One day, I’ll be a dad. Hopefully of three kids. Just enough to keep my hands full and for my family name to carry on. All genders represented because of what my life has taught me. The brothers to make men out of each other. And girls to ensure you never lose touch with the fairer things in life. To never become too callous a man
25. Funky number.
Funky life and really funky times as well.
“Funky” is not a word I use often, nor is 25 an age I clock on the regular either. But I can barely think of a more nonchalant word to describe my present mood.
The past couple of weeks have been tougher on me than I expected. Between peaks of pride and success and solo battles through anger, despair and disappointment. I have had to pull myself back up more often than I would like. These lessons learnt through mistakes hit much harder and more effectively than those through success, but those learning events would much more readily be avoided, I believe.
Thankfully, my esteem (and a small cabal of equally armoured friends) has kept me going. I know it is high, sometimes too high. And the universe stands ever at the ready to cut me down to size and get me back in line. Sometimes, harshly so.
No matter your abilities, there will be gnawing reminders not to climb too high too fast. Acclimatise. Get your system in order. Bring your people along. Keep your head about you (even if others lose theirs). And if your powers of observation fail you, these reminders hit you harder. Humbling you. Smearing your psyche with blazing neon labels of “IMPOSTER!”
It gets the best of us, expectedly or otherwise. Never prepared, were we for such troubles.
For that I am thankful actually. Some parts of this life need to be charted, as a solo captain at the helm. Gazing into the grey, foggy horizon, wondering what foolhardiness made one think they actually had it. That they could get there. That they wouldn’t run this ship aground on jagged rocks and be the subject of drunken tales of, oh, what could have been.
What could have been, is, and will be. I am the master of this ship. I have mustered every typhoon as I have savoured every sunny sky; sauntered on all calm oceans as much as I have ridden every angry white-crested wave.
Twenty—five years I’ve done this. Another I shall, Inshallah. And another, and another.
In success and failure. In strength and weakness. I continue.
This is me, savouring the last few minutes of a self-induced caffeine ban since 1st December 2017. After enduring unexplainable days and nights of poring over the eccentricities and simplicities of this legal world, my system threatened mass action against me. And I obeyed the will of the majority (unlike some). The clarity that comes with that caffeinated buzz is rivalled by only one thing: the buzz that comes without it. The balance between the two; what I seek (in full appreciation of flavour and agricultural labour expended).
This is me, marvelling at the similarity between the P and the F, and the grey line that lies between. Also grimacing at the possibility that my rapturous call to my mother may have been premature, and that I should have had my eyes checked first before calling her. Maybe I saw wrong. Oh goodness, I should hang up.
This is me, absorbing Nairobi’s averagely amusing nightlife on the balcony of a haunt I frequent too much. If only for the music. But this is me, in astoundingly intelligent, hilarious, astute, absorbing company, reminding me of the honour-guard that guides me in all I do, as I do for them. This is us.
This is me, hours after professing my desire to spend this year 25th year of my God-given life as the first since turning 4 years old, without an exam to be sat. This is me, in the company of those who pushed me hardest in those dark hours, laughing now because we can. Oh yes, we can, and we are! This is me, even fewer hours after listening to someone hypothesize that I have earned the seat I sit on today. This is me, yearning, striving, pushing for more.
This is me, wincing at the thought of not catching a proper glimpse of the Trifecta. A once in a lifetime celestial event, superseded by a once in a lifetime legal event. In another lifetime, the elders would be seated around the three stones, embers glimmering, with each opining on what a bloody eclipse (pun intended) portended for the community. Well, I dare say, this is me; that is what it portends.
This is me, in the (presently) dishevelled confines of my home. Modest in means, but abundant in belonging and achievement. Here I endured and pushed and surmounted that which was thrust at me. I caught a few throws, kept my guard, consulted my peers, gave encouragement as much as I received it. Pushed.
This is me. LLB stashed away. LLM bagged, CS (K) grabbed. 9 Ps in hand.
I just spent one of the most happy days with my mum, and I’m about to spend one of my most fulfilling ones with her yet. I have worked years to get here, and she’s strived ages longer. Yet here we stand. History written, legacies built, stories to be told.
Sat at her feet and learnt, I did. Scolded and praised in equal measure. Pain and joys shared, knowingly or otherwise. Faced doubts, reassured where necessary.
And yet a few hours ago, she shared one of those random gems that strike you and lodge themselves in yet unknown nooks of your psyche. Simple as is: You don’t want your child to grow up without any knowledge of what failure is. They may be exemplary in all forms, but it isn’t till they stare into the adversary of failure that they learn their true capability to get back up, dust themselves off and get going again.
I’ve stumbled once in a while. She’s stood by me. I’ve risen equally as often, and darn sure she cheered loudest.
So this one is yours, Mum. And for the chief himself, Kiriga Mutegi Kabugu.
We ain’t done yet. #LLMKwisha
That’s what this is: a thank you.
To who? You. Me. Everybody. The last time I felt this grateful for a year in my life was in 2013, and I thought it would be hard to beat. It got blown to smithereens (and so I’ll need you to remember one thing, I came, I saw, I conquered). Sorry, couldn’t resist that.
Anyway, this little ode to 2016 won’t follow the usual flow and form of other clueless ramblings on here. Let’s buck the trend a bit, and simply Continue reading
Two weeks ago, Graça Machel shared a dinner with a group of remarkable people that I know. A group of young persons, still stuck in the throes of discovering themselves, the paths lying ahead, the choices to be made, the baggage to be dropped and more importantly, the causes (and underlying principles therein) to be picked. Continue reading
Five years ago on this day, I sat before an ancient Pentium in one of those dusky cyber cafés that used to charge 1 bob per minute. Then only discovering the rudimentary workings of the internet, I was choosing to up the ante a little. Turned it up, I did; and down and up and…. Continue reading
Do you ever feel mentally clogged? Like there’s a massive roadblock on a major neural pathway that is blocking your inner best? And all you have left inside is ideas and thoughts careening to a halt and manoeuvring hasty U-turns in defeat? Continue reading
Guess who’s back, back again…
Over the weekend, I joked with my mother over my weird subject choices in high school, choosing to go with history rather than geography regardless of my better performance record in the latter. She knows, and it is common knowledge amongst those that know me best that I do love geography and can geek out sometimes when I do find something that intrigues me, more so with regard to vulcanicity. Continue reading
Hey ho, I’m ready to roll! Another year down the line, and I feel like I zooming on through this universe, with a gung-ho, smash-n’-grab attitude to it all, and loving every minute of it.
A few years back, I made an almost unconscious decision to do away with mediocrity, and to strive for nothing but the best. This meant shedding off some dead-weight, steeling myself against what, at the time, seemed like insurmountable odds. Soon enough, I got a few cheerleaders and team-mates and like-minded folk in my corner. Most have been with me for the entire ride till now, some dropped off, and I damn sure know there are so many more I have not even yet met.
It’s a curious blessing to be where I am today. It’s an even greater burden not to get swept away by the amazement of it all and end up forgetting the very purpose for which it is I do all this. But it is on such days that I sit back and chill, think, talk, and sometimes reminisce.
Predictably, it then of course is on this day that I am reminded of the purpose of my existence; why I get up each day to the sometimes unnerving hustles of the paths I choose. It is for me, my family and my friends. For those who stand in my corner through each round of this fight, hollering at each jab ducked, cheering every uppercut landed, conjuring up combos to knock out each fitting opponent before me.
And at the break of each round, when the gong goes and I trudge fitfully to my corner, a winning smirk exchanged with the team, I know the next round is going to be even better. The challenge is greater, the (metaphorical of course) muscles sorer, and the opponent leaner and meaner.
But at that break, I’ll sit, catch my breath, and cherish the cool drink in my mouth, quenching the fires that rage within. And prepare.
Today is that day. The 23rd round is beginning. The gong strikes. FIGHT!
I am presently or just have been conferred with my first degree, a Bachelor of Laws.
There’s a story one of my childhood teachers and neighbour likes to repeat to whoever will lend an ear (willingly or otherwise). Allegedly, which allegations I fully and undeniably associate myself with in toto, when I was in Standard 3 (8 years old, I reckon), my mum sent me with something to her house.
As I was about to leave, she says she asked, “Mutugi, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
It is said that the best stories are written in the greatest throes of emotion. It is also said that the best stories are told spontaneously, off the cuff, sincere, raw and unprocessed. The rough draft within which the author sets all his gems, to amaze only those keen enough to open the pages (or in this techie days, click the link) and revel in what lies within.
Before the editor takes his scalpel to the page and cuts it down to size, few get the chance to see the real deal for themselves. They tell people of how good it was, unadulterated, pure and sincere. They will reminisce of that draft, boring future generations with endless tales of what they missed.
Successive works will be produced, and they will have to adjust to the unceasing outpouring of nostalgia by those of a time gone by. They will try to match up, and live up to latent or manifest expectations, of their own creation or otherwise. Therein will lie a struggle to understand. An endless endeavour of unattainable knowledge. Of what was, what is, what could have been and, most invigouratingly, what will be.
Many will revile the acts of the editor; some will claim to understand, accepting and moving on. Others will tire of questioning the editor and choose to seize the day. For anyway, are those not the ideals that the master draft was made for?
I know of only one master draft. On this day, 22 years ago, the editor did what he must. Unlike any other draft put down before, this one lives on. 5 juniors and that 1 co-master draft. There are wonders in this world, I have (yet) seen but only a few, but by God, the 22-year pages of these drafts are the real masterpieces. Yet to be completed, stand in awe, for the best is yet to come.
Nostalgia or otherwise, a story is being written. The name will live on.
Rest in peace Dad.
PS: We stay winning. All of us, led by the queen herself.
A man shall always like to operate in controlled environments. Scenarios where a man can rely on existing certainties and an assurance of the environment as he knows it not being in an unrestrained state of flux. A man will always rein in what he can, never letting it all run riot.
A man finds comfort in the known, and fear in the unknown. He, and the universe as a whole, are averse to change. There is a consistent and futile search for equilibrium; its immediate attainment negated by the revival of the initial cycle. And so down, down the rabbit hole we go.
So, a man tries and tries to assure themselves of a few constants in his life. Looking for anchor-points, he sets goals, milestones and standards. Certainties that must be attained and maintained to ameliorate the vagaries of a world in flux. In vain maybe? A waste of time, resources, mental energy, one may say.
What then can a man do? To what God (Higher Being if a man chooses so) must a man pray to buffer against the buffeting waves? The seas of life are a torment in the storm, and a wondrous paradise in the calm. Even yet, the waters below are always changing. The vessel may remain unserviced and devoid of improvement. Woe unto the sailors aboard for the treacherous journey that lies yonder.
Yet the vessel may choose strategy; another certainty and control. Varying quality, severity and scope, they carry hope to the horizon. That though the seas may toss a man around, and plans and strategy cast overboard lest the vessel capsizes, crew and captain shall call safe into port.
A time comes when a man must stand tall and plan. Make choices. Improve. MOVE.
When uncertainties face him, he
shall not cannot stand down, roll over and watch the ever-changing skies. He shall plant his feet into the ground, tuck in his coat-tails, and push. Push into the wind and sleet. A man shall carry the clarion call and lead into the dark, carrying his own true light and discovering his own true, yet changing, path as he goes.
We have a distinctly Kenyan way of sanitising history. We interestingly seem/wish to forget certain ills and transgressions that have been occasioned on the peoples, and act like we are so much better off today.
But are we?
Are we any better now than the native Kenyan under the colonialist’s baton and bayonet? Are we any better off than the champions of democracy who were so quickly eliminated upon independence under the guise of that very democratic leadership? Are we any better off than our fathers and mothers who mutedly spoke of “Mwakenya” under the constant fear of the Special Branch? Or are we anywhere better than those who championed a cause for transparency, accountability, ease of doing business and multi-party democracy in the decades past?
On a balance of probabilities, maybe we are. And yet, balanced out against the cost of the actions of such persons we so eagerly sanitise, maybe we are just paddling in quicksand my friend.
We celebrate criminals, thieves, philanderers and louts of all kinds, and award them positions of honour. Every day, endless clamour on how we would never have gotten where we are without grace, effort and sacrifice is peddled around at the lowest price to the highest shouter. The mass audience always gulps it down, without a hint of mental mastication, and the wave grows and grows, most notably over five-year cycles.
The stars of the hottest scandals, paraded on national TV and quizzed on whether their household cats are feeding well, or how they “feel” about the allegations. Of course, they feel bad; like “I-got-a-nasty-flu” kind of bad. Who wouldn’t? Even their cats would. And just as quick as the first one came out, the next is “unearthed” (un-archived would be more appropriate), heavy-laden with spooky soundtracks, catchy commentary and graphics out of a failed James Bond movie. And for just those 40 minutes, and maybe the office-day after, we seem to care. Then what?
We have come far, no doubt. But for almost each five steps we take forward, those thieving louts stand before us, pulling us back another three steps. We remain in an endless flux of scandal, uncertainty, violence and mediocrity which we owe to no-one else but ourselves.
Admittedly, I have never been much a fan of proverbs or riddles, and you can blame the significantly myopic and robotic 8-4-4 system for that. However, it stands true that every cloud has a silver lining. Yes, these thieves have brought good and prosperity to our land. Indeed they have helped some of the weak and oppressed who we of relatively lesser means sometimes dismiss. Granted, I will also not take away their industriousness and hard work from them. I actually admire it and seek to learn what good I can from it. This is because they, just as much as the common burglar, possess an admirable level of bravado and ambition which ironically, is worth sanitising and adopting for oneself.
Nonetheless, I refuse to be socially conditioned into accepting the erasure of facts from the people’s conscious mind. Some ills should and must remain indelible in the public eye; holding these transgressions to account is the only remedy to heal a wounded nation.
So for as long as we demand and cry for change and yet seem as willing and submissive as the village herd of sheep to cling to these lupine shepherds, backward shall we remain.
If you, for all your ‘higher education’; salaried life; central, intermediate-median, upper-middle class tags (or whatever they call it these days) and cultured life, cannot claw out of that intellectual cocoon that you hibernate into, cast off the perverse stereotypes that pervade the understanding of basic human elements, and apply a discerning mind to facts (and not PR machinations) thrown at you, then we are lost.
There’s a hymn that most of the Protestant faith have heard: Fight the good fight with all thy might. Ridding it of religious connotations, and accepting Paul of Tarsus’ epistolary prowess, it rings true for the very nature of the human condition.
If you can rise and fight that good fight against the mental myopia that oh-so-nearly blinds you, then you, my friend, are the only hope we have.