In 2004, a young Barack Obama gave a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. John Kerry and John Edwards were going for the presidency and vice presidency respectively at the time. His task was to endorse them using his role as the day’s keynote speaker. Two things can be remembered from that speech. The first one is that it introduced Obama to the world. The second one is how he described himself. He dubbed himself as “a skinny kid with a funny name”. American journalists would afterward use that phrase so many times in subsequent bulletins when talking about him.
There are so many skinny kids in Kenya but few of them have funny names. There is however one with both attributes. His name is Nicholas Ochieng. I know what your next question is. Where is the funny name? This is my answer. For the longest time I have known Nicholas, I have hardly ever heard anyone refer to him by his official names. People call him names like Kogwe, Kogweezy and Begovic and some others that I don’t know of.
I am in no way comparing him to Obama. He just perfectly fits the description of “a skinny kid with a funny name”. The only slight difference is perhaps the fact that he has funny names. Not just one.He comes from Eldoret. He is one those lads who grew up in towns their whole lives. He is the kind of guy who says “ naskia Kijaka but siwezi ongea”. He belongs to that crusade. People who use that phrase usually walk around as if they have honey as their second names. But they are still God’s children. They are also loved.
An ardent Chelsea fan he is. That only means one thing. He hates Manchester United. No one likes Manchester United except Manchester United fans. People hate that club because they have ruled English Football for the longest time imaginable.
Nicholas is one of those chaps who posts football stuff on his status from Monday to Sunday. A stranger might confuse him for a football commentator instead of the engineering student he is at JKUAT. He seems to have gained some interest in politics these past few years though. He is vocal. He calls out the government on things. He posts things like “Corruption will be the end of this nation someday”. Someone who last saw him in 2015 would hardly recognize the person he has become.
But isn’t that life? People change. They evolve over time. Some become outspoken on things they never voiced their opinions on. Others shy away from their former selves and become reserved. Some give up on themselves and let loose. Others move to places they’ve never been. And of course there are those who go to Tel Aviv, Israel to start new lives. Nicholas is the guy who became outspoken. He is not the kind of guy who wakes up and packs his stuff then decides that “you know what? I am headed to Tel Aviv.” He’s just the guy who lives in Juja and studies engineering by day and watch EPL by night.
We had a small chat. For the Q and A series. Here’s what he had to say on different things within different contexts.
Nicholas. Do you know how to drive a tractor?
I don’t. I cannot even drive a car.
Ever read the book of Habbakkuk?
Is that even found in the Bible?
Yes it is. Do you have a Bible?
The last time I had one was when I was reporting to Maseno.
How many girls have you dated to this point?
Two. One was too bitchy and the other was too sensitive.
Who among the two did you love most?
The one who was too bitchy. Oversensitive people are difficult to handle.
If you could give up either bathing every day or brushing your teeth, which one would you do?
To be honest, I’d rather not brush my teeth. (Laughs in Mandarin)
When was the last time your dad caned you?
My dad never caned me. I was the last born.
Beyonce or Kim Kardashian. Take your pick.
Kim Kardashian of course. I like her work ethic.
What’s the funniest Wi-Fi name you’ve ever seen?
I can’t decide between ‘nunua bundles nani’ and ‘kamiti’. I’ll go with the former.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
They are quite a number. (Laughs again in Mandarin). But top of my list is Nicki Minaj.
Describe how Juja’s been for you these past few years.
Juja has been a bag full of mixed fortunes. There have been happy moments and depressing ones in equal measure. In short it’s been adventurous.
Do you still remember your best friend in primary school?
Yes. A certain Daniel Chege.
Where’s he right now?
I can’t tell. The last time I saw him was in 2015. He was playing football.
Tell me something you love about your mum.
Most things. But the most outstanding of them is her intelligence.
You have any names in mind for your future first born daughter?
Yes. Meghan Markle.
Why not name her Dikembe Mutombo?
That sounds gross. (Laughs in Valeryan).
You have any regrets in life?
No regrets. Just lessons.
What do you think is the most wrong thing with our generation?
People think that shortcuts are the only way out. They are wrong. Hard work pays.
Do you think human beings are who they are or they have the ability to change for better?
They definitely can change. They can not only change themselves but also have secular powers to change the world.
Thank you Nicholas
Thanks. This has been fun.
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