Celebrating East African Writing!

The Gentleman’s Club by Clifton Anthony Gashagua

Photo by Jerry Riley. Click on image or visit to see more pictures of Kenya

They come here everyday like stray dogs leaving the comfort of their kennels at home to play in the cul-de-sac. Tole is the oldest. A retired soldier with a mind like an imaginarium, he claims to have met Queen Victoria and fought in the East African Campaign against von Lettow-Vorbeck’s forces. No one knows what the bald Barthlomeo does for a living. Mandole is a quiet water vendor; he owns the next shop. Garrison Mwambao is an excommunicated Catholic priest and the conscious of the pack. He was once a shepherd of men until he ‘was struck by the light on his way to Damascus’, as he puts it. Then there is me. My closest relation is a lady from Voi who comes by the shop every other Saturday. I suppose you can call her my girlfriend.

Old Tole was heartbroken by the failure of the ‘82 coup attempt against Moi’s rule. He says that I look like Ochuka and talks to me in war phrases whenever we are alone. He reenacts a march and salutes to a spirit army general. We don’t give much consideration to his sentiments. He hates women, too.

“Leave that woman! Coast women are good for nothing.” He says. And then after what seems like a deliberation in his conscious he adds, “Get yourself a young girl from Murang’a to birth you a child or two.”

“Yes Tole, I should do that!”

“Or is it that your gadgets are not working properly? Is that why you only see madam once a week?” The old man says, totally disregarding my privacy. There is an unspoken pact between us to be brutally honest. He sneers and looks around the pack to make sure everyone hears him.

“I know a doctor who can get you mechanics working properly, double your horsepower.”

The others laugh. I hate it when conversations revolve around my life. Garrison is silent all the while, as if some invisible doctrine still spread its webs around his neck, preventing him from participating in any profanity. ‘The after taste of religion’ he calls it.

“Well,” Bartholomew, as if waking up from a reverie, says. “You can bring her to me. I have enough medicine for all the women in Kenya and Somalia.”

We all burst into hysterical laughter. Old Tole has to control his laughter less its force collapses his tuber-ridden lungs. He coughs and spits bloody phlegm on the path. Damn you old man, I curse to myself. Mandole laughs loudest and is the last one to quell down looking at us like a hungry child, waiting for the next crumbs of conversation to set him laughing again. Garrison is the last man to speak as we all rise to set out in different directions.

“You people.” He retorts. “Can’t you find anything else to talk about?”

“Damn Virgin!” Old Tole curses under his breath in what is concealed as a mumble, but loud enough to betray his contempt for the man of God.

As the clouds gather overhead I rise towards my premises. Barthlomeo offers to help drag the wheelbarrows and tiles back into the shop. I don’t trust him. I fear that one day I will find my shop robbed.

In the distance, Old Tole strolls towards his house, sad and lonely, I know he is already anticipating the next day. He comes here for the free Roaster cigarettes I buy him. I close shop and call the madam.

“Can I see you today?” It’s a Thursday.  Damn you Tole!

© Clifton Anthony Gashagua

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


18 comments on “The Gentleman’s Club by Clifton Anthony Gashagua

  1. Jean
    July 26, 2010



  2. Eberekpe Whyte
    July 26, 2010

    A wonderful, free story that takes the readers’ minds from the worries of life to the pleasures it offers. It is a free-flowing story the reader can easily connect with without the difficulty of trying to understand what the writer is trying to communicate…


  3. Wanjeri Gakuru
    July 26, 2010

    Very imaginative! These are real conversations going on across the nation, in the tiny dusty towns we often whiz past, on street corners, around the estate shop..I enjoyed reading this 🙂


  4. J.R
    July 26, 2010

    I like ua sense of humour.An enjoyable piece one can read again, again and again.9 frm me…


  5. sonnie
    July 26, 2010

    very interesting. . . simple.funny too.


  6. solloh
    July 26, 2010

    sina mengi ya kusema, labda, well written, well thought of and short enough not to bore someone


  7. Sheila Maingi
    July 26, 2010

    I give it a 7.The story is short but manages to encompass a lot in it. The dialogue is excellent and the internal conflicts of the charactrs well brought out.Plot is what am not to sure of.

    Two phrases did it for me
    “The after taste of religion….
    “next crumbs of conversation…


  8. Njeri
    July 26, 2010



  9. Frankline Sunday
    July 27, 2010

    some really vivid piece of writting. the dialogue is flowing seemingly with no effort from the writer. The charecters are typical in the avarage Kenyan setting yet unique enough to make you listen to them. It would be however good to listen more to the excommunicated priest since he might have a different insight given his role in the story. All the same I give it a 9


  10. kibet patrick
    July 27, 2010

    you get absolutely 10. a well brought out conversation that takes me to the real men in shopping centers up-country. what a life they enjoy and all is brought in here. the choice of topic too is great since men indulge in sex pep talk too much and that warrants my excellent score.


  11. Winnie Okeyo
    July 28, 2010

    makes me want to be there… 9.


  12. Gitura Kihurtia
    July 29, 2010

    A well written piece that engages the reader thoroughly.

    It shows a common trend in our society where people at different stages of life i.e young & old congregate to socialize and pass time in order to forget their shortcomings in life.

    Kama vile unaweza pata mavijana kwa mawee(sitting in a slab talking), and when you ask them “mna do” they tell you ” tu na work na NGO”.

    Yani, Nothing Going On.

    That’s the sad thing with the Kenyan youth. graduates but without jobs.

    A very explosive situation if you ask me.

    I give it ashuu(10).


  13. chrispus
    July 29, 2010

    well written,.period, a 9.5 for the idea, style and flow


  14. Andrew
    August 1, 2010

    8. There is incredible talent here!


  15. Hanna
    August 1, 2010

    I giv it a 7. Good writing


  16. Namunyu Molenje
    August 2, 2010

    Should i have voted last week, i would give you a 9/10. Magnetic writing.


  17. Raymond
    August 2, 2010

    so much praise for this story, which is well deserved. Simplicity does it. i would give at 7.


  18. mbugua mwangi
    September 10, 2011

    i like the character’s lifestyle. it is so real. i give this piece a 10.


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