UGANDA AND THE NOISY PALS

Forested roadMy friends abducted Kageshi and I, lobbed us into this moving car and before we knew, we were in the middle of nowhere. Speeding in a picturesque road akin to what you watch in the movies that have these beautiful yellow petals littered on it. A clear highway with no meanders or speed bumps or kids playing football along the road. A clear tarmac sandwiched by a healthy forest. The sun setting in the far end of the horizon and birds chirping joyously on the sideways as I rolled down the windscreen to let in the alluring and unpolluted air. Speaking of which, there was no littered garbage or blocked drainage or smelly, black smoke getting lost in the clouds. It was heaven on earth; calm, serene and peaceful environment lucky to have responsible neighbours considerate enough to take care of the surrounding ecosystem.

The road took us to a restaurant situated in a deserted getaway with no sounds of boda boda, matatu hooting or sounds of any human activity. We pulled off at the main entrance and after the usual basic inspection of the car we were ushered in. Jumping off excitedly, I would smell the love in the air. It was valentine weekend and I was in this epic place for a perfect valentine escapade. The hotel was designed in gazebos that would form a particular pattern, emphasizing privacy and comfort. We ordered drinks (read wines) and savoured music from the live band set up at a strategic place, with clear sound and command of love ballads we grew listening to from KBC Sundowner, back in the day. Cool, nostalgic music that took one to the moon and back and permeating deep through our bones.

The lead singer being one Sir Ngasha, a graceful, fairly tall, 50 year old-like man, armed with a gold-complexion guitar, boots to the knee, brown leather jacket, tacked in shirt and of course donning a kuyus Cowboy hat, effortlessly serenaded our hearts. He had a Jeff Koinange demeanor; Likeable, authoritative voice and a character marked by wit, humour and intelligence. By 6:30pm more well dressed urbanite souls would check in to kill a night, take stock of their lives and celebrate love. All I spotted were couples outdoing each other in laughter, fun and merry making and amiable waiters dressed in half coats and bow-ties making a million strides along the pavements with their symbolic trays; bringing in more drinks, wine glasses and something to bite.

As dusk set in, cylinder like jikos were brought in with glowing fire that distracted the heated conversation as everybody endeavoured to warm his/her hands. This place was cold. Having been set up next to a river that passes towards the south of the hotel it tends to lower temperatures at night. In this particular gazebo we had businessmen/women, office peeps and a lady from Uganda who stared at her noisy friends speak street-Swahili mindlessly, doing little to help her grab a word or join in the laughter. They even switched to a local dialect at some point, when effects of whatever they were imbibing started taking charge. How so? Haha. I’m not mentioning names.

With this kind of ambiance, there can never be a dull moment. The conversation combed every social discourse in the public sphere from Men who travelled to Eritrea, to the 5 month pregnant woman battered by her husband, to politics and more politics. We are a political nation I tell you, save for football. From conversations in the Matatus to the barbershops we are obsessed with how JAP or CORD will win the Malindi by-elections if not about which party will register more voters ahead of 2017. Remember we stripped off Tunoi, frog matched him in the social media streets and dumped him in a dark, lonely corner and moved on swiftly. Not that I cordon corruption.

I tried to engage this Ugandan lady whom I will name Kisembo which means babies are gifts from God in Uganda. I liked her Ugandan accent. It reminded me of The Hostel TV programme. What became of TV? I totally lost enthusiasm. UgandaAnyway, I asked my new acquaintance how she rated Kenya and Kenyans at large. And her response was marked with this appalling look and excitement about her short stay in Kenya. I’d tell she played diplomatic with that whole convo marvelling about how a great weather we’ve got, sijui warm people, Nyama Choma and our entrepreneurship skills. Really? Kwani how are Ugandans, or Taiwan or Thailand.  Readers from these countries need to write to me about their way of life. Forgive me for not travelling much, I wouldn’t appreciate how warm and extraordinaire we are without your feedback.

I also enquired if it’s indeed a fallacy that Uganda women are quite submissive to their husbands to an extent of kneeling down whenever greeting them. She was like; Yea thati usseeeed to happeni buti ish gradually being swiped offfu by Westernization calchaz. (Inserting Luganda accent)

So, I asked Kisembo, how on earth they have sat pretty with one President for 30 irking years and worse still, how he is a top favourite to win in the coming elections? Does it mean there are no fresher brains to lead Uganda, honestly? To my surprise, a typical 20 something old Kisembo doesn’t give a damn about politics leave alone breaking a sweat in wondering who will ever oust Museveni. She detests politics. And as you would guess, that story got buried as soon as it clinged to life. Apart from one Stella Nyanzi a fiery writer from Uganda who is so charged up to see the end of Museveni’s era, surely the rest of Ugandans can do more.

With Kisembo teaching me a few phrases in her native language I wouldn’t help flaunt my new Luganda talk.

Hi? ……………Ki kati?
How are you?………….Oli otya?
I am OK…………….Gyendi
Have a nice day…………..Siiba bulungi
Good night…………….Sula bulungi (on retiring)
Welcome……………….Tukusanyukidde
See you later……………….Tunaalabagana
Please………………Mwattu

Thank you……………Weebale

Munyonyo………..Very much

Finally, it was a wrap having enjoyed dinner with Kageshi and my noisy friends. By the way, its parochial to tolerate a thought that Valentine is a barometer that measures your degree of love.

Signing off as one super happy Arsenal earthling…Chao!!

 

 

Advertisements

FROM BOYS TO HARDENED MEN

High SchoolWhen I read Jackson Biko’s article named From the Equator last week, it awakened spirits and resuscitated memories I had long forgotten, apart from perhaps what I penned recently on my FB page andrewismme.wordpress Facebook Page in regard to how allergic we were to water for these four, eventful years. What Biko evoked made me find it fair, to share with my readers instead of just summarising it in three sentences in form of a comment.

Makes sense? Yes….!

Ready! Here’s a much summarised story of my High School life;

On 6th February 2004, on a sweltering Friday formed part of a nostalgic week that Matatus were on strike coinciding with a time that Form Ones were reporting to their new schools.  In the wake of confusion, mum instructed one of my uncles to give me a ride to school (about 27 kilometers away) in his bicycle. Eleven years down the line, I can hardly recall what the rationale was, of I being ridden by my uncle all the way as we left mum with my voluminous Blue box figuring out how she would make it to Nyahururu town. She made it. At about 1pm, we met her having bought the mattress, a red bucket and the rest of the NECESSARY shopping.

What followed soon after successfully being admitted and handed over to a Form Three lad to escort and orient this green and naive boy, was quite dramatic. As we made our way to my new dwelling place, I braved words hurled at me, screams and all manner of intimidation you could ever imagine. It was baptismal with fire. Incidentally, a dude whose face I couldn’t manage to paint in my mind in that melee, requested to assist carry my bucket. To my surprise, he disappeared in the thin air. That was the end of my poor, red bucket and I. Short, cold and painful relationship. It was kidnapped even before I used it to wash a handkerchief leave alone the uniform. Despite the fact that it had a very gigantic and visible admission number, it vanished like Czar the Coast musician, never to be seen again.

I quickly got accustomed to the maddening harassment and playing hide and seek with extremely rogue Form One bullies. This made me endear reading the Bible daily, reading and rereading verses that warned and rebuked the unrighteous (read Form One bullies) and the unmerciful. The more I prayed about my safety, the more harassments I endured. I remember one day, after we reported from April holidays my mattress went missing. That was the second and the last mattress mum was to buy me in a span of 4 months. Soon after the night preps, I met my helpless blankets stashed at a corner of the bed sobbing and whining in darkness. Luckily, a friend of mine who was in Form Three helped me get two conjoined pieces of mattresses that didn’t resemble each other. Conjoined!! Never mind, that was high school for me. Mum never heard of this to date.

We made it to Form Two amid renewed excitement that we had been left off the hook by the bullies. At least the new Form one admission dates were round the corner. To our shock, we came to realise Form Twos were the most loathed lot of students since they had no authority to stop a Form One not even to command him to wash a plate. Speaking of plates, I never understood, as a school culture, how majority disliked cleaning their plates leaving that to poor Form Ones who would wash to over 50 plates at a go. For a Form One, making it to the evening preps without being abducted by a no-nonsense Form Four to do a task which ranged from cleaning his shirts or being sent to another dormitory which came with its fair share of more harassments, one would consider himself lucky to get to class safely.

Gradually, life became bearable and even enjoyable. We got acquainted to the culture unawares. We invested time to a wide range of interests from Sports Clubs which I was one disillusioned fellow, to Drama Clubs. I was a huge fanatic of Debate Club whereby I served as the Vice President after I was rigged out from the Presidency post. I was also an active member of Drama club which took me to Provincial competitions in Temple-road Nyeri and Thika High. Science subjects didn’t like me as much, but I remember our school steadily making it to the Nationals for all the four years. The likes of John Ngoru an avid reader of this blog and an erstwhile classmate, a relatively quiet guy but scarcely sharp and bright bagged an avalanche of medals from Science Congress to Mathematics contests.

Soon enough, anxiously waiting for letters from our so called catches from Music and Drama Festivals in 2nd term and Sports events at the end of 1st term became a grueling experience. Letters were normally read out every Friday and Saturday parades and waiting for your name to be mentioned was like waiting to hear your name announced as the SportPesa jackpot winner. Interestingly, we were also cool enough to earn space not once or twice in the much popular Insyder magazine then. I remember saving my meager pocket money to buy a copy. I so much got fond of them that I kept dozens of copies back at home for visitors who popped by during school holidays.

The idea of not taking supper from the dining hall became so much fun. We would gather as a bunch of 7 – 10 boys and move with speed, holding our plates with one hand and hiding our faces with the other, making it a bit difficult for the teacher-on-duty to make out the faces. We were experts in making long strides (me included) in the air, not stumbling, maintaining the speed and the balance of the plate while not having clear sight of what’s ahead. It was thrilling to cut corners with the teacher. The sound of dozens of running legs and mischievous laughters after outwitting a teacher was an endearing hobby. Weirdly, food tasted better when taken besides stuffy beds, smelly socks and in no to so clean plates haha. We didn’t even notice. Better still, Thursdays were days to be longed for, for the mere reason one would get a piece of meat. This meant some students would camp at the Dining Hall counter from early as 4:30pm. Since I had this petite physique, it was a tall order for me to endure the stampede, all for the love of meat.

Strikes were common in this school. The deadliest happened when we in Form One when the Form Three had a feud with the rest of the school bringing everything to a standstill. They paralysed the school at night by interfering with the power system. The school was thrown to total darkness amid stoning of window panes. They pulled an El-Ade attack by plucking off a metal water tank and using it as a shield as they advanced towards the perceived enemies essentially stopping the flying stones. I was caught in the melee and had a stone landing just few millimeters above my right eye which left a tiny scar to date. For some few minutes I braced for the worst, convinced my eye had been gouged out. I found myself bleeding profusely, lying on a wet ground and surviving a stampede from a crowd that was running helter-skelter.

Still on strikes, there is one time we were chased out of school at night by teargas and gunshots for causing mayhem. How some of us managed to climb the three meter school fence in half a second made me appreciate adrenaline is real. We had to run for about 15 kilometers, bringing down residents’ fences and wreaking havoc on crops as we looked for escape in the dead of a night. We soured the plains, some breaking their legs from caving in to unforeseen holes while we lost track of others. For about one and half hours, cops were hot on our heels in pursuit of these untamed boys. We camped at the hills of Mt. Thodio where the low temperatures of the night tormented every part of us. We slept in the middle of nowhere like herded livestock for one long night, cracking jokes and pondering on what fate had for us. Talk of Mt. Thodio experience.

While some were naughty enough to wake up at 3am to milk the school cows for the love of milk or to savour the idea of dismantling newly replaced power sockets or to leave tap water running; High School heavily impacted on whom I am today. And as Eleanor Roosevelt would put it – The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

KAGESHI ON THE MARKET DAY

marketIn this part of the world, every Wednesday and Saturday works out as the Market Day. This is the day all and sundry converge to the market to shop for everything from fruits, veges to second hand clothes and shoes. It’s the only place excluding church where the well-to-do mingle with the REST as they ransack goods and trade in skilled negotiations. All under one roof, they bear the noise from hawkers, music vendors, unwelcomed preachers, mad men, bodaa guys and anything in between. It’s a meeting of sorts that brings together health-conscious middle class, shrewd entrepreneurs, Mamas selling hot porridge, kanjo people, pima weight fellows, dawa ya mende dudes…..and pickpockets all united by one mission; to make it happen!

You are also likely to meet your office tea-girl(s) and that intern in the HR department, in the middle of this thick mammoth of humans. They will go like;

Is this your wife!!!

Not really, she is my girlfriend.

Awwwwww! Hi, I’m Betty and she is Carol. Nice to meet you.

Kageshi: Smiles meanly and then… I’m Kageshi Wakagoshi (With an attitude of don’t dare judge my name.)

You almost like;

When I make her wifey, I’ll throw a memo.

You also notice men fighting midlife crisis, donning tired Stanchart marathon T-shirts accompanying their wives on this day, something you highly recommend. It’s very therapeutic. It breaks the monotony in the house if not cutting off the habit of slithering home at 2:15 am to wake a validly furious wife. Try it. Smell the market. Get to see where she buys managu and those carrots from Shamata in Nyahururu. Escorting her to the market might help her forget that call from the insurance lady that called you at 10:31pm the previous night. And to ladies; please don’t call a married guy after 7pm not unless you have a better plan for him after he is divorced.

Where were we…..? The advantage with doing your weekly shopping in the market is due to the relatively cheap prices than when you visit your Mama Mboga. Mama mboga is there to milk your money. Be aware. Sorry to all Mama mbogas. Anyway, on this day I got a call from Kageshi requesting that she takes me to the market after many days of postponing. For so many reasons, my weekends are quite occupied meaning I hardly get time to visit this place.

But on this Saturday, since I had sent her a message that my afternoon class had been cancelled, she saw it perfect to help me shop from the market. Here I was, armed with my college bag and so drained by the screaming, January sun. Right at the entryway, we were met by this lad selling kuyus C.Ds, with a music stereo attached to his stomach that the guys from NEMA should have witnessed. Business comes to a standstill when this guy is on location. For Kageshi and I, we had to find out if our eardrums had been blown off minutes after he was gone. The sound was annoyingly harsh.

We made our way to Mama Waiganjo as Kageshi would refer her for the sweetest sweet potatoes in this side of River Tigithi. Wife material network having been enabled, I found myself taking notes again. You remember Isn’t She A Wife Material?

Kageshi: Most round shape, sweet potatoes are tasteless. Go for the oval shape.

Me: Ooh really! (clueless)…..my mind was like; I should sue all my ex girlfriends.

Kageshi: When it comes to arrow roots, be careful with the bottom part color. Purple -like are known to be too watery. Check for the whitish colour. They are dry and tastier.

My mind: I should sue all my ex girlfriends   ….

We dashed across to a Mr. Wagithomo who wakes, sleeps, dreams and talks PAWPAWs. He has been in this business for ages. I’m tempted to ask him;

Seriously, Pawpaws? Isn’t it too risky?

But yes, pawpaws are quite nutritious; They immensely contribute in reduced risk of heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering blood pressure and improving wound healing.

We buy two the size of Nairobi ladies’ waistlines and walk over to buy some tomatoes. Here a beautiful lady joins us, as she carefully combs for the very best. She smells epic. I also like her kinky hair. What goes through my mind at this time, sandwiched by Kageshi and this chiq is how reassuring men view the whole idea of women insisting on carrying their stylish contemporary baskets and heading to the market. Spotting ladies in those wedding-dresses the ones that are balloon-like and strictly reach at the knee, busy walking from vendor to vendor with their sun glasses/hats and weekend rubber shoes is extremely enviable by men.

Why so, for the simple reason that men have had to deal with many women who have lukewarm attitudes when it comes to matters kitchen. Hence finding one who appreciates healthy eating and shopping from the market, can make a man’s receding hairline halt. Shopping in the malls is one overrated exercise of our times. It’s a feel good activity that makes fool of ourselves especially when it comes to fresh products.

Walter Kang’ethe, chairman of Bachelor-Accountants Association (BAA) may not decipher why Kageshi and I were stunned to buy tomatoes at 50/- per kilo. That was damn cheap. Walter and all your subjects, I forgive you. If you make it past the bachelorette stage successfully, you can certainly be anything you ever imagine to be. Ignore that as our eyes landed on apples pleading for a bite. We grabbed a few for 30/- each after our negotiations were met with resistance but however saved from the 35/- or more that trades in the malls. We bought onions in the next stall with the same trick I wrote previously, about feeling the top whether it’s dry.

Moving on swiftly we bumped to this mzungu who got the attention of this seemingly 5 year old kid waving at her steadily. Being a cool mzungu, she walked right over, gave the kid a handshake at the glare of excited parents pulling ear to ear smiles by now. Come-on Paul Mathai of Mathai Gallery , you should create time with your Cannon camera to drop by and take some unrivalled shots in this place. Meanwhile a smiley banana chap packed us some few. I took note of;  One should go for the big and firm. Don’t get twisted, hehe.  They have a longer shelf life.

We wrote off potatoes, after-all Nyandarua County where I was born and bred is a hotbed of POTATOES. Did I just say hotbed! I also don’t recall the last time I cooked sukuma after Kageshi introduced me to Kamande. (Lentils).  Also to note is that Central Bank alluded to high cost of sukuma and its cousins to having driven up inflation, just the other day! Very strange. We concluded the day at the Peas area, where mamas seated in a long stretch, busy removing the peas from the pods, solicit for the customers’ attention. It’s a confusing affair before you settle for one. Here Kageshi whispers; The smaller the better. The bigs ones are just empty and tasteless.

I so liked the whole idea of the market and while at it, this Bible verse came to mind. Proverbs 18:22  He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

Thank you Kageshi W.