The Social Façade


I didn’t go straight to employment after my undergrad.

I decided to go back to school for my masters degree. I didn’t think a Bachelors in English and Sociology could get me any worthwhile livelihood. All my four years in campus, I tried to think of what I could do with my degree but I couldn’t come up with a single thing. People would ask me what I’d do after graduation and I honestly had no idea.

Don’t get me wrong, there are professions that one can pursue having studied English or sociology but they just didn’t look palatable to me. In addition, the system then didn’t invest much in teaching us about career choices. Most of us just wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a banker, an architect or an engineer. I never heard anyone back then say that they’d want to be a blogger or a fashion designer. These were not serious careers; in fact they were not careers, period! If you told your parents that you wanted to become a musician or comedian, you’d probably get in crosshairs with your folks and no one wanted that, ever!

So we were kinda stuck on the big five. Not Jubilee’s big five but the big five careers then. Growing up, I always wanted to be a lawyer; part of me still wants to pursue law. There was this TV miniseries called ‘scales of justice’ that I enjoyed watching immensely. I would sit, glued to the TV for hours on end. Dad had acquired this 14-inch great wall black and white TV that exposed me to the world of the courtrooms. My courtrooms sessions were not without the frequent interferences caused by the wind blowing the aerial from its position but that didn’t bother me. I listened, unhinged, to lawyers making their arguments before the judge and jury.

I loved how the learned friends would get their clients off the hook by identifying minuscule lacunae in the word of the law. I was always fascinated by the closing arguments and how the prosecutor and defense attorney would put up a spirited fight to win the jury over. There was no convincing me that I could be anything else but a learned friend. No! It had to be law or nothing else.

So you can imagine how hard I worked in high school to make it to law school. There was this combination of subjects that you’d pick. Each subject had a certain number of points which when added up would give you an aggregate. Each of the big five had a certain number of points and if you wanted to pursue that course then you’d have to get the exact number of points.

There are times that I would become sleepy during the night preps, and that was many times, then I’d remember how I would miss out of standing before a grand jury. My sleep would disappear faster than a Kenyan politician after winning an election. I always picture myself before the judge wearing those hideous black robes that lawyers wear. This was enough motivation because God knows, motivational speakers then were far and in between. I had every intention of being a smart and very wealthy lawyer.

But I don’t think I worked hard enough. It was either that, fate, God or all of the above.

I missed the cut off margin for law by one point, one damn point! That to date has to be the most disappointing thing in my life ever. Now that I’m older, I realize that the system had pegged all our lives on points. Your whole life would be decided by a single exam in high school and one point could determine whether you ended up in a law school or in a phonetics class being taught how to pronounce bilabials by a Kalenjin lecturer. Imagine that!

Society had told us that we could only become what the Joint Admissions Board had prescribed and if you couldn’t find anything in their list of courses to do, of course you had failed. A bunch of people seated in a high office in Nairobi decided your life and you could do nothing about it. It was what it was!

I have never been one to give up without a fight. I’ll go down kicking, scratching and biting if I have to. So even though I didn’t make the points to study law, I decided to find an alternative. I applied for law in the privately sponsored students programme at Moi University. A few months later, they sent me an invitation to join their campus.

I was over the moon, slightly above the 7th heaven up until I looked at the fee structure. My heart sunk. You need to know that being a ‘para’ student was major back then! It wasn’t for everyone. The government had decided that because rich people wanted to take their kids to public university even when they didn’t meet the requirements, they’d pay for it through their noses. A parallel degree would cost you an arm and a leg, quite literally.

I wasn’t my father but I knew that the kind of money they were asking for wasn’t money that he had access to. I also couldn’t imagine my father donating his arms and legs for me to go to law school. I decided to spare him the heartache or loss of his vital limbs. I took the admission letter and disposed of it.

That’s the long and the short of how I found myself in Egerton University.

Egerton University was in Njoro. Njoro is in na uko past Nakuru so ideally, my home town was more urban than where I schooled. Now, if you know my hometown then you get the picture of how rural Njoro was. Just so that you understand the gravity of the matter, you’d be in class and cows would be herding outside and that was a norm.

I did my masters in Nairobi, the big city. At this time, the social media bug had just bit. Facebook especially was the new big thing in town. I had a lot of time on my hands because I was a full-time student. When I wasn’t in the library reading, I’d be in the same library either on Facebook or YouTube thanks to free Wi-Fi.

So during one of my forays, I saw a friend’s suggestion. I didn’t know this lady but her profile photo captivated me.

Lucy was stunning!

They said curiosity killed the cat but I don’t think this has ever stopped any cat from being curious. I decided to follow my curiosity and click on the photo. It took me to her page. I went ahead to view her photos. She looked amazing. She was of medium height and light in complexion. I had a thing for light skinned women. This is not a surprise because I am dark. I guess I thought I needed a woman who would light up my world. She looked cultured, well groomed. Her photos said that she had a good sense of fashion. Lucy had the perfect curves. It was like a sculptor had done a perfect job to fit her in a certain size.

I also noted that she was single- that was a very good thing. She was also from my hometown and there’s a saying that the best wives are from Ukambani. I don’t argue about it because this is a proven fact as well. We just encourage everyone else to accept and move on. Hii life haitaki makasiriko ata!

Lucy was a student at the University of Nairobi! It wasn’t going to get better than this. This was the perfect combination of beauty, brains and Kamba. Was I a lucky man or what? I was sure I wanted to get to know this lady better so I sent her a friend’s request. I was pleasantly surprised when that same evening, I received a notification indicating that she had accepted my request.

So now we were friends, we could talk and talk we did.

Because Zuckerberg had not invented messenger on Facebook, we swiftly started chatting on inbox. We talked about all manner of things. We talked about school, family, relationships, faith and even the weather. When people like each other, they can even talk about the locust invasion. In a week, we’d shared a lot of information about each other. It felt like I had known Lucy since childhood.

We’d been chatting for about a month when we felt that it was time for us to meet physically. We exchanged our phone numbers. The day Lucy sent me her phone number I felt some kind of warmth in my heart. Finally I was going to hear the voice of this hot mamaa that I had been chatting with online. I couldn’t wait. Because I didn’t want any distractions as we talked, I waited till I got home in the evening. I didn’t want the demeaning shame of my phone disconnecting because of lack of airtime so I bought credit worth 100 bob. Airtime worth that much was a big deal to a student. There were better things to invest money on other than airtime. That should tell you how serious this whole matter was.

I got home, successfully loaded the airtime, and settled down to call my online crush.

I dialed her number; the phone rang as I waited pensively. “Would she pick? What does she sound like? Will she be excited to hear my voice?” I asked myself.

Lucy picked up after the second ring!

This was good! It meant that she was as eager as I was to talk to her. When she said “hallo”, I tried to picture the face I had repeatedly seen on Facebook and the type of voice and I could swear that the two didn’t match. The person on Facebook looked too polished to speak the way the person on voice did. Distracted by the Facebook image of Lucy in my head, this didn’t raise eyebrows for me. Our phone call was surprisingly short considering that when we talked before, we would chat for hours on end. Instead of overthinking it, I figured that Lucy wasn’t a “voice person”.

We ended the phone call because I kept repeating myself. It was rather clear that my English was a bit too much for her but again, I assumed that she couldn’t hear me clearly-it must have been a poor connection.

We went on to set a date for our meet up.

We agreed to meet on a Friday afternoon because neither of us had any classes that time. When she asked me where I wanted to meet her, I picked bomb blast, now the memorial park. To be fair to me, I didn’t know many places I could meet someone in town. Also, I didn’t have much money so I wasn’t going to humiliate myself by taking such a girl to an expensive hotel that I couldn’t pay for.

Dee-day couldn’t come fast enough! I was literally doing a count down in my head. When the day finally came I was overjoyed. Since I am a stickler for time, I was there before 2 p.m., the agreed time. I picked up a spot at the corner of the park directly overlooking the entrance and waited.

So at about quarter past two, Lucy called. She had run a bit late but she’d be there in another 5 minutes. I told her that that was okay and that I’d wait. I am a patient man when I want to be and in any case, if you’d seen the kind of woman I was waiting for, you’d wait for three days before giving up.

My eyes were still firmly fixed on the entrance when my phone rang. I looked to find that it was Lucy calling me. I picked up. Lucy told me that she had just walked in. I looked up to search for the familiar face on Facebook at the entrance but it was nowhere to be seen. Instead, there was another lady who, looked nothing like my Lucy on Facebook. I was perplexed.

By now, the real Lucy had spotted the guy seated at a corner phone in hand and figured that that was yours truly. She walked up to me without invitation. As she walked towards me, I was busy looking at her and comparing her to Lucy wa FB. “There was a problem,” I kept telling myself. “This couldn’t possibly be Lucy! What on earth was happening? What happened to the light skinned, well polished, elegant Lucy on Facebook?” Clearly, vitu zilikua different sana kwa ground.

While these thoughts and questions were doing rounds in my mind, Lucy finally got to where I was. A tall dark well-built lady, akin to a bouncer in one of the nightclubs in town, stood before me. She stretched her hand towards me to extend her greetings.

“You are Mwendwa?” She asked.

“Yes I am. Lucy?” I retorted.

“That’s me.” She replied.

My tongue suddenly got stuck on the roof of the mouth. The person before me wasn’t the person that I had seen for over a month on Facebook. I had been played. This Lucy had a very heavy Kamba accent too. Having a conversation with her in English was becoming an atrocity. It suddenly dawned on me that Lucy had used a model’s photos on Facebook. It wasn’t her I wanted to meet; it was the model I had seen on FB.

I knew that I had to go. There’s no way I was going to survive this date without looking discombobulated. So I got creative. It helps to have something between your ears at times. Twenty minutes into our date, I told Lucy that I had received a text informing me that there was a class that had been rescheduled to the evening. I needed to leave as a matter of urgency because we were expected to have presentations and mine wasn’t done. I apologized profusely for cutting the date short in such an abrupt manner and stood to leave. Lucy was disappointed, of course, but I assured her (for PR purposes) that we’d definitely meet again and hurriedly left.

In the matatu to my house, I felt like such a nincompoop. I went to Facebook and slowly started scrolling through her photos and posts. Now I realized that her photos were very generic. They also looked staged and never had a background that I could relate them to. Her posts also had typos and were completely inconsistent with the kind of profile she was trying to build online. How had I not seen all these? I felt played.

I quickly unfriended Lucy then proceeded to deleted her phone number from my contacts. She was clearly not the Lucy I wanted. I was done with friend’s suggestions on FB.

Social media is such a scam!

  1. The social facade…
    This is a nice stuff Mtumishi..
    Nimekwama hapa kwa “..the Lucy i saw on FB and the Lucy who appeared physically,..then kikamba accent😂…”

  2. “She also had a heavy Kamba accent, having a conversation with her in English was becoming an atrocity…” I’m sorry Mwendwa (me laughing at you, unashamedly); indeed, it can be a facade. Hahaha!

  3. He he… nice thriller… you needed a woman to light up your world. And that you got, though not in Lucy the scammer. I’ve enjoyed the read, Mtumishi! I was scammed twice, kumbe these experiences are shared. Thanks for leading the pack, I have been inspired to tell my stories.

  4. Can’t hold my breath 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Eti “light skin to light up your world” “bouncer” lmo…

    We need a few of these kinds of reads…

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