You check your M-Pesa balance. The message chips in, its contents, ugly and defeating. Thirteen bob, is all you have. One KDF and a couple of sweets. Its close to nothing than anything. You can’t withdraw thirteen bob. And buy what with it anyway? You haven’t eaten since last night. You’ve borrowed from everyone, including strangers. And anyone you call will either ignore or tell you to pay previous debts. Conditions you would have gladly fulfilled, but you can’t. Your situation doesn’t allow luxuries such as clearing debts.

There are a couple of chicks you know. The type who’ve helped you spend when your pockets were bulging and times were good. You could call them, but the response will make you feel small about yourself.

“Sasa Ken*? Where’s it going down tonight? And bytha, last week you really wore me out.”

You could tell her that nothing is going down tonight. And you’re in a corner needing saving, but what kind of man does that? You can never be vulnerable to a woman! The man in you whispers. A man takes care of his own shit and when you hit the wall, you relax a bit carry your sledge hammer and roll on. But asking a woman for help, that is akin to breaking the Ten Commandments. Be a man of honour please. The little voice whispers.

You thumb through your contact list. Girls fill the most of it. But in this moment of need, those numbers can’t come to your aid. There have been fun moments in the past but that’s that, it’s the past. If you only had some money right now, life would be good. Chances are you would be in an uptown nightclub. A chick or two in your arms, whiskey holding court on your table, wasting the night way. While trying to discover the true meaning of life, in that lost stupor.

2 hours fly by.

It’s now almost eleven in the night. A cool twenty four hours after you last ate. Your stomach is aching. Do you really want to act like the strong man? Hunger knows no frontiers and if you continue playing hardball, chance are you might black out and die.

You give up and pick your phone.

You call guy from primary school days. You’ve never been friends really, but he’s the only guy you haven’t borrowed from. The only guy with no idea of your cunning little games. Maybe, he will get you out of this mess. After a brief Lord’s Prayer, you hit his number. It rings on the other side.

“What up man? How are you doing?”

“I am epic how about you?”

“No news to report. Only that nimekwama and would need usaidizi kidogo.”

“I am not that stable but say your problem, maybe I can help.”

Borrowing money from Kenyans is a bit of a sport but have a ballon d’or In that. It’s a game of hide and seek, smoke and mirrors, but you cracked its code long ago. Were there Olympics for borrowing, you would be unchallenged.

“I am in a fix kidogo and I need a few coins to help see me through this month. I will return with thirty percent interest.”

“Pesa haiko Kenya siku hizi.”

You josh around a little bit, in the end, he sends three grand. 

Two months later, you haven’t paid back the money. You’ve reverted back to the good old circle. You ignore his calls and texts.

 You move on with life.

He can screw himself. Who told him to give you money anyway? You just asked, never forced him.

I went to primary school with such a guy, a serial borrower. Lets call him J. He was smart, back then, and left most us shifting through the dust whenever exams were released. He always topped and teachers would ask us to emulate his example. Try to follow in his path, be dedicated to our books and listen to our teachers like he did. God knows we tried to follow but in hindsight, I realise that it was an attempt in futility. You cant successfully emulate someone. Our mental schemas are startlingly different. What works for the next person wont necessarily work for you. I tried to wake up early as he did, 5 a.m. but it led to sleeping in class all day long. After a few days, I threw in the towel. It hit me that I wasnt the proverbial early bird and you can catch the worm on any part of the day.

While the rest of us would be told to pull up our socks, his socks were just fine. (Don’t tell me you dont get it.)

We serve a faithful God, when KCPE results came out; we had passed with flying colours. Not all of us of course, but our hero was on top of the class as always. And during the price giving day, I remember him being tipped to be a positive influence to society. We lost touch after that, everyone out to the world. Word from trusted sources is that he joined one of the top national schools around. And while there, J kept setting the bar for academic excellence.

Life happened. I forgot about him and his exploits. I got an ID, I joined campus, had a girlfriend (briefly). Somewhere in this melee of new found freedom and adulthood, I was added to a WhatsApp group. I am not a fan of those WhatsApp forums; I think they should be banned. I dont understand why someone wakes up at three in the morning and posts some weird clips. Which they somehow think are funny, but they never are, to be honest. Why do folks have this feeling obligation to make people laugh? Come on! Dont send us those bloody videos, we are doing pretty okay and will find things to make us laugh. The only WhatsApp group I wish to belong in is one people are planning to rob central bank. There I will contribute from morning to evening.

Anyway, this group was filled with guys from primary school. Life had taken a turn and five years later; here we were rekindling a lost nostalgia. It felt like lost travellers in the desert meeting again at an oasis. We relieved old times and most guys seemed to be going steady.

I got talking to J. we were never friends in primary, but life had set up on this new chapter upon us. So why not and cement relationships and make new buddies. J was interested in writing, so am I; anybody who knows me will tell you that I go bonkers about writing. We got talking and became very close, on WhatsApp that is. They are those people you text after weeks or months, then there are those folks you talk all the damn time. He was the latter.

At some point, he started to ask for money to help bail him out. I didn’t have any though. I am a struggling artist and every coin is marked. Thus, whenever he asked that I lend him and he will refund, I told him. Boss I am in a tight corner myself.Which was true. Still is true.  

A few days ago, a friend sent me a screen shot of his conversation with J. Apparently, he had lent J some cash and our hero wasnt paying up. Even worse, he was ignoring all his calls and text messages.  I found that to be sad and blatantly violating the code of brotherhood. When a bro lends you money, please return it. He doesnt mint cash at his house. If youre in a tight corner, call him and explain the situation. It’s not fair to leave someone out in the cold, someone who trusted you for Christs sake. Its not worth it to destroy friendships over a few thousands.

Further analysis of the situation, pointed out to how J was living on the fast lane. The financing? Borrowing all over town. Trusted sources say that he always in posh lounges, with the hottest of chicks. And nobody cares about how he lives his life, but you dont lead such a life on debt. Come on, you cant be partying all year while you owe me some money.

I wonder where J will turn to next because most of the boys are calling him out. Some even want to teach him a lesson. But to all of you reading, it’s okay to borrow, and its perfect to return what you borrowed. Thats how friendships are built. Thats how trust is cultivated.

And expensive whiskey is overrated.


  1. You never give your friend a loan rule 5. Of Friendships

  2. Don't be in debt for luxury.It's a fallacy.Be in debt for essential human needs.


Your thoughts?

© All rights reserved. Kinasisi. 2020