I was on a boda going through a murky muddy wet Katani-Syokimau enroute to Mombasa Road to get my mat to Athi River. I had come from a most thrilling session at New Life Mwangaza Rehabilitation Centre.
“Ohh, umetoka kule kwa machokora?” the bodaa guy commented.
Ouch! That was the first time I heard the centre referred as such. Yes, majority of its client population is made up of former street boys and my presentation was done in sheng ya mababi.
I was nervous and dreading the presentation mainly because of a lackluster, severely underwhelming presentation as part of University of Nairobi’s World Aids Day celebrations a few days earlier, where even what I thought was my very witty intro turned out to be a very quick outro. The students didn’t connect, and the conversation was soon reduced to why masturbation should be condoned.
I really need packaging by a speakers bureau, at this very late rate. Ahem ahem Paul Achar.
That intro punchline. I shudder when I think about it.
I still don’t know how I was invited to speak at a World Aids Day Forum yet I am a newlywed having lots of shameless, unprotected sex. It just seems really unfair to you guys.
And then I lost my audience right there.
So, how could I expect a different reception from the twenty eight young men at Mwangaza Centre? Oh the dread.
I begun with some team building activities, then delved directly into my story and resigned to my fate of perhaps 26 of the 28 souls immediately falling asleep. Of the remaining two, one would be still be awake because he had a toothache and the other would have happened to have overslept that morning.
I shared my story after establishing that the only saints in the room were those perhaps buried within the foundation of the building, because the only thing common about saints is that they are all dead.
I shared my story. The family background. The schooling. The drinking. The impact. Sobriety. Recovery. Sex. My marriage.
Then came the questions.
“There is a girl I have seen at the church we go to. The way she prays, sings and carries herself well. I think she would make a good wife. Only thing is that she knows I am here. How do I katia her?
“How can I get family to trust me despite what I have done? How long will it take to obtain their forgiveness?”
On life after rehab.
“We are going back to that mtaani? Life is hard there. How will I maintain my sobriety?”
These questions are fairly standard, regardless of the audience I speak to. It could be clients at a different upmarket rehab or teenagers at a holiday camp. Or university faculty members. Or parastatal staff sitting on the Alcohol & Drug Committees formed to support their alcoholic and addict colleagues.
So, I was quite set aback when the boda boda guy referred to where I had just from as kule kwa machokora.
And I got why I do what I do the way I do. The struggle is real, life is hard and the addict in recovery is a brave, brave soul.
Give him a chance.
Or two. Or three