How to bake a cake easily – (using a sufuria /cooking pot) No sand, just low heat (gas)

vlcsnap-2018-09-16-01h51m57s963

I always believed I could only bake with an oven, then I was told about the sand method. That was placing the pot with the cake mixture in a bigger pot and surrounding it with sand and covering the bigger pot and placing it on the stove or a  jiko.

However, I was introduced to a simpler method. I got to know it from my younger cousin. Thank you Gift!

N.B.:  Before I start out I’d like to say that the method is not full proof yet. Or rather I have not mastered how to make bigger cakes, so I will only limit it to smaller cakes. Use 2 cups of flour as the maximum.

Alright, and off we go into this adventure

WORDS TO NOTE

SUFURIA – COOKING POT

MWIKO – WOODEN COOKING STICK 

It is divided into three parts

  1. Icing
  2. Preparing the cake mixture
  3. The baking method.

Things you need

  1. A simple recipe – Your choice or follow mine.
  2. Time approximately – 1 hour including prep time

Tools to aid you in this endeavour

  1. Sufuria(pot)
  2. Covering Lid * 2 + 1 is for icing
  3. Brown paper or any equivalent
  4. Cooking stick (mwiko)
  5. Spoon
  6. Mixing bowls* 2 – 1 small 1 large +1 is for the icing
  7. Mixer – if you intend on making icing
  8. Gas cooker
  9. 2 bowls + 1 for icing
  10. Measuring cup
  11. Fork/ skewer – For checking whether the cake is ready.
  12. Refrigeration – for icing (To give it a better texture – mostly preference based )
  13. Cooling Rack

Icing- egg-less

  1. 1 cup icing sugar
  2. 2 table spoons of double cream- or whipping cream or heavy cream/ sour according to your preference *
  3. 2 table spoons of butter / margarine whatever you prefer (solid)
  4. 3 teaspoons essence – of your choice
  5. Coconut oil – optional*
  6. 2 teaspoons – grated Lemon rind – optional*

With the lemon rind, I use it because it gives a nice variation with the taste, coconut; sweet, lemon tangy.

Mixture Prep

  1. 2 cups – self raising flour
  2. ½ cup – sugar
  3. 1 egg / for eggless two table spoons of vinegar
  4. 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  5. 2 tablespoons of butter/ margarine –preferably melted if you don’t intend on using an electric mixer.
  6. 3 table spoons – grated Lemon rind (optional)
  7. 1 cup of milk /water / half strength (half milk half water) – according to preference

I use prestige margarine because it doesn’t alter the taste of my cake.

If you don’t like butter or margarine, you can use yoghurt or maziwa lala (sour milk) to substitute it for moisture.

Baking

  1. 2 teaspoons butter / margarine/ cooking oil

Again, I like margarine because it doesn’t alter my taste – You decide.

The preparation will be broken into three parts.

Part 1- Icing

If you do not have plans to ice skip to the second part.

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Beat them lightly with electric mixer until they form a smooth consistency.
  3. Cover with lid and place it in the fridge while you do the rest of the preparation.

Part 2 – Mixture Prep

If you already know how to prepare your own mixture, you can skip to Part 3.

If not

  1. Into the smaller bowl, pour the flour and all the dry ingredients
  2. In the larger bowl mix the milk, melted butter, essence. If you chose to bake with an egg, add it here.
  3. Using wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture a little at a time stirring it in the same direction until it forms a smooth ice cream-like consistency.
  4. If you are baking an egg-less cake, mix the baking powder and vinegar in cup and once completely mixed, add it to the mixture and mix well.

Part 3 – Baking

  1. Line the bottom of the sufuria with a sufficient amount of butter – esp. along the edge
  2. Pour in the mixture.
  3. Cover the sufuria with the brown paper without leaving a space for escape of air.
  4. Cover with lid ensuring it is airtight.
  5. Place the sufuria on the smallest cooker and reduce the heat to minimum.
  1.  After 15 – 20 minutes, check the cake by poking it with a fork or a skewer. If the for comes out clean, and non-sticky, the cake is ready to be turned. (If you make a bigger cake, ensure you take note of the sides, if they are already browned, waiting for the fork to come out clean may risk a burned lower side of the cake. If this is the case, turn the cake as soon as the top is solid ).
  2. Remove the sufuria from the fire. Using a fork, detach it from the sides of the sufuria to ensure it remains whole as you take it out.
  3. Using a cool lid, overturn the cake from the sufuria onto it.
  4. Using a second lid, Turn the cake again ensuring, it is standing the same way as it was in the sufuria.
  5. If the bottom of the sufuria is too dry, add little margarine, not more than a tea spoon.
  6. Overturn the cake into the sufuria with the top now being on the bottom.
  1. Bake for 5-10 minutes constantly checking to ensure it does not burn
  2. Remove sufuria from the fire and remove the cake and place it on a rack to cool to room temperature.
  3. Once cool, place the cake on a plate, remove icing from fridge and spread the icing on the cake with a knife. Decorating skills get better with practice.
  4. Cut it, serve it, have it and enjoy.

I hope it will be delicious and gives you joy.

Alyce, the cake enthusiast.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Studying a Foreign Language in Nairobi: My Korean Language experience

Hello. 🙂

I am currently writing this in the comfort of my bed, munching on some oats while sailing down the inspiration river. I hope you will gain something about learning a language from my experience.

I studied Korean for two years in a school,  at King Sejong Institute, and at Mahanaim College but I am still learning four years down the line. There is no finish line in learning a language. I imagine how many times a day I come across English words that ring no bells in my mind, yet I have learnt it since childhood.

So, learning Korean was and still is a very fun process for me. I started in 2014 and till date, I find myself learning something new.

11093756_844106248993899_1874993165_n.jpg

These are the steps I followed:

1. FIND PURPOSE FOR STUDYING THE LANGAUGE

Whatever your reason is, it is valid. whether you want to move there for work or study there. I say ‘valid’ because I fall into the category of reason that is constantly in question for validity.

I studied Korean because I like how it sounds, I love Korean dramas, I want to live in Korea at one point in life, I’d like to write a drama and act and many other reasons that sometimes were not solid enough for entrepreneurship-oriented Kenyans.

The reason you need a goal, is because it keeps you driven. So many times I was asked why I did not study Chinese or German or French which some Kenyans may argue are more economically viable. (Lemme just throw it in here that I won a phone and laptop at Korean speaking competitions. More than English has ever done for me!). I remember a constant statement that I always encountered ‘Sasa… Korean, si you are only going to speak it in one country, South Korea and not even North!’

I was studying it because I was drawn to it. And so I stuck with it. And thus my journey across the oceans began.

2. TAKE INITIATIVE

My interest slowly grew as I watched Korean dramas after high school and I became fascinated with their speech patterns.

I would constantly say how I wanted to learn, but ‘WHEN?’ was my main concern. I read a quote that says ‘always pursue something when you feel that conviction, because it reduces with time.’

I was at a cyber one day and I randomly decided to google and the Korean alphabet. I wrote it down and that was my first step because after that I started googling how to write other things and my interest gradually increased.

3. BABY STEPS

As I said, my interest started in Korean dramas. I would watch them with subtitles and learn the easy phrases like ‘Thank you’ and ‘sorry’, ‘excuse me’. It was interesting when I started googling those words that I misheard most of them.

I have a book where I would scribble words and phrases I would hear.

It is just a series of misspelling, and invention of new words. Also, it kinda looks like I started nursery all over again. Like in the second sentence I say ‘busu marinyang’ instead of Musun mariya?’ Just to put it in perspective.

IMG_20180626_134224

my scribbles as I watched dramas, after learning ‘Hangul’ the alphabet.

4. LOOK FOR A SCHOOL

There are people out there who are blessed with sufficient self-drive. If so, it is very easy to find online classes and a ton of YouTube videos that teach a foreign language.

From my experience, most of them were just beginner Korean classes and mostly for those who intended to just visit on vacation and needed a few helpful phrases. And the ones that were more complicated, I felt I needed to have someone else who was having a hard time like me, ‘ndio tusaidiane'(so that we help each other out).

There are many foreign language school in Nairobi. The popular ones are like;

Alliance Francaise for French

Goethe Institute for German

When I was learning Korean however, no one I knew had ever heard of someone studying it. I did not know where to start. I googled language schools in Nairobi. My search even led me to the Korean Embassy in Kenya website. I know it was stretch.

I made a list of all the language schools I found and went to town with it. Luckily I came across a page about about King Sejong Institute. The article was about how it was about to shut down and I was reading it a year and a half later. 😦

Thank God, it was still running. I was lucky enough to find that in one and a half months, they would be having interviews for a new intake and better yet, the classes were free. And my journey continued.

5. DEDICATION TO LEARNING: ATTEND CLASSES, STUDY

11125981_844115722326285_317319197_n

Class photo King Sejong Institute, class of 2014

School was good. I had classmates I could share the experience with. It was a place where everyone came together because of Korean. I really enjoyed class. The teachers were interesting. They had so much dedication. You have to appreciate that. We would also learn about Korean culture and be told about life and practices in Korean. We even celebrated Korean holidays. And the food….the food was amazing! 2014 was the bomb.  I remember all my friends and I wanted to go to South Korea to study. This is how I studied.

 

  1. Attending class– This gave me a firm foundation in the language as we were studying a syllabus that took us step by step.

11148939_844117182326139_1565553149_n.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

  1. I watched a lot of dramas– with subtitles. But sometimes, I would try watch scenes without the subtitles and much I understand. It got better with time.
  2. Learning song lyrics. Our teacher Colonel Kim, would always suggest songs we could sing and would support our interest in the pop culture so my friend and I would sing almost every class. We even performed at a Korean event as a class.
11106318_843676105703580_895972361_n

We were dripping with enthusiasm for Korean

Song lyrics helped me with pronunciation and help add to my vocabulary. It also helped me phrases sentences. Korean sentence structure is different. instead of saying ‘I am going to the shop’, it is ‘I, to the shop, am going’. That’s just an example.

Songs helped me learn to express myself, as they in themselves are someone’s expression. Learning similes and sayings. So it helps you know how to articulate your feelings and say exactly what you mean.

Songs were extremely helpful for my reading. I practiced reading Hangul, the Korean writing system, while having to follow a beat. That way my tongue adapted to saying Korean words quickly. I learned a lot of rap songs for this.

Songs also add to the enjoyment of the learning process. What I mean, is find something you like in the language and use it to learn. For example, if it is poems, stories. They all add to the overall experience.

In addition to that, for simple vocab and grammar, I would;

  1. Count my steps in Korean as I walk.
  2. Respond to people in Korean, then say it again in English.
  3. Read Korean writings on bags I saw people carrying on streets.
  4. Read the ingredients on items that had them written in Korean. I ate a lot of Shin Ramyon ‘noodles’ for this reason.

6. PRACTICE SPEAKING

I say this, because a lot of the time Language courses are aimed at improving your vocabulary and writing. That’s not always the case though.

I remember in primary school we had dictation to see whether we could pronounce words and read paragraphs correctly. I think the idea was to remove the fear of ‘what if I am saying it wrong?’.

So in practising speaking;

  1. Find Company. Find someone who speaks the language or is learning like you.
  2. Do not be afraid of embarrassing yourself when you make mistakes. it is all part of learning. Think about any time you have met someone speaking Kiswahili or any other language you know. If you are like me, you are mostly impressed and would help them if they make a mistake. The same probably goes for them.

I am usually so afraid of speaking. I always want to speak to my teachers or random Korean people on the road, but I never can.

It is probably the result of (my belief in Karma) multiplied to (all the times laughed when someone ‘shrubbed’).  I wonder if it is a common practice to laugh at someone’s grammatical errors and mispronunciation in other countries.

So, I have come the end. I am not fluent in Korean yet, mainly because, my conviction wavers frequently as I am not in school anymore and I still don’t know how I’ll go Korea. But the fear of speaking is one I plan on ridding myself of. Soon, hopefully.

I will share my first simple steps.

  1. Go to Korean restaurant and order a Korean meal in a Korean restaurant.
  2. Make conversation with a Korean person.
  3. Speak in Korean to my Korean language teacher. 🙂

I hope that after reading this, you are also encouraged to pursue the foreign language of your choice and enjoy learning it. Hwaiting! (keep the spirit!)

If by chance you have an interest in learning Korean

Korean Studies at Nairobi University

King Sejong Institute in Kenyatta University

Korean Language Course in Mahanaim College

I had a great time studying and I hope your study will be awesome!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Camping in Kenya on a budget

img_20180624_014537

My friend Chris in his tent at Fisherman’s camp, 24th June,2018

I have just arrived home from an overnight camp in Naivasha. I am just about to run out of brain juice for the night, but I just had an idea to write about my experience and hope it inspires someone to take that risk and finally go camping.

There are a few reason to why I want to write this article.

  1. To inspire someone like me, who has wanted to camp for a very long time, but has just never taken the next step.
  2. To dispute any notion about how hard and expensive camping is.
  3. To prove that camping can be done in a day.

There are a lot of people who have wanted to try out camping and a number of things has stood in their way.

 

  1. Lacking company to camp with. -My brother cannot camp when there are hotel rooms.
  2. Overall cost of camping is costly- Transport there, rates of camping ground, food at campsite, renting camping gear.
  3. Finding Camping gear- tent,  sleeping bags, mattress, blankets,
  4. Choosing the perfect time for camping.
  5. Choosing where to camp.
  6. Planning and going for the camp.

This are not all the problems, but this are the main ones I faced. This is how I addressed each.

LACKING COMPANY TO CAMP WITH

Now, in Nairobi, there are a lot of fun activities to do that are common among people, but in my circles, camping was not one of them. Most people I know went for camps as scouts and girl guides, which is how I also went for camp, with the school and church.

So later on in life, after discovering my love for travel, I realized that camping is one way to cut down on travel costs. This is because camping is always cheaper than rooms. The only problem is that I couldn’t convince anyone. I tried it with my brother and he wondered why we should leave our home and travel so that we sleep outside on the ground.

This led me to seek a solution elsewhere. It was my constant suggestion of camping that led me to meet people who might have been interested. I literally brought it up in any conversation!

I realized that a lot of people are usually interested in trying out new things, it’s just always at the back of their minds and then the urge goes away. Once I identified people who might be interested, I thought we should start planning our trip and that is when the next problem set in.

OVERALL COST OF CAMPING IS HIGH

This proved true after outlining all the things we would need.  First was getting to a good campsite in areas like Naivasha would first require a car (which is not necessarily true). Car= fuel to and fro, then paying for camping, then renting camping gear, from tent to sleeping bag/mattresses to blankets. Another problem would be food and knowing some appetites….

All this were issues I had no idea about being someone who has never camped alone or with friends before. And as a budget traveler, cost is the one thing I love to cut. and in doing so, save on other activities I could enjoy.

I took my problems to Dr. Google. I found out about different camping sites around Kenya and read their rates on their websites for camping. Camping with rented gear is two to three times more costly than with your own gear.

Just take a look at the rates of the beautiful campsite I camped at.

Fisherman’s camp rates

Thus the first thing I would advise is,

If you want to make camping an activity you often do, I would be a good idea to invest in your own camping gear. I bought my tent at Nakumatt for only 2600/= (treading lightly on the ‘only’ part).

It is a three people tent (2 people comfortably) and I was surprised to be able to buy one in a supermarket. Seek and you will find, Ask and you shall be answered. Knock….moving on, you could also ask around to see if a friend has one. Options people!

Buy a sleeping bag. I got mine while I was a girl guide and it has served me till now, though it had taken a 9 year leave of absence. This is more portable than a mattress and blanket. However, some sleeping bags are very light and do not protect from the cold ground. Choose wisely. This is not set on stone however, because my friends slept on a small mattress(that could fit in their tent) and covered themselves with a duvet. So whatever is convenient, do that!

Carry your own food, drink and probably kuni (firewood). Ensure you look at the campsite policy first. At Fisherman’s camp, one is allowed to bring their own drinks and firewood for their campfire, but this is not the case everywhere. This is really cost effective. Coming for camp prepared saves a lot on cost.

With all these things to carry, you might wonder: how are you going to do it without a car?

The answer is…..I don’t know, for now. But as soon as I try you will be the first to know. But it must be possible with a plan.

FINDING CAMPING GEAR – I bought my tent for 2600/= in a supermarket. For sleeping bags, I looked around and didn’t find any thick in a supermarket but it can probably be found at Nairobi Sports House.

Other necessary camping gear

  1. Torch – we used our phone torches though..but they are not that bright unless you have the heavy duty X-TIGI next generation phone like me.
  2. Firewood – If you can buy it prior the better.
  3. blankets- sleeping outside is a challenge. it can get really cold.
  4. matresses

Do not overlook items that might not be provided.

Tissue, Soap, Towels, Toothpaste.

Also prepare for the weather: The weather might change and it might rain so carry items that will ensure you are prepared.

CHOOSING PERFECT TIME FOR CAMPING

I chose to include this problem, not because of weather or season, but because of a constant comment I have come across. ‘Camping needs us to prepare and buy stuff and get a car and do a lot of things before we go’.

This is true but most times, such comments block the way of any progress. If you want to go camping, work towards going camping. Find campsites that have cheaper rates for renting equipment or have all inclusive rates. Camping does not need to be done when you have three weeks time. Camping can be done even one day, look at me 🙂 , hypothetically. 😐

CHOOSING WHERE TO CAMP

In Kenya, there are so many options. From within Nairobi to Mombasa to Naivasha. Camping also requires some planning. In this digital age, all one needs to do is google campsites. this will help in familiarizing with their policies like on food and drink from outside.

Another reason would be to find out which activities are offered and whether there is a bar and restaurant on site as well as seeing how it looks. (Be aware that sometime what you see is not what you will get all the time). But I kinda like that in travelling, its not always pockets full of sunshine. This research helps in planning the budget. At the lake, the boat rides can be costly, depending on how much costly is to you. 2000/= – 3500/=.

When planning to go camping, my friend and I visited a few campsites in Naivasha to see which ones we would like and which activities were offered. Of course you don’t have to go all the way to see if you live far. If you want information, you can always try sites like Trip Advisor where you can read reviews of the campsites.

PLANNING AND GOING FOR THE CAMP

In this last point, I will use my own experience. It was not planned for a long time. It happened on Thursday, four days ago, when my friends and I thought of going for a road trip. We all thought it was a good weekend plan.

With my knowledge about a campsite, (which was from a year earlier, yes it took that long), we already had a place in mind. We all contributed to fueling one of my friend’s car. I carried my tent and sleeping bag. Two of us had sleeping bags. We carried a mattress and duvet for the others and got another tent from my friend. We packed our bags and just headed out, choosing to learn the rest ahead.

We arrived at Fisherman’s camp at night and paid 700/= per person to camp with our own gear and purchased a bundle of firewood at 250/= for a fire. It was VERY COLD. We warmed up by the fire, played games, talked, panicked after hearing hippos (which we were separated from by an electric fence). We had a great time camping on the shores of Lake Naivasha.  Surprisingly, there was a number of people during a considerably odd time for camping (not a special holiday).

Next time, we will plan better hopefully remember to carry toothpaste, soap, towels, sleeping clothes, socks, and sweaters and by ‘we’, I mean mostly me.

FINALLY,

I want to say that there can’t be a perfectly planned trip, just go for it the first time and once you realize like us that setting up your own tent is not as hectic (as long as you are sober), and we set up ours at 1:00 am, you will be surprised about why you didn’t do it sooner, but that’s just me. 🙂 #lights out.

 

Nairobi girl- How I went about dyeing my dreadlocks. Colour, product, Process

IMG_20171225_165014

First dye, I pack of creme of nature, lightest blonde

IMG-20170602-WA0001

Original colour

My dreadlocks are naturally black with a brown tint. Deciding to dye to another colour was a decision I made a year ago.

While I’ve wanted to dye my hair for a while, a number of things stood in my way.

1. What you need to know before you dye your hair.

I had to go online because there ate so many stories or dying that went horribly wrong. I wanted to know which dyes would not be appropriate due to health concerns. I did a little google research and made sure to steer clear of ammonia based dyes (opens up the outer layer of hair so that the dye can go through )and dyes that contain Para-Phenylenediamine ( PPD is also used as a wood preservative, Enough said!). Here’s a little article to get you on the same page.

https://m.theepochtimes.com/avoid-these-7-toxic-chemicals-found-in-most-hair-dyes_2040018.html

Now, that I knew what to avoid, next, I needed to know,

2. The Best dyes to use.

IN Nairobi, the predominant colour I have observed people dyeing their hair to is Brown and Blonde. I who understands that risks should be taken, esp when you are twenty, wanted a Pastel colour on my head, Pink, Purple or Bright blue with Grey highlights. The brightest colours I could get.

There were plenty options available online. The only thing is, they weren’t readily available on the ground in Nairobi (business gap).

I realized that the rift between Google and reality at that moment. I had the option to import, but at the time, I didn’t have a Master card. ( M-PESA is to blame. Seriously! It makes it seem unnecessary to walk around with a card).

So I was stuck deciding between, getting a bank account and Master card so as to purchase well reviewed a dye off Amazon or to take an on-the-ground through RiverRoad.

The decision depended on how often I was in town against how often I visited the bank.

3. Where to buy dyes

It was a hot and sunny afternoon, when I hit the streets of downtown Nairobi. I started with Best lady, where everyone goes but I didn’t find pastel colours, then went to the hair product business district at Latema Junction on River Road. Read about it here.

I found a number of dyes being sold very cheaply. However, they were brands I had never heard or read about. And for some, you could just tell by the packaging that the journey was going to be a rough one. A lady even offered to sell me two blue colour dyes at a very good price (Ksh300/= for both) but I declined. Maybe, it was the inner Kenyan in me, (using the common preconception that is -Kenyans attach trust to price. The higher the price the higher the trust.) Or maybe it was just a little doubt, sprung from the relation to the prices I saw dyes going for on Amazon and other sites. (Ksh1000/= standard)

4. New purchase options

Pastel colour was off the table for now. Unless, someone was going abroad and I could send them to bring back dye. I knew n one who was travelling at the time.

This stage set me back for a while. The guy who did my dreadlocks, had mentioned the availability of a dark blue dye that goes for Ksh2000/= a pack, but that sounded impractical. Judging by the fact that he retouched my hair for Ksh1500/= and in Rongai, where I currently reside(kind of) I get it done for Ksh700/=.

I settled for bleaching my hair(I didnt know about the effects of hydogen peroxide then). Then using henna to dye my hair golden.

It is a common culture among old Muslim Men esp. Somalis in the South C area, where I grew up, to dye their beards a golden brown colour. The revelation came to me, as I was walking near Jamia Mosque in town one day. I saw an elderly man flaunting(hyperbole) his fiery beard. I had seen the colour ever so often but never had it appealed to me as such an amazing colour. It was just what I needed.

I went to visit my mom, and to my surprise, she had dyed her hair the same colour. It must have been a sign.

I found a small kiosk that sold bleaching products opposite Portal House on Banda street that stands next to Jamia Mosque.

The bleach goes for 150/= and the dyes start at Ksh200/= a pack.

5. Purchasing the dye and locking it in

I stayed for a month before, I decided(my mom and my friends grew tired of the postponement) of waiting. Not another day!

I was on my way to town but due to unavoidable circumstances caused by a showdown between civilians and police, town was a no go zone.

It was in Rongai where I made my purchase.

After several consultations with two hairdressers specialised in dreadlocks, I made my way to Church Road near Tuskys supermarket Rongai There is a little muddy street just 50m in. It was decided that I should buy a dye by the name Creme of Nature. I decided to use it in place if bleach. I figured I could dye my hair the lightest colour they had, Lightest blond C40, then dye with Henna which goes for around Ksh70-100/= of al naturale hair dye.

The creme of nature dye cost me 750/= a pack and I was told (and not once) that one was enough.

The hairdressers appointment would cost Ksh200/= for bleaching plus Ksh300/= for treatment. And of course an additional Ksh700/= for twisting.

It was when she was halfway through the dyeing process that she realized it would not be enough.😲. Especially since I wanted to dye my hair from the roots. And it wasn’t possible to bring more dye from the shop in time, because the dye needed to be washed off.

5. Results

And this is where I am.

With semi blonde, semi golden hair. With black highlights. 😐just wondering, what next ?

But worry not, I am back on the internet googling on how soon one can redye their hair.

Hopefully, I will be able to do it myself so that I can give the hair enough dye and the dye enough time and hopefully get an even colour of hair before I think about looking for a pink pastel colour.

6.Advice

If you can buy the dye online, get it.

Go to a trusted hairdresser.

Have enough dye and time .

If you prefer to do it a home, remember to treat your hair afterwards and regularly oil it. Hairs have feelings too. 😊😊

Wanderer Wonderer – 70 years not gone by

cropped-imag2088.jpgHello Wanderer. We are connected at this point in time. I as I write this and you as you read this.

The journey that we walk is one where our minds are stuck in a Santorini beach side paradise while our heels tread deep in a muddy reality. We are all alike, I suppose.

Everyone has bigger dreams than the next. To build a commercial building, open a boutique, run a chain of restaurants. Unfortunately, we are chained to a lock beneath the muddy ground we walk. It’s like there in this one big anchor in the middle of place where we are, and everyone who walks into the city, comes with a chain and padlock, fastens the chain with shackles around their legs and voilà. So what has chained me?

It happens every place humans exist. How is it that I am such a being of habit, that I developed the habit of postponing the actualization of my dreams. Only for me to do something at 70 years of age and think of what my life would have been….

If I decided to invest in a quarry. I might have made a little money instead of settling for my job at the supermarket. I might have got enough money to start the boutique I wanted to start, then maybe I would have employed someone else and maybe, just maybe, I would have travelled to Uganda to get a new stock of clothes and wouldn’t have been there on the 23rd of March to be persuaded by John to help him take his shopping bags to the car.

Maybe just maybe, I would have been securing series of shops in Uganda to expand my business instead of being on lunch dates that ended in deceit. And maybe just maybe, I would have been on the cover of True love magazine the next year for my successes in July, so I would have been too busy with interviews with other magazines and newspapers and Maybe, just Maybe I wouldn’t have been available to attend the wedding where we said I do.

Maybe I would have attracted a number of local and international designers seeking to have their clothes in my stores. I would have flown to Paris 2 years later and have my first designs rocking the Paris fashion week. This is after I decided to work on designs because I had time to expand my creativity from daily interactions with designers.

Though I didn’t get a lot of attention in Paris, a designer from South Africa reaches out to me for a partnership that leads us for the next five years, designing outfits for Musicians to artists. We finally have our big break when we get a letter from an individual who wants us to design outfits for an entire gathering that will be held in Nigeria. It turns out he is a billionaire.

After that, it just goes uphill, from runway shows, opening shop in 23 countries and even being named next to the biggest names in the industry. Right next to Ralf Lauren and Louis Vuitton. Unfortunately, my partner and I don’t see eye to eye anymore. We split up the 104 stores all around the world.

By this time, I am tired of fashion so I decide to throw my reigns into writing. I have travelled to many countries on holiday with my first being at age 26, two years after the quarry to Mombasa. I have a written account of all of them. I decide to find an editor who advises me that the diaries would be well suited for a young reader. I have had no idea I had a writer within. I did love writing compositions in primary and high school. And so my first book is a combination of 54 different travel accounts in six volumes sold all over Africa and the rest of the world. 26 million copies sold in the first three months. Not bad, I would say, not bad.

I would proceed to write my second book. I would be staying in Athens, where I would feel a great Scholarly Presence in the air. The book encompasses my thoughts on life. I would have a really good title for it. I find inspiration that draws me back to my humble beginnings and I write….write my self to the podiums of speakers, TED talks. I am very humbled after having my book win several awards. I am humbled.

4 years later still seeing the success of my book and tours of motivational speaking, I get a call from Hollywood. Permission for an adaptation is requested of me. It is beyond me. I still don’t believe it as I place  my heel on the first inch of the red carpet.

‘Excuse me’, says Tom Hanks. ‘Watch out!’ says Jennifer Lawrence, ‘I enjoyed the filming’, Leonardo DiCaprio speaks to a reporter from E news. I stand four inches away from him. If I just loose balance by mistake, I’ll brush shoulders with him.

‘Are you okay?’ he asks. ‘I am fine. Sorry. I must have tripped. ‘ ‘Its quite alright. I’m Leonardo’ ‘Oh hi. I’ve heard that name before ‘. I give myself an invisible tap on the back as we begin our first conversation. Smooth.

The experience in Hollywood is surreal. Meeting all these people you see on TV. I take my try at acting. It’s not my best trait. I soon tire of the fast life in Hollywood. I only make appearances to book launches and as the occasional star guest to talk shows. I wouldn’t call myself a s though.

I think to myself that I need to go talk to my people back home. I need to see more of them out there winning. I fly back, buy a house in the simple suburbs of Gigiri and begin investing in education for the ambitious youth.

Its a hard business that has everything trying to penetrate 20 levels of corruption in order to thrive. But I’m not one to quit.

Ah! Twenty years down the line and no one remembers our sleepless nights, the pain we went through and battles we fought. It is simply recorded in an article as ‘The Wonderer and Other great people changed the face of Kenyan fashion and view of Kenyan Fashion in the global market in only twenty years. I still smile and raise a glass to the hard years in between.

Retirement. It has been three years already. Looking back thinking of the journey that was walked. Now I just want to relax and have the active guest of twenty four tell me about the adventures of life in places I visited thirty years ago.

BUT where will I find them?

I never did take my quarry. I was listening to cries seven months after the July when I said I do. How 25 years went by raising 5 little heads are beyond me. I should start a boutique now.

‘Not yet!’, calls life. Louise, my first head brings home a wrapped bundle of joy. She had dreams to move forward. I stay behind with the little head for 15 years because Louise moved abroad. I send my little one across the skies to meet her mother.

Maybe now I could do something for me. Unfortunately, my mother in law was ill. Ill for five years. I took good care of her to her last.

Now, to salvage my life. I need some money.  I stopped working to raise my little heads. John doesn’t budge. A mere twenty thousand won’t be missed. I casually pick Johns phone as he steps out to donate twenty thousand to the mother of his children. I come across ‘Gachungwa’ Legion 32. I call her that because there have been many. I should have been tired a long time ago. What happened to my stand against the adulterer? Today, is however my birthday of 70.

54330/= sent to Wonderer for my services to the future of my lineage.

I stand at my quarry. 25 feet in length. Now, where shall we begin?