Archive for November, 2006


This is a call out for entries into the third part of The Quarterly Colour Series of Poetry, Red Streaks. The Quarterly Colour Series of poetry are a series of free ebooks, published by Al Kags every three months. The first two ebooks of the series are Gray Spots and Blue Smudges each of which was read by over 15,000 people worldwide. The ebooks are spread virally over email as well as posted on different blogs and web sites for Download.

To view, the last two ebooks, please visit and find the posts Grey Spots and Blue Smudges. The rules are that you can download them for free, share them, enjoy them, republish the poetry in there – literally anything you want to do with them: just be sure to acknowledge the author and the ebook.

Red Streaks is an ebook about them raw, rugged, raunchy, primal emotions expressed,not blatantly, but suggestively. The poems are meant to stimulate imagination and increase blood pressure – all without being soft (or hard) porn-like. This could be the hardest book to write into and that makes it fun.

Please send your poetry to

All entries need to be in by January 3 2007. Thanks, all of you that have sent us yours and keep them coming.

Many Thanks

Al Kags
Nairobi, Kenya


Levert, go well.

I was shocked to read today that Gerald Levert, left, passed away about 9 days ago. I wonder how I missed the news but well.

I first came into contact with Gerald Levert when I was a boy and he had just released that Song, “I’ll do anything to fall in love”. He had a great voice, that i wished I had – of course at the time, my voice would be breaking in appalling ways.

I remember LSG, the group that he, Johny Gill and Keith Sweat, crooned some amazing music.  Well, Njia ni hiyo moja.

Rest in Peace, Gerald.

I belong, by Toutatis

It did not hit me until I was well into the Uhuru Park walk way how nice I felt. It was dusk and the lights within the park had come on. The fast dimming lights of the fading day still illuminated the lush well cut grass and as I passed the jogger who always does a brisk run in the evening at the park – he lives somewhere near the Serena, i found out.

It was as i was going around the Nyayo monument, that I understood. I felt nice because I felt related to someone.

If I could just go back one step. I had just had coffee (well, chocolate milkshake) with a young man, just a little older than me and during the “coffee”, I realised that I shared so much with him – We both like choc shakes, we both are thoroughly business-minded and it struck me in a big way how much alike we were.

We are just getting to know each other as we met not too long ago under really bad circumstances. We had both lost a primary individual (our father) in our lives, which until then, had gone parallel to each other – with little likelihood of interaction.

And so, there we were seated in a coffee shop chatting and finding each other and finding our father in each other.

That for me was powerful. It simply said to me, I am related to him.

I had always looked for my father – and now, after his death, i am getting to know him – through my brother (that feels strange to say – my brother – and yet it is strangely liberating).

What was interesting was that I spoke to my dad soon after that (my step-father, who’s always been there with me all through) and he asked how I was adjusting to my father’s death and when i was coming home.

I feel like I belong somewhere. That, my friends, is the height of security.

Umuhimu wa maji

Looking through my past emails, i found this one. Gikuyus will find it funny.

Riu ona nii ndaririkana murata wakwa witaguo Mbogo turi std. 6 tuerituo tuandike insha hindi ya kigeranio kia muico wa term Topic yari, “Umuhimu wa Maji” Mbogo insha yake andikire uu:

“Maji ni muhimu sana. Siku moja, babangu aliniambia nipeleke ng’ombe setu mtoni sikakunywe maji kwa sababu silikuwa simenyota sana. Tulipofika huko, ng’ombe sikapata gatangi hakakuwa na maji, sika-ania, sika-ania sika-ania, kinya babangu akatoka rugongo akakuja kianda. Alafu sikagaragaria gatangi. Babangu akaniulisa, “Mbogo kwa nini ng’ombe sina-ania uguo?” Nikamwabia, “kwa sababu gatangi hakana maji…”

Riu ati insha iyo hari mwarimu yari njega akiheo 6/10, lol!!

Men and woman are different. They think differently, they do everything differently. They think differently. I found this article that demonstrate it.

The Difference between men and women

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ”Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let’s see . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed — even before I sensed it — that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90- day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their ……

”Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

”What?” says Roger, startled.

”Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ”Maybe I should never have . . Oh, I feel so……”

(She breaks down, sobbing.)

”What?” says Roger.

”I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. ”I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

”There’s no horse?” says Roger.

”You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says.

”No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

”It’s just that . . . It’s that I . . . I need some time,” Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

”Yes,” he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

”Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

‘What way?” says Roger.

“That way about time,” says Elaine.

”Oh,” says Roger. ”Yes.”

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

”Thank you, Roger,” she says.

”Thank you,” says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say:

“Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?”

Woman or Human?

A couple of days ago, I was seated with some business executives who were saying that women executives are wired differently from men executives, in that they are more emotional and reactive. I was silent in that discussion because I just wasn’t sure.

This morning, I had the opportunity of dealing with two women executives who are completely different. One, handled a very dicey situation very strategically and logically and it was resolved within minutes. The other, shocked me in that in a situation where she could have been more tactful, she simply dealt with the situation badly.

The said situation arose out of an anomaly from her staff, and when this was put to her, she simply lashed out defensively at everyone involved, then when several different people objectively pointed out to her the situation, she simply lashed out some more.

This morning, I came into the office and said good morning and she would not respond. This is a senior leader of the organization, by the way. She simply would not speak to me.

I got thinking about that discussion, days back and I thought, could it be true? Or is it more a personality issue? I generally prefer to think that women and men in business are or can be just a tough and smart and there are women to proove it.

I also prefer to think that problem solving skills are a personality rather than a gender issue. But I wonder whether that is my idealism at play?

Alistair Cooke was a great man who influenced my young life and my writing a lot a few years back. Today, i have thought about him a lot. I miss hearing his voice every saturday night. So, again, I pay tribute to the man as i did when he died.

A tribute to a veteran journalist
Alistair Cooke writes off at 95
By Al Kags

Alistair CookeAt 95 years of age, my icon, Alistair Cooke not long after announcing his retirement from a long and exemplary journalism career. Renown for his 15-minute Letter from America program on BBC world service, Mr. Cooke moved to a slower life in retirement in his 15th floor apartment in New York’s Central Park where he lived for decades.

Born in 1908 in Salford, UK Alistair was brought up in a Blackpool boarding house. He graduated from Cambridge with an honors degree in English and joined the BBC in 1934 as a film critic. His first letter from America was broadcasted in March 1946. It was aired every Friday on the domestic BBC channel 4 radio and then repeated in the World service of the BBC heard by millions around the world.

Besides Letter From America, he also hosted Masterpiece Theatre in the United States for 22 years and has written many books. In 1973, Alistair was awarded an honorary knighthood and in 1974 addressed the United States Congress on its 200th anniversary.

He has received an award from BAFTA for his contribution to Anglo American relations and a Sony Radio Award for his services to broadcasting. He has also been the Broadcasting Press Guild’s Radio Broadcaster of the Year and the Voice of the Listener and the Viewer has recognized his Outstanding Contribution to radio.

In between times, Alistair has enjoyed a number of other careers. Any one of which would have been a source of pride and satisfaction to the rest of us: a quarter of a century as the Guardian’s man in America; a ground-breaking cultural television show – Omnibus – which changed the face of American television in the 1950s; writing and presenting the first full-blown TV history of the United States. This series so impressed his adopted home that the tapes were placed in every public library in the land; a stream of successful books culminating in ‘America’, which sold two million copies.

Alistair now inhibited by nonagenarian aches and pains can no longer leave his New York apartment or play golf in San Francisco on the West Coast of the US, as he loved to do. He is now a stooped old man a few inches shorter than his original 6ft height. But his energy to work and write remains boundless according to Nick Clarke, his biographer. “His enthusiasm for his work, well into his nineties, has remained undiminished, and he can still draw on that vast memory-bank for the characters and stories that enliven his talks.”

In his later years his determination to keep going became obsessive, so much so that several programs were recorded in hospital beds. Why did he keep going so long, and after so many other careers (Guardian correspondent, television star on two continents, best-selling author) – any one of which would have satisfied most journalists? The simplest answer is that Mr. Cooke saw it as a personal mission to explain America to the world, a job which he found himself to be uniquely qualified.

With much practice, Alistair had managed to corner the art of writing to a tee – as many writers struggle to learn and keep up – to inform, to captivate and to keep it simple. So simple perhaps that many people in Rural Africa listened to and understood him even though their English may have been a little rusty.

The first I heard that Alistair has retired was from the chagrined watchman at my estate who told me that it has been a ritual in his family to listen to Alistair Cooke since he got his first “wireless” in 1960 from his colonial boss who was going back to Britain. He says that it is from the letter from America that he learnt of the death of the American President JF Kennedy.

I found it interesting to sit in a modest pub in Nairobi and listen to several people discuss Alistair and the most memorable things they heard from Mr. Cooke. One particularly ardent fan impressed upon the group the Guardian’s 1968 editorial on Cooke that he had read and agreed with somewhat: “Cooke is a nuisance,” said the celebrated Guardian editorial, “He telephones his copy at the last moment. He says that he will be in Chicago and turns up in Los Angeles. If all of his colleagues were like him, production of this paper would cease. But we think he’s worth it.” How many journalists, the fan wanted to know, would have such professional privilege anywhere?

Alistair’s anecdotes read in a rhythmic clear tone over the radio, over the years informed his listeners – both young and old of world events from many years ago that may not have occurred to the young to know.

An anecdote that has stuck with me since I heard it from Alistair years ago was the story that for me found great relevance in Kenya. He went to his doctor and described the symptoms of pains and ailments that he had been suffering from for a while and his doctor assured him that after a certain procedure, he would be “as good as new”. A while after the procedure was done, he found that not only did he have the same aches and pains as before but he also had a new irritating itch. On describing this to the doctor, the doctor began to explain what it was. Mr. Cooke Interrupted him with the quip, “don’t name it, just cure it.”

Not many journalists and writers are able to consistently hold on to those careers for more than half a century and many do not leave to retire at the ripe age of 95. It is a dream of many writers (if not all) to do so and Alistair Cooke inspires these. He said recently that he was given this piece of advice by a well meaning producer, “don’t get too popular or they’ll drop you.” Triumphantly he proclaimed recently, “its been 51 years!”

Al Kags
Nairobi, Kenya

An interesting discussion is developing on Mambo 101 on the question with in depth articles on the question of hawkers and other “riff raff” in the city. Udi Waithaka suggests that the question is one of deliberate urbanisation.

I don’t know.

A new blog by a number of interesting serious writers: Mambo 101

I suggest you check it out and engage them.

check out, a new serious entrant to the blogosphere…

there’s a prediction on the US presidential elections of 2008. This promises to be an explosive one.

check out, a new serious entrant to the blogosphere…

there’s a prediction on the US presidential elections of 2008. This promises to be an explosive one.