Birthdays were not part of my childhood at all, for obvious reasons. They were too prestigious for our family and many akin ones in my village. In fact, the closest I came across a birthday hosted for me was when one of my sisters, fresh out of college happened to have fallen in love with a new hobby; that of baking cakes. So, my birthday and I found ourselves in the right place, at the right time, in the season when someone close to me had amassed a new skill. Predictably, she had to prove to us that she could bake and since my birthday was closing in, it was only rational to test her skills on the very day. I was actually lucky and honoured to have the village photographer attend, and document the memories to date.
29th of November was the day; should have been in 1996 or 97 there about when we still bragged of a cassette radio and listening to KBC English Service. That was in my formative years of life when closing school equaled to weeks of grazing our dad’s livestock. Grazing pastures were plenty then and life was more favourable. At least we didn’t grow listening to news of high school kids burning their schools (Apart from the unfortunate Kyaguli High School fire tragedy on March 2001 that left 63 students dead and Nyeri High School inferno in 1999 that claimed the lives of 4 prefects) or husbands turning against their wives and unleashing bloody terror on them. I will forever miss those days we listened to John Karani, Charity Karimi and the late Nzau Kalulu (RIP) of The Sundowner. The latter was today’s Jeff Koinange. The days when wearing a marvin, baggy trousers, oversized hoods and jackets was trendy. E sir was such a big deal! Rest in eternal peace, bro.
At least you now appreciate where my argument of overrated birthdays is coming from. However, that shouldn’t be construed to mean I’m against birthdays, in fact ebu invite me for one! Haha. That said, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend that is too familiar to you and I. Of adults abusing kids birthday parties and converting them to house parties and hook up bashes. See, the kid is left to wonder, who the hell could these drunkard adults be celebrating?
Yes, your jirani will knock at your door to solicit for cutlery and utensils for his one year old son bash. As you wonder how many people could have been invited, you’ll hope your precious plates and cups won’t get broken in the melee and excitement that comes with hosting a One year old’s birthday. Well as you’ll go out to peep, you’ll meet the sight of a tent in your tiny compound and several dozens of plastic chairs and some booming music. What will be unknown to you is that in a few hours’ time, about 20 – 30 adults with hardly any kids, will arrive to celebrate this one year old son who by now will be hugely disillusioned and disturbed by this staggering number of humanity.
Soon the show will start, just short of having some local celebs in the midst going by the hype and glamorous faces all over your landlord’s compound. You won’t even manage to dash to the shop or do laundry. How now? How do you walk to the clothing lines when a big time show is happening and some booze smelling next door? There will be lighter moments though, when your eyes will dart and stubbornly stick on those urbanite ladies with cleavages all-popping and more kilometers of thighs all bare and unperturbed by your gaze. Yes, these ladies will be here to celebrate a one year old and acclimatize him with what to expect in his near future. Mind you, it’s a kid these PYT (Pretty Young Things) will have never met or heard of before, apart from a few days ago when they got wind of a bash from a groupie Whatsapp message sent out to all who care. This is how it read;
Admin: Hey ladies; Satoo kuna bash ya birthday kwa Amoo, ule wa Subaru Forester ya blue. If interested tupatane tao stage ya gari za Otiende – Langata. Please guys, 2pm don’t be late.
Sasha: Kuna alcohol
Admin: In plenty
Stella: Ni yake ama ni ya wi-fe
Anita: Does it matter?
Admin: Ni ya katoi kake kana turn 1!!!!
Jenny: Am so in …walai sikuwa na ploti ya weekend
Admin: Come ready to mingle, ma sponsor ni kibao
Carol: Count me in guyz it’s time nimepata mwingine kile kimzee cha kipara ni mdomo tu na hakina any!!
Keshi: wololo weekend made
Annie: Nimemiss Amooo…Can’t wait, alipata ata mtoi…gai!!!!
Milly: Woisheee mningonje niko na class upto 2
Nemoo: Dressing code
Admin: As you’d wish bora utese wanaume
The kid will be confused and feel so uncomfortable with this kind of ambiance. He won’t even have a bite of the cake. His hunger senses will have hibernated at least for as long as these souls will be here. He will do thundering cries and steal the show all for the wrong reasons. He will resist every faked attention including the pleas of his mum and dad. He will disappoint and embarrass them with more cries here and more cries there. The crowd will pause for a moment for his address of unceasing cries, restlessness and a fatigued face armed with emotional eyes pleading with them to leave. He will try to communicate that he is not party to this mockery of a so called birthday, in vain. He will be scared by the smell of cigarettes and the sight of packs of Guarana littered all over.
But who said the show will come to a stop? Not after all the juicy Whatsapp invites and promise of campus-like ladies ready to be sponsored at a small fee plus free alcohol. So, the catchy music will play even louder dwindling and burying the cries of a son of man, who will have pulled a Riek Machar stunt by now. For Kageshi and many of you who detest watching hard news on TV, well this guy was the immediate Vice President of South Sudan who fled Khartoum citing fears for his life. This has resulted to rising tension in the country thereby frustrating the peace talks between the government and the Opposition.
The show will sneak in to the early hours of the night punctuated by erotic dancing moves, streams of alcohol that will show no signs of drying up and all the debauchery you’d imagine of, in between. Later on, the already drunken souls will fire up their pricey engines filled to capacity by these PYT ready to cruise to the After Party somewhere in town. Meanwhile the imageries of the so called birthday party will soon crawl their way to the social media to smoother egos and to trigger envy for anyone who didn’t receive an invite.
That’s a birthday for a One year old in the days of our times, today! It’ll cost the host couple an arm and a leg to hold it, all for the wrong reasons.