Ayeiya The Great: A fan’s tribute

I received the news of Ayeiya’s passing from my aunt, Evelyne. She called me that Friday morning to find out if I had heard that Ayeiya had died in an accident along Langata Road (as the press held it at the time). Now, neither of us knew Ayeiya personally, but we enjoyed his comedy and style so much that he often came up in our conversations. I loved his jokes; always so fresh, well-thought out, clean and unique. Not only was he a good story teller but also was he great at theatrical performance. His jokes either left you laughing hard long after he had left the stage, or pondering over issues.

I could tell he was a humble man, down-to-earth, friendly and spiritual. From his choice of content, it was clear that he loved his country and saw himself as a potential agent of positive change. He used the platform to discuss contemporary issues. With Ayeiya, it was never comedy for laughter’s sake. There was always a deep message based on truth or social reality. He selected issues core to the Kenyan society, analyzed them in great depth and packaged the message in a simple, relatable way. For instance, when he used the analogy of mosquitoes to discuss idleness/laziness, I vividly recall the message at the end: if we let our bodies remain stagnant, the mosquitoes of life will breed and begin to bite us, setting the place for problems like financial malaria. And when he talked about the need for national healing and forgiveness in his come-back episode, he used the analogy of “Githeri”; in life there are hard things, soft things and constant things.

In this way, Ayeiya combined his intellect, natural wit and theatrical and philosophical talents to deliver thought-provoking messages. His greatest gift was insight. That’s what made him so fresh each time. Beyond the rib-cracking performances, there was always something sober to take home. What I appreciate the most about Ayeiya is that amid the rising popularity, he remained consistent and true to his beliefs and values. His jokes and stories always were clean and respectful. Even when he made fun of people (like he did of the “Mama Fua Association” in his last recording), it was delivered in a satirical way, not in sarcasm. I also appreciate that whenever he could, he provided solutions to the issues he discussed.

And so today I join many in paying tribute to this great Kenyan soul. From the time the news came, I have read every single headline I could find on Ayeiya. I still have many unanswered questions, particularly about the whereabouts of the colleagues he was travelling with. But I was relieved that the love of his life, Alice, was in condition good enough to participate in the funeral service. Even after seeing the pictures at NPC Karen, it’s still hard to believe that he is gone. It is one thing to know that your favourite comedian perished in an accident, it is another all together accepting that this lively man (who once stood tall and upright on my screen) now lies horizontal and lifeless. Nevertheless, it is an opportunity to celebrate this great soul whose courage, integrity and commitment to a better society left a deep impression on me time and again. While I was disappointed that the Easter Show ran near-normal (it should have been all about Ayeiya that day). However, the Churchill tribute show- held later that week- sufficed. In the short time we got to know him, he taught diligently, enlightened gracefully and blessed generously. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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The Coconut

I have an image of a coconut, in mind. The shell on the outside is hard and rough and has prickly fibres. Its inside has a lot of water and a little white flesh. It sits high above the ground and is rare because it only grows in the coastal areas. People travel from far and wide just to have it, and to those who can’t, it is sold expensively in other cities.

In many coastal areas also, you find big, tasty mangoes in bulk. While not all people may enjoy the coconut, hardly anyone can lay a disclaimer on the mango. Everybody loves the mango. Unlike the coconut, it is fleshy and easy to peel. It is juicy too. You could eat a mango all day.

The coconut knows that it has little to offer. I imagine that it vulnerable to low self esteem. Unlike the mango which is beautiful and attractive, it has to work hard to be noticed. And so it sits far above the ground to be easily sighted. But that is not the only frustration it faces…the coconut worries constantly that even after it is spotted, the suitor will soon realize that it is made up of only a little flesh which is also plain white, hard and almost tasteless and that it is full of water. The coconut knows that though it will find many suitors from far and wide, they will soon dump it and settle for the mango instead. And so the coconut is an insecure being and months of worry, fear and discouragement eventually see it fall off on the sand. When that happens, it is sold for a small price, whereas the mango, fleshy and attractive, is sold for twice that price.

The other day I went to speak with my friend the coconut at the coast, and while I listened to her story, I could not help but think how blind an eye it had turned on its potential. The coconut must realize that though it can easily be dumped, it has advantages over the mango. For example, the hardness of its shell protects it from pests and impurities, which can easily get to the mango. The coconut was given a lot of space in between with a lot of water. The water is in fact not bad at all, it can fetch a good price for its refreshing effect. The fact that the opening is also narrow makes it possible for harmful things to be censored.

When it stumbles, it is not as vulnerable to destruction. If it falls in water, it will never sink because it is light and hollow. Although the mango is sweeter and more attractive, The coconut is a wonderful team player, brings in rich flavour with her. Rice is just rice until a touch the coconut glorifies it with magical flavour. She carries an aura of greatness around her that is so distinct and admirable.

We cannot explain why God chose to make one a mango and the other a coconut, but we should not sulk over the differences. If anything, we should rejoice at the diversity and find things to be happy about. The lesser the attention the coconut receives, the greater the peace, the longer the time it has for itself, the lesser the pressure on its part. Since there are not so many people in the long run who expect much from it, it can afford to run a whole mile within itself, exploring, finding and discovering. It can try experiments here and there, be choosy, and take advantage of the finest from the multitude that initially came for it before it moved on to the mango. In the coconut’s world, there are hardly ever any strings attached. It can make it as exciting as it can be.

The coconut can either rejoice in the being it is, or it can sulk and complain at not having being made a mango. If I were a coconut, I would choose to rejoice at the being I am, master my potential and pursue my dreams to the end.

The sun must always shine

The storms of life are many-
balls of fire -big and small- will be thrown from all directions;
It’s a battle each must fight alone no matter how strong grandpa was
and upon completion, each will pass the baton afresh;
-But they will not last forever…
It is written, ‘The weak will not always be weak-

When morning comes,
there will be scars to remind us of the painful sores on our skin,
but they will not hurt anymore
Leah will be a permanent reminder of Laban’s trickery and injustices,
but in her tenfold there will be the blessing we badly needed,
We may be caged in prison on account of the falsehood of potiphar’s rib
But God’s promises ride supreme…
And he’ll keep us rolling to the end

It’s only temporary-
We must hold our dreams intact throughout the turbulent night
and fight the good fight diligently,
Careful to obey every detail in the written manual.
We must weather the storm bravely,
And hold onto the tree of life with firmness for-
The paleness in our eyes will be replaced with a glow.

With Jesus on the boat you you can smile at the storm;
We can cast our burdens unto Him for His york is light;
stand on the rock of peace amidst the turbulence,
and place our trust on the way the truth and the life He is.
With him on our side we are safe,
ask Paul, he’ll tell you straight.

The turbulent night will come but hope rests with morning.
The scars ought not remind us of the pains but of the grace above…
So are the Labans in our lives.
We must weather the storm and make it to the other side
with our dreams and aspirations intact.
Cloud or no cloud, wind or no wind,
The sun within must always shine.

How can he be gone?

Didn’t I see him morning yesterday…
In court,
Stern-
Telling, setting, felling…
Melting ghee-
and squeezing peel?

Wasn’t he there in the afternoon,
Yellow with pride
Unflinching-
On the wooden benches behind,
At an offspring’s moment?

Hadn’t he just danced unmatched…
To the tunes of modernity,
Full of soul-
With young and old alike,
For he was 18 always?

Wasn’t he to build an empire…
Of vineyards and reservoirs-
fulfilling Makueni-
And inspire dreams
with his torrents of ideas?

So how can he be gone?
He who painted this glassy picture
Our hope-
Defying the grills on our doors
and the minds of our best?

I saw him yesterday,
He played advocate, nurtured brilliance and led the way,
Relentlessly.
He inspired, developed and promised some more,
Again, how can he be gone?