Living a lie and the graft problem in the counties

Beer Pressure

Cover page of the book Beer Pressure by Otieno Opondo.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • This novel will stir some exciting new perceptions and insights about the about corruption and rot in counties.
  • Told in an extremely incisive and hilarious manner, the story revolves around the life of Timothy Oywelowo.

Title: Beer Pressure

Author: Otieno Opondo

Reviewed By: Nick Oluoch

Page: 158 pages.

Year of Publication: 2021

This novel will stir some exciting new perceptions and insights about the about corruption and rot in counties while at the same time juxtaposing it with the beer pressure that is usually brought along by quick successes.

Told in an extremely incisive and hilarious manner, the story revolves around the life of Timothy Oywelowo, a young man from his days in primary school through four years in Makerere before ending up as a ‘tenderpreneur’ in one of the local counties.

His early life is full of trouble and mischief. He starts his primary education in Siaya County, where he lives with his mother but soon finds himself in wrong company of two friends, Mike and Onyi, and after several reports of him skipping school to attend local ASK shows as well as drinking alcohol, his father a policeman based in Kehancha town along the Kenya Tanzania border, picks him to stay with him.

Relocation works well and when he sits for his KCSE, he passes well getting a mean grade of B+, but, unfortunately just misses the university cut-off mark with a single point.

Determined to acquire university education, Timothy finds himself in Makerere University where he joins a host of Kenyan students and register for a Bachelor of Mass Communication’s degree course.

Away from the watchful eyes of his parents, he, like a number of Kenyan students there, immerses himself into the famed Kampala night life and falls for the beer pressure, missing several exams before ultimately dropping out of college altogether. He, however, remains in the city for the entire four years and continues to collect ‘school fees’ from his father.

On the graduation day, he proceeds to invite his parents, who in turn hire a bus full or neighbours and relatives to go and help in celebrating their son’s big day. He goes ahead and makes his own graduation gown and almost pulls it off before his secret comes out.

Unable to face his parents, he escapes to Nairobi before eventually settling down in Migori town, where he is employed as a cyber-attendant while also working as a blogger to a senatorial aspirant.

In between, he meets Truphena, a young B-Com graduate and love soon blossoms, but not before Truphena forces him to undertake circumcision. She, however, leaves him for a richer man as soon as she is employed in a bank in Kisumu.

He gets his big break when he meets Martin, his former classmate at Makerere who, like Timothy, also failed to graduate. Martin’s brother is a Governor in one of the counties and, as would be expected, is swimming in money, literally.

From here, Timothy’s life is in a roller-coaster; he registers a company, fills a tender prequalification document and in two weeks, his account receives Sh6 million. Martin instructs him to withdraw the entire amount and return Sh5 million while keeping Sh1 million for himself. Within the next two weeks, another Sh13 Million is deposited and once again he withdraws the entire amount and returns Sh10 Million while keeping Sh3 million.

He buys his first car, a Subaru Impreza, the same make and colour belonging to the man who had snatched his girlfriend, pieces of land, holidays in Dubai and Zanzibar as he undertakes several other projects valued at millions of shillings.

However, disaster strikes soon when the Governor dies of Covid-19 complications and his deputy, who assumes office, launches an all-out war on corruption. Timothy’s properties are confiscated and he attempts to escape to Zambia.

It is surprising how brutal and entrenched corruption is at the counties and vivid descriptions in the book make so much sense in reality. It makes you question the happenings at the counties and if at all it will ever be possible to ever deal with it.

This is Opondo’s first novel, but he has complete control of his story and his style. Definitely one to look forward to.


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