Friday, 28 March 2014


I have suddenly become fixated on babies, as if they feel a growing desire in me to have another one of my own. We all know that that time is no yet. (By we, I mean me, myself and I). Well, I must concentrate on making my life a little better before considering the thought of bringing another life to this world. The first time it was disastrous… but that’s not the story for now.

So in June 2012, I met this mother who had been rescued from the streets by a kind member of our church. She was not really a street mother; she was actually standing in the rain outside the gate to their court at Kariobangi South Estate. She had a baby, without an umbrella and was looking for a kibarua- casual job of laundering clothes. This woman- the church member, was overtaken by compassion and invited her for a cup of tea at her house.

The rest are details. Long story short, I found her living in the lady’s house. Her baby was sickly and from how he was breathing, I could tell that he needed urgent medical attention. The mother did not look any better. She was also coughing and her dark skin looked pale. Now I know this is wrong, but I seized the opportunity to share that the baby was breathing abnormally, just like mine before he died. I talked to the mother and she opened up to me. She had been tested and found to be HIV positive during her ante-natal clinic. I suggested that we take the baby to Blue House Clinic the next day. Blue House was a Comprehensive Care Centre run by Medecines Sans Frontiers- France.

We went to the hospital the next morning and after a myriad of tests, baby Earnest, 9months, was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. No wonder he looked like a three month old or even younger. I couldn’t stand it just seeing the doctors pocking through his skeletal hands and feet looking for veins to draw blood from so as to get his blood work underway. He cried till he lost his voice in the process. The things mothers do to innocent babies in the name of denial of their HIV status. But this was not the time to point accusing fingers. What had been done could never be reversed. Our priority was saving baby Earnest. After that long day, I left the three (Earnest, his mother and their hostess) to go back home with a cocktail of drugs, while I went to school for my evening class.

Two days later, the hostess asked me if I could take over hosting her guests because her husband was not comfortable having her around their children. They had five children, two of whom were equally young and they feared chancing infection with TB. So in the midst of mixed feelings of anger toward her hostess because of the sudden subtle stigma, and compassion for the young baby, I took in the two.

My heart may have overtaken my mind, because I was bringing them to a single crammed room, which was already bursting with my books everywhere. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a job. I comforted myself by the thought that where there’s a baby, lack is a rare visitor. God would provide. He sure did provide.

After two months of living with them. Baby Earnest had started looking like a baby, not scrawny as I first saw him. He together with his mother had been started on ARVs and were adapting well to the drugs. His mother was even back to looking for the vibaruas- odd jobs of washing clothes. Luck was on her side, because she always came home having gotten at least two hundred shillings. I advised her to start buying things and we started hunting for a house for her.

The responsibility of providing for a mother and her baby while I didn’t have a job, was weighing me down. One day, I just told her to go back to her former hostess because I could not manage hosting them. I gave them two hundred shillings (I wish I had more, because I could have given it), prayed for them, then sent them away, with my younger brother Clinton escorting them- they had luggage to carry, so my brother came in handy.

They were not received by the former hostess. She went to Korogocho slum, and found a cheap room, at 800shillings. The land lady was kind enough and accepted half of the money, as she looked for the balance.
To be continued.....

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


By: Juliet Jacqline

I look at the news and oh!
It feels overwhelming lately,
Cost of living rises daily,
Cost of labor not keeping pace

Seems this culture of rushing and running,
Has gained new momentum,
Everyone’s in a hurry,
Hurrying to where? I wonder
Or are they running from something
Perhaps, perhaps that might be true.

Excuse me, where is everyone going?
What’s the cause of the hurry? I ask,
Polite lass stops to give an answer,
Eyes still gazing on the road ahead,
It s chasing us run! Or else,
T’ll catch up with you.

What seems to be this problem’s answer?
Build capacity to live above,
Above storms that try to swallow
The weak will be swallowed
The world’s a tough place
No place for the weak.

Awake to the tough reality,
Life is a race against time,
Arise and race on,
Add value, work harder, and keep dreaming,
But not for long, take action,
Before it catches up and traps you.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Paying bills through writing

There are many avenues of writing. Winnie Thuku-Craig, Bonnie Kim, and Julius Sigei said jointly at the Daystar University’s writer’s workshop, Nairobi Campus. This Saturday’s morning was inspirational and informative as has been the trend for the past seven weeks.
Julius, the Nation’s editor said there’s a lot to be contributed to the newspapers: the literary section, opinion and educative pieces. Magazines, brochures, and blogs are other avenues to explore. He shared his writer’s journey and discouragements from critiques. “As long as you have a seed of writing, never say die”.
Winnie, with five titles to her name is a ghost writer, blogger, poet, songwriter and motivational speaker. “People expect me to be older. You don’t have to wait to be 50, to contribute to this generation”. Her writing came through a painful experience of losing a baby, a near death experience. In her book, Broken to be made whole, she speaks of stillbirth, a taboo subject in Africa.
Her life has been a series of long leaves. Being put on bed rests, from her first loss, an accident that broke her leg, and her two subsequent pregnancies. “This is the fourth time I have come out of my house this year due to my current pregnancy”. These breaks have produced her writing which pays her bills, though she is an accountant and has never been to a writing class.
Bonnie in his mid twenties has ten books to his name and is a motivational speaker. With a background in IT, he started as a volunteer computer tutor for genocide orphans in Rwanda in 2007.  He then served in cyber cafes in Kenya and later became Nakumatt’s head of training. He quit after five years, for full time writing.
His advice to cyber clients led to encouragement to write. His first book, Working beyond your limits was stolen by a cyber typist. He doesn’t have rough drafts, “writing like speech, should be intuitive. This has been proved by great speeches like Martin Luther’s ‘I have a dream’”.
Content management on social media and corporate blogs is another avenue. Writing is a one stop shop that pays bills. A simple proposal for writing after identifying the gaps, would earn a writer the job.
The workshop is open to the public for 500 shillings. Come discover more on writing, every Saturday from 8-11 a.m.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

How much is too much?

As writers we are often faced with the tough decision of giving out too much information and withholding some. The question is how much is too much information in a memoir for instance? This is considering that the book goes into the public's scrutiny and you have people involved in your story that you would like to protect. These are your family members, past acquaintances or even enemies you have encountered in your journey.
The first thing that you have to do is stay focused. What is your story about and what themes do you want to bring out? If you had an experience that you think may be interesting and you are tempted to add it in your book, you might want to consider if it builds into your theme.
Winnie Thuku, author of broken to be made whole says, “Some stories just water down the purpose of the book. You do not want to create conflict by opening a can of worms you are not able to deal with.” In her book, she writes of her experience having had a still birth and a near death experience. She focuses on the lessons learnt from that experience and does not mention other people who are not relevant in her story.
If there’s an experience which builds up to the book or story, then tell it wisely and protect the persons involved. Remember to stick to your goal whether informing, educating or entertaining. You do not want to appear petty in your writing. The best thing is to have someone go through your piece and accept their honest opinion on it. Take positive criticisms well and improve your work.
I am saying this because over the past few weeks I have been pondering on this question. It is my desire to get published soon, and I have been doing a lot of reviewing and rewriting. The working titles of the piece are “Scars for healing”, or “Wounded to heal”. I have not had much review by other people, but out of the self reviews, I feel that I need to change a lot.
Something that might help as writers ponder over these questions is the reaction of the subjects in your writing when they read it. Remember, if you decide that your life is an open book, not everyone else around you also shares your sentiments. Consult them on whether they are comfortable with the book getting released with them featuring as part of it. You should consider rephrasing your approach or even changing their names. Many authors have a disclaimer at the beginning of books- The names of characters in this book have been changed to protect their identity.
Thanks to the creative academy at Daystar University, for writers by writers. This is where you get to think critically about such issues and develop into a seasoned writer. Welcome next Saturday from 8-11 a.m. for yet another interesting session. It is open to the public for a fee of 500 shillings.