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How football skills are helping All Black Barrett silence critics

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All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett on Saturday revealed how long dormant football skills picked up in Ireland helped his scintillating display in New Zealand’s 38-13 demolition of Australia.

Barrett has faced calls to make way for in-form fly-half Richie Mo’unga, who helped the Canterbury Crusaders to back-to-back Super Rugby titles this year.

But the two-time World Rugby player of the year answered his critics with a superb second half performance as New Zealand ran over the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney.

His tactical nous helped the All Blacks score six tries to one against the Wallabies and make them overwhelming favourites to retain the Bledisloe for a 16th straight year.

Barrett scored one try of his own, when he chased a kick to break through the defence, then toe-poked the ball twice before grounding the five-pointer.

“I felt someone was on me so I knew if I tried to pick it up I’d be tackled so instead I just backed myself and toed it a couple times,” he said.

Barrett’s father Kevin managed a farm in County Meath when he was a child and he said the skills picked up during that time came back to him.

“When I lived in Ireland back in the day, I was only nine or 10 at the time, but I actually wanted to play for Real Madrid back them, until I came back to New Zealand and realised I was a footy (rugby) boy,” he said.

He was unfazed by recent criticism, saying he preferred to concentrate on his game.

“The only pressure I feel is my own,” he said.

“I just work on my game and have my own standards. I was happy to get 80 minutes under my belt, I was knackered out there, so I’m hopefully better for it.”

Barrett acknowledged the All Blacks’ first-half display was not perfect but said the New Zealanders were keen to make an impression against the fired-up Australians.

“We were probably a bit excited, trying to force an offload here or there, or a pass, instead of holding onto the 50-50 ball and just seeing if we could build pressure,” he said.

New Zealand meet Australia again next week at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Nairobi County officials smash illegal alcohol, drugs syndicate

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Nairobi County government has unearthed an illegal alcohol and drugs peddling ring in the capital city.

Nairobi City County Alcoholic Drinks Control and Licensing Board (NCCADCLB) on Friday found a group of people living with disabilities with hundreds of sachets of contraband alcoholic drinks believed to have been smuggled into the country from a neighbouring country.

Following a tip-off, the county officers discovered alcohol concealed as candy and sweets.

The officers confiscated the contraband alcohol but set free the suspects for fear of criticism from the public.


NCCADCLB chairperson Kennedy Odhiambo fears that many people living with disabilities could be involved in the illegal trade in the city.

He said that many people, who pretend to be selling sweets in different streets of the capital city, could be peddling contraband alcohol and drugs.

He said many people take advantage of the physically challenged individuals to engage them in the illicit trade.


Mr Odhiambo has said that he will ensure that the board gets rid of all illegal alcohol and drugs.

“It is unfortunate that physically challenged people are used to distribute alcohol and drugs concealed as sweets to their clients.

“We are following useful leads and the perpetrators must be warned that their days of harming residents of this city, especially the youth, are over,” added Mr Odhiambo.   

Kenyan actor determined to succeed in Hollywood

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Raymond Karago and his family moved to the United Kingdom when he was only 13. Ten years later, and now established as a filmmaker and actor, he still draws inspiration for his films from his motherland, Kenya.

One of his short films, Stand Up, which was screened at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and accepted at the LA Shorts and Burbank Film Festival, tells the story of a young man who was raised in a traditional family and desired to be a comedian.

To do this, he had to stand up to his family — a scenario that is all too common with many Kenyan youth. Another of his films, Naira, brings to light the fight against Al-Shaabab while highlighting the struggles that come with it as one girl is being forced to join the militants at the Kenya-Somalia border.

Gangsters, a web series which was screened at the Indie Film Night recently, won an award at the LA Edge Awards and is now available on YouTube.

The series has been accepted into the LA International Film, winning him a bronze award.

At 23, Raymond is making progress in Hollywood with plenty of zeal, as if in a rush to reclaim the years lost in solitude.


“I grew up as a very reserved child. In school, I was on the receiving end of mockery from both students and teachers who thought that I was stupid because I struggled with academics. While kids my age found joy in crowds, I thrived best playing with my toys, watching movies or writing stories alone. In King’s Bruton School, I discovered my love for acting and during summer break, I would spend most of my time taking music and acting classes,” he recalls.

According to him, the success of every project is proof that he could amount to something.

“When I was 16, I was molested and to this end, I still find it hard to fit in. Writing, acting or producing films saves me from suicidal thoughts. I also have a very supportive family and I am currently seeing a therapist. Also, I speak openly about suicide and depression to help someone who might be going through the same thing,” he says.

He cites the importance of reaching out and speaking about what is holding you back.

It is this determination to succeed that makes him stand out among his age mates.

At the age of 19, with nothing but a few dollars collected from friends and family, he made his debut in Hollywood.

“It was tough. I didn’t have a godfather or anyone guiding me. My family had just moved to Los Angeles and I had to make a way for myself. This came with so much pressure that I sunk into depression. However, I am really proud of the strides I have made,” he says.

As his written and produced films continue to get accolades in Hollywood, his acting career shines on.

He is part of Illville, a TV show portraying the effects of gang violence in LA on an African American family, and he was also part of the feature film Low Key Savage.

He also plays Marcus Cole in the web series, Gangsters, and is part of other upcoming projects such as Apathy Equals Death, a feature film set in LA.

Outside acting, the 23-year-old enjoys nature walks and taking care of his two cats; Baloo and Bagheera.

He aspires to get on network television, open a performing arts centre in Nairobi and inspire millions of youth with the message that with determination, excellence is attainable.

Of sitting in V.S. Naipaul’s Makerere chair, and personal recollections of the legend

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The late Sir V.S. Naipaul first came to East Africa in 1965, just before I first went to Britain, in 1966.

He went to Uganda to take up residence as the first Senior Fellow in Creative Writing at Makerere’s English Department.

I, on the other hand, headed for the University of York for a summer term’s study of English Literature under such luminaries as Prof Philip Brockbank and the legendary Dr F.R. Leavis.

Being apprenticed to such scholarly gurus was the main route through which most aspirants of my generation built our early careers. At the time I was at York, our eventual teachers and pioneer indigenous lecturers at UoN, Makerere and Dar-es-Salaam, like Pio and Elvania Zirimu, Grant Kamenju and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, were in Leeds, under the mentorship of the likes of Arnold Kettle, my future teacher too, and his colleagues.
At York, I was with George Mhina, the first Tanzanian Director of the Institute of Kiwahili Research (Tuki) at the University of Dar-es-Salaam. He was apprenticed to York’s linguistic authorities like David la Page and Rebecca Posner.
I was to meet Naipaul later in 1966 when he visited us at Dar-es-Salaam and gave a few lectures. I can hardly remember now what he talked about. But I clearly recall his losing his temper when a young man (quite probably his fellow Caribbean native, Walter Rodney) asked him what Naipaul thought was a provocative (not to say rude) question. Both Naipaul and Rodney could be quite combative when the occasion demanded it.
Neither historian Rodney nor novelist Naipaul were as famous then as we know them today, but they were steadily building up their careers. Naipaul was quite well-known to us literati through his early works, like The Mystic Masseur and A House for Mr Biswas, whose greatest virtue is, I think, their “readability”, a characteristic of good literature which has become increasingly emphasised in contemporary creativity and criticism.
A few of us senior undergraduates were later privileged to interact close up with Naipaul at a reception which our teacher, Prof Molly Mahood, gave for him at her house on campus.

A little detail I remember from that is Prof Mahood asking Pat Naipaul if she was vegetarian (considering her husband’s Hindi background), and Pat answering airily that she was “carnivorous”. This lively lady, née Patricia Ann Hale, who played a significant role in Naipaul’s career, passed away in 1996.
The Naipauls returned to their Makerere base in then-troubled Uganda, where Milton Obote had violently overthrown first President Sir Fredrick Mutesa, and scrapped the federal-style independence constitution. The turmoil that followed these events was apparently the inspiration for Naipaul’s award-winning narrative, In a Free State.

Those of us familiar with the local scene in the 1960s can even approximate a few of Naipaul’s characters to real-life personalities, some of them eminent Makerere residents.
But In a Free State was only the first in the clutch of Naipaul’s Afrocentric writings, including the Zaire/DRC-inspired novel, A Bend In the River, which I studied with one of my English classes at the USIU-A in the mid-1980s. Apparently, Naipaul’s residence at Makerere motivated him to explore Africa, both physically and conceptually, in fairly serious depth.

Curiously though, I do not remember any significant exchanges or reciprocal comments between him and Uganda’s new literati, like Okot p’Bitek, whose Song of Lawino appeared in 1966, the year of Naipaul’s residence.

It is said that Naipaul’s tastes, regarding literary achievement, were rather selective, not to say cavalier. But we do not want to be judgemental, especially of our dear departed.
But my curiosity was also aroused at V.S. Naipaul’s passing on, that I have heard very little about him from those of my generation, like Timothy Wangusa, Laban Erapu, Peter Nazareth and Micere Mugo.

These, and many other then aspiring writers were students at Makerere during Naipaul’s residence and I would have expected them to tell stories of his mentorship of their early efforts, or of the influence of his presence among them.

Maybe it is because I never asked them, or maybe they have told the stories and I have simply not encountered them. I should look around.

In any case, I should not point fingers. I have told you that when I first returned to Makerere in the 1990s, I was first appointed to the same post that Okot p’Bitek, Nuruddin Farah, Robert Serumaga, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and, before them, V.S. Naipaul had held.

This was the writer-in-residence slot, officially called Senior Fellow in Creative Writing. The “fellow” is expected to write, of course, and Ngugi, for example, worked on parts of Petals of Blood during his residence. Naipaul is said to have refined, if not finalised, his draft of The Mimic Men at the “Hill”.

But, apart from writing, the holder of the post should also advise and mentor aspiring writers.

Truth to tell, I do not think I performed admirably, during my stint in Naipaul’s chair, at either writing or mentoring young writers.

Maybe some of the things I published later were “incubating” in my mind, and I may also boast of having interacted with writers like Goretti Kyomuhendo, Rosemary Kyarimpa, and Hilda Twongyeirwe, who have been pillars in the FEMRITE literary movement.

Their founder, and author of the anti-FGM novel, The Switch, Mary Karooro Okurut, was also a colleague, and the Caine Prize winner, Monica Arach de Nyeko, was also my student. But neither they nor I can quantify my contribution, if any, to their success.

So, why should I expect glowing tales of Sir V.S. Naipaul’s contribution to the growth of Ugandan writing? Suffice it to say that he lived among us and he wrote, and wrote well. He may often have sneered at, and even provoked, Africa, India and his own Caribbean.

The question for us to ask is if there is not much to sneer at or even brutally criticise in our colonial and post-colonial societies.

Prof Bukenya is a leading East African scholar of English and Literature. [email protected]

Despite his views on Africa, I choose to celebrate the Trinidadian’s work

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Many have written about the life and times of V.S. Naipaul since last Saturday when he passed on. Having said horrendous things about ex-colonials like me, it is inappropriate to for me respond now that he is dead.

My culture, which Naipaul did not respect, does not allow this. But it is in order to reflect on the impact of his works on my ever changing acuities and interpretation of realities over the years.

I was introduced to V.S. Naipaul by Mr. Cassianus Ijait Aluku at Vihiga High School as a Form Three student.

Aluku was the headmaster, and a lover of literature. He would read for us sections of Miguel Street and laugh for a long time before getting us to appreciate the humour.

Significantly, Aluku instilled the love for literature in me and the sensitivity of reading behind the smiles, laughter and tears of human beings to discover the deep frustrations and struggles that underlie the facade we wear in our lives. Through his teachings, I relished V.S. Naipaul’s brutal portrayal of characters that resonated well with the people I encountered in Navuhi Village, where I was born.

The hopelessness I saw in Naipaul’s characters in Miguel Street was also evident in many people in Navuhi Village. In Borgat, I saw a man whom we called Brando in my village. He was mentally disturbed, but always imitated American film stars in his ways. In Laura, the prostitute in one of the stories, I visualised the girls who had descended on our town of Majengo when Idd Amin turned Uganda into a killing field.

There were many wife beaters in Navuhi to make me remember Bhakcu in one of the stories. The fact that Bhakcu pretended to be a mechanic yet he had no idea about cars made me think of the many boys who were my classmates at Chango primary school and who ended up as “fake mechanics”. They never really mastered the craft. They are still wasting away as old men. Such people are dotted all over Kenya.

The last chapter of the book that shows the narrator leaving Miguel Street unites Naipaul with all the other characters in the book. They all longed for something, but they never got it. Naipaul was lucky to escape.

It was while at Kenyatta University that I was made to look at Naipaul’s works with fresh consciousness by Prof. Nana Tagore. She taught us A House for Mr. Biswas and The Mimic Men. Having studied in the West Indies, Nana brought to us additional knowledge that contradicted Naipaul’s rather pessimistic attitude.

Why was Naipaul so pessimistic about his people, including his own father? Despite the cynical portrayal of Biswas, Nana Tagore’s deep insights into the mind of Naipaul as an ex-colonial made us understand him and the yearnings of Biswas and his struggle for dignity.

The Mimic Men, which was written in Uganda when Naipaul was offered a writer-in-residence fellowship at Makerere, came with a sense of loss and despair that is characteristic of Naipaul.

Having moved to what he perceived as the centre of the world, Naipaul had nothing but disdain for us who operate from the periphery of the periphery, for that is what Navuhi village is. As graduate students at Kenyatta University, I remember the many hours we spent arguing with C.J. Odhiambo, the late Ezekiel Alembi, Joshua Kyalo and Judy Langat about Naipaul’s ideology.

We considered everything Naipaul said with critical introspection. This is the writer who told us openly that Africa has no future. He added insult to injury by asserting that Africans need to be kicked and that is the only thing they understand. Of course our pride cannot allow us to swallow this, but let us sober up and reflect. Do we really have a future with all that is going on in Africa?


Naipaul appealed to something in me. Was it his whimsical nature? Perhaps it was his attitude towards controversy? Such characters in mythology do and say nasty things, but they are never considered villains in any way.

He once said that if a writer does not generate hostility, then he is dead. He also described Trinidadians as people who live purely physical lives.

He concluded that this aspect of his people makes them only interesting to “chaps in universities that want to do compassionate studies about brutes”.

Love him or hate him, but Naipaul had strong views about women writers. He boastfully argued that no woman writer was his literary match and that when he read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two he would always tell if it was by a woman or not.

Naipaul was not only a braggart, but also a gifted snob. Those of us who know the attributes of a trickster cannot fail to appreciate him.

Prof. Kabaji is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Planning, Research and Innovation) at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. [email protected]

V.S. Naipaul courted controversy at every turn, but his voice could never be ignored


In London, miles away from his house in the quaint village of Wiltshire, where he lived with his wife Lady Nadira Naipaul and his cat Augustus, Sir V.S. Naipaul died aged 85.

Naipaul was indisputably a global voice. The Nobel laureate cast his shadow on all things that were relevant in the world in which he lived — the ironies of exile, the various beliefs and portraits of the post-colonial worlds. In 2001, the Swedish Academy described Naipaul as “a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice”. It was true. He was a circumnavigator whose unique voice captivated the world for almost half a century.

There is something magical about Naipaul’s writing, a swan-like flair, a sense of originality and character.

But his works have always left a bittersweet impression in the reader’s minds. He not only had a wide readership, but also a plethora of critics who never spared him.

Today, he is remembered as a prolific writer whose purpose in life was to only write, and a fierce personality who would sometimes walk out on public appearances and generate controversies throughout the world with his remarks.

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born in colonial Trinidad in 1932, but it would never become his home.

His background, as he suggested, was “exceedingly simple” yet “exceedingly confused”. In the late 1800s, his grandparents, who had roots in India, had ended up in the Caribbean as indentured labourers.

But his father, Seepersad Naipaul, went on to become the first Indo-Trinidadian reporter for the Trinidad Guardian. In a similar fashion, Vidya, or as his father called him, ‘Vido’, was sent to the Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain and upon graduation, he won the Trinidad Government Scholarship. Naipaul chose the best — Oxford.

Once he was there, the young Vido found himself lost. He’d come to England to become a writer and once he was there, he didn’t know what to write about.

Later, he would reflect on his early days, and say, “It is mysterious, for instance, that the ambition should have come first — the wish to be a writer, to have that distinction, that fame — and that this ambition should have come long before I could think of anything to write about.”

It was his father, a writer himself who published a book called The Adventures of Gurudeva, who imbued the spirit of writing in his son. Naipaul recalls in an interview that it was his father who started it, and read to him from Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery.

It was his third book, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), that marked Naipaul’s rise as one of the world’s finest literary voices. The protagonist of the book, Mohun Biswas, was loosely based on Naipaul’s father. And like all the non-fiction books that would follow, this book, too, had all the elements that Naipaul surrounded himself with for most of his life — identity, religion, life in the Third World, home and the absence of a home.

All that followed was a mutilation of all these themes, expressed through multiple voices and forms. He began writing non-fiction in 1960s, and published his book, The Middle Passage, in 1962. In the book, he explored colonialism, slavery, language, the post colonial identity and inter-racial tensions in a year-long trip through five societies — Trinidad, British Guiana, Suriname, Martinique and Jamaica. Soon, he would publish books that are still widely read today, including A Bend in the River (1979), An Area of Darkness (1964), India: A Million Mutinies (1990) and A Turn in the South (1989).

His rise to fame was fast. He received the Man Booker Prize for In a Free State (1971). In 1989, he was knighted. When in 2001 the Swedish Academy called, the phone was picked up by his wife. Naipaul never answered the phone. The caller informed her that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but Naipaul couldn’t be bothered. He was in his room, writing. By the end of the 20th century, Sir Vidia had already become a recognised voice in world literature. But in all his major publications, Naipaul took upon himself the duty to address the condition of the post-colonial subjects. But he received heavy criticism wherever he went with his mighty pen.

Chinua Achebe called him “a new purveyor of the old comforting myths” of the white West. The celebrated poet, Derek Walcott, wrote in a poem “I see these islands and I feel to bawl, / ‘area of darkness’ with V.S. Nightfall”. And it didn’t end there. In India, Girish Karnad called him out at a talk, and wrote, “Mr. Naipaul has written three books on India. If you read them, you find that not even one of them contains any reference to music. He has gone through the whole of India without responding to Indian music. I think that only means that he is tone deaf.” His writing had started to stir the literary world.


It was his obsession with Islam that led him to what Edward Said called the ‘intellectual catastrophe of the first order’. In his two books, Among the Believers (1981) and Beyond Belief (1998), Naipaul explored the non-Arab Islamic world. In both books, Naipaul travelled to four nations — Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, first in 1979, and then in 1995, to study the ‘converted’ people and their attempts to establish a modern Islamic state. After Among the Believers received criticism, in the prologue to Beyond Belief, he wrote “I’m a manager of narratives” and that in the book ‘(the) people of the country come to the front’.

Naipaul believed that Islam has had a calamitous effect on converted people, and that it has destroyed their past and history. But he is often deemed an elitist, a man of Western thought who didn’t fully understand the cultures of his subjects.

Naipaul only observed his subjects from a distance and often lacked self-awareness. In reality, he never touched his subjects with his bare hands, only with a stick, as if he was trying to poke them to generate a reaction which he surprisingly did. James A. Michener wrote, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home,” and it stands true for Naipaul.

While both the books were profound explorations of the histories of the ‘converted’ Islamic nations, they did little to understand the people of those nations, and to be honest, the people were never in front. Eqbal Ahmad, the Pakistani writer and academic, while discussing Naipaul’s book Beyond Belief, said, “This is not writing. He should stop writing. He should be selling sausages.” His condescending approach implied that the natives neither had anything to say, nor the right to speak. Naipaul’s writings about the Muslim world and Islam became a matter of great controversy as well as an increasing influence in the West. In the ‘Third World’, he was heavily criticised, denounced and mocked. But one thing was certain — his voice was never ignored.

He was at the heart of each controversy. He once stated that “Africans need to be kicked, that’s the only thing they understand”. On another occasion, in an interview in 2011, when he was asked if he considers any female writer equal to him, he responded by saying, “I don’t think so … I couldn’t possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world.” He went on to say, “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think (it is) unequal to me,” and that this is because of a woman’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world … And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”


In 2004, Naipaul was invited to the BJP’s office at Ashoka Road in New Delhi, India, where he remarked that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was ‘a balancing act’. He believed that the monuments of the Mughals are ‘a personal plunder’ and that India is ‘a country with an infinite capacity for being plundered’. According to Naipaul “the Taj is so wasteful, so decadent and in the end so cruel that it is painful to be there for very long. This is an extravagance that speaks of the blood of the people.” All of these remarks have generated resentment towards him in the past. Not only from readers, but also from eminent writers. Naipaul, on the other hand, in all arrogance believed that if a writer doesn’t generate hostility, he is dead.

But his voice, even though bleak, hollow and ill-informed at times, was his own. In an age where originality seemed to have disappeared, his writing came as a powerful stroke of a master. Even though not many agreed with him, there is one thing no one refutes. He was always sharp, amusing, enthralling and entertaining, if not new or revitalising.

In his Nobel acceptance speech, he said, “I am the sum of my books”, and he was. Up until his death, Naipaul was a charismatic yet controversial writer, always dressed in corduroy trousers and tweed jackets, he held his own world in his hands. Most fail the tests that he easily aced. For all the pessimism that he stored in himself, he was a universalist and his writing declared that there was still hope, that home can always be found, and must be found.

Manan Kapoor is a writer and poet based out of New Delhi. He is author of The Lamentations of the Sombre Sky and is currently working on a non-fiction title.

Childhood spot disappoints

By Madame Connoisseuse

Going to Tarboush Restaurant was mostly upon my insistence, although my friend was quick to let me know that it was nothing like this charming little spot with the most authentic Swahili food that I had built it up to be over the years.

This was largely because as a teenager, I remember coming to Mombasa with my family and my dad decided to swing by Tarboush where we had the most amazing shawarmas ever.

It was also around that time that my parents were trying to teach my then shy self to be more assertive, and my dad devised a plan whereby the more assertive I was during that holiday, the higher my chances would be of getting another shawarma from Tarboush.

On arrival, a waiter promptly presented us with a menu and while I was indeed excited to be back, you know a restaurant is iffy when you second guess whether you should play it safe and get bottled water or be brave and actually get fresh juices handled from somewhere out back when the state of the front doesn’t instill much trust.

I settled on tamarind juice which turned out to have too much sugar and way too little tamarind, hence felt like I was drinking sugared water which is certainly not palatable, while my friend went with passion juice which was done just right.

Much like with the rest of the space, there haven’t been any major changes to the menu in the past decade. They offer various shawarmas, naan, fish, burgers, grilled meat, fries, biryani, curries and bitings. I ordered a mutton curry (Sh380) with butter naan (Sh90) while my companion got chicken and masala chips (Sh420).

The mutton curry turned out to be one big bowl of soup with a piece of bone sitting in the middle like Migingo Island, and the meat on it tasted like it had been boiled way too long. It was almost as if the soup and meat were both made separately then thrown together upon order. When I pointed this out to the waiter, he gave me some flimsy excuse about how women always came in and ate very little and so they decided to reduce their portions altogether. Had it been a kibanda, and – Tarboush was starting to feel more like one – I would have likely walked up to the sufuria and added more meat myself (although when I told my friend this, he pointed out that I clearly haven’t eaten at enough kibandas). They didn’t have butter naan so the waiter came with plain naan which was big, white, round and dry and I wasn’t sure whether to eat it or wipe my face with it.

The grilled chicken was also dry and there was no accompanying lemon to save it from itself. The only good dish turned out to be the masala fries, and I decided not to get a shawarma to go: I’m an idealist who would rather keep my childhood memories intact.

An evil marriage

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Ann’s story reminded me of a much-known fact about female sexuality: it is neither simple nor straightforward. It is not just a physical act; it is part of an expression of complex emotional processes.

Unfortunately, most men don’t know this and tend to force sex even when the woman is traumatised by it.

“My husband has been raping me for many months now!” Ann exclaimed when she came to the clinic. “I feel dirty and filthy. I feel useless. I have thought of killing myself severally.”

Tears were rolling down her cheeks and her eyes bloodshot from continuous sobbing, a pile of crumpled, wet serviettes in her hand. She was a 40-year-old high school teacher, married to 35-year-old Andrew, who was a businessman.

He owned a car bazaar where he sold used cars. Andrew had earlier come to the clinic to complain that he was in a sexless marriage and needed help. He accused the wife of infidelity and complained that she was sleeping with other men and did not want to have sex with him.

He also complained that because Ann was older than he was, she was taking advantage of the age difference to frustrate him. To get a comprehensive picture of what was going on in the relationship, I asked to see Ann separately in the clinic.

“So what do you mean when you say he has been raping you?” I asked Ann.

Ann explained that Andrew got good money from the business but used it to drink and to sleep with other women. She had caught him severally doing this, the last time being when she popped in at the car bazaar late one evening. The gate of the bazaar was already closed but Andrew’s car was in the parking lot. Ann thought she saw movements in the car. She called Andrew’s phone and he did not pick up. She got curious and waited patiently outside the gate, her eyes fixed on the car. One hour later a woman walked out of the car followed by Andrew. They kissed as Andrew walked her to the gate.

“That is the day I declared that I would not have sex with him again,” Ann said.

It had been two years since. Andrew would demand for sex, and the couple repeatedly fought until Ann started giving in for the sake of peace. “He jumps on me each day,” Ann said. “I pretended for months that it was fine until I could bear it no more.” Ann had taken to crying in the toilet after sex. She would douche herself severally after sex. She felt filthy. Her self-esteem was gone and she was sliding into depression.

I met with Andrew once again and gave him a report of my assessment: Ann was sick from marital rape. Unlike men who can be very mechanical with sex, women do not enjoy sex when the relationship is undergoing turbulence. Women will withdraw emotionally if they find that the man has become amorous. Without emotional intimacy sex loses sense for a woman.

“But I already stopped and I assured Ann that I am now faithful!” Andrew said, interrupting my explanation.

Well, once a woman withdraws emotionally, life can never be the same. A man has to work very hard to regain the confidence of the woman. Even then, the level of trust and love can never be the same as it was before, worse still if there have been repeated episodes of the same mistake.

One misconception that most men have is that when the relationship is troubled, they can correct things by having more sex. As such, a couple will quarrel in the day and even before talking over the issues and resolving the disagreement, the man will want sex the same night. Men think that if sex happens then the problem is resolved. Unfortunately that is not how it works for women.

“So now you mean that we will not be intimate again?” Andrew asked.

It takes counseling and therapy to resolve these issues, so I had Andrew and his wife undergo therapy. “I have opted to forgive Andrew. He has been remorseful and understands the mess he has put me in,” Ann said on their last day of therapy.

They also had to have three sessions of sex coaching to regain their sexual intimacy, to reignite intimacy and once again have pleasurable sex. Pleasurable sex never comes back automatically after such a difficult relationship experience.

Stop asking and just act

The average Kenyan man is fascinated by women from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania. Word on the street is that in addition to being great cooks, these women worship their men. Some of them even kneel at their feet when they serve them. Also, unlike the Kenyan woman, they ask their spouses for permission to do everything. This seems to tickle the fancy of a good number of men.

Maybe asking for permission is the formula for that elusive romantic-ever-after? But what I am sure of is that when it comes to business and career, being subservient has the opposite effect.

If you are seeking to smash the glass ceiling, you need to learn to take instead.

Earlier this week, a friend in crisis reached out to me. She has been offered the opportunity to join a university to take her dream course, fully paid. Problem is, the university is all the way across the country so to take up this offer, and she will need to quit her job, find alternative living arrangements for her child and be financially dependent for the duration of the course. “It’s wrong timing for me,” she told me. This means that she already knows what she wants to do. Still, she was seeking approval to turn this offer down as we do a lot of times when contemplating making big decisions.

Sometimes, the person you go to will refuse their approval out of their own insecurities and biases. Even with the best of intentions, what they think is best may not necessarily be what is best for you. Not everyone will see the world as you do. By seeking approval to act at every stage of your life, you are giving up the fulfilment that comes from choosing your own path.

We all know that in the workplace, it’s often not the highest qualified who get the accolades and the promotions but those who are most visible. Those who stand in the spotlight every chance they get. So stop asking for permission to be heard. Stop saying you are sorry so much. Don’t apologise before giving your opinion at that board meeting otherwise you will water it down.

Sometimes it is your own rules that hold you back. You tell yourself that it is only the woman in the home who can tuck in the children to bed so all those self-improvement opportunities that come after hours, you turn them down. And so you continue lagging behind, because you will not give yourself permission to break your rules.

Instead of worrying about seeking approval before acting, seek advice with no strings attached from an expert or someone who has walked the path. If you think that moving to a different company or quitting altogether and starting that business is the right decision for you, stop waiting for others to see that it is. Remember that it is you that will get to live with those decisions. Stop asking. Act instead.

What an awful lunch

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I am pushing the rice and lentils around on my plate, thinking morosely about the last time Chris and I dating and how badly it went, when Chris takes a sip of his wine, sets his glass down and gives me a piercing look.

“Ok, what’s the problem now?” he asks me.

“I don’t have a problem,” I feign innocence. It doesn’t work.

“I know you, Liz. I know when you start overthinking things. What just happened to shut you down? I know you like the food here so I don’t know why you are not eating except that something must be bothering you.”

“It’s nothing, really… I was just thinking about Frank and that encounter we just had.”

“Ah, yes,” Chris nods as he assumes an authoritative air about things. “Don’t worry about him. I’ll have a chat with him tomorrow and straighten things out.”

“No, don’t do that,” I say, all the while thinking about how lucky I am to be able to distract him just when he is about to catch me out. “If you talk to Frank then he will never respect me. I have to find a way to make sure he understands who’s boss – and I have to do it myself.”

Chris nods. “As you wish. But if you need my help…”

“I know,” I smile. “I’ll be sure to call on you.”

And then I lapse back to thinking about the situation with Chris and his ex-wife. He left me for her once – is there any chance that it might happen again? And now that I have invested so much emotion and finally managed to give my trust to Chris, what if he breaks my heart?

But isn’t all of life – and love – a risk? Who is to say that anything you attempt – whether a new business or having a child or starting a relationship – will turn out the way you envision it will? Maybe the key is to go all in anyway and hope for the best? ‘But what if I get hurt?’ I mumble to myself, and only realise I have spoken out loud when Chris looks up at me.

“Eh?” he says. “Did you say something?”

“No, no, I was just… you know… thinking.”

He tosses his spoon on top of his curry in mild frustration. “Liz, you really need to learn to open up if something is on your mind. And if it’s bothering you and I can help you fix it, then tell me.”

And so I take a deep breath and confess my latest feelings – that somewhere in the back of my mind, the ghost of his ex-wife still haunts me.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” he says. “She’s far away and she’s not coming back and that’s all there is to it.”

I let the weight of his words sink in; it’s not because he no longer cares about her, it’s because she is far away that he cannot be with her! And I tell him as much.

“Liz, you know sometimes I think you are bent on sabotaging a good thing,” Chris exclaims, exasperated. “If I wanted to be with her I would just move countries – I mean, it’s not like I can’t afford to. And lord knows I miss my girls and I would give anything to be able to see them every day. Why don’t you understand this?”

I nod and swallow the hunk of food in my mouth. “Ok. I understand. Why don’t we just finish this meal and go?”

“I have a better idea,” he says, signaling our waiter, who rushes right over. “Please pack these for us, separate packs, and hand me the bill.” The waiter whisks our plates away and I gulp in surprise and anxiety; I had no intention of letting the afternoon end this prematurely or this way at all, even. “Maybe we can resume this when you finally come to your senses but for now, let me drop you back at the office so you can get your car,” he says sharply.

And that is exactly what he does as we fetch our meals and drive in silence all the way back to the office where I get in my car and drive home as fast as I can. When there, I pick up the phone and do the one thing I can think of right now: I call Jo.