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These are stories inspired by ethnic politics that result in hatred and the stories of an unloved woman. Its the stories of everyday heroes no one ever appreciates.

Submitted: September 24, 2016

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Submitted: September 24, 2016



1.The Death of the Unknown Revolutionary



It should have been breaking news!



But at 1pm among the news that was broadcast to millions, maybe not, after all, it was supposed to be a working nation, thousands maybe, though to be fair everywhere around, in workplaces, hotels, homes, banks and even schools had installed really big screens so that everyone had a chance to know, not hear because the volume was always turned low. But they repeated it in the seven o’clock news as well as at nine that night. It sounded like the police had gunned down another criminal, but he wasn’t a criminal, so they said, he was a young man who had just completed his studies at a local public University, a political scientist he had become. The news reporter, though they did not seem to have much to say about him, they did mention he was a political activist whom fellow university students claimed to have rubbed the ruling class the wrong way. But what could a twenty five year old young man from an unknown village have done to be gunned down in cold blood right in the centre of the city after addressing university students not to riot over lack power but to do it for the ‘POWER’ they had to change a nation.


Death threats again!” Maka exclaimed at his good friend of over four years.

Maka and David had met at the University as freshers (First years). On that first day as they were registering to be students of what was thought to be a great university, a great friendship was formed. David was a passionate politician and Maka joined his bandwagon right from the beginning. 


His cause was largely unknown in the country, let alone in the University. Mismanagement of students’ funds in the University, that’s where it all began. Each year, the students at the public institutions were required to pay a small sum of two hundred shillings, which when multiplied by the thousands of students that the higher institution claimed to have, translated into millions that a students’ body mismanaged, with no one to audit how the money was spent. He felt incensed, as he began a campaign to educate the students on their rights, especially when it came to demanding an audited report on how their money was spent. The more he fought against them, the more he realized there was a greater power that he was fighting against. The student leaders had the support of the ruling class, that’s how they managed to drive around in state of the art vehicles and maintain their expensive lifestyles. An intricate web of corruption where if you break off the chain at any point it would rattle up to the top, they warned him nicely.


It was a government set on destroying its people.


Ignorance is bliss indeed, especially if you are on the receiving end. It was through the ignorance of the people, a weakness that the leaders had readily and willingly exploited. Money meant for equipping hospitals, fighting malaria and HIV/aids was divided in terms of billions to the key players in the government, children crammed in tiny classrooms and in some areas under trees, yet the money that could have made their lives better ended up in the hands of the few, no questions asked. How could they ask what they did not know? Their ignorance resulted in their poverty.


And they were all in it. It was like they sat down just like the Europeans had done in the scramble and partition of Africa in Berlin more than a century earlier. There were no enemies, the government and opposition leaders, added to the religious leaders of the day, and some of the most powerful and vocal non-governmental organizations were all united in greed. Divide and rule, but dine together at the end of the day. Their children attended some of the most expensive schools in the country, together. A chip of the old block, a sort of modern day slavery, where the unsuspecting countrymen and women were sold off to a life of misery, disease, poverty, and endless wars.


 In a continent blessed with unparallel natural resources that had caused its owners so much misery. The weapons used were more powerful that biological and nuclear weapons, they knew ‘in unity of the masses, they were bound to fail but in division their cause of greed was bound to succeed.’ Negative ethnicity was their choice of weapon and wonders it worked. The commander in chief had amassed a personal wealth of close to a billion, not shillings that could not be workable, his wealth could best be measured in dollars.


“They need to know.” David defended his actions.  “And if there are people heartless enough to do these things, there need to be someone who has a heart enough to help people.”


“They will kill you.”


The brave hardly live for long…” He adapted the saying.

And if he lived for long, he knew only silence would buy him time but what an empty life it would be.


The force he was up against made David’s Goliath seem more of a dwarf. His only weapon knowledge, the people needed to know that they had so much power in their hands. That they were being used by the political class and that it was their ignorance that kept them poor. He started with his university, maybe if the country’s best mind could see what was really going on, and then questions would be raised. His meetings rarely attracted a crowd comparable to weight of the issues he wanted to discuss. But he went on, someone had to know.


“Dude, you have got to shut up.” Maka warned finally. “The people at the top will cut you off.”


Thousands of innocent civilians in a great continent had lost their lives in needless ethnic and civil wars. Millions of African youths were unemployed with nothing to do, yet contracts were easily awarded to the friends of the government. So many youths were abusing drugs which were supplied by the very people that were meant to safeguard their future. Added to the endless number of people who died because of lack of proper and adequate medical care. Keeping quiet was never an option. Nobody was listening but he kept on talking, maybe one day they would stop and listen.


The war he was waging seemed futile, nobody knew him, he would die an unsung hero. Maka wanted to join in the fight but he was scared for his life. They had both received emails from unknown sources; they had reported to the policemen that their lives were in danger.


You will not win.” A policeman warned them in rather concerned tone. “The people you are fighting against determine everything that happens in this country. Even the police are powerless when their forces are concerned. Just let it go. They determine who breathes and who food for the worms is


There was no stopping David, not the constant arrests, even when his campus girlfriend left him because of the strange men following her at some point, threatening her family at gun point. The emails, then came the phone calls, the calls became men accosting him everywhere. Though he was scared, he found the strength to go on. It was for the good of the nation. Even though when he died nobody apart from his family mourned for him. David kept posting on social media about what Kenyans were missing because they were nit in power.


“The threats keep coming but we almost have a breakthrough my good friend.” He emailed Maka promising to lay low. “The students have taken note of all that I have said and they are asking questions. They have invited me to speak on the evils of politics in Africa.” Little did he know that would be the last speech he would give?


After the meeting he headed out into town with Maka in his brand new Toyota. They stopped and both alighted to enter the supermarket because David felt his throat was dry. He never came out, the gunmen, two, followed him to the very end of the aisle and one shot him severally in the head and chest, in full glare of the customers and eye witnesses as well as the numerous CCTV cameras. The gunmen walked out briskly, faces uncovered into a waiting vehicle and drove off, and the case would later be closed off because of the lack of evidence and eye witnesses.


His death made no sense to the people, though most sympathized with the tragic death of a young man who seemed to have everything going for him. No stories of bravery would be published about him. School going children would probably never hear about him. The press did mention that the death could have been politically motivated but even they could not fully understand what had just happened. The public would never attend his funeral en-masse, no bulls would be slaughtered. Neither would they ever remember it was for their plight that he had lost his life. Maybe if they knew, they would have filled up the streets. His heroism would remain: uncelebrated.




In all honesty the people that had killed had done so, not because his cause was shaping up but because he was becoming a nuisance. His fate was sealed like a house fly when the master reaches out for the insecticide.


His legacy would lie on in the hearts of the few students that demonstrated his death in various public universities, though even those did not last. He was one in a million, a needle in a hay stack in a country that was accustomed to violent crimes and corruption. The young man who died so that women would not have die needlessly giving birth, or community members have to push their patients in wheelbarrows.


His death was not in vain maybe one day the country would look back and realize where the struggle all began. In future when the oppressed became liberated and the ignorant, knowledgeable, they might remember the young man who gave his life for their very struggle.













For the longest time ever I was fascinated by the TV commercial that ended with the phrase ‘Nchi ni wewe!’ not just me but my little niece as well, you could never get a word past talkative little Sherrie until that commercial started and her big brown eyes lit up as she watches in excitement and anticipation, I doubt she understands what it all means, but the way the voice of the child echos ‘nchi ni wewe!’ They do it with power and finality and so much passion, it always gets to me. I found it so true, I used to brag that ‘mimi ni mwenyenchi!’ and correct all the other common wananchi as they commonly refer to themselves, until my grandfather who should have been among the wahenga or the wise Englishmen, sold me a different perspective.


You see, my guka, a wise man who only managed to go to school after the struggle for independence of which he was a part off, a freedom warrior, who will never be celebrated but the stories of how they hid in forests and caves separated from their loved ones I will never forget, maybe I should write a memoir in honour of my grandfather, that way I will force everyone to somehow remember him and then maybe one day children will read about him in schools and be mesmerized by his heroism and intrigues in the struggle for independence and proclaim,


‘Indeed he was true Kenyan hero!’


Whenever I visited that old village, dusty yet ever green, I can still see the old caves, and that old tree that guka says hold great stories. Now if only trees could talk, they could help me write the memoir for my grandfather, not only that, they could help me see the lost story of an entire generation.


‘There are two types of Kenyans, mwenyenchi and mwananchi.’ Guka corrected me.

He was in the city for treatment for his arthritis, it was really hindering his mobility, and after noticing that we really loved the television ad he decided to chime in.

‘Guka,’ I thought he was wrong, maybe he was growing old and though he was educated even though it was much later in his life. ‘Mwananchi is a bit offensive, it needs to be struck off the kamusi for good.’ I felt energized and self belief filled my young heart. ‘We are wenyenchi, we hold the power to change and make this country better.’

Guka laughed in a cynical manner. ‘Well said, though I’d wish all that energy that you speak in can be channeled to better use for instance farming.’

Mother laughed, as she woke up from her slumber, before falling asleep again, she knew, I hated farming with passion.

‘Before independence my heart was filled with such hope.’ Guka continued, though he was in his nineties his voice still commanded power. ‘We dreamt of a new Kenya where we were wenyenchi and not the wananchi…I am still waiting for that day.’ His voice trailed off, dead but filled with hope, disappointment but never regret.


‘Mwananchi fought to liberate this nation from colonialism but mwenyenchi is enjoying the fruits of our struggle, of the blood that we shed, of the lives that were lost and of our tirii (land).’ He stopped to see who was listening.

Mother was now fast asleep, father was now brushing his teeth and would soon ask us to stop what we were doing and pray. Muthoni was busy watching her favourite soap opera. Guka was a man of many stories, he is a Njamba nene indeed, after the struggle for independence was over he enrolled for gumbaro school.


‘Have you ever appeared on the popular TV news segment of ‘who owns Kenya’?’ Guka asked.

I shook my head no.

‘Then you are a mwananchi.’ He laughed.

I almost laughed. Guka was watching too much TV but he was right, wenyenchi are the rich, powerful people who own the country literally, every once in a while they indulge in a little CSR, cooperate social responsibility, you know for the common mwananchi.


‘Wananchi are the poor masses, the people classified in voting blocs, the masses that queue for eight hours so that they can elect their man who at times can be a wenyenchi, wananchi are rarely voted in, after all they do not have enough money to give handouts to their fellow wananchi. My friend Ng’ash and I are hustlers in other words ‘wananchi.’ You see that’s the difference, a mwenyenchi when you ask them how life is, they reply ‘life is good’ but for the wananchi the response is ‘tunasukumana na maisha,’ or ‘tunahassle.’ God forbid you find a mwenyenchi riding in a probox or a pick up.


Wananchi are the masses who public relations stunt are made for, like when wenyenchi eat road side kiosks so that wananchi can marvel at how humble they are. Because wananchi need to know that you can come down to their level and pretend to be them for a day.


Wananchi line up for hours so that they can receive meager hand outs from wenyenchi, a kifunga macho that cannot see them through the next meal, and in exchange for their votes they sign their death sentence. Wananchi are the people who will foolishly tear each other on the basis of tribal affiliations, on the basis of ‘our man’ the wenyenchi. Wananchi are driven around in public service vehicles owned by wenyenchi, operated by very rude and arrogant wananchi who mantra is ‘misery loves company.’ Wananchi are cursed to spend the rest of their lives in queues, at the bank (especially those wananchi banks, you know them, the one you queue for hours only to be served by a cashier who is rude to you because you are a mwananchi), at the hospitals, bus stops, elections queues, it is his fate to stand under the sun for hours, even though he be at the back of an ambulance which took three hours to get to him, holding on to his life by a thread, turned away from hospital to hospital because there is no bed space for him. He must wait for his turn to treated, even though it means a sad, miserable pathetic, painful and antagonizing death for him, it is his fate. Then mwenyenchi will attend the funeral and make political speeches while other wananchi will support and cheer for him, even though his stupid words will not develop mwananchi in any way. Neither will they address the fact that mwananchi’s death could have been prevented.


Being a mwananchi means that your children are affected by teachers strikes, it also means that when doctor’s go on strike and your relative is sick, it may be the end of the road for that person. After a hotly contested elections as the mwananchi fights and kills fellows like him, wenyenchi calmly leaves the country with their children.’


‘That’s why they save their money in foreign banks.’ Muthoni chimed in.

Guka and I stopped; shocked that Muthoni was listening to our conversation.

‘Ok I am back to watching to TV.’ Her eyes moved quickly back to the television set.


Mwananchi can be likened to a young man waiting for his parents to die so that he can inherit the land, and at times parents take a long time before they decide to leave this world at times leaving the young man in despair since it was all he was living for.’


‘Hint! Hint!’ Muthoni cut guka off again.

‘What is your problem?’ I asked her.

‘I am just saying.’ She responded sarcastically. ‘Happy to be a girl-child.’


‘Wenyenchi shop in malls.’ Muthoni said jokingly. ‘Wananchi work in those malls.’ She started laughing. ‘And I am not talking about you Kimani, you don’t sell anything, you just hand out pamphlets to wenyenchi as you try to sell products you may never own in your life.’


I just rolled my eyes.


‘Mwenyenchi snacks on pizza, M&Ms, Prickles,’ she seemed to be enjoying herself. ‘While mwananchi snacks on sugar canes, groundnuts za five bob, and KSL’s.’


Mwananchi struggles to secure a student visa to further their education, but Mwenyenchi and his children enter and leave the country as they wish. For Mwenyenchi he works less hours but makes more money, while Mwananchi works more for less.’


Guka got up to leave. ‘Mwananchi struggles to make just enough money to see his children through school, he toils in vain, he acquires degrees and masters but he never comes close to earning what Mwenyenchi does, his fortune increases, he is rewarded with jobs that he does not need, he is paid more than the ordinary mwananchi, yet he works less and does not need the job anyway.’


‘See.’ Muthoni got up as the credits went up on her favourite soap. ‘I told you.’

She took her very fat novel on the old sofa that she was seated and started walking out of the sitting room. ‘Nchi si wewe!’

That my grandson is the story of mwananchi and mwenyenchi.’ Guka said as he walked towards the kitchen. ‘You can try and bridge the gap, you can decide where you want to be but they will never be equal, you are either a mwananchi or a mwenyenchi.’


‘Time for prayer!’ dad announced as he came back in the living room.


It was time for wananchi to pray. Maybe God was for all. For Wananchi and Wenyenchi.

































‘Guilty.’ The verdict read. ‘You are hereby sentenced to…’

‘Guilty?’ the defendant asked. ‘Of  what?’

He restrained himself from raising his voice, not wanting to be held in contempt as it had already happened several times during the hearing, were they seriously planning to pin on him the sins of an entire nation…

‘What am I guilty of?’ he demanded angrily. ‘My only crime is being born in an impoverished country, where people’s fate was determined by their social status or the status of the big men in society.’


‘Where the few big fish in the ‘big’ tribes control every single resource in that country.’ He seemed to be reeling from the shock of a guilty verdict.


‘Please…’ his defense attorney tried to restrain him.


‘Let the man talk.’ The judge allowed him to continue.

I am not responsible for death of millions of African children by Malaria, neither did I start or by any means spread HIV, still I do not get what I have to do with the deaths of millions of people from roads accidents.’ He seemed perplexed. ‘Of maternal deaths, don’t even get me started…and corruption…’ he paused. ‘Is this a sick joke or something? My child died of diarrhea for heaven’s sake!’


His defense lawyer cleared his throat anxiously.


The man went on. ‘For heaven’s sakes I did not start the post election violence.’

He was now pacing up and down as the Judge watched in amazement.


‘Yes, I may have posted a few hate messages for a rigged election but I killed no one, yes when those ‘people’ were killed, I felt nothing but I did not kill them my Lord, they had it coming. My only crime in this case would be voting for the man of my choice…my man.’


‘Your man?’ The judge asked.

‘Indeed!’ the man replied. ‘My man…a man of the people!’ he added, his voice full of pride.

The man that you started to complain about a few months after the elections, as a matter of fact, you could hardly wait for the next general election to vote him out for his lack of a developmental record, but when the next general elections came you still voted for him… “Your man”.’


‘With good reasons my Lord.’ The defendant responded.


His defense lawyer covered his face in disbelief. ‘MY LORD!’ he finally said. ‘I beg this honorable court not to consider my clients utterances’ as they are irrelevant at this stage of the proceedings. Evidence has already been adduced, the defense as well as the prosecution finalized their submissions. We believe the court has reached its judgment; all that remains is delivery of the judgment, which the defense prays it be done expeditiously so that we can lodge an appeal.”


‘Counsel!’ The judge started in an all powerful voice. ‘Have I given out my ruling yet on the case and yet you still want to appeal, on what grounds!’


‘That my client was not accorded a fair hearing.’ He seemed to gain his confidence back. ‘My Lord, my client’s right to due process was gravely violated.’


‘Are you questioning the integrity of this court?’ the Supreme Judge’s eyes were squarely on the defense attorney.


‘No, my Lord.’ he defended himself. ‘I am simply questioning your rationale of condemning my client for the sins of the elite in his country. Why should a poor servant pay for his master’s corrupt ways?’


And so this ruling class I am assuming…are some sort of monarchy of some sort…how else did they get this near Sovereign Lord Status?’ the judge pondered.

My Lord, I thought we were done here.’ The prosecutor asked. ‘My learned friend is simply wasting the court’s time; he should wait for the ruling and then appeal that is the due process of the law.’


‘Mr Prosecutor!’ The Judge said. ‘This is no ordinary court, yes the defendant is free to appeal once the judgment is pronounced, but until them I have no objections to listening to his defense.’

His vote was one in a million…maybe we should blame him for global warming as well.’ The defense lawyer said in frustration.


‘That is possible.’ The judge said writing something down. ‘I can add that to the charge sheet and call for a new trial. I do recall his love for plastics and his poor methods of disposing them.’


The prosecutor smiled slyly at the disbelieving defense attorney, it seemed like the toughest case of his career.


‘In line with the guilty verdict.’ The judge read the sentence. ‘In the first charge of mass murder of women, children and other vulnerable people such as elderly persons and persons with disabilities using weapons such as hunger, strife and aloofness. This court finds the accused guilty, the court is satisfied with the evidence adduced in this court, that on 5th October 1995 the accused did nothing to help his neighbour’s wife and children though he knew the accused had a history of mental problems but never used the information to help the family, the neighbor ended up murdering his wife and children. Still in the same village the accused knew of the men stealing from the villagers, he also knew that his nephew was defiling elderly women and persons with disabilities, impregnating some of the children with severe disabilities, you still aided his escape so that he could evade the arrest.’


The defendant hang his head in shame, he had done all that because he loved his sister.


In the second charge the court finds you guilty of the deaths of men, women and children through road carnages. The court is also satisfied with the evidence adduced that you watched at times with misguided sarcasm as money exchanged hands between the police and matatu driver, you were also at times the excess passenger and even when other passengers complained you derided them over their excess weight. Then a couple of years later you bought your own matatu, which with the passing of time became unroadworthy , but without insurance, without a properly trained driver it ended killing several people directly, indirectly it caused thousands of deaths, at one time your vehicle hit a five year old boy who was rushed to hospital in critical condition, you may not know this but the boy died several months later, but the accused paid the police so that his vehicle could return to the dusty village roads.’


The defense attorney fidgeted, the evidence at that point was overwhelming. The defendant seemed to be clutching at a straw.


On the third charge of failure to vote for the right leadership, gross corruption and sycophancy the court finds you guilty, the evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that year after year you voted for your man, who in turn wasted all the resources that were within his reach, resulting in the constant impoverishment of my people, in maternal deaths for lack of proper medical facilities for women. The accused had the power to change all that by voting not on the basis on his tribe but on values such as integrity, honour and hard work. His man never delivered but because he was so ingrained on ‘his tribe’ ‘their tribe’ mentality, he drove his country the one that I had endowed with so much resources into a state of utter and complete failure. The court notes that the defendant can be described as cold, non-caring and a person who misused all the power given to him, he admitted to this court that while people from ‘the other tribe’ were being killed he felt nothing. Children died of malaria a preventable disease; the aged looked after HIV/Aids orphans all because of the choices the defendant made. Yet all this man did was post useless and nonsensical posts of how he shall rule forever. His own child died from a preventable disease, something that he could have prevented if he was a rational man.’


On the three counts this court finds the defendant guilty as charged and hereby sentenced to eternal damnation. The defendant is free to make an appeal within fourteen days, after which the sentence will be final.’
















4. Against all Odds





Mary ran towards the door excitedly, and opened it revealing a group of guests that were waiting for her to open the door.

“Come on in,” she ushered them in. “How have you all been?”

They all hugged her and proceeded into the well-furnished house. Mary twenty six years of age had been born into a well to do family, her parents had brought her up well, they had instilled good Christian values in her, and she attended the best schools and of course landed a well paying job. She was a Christian and valued her faith very much. Her friends looked around at the beautiful apartment they all felt jealous in a way. Mary’s attention turned to Alex, the man she happened to have a huge crush on and they exchanged smiles. She had always hoped that one day the smile would turn into something more.

“Is this a new coffee table?”

Mary’s gaze shifted from Alex and turned to Ciru, one of her best friends, whose hands were running over the smooth table.

“Came in yesterday from the United Kingdom,” she said proudly. “Looks great doesn’t it,”

Ciru turned to look at her.

“Of course,” was the response. “How much is it worth anyway”

Mary’s focused turned to Alex who was heading her way. Something about him made her weak. She felt attracted to him in every sense of the world. She breathed in nervously her gaze shifted back to Ciru who was still waiting for her response.

“Trust me,” she said jokingly. “A lot,”

Alex stood beside her and smiled. She was the tale of the brainy beautiful woman that every man wanted to bed. She was a successful educated young woman that every man would have liked to have by his side. All her friends were envious of her success and she was proud of her achievements. He could see the pride in her eyes, and from the way she looked at him, she knew it was only a matter of time before she gave in to her desires.

“Let the party begin,” Mary shouted as she pressed the button of her remote control to play the music. Soon everyone was dancing, drinks were being passed around, everyone was happy.

“Congratulations, Madam,” Alex teased, only for her to laugh nervously.

“So, how does it feel to actually be called madam boss by the women and men in your office?”

“Well,” she started. “I am getting accustomed to it, but I am sure I will get used to it.”

He smiled and she blushed, that was the effect he had on women.

“We are all proud of you,” he told her.

“Thank you,” she said looking at Ciru who was dancing the night away with her boyfriend. Mary felt proud to have promoted to managing director. As she is being served her drinks she sighs contented, being successful definitely had it up side. All the people in the house had come because of her, because she had done something great with her life. She was proud of herself and as she looked admiringly at Alex she knew he would not be here if she was just any woman.

“Why don’t I show you around,” She offered.

“Lead the way,” he placed his half empty glass on the table nearby and followed her.

A few minutes later they are seated on her bed talking. Mary and Alex both seemed happy.

“How’s work,” she asked.

“Great,” he said as picked up a magazine that lay on the bed. “But am on leave.”

She turned to look away Alex seized the opportunity and he placed his hand on her thigh, all over sudden she felt weak, everyone knew her as a strong woman but Alex always made her weak, he made her heart to melt away. Her knees crumbled and thighs were wide open with anticipation.

“You know, I have always had these deep feelings for you,” He got straight to the point. Mary did not know what to say. She tried to smile and tried to not be nervous she liked him too but she did not want to tell him that she felt the same way too.

“Why don’t we give ourselves a chance and see where all this leads,” he said as he moved closer to kiss her.


A few days later Mary was still in disbelief that she had unprotected sex with a man she hardly knew. As she stared at the computer blankly she tried to convince herself that it was okay, that she could not have contracted any disease from Alex after all, he seemed like a really good man. She had taken some morning after pills just to make sure she would not get pregnant. To make matters worse, he never called her even once after that.

She felt bad that she had forgotten her abstinence stand; she had decided not to go to church on Sunday. She could not face her parents and God after what she had done.

One year later Mary went for a routine checkup, her doctor called her a few days later so that they could discuss the results. She was not worried until she entered the office and saw the expression on his face.

“Oh my God,” her heart almost missed her beat. “What if I have cancer?”

She sat down not knowing what to expect. So many thoughts crossed her mind making her to be scared. She pulled out a chair and sat down. She looked at the doctor impatiently waiting for him to break the news to her. She could see he was struggling to find a way to break the news to her.  She studied Doctor Maluto’s young face, he looked worn out and in shock Mary could not help but wonder what could have him so worried.

“I have the results of your annual medical checkup,” he began as picked up her file from the corner of the table.

“What could be the problem?” her voice sounded shaky. “Am I going to die” do I have cancer.”

The room was filled with graveyard silence, for Mary the silence was deafening.

“Doctor Maluto,” she sounded desperate, “please do not keep me waiting.”

He breathed in, Mary had always been his model patient, how she had contacted HIV seemed like a puzzle that he never thought he was going to solve.

“Doctor!” her panic stricken voice brought him back to reality.

“Mary,” he looked at her. “You need to calm down; everything is going to be alright.” He tried to reassure her.

She breathed in and waited for what he had to say in baited breath.

“When is the last time you had sex?”

The question caught her by surprise.

“Almost an year ago,” she shifted in her seat still surprised by the question. “Why”

Doctor Maluto went through her file. “I am sorry break this to you but…”

Mary cut him short. “I cannot be pregnant,” she dropped her handbag. “Doctor the last time I slept with a man was almost an year ago.”

Doctor Maluto understood that she was confused but he had to tell her.

“Mary,” he began, “I am really sorry to tell you but you are HIV positive.”

Mary heart sunk. There was audible silence for the next few seconds as she tried to come to terms with that condition.

“I have Aids!” she had a zombie like look as she stood up and headed towards the window. “I have Aids! Doctor, how! Where and why.”

Doctor Maluto stood up and followed to the window. He placed his hand on her shoulder gently.

“You don’t have Aids,” He tried to tell, “HIV is the virus that causes Aids but it can be managed if you take good care of yourself eat right exercise then you can lead healthy and normal productive life just like the rest of the people.”

“I have Aids,” his words fell on deaf ears. “I am going to die.”

Doctor Maluto tried to reassure by telling her all there was to know about HIV/Aids its management, also about ARVS but she was not listening. She was in so much shock; Mary just turned and headed for the door. The doctor called after her but it was like if she was in a trance.

The days that followed were filled with tears and regrets; she refused to see any guests. She did not go to work. She cried over what her life was supposed to be, she felt like it was the end of the road for her. She felt like she had betrayed her parents, her friends, herself and God. At some point she went to her medicine cabinet, took out all the drugs that were there and took some water. There were over two hundreds pills that she wanted to swallow and die. But a knock at the door stopped her; she contemplated whether or not to open the door. Eventually she dragged weary and opened it. It was doctor Maluto. She ushered him in, Doctor Maluto was shocked to see that Mary had the same clothes she had worn earlier in the week when he had broken the news to her. He was determined to bring hope into her life.

“Can I offer you anything?” She asked not really sure if she had anything that was edible in her fridge.

“Maybe later,” he said.

He took out several cds, magazines and articles and placed them on the table.

“How are feeling?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know, the best way to describe it is that, my feelings are as bad as my condition is.”

Her tone registered hopelessness.

“Mary,” he said, “I know it is not going to be easy, but you can beat it.”

He took one of the articles on the coffee table and for a moment it looked like he was reading it.

“I know that you are feeling really bad and hopeless and you are yet to accept your status, but Mary I have seen a lot of people in Kenya that have been diagnosed with HIV and they have still made it in life.” He tried to reassure her.

She took a pillow and held it tightly.

“But why me,” she broke into tears. “Doctor I only did it once. Isn’t HIV supposed those who are promiscuous? I am not! I am decent girl; I have worked so hard in life. I only slept with him once why did I get it. I don’t understand.”

Doctor Maluto moved closer to her, he understood her predicament; he knew what she was going through.

“Mary, that’s the misconception that people have,” he enlightened her, “people do not contract HIV by sleeping with many partners, just having sex with one person is enough.”

“Only once ha,” she remarked. She placed the pillow down stood up and headed for the door. ‘I was running the race so well and then momentary lapse of reason…’

I thought I had everything, I had a good job, a loving family and great friends,” she said as she looked out the window.

“I thought I knew who I was, I was someone great,” tears continued to flow freely down her face. “Now I know I am not.”

Doctor Maluto followed her to the window and took hold of her hand. “Anyone can get HIV.”

Mary looked into his eyes as if searching for answers. “How many people with HIV do you know that have made it I life. HIV is a cursed disease.”

He smiled. “My brother was diagnosed with HIV a few years ago, we all thought it was the end of the world.” He pulled her closer. “Five years down the line he is still as strong as ever and he is the CEO of Pata refineries.

She seemed not to believe him at first.

“How did he do it?” she asked.

“He first accepted his condition, and then he decided he was going to fight the stigma head on. He started taking ARVs and he went on to pursue his dreams.”

She moved closer to him. “My greatest fear is that my parents and friends will reject me.”

She confessed. “What do I do then?”

He smiled at her; Mary remembered when Alex had smiled at her. It had been out of lust but when Doctor Maluto smiled it was because he cared.

“I won’t lie to you,” he told her. “Rejection will be there, but eventually they will accept you as long as you accept yourself. But it won’t be easy.”

“Thank you,” she said he wiped of her tears.

He had shown a ray of hope, he told her about counseling, ARV treatment, stigma and how to eat right. When he was about leave Mary could afford to smile.

“Mission Accomplished,” he joked.

“What!” she seemed shocked.

“I made you smile.”

That made her smile even more.

Over the next few days she spent them thinking about what he had said. She was amazed to read the story about a woman who had living with HIV for nineteen years. She went over the materials he had brought her and at the end of she felt as though she could do it. She could accomplish her dreams and she could live her life fully.

She broke the news to her family, they rejected her. Her father disowned her. Her mother felt like killing her. In her work place she was stigmatized, no one wanted to touch the same cup as Mary, but because of friends such as Doctor Maluto she remained strong. Mary found it funny that all her friends including Ciru that had pretended to care were nowhere to be seen.


On one particular Sunday she went to church in the company of Doctor Maluto.  Most of the people avoided sitting near her, but it did not bother her.

“Don’t mind them,” he tried to make her feel better.

“Don’t worry,” she smiled. “He already forgave me and loves me just as I am.”

She said pointing upwards. Doctor Maluto stared in amazement. She had changed in such a short time. Mary learned to take her life in strides, one at a time.

“You know,” she said in a matter fact kind of way. “I know that God wants me to educate the church about HIV. This is the place where everyone should run to and feel safe. As a Christian I am taking my stand against stigmatization of people already with the virus.”

“Count me in.” the doctor said, as he shoved her gently.

Mary spent a lot of her time learning about HIV and Stigma, just as she had worked hard in order to become managing director she was going to fight of the stigma and she was going to get her family back.


“The first time I seriously ever thought about HIV and Aids was when I was diagnosed with the virus.” Mary spoke at a seminar she had organized in her work place concerning HIV and Stigma in the workplace. “I was ignorant about HIV because I knew I could not get it. I always thought that HIV was for only commercial sex workers and immoral people. I was a good church girl I knew it could not affect me. But what I have come to learn is that the line between staying HIV negative and becoming positive is really thin. HIV knows no professor or drunkard, everyone is vulnerable we can all get HIV. All it took for me was just to sleep with a man once and I got it. I have learned a lot since then. Even though Alex has since passed on, I have forgiven him and I hope that he forgave himself too. Today all I want to do is encourage all of you to know your HIV status. If you are negative work on remaining negative if you are positive work on living positively.”

She looked around and saw Doctor Maluto listening to her keenly and a smile lit across her face.

“You know, at the end of the day we are all affected or infected by HIV/Aids. What I have learned from this experience is that I still have my life live and that I am allowed to keen on dreaming. I have decided I am not going to give up on my life. I was born to try and to believe in life no matter the circumstances. So you had better get to seeing my face for a long time to come.’

The room was filled with laughter.

“People with HIV/Aids face a lot of stigma in the world place they are shunned, gossiped about and treated as though they are not human beings,” she went on. “All this is because of the misconception that HIV can be contracted through touching or hugging or sharing food. It does not happen that way. All these are just but misconceptions. My hope is that if you know someone who is HIV positive you need to treat them with love and respect because at the end of the day if we are reduce the rate of HIV transmissions in the country then we the infected and affected must work together. Thank you.”


As she took her seat she hoped that she had gotten the message across.  As she sat down the song by Delta Goodrem played in the background.


Born to Try by Delta Goodrem


Doing everything that I believe in
Going by the rules that I've been taught
More understanding of what's around me
And protected from the walls of love

All that you see is me
And all I truly believe

That I was born to try
I've learned to love
Be understanding
And believe in life
But you've got to make choices
Be wrong or right
Sometimes you've got to sacrifice the things you like

But I was born to try

No point in talking what you should have been
And regretting the things that went on
Life's full of mistakes, destinies and fate
Remove the clouds look at the bigger picture

And all that you see is me
And all I truly believe

That I was born to try
I've learned to love
Be understanding
And believe in life
But you've got to make choices
Be wrong or right
Sometimes you've got to sacrifice the things you like

But I was born to try

All that you see is me
All I truly believe
All that you see is me
And all I truly believe

That I was born to try

I've learned to love
Be understanding
And believe in life
But you've got to make choices
Be wrong or right
Sometimes you've got to sacrifice the things you like

But I was born to try

But you've got to make choices
Be wrong or right
Sometimes you've got to sacrifice the things you like

But I was born to try


Against all odds she was going to succeed, she was going to live her life fully. After all Delta Goodrem was right.


That was exactly what she was going to do try and always believe in life. Her colleagues watched as she made her way to her seat. They gave her a standing ovation as she approached Doctor Malutu he stretched out his hands and pulled closely for a hug. Finally Mary had learnt the ultimate lesson of all, and that was to love, to love herself, to love her family even when they rejected, to love her friends that cared for her and to love a society that had branded her ‘not worthy.’








‘Are you sure you wanna go.’  Wanjiku asked her younger sister, Wacera.

‘Yes, I do.’ Wacera replied putting on a gorgeous red dress on. ‘It’s Valentine’s Day and the English men did say ‘half a date is better than none.’

‘What a waste of a perfect dress.’ Wanjiku rolled her eyes. ‘And no the English men said no such thing.’ She watched as her younger sister looked at herself in the mirror.

‘I haven’t been in a serious relationship ever since Martin and I broke up.’ Cera spoke to her sister through the mirror. ‘And you know how long that was, two years ago.’


Wanjiku laughed.

‘ Ciku I gave him the five best years of my life.’ Cera went on.


‘So twenty to twenty five are the best years of someone’s life.’ Wanjiku asked as she adjusted her sitting position on her bed.


Duh!’ Cera retorted. ‘Fact, women reach their peak at twenty five, and then it all goes downhill.’

Wanjiku just laughed.  ‘Cera, come on, you are twenty seven. Second, you cannot go out with every single guy out there just because you are desperately looking for the one and you don’t want to spend valentines alone.’


Wacera grabs her comb and starts working on her hair.


Cera, you have dated Omondi, Mutiso, Khamalo, Kimani, the list is endless. What are you trying to do? Unite all Kenyan tribes.’ Wanjiku joked.


Wacera turns to face her sister. ‘I have dated a Moha, as well as Kip… somebody. I cannot remember all their names. At least mother will be happy; I am dating someone from my own community. Besides the English men also said you have to kiss many frogs before meeting prince charming.’


There are guys from your own community that pronounce their names and speak in simple English words here in Nairobi.’ Her sister said.  ‘In fact there are guys who speak simple English here in Nairobi from all other communities here as well.

Where do you meet these men, Cera, they cannot even pronounce your name. Cera is there a website or place where you go to meet people with weird accents and once again the English said no such thing.’


Cera rolls her eyes and puts on her shoes.

‘You will never understand.’ Cera seemed saddened. ‘You are married. At times a half a man siz is better than none.’


Cera stood at the matatu stage waiting for her date to show up so that they could together. He did show up like thirty minutes late.  He did not even apologise, he tried to hug her immediately, and she gave him her hand instead.


‘Come on, ‘he insisted. ‘With that sexy dress, you have to give me a hug.’


He tried to pull her for hug and she pulled away. ‘I said no!’


‘It’s okay.’ He forced a smile.


A couple of minutes later a matatu stopped and Cera attempted to enter but he pulled her back.

‘Eric.’ She was startled.

‘This one is expensive; fifty bob to tao, tunaweza pata ya twenty.’ He told her.

She was losing her patience already.


‘Let me tell you something about Kikuyu guys.’ Her sister had told her. ‘They are cheap dates. Most of them anyway.’


Cera breathed in, trying to calm herself. ‘But hizo za twenty zina jaza watu hadi kwa aisle and they’ll mess up the way your dressed and my hair.’


‘Cheap is the word Wacera not comfort.’ He said in a matter of fact way. ‘You need to save dear.’


Cera felt uncomfortable as he dragged her into the already filled matatu, she sat down but he had to bend over uncomfortably over her.


Just before they made the last turn to get into main road reading to town, they were bundled out after the makanga heard they was a police operation going on.


Cera seemed frustrated, lost in her own angry world. ‘A date for valentines Lord and this is what I get.’ She said in between clenched teeth. ‘It’s not like I was asking for a room at Villa Rosa Kempinski.’



Eric turned frustrated at her. ‘Now we will have to pay another twenty bob to town.’

Cera did not say anything as she stared at her dusty feet, she felt tears fill her eyes but she managed to wipe them away. Five years was a long time to date someone and then for them to marry someone else six months later. The ‘I love you’ had to mean something.


‘Wacera, dear.’ He started. ‘Maybe we should walk; it will take us like thirty minutes only to get to town.’


Cera was shocked; she was wearing heels, who in the world ask somebody out so that they can walk to their date on a dusty road. The temptation to take out on of her heels and attack him was getting real in her mind.


She was even more shocked when he started walking. She tried to but her legs would not move even a bit. Eric turned. ‘My dear, we need to start walking before the sun comes, otherwise utachomeka.’


Still Cera did not move. ‘Is he serious?’ she wondered out loudly.

Eric walked to where she was. ‘I see the shoes.’ He looked at her feet. ‘Aki hata nyinyi wamama mnapenda viatu zingine. Izi muachie wazungu.’ He seemed angry actually to her utter shock.


Had she just called her ‘mama.’  The word raced through her mind and she felt her heart fill up with anger.


‘Wewe enda na matatu.’ He suggested. ‘Mimi nikupate huko.’


Uko serious?’ she asked him finally.

He finally noticed she was angry. ‘Dear are you ok?’

‘Please don’t call me dear.’ She almost yelled but managed to remain composed. ‘I think I should go back home.’

She turned to leave, but he pulled her back.


‘Hey Wacera.’


She turned.

‘There’s a matatu coming, if it’s empty twende.’ He suggested. ‘It’s just I did not want to stand again, it can very uncomfortable you know.’


An hour later Wacera and Eric are seated a restaurant, going through the menu.

“They don’t have Ugali.’ Eric noticed.

‘You don’t have to eat Ugali every time you go out.’ Cera said.

‘Their food is so expensive kwani inakuja na insurance.’ Eric went on. ‘Everything here is no unhealthy.’

‘I am under the impression you do not like this restaurant.’ Cera said.

Eric noticed once again that she was getting angry. His phone rang and he went outside to pick it up. Cera watched hopelessly, she took her phone and started chatting with her sister on whatsapp.

Cera: You were right

Ciku: about what, I am right about all those guys that you keep dating

Cera: He’s talking on the phone again

Ciku: I told yah

Cera: My main worry is that he might run away and leave me alone

Ciku: Make sure you ask him for something that he leaves behind every time he goes out to answer is phone

Cera: Thanks for the tip sis

Ciku: Bill ikikam go to the toilet

Cera: What if he walks away when I’m in the loo


Eric comes back and sits down and moves close to Cera as their drinks come along.

‘So what do you do?’ Cera asked.

‘A lot, I am into import and export, I am in the taxi business and also I am in real estate, as in business ya kuuza na kununua mashamba.’ He finished off with a hearty drive.

‘Then why do you seem so broke.’ She muttered under her breath.

‘What did you say Wacera?’ He asked her.

‘Nothing.’ She forced a smile.

‘In fact if you want a car, or credit just say and I will sell it to you.’  He said.


‘The keyword was sell.’ She told her sister that evening.


Cera ate her food silently as Eric was on the phone most of the time. 


‘Please pretty red dress.’ She said as she took it off. ‘Pole sana for wasting you on that man. Who made me cry and laugh at the same time? I promise you the next date will be memorable.’

‘I told you so.’ Her sister walked in. ‘I know I married but am I happy no, what else would I be doing home on valentines night, if not for like the millionth time I had to ran away from that maniac because of his drunkenness and at times violent behavior.’

Cera smiled in a sad way.

‘I know you are supposed to kiss many frogs, but you don’t have to go out with them.’ Wanjiku advised. ‘You can tell from the word, don’t waste your time Cera.

“I haven’t dated many guys.’ Cera defended herself.


He was too short.’


‘the guy had a constant cold, always!’


‘He had a shao accent.’


‘he had a bulging stomach, eew!’


‘He wenged like he had lived in England his whole life.’

Wanjiku smiled. Well, I don’t have a point from the above discussion, but all I know is that while mkate nusu in Kenya is very significant.  Not having a man in better than a half a man.’





























Nevertheless, a heart stopped beating that day, a heart that had beat so loudly only a few seconds before, a joyous heart, one that leapt and beat a tad louder that most hearts, a heart full of dreams, a ‘dreamer’, so they called her, if she would have known how painful her death would have been she would never have attempted to go down the path that had lead to such an agonizing demise, it’s not like she had not died so many times before in the last decade or  so.


And a painful death it was indeed, death from a wound inflicted in the house of her friend, her partner, had it been an enemy or better still a stranger that had sought to destroy and kill her, maybe it would not have been as painful as it felt in those dying moments. He had mercilessly raised his knife nay a dagger, or better still a double edged sword and driven it through her heart, not once, twice would have been acceptable but he had done it over and over again, her resigned daze firmly fixed on eyes that were set on destroying everything that she had worked so hard for.  With every strike the pain ceased, a rather numbing feeling filled her mind as she drifted into the unknown, finally slipping into the darkness that had surrounded her brief and miserable married life, she could clearly see it quickly engulfing not only her heart but everything and everyone and that ceremony was fading into the darkness as well, it was like she was not there anymore, like she was hearing his voice from a distance.


BUT THEY LIED! There was no bright light at the end of the tunnel, just eternal darkness, there was no peace finally, just eternal condemnation in her heart and mind that made her whole body feel rather sore.


Jackie thought of what they would say at her funeral.


She pictured, a grey haired, tall man, who walked with a limp and his back bent, an effect of the very trait that the daughter had inherited. Over the past decade she had involved herself in so many business ventures all that greatly succeeded, only for her to stop half way to make room for Anthony’s career. Every step he climbed on the ladder of success, she seemed to go down ten steps.


Such true but incomplete statements, if only they had the courage to say it. “A young bright woman, who was foolish enough to give up the scholarship of a lifetime to study abroad in one of the best universities in the world for a man who thought she wasn’t clever enough,.” 


Then her old father would say. “A hardworking but naïve girl, who could have built empires, ruled nations, conquered the hearts of men and women but she didn’t.” she could feel the tears in his voice; she could see the mourners nod in agreement. What a tragic end to a heart that was hopeful to the very end.


Ten years earlier everything seemed to be going according to plan, she had highly excelled in the national examinations, at that point the petite, dark seventeen year old was the talk of their estate, her high school principal was so pleased with Jackie that he used all his connections to secure her a scholarship abroad at one of the best universities in the world and they had readily accepted her.


“What are you going to study?” her pastor had asked her after the three hour long service.

“Law!” she had answered ecstatically.


That was until Antony came along, an everyday guy, college educated, luck seemed to be on his side because he seemed to be landing very good jobs. She saw him once and her young heart was smitten by him, she dived in head first, there was no reasoning to logic when it came to Antony.


“It’s only four years.” Her father tried to sway a heart convinced of love to no avail.

“Father,” she reasoned with wisdom. “He is going to educate me. There are universities right here in Kenya.”


Has you father abdicated his role of paying your fees to him.” An angry mother retorted at her stubborn daughter. “We certainly do not need his help in paying your fees.”

Their pleas fell on deaf ears, the charm of a twenty seven year old man, with a few thousand shillings in his account overrode the voice of truth and Jackie eloped, rather moved in with Antony, to everyone’s dismay.


Anto.” She held the admission letter close to her heart a few months later. “It’s Law again.” She waved the letter excitedly in the air. “It’s for this coming September.”

Antony didn’t look that excited, as a matter of fact he went on reading the newspaper as if she had said nothing.

Sweetie,” he folded his newspaper neatly. “I am also joining university the evening programme for B-com.”

That’s great, we can both…”

No!” he shot her suggestion down as he would do for the next ten years. “I need you to stay at home at least for the next four years, until I am done and then you can go to school.” He started, on noticing the element of surprise in her face, he proceeded to convince her. “I will open a business for you so that you can keep yourself busy as I study.”


At that point she should have ran back to her parents and begged for their forgiveness for being the prodigal daughter, but sweet nothings won over solid evidence.


Four years later, she still dreamt of owning her own law firm despite being a wife and a mother of one while expecting another. She still hoped for great things despite being disowned by her father. Running a small kiosk near their rented flat, which in a matter of months she had transformed into a big duka, her savings were growing and she had found a partner to help her set up a Supermarket, and just when she was about to hit the jack pot, Antony was transferred to another district.


Let’s go.” He managed to easily convince. “I will support you to open another shop.”

She went on and followed her husband at first begrudgingly, but she truly loved her husband and was willing to set aside everything and follow him even to the depths of the earth, in the darkest abyss that her life seemed to be, she followed, thinking it was his hand she was holding. Her second hand business prospered again, but Antony insisted that she needed to stay at home and take care of the family of five, while he traveled far and wide to do business; he provided everything, for them. Their children attended privately owned schools; the arrangement seemed to work, until Antony graduated with a Masters Degree. Jackie organized for the best party her husband’s money could afford her. Prominent people were invited; they came in state of the art vehicles, bearing gifts that only the affluent could afford to pronounce the names. As for the food, the outside caterer’s hired spared no cent, sweet aroma of Mukimo, fried and roast chicken, chapati, nyama choma among other delicacies filled the air of an otherwise cloudless afternoon.


But as the blue sky turned gray and gray gave in into darkness an aura of imminent betrayal filled Jackie’s heart as he rose to give his graduation speech, it was like he had chosen a sharp dagger ready for his evil deed as he flashed a cheeky but rather beckoning grin at a young woman, seated a few metres away from the high table, sending a freezing chill down Jackie’s spine. The very woman Jackie had gotten accustomed to seeing, because she had been Antony’s classmate ever since he was an undergraduate, tall almost like Antony, light skinned, and had really large dimples that filled her cheeks whenever she laughed, used to be really slim until five years earlier when she had given birth to her five year old daughter, who sat next to her at her husband’s graduation party.


As Antony took the stand it was like a veil was lifted from her eyes, and she could see Antony for who he really was. He wasn’t her better half, rather he was the whole. Marriage was not the union of two becoming one rather one becoming the other. Two halves was just a myth, there had just been the one and the one was Anthony.  She had given up so much of herself eventually losing her \self in Antony. It had been all about him not them, there was no them, all the sacrifices had been about him, for him. The cold bitter truth struck her hard, tearing painfully into her heart. So that when Anthony asked Lisa to stand, Jackie was ready up. “And now introducing the third pillar of our family.” The knife sank deeper into her heart, the pain was now unbearable, and it was all too painful to swallow. “Lisa! this is my wife legally married at the AG’s office and we have lovely little Natasha to show for it.” Lisa’s dimple lit up her face and she smiled at her little five year old daughter.


He turned to introduce Jackie, but she wasn’t there anymore, he had killed her. “How could you?” she wanted to say. “I gave up everything…” But the dead tell no tales.


But it wasn’t a physical death that could have been way better; she was now the living dead. “He never asked which university I had been admitted to.” The tears gave way to a weary smile, as she packed her clothes into the old bag that she had used ten years earlier. “He never cared, he never did.” She wasn’t as enthusiastic as she had been, her dreams gone, three children, burdens bigger than she could bear, destination unknown. One thing was for sure though, she was never coming back.


And oh yes, her heart dead, never to beat again, it’s only memory was the sounds of a drum beating from the hills and mountains from a distance.




© Copyright 2018 Sonnie Kariuki. All rights reserved.

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