The Art of Speaking Terribly

The bad manners of blurting, bad mouthing, motor mouthing…


I have been hurt umpteenth times by people who have had to speak terribly. And it is nearly impossible to forget. You remember with terrible exactness: the scene, the time, the wording and the blithering idiots.

Once I was home. We had just closed school for holiday. I had this form to raise funds for a fund drive for a school church project. I went round lobbying for money from friends and neighbors. I was advancing a good course, at least that’s what I was intent until I got to my former primary school teacher. He read the form gave his contribution and I was grateful. But then he demeaningly tipped it with a gross plea to a group of teachers who perched on a concrete circular bench, “changia huyu transport” So was I desperately accruing money from people for fare, really? I was not soothed I tell you.

I wrote in an earlier post, an incident where some neighbor talked me down when I was disposing of avocado peelings and remains of ugali. She broke out into a laugh and blurted: ‘ona vitu wanakula’.  It was condescending.

I have sized up art of terrible speaking into the following:

Motor mouthing

I recently watched baby daddy, a comedy series where one of the characters motor mouths. She is loud and unpleasant. It forces the other characters to use ear plugs. Her speaking is exaggerated to produce comic effects of course. But in real time there are people who speak nearly that sort of way. They speak too many things, too loudly, too fast. You won’t really get what they are saying. It defeats the reason why people speak: to communicate.

Trash talking

Trash talking is, well, talking trash.
The late pugilist and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, had a knack of trashing his opponents all the while self-aggrandizing. He was so good at this flagrant art. He waged an emotional war before he fought you physically in the ring. Among the most memorable trash talks is: “Joe Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.”

There are folks who savor belittling other people. They are not good conversationalists. They say shady little things that hurt someone in order to please someone else.


I had a dorm mate in high school who used to strategically leave the one examination paper he scored highly on his occasionally neatly spread bed. What a blatant exhibition! The reason for that was prosaic: he showed off to us that he had done well.
Now gloating is not just in visually showing. There is a class of people who speak with the intent to brag. They strike up conversations to directly or obliquely talk about themselves, how great they are, how they are minting money, how they are topping in class and all.
Gloating also comes in the form of delighting in the setbacks of other people and mocking them for those setbacks and making sure everyone gets wind of them.


Chivalry is so rare.
Friends are rude. Waiters are rude. Matatu  touts are rude. Watchmen are rude. Students are rude. Lecturers are rude. Editors are rude. Even beggars are rude.


Please make no mistake. I’m not against people talking in vernacular. We belong to tribes. They are our identities. But I’m not taken with the bad manners of talking in Kisii or Kalenjin or Meru in the listening of a diverse group of people who belong to other tribes or even nationalities. Or even worse, talking to random people in town in your local dialect into boarding a bus or buying a commodity or helping you.

Naughty words

Naughty words like ‘f***’ you’ or ‘put your s*** together’ are being used almost unobjectionably in mundane conversations. But these words are offensive. They have sexual and lavatorial meanings. So when you are telling people to put their sh** together they struggle in their minds to shun the actual meaning of these words -and sometimes the consequent visual images- to try and understand that you are meaning something else.

Boniface Sagini


7 thoughts on “The Art of Speaking Terribly

  1. From the discouraging and disgusting comments, you can note that there isn’t a friend unless they prove they are. You have my support brother, keep pressing and God will bless the work of your hands.


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