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Blankets and Wine Special Edition:Karibu Mzansi

To commemorate 20 years of democracy in South Africa, Blankets & Wine in collaboration with the South African High Commission in Kenya present to you a special edition of Blankets & Wine on Sunday, 7th September 2014 dubbed Karibu Mzansi.

‘Karibu Mzansi’ is a partnership between Blankets & Wine and the South African High Commission aimed at strengthening B&W’s efforts towards the discovery and promotion of urban African music, literature, art and culture.

We welcome you to join us on the 7th of September at the Carnivore Gardens from 1pm – 10pm as we celebrate this milestone for South Africa.

To start with, every adult ticket holder will be able to sample from a wide array of wine from South Africa’s world renown vineyards topped up with a complementary bottle of wine courtesy of Distell Winemasters.

Experience South Africa’s delightful foods including the world famous braai which will be available from various vendors on site.

Create your unique experience by sampling the different activities across the four stages which will be running concurrently on the day.

On the music stage, we host some of Kenya’s most promising new talents as represented by the soulful Vereso, the rhythmic Andrew Wambuathe suave Antoneosoul and the diva Dela.

The headline artist for this event is a very special performance by a top artiste from South Africa brought to you courtesy of the South African High Commission. Follow @blanketsandwine on Twitter for artiste announcement.

Join the all day long Afro-house party at the B&W DJ Stage with house guru Jack Rooster and the Caffe Mocha crew.

Check out the B&W Writer’s Stage curated by Kwani? and interact with top writers and emerging voices from Kenya. Take a break from the walking and catch an exclusive screening of select independent films from South Africa at the B&W Film Stage curated byPAWA 254.

Let your inner artiste come out to play at the Art Hive and create your own art with the help of Made With Love and Kms art studios based in Nairobi or hang out with the Drum Jam Collective and be blown away by Nairobi’s top drummers who will also be conducting lessons for you.

Enjoy heavy discounts on your favourite drinks ONLY at the Absolut Thirst Bar where you can purchase you’re your Jameson, Absolut Vodka, Chivas Regal and other top drinks at less than supermarket prices. Checkout the South African Breweries (SAB)Shebeen Bar for an actual shebeen experience and discounts on beers.

There is so much to discover, love and share at B&W Karibu Mzansi so check out the notice boards for timings and schedules for each stage (also attached below).

So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now on www.ticketsasa.com for Ksh. 2,000. Each adult ticket comes with a complementary bottle of wine. Tickets will also be available for Ksh. 2,500 at the gate.

 

PS: A fantastic play pen with professional minders will be available on site for children between 5 – 10 years.

 

PSS: Checkout our special offer with Easy Taxi and save yourself the hassle of driving to and from the event.

 

#DiscoverLoveShare

 

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How I remember Everything By Oduor Jagero

We met on our first day in college. My father had brought me and his mother had brought him. We were both seated at the reception waiting for our parents to do the paper work.
We were both excited; it showed on his face and I felt it in my blood. Our college dreams were kicking off. Later on, out of class and along the corridors, our love lives would coincidentally kick off too.
‘Hi’ soon became ‘hey!’ And then there was ‘How are your studies doing?’ And then we would meet at the school cafeteria, at the games, outings and, again, along the corridors. I was busy feigning shyness while he was busy fighting the same – waiting, gathering courage, and saving money for a proper date.
He never got enough money for a date, but life gave him courage. “Can we take a walk?” I shrugged a “yeah”. We walked to Uhuru Park on a warm Christmas Eve. We sat under a tree and watched civil servants stride and amble and tiptoe from the government offices in Upper Hill into town. With the only coin he had – an old twenty bob coin with bruised corners – he bought a doughnut and nothing else. I remember he tore it into two, gave me the three-quarter piece and we munched with glee; we chatted and laughed and held hands and we both agreed that it had been a day full of butterflies in our bellies…and l was like “This is awesome!” And he was like, “so freakin’ awesome. Can we do it again?”
And I was like “Hell yeah!”
That day was the beginning of our love story, a strong bond that I have since gotten addicted to. Later, after a few days, we sneaked from college again. We walked the stretch from college, passing right through the heart of Nairobi, and took a corner at Kipande House and crossed into Central Park. It was a rainy season. So we expected the green grass. There it was, a meadow so inviting and so romantic. We lay there and listened to us tell stories; I told him how I used to fear thunder as a kid and he told me how he used to fear darkness. He wanted me to know of his family. I told him of my family too. It was interesting to him that my father was a teacher and my mother was a lay reader. “A reader and a teacher!” he said. We giggled about the loftiness of our dreams and shallowness of our ambitions.
We were always broke. “Let’s break bad”, he always said. But my guy had inexpensive, even brilliant ways of having fun. Often times we walked towards Arboretum; we would stroll up passed Mamlaka Chapel, shy away from Nairobi University hostels and the zigzag, hand in hand, until we saw the Statehouse’s white fence. We feared walking too close to it. Munching on crisps, or njugu or popcorns – those days we ate everything, no wonder we farted a lot too -we would ramble on the other side of the road.
Those days, Arboretum had scores of broke people, which was good because then love was real – even sweet. Lovebirds were everywhere in that beautiful park. They were under trees, on the grass, at the other end of the park, or narrow pathways, or hidden behind the shrubbery. It was naked love. Once in, we would choose the quieter corners of the park where the grass was taller and privacy was guaranteed. I always carried a leso, which we spread on the meadow. We kissed for long hours. But he did not lift my skirt and I did not touch his zipper, which was good because he would later do it in a special way.
I later met his mother, a humble woman married to a good humored husband. She prepared me githeri and chicken and later, after we were full, she prepared ginger tea. She said it was good for a full stomach. “This helps in digestion, my daughter.” She never had a daughter and so, naturally, I was a daughter she never had. Even after I had gone, she still called my name until her son, my sweetheart, reminded her that I had left.
He came home too. My father liked him very much. They often enjoyed sipping tea and nibbling on cashew nuts. My father liked to think of himself as a poet, even though he had never written one. They differed on who was better between Robert Frost and Pablo Neruda. Sometimes they would ask for my vote so that a winner could emerge from their arguments.
He liked writing poetry and prose, and so instead of trying too much to buy me lunch, he wrote me ballads and read me his prose. These stories logged me into his thoughts and thrills, helped me wade past the barrier that encrusted his heart. I remember a poem he once wrote me and read to me at what is now called Wangari Maathai corner at Uhuru Park. I remember the sky was blue and a lone star was winking down at us.
When will the egg break into two so I can see the york?
And when will I see the yellow furs of the little bird walk out of the hard Shell?
Did we finish college? Of course yes. On graduation day, we were all smiles. We had accomplished another milestone. He was becoming an accountant and I was becoming a PR and Marketer. After graduation, his mother organized a party for both of us. I remember all the details; there was fish and meat, ugali and mukimo, there was rice and chapatis. Our parents spoke, congratulating us, blessing us and telling us to “go make great exploits”, to “be the best examples for your siblings”. Later on, the following week, under the February sun, we took a hike to Nairobi Safari Walk. The park was deserted, the few animals were away under the shade, and the game reservists had retreated to their quarters.
We were just alone. “I love you!” he said and before I said anything, he added “very much, babe”. What could I say? That I loved him too? I took him by the hand…
Behind the oak tree I tethered his waist. In turn he became naughty. He lifted my blouse and looked at my breasts and said “can I touch?” I was gasping already so I simply nodded. He capped them in his sweaty palms and I felt a tingling sensation in my head, as if alien worms were crawling under my scalp. He kept looking, studying until I was overwhelmed, until I took both his hands and placed them on my hips, until I drew his frame so that our foreheads touched, until our carcasses began to smoke, until our clothes caught fire, until our feet set fire to the fallen leaves. Now he kissed me. I kissed him. We kissed each other. Then we slept in each other’s arms.
One early morning he received a call from a blue chip company. “It’s a job interview babe. Wish me luck.” I was thrilled. “I wish you luck, my love.” Three months later, I walked into the modern office suites inside the lush Lavington area. “You have the job,” they told me. I Whatsapp-ed him. “Thanks for your prayers, darling,” and he wrote back “congratulations hun :)”
Suddenly we were not broke anymore. Remember we loved food? We were bound to spoil ourselves! We visited Chinese restaurants and ate Satay and winglets. Finally we could taste Japanese Tempura and KFC chicken. He took me to a Mongolian restaurant and I took him for a taste of Ugandan matoke.
We travelled around the country – even out of the country. I remember the plains and the lions and the zebras of the Mara. Oh and the winding alleyways of Lamu and the antics of Malindi. I remember us laughing to the airport on our way to Lake Kivu, to the Bahamas and watching a Shakespearean play at Westend, London. I remember waking up in Los Angeles, beholding her tall, winding skyscrapers.
And so in Paris, it was a Saturday afternoon, we had toured the great city all day, visited the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, the Champs Elsees, and watched a movie. He took my hand and we glided along the glittery streets. We stole glances at each other. At times I grabbed him, threw my hands around his neck and kissed him. Then he would look into my eyes before kissing me. I think at one point we sat by the road, just a feet away from a sign written something I don’t remember.
He never wanted us to go back to the hotel. At some point he was withdrawn, away into his world. I understood why when, suddenly, on a deserted Paris street, he knelt down and said “will you marry me, lover?”
I said no “You’re kidding” then I asked “What’s that?” It was a yellow softball written ‘Champion’. What a beautiful furry, sweet little box! But the gorgeousness was in the wool-white interior; so breathtaking. But the splendor was in the ring cradled in there; a pretty vintage, marquise-shaped, 4-diamond carat, and fourteen smaller stones. It sat in the center of his palm. For a moment, I savored its magnificence, but I also thought of the magnitude of my ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for that matter.
He wanted to marry me? I said “No!” then I said “Yes! Yes! Hell yes!” Where did he get the idea to propose in Paris? I would care later. But I must tell you how it felt when this man slid the precious molten metal over my finger; I felt a rush of emotions; an avalanche of sweetness running from my spine passed my neck and then all the way to my head.
It was only fair to kiss him. Kissing we did. Not a short one. Along one, until my lips caught fire and smoke escaped through his nostrils.
Forty-two nights later, inside All-Saints Cathedral Church, in the company of family, friends, accomplices, and enemies thronging the pew, smiling sheepishly, clapping unevenly, the priest, asked me the important question: “Do you take him, to love, to cherish, and hold?” That kind of time-wastage. What did he think?
The next day, in a remote lodge, in Zanzibar, just a few feet away from the Indian Ocean, we finally settled to enjoy our six years of relationship. It was epic in many ways.
First was the sex. Sex sanctioned by our parents and family and priests and friends and enemies. Sex that starts at midnight and ends at midmorning. And then starts at midday and ends at midnight. An overwhelming orgasm after prodigious coitus. Sex that drove me to a comatose and he had to pour ocean water on me so I could come to back to life.
We had children, two great children. They’re twins. Making love was awesome, but I must say that being pregnant with twins is the other side of the coin. Two butterflies flapping in your tummy is magical, eccentric, but…I remember the pelvic floor exercises I endured in order to protect my bladder and womb. And I remember the girdle pains, the puffy ankles, swollen feet, sporadic headaches, and blurred vision. Finally the labour…oh Lord!
I remember I lay on that bed, draped in blue sheets, and this nurse, a Luhya woman with a large nose and thick lips encouraged me, cheering me, pretending to be sharing my pain. My contractions were so sever I started shaking, then I went cold and I said to the nurse “Am dying nurse!” And I remember the nurse yelling something like this; “it’s been nine freakin’ months, lady! This is gonna take a few freakin’ hours! Push!” and I started pushing. Finally the head was out. “You can do it, girl!”
I like to think of myself as a strong woman, able to handle many things at ago. My husband, on the other hand, was a terrific man. So bringing up our children was sort of fun. We were fun loving people and so taking the kids out over the weekends and kicking ass was something we enjoyed rather than viewed as an obligation. We educated them in the best schools we could afford. The twins graduated sometimes back; one with a Master’s degree in education while the other becoming a journalist. His first novel was a best seller; Things Change it was called, a novel I read three times and would read again. There is an excerpt where his main character asks his wife something like this: “Have I changed that much?” and the wife says “Before I answer that, allow me to ask; why can’t you pose this question to one of your mistresses?”

******
“I think this should be the end of my story, my Lord. If there is something I have said, which is untrue, my husband, the man whom I love very much, is right here. He can speak out. If he chooses to keep quiet and insist on divorcing me, I shall wish him luck. I hope he can start all over again. But before I sit down, allow me time with my husband – at least before the verdict crushes my heart.
My darling, you must be aware of the fact that you’re a wise man – at least the grey hair on your head gives that allusion. You must be feeling what am feeling – that you’re about to make a grave mistake. But should you crush my heart, I hope you really want to do it. For your new love, please propose to her in Barcelona, for example, or Rome, because that would come close to your real self.
Ends.

 

 

About the writer

Oduor Jagero is the 2011 African Playwright winner and acclaimed author of the musical sequel Color of God, Confessions Of a Harlot, Eyes on the Rock, and the winning Musical Makmende Vies for President.

Oduor is trained journalist, documentary script writer, and a poet. He works for his company KoaMedia LTD {www.koamedia.co.ke}, a media consulting firm, magazines, and online publications. He is also a tech enthusiast and Lead at CMS AFRICA, an organization that carries out tech tours around universities while also organizing the tech event, CMS AFRICA SUMMIT every year.

He plans to get married – in the future , have a cat and a dog, and later have a son and a daughter.

His voice and opinion is on social media. @jagerome and facebook.com/jagero.

Shoot him a rocket at jagerome@gmail.com if you need anything.

Open Show Nairobi #7

Open Show Nairobi is back!

The seventh Open Show Nairobi will be held on Friday September 5th @ 7pm (come at 6:00pm to mingle) at PAWA254

Join us once again for an evening of incredible visual storytelling!

Open Show is a FREE social screenings where the public can see compelling work and interact directly with photographers, filmmakers and multimedia producers in high-profile spaces.

5 curated presenters (from students to professionals) have 10 minutes each to show a 20 image or 3-8 minute video project with audience questions and feedback.

This OpenShow event is kindly supported by FilmAid International and PAWA254.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!

For more info: openshow.org/nairobi
Follow us on Twitter: @openshownairobi

Facebook Event Page: Open Show Nairobi #7

Kenya Film Magazine Screening 27th-29th August


Constantly, whenever there is talk about Kenyan and African films in general, audiences decry the scarce availability of the said works. Film Kenya in conjunction with the Samosa Festival presents 16 diverse films from the continent and from Asia. Join us at Pawa254 for a 3 day screening from Wednesday – Friday 1500hrs – 1900hrs.

The selection of features are within the Samosa Festival theme of Cohesion and cultural integration. The offering presents stories of cultures and personalities that have stood in the gap and fought for a better world impacted their communities and whose legacies remain resolute.

  1. Soft Vengence – Albie Sachs and the new South Africa | Directed and Produced by Abby Ginzberg | 90 mins
  2. Maramaso – the Sarabi Band story | foresee films | 56 mins
  3. 1 country 1 Game | 5 mins
  4. Miners ShotDown | Rehad Desai |
  5. Sidis of Gujarat | 35 mins
  6. Thomas Sankara – The Upright Man |Directed By Robin Shuffield |  52 mins
  7. Even the Crows | A divided Gujarat | A film by Sheena & Sonum Sumaria | 78 mins
  8. Why Democracy | Short Film – Coming of Age | Directed by Judy Kibinge | 12mins
  9. Why Democracy | Short Film – Kinshasa 2.0 | Directed by Teboho Edkins | 14mins
  10. Why Democracy | Short Film – Interferenze | Directed by Zoe D. Amaro | 12mins
  11. Why Democracy | Short Film – Miss Democracy | Directed by Judy Kibinge | 10mins
  12. Why Democracy | Short Film – Famous Last Words| Directed by Avril Evans | 7mins
  13. We are Indian and African | 25mins
  14. A Divided Race United by war and Peace – Directed By Marc Wadsworth | 57 mins
  15. Ririkana | Muthoni Gitau | 25mins
  16. The Lucky One | Andrew Njonjo | 5 mins

campus tour poster

About the Samosa Festival | Samosa (South Asian Mosaic of Society and the Arts) festival was established in 2005, it is the only cross cultural festival of its kind in East Africa.  The name SAMOSA is a very popular Asian-African food that is much loved for its delicious taste, the three pointed SAMOSA as a symbol of Asian-African Fusion of cultures to enhance race and ethnic relations and to foster nationhood. The Festival uses the various elements of culture i.e. film, music, art, performance, theatre and discussion to generate and promote discussions among Kenyans towards cohesion and Integration. The Festival thus provides a unique platform to address national issues in an interesting and entertaining manner.

About the FilmVue EA |Publisher of Film Kenya Magazine which a guide to the filmmaking industry in Kenya that intends to actively promote local film productions and producers, and campaign for the expansion of the Kenyan Film Industry. The quarterly print magazine is also provided digitally through the comprehensive Film Kenya website. Contributed articles are written by local producers, directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters, scriptwriters, and people with a passion for film.  We present Kenyan Features to a Global Audience.

 

Sauti Ya Dada

How do we make sense of issues in the news?

For most of us in Kenya, the easiest way to digest the vast quantities of information we get in the news is to hear individuals that we trust and admire discuss them and parse out the significant from the insignificant. Today, given how few of us have access to television or the fact that radio is shifting away from talk towards entertainment, more and more Kenyans are relying on the print media either directly or indirectly to identify which are the key issues that are shaping politics, economics and society in Kenya. Specifically, the average Kenyan knows that opinion pages in our major newspapers, notably the Sunday papers, are critical to shaping the public discourse in the country, and therefore in setting the public agenda.
Yet, it is important to note that the opinion pages in the Kenyan newspapers are dominated by men, and that this has an impact on what gets prioritized as an issue in the public sphere. In fact it is not uncommon to flip through the pages of newspapers in Kenya and find no opinion pieces written by women. There are exceptions of course, notably Rasnah Warah at the Sunday Nation and L. Muthoni Wanyeki at the East African Standard. But all in all, women remain extremely underrepresented in the pages of our newspapers. As a result, discussions on key issues of politics, economics and development marginalize the voices of women, which may be contributing to the continued marginalization of women in politics in Kenya.
PAWA 254 is therefore running a training session to spark a generation of women into writing and shaping the narrative of this country. The goal of this training session is to bring together practitioners who write and edit opinion pages in Kenyan and international newspapers with Kenyan women who are interested in participating. Using a workshop approach, it will identify some of the material and psychological barriers that prevent women from pitching and writing opinion pieces in the country’s papers and online. It will also address some of the practical limits to writing opinion pieces, including structuring an opinion piece, thinking about audiences and approaching editors. It will also bring together accomplished writers and editors to share their own experiences and to give advice to workshop participants on getting their message heard.
By the end of the workshop, we hope to have inspired a new corps of female thinkers in the country, whose writing will shape the narrative of our country towards greater inclusivity.

If you are interested in participating, please email us at info@pawa254.org with the subject header: “Sauti Ya Dada”.

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Call for Citizen Journalists – Sauti ya Mtaa

 

An exciting new project dubbed Sauti ya Mtaa is calling on enthusiastic writers, journalists and photo or video journalists to express their interest by applying to be a member.

Sauti ya Mtaa is a project hosted at PAWA254, and funded by (Making All Voices Count) MAVC, meant to highlight the fascinating stories about Nairobi’s slums and its neighborhoods which do not always get covered in the media.

Through this project, a strong network of citizen journalists will be built around Nairobi’s slums, with two different hubs located in Kibera and Kariobangi where journalists will have a free space to work.

The project will also include trainings on journalism and a web platform where the citizen journalists will submit their stories and be remunerated.

Potential citizen journalists include journalists, writers and photographers and video producers.

Interested citizen journalists across the city should submit their curriculum vitaes with samples of written work for consideration.

Send your application to info@sautiyamtaa.com

Deadline to receive applications is 5th of September

 

 

Open Show Nairobi #7 Sept 5th

Open Show Nairobi is back!
Join us once again for an evening of incredible visual storytelling!

Great projects shouldn’t be hidden in shoe-boxes or buried online. Open Show is a live forum to bring context to compelling work, connect audiences and spark professional opportunities


The seventh Open Show Nairobi will be held on Friday 5th September @ 7pm (come at 6:00pm to mingle) at PAWA254!

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Image from Open Show Nairobi #6


Open Show is a FREE social screenings where the public can see compelling work and interact directly with photographers, filmmakers and multimedia producers in high-profile spaces.

5 curated presenters (from students to professionals) have 10 minutes each to show a 20 image or 3-8 minute video project with audience questions and feedback.

You can submit your work here NOW: openshow.org/submissions/

Please submit no later than AUGUST 30!

This OpenShow event is kindly supported by FilmAid International and PAWA254.

If you are interested in volunteering your time or resources, please email us at nairobi@openshow.org. Remember, Open Show cannot be a success without YOU.

Join the Open Show Community on Facebook 

Open Show Nairobi #7 Event Page

For more info: openshow.org/nairobi
Follow us on Twitter: @openshownairobi

Turn the Page on Hate Speech.Campaign Launch

The African Media Leadership Forum invites you for the launch of their Pan-African campaign against hate speech, #TurnthePageonHateSpeech.

When: Wednesday, August 20th 

Where: Pawa254 rooftop

The campaign serves as a call to media leaders and operators in Africa to lend their full support to efforts to turn the tide against the rise of hate speech on the continent.

Join AMI’s Chief Executive Officer, Eric Chinje;Nation Media Group CEO, Linus Gitahi;Award-winning photographer, activist and Pawa254 founder Boniface Mwangi and Website owner and activist, Fatuma Abdulahi, for an engaging debate on the limits of press freedom.

Let’s join forces and say NO! to hate speech.

Appetizers, drinks and entertainment will be provided.

Learn more about The African Medial Leadership Forum on the website http://www.africanmedialeadersforum.org/

Join this event on the Facebook Event Page.

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Pawa Preview: This Week at Pawa.

As usual Pawa254 has an exciting, art-filled week planned. Mark your calenders!

 

  • Tuesday 19th 5.30-8pm: #OffTheRecord 

Our weekly debate and discussion forum Off the Record is on EVERY Tuesday in the Mageuzi space. It provides a platform for people to interrogate social issues and come up with possible solutions. The discussions are strictly off the record.

 

  • Wednesday 20th 5-22pm: #TurnthePageonHateSpeech

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This Wednesday on the Pawa254 rooftop we host the African Media Leadership Forum at the official launch of their Pan African Campaign dubbed “Turning The Page on Hate Speech”  
The campaign serves as a call to media leaders and operators in Africa to lend their full support to efforts to turn the tide against the rise of hate speech on the continent. In attendance will be; Chief Executive Officer, Eric Chinje; Nation Media Group CEO, Linus Gitahi; Award-winning photographer and activist Boniface Mwangi and Website owner and activist, Fatuma Abdulahi,who will engage participants in debate on the limits of press freedom.

Let’s join forces and say NO! to hate speech.

Appetizers, drinks and entertainment will be provided. To RSVP to this event go to the Facebook Event Page

 

  • Thursday 21st 6-10pm: Art Meets Tech Rountable

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Pawa254 partners with Nairobi’s Incubation Hub iHub for , a round-table discussion that explores how the visual arts and technology can work together for social commentary and tackling issues in our country. Details on this event including the panelists are available on the Event blog post HERE and Facebook event page HERE.

Get your FREE tickets to this event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-meets-tech-roundtable-tickets-12679575953?aff=efbnen

 

  • Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd 6-8pm: Columbia Global Centre Film Screening.

As part of a one week Introduction to Film Studies course, the Columbia Global Centre,Nairobi shall be screening two films at Pawa254. ‘The Searchers’ by John Ford on Thursday and ‘Mean Streets” by Martin Scorsese on Friday. More details on the week long course are available on the blog post HERE and on the Columbia Global Centre website HERE.

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  • Saturday 23rd 2-8pm: #ThePit

Nairobi’s strictly underground & funky music is back on the Pawa254 rooftop this Saturday with live graffiti by artists Swift 09 and Wise Two.
Like The Pit Facebook Page and join the party on the event page HERE.
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  • Saturday 23rd 5-8pm: #FatumasVoice

FatumasVoice is on EVERY Saturday showcasing the Pawa poetry and spoken word as a form of social commentary. Join the community on Facebook and visit the website on www.fatumasvoice.org . FatumasVoice is a collaboration between Pawa254 and the Kenyan Poets Lounge.

 

Jessica’s Lunch Date. By Oduor Jagero

 

After three years without even a wink from a man, Jessica will finally have a lunch date at 1 PM.

She should be excited but she is not. She’s apprehensive, even confused. What made him think of her as a prospect? What had changed? She had not injected cellulite into her buttocks. She would not attempt putting silicon into her breasts.

Her previous encounters with men left her with a sour taste. They’ve been fruitless encounters with boring, tasteless, sugarless, and clueless men. She had met men with pumped chests, blown-out biceps, and triceps. Others had chiseled faces, nicely cut lips and bright eyes. Others were tall and lean, clean shaven and good humored. Others had bushy beards, torn jeans, bad breath, and even smelly feet.

But she had wanted to marry each one of them. Not out of desperation but out of principles she held dearly. She could not say no; she was not supposed to say – even think, even imagine – that a nose looked crooked or that a right arm was longer than the left arm. Even if a nose was too long or one eye did not sit proportionally with the other one, she was supposed to understand that God’s creation was perfect and sacred.

Every night, she lies down on her large bed – after work; she works with a blue chip company – and thinks about all the possible reasons why men went for her friends and left her. Did she have strong body odor. No. Wasn’t she beautiful? Yes. Sleep evades her. She twists and turns in bed. A tear often falls off her eyes.

Jessica was a Christian woman, part of a large community of women without dates and wishing they had. Tired of waiting for Christian men who were disillusioned with marriage. Christian men said ‘marrying a Christian woman is like carrying the world with your pinky finger’. First you need to buy a thousand plus coffee cups to gauge the situation of her heart. Because you must be careful. Most, perhaps all of them, are healing from some sort of hurt – real or imagined. You’re lucky if you hit the jackpot at the thousandth cup. Most Christian men get ‘you’re such a nice guy, why don’t we just be friends?’ Those days excessive dowry was paid to gluttonous parents, rogue uncles and condescending aunties. Wedding rings, sprayed with fake gold but costing the price of pure gold, were mandatory. Then wed. The wedding price was too heavy. Bank loans and spirited begging from friends saved the day.

Christian women were jinxed. Sad days they were. Many were passed their sell-by date. The world blamed them. Many of them, the world said, wanted a perfect life – blessed men, men who had had their knees calloused from prayer and fasting. Men who now owned big wallets and big cars, big houses and big jobs.

Jessica suffered in that collective sin. But Jessica had never been that pretentious. She was a good woman from childhood. Her mother, raised Catholic, married into the protesting Anglican before crossing into a contemporary church once warned her that “God expect you to be pure, uncondescending, and respectful. And He’s the only one who shall get you a man”. Jessica was baptized at three years and from then on, she started her walk with the Lord. At 21 years she graduated from Nairobi University. Three years later, she got her master’s degree from USIU, and three years after, under the canopy trees, close to the charming Charles River in Boston USA, Jessica was awarded her PhD.

That’s not to say, well, she decided to get married to education, why does she cry foul? Her story makes sense.

At the Nairobi University he met the shy Joel. Joel was a lean and handsome Christian man, a staunch member of the Christian Union. Jessica remembers him for his manners – drawing her the chair at the restaurant and making sure he called to find out if she was home. Even though he never hugged her – the prick of a woman’s breasts conjured sinful thoughts – he often looked into her eyes until her heart began to race. Thinking about it now, Joel was the man. Even though she hated the thoughts of sleeping next to Joel, she had her private fantasies about him. Joel was a good Christian man. He said nothing but shared a lot of bible verses. After graduation, Joel wanted to say something, and Jessica wanted him to say something. By the time the Christian Union said farewell, Joel had not even complemented her hair.

Jessica cried later that evening. Jessica loved Joel.

Life had to go on. Life took her to USIU where she met Peter. Ohh Peter. Everybody thought they were going to get married. Her friends told her that Peter was telling the other boys that she was going to take her out for dinner. Peter did not. Even at the airport on her way to Boston, she’d wanted Peter to say something. Finally Peter said something. “May God protect you. May the good Lord watch over you. May his face shine upon you.”

Jessica cried in the plane. Jessica loved Peter.

But she was still young. Two days before she left the country, her father, a wise man with long hair and shiny bald at the center of his skull, had told her, “You have many years ahead of you. Use them well. Don’t forsake the faith. America is a rotten place, my angel. Make daddy proud, will you?”

In Boston, Jessica shared an apartment with a good mannered Chinese-American young woman – a pious grandson of a Chinese immigrant who had dumped her Chinese goddess Feng Po Po for Jesus. Jessica remembers her for her sheepish smile and fruity voice. Together they repulsed the leer and whistles of the rotten American college boys. They studied the bible and walked along Charles River talking about the bible and academics.

Jessica thought she would survive American sugar and junk food. Her body was soon full of sugar. Mac Donald burgers soon jump-started her hips. Or maybe she was just becoming a woman. Whatever the case, Alec, the Christian who showed up at church early every Sunday, soon took note of those African hips, the sway and firmness. Jessica like him too. Jessica still remembers his handshake, his full lips. Soon they were going out. They often bought burgers, Coke, and sat on the meadow next to the football pitch. She spread her leso on the grass so their skins did not itch. Alec told her stories of Scotland. He was a Scottish Pict with a shade of British blood. Jessica told him stories of Mau Mau and Maji Maji rebellion, even Gor Mahia myths. Once he said, “I like you – very much” and then looked away. Jessica loved him but she did not say. ‘You have beautiful lips’ was all she managed.

Alec never said anything more. At the airport, on her way back to Kenya, after her graduation and an emotional embrace from the Chinese- American roommate, Alec said something. “God loves you very much, sweetheart”.

She cried in the plane. Jessica loved Alec.

And her tears, who said they won’t finally dry up? They dried before she touched down once again at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. That wonderful afternoon, the breeze was warm and the scattered trees at the airport waved their welcome. His father, the bald on his head larger and shinier, and his mother, her skin beginning to sag from her cheeks, were there together with her brother and sister. Later that night, when Jessica had retired to her room and the mother and father were wrapped in bed, her mother quipped that “she’s finally a woman. With a PhD she’ll bring us good tidings.”

Later she asked about Joel. Joel was married. To who? Nobody cared. Jessica sighed. A good Christian woman should wait. Wait with patience. Patience pays. In good time, soon enough, the Lord will provide. Jessica waited. She’d secured a plum job with the UN, she lived in the lushest corner of the city, and drove a red plated SUV. She ate at Java and slept in a six-by-six mahogany bed.

Life, as it looked from outside, was sweet. But at night, the six bedroomed bungalow was too lonely and deserted. The only flower that sat on the stand, next to her bed, was her mother’s gift. Every night she prayed to God.

Give me a man, a good man”. Sometimes she cried. “How can you give me all these things, this big car, this wonderful house, this…” she would caress the arm of the bed, the smooth expensive wood, “this large bed”. She would cry, douse her sheets with her tears and then sleep and wake up with swollen eyes. She also wanted to say add that ‘God how can you give me these nice hips? Supple bosom?’ but she respected God.

Are you sick?” a young, tall, IT intern at the UN once asked her. “Do I look sick?” she’d retorted. It was showing. For three years she’d not sat across a man, in a restaurant, talking about her how beautiful her lips were, how large her hips were, how charming she was.

About charming, she was delightful. In church, she showed up fully beautified; her skirts were not too short, not too long. As men said, even Christian men, she had loin-warming legs, long, sinuous, smooth as silk. Her blouses hugged her, not tightly, not loosely. She had the kind of breasts that swung moods. There was a general agreement that God had placed them symmetrically, puffed them out so that they stood like wild fruits. She liked to paint her lips deep red, a color that complimented her brown cheeks. And eyes; they were huge and arresting. She detested weaves and wigs and braids. So she had her hair combed out with a result bordering on kinky and sexy.

On Sundays interested Christian men escorted her to the parking lot every, buying time, fighting the fear before attempting to say something. But then they would see her red SUV. Her big car; it lay full length in the parking, big side-mirrors like elephant ears. They’d quickly say ‘the Lord keep you, sister’ then dash away.

After the service, she often drove to Java for lunch, then proceeds to IMAX Cinemas. Sometimes she met with her workmates, the single alpha females. Single femi-nazi women. But they were different from her. They were happy. They were not sexually starved. Being single does not mean you don’t have to enjoy life – even sex. There were “my little pleasure toys”. When they needed a pleasure toy that talked and smiled, they baited university students with their big cars and big cash.

Masturbation is sin”, she told her workmates and added that “fornication is abhorrence”. They giggled and made faces. “You’ve been a virgin for thirty-two years, cute face”. They did not mean to hurt her. But why was judging them? They would leave her alone to her dog-eared bible while they each jumped behind the wheels of their expensive cars. They would head to Tribeca, opposite the towering media house and drink themselves silly on Tequila, enjoy the leer of boys and the seduction of sugar daddies. At the end of what Jessica called drunkenness, they’d pick broke-ass but gorgeous men.

Jessica wanted her share of bliss. A sense of belonging. Then last evening occurred.

Last evening while seated at Sankara, sipping her coffee, reading an article by Christopher Hart, after a trying time in the office working on a refugee report – what the heck…was the UN going to solve this refugee stain on Africa’s hellish face? – a man in a black Italian suit, black Spanish shoes, and spotting a rock star hairstyle had brushed past her, spilling her coffee.

The medium height fellow with a brittle voice, a cute face with three pimples, one on the tip of his nose, another between his eyes and the third one inside his left dimple, had profusely apologized.

“I am so sorry, beautiful”, he had said. Even after Jessica had said “it’s okay” he made sure the table was cleaned, demanded that the bill be taken to his table. Before Jessica left, the man had showed by her table, cleared his voice, and said:

“My name is Desire,” to which Jessica had nothing to say but nod. Desire had licked his upper lip and rubbed the tip of his nose. That nose was red and sore from constant rubbing. Allergy from the cold Nairobi winter. But the itching from that red nose did not dampen his spirit.

I would like to show you around the city,” Jessica looked at him, studied him from his Spanish shoes passed his gold watch, to the tip of his red nose. “I mean sometimes – may be tomorrow, you know. Heck may be over the weekend. Whenever you’re free.” Jessica’s heart skipped. Wasn’t this boy younger than me?

Jessica was paralyzed, not by the brevity in his voice, but by how soon he wanted a date. His brazenness iced her blood, his insistence burned her bones. She wanted to say a word. Instead, her lips trembled. Her armpits perspired, miniature streams of sweat popped from her palms. She wanted to cry, or run, or shout her mother’s name, or pray. But her lips refused to move.

Desire leaned over the three legged table, cleared his voice and whispered. “How can you be so beautiful? How can you be more charming than all the women I have ever met? If you allow me, I would bring my star into your milky way.” And Jessica immediately reminded herself of the beauty of the stars shining in the Milky Way. Jessica looked up. Their eyes met. Desire locked the stare, then he bored into her eyeball, digging through her pupils until he saw her mind. There they were – the heartstrings. He disentangled them, churning away the threads until her lips parted into a smile. Desire smiled too.

Jessica, her hands trembling, had fished out a business card. He hooked the card with two fingers, looked at it as a bird looks at a worm after killing it. “Until next time, beautiful,” he said and left. Jessica remained rooted on her chair.

That is why today, in an hour’s time, she’s going to meet him. It’s a lunch date. The previous day, just as she kicked out her shoes, tired and sleepy, Desire had called – three days later, just when Jessica’s Milky Way had given up waiting for that star. Seated on her heavily cushioned settee, her legs on the table, they’d spoken for five straight hours. She did not forget to pray and remind God that this man was her best bet. “He’s not a Christian, Lord. At least in the classic sense of the word. But she’s not a Muslim. He’s not Buddha or Hindu. He’s the first soul to ask me out.”

Jessica had told her boss that she wasn’t reporting to work today. She wasn’t feeling well. It was a lie for which she did not repent. Secondly, she told her friends that she had crumps. The second lie. Again she did not repent. When she woke up today, it was bright, the birds sung with a lot more enthusiasm. Her Sony played “For the Lord is good”.

Jessica stepped into the shower, allowed the warm water on her skin. She sung “Lord let your glory fall” and scrubbed herself clean. She took half an hour before the mirror. She loved L’Oreal mascara for its magic in lengthening and thickening eyelashes. She began with the roots of the lashes, then she stroked them until they were thicker and fuller. Then she laced her hands on her round, button-like lips before she applied her favorite lipstick on it. First she applied a thin layer of chapstick then did some lipstick before she gave it a finish on it – a shiny gloss.

She chose her shortest skirt, red in color with a slit her sisters at church had disapproved of. Her pastor had said that each day, a woman must wear modest enough. You should be able to meet Jesus and not feel ashamed. Well, she was meeting Desire. After that, she would avoid Jesus until she came back home. She wanted kinky and sexy. It was her last stab at this. She was tired of a lonely bed. She deserved a man; every woman desired a man’s touch on the arm and other remote places.

Now she unwrapped the wool-white bra she’d bought at Mr. Price this morning. They were Chantelle pair. Chantelle promised craftsmanship and expertise and power. That’s what she needed today. She fitted it over her supple breasts. They capped them, fitting perfectly. She smiled. What else? Yes, her blouse. The lightweight Voile tunic. To make this work, she summoned her silver watch and diamond ring. The weather was perfect for her Dior sunglasses. After two hours she took a pose before the mirror. She was literally sixteen. Hail to beauty and apparel companies!

Now she stepped outside her veranda and behold the sky was blue, clouds were gone, perhaps afraid to taint her beauty. High heels, very high, and red in hue put an icing on the cake. And she straddled towards her SUV. Seated behind the car that had been at the carwash early morning, she reminded herself of who she was. I am a virgin. I am a Christian. Don’t take any booze, don’t flat. And lastly, you need to say your prayers. And with that, she leaned on her steering will. “Father it’s been thirty-two long years. Here I am. Still untouched. Do something, Lord. Amen.”

They met at a classy restaurant, next to the window, at the remotest corner overlooking the city. The city skyline had never been so beautiful, she could see KICC in the distance, Nation Building was closer, and Afya Center was further towards the Railway Station. Humans of Nairobi, looking like little ants from 20th floor, walked up and down.

She was anxious. He was calm. She hated the sharp contrast. About his dressing. Well, Desire is never dressy. A royal blue polo shirt hugged his shoulders while his pants, slim fit chinos, reinforced his sense of style. He had a silver watch, a Nate Chronograph. She was already seated when she walked in.

He drew out her chair, often smiled without any a show of sheepishness. “I hope the traffic was smooth.” She said “yes it was smooth.” The waiter was at their service. There was a tall wine bottle dwarfed by two lagoon wine glasses. Classical music filtered from speakers hidden from God-knows-where.

She liked how isolated they were from everyone else. In a sense, they were all alone, their words trapped between the two of them. He told her stories of England where he’d studied law and he told her stories of Boston. The food finally came. Mustard stuffed chicken and fried rice for her and Salmon with sweet chilly glaze for him.

She declined to take wine. She pressed her ‘why’ but she refused to say she was a Christian. He said fine, but laughed. Was she that naïve? She did not like the laugh, but she giggled too, for the sake of diffusing the awkwardness. So while he enjoyed his wine, after the meal, she lapped at French Vanilla chocolate. They told stories of their families. They laughed, they high-fived. Time had wings. Out of the restaurant, along the buildings, they walked to the nearest park and sat on the grass. They chatted and giggled. He tried thrice to hold her hand. She resisted. A sister from church could spot her. What was he doing with a man with a funny hairstyle? Holding his hand?

Five hours later, they were still in the park. She wanted to be here with him – forever. This is what she had missed, playing a Christian, being dumb, and wasted. What a sweet man he was; wasn’t he just as sweet as the French vanilla ice cream? She looked at the shape of his lips. And about lips, she’d never kissed. Why did people kiss anyway? How could lips be tasty? Did it taste like French vanilla ice cream?

The first star appeared, then the next one, and soon the sky was like the Milky Way. It was time to go home. Desire insisted on takin her home. But how? Two cars, two people. It was hard. He had a plan. “I’ll drive you home in your SUV, then I come back by taxi,” she said. She couldn’t miss the opportunity. For the first time – in how many years? – a man will take her home. Her heart melted. He was a fast but careful driver. It was a short journey for her.

In the parking lot, they held hands – finally. She was thankful to the Lord. All had been fine. No mishaps. She was home. Above them, a quarter moon joined the patio lights in making sure the crickets saw them. “Come and see my house, sit down…take coffee as you wait for the taxi,” she said. He tarried but said ‘yes’ at the end.

Huge chandeliers hung precariously in the middle of the room. Soft settees hugged them as they sat down. They forgot to call a taxi. Who really wanted to see the face of an impatient taxi man? Another round of stories and a lot of chortles. It was a soulful night. Sam’s voice and his song “Stay with me”, now playing on Desire’s phone, floated in the room. They breathed through their hearts. Two strangers trapped at sea.

Would you hold my hand,” It was not Desire. It was Sam the singer. She gave him her hand. He squeezed it, lightly. He was tender. They inched closer to each other. Now her head rested on his chest, his other hand on her lap. On the metal gear clock, the one she had brought from Boston as a souvenir, the hour hand was on twelve.

And the night crickets continued to sing and the moon slid under a cloud. “Can I touch?” he said. Jessica saw where his eyes were directed and she shuddered. He took her silence for a yes. He capped them with both hands. And the shockwaves tickled her fancy. She closed her eyes. His hands slid away. She opened her eyes and looked at his busy hands; he unbuttoned her blouse, slowly until the last button. She lifted her eyes. She did not see the crucifix on the wall. She saw his face, bright. Did he have a hello around him? No. May be yes. She started to gasp, helplessly, something was burning her carcass. Her carcass was on fire.

Then he drew her to him, looking into her eyes. How inviting his eyes were; those two eyes, like two stars, were joining her Milky Way. Now their lips collided. And as they kissed, he bent over and fell on her. He slipped and tumbled, falling on the floor. He followed her. He grabbed her… Hey hey!

She grabbed both his hands. Tears welled from her eyes. She was crying. “Please marry me first. Please marry me first,” she said. “Let’s go to church now. Just me and you and God. We can say our vows.” “Or just here,” he said. “Let’s say our vows here”.

Do you believe in Jesus?” she asked him. “I want to,” she said. “Why, why do you want to believe in Jesus?”

I don’t know. May be I have seen what he created. All he created is good. He must be good.”

They went to church, the Anglican Church across the road. The priest was there, reading his bible, at the center of the pew. He saw them enter. The priest was taken aback. “How shall I pray for you?”

We want to get married, priest,” Desire announced.

Sure. Why not. Her mother is praying in the other room – she has been bothering God about her. She would be our only witness.”

It was 1 AM.

 

Ends.

 

About Jagero Oduor.

Oduor Jagero is the 2011 African Playwright winner and acclaimed author of the musical sequel Color of GodConfessions Of a HarlotEyes on the Rock, and the winning Musical Makmende Vies for President.

Oduor is trained journalist, documentary script writer, and a poet. He works for his company KoaMedia LTD {www.koamedia.co.ke}, a media consulting firm, magazines, and online publications. He is also a tech enthusiast and Lead at CMS AFRICA, an organization that carries out tech tours around universities while also organizing the tech event, CMS AFRICA SUMMIT every year.

He plans to get married – in the future , have a cat and a dog, and later have a son and a daughter.

His voice and opinion is on social media. @jagerome and facebook.com/jagero.

Shoot him a rocket at jagerome@gmail.com if you need anything.