My uncle healed himself, until he couldn’t

I remember it vividly. It was December 2012, and there on a cold, grey mortuary slab, lay my mother’s eldest brother.

My uncle the herbalist, a tall, kind man with an angular face, who had had a smiling face and funny stories about his role in our independence struggle.

He knew all about medicinal roots, leaves, barks, flowers and grasses. Once, when I was ill, he brought me the ground bark of an indigenous tree whose name I don’t recall. It made me well again.

One day he couldn’t heal himself, and he had to go to hospital. He never left.


#LosingMyself #FindingTheMagic

Today, I had a strange experience. I was in a roomful of sweetpotato scientists, including three of the winners of the 2016 World Food Prize (surprised that I know some very important people? Don’t be).

So, the strange experience: Someone said something about the media, and the first image that came to my mind was a tissue culture lab, shelves lined with rows of transparent test tubes. Inside them, tiny, green plantlets sitting delicately inside the nutrient media. Turns out the speaker was talking about photos and video repositories. I had to reboot.

“What am I turning in to?” I wondered.

“Hamsters seem pretty dumb running in their wheel”

There’s this person who comes up with the weirdest thoughts, which he feels compelled to share on Facebook. His name is Tigana.

I was trying not to succumb to the afternoon heat. I was losing. Three cups of water, two cups of hot over-sweetened black tea, two chapatis, a handful of groundnuts… nothing was working. It wasn’t Monday blues either (whatever that means). Continue reading

Rain, rain go away

Everybody likes the rain. Well, not me. As soon as the water hits the ground, I’m racked by uncontrollable coughing fits. I don’t know why people say the smell of wet soil is like perfume to the senses. It’s excruciating.

I don’t like wet, sticky, brown mud. Children play in it. Piglets wallow in it. I’d rather jump over it and move on to cleaner things.

Some say that the sound of rain on the rooftop is like a gentle lullaby. I disagree. Water drops on the palm fronds outside my window keep me awake with worries of intruders.

See me as you wish, and I’ll see myself for what I really am

Quotation mark copyStereotype – a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

A slender, dark-skinned, seemingly exhausted policemen stops our car somewhere along the Mombasa – Nairobi highway. He asks to see my driving license. I reach for my handbag, pull out my wallet, extract the document and hand it over to him. He flips it open, gives it a cursory glance and says, “I want you to give me your own licence.” I reply, “That is my driving license, would you like me to show you my identity card so that you can confirm?” He responds in the affirmative and I oblige. He looks at my identity card, and repeats that he wants to see my own documents. I’m confused. I start to explain, “See… I am the exact same person in those documents. I was 18 years old when I got those. I also cut my hair.” Continue reading