Shame on you. It is an amazingly effective word. The simple rebuke, “You should be ashamed of yourself”, uttered by someone in a position of parental authority has the potential to deeply affect the shamed individual. There is an old stereotype about African parents. Do what you must but do not bring shame to the family name. That is how we ended up with the black sheep characterization. African parents particularly of the staunch religious ilk had a low tolerance for non conforming behaviour.
This is my 20th year since, I ventured into writing career. It was supposed to be a side hustle,as I angled for a real job with a corner office and a view. The side hustle became the main stay and people said we suited each other. It is a good time as any to write a short account about how I became a ‘meat wrapper’. Two decades is a long time in one line of work and I am certain I would not have traveled this far without the constant guidance of tens of mentors. The year 1998 was the turning point in my decision to become a writer.
“He told me not be so naive”. Those are Lupita Nyong’o’s words captured in an op-ed for the New York Times in October. Lupita was retelling a sexual harassment episode at the hands of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Lupita broke her silence after 7 years, joining a long list of Hollywood actresses who exposed the movie producer’s predatory sexual behaviour. That was just the beginning. The Harvey Weinstein case exposed crocodiles lurking underneath calm waters.
The editor sends a message in the middle of the week. About a picture on whatapp. Have you seen this? The woman in the picture is wearing a gaudy wedding dress with her face covered by a bridal veil. She holds the hand of a little girl dressed for a chilly morning. The little girl has a shortwave radio strapped over her shoulder. In other hand she holds a placard, that reads, “Need for a husband?” Included are, Her name, the full disclosure of child from a previous relationship, her child’s age and her phone number. They are standing in the heart of Nairobi, off Tom Mboya street in one of the busiest parts of the CBD.
What do I think?
Words: Biko Zulu
When I think of Josaya Wasonga I think of a lone and embattled wolf separated from the pack. We worked together for the same publisher in the late 2000s. We were both features writer’s; him for Twende Magazine and me for Adam. He spoke very little. He was always a furtive figure, like a modern-day Zorro, going about the office with little detection and noise. He seemed to walk through walls. His writing – unsurprisingly – was in contrast to the man. It was bright, loud, vivid in description and often laced with strings and strands of wonderful imagery and large looming storeyed columns of metaphors and a hybrid turn of phrase. Of course I greatly admired and respected his writing. I still do. The funniest I ever read was a travel log of him running over someone’s chicken in Luhya-land and the ensuing conversation with the irked villagers who had gathered around their beloved dead chicken in the middle of the road. Traffic was halted until that chicken was accorded the appropriate justice. The story – told with a beautiful tongue-in-cheek was hysterical and in complete departure from the silent man who sat not many desks away from mine. His humour would spring from nowhere in his pieces like a predatory cat in waiting.