USA.using for low income residents. NYCHA administers rental apartments in facilities, popularly known as "projects". Spanish Harlem, also known as El Barrio and East Harlem, is a low income neighborhood in Harlem area. Spanish Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. 15.04.86 © 1986 Didier Ruef Its exactly 6 months and you haven’t been to your native village (not really a village)to check on your family. With this prolonged and over procastinated visit, you suspect anytime from now, your ancestors might summon you. Finally you embark on a journey back home. Along the way, in the deserted highway, you’ll gaze women sauntering home, carrying heavy loads of firewood. You’ll spot young boys strolling home too, with herds of livestock along that dusty road. This will remind you of decades ago, when your dad would insist that a shepherd must have a stick, anytime. Childhood lessons always seem to stick.You wont fail to notice funny ‘joints’ or are they pubs where men from the village frequent in the evening. They’ll have this funny names like; Destiny bar, UB 40 bar, Shallow bar and Paradise bar. You’ll smile about the names only to be interrupted by this passenger who decides to play Rose Muhando songs for two hours on his phone which is in loud speaker mode. (Some of the experiences that trigger us to worker harder to acquire cars.) The guy on the sit behind you, with a funny hairstyle will be chewing miraa or something closer to that. In that stuffy matatu, will be tired faces, perhaps of passengers harbouring thoughts of their loved ones or their ongoing projects back at home.

Thank God when you arrive safely for all we have on the roads, are impatient, aloof, ignorant and reckless navigators in the name of drivers. Before then, Your mum will have lectured you on phone why you shouldn’t travel at night (7;35 pm). Your dog will smell you a mile away and will come running at you. Nature has humour, how does a poor dog jog its memory to remember that you belong to that homestead. Is it not preoccupied by other thoughts for this six months, like whether it’ll be lucky to get a meal anytime soon. These are same village dogs that switch from carnivorous to omnivorous depending on the season. Now, your dog named Mugo for reasons you don’t comprehend will hop at you, placing its front limbs at your waste line. Its long tongue will be hanging out while its ears will be lowered. That’s a dog’s welcome.

The following morning you’ll wake up late (9:01 am) and it’ll feel like its 7’s. You’ll have been awoken momentarily by birds chirping,(how beautiful is that) unlike in Nairobi where you’re awoken by matatus hooting and conductors’ wailing. Why do nights run that first in up country? In fact you’ll be awoken by Kinuthia Igego’s roaring voice. (This dude is your village official escort, you schooled with him in Kiandutu Primary School. He held the unbeaten record of the loudest noise maker.) His instincts were right, that you came dead in the night, as he would put it. He would come in handy especially when on matters accompanying you around and updating you on the latest news in this side of the world. He’d also serve as your bouncer when you visit the local shopping center where everybody claims to have schooled with you.They’ll nag you, like street kids in Nanyuki. No pun intended. They’ll plead for sh.50 unrelentingly. They call it kakitu. Its very annoying. For Kinuthia, he has the skills of dismissing these chaps tactically and politely. If you make the mistake of visiting one of the local bars around, (not that you drink that much) business will come to a standstill. Kinuthia will appear overwhelmed. Every mzee present will claim to have been your dad’s best friend. In so saying they’ll be insinuating that they deserve you order a bottle of beer for them. You’ll momentarily feel like a celeb, wow!

In the evening your mum will send you to the butchery but she’ll later complain that the meat was not of the best quality. Mind you, she has a tendency of complaining about the meat since down memory lanes. Mothers are the best when it comes to truth. On Sunday you’ll attend mass at the local church where men, women and kids have their designated sitting arrangements. Like you have to part with your sisters; whose wisdom was this! Its been long since you celebrated mass in your local dialect. This means you miss some hymns and words haha…Thereafter there will be a fundraising. There is always one whenever you are home. Of course you’ll be expected to contribute generously. Later you’ll visit your shosh who resides few miles away. But before getting there you’ll meet delegates you were not meant to meet, along the way. Does it ever occur to you, that the more you prolong your visit home, the more broke you become. These guys will politely fleece every coin you have.

You’ll notice your shosh’s skin is drier. Her eyes will be fainter and sunken but she’ll still have maintained her trademark smile and intact teeth. You’ll not be surprised that she still wakes up at 3am to pray. Your shosh is that type that prays for 30 minutes mentioning his entire family by names, in the process. These are the same prayers that mitigate life’s challenges and scare the devil and his agents from your life. Never underestimate an elderly person’s prayers. You’ll find a chicken meal ready for you signifying you’re a rare visitor. The city has strained family ties. You’ll be distracted by something nostalgic. Her wall clock. This cloak will still be in the same place it was when you were 5. Still diligent and loyal. Dusty but alive. Steady with the even sound that signals a second gone.

I need to emphasize your mission home should be very impactful. You just don’t visit upcountry to pull duvets and watch TV during the day as you grab popcorns. You visit home to unlock forestalled projects, plant more trees and work your a** off. You guys who live in the city, its your duty to repair sagging fences back home or pay somebody to do that job. Since you gave up on taking cattle to the local cattle dip due to massive corruption and politics, ensure they are well attended and free from ticks. For ladies, your mum should never cook whenever you are around. Moreover, her sufurias should shine more than ever courtesy of your cleaning. Its an abomination for you to go back to the city without sun burns, aching arms and overworked hands. If you’re lazy in the city, you’d rather not visit up country with the same attitude. Its very important for your family to see your growth in life by being impactful at home.


Add yours

  1. Wow !!!!!well said by Dru Wambugu !! shags is the best upcountry we will ever have ……..doing such home chores shows how flexible you are whether who live in town or not……..

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