In the hustles of Eastlands, nobody wins. One dame is desperate and calculatingly manipulative. The other is a gash who just makes hash of the arrogant male romantic interest through her offhand sexuality. This is a story about misfits. An ugly woman who is a wall climber, a cripple in a wheelchair who calls the shots, a pastor who is a big con, a shylock who wants to be an MP.
Atieno Mara Bella owns AMBA Advertising. She is an artist and designer whose struggles with her work, doubts about her talent, and complicated relationships often puts her at odds over affections associated with men. Akombe Bosibori is a backstabbing marketer who wants to take over the company. She has designed a campaign for a multi-million national disability project. Funds are given through pre-qualified advertising agencies to raise awareness in the low income areas of Nairobi. However the whole thing is orchestrated by a man in a wheelchair, the flamboyant Tutu Kulundeng, the beetle. A genius with a reputation as an organiser of grand schemes for the cartel-run Government. And in Nairobi, Kenya, corruption is king. He wants an existing advertising agency to take over and use it to siphon millions from the government. Using the scrawny underdog, Kiprotich, he knows how to manipulate Bosibori.
Realising that they are each losing, Atieno and Bosibori place their bet on four unreliable characters: Atieno on Papa Kamande, a shylock, a shark—a money lender, auctioneer and broker, who also runs a matatu cartel, and on Ojuku, a ghetto thug. Bosibori places hers on Kulundeng and then on Pastor Otodo, a fake two-timing preacher who runs a church in Jerusalem, Nairobi, who sees her as a way out of poverty and brainwashes with intent to get her to take over AMBA and add it to his wealth as an assets of his church. Kulundeng, Otodo, Kamande and Ojuku think they know the ropes; and women. Maybe they do. But they don’t know Atieno too well, otherwise they’d have realised that they are just flies stumbling into the deadly web of a woman who is beautiful to look at but lethal to mess with.
He is back for some unfinished business in the city that made him. Kisumu.
Guitarist Otis Dinos is back in Kisumu, the addictive and possessive lakeside town. Back in the ‘80s, he was the Urban Benga guitar legend. His commercially potent mix of hard benga and lofty rumba was loud with a culture surrounding it, and a cult-like following. It ignited an entire generation of music fans. It made him rich and famous.
When he left Kisumu twenty years ago, it was a sudden unpleasant event. Everything ended in tragedy. He was twenty-nine years and at his peak. Today he still is the artsy man: the musician, the guitarist. People have died fast; the men and women who helped him make music… they have all died or wasted away. Is he about to go too? What is left?
The past has unfulfilled dreams, good life, nice cars, easy money, expensive perfumes, glamorous women, living on the road and on stage and in the studios. And conniving bandmates, thieving promoters, and clever pirates.
The present is bearable but holds no promise: he is forty-seven. If he has to accept his forced retirement, he has to learn to be a local Kisumuan, not the famous name. He reminisces about the romantic encounters of the ‘70s. The future is uncertain. He is searching for sanity and happiness. Happiness? In Kisumu lives the woman whose unfulfilled love still dwells in his heart. But his mind is too bamboozled to even think.
She ran away to find freedom only to find herself trapped.
After the death of her fiance, Wanjiru separates herself from her young son and escapes the suffocation of her life in Nairobi, boards a bus to Mombasa. Waiting to host her is Barack, an engineer who is returning to Nairobi after many years in Mombasa, to escape the memories of his complex relationship with a Muslim woman who died tragically in his hands. In Barack’s Nyali penthouse, Wanjiru finds herself trapped by her affection for the razor-sharp, complex, egotistical man who is obsessed only with maintaining the tight social rigours of his Bohemian lifestyle, working hard by the day and partying hard by the night. His only
dream in life is to leave Mombasa in his own physical or emotional ways to escape the anxiety of growing old. They begin to form an emotional bond that teeters on the edge of being called love, both of them knowing that if they ever choose to do so, it will break the idyll in which they're living. For Wanjiru, Mombasa means everything. Mombasa is a dream-come true and the future.
Here she makes friends and starts to build a life she loves. When Wanjiru begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of becoming more than a housemate, Barack finds himself powerless as ever to resist her siren song.
The New Girl In Mombasa is a portrait of two people running from a troubled past and moving towards an uncertain future. Set in Mombasa, Kenya’s famed coastal city of rich historical heritage and Swahili culture, it is a haunting look at loneliness, the struggle for love, belonging and independence. Its beauty lies in its subtlety, its emotional nuances. And Mombasa is glamorous, seductive, magical, always looped around by the sensuous, unrelenting rhythm of night clubs, and steeped in hookups, revelry, barhopping, and the pleasures of the beach parties.
The nine stories mainly feature strong woman-led characters in their businesses, work places, and in other circumstances.
In Inherited danger, a ruthless activist-turned-politician must get married to her dead husband’s brother to save her organisation from the schemes of a shrewd competitor. Aftermathtakes place in the guerilla-controlled Northen Uganda. Four girls fleeing into the forest to avoid being turned into sex slaves run into a bigger danger. In Moni Afinda, a middle-aged brand manager carries the memories of her father’s failures into her business. She must win a contract at all costs and succeed because she cannot repeat her father’s mistakes. In Kichorochoro, a tumult of personal tragedies pushes a young social worker into the frontier of doom without a back-up plan. She throws herself into her work of reshaping the lives of ragamuffin homeless boys in a dangerous Nairobi slum. Rude Awakening is about
the return of Ajwang Nyar Kadem, the famous femme fatale in Luo lore. The haunting cinema-esque Happy 9th Birthday is about a nine-year-old girl who is sexually abused by her father and its horrific aftermath. She throws the spanner into the works and into a nightmare of suspense and stark terror. The two last stories are about elderly musicians in a changing world. Kiss Ya Bangongi is set in the degenerate world of Congolese music and demonstrates that chasing greatness spurs doubt, self hatred, failure, and pain especially when the conditions for greatness are deemed by the sort of egotistical man the protagonist is. In First and Second Rhythm Guitars In an Old Benga Song, an old Benga guitarist must drop his personal principles and give benga music a facelift in order to save it from extinction. The two stories are linked inextricably to innovation in the guitar music, to chord changes, and voiced heartaches.
She is a hunter and he is a gatherer. She loves building enterprises. He is crazy about making money. But they have to be married because they both want one thing. Power.
Kassela Obange is an intelligent and ambitious marketing pro covertly orchestrating her destiny to success in advertising in the bustling business community of Upperhill, Nairobi. The millionaire tender-preneur Rapudo Oremo wants to marry her. Her unwarrantable attraction to him presents her with the prospect for power and freedom her heart truly yearns for and she is thrown into the arena of absurdity. Rapudo has only one goal: to use politics for gain. He wants to expand his business and amass more millions. He is vicious and overtly ambitious. He's shrewd. He's flamboyant. He's ruthless. He's unscrupulous.
He surrounds himself with shady deal makers, power brokers, ruthless lawyers and thugs from Katwikira in Kibira. Every political force in his path is turned into a surrogate for the motifs on the contemporary political scene. But this not any politics. This is Kenyan politics. It comes with furious vengeance and it is manned by greedy and corrupt players with cold-blooded underhand dealings. The game is played in a nefarious world. In a corrupted metropolis. In Nairobi City. The world of men.
Kasela finds herself in a spot. She must be Rapudo's wife. He must marry her on her terms. Her evolution from an ordinary professional into a cold blooded political animal is not by chance or circumstance, she is from Dandora in Eastlands, and she was born to struggle and use every opportunity that comes in her path. She finds herself ensnared in It's chicken coming home to roost.
In 1975, as a man-boy, Otis Dinos makes a significant step into music when a guitar comes into his hands through quirky circumstances one sunny day in downtown Kisumu. He discovers he has talent for the guitar. In the '80s, he finishes schooling and tries to fit in and find his place. But he is more an archetype than flesh-and-blood youth. Performing with Nico Opija and KDF in Kondele gives him a beginning and a journey into music.
As a guitar student hitting all the required notes, Otis is the haunted genius. And KDF in Kondele is a training orchestra for demonology. He is desperate to leave Kondele’s dingy clubs to reach for the future. He seems to realise he is not accomplished until he moves to Nairobi. But the cold, cold heart of Nairobi’s nefarious pop culture schools him into becoming a more spoiled artist. Returning to Kisumu with a new band, accompanied by queasy bandmates in the ranks of villainous ne'er-dowells, he spirals down into the heart of Kisumu’s darkness, encountering upsurging whirlpools of struggle, feuds, survival, greed,
envy, infidelities, competition, and exploitation. How does he wind down the hysteria; somewhat, and make a fairly good case for extraordinary achievement backmasking in heavy benga music? That’s not the issue, the issue is that as famous as he is, Otis Dinos has more problems than a normal Kisumuan.
Providing a catharsis through comedy, lancing the Kenyan lakeside city’s moral boil with satire, Bengamantells the story of ordinary men and women trying to live the Kenyan African dream. It is a story of a humble beginning, awkward and misdirected fumbling and miraculous accomplishment.