It is around the year 1890 in Mbanta,a village in Igboland,Nigeria.Okonkwo is sitting under an iroko tree, chewing on a kola nut,longing for Umuofia.And perhaps longing for his mpango wa kando he left back in Umuofia.He  has been banished from Umuofia for seven years for beating up his wife in the week of peace. His old friend Obierika pays him a visit. He has carried along the yams he has harvested from Okonkwo’s piece of land which he has been cultivating for him in his absence. After a long chat and catching up, Okonkwo is at loss on how to thank his old friend Obierika.

 I don’t know how to thank you, started Okonkwo.

I can tell you, said Obierika. Kill one of your sons for me.

That will not be enough, said Okonkwo.

Then kill yourself, said Obierika.

By the time the two friends part, it’s clear to them that Okonkwo-a man who was not known for feminine graces like gratitude-has no words to show his appreciation to his friend Obierika for his kind deeds to him.For some deeds,saying thank you is not enough.

In a few days, we bid 2018 goodbye. Another year has come and gone. The sun has completed its retrograde trip around the sun. So today here in Drum Major blog we make it a day of expressing gratitude to our readers. Why? Because we believe that no duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks. And in a way, today we are like Okonkwo of yore .We don’t know how to say thank you to all of you who have been with us this year.

But why are we grateful? After all, we haven’t hit the big league yet. We aren’t in the list of who is who in the blogosphere. Drum Major isn’t yet listed in Forbes list of Best 50 Blogs to Watch. Going by our back office readership analytics, Drum Major is largely read in Kenya, with a few friends scattered in the four winds checking it out once in a while. Is that something to write home about?

I started this blog in June this year when I turned 40.I didn’t start it out to make money, or get famous. I started it because I was hearing stories in my head and I had to tell them. When I started it, I never expected anybody to turn up and read my stories-which I largely consider to be some idiosyncratic musings of a man just turned 40.

Luckily, you and another reader and another turned up and read my stories.To have someone reading this blog in an era where a folks hardly read beyond 300 words is one magical thing in my life. I was not expecting anyone to turn up when I did my first post. But it took me by surprise that several readers turned up-and for that have no words to thank them.

You might also be asking yourself why you should be grateful to Providence. Life may have been unkind to you this year.You failed that critical exam. You failed to get that dream job-or that juicy County Government tender. You didn’t get a hubby, despite the promise by that pastor in a green suit and fake crocodile sharp shooters that you will be hitched by June. You didn’t get to buy that German machine despite tithing faithfully. Yes, you are not where you wanted to be yet. But in retrospect, you are not where you used to be. And that’s one of the many reasons why you should be grateful. There are a hundred reasons not to be grateful, but again, there are thousands of reasons to be grateful for this year.

2018 came with its own pains. I have lost a few friends-something which I am sure applies to most of us. Life is about losing those that you hold dear-by and by. We collectively lost Joseph Kamaru and Aretha Franklin-two artistes whose music blessed our hearts. Humanity is the less without them-each time a clod washes down to the sea, we are more the poorer. Thus anytime I touch my veins and feel the cardiac throb of Bantu blood coursing through them pumping ‘I am I am I am!”, I get a reason to be grateful to our Maker. Because I am alive.

So far I have been grateful for what I have. But it’s also prudent to be grateful for what we don’t have. We have to be grateful for not having life threatening conditions. We got be grateful for not being bereaved. Yes, we have to be grateful for the bad things that potentially could have happened to us-but didn’t.

As we forge in into the New Year, we got to remember that this is the youngest we will ever be. Every other year will leave us older than the previous. Thus we should capture the essence of every moment when we can.

To you the reader who took time to read our posts, to you who shared our stories on various platforms, to you who emailed us to say that Cege wa Maguta story brought them fond memories, I have no words to say thank you. To you who loved our Wajir By Bus story, we have no words. Yes, to all of you who all said that our folktales like Leila and Feila and The Lost Sister rekindled fires in your hearts, we have no words. To you all who commented on our blog, we have no words. Thank you is not enough.

To all our readers out there, you were the wind beneath our wings in 2018 and for that, we will endeavor to give you better content in 2019 to make your time here worthwhile. And that is a promise we are making to you. Now that the year is almost gone, last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. Here at Drum Major, we will endevour to be that voice in 2019.

From the Drum Major team, we pray that may you be blessed till all your neighbours hens lay in your compound.


By Wakini Kuria

My shopping centre goes by the name Murengeti. Literally, this means a blanket. This has nothing to do with the chilly weather, just mere coincidence. A story goes of how an old shepherd died while out grazing in the fields along the highway, leaving behind not only his sheep but a blanket that everybody found taboo to touch. The old man took a nap never to wake up again. Passengers would instruct the driver to stop at ‘murengeti-ini‘ and the name stuck.

This is that place where you get your eyebrows turn white with cold droplets. Comedians crack the joke that, Limuru is chilly in the mornings, because the people there sleep with their mouths open.

Before, residents didn’t put up gates to keep out thieves, but rather, the many donkeys that were let loose by their owners and were only collected when they were needed to run errands. The beasts of burden were left to roam freely and should they be lucky to enter your garden, they would eat everything green and leave fresh ‘sponge’ in their wake. Nowadays, the beast has long been replaced by nduthis though.

The sluggish centre boasts of only a handful building harbouring a few shops, one pub, a clinic, some rentals and a few kiosks.

Located along the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway, I grew up witnessing weird cultures such as people from ruguru, who would take out a human corpse, beat it up for refusing to go home from Nairobi.Ruguru is the name our people use to denote Western Kenya.

The vehicle would probably have broken down or ‘refusing to start’ and after the thorough beating the corpse would ‘agree’ to go home.If the person in their lifetime had refused to ever go back home, they would cheat him by placing the corpse with the head facing towards Nairobi.  Believing that he was headed towards Nairobi and not home, the corpse would agree to go. No more car breakdowns.

All the while, from a safe distance residents would be watching in horror as the relatives worked on the dead man with clubs and sticks, instead of fixing the faulty vehicle.

Road carnage claimed too many lives on the busy highway, but the statistics reduced drastically with the introduction of the Michuki (God bless his soul) laws. An ordinary day would turn tragic, marked by a loud bang that would see residents rushing to the scene, not necessarily as good Samaritans, but to salvage whatever the victims had in possession.

Today, fewer pedestrians are knocked to the next world as this has been left that to the nduthi guys. They get snubbed like flies. These nduthi ninjas are known to be notoriously reckless.

For one, they don’t go for professional training. A guy will just show up, ask a friend to let him ride up the Kuria wa Gichui hill. On his way downhill, the-now-expert will be carrying a passenger.

If one of them happens to cause an accident, the entire nduthi community will come out in multitudes carrying petrol and burn to the ground the vehicle that killed one of their notorious own.

My grandfather whom everybody referred to as ‘ndagitari’ owned one part of the shopping centre. He ran a clinic at the feet of his homestead and drank half the liquor in his pub christened Solidarity.

It is here that I would go to get him. His patients knew where to find him if not at home or at the agro-shop. They would ask: “Watoto wa daktari, wapi daktari?”

We would then stop playing and rush to The Solidarity to get him. There was always a reward for it. You either got a bottle of soda or mutura from the butchery-cum-pub.

He was ever there for them. More so the December season where he helped boys transition to men. Half, if not all the men in the neighbourhood became men by his hand.

I remember how the-boys-now-men would leave bouncing away, walking with a spring in their swagger, wearing a grin that spelt, I-am-now-a-man especially to us little girls playing in the compound separating the clinic from the homestead.

Today, nothing much has changed. A big number of men still idle at the recently built bodaboda shade from sunrise to sunset. They pounce on ‘new arrivals’ as they alight matatus demanding for handouts “Si unafanya Nairobi? Nunua chai” should you come driving, the demands hikes double.

Thats my shopping center for you.

About Wakini Kuria

Wakini Kuria is a writer, editor and journalist. A book enthusiast who likes to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of chai to beat the cold Limuru weather.One of her favourite quotes is Never let life beat you into submission.


By Kimaru Kokota

Like the smell of a rotten egg patched on a cloth, the odour of events that transpired that day has permanently refused to leave your brain. You still get that feeling whenever December staggers to take its place and space on the calendar. You have since tried to forget it. But then, possibility is a word yet to be injected into the dictionary of your struggle. You are like that bitter lover who thinks of how terrible her ex was because he used to bite his nails but still find her hands twitching on his DM, aching to write him a text. You just can’t move on.

Whenever you think of it, you see the 12 year old you amongst an exuberant lot of children. Pregnant with expectations and the childhood ecstasy that comes with knowing that the saviour was born of a woman. Not only a woman, but a virgin. A Virgin! Your Sunday school teacher’s face always lit up whenever he mentioned the word virgin. It was a word that seemed to be packed with a unique respectable honour that was only used on Mary. Not Mercy, Sharon or even Brenda, just Mary. You liked the name so much that you promised yourself to use it, at least once, to cover for the creativity impotence in your compositions. It was on the same line of Mary and virgins that you pitched the idea to go for renditions a skit on kuzaliwa kwa mtoto Yesu.

The face that your Sunday school teacher put on was characteristic of the one he had whenever talking about Virgin Mary. It is how you knew it was a great idea. The other children were summoned and it is how you found yourself in a queue. They were all shining in their new Christmas clothes, faces shining with Vaseline and innocent smiles which were their natural make up. You were also elegant. Only that you had a decoration, a natural ornament, that hang from the mouth of your nose. The ornament was like two rivers that ran from the nose to the lips with obnoxious slowness. Nevertheless, you were trim and ready to play mtoto Yesu part.

Hands were raised whenever a character was mentioned. From the hands raised children were assigned roles to play. Some got roles without a whisper while with some, a heated debate ensued. The three wise men, the manger owner, Joseph, infamous eye witnesses and the donkeys were found. The only vacant slots remaining were for Virgin Mary and Mtoto Yesu. You were still hopeful since the slot for mtoto Yesu was vacant. The teacher’s face lit up in a way you all knew whatever he was going to say next was about a virgin. Only a hand was raised. It was Penina, the girl from over the ridge. It was a direct entry for her. No other girl in the grouping could compete against her. Like a jigsaw puzzle, her character and face perfectly fitted the role of Virgin Mary. All the boys in the village and the next knew that she had never ever played kalongolongo. She was a true virgin Mary, this Penina.

After it was all settled, you remember your hand shooting up even before the teacher opened his mouth. You were the cockroach amongst them but your confidence couldn’t be housed in the body of an elephant and a hippo combined. They all stared at you like you had just transformed yourself into a black cockerel as it happens in Afro Sinema. At first you thought that it was another case of direct entry.  You then looked around and saw the halo of surprise and disbelief they wore on their heads like a crown on a model.

I want to be mtoto Yesu .

Your utterances were received with guttural grunts of disapproval. You looked at them, the teacher included, with a look that imminently said, Yaani you guys don’t get it?

You can’t be baby Jesus! Millie said and then continued in her soft childish voice. ..Yesu hakuwa na makamasi kwa mapua.

Embarrassingly, you touched your nose as if to confirm whether all she said was true. It is then that you met the thick syrup that had been your face decoration for as long as you could remember. Another two rivers were added to your face, only that this time around they flowed from the eyes. You cried your small heart out. Partly because no one approved of you playing the role you so much dreamt of, but mostly because your Christmas was ruined. How could it ever be the same with the kind of embarrassment?

You have now probably grown older. You are not supposed to be troubled because, it happened while you were a kid. At the time, the only thing you were passionately kissing was the tips of Coca-Cola bottles. Smartphones and the slavery of social media had not tiptoed to your analogue world. Christmas meant new clothes, vibrant talks with aunties, playing hide and seek with nephews and nieces late into the night. It was Christmas in December and even lice on beds in ushago knew it.

Sadly, for you, it will never be Christmas in December. The memory of you wanting to be Mtoto Yesu with mucus is still fresh among your childhood peers. Whenever you visit ushago for Christmas, after saying how much you have grown and asking when you’ll get a wife, the question next on queue, is whether you still remember that incident. It irks you to say the least. You will have to accept it, or better, get used to it.

Until then, it is no Christmas in December.

About Kimaru Kokota

Kimaru Kokota describes himself as a kick ass writer,avid reader and photographer with no camera.He is also a Bathroom singer and a Dancer in bad dreams. Kimaru is the Writer in Chief at Kokota Tales where you can read more of his punchy tales.


By James Ouma(Guest Writer 5)

A long time ago, when the British were about to leave, a banquet was thrown for girls from all over Kenya. Each of the girls was given a gift that they were told to unwrap as time went by. Some were given instant rain, fertile lands, minerals, beautiful gaps in the teeth, swinging hips that made men want sell their plots, ideas to make money and others gifts.

But not with Turkana. Turkana was given a handful of sand and a small envelope that she told to open after fifty long years. She waited and waited as others celebrated their good fortune. Many mocked her, laughing at her saying, “You will never amount to no good. Why don’t you just give up and stop dreaming!” They even sung a song about her saying there was nothing to smile about her gift in an envelope.

But Turkana never gave up. She kept on counting the years. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with her. And just before Kenya celebrated 50 years, Turkana took out her envelope, blew away the dust and with trembling hands, she quickly opened the envelope and found a tiny cracked mirror inside.

“So it is true what they say,” she said tearfully. “I have been waiting for fifty years for a tiny cracked mirror? This is nothing to smile about!” she sobbed, her bosom going up and down like the tidal waves in Lake Turkana.

After crying for a long while she looked at the mirror. It was so tiny that she couldn’t see her whole face but just a part of it. But alas, she liked what she saw. One by one, Turkana started seeing things she had never imagined she possessed. Her lips turned to the left as she smiled while her eyebrows danced up and down in celebration. Slowly but surely, Turkana started smiling more often. She became thankful for what God had given her. She started appreciating the expansive and endless sand she possessed. She began appreciating the thorns springing like acne on her face. She began loving her lithe dark unschooled sons.

With time every kind of blessing started springing up all over the place. They discovered oil. They discovered water. They discovered a treasure that was way beyond measure.

And suddenly everyone wanted to be seen with her.

About James Ouma

James Ouma is a Born-Again Christian who loves writing about family and parenting on http://www.jamesoumawrites.com/.

He likes mentoring boys and exceptional young men in juvenile correctional facilities through Lifesong Kenya.To support his charity work with boys,James runs and cycles to raise funds .

James is also a creative writer whose passion and purpose in life is to use creativity, skills and experience in TV Production and writing to bring a song in other people’s lives.

“Life is a song! Sing it, dance it, live it!”

-James Ouma


By Njeeri Thuo(Guest Writer 4)

It was approximately twelve weeks before the end of year and I was in deep thought of the 2018 roller-coasters. Let me speak on my behalf;it has been a very difficult year financially, emotionally and career wise. I thought I could go to the village and relax at least for a week, but after a lengthy call from my aunt a week ago, this might not be an ideal plan. Her talk of cows and goats are driving me nuts. All the same, I am grateful for everyone who took time to check on me or sent the ‘blessing and encouragement’ forwards. My spirit has been fed and nourished, again I say thank you.

On this special day, in the deep mood of thanks giving, I decided to call my aunt. She has consistently and persistently being there for me; definitely I am her major prayer item. From our many conversations, she wouldn’t mind to come for sleepover at my place for a ‘Weekend Challenge encounter’, but I am  brighter than she thinks. What a constant lie to self?Please let it be known-aunties are genius beings who use a lot of metaphors. We all know that one woman in the village who doubles up as a retired teacher, a Sunday school teacher, Mothers’ Union chairperson and also the village Guidance and Counseling Chairperson. She is also the wife of a church elder who doubles up as the cattle dip chairman.She is a member of the board of the nearest primary and secondary school. Not forgetting that she is either a cake matron or the mother or an aunt of all the brides or bridegrooms… and always a ‘close friend’ if not a long term colleague of the deceased in the village. That’s my aunt.

She received my call on the first ring. This was so unlike her. Before you reach her on her mobile, you have to call her several times or call her neighbor and request her to tell her to keep her phone somewhere she will hear it ring or else you call at 8.00pm after she is done with watching her favorite Kenyan comedies. These aunties are also complicated which they call discipline. Before she even responded to my greetings she happily said:

What a coincidence? I was about to call you. I am just some few meters from where you told me you stay. I will be there in just a couple of minutes, kindly thagana (come for me)Then she disconnected the call, which I knew was intentional.

 Aunties are smart. They know how to push you to the wall to get what they want. I tried calling her again but she didn’t receive my call. I hurriedly got a leso which my grandma gifted me many years ago when I was migrating into the city and a baggy hood.Knowing my aunt very well, decency is a delicacy and a leso will hide the denim skirt I was wearing and save me from her criticism. I then ran to meet her. As I arrived at the stage, she was alighting from a mini-bus. The conductor who was my primary school classmate was helping her with her with her heavy luggage. Then the bus left-leaving me to deal with my aunt’s ‘mischievous mission’.

I carried one of the heaviest kiondos and her handbag (trust me, I know her and I played with her mind too) as she carried a lighter kiondo.We walked slowly towards my place as she up-dated me on the happenings of the village. Apparently, all her stories this time are all revolving one life cycle ritual: the weddings and the ‘ruracios’ she will be attending this December. I heard to end that.

 ‘What happened to the man who passed on?’

 I tactfully interrupted the conversation, of course confusing her with several common names since I didn’t know of any specific man to ask about. But somehow I managed to change her line of stories.

By the time I am opening the gate, she is now talking of the sick and the plans they have for elderly during Christmas season. She takes her bag and removes a card for a funds drive for wazee and she also reminds me of the church drive in aid of purchasing musical instruments.

My aunt was so mesmerized by a portable vegetable garden in the compound. ‘I see the rural – urban migration hasn’t taken the village teachings away from you’, I shyly agreed. No way would I disclose the garden is my neighbor’s least she would use it in her mission. ‘Unlike you, your neighbor has a vegetable garden; the city life undid my teachings. That is why you are still single’-she would have castigated me. After this she walked into the house and in an African way started looking on the photos on the wall,the animal carvings, the seats, and then book shelf where she took her sweet time on the books and magazines. My sixth sense clearly sensed the genesis of her mission when she lingered at the shelf.

A Prayerful Wife’,she read out loud. ‘Marriage Takes Work,’she continued. Before she took the next book I excused myself and went into the kitchen. Being a retired trained teacher, she is a ‘psychologist’ too and she had to apply the principle of ‘Beneficenceand Nonmaleficence’ and allow me to make her tea in peace which I served her with some arrow roots (definitely this would save me too). By now she was seated and seemingly reading ‘The 5 Language’ of Love. Huh! The worst game one can engage in is playing hide and seek with a devout spirit of an aunt. At the end she always wins. Anyway, after having a very quick silent monologue, it was time to have a dialogue with her:

 ‘Aunty, I am believing in God to get a life partner. The books are of so much help’, hoping she would get spiritual and we end up holding hands in prayers. She had already told me she won’t take long because she needed to go and shop for a dress for our neighbor’s daughter ‘ruracio’.Poor me-she started her lamenting how she thought someone will bring cows and goats.

 ‘If the man can’t afford that for now, some lesos for women and something small for your fathers is also ok,’

She started sounding desperate which irritated me but my manners kept me mute. The lecturing was lengthy but at the end we concluded this topic wouldn’t be revisited over Christmas. I promised her that cows and goats business will be closed next year. Hopefully I can now plan a tranquil Christmas at shags.

Dear parents, aunties and uncles, allow your children to enjoy Christmas in peace; it comes once in a year and the city life is very hostile. Postpone the cows and goats discussions, they should not interfere with the celebration of the birth of Christ. We can resume the discussion in February after we recover from Jaa-nuary ailments.

About the author

Njeeri Thuo spells her first name with a double ‘because she can.She is a Nairobi based accountant who loves writing, traveling and reading. Apart from writing Njeeri has  interests in public development and governance.She is a firm believer in the truism that even the short people can see the sky.


By Wangari Wachiuri

I have heard stories of students paying boda boda guys, mama soko and makangas to act as their parents after being suspended from school. But it never crossed my mind that one day I would pay someone to act as someone else to save me.

 Mine is a different story. It was back in 2010 whenI relocated to Garissa-yes, the one in North Eastern Kenya. Accommodation was provided but after the training I decided to get my own house.

My first house hunting was not bad-I easily got a house at a place called Windsor. It was an easy process since the house was owned by a “nywele ngumu’’- a name people from Northern Kenya use to refer to non-locals. One day I went for a holiday and when I got back at around 7pm I was shocked to find my house had anew occupant and most of my household items missing-but that’s story for another day.

After the Windsor experience I started house hunting which ended up at a place called Bura Sheikh which is one of the estates in Garissa town.

 ‘Masichana kidogo,bwana yako iko wapi’? The landlord-a tall man with a bakora whose beard was dyed the colour of Royco asked me.

Hakuna bwana’. I answered him.

 ‘Kama hakuna bwana hakuna nyumba’ He said and went off to the mosque for his magharib prayers swinging his bakora up and down.

 That’s when I discovered I couldn’t get a house because I was a young single lady. I was told that Somali culture doesn’t allow a young lady to live alone let alone rent a house for herself. This was a major obstacle for working single ladies.

 What do I do now? Then the idea of ‘rent a hubby’ crossed my mind. I decided to get one of my friends to play “husband”. But there was a challenge-my friends were too young to convince a landlord with dyed beard and kanzu that he was my husband. When I was about to give up a guy came to say hello to one of our mutual friend’s at the shop we were in. He listened to my story and came up with the idea that I pay him and he could act my husband. I told him since he was a Garissa resident and a stranger, he would act as my brother in law. We agreed on the price and off we went to Bura Sheikh where I had spotted a house.

 We met the landlady and after introductions we told her why we were there. It never crossed my mind that she would ask why I was accompanied by my brother in law and not my husband but she did. I looked at my“brother in law” and saw he had nothing to say. I told her that “my husband”was a cop who had been transferred so I had to move out of the police camp. That lie earned me the house. I escorted my “brother in law” and paid him. I cleaned the house and moved in same day with the few items that I had salvaged from my previous house-my documents, work tools and my clothes. The first night I slept on a curtain on the warm floor with mosquitoes feasting on me.But all in all I slept soundly now that I had a house.

Questions arose when two months passed and “my husband” had not been seen since I moved in. I was beginning to worry but luck was on my side when the land lady left for Dadaab to oversee her projects. She stayed for two weeks and when she came back I gladly told her I had been looking for her to meet “my imaginary husband”. She felt bad for not meeting him but that stopped her from prying into my life. I lied to get the house and to keep the house for the sake of my job.

The other day a friend from Garissa called to ask how my husband is.  I answered her- ‘I imagine he is doing well’.

About Wangari

Wangari shares family names with one of the heroic men who liberated this country-Kimathi Wachiuri.Thus you could say she writes with  bravery.Wangari writes fictional and real life stories and also poetry.When she is not writing,she likes going for game drives and nature walks.She is based in Nyeri Kenya-with lots of travels.


Men will always give swanky nicknames to their pets-be they dogs, cows or their beloved jalopies. Often they use fancy like names Natasha or Talia. Sometimes they have their daughters give the family car a name like Tiana borrowed from some Disney character.

Unknown to many women, cars aren’t given feminine names because they are cute. Its not even a homage to the role mothers played in nurturing famous car inventors like Henry Ford or Carl Benz of Ferdinand Porsche. Far from it. Cars are given female names because they are fussy and demanding. And expensive to maintain too.

 The unfortunate thing about cars is that they age and get rusty and start coughing enigmatically. Such that they no longer look like Natasha and your neighbours start calling them kang’othi.There is no equivalent English word for the Kikuyu word kang’othi. But in a few words, kang’othi refers to an ancient car that coughs like it has engine tuberculosis and rattles like it has chassis arthritis and smokes like it has carburetor bronchitis-all at the same time. When everybody starts calling your car kang’othi, even the local stray dogs avoid peeing on its tires-lest they catch some diseases from it. You can leave a kaquarter of sizzling tumbukiza on its bonnet and a starving flea-infested mongrel wouldn’t touch it.

 The winds of life have taken me many places. In my youth I found myself living in a place called Ting’ang’a-that shopping center that has never changed since 1955. Near my hosts lived a man called Njau who owned a kang’othi.You could say it was a prototype-Njau boasted that its seats were once warmed by Henry Ford’s American bum. The whole village called the car kang’othi  ga  tung’othi-the father of ancient cars but that didn’t prevent Njau from boasting to everybody about its prowess and pedigree.

 It was well known that no one touched Njau’s car. Not even his mechanic.Njau would have rather let you kiss his wife but not touch his car.Folklore had it that he once let his wife touch the steering wheel when the were courting, but it never happened again after they tied the knot at Ting’anga Catholic church. That was Njau and generally Kikuyu men for you.

Generally, Njau had nothing but choice superlatives for his car. There is this mzungu from Karen who gave me Ksh two hundred thousand for this car, but I refused. He would tell us-me and his two sons-as he ferried us to Nairobi every morning. But sometimes the car would refuse to crank and Njau would hurl unkind words to it. He would tinker with the faulty clutch, suck the carburetor lovingly with his mouth, bang bonnet then command the car thus:

Ruruma gwakare gaka!(Get cranking, you stupid thing!)

The car had ears and would splutter to life immediately it heard those words. You see, cars are made from earth and have water and electricity in them and thus soul. Cars too have a spirit and a name. Sometimes the car’s brakes would fail and Njau would shout to it and it would stop pap. Automobiles are unreliable and dangerous slaves. Sometimes they revolt and kill their masters, but not Njau.

One day, as we were coming from Kiambu town and climbing that steady hill towards Ndumberu, the car accelerator jammed when it was on the floor. The car chewed that steady climb like a 6,000cc turbocharged Bhuggati. For some minutes, we stared at death since there was no way of stopping it. Luckily, it run out of fuel just before Ndumberi Golf Club saving us from early death and an early date with Ol’ Peter. When it did so, Njau got out, lit a Nyota cigarette, looked at the car if he was seeing it for the first time, then chuckled:

Gaka gakware nikangiaturaga.This stupid thing almost killed us.

By the time he was done, we had already disappeared into the nearby coffee bushes,ready to walk home. We could not take another chance at death by boarding that metal trap when we had lived less than twenty years.

The next day, we were going to Nairobi and the car lost control as it negotiated a corner at Muthaiga. I always wondered how Njau did that corner  without killing us.In fact,anytime he negotiated that bend, I always treated it as attempted suicide when he was alone and attempted boycide when he was carrying his boys and me. When the car finally showed signs of slowing down,Njau shouted:

Rugama gakware gaka kana uturage! Stop you fool or kill all of us. The car opted to stop instead of committing mass murder.

Next, we were going to Githunguri town and as usual, Njau was boasting to my uncle about the unique abilities of his car:

My car knows its way home when I am drunk. He started with his usual clincher.

Ehe! Can it open the gate for you too? My uncle who had a disdain for alcohol asked him. The three of us boys rubbed our rough hands with glee. Njau had finally met his match.

 My home doesnt have  a gate since I don’t have enemies to hide from like you. Njau retorted back, his Adam apple going up and down agitatedly, like a small animal was trapped in there.But you could say there was an animal trapped in Njau’s body-if his fighting spirit was anything to go by.

Ok, can it open the door for you? My uncle pressed on. This was getting rougher than Smackdown-that wrestling show we never missed on Tuesdays at KBC TV.

I am married to an obedient wife. Njau shot back. My uncle assumed this faraway anguished look-like he was sitting on nails. The rest of the journey was carried with Njau whistling a naughty Kikuyu tune triumphantly and my uncle clutching his Bible with resignation-like a crusader returning from a lost campaign. That was the last time my uncle got a lift in that car.

As time went by, Njau’s car’s notoriety as a death trap became something of a legend. Cops no longer stopped it-you couldn’t be sure whether that thing would stop or plow into serikal.His friends evaded him to avoid getting a lift on it. Only his boys and I had to ride on it daily from Ting’ang’a to Nairobi and back. It’s inside acquired the smell of asphalt and grease and failed dreams-like an abandoned factory. It had no AC, but Njau told us stories to warm it during those cold Kiambu mornings.

Its hubcaps disappeared and since you couldn’t find hub cabs for a car manufactured by Henry Ford himself in 1934 in Grogan, Njau fashioned some for it.Its muffler came off and dragged under its carriage raising a racket loud enough to be heard by Henry Ford in heaven. No sweat, Njau fashioned a muffler for the car too. With each replacement of a part, the car slowly became Kenyan. Or to be precise, assuming that Njau won’t read this, a mongrel of a car.

Then one day, some young fellas told Njau that his car was so hideous that it scarred kids. They also added that the car was the cause of rain failure in that area, amongst other calamities. This was mean, but we concurred with those bold chaps.

The following weekend-which I recall is around that time Princess Diana funeral was running on TV-Njau took a hand brush, parked the car under an avocado tree, and started painting it. With passion and pain and panache, he wrote some mean words on the car’s rear bumper. From then on, nobody dared laughed at it. For on the rear bumper of the car,in bold red hue, he had posed a stinging question to anybody who dared laugh at his jalopy:


My car maybe ancient, but do you have suchlike?


By Kantai Kotikot

“Listen here friend, not all days are sober.”

I have always wanted to start one of my stories with that line. The thought is funny, the thought of sober days and drunk days. The thought that some days are those days that you play sane music like T.I`s “ Dead and gone,” or Imagine Dragons ” Whatever it takes,” and then others play in your mind like Mejja`s ” Shigribadi deng deng deng deng.”

Listen here friend, not all days are sober.

There is a quality to drunk days, the same quality that Maina wa Kinyozi calls ukweli ya ulevi. Drunk days dont happen on Friday evenings, when you have bought your kaquarter Chrome and are relaxing at the bar with akina King( whose real name is Kingori) or the band of boys who keep the bar as their second loves, right after the bottle. No, it is not so. It doesnt happen on Mondays either, when you turn up to the office in a  nice suit after a harrowing world war with Thika Road jam, no. Monday is officially a hangover day on all our calendars, pale. It can’t be drunk. The day cant be drunk when you are trying to be sober.


Let me tell you. No? You are not drank yet? The worst drank day is Sunday. Yes. Sunday? The day of the church. The day when your wife dresses in African print and walks to church, most of the time leaving you alone in the house. The church is more often a woman`s house, and that is the gospel according to your Saturdays.. You want to argue? Sit down. I am the one pigaing the story here.


I have a history with Sundays. They are the days when everyone is drunk from yesterday. They are the days you wake up with a strange person in your bed, or you wake up in a strange bed in a strange room with a strange person, and you can’t remember how you got into that bed. Or cant recall how you got into that person-pun intended. Goes without saying that most of the times you are naked, your member is balancing limply on its own, on your thighs. You were drunk, the drink showed you the way, and your lower head obliged. Sundays are a drunk day.

Listen here friend, not all days of the week are sober.

Sundays are like matatus. It is the unruly day of the week. It rushes, and it stops. It speeds to Monday. The sun rises up and sets before you have had your prayer. Sunday is in a hurry. It is so drunk that it can’t stand its sight long enough.

Oh, you can have a drink another drink on me. Listen.

See, Sunday is also the day to lose everything. The day good people die. It is the day we shout hallelujah in church, the pastor collects tithe, the gospel is preached, and it is the day good people decide to meet the lord.

See, on this day, the, lords might be drunk too. Si we said that the sound of worship, inebriates them? Didn’t we? Yes, the voices of beautiful ladies in African wear singing the strange ” Nara ekelemoo” does confuse them a bit. Don’t you agree? And that is just when good human beings leave us for higher beings. Perhaps they choose their times right, because then the angels at the gate won’t be too sharp-eyed to see them sneak into heaven.

But it’s not just that. It’s also the day we lose people, to being drunk. Good people. People like Michael. You knew Michael? You didn’t? Oh no.


See, there are days when he would get drunk, drunk just a little to stagger his way home, with a bottle on his hands. Yes, the usual drunk that makes you call a police officer an idiot, or slap the person who opens the door for you. That’s a usual kind of drunk, you and I know that drunk. The law calls it drunk and disorderly.Its always around us. It’s the drunk that makes you loose your phone and you won’t remember ever losing. It’s the happy drunk. It’s like Saturday. It’s just drunk. Nothing much, just drunk.

But Sundays were not those days. No, Sundays were sacred. On Sundays he would get as drunk as he could be. He would drink everything that he could. He would mix them, in the hope that the cocktail in his stomach would kill him. Sundays were sacred.  But on this Sunday, he didn’t get drunk. He didn’t drink the usual gallons of keg at the pub. No. He swam in it, and he drowned, way before he could get home.

And that’s exactly what happened. He drank what he could drink. He drank the dry ones, and the wet ones. When the waiters tried to stop him, he shifted bars. You and I know that no one shifts bars in the day. That’s an activity reserved for the night. But he was wanted to drink, and drink he did. Until his feet couldn’t touch the ground again and the gates of heaven beckoned his soul. That’s the kind of drunk he wanted, the Sunday drunk.

When he had had his fill, as all us walevis do every once a while, he left. He lifted one foot and none would go. They stayed there, on the ground, jesting him. But he was a man of will. The legs could not treat him as Sundays treat him. He summoned up the demons in him, and he forced the legs to move. And just when he walked out, the doors opened as if they were the gates of heaven, and a speeding car took him to heaven.

He had drunk with Sunday. His Sunday had got him drank. Even after he went to heaven, the day staggered on. The other drunks drank on. You and I came and sat in this bar, on these two tall stools.

Listen pal, not all days are sober days. On some, don’t dare drink. They are drank.


About Kantai

Very few people get the unique chance to have a name with some musicality to it-and Kantai Kotikot is such a man.And just like his unique name,he has a unique talent-the ability to see mundane everyday events with fresh eyes.This is aptly demonstrated in this story that  infuses dry bar room humour-like Hemingways-and a commentary on the brevity of life.

Kantai describes himself as a  hard on Maasai man.After going through his blog,I realized that he has a  hard on for writing.The blog drips with fresh talent-and  a fresh turn of phrase.You can follow his interesting blog at  www.kantaidrips.com.



By Berina Ogega

Beautiful Zipporah, stood on the doorway of her grass thatched house, pushed her head forward, short of the falling rain and….

“Zachariah!” she whispered harshly. “Zachariah!”

I heard her, woke up from my afternoon nap and tiptoed to the door. I had to see and hear this. I wanted something to talk about with my loving husband Sospeter. We gossiped. Yes, you are asking if a man gossips, yes, most couples gossip. A man and a woman may not be loving each other as they should, but when it comes to gossip, you should see them bending, their heads almost touching, gossiping.


Many times, I have reminded Sospeter to repair our heavy wooden door, but he says, “I know, you do not have to keep reminding me. If you go on, I will leave one morning before you wake up and you will be very poor and lonely.”

“I will sell tomatoes,” I tell him. “Or even onions,” I sneer.

“That cannot pay rent and fees,” he retorts.

“Seriously,” I say, “You should listen to yourself while speaking,” he stands with hands akimbo. “We live in a mud house. We built it, we do not pay rent, but every time you talk about the expenses, you mention rent.”

“One would think you took part in building it,” he sneers. “If you are not careful, I might start asking you to pay rent.”

“I thought you said you were leaving,” I smile. “Seems like you have forgotten that my cow produced the dung that built this hut. You also seem to have forgotten how I sat from morning to evening with my iron pail waiting for the dung to drop.”

“Ever heard anybody on earth boasting of being the world’s biggest producer of cow dung?” Sospeter asks. Suddenly, I have the urge to take that dowry cow and go back to my parents. I don’t though, because I know… after a few days, Sospeter will come with a short story of ‘man and loneliness’…. ‘man and cold’…. then ‘man and polygamy’. The story of ‘man and polygamy’ will always get me and my cow to run a marathon back to our mud hut.

. “I forgive you, but where will you get the school fees and food?” he makes sure to drag the word food.Fooooood.


If Sospeter had repaired the door, it would not have made this loud sound… ‘kekekekeke… keeeeee…’ then a soft thud, as it hit the ground, and another duh… causing Zipporah to turn, with her tongue out, the worst face she could make, shaking her head vigorously. I wanted to show her my tongue too, but I remembered my age…. and thought, the neighbors might be watching. They will see me and go tell about the old woman who showed her tongue. I folded my hands across my chest and pointed threateningly at her from under my left elbow.


As if she did not notice, she turned and whispered, “Zachariah! Za…”

Zachariah was already standing at his door, with an angry “What?” look in his eyes.

“Please bring that clay pot of water, please, please…” she bent forward and stretched her arms.

His hands in his pockets, Zachariah leaned against the door post. “Hey,” Zipporah continued whispering, “That one, please,” she pointed at the clay pot.

““I told you the other day not to bring your clay pot here,” Zachariah did not move.

“Look at how useless the girl is,” both turned to look at me, I closed my eyes, hands akimbo, chest forward and shouted, “that is why…. we,” I thumped my chest, “the village people always wish these proud girls would remain in the city.” I had not realized that the rain had stopped. My voice echoed throughout the village. Wooden windows opened one by one, faces stared at me, and I knew, I had made new enemies. The girls from the city.

Zachariah ignored me. “What are you protecting from the rain?” He asked Zipporah. She stepped out of the hut onto the mud and walked carefully towards her clay pot. “You trimmed your long hair the other day,” Zachariah looked her up and down. “It is natural,” he squinted at her face. “and I cannot see any make up on your face and hands.”

Zipporah tried to lift the large clay pot of water and slipped. She let go and looked at Zachariah with a pleading face.

“No,” Zachariah said shaking his head. “I will not. You asked me to help you yesterday, that you would marry me if I did. I kept peeping through the window to check if you were packing your belongings to come and stay with me, but you sat next to the fireplace with no sign of wanting to get married.”

Zipporah suppressed laughter. “How do people look like when they are about to get married?” She asked facing the opposite direction, grinning.

“I waited for you in the morning to hang your wet clothes on my line,” tears of laughter ran down Zipporah’s cheeks like two streams. She placed her hands over her eyes until the urge to laugh went away, then turned to face Zachariah. He stepped back into the house.

The rain dropped lightly. Zipporah rushed to where I was.

“Please Mama Nyakundi,” I quickly stepped back into the hut and shut the heavy door.

I startled Sospeter who had been snoring on the bed. “What is it?” he asked angrily.

“If you had repaired the door…” I began before he cut me short…

“Don’t you start!” he shouted as he sat. “Mention that door again and you will go back to where I got you from, with it… take your stinky cow dung too.”

“Are you are sending me away?” Sospeter did not answer. He clicked his tongue and poured porridge from a flask that was on the table into a large mug.

“Mama Nyakundi! Mama Nyakundi” Zipporah knocked on the door.

I opened. “You are whispering too much,” I said, “You are overworking your throat; are you not afraid you might get a sore throat?”

“If people got sore throats out of whispering,” she replied, “you would not be having a throat at all. You are always all over the village,” she bent forward and moved from left to right. “Bisi bisi bisi here, bisi bisi bisi there.” She straightened and looked over my shoulder.

“Baba Nyakundi,” the rain poured, she pushed me aside and entered the hut. “Can you help….”

“Help what?” Sospeter asked, “You have been very disrespectful to my wife! Get out before you find yourself covered in this porridge!”

I rushed towards Sospeter and took the porridge from his hands. “There is nothing else to eat in this house.” I reminded him. Zipporah was afraid. She left quickly.




About three weeks earlier, Sospeter had gone to the market to buy an avocado.

“I want a ripe avocado!” he ordered. The shopkeeper brought him a ripe avocado.

Sospeter shook his head and shouted, “Are you deaf? Didn’t you hear I want a ripe one?”

“It is ripe. Here, press it.” The shopkeeper said politely.

“It is not yellow!” Sospeter took it and threw it over the roof.

“You think I am foolish!” he shouted at the shopkeeper, looked around furiously and left.

This is a small village. Word went round that Sospeter was a destroyer of peoples’ goods. Rumours spread that he was a very dangerous man, who lost his temper like sparks from a fire. Shopkeepers closed their shops every time they saw him. They closed their shops to all members of our family. We could not buy anything. We tried sending our neighbors for food. They never brought anything back. They did not find what we wanted, they asked, could they try again the next day? And the next? And next? We had no food. We were starving.


A few days ago, the aroma of chapatti attracted me to Zipporah’s house.

‘Please give us some.” I asked Zipporah as I stood at her doorway.

“Today is not a good day for handouts Mama Nyakundi,” Zipporah replied pretending to be concerned. “If you had come yesterday, I would have given you ugali and sukuma.”

“Please,” I begged.

“No!” Zipporah shook her head. “Not chapatti and chicken. Come the day after tomorrow, I will be cooking maize and beans.” She gently pushed Mama Nyakundi out of the hut. “You should be doing better than me. You have a husband.” She closed the door.

I walked home crying. Sospeter was very angry after I narrated my story.


“Zachariah!” the whisper jogged me back to the present. I rushed to the door.

“My woman,” Sospeter chuckled. “One day you are going to break a leg.” I almost choked with laughter.

Zachariah appeared on the doorway, looked at me, raised his eyebrows, shook his head in wonder and turned to Zipporah, who was looking at me.

Zipporah was drenching wet. “Do you mean I will not have good sleep now?” Zachariah was irritated.

“I am sorry,” she whispered. “I am sorry; I will marry you! Please bring me the water.”

“Sore throoooat!” I shouted, tapping my throat lightly.

Zipporah turned and threw her hands in the air. “Can’t you see we are having a serious conversation here?”

The many wooden windows that were closed when the rain started pouring opened again. Eager eyes watched from behind them.

“You tricked me into giving you that hut.” Zachariah was fed up. “Now I cannot throw you out because every time I try, you shout, ‘ Help! Thief! Thief! Murderer! Killer! Attacker!’ The same insults everyday… speaking of which, don’t you have a dictionary from which you can find new names to call me?” Zachariah disappeared into the house.


Zipporah turned to me. I walked up to the clay pot and asked her to help me push it to her hut. We pushed and pulled and managed to reach her door.

“Wait!” she turned and whispered. “Zachariah!”


She took two steps towards his house. “Zachariah!”

“Can we get this clay pot into the house first?” I was impatient and hungry.

“I wanted him to come and help us.” Zipporah explained.

“You cannot have men doing everything for you Zipporah.” I whispered.

She lifted one side and I the other. I lifted with all my might and banged it against the door frame. The clay pot broke. “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!” I whispered as Zipporah sat on the floor and sobbed. I walked to the fireplace, then left.

“Sospeter!” I laughed as I entered our hut. “I had my revenge. I broke her clay pot.”

Sospeter grinned. “I knew when you rushed to help her, things were not going to end well.

“Look.” I showed Sospeter what I was holding. “I stole this from her.”

“We will need a hammer to break that,” Sospeter touched the hard chapatti and laughed loudly.

I showed him the dark brown chicken. “My goodness,” he said, “I wonder how many times she reheated it. Preserving food for four days is not easy.”

“Another advantage of rain.” I sat next to Sospeter. “Free food from lazy people. I hope she gets another clay pot so that I can help her carry it to her house, the day she cooks chapatti and chicken.

“Zachariah!” She whispered, “Do you have an extra clay pot?”

I knew we were going to get free food soon.


About Berina

Berina Ogega is a writer of fictional short stories. She also loves hiking, knitting, reading and cooking.She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.Berina is also working on her first book which will come out soon.

Berina’s greatest passion is trying to bring back hope and humour to people who have already lost it.This comes out clearly in the above story which intersperses folksy humour with witty outlook on life.

For further reading of such witty anecdotes,visit her blog at www.berinaberrry.wordpress.com



I am a sucker for stories. Stories are powerful because they create something out of nothing: courage out of fear, knowledge out of ignorance, and hope out of despair. The greatest teachers in history from Aesop to Socrates to the Nazarene taught through stories.In fact, Jesus himself was not a theologian, but a God who told stories.

Stories can be used to relive experiences. Stories can be used to heal. But most importantly, stories can empower people. Stories make us human .Listening to someone’s else’s stories-entering their feelings, validating their experiences-is the highest way of acknowledging their humanity, the sweetest form of usefulness.

In October I made a request for my friends to contribute stories to my blog Drum Major. I didn’t know the kind of fun I was bringing myself to-my inbox got a deluge of wonderful stories. Stories about hope and love and life. Stories that are a different kind of true.

From today on we will be running those stories from guest writers  here at Drum Major. Don’t miss out on them.Dont miss out on a chance to validate humanities experiences.