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Rise

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The Resurrection story holds a special place in the heart of Christendom, and in the narrative of humanity. Christ gives u his life for mankind. This is not the first time Christ intercedes for man. At the beginning, when Adam and Eve committed the original sin at the behest of the angel Lucifer, it was Christ who interceded for man before God the Father, entreating him to spare the lives of humanity.

He then takes an earthly form and lives as man, experiencing all of our struggles, pains, fears, dreams, hopes, humiliations and worries. When he is at his weakest, the devil himself assails him and tempts him, offering Christ things which would sway the best of men.

At some point things get so thick for Christ that he begs the Father to change his mind. Faced with the pain, heartbreak, treachery and betrayal that are his lot, he breaks down and weeps, and asks that this cup of suffering be taken from him, that he be spared the trials that await him, for they are too heavy to bear.

Scorned and spat on by the majority, betrayed by a loved one, denied by friends, Christ dies on the cross, murdered by the very people he came to save.

Days later, the women who were his companions go to his tomb. It was these women who had supported and cared for Jesus all along, and it was women who were the first to visit his tomb. The good book tells us that it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Salome (the other Mary) and a number of women who provided for Jesus and his disciples as they went through the land.

These women wake up early to make a sortie to Christ’s grave. It was dark and cold. The Romans had issued a strict edict prohibiting all visits to Jesus’ tomb. It must have felt especially dark, scary and hopeless, as they had just shortly before watched the death of their friend and Lord. But they still rose and went forth.

Rise, my brothers and sisters. It might be especially dark and cold for you right now. Your dreams and hopes have been killed right before your eyes. Enemies and obstacles surround you, and success seems nigh impossible. Rise, mankind. Go forth to where your dreams and hopes are buried. Roll back the tombstone of your salvation. Expect your reward. Go get your reward. The Lord is risen.

Rise.


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Why are we so drawn to expensive things?

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Why, then, if expensive things cannot bring us remarkable joy, are we so powerfully drawn to them? Because of an error similar to that of the migraine sufferer who drills a hole in the side of his skull: because expensive objects can feel like plausible solutions to needs we don’t understand. Objects mimic in a material dimension what we require in psychological one. We need to re-arrange our minds but are lured towards new shelves. We buy a cashmere cardigan as a substitute for the counsel of friends.

Of course, we are not solely to blame for our confusions. Our weak understanding of our needs is aggravated by what the philosopher Epicurus termed the ‘idle opinions’ of those around us, which do not reflect the natural hierarchy of our needs, emphasizing instead luxury and riches, seldom friendship, freedom and thought. This prevalence of idle opinion is no coincidence. It is in the interests of commercial enterprises to skew the hierarchy of our needs, to promote a material vision of the good and downplay an unsaleable one.

Look at examples all around us, pushed on us by advertisers, businesses and the media. I recently watched an advert on TV where a wife was pressuring her husband, nagging him to build a new gate for their compound and buy a Prado, because their neighbours had done the same. The husband relents and actually takes a loan from the bank to buy these ‘necessities’. (It was a bank loan advert by the way, I think.) At the end we see him happy and gloating at his neighbor, because he has a gate just like his, and a Prado just like his. Samsung and Apple periodically without fail come up with a new phone that is allegedly more advanced and more ‘necessary’ than the last, and of course more expensive than the last. The idea implied is that you have to keep buying these things so as not to be left behind. Companies selling strangely expensive houses tell us about the luxuriousness of their offerings, and how modern they are. Some agents will even go further to let you know that many of the houses on sale have already been bought by UN staff, expatriates and foreigners, just to show you how good and necessary these houses are. Yes, having ‘natives’ as your neighbours is not chic enough, apparently.

Our society has embraced this idea wholeheartedly. Our worship of money seems unparalleled. Our zeal for wealth accumulation is fanatical, and people don’t seem to care how this wealth is accumulated. Morals go out the window real quick, and we forget about issues that matter like genuine friendship, good morals, family, respect, fidelity, loyalty and culture. We live as though money is the most important thing in our lives. Interestingly, most of us who exhibit this absurd lust for wealth are Christians; who believe in and worship a deity who specifically preached and taught against this mindless glorifying of money and material things, and lived his life on earth avoiding the same. But the issue of our embarrassing love for money would need a whole other article – another day perhaps.

It is interesting to note that although Kenyans are ranked as the wealthiest in East Africa, surveys show that we are not the happiest – the Tanzanians or the Rwandese are. We are also not the most generous – that accolade goes to the Ugandans. We are also not the most hopeful or optimistic in the region. So where is the benefit of all this wealth? Anyway, I digress.

Back to the issue of why we are drawn to expensive things. How are we enticed even more to buy these items? Through the sly association of superfluous objects with our other, forgotten needs.

It may be a car we end up buying, but it was freedom and respect we were looking for.

It may be the expensive whisky or cognac we purchase, but it was friendship we were after.

It may be fine bathing accoutrements we acquire, but it was thought that would have brought us calm.

Dear reader, allow me to leave you here. I’ve got to go shopping for some really nice suits I saw the other day. Hehehehe.


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Serendipity in Syokimau

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27th of January, 2016

An entry in Mahatma Bangi’s journal:

So today as soon as the wages of last night’s sins seemed to have been sufficiently eviscerated from the temple that is my body, I set about to my usual business. Read a bit, wrote a bit and insulted people on Facebook and Twitter. Halafu I decided to go jogging on these beautiful streets of Syokimau. You know when you indulge in the variety and quantity of mind altering substances that we partake of, fitness is a serious priority. Not because you are afraid that those vices will kill you, but because you want to live as long as possible to enjoy those vices.

So as I was jogging I saw some fat people, also jogging. Now for some reason I find fat people jogging extremely funny. Not funny in an insulting way, but funny in a friendly, hilarious way. I mean, fat people tend to be extremely likable. Now they were jogging slightly faster than a bow legged turtle with marasmus, so it was inevitable that I would pass them. Now I realised that this could be taken as an insult, as in “look at this already fit devastatingly handsome incredibly sexy young man passing us just to rub it in our faces that we are fat and slow”. Fat people have enough problems, and I didn’t want to be seen as an asshole that early in the day. Luckily I spotted a Naivas shopping mall so I stopped and went in, figured might as well get some food. Food doesn’t only belong to fat people.

So as I check in I spot the building has a club called 254 Lounge. Remembered seeing them advertise on Facebook, as well as the fact that a kind soul once told me that the place is normally chock full of beautiful Kamba women. Now my friend if you have never been in the presence of a hot Kamba woman and had her lavish her attentions on you, then you, my friend, have not lived. Tembea Kenya nani. Figured I might as well check it out, and since it was past 5 somewhere on the planet, decided to have a beer.

As I was heading to the lounge I saw a sign for a bookstore so I headed there instead. Approaching the book shop I saw a bank, and decided that I might as well get some pesa, seeing as poor people are most likely getting paid their salaries this week, the ATMs might fail or the bank card networks might go down. And there is a nothing as embarrassing as paying a bill via card halafu that goddamned machine refuses. Especially if you are in the company of a pretty woman.

As I was heading there I smelt food, and the Luhya in me kicked in. As Luhyas we can’t control it; it is wired into our brains, the part that scientists would call the lizard brain. So off to the food court to eat went I, and eat did I. I then saw a perfume and cologne shop and decided that since Valentine’s is coming up, I might as well go and buy a perfume for my next ex.

On the way there I see this apparition. A ravishingly spectacularly singularly beautiful woman. Muslim. I say Muslim cause she was wearing a bui bui or hijab or burqa or whatever and she was pretty. I hear those are the requirements for Muslim. My Christian sistos, I’m sorry but in the looks department waislamus have chapad you guys ten nil. And they cover it all up. And you can still see the beauty. Wewe umebeat lakini ma mini ma hotpants ma boob top ndio zako. Asphyxiating our eyes with cellulite. But I digress.

Now back to this angel. This creature is staring at me, and actually smiling. Mentally I quickly run through all the activities of the past week that had conspired to place me here at this moment in space and time, and threw a silent shout out to Lord Jesus, Thor, Heimdall and Jay Z. She approaches and says hi. I try to use my most unexcited voice as well as my resting bitch face, and fail miserably at both. Awkward silence as she smiles and laughs. Promised myself like 15 years ago not to behave like an idiot in front of a mind blowing amazon, and I am proud to report that I have never been able to keep that promise.

She says she likes my t shirt. I’m wearing my Battousai Sons of Anarchy Nairobi t shirt. Now I don’t normally jog in haute couture, but there were no other clothes available on the couch where I had slept. She says she loves Sons of Anarchy. For the less enlightened among us who might be reading this, Sons of Anarchy is arguably one of the best TV series ever made. Jax is her favourite character on the show, and she thinks I walk like him, so that’s what made her smile and laugh. She says I have made her day. She asks whether she can get one just like it. I answer in the affirmative, and say I will personally see to it that a similarly glorious piece of attire shall be nesting in her lovely arms soon, to be held and admired in a way that she would probably never hold and admire me. She blushes and says I’m funny and asks the price of the shirt. I up the cost by 500 bob. Never mix business and pleasure boys and girls. She accepts and asks me to take her number. My phone is off, thanks to KPLC who can now add the title cockblocker to their name. Na mi sio wale mashoga wa kujaza mfuko na power bank. She saves my number in hers and says she will send a text. She leaves, walks away and leaves my life in pieces, heart racing palms sweating and trembling. Trembling. For the life of me I cannot remember what I’m doing in a shopping mall in Syokimau. I rush home.

Now I’m here praying reciting the Rosary beseeching whatever Gods might be to please please let her send me that text.


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Consolations of Philosophy – Frustration

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Though the terrain of frustration may be vast – from a stubbed toe to an untimely death- at the heart of every frustration lies a basic structure: the collision of a wish with an unyielding reality.

The collisions begin in earliest infancy, with the discovery that the sources of our satisfaction lie beyond our control and that the world does not reliably conform to our desires.

And yet, for a philosopher such as Seneca, in so far as we can ever attain wisdom, it is by learning not to aggravate the world’s obstinacy through our own responses, through spasms of rage, self-pity, anxiety, bitterness, self-righteousness and paranoia.

A single idea recurs throughout his work: that we best endure those frustrations which we have prepared ourselves for and understand, and are hurt most by those we least expected and cannot fathom. Philosophy must reconcile us to the true dimensions of reality, and so spare us, if not frustration itself, then at least its panoply of pernicious accompanying emotions.

Her task is to prepare for our wishes the softest landing possible on the adamantine wall of reality.


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Facebook Rant

Censor content

Ladies and gentlemen. The Battousai has always believed in freedom of thought. Ladies and gentlemen, it follows that he also believes in freedom of speech.

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems, however, that the powers that be at Facebook, a.k.a Mukuru kwa Zuckerberg, do not share this cherished and hallowed belief.

Apparently, you can post pornographic pictures and videos, gory images, glorify violence, incite tribal hatred, statements intended to defraud, pictures of dying children et al. Facebook will not give a flying rat’s ass about all these.

Many a time Facebook has taken down my posts and or images, because they deem them offensive. Ha. Riddle me this: looking at American society, what is it that they find offensive? I mean, they allow a hate filled clown like Trump to not only run for president, but actually become a front runner in the race. They actually give Sarah Palin time on TV. America is an implicitly and explicitly racist society that incarcerates, brutalizes kills people based on the colour of their skin. They export war all over the world. They actually think Obama is a bad President. They allow the Kardashians to exist. They allow Morris Chestnut to act in movies. They label you a terrorist, gangster or militia based on your skin tone. They actually tried to impeach Bill Clinton. They have createda new breed of rappers who dye their hair and wear skinny jeans. What do they find offensive?

The answer to that is: My posts. I made a comment on Shoba Gatimu’s post and they took it down in record time, in addition to placing yours truly in Facebook jail.

Here is the comment, verbatim, made in response to a shallow, misogynistic, sexist, offensive post: “These faggots who keep passing judgement on people should stay home and masturbate into their herbal tea.”

I know people have strong feelings about herbal tea, but I didn’t know it was that serious. Herbal tea tastes like shit. Like faggoty masturbatory shit. Yeah.worst-thing-about-censorship


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Existential Riddles

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A farmer has to transport a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river. She can carry only one item at a time. If left together, the fox will eat the chicken, and the chicken will eat the corn. How does the farmer do it?

The farmer begins by carrying the chicken across the river. But, as she does so, she notices her reflection in the water. She can barely recognize the person staring back at her, holding a chicken. “What’s happened to me?” she asks herself. She hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in more than a year. Now she’s carrying farm animals and sacks of grain across rivers. Is this why she spent two years at RISD?

A man sees a boat that is full of people. And yet there isn’t a single person on the boat. How is this possible?

Everyone on the boat is married, so there isn’t one single person on the boat.

The man wonders if it’s legal for a transportation system to discriminate against unmarried people. It doesn’t seem legal, but maybe maritime laws are different? Perhaps if things had ended differently with Heather, the man would be on the boat, too. He laughs sadly to himself. He was always single, even when he was with Heather. Love is an illusion. There are no purely unselfish actions. Heather and Dale deserve each other.

The man blows his nose. He didn’t even realize he’d been crying.

Which is heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of gold?

Everything is equal in an infinitely expanding, cruelly indifferent universe.

A town has only two barbers. One of the barbers has a neat, tidy haircut, and the other has a shaggy, messy haircut. Which barber should a townsman go to?

The man should go to the barber with the shaggy, messy haircut.

But he goes to the barber closer to his apartment. It’s been years since the man cared about his appearance. He sits down in the barber’s chair. Long hair, short hair, messy hair—it’s just going to keep receding. He can’t stop it from receding.

“Are you sure you want me to cut your hair?” the barber says, with a wink. “After all, how could I have given myself this neat, tidy haircut?”

“I’m going to die someday,” the man whispers.

A woman lives in a yellow one-story house. Everything in the house is yellow. What color are the stairs?

There are no stairs, because the woman lives in a one-story house. The woman wishes she could afford a two-story house. Or at least one with a furnace and more natural light. But a one-story house makes sense. She lives alone. What does she need all the extra space for? Another cat? A family?

She pulls up a blanket, shivering. The yellow walls are starting to drive her insane.

A man is locked in a room with only a piano. How does he escape?

The man uses a piano “key” to escape. Then he uses religion to escape, then drugs, then a relationship that clearly won’t work out in the long term, then unhealthy food, then rage, then the “key” again, because it’s a cycle, it’s an endless cycle, and he can never truly escape until he accepts that she’s really gone.

A woman running a marathon overtakes the person in second place. What place is she in now?

She is now in second place. She’s always in second place. Stephen was right.

A man turned off the light and went to bed. Because of this, several people died. Why?

The man lives in a lighthouse; when he turned off the light, two ships crashed. For months, the man is wracked with guilt—how could he forget to keep the light on? What was he thinking? Years pass. The man moves to a small inland town. He attends group therapy regularly. At one session, he meets a widow of three years. She is beautiful in a quiet way. They get married. She never questions why he refuses to turn off the lights at night. Days become decades. They don’t have children, but they are happy together. One day, the man visits an antique shop and breaks down sobbing when he sees a ship in a bottle. He asks his wife to drive him to the ocean. She does. She knows not to ask why. They arrive. The man forgives himself. He finally forgives himself.

Existential riddle together

~ Ethan Kuperberg


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Why Don’t You? Why Do You?

Early evening. You are seated by the counter in a smoky bar somewhere in the city. Just about to kick back and sign off for the day. Exchanging pleasantries with the barman and engaging in small talk here and there. Farther along the counter there is a rather attractive young woman ordering a drink. By her style of dress you figure she’s either a lawyer or works in an audit firm, probably one of the Big Four. Same difference, except that the lawyer will most likely have an air of self-importance, dozens of points to prove, a chip on her shoulder and misplaced feminism to boot. Okay so it’s not the same difference. After a while you notice she’s casting furtive glances your way every so often. When someone walks in and greets you by name, you can see her pretty little ears perk up a little, and the glances increase. In between questions posed to the barman, she finally gathers the courage to speak to you. A year or so back you’d have been the first one to talk to her but now, well, now is now.

She speaks: “Hi. You’re so and so?”

You: “Ummm, errr… Why do you ask?” (You learnt the hard way, the very hard way, long ago, never to answer that question in a hurry. It has too many possibilities behind it, many of which are not pleasant.)

After pushing and pulling for a while, and after judging the situation reasonably safe to continue, you finally admit that you are who she thinks you are. She goes on to gush about your writing, how she follows your blog religiously. Due to the reputation that Kenyan bloggers have achieved of late, you wince at the mention of the word blog – you hate the term blogger. She continues to say things about you and your writing – since people assume they can tell the type of person you are through your writing- saying how she thinks you are intelligent, crazy, humorous, arrogant, chauvinistic, confused, you have a mean streak, but she likes it, thinks you curse too much but it’s okay, she’d like to pick your brain, perhaps, you should write more about this and that… And then the question: “Why don’t you write anymore?”

Hmmmm.

A slightly cold night in the countryside. It’s heading towards midnight and you’re heading towards town to pick up a friend who has arrived late. A roadblock in the distance, the ones mounted with lanterns by the side, and manned by eager young policemen. They flag you down, and you quickly think of ignoring them and speeding past or acknowledging them and still speeding past. You doubt that they have a chase car somewhere waiting to chase after you movie style. Anyway, you slow down to a stop and roll down your window. One policeman walks over to your window, flashlight in hand.

“Habari mkubwa!”

“Mzuri sana baba”

“Naezaangalia gari ndani?”

You allow him to check the car because you have nothing to hide. Plus this is the country side; people tend to be courteous to each other including the police. While he is checking you remember the bottle of whisky on the passenger seat, and the glass, with whisky, in the cup holder next to you. Both you and the police officer notice these things at the same time.

“Unajienjioy, eh?”

“Sio sana afisa. Pole pole tu.”

“Unakunywa ukiendesha?”

“Hapana afande. Hiyo ilikuwa ya rafiki yangu ameisahau hapo.”

He smiles, laughs, and keeps looking at you. After a while it looks like he’s trying to remember you. You’re doing your best not to be remembered. He asks for your license. You hand it to him, and his eyes light up like a little boy.

“Ni wewe? Yaani it is you? Nikuulize, unaandikanga mambo kwa mtandao? Yaani internet? Hii jina na sura ninazijua. Walubengo Den?”

You ashamedly admit that it might be the truth. He goes on to tell you how he follows your blog religiously, and that he is actually currently studying at some college close by, and his lecturer directed all of the students to read your blog to gain some knowledge and improve their language. (You almost burst out laughing at this. Poor students. Poor lecturer.) After getting over his initial excitement the young police officer’s face turns a bit solemn and he asks you: Why don’t you write anymore?

Hmmmm.

You leave the earnest policeman with a glass of liquor to keep him warm, and you head off into the night. Thinking. Why don’t you write anymore? Why don’t you write?

Perhaps in the words below we will attempt, or endeavor to extricate ourselves from this morass. Perchance I will favour the well trained lawyer’s style of writing; Brief, concise, precise, and accurate. Or perhaps I will favour the grandiloquent style of some law professors and speechwriters. Maybe both. Then again, may be none. The author’s style: describing sunsets and sunrises and moons and oceans and landscapes in magnificent, almost numbing words punctuated by suffocating similes and a myriad of metaphors. No. Perhaps I should just say shag it and have a ghostwriter write out all this shit. But I’m not a rapper. I think I’ll just bumble along and wing it.

In bars. Restaurants. On the street. On the highway. In the club. Even at work and at home. The world seems to be teeming with people keening to know why you don’t write anymore. Surprisingly, people will read what you write sometimes, and if you are vain enough to include a picture or two of yourself in your articles they will know what you look like. Also, if you have a ‘common’ face (polite way of saying ‘watchman’s face), many people will think they have seen or met you before. Anyway.

Methinks the more important question is: “Why do you write? Why should you write?”

I’ve asked this question to many others, seeking to find out why they write, seeking to know what drives them. Some say it’s money that drives them, others say it’s passion. Some say that writing is a need, it is something you inexplicably need to do. Others of course write for vanity, or for fame or notoriety. Others write to stir unnecessary controversy or to spread hate steeped in mutated feminism like that girl/female/woman (what is the politically correct term?) who was insulting Subarus the other day, specifically Subarus of a blue hue. I never liked Subarus much in the first place, but now I do. I tend to gravitate towards the things which stupid people don’t like. Oh well, to each his own and we haven’t paraded ourselves here to judge.

I still remember someone telling me that I should write because I feel good while writing. But the end results are the words, the sentences, and they will be read by people. So making myself feel good then sharing the results with the reading public. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds an awful lot like masturbating in public. Some say you can only write and write well when you are sad, or when there is a great cause that one is writing for. I don’t know. Some draw motivation from the bottle and perhaps a pack of cigarettes – Keeps them writing.

Some write to make their voice heard. Some write to make the voices in their head go quiet.

Why do you write? Why should you write? Me I don’t know.
If there’s anyone out there who has an answer to these questions, or ideas, kindly share. They might just help to spark a light.