The Blurred Future of The 6-Year-Old Boy That Hangs at The Muguka Joint

boy and water

November last year came with a lot of change for me. It had been two weeks since my move to Embu when I realized I needed a table to add to my furniture.When your job involves moving now and then, you learn to travel light and leave behind things like furniture only to have to purchase them again. I went around the town center evaluating the various carpentry shops on price and quality. I finally settled on one. It was a temporary wooden structure that must have been put together quickly but it served its purpose. It is positioned at the side of the road. A customer can hardly miss it. The carpenter here has personality, he makes the customer feel important. Judging from the few items stationed outside, he is not lacking in the skill department. He will deliver. I give him my list of specifications, which is too long for a table,*smiles. We then agree I will be back after three days.

The third day finds me outside the shed. A little excited to be taking my newest acquisition home. Yes, it is the little things that matter. Owe unto me, as disappointment registers on my face, I am told to come three days later. November-December is their busy period; they have a lot of customers, so he just didn’t get to get my work done. Its common knowledge that tailors and carpenters will just never have your work done when they say they will have it done. Their word is worth nothing so I decided to give him a second chance.

It is on this day that I run into this young boy at the carpentry. I can tell he is the curious type from the way he looks at me. To how he is focused on counting the number of cars passing on the road. Cars he may never drive if his life continues on its current course. I say hello. His father works as a help to the main carpenter in this shop. Doing the menial jobs that don’t require much skill. When he sees me striking a conversation with his boy. He proudly tells me, that that is his son. As he speaks, his mouth is puffed. He is chewing Muguka and there is this green stuff at the corner of his mouth. The sight is a total turn off but my few days here have taught me it’s the norm here. Muguka has won the hearts of both the ladies and men.

Despite the disappointment, I am in my element. I ask him why he lets his son hang around that area.First, he could easily get run over by a vehicle. Secondly right next to the carpentry is a shed, about five laggards are seated furiously chewing at Muguka.Muguka is a drug that is a close cousin of Miraa.Muguka like Miraa has serious side effects to its long-time users. There is a vendor, he seems happy. That can be explained by the number of customers he has. The young boy keeps running back and forth from the carpentry to the shed.


One can tell he is familiar with the shed crowd because they call him by name. Teasing him to try some Muguka. He turns, looks at his father and says no to their request. This makes me cringe. I mean, why would you let your kid hang around such a crowd. Grown-ups that voluntarily use drugs. His answer to my question is that he lives in the town center and he has nobody to watch over his boy during the day. He tells me that environment is good for his son because it will teach him early on that life is hard. At the back of my mind, I can hear myself saying aloud, NO! Your son will grow up looking up to drug addicts as role models. He will grow up knowing it’s okay to while his day away over Muguka and cheap liquor.

Fast forward to a week later when I come to pick my table. After being turned away two more times. This lovely young boy is still in the shed. At this point am angry at life, Life is an unlevelled playing ground. While some kids are touting their parents on which mall they will hang out at over pizza this weekend. All this boy gets, is mornings and afternoons with this men, chewing their life away at this shed. These men, who could be in their early twenties usually have a plastic bottle filled with cheap liquor to go with the Muguka. Catcalling is their hobby and you will notice how ladies avoid passing by their side of the road like a plague.

The probability that this kid will be using both Muguka and alcohol by the time he is in upper primary is very high. It is what he has seen his father do. It is what he has seen his father’s peers doing. And when he thinks he is grown up enough. It is what he will do. This shed is where his journey as an alcoholic will begin. School will only be a detour for him. This boy’s life graph has already been drawn for him by circumstance. Growing up in this space destines him for failure. His future is blurred. Who will save him?

Finding My Forte in 2017

Walking into a new chapter :)
Walking into a new chapter :)

2017 has been a labyrinth for me. I was working on finding my footing in so many areas in my life at some point I thought I would go bonkers. I needed to put in so much work into my career and my personal life and i did. I don’t know of a yardstick I can use to measure whether I have succeeded yet or not but I can confidently say I have made progress. One of the things 2017 has taught me is that getting comfortable is not an option, you have to stay woke ready for the next opportunity that life throws at you.Yes, even hardships are opportunities so dont cow when one comes your way.

I have travelled across Kenyan counties a bit this year. I could write stories, stories full of colourful memories and shades of difficulties but happy tales nonetheless . A younger version of me prayed for this travelling experiences that am having now but this older version of me is not sure about the travel thing anymore. Maybe it’s better to be a little more grounded. The backpack life can be disorienting as one has to keep starting over and there is so much uncertainty its intimidating.

Currently, i am in Embu County, December is my second month here. I must admit I was nervous about moving to Embu since it was a work-related relocation. I was expected to live in a local area, I didn’t know anybody prior to the move and I was not sure I would adjust. It’s through this experience that I have learnt being the new face in the ‘hood’ read village is difficult. The thing with villages is that everybody knows everybody including who their ancestors were. So when you are the new kid on the block, you get unwarranted attention from all corners. You have to constantly answer the question ‘where are you from?’ from multiple people.

It’s even harder to figure the place out if you cannot speak the local language. Most times you do not know the apt way to behave towards the locals and you have to take some time to learn their dos and don’ts. I must admit that going to new places, conquering them and creating a life for myself there has been my highlight this year. It’s one of the things I am really proud of myself for. Being out of my comfort zone read ‘cities’ in this context has made me rediscover myself. Realize strengths that I never knew I had within me and magnify them to make them work for me.

I am hopeful that 2018 will come with its share of blessings from our Heavenly Father. There will be mountains to climb but the joy of life is emerging victorious against the challenges it throws at us. I know 2018 will be a year of many firsts for me and I am ready.

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The Do What You Love Narrative Favors the Privileged in Society

Tech PresentationsNobody listens when you cry foul, when you say things like ‘life is unfair’ because life has never been fair. Life is a fast sailing boat that does not wait for those in the crowd who are not sure where they are headed. You have to man up (whatever that means) and chose your path, fight against all odds to be the one who wears a smile instead of the rest of the crowd that is just going through the cycle of life unfulfilled.

You just closed the high school door behind you, you are officially an adult. This is the moment you have been waiting for all your life. University is your next stop, it is your ticket out of the slum, out of the village. You will finally build your folks that maisonette house because your current mud walled one is one of the few remaining ones in your village. Everybody else has somehow managed to uproot themselves from poverty but your folks. For this reason, your excelling in school despite the meager finances available to pay your fee has brought back life into your homestead.

University is finally here, your good grades got you into Nairobi University, the University in the city, you chose this science course because someone told you that science nerds never lack jobs after graduation and the main reason you are in school is to get that express ticket out of poverty. You settle into your classes, there is this hype group of students who rarely show up for classes, yet when the show up they have new outfits, flashy watches or the newest trendy phone They are what you call, free spirits. They have everything you have never had, everything you will never have unless you get a good job after campus. They have already explored half of Nairobi in the two weeks you have been there. You don’t know how that kind of lifestyle is possible because you are surviving on the little money you got from the higher education loans board. All that that money can afford you is regular meals and shopping for a few clothes at ‘Gikomba’ the second hand clothes open market that has been an answered prayer for you as you can now upgrade your wardrobe

Its two years into university, your friends have side hustles and no longer show up for classes but for you, you are still hanging onto the ‘’going for classes thing’’ and being present for the long laboratory experiments sessions in the afternoon even though you would rather be asleep because you need to get that first class honors. Four years down the line, your hard work pays off, your transcripts are an envy of most of your classmates.Black Girls Graduate The problem is in your fourth year you found a new interest. You did not go looking for it actually, it found you. Your friend from this prayer group that meets up every Saturday knows how hardworking you are at your classwork and since they needed assistants on this business they had been working on, they asked you because you will probably put in the same hard work into the business as you do in class.

Within no time, your heart is knee deep into the business despite excelling in your course work. You are torn between delving into the job search like the rest of your crew or throwing all your energy into making your new business idea work. You have been reading those motivational books that emphasize on doing the things that you love, because if you do you are likely to excel.

One year down the line, after a lot of soul searching you realize you love the business, each part of the cycle gives you goose bumps from the first step of acquiring the items you need to sell to your client to the tedious but fulfilling process of convincing customers that your product is the best and they cannot live without it.

Graduation has come and gone, you have left the safety net of your hostels. The small monies you used to get from the higher education loans board are no longer coming in, so how do you get fresh stock for your young business? You can barely afford transport for your day to day mobility since you moved into one of those cheap East Lands neighborhood.

Six months down the line you cave in to your reality. The reality, that you need capital investment to get this ‘biashara’ running otherwise your kiosk set up will remain just that. It is at this point in time you get that first class honors degree out and start the job search because your parents have started making endless phone calls wanting you to chip in on your brother’s high school fee and their day to day upkeep and your business is not exactly going your way. The biashara dream will have to wait for a while you need to chase the coins first.

The ‘do what you love narrative’’ favors the privileged. millennials from families that have already amassed fortunes have it easier in life. They have more time to concentrate their energies into their passion without having to worry about being their parents or siblings support system. Getting into business requires an initial capital investment that has to come from somewhere. A not for profit start up needs you to have a big heart, the desire to impact society and a little money to get you going for the first few months or years before that big donor comes along and buys into your dream. That is why young people from the lower class may not have the privilege of doing what they love, what with them carrying the burden of their family needs on their shoulders. Most times their dreams have to be shelved a little longer. They have to work the system either in public service or in private companies instead of jumping right in to doing what they love. These responsibilities weigh them down and before long, their youth is gone and it takes along their dreams.

Am not saying that lacking the financial wherewithal to chase after your dreams should stop you, am just saying it is harder for a young person from the lower class in society to focus on their passion. There will always be bills to pay, siblings to support and before long they have their own kids to think about. Within this time their dream to one day follow their passion becomes a mirage, frustration and discontentment at their work place sets in and becomes their story.  The only thing that keeps most people going in this system is the dream that their children will have a better chance in life, that they will not have to start from the bottom. That their children’s dreams will one day see the light of day.







The Business Opportunity in the Plastic Bags Ban in Kenya


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Regular plastic bags remain for up to 100 years contributing the highest percentage to the world’s environmental degradation as plastic bags pollution affects land, waterways, oceans and human’s health. On realization of their negative impact, environmentalist around the world begun to lobby for countries to not only stop the usage of plastic bags but also their manufacture. Some nations have taken steps towards the actualization of these much needed change by charging consumers for plastic bags which has seen their usage reduce by 90% in countries such as Ireland.
Kenya has joined this environment champions band wagon by finally effecting the plastic bags ban this year. Many Kenyans thought that the ban would never see the light of day when the current environment minister issued the six months’ notice in March 2017.Kenyan manufacturers moved to court to oppose the ban on the grounds that it would lead to loss of employment for thousands of Kenyans and also major losses on their end. The courts however subscribed to the bigger picture of saving our planet from pollution and okay-ed the ban.
There was a hullabaloo in Kenya created by unpreparedness on the part of both the consumers and the retailers for the move from plastic bags to other alternative means of packaging. Packaging bags at the onset of the ban were rare and expensive. This created a market gap and a business opportunity for individuals or companies that would come up with the cheapest packaging bag to replace the plastic bags. Consumers have found themselves on crossroads and have had to go back to carrying reusable shopping bags with them as they go for shopping as supermarkets and merchandisers are currently charging as high Ksh. 25 and Ksh. 35 per bag. This means one could end up spending a lot of money on the bags which for low income earners could take up to 5% of their income.
Budding entrepreneurs need to take this opportunity and find a way of producing bags made from sisal and other recyclable material at a cheap cost. This will enable them to sell to consumers at a cheap more negligible price. Their profit margins could be realized from selling the bags in bulk.
Plastic bags are currently used to line bins in home, store food items in the refrigerator and plastic carrier bags for shopping. This is the niche that has been left void by the ban and if one is smart enough to find a climate friendly way to fill it they will reap major benefits by making money and becoming climate champions.

Beautiful 'Kiondos'
Beautiful ‘Kiondos’

Items such as ‘Kiondos’ which are associated with our grandmothers in the village should now get our attention. Africans on independence were quick to leave behind their culture for the new European trends. Yet white people have gone on to appropriate our culture and patent our African designs and items like the ‘Kiondo’. It is time we young people saw the big business opportunity in this ban. The ‘Kiondo’ is currently retailing at premium prices of Ksh 1000 to Ksh.1500 equivalent to about 10 dollars making it cost intensive for most consumers. If one found a way to  mass produce such items at a cheaper cost and in turn lower the products selling prices to make them affordable to the ‘common mwananchi’ they will not only create employment for themselves and other young Kenyans, they will also become climate champions by default.

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