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THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: How Not To Be A Dick, Basically

All advice about manliness when boiled right down to stock, whether about ‘the length of cuff one should show when wearing a tuxedo’ or ‘how to please a woman’ can be summed up with the suggestion: ‘Don’t be a dick.’

Don’t go along with racism and religious bigotry. Don’t ignore rape jokes shouted by strangers on the bus. Don’t look away from school boys being bullied outside your estate gate, or women being shouted at from cars on hot days; don’t be a dick.

At work, when a female colleague tells you she feels like she’s being treated differently because she’s a woman, don’t write it off, just because it’s not your experience. Don’t gaze off into the Nairobi skyline and wait for her to finish, or – my personal favorite ignoring device in the office, which is when I stare dramatically through the window as though thinking of something weighty and serious like world peace. Or whisky. Don’t assume a crying woman is ‘hysterical’. Though many are. Don’t tell her to calm down when she’s talking about something she cares about. Unless she is taking it too far. When spending time with your kid or kids, don’t call it ‘babysitting’. Don’t make judgements about people based on how they look. Don’t be a dick.

When you split up with your girlfriend, if you were one of those idiot couples who have naked pictures of each other on your phone or computer, delete them. And before you break up, when you are still in the throes of wild, sweaty passion, be thoughtful, be generous. Do the things you know she likes. Make her feel good. Don’t be a dick.

Don’t eat all the food. Don’t drink all the alcohol. Replace the juice, and the toilet paper, and the light bulbs. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and that people close to you have relatives and friends dying. Have difficult conversations even when you don’t want to – offer help, accommodation, food, money to friends who are having bad times, talk about things they want to talk about. Have their back. Don’t be a dick.

Side with your boys. Bros before hoes is a time tested piece of advice, spanning from when some descendant of Adam’s first pulled a dick move in something like 10,000 BC. Stick to it. When your boy and his girl fall out, for whatever reason, stick to your boy’s side. Believe what he tells you about it. Don’t question, doubt and try to verify. Cause that makes you one of the girls. Specifically, it makes you a bitch. More specifically, it makes you that displeasing species of human being known as a bitch nigga. Don’t be a dick.

Give way on the roads if you are driving. Let pedestrians cross. It will only cost you a moment or two, but to someone else it means loads. Don’t smoke with the windows shut. Unless you are hotboxing. Be considerate on public transport – don’t stretch your legs so wide mpaka guys think that your vagina is dilated like you’re on the verge of giving birth. Without an epidural. Even if you are big bodied, be considerate of your fellow passengers. And if you don’t want the window open then don’t fucking sit next to it.

Don’t be petty. Don’t value material things over friends and family. Apologise when you have fucked up. Keep your word. Or at least make a sincere effort to.  Don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t tell people what you think of them, unless they specifically ask. Be so busy improving your own life so that you have no time to criticize the lives of others. Don’t start your sentences, with “No offence, but…” Because it will cause offence. And you know that it will. Don’t move the goalposts in an argument with your boy or your woman about something simple, so that the fight becomes about the whole of your lives, and your time together and the futility of sex, trust, second chances and respect.

The times we live in need more manly men than ever before.

Be a man. Please. Don’t be a dick.




THE HIMURA CHRONICLES: He Responds to Khalai

I’ve been meaning to write to you for a long time. I shan’t lie to you and claim I’ve been busy. I either have nothing to say or I have to say it all. I’m either totally indifferent or I get carried away; you do that to me. Your letters are a paradox. They sting, like salt on a wound that is all too fresh. They sooth, your words and the faint scent of your perfume that accompanies them, reminds me that love can be real and dreams do come true.

What do you want me to say? What do you want me to do? As comforting as it is to hear from you, it serves a reminder of my singular failure. That I held the world in my hands, and let it slip through my fingers. That I did it in the name of honour doesn’t make this bitter drink any sweeter. The pain that I caused you gave me more anguish than any physical injury would. If I could turn back the hands of time, I wouldn’t. That is because I want what happened between us to be a stark reminder. Of what is possible and what is beautiful. Of foolishness and arrogance. Of ecstasy and heartbreak.

I want you to be happy. I wanted that from the very first time I saw you. Not due to a childish fairytale emotion like love, but I could tell that you were different. I could tell that we could look forward in the same direction. Together. My arms felt like they belonged around you. Laying my head in your bosom felt like home. When you were crying and I held your face in my hands, you looked in my eyes and told me that I was the one you had been waiting for your whole life. That statement gladdened my heart, and tears came to my eyes at the thought of how lucky one man could be. Of course a lot of my memories are tinged with the sad hue of regret. I should have spent more time with you. I should have been less serious yet more mature. I should have listened to you more and given what you deserved. But not even the gods can change the past. I’m sure that reference to a deity will please you.

The twinkle in your eye. That dimple when you smile. The way you would pull back your hair. The timbre of your voice when you were up to mischief. The way I would wake up to find you gazing in wonder at me, made me believe that my existence was worthwhile. You were everything for me yet at the same time too much.

Can you blame me for sins I was destined to commit? Can you blame me for my culture, a shared history passed down to me by my forefathers, a God who loved me before I was born? More importantly, can you forgive me? If I say I’m sorry, does it lessen the pain we share? Does it erase the memories which continue to cause us so much hurt?

I am sorry. I am filled with regret; my cup of sorrow overflows. But I did what I felt was best in the particular circumstances. You said you would love me always and forever. You said it was not conditional. Wasn’t that a lie? Isn’t life itself a condition? Isn’t a loving heart and a caring mind a condition? Isn’t that word that we dreaded so much, love, a condition? Even if you forgive me, how can I forgive myself?

You knew I was jealous like the God of the Old Testament. Yet you went ahead and tested my limits. What was I to do? Compromise and let you know that disrespect is acceptable? Stand by my principles and be forced to lose you? Why put me in such an impossible position? Why love me when you knew that it was inevitable that you would hurt me?

I pray for you. If you would find happiness, and find it in your heart to forgive me, I would be eternally grateful. It would be enough, though, if you read this and think, to remember that we both lost. I lost love and so did you. You lost faith and I lost belief. I will never forget you and neither will you me. And I don’t know if that is a blessing or a curse.