Friday, October 21, 2016

How to maintain your car cheaply in Kenya.

 As Australia launches its first self-driving car this month, over here we are still struggling with issues like how best to maintain a car cheaply, even as we watch and wait to see if Uber delivers on its promise to take us where Australia is. 

The real cost of a car is never a problem, the real problem is how to maintain this automobile. 2016 is a good year to own and drive a car as compared to former years. There are more dealers and new inventions and accessibility to cars have improved. But with this comes  another question, how to keep the costs at minimum. The average units of  new and used cars imported per month keeps increasing. 

Tips for First time car owners in Kenya

First time Kenyan car owners have been horrified by stories about engine knocks, brake failure and horrific accidents due to malfunction in the car system. So what is the worst that can happen to your car? And what measures should first time car owners take to ensure they enjoy the driving experience. 

Before buying a car, shop around to know what car best suits your needs. An informed decision will help you know whether to buy a 800CC-1300CC engine powered car or a 1500CC to 2000CC. This is because engine capacity differs depending on the use. A small engine is suitable for short routes, like everyday driving to work.

 If you are buying a commercial vehicle, one trick is to find out what the competition is using and not be afraid to copy them. This is not to mean that you follow the crowd, but at times, what has been tested will give better results.

How do I maintain my car in good shape?

Ever heard the phrase where there is smoke there is a fire? It applies to cars as well. Here is where all you senses come to play. You heard an unusual sound as you were driving, have it checked out. Fluid leaked from underneath the car, trace the source and have it fixed. Listen to your car and let your mechanic know if you have heard anything unusual. Otherwise a physical appraisal may not reveal all the issues you may be experiencing.
You have heard of people who name their cars, Cherrie, Teresa, and Daisy. They are not freaks. A car is like a woman in many ways. For it to shine and glow and treat you well, it needs tender loving care.

Some tender loving care for your car involves:
  • Tire pressure check
  • Coolant Level Check
  • Engine Oil check
Learn to do maintenance ask at home.

You do not have to know about all cars to be able to fix a few problems.  Every vehicle comes with a manual, don’t ignore it, it will give you an idea of the basic principles of looking after your car. This can greatly reduce the amount of cash that changes hands between you and your mechanic each month. Fuel filters, spark plugs, brake pads, oil and air filters are routine checks that you can do at home. Remember this, Google is your friend. In this age of high internet connectivity and smart forms, you can be able to get anything from how to change your windshield wipers in 10 minutes to how to change the fuses in my car tutorials.
You can also jumpstart your battery at home, and if it needs replacing, learn how to do it instead of paying for it. For ladies, learn to replace a flat. You don’t need to call a mechanic for this. Save that cash and buy some nice seat covers.
 Engine oil is also not as complicated and messy, you only need the right equipment, latex gloves, and plenty of space and you are good to go.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dairy Milk Mumblings: A bloated cow, a fainted grandmother and a happy tea ending.

I came out holding the Kerosine and cooking fat to find aunt Beth pale against the lamp she was holding. She was bending over something that looked like a big mũteero log, until I heard her whisper.

using a kasuku to milk

 “Nyina Nyakĩnyua....”

My grandmother’s still figure lay on the ground next to a pile of firewood. There was a knife beside her. I came forward and aunt Beth let out another whisper.

“Nyina Nyakinyua…?”


Our neighbour, had appeared without any of us noticing and being dramatic let out a yell, and she bent near my grandmother. I dropped the paraffin and kasuku and ran to the cowshed.

“Mama! Mama!”

I heard myself screaming.

‘Where’s the paraffin I sent you to get?’

 “Cũcũ has fallen.”  I gasped.

 And he leaped out of the shed and spend past me.

Nyakĩnoru, the cow, started to reverse out of the shed.

I ran back to the compound and found three adults and a boy half carrying  half dragging my unconscious grandmother. When she was laid on the bed, she breathed heavily and tried to get up.

“Mwangi! Ũ Mwangi?”

Outside, the local vet had arrived and uncle went out.
I went out to pick up the paraffin, what remained of it, and the cooking fat and headed to the cowshed.
I stood watching the vet split open a young corn ear, pour some paraffin into it, then rub it all over with  cooking fat.

Kaĩ mwĩ na ageni? (do you have guests?)The local vet asked when the neighbour’s boy approached.

My uncle sniffed and stammered something.

“Mother of Nyakĩnyua had fallen” the boy said.

'Atĩ agũa! Agũithio nĩkĩĩ?
"A, aca, anga nĩ rũkũ rwamũhĩnga," mama answered.

I was sent back to the house.

‘A, ndwagĩtũmakia mũno.’ (you made us worry)I found our neighbour telling the now awake fainter.
“I think I ran too fast to get the vet, so when I tripped over the firewood I passed out.”
‘Nĩ ũũĩ ũria Bethi akũmakĩte,,,,(beth was very worried) neighbour continued.
“Ngai, niĩ nyonire kahiũ ndamenya mũtumia nĩagĩĩtheecire."(Good lord, I saw the knife and thought the woman had fallen on it)
We laughed nervously.
“Inyuĩ, mhu, Nĩ gũtheka mũratheka? Kangĩhĩtirie gathiĩ ngoro mũngĩraria ingĩ.” (Are you laughing?If It had gone into my heart you would be telling a different story)Grandmother said soberly.

‘Hĩ, kaĩ gũtirĩ itathekwo ĩĩ..’ (anything can be laughed about)neighbor said.
The vet entered and seeing all was fine informed us the cow was fine now.

a woman's best friend

“If a cow bloats at night I get very worried." Grandmother said then turning to me aunt Beth ,"Rehera andũ gatubia," (bring the people some tea) so me and aunt Beth went to the kitchen to start a fire.
“Ngũmakĩĩte... (I was very scared)“I said.
“Ona niĩ ndiuma harĩa ndĩ," (me too)Aunt Beth shivered.
And we laughed, and cursed the blasted cow for breaking the fence and getting itself bloated.

Hodi- may I come in? 
Mama- Uncle
Kasuku- A brand of cooking fat, container is usually recycled and used as a jug, bucket, milking jar, flower pot, everything. And everything plastic is a kasuku.

Friday, October 14, 2016

8-4-4 and how it almost ruined us had we let it and the teachers that made it worthwhile.

 So one evening this week after one of those days, I was in a Kawangware matatu, they were playing good reggae so  of course I zoomed out and was so engrossed in composing a story in my head for my- This Chic series- when the conductor opened the door and said, Kairitu ga kĩnoo, ũka.(girl going to Kinoo, please come) and he pressed a 20 bob coin in my palm. I was happy, he gave me my due change since they stopped before my drop off point, 20 shillings away and he didn’t shout at me to harakisha! He humanised me.

And then something clicked in my brain. A few years after high school, (many years ago) I whined a lot about the 8-4-4 system and how it wasn’t meant for people like me. And how disappointing it was to look at the University registration forms and find that none of the courses listed on the form interested me. And how scoring A’s in languages meant nothing if you didn’t have a good grade in Chemistry regardless of never having the desire to be a scientist. The thing with the system was, it taught us how to pass exams and little about co-existence with our fellow humans, just to mention one thing. You just needed the right combination, never mind the fact that maybe you liked Geography, it was  more interesting to you, than SAAAAY  History?
 I liked these

And at 15, they asked me to choose between Agriculture and Christian Religious Education.
I was scoring 80% in CRE and maybe 50 % in Agriculture. I chose Agriculture.  I didn’t understand much of it, I didn’t know which fertilizer was supposed to be put in when and which leaves made cows produce more milk. My kales wilted a week after planting and in the end I got an average grade as I expected. It didn’t help with my marks, and the days I spent weeding that kale garden didn’t make me a better farmer.

But I now know why I chose Agriculture and not CRE and ruined my chance of succeeding in the 8-4-4 system.

The Agriculture teacher. He was called Mr Gitonga. We had a nickname for him which I forgot, even the other teachers had a nickname for him. I’ll describe him. He hardly ever attended morning assembly. You would never find him in the staffroom. You could find him in the Agriculture lab, but not often.

He discouraged us from using three different colored pens to take down notes. He said “you just need to underline the headings.” He also said we didn’t need to get a new exercise book every term, “just leave a blank page to show where a new term began.” 

When he was on duty, you knew you would be ok. He didn’t stop you randomly on your way to
Downloos, (our daytime latrines) to ask where you were going, he just ignored you and you ran very quickly coz you were not sure what he was thinking. Students said he was weird. I thought he was interesting. 

He was human. He was real. And every time I went into his lectures, I didn’t learn much agriculture, but I felt enriched. He would quote from books. I went in for the valuable life lessons he taught. And while everyone was being too prim and uptight, he did his lectures and let alone the sideshows.

As he dictated notes, he would throw in a hefty speech about life. Like how teenage girls think they have everything sorted out but they do not. Later we found out he had a teenage girl in another school when she came to conduct Christian Union services during her midterm.

I have always been attracted to knowledge and honor. If I meet a person that knows more than me and is willing to share the knowledge, I want to make them my best friend. I am also drawn to people that honor themselves. People who stand up for what they know is right, people who don't get carried away. Men and women of honor.

So while 8-4-4 refused to acknowledge my desire for in-depth knowledge, I still subconsciously knew what I wanted in life, what kind of knowledge I needed.

That’s what clicked, when the konda called me Kairitu ga Kĩnoo and made me feel like a star in my own one man guitar song.