Sunday, April 5, 2009

The barbecue to remember

We were up early yesterday and dashed to sun-splashed Village Market to pick up some drinks and fresh flowers to take to our hosts. I felt irrationally better after reading George’s horoscope preferring it to my own … 'This looks as if its going to be a lively day, and one in which you must be prepared to take advantage of what crops up completely out of the blue…', Capricorn in the Saturday Nation magazine promised.

It’s a 20 minute drive to Mike’s imposing residence; securing large government tenders has delivered ostentatious rewards. Mike’s wife Zawadi in a dazzling kitenge cloth dress greeted us warmly as we parked our car on the cabro-paved drive. I was told the children have gone to the grandparents for the weekend. She cast George understandably a sneakily devilish once-over and I heard the familiar shriek of Tandy the African Grey parrot from his perch inside the mansion’s upstairs indoor- garden announcing our arrival, ‘alo’, ‘alo’.

Mike was sitting proprietarily at the gazebo in their garden behind a table overlooking the criminally indulgent lush lawn studying us sauntering across the footpath. He stood up to give me the customary hug. I could sense him looking over my shoulder at George before shaking hands as I introduced them.

I sat between Zawadi and George, who was to Mike’s right side round the table garnished in exquisite crystal ware. I feigned interest in my chat with Mike’s wife as I strained to hear what he was talking about with George. The snatched snippets were safely around the theme of cars, corruption and our politics, interrupted with hearty mutual laughs. Is my best friend bonding with my secret lover, I wondered wildly. Two hours later they were both carving the deliciously charred racks of tropical heat spice- inspired goat ribs served with lashings of kachumbari salad with hot green chillies. The mood encouraged by cold tusker lagers had lightened and Mike said to George come let me show you the pool. I sensed danger but I couldn’t do anything to avert the impending disaster. So they left us to go see the swimming pool behind the house and I started the pork chops and beef steaks on the barbecue for round two as Annie the housekeeper cleared away the plates while humming Ahadi zake by Marion Shako.

They were gone for ten minutes. In that eternity Zawadi pointedly asked about George, who is he? I answered truthfully taking off my sunglasses, he’s a friend and he’s living at my house now. I surprised myself how quietly profound I sounded. She nodded, looked at me straight in the eye and said he seems like a nice person. She knew; and she knew I knew she knew! It’s the way she tapped my arm gently as she said it.

We didn’t have time to talk more about George because we saw them walking back to the gazebo; I was shocked into soberness to see Mike’s hand resting Obama-style on George’s shoulder. I put my sunglasses back on as they sat down. Zawadi went to the fridge to fetch some drinks. George was now unusually quiet, staring at his beer. Something was not right but I was like a sitting duck. Mike started speaking to me. ‘Buddy, I’m disappointed in you’. He sounded sad. I braced myself. ‘All these years I’ve known you and your family. You are my children’s godfather and yet you hide things from me’. Zawadi, how long does it take to fetch beers and wine from the fridge? Then the bombshell: 'It takes a stranger to tell me you are homosexual’. I was stunned, but strangely felt only a mild anger at George for putting me through this. ‘I was afraid our friendship would end; I didn’t want to lose that,’ came my hoarse answer.

There was a short pause. The sound of a light breeze caressing bougainvillea vines before Mike spoke. ‘I’m sorry I made you feel anything would change our friendship. After all we’ve been through; I don’t understand about this gay business but I love and respect you. It only matters to me that you are happy.’ Then casually a good-humoured call, ‘Zawa, bring the brandy we need something stronger!’

So there it was. My life was starting all over again. I felt sadness that I had ever doubted the capacity of my relationship with my best friend. Over 20 years of secrets from Mike undone in a few sentences and all because George had the courage to tell the truth and set me free. With these clouds lifted away, we had a most memorable afternoon. Mike played our favourite 80’s disco music and we all danced together until early evening.


  1. The truth always sets you free my friend. Its a lesson many of us gay men and women need to learn and know.

  2. Hi Anengiyefa,

    Happy birthday again even though I wished you before on your blog! I'm now so glad that George did what he did when he took that stroll with Mike. Coming out to my friends still feels odd, I guess it will take getting used to. But now I feel so liberated. Thanks x

  3. The fact is that many people who already know you, are not likely to think differently of you when they find out you're gay, because they already know the person that you are. If anything, their understanding of who you really are is deepened. Those who change their attitude towards you were not your true friends anyway and frankly, youre better off without them. I always say that our sexual orientation does not define us as people. Lovely people come in all shapes and colours and sexual orientations. I hope you realise how blessed you are having George. I'm happy for you. Please hold on tight to him.

  4. Anengiyefa,

    It's made me value my friends even more. I learnt to also make allowances incase I misundertand people's views. I'm off to hold on tight! Lol.

  5. I'm happy for you both. It also took me a while to muster enough courage to tell my best friend I was gay only to find out it didn't matter to him.

    People constantly surprise me in the most amazing ways.

  6. Hi Tamaku,

    Eric and I were hoping all would go well. I am so jazzed that it turned out as it did. I have some new found respect for George for taking the bull by the horn regardless of the consequences. As for Mike, I am glad he proved to be a loyal friend. let the good times roll.

  7. Thank God that often, yes often, people like your dear friend Mike are happy that you´re happy and honestly pleased, wish you good health and well-being...however, gossip can sometimes be attractive to even the more cautious and sometimes less genuine of us´s sort of a homosexual hazzard.

    I´m glad for the acceptance that is materializing around´s quite a good sign of the person that you are and intend to keep being.

    Good. Good for them and for you.

    Leonardo Ricardo

    (Juan Carlos sends his best, he´s busy cleaning the cage of Bunny Manchito who has been joyously running all up and down the corridor...our four dogs are locked away taking naps...this is the first rabbit I´ve ever known personally and he comes to you when you call him...amazing)

  8. Hi Wilde,

    People aren't all bad, I think ignorance is the big stumbling block. It's more of a problem when it's happening to someone else out there, not knowing it could be someone close or even in their own family. x

    Hi gay accountant,

    I'm happy to hear you where thinking of us. Is Eric your boo? Tell me if I'm being nosey. Have a lovely day and week ahead. x x

    Hi Leonardo,

    Thanks for your wishes. Pass my regards to Juan Carlos too. I last had a rabbit as a pet when I was six or seven, they are delightful creatures.

    Abrazos. x

  9. Am so glad that turned out well for you.

    I am not out to my best friend because he is homophobic too... interesting that I am out to my family. He is blind to it though and we have hanged out with him and my bf but he does not know about us.

    I hope all goes well with you too going forward

  10. I'm glad it went well. It is quite daunting to come out to friends and family, but once you realize that most people could give a damn it just becomes part of who you are, and people accept it so.

    Also glad it's going so well between you and G.

  11. Wow! still drawing in my breath in short gasps! wow! am geniunely happy for you. You go gnm. Still wishing you tha best with george. George is a hero in my books and you should thank God for such a friend as mike.[* Dont i wish!*] Pass on my regards. Hope u got my mail. Nyce tyme.

  12. You cannot hide forever especially to people whom you have been close to for a long.And there is nothing like sweet freedom!

    Free at last,Mr.Tamaku...

  13. Free at last...its like Nelson Mandela have been freed from that jail.It must be a nice feeling.

    And my friend,you cannot hide from people whom you have been close for that long.And it woun`t be too long,before other episodes of freedom start appearing.

    All the best my friend.

  14. Hi GNM,

    I wasn't half expecting it to turn out the way it did. You can say that George outing me was a wonderful thing! x

    Hi Billy,

    I am so relieved the way it turned out. It'll give me the courage for other people in my life. I'm at a point where it's getting tedious to play the hiding game. x

    Hi Gladiator,

    Thanks for your wishes. George doesn't see himself as a hero, he told me later that it was inevitable that Mike should be the first of my friends to know. Asante. x

    Hi M,

    Free at last is exactly the way I feel. I wonder about all the wasted energy. Now that's all behind me and my friend, we can be true with each other - the way it's supposed to be. Thanks. x

  15. Tamaku,

    I was looking forward to the turn of events and man, it was a blast to read what transpired. I feel for you.

    I am teary eyed right now.

    We should celebrate this, don't you think?

  16. Hi Pater Nostra,

    Thanks pal. We are going away for Easter. Rain-check? x

  17. So happy for you! You must be so relieved. I guess that your self-preservation instinct blinded you over your friendship, anyone living in your environment would have behaved as cautiously as you did.



  18. George , george , george! wow! what made him decide to tell the truth? did you discuss it? either way it turned out well for you and for mike too, atleast now he will understand you better. im so glad! and zawadi, how did she figure it out? womans intuition?

  19. Hi Jay,

    I prefer to err on the side of caution, but glad it all worked out. Thanks. x

    Hi Amelia,

    We didn't discuss it but boy am I glad he did it! I'd have gone another 20 years playing games. As for Zawadi, you hit it on the head, women are deadly - they only need to see two closet gays sitting together talking, however straight acting and they'll home in. Aahh women, can't live with them (me!), can't live without them! lol!


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