Tales From The US Embassy

So today I had breakfast with the United States Ambassador to Kenya. Please, remain seated. Thank you. Thank you very much. Moving on swiftly, the breakfast was a total spoiler, not in the sense that it was appalling, no. As a matter of fact, after downing a couple of vanilla cupcakes, my first Java coffee (which by the way isn’t anything better than the ones at Aga Khan University’s vendor machines), fish pies, delightfully done sausages and that piece of bacon quiche (don’t pretend to know what that is)that made sweet love to my taste buds, I do not think I want to brush my teeth for the rest of the week.

But the food was inconsequential, what I loved most about having to cut my sleep short at 5am to head all the way to Muthaiga for the US Elections breakfast, was the people. At the entrance, I happened to drop my mulika mwizi that has a cracked screen, but at that time of the morning, nobody could really tell whether it’s a Sony Xperia or a Nokia 3310 with a flashlight and a broken screen. At that time, it was the phone of a distinguished guest with a blue tie (read Democrat) and a Tim Lewis jacket hugging his back and Aldo sneaker imported from Washington District of Colombia. So you see, the people with money do not flaunt it around on plush gadgets with applications that we barely know how to use. We keep it simple with a mulika mwizi and let the middle class hobos have fun creating a ruckus and showing off how rich they are not.

Well anyways…

This lady comes up to me, profusely apologetic for the carelessness of the security guards. I didn’t have to pinch any nose and remind them that I am a person of note, because hey, I am just the Vice President of the Kenya Law Students Society, the Secretary General of The Legal Society, and the co-founder as well as Managing Editor of Campus Chronicles. My reputation preceded me. So this lady approaches me and tries to dust off my Tim Lewis, but then I tell her it’s nothing. And as I walk on ahead into the Embassy, she trots after me and recognizes me as a professor from the University of Nairobi.

“Excuse me; are you a guest from Nairobi University?”

She speaks with a click sound, like that marionette Julius Malema. Probably South African.

“Er…, yes and no.”

Blank stare.

Simpleton! I think in my head.

“Yes, I am a guest, but no, I am from THE University of Nairobi.”

I walk ahead…

“Sorry sir,” she called me a sir! “I think we have met before.”

“Excuse me, you are…”

She gives a name that I can’t seem to remember, and goes on…

“You are Professor Kavenye from the University of Nairobi, right? We met at a workshop at Main Campus, remember?”

In my head: YUCK! What kind of a mother names her son Kavenye? Do I look like a Kavenye? Kavenye sounds like something you get your grandmother on Christmas. Or better yet, something your girlfriend tells you when she is horny. When she invites you to her room and then you find her wearing matching panties and then crawls to your ear and whispers tongue in cheek…“Baby, tonight I want to kavenye you so hard all night long, that you will need an energy drink for breakfast…”

Before I could answer, we are already at the entrance to the garden of the Embassy (this diggz has many entrances!) and right there in front of me is Robert F Godec. Oh, that is the acting US ambassador to Kenya. So she timidly introduces me to our host.

“Sir, meet Prof Kavenye, he is a guest from the University of Nairobi.”

The man offers me his hand and I reluctantly accept it…like a boss. I tighten his grip and move in close on him and stare at him in the eyes and the slowly shake it, and convince him with much success that I am a professor, and yeah, I do not have a bald head and yes, I put on a D&G shirt.

“You are much welcome, professor…please make yourself comfortable. I will be with you shortly.”

Then I hear someone calling out from behind…

“Magoon!”

Now, for those who don’t know, Magoon is my moniker in campus; something that I earned partly because my name is Magunga, and partly because I apparently look like a goon. Hence Magoon.
So I turn around and see Ndunge (my classmate) fast approaching and waving at me to wait for her.

Oh shit!

I smile and nod a thank you at this white man who would be with me shortly, and then waltz away before this girl blows my cover. So much for being a Professor Kavenye.

Sigh.


The next one happened while queuing for a second helping. Okay, make that the third helping. I couldn’t seem to have enough of those pies. So I am there with James Mbugua and Isaac Muuo, and as always, James is making a swine out of himself stuffing his plate with everything that he thinks he is big and bad enough to eat, and at the same time taking swings at Mitt Romney. Basically, we are having a good time, until this odiero in front of us hears us making jokes about Obama’s ears and turns. See he was with this white chic, who judging from what I could see and hear, he was trying to impress with bits and pieces of Swahili that he has picked.

“Jambo…” he begins with the standard white man’s greeting to a local, and immediately he put me off. The exact thing that really gets to my goat. I mean who still says Jambo to anyone anymore? Had he gone ahead to say hakuna marara, by God I swear I would have excused myself to go throw up. He introduces himself and it so turns out that he is a lecturer at USIU and knows a little bit of Swahili. James introduces himself, but then as if I do not own a voice of my own, James retorts…

“…and this one is Magunga Magunga…” he says tapping my shoulders.

In my head: Shit-face!

The odiero runs his eyes up and down.

“Of course he is…look at how he is dressed…”

Finally someone with an eye for class.

Then he goes ahead.

“Those sneakers look like a jua kali knock off from Gikomba, his shirt is un-tucked…blah blah blah…”
Then he goes on to amuse James, Isaac and his little white squeeze with how much he detests luos and Gor Mahia, occasionally throwing a stereotype pun of how he hates fish and what not. I stand and listen, and take it all in like a man. I let him entertain James with his broken Swahili and interest Isaac with how the Electoral College thing works. I persevered the depths of his emptiness and let him shine, because in his head, the sun was rising out of his ass. I let him go on and on with his weak ass braggadocio, because I know that is the only way he is getting laid tonight. That plus the fact that the place was awash with huge white men in black suits and goggles (at 6am!) and earphones plugged into their phones; cautiously looking out for someone like me looking for trouble.
Someone like me who would dare put that man in his right place. Someone who would tell this guy the difference between Aldo sneakers, and knockoffs from Gikomba. Someone who would remind him that we no longer put on black over-sized jackets with yellow strips and five buttons racing all the way to his neck. Someone who would challenge him to remember that a descendant of luo has been and will continue to be his president. A person to tell him that an invite to the US Embassy comes with a dress code and for today it was casual. Someone who would tell him that he has shoes that look like a black walrus’ cum-face.

But then I kept quiet and lethargically followed the queue and decided to bite my tongue, instead of his. I caged myself and became a POW- a prisoner of words. A prisoner of words I couldn’t say. I sentenced my conscience behind bars of my own making, and let him wallow in his ignorant bliss.

As we parted ways, he hands us his business card. It read ‘Scott Bellows- Doctoral Candidate, blah blah blah Organizational Development.’

Bish please! You are a goddamn secretary!


I do not care much for politics. I think it’s a bargain between beggars, but when someone waving the flag of your cultural descent, it becomes personal. So we cheered on as Obama pulled off a comeback akin to President Kibaki’s in 2007. And then later on went to meet and greet the powers that be. I ran into a few news anchors, brushed shoulders with a few ambassadors, and the whole shebang of people who turn the economic and political cogs of our country. But of all of them, the only interview that I enjoyed most was the intellectual intercourse I had with Reverend Njoya. Simply put, that guy is one of a kind. He talked of how the youth of Kenya have been enslaved by their tribal leaders. He spoke of the need for a mind revolution in order to institutionalize young ideas into young bodies. the things about youth being wasted on the young. He went on about how he wouldn’t give his vote to a man who was licking lollipops at the state house while his father squeezed the balls of a freedom fighter in a dungeon. He talked of how he is ready to lead a revolution to dethrone a man who owns 530 acres of land, regardless of the cost- even if it meant a bloodbath. His words, not mine. And from the marks on his hands, the permanent memories of his contretemps with the dictatorship regime of the 80s and 90s, I knew for sure that he meant war!
I wish Njoya met that ass of a white secretary.

The rest of the morning went on fine, and in one morning, I had been dabbed a professor, my self esteem assaulted by a man looking for an easy lay, and I was even told that I look like a Pokot by the man of God and war, Reverend Njoya! And as we sauntered out of the embassy at around 10am, the words of Jay Z couldn’t help but ring in my head…

‘My president is black in fact he’s half white
So even in a racist’s mind he’s half right
So if you have a racist, smile and be a’ight
Coz my president is black, and his house is all white!’

Tales From The US Embassy via @theMagunga

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