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This work of fiction, inspired by actual events, is my submission for Friday Fictioneers that is ably hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

You can read about Friday Fictioneers at the end of this post.

Join us.

Below is the picture prompt for this week and below that is my story.

Picture copyright Janet Webb

Priorities

2013-10-18-photo-88

Peter and his daughter Janice queued patiently at the supermarket till, finally buying the toy that Janice had long agitated for.

“Daddy,” Janice said “I want to go for the cooking event upstairs.”

“I’m sorry, not today. We’re going visiting. We’ll plan and go another day.”

Janice kept silent.

Just as they left the till, there were some loud sounds. It seemed everyone froze, then realisation hit.

Gunshots.

Reactions were varied but all dramatic. Some people screamed, some dropped to the floor.

More gunshots.

Peter grabbed Janice and made a crouching run for the exit.

Their purchase no longer mattered.

—-

100 words

You can read pieces by other participants here:

I read all your comments and I appreciate them, even if I take long to respond and even if I do not respond to each comment individually.

Comments

This story is inspired by actual events here in Nairobi. I am yet to write a longer blog post about that, but for now, here are a few links.

(If I don’t get lazy, I may write a longer fictional piece on that terrorist attack).

http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/oct/04/westgate-mall-attacks-kenya-terror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westgate_shopping_mall_attack

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/10337908/Revealed-American-family-rescued-by-hero-of-attack-on-Nairobis-Westgate-mall.html

2013-10-18-photo

Photo credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

About Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a group that works as follows:

Every week you get a picture.

Prompted by that picture, you write a piece of fiction that is 100 words long (or as close as you can get).

You add a link to your story on the Fictioneers page, and read the (awesome) stories by the other Friday Fictioneers.

Feel free to join us! Everyone is welcome.

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Someone on Facebook said something similar to the story narrated below happened to him.
—————
Ken joined the queue for the bus at Ambassadeur bus stop. Nowadays, there were few incidents of grab-and-run phone theft, so he pulled his smartphone out of his pocket and went to Facebook.
Ken was being entertained by the various posts and comments by his friends when an old lady approached him and said “Excuse me. Sorry to disturb you, but I have just arrived from Nakuru and I cannot see my son who was to pick me. I do not have a phone. Can we use yours to call him?”
“Sure. You have his number?”
“Yes.” She handed him a piece of paper and Ken called the number that was written on it.
No answer.
“Let me try again” he said.
Still no answer.
Ken waited a few minutes and tried yet again, with the same result. By this time, the bus had come and Ken got in.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Being careful to ensure that his phone could not be snatched from the bus window, Ken went on Facebooking. He hoped that the old lady’s son would show up and pick her.
Some men talking loudly a few rows ahead of him caught his attention.
“Someone has picked my phone from my pocket!” said one of them.
“You had it when you go in?” asked his partner.
“Yes.”
“Then maybe it’s still in the bus. Let’s call it.”
The guy took his own phone and dialled a number.
Ken’s phone rang. He did not immediately grasp the significance of the phone ringing, but as the eyes of the passengers turned on him, he realised that he was now accused.
“This is my phone!” he said, panic setting in.
“Thief!” said the man who had said that his phone had been stolen. “You are not even smart enough to switch off the stolen phone!” He charged towards Ken.
A slap across his face made Ken painfully realise that he was in real danger.
“This is my phone” he repeated as other passengers got up and started closing in to get a piece of the action as well.
This is how people die, Ken thought. He recalled seeing pictures of lynch-mob victims.
The man who had slapped him grabbed Ken’s phone.
“Get that thief out of my vehicle” said the bus conductor. “I don’t want blood in here”
Ken wanted to pee. He wanted to do Number Two as well. He could easily get killed out there.

morguefile.com

morguefile.com

“Wait!” said an authoritative voice.  The man who had spoken took Ken’s phone from Ken’s accuser.
“If this is your phone,” he said to the accuser, “let us switch it off and you switch it on and put in the PIN.”
Ken felt hope rising, as his accuser and his partner both began to shuffle backwards towards the bus door, uncertainty on their faces.
“Yes! Put the PIN we see!” echoed someone from somewhere in the bus.
The accuser’s partner reached the door and got out hastily. His friend followed closely, but someone landed a kick on his back that sent him face-first to the
pavement outside the bus.

“Those are scam artists,” said Ken’s rescuer. “They ask you to call someone for them, and they get your number that way. Then they follow you and claim their phone has been stolen. They say they want to call the stolen phone and then call your number and take your phone, with others actually helping them!”
“Yes” said Ken. “An old lady asked me to call her son for her just before I got onto this bus.”

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Kenya will be holding General Elections on Monday 4th March 2013. I urge all Kenyans who registered as voters to go and vote. Interest is highest in the Presidential race. There are two main contenders, each with passionate supporters, and those supporters will almost certainly go and vote for their preferred aspirant on Monday. There are also six other candidates running for President.

Some people may feel that the candidate they want does not stand a realistic chance of winning and those who are undecided. It is these groups that I want to address.

Even if you think your candidate is unlikely to win, go and vote.
You have two options, and whichever one you pick, your vote will count: Vote for the candidate you want, even if he or she will not win, or vote for one of the two main contenders (If you think they are both bad, choose the ‘lesser evil.’). Either way, please Go and Vote.

The reason I say you should still vote for your choice even if you think they will not win is simple: The Constitution requires that to be elected President, one must win more than 50% of the votes cast. That means that to win, one must get more votes than the other competitors combined. In other words, for every vote cast for the competitors, the winning candidate must get a matching vote and in the end at least one extra vote. So by voting, you will make the winner have to earn their victory.
To put it yet another way, the higher the total number of votes cast, the more votes a candidate must have in order to win (It is harder to get 50% of 14 million votes than to get 50% of 5 million votes). So, your vote does count. Please Go and Vote.

If we go to a run-off, then you will have only two candidates to choose from. Choose the one you prefer, or choose the one you dislike less, but again, go and vote. Failing to vote makes it easier for either to win.

If you do not know who is vying for which position in the place where you registered to vote, you can go to
http://vote.iebc.or.ke/
http://info.mzalendo.com/ and get a list of the aspirants.
You can also go to myaspirantmyleader.com, but I find the mzalendo site easier to use.

Go and vote on Monday.

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It was Amor’s birthday, Monday 24th December 2012, the day before Christmas.
We were walking in town, going to collect her birthday cake. (Yes, I should have arranged to do that the day before).
I asked Amor:
“Do you know what day it is tomorrow?”
“Yes”
“What day is it?”
“Tuesday”
***

English: A bundle of collard greens, from an o...

English: A bundle of collard greens, from an organic food co-op. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who has spent some time with children of a certain age (3,4,5,6…) will probably know that they can be painfully honest. They will tell you to your face that this food (that took great effort, time and thought to prepare) tastes yuck! or that they do not want this or that that you have offered them.
It is as we grow that we learn to be ‘considerate of the feelings of others’ and at best give vague, non-committal responses or at worst, lie outright. (I personally usually go for the former).
Children simply call it as they see it.

Now, I do not cook much. I do not really enjoy cooking, but I do not overly mind.
On one of the days I get to spend with Amor, I took her home and made lunch for her. My wife was not around so our nutrition for that time was up to me. I made vegetables (spinach, I think, and/or collard greens – I am not sure if this is the actual vegetable commonly eaten here in Kenya, but it’s close enough) and fried eggs and something else that I can’t remember. Nothing fancy or appealingly colourful or anything. Just nutritious food.

While I was serving, she, not surprisingly, asked to be served with more egg. Who doesn’t like fried egg? She ate a bit of the food, then she did something that made my day – she asked for more vegetables! Not more egg – more vegetables! How about that for an endorsement of my cooking! I was elated!

Just in case you are thinking that she just said that to make me happy, I had also baked a cake that week – the pre-mixed easy-to-bake ones. I gave her some, she ate a bit and said “This cake is not very tasty.” Thus, we can safely dispel any doubts that the ‘more veggies’ request was sincere.

Aah, the joys of fatherhood.
***
23rd Feb 2013

Not verbatim.
English translation follows

“Ujue Daddy anakupenda. Unajua nani mwingine anakupenda?”
“Mum”
“Na pia C” [her elder sister]
“Ah ah!”
“Kwa nini unafikiri hakupendi?”
“Yeye hunichapa”
“Kwa nini anakuchapa?”
“Nikimwagia chai kidogo”
“Kwa nini unamwagia chai kidogo”
“Saa zingine meza inatingika”
“Mummy pia hukuchapa?”
“Nikifanya kitu mbaya.”
“Mummy hukuchapa lakini anakupenda. Hata Ciku pia anakupenda. Mtu akitaka kukuchapa huku nje C atafanya nini?”
“Ataambia Mummy.”
“Unaona!”

In English
“Always remember, daddy loves you. Do you know who else loves you?”
“Mum”
“And also C” [her elder sister]
“No!”
“Why do you think she does not love you?”
“She beats me”
“Why does she beat you?”
“If I pour a little tea”
“Why do you pour a little tea?”
“Sometimes the table shakes”
“Does Mummy also spank you?”
“If I do something bad”
“Mummy spanks you, but she loves you. C also loves you. If someone tries to beat you outside, what will C do?”
“She will tell mum.”
“You see!”
***
If you haven’t yet, you may want to take a peek at The Gio Chronicles

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Seeing that this blog is described as Baba Amor’s Thoughts, it would be remiss of me not to share my views on some specific, recent happenings here in Kenya.
This is based on news reports:
On Saturday 10th November, a group of about 107 police officers entered Suguta Valley in Samburu, Kenya in pursuit of cattle rustlers.
They were shot at, allegedly by the rustlers.
Several of the police officers were killed, some fled and some were left lying wounded.
It is reported that some of those wounded remained there and died, even as late as Monday (about 48 hours after the shootings). Other survivors were found by some children who were herding cattle.
The death toll currently stands at 42 policemen.
Let me say that again: Fourty Two policemen killed.

Some of the bodies remained there until Tuesday or thereabouts, when the government finally went to collect them and also transported some of the survivors to Nairobi.
The relatives of the police officers were not kept well updated, and some had to go to the valley to identify the bodies of their relatives.
The police commissioner refused to resign, saying the responsibility for the operation lay with his juniors in the field.
Naturally, the minister in charge of the relevant ministry did not resign.
Kenya’s military has been sent to the valley. Residents of the area are reported to be fleeing or to have fled, because the bad reputation of the army in such situations, or fearing some form of reprisal.

Picture from Nation Media Group

My thoughts:
It is apalling that a police mission can be so poorly organised that 42 officers are killed in one incident
It is extremely bad that the police left the wounded to die in the valley
It is sad that the bodies of the dead were left there until they began decomposing.
It is bad to put the bereaved relatives through the anxiety of not knowing what the status of things is.
It is regrettable that no one was fired over this tragic loss of life
It speaks volumes if the police are unable to protect even themselves. Are they able to protect ordinary citizens?

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I got to watch another episode of Slimpossible Season 3, that I talked about here. There were a number of interesting things in this episode.

First, this time, there was no recorded weight gain. In fact, all the contestants lost weight. In the previous two episodes, there had been cases of no weight loss or even some of weight gain! A friend of mine had argued that the weight increase may have been due to muscle gain, but I really doubted that for three reasons:

  • First, gaining muscle is not something so simple, that an overweight person who has only recently started exercising can do. If it was, many more people would be muscular.
  • Secondly, from the exercises we are shown the contestants doing and from the diet tips we have been shown, muscle gain was highly unlikely, especially a lady gaining half a kilo of muscle in a week.
  • Third, one of the contestants said she got injured and had presumably slackened in their exercising, and had therefore gained weight.

This week, the ladies the ladies all lost weight, and the show host made mention of that. I think one of them had lost as much as 2.5 kilos in a week. I later wondered if the weighing scale at the studio had been tampered with, to save the image of the show.

Secondly, when this season started, the host had said the competition was to last 12 weeks. This is now the 13th week, and there was no mention of a finale. I wondered if the extension was done to allow the contestants to actually lose weight, this being a weight loss programme and all. Maybe the counting was interrupted by the London Olympics.

The third thing was that there were some ladies from previous seasons who were invited to Friday’s show. They weighed in as well, and one of them allegedly weighed 65 kilos. My wife and I really doubted this figure, based on our visual assessment of the lady in question and a comparison with people we know who weigh around 65 kilos.

Fourth, I noted that this time there were no diet tips for viewers at home. In at least one previous episode, they showed a sample allegedly healthy breakfast which included tea with added sugar. There was no mention of restricting the amount of added sugar. Maybe it should have been no surprise that the contestants were gaining weight.

Fifth, as the programme was ending on Friday, they listed what the competition winners would get. There was no mention of the prize money that had been publicised earlier on and that was there in at least the previous season.

Interesting.

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What is any life, if not the pursuit of a dream? – Vanilla Sky

Nairobi Half Life is a movie about a young man who leaves the country side to come to Nairobi in pursuit of his dream. He gets to Nairobi and action starts almost immediately. The movie follows the things the young man goes through in his pursuit and trying to make it. There is violence, fear, crime, robbery, guns, death,  extortion, but also hopes and dreams, plans and pursuits.

The acting is very good. The story-line is captivating. A number of scenes evoked audible reaction from the audience, so someone in the production team did something right. My wife felt that some of the language was stronger (read: more vulgar) than it actually is in the street. That may be hard to determine, unless you actually operate in the kind of places depicted in the movie. But be warned that sometimes the language was indeed strong.  There were subtitles for the parts where the dialogue was not in English.

The life and settings shown in the movie are probably very different from what most of the people reading blogs on the Web are familiar with, though some indeed may have experienced some of it.

I was provoked to thought by the story and the events shown and made to think a bit more about our society and people trying to make it, which is usually all of us.

I certainly would recommend watching it, but not with children.

Oh, the quote at the beginning of this post is one of my favourites, though I did not watch Vanilla Sky. 🙂

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The Olympic games are on! My wife and I have been watching some of the broadcasts on good old KBC. (I wanted to make that a link but apparently their web site has been compromised and currently poses a security risk to visitors).

It seems Proctor and Gamble and Ecobank are the (only) ones sponsoring the broadcasts. So we are shown the same adverts over and over, and sometimes they just show a screen telling us what’s coming next. This screen stays on for minutes at a time. Wasted advertising opportunity if you ask me.

So yesterday we watched as once again Kenya failed to clinch a gold medal in a distance-running event. From reactions on Facebook, many Kenyans shared our disappointment.

Comments were many and varied:

Joy:  yaani…..even the Kenyans who defected aren’t winning..!!! Not even the Ugandans?? Kuna kitu for sho!!!!!

Ones: Ati world champion! World champion frm behind.

Ann: For a moment there I wished Kenya Power had not restored elec in our estate…. ningelala mapema! What!!

Amondi: Thank You Lord for Kemboi and his scrawny self!

(Kemboi is a Kenyan runner who won a gold medal in the 3,000m steeplechase. Kenya’s only gold medal so far)

Gichiah: Yani guyz went for holiday na sisi tujiambiage tuko na team London!!!

Millie: I think this time we sent over Harambee stars not the Kenyan olympic team to the Olympics…wah!

Ndungu: Ni vile wakimbiaji wetu wako busy Somali.

James: Where are the medals?

Johnstone: R we serious?

(I assumed he was talking about the Olympics. maybe he was talking about something else)

Abraham: tumeshindwa. Ptooo!

Some even suggested that these non-wins could be deliberate.

It is bad enough being beaten by the usual suspects – Ethiopians and North Africans, but I was taken aback that the Kenyans were beaten by a guy with a Latino name! One Leonel Manzano, running for the USA, came in second after the Algerian middle distance runner Taoufik Makhloufi.

Similarly, in the men’s 10,000m, the American Galen Rupp, came in second, beating the Kenyans in the race. Rupp is white.

Kenya’s hope now rests on 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, among others.

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Kenya is considering a new constitution. The Church has some objections to the Draft Constitution. The media has been claiming that the Church opposes abortion if the life of the mother is in danger. That is NOT true.

Below is the issue with abortion.

Article 26 says:
1) Every person has the right to life
2) The life of a person begins at conception
3) A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorised by this Constitution, or other written law.
4) Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Now, the problem is in Clause 4.
The problems are these:
Problem 1) The clause does not define ‘trained health professional’
That means a nurse, a clinical officer or even a psychologist can be called a trained heath professional.

Problem 2) The phrase “There is need for emergency treatment” is not restricted to treatment related to the pregnancy.
So, if a mother needs emergency treatment of her toe, then she can abort, even if the sick toe is not affecting the pregnancy.

Problem 3) The words ‘or health’ are ambiguous.
The World Health Organisation defines health at this link:
http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html/
and says
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

So, if a psychologist says that a baby will endanger the social well-being of a woman, then the woman can abort.
Or if a nurse says that a pregnant woman will experience anguish because she wanted to get a Masters degree before getting a baby, then their mental well-being is in danger and they can abort.

This is effectively abortion on demand

Problem 4) the clause ‘or any other written law’ means that 50 members of Parliament can be in the House, pass a new law by simple majority, and abortion will be legal, thus nullifying all the other clauses prohibiting abortion.

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