prosecutions instructed that two officers be charged...
“I have perused both files and given careful consideration to the evidence contained therein and the respective recommendations by the police and IPOA. Having done so, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge Inspector Veronicah Gitahi and Constable Issa Mzee with the murder of Kwekwe Mwandaza,” the DPP said in a letter to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.  It added: “Accordingly, I direct that both be apprehended immediately and arraigned before the Mombasa High Court to answer a charge of murder.”

Several days later, the two cops appeared in court...
Inspector Veronicah Gitahi and Police Constable Issa Mzee denied the charge when they appeared before Mombasa High Court judge Maureen Odero.  They were each freed on a bond of Sh500,000.

Incidentally, I need a lawyer to explain to me how murder suspects are released on bail.

At the beginning of December...
THE High Court in Mombasa has allowed an application made by the mother of Kwekwe Mwandaza to be enjoined in the case. In his ruling, judge Martin Muya gave Umazi Zani the right of audience by herself or through her lawyer. He said, however, that her input would be limited only to the points of law. Muya said the mother will not be allowed to add any point of facts or question any witness.

On November 19, Zani made an application to be enjoined in the case. Her lawyer Harun Ndubi said Zani does not plan to interfere with the proceedings.  Lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Jared Magolo representing Kinango DCIO Veronicah Gitahi and police constable Issa Mzee objected to the application, saying the constitution does not allow a victim to participate in a case. “There is no provision in the law for accommodation of the victims and thus they should address their issues through the office of the DPP as stipulated by law,” Ombeta said.

The case will be heard on March 19.

I'll update this post as and when the case proceeds, and once its done we shall have a conversation about allegedly underpaid cops who can afford Mr Ombeta (aka lawyer to the rich and criminal).

So why does this shooting make me so angry I want to slap a pig?  It's not only that this shooting was more egregious than other random shootings of ‘suspects’.  We live in a country where the police routinely shoot people down allegedly in the name of fighting crime and/or terror.  And if the cops don’t get you, the idiot terrorists will, or the idiot criminals who shoot you dead to steal your phone, or maybe even your friendly neighbourhood lunatic with a gun permit and a short fuse.  Frankly, in this country its not when you’ll get shot, but by whom.  A 14 year old gets shot and dumped in the bush?  Par for the course, no?  No.  

Surely not.

8 policemen do not barge into a house and shoot a child.  They just don’t.  This isn’t bloody Syria or fucking Palestine.  We cannot have policemen running around killing people willy nilly.  I do not want a police boss who spins bullshit lies about a panga.  A panga?  How the fuck was that even a remotely plausible theory?  I don’t want a County Commissioner who shrugs off the death of a child like its just one of those things that happen.  His tone of voice…  Sweet Jesus!  Every time I think to let this one slide, I hear that smug bastard droning on and I get mad all over again.  Listen, I see how we got to this point as a country, too many years of a system designed to be brutal and nothing but, but at one point we need to stand up and say enough.  

No more.

From the John Legend show...

Kwekwe Mwandaza was a 14 year old girl, about the same age as these three girls.  Maybe that's why her death struck a nerve with me, coming so soon after I watched the concert.  Or maybe the death of Kwekwe got me ridiculously angry because it's ridiculously wrong.  

Both sets of police bosses produced indefensible reasons to justify the executions, but that is where the similarities end. We witnessed the outrage in Ferguson and the silent indifference in Kwale — not a single complaint from the Woman Representative, MCA, MP, Governor or any other person that would claim to be a leader.

We have lost our sense of outrage.

This morning, riot police tear-gassed a bunch of school children...


Day 1: Mea Culpa.

It's a brand new day...

Last year was a strange year.  Two parts tragic, one part horrific, three parts infuriating and six parts just plain ol' insane.  It got to the point I stopped reading the papers, stopped watching the news, turned off the radio and sunk into a brainless abyss of...and I say this with great shame...'Keeping up with the Kardashians'.  That's right, I, (not) Alex, was a slave to reality TV.  For kendo 5 months.  You know you've lost your way when you know who French Montana is.  You don’t know who that is?  Thank your gods.  It was a scary spiral into lethargy the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was in my mid 20's, fresh out of college and at a loss as to what to do next.  Throw in the completely unrelated fact that I was on a misguided crusade to grow an afro, because it occurred to me that it was time to liberate my wallet from the clutches of the evil beauty industry, and the 'lost at sea' look was complete.  I felt ragged, I looked somewhat ragged (combing natural hair sans moisturiser is not easy, at all, and these buggers don’t tell you...), my thought process was ragged and, as you probably noticed, my blogging was most ragged.  I felt adrift, yet motionless, melancholy seeping out of every pore like salty sweat on a hot January day...

And I have no idea why.

Well, I do, sort of.

Work was slow.  My personal life was, shall we say, odd.  My president was, is, visibly angry.  Things were shitty all around.  But that wasn’t what got me lethargic.  I think it was simply that I got off the hamster wheel that is this rat race we live.  I didn’t mean to get off mind, at least not for that long, I got off it for World Cup back in June and I just never got back on.  True story.  I took those four weeks off to watch football and in the process I somehow lost the urge to get back to the grind.  Work hard?  For what?  I went on an unofficial go slow.  No one noticed.  Once I realised I could wade through life with a bare minimum of effort, well, everything else was promptly ditched.  Write maybe?   Because that worked out so well in the past, she said sarcastically, as she detangled her 'fro.  Why not get my hair done, that always puts a spring in my step, right?  Bitch please, I'm on a go slow, no?  Read a few books then.  Again I ask, for what?  You know how much I love to read, but the thought of picking up a book filled me with dread.  If it wasn’t for the reading I kept doing online, I would be illiterate by now.  Why not get laid more often, at the very least?  The complexities of getting laid at my age are astounding.  Yes, I will tell you about it one day.   No, wait, I already have.  Which brings me back to, write maybe?  And on and on and on.  All with the chattering Kardashians in the background, flipping hair and flicking blackberries, all while delivering the most useless monologues in the history of television.  I tell you, there are afternoons I could feel my brain decay, one numb cell at a time...

Fuck me, it was absolute bliss.

I know, I know, how dare I call such nothingness bliss?   How dare I be happy about doing nothing?  My lovelies, it really was fucking bliss, once I realised it couldn’t possibly kill me.  The way I figured, sometimes there's nothing to be done.  Sometimes the endless running around chasing the next deal is meaningless motion without movement, an elaborate pretence at being busy rather than actually being productive.  Sometimes we just need to sit down and stare at a TV screen for way too many hours, without engaging in any form of meaningful thought.  Sometimes, its worth your own sanity to stop shouting into the wind and just shut the fuck up, if for no other reason than to rest your tired voice, and maybe rest other people's tired ears.  Sometimes, but only sometimes, its better to get yourself off, rather than spend countless chasing that elusive shag, chasing and chasing.  Sometimes you gotta let go...

I find myself just a little bit stronger, got the weight up off my shoulders,
Feeling fine cause I'm in a new way...

Ladies and gentlemen, Rahsaan Patterson, also known as he that would father my babies if he wasn't gay (dammit!).  This song was my 'you're ok now' song about four years ago, I was going through a 'Neo Soul, in touch with my inner spirit, wooosaaaa' phase as I adjusted to being alone (read lonely) in a new house.  'Sometimes' was that song I'd blast at obscenely loud volume on Sunday morning, on loop, singing along like he was singing my truth.  At the time he was, I think.  I stumbled across the CD in early December as I was doing my annual clearing of accumulated junk (I am a reformed hoarder), I set it aside for a listen and promptly forgot about it.  Then I thought of it on Christmas Day morning for some odd reason, stuck it in as I was getting ready to drive to the village to cook for the clan...

A broken heart can mend in a day,
Long as you're travellin' in thunder rain,
I'm clear of the storm, now I feel some joy,
its a blessing, a blessing, I don’t hurt no more,

Find myself just a little bit warmer, got the weight up off my shoulders,
Feeling fine cause I'm in a new day...

This is the thing about music, and it's why music is such a huge part of this blog, these songs are tied to memories.  Memories of people and places, events and mishaps, feelings and frames of mind.  This song takes me back to a boozy dinner (aren't they all?) with my almost baby brothers on a hot evening not unlike this one, dirty dishes shoved to the side as we sat around the table arguing the merits of whatever music one of us was newly obsessed with (for the record, they didn’t much care for this song, useless philistines...).  Maybe that's why I thought of it on the day I was going to have another boozy meal with my somewhat philistine clan (my brother has been talking shit about The Expendables.  'Eh?' I asked him, aghast, 'How is that even acceptable that a grown idiot of right mind doesn’t get Stallone, Statham and co.?  Shameful!'  I have digressed...).  This song takes me back to a happy place, even as it reminds me of a particularly lonely, yet liberating, time in my life.

As it turned out, this song became the bookend to a lovely period of bleh, a period that had to end, some might say fortunately, if only so I could wash the stain of reality TV off my body and re-enter the world of intelligent conversation and productivity.  Four days later I was back at work, soon thereafter the TV was turned off and a book was picked up.  It was inevitable, once I had no random voices in my house to distract me, that I would return to tell you all about my many issues, such as I do, and to warn you about French Montana...

Sometimes you gotta let go, although its not easy,
Sometimes you gotta let go, of a love that ain’t so pleasing,
Sometimes you gotta say no,
Sometimes you gotta give it up, baby let it all go...

It's a brand new day...

Happy new year, my lovelies.  May this year be kinder to us than the last.

In recognition of my tardiness last year, I want to try something different this week.  I've signed up for the #YourTurnChallenge, kinda. inspired by the always lovely Ms Malaka (I’m participating in the #YourTurnChallenge …Yikes!).  The idea is 7 posts in 7 days, on pretty much anything, starting today.  I figure the best way to get back into to swing of things is to get back into the swing of things, yes?  Good plan, no?  Stop shaking your heads, that means six more posts for you this week.  I can't vouch for their quality, but hey, they're free.  Minus internet charges.  And the cost of your time.  But otherwise free.  And probably short.