Young, free and alive. 

As an adult, losing the ability to dream is easy. And regaining it is way harder. 

I was reading something on a lady doing Bikozulu’s writing masterclass, and she said something very interesting. 

When she retires in a few years time, she wants to start baking. And as of now, she has absolutely no idea on the first thing about baking. 

Think about that! Sometimes we dream, but even during those times, those dreams are restricted to what we know or have experienced. 

And I want that. The ability to dream of things I’ve never seen or heard. Of things I’ve never had an interest in before. 

I want that flexibility. Of doing un-mercy like things. When did I get so old by the way? I even have definitions for myself. Which shouldn’t be the case especially at my age with my whole life ahead of me. 

But maybe this is how one gets regenerated and renewed. A new me with a i-can-do-all-things mentality. 

As for now, I need to feel young, free and alive again. 


Tsavo West National Park

I’ve been to Tsavo West park over 20 times.  But yesterday  was the best of all those times.  First it was the first time I was going there  as an adult. And second it was impromptu.  There is something  about adventures  that you had not planned  for that makes them more thrilling.  Like everything  just takes you by surprise.  And I’ve realised that your perspective  changes as you adult.  Like when we went  to haler park as an adult, I couldn’t  believe  I had been there before because  the guide gave us detailed information about everything, things they don’t  tell high schoolers or primary school kids.  

And the best part is that we went in the evening.  We entered the park at 4pm.  And you are supposed  to be out by 6pm. This post will  have lots of pics since I couldn’t  help it. The scenery was too good.  Plus I couldn’t  get enough of the elephants.  Tsavo is truly the home of elephants. 
We saw this herd barely 10minutes into the park.

Hotels inside the park,  ensure they give  visitors maximum value for their money by doing as much as they can to bring animals close to the hotels.  So if you are in Tsavo,  specifically  for Elephants, and you don’t  feel like a game drive,  Just find a hotel.  They have watering points: where they did a borehole and bring water on the surface of the ground.  This automatically  attracts animals since Tsavo is basically  an arid and semi-arid land.  

Tsavo has a Rhino Sanctuary  that has about 70 Rhinos.  I didn’t  know that before.  That should be among the highest  numbers of rhinos in one place in Kenya.  And they are well guarded  to the extent that one rhino  has 2 armed guards.  One can only get in from 4pm-6pm.  And you are definitely  assured  of seeing a rhino.  

This herd was just grazing nearby Ngulia Hotel…

But my brother and I were too scared to get closer.  An interesting  fact about elephants is that you can share the same habitat,  Just don’t  make noise.  They hate noise.  And the most dangerous ones are mothers with their children nearby.  They are always on the alert for any sign of danger.

Next we saw antelopes grazing…


We spotted several lesser kudus,  but most were too fast for us to take pictures of.  

From there we went to Kilaguni Serena Hotel.

 Hotels here make you think again about your life.  Like they offer the best of services  yet we leave it to Europeans to enjoy.  You get 5star class service and food while sleeping and waking up to the roaring of a lion and the trumpeting of elephants. People save up their whole lives for an African  Safari,  yet Kamau, Mwende or Naliaka might never even aspire for that kind of a week of travelling  through the best that the world has to offer which is within our borders.  

The backdrop here is simply  amazing.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…..

We then headed to another hotel, Severin Safaris,  to greet a friend  of my dad.  And here is where trouble started.  We arrived there safely,  greeted them. Stayed for like 5 minutes and decided to go to one last hotel,  again,  to greet another friend  of my dad,  before heading back home.  Plus my dad had psyched  us up on how that last hotel is among the best that Tsavo has to offer.  So we just had to see it.  

We had a tour guide. And my dad had gone to that last hotel countless  times. But we still got lost.  It was approaching 6.30pm when we left Severin Safaris for Finch Hattons-the last hotel.  The sunset here was so pretty.  The ball was pure red.  Only problem is,  my phone can’t  capture that exact colour.  Just multiply by 10 the small red colour you see here.


The sign board read 15kilometers to Finch Hattons, the last hotel we were going to see , so we approximated  that by 8pm latest,  we would be at Tsavo exit gate.  We had already  decided that we would lie that we had gotten a puncture no wonder we were late.  Little did we know that by 8, we would not even be near Finch Hattons. 

We crossed a river that leads to that hotel.  And went and went.  And took corners.  And more corners. There were four males in the vehicle. Two  who knew where we are going ;my father,  who had used two routes some years  ago and the tour guide who knew the roads by the numbers at every  junction. The other two,  one was clueless as me,  and the other was the driver taking all turns he’s being instructed to.  

The tour guide got confused in the process. He had not been in this sides at night. So the moment the sun set,  he got lost.  Completely. My dad on the other side,  could remember  where he used to pass through  when going there.  Problem was,  the roads here are rough roads,  so some of them after heavy rains,  get deep gullies in the middle ,forcing diversions. Only problem  with diversions  is that,  you might end up joining a totally different  road.  Which is what we did.  And on we went.  

But we saw amazing animals in the process.

That’s a pack of hyenas running away. They are not so clear, but this  next one is of a hyena giving  us a chase infront of us.  

2 and 1/2hrs down the line.  Remember  there is no network  in there.  Phones only work near hotels.  The fact that none of our phones  has any network,  shows that we are near nowhere. Rhumba  music in the car is amazing.  Rhumba soothes.  You know kitambo,  I used to think that adults who loved Rhumba,  loved it because  they understood  the language  being sang or the meaning of the songs.  Kumbe it is simply because the whole song in itself is amazing.  

The driver decided to inform us then that vehicle doesn’t  have a spare tire.  And since we’ve been driving for over 5 hrs,  the fuel tank doesn’t  look so friendly. And we can’t  see anything. At first we didn’t  want to admit that we are lost.  But we finally did.  And just then,  we find a signpost indicating that we are 34kilometers  to Finch Hattons. Remember  we were 14 km almost 3hrs ago.  We went and went and now we are 34km.  People in the car were undecided  about going to that hotel or just going back home.  Only problem  is, the way home is through  that hotel.  

The tour guide,  who is very informed by the way, finally gets his bearings around. Apparently,  where we are is near a hill called Poachers Look-out.  It’s where Germans and Britons fought the First World War.  And it’s nearer Ndilal-a place near Tanzania that Maasais live in close proximity  with lions.  We start heading back,  and the next stroke of luck strikes,  my dad’s kabambe gets network. All smartphones are not working.  Here the rule of the jungle seems to be: the bigger your phone,  the poorer the network connection. He calls the Hotel Manager: Jonathan,  who informs us that we are only 5km to where they are.  

And we’ve never been happier  to see distant  lights somewhere.  We chase a hyena on the way(hehe)- as shown above
And we finally get there at around 9.40 pm.  And this place is simply amazing! Like every single detail of it from the moment  you step in,  was carefully  thought  out.  We are given hot towels to wipe off dust.  And the hotel staff are wearing white Swahili kanzus complete with a maroon vest outside and maroon cap.  Including  the ladies,  though theirs are the opposite,  maroon maxi skirts and white tops.  Apparently  that’s  their dinner wear for today.  The chandeliers amazed me.  You pay 40k for a night as a Kenyan and 100k as a foreigner. In Kilaguni it was approximately  18k for  a night.  But this place is so worth  it.  It doesn’t  have a fence. So chances of you meeting a lion roaming around are high.  Plus it’s next to an airstrip,  so chances of mixing with the who is who in Kenya,  randomly,  are extremely  high too.  

Doesn’t  this light look amazing? 

Guess what the above one is made of?  Kawaida dried sticks.. Yes,  Just the local ones huko shags. 

The kind of views that accompany your dinner in these kind of hotels.  

And that is how we ended our night.  On our way back,  the driver saw a lion.  He was going so fast. So we asked him to reverse.  But I was scared,  what if it jumps into the windows?  We didn’t  see it again.  But there are lots of dikdiks on the way and hares.  

That was one hell of an adventure. But since it’s not allowed to be in the park past 6 pm, I highly doubt I’ll ever have one like it.  We did get trouble at the gate.  They were not buying that story of Sijui our car broke down,which was a lie.  But they weren’t  accepting the truth either,  that we got lost.  We were at the gate at 11.30pm, but after haggling and threats of them impounding our vehicle,  they finally released us.  Tuseme  tu don’t  try this at home,  unless you know  someone  or have enough  money to buy your way out.  Coz your truths or lies won’t  do.  

That day. 

I once read somewhere, that if you want to motivate yourself everyday, write your own eulogy. Like write what you want people to say of you when you die. The accomplishments you had. Though I have never done so, that lesson stuck with me. Not the bit of what people will say about you, but of the things I want to do before I die. And if I die before, I want to die trying. 

Sometimes life plays you a number and all you can see is the mist and fog ahead of you. Not the sunshine or storm a kilometer away. Seeing a bigger picture in the middle of many little pixels is quite hard. But its not impossible. Knowing that one day I’ll achieve the things I want to gives me hope. Not necessarily of a better future, but of a preferable tomorrow. I’ve come to realize that as I grow older, my idea of happiness changes. Contentment for me is the hallmark of happiness nowadays. Being at peace with where I am psychologically, spiritually and emotionally. 

But then there are things that may not be read in my eulogy. Things that fire up my existence. Things that I want to do but I’m afraid to do. Like writing people’s stories. I’ve been avoiding piecing together the first story in that series. What if I don’t get it right? What is right? But I can’t wait to reach the hundredth story in that series. I know i may not get over this fear, but I’ll work with it.

My motivation when it comes to “what’s your story?” Series? Jeff Koinange. I may not agree with what he does nowadays, but I love what he did on K24 with The Bench. That guy, for three continuous years, worked Monday to Saturday to shoot and air over a 1000 interviews. Yes, you had that right. A 1000 interviews in 3yrs. He had this idea. And he got down to it. And by the way, getting me his book would be a great present( hehe). And that’s what I want to do. To do it for a thousand times. I may not get it right the first a hundred times. And that’s not okay when you are afraid of failure as I am. But I’ve learnt that its the “not okay” moments that build me up. 

This might get it written in my eulogy. Books. Yesterday I passed by a shelve on Tuskys full of books. Obviously I went straight to the African mini section. And I wanted to buy around 10 books. I didn’t due to financial reasons. But I could feel the shame in me for never having read Unbowed by Wangari Maathai. Like how now? But I know that one day I’ll be able to buy those books. And I’ll build book shelves in my house. Or not. I might just end up gifting a school, to pass on the generosity of the person who provided for me those books in High school. Someone donated their personal books, we weren’t allowed to carry them out of the library, but I stayed in and read some of them. Plus I haven’t read a book twice, so I don’t know if keeping those books will be of any value to me. Besides aesthetically that is. But I know that if I live to see a day called tomorrow, I shall read a 1000 good books. African books. 

And finally, this dream of mine has come with so much clarity of late. That I’m almost thinking that it was there all along. I maybe never got to a place safe enough for it to come up. I want to be a professor. Professor Mercy Mwende. There was a time I attended a graduation with my dad. And since we were late, we couldn’t gain entry to the already full field. But there on the dias, where dignitaries were seated, was space. But it was obviously well guarded by security guys.  My dad is huge. And he was in a suit. He looked like an important person. So we just followed him. And as you can imagine, no one stopped him, or us behind him. But that’s not important. 

What’s important is that we sat close enough to see the faces of the master students coming for their scrolls. But most important, we saw first hand, the PHD holders kneeling down and a whole paragraph of things being read to each of them. And my dad turned to me and said, ” degree students stand up when their names are called during graduation. And they are lucky if two names are read, they usually read the first name only. The master students stand and come for their scrolls. But it is an honour to stand, walk to the front and kneel down. I hope to see you kneel one day”. 

That may not have meant a lot then. But now, as I consider going back to school as soon as I can, those words resonate with what’s in my heart. That my end goal is to become a professor. And I pray that my father lives long enough, not to see me kneel but to see me with a title other than Dr. In front of my name. There has been this argument that you should first gain experience before going for your masters. And I know they mean well those who believe in that. But I would rather go to school now and regret it than go later and regret wasting an year or two that I could have spent getting another degree. 

I don’t know whether this are dreams, goals or wishes. I may not even be working towards them right now. I don’t even have a concrete plan for them. But I know that among other things in this life, I’ll achieve them. 

And I pray that when that day comes, I’ll go muse over this piece on a hill in some village in Malawi. 

Happy birthday.

I’m looking at your pictures when you were twenty. Exactly two years ago. You seem so happy. There is a radiance about you in them. Some sort of determination. You went for what you wanted. It wasn’t necessarily what was best for you. But it made you happy. It made you become alive for the first time in your entire existence. 

As you turn twenty two today, my greatest piece of advice to you is to live. Get lost. Make mistakes. Do something when you don’t even know what you are doing. Just don’t confine yourself to what is supposed to be. Worry about yourself for a change. Go to  Rwanda. Finally get to Kitui and confirm whether its true those people don’t have water. Make that visit to Samburu. It will hurt, but let her go. In simple terms, worry about today, tomorrow will have its own worries. Test this God for yourself and see if He has your back. Don’t worry about blurred lines, draw your own. 

Stop explaining to people on how, making mistakes for you is out of the ordinary. They will catch up on the way. Visit Lamu for God’s sake. Discover yourself in the opportunities this year will bring you. The previous one has taught you about pain, letting go, being empty. And I pray that you will have an year of receiving for a change. Test the limits you can go for what you want. Stretch and see how much strength resides in you. You might break, the goodness is that brokenness is a familiar ground for you. Good news is that you might grow stronger. Maybe not wiser. But on your twenty third birthday I hope that the you’ll have taken other pictures worthy enough to replace this happy twenty year old. 

Happy birthday sweetheart. You have come a long way. I’m proud of you. May this be the year for you to set for yourself higher standard measures. You is beautiful. You is strong. You is bound for greater things in life. Happy 22nd birthday Mercy. 

With lots of love. 

20yr old you.

Zip lining at Kereita Forest

After a lazy week of doing a lot of nothing, it only seemed appropriate to drag my body to some place for the weekend. Also, that decision was reached after realizing that if I waited for too long, my money would most probably end without me having traveled somewhere. So I scouted for the events on for that weekend with the various traveling agencies. Most had hiking trips to some hill or mountain. And after that festival season, I’m far off from being fit. That plus the adrenaline rush guaranteed is how I ended up choosing zip lining as the event of the weekend. There was only one agency taking people for zip lining that specific weekend, so I didn’t have many options. Stejos tours and safari’s it would be.
As usual with many Kenyans, we ended up leaving Nairobi an hour later. And being Mercy, I arrived some minutes before the departure time that had been set and spent the next hour waiting. Almost all people knew each other here. They had traveled severally together. So after prayers, they began catching up. We made a quick stop over at westlands where we did some shopping. After an hour or so we were at Kimende. From there, the road is murram.
Five minutes in that road and the landscape changed. We could now clearly make out valleys and hills. The conversation now became about zip lining. All the anxiety that had been buried in, made its way out. ‘Hizo vitu zishaikatika?’ (Have those lines ever broken?) they started asking. The previous night, in the formed Watsapp group, people had been busy asking if one could zip line while tipsy. Now, faced with the reality that in the next few minutes, we would be zip lining across the air, no one seemed tipsy or drunk. Such kind of thoughts are enough to make one sober.
Upon arriving, we could hear screams of those already flying through the air. No one was in any particular hurry to get out of the vehicle. We gathered together as the tour operator,Steve, finalized with the Zip lining Fox staff. Steve then tried to get us to do some team building activities. For the few minutes we did, it was fun. But since most people knew each other, they saw no need of elongating the bonding session. They just wanted to get into the main activity of the day.


We were soon gathered for the training or instructions part. They even have a mini zip line for that. But before that, we all signed what some called ‘the death certificate’. A legal document claiming you went there of your own voluntary will and that should anything happen, it is purely on you. That was after reading a whole list of who is allowed to zip line, who isn’t, the dos and don’ts of zip lining and just in case of an emergency situation what you are supposed to do. And just before we could figure out how scary and serious zip lining could get, the training started. The trainer was a no nonsense man who stopped talking the moment he heard anyone mumbling. He explained to us how to zip line, how to brake if you are going too fast or how to get to the end if you are stuck. Since we already had been fitted with the ‘equipment’ for zip lining,we one by one did a practical example of what we were to do on the actual lines. By this time everyone just wanted to go and do the actual zip lining. Our lot was to do all the lines which are 6.


1st line-lets see how this goes.
That seemed to be the mantra for everyone as one by one people began zip lining. The anxious ones paved way for others to go first. Everyone seemed anxious and eager for their turn. I kept on wondering how it felt like to start moving. But I didn’t have to wait for long before discovering how. For the first few seconds in the air,my mind froze. You know that moment where you are taking it all in? The next moment, I was wondering about the pulley I was holding. It was making much noise and I could feel the friction happening between the mettalic line and the mettalic thing inside the pulley. But just before I could get over the fears of the friction wearing out my pulley and thus falling down, I looked down. And down seemed very far away, certainly I wouldn’t make it out alive if I fell. All these thoughts ran through my mind so fast that I did not notice my speed reducing and just around 10m to the end, I got stuck. Thank God,my mind remembered what we had been taught just in case you get stuck. You turn around and start pulling yourself from behind. I was so scared, but managed just fine. When I got off, I was not so sure, I wanted to do 5 more lines. 1 just seemed like enough torture. All other five people behind me got stuck as well. It consoled me to think that we are many in this struggle. Apparently the instructor had noticed that no one looked down. We didn’t even notice the scenery. We walked off to the second line.



2nd line- still not gotten the hang of it.
For this one the instructor, told us to look at out right, there would be a beautiful waterfall down there. As I glided through this one, there were so many trees barely inches from my legs to the extent that I feared getting stuck. Then I remembered about the waterfall and started searching for it on my right. That saw me sway side to side which added to me being more anxious. I didn’t even know it as I reached the end point, but luckily I didn’t get stuck again and that boosted my confidence a lot. Apparently, the waterfall was a hoax to make us look down. For most people, the first line was the most scary. For me, this one was it. They have arranged the lines in such a way that you can’t decide to jump ship after the second line. Walking back to the hotel will take over two hours and you’ll be walking in a forest with animals. That prospect is not any enticing. This sees most people just continue despite the fears. We now walked through a very steep hill to get to the third line. The 5 minutes walk revealed to me how deeply unfit I am. I should hit the gym soon.

3rd line- Highest, fastest and ultimately more fun
For the third line, they instructed us that it would be faster thus we needed to brake at the end. I let go on this one. I was relaxed and enjoyed the view of farms, cows, the trees and hills and valleys beyond. I enjoyed this one the most. And the fact that it was fast gave it extra points. It reminds me that life truly happens when you let go of your fears and just be.


4rth line- Cool and slowest.
If I could describe this one I could say it was cool,calm and collected. There were no trees so the ground below with its lush grass was visible. Finally I had gotten the hang of it. I enjoyed watching the river below zig zag past the rocks as my mind just relaxed. Despite threats of getting stuck, we all arrived to the end point as a result of everyone maintaining a good posture for maximum speed. At this point, drops of rainfall were falling on us, but that bothered no one.


5th line- Very good scenery
At this point, my focus had changed from the zip line to the canopies around me. The fifth line is situated in a such a place that you can see more of the surrounding landscape, despite it not being the tallest. Kereita seems like the place I would love to retire at. The only noise is made by the zip lines and mooing of the cows. Besides one or two old men we spotted, its a very ‘isolated’ place in a good way. I wondered how the residents of this place took this intrusion that brought ‘life’ or made their place happen as young people would say. Obviously by now, we were all pros at zip lining(insert wink).

6th line- Can’t I do this forever?
All along the instructors had been pulling stunts when zip lining. Some would go with their hands on their heads,others with their legs up while others with their hands outstretched. Now, people decided that it was their turn to pull stunts. Everyone wanted to be last just like it had been with the first line, but now for different reasons. I simply wanted to savour the feeling.

Overally, that was a once in a lifetime event. I’m glad I went.
Out of 10 I would give zip lining a 7.5 for an outstanding experience of its kind. Thumbs up for the flying in the air. Thumbs down for having to get stuck, I feel as if there is something technical they can do to prevent all the frequent experience of people getting stuck. Weirdly enough I don’t think I would want to experience it again. I don’t think I would enjoy it next time since I wouldn’t be scared of flying without wings anymore.

For Stejos Tours and Safari’s, I would grade them at 7. Thumbs up for Steve being a good tour operator. And for Stejos being a reputable agency, they gave us what we paid for. We found some people who had paid good money only to be told they’ll only go for 2 lines instead of 6 or at least 4. Thumbs down, for me being an introvert and for going with a group that knew each other quite well. That made me feel left out for most of the part. Not that I blame the agency.

For all those with bungee jumping, hot air balloon ride, sky diving and white water rafting in their bucket list, you should definitely do this. I promise it will be worth the effort.