Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient.

Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to you to learn how to execute the job systematically.

When I learned how to be a loctician, I observed that many were just happy to learn to do retouches, and with the use of wax- reason?- It's quick and easy.

But many are not interested in learning how to seal locks that have holes in them, how to improve the density of thinning locks, how to reattach broken locks.

There are some who can't even shampoo locks because- That's the sink person's job-

When one of the locticians in the Salon I was apprenticing at realised I was interested in making artificial locks, he gave me the right tool, and taught me step by step for a week.

Later on, I was being trained in a different locks salon and I observed how they could mend torn locks using disappearing thread, how they made instant locks through an injecting technique, and finally when I was ready they taught me how to start fresh locks, how to shampoo fresh locks, and how to apply dye on locks.

At yet another  salon I learned how to install sisterlocks and microlocks, and for four months I worked with a girl who had learned the American way of installing sisterlocks using a measuring technique.

The one thing I challenged her was, even though she could make clean and neat installations, she had no idea what to do when hair started to thin. I recognized that it was also in the way the retouch was done, which would lead to weaker locks.

My previous training with the rasta brothers now came into play.

Rasta locticians don't use combs or scissors in their retouch. It's all in the hands. 

And African hair is not for the faint hearted. I will write more about this in a different post but just to mention here, I got trained in natural hair maintenance for six months. I learned what to expect, how to handle our woollike hair, and the science behind it. But with this knowledge, I was able to know how manoeuvre around locked hair.

Hair, like everything else, must be nurtured, with hands and fingers for it to flourish.

I have seen that with my garden. Plants need to be touched and reassured.

Hair can tell when your hands care. 

That is why you hear -huyo ako na mkono wa nywele-

I used to think it was an old woman's tale until I started getting feedback from new clients.

'My hair has a growth spurt since I started coming to you.'

'I feel like my hair has started to lengthen since you started doing my reties.'

'I no longer have dandruff.'

'I didn't even know you had started, you are very gentle.

Five years ago I didn''t know I could do hair. But I approached it with an open mind, with a determination to be excellent. And if I could blow my own trumpet here, I believe I have become one of the best locticians in East Africa. Just give me award already 😁

And that is my goal- to always, always do everything  efficiently.

I keep learning and acquiring different skills, because I believe as long as we are alivewe must continue to learn.

'Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might, for there is no work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the Grave, where you are going- Ecclesiastes 9:10

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hard Work: It's not that we don't get tired, we do. Necessity keeps us going.

 When my friend lost her husband, she told me the hardest comfort message she found unbearable from friends and family was 'oh you are so strong.' She asked me "Do I have a choice? If I breakdown and roll on the floor, will these people come and help me live my life?"

She was right. People are relieved when they see you holding it together, they don't have to do anything more.

A friend sent me a message that I would say helped me get through this week; in part it said ' Jehovah knows how hard you work for everything you have.'
I felt seen, acknowledged and understood.

I have always worked hard, even when it didn't pay anything. Now I work hard and it pays and sometimes it's irritating when someone turns to you and says 'Oh you are so hardworking.'

Get behind me Satan. Do I have a choice?

It's either I die standing up or die of starvation.

Many people have a back up plan. They can always -go back home- or -go live with their older brother for a while- sell their inheritance-get another job.

For me, what I have is what I have worked for in sweat and blood.

This week I had a retie and asked a girl I know to go with me and assist.
When we were done she exclaimed ' Oh you are so fast! '

Do I have a choice really?

Even if my legs are killing me and I can barely stand up, I have to tell myself to move quicker, work faster.

Else we'll leave the client's house at midnight.

I see that happening in salons a lot. Where hairdressers take lunch breaks with a half done head.


You tire the client, you lose motivation, and the following day you are too tired to take another client.

I don't work fast because I am a machine, I work hard because I have to before my back gives in. I just don't need platitudes, just ignore me, okay?

If you haven't bought my books talk to me and tell me the reason +254701030005

Monday, May 13, 2024

This chic: The men from the Lake Side


I can’t sleep for various reasons so I might as well tell you an embarrassing story about that time when 

the whole 32 years of the womanhood  in me had a crush on a younger Luo man. He was possibly 

27  but that is still a big age difference in both of our tribes,  an older woman is shocking enough 

to take your mother straight to her grave. But it didn’t matter. Mimi I had never met such a beautiful 

human being and I was embarrassing myself flirting left right and center until my friend asked me - it’s 

that bad huh? -

I have always been into Tall dark and handsome homo-sapiens whose forefathers invented fish to be their main cash crop. It is not the reason I can understand 30% Dholuo, it was an idea I developed before I even 

developed, out of the fear of marrying my half- brother by mistake. 

My mother being a single woman who didn’t particularly think highly of kabira, gave me answers to questions I had but had not asked; there was no way my biological father could have been a Luo. 

So if I was going to get married, I would marry the darkest Luo I could find. I would not chance marrying a Kikuyu and end up giving birth to a child with three eyes. 

Then I met my father but my attraction to the lake people didn’t disappear. 

In my defense, I had not met my cousins from biological father’s side-  what if I married a cousin? -

Anyway, I told my Luo friends about this crush and they did a thumbs up sign which to me meant I was almost engaged and already planning the garden wedding ikuwe hapo Bethsaida Gardens, Kikuyu Town.

But then after some research my two friends managed to find out that this hot brotha was seeing someone and his attention to me was just good manners, to a big sister.

He didn’t call me big sister big sister passe. But ushawai itwa big siz na mtu unacrushia? Ama small bro (haha that’s even worse)

So like a month after realising Kumbe I am just a big siz, my friends invited me over and they had a big size Bacardi and sprite. As we ate and drunk, my friend’s  husband mentioned he had a movie recommendation for me and since the Barcardi was already taking effect, I did not resist when he searched and played the movie

- He is not that into you.- 

I watched, ate crisps and dipped in more rum, and I guess that numbed my feelings.

Huyo alienda hivyo.

Next I might tell you about that time I was into Chinese guys. 

But if you haven’t bought any of my books you are missing out.

Get one here

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

9 Lessons learned from my Books Launch event.

1. Start Early

After I published the book in November, I started doing my research on how to have a book launch. Then I started asking about venues. By February 6th, I had selected my service providers. At the same time, my second book was also out in print so this was going to be a double launch.

2. Talk to People

Don't do it alone, this is not a creative project that needs to be handled singlehandedly.  The more I talked to people the more a realised, ah, kumbe human resource is available. And the more I involved people, the more others approached me wanting to be part of the event. My friend and her fiance paid for drinks and a gluten free cake, my neighbour spent a whole Friday afternoon making mandazi and cake for the event. People who couldn't make it sent a kakitu for the event. My cousins traveled all night to be there for the event, from Mombasa, from Narok, from Nyeri, others came straight from work, all respecting the black, white of green dress code. 

Another friend paid for the venue, my salon people sent me money..enough to take a cab and back. ah. Yaani. Sikuachiliwa na watu wangu.

3.  Have your Accounts in order

You must have a budget, but on top of that, have an accountant.

 The reason is as artists we have a terrible relationship with money. We want everyone to be happy and sometimes we don’t think very much about expenses as long as things are fine.

You need an accountant like my guy who, when I told him one of the service providers had sent a new invoice, with double the cost agreed on said ‘ NdÅ«! AgÄ«te kuuga Å«guo February nÄ«kÄ«!’ Arudishe hiyo pesa tutafute service provider mwingine!’

Because in reality. We had settled with the service providers two months before so to increase even five shillings would blow the budget into bits.

An accountant is also able to know if you are eating the profits and keep you in check. 

4. Consult

Ask questions. I asked a question in a writers' group that I am in and within a few hours I had 88 answers. I was able to plan my launch around their ideas. Everybody in that group took time to ask me questions that clarified my thinking, while others encouraged and gave suggestions which on application worked out perfectly. Initially, my launch was going to be a very stiff event, but the group advised me to ' just look pleasant and hand out the drinks.' One advised. 'It's a celebration of the book, basically a party.' another one said.

5. Have a team.

At first I only had my accountant, the publisher and the venue provider on board. But then the accountant  started to ask me questions I couldn’t answer, and then I was needed to have a  program, so I realised I might need an Mc, and people to perform. I made a call for participants, but now I needed someone to answer their questions like, will there be a sound system?

But then people in my circle started to ask - how can we help? I put them in a WhatsApp group and shared my ideas. Friends and family are your best bet, don’t underestimate how much people want you to succeed.

6. Anticipate mishaps and be prepared to handle them

The week that I was to print books for the launch, my publisher ran out of the paper  I prefer for my books.

At the venue, the space we had been assigned before was changed, and since it had rained the night before, our new space seemed impossible to manage. But somehow things worked out when one of the market attendants looked over and said- 'how about we set you up under that tent?'

When I sent two of my helpers to buy drinks, they forgot half the order and bought an electric water dispenser that cost an arm and a leg and almost had me fainting when I caught sight of it. It was my mistake really, I had casually mentioned 'could you check the price of a dispenser while you are at it?' Now I was the one on the phone asking them- 'what is this for? What are we going to do with it?' I returned it the following day and took the missing drinks. Fairmart Supermarket Kikuyu has my 5 star rating from the way they handled the matter.

I got criticised by an editor two weeks before the launch for the use of different point of views in my stories. He suggested a revision of the entire book before the launch.

 How, in two weeks? Again, I asked for advice  from the writers group. The answer that kept being repeated was- Your readers are not wrong- Your readers are not stupid- Trust your readers- 

And of course, we write for readers, and if over 200 of my books have already flown out of my hands into readers' hands, I have got 5 star reviews on NURIA Store and 18 positive remarks, not to mention the ones that come into my inbox, and those that call me because they just have to tell me something they read in a story real quick.

Some of the comments that saved my life are snipped below.

7. Communicate clearly

We had got to the venue and were trying to arrange the sitting area, and I told the two young men with me to straighten up the seats. And they asked, 'how?' so I said they should have them facing in a way that everyone feels included. They moved the seats around a bit but then it wasn't as I saw it in my mind, and I had to say clearly, 'put these two in a straight line, and this one across so that it looks like an L.'

So on this note. When you delegate roles, remember to be very clear on what you need.  No one will read your mind.

8. Take Charge

This is your event.

Breaking this down, it means you call the shorts. Even with the help you are receiving, the event follows the course you direct. I guess I grew up real quick in that one day. I realised, everyone coming to the launch tent was my guest, they came because of me, or because of the books I had written and it was up to me to make everybody feel special and welcome. 

For most of the people that came and stayed, I have a relationship with them. So even if one of the expectations I had was to make sales, it wasn't just a hands off buyer and seller -bring your money- take the books kind of engagement. I needed to acknowledge the person who bought, and even if someone didn't buy a book on that day, I needed to answer their questions, give them time and make them feel seen.

9. DO IT

In conclusion, I am glad I had this event. It made me feel bare and vulnerable but the result was I learned new things about myself, how determined I am to keep going. No matter what.

Th publicity was also very good for the book. I have content that will go on for up to a month.

I was able to reinforce my relationship with some people I haven't been able to sit and talk with in many days and I met new people who are going to be very part of my life from now on.

That said, I was very happy about the group that turned up.  These were my kind of people. Highly intelligent but extremely humble people. People who came and sat and warmly smiled at me and at other guests. I really felt the support. Asanteni sana.

To get a copy of either book, here's a link

1. Start Early

2. Talk to People

3.  Have your Accounts in order

4. Consult

5. Have a team.

6. Anticipate mishaps and be prepared to handle them

7. Communicate clearly

8. Take Charge

9. DO IT

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Going to buy a plot in Maaī Mahiū and Parallel Homesickness Books launch event in a glimpse

Thank you all. 
Asanteni kwa kuja.

Please get a copy of either books here :

Monday, April 29, 2024

Going to buy a plot in Maaī Mahiū and Other Stories by Cecilia Gathoni book launch.

 My heart is full of thanks, for a calm, chilled afternoon. I enjoyed seeing you enjoying each other's company, talking and laughing and smiling.#GoingtobuyaplotinMaaÄ«MahiÅ« #maimahiu #booklaunchkenya #africanwriters #africanauthors #africanliterature Please get a copy of the book at Nuria Store.

This what Dennis, founder of the Organic Farmers' markets, where I held the books launch wrote about me;

It was an honour to introduce you during your book launch at the @organicfarmersmarket
Book lovers, through her book - Going to buy a plot...and other stories, I must say Gathoni's voice will excite and make you laugh!
Step into the captivating world of Gathoni, where every part and page is a journey of daily happenings that we all can/might relate with! A unique blend of eloquence and depth...she weaves tales that resonate deeply with readers of all backgrounds.
I must say, she invites us to embark on a profound exploration of the human experience through her own experiences. Whether you're a seasoned bibliophile or new to the world of literature, she offers something for everyone.
Join me in celebrating the extraordinary talent of Gathoni. When you open this book by @gathoniciss you'll not just be reading stories – you'll be experiencing real life happenings.
Discover her today and let her words ignite your imagination, inspire your soul, and transform your world.

Readers are not wrong. Thank you all for coming.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Hopes and Fears before the book launch.


Tomorrow we meet at 61 Marula Lane for the books launch. If I said I am panicking it would be an understatement. So let’s say that I slept at 1.a.m, got up at five this morning, tried to convince myself that I could still have my eye check up on Monday, but then what if the eye decided to misbehave on Saturday, so the adult in me called a boda, while on the boda I remembered I had not carried my hospital card, went back, couldn’t find it. Got to hospital and was number 6, an improvement from last week’s no. 9. If you are going to have your eyes checked at Kikuyu Hospital then you better be there by six if you hope to see a doctor by midday.

So I am in the third queue. It’s raining, I have drunk all the tea I had carried, even the back up tea in a tight thermos, and eaten the plantain and liver I had carried for lunch. It’s 9.45 a.m and from the looks of it the doctor I had an appointment with has not come in yet.

When I came in were just about 10 people, now the hall is full and we are watching akili kids.

Mzee kijo ako na kondoo

Na kondoo hulia baa baa baa.

I am thinking this would be a nice lullaby to sing to myself when I cannot sleep.

My friend calls public hospitals , cattle dips. They mainly are, cattle dips for the masses, where you are heardered into paddocks and moved from one to another depending on malaise.

Kikuyu hospital is not public, or kanju. NÄ« ya mÄ«ceni. And if you come on a Tuesday you might find yourself smack right in the middle of a  morning devotion church service. You can join in the singing if that’s your faith, or continue watching tiktok with your Somali Brethren.

The Somalis come in families. There will be a young woman, a middle aged man, nicely dressed to blend in, an old man with a tie and dye beard, wearing a Kikoy and carrying a walking stick, and an interpreter. This will be someone short and stout and darker in skin tone. He will have blue denim bottoms and a dress suit jacket.

When you get in and get a number, you stay in a state of panic, your number or name might be called, and if you don't jump from your seat fast enough and announce, niko hapa! Then your number gets pushed behind. At the eye testing paddock there is a gum smacking Jane with smudged, wine red lipstick and seems to be having an internal joke threatening to have her laughing out loud any minute, but it would be inappropriate in the  face of the blurry sighted teenager who cannot even see the two fingers she is holding up.

It’s a smirk. She has a smirk.

So instead you concentrate on the. Very very conspicuous Somali. 

They have a high hat look, and refuse to sit with hoi poloi. I donno maybe they have elitist cards but they will not be caught blind sitting watching akili kids an entire day with you. 

I get called in pretty soon and a happy, middle aged woman, the kind that are usually very light on their feet , and stylish holds my hand and says.

‘NÄ«we Cecilia Gathoni.’

I feel, ndatuÄ«tÄ«kira nda because amenya atÄ«a? Maybe my results came in an Inhave cancer. Are they going to break the news today? A day before the launch? I should have come on Monday. She gives me a sit and asks where I stay. I respond and then she tells me ‘ nÄ«tÅ«kwaria.’ As the doctor gestures at me to sit in front of him. 

When I leave the lady escorts me, still holding my hand. I tell her ‘NdÅ«kÄ«njÄ«re wÄ«tagwo atÄ«a ndÄ«gakÅ«hatÅ«ke mÅ«thenya Å«ngÄ«.’

She tells me her name is Leah.

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient. Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to ...