The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

7 outlandish things my father did


Today marks 14 years since my dad passed away. Now the ‘ole man’, as my late brother and I used to call him, was a crazy feller – and I like to look back with humour at some of the outlandish stuff he did. Here are seven I remember:

One – I would have been Mr Kariuki

Because I was born shortly after the assassination of JM Kariuki, my father was adamant that I be named after that legendary Kenyan. In fact, he came singing ‘Where is Jay Emu?’ in the hospital corridors after I was born. Fortunately, it was a day after I’d arrived (he’d been out drinking to celebrate the birth of a boy!) and my Mom had urgently asked to fill out the birth register straight out of labour; so Dad found a fait accompli. Phew! I don’t know how I’d feel, filing this as ‘JM Kariuki Mochama.’

Two – My first (and most embarrassing) nickname – Fishbone!

This moniker was bestowed on me because having decided ‘fish makes boys bright,’ it was my sacred duty, every Saturday morning, to ferry a giant mbuta on my head through the estate, from its buying point to our house (which stunk of mbuta for years!), to the merriment of my childhood friends, like the punk called ‘Mocks.’

Three - Vifaranga vya komputa

Having decided to grow rich through poultry, the Ole Man chased our kid sister out of her bedroom to ours when we were in ‘middle school’ to rear his vifaranga there. Needless to say, our house stunk of chicken droppings for years! Then once they grew big, our father lost all discipline – and we had a strange ‘Lunje’ period there where we ate a chicken a day – until they were all gone down our gullets. (My nickname in the estate in this era switched to ‘Chicken Bone Tone,’ thanks to a pal called Ken Munyiri).

Four – Traditional medicine

My ole man was that Omogusii who does not trust modern science. With me having escaped ‘The Knife’ because my mom got me circumcised secretly in the hospital when I was two, the Ole Man made sure my kid brother underwent The Cut in Kisii when he was 14. And once when our mom fell ill, she awoke to find a fully fledged witch doctor beside her bed. Dad had imported this wizard from Gusii-land to tend to her. And it worked. She was so petrified of the mganga, she got out of bed at once – instantly healed.

Five – Things he brought from the bar

There was a time it was fashionable to crook glasses, and ashtrays from the pub, as souvenirs. But the Ole Man once brought an entire bar stool home! Another time, it was the legendary Daudi Kabaka that we woke up to find snoozing in our sitting room couch, his guitar on the floor beside him. My still-hung-over dad made Daudi play a repertoire of songs for us that Sunday morning. Talk of a bard singing for his breakfast!

Six – Brewing his own chang’aa

During one of his long periods of joblessness (in spite of having been in Makerere with Governor Nyong’o as a close friend and classmate, the Ole Man found it hard to hold on to any job), and with my fed-up mother tired of doling out money for his daily drink, our dad set up a fantastic contraption of drums and dustbins, and actually distilled his own liquid spirit for his personal afternoon consumption, then for sale to young idlers in the estate – until cops from Nyayo Stadium raided our house and shut the entire operation down. (Need I say, in this period, that my nickname in the estate was ‘Busaa’)?

Seven – Proud of academic performance

But my dad reveled in the fact that I was ‘bright,’ – no doubt a paternal pride born of narcissism that it was his genes at work. Or, perhaps not. I remember one Closing Day in early November, I must have been nine or ten, when as I bypassed a bar in West, I heard the dreaded call of my drunk ole man, already having a pint at ‘Birongo Corner’ with friends.

‘Thorny,’ he ordered, ‘show us your report form!’

Reluctantly, I removed it from my school satchel.

‘You see?’ the Ole Man crowed, ‘my son is number two out of 77 because his mother is very clever. Tameno, your choodi-renny are always number lasty, because you married a daft womany.’

And that is how, Dear Reader, I ended up witnessing my own dad get a thorough thumping.


[email protected]

Related Topics


Similar Articles


Recommended Articles