PLATTE-LAND 008: IN LAWS

Related imageAnastasia is 5 months pregnant. Her belly has started to bulge as her neck darkens by the day. She occasionally wakes up with morning sickness – feeling dizzy, nausea, headache and backache. While heartburn is a frequent occurrence, her skin is glowing and appears way softer. Her bust is increasing in size perhaps gearing up to have capacity for the baby’s milk.

In the next 3 months, she will have to defer her studies as she prepares to take on motherhood. Luckily, this will coincide with the long holiday break, meaning she will not cut short her classes in the middle of the semester. She has now coped with her predicament of studying while being expectant, besides struggling to forget the infamous drama that led to her pregnancy. Her friendship with her circle of buddies has been highly tested, with some choosing the easier way out – of ridiculing her in the periphery, instead. Such is life!

Her relationship with Mongoose has been grossly underfed of late, possibly due to the sharp focus and sensitivity of the matter at hand and going by the court’s ruling. Over and above that, the two families have limited their communication to each other, and left it at the mercy of emissaries to dispatch information back and forth. Predictably, the two family ties have been marred with heightened tension and caution.

Nonetheless, she has now reconciled with her folks after the dramatic ending to the case proceedings where she let the cat out of the bag regarding the alleged rape. As a matter fact, her family has fully embraced her pregnancy journey and showed lots of support. They regularly visit her in school to find out how she is fairing besides getting her an assistant to help in house chores. They’ve also rented her a spacious apartment since the hostels are way congested.

However, today, Anastasia’s family will be expecting visitors at their home. A powerful delegation from Anastasia’s boyfriend – Mongoose, will be paying a visit having notified and requested to pay a courtesy call to deliver a special message. On receiving the request through three gentlemen that visited Anastasia’s dad recently, Pastor Muchoki consulted his kins from the association of Athuri a Jung’wa as well as his family regarding the visit. The three gentlemen had come armed with a handful of shopping, a 20 litre jerrycan of muratina and some cash. After a lengthy consultation, Mongoose family was given a nod to the visit.

In forethought…

Anastasia was looking forward to the visit that would determine the fate of her relationship with Mongoose. They’ve barely talked much for the last five months and she’d wonder what’s within the special message his men would come forth with. Would her supposed in laws demand for the baby after the delivery and denounce her in totality? Would it be another set of court cases regarding the custody of the baby? Would he pledge to sustain the love for her as he always attested even after such a horrifying expose of their intimate moment? Would Mongoose’s family take responsibility and show commitment to her pregnancy and future of the baby? Would it turn out that she was meant to be a single Mum after-all?

For Mongoose, he was also caught up in the fizzy cobwebs of uncertainty. He wondered if Anastasia would stick to him even after her personal life was pealed off and subjected to the public gallery. It was a mystery according to him to imagine whether, their once highly guarded secret relationship would ever heal and recover from the beating it underwent 5 months ago. On the other hand, reality was sinking that he’d be someone’s dad in a couple of months, prepared or not. Life seemed punishing and on a vengeance mission. Fortunately for him, he always loved Anastasia. He was struck by her right from childhood when they met during inter-schools sports events and in church where they were enrolled in the same class of catechism.

D-Day

Unlike in a dowry event where a convoy of cars sneak in a village with all manner of gusto and theatrics, hooting and blinking their headlights, the maiden visit that is mostly for in laws to get to know each other, and the guy’s family to formally visit the girls home, is usually muffling and tensive.

Mongoose delegation arrived few minutes after 2 pm but before then, they made a stopover at Ol-Magogo township for housekeeping purpose, and to ensure they were strategic in all their communication lest they’d would be denied a green light for gods know what the special message entailed. They pulled at the gate and Anastasia’s brothers ushered them to the vast compound dotted with all manner of indigenous trees from the Casuarina, Moringa, Waterpear, Fountain Tree and Fever tree just to name a few. Suffice is to say, Pastor Muchoki has a soft spot for the environment, backed by a short stint at Kenya Forest Service, fresh out of campus. Here, he developed a liking for conserving the environment. He has many tree nurseries round his farm which he sells to the villagers.

They were officially welcomed by the chair of Athuri a Jung’wa in the sub county of Kimahuri Mr. Githendu Ndideko who never left behind his symbolic walking stick, Anastasia’s eldest uncle – Sir Waishigo Wakagoshi who was fond of keeping a he-goat beard at his chin and Kwa Nguku’s Nyumba Kumi chair Mr. Konyeki Mwihau. Pastor Muchoki was few meters behind in tandem with other family members and friends. Mongoose’s delegation had a set of six men. Shortly after, everybody settled in the house and the women served meals after a short prayer session led by Mrs.Justina. With hunger pangs having been taken care of, formal introduction from both parties followed next.

Mongoose sandwiched by his dad and Uncle Wamathanwa, was inevitably quiet, would seem subdued and avoided eye contact with his presumed in laws, for reasons best known to him. Meanwhile, an anxious Anastasia was holed in her room massaging her belly and occasionally peeping at the door trying to discern if there’d be someone sent to fetch her.

Mr. Waishigo took over the MC role by throwing the ball to Mongoose’s delegation requesting them to state the reasons for their visit. He alluded that according to their culture, it’s the guests who come with the news; good or bad. Uncle Wamathanwa who was the spokesman of the other delegation gladly welcomed the statement.

Wamathanwa: First and foremost I wish to thank you for your hospitality and warm welcome. We clearly feel at home. We’ve enjoyed the sumptuous meals and drinks. Now, we’ve brought this young man sitted next to me. Taking a glance at Mongoose like he has never seen him before. I will invite him to tell us his reasons for requesting us to accompany him to this honourable home.

All eyes rolled over to Mongoose who clearly looked intimidated by the age of the men eagerly waiting for a solid and coherent message, communicated with eloquence and confidence. He felt the weight on his shoulders of being the man who’d tickle the bubble and deflate the tension in Pastor Muchoki’s home, that was housing this very defining moment.

Mongoose: Well, thank you everybody. Aah, I requested my family to accompany me as I visit this home to officially request to be given a chance to marry off your daughter Anastasia and begin the dowry process.

Waishigo: So, are you responsible for impregnating her?

Mongoose: Stands up. Yes I am.

Waishigo: Okay, sit down. He walks out to have Anastasia traced.

Awkward silence….

Waishigo: Anastasia, do you know this man? Pointing at Mongoose.

Anastasia: Yes I do.

Waishigo: How so?

Anastasia: He’s my boyfriend.

Waishigo: Okay. You can leave. Anastasia calmly walks out of the room.

Githendu: On behalf of Anastasia’s family we would like to say the following; That we thank you for the respectful gesture of visiting this home. We’ve listened to your message and taken note. We accept your request to have Anastasia married off to your family. However, according to our traditions, it’s a taboo to discuss anything relating to the dowry process and to commence it, until the unborn baby is delivered. Moreover, you’ll have to ensure Anastasia completes her campus studies uninterrupted and we expect that you’ll clear all her school fees going forward.

Wamathanwa: As the family of Ezekiel Kiarie (Mongoose), we are most obliged. We’re humbled to have our plea honoured and are fully satisfied by the response passed across. We also concur that the dowry process can only be begun when the baby is born. Having said that, we didn’t come empty handed! We have thirty thousand shillings and some shopping in our cars as an appreciation for the kind gestures we’ve received from this honourable home and more importantly, as a sign of commitment for better days ahead.

Hands over the cash to Mr. Waishigo. Mr. Waishigo counts it to confirm the amount with no urgency, spits saliva on it and hands it over to Pastor Muchoki’s eldest son – Umbriska Maithori.

Mongoose and Anastasia were requested to hold hands as they were blessed by the elders from the two families. A closing prayer session was conducted, followed by hearty handshakes and hugs.

Women ululated from outside as the ceremony came to an end. Anastasia was officially handed over to Mongoose’s family to start over her marriage life.

Mongoose’s inner voices cheered him up – Bro, who breaks a lady’s virginity and goes ahead to marry her! That aside, where do you find virgins at this day and age? You are a god-man!

Next on Platte-Land series: Apology

Photo Credit: Amira Africa

 

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DOWRY DAY IN EMBU

dowry D-day will finally be here. Culminating a series of family and friends meetings all for the sake of ensuring this day turns out to be a success. As I’ve said previously in this blog, as weddings are huge to ladies so are dowry occasions to men. A man who goes ahead to pay dowry, is not a small man. In actual sense, in his circle of peers, he stands to cement his territory for having ‘fully complied’ with traditions. It’s important to also appreciate; the occasion is financially draining at this day and age, coupled with a commercialised aspect in between. So any man who commits to go full throttle deserves a pat on the back.

You being Stevo’s (Stevo is the dude paying dowry) insider cum confidant, you’ll have been sneaked to this Whatsapp group of his inner circle which essentially deals with the nitty-gritty of the big day and ensuring all plans take shape. Meanwhile for Stevo, he’ll leave nothing to chance. From text messages to lengthy phone calls, a total of 200 friends, family members, colleagues, business partners, acquaintances and so forth will be invited to these endless evening meetings. Mind you only half the number or less will turn up. You’ll gather, deliberate and raise money. For young lads it’s never in vain. In fact, if you never show up in such meetings, nobody will show up when you’ll be in the same situation. Talk of Karma! But more importantly, it’s more fulfilling being part of your friend’s life achievements especially when it requires of you to support.

According to my kienyenji research, three out five ladies from Embu are paid for dowry. I’m even sure most of my readers have attended a dowry thing in Embu, meaning there is something special about Embu ladies. The jury is out. We leave it at that. So, on this day you’ll be embarking on a journey to Embu. This gets so exciting for guys living in Nairobi, for no good reason though. Putting a bunch of crazy friends in a convoy of cars, to transverse up country with all the fun that comes by, becomes too costly to miss. You’ll be cruising along Makuyu stretch, on this first Saturday of the month, nodding to some good hip hop music from the talented Khaligraph Jones. There will be heavy traffic but this will be overshadowed by smell of fresh air outside of Nairobi (pun intended). Observing humans all the way from Thika Road to Makutano Junction busy selling their wares across the highway, or far in their farms tilling, brings out tremendous patriotism within us.

You’ll make it to Embu town some minutes after noon and pull off at an agreed rendezvous. Here, you’ll finalise logistics as you sip quick tea and as you await souls from the rest of the country which then you’ll proceed as one longer convoy. It never gets this blissful. As all these unfold, you’ll quickly fall in love with Embu town. Apart from realising natives here speak with ‘heavy tongues’; you’ll savour the clean air and environment. The roads will be up to standard too with hardly any street family in the vicinity.  Before long you’ll again embark on the final part of the journey after conducting some short prayers, seeking blessings for what’s ahead.

Embu is beautiful gosh!!  From the very green forested farms, to the range of sleeping hills, to the smell of fertile and rich habitat. Rivers will be draining quietly to the lowlands as bulls pulling carts make headway to the highlands. And this will be such a big deal. Your bunch of friends will scramble to take pics of bulls pulling carts. It never happens in Nairobi you know! And funny still, not in their up country either. That work is done by donkeys. The day will be chilly but won’t erase the joy drawing from your faces. The atmosphere will be akin to Limuru Road heading to Gigiri. Birds will be chirping in this fresh ambiance with beautiful roads that meander through the calm and serene locations.

After one hour or so drive, cars ahead will start hooting noisily with their hazard lights all out screaming, “The visitors have finally arrived”. Why do Kenyans do this! hehe. Waking an entire village from car hooting. Again you’ll realise Embu people don’t fence their homesteads. At least for many. After further prodding, you’ll be reminded there is a relatively low criminal rate in Embu. In other words, Embu, Meru and Kirinyaga people have a history of strong belief in traditions of not trespassing nor pilfering. You don’t just go stealing, you’ll be made to regret.

Anyway, the turn up will be impressive going by the number of excited assemblage and variety of cars parked outside this homestead. And that’s how you judge a man. By how many friends and family members he commands….. Few minutes after, women will lead the pack in traditional songs suggesting the visitors have arrived while making their way to the gate, carrying baskets of shopping, mainly food stuff. In Africa you never visit empty handed. (This shopping is shared among the welcoming women, it’s not part of the dowry price.)

The guests will be ushered to the preserved tents and once settled will be invited to queue for buffet to calm their murmuring stomachs. Appreciate that the man paying dowry entirely foots the food budget of the day. Speaking of food, it’ll be a combination of traditional foods like Mukimo (An Agikuyu traditional meal), Nyama choma, fries, pilau, plain rice, black beans aka njahe, peas, fruits and veges. There will be sodas and mineral water too in plenty. This will be followed by family preambles conducted by this fairly young MC with a heavy accent too.

Interestingly, as this happens Stevo will be directed to a certain room to identify his wife from a group of 15 ladies divided into three groups and tied with lessos from head to toe. If he makes a mistake of identifying wrongly, he’s penalised a colossal amount. Luckily for him, he manages to identify her from her shapely hips and the fact that he had entered into a deal with her to pose in a certain way, makes things easier for him. (This is a top secret amounting to corrupting the system and punishable if discovered.)

The day becomes more eventful when Stevo and the wife change to traditional attires and are taken through more activities. The highlight turns out to be when Stevo is served porridge from a calabash but not before a series of other theatrics according to Agikuyu traditions. (The husband doesn’t just accept porridge. The wife must sooth him by polishing his shoes, combing his hair, cutting his nails etc..).Later all the guests are served this nutritious porridge as close family members from both parties make way to a highly guarded room for dowry negotiations.

This will take an hour or two before the white smoke is seen coming out of the hut, signifying a deal has been arrived. Part of the negotiations will involve Stevo’s side officially delivering items demanded by Wazees from the other end. This include five FAT goats, ten crates of soda, five crates of beer, a 90 kilogram bag of sugar, a 20 litre bucket of fresh honey, two pairs of bed sheets, a blanket for Stevo’s father in law and the icing on the cake; hefty loads of money. Meanwhile for the guests, it’ll be time to catch up, exchange pleasantries, network and move around while taking dozens of pics from the picturesque view to flood the IG later amid some good entertainment and more drinks. (Again it’s important to appreciate no matter how long the negotiations take place, the visitors aren’t supposed to spend the night in their laws homes.) The hallmark of the negotiations will result from donation of one crate of beer to the visitors as a sign of appreciation.

By now, it’ll be minutes to 7pm when you’ll power your engines back to Nairobi for the After Party where you’ll get down all night celebrating a life’s achievement.

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