RSS

Is The Car You’re Driving A Fraud?

Kariuki

Did you know that an estimated 90% of used cars being sold in Kenya have their odometers (mileage meter) tampered with?

Well, these statistics are not scientific. I obtained them from representatives of two separate car dealers in Nairobi. They both surmised that 90% of used cars are tampered with before being sold off to unsuspecting motorists.

If you are plotting to buy a used car in the near future, please read on. You, too, if you already bought a car.

By law, a used car being imported is supposed to be inspected based upon documents from the country of origin. This documentation is usually accurate and reliable.

Upon being inspected by contracted agents such as the ever reliable JEVIC, the car’s general condition is ascertained and published. The car’s make, chassis number, odometer reading, etc. are also logged and registered with KEBS. This is a condition not just for…

View original post 468 more words

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 9, 2017 in Resources, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags:

#WATWB: Raped and Stabbed on the Wedding Day

While crawling the blogosphere for daily tidbits, I came across a story about a group of writers who came up with the idea of shining some light to the darkness of negativity hogging social media. At the end of every month, members share uplifting stories on “We Are The World” Blogfest. Stories that show all is not lost and that there’s so much positivity in the world; people who go out of their way to make the world a better place or those who’ve been through heartrending ordeals but found the courage to rise up again. 

One such person is Terry Gobanga.

One beautiful day Terry was preparing for what she thought would be a memorable day ahead. Well, memorable it was but not in a way she anticipated. Terry was abducted on the morning of her wedding day, raped, stabbed and left for dead. All this happened while the groom, family and guests were already assembled in a church waiting for her anxiously.

During her hospitalisation, doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to have any children of her own because the stab wound she suffered on her stomach had penetrated her uterus. At this point it seemed the world was collapsing on her. 

Her groom, Harry, stood by her through the ordeal, insisting he still wanted to marry and take care of her. He kept his word and seven months later he walked her down the aisle in a wedding catered for by a rape survivor and her friends.

This is the point at which you’d probably think all is well that ends well. Not so, Terry lost her husband to carbon monoxide poisoning, almost dying along with him, after the jiko (charcoal stove) he had lit to keep them warm filled their bedroom with the toxic fumes.
Despite being a pastor, she felt God had forsaken her. People thought and said she was cursed. She swore she would never get married again. She was depressed.

Nevertheless, a friend of hers never gave up and kept visiting and comforting her. After a while he fell for her and told her he wanted them to be husband and wife. Terry tried to dissuade him in account of her dark past and inability to bear children but he had made up his mind. He married her and they miraculously had children.

Terry wrote a book about the ordeal, Crawling Out of Darkness, and started an organization, Kara Olmurani, that offers rape survivors support and counselling.
Read Terry’s full story here

This month’s We Are The World Blogfest cohosts Lynn HollbrooksSylvia SteinSylvia McGrath and Belinda witzenhausen welcome all to join and share uplifing stories via the #WATWB blogfest.

Click here to become part of the community

 
10 Comments

Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Lifestyle, News, True Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation

So today I dove deep into my legacy email account to look for some info and by chance I stumbled upon this great piece my sister had sent. I don’t think she even remembers it but it is a great piece. I hope the words encourage you to live a better life.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Don’t let someone become a priority in your life,
when you are just an option in his/her life……………

Relationships work best when they are balanced,

Never explain yourself to anyone.
Because the person who likes you doesn’t need it,
and the person who dislikes you won’t believe it.

When you keep saying you are busy,
then you are never free.

When you keep saying you have no time,
then you will never have time.

When you keep saying that you will do it tomorrow,
then your tomorrow will never come.

When we wake up in the morning, we have two simple choices.
Go back to sleep and dream, or wake up and chase those dreams.

We make them cry who care for us.
We cry for those who never care for us.
And we care for those who will never cry for us.

This is the truth of life, it’s strange but true.
Once you realize this, it never too late to change.

Don’t make promise when you are in joy.
Don’t reply when you are sad.
Don’t take decisions when you are angry

Think twice….., Act wise.

Time is like a river.
You cannot touch the same water twice,
because the flow that has passed will never pass again.

Enjoy every moment of life….

First I was dying to finish my high school and start college
and then I will be dying to finish college and start working
then I will be dying to marry and have children, and then I will be
dying for my children to grow old enough so I could go back
to work. But then I will be dying to retire. And then I will  die
suddenly and  realize that I forgot to live.

Please don’t let this happen to you, appreciate your current
situation and enjoy each day.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Inspiration, Short Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

​Latest Sheng Words And Their Meanings

Sheng has baffled many outsiders due to its dynamic nature. Every generation comes up with new words and phrases that render those of yesterday irrelevant. If you move out of Eastlands, Nairobi, say for 2 years or so, believe you me when you come back the language will have changed to an extent you’ll have a hard time keeping up with conversations.

Earlier linguistic scholars predicted a premature death for the tongue, but it has defied the test of time. Growing to become the unofficial lingo of Kenyan ghettoes. Scholars have written numerous papers about it, yet, they haven’t been able to state with finality whether it is vernacular, pidgin, creole, standard, classical, or lingua franca. 

Conversions in Facebook pages where cops, going by the monikers Hessy wa Kayole, Hessy wa Dandora etc, have taken the war against crime (precipitated by the likes of Gaza and Mauki crime families) in Eastlando have many bewildered. And that is the basis of sheng, to keep those who don’t understand the language out of the convos in Kayole Crime Free, Dandora Crime Free, Dandora Love People, Eastlando Crime Free, Kayole My Kingdom: Together We Can Make It A Safe Place. Here are latest sheng words you are likely to encounter in the groups and their definitions.
Banka – Crib/House

Bitson – Beating

Chuom – Alley

Gafe – Cigarette

Gendi – Matatu

Gwangi/Stepa/Dingo – Gangster

Hasapa – Here

Kushandwa – Get Shot

Mabanga/Mavedi – Cops

Maunenge/Kinenge – Hunger pangs

Mauru – Bad boy/girl

Maweng – Money

Mbekse – Two

Mble/Mbleina/Fafude – Fool

Mbogi – Group/Crew

Mbulu – T.V.

Mitiech – Hoods

Moshatha – Upcountry

Ndeng’a/Chrome/Itoka – Gun

Ngiavati – Chapati

Ngono – Cart

Ngwai – Tea 

Nyai/Pona – Steal 

Nyuria – Die 

Pinchi – Pick pocket

Pori – Wallet/Pocket

Rada – Understand/be alert

Riba – story

Ridhe – Bullet

Rombosa – Dance

Shandwa – Get shot 

Tenje – Phone

Tonje – Laptop

Tutu – Coward

P.S: Note that sheng differs slightly from hood to hood. Add more that I haven’t included.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Lifestyle, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Beyond Shades: Part 12

Holidays

Christine was at her usual spot, looking all serious and ready to pick a fight. This I was not going to offer her, I promised myself.

“Hey, so what’s up?” I inquired as I sank down next to her, faking a cheerful disposition.

“Everything.” She shot back, not pretending to be civil for a moment.

“Okay, you can start by telling me how your day has been.”

“Well, it’s been okay. Been lazing away and thinking of all the exciting things am gonna do  at home.” She replied, changing her countenance to a more welcoming one.

“Like?”

“Well. It’s a lot to spell out right now. But generally I’ll be seeing long lost relatives. Wedding things nini.”

“Okay.”

“How about you?” She inquired, cocking her head to one side amorously.

“uummm…I don’t know. I may not go at all. Or, I’ll travel the last week. I replied.

“Oh, I see. You don’t miss your folks or something?” She inquired, looking surprised.

I told her I do miss them but had to be objective. I needed to make some money in anticipation of January. Of course I didn’t tell her this but January is always a tough month and I knew it would be made tougher by the fact that 2 of my younger siblings were in their final year at high school and the parents had no viable source of income. 

From her description, I could figure it out that she came from one huge close-knit family. Social events were a big deal and anniversaries involved the whole extended clan. The same can’t be said of my folks. Each family prefers to keep to themselves, save for one or two members who pretend to care about the rest but immediately backbites them the moment they’re out of sight. The extended family only comes together on momentous occasions like in sickness or a death in the family. And I have grown to like the set up. No family drama and stuff. The only downside is when one needs help, like in fundraising or stuff. Very few bother to chip in, hence few choose to air their problems to the rest because it will be most likely a point of ridicule rather than a rally for help. 

I think this has largely impacted my demeanor. I mostly keep to myself and large social gatherings really drain me. Anyways, back to the matter at hand, we had exhausted the small talk and each was engrossed in their own thoughts. I couldn’t keep up this any longer and so asked Christine why the urgent summon.

“We’ve been friends for a better part of the semester, do I need a special reason to say bye to you in person.” She asked matter-of-factly. Making me kind of guilty.

“No, of course not. Sorry, didn’t mean for it to come out that way.”

“Ok, whatever” she said rolling her eye, I hated that.

“Edwin, what are we?” She shot, catching me by surprise.

“What do you mean?”

“C’mon, you know what I mean. Are we just friends, lovers or what? I mean, sometimes we act like lovers and at times we’re total strangers. The thing is, the holiday is long and I want to go with a clear mind. We’re adults now and we need to stop playing this game. I don’t want you to waste my time, neither do I want to waste yours.”

I wanted to tell her there was nothing like love between us anymore, not on my part. The part of me that felt anything for her was long smothered by Sonia’s warm and incredible personality. I didn’t voice these thoughts. Couldn’t find the right words, or didn’t have the guts to do so. I kept quiet for a while, looking for a way to articulate my thoughts so I didn’t come across as hurtful or anything. Christine was the sensitive sort; despite the tough façade she was putting up.

“well?” She startled me.

“Yea, yea. I totally get your point. The thing is, there’s a lot going on my mind right now and I can’t….”

“You can’t what? Make up your mind on who between me and the mhindi chic you should date?” She interjected.

“Christine Listen, you’ve been a good friend to me and I really appreciate that. But then I don’t think I would love you the way you deserve to be loved.”

“There! I knew it! Once that bitch showed up you and I were as good as done. You never even made the effort to make it work.” She was now shouting hysterically, attracting unnecessary attenton from other students in the hall.    

“And guess what, you’re not going to consign me to your friendzone, so forget even telling me we can just be good friends!” She shot as she stood up and left in a huff.

I didn’t try to follow her because of the spectacle we were creating. Besides, it was good for both of us that ties were severed with finality. I watched the news for a while but then got up and made for the room. I climbed to my bunk, lay face up and sighed heavily. It’s finally over, I smiled to myself, happy that the storm was over. Now I could focus on Sonia without having to look over my back or fear that she might stumble upon a suggestive text that would blow her fuse. Not that she was the type but you can never be too sure.

I called Sonia but it appeared she was in the middle of something serious because she hastily said she would call back and hang up, I didn’t even get to okay. I jumped down from the bed, unhooked my jacket from behind the door and headed to the pub next door to watch some football match. Swaleh and Rashid had already secured a strategic table in one of the corners. I sauntered over and took an empty seat next to Rashid. “He’s a hater anyway,” I brushed off Rashid when he tried to tell me the seat was Johnny’s. The match, it was between Bayern Munich and my beloved Manchester United by the way, was captivating enough that I thought of nothing else the entire 90+ minutes it lasted. We cheered wildly as Man Utd trashed Bayern despite Sir Fergie starting a makeshift side that provided zero motivation before kickoff. That geezer was a genius and it’ll take long before Man Utd find another like him.

On the final whistle we made our way back to our room, sore-throated but boisterous all the same. Swaleh, being the noisiest after a little imbibing, banged on the open door and slapped the cupboards. Johnny and Jimmy got up, ready to swallow him for interrupting their young sleep.

“We won motherfuckers!” He tried shouting, only for a croak to come out of his throat.

We all laughed and Johnny tried to water down the excitement with the usual antics of a hater. But we outnumbered him and he resignedly pulled covers over his head. Jimmy on the other hand sat still and said nothing for a while. He then shook his head from side to side and made a snide remark. We brushed him off and started reliving the highlights of the match like we were trying to tell someone who didn’t watch the match how it all went down. One by one we drifted off and the room got silent, save for a snore here or a fart there.

The following day we got up early and made it for Fig Tree Ngara, a market place that’s a stone throw away from the hostels. There, Jimmy and Rashid introduced me to the hustle we’d be on for the next two or three days. I helped them get the merchandise, mostly ladies’ sweater tops, and set up base at an unmarked point. Every trader had his or her own spot. There were invisible boundaries mutually known to the rest and no one trespassed onto another’s territory. Jimmy had already started calling out for customers as Rashid taught me how to turn the boxes used to carry the garments into a makeshift table.

“Sweater tops na mia mbili, sweater tops na mia mbili!” Jimmy would blare wherever a potential customer passed near the spot. Soon Rashid joined him and they formed one poor duet but got the job done because soon enough one or two ladies would come over, go through the garments and walk away, or make the purchase. I tried to join in the calling but it felt awkward, somewhat embarrassing at first. This went on for about a week and soon enough I caught up and could also call customers and convince them to make purchases. In the evening we’d carefully fold the remaining garments, pack them in the box and take them to a store nearby. We’d then take the day’s sales to the owner after deducting our pay. After which we’d head over to Mama Karis’ for supper.

I told Sonia of my new hustle, she congratulated me and promised to pass by and ‘promote’ us. And pass by she did, in the company of Raj. We embraced warmly and I shook hands with Raj solidly, like two guys who are trying to be civil to each other would, not like old buddies. We had grown distant with time as soon as Sonia and I became lovebirds. She picked five tops, gave a crisp a thousand bob note and left with her brother, winking and promising to call later on. 

Weekends were now more fun, with freedom from classes and the steady flow of income from the hustle. Our relationship had progressed to the extent we no longer felt awkward holding hands in public or teasing each other amid stares from people. 

Mom often called to ask when I would travel and that she missed me. Dad on the other hand would ask what I was doing in Nairobi instead of being with the rest of the family. Three weeks into the holidays I decided to travel. Back at homes life was dreary compared to the city’s hustle and bustle. I’d wake up at six but there being nothing to do I would go back to bed, sleepless. During the day my brother and I would walk over to the nearby shopping center to charge phones, watch soccer or just while away time as we caught up with old friends. In some evenings all of us, sometimes dad included, would gather to play cards. Or at times sample music but dad would appear and everyone would scamper to their respective rooms to pretend to be studying. I would be left alone because somehow I was beyond the point of being forced to study. Which was a relief because my high school days were hell. Dad didn’t ever want to see me outside. It so happed that whenever I felt like going out for air or to answer nature’s calls, that was the time he was also coming back from his errands.

“What is wrong with you, do you even sit for a moment?” He would bark. My pleas that I was studying the whole time he was away would fall on deaf ears.

“Ati you were going to the toilet, kwani you go to the toilet every minute? Get back inside, kumbaff!” he would bellow as I deftly dodged a hell of a wack. I would go back inside seething with anger. I would then lock the door, fish out those large novels, 800 pages or so, and pore over them to drown my misery. Dad loved maths and wanted me to make it my favourite subject as well. This actually made me hate it even more. The often need to sink into novels to drown my misery gradually made me love literature. I didn’t discriminate on genres or any basis used to classify it. James Hardley Chase, Wilbur Smith, Okot p’Bitek, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Sam Aryeetey, Elechi Amadi, Peter Abrahams, Ngugi wa Thion’go, etc… They all became my icons, providing an escape from reality into the fictional worlds they penned. 

The bitter and harsh maths teacher I had back in Bondeni Primary, Kayole, had already laid a fertile foundation for me to hate it. She was the harshest, most bitter human I have ever encountered. She would hurl ethnic insults at pupils from tribes she had no love for. Her beating was out of this world. The fact that she knew my uncle was the head teacher in that school made it even worse. At times I think she made me a punching bag to massage her ego from whatever bruises she picked from her sour relationship with the head teacher. I only found respite when we relocated upcountry and enrolled in a local school, Keburunga Primary (whoever came up with the names), where everyone knew who was whose kid, et al. Looking back, at times I wonder how such bitter and nasty people are entrusted with the responsibility of nurturing young souls. The psychological trauma suffered on that woman’s hands made me hate women so much at some point. Thankfully that’s all in the past now, but I will never forgive you Mrs. Githwe.

 It was terrible. Looking in retrospect I realize dad had the best of intentions as a parent. He wanted his kids to study hard and become successful in life. And one day I hope we’ll be successful and make the old man smile all the way to his sunset.

Sonia used to call every now and then but I kept our relationship a secret. I come from a very reserved family and it wouldn’t have sat well with my dad that I was dating in college. To him that would spell deviation from the main purpose he sent me to school; studies and studies only. The week flew by, schools were reopened and it was time to get back. Just like I knew, finances became a challenge. I stayed one more week after the rest had left to see if my parents would come by any cash, all in vain.

On the second week I left without the cash, dad promising to send something to calm down the administrators as he figured a way out. Guys had already started attending classes though most lecturers were yet to assume duties. So it was mostly private studying for the bookworms and reliving holiday escapades for the rest. It is on one of those easy afternoons that Sonia called and asked me to meet up at the grocery stalls at the Parklands-Ngara intersection. I readily headed over, given that I sorely missed her and there was nothing much to do. I got there, looked around but couldn’t see her at the spot she said I would find her. I called and heard her phone’s ringtone a few steps behind me. She was partly obscured by a lady of Asian descent, probably in her late thirties, who stood behind her as she bent over a fruit rack selecting some mangoes. I hang up and went towards them as she glanced at her phone and looked up scanning the crowd curiously. I waved as I approached and her curious face melted into warm recognition. She hugged me casually then introduced us. The lady turned out to be her aunt. The lady smiled warmly as she extended her arm.

“Pleased to meet you, Sonia talks so fondly of you…I now see why.” She noted smiling coyly.

“Pleasure is all mine.” I responded shaking her hand. I was taken aback by her warm reaction. I expected her to be less forgiving, like her older folks. After the niceties I accompanied them around as they shopped for groceries enough to feed an army. They lived in a colony so no surprises here. A young guy they had probably hired as a porter silently trotted behind them pushing a wheelbarrow laded with the groceries. We got to her aunt’s car and the young man offloaded the fruits into a crate in the trunk. Meanwhile the aunt, can’t remember her tongue twister of a name, fished a paper bag from somewhere and randomly threw this or that fruit into it. Sonia pulled me aside and expressed how much she had missed me yada yada. Before long everything was loaded into the trunk, the aunt paid the porter and stood by the driver’s door impatiently twirling her car keys. We said our byes and I turned to wave to her aunt, who instead beckoned me over.

“Hey, don’t tell me am that intimidating, don’t I receive proper bye from my in-law?” Was I white am sure my face would have turned visibly pink.

“Here, this is for you. Hope to see you more often. Take care now.” She said as she handed me the paper bag, got in the car and closed the door before I could protest or mouth appreciation. Sonia smiled mischievously as she blew me a kiss and got into the car and they left. I turned and made for the hostels where my ever hungry pack descended on the fruits with gusto.

Later that night I tried to call Sonia to express my, rather our, belated gratitude but the call was not going through. Weak network signal maybe, I thought to myself as I tried to call once more in vain. When I finally managed to get to her she sounded hoarse, like someone who had just woken up or was crying.

Heey, what’s up? You don’t sound too good.” I asked concerned.

“Am fine, will tell you more about it later.” She said exhaling audibly.

“No, you’re not fine. What’s the matter dear?” I persisted impatiently.

She didn’t say anything for a while. I only knew she was on the line because I could hear breath.

“Let me call you back in a moment love.” She said and hang up.

I looked at the phone and indeed she had hang up, spinning my mind into a frenzy, trying to figure out what had happened to her. Was she sick, had they lost someone in the family? Hundreds of questions raced through my mind but only she could answer them. I called Raj and asked him if Sonia was alright. He said she was but from the tone of his voice I could tell something serious was up and he wasn’t forthright with me. I wished I could go over to their place but I knew it would be a foolish idea. She said she’d call back so I had so sit back and wait, however arduous it seemed.    

  
   

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Fiction, Short Stories, Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

10 Apps Every Smartphone Owner Should Install

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous that they are no longer used for just calling and texting. They now literally run our lives, from alarms, planners, fitness, data sheets, entertainment, you name it.

At the center of all this functionality are apps. Think of them like a workman’s tools. I can bet my life that whatever you want done, there’s an app for it. You just need to scour app stores and you’ll be amazed that there are apps to help you eat, sleep, even think.

That said, it won’t be practical to download every app you fancy just for the sake of it. You therefore need to have apps that definitely make your life better. And on that regard, here are ten I think everyone should have. Note that am not listing specific apps but rather their functionality. While it would be nice to sound out specific apps, there is need to recognize that there are different platforms (iOS, Android, Tizen, Simbian, Blackberry, Amazon, Fire OS etc) and some apps are not availble across all the platforms. Besides, there are hundreds, or even thousands, of apps for each function.

Financial Services
Digital revolution has ensured that you manage your finances from the comfort of wherever you are. The case is not better exemplified anywhere else than here in Kenya. M-PESA sparked a mobile money revolution that has seen financial  institutions shift operations from brick and mortar settings to mobile. Evey bank worth their salt has a mobile app through which you can buy airtime, pay for goods and services, withdraw and deposit cash and get statements. If your bank doesn’t have a mobile app then you need to reevaluate your relationship with them. While others argue that they encourage impulsive use, we all got to agree that the convenience is worth it, in most cases.

Social
media

It’s the bane of good and bad. Some blame it for catalysing social evils while others can’t help but marvel at its usefulness. Social media has led to crime while at the same time its been useful in combatting it. It has enthroned leaders and dethroned others (think the Arab uprising). It therefore suffices to say it’s a necessary evil. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram (god, Zuckerberg has taken over our lives) among others, allow us to keep in touch with loved ones and enemies. They are instrumental in reuniting long lost friends and relatives, stalking exe(s), providing important updates, running campaigns and dating. Heck, fundraisers are now run via WhatsApp groups!! Of importance though, is responsible use.

Browser

Everyone goes to the internet like a million times in a day, at a minimum. You therefore cannot afford to not have a decent mobile browser installed. While most smartphones ship with okay stock browsers, they’re just that, okay. You can revamp your browsing experience by downloading a browser that compresses data for faster loading speeds and savings on mobile data costs. A decent browser should also be able to save pages for offline reading, have smooth copy/paste functionality, have tabs and if possible, have a QR reader for those QR codes on product magazines.

Messaging

Of course these are among core apps that come with a phone. However, they have restrictions such as text length and no. of recipients.  Third party messaging apps will allow you to send longer massages, attach media files and documents and in some cases make audio/video calls.

Notes

When I said smartphones run our lives I meant in every aspect, not excluding note taking. You are in a meeting and you need to take down some really useful info. But, you don’t have a pen and a notebook because nobody, except scribes, walks around with those, it’s the 21st century (men will agree mostly because we don’t walk around with purses and gigantic handbags). The note app on your phone will save the day, if your phone has one. While most devices come with a stock notes app, I bet it lacks some core features such as adding reminders, highliting or changing fonts and color.

Dictionary

You’re going through an awesomely worded blog post but then the author throws in some gargantuan words and jargon that throws you off course. At this point, you have to swallow your pride and accept ‘kisungu apana mdomo yetu.’ Or better still, you’re trying to show your crush you’re exposed and learned by throwing some glittery words from the Queen’s tongue. Problem is, you’re just but a common John and the most sophisticated word you can come up with is ‘juxtapose.’ Whatever the case, a dictionary (preferably an offline one) comes in handy.

Bible/Quran

Every one of us, everyone except atheists of course, wants to be close to the creator and walk in His path. Nonetheless we are unable to because of mahangaiko na shughuli za kila siku. So you only get to read the holy scripture in sacred premises, fresh from church/mosque, when you want to verify some damning statements a preacher is blaring on a roadside crusade or when faced with challenges your human ability cannot overcome. Not having a Bible/Quran close by can be an excuse, but not when you have a smartphone and can download it and refer whenever wherever.

EBook

You probably love your reads but find it cumbersome carrying paperback copies around at the expense of being labelled a snob or pretender. Your smartphone comes in handy here as well. Any notable book has a digitized version somewhere in the web. All you have to do is download Kindle or any other e-reader and get to read it at your convenience. E-readers are also handy in the sense that they make bookmarking and note taking much easier. Not to mention giving you the ability to search text.

On the same note, is a PDF an e-book? Let me know in the comments section.

Media player

Most smartphones come with stock media players, both audio and video. Unfortunately, most of them don’t play all media formats, forcing you to look for third party ones. Other than having codecs to play a wide variety of formats, third party media players come with extra features to enhance your entertainment experience. For instance, try MX Player to understand my point.

File manager

This should be obvious but for some reason stock file managers lack basic features like changing default  storage location or even search capability. Third party file managers are packed with extra features such as app management, phone management, media players etc. Unless you get a good file manager such as ES Explorer, you may not understand how much you’re missing out.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Lifestyle, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , ,

A Day as a Casual Laborer

If there are folks who are overworked and underappreciated, it’s got to be manual laborers. Everyone complains of being overworked and underpaid; from teachers to nurses, bank tellers to janitors. Nonetheless, laborers bear the brunt on a more grandiose scale.
Sometime back, a buddy of mine tipped me of an opening in Kisii Bottlers. The management at the Coca-Cola bottler was offering an opportunity for university students to make a coin alongside getting vital skills in a real-life business environment. Being the opportunist I am, I joined the group, along with my close friends Hassan and Mark, who I call Mnyitanga for his Luhya blood ties, physique and appetite to match. He calls me the same because of the jokes we make in Luhya accent.
On day one we had to get around the usual red tape characteristic of third-world corporate setups. At the gate, mean-looking ‘soldiers’ inquired why we were there, did we have an appointment bla bla fishcake. I lied that the HR manager was aware we were coming, if he could just give him a ring to confirm. Isn’t it amazing how mentioning a firm’s senior person’s name open doors for you? Just be sure to be confident about it though. I prayed that the damn guard wouldn’t go ahead and make the call. Hassan’s sharp dressing also made matters easier. Dude was dressed to the nines, must have thought we were reporting for an office job or something.
Hurdle one was cleared and we were led to the reception, where we were received by a middle aged lady who didn’t want to let go of her younger years. Thankfully, she was very kind and ready to assist. I explained we were there to join our colleagues from the university who had been recruited the previous week.
“Oh, the university students. Hold on a sec.” She said picking up a desk phone and punching some numbers.
After a few ‘ahs’ ’ohs’ and ‘oks’, she asked if we had the contact of the student who had been appointed group leader. Another stumbling block because the only student I knew was Milly, my cousin. I told her nay. She contemplated for a while then asked who else we knew. I told her there was a lady in the group called Milly. She was called and once she expressed familiarity we were let off the hook. Next we had to see some supervisor who would then assign us work. The old mzee, obviously working past retirement, told us to join some group that was in a different section.  We promptly headed there and found some familiar and unfamiliar faces. Most of the guys were not happy to see us and made a poor job of trying to hide their true dispositions. They were cleaning a warehouse floor, we looked at each other, grabbed moppers and joined them.
“So how do you guys work here and how are you remunerated?” Hassan asked no one in particular.
“Well, depends on what work is available. For instance we load sodas to trucks. Payment is calculated in accordance with the total number of packs loaded times 85 cents divided by the number of people.” Atuya volunteered.
People are still paid in cents in this century? I wondered.
“You guys will need to be in a reflector jackets though, get some gloves too” Willis, the group leader told us.
“Where do we get those?” I asked him.
“Go to Jane’s office, she’s a clerk in the HR’s office.” He replied.
“I think you should go get them the gear, given you are the leader.” Atuya was proving to be friendlier than the rest of the lot.
Willis agreed grudgingly but never went for them, giving this or that excuse. Atuya later confided to us that the reason for the cold shoulder treatment we were receiving is because we were increasing the group’s number, therefore decreasing the amount of money each individual would make. They tried several tactics to exclude us but we hanged on tight until a supervisor from another section of the plant came and asked for some guys. We happily left the group to form a new one.
In the course of the next few days we were tasked with various menial jobs, like breaking scuffed bottles into cullets, crating (getting new bottles from bales and placing them into crates) among others. Eventually we got used to other members of the casual workforce and life normalized.
One day, while seated under a shade waiting for an assignment, Mrefu, or Mgenge, as we used to refer to him, came over to us, all sweaty and panting.
“Hey guys, seems you don’t have any job today.” He remarked panting.
“Not yet, we are waiting for some trailers to bring some bottles for crating.” Hassan told him.
“Great, there’s a trailer that has just come in with some products and it needs to be offloaded. We are a bit short in manpower, mind lending a hand?”
“Not at all, we came here to work bwana.” Hassan said as he rose up and I followed suit.
We got to Sansora, the section of the plant where plastic bottle soft drinks and bottled water are kept. Indeed the trailer was already parked along the entrance of one of the warehouses and the guys were standing there clueless on how to proceed. They beamed on seeing us, especially Hassan, because he was stronger and bigger. We organized ourselves into a human chain and got ready to start offloading. I looked at Milly and wondered whether she would manage.
“Nini Edu?” She had obviously caught my eye.
“Hakuna, na si hii umaskini itatumaliza?” I joked.
“Wacha tu.” She remarked.
“Are you guys over there ready!?” Mnyitanga asked, to which we responded affirmatively.
Charles, a.k.a ‘ the User’ (the story of how he got the nickname is as hilarious as it can get but I’d have to bribe him to tell it) had already peeled the tarpaulin from the trailer’s body. The amount of packs in the trailer was daunting. 2-liter packs were the most. I swallowed hard and told myself ‘mwanaume ni effort.’ Within no time User had thrown the first pack to Mnyitanga. The ease with which he did it only encouraged me; you see, User was the slender, bony type. Mark threw the pack to the next in line and in no time it was sent flying my way. I hadn’t anticipated how heavy it would be and the weight nearly knocked me off balance. Not that am weak but this is a six-pack of 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola we are talking about. I heaved it and threw it over to the next guy in line who nearly dropped it; protesting that I hadn’t thrown it properly.
“Mnyitanga, hii kitu unashikeko hifi, alafu unarusheko namna hifi.” Mnyitanga demonstrated as he sent the pack flying with deceiving ease.  Soon I got the ropes of the game and we continued without incident. People started getting tired after a while of catching and sending the packs flying.
“Stop throwing that pack like a woman bwana!” Hassan growled, going after a pack that had slipped from his grasp while dodging another that almost bashed his skull.
“Hey, hey! Stop right there! Don’t’ ruin the product or you will pay for it.” The old man supervising us shouted from his high stool.
Rawson took advantage of the momentary lapse, dodged behind a pallet full of Fanta Orange crates. Psssst! Went the sound of escaping gas and in about 10 seconds he tossed an empty 500ml bottle back into a crate and was back in line, wiping his mouth and looking around innocently.
“Leteni maji bwana!” He shouted, obviously replenished. I waited for an opportunity to quench my thirst as well but none forth came. The hawk-eyed old man was now observing us more keenly, perhaps suspecting some truancy.
I looked over at the trailer to see if we had made any progress; we were not even a quarter way and my chest was already burning. I cursed and got back into line. We continued working like an old machine that needed service; occasional drops here, a click or curse there. Someone farted and sent us all laughing derisively. Some packs were dropped, someone shrieked in pain after being hit with an oncoming missile. Paying attention in this setup was mandatory. I took advantage of the momentary lapse and tried to look around for water; I found none. What an irony, I wondered as I licked my dry lips. My stomach growled from the sight of thousands of stacks of bottled water.
“Wewe, ebu rudini line, nobody wants to sleep here.” Willis remarked.
It was now 3pm, 1hour 30 minutes since we started offloading the trailer, and we were only approaching the half mark. I sighed and got back in line. Another episode of rocking back and forth, catching and throwing and panting like tired asses. Douglas, the guy before me, sent a pack the wrong way and it painfully hit my chest.
“Dougy bana!” I growled at him, red-eyed and spitting venom. He mumbled a barely audible ‘sorry’ as he wiped sweat from his brow. Milly was tired beyond redemption and had switched positions. She was now arranging the packs, another demanding task but which she managed nonetheless. It got to a point where I could no longer work with Douglas, so positions were switched and someone else assumed his place.
Guys were now so tired that everyone had gone silent. With a quarter of the load to go, my chest was burning. My saliva was thick and tasted of blood and I would get occasional cramps in my stomach. My biceps were sore and my legs were threatening not to support my weight any more. User kept going like he had just started, I wondered where he got the strength. Willis now had a blank, haunted stare. Mnyitanga got so tired that he dropped off the line, sat on a crate and hang his head resignedly. Milly was nowhere to be seen. Hassan was all drenched in sweat but kept going, am sure he felt like giving up but couldn’t because it would be embarrassing given his size and apparent strength. I wanted to drop off too but hanged on stubbornly, against my tired bones’ will. I wanted to prove wrong those who thought I was too weak for the job.
“Bichana chikaseni bwana, mko karibu kumarisa.” The old man encouraged.
We toiled along. I was now working on auto-pilot; arms swinging back and forth mechanically. We were now offloading half-liter packs of Dasani but the fatigue made them heavy nonetheless. I silently thanked User for starting with the 2 liters because I would have bowed out were they still in line to be offloaded. The last pack was thrown and placed in the stack meticulously. Everyone picked their belongings and made for the exit. It was now 5pm.
“An invoice has just come in, there is a truck to be loaded. Will you guys manage? The supervisor asked.
I looked at him with murderous eyes, luckily the question wasn’t directed at me.
“Sure, give us five minutes to catch a breath.” User replied.
I dragged my feet to a nearby tap, put my skull under the jet of cold water and got myself properly drenched. Hassan caught up with me.
“We were looking for work, we have now found it.” He joked.
I smiled at him sickly, too weak to even laugh.
“Are you going to load that truck?” I asked him.
“Sure, I’ll just pick my bag and head back” He said sarcastically.
We made our way towards the gate but the old man spotted us.
“Hey, you two. Where are you headed? Get back here, it’s not yet time.” He commanded
“The HR manager wants to see us, we’ll be back in a moment.” I told him with a straight face.
I winked at a guard whom we had befriended earlier and he corroborated the story. The old man told us to get back quick and we headed down to the main section of the plant. We wanted to leave immediately but could not sign out because it was about an hour too early. We made our way to the main production factory which also doubled as a warehouse. We dodged the CCTV cameras and made our way to a secluded spot among stacks of pallets loaded with crates of empty bottles. Hassan pulled two bottles of soda from a dark recess where we had hidden them earlier. I cleared the contents in my bottle in an instant and lied back to regain some energy. Hassan was barely halfway with his.
“Stop drinking that soda as if you are in a kiosk, we may get caught.” I told Hassan. He laughed uncontrollably then tried to gulp quickly; almost getting choked. You see, it was illegal to take soda within the factory premises. If you thirsted for some you had to go to the discounted canteen. Willis tried to call us later on but we lied that we had been assigned some task. There was no way I was going to do any more work that day.
I calculated the amount each of us had made offloading those 4,000 packs from the trailer (we were ten). Going by Atuya’s information, each would pocket about 340 shillings. 340 from all that back-breaking work. I sighed in exasperation. We lay in that hiding spot until it was six. Getting up to leave was a mountainous task. All muscles were now sore and any movement hurt like hell. We laboriously headed for the gate, picked our ID cards, signed out and trudged off the plant premises. We barely spoke on the way, just occasional observations and one-word replies or grunts. We got to the junction on the main road and said our byes. Hassan boarded a matatu and I took a boda boda as I lived nearby. Once in my crib, I only took my jacket off and sank into bed, socks and shoes still on. This is one of the moments I wished I could employ the services of a masseuse. I cursed my forefathers.
I will live to fight another day, I encouraged myself and drifted off to sleep. Supper will be taken care of at whatever hour I wake.
   

    

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Humor, Lifestyle, Short Stories, True Stories

 

Tags: , , ,