Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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Sell. Bless. #SellToBless

Easter holidays are no longer what they used to be. Back in our days Easter was a big deal! Unlike our days, these days all schools have mid-term breaks. During out time, it was 10 weeks of uninterrupted learning. In fact, if you were unwell, your folks would wake you up early in the morning as if you were going to school, make you wear your uniform as if you were still going to school and then take you to hospital. After “seeing” the doctor our folks would make sure you join the rest of your classmates in class.

The good thing about “the good old days”, holidays were holidays. No private tuition,   no remedial or make up classes. Holidays were what they are meant to be; breaks. The only thing you did not have a break from was house chores. We all knew that before going out to play we had to wash dishes or clear the tables. Yes there were no house helps back then. If you had one, you would still be assigned your duties anyway.

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April was always a rainy season. Many other things were predictable about April holidays. There was the Safari Rally and mind you this was a family event, then there were “the Jesus movies” and not forgetting it was lukwart (lugu) season. (I still have no idea what they were called in English)That’s what they’re called! Strangely, Easter holidays always seemed to fall on the first week of April. I don’t remember it being in March as it has been a couple of times.

There were two movies that would always make you cry regardless of how many times you watched them; After The Promise and The Jesus Movie. You were never too hardcore for these movies. The Jesus movie, I am sure that was not the name but I bet no one can remember the actual name was nothing like The Passion Of The Christ. Come to think about it why wasn’t the movie called Passion of Christ? So anyway after the movie we would cry ourselves silly.

My mum being a shrewd evangelist would use that chance to take me on a guilt trip. Oh she would have fun. It’s like she was cued right before the credits to remind of my “many sins”. She reminded me how every time I disobeyed her I was re-crucifying Christ. Boy wouldn’t that make me wail and promise to be a better obedient boy from that moment on. My mum would tell me that as a result resolution I was now born again. It felt good to have a fresh start but the “devil” in my friends made “my salvation” short lived.

After The Promise (not mine, but the movie) was about a father fighting to bring home his children who had been taken away from him into different foster homes after his wife died. The story of how the lives of those children turned out was heart breaking. One of them never spoke again while the other was suffered crippling injuries. The struggle the father goes through to reunite his family and the joy of seeing the seemingly dysfunctional family become one again broke every ones heart.

Today here in Kenya there are many children who are living the “after the promise” kind of life. Some of them have a sad story of losing one or both of their parents while others have an even sadder story of not knowing their parents at all. Imagine what it would mean for you to live without your parents. Imagine not having the childhood memories that you have. The joy of getting a new dress or a new toy, the joy of sharing a meal with your extended family.

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We can never put a price tag to certain life experiences.  We can never trade the memories for anything because they eventually defined who we are today. We laughed, we cried, we hoped and anticipated. We were rewarded, we were denied. We gained and we lost. These experiences became a vital part of our childhood but they were not free. Someone paid the price for us to have the experience. They paid a price for us to have a roof on top of our heads and to be in good health to play with our friends. Someone paid the price for us to be in school to have the best of what we had. It was never free. It cost our parents.

Have you ever thought what a child who sleeps on a cold floor would feel the following day if he slept on a bed? Imagine what a kid in a children’s home would feel to be the first to wear a new dress or eat a meal that he has never had. To grow up healthy, every child needs to feel good about who they are and how they look. You and I have the power to shape the lives of the little angels who are in different children’s homes in Kenya. It is not their fault that they are in such circumstances and the little we do can seem inadequate and of little value.

No one ever changed the world by doing anything big. It’s in the seemingly small stuff that the world is changed. This Easter, you can do something small for the little kids in children’s homes. You can share a meal with them, you can boost their self-esteem by giving them the chance to be the first to wear the new clothes. You can buy foodstuff that will feed them for a few days. That’s not all you and I can do. We can sponsor a child through school or ultimately adopt one and bring them up under our roof teaching them the same values we were taught or we teach our own children.

It’s not just the role of the government to make their lives better. You and I have that responsibility as well. It is in our Holy Books but most of all it’s engraved in our hearts. This Easter as you make room in your house by selling items you don’t need, would you consider investing the money in a child’s life? Are there things in your house that you can sell to raise money to support a child? Sell and bless this Easter. Sell to Bless. Touch a Heart.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru

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Free To Be Me

The human mind can at times be self-centered, gullible and misguided.  Have you ever walked into a meeting late? What does your mind tell you? “Everyone is looking at you. Tip toe and bend as you walk in. That will make you less visible.”  We worry too much what other people think about us while they on the other hand worry what we think about them.  Our choices are heavily pegged on what we think others will think of us. We worry what we wear, what and how we eat, where and whom we are seen hanging around.

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How many of us leave their real selves at home every day so that we can carry our false images to please people who don’t even care about us? How many times do we betray our true selves by conforming to other people’s expectations? We disqualify ourselves from certain positions because we think someone else can do it better than we can. We take a back seat. We bow out.

Every person who has done something worthwhile had at one time to choose between being true to themselves or to do what was popular. All the leaders that had an impact in their generation had to make that choice and so you and I must if we want to see the same in ours. There is always a price to pay and most of the time it’s our own comfort and/or the affirmation of others.

What have you been putting off because someone else literally laughed out loud when you told them what you wanted to do? What have you given up on because your parents told you it wouldn’t work? The closest people tend to do the worst damage. You had a brilliant business idea and you shared it with your closest friends. They told you there is no way you of all people would pull it off. You believed them.

What if you lost your mind for once and stopped caring what others thought about you and what you wanted to do. What if you woke up and pursued your dreams despite what your friends thought? What if you went on to get married to the person of your choice despite what your parents and religious leaders thought of him or her? What if you did what makes you feel good and happy? What if you admitted to your friends that you don’t like going out and would rather sit at home with a nice book and hot cup of flavoured tea?

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What if you and I chose a leader who we thought represented our aspirations regardless of their tribe? What if you and I refused to be corrupt because it was a matter of principle? What if you and I stopped to help someone who was in need despite running the risk of being taken advantage of? What if we lost our minds enough to take our real selves for a walk? What if we walked out of abusive relationships because we knew better? What if we laughed more even though others thought we had a “bad laugh?” What if we talked more because we knew what we had to say was more important than our accents? What if we lost our minds enough to be ourselves? You and I, just the way we are. No apologies. True to ourselves?

What if we lost our minds enough to be our real selves?

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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My Land, Was Kenya

“The good you do for others always comes back to you” said my grandmother Shelmith (read Sheromithi) Waruguru Githaiga. She would repeat these words to us every day as a motivator, a compliment and as punishment. These profound words never made much sense back then but today, they haunt my every decision, good or bad. I will tell you why.

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Photo Courtesy of Nostalgic East Africa

When we were growing up, Kenya was such a super power in our eyes! We talked and sang about it with pride. In our “Patriotic” (remember that word) stories no country came close to Kenya’s might. Well there was Israel (God’s territory according to Sunday school) and there was America aka US of A (the home of all heroes; Cynthia Rothrock, Chuck Norris and Van Damme). There was no comparing those two countries to Kenya. They were allies.

If you wanted to know how “bad” Kenya was, the Olympics told it all. Douglas Wakiihuri, Kipchoge Keino and John Ngugi ruled the track, mark you, doping scams were unheard of then. I remember when John Ngugi tripped during the 5,000 meters Olympic race and then went ahead to become second missing first position with milliseconds! I must have cried that day. Then there were other heroes like the late legendary boxer Robert Wangila Napunyi. I have never been a soccer fan but I knew Joe Kadenge (Kadenge na mpira would perhaps ring a bell).

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Remember Ian Duncan and his co-driver Ian Munro driving a Subaru Supra and winning the Safari Rally in 1988? Of course you cannot talk about Safari Rally without mentioning Patrick Njiru with his co-driver Dave Williamson. Back then, Subaru Legacy was an airplane on wheels. Easter holidays were to die for. Every kid in town had their own version of a race car made from Kimbo, Cowboy and Kasuku tins. It took days of dedicated work to put together a race car especially one that you could open the doors! Forget this nitro nonsense on Ps3 and X-box. We knew how to say “X to the box” (I had to say thatJ).

Then The Rare Watts and Jam City changed the entertainment scene in Kenya forever. Jam city of course won the Fiat Uno but we all thought Rare Watts were the life of the competition. Back then, TV was full of local content. Forget Scandal, Prison Break or 24 we had our very own Tahamaki, Tushauriane Tausi, Professional View, Dunia Wiki Hii, Mamboleo and KBL Festival of darts. These were somewhat family shows that we endured watching as we waited for not so good shows, or ‘adult rated’ shows like No One But You and The Rich of Also Cry.

Being a Kenyan those days in my mind was the best thing anyone would wish for. The song “My Land is Kenya” by Roger Whittaker was like an extension of the national anthem. Speaking of which, back then we knew the national anthem word for word in both Swahili and English. We knew the composers, we recited the loyalty pledge with pride. Even the president loved his country and would stop on his way to any destination to give out Orbits. (I never got but I hear he used to).

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You were not truly Kenyan if you did not have a Dash t-shirt; a locally made good quality t-shirtbrand. Towels were made by Fariji Towels and all other fabrics and bedsheets came from Rivatex Textiles. Buying anything second hand was uncommon. (Yes youngling you best believe that!). As a matter of fact there was a local car assembly for certain brands. Uhuru (not the current President) was one of the locally assembled cars. You had to literally kill this car for it to stall.

Government parastatals were functional and were a source of employment for many. Local products were the best brands on the shelves. KCC produced Ghee, great UHT milk and milk powder. I loved their butter even though my mum would not allow us to touch it in her absence. Kenya Meat Commission provided all kinds of meat and National Pencil made their own HB pencils. National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) was ever full. I don’t remember hearing about starving Kenyans back then.

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Photo Courtesy of Nostalgic East Africa

I lived in the best country ever. Until I grew up and ruined it. I did not take care of it and left that responsibility to someone else. I started seeing things going wrong and never said anything. I looted my country with “deals”, avoided paying taxes and gave sidekicks. I was seduced and gave in to “outside brands” and abandoned local products. Perhaps that is how the tag, ‘Buy Kenya, build Kenya,’ came up.  I learnt the art of corruption and passed with flying colors. My view of my country changed. I soon developed preferences and they started being reflected in the way I voted. I forgot what it meant to be a brother’s keeper. Everyone for himself sounded better.

My heroes soon changed from athletes that made my country proud and freedom fighters who put their own lives on the line to make sure I did not lose my rights, to national looters. I affirmed my support for them every five years. I sent them out to “harvest where they had not sowed.” They were so ruthless, that they started harvesting my future and that of my children. When the time for justice came, I “testified” in their favor and gave them a new chance to loot what was left.

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Photo Courtesy of Nostalgic East Africa

If you are keen, you will see me and you still ruining the country further. I will give you a bribe to look the other way, pay you extra to cut “a few” corners and side step procedures. Yes you will catch me asking you to give me the tender and you will get your fair share. It’s not uncommon to hear me tell my children and yours that’s how the country is after all. Take a sit. Watch and learn. Let us show you how things are done. Come along, I want to introduce you to my business so that when I am gone you will run it the same way your father did and perhaps even better.

So here I am today caught between the fairy tale of what I know my country could and should be and the nightmare of what is. What has become of you and me? Is it all lost? Is there hope? Who will take us back to the days of childish faith in our country? Is it you Mr. President? Is it you my fellow Kenyan? Is it me? What if you and I refused to let things get any worse? What is there to lose that we haven’t lost? My Land still is and will always be, Kenya.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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#MakeItHappen

It’s International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March. Women in Kenya have come a long way. Growing up, there are so many things that a boy child will get away with that a girl won’t. While boys are out taking risks, breaking bones, playing in the mud, falling off trees, rolling inside tyres, skinny dipping, getting home after dark and leaving early the next day before sunrise for more adventure, the girl is at home. “Safe.”

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Where is the girl, when the boy is creating, destroying and rebuilding stuff? Where is the girl when the boy is learning how it feels to be celebrated when he scores for his team?  Where is the girl when the boy is learning to trust himself as he learns to ride his friends’ bike? Where is the girl when the boy is learning to take risks? She is at home. “Safe”.

Behave like a girl. So they say. A girl is clean and tidy. A girl does not climb on trees or ride bikes. A girl does not sit like that or talk like that. Don’t slouch walk upright, like a girl. What kind of a girl comes home “looking like a boy?” A girl does not play with boys. No, they are not to be trusted. They are always up to no good those boys.

Go wash the dishes and when you are done, please tidy up your brother’s room. You know how irresponsible he is (as if cleaning his room for him will somehow make him more responsible.) Set the table, clear it and make your father some tea, you know how he likes it before he goes to bed. It’s almost dark go call your brother (and he better not touch anything before he showers am sure he looks like a squirrel.)That marks the life of a girl’s childhood.

Sadly, even after spending a lot of time around her mother, the next phase of her life catches them both by surprise.Periods, cramps, mood swings and major body adjustments. No one prepares her for the changes. She eventually learns the hard way; on her own. Meanwhile the boy will only get a few pimples here and there, break their voices and just like the girls, hair may appear in “unlikely places.”

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Soon after, the girl,now a lady leaves her parents’ home gets a job, gets married, becomes a wife and shortly after, a mother. This means more changes to her name, her body (her skin, her weight, her nails, her hair) her health (blood pressure, dizziness, fainting) her moods, her emotions, her lifestyle and her responsibilities. A few more years and she is the one yelling, “Act like a girl!”

You would be forgiven to think that’s all the woman goes through. Another change happens – Menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, increased irritability, insomnia (and not because the husband sleeps so well that he snores), depression, decreased libido, weight gain among other changes. All these changes take place while life demands that she still fulfills her other responsibilities as a wife, mother, daughter, employer/employee, sister, friend, citizen not forgetting herself and the things she likes.

That’s not all that most women go through. Most women will be robbed the opportunity to get a good education, make an informed decision about their career, family planning and civic responsibilities like voting. Girls will undergo Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM-C), while others will be married off at early age. Their chance for a better future will be traded for a few goats. They will walk miles and miles to fetch us water, lack adequate maternal healthcare, work tirelessly in our farms, sleep late and wake up early to make sure everyone else is ready and has what they need for their day.

Every man will tell you; say what you want about my father or anyone else but if you mention my mother, be sure blood will be spilt. Every man is overprotective of his wife, sisters and daughters. But our country is still not safe for our women. Why is a society that is nurtured and brought up predominantly by women, still so insecure and a threat to the same women to the point of causing them harm?

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We can never bear the responsibilities that women do but surely, we can support them and champion them to greatness. It’s our turn as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons to encourage the women to step up and step out. To pursue their dreams as we did ours. It’s our turn to give back.

You can buy her a mansion and employ subordinate staff for her so that she never has to move a muscle. You can take her for a holiday around the world. That’s not even a privilege in comparison to what mothers sacrifice for their children. We can never give back what they have given. But there is something we can do. There must be. We can empower them.

The greatest myth buster is for us men to fight for equal opportunities for women. To judge them based on skill and ability as opposed to gender. If we can entrust them with a family, we can entrust them with a community. If we can entrust them with a community we can entrust them with a country. What else should women do to prove that they can lead? Yet we let them down year in, year out.

Men, it’s our turn to #MakeItHappen for our women. Our actions, more than our voices, need to be heard now more than ever. FGM would be a thing of the past if men said so, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and girls dropping out of school would be a tale if men wanted it to be. Crimes against women including rape and violence against women would be unheard of if men chose to stand up for women.

Surely the time has come. It’s our turn to nurture and support the women. There is nothing weak or cowardly about that. On the contrary, it’s a sign of strength and courage to stand up for someone else. Giving women the opportunity to be great is more than a right or a privilege. It is an honor! We can start the change and form a new culture for generations after us.

You and I can #MakeItHappen. Have an inspired International Women’s Day.

Edited by: Wanjiku Kimaru