The Fix


“What’s life about Mwendwa?” Mani asks.

“I mean, what do we live for? Why do we exist? Alafu, this humdrum question of purpose, why are we on this grand earth?”

Mani’s question sounds like a lawyer’s opening statement and I don’t know what I am supposed to be: judge or jury. But it sounds compelling enough. It’s what we’d normally call food for thought.

Thing is, I have no answer for it. Because what’s life about anyway?

Is it about getting an education and finding a job that pays you ton loads of money? Because we were raised to believe that success is a good education and a good job. But is it?

Or is purpose about raising a good family? Like Wafula, the security guard who for the last 25 years has cycled 10 kilometers to his night job to eke a living and provide for his wife and kids. It used to be enough to make a good man when a man provided for his family, made sure that there was food on the table, a roof over their head, and something to cover their déshabillé. Back in the day, Wafula would be considered a model father. He would easily make it to the cover of the Vogue magazine.

But that isn’t enough in this day and age. Today, a man has to do that and still be in-touch with his feminine side. He has to be conversational and be good with the children. Women will trample over each other chasing a man who can soothe and swaddle a baby to sleep, change diapers or just play with the little one. They say he’s both goals and gold.

A proper man has to know a thing or two about the kitchen. He must be able to fry something or know how to boil something without setting the whole house on fire. Then there’s the whole PDA story! A man has to know how to show public display of affection. If he doesn’t show it, then he’s not sensitive enough. But he can’t be overly sensitive; no one wants that.

They will say huyu mwanaume ako na umama and reprimand him to toughen up. But what’s wrong with being a mama? Why do we want to associate weakness and demean-ness to a woman anyway? What exactly is wrong with being a woman that if we want to say something demeaning to a man we use the analogy of a woman? I think this is a conversation we need to have some other time.

Anyway, what’s Wafula supposed to do now? What makes him a good man now?

It is not any different for women.

It used to be that a woman would get married and get many babies and that was just fine. Being a wife was goals then. Today, society pushes her to become much more. Go to school, get a job like her male counter part, and compete for the same opportunities. The days of a woman sitting home to wait for the bacon to be brought to her are over, they say.

Today, we want a woman who brings something to the table. They say that a woman isn’t just her hips, lips and tips. She can’t just bring her looks and charm to marriage. They ask what else she’s got other than her culinary and baby rearing skills.

If a woman decides to stay home and raise her children, society calls her a lazy woman, too dependent on the man. It is no longer noble to just raise babies, no. A good woman must be independent. She can’t rely wholly on a man. Terms such as ‘home maker’ and ‘house wife’ are long dead and buried. It is the era of girl power.

So again, what’s supposed to be the definition of a good woman?

You see then why this whole life question is a bit confusing right now? And that’s why I don’t have an answer to Mani’s question. Because I don’t think that there’s one answer that fits all.

So I just stare at her.

Mani is one of my avid blog readers. She didn’t think she had a story until she read an opener of one of my stories.

“I read that story where you talked about humans loving certainty. And that struck me. It struck a nerve because there’s a time I lived a certain life. I lived it for so long that when uncertainty hit me, it almost killed me.” She tells me.

Her story had something to do with boys and girls but it wasn’t just about that, it was much wider. She wondered whether it’d be relevant. So she reached out and I told her I’d listen and then tell her whether it is a story worth writing.

I’m glad I listened!

We met in Machakos. Mani had not travelled for a while because of the lock down and so when I suggested that we meet in Nairobi because I was the one looking for the story, she reneged. She said she needed to get out of town and she didn’t mind coming to Machakos.

“I was happy, or so I thought. I had a good job; I lived in a nice house in a very good neighborhood. I was a committed member of a church and was a worship leader,” Mani says.

“My life was pretty predictable and I didn’t mind it either. It was work Monday to Friday. I would rest and have alone time Saturday morning. Then I would head up to church in the afternoon for the worship team praco session up until around 6 ish. We’d hang out kidogo with friends and then I’d head home,”

“Sundays were spent in church all day, morning to evening. The day would start at 6:00 a.m. because we had to be in church early for sound checks and dry runs and end at around 7:00 p.m. because we had an evening service that started at 5.30 p.m.”

Mani breaks her thought process because I am just staring at her all this time. She thinks that I am surprised but I am not. Being in church the whole day on a Sunday is something I have done for ages now. I identify.

“How was it though? Did you like it?” I ask.

She brightens up, her eyes almost popping out of their sockets.

“I didn’t like it Mwendwa, I loved it! I loved every bit of it, there’s a huge part of me that misses that life a lot. It sounds mundane to many people but I loved it,” She retorts.

“I loved to lead worship. Yaani, I would be looking forward to the Sunday service as early as Wednesday. I was one of those worship leaders who are full of life on stage. If I sung, I did it with every breath in my lungs. When I got to dancing, I’d break a leg with no apology. I didn’t care whether y’all danced or just stared. Mimi I just wanted to have fun and a great time when leading and I always did,”

“I now tell guys that the easiest way to identify a troubled person in church is to look at the most theatrical one. They are always compensating for some deficiency in their life. They mostly cover it with noise or lots of drama.” She says.

“Is this something you did from childhood? Church I mean?” I ask Mani.

“Actually no. I wasn’t born in a Christian family ata. I got saved in high school like most of us, around form two and that was it,” She says.

“No one in my family was a Christian. My dad was a traditional man. He wasn’t a good man either. He would be away all day and come home in the dead of the night drunk as a skunk. The man loved his beer. Mum was a small time businesswoman, what would call mama mboga these days. She had to do something because she couldn’t rely on dad for anything much. Mum was literally our father and mother. Dad was just this man who lived with us in the same house.”

“Did that bother you?” I ask Mani.

“It did. It did especially because whenever dad got drunk, he’d become both verbally and physically abusive towards mum. There are so many times when he’d come in at midnight and pound the door to almost breaking it. That didn’t scare me, I just hated it, I think I hated him,”

“Mum always made sure that there was food ready for dad every single day but the man would come home and kick the dishes to the floor. Then he’d ask mum why she always made greens when he never left money for the meat.”

When I ask Mani whether her dad ever beat up on the mother, she sighs heavily. She tells me this happened countless times. And in the full glare of herself and the rest of her siblings too. Her younger brother would always be the one to come to her mother’s rescue.

“In spite of all these, mum stayed, she never even once attempted to leave. I never understood why,” She says. “Why would someone take in all that violence and heartache?”

Mani went through school, got admitted to university, and got a great job almost immediately after campus. Her life became about church and work.

“I thought I was okay, but I wasn’t. I had gone through so much during my childhood that I didn’t deal with. I had many repressed feelings and emotions,” She says.

“I was serving in church yet carrying so much bile. I still hated my dad; I didn’t even want to hear the mention of his name. I didn’t know then but now I think that’s why I took long to date a guy. I didn’t even give guys time, I hid behind the busy of ministry and made sure that none would ever have time to even talk to me outside church.”

I am looking at her and wondering how someone who’s always before people manages to not have a suitor. It is like she reads my mind and immediately answers me.

“I was in that church for more than 7 years and I didn’t go out with anyone. If I went out for coffee it would be with my girlfriends.”

“You didn’t feel like you were missing something?” I ask.

“Thing is, Mwendwa, I always saw my dad in every man I met. The sight of a man wanting me would always make me angry.” Mani says.

I am still processing this when Mani says something that shakes me up. I think this is why I wrote this story.

She says, “I hid behind church. Mwendwa, church was the drug that kept me going. I was always high, not high on Heroin, Meth or Coke. No, I was high on religion and church. Yet deep down, I was a wreck. Deep down, I carried so much hate and pain that church couldn’t heal.”

“But what about God? Why couldn’t he heal that pain Mani?” I ask.

Mani shakes her head as though astounded at this question then answers.

“I didn’t say God was the drug, I said church was the drug. I honestly don’t think God ever got anywhere near my pain. I didn’t let him. I couldn’t let him. It was one of those places that he was prohibited from visiting. Even he couldn’t make a good enough attorney for my dad”

“I just kept it in. Never talked about it, never dealt with it. I think sometimes church does that. It’s sort of a drug that keeps you away from reality. And I feel like so many of us are there. So many people are druggies who come to get a refill on Sunday so that they can go face the world from Monday to Saturday.”

For Mani, church just numbed the pain. She was calm and collected on the outside. She was miss goodie two shoes and amazing worship leader on the outside but a turmoil of emotions that could rival the roughest of ocean storms in the inside.

But it didn’t last, it wasn’t going to last anyway, it never does.

“But for me, it didn’t last. Reality hit,” Mani narrates. “I met this guy who broke through my façade. He wasn’t even from my church because I had erected a caveat for those guys. We met in a worship experience and started talking from then. We mostly did Facebook. We’d message each other a lot, inboxes. It was very cheesy because we had phones and we could just call each other but we preferred the inbox!”

She pauses to reflect and let me internalize what she’s just said. It is amazing how we light up when we start talking about a former flame. There’s always a trigger that makes the heart glad, and it shows on our faces.

“This guy got me!” Mani blurts out.

“Yaani, it was like he could see right through me. He knew just what to say, he always managed to say the right thing. He even got me to talk about my dad and the hurt in my heart. And he did this so effortlessly that I couldn’t believe.”

“You must have loved this?” I ask confidently.

“You’d think I would, but no! It freaked me out,” She says. “I loved this guy, he was amazing but he was seeing too much into my pain, breaking down my walls and making me too vulnerable and I couldn’t stand it. I had never known weakness, I had never known love Mwendwa, so I couldn’t do this.”

“So what happened?” I cue her.

“I bolted!” She says with half a laughter. “One day, I woke up and just decided to ghost on him. I deleted my Facebook account, and blocked his number.”

“Did he try to reach you?” I ask.

“He did, enough times. He even tried to chat me up on Google hangouts but I just lengad him,” Says Mani.

“You’d think what I needed was love but truth is, I couldn’t stand love. I had let my heart know so much pain and bitterness that it couldn’t identify love. Life had taught me that a man couldn’t love a woman like that. So there had to be something wrong with this man. My normal was pain but here was this guy loving on me for no reason! How now? I couldn’t buy it. I refused to buy what he was selling.”

So the guy finally gave up and left Mani alone. She’d managed to ghost him effectively. He was vanquished. Thing is, our hearts are like magnets. They always attract what we are carrying. Mani would soon fall for another guy.

“I wasn’t even over mister awesome guy when I met this other guy. It’s not that he even loved me. It is how he treated me that made me stick there. He was rough, not kind, he treated me exactly how my dad treated my mother and for some twisted reason, I kept going back to him.” Mani says.

This guy gave Mani what she was familiar with, pain! Mani’s heart didn’t know kindness; it only knew hurt and pain. He brought with him what Mani could quickly identify with and she took the bait hook line and sinker.

“Soon we were having sex which is what I think he wanted from the start. He’d come, sleep with me and suddenly say he needed to go do something. He never stayed,” Says Mani.

“Now I was a worship leader caught up in a situationship and I couldn’t get out. This thing was wrong, it was sin but I didn’t know how to stop. I couldn’t talk about it to anyone also. There’s a way that church people carry themselves that you’d never want to open up about some things. We are all holy and headed to heaven yet beneath the act, we are struggling with all kinds of issues.”

So Mani continued to double deal but even that didn’t last. She slipped up and got pregnant. She tells me that this was her proverbial fall from grace.

“The world stopped spinning for me when I got worried about my missing flow and took a pregnancy test. It turned out to be positive. The church held me in such high esteem that no one could ever imagine that I’d get pregnant out of wedlock. When I confided in my worship pastor, he immediately asked me to step down from the worship team. He then went ahead to announce on Sunday that I was no longer part of the team because of what he called ‘character issues.” Mani tells me.

“Church doesn’t know how to handle fallen soldiers Mwendwa,” Mani says. “They talked about me, discussed me in meetings, I was given as a bad example on the pulpit and in youth meetings on how to live holy and maintain chastity. I couldn’t stand it so I walk out.”

The thing that had kept Mani a float all her life was now her biggest enemy. She was ostracized. So she ran. She ran as far she could from church. She stopped attending church. She started partying and frequently having sex with mister bad guy. She was literally the good girl gone bad, very bad.

“It was like I did a 180 degree turn. I was drinking everything I could find and smoking anything I could buy. It is a miracle I delivered a healthy baby,” Mani explains.

“I slept with whichever guy I could find even when I was pregnant. After I delivered, it got worse. I would club for hours on end, days even and come home and black out. I even tried being a lesbian. At some point I couldn’t stand sex with a man, I just wanted girls. I was hitting very low lows.”

I ask her what she hated most about church.

“I think what I hated most was that everyone that I knew and was friends with was now talking about me and how badly I had fallen. Church now became my biggest enemy. Mister man also left me so I was now raising my baby on my own. It was hard, very hard.” She tells me.

“Are you still there? Like living that kind of life?” I ask.

“No, no I am not,” Mani says. “There’s this time I had being clubbing all weekend and so Monday morning I couldn’t go to work because I was nursing a hangie. I remember being in bed and having this splitting headache when my daughter my two year old daughter climbed into my bed and started playing with my faces. She was giggling, pulling my eyes oblivious that I was having a headache. I almost got cross with her until I opened my eyes.”

“What happened?” I ask Mani.

“My daughter was looking straight into my eyes with a huge smile and what she said altered the course of my life till now. She asked me a question ‘Mummy, do you know that God still loves you?’ Before I could answer, she went ahead and told me ‘Mummy, God and I love you a lot.’ “

“I couldn’t say a thing. I broke down in tears, uncontrollable tears. At that time, that moment, God had just used the thing that most people considered my biggest mistake to speak to me. God still chose to express his love to me even at a time when I was beat down and completely. I couldn’t believe. I think this is what is called ‘the reckless love of God’.”

When I meet Mani, she hasn’t been to church in 7 years and she isn’t looking to go back soon. She misses being in church, leading worship and all but she can’t bring herself to go back.

“I don’t think I am ready to go back to church. There are too many phony people in there. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of genuine people in church but there are more fake people than there are genuine ones. I can’t deal with fakeness. Not at my age.” Mani tells me.

“Then Mwendwa, I might not go to church now, but I have a deeper relationship with God now than I did when my life was all about church. I talk to God more now than I used to then. I am not holy or sinless now but I talk to God about what’s wrong with me more often.” She says.

“So how do you cover for not attending church Mani?” I ask her.

“There’s online church Mwendwa. Before Covid-19 people said that if you didn’t go to church physically then you weren’t legit. During corona we all became online church members. I have attended Elevation church online for the last 3 years now. That’s my church.” She says.

I ask her about her dad. She tells me that she’s finally started dealing with it. I also ask her whether she’d want to date and settle down.

She’s cockily says “Maybe.”

Her final take?

“There’s pain and hurt that you have to decide to deliberately deal with or it’ll destroy you. I have learnt that when God tells us to forgive it isn’t really for his benefit it is for our benefit. Hating someone does nothing but corrode your heart and like cancer, slowly eat you up from the inside. You never actually realize it until you are completely destroyed,” She says.

“Your relationship with God is not based on your church attendance. There’s a lot of us who are just druggies in church; coming to church for that fix and never fully experiencing the love of God.”

Are you high on church?

  1. Food for thought ‘’They will say huyu mwanaume ako na umama and reprimand him to toughen up. But what’s wrong with being a mama? Why do we want to associate weakness and demean-ness to a woman anyway? What exactly is wrong with being a woman that if we want to say something demeaning to a man we use the analogy of a woman? I think this is a conversation we need to have some other time.’’
    Yeah, we need to have that conversation some day…
    Nice piece. Hope Mani gets complete healing, and love..

  2. High on church, okaaaay. Really interesting phrase and eye-opening. Lakini are people in church just fake or just scared to show their real self because they’re afraid of judgement and can’t bring ourselves to openly admit our flaws?

    Agaaaain, I loved the intro story, the questions asked about life, the modern man and woman in the family setting. Such have changed the family dynamics and maybe there’s need for us to contextualize “family laws” to fit current era?

  3. This piece is very profound. Mani is a a strong lady.
    Though I still think the church still has a long way to go on how it treats its “fallen soldiers”. Where is the space for grace? Where is the space for redemption?

  4. The part about church not knowing how to handle fallen soldiers really hit home. It is such an eye-opener. Great read as always.

  5. This story has made me shed a tear. Thank God I don’t do make up i would be heading back to the mirror. Church can make and tear down people. I have been there once. It calls for a don’t care attitude to go back to the same people who tore down your heart and above all knowing that there’s a God who sees the real you.

  6. Judgement is the hardest thing to deal with and especially if it comes from the people you called Friends.I have learnt to keep a small circle .Pastor Titus,why do we excommunicate members? I still struggle with that.Future church can do better.I like what TD Jakes said in one of his shows with his daughter Sarah,that he would rather loose everything including his congregation but he wasn’t going to let down his teen daughter because of pregnancy.In protecting family I felt like he had passed a message to his congregants on who should judge and why forgiveness is important.
    Great story,it reminds me how we the church live a lie and judge harshly!

  7. Church can be a blessing but in the same brushstroke, it can cut you so deep. We need to learn how to love our neighbours not ostracize them when they need us most. #Wakristutupendane

  8. The tests of life can strike anyone. Even those at the helm of ministry. But we’ve got to remember that our Master, Jesus Christ, has shown us the meaning of living in a house built upon a rock.

  9. Pole Mani😢😢.we we we!!this is a hard one.esp when you use pain to deal with pain🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️

    On other news i refused to be a church goer kitambo sana!!hai hapana!.I must experience God everytime i attend church.

  10. This story is so real, but it is not uncommon. Church folks, of all people, should be the most humble and compassionate towards those who fall because the gospel is for the fallen, not the perfect. There is not a single believer in all of history and in all the world that gets accepted by God by merit. All of us enter the kingdom because God the father put his Son forward to die for our sins.

    Another thing, children are a gift from God, whether they’re born within a marriage or outside.

    I’d tell Mani to find a good healthy church where the gospel is preached and lived out. They’re not many though 😏.

  11. This is an eyeopener to the church people about the secret battles christians face though some issuee are viewed ad taboo never to be discussed or heard one saying. Many people are suffering yet they cant air their grievancies they think they will be excommunicated from the church , this makes people play holy yet are dying inwardly..

  12. Some episodes in my life I can relate to Mani’s story though not all.
    Our hearts are like magnets they attract what we are carrying…

  13. This has been enlightening Mwendwa.The article vividly brings out the aspect of gender based violence;domestic violence that has encroached our society and its long-term impacts if not well suppressed at an early stage.

  14. My heart is torn. Mani, you are stronger than you think. I love how Jesus just comes in… Jesus invade our spaces. Thought provoking read, thank you.

  15. …oooh and I love the introduction ‘what’s life about?’, we should have a discussion about it! :-).

  16. Mani… This gal’s comeback is goals yaani-Epic..I’m inspired.. On the church tearing her apart part..well it’s a sad narrative ; just sad.. Time we helped our fallen soldiers nurse their wounds and stand again. Anyway, I stumbled on this and thought I should leave it here;

    “Christianity is comforting, but it is often not comfortable. The path to holiness and happiness here and hereafter is a long and sometimes rocky one. It takes time and tenacity to walk it. But, of course, the reward for doing so is monumental.”

    -Jeffery R. Holland

    Thanks for this awesome read Mwendwa.. Keep them coming..And to Mani, hugs mama.. Keep going😘

  17. He first loved us and died while we were yet sinners…
    Binadamu wa kanisani..mhhhh ..wewe nenda abudu Mungu ondoka.

  18. Woow…!
    I have a question though…How did Mani manage to nurse her baby amidst all the partying and clubbing? #Suspense…
    I have another question: In this case how can Mani apply Hebrews 10:25 cause its somewhat vital; I believe: accountability to someone, to a Pastor, maybe (physical Passi)…
    Great lessons drawn from this…

    1. Heb 10:25 is not speaking about church i.e. the coming together of believers in a building designated for worship. The same verse refers us to Acts 2:42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

      The most important is fellowship. Don’t misunderstand me, the coming together of believers (fellowship) is important. You can be in a church (building) with no fellowship.

  19. Mani is our story in so many ways… It’s interesting how most church folks weigh us down at our lowest. It’s good Mani discovered the real love, God’s love. Praying for complete healing.

  20. Jesus is the true definition of religion… A great article sir…I felt sad for Mani but at the same time, I’m glad she picked herself up from falling… Would love to see more great content like this from you in the future, mwendwa.

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