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A Giant Vibrator, the Ultimate Elephant, and a Global Room – Another Conversation with @French_Freddy

“Hey. I think I left my pencil at the office… *Sad* Any chance you kept it? X”

I received this text message yesterday evening by mistake. By which I mean that I was not the intended recipient. Happens every day, doesn’t it? I’m no expert, I don’t work at a Telecommunications company, but I’m pretty certain that unsolicited communiqués are an everyday occurrence.

They could be from over-eager marketers or from Caesar – in this case the Higher Education Loans Board. They could also be from conmen of the 419 kind, or just simply from honest Kenyans with no agenda behind sending the message.

This text message was of the last kind: an honest mistake. However, it did not come from any other Kenyan. It did not travel miles and miles to reach my phone. The extraordinary young Kenyan it came from was seated right next to me. She has been a good-turned-great friend to me since she up and quit her job as an intern in my department, 2 years ago, and 3 weeks into a job I had interviewed her for. I up and quit mine less than a fortnight later.

This remarkable young-mind-turned-globetrotter, I learnt yesterday, also now happens to work at Storymoja Africa.

For the entirety of this past month, I have been on a journey into the unknown; quite literally. It all began in May, sometime in the midriff of the month. Having worked with Storymoja briefly before, and interacted regularly with Storymoja and the people thus, I was asked if I could blog for the Hay Festival. I said yes, without hesitation.

Why? I love Storymoja. The people who have worked, still work, have interned or are interning there, are some of the warmest human beings I know. The projects they run have the altogether quite lacking combination of heart, ambition and realism necessary to achieve and blaze trails. So that’s why I said yes in a heartbeat, to work with them again.

How I ended up writing an article a week is an altogether different Storymoja. I mentioned earlier that I have worked briefly at Storymoja. Well, let’s make that very briefly, and make this the reason why I’m writing a piece every week. The most I will add to qualify that is this: moral debts, in my experience, are those of the absolute most compelling kind to repay.

I stumbled onto the first story I did for Storymoja about a fortnight before I got to write it, courtesy of a Rotary meeting. The second piece was not quite as lucky, having been discovered in the darnedest of fashions; and as for the third, it had been a long time cumming. The overall theme, as per Storymoja, is to Imagine Our World, to Waza Dunia, in preparation for the Storymoja Hay Festival in September.

My interpretation of the theme is ‘the challenge of perceptions’. It is an interpretation, here, of two meanings for the word challenge: the problem, and loosely, the seeking of a solution. Given that I chose literacy, sex and homosexuality as the themes for the first 3 pieces, I decided to further let them take a life of their own over the next 3 months, making my contribution to Storymoja essentially 4 drawn-out stories, when you add this one to the mix.

Back to the text message: how do we normally react to unsolicited communication when we know it to be precisely that?

If it’s a phone call, we will be curtly courteous, or courteously curt, depending on who we think it is, and what sort of intentions we have. Are we looking for a job? “Hello? … Yes this is he…” Are we bored and uninterested. “Boss, wrong number… Hapana… Nkt!”Or are we hangover and hardly there? “Eh? .. Hmm… Mmmhh…”

Written word, however, is very damning. It presents the information all in one complete relay, as per the intentions, ability and choices of the sender.

How we react to such communiqués, however, is very subjective. I personally know of a businessman of considerable repute and success, who started his motor sales company as a result of a misdirected text… from someone who wanted to buy a car.

This says a lot about our perceptions. He perceived opportunity where some would have found ennui. His business instinct kicked into gear, and for a man who has never been employed a day in his life, an entrepreneurial career so sprung. In this last statement, you will find the perception that one needs to have worked in the corporate scene to make it as a businessman. Let’s also call it my misconception.

That’s the funny thing, I have found: that perceptions and misconceptions are a couple, in love with themselves and each other, publicly displaying their affections as they walk and portraying biblically epic dramas every so often.

Someday I will look back and sigh at this attempt to introduce Mental Health Awareness, and possibly find it too subtle. I should probably have started the Alcoholics Anonymous way, saying:

‘Hi, my name is Freddy, and I’m an epileptic.’

But that would only be true if I really was an epileptic. I am not. I do, however, have epilepsy.

I can almost hear a coupla gob-smacks, and a collective “Big difference!”

To answer the perceived interjection, yes. Very. Big. Difference.

The mind is a powerful place; a place where stories become, lives are made and broken. A place where imagination rules the day, subjects the night. If you believe it enough, you can allow it to become you. This is precisely what I have come to learn, living for the past 10 years with Epilepsy. He has been a good crutch to lean on to get out of trouble, yet She has also been wily enough to draw me into trouble. Notice the perception that when my Epilepsy is male he’s a support system, albeit misguided, but when female, she’s a fox dragging me down to the loins of danger: and possible oblivion.

Saying that I am epileptic makes me the problem, makes me the disease. Saying that I have epilepsy, means that I own the problem, I’m its solution; but only in my mind. With some medication and guidance from a qualified neurologist, the first part is what got me back to persistent levels of sanity.

For the next three months, every fourth week, I intend to talk about Mental Health. How I have noticed certain trends, and with a little research, can make a case as to why ‘creative’ people are ‘crazy’. How I have met a lady who has all her life lived with Epilepsy, a man who has all his life lived with Polio, and what effect, if any, this has had on their Mental Health.

What is the giant vibrator? An epileptic, of course. The ultimate elephant is in your mind.

**********

Animals and children tell the truth. They never lie. Which one is more human? There’s a thought, now you decide. Compassion in the jungle, compassion in your hands, would you like to make a run for it? Would you like to take my hand?

I want to live, like animal, careless and free, like animal, I want to live, I want to run through the jungle the wind in my head and the sand at my feet.

–          The Animal Song, by Savage Garden.

Fred Wambugu, preferably known as Freddy, is a writer/ entrepreneur with a liking for agro ways. Both the loud-mouthed, angry “for no reason” and the arable kinds.

When not farming or talking, Freddy owns of a hard-hitting anything-goes blog, the Diary of a Serial Schizo, is an Industry and Market Researcher with Eronia Inc Ltd. and is the founder of inThync Kenya

For more details on the writer, he has suggested that we tell you to scream at him on @french_freddy or Yule Mbois Mndialala

Disclaimer: He will holler right back. Loudly. Or lovably.

In other News, does a bio need to have an ‘I’? 

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4 comments on “A Giant Vibrator, the Ultimate Elephant, and a Global Room – Another Conversation with @French_Freddy

  1. Daphne
    June 25, 2013

    interesting perspective…. my response is usually highly based on my emotions at the time… if happy I certainly… even call back wrong numbers to say you called , other times I say … na wewe ni nani?

    oh and there is this time someone says ” don’t call me ever again , you hear…. you…t (some unprintable word…) and I write back “aha? and they say wrong no….
    then I have sent texts too saying…” I know all you are interested in is sex… don’t bother calling me, go get some with no strings attached on K street… only to realize I changed single digit… on getting a call…. hope no significant other saw the text, would be difficult to exculpate oneself…

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  2. Owaahh
    June 25, 2013

    There is the theory that sanity is merely the most dominant form of insanity, like what we consider normal is total chaos we are used to…

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  3. Crispin
    June 26, 2013

    I have a good friendship which came about because of misdirected text messages. When the first one came, something about some party needing to apologise to another, I ignored it. I also ignored the second one. When in the course of the same night I saw a third lengthy message from the same party on the same matter, I decided to send a response drawing the attention of the mistaken party to the persisting mistake. The result was a rather lengthy call from an at first angry party who initially thought I must have stolen said their friend’s phone. The long of it–for there was no shortness is this matter–is that we ended up becoming very good friends indeed.

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  4. Ha! Daphne, talk about the Case of the Ex that wasn’t…oh the poor sod. You ruined his marriage, and whatnots 😀

    Brilliant quote Morris. I’m convinced you read too much, but when it works it works…

    Crispin…I’ve made some really good friends, and ‘beneficial friends’, off misdirected phone calls and texts. God apple you, tech. You have acered our lives.

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This entry was posted on June 25, 2013 by in Writer's Blog.
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