Folks, been a while. Blame it on a really really long writer’s block. Yeah, am a writer, you think this post wrote itself? Living in Nairobi has its peculiarities, most of which are irritating, but some make us uniquely Kenyan. Kenyans are attracted to fads faster than Nairobi changes weather…which is not a bad thing, but which can really get in one’s nerves beyond the legal limit. And so I went about compiling my list of Overrated (sic) stuff, stuff that’s not all that but most of which have an outrageously huge amount of following. Me calls them Overrations, and here are my top 5:

1. Smartphones

All that “I-have-an-iPhone-you-have-a-Nokia-phone” is really overrated. Why?  Because I believe phones were meant to be used to make voice calls and to send SMS. When they start making phones that can make coffee and send faxes, they are pushing it too far. Everywhere you go, people are tapping away at mini TVs that are today’s smartphone screens, disturbing the quiet in the room. Everyone is holding a phone a brick this huge against their ears, in the name of a phone, when all they needed to do is just quietly send an sms or talk using a ka mulika mwizi. It works just as efficiently, ask me. And you know what’s more irritating than a K24 journalist repeatedly referring to the “proposed constitution” a week after promulgation? Going on a date and your partner is busy tapping away at a smartphone using those biro top-like things, acting as if you do not exist. People, smartphones kill relationships; they remove that personal connection from a relationship. It’s like you are in a long distance relationship yet you are just a few metres away. Use a computer to do your Internet work! Which leads me to…

2. Facebook

And it’s other sisters, Twitter and MeeSpace (according to the next former president). Those things were fun when we discovered them juzi juzi. Let’s admit it, we are all inherently voyeuristic in a twisted kind of way. Many of us love knowing what others are doing, love listening to what others are saying; if only to make us feel better about our own irreparably miserable lives, if only to assure ourselves that there’s somebody out there going through worse times. Just admit it, ok? But to use Facebook as a tool for “nusu ya kuonana” is plain laziness! When did Facebook replace a nice meetup and coffee? When did Facebook take over a lazy Sunday afternoon Tusker and some mbuzi with the gang? When was it decided that it is unnecessary to scroll down your phonebook and dial my number? It’s really annoying when you meet someone after a few and all they can ask is, “The last time we ‘talked’ on Facebook you told me (fill in with juicy slice of gossip)?” Or, you meet someone after a couple of years and they go, “Are you on Facebook”? Am I on Facebook? No! On top of things is where I am…and yeah, I look through Facebook once in a while, if that’s what you were asking. Well, Facebook is just not all that, it is a professional time wasting tool.

3. Being single, happy and independent (and shouting about it)

Being single is NOT a crime. Having someone not loving you, not sending you mushy SMS everyday, not going for coffees with, not sending you bouquets on your birthday, not calling you seventeen times a day, not waiting at the salon for 4 hours as you do your hair, not cuddling you, not bosating about you to friends…..is sad. Really sad. But it’s not illegal! You can be happy when single (though you realise you will probably be happier when hooked up). Seriously though, and this goes out to my sisters, you don’t have to keep proclaiming that you are single and happy, many people really don’t care. Men have been single and happy for a long time, you never hear us proclaiming how happy we are in our single status, we just hop to the next bar, order a cold one and hope for a better day tomorrow. It really is overrated to keep shouting about your ‘single-and-happy-I-don’t-need-man’ status, because soon, we’ll see you queuing at KICC, waiting to listen to some smooth-talking West African brother promising it to rain husbands. Go out there and get a man, or else shut up and live with it! It’s a choice you made, justifying it makes you look desperate!

And this thing about being independent and paying your own bills is overrated. Look, you were born alone; you are expected to pay your own bills and buy your own food and drive your own car. You aren’t doing anyone a favour by paying your own bills…billions around the world do it, so should you.

4. This Safaricon vs Zain and all the rest.

Ok, here’s the deal. I don’t give two hoots whether any of those companies make profits or losses. MJ and Meza and the others can go do a catfight on the mountains if they so wish, I wouldn’t care. What I do care about is that I make quality calls cheaply, at any time, to any network, without terms and conditions! Simple! This debate on which network is cheaper (they are all cheap now), which network is clearer (like you need an answer to that) and which network has best data services (try an ISP, they were made for data!) is really stale now. Just load and talk.

5. Mohawks. And skinny jeans

Especially worn by men. You look queer (maybe you are queer). Quit it.

So there go my top three overrations; whats yours?

1.      Publishers are bad, bad people out to make a windfall out of your writing. They will take your work, change everything in it, claim they wrote it, publish it and pocket all the money. You, the writer, will remain a poor man.

2.      It is very easy to write a book: fiction or schoolbook. You do not need to do any research, you don’t need to consult, and you don’t even need to use your own words. All you have to do is log into the internet, find relevant information, copy it, paste it and send it to the publishers as your own work. After all, the publishers will never find out.

3.      As long as you can write a story in any language and form, then your work must be published. You have a rare talent; therefore publishers are obliged to publish your writings. Remember, you are very, very talented; that’s what they all tell you.

4.      You can write in any way that you wish. You don’t need to check your work for factual errors, spelling mistakes, grammar errors. You can even invent some facts and deliberately create errors in your texts. After all, publishing companies hire many well paid editors to correct all the work. Remember, if you check your work for errors, then editors will have nothing to do to justify their stinking-fat salaries; figures with so many digits you would think it’s a Safaricon (sic) scratch card number.

5.      Once your book has been received approval for publishing, all you have to do is wait a few days for it to be printed. Publishing is easy and takes no time at all. The publishers will order tens of thousands of copies of your book from the printers. It doesn’t matter the production costs, nature of the market and type of book. You need the whole world to know that you have now become an author, and therefore your book must be found in all bookshops and kiosks from here to Kyrgyzstan.

6.       Some publishers will pay you royalties promptly and regularly. Publishing companies have safes overflowing with money. They may even send someone to your house to deliver the cheque. You see, once you have published a book, all you need to do is sit and wait for the money to start rolling in. You don’t need to market your book. You don’t even need to attend book fairs and promote your book; the publishers will do that for you.

7.      Write an autobiography; everyone does it. You are very important. Your story deserves to be told to everyone, you have a lot to tell about your experiences, right? After all, you once held the enviable position of deputy assistant chief undersecretary in the ministry of sports in charge of handball in the North Eastern province.

8.      Some publishers will tell you exactly how many copies of your book have sold. They will avail their books of account to you. That is how you are important to them.

 

9.      Publishers will always invite you, their valued author, to their end of year parties to celebrate how well they have performed in the year. They will always call you up to find out how you are doing. That is how much they care for you.

 

10.   All the above truths are, well, not true.