Long post alert!! Get your popcorns and herbal teas ready coz I’m about to serve the tea. Hohoho!


My first days on campus were difficult. Largely because I was very shy and struggled to make friends. During the first vice chancellor’s address to first years, in my freshman year, I sat next to a tall, dark, and handsome dude who had the whitest set of teeth I had ever seen on a human. I noticed this because he smiled ear to ear when greeting me.

“Hi, is this seat occupied?” He asked while pointing to the empty seat next to mine.

“No,” I replied nonchalantly then proceeded to play Snake Xenzia on my kabambe phone. Mum bought me that phone and promised me a new one if I behaved well in school.

“My name is Biko…..Biko Kenyanito.” Replied the tall, dark, and handsome dude after taking a seat. I could tell that he was proud of his name from the way he pronounced it. However, I didn’t like interruptions when playing Snake effing Xenzia! That game requires the concentration of a surgeon. So I paused the game and responded hoping that he would let me be.

“My name is Agnes.”

“That is a beautiful name,” replied Biko with a warm smile cast across his face. At this point, I was just rolling my eyes internally because banter was not really my cuppa. Especially when playing Snake Xenzia. I still play that game to date by the way.

To cut the long story short, after the address, Biko insisted on escorting me to my hostel (which I thought was super creepy at the time. You can’t blame me though.) We later discovered that were doing the same course and became really good friends. Our friendship had to deal with a lot of dating rumors here and there and also Biko’s dry jokes (hihihi!) Lakini what The good God has brought together…..haisambaratishwi!!! Wakenya na udaku…ogopa!!

I will never forget the support Biko offered me when I lost my father. God bless you Biko. I still envy how exotic and fancy your name sounds. I love you to death and you know it. Here is a fun fact guys, our mums actually know each other. They met way before we met.

Today fam, I am humbled to have one of Biko’s pieces on my blog. Excitement tupu! He writes so well. Check out his blog here. Biko is also a dope graphics designer too. Reach him on kenyanitobiko@gmail.com. Give him your coins bana! In this post, Biko tells us about his adventure in Kakuma. Take it away sir…….


There is a young boy dragging a jerrican by a cord of ragged clothes not far from where I am standing. I am in front of a shop facing the main road. From here, I can see everything as far as my eyes can go. Pretty much what I do in the evenings. Now I am just watching the young boy on the road.

Hot and dry.

Given a chance, I would have easily used the two words to describe this place. Nevertheless, now that I am here, I realize how lame that would be. In fact, those words don’t come close to quantifying the high temperatures here. Back home, Nyakach was hot and dry, and it rained every once in a while. You could find patches of green grass here and there – sometimes dry, but still grass. Yet Turkana is a no-grass-anywhere dry. It seldom rains! All you see are thorny acacias with sand and rocks around them. This place is arid; you can argue semi. I don’t care. Why am I using so many words to emphasize on how hot a place is? Maybe, because I am pissed at myself for having underrated Kakuma in the first place.

Typical of every man, the very first place I look for is a barbershop. With the dust and all, I have to keep my hair trimmed. My initial idea was to get a place that could just offer a good cut. But then the Congolese here offer a little more than that. They wrap you in collar tags and treat you like a boss. Then they finish off with a neck massage. Yes, that head-tickling thingy is here too. Plus, they use electric sanitizers for their clippers which in fact is a big plus. These ninjas are adept at what they do. This I can promise.

But go slow on the food. Do not order pilau anyhow. Probably when you go to a new place and hear that they offered rice, you will tend to prefer it to other dishes. What harm could a bowl of rice do? Over here you might get other versions that are not in your dictionary. I would give an exemption to the desert goat meat though. Superb. And the Ethiopian injera. If at all you are out to taste other cuisines.

The temperatures here can shoot up to 42 degrees in the afternoon and 36 in the evening. We busk and sometimes sleep under the stars. Literally. Daytimes are scorching. This kind of heat makes you want to walk around naked. The heat burns your skin so much that you’d think you are shedding. The water is warm and saline. So, drinking it doesn’t help at all. In the first few days, I was disturbed whether the men and women in lessos really had something underneath. There is some rusticity about them that makes one want to follow through.

Moreover, here is the blow that makes one want to stay or leave. The simplicity. The place made me forget – just for a little while – that somewhere in the world people had skyscrapers. I almost thought that the plains stretched far and wide over the vastness of the earth. This is because to reach the distant hills to the North facing the border of Ethiopia, I had to pass through large tracks of plain land. The same was to the Northwest towards South Sudan. To the East towards Lake Turkana. To the West towards Uganda, and the South towards Lodwar, and downy – how they called where I am from. Beyond them, the same plains stretch to the horizon.

If you can remember History lessons, Turkanas are pastoralists who moved from place to place with their animals in search of water and pasture. A lot of that migration now happens along the borders of Kenya with Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan. This is because these regions have a little bit of grass. Those who stay here in Kakuma have adopted a settled life. The rest of them are scattered all over Turkana County. Occasionally, goats and sheep roam about the town – mainly from the neighboring villages. 

Living in Kakuma is just as expensive as it is hot. Housing is expensive. Food and fresh water are costly. Many businesses here – mostly owned by the Somalis, are making a killing. You will give an arm and a leg to get goods and services. Probably because the place is far from downy where they get most of their supplies. Also, because of the fact that there is a lot of money circulating. The locals had it going well with the camels and goats et al, stacked in the bushes. However, the NGOs and the government are pumping in a lot of cash in projects to alleviate poverty, hunger and support healthcare, and education. Therefore, the refugees are loaded AF. They rarely bargain.

Speaking of refugees, with them came the UNHCR together with vested NGOs to handle their stay, guidance, and counseling. Meaning more job opportunities for whoever was qualified. What the locals mostly appreciate is the farm produce from the camps. Especially vegetables: spinach, kales, onions, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Every evening, fresh supplies arrive in the market. WHO also organizes a food donation program. Their provisions arrive every fortnight by plane on the local airstrip.

For humans to have been designed to survive in a place like this, The gods must have been crazy! Yet there is the tenacity of man. How he is able to live with bare minimum. Coming here made me realize that even when bestowed with much amenities and resources, some things need to remain constant in life. Discipline. Care for self. Respect to God and respect for all.

Newsflash! There is the internet and music. First music. Perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that GengeTone has great fans over here. Indeed there is power in music.  As with other ideas of man that rally a unifying goal to make the world a better place. Religion. Politics. Internet. Sports. Love for nature. Name it. 

Besides, I think GengeTone came to spice things up. When there was blackout and the taps ran dry, Mejja made a lot of sense. This is my translation of the lyrics.

“Hakuna stima na hakuna maji. Hakuna tofauti na kuishi kwenye kichaka!” Mejja tuko kichakani!


Nevertheless, I would not have been shaken to find them jamming to Reggae tunes. That is just about what could be strong enough in this sun! Am I overthinking?

There are about 4 radio stations in Kakuma. The lady next door works at a one, Radio Atanayece. Which mostly broadcast in Swahili and plays Christian songs. They also have radio programs specifically for refugees and asylum seekers, with news and information.

Also, miraa/khat has taken roots here. On this veranda, the jaba show has already began. Folks are gathering in small clusters for the grand chewing. This would go on till late in the night. The same way it happens down South. This is yet another sect competing with the influence of the churches here.

Speaking of which, the Catholics and Protestants alike have a footing. Whoever is here is doing more than the preaching of the word. They have different projects that are geared towards alleviating poverty and providing education and healthcare amenities for both refugees and locals. The legion of Mary too (Lejo Maria for those who are asking). In fact, there is a whole village occupied by the members of this sect.

See, there is definitely little that is known about Kakuma. There is more to it than what reaches you. Much talk precedes this town: the fear about refugees, hunger, and insecurities. The hunger problem is persistent. The refugees are here. The banditry is constant – within and across the borders. But they do not mention enough that the Turkanas have such a rich culture. Which I think will be fun to explore. They are beautiful like any other Kenyans – only that they have suffered neglect and isolation. Slowly the world is reaching out to them.

The boy on the road is almost gone but not before I get a look at what he is tagging along. He doesn’t stop to talk so I walk with him. His akalas bear the terrain so well. His baggy t-shirt clasps on his body when the wind blows against us. This slows down our movement, but following his lead, we patiently push ourselves forward. His name is Olopoi. He comes from a village past the Legion of Mary, about 2 Kms South. The jerrican is full of tap water. He drags it inside two halves of another jerrican that acts as a wheel. He says that water is for drinking and cooking.

His siblings are in the lager to fetch some for cleaning and everything else. In that lager, they literally dig holes to access water. Which was trapped in the sand. The more they enlarged the hole, the more water trickles in. After I have enough, I walk back to my spot on the veranda. Olopoi’s family and the town itself depend on the tap water courtesy of the UN. This is pumped from boreholes into an overhead tank that supplies the town.  Such tanks are also found within the four refugee camps.

How am I holding up? Like any Kenyan would. Cutting the coat to size. Going back to the basics. Entertainment is at a low and I am desperately trying to mind my own business. Seriously, this place is not for an idle mind. Besides the vastness of land what else we have is time. The sun seems to be taking longer to set. Even I thought that having this so much time would guarantee a higher output in my writing. I was wrong. I certainly appreciate that having cars hoot at you and people shove you in the street kind of gets life busy. It makes me think, move and talk.

I can see Mama Fey has arrived. Let me now go get my fillets. They are a real delicacy over here. The one thing that gives me a memory of home.

If you want your writing featured on this blog, or want to buy me a cocktail or wow wow, reach me at agnesopondo@gmail.com

Have a blessed week ahead.

Safari yangu ni mali yangu

Kimani Isaac