In The Land Of Braves, Carry A Big Stick

Do one brave thing today…then run like hell

Bravery is a word only associated with special forces and male marital confessions. Confessing to your wife about an illicit affair is an act of bravery. Spontaneous bravery, where random men save elderly citizens from burning buildings are rarely heard of in the city.

One has to venture into the countryside where acts of bravery are an everyday affair. Fearless men still prowl the rural thickets. Acts that would be deemed literally foolish in the city are regular fare as a result of an uneasy relationship between man and wildlife.

In the country side,  men are expected to defend their homesteads against any dangers. From lurking cattle thieves, granary plunderers, pesky night runners to wild animals. Real men sleep with weapons besides their beds because when the family faces danger, they are expected to be the first responders and usually the only, line of defense.

Of Overcoming Failure And Hills I know.

I am in a love-hate relationship with a hill.  We are only recently acquainted and I dread the things it could do to me. But first, some background. I moved to a new apartment block that sat at the bottom of a steep driveway. A hill so unreasonable, my taxi man Morris, in his trusted Corolla, with a cranky gear box, had one look at it and asked whether there were any stones to anchor on, in case he did not pick up momentum. It is a hill that is begging to be conquered. I know it will kill me before I can get fit enough to brag about my accomplishments. If I could overcome the psychological barrier of sprinting up 100m without any suicidal thoughts, the benefits would be real.

Getting fit comes at a price that I am less willing to fork out. It helps that the peer pressure is muted. My mates are not losing any sleep over their expanding midriffs. Having a terminal disease counts as a status symbol these days. It can only mean one is highly stressed which is proof of making more money than one can keep track of. Then there is the ever-ready excuse of ageing. I am not a spring chicken anymore and my health insurance is for emergencies.  There is never any time for exercise that could actually be beneficial to my health. Any spare time outside of work and sleep is reserved for clogging arteries and punishing my liver over endless banter sessions with potential business associates. They are all wages of sin that a hill run every other morning would put in check.

Who Do Real Men Talk To When They Are Afraid?

The Kikambala beach was once a bustling and popular vacation spot on the Kenyan coast. I remember the beach vividly and having a blast of a time on New Years’ Eve, 2005. It was just after the Asian tsunami and while skeptical Nairobians were avoiding the coast, I ventured out to find the beach was packed with holiday makers both local and foreign and crackling with activity.

On this mid-morning walk, an entire 10km stretch of sandy white beach on the North Coast resembled the Thika Super highway during the Obama visit. Deserted. I should have been thankful for the solitude but instead I was overcome by nostalgia. I walked past the occasional fishermen. Wiry characters with sinewy muscles, hauling tattered nets headed to the reef to fish. They rarely made eye contact to acknowledge the friendly nod of a stranger passing by. Two beach men, spotting dreadlocks, popped up at spaced intervals, selling shells and star fishes. Their sales pitch was weighed down by blue tales of the prevailing tough times. Coast tourism is crawling on its knees and it was self-evident. Former hotel workers had given up hope and escaped in search of greener pastures. Those left behind, bore a hollow look of apathy. Life used to revolve around utalii and the repercussions of the decline have been felt far beyond the beach.

Kikambala boat

The few functioning hotels on the stretch were experiencing an all-time low occupancy. The rest were abandoned or in ruins, all but empty, except for the conspicuous presence of a watchman guarding the grounds. Mostly seated on a plastic chair, looking out to the sea or chatting into a mobile phone.