The Lakeside City

The Lakeside City
Photo by Ondari Ogega

Kisumu is a lovely planet.

Lonely I’d say if it wasn’t hugged by long arms, of hills, further curving its horizon into a circle. Hills longer than its iconic buildings go close to the sky.

I sit at an edge table in Tuff foam mall. The roof top. The open restaurant. Not the laughing Buddha. The other ones. The cheap ones. You already know where this building is… It stands along ‘BABY SAMANTHA PENDO’ Avenue. Baby Pendo because a few months ago we changed the fucking street name from Kenyatta Ave. Did you see us on TV? Pushing through barricades with songs and sweat and blood and gore? Did you?  Did you see us fighting the police for justice?

Yes, we did!

We dropped every single sign post in the street and replaced them with ours… Ours that have since been repainted to the originals. Absurdity.

Come on! Think of it. Again. We lost the war to the law.

Aha!!! Let me rephrase that.

We may have lost the street to repaints and order, but we still consider our bargain a WIN. A win because we got a day to triumph Pendo’s infantry (6 months old) and to fight against other injustices in her name when the day comes.

8th February. Baby Pendo Samantha Human rights day. Mark your calendar for it.

Wherever the day finds you, thump your feet hard on the ground and chant… Haki yetu… Haki yetu… Continuously. Vigorously… Haki yetu. Continuously

And if you should be arrested in Soweto(Vilakazi Street) – South Africa; Harley Street – London; Orchard road – Singapore OR the Bowery – New York City. Mistaken for trying to start a revolution (acting on my advice); explain to the law enforcers in your country that they too should stamp their feet and chant… Haki yetu (Our rights) because matter cruelty, brutality and child right breach are global matters.

As they affect me and my people here in Baby Pendo Street, they eat you up in your country, your state or your little village in the east.


May that little angel’s soul rest in eternal peace.

I left Kisumu after the elections.

Coming back today, I find the Streets calm.

From my view (the aerial view) I see untapped potential; undefined art and unique geographical beauty that makes me wonder if real artists never climb up here, to feel the thrill and applaud thee relaxation effects of the city, to the minds. Or best, paint it.

Not to begin this story with the mention of palm trees, which look good by the way; in front of Kisumu hotel. Around the CBD, Parking lots, the clean streets… among other unidentifiable trees extending further to where our lake begins.

Trees towering old iron roofed kiosks. Spreading far and further beyond the hills. Past the silhouette of Kisumu International airport. Sacred open lands, with scattered little planes.

I’m lucky to see a KQ plane jilt its path, tilt and turn to take off hovering over the lake before heading north. (You might already know that the airport is not very busy to see frequently leaving and landing planes). And for that reason, and nothing close to international landings, you might want to assume that it is OK to call my CITY a small growing town.

I dare you.

As long as you don’t say it in my face or even imagine it.

You ask to know what action I’ll take if you do? Ok.

How about we have that manly conversation when I decide if going forward, this blog will be our rendezvous boxing ring.

And if you should push me too fast to fight, be sure to show the world what else you can do besides calling my city small.

I see you’re getting scared. And by the way, you should be. Because much as I’m light weight. 70 KGs, 5’8’’ with the darkest of complexions you’ll never see; I am ferocious like a hungry tiger would be.

FYI. For wars fought, I have scars to show. The first, from a land wrangle, on my left butt. Pierced with a spear, through to the hip bone. (I survived that). Keep in mind, I wasn’t beaten. I fought and won and the scar is just some collateral damage you know.

Don’t you want to see it?

It looks like a millipede. The numerous stitches, for the legs. I’m proud of it. I earned it. I fucking earned it. Don’t make me ask again!

Have you ever fought?

Well, you fighting is one thing, seeing me in action is another. Jason Statham kando. This should be your first reason to get scared when you challenge me to war.

The second reason would be the scar on my knuckle. Very visible. It’s of a love triangle. Cut by a woman. Five stitches to seal the wound. Turns out I’m a pig after all for losing a fight to a chick. Eh? You think? Ha-ha

Back to our BIG city.


It’s important to let out the bad energy to enjoy what goes into making Kisumu great. The warm weather, the perfect planning, the polite people and the breeze you walk into in all its corners.

Think of being in Kisumu as getting an elevation to paradise. To possibilities.

I mean if you don’t like that it is growing, think of what’s grown as a masterpiece. Narrow down to varsity plaza for instance. Because it is what I am looking at right now. Isn’t it amazing? From an artist’s perspective. Is it? And. Try to ignore the main tower. For 90 seconds. It is important.

Now focus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus on its foot extensions – rough and tough, right? Explore it – the ripples of smaller domes in the front and the back foyers. The black paintings on the roof, rusting. Scald by the heat of the sun.

Ask me to redo the entire building to my taste and I will maintain my stance. There is nothing to change about it.

I’d however recommend that the two high peaked tents at the back of the tower be hoisted higher into better, cemented domes. Or that they be made longer and wider.

No. That would distort the entire design. Forget it.

Keep your focus.

Behind this facade lays Lake Victoria. Calm and green with vegetation at shore. The 7 cylindrical pillars, silos – home to Kenya cereals and produce board, Kisumu branch – they add value to my view.

Did I mention that hills put Kisumu under siege? The town – its beauty and pleasures and people, going about their usual businesses like it was normal; where normal should mean Monday when I’m writing on Sunday.

I peer over the balcony to the newly marked road and to my surprise, it is busy. Talk of the fruit vendor selling mangoes on the other side of the street – on the foot path adjacent to reinsurance plaza and the boda boda people along the alley to Tuskys Lolwe. We should talk about reinsurance plaza when we review Kisumu as a tourist destination.

Back to my spot.

I have written this story to this point.

Then I remember; I don’t have a picture to walk in hand with it, or a camera to take one. If I wasn’t so obsessed about giving you my best, I’d probably use my techno J8 to get the pic but I doubt that after spoiling you with the best, you would want to drop a scale lower. To blur and poor quality.

Keep in mind. Techno J8 is not so average. Or is it?

I reach out to a professional photographer. Ondari Ogega. You’ve probably read stories that accompanied his pics on the Daily Nation. The phone goes unanswered. He must be on top of a tree taking an aerial view photo of Ahero floods.

When he receives my call though, he says he will be here in 30 mins.

So I wait.


Listening to Beyoncé songs and more and more and more. I convince myself not to write forward without the pictures. I tell myself that when I see them, my writings will live in them. In every tiny particle of smoke and dust captured. In every rustle of palms that you won’t hear (Too bad); but can imagine from the wavy motion each tree is caught on.

I wait caught between the mixed wafts of chips and fish and chicken and choma and the sun setting before we get our perfect picture. He takes long. I can’t blame him. We didn’t plan for this. As a matter of fact, my plan was to get some nice milkshake served here and leave. Then I saw the view. I got itchy fingers and I started typing. And here we are continuing.

Seems more people have discovered this spot. By more people I mean families. Speaking of which, there is one adjacent to my table. A family of girls.

Four girls; aged 13 downwards. I think the youngest is 3. They sit like you would, in a home dining setting. The dad on the furthest edge of the two co-joined, short tables, the mum on the left (Next to the head of the family) and the girls adjacent to each other, on parallel sides.

My story is however not in their sitting arrangement. Neither is it on their all same gender. It is on me feeling awkward that they don’t admire my sloppy head or even seem to think that I would make for the best adopted son. Anyway. Issorait!

I won’t bother them.

I continue to wait for Ondari Ogega

When he comes I will finish my story and we will title it – Mapping Kisumu (A special project)

And if you should read it, you will want to visit Kisumu, with your clan in its entirety. Let’s bet on that. Will you?