I NEED A DRIVER

By the end of this piece, I hope someone will be kind enough to be my driver.

Before we start getting all jumpy about this, just know I don’t have a car. I need a driver, who has a car. It’s sort of a package deal. It is more like calling for an Uber but this time round a rental, until I get my own. I am beyond done with public transport. Dunzo! Public transport and I are at that point in a relationship where reconciliation is the last option. Moving on for the sake of peace is quite literally the only option left. Very few things can really piss me off. Bad food (ok, if you can’t cook, kindly do not offer to cook for me. I value good food). Lies (there is a thin line between the truth and a lie. It’s called choice). A terrible journey (this is our focus today)

My standards just don’t seem to mix with the public transport standards. It’s either that or guys are just out to get me. It can easily be both.

Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies, yet I am always complaining anytime I travel. I am planning to go on a vacation soon. More reasons why I need a driver. I know some may begin questioning my account balance. Who goes on vacation when the country is being given a bitter dose of humility? Well, it is for that very reason that I need a vacation. What happens when the economy keeps dropping day by day? I may never get to afford such a thing again. So yes, we are being humbled in the worst way, but I am planning to live well. Plus travelling isn’t even that expensive really.

So travelling. I have specific preferences when am travelling. I need a window seat. And if I don’t get that, then the one with the window seat should know how to balance the temperature in the vehicle. I am not going to suffocate in a matatu. Hell no! Apart from the window seat, it would be of much importance to me if the driver does not play music so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts. Still on the music, it should be in a language we all understand. By ‘all’ here I mean Kenyans. Music is the reason my worst route is the Nyahururu-Nairobi route. Those guys play loud Mugithi music and it gets worse when they join in the chorus with their perfectly out of key voices. Imagine a frog singing in soprano. Do take your time please… I believe you now see my frustration.

Next preference when travelling is to have a quiet vehicle. How quiet? Pin drop. I don’t like it when everyone is talking in a matatu. The person at the back seat wants to engage the one seated with the driver in a lengthy conversation about the weather. And no, not the one we are all experiencing on the road. The one they have left wherever they are coming from. You are coming from the same goddamn place! And headed to the same place. How about you discuss that while there. Another preference would be a new vehicle. It’s just not fair to sentence someone to an hour-long journey with a lot of crickiry-crickiry noise from the body and a deafening cry of a dying engine. Save the poor vehicle and make it scrap metal. I should write a proposal on that.

There are some irritating people habits that I can’t stand in a matatu ever. One, How is it that some people just can’t stop eating? I get it, food is important. Big deal. Why would someone need a whole week’s supply of food in a 1-hour journey? These people eat everything. Everything. As long as its food, they will eat it. My worst is groundnuts. I don’t eat any nuts. That sounds weird but moving on… Another one is avocados. How do you eat avocado in a public vehicle without some decorum? The way people eat avocados in a matatus is just nasty and very gross. Picture this. You are sitting next to someone eating avocado, the vehicle hits an emergency break and just like that you are covered in avocado. Not just you but it flies around messing the other passengers’ clothes. Maybe am paranoid.

Two, I think we can all agree that a phone call is a private thing. We all don’t need to hear a conversation we are not part of. If you don’t want to involve us in the call, then regulate your voice and the call volume. Imagine yourself in a vehicle where everyone is speaking on phone, and it’s too loud that you can literally hear what both parties are saying. This is a common behaviour with businessmen. It’s like to announce your success, you must at least receive one phone call per journey and yell at the poor fella whose sole mistake was calling you while you were near people. This is just one hell of a sick move. I cannot stand that anymore.

Three, there is something about respecting someone’s phone that some public transport users just don’t seem to comprehend. It’s the respecting part. You are travelling and having a lively conversation with someone via text, only to realize you are not the only one viewing your phone. Your neighbour is so much glued to your screen just as much as you are! There are no words to express the anger that follows that. One time some guy asked me who the people in my photos were. I was searching for a new profile picture. I get it; there is an access law that was passed recently. It does not cover my phone!

Four, tantrums. I love children. They love me. But my love for children is sort of becoming conditional. I love those who love being quiet. No tantrums. If there are any, at least let them be diplomatic. Ok, I get how that’s too much to ask, but they’ve got to learn such things early. The future of diplomacy depends on those tiny beings. I have had my fair share of child tantrums in public vehicles to an extent that am beginning to question my tolerance for children all together.

I thought I had seen it all in matatus from loud passengers, bad music, terrible seatmates, invasion of privacy, all the way to a damn food festival until I was travelling from Maseno to Kisumu. (That was a long sentence! Wow!) It was a bus. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a window seat, but that’s not the focus of this rant. My problem was with a preacher. Yes, a preacher. There are these guys who are always preaching in vehicles. Then will later ask for some handouts, politely I might add. Not this preacher. He was one arrogant son of a *you know what*. This guy boards the bus at the same stage that I did. He finds a seat just next to the conductor. 10 minutes into the journey, he whispers something to the conductor, then walks over to the driver, and does the same. The driver turns off the radio and pastor begins his road sermon. Let me just state this very clearly, it was good music turned off. That’s some rare thing to find especially in a public vehicle. The guy talked about Noah, he talked about Daniel, he talked about every other Sunday-school story I have ever heard. He talked for the whole journey. Just as we were about to arrive in Kisumu, he asked for his offering. I was just about to pull a 50-shilling note and hand it over when he ruined it. “Mtu asinipatie coin yoyote. Ntapeleka wapi? Kama unaona ni coin ndio unaeza nipatia, kaa na pesa yako. Itanibolea mfuko. Mchungaji hawezi ongea kwa muda huu wote kisha umpe coin. Kwa hivyo yeyote atakaye taka kumbariki mhubiri anaweza leta chochote alichonacho. Lakini sio coin” Quick and brief translation, the guy would not accept any cash if it was a coin. It would ruin his pockets.

Let’s take a breather… Ok, now what the hell? Who does that? He is a preacher. I don’t think having a say on what people give you as an appreciation for sharing the gospel comes with the calling. That was just so wrong. Maybe am judging, but that was just wrong. No one gave him any money. No one.

I know I always complain a lot when I travel. It is not fair to those who have to keep listening to my whining self. It’s about time that ended. Like I said at the beginning, I am expecting a driver, with a car. The qualifications are simple. Be a good driver. Just that. My vacation time is just around the corner, and to be quite honest, if I don’t have a driver by then, you will all have to deal with my rants. That is not a pretty thing.

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Two weeks ago, I posted a story on my life as a preacher’s kid; school life. I ended the piece with a promise to work on the social life of a preacher’s kid. I will post that soon. However, I wanted to start an online awareness campaign on the lives of preachers kids as an attempt to bring about understanding and at least limit the level with which stereotyping is paramount.  To all our readers, it is my request to you all to share this message with any PK you may know. We will be posting the stories on our Facebook page(PepperLife) using the #LifeAsAPreachersKid. The stories can be shared anonymously just in case someone is not comfortable with their identity going public. Share the stories with us through our email or via our Facebook page inbox. You can also directly send the stories via WhatsApp.

Paula – paula@thispepperlife.com 0701-250155

Lewis – lewis@thispepperlife.com 0718-647507

Facebook page link – https://www.facebook.com/ThisPepperLife/

11 LESSONS I’VE LEARNED IN CAMPUS

The more I grow the more my fears become vivid. They become clearer and do get me thinking, though not worried.  My fears originate from things I have seen and felt as well as things I am anticipating. I fear turning out like my dad. I fear poverty, that is my number pushing force in life. There is no glory in poverty. I fear being a failure in life, failure to me is when I will be unable to inspire anyone to greatness and when not even a single soul will owe making it in life to me. I also fear losing the one I love. I don’t give it much thought though, I don’t want to break my heart before it’s broken for real. Above all, exams are my top fear, the papers are a source of frustration and sickness. To me exams are pure torture.

Currently I am in the exam period, writing my last papers as an undergraduate. As I am facing my fear, pretending to be brave, let me present to you some of the lessons I have learned through out my life in campus;

 

1. Don’t be cool

There was a time I hit my head real bad on a slab when learning to skate. It is not like learning to stake is bad, the only problem is that I was doing it to appear cool. I wish I would have just taken it as an hobby or learning a new skill. It would be better getting hurt on that rather than when trying to be seen as cool. I even stopped trying to go to gym. It is just not my thing.

 

2. Live your life

There are times in second and third year when I was always on the pursuit of being influential. I wanted to create a name. Well it went well but at the expense of other things. I needed time to interact much and to keep face needs cash. I realized that if I was to keep that then I would run into debts and keep friends who don’t even know me. Well, I let that shit go and started keeping my low profile. I am a low key guy.

 

3. Have good vibes

Be nice to people, you are going to meet people with different stories. Have some sense of humor, it comes in handy when you got not lucky to have a great face and body and again more miserable that you are broke. Spreading good vibes will come in handy. Most of the people I have interacted with have always liked being with me for being free spirited in a good way and just being positive.

 

4. Be good at something

Get a craft that you will do. Whether it’s in sports, modelling, photography or just any creative. Be good at a damn thing. You will need in building who you are. People also tend to like people who have something going. You might also have some means of income in the process. Even though I tried out stuff like modeling, I ended up settling in what ticked to me most, writing. It is the craft I hope to improve on every other day.

5. Friends are important

Good friends are a gem. Some times you will want to be stupid, you will need your ass covered and some other days you will just want great company. Well, real friends always come in handy. Just be good to them. Just be a good friend it will pay off during the rainy days.

I have had real good friends in campus. They might have been a handful but they were the best. They were my moving form. Ohh any signs of disloyalty would be punished instantly. Losing me as a friend is a big loss on you, just so you know.

 

6. Create memories

Four years is a long time when just starting up. By then time has this one characteristic; it flies. You need to create memories that you will hold to. You will what them to even have good laughters later on.

I have had real good times in school, we visited my home with friends just because we wanted to. I had some real good nights made of beautiful people. The times I spent with Princess were really great. Princess always has this thing around her, it’s more of positive energy and awesomeness.

 

7. You cannot do everything

There are a lot of parties to attend. There are  a lot of groups to be members to. There are lots of pretty ladies. Well, you cannot have it all, just choose the ones that are worth it and keep at them.

I kept close to only those that I could stand, I let go of several people and companies. In the end it felt so peaceful.

 

8. It is not as serious just yet

It is campus, you are barely grown. You just left home the other day. Don’t take it all too serious. I think we will be forgiven more in campus for being asshole than it would happen outside school.

I did a lot of shitty stuff in school. Some I am not proud of but I don’t regret. I mean it ain’t as serious just yet.

 

9. Do what you want

Well being the land of freedom you are free to do what you want. Even with the knowledge that freedom comes with responsibility.

I did drugs, yeah, some times I would drink from Monday to Monday, the catch would be that I would realize that it was not economically, and health wise viable. Some days I did weed. All these I did because I wanted. So judge if you like but I did them when I was happy.

 

10. Cooperation is better than competition

We are all in a race. People have dreams to realize, goals to achieve. It gets to a point where you feel that people will get to their goals before you, so you start competition.

I have grown to get fulfillment in being an helping hand. I have realized that the world is too big and everyone can have their own space to grow. A progressive friend is a progress to you as well. You never know the days you will want a hand as well, most definitely an empty hand won’t make the difference.

11. One girlfriend at a time is probably not enough.

Well, who brings you a pool with a variety of beautiful clever ladies stack up together then wants you to pick just one. Don’t beat yourself over the fact that sometimes you might want to move through. Be free move, they also need the services.

That is only till you will get to meet this special being who will make all the others smell for you like rotten onions.

 

LIFE AS A PREACHER’S KID; SCHOOL LIFE

As I write this, am listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album, Divide. It’s one hell of an album! Look at the title of this again, crazy that am listening to this? No? Well good to know.

There is a lot of scrutiny, judgement, expectations, superstitions, stories and responsibilities that come with being a preacher’s kid or a pastor’s kid. Sometimes we just call ourselves the PKs. Sounds cool huh? It’s not easy to be a PK. Everything you say, everything you touch, everything you eat, how you dress, whom you talk to becomes a major topic of discussion at the church and among your peers. There is a specific way that we PKs are expected to live. Make a small diversion and you might as well tattoo your own forehead with the word “sinner”.

PKs are expected to be holy. Even holier than the preachers themselves. What people fail to understand is that we PKs are not the preachers. We are the kids. In the same way, being a thief’s child does not qualify one to be a thief. Debatable.

Some of the PKs become so later in their lives when the parents become preachers. These ones face bigger challenges as they have to adjust to a new lifestyle. Some, like me, are born into it. We do not need to adjust, pastors raise us. We know how it is. We know right from wrong right from childhood. We attend all Sunday school services, we participate in all the activities of the church, we live in the limelight of the congregation. We know all the church elders by name. We are expected to grow up like saints. But we are not; at least I know I am not.

You know that saying ‘where much is given much is expected?’ well, it doesn’t apply to us PKs. What is given to us is criticism, radicalization, talks of how much we are really bad, how much we are the defiant souls and how some are a big disappointment; and yet what is expected is an angel. How is that even possible? People really?

I have been in boarding schools most of my life. In class 7, I remember being chosen to be the Sunday School prefect. Yes, it was a thing. My main duties were to ensure that the lower classes, that is class 4 and 5 had a smooth service, were organized well during the services, and ensured that I safely kept the offertory until the main service was over. No biggie right? Well, I hated it. I was chosen purely based on the fact that my father was a big man of the cloth and was highly respected in my school. That was my only qualification. Just that. My wonderful leadership qualities were not paramount in the decision making. Aside from being exempted from manual work, I never saw any other advantage in that responsibility. I also have problems with having people look up to me. I am not a role model. I refuse to be responsible for someone when trying to live like me fails. I was super excited when I didn’t have to be a prefect anymore. My replacement was a very staunch SDA, and again, that was her only qualification. She had a hard time though, it was an Anglican school.

In primary school the teachers kept looking at me and seeing a good girl. A PK. Someone who can mentor others. I am not saying am not a good girl, am just saying classifying me in that category fully would be a lie to everyone. People rarely focused on me as a person. It was always me as the PK. I was very good in Maths. My lowest score back then was 90%. One time I was leading in a maths test, and when I was receiving my badge, our headmistress says “girls, be like Paula. Prayers help in academic excellence”. I rolled my eyes. Yes, I would pray once in a while, but you can’t pass maths without practice. Give me some credit damn it!

In high school, I remember joining the CU and being a very active member. But then somewhere along the way, I just got bored. Why you ask? Quite a charming number of the members are what the common man calls pretenders, hypocrites. These are the people who would be so prayerful on weekend challenge (a whole weekend of prayers) and become a perfect example of bad influence the next week. These are the people who would ask you in some weird accent to raise your hands as you worship God, (they always pronounced it as guard) and at the end of every week, they are the ringleaders when it comes to writing diss letters to brother schools. I couldn’t take it. It was so much pretense I left. Then came the issue of being a PK who does not attend CU. People can talk! Eventually they got over that.

Let’s get real for a while, when you are in class with a PK, what do you expect? Quick list. Long skirt, Bible genius, generous to all, kind in all manner of ways, church lover. You mention it. Basically the textbook good girl. What happens when good girl here is caught in a scandal? Any scandal actually. What happens? People talk. What do they say? “Ata mtoto wa pastor pia?” “Hao ndio hua wameharibika sana”. I have heard these words so often they are now irritating to my ears. I don’t give a *insert any curse word*

I once found myself in some crazy scandal back in high school. I still hate how the principal handled the whole situation. Good girl here was suspended and that was the beginning of my ‘rebellion’. I was punished for a mistake I did not commit. I was very bitter. And, hey, which PK gets suspended? From then, I stopped caring about what teachers and fellow students would say. I wasn’t going to be just a PK. That will not be my legacy. Oh, and I did leave a mark in the school. And it’s not as a PK.

My school life was mainly being classified as PK.  Until I changed all that. If I were to narrate the stories of my mischievous acts in school, I would get all sorts of reactions. The most common one will be “Na wewe ni mtoto wa Pastor?”

I am now in my final year of university. And guess what, until a month ago, very few people knew am a PK. I love it that way. I can live my life as I want. No posters attached to my life.

Being a PK is a good thing until it’s all that you are. It’s all that defines you. It’s all people see when they look at you. Everyone wants to establish their own mark in the world, no one wants to be remembered as so and so’s person.

I have survived school. As far as I am concerned, that was the toughest part of all this.

This is an introduction. Since we are all aware that I am a PK, we are ready to move to phase two. Life as a Preacher’s Kid: Social Life.

THE MAN I WAS NAMED AFTER

 I want to state the most obvious thing in this world. Before I got a name, I had to be born.

I was born in Kisumu city, at Lumumba Hospital. Back then, we stayed in Nubian, before my dad became his other side and we had to move back to the village. I was born at a time when pressure was piling up on my parents on the need to have a baby. If the royal families can give the prince a period of one year after the wedding to pave the succession way, imagine an African set up, deep in the village, back when kids in itself were a symbol of prosperity. My dad being the first-born boy, he needed to be quick. Four years into marriage with nothing to show for it. In the fifth year a white baby (I was extra light skin at birth) appeared. Being a pride of my dad, a relief to my mum and a source of joy to my grandparents, my birth was cemented by naming me after the abled head of the family, my grandfather (paternal).

We moved back to the village in 2001, just when I was starting my primary school. I was a small, short boy. Most people would say I was at the mouth of the ground, with a head looking like a hammer (this head!). It is in the village that I had very good interactions with the man I was named after.

I used to watch my grandfather take his seat; a wooden version of the seats used in WWE Wrestling. He always sat in front of the house under the scorching sun next to a black water tank while facing the compound as if he was watching over his home. He shaved his beards every Saturday. Assembling his shaving tool was the most technical thing I saw. He would dismantle it from the handle, separate the head and put the Panda Razors (my head would be shaved using razor blades) in between. He would then apply soap on his grey beards after which he would keenly shave them. All this time I would be on standby, in case he needed something. I was an assistant. The process made me want beards too. I thought that shaving ones’ own beards was sacred. I didn’t know that when I would have mine I would be going to an executive barbershop (after much pressure) and have a cut after which three different liquids would be used by some cute lady to massage my face. At that point, I usually feel like I have it all in life. When in real life my competition, at the moment, is the church mouse.

My grandfather owned a black radio. It hung above his official seat in the house. He would set the radio at a particular channel and you could not dare change it. Even a slight movement of the tuner and return to the exact point would be noticed. I thought he had a special way of communicating to the gadget. Back before Ramogi FM even appeared, he mostly put KBC Kisumu. Every Kenyan listened to KBC, we had no option. It was suicidal to talk during news time. We would religiously keep quiet. Apart from the radio, his other most guarded property was his bicycle. I never saw anyone touching the bike. The bike was respected in the same way men respect their balls.

That man was full of wisdom. In his counsel, he held the whole family together. I learnt that in 1995, the year I was born, my dad got a Visa to further his studies in the USA. Grandfather could hear none of it. According to him, he knew it would be the last time he would ever see his son; it was like selling his son to America. The first time I was told the story I felt bad. I thought going abroad was the real deal. I believed that people could only make it abroad. I had not seen any of my people make it in Kenya, like I can see at the moment. I had no one to look up to. All the good stories told were of people who lived in America. My mum kept telling my dad how her people were in America, whenever they had some heated exchange. It is only until later that I realized the wisdom in my grandpa’s decision. I mean he made the decision for me. Otherwise, from the dad I knew, I would have been born into this world a son who did not know his dad. Someone who would only hear stories about his dad. I wouldn’t take that for anything in the world.

I was born after the old man had retired. He used to work in Uganda, back when East Africa Community was still intact. He returned to Kenya to take care of his home and livestock. That man loved animals. He would talk with passion about a cow as if he was taking about human beings. He had a specific way he would want his animals handled and any different move would make you collide. In the whole village, his cows would be the first to be taken out to the fields and last to be returned. One time I saw him shed tears when a donkey died. It was a very old donkey that to me I felt it was high time it died; to him it felt so sad. I am yet to learn how people get attached to animals that much. Personally, I don’t even like pets. He really liked my kid brother because he also liked to look after cattle. The day I saw him angered the most was when someone beat up my brother. That person ‘alilala ndani’ and he hated him forever.

This man held tradition at heart; he knew what was right or wrong in the society, together with a remedy. In his words, he would have wanted me to have a Simba when in class eight. One of the reasons why I liked him. As said earlier, he was the voice of wisdom among us. He held our family together soundly. The go to guy in case of any dilemma. He was also religious, he had an Apostolic Church build just next to the gate of the home. Even though of late it looks more of abandoned. It looks so lonely to me. I wonder if people still worship in it, personally I moved.
My old man never took alcohol and he always took pride in that. He hated alcohol and every other hard drugs with passion. Just as much as he hated dreadlocks. You can imagine the disappointment he had when all his sons turned out drunkards. I would hear him talk of it especially when an uncle would return home so wasted. Sometimes I wish I would be able to talk to him and tell him, “it is not your fault; all you can do is be a good parent, which you are and give the children the ability to make their own independent decisions, so don’t beat yourself over it.” Too bad, he is not around to hear me say that to him. I am yet to experience parenthood meaning every advice I will give at first, will be drawn from hearsay. I am not that wise.

I was named after a great man (don’t worry about the fact that I at times can be an asshole of a being). This name, I will preciously guard. If I were to change my name, I would retain Martin but gladly let go of the last one, not because I don’t like it, but because my name betrays me. It is hard being a Luo in this country. I am sure if he could see me now he would be proud of his name.