Monday, August 19, 2013

Once a-mugging, Always a-mugging: Ku #FikaDebate na @FreethinkersKE

What do you get when you handpick a gathering of fiercely opinionated, incredibly knowledgeable, supremely conscious beings and throw them at a topic? As was evident with the #FikaDebate on Twitter and Facebook this past Saturday, this formula yields an explosive Top Trend on the Kenyan micro-blogosphere.

I was fortunate to be present for a FIKA meeting on 9th August 2013; seated directly opposite me on a couch across the room, a man – amongst men – who goes simply by Lord Vasquo, pitted his immense wit against mine. The subject was, as it turns out, as to whether perfection is achievable.

This was to be the second head-on clash Vasquo and I would be involved in, within less than a month of our first acknowledgement of each other’s disturbing existences.

Such an infinitesimal question, to which many would simply respond with a yes or no, caused an explosion the likes of whose inestimable damage was rather predictable: Lord Vasquo now has a great friend in me; because – I always say – you keep your brilliant arch-nemeses close enough to figure out where they stash their kryptonite.

A bit later in the meeting, a lady who calls herself Dagitari sat next to me, a chap named Eric completing the sandwich. On my right side, trench-coat and cigarette pack at hand, Bluetooth piece dangling from his ear, sat a man known only as Double S. Being as the topic had strayed to knowledge and use of Condoms by teenagers, I immediately pulled a Kamenchu on Dagitari:

Yule M-two: Did you know that I don’t wear underwear?

The rest, they say, is a story. One mind-blowing story; one that we are here not to discuss.

A couple of cigarettes and a Guinness Kubwa later, the meeting officially called to a start. The topic, I was surprised to find, being about a debate to be held on 17th August. Logistics were discussed in great detail, including how to best raise cash amongst ourselves towards footing the Venue cost. Who would handle the camera-work, who was to get there early on the day to do the space planning… basically, division of labour.

Let me state, at this point, that I am yet to become a full member of FIKA. I am, however, nearly there. As such, when I was suggested as moderator of the debate, my instant reaction was, ‘Erm, mimi ni mgeni wazeiya.’ I preferred the less audible task of Social [multi]Media Marketing, one I can do in my sleep.

It was so agreed, and Yule left. Leaving Dagitari caught between a Double S and a hard Eric. Lorde have Mercy…


The week creeps, the week crawls. On 12th August, Yule writes a piece, shares a piece. Storymoja Publishers gracefully put the piece up on their Hay Festival conversation column. The piece is shared on Twitter, shared on Google+, shared on Facebook… Friends are made, friends are blocked, friends block…

Soon, it’s Friday all over again, and time to meet the gang at Chester House once more. The debate is tomorrow. The kinks are ironed out, Yule sees his old friend Waga back in the fray; he is to be part of the panellists the following day. Yule fears for him; he looks so dishevelled, and Yule wonders if he will be anywhere near ready for the debate. He should not have had to worry, he later realized.


D-Day. Yule wakes up at 7 am. He is to be 40 kilos of metres away by 8am. Yeah. Right. A quickie shower, some dog-like cloth-sniffing, cologne-whiffing, 2 Kilometre walk to the bus station and a bumpy ride later, Yule is in town. One of the panellists, the ever ebullient Nuru Bahati Shukrani, calls him as he awaits a damsel in distress to get unlost in Nairobi’s human traffic. ETA, 30 minutes, Nuru says.

Oh the irony, tweeted Ssemakula, one of the atheist panellists, and Chairman of FIKA.

Yule M-two: Si nikupatie namba ya mrembo mkuje naye?

Check. And so it would be that Yule got to the venue at 9:30am. One Chowder-keg accosts him at the entrance. Things are moving at a fast pace... Camera setup, seat arrangements, mic checks, pre-debate interviews... Kenyans trickling in at 11 am, more Kenyans trickling in at 11:30 am...

By midday, the guests are getting restless.

Mugendi: I paid to wait 2 hours for the event to begin? Good thing I came an hour late, otherwise I’d be so mad!

Aziz: Good thing I did not have to pay... You should know people.

The panellists eventually got settled down, and the debate began. The topic of the day?

On the Morally Absolute side, there was Nuru Bahati Shukrani, and 2 pastors... We shall call Pastor 1 - Desmond, and Pastor 2 – Daniel, because those were their actual first names. On the Morally Relative side were Waga, Ssemakula, and Kamau. What happened next can be seen in greater detail here. Since we have videos awaiting upload on YouTube, and followup podcasts, anyone eager to see what went down, will. It will not be pretty.

In conclusion, it’s been a rather interesting week, and as it ends, the irony in this event – as well as the Arterial Network #CreativezCatchup – sticks a sore tongue out. In a post later this week, I will get into the details of the same, in a piece to be dubbed Once a-mugging, Always a-mugging.

For now, let me answer a question I raised last week Tuesday.

Am I an atheist? Well, here goes nothing:

 I do not believe in god any more.
There is no god called God.
There is, I have thought to know, God, a god.
Many still do, think they know, God, The One.
I don’t think they do, however, think. 
Not freely, at least.
It is good for them, to believe.
I respect their Choice, and Free Will.
They will usually not, respect mine.
It is better for me, to think.
All is well.
I am who I am.

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