I had the most inspirational week last week. We cannot really predict the future, but we can make effort to be in the places we want to be, meet the people we want to meet, do the things we want to do and be the people we want to be- in life. Now I am not going to use blog space to give a Martin Luther kind of a speech on how inspired I was.
So since the end of a matter is always better than the beginning, the end of the Eleventh Bikozulu writing masterclass is worth story telling. I can shout it from the rooftops of my blog page that I met, spoke, shared a table and was taught by my writing mentor. His name is Biko. A prominent writer I must say. A mjango worth being around. When I see him through the lens of hundreds of his writing masterpieces out there, it just amazes me.
Last week on Friday was the third and final day of the class. The last speaker of the day was the famous columnist, Oyunga Pala. A man with dignity written all over him.
“So guys that was Oyunga. I hope you have learnt a lot from him. All what he said is true. Let’s appreciate him again people.” Biko said as the twenty of us applauded with claps.
A cloud of inspiration filled every corner of the grand suite in the sixteenth floor of the Nairobi Safari Club Hotel. Every single face gleamed with promise of better writing through more practice.
“So that marks the end of the eleventh masterclass…” He was interrupted by loud murmurs amongst us.
“Yea I know you guys don’t want it to end. We did have good time. Again, frankly speaking, you guys were the best class we’ve ever had.”
That statement was sweetly taken in, judging from the reaction of the entire class.
“So guys, we have to finish in style. It’s not over until it’s over. We are going to have drinks at The Annex, the former Kengelez. You guys know it?”
“Wow! Yea! Yea we do…” There was a mass response.
“And the drinks are on you.”
Everyone giggled in a manner to protest.
After a closing prayer, the real patrons could be spotted within the room; psyched up, smiles stretched to their ears and trying to get others to go along with them. I loved the fact that they knew too well that while drinking alone, the booze tastes bitter.
I packed my laptop slowly as I listened in to conversations of ‘who is buying who a drink.’ The background activity of my conscience was a tag of war on whether to go along or not. A bar? I had never been to a bar. Before I could make a decision that would have denied me a memorable time in my life, someone tapped my shoulder.
“Hey Vick, let’s go I buy you a drink.” It was Lucas. A vibrant and hilarious man, twice my age but with a youthful figure. I giggled as I thought hastily but carefully on what to say.
“A drink or a soft drink?”
Laughing, “Weeh twende. You’ll find ‘crop-tops’ there.”
I was amused. “Aaah wacha izo. Hehe.”
He made that joke on the basis of my youth and an article I had written in the class about a hot chillie in a crop-top. I was convinced that I wanted to have my share of the fun. So there I was, matching across the hallway towards the elevator. I was in the company of three ladies.
We walked into the bar. Confidence and a sense of purpose for the evening sold out through our faces. I was the youngest in that class by the way. Though that did not scare me. The ladies confessed that I even looked like frequent patron in that place. Those are the moments I thank my beard and mature figure for representing me well. Because, enyewe I am young, but not a minor. Hehe.
We ascended up the stairs over to the balcony. The floor had a glamorous open view of the entire street. Traffic was building up gradually. Music was playing in the background. Humongous screens displaying a soccer match hang on the walls. I pictured the place packed with football fans jeering and cheering their teams during big matches. I’m just not into soccer. Sometimes I even ask myself what kind of a man I am. What kind of a mjango am I? Anyone? I don’t drink alcohol, I am not a fan of soccer, not even video games, I don’t turn up, I have never smoked weed and can I even drive a car? Have I ever lost my… Never mind. You may say I haven’t lived a life yet. Yea right. For my new record, I was in a bar, for the first time in my history. We should drink to that. Drink a soda for that matter. Hehe.
Eeiy karibuni.” Biko said.
“Thank you.” We responded as we took our places on the high stools. The long table was at the edge of the balcony, next to the rail. I was seated next to Biko.
Well, it shouldn’t go without saying that I tried hard to compose myself, not freak out at some things that perhaps I was not prepared to see. Not that I had never seen them before. Lakini, si unajua tu? The best case lied not in something but in some people. They were dressed in bright orange mini-dresses and others in greyish ones. They were the angels of the bar; running around attending to the orders of ‘holy’ patrons. I should put some stress on the dresses they wore. Mjango, they were short dresses. The trademark of a bar I suppose. It was the last approval I needed to know that I was not in some café, restaurant or kibanda. I was in a bar, where drinks are not sold to persons under the age of eighteen. Therefore, because I am a mjango, I cannot fail to mention that they were of different shapes and sizes. Probably not to be seen by persons under the age of eighteen as well. Waitresses indeed.
I am not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Their presence in the bar serves a good purpose. I’m imagining how nice a male patron feels when being served by an angel in a short skirt, a good figure, a spicy voice and a face qualified for the Forbes magazine cover. Maybe that makes him thirstier for a drink. It will make him ask for more shots, which is a good thing for the management- especially when one is drinking alone and has nobody to talk to. Perhaps the day might have been a terrible one and all he wants is to escape from this world for a moment. So with the comfort and magic of the booze and the stimulation of the bar’s angelic figures, far far away he goes into wonderland found in cloud nine. Maybe after several shots, he’d realise he is not thirsty for a drink anymore. He is just thirsty for something else. The only thing left to expel the stress of the day. Hehe mjango!
Anyway I had not really gazed at them to my satisfaction. I just had to pull myself together to focus elsewhere lest I get caught red-handed by my fellow patrons. Alafu nianze kujibu mashtaka? Neigh.
“Guys we should order something.” I heard someone say.
The menus were passed across the table. I laid my hands on one. You bet that I was hoping I’d find something fancy but non-alcoholic. All I could see were brands I have never even heard about in my life. Vinsanto, applejack and others too hard to remember.  Why should I remember them anyway?
“Boss, what will you have?” A waiter asked.
“Virgin Colada please.” I said.
The waiter looked timid. We should have been served by one of the bar angels. I think I will go back soon just to have one of them serve me. Okay I cannot go alone. What kind of a man will I be? I’ll take someone out instead. Not a lady definitely. Because I would be going to see the waitresses again. If I took out a lady, she will be offended when I flirt with one waitress, or even two. Akina dada nimekosea apo kweli? I’m not serious mjango, so relax.
It was getting darker outside. The music was playing louder than before. In no time, a party of bottles and glasses had filled the entire table. One could tell from the weight of laughter and volume of voices in conversations that the booze was taking over.
“Vick how do you feel hanging out with people older than you?” One Mary asked.
After giggling, “It’s interesting I must say. I’m used to it by the way. I blend in quickly with older people than with kids. Many of my friends are older than me by the way.”
“You don’t like kids?” another lady asked.
“Well, you know I am a last born. I attribute my poor blend with kids to the fact that I have never spent quality time with any, especially kids below the age of seven. Maji na mafuta.
“Better get used to them before you have trouble with your own.” She says and they all laugh.
I was not alone in the no alcohol team. Some had milkshakes, others sodas and others just a mocktail like me.
“Why don’t you drink?” Biko asked.
“Simple. It’s all about sticking to who I am.” I said while looking into his eyes to prove my certainty.
He smiles a little bit. “Yea, kuwa true.”
That was not the same reason for everyone else though. Some ladies said that they had their share of the fun in their lives in campus. They drank like fish I tell you. Before they could waste themselves, some saw the light while others just felt that chapter of their lives subside. One said that she had a terrible three day hangover the last time she drank in campus. She has never gone back to the bottle.
Another said, “Ever since I bore my first born almost ten years ago, I have never drank again. In fact I tried. I went out with my girls thinking that I’d be able to fire up like before, lakini wapi? After the second sip I just couldn’t go on.”
The bar was almost full by then. There were patrons present for different reasons. Some were on a date, others were on a boys/girls night out, some checked in straight from work for relief, others didn’t have a better place to go and others were celebrating like us. I looked at my watch, it was 7pm.
“Eh! Guys I have to go. Sasa nikama nitaondokea ndo wazazi waendelee.
They laughed and joked along, “Eeh ebu enda uji ya mummy inapoa.”
Uende nyumbani straight usisimame Koinange!
Woiyee unataka mtu akusindikize?
I shook hands with Biko. It was a moment to embrace for a lifetime.
“I like your psych bro, make sure you stay in touch. Email me.”
“Alright Biko. I sure will. Thanks for the drink and the class at large. It was an honour. You will see something great out of me.”
“Looking forward. Just keep writing.”
Sawa sawa. See you soon.”
I turned and majestically walked towards the stairs. As I descended, I thought of how honourable it was to have dined with kings, in a bar for the first time in my precious life.
Will I ever go back to a bar again? We will see when the time comes mjango. But why not?


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6 years ago

Love it!