Matooke peels in mah pits.

I’m a sucker for experiments. Let’s eat catfish for a week! Let’s listen to Tyler the Creator’s entire album! Let’s make our own kwete!

Generally, I’m going to say yes.

A few months ago, Aloikin tweeted about the wonders lemon had worked in her armpits.  She said that if you put her armpit next to a Hollywood one, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  

My ambitions are a bit closer to home. Nollywood’s Genevieve is the truth. 

Walahi I was inspired

Walahi I was inspired

Inspired, I abandoned deos and turned to my pantry, the internet and some very strange substances for solutions to vubs.  I then wrote about my experience herehere and here.

On Monday night/ Tuesday morning, a rare and wonderful thing happened: my sister Jerolyn and I were insomniating at the same time! People call us twins on account of how alike we look and how in sync we are  naye adulthood has so much drama that even when you live in the same house, you can find yourself drifting apart from your untwin. Finding her in the living room felt like a trip back to childhood! It also felt like a heart attack because who sits so silently in the dark?

During my deoless weeks, a lovely lady called Yvonne suggested that I burn matooke peels, add water to the ash and rub the paste onto my armpits before going to bed.

All ready to burn

All ready to burn

There’s not much to do at 3.30 am, so Jero and I decided to try this out. It seemed like a simple enough plan. We had eaten matooke for supper, so there was no shortage of peels. A few coals on the sigiri were still hot, so I attempted to bring them to life, for the peel roasting. 10 minutes and a face full of ash later, I suggested that we try the microwave.

The next 30 minutes can be summed up thus: At least we didn’t burn the house down.

After 25 minutes of micro-grilling, we crushed the now brittle peels and ended up with what you see below:

2013-06-25 04.42.54

You guys, matooke peel ash has such a gorgeous, intimate, velvety, coffee like smell. It is so rich, so dark, so wholesome.

I realize I may have just described my ideal mate.  If you are rich (talent counts), dark (um, yea) and wholesome (like butter), this is for you.

We also made some  ginger/aloe water to use in spicing our bath water. We added some of it to the ash and made a nice paste.

I could eat this stuff. The smell!

I could eat this stuff. Smells like many heavens

Unfortunately, ginger is such a bully. Its flavor was all fronting, trying to outshine the matooke peel. On application of the paste, we both experienced a strange tingling sensation (thanks to the ginger I bet). I’m going to use plain aloe water next time.

On Tuesday morning,  I “forgot” to use deodorant, and am happy to report that I only started smelling shady at around 5pm. Win!

Here’s to experiments, new discoveries and deep smelling substances.

:D

😀

P.s: Late last year, I submitted a story to the Writivism competition. It made the long list and has been published on Short Story Day Africa and Reader’s Cafe Africa. It’s such a wonderful high, getting published.

Check my story out you fab person, you.

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Marketer’s Night: Don’t be a Mumu

I never miss Marketer’s night. Why?  Scrumptious food, good looking guys and seriously inspiring women. I also want to be able to rock a 10 inch heel and bombard keynote speakers with intelligent questions. As things are currently, I just tiptoe in, exchange a few cards, listen to the speakers as hard as my attention span will let me and wait for dessert.

Sometimes, I also dance.

Kona!

Kona!

The last topic was the role of the board in driving corporate excellence. There was some noise about what goes into the choosing of a board member, whether or not marketers need to be included on boards and other things. Maggie Kigozi disabused the audience of the fantasy that to be a board member is a lucrative thing. Apparently, they get zero pay for a truckload of work. Perhaps like writers, they get paid in ego and free meals? I don’t know.

The person I was eager to see and hear was Dr. Wale Akinyemi, a business strategist, consultant, author and inspirational speaker who had been flown in from Nigeria to deliver the keynote speech.

Now either Nigeria has some of the richest proverbs in the world or Nigerians have done a better job than the rest of us at preserving and incorporating their proverbs into day to day conversation and life in general. The multi-layered goodness of these phrases, the humor and power all packed into one short line.

Proverbs in a story are like spicy currants, treats that I look forward to encountering whenever I begin a story.

I have even been inspired to start collecting Acholi proverbs for use in my own writing.

Wale Akinyemi is loud, dramatic, eloquent and highly successful. He delivered so many wisdom bombs that night, some of which I will attempt to reproduce below:

You have the power of process. Of all animals on God’s green earth, humans have the most power of process. Don’t squander it. If you do, you are a mumu (fool).

Don’t confuse activity with productivity: Wale gave a wonderful analogy to describe this, but I can’t remember his exact words, only the sentiment behind them. I will make one of my own. Say you are tilling the land. If you are a mumu, you dig in one spot with all your might and sweat very much, but what you’re really doing is creating a pit that eventually you won’t be able to climb out of.

On the same theme, he said, “You think you are thinking. You are not thinking. You are a mumu, rotating blocks of ignorance around your mind.”

In response to those in the audience who had been demanding explanations about why young people are never put on corporate boards. His advice was: develop yourself. Study everything that you can in the field where your biggest dream lies and then you can truly use your intellectual power to progress. He summed this up perfectly with, “If your knowledge doesn’t produce tangible results, you are useless.”

Akinyemi is writing a book about the advice his mother gave him that didn’t work, for example: slow and steady wins the game. He told of how for the longest time he was going real slow, and real steady, frustratingly so, but nothing was happening. He was still losing. He abandoned that mantra and now goes with “Fast, focused and consistent wins the game”.

Clearly, that has worked for him. That’s right people. Cliches actually work.

I will end with the words of Sanaa Gateja, one of Africa’s greatest artists. He says, “The wonderful (and terrible) thing about dreams is that they all come true.”

Grow yourself to meet the capacity of your dream.

Because We got High II

If there’s one thing that has a bad reputation for no clear reason, one substance that is illegal because some people in the world dislike happiness, it is cannabis.  I’m not advocating that people be high all of the time, but surely  some jobs (like  copy writing or  being a member of parliament) require the mind expansion that occurs when you bake your brain in THC flavored smoke. I claim the right to be high! 

It's your right.

All the time!

Every Wednesday, I contribute an article to Muwado.com. I have many reasons, many of them terribly shady but the most important  is that it is a promising space that gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want.

At the beginning of this week,  I thought up the (brilliant) idea of collecting weed tales, anecdotes from people who have smoked the holy vegetable. We tried to source them from Ugandans in Uganda but were open to all.  Click to read part one.

The stories have kept on coming and so I’m publishing more here. Get a drink (and maybe a spliff?), sit back and enjoy.

The Young and Curious:

Smoking weed is only half of the stoner experience, the other half, which can sometimes be the most momentous, is the process and manner in which you find/buy the weed!

My brother and I were seated on a secluded beach, south coast Mombasa, when we heard a whistled tune in the distance. When the whistling had stopped, without quite thinking about it, I whistled back the same tune, and to my surprise we heard yet another whistled tune in response. This back and forth continued until we made out a figure at the end of the beach. As he approached us he started speaking to us in Swahili, and we just let him talk on until he realized that we didn’t understand what he was saying. He smiled and asked us in English after a while if we wanted to smoke some weed. I told him we didn’t have any money, and he said he asked if we wanted to smoke weed, not buy it.

Now I had not woken up that day with the intention to get high, but when the chance came up in the magically random way it had, how could I say no? It was like a scene from the intro of an indie movie, a sign that the height was bound to be all sorts of epic!

We agreed and followed him into a small cave on the beach, under a huge coral rock. There was hardly enough space to sit up straight and we had to crawl on all fours under the rock. He then took out a little parcel from his bag and unwrapped a heap of fried leaves. This was my first time to ever see a real marijuana leaf, and the beginning of my obsession with the ritual like cleaning, preparation and rolling of my very first handmade joint. The weed was unlike anything I had ever smoked before, as light as the ocean breeze and as potent as the sting of salt water.

The memory of sitting there in a low lying sandy cave, smoking weed with a dreadlocked beach boy who called himself Bob Marley, with sand crabs dashing about us sideways and the glimmer of the ocean a few meters away, is so surreal if I was alone I would have thought it to be a dream, but my brother is my witness, and confirms that really did happen.

 After the smoke, we said our goodbyes and he told us if we wanted anymore we should just ask around for Bob Marley, but we never saw him again on the rest of our holiday, and he became a bit of a legend between my brother, the likes of the tooth fairy or sandman. We spent the day floating on a cloud, swimming in the ocean and rolling about in the sand, needless to say it was the best weed I have ever smoked and the most spiritual high I have ever experienced. Moral of the story, if you hear a whistled tune on a secluded beach, whistle back!

Damn. I wonder if it looked anything like this.

Damn. I wonder if that cave looked anything like this.

George:

I had to promise George beers before he spilled, but his stories were worth it. 

There is this story, legend really, about guys drinking and smoking weed at dreamworld hostel in Kikoni. It was deep in the night and stuff. Somebody happened to ask what the time was and according to legend, one of the guys who was hell bent on knowing the time hatched a smart idea.

They all walked up to Wandegeya and stared at the street clock there. It was 3:15 am.

***

You really get Paranoid after taking weed. Once, I actually washed my face and hands with fruit juice because I had done some weed in a nearby bush and I had to go back to school (I was in S5). My face became sticky and then bees (they may have been mere flies) started hovering around me. At one point, I thought it was a whole swarm of bees coming for me…I actually thought I felt the buzz in the air, and heard it too. We were like four guys seated under a small guava tree. I suddenly shot up and started running while wailing. My friends who were suffering their own paranoia also woke up and raced in different directions. They had no idea why they were running.

Stahp!

Stahp!

The High Priestess:

Weed is a beautiful drug, it makes food taste better, colours brighter, feelings more intense and that ant crawling across your floor is now the funniest thing you have ever had the pleasure of seeing with your own eyes. Despite what the police would have you believe, weed alone never caused anyone to jump off a roof, or rape someone, or jump off a roof while raping someone. Hell, if you managed to leave the couch to go and scour your fridge for moldy leftovers to satiate your munchies you are among the top percentile of high functioning stoners.

That being said, it is possible to do much and find yourself in the worst THC-induced torpor; wondering if you are alive or comatose, or even worse, your mind trapped in a permanently paralyzed body, the only part of which you have control over being your eyelids like that guy in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

I enjoy making baked goods, and my friends enjoy the fruits of my labour. Consuming marijuana via your digestive tract is a little different, and this is what I tried to impress upon my American visitor. “It takes about an hour to kick in, and what everyone does the first time is eat the first brownie, then 30 minutes later decide nothing is happening and eat a second one. Then 2 hours later you’re higher than Felix Baumgartner without a parachute. DO NOT DO THIS” I told him, handing him his brownies and leaving him in my flat for the night as I went off to enjoy Kampala’s nightlife.

Hahaha one slice. Yea.

Hahaha one slice. Yea.

 Fast forward to 1 am. My phone rings. It is my American friend, let’s call him Lance: “High Priestess…. Something is wrong…. I think something is wrong with me” Lance is speaking very laboriously, every other word punctuated by long silences like he is drowning. “What’s wrong Lance? … You ate both brownies didn’t you?” I ask.

“Yes, well I didn’t feel anything after the first one…” He trails off again. I sigh. “OK, so are you sure something is wrong or are you just too fucking high for life right now?”

“Something is wrong…. I don’t know [unintelligible mumbles] maybe malaria… Can’t just be the weed”

“Lance you’re just high, i’ll be home in a few hours and you’ll have come down by then and will be feeling very foolish…”

“I think I need to go to the hospital or something. I think I’m going to wake up your dad—“

“WAIT LANCE, DO NOT DO THAT. Stay where you are, I will be home in 10 minutes. I’m jumping on a boda now”

 I got home and found Lance lying in his bed, rocking back and forth like a patient in a sanatorium. “Lance.” He moans in response, continuing his rocking. “Lance. Stop moving.” He stops, and seems surprised to find that he was able to do so.

“Lance you’re not dying. You just ate too many brownies and are now too high for your own good. You’ll be fine in the morning. I’m going to bed”.

 Lance wasn’t even embarrassed by his behavior the next day.

Nswaswa:

My girlfriend and I once wandered around Amsterdam for what felt like, and might have been, many hours- looking for any falafel stand. We had the munchies and were convinced falafel was the only cure. We wandered past the same street corners over and over, maybe we expected one to suddenly appear. (happy ending- we eventually took a wrong turn and found one.)

***

My roommates and I once made plans to go out. I said “cool, give me 10 minutes to shower and then we go.” I came out of the shower to find the room thick with bong smoke, and my friends were all quietly crashed on the sofas watching the ceiling fan go around. I thought, “Damn, now I have to go out alone.”

***

Brad Nowell (RIP) from Sublime sang it best…”I’m too drunk to light the bong…I’m too stoned to write this song.” Thousands of times we were so baked, just laughing our asses off, but now…damn what was the question?

*

And this is where I’ll end for now. If the stories keep on coming in, expect some very fun Thursdays on this blog.

To the holy herb! If you have any tales of your own, don’t hesitate to put them in the comments. You can also send them to mildredwriterchick@gmail.com, if you want them to appear in the next compilation.

I feel I should say Jah Bless. 

Dare to Smell: Aloe Vera gel Saves the Day

Aloe Vera is incredible. It is self healing, can survive with little or no attention, is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, great for skin, hair, genitals, you name it. For a while, I have been writing about the weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorant and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would do away with body odor.

 Find Part one here and Part two here.

When I first decided to put freshly harvest aloe gel under my armpits, I was just playing around. I didn’t expect it to work, but it did. It eliminated the stench-causing bacteria in my armpits for three days. But on the fourth day it failed.

My theory is this: Aloe vera stopped working because I had become distressed. I know this sounds a bit of, but I am just recounting what happened to me (with zero embellishments). A person to whom I’d been quite attached passed out of my life quite abruptly and immediately, I began to smell appalling. Stress makes you sweat more so that must have been a factor, but this wasn’t regular stress. I took to applying fresh aloe vera gel thrice a day but still, I smelt like a dead snake.  The smell of distress is like a moan from the very soul of your armpits.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I didn’t care. I mean, who worries about vubs when their hearts is bleeding?  After all, God didn’t create the nose with special instructions to smell only perfume.

I only snapped out of my funk after what I call the Kisaasi bus incident.  It was the end of a long day and as I walked to the place at Kamwokya stage where Kisaasi taxis congregate,  I made a short prayer that I would find a window seat. It had been a rough day, worse than usual and I smelt both sweaty and distressed.

Alas, there weren’t any empty window seats and so I had to settle for a middle one in the back row. To my right was a lovely looking girl and to my left was a nice enough guy. He made space for me, even smiled. Nobody smiles at a stinky person right? Wrong.

My neighbor on the right was having a fit. She began by pushing the window as wide open as it could go. She then held her tiny nose between her delicate fingers and winced. I looked at the guy on the left and he was having no reaction! I almost asked her if I smelt weird, but I knew the answer to that, so I kept mum.

Eventually, I became irritated with what I saw as a gross overreaction on her part. She was practically holding her breath. Do you know how long it takes to get to Kisaasi from Kamwokya? To have somebody risk death, just so that they don’t have to breath your stink in, that hurts. I felt she was being overtly mean.

Eventually, she moved out of the bus. There’s nothing like a beautiful girl reacting with horror to your presence to help you pick yourself up.

I didn’t start using anything different. Rather, I began to apply aloe vera even in the night before sleeping. Since the smell had been brought on my my distress, I decided to proactively deal with my feelings of loss, denial, anger and fear that all break ups come with. Sadness is no excuse to smell like a he-goat.

My armpits have healed over completely. They no longer look fried by chemicals and are absolutely flawless. An added bonus is that even when I forget to apply aloe, I smell like nothing. 

Recently, I went to Forever living and bought an aloe deodorant. I am OK with most of its ingredients although tricoslan has many weird reviews on the internet. Many days, I’m happy to go without. Occasionally, I go back to applying fresh gel, but  I’d really rather eat the aloe that surrender it to my pits.

So what do you think of my journey? Would you abandon mainstream deos for more natural alternatives?

Attention: Thursdays are now special.

Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty about updating my blog just once a week. Calling yourself a writer comes with many responsibilities, one of them being the regular writing of things.

So I am going to be updating my blog twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. Clap for me.

Monday’s post is going to be the story that has run in my (unfortunately named) column in Sunday Vision. I mean, Stiletto Point? I defy you to think up one thing that is less Apenyo than stilettos.

What my feet look like, every day of my life.

What my feet look like, every day of my life.

 

My last article was about learning to truly recognize the humanity of others.

I’m also going to be contributing a story to muwado.com every Wednesday.  If you enjoyed my articles in Plan B and on ULK, I’m sure you’ll love these! I debuted yesterday with a story about the the first (and only) time I went bungee jumping. Yea, that’s something I’m not going to do ever again. The pictures though, those are epic. In this one, I am every Looney Toon that ever stepped off a cliff. 

More on Muwado.

More on Muwado.

As for Thursday’s post!  I’m not quite sure what I want it to be about. For now, I’m leaning towards giving y’all news of my writing + gifting you with links to wonderful short/long stories. If you’re feeling clever and have some ideas for me, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section.

On short stories: I’ve been hard at work, banging some into shape for a bunch of competitions. Here’s hoping that at least one of them will yield fruit. Send me your good karma by watching this video of me quite goofily talking about why I write.

Why I write

More on competitions, I recently submitted a story to Farafina Trust, in the hopes of being granted a place in their creative writing workshop this year. It is crazily competitive, but the fact that one of the best writers I know gave my story a thumbs up, that goves me hope. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (of the Shadows fame) was kind enough to go over my story. Here are some of her comments:

“Beautiful language, good control – love the ‘deceptive’ beginning (thought for a moment there that the protagonist was facing some mob), the mosquitoes writ large seem to work well, though perhaps a little overdone.”

“All in all, good scene, the mundane brought alive, the language pulled me in…very good piece.”

Fingers crossed that the Farafina people think so too! 

I end with a gift! Enjoy this article about eating your feelings; perfect for all the food loving, over-feelers like me. I like how often wine appears.

And a gif

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

 

How I Know You Are Real

If you are that wonderful breed of human being called a readeriticus of Apenyo’s blogoticus, you expect me to reveal a big secret today. I have been writing about the seven weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorants and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would effectively do away with body odor.

This blog is, among other things, a place where I archive the stories that get published my column. Unfortunately, my editor at Sunday Vision said he could not publish three stories about smelly armpits, three weeks  in a row. He ordered me to write about something else.

 If you haven’t roughly shifted your eyes to another blog in protest, know that I dig you and that (freshly harvested) aloe vera sap is the magical substance that brought my armpit woes to an end. The full story will be in your eyes next week.

Moving on, do you ever find it difficult to fully recognize the humanity of other people? I do hope it’s not just me who suffers from this. I think that human beings are generally inclined to think of themselves as the center of the universe. This begins in childhood (where if we are lucky, we actually are treated like little deities) and never really disappears. What I am saying is that to varying degrees, we all treat other people like they are stones.

We many not go around singing, “I’m berra than you, I’m berra than you”, not unless we are rappers, and we may not openly declare that we think that we’re the only ones deserving of satisfaction and happiness, but show me the person who hasn’t whined “why meee” when they fall into problems and I will show you a liar. Serpents and tenpence!

When you are being the office jerk, when you are trying to cut in front of another person in a queue, when you are being jealous, when a sense of perspective isn’t part of your psyche, you are behaving as if you are the only true human in the world.

The moment I noticed my tendency to do this, I was alarmed. I have always thought of myself as a very good person. So I began to write down the situations that made other humans realer to me. Here are some of them.

Dance: Oh this is my number one. I was around 5 when my mother came to life as a true human, as opposed to a food/hugs machine. She liked to tell me stories, and her favorite was one called Danzolo.

Danzolo lived with her father on a mountain. Because the nearest market was right at the bottom of it, he would sometimes have to lead their donkey to the market for groceries and other things. Unfortunately, her father was so lazy that he would burst into tears in the middle of any activity that required even the slightest effort. This meant that Danzolo was always having to follow him around and dance for him so that he could feel better and finish whatever he’d been doing.

Her dance involved a  bent back, swinging arms, a series of facial contortions, bum swaying and a hop from side to side. 

The above is pretty close to the Danzolo dance. (Thanks for boogying it up with me, Joel!)

To this day, seeing people expressing their feelings and desires through movement just makes me want to hug them and say, “You! You are human”.   

Taxis: When you are getting out of a matatu, you have to do a slow shuffle through the aisle, get to the door and then kind of stumble out. All the while, your bottom is swaying and shoving itself into peoples’ faces. (If human bottoms smelled terrible, taxis would have been made very differently). The whole process is so awkward and the people performing it are so vulnerable to butt-centered pranks that my heart always softens when I watch them.

Soli-da: When a person farts during a prayer or a yoga session, or a movie and everybody comes to a silent agreement to ignore it, warmth floods my heart. I think, “Look at all these human humans, accepting this gross smell. Let me even share my things with them”.

Food: I always fall in love with people the moment I learn that they love food. Foodies unite! And have babies together.

The running eye: Making eye contact with people on my jogging route, and having them smile or wave at me. This happens more with women. Guys oba get shy? I always feel like saying, “Dude I saw you checking me out from meters away. Just holla.”

Pull/Push: Watching somebody fidget with those push/pull doors, especially at the bank where everybody is putting on such grown-up airs.

My list, as you can see,  is a work in progress.

Do share the things that make you feel-feel the humanity of others, in the comment section below.

Dare To Smell II: The Search

Last week, I wrote about my decision to stop wearing mainstream deodorants. For approximately 7 weeks, I took on the challenge of finding cheap, accessible and all-natural substances that would kill underarm odor as effectively as Yardley or Axe. It wasn’t easy I tell you!

My first experiment was with lemon. All I had to do was take a thin slice, rub it under my arms and wait for it to dry before dressing up. Lemon worked well enough, but after years of relying on antiperspirants, my sweating alarmed me. It was like all the drops of sweat that had been held back had decided to finally follow their dreams of exploring the world.

Just as I was getting used this, my skin reacted violently. Lemon is highly acidic and my dramatic epidermis decided it had had enough. The rashes I got were so nauseating to look at and so painful to have that I almost abandoned my project.

Ginger: My ginger phase was short and weird. This is what would happen. Because I always have a lemon or three in office, I would arrive some mornings without applying any. Unfortunately, we have a thief in the building. I would sometimes find that he or she had struck, leaving nothing but empty space where my healthy lemon had once sat.  Out of desperation, I would borrow some of  the boss’ ginger.  Its strong smell would permeate my pores and mute most of the odor. However, I didn’t fall in love with it and soon abandoned it for baking soda.

Great for tea, great for your armpit.

Great for tea, great for your armpits.

Baking soda: When my armpits healed from the lemon assault, I bought a box of baking powder (also known as soda bicarbonate) and proceeded to use it as deodorant. Its effectiveness blew me away! I am sure that the non-bathing types among us will be happy to know that it can work for two days straight! As far as application, all you  have to do is dust a little under your arms. In fact, you can mix it with coconut oil and apply the nice smelling paste. I highly recommend it for all you lucky people with normal skin. Mine rebelled after three days.

I love that bowl. You can find baking soda in almost every shop in Ug.

I love that bowl. You can find baking soda in almost every shop in Ug.

My skin reacted so nastily that a deep depression came upon me. Surely normal deodorant was better than this shit that had turned my armpits into an abomination. It was with a heavy heart that I continued my research.

Bombo: I failed to find bombo. This still breaks my heart. I hear that when you scrub your body using the leaves, it ceases to produce offensive odors almost permanently. I am still hoping that somebody will point me in its direction so that I can plant it in my yard. I would rather scrub  with bombo every single day of my life than use paraben/aluminum rich deodorants on my hypersensitive skin.

Bombo ooye

Bombo ooye

A friend called Yvonne suggested matooke ash. She told me to burn the peels, add water to the ash and apply the paste to my armpits at night before bed. Apparently, when you wash it off in the morning, you will smell heavenly. I have been promising myself to try this for almost a month now. Aate there is matooke at home. I must burn some peels tonight!

Yep. Burn some peels.

Yep. Burn some peels.

On this quest, I suffered disappointment, mockery, confusion and not a little pain. Thankfully, all nasty things come to an end. I met a plant that healed my skin, faded the scars and killed odor all at once! In next week’s article, I will tell you all about it.

Hopefully, you will be persuaded to try natural deodorants out.