Just after Giceeri had placed our meat on the greasy wooden table,a scraggy geezer wearing a “Segenge ni Ng’ombe” cap sneaked in.He was out of breath and obviously out of food.
“Bwana Dayan,nawa mkono tukule,” My uncle hailed him.Dayan cunningly scanned the room with his one eye and promptly sat next to the steaming mountain of meat.
I was to later learn that Dayan was short form for Moshe Dayan-the late Isreali Prime Minister who always donned an eye patch.While the real Moshe Dayan may have lost his eye in some battle, this Dayan had lost his one eye in a forgotten bar room brawl during his swashbuckling days.His real name is Karianjahi though.
“Nindarega!” Dayan started.
“These bones are too big to be those of a chicken!” Dayan added as he dug into a juicy morsel.He then swallowed hungrily, his only two loose teeth dancing dangerously in his mouth.I feared he might swallow them as well, rendering him toothless.
In the kitchen,Giceeri loudly cleared her throat.
“Do you know there was a time this witch cooked us a lizard and told us it was fish?” Dayan asked no one in particular, deftly wiping his oily lips with the back of his hand.
Giceeri banged two sufurias loudly.More silence.
“Aai! This meat has a naughty smell,” Dayan declared between two loud burps.
“What smell?” Uncle asked him,coldly.
“The smell of her witchcraft.Giceeri sits on the meat with her panty and kamithi of before cooking it for us”. Moshe Dayan disclosed triumphantly, his furrowed face glistening with delight.
Uncle spat angrily on the ground then stopped eating altogether.Then he reached for the back of his ear, removed a stub of a half smoked “kiraiku” and lit it.It’s pungent plumes slowly pervaded the room, like an incense to the god of decadence.
Giceeri could no longer bear Dayan’s insolence.She presently emerged from the kitchen, adjusting a washed out shuka around her ample hips with her greasy hands.
“Weee! Ritho Rimwe,what did I hear you say, eeh?”
She barked at Moshe Dayan, pointing at him with a shaking kitchen knife.Dayan stopped licking his soiled fingers, stared downwards at his cracked plastic shoes then mumbled something inaudible.
“Tero me, you Kimenyi,what brought you here,war or free food?” Giceeri bellowed at Moshe Dayan,her hands now held akimbo.
Then with one mighty heave, she hurled him outside into the encroaching darkness,where he fell head first into an open sewer.I cringed at what could have happened to his sole two teeth.
“Mùchenji ùcio..blarry fool!” My uncle cursed as he took a generous swig of his Balozi ale.
As we walked home, we found Moshe Dayan at Kibango, the place where four roads met, forming a cross.He was barefoot now, his shoes having been pinched by some village raggamuffins.In his hands he was holding his two broken teeth, while singing with a cracking voice like a lost minstrel, slurring on the syllables:
“‘aya ni mabatao akwa…..”
“aya ni mabatao akwa….”
(These are my needs, oh Lord)
(These are my needs, oh Lord
(Meet them, oh Lord)
For some minutes uncle regarded his old friend with indifference.Then, he swung his bakora and walked on, breaking into a song:
“Niwe werìire...”( You are the one who messed up yourself)
One of our biggest fears back in the day when teenage hormones coursed madly in our veins was facing the supreme court of elders after allegedly impregnating someone’s daughter.
So feared were those wazees that some young men of my age disappeared from home altogether after putting some girls in the family way.Up to date.Samidoh talks about this in one of his songs where one Gathiaka walked all the way to Lodwar so as to “jump pregnancy”.
The “men of the dew”, as they were called, would arrive when the grass in village lanes was covered with dew.The word dew in there also alluded to another risque “dew” that I dont want to go into for now.
To make sure that the errant young man had no chance of escape, they would be accompanied by a few KANU youth wingers- tough fellas who had wrung a neck or two or opened a few skulls in their bloody career.The area Chief would be in the mix too, with his mean askaris in tow.
After knocking on the poor chap’s door only once, they would threaten to enter with it.The young man would come out, disoriented, haggard and scared to death.
“So you are the he-goat of this village, huh?”
The chief would bark at the thin young man now before the group.The elders would then force him to take plea.The prosecutor- the Chief- would then detail how on diverse dates, the young man had ‘known’ a certain girl, breaking her leg in the process.
“Turuu oro force???!!” The Chief would forcefully bark at the young man since he was the only one fluent in English.
The hapless young man would hesitate upon which the youth wingers would bombard him with threats.Which included castration, being rolled down a rocky cliff in a hive full of angry bees or being fed on a plateful of live wasps.Or all the above.
Out of fear, the young man would accept the pregnancy. The magistrate, a gnarled Methuselah of a man hanging on to a sooty walking stick gone smooth with age,would then read out the fine.
Which would be a hefty sum of money to go to the upcoming child’s upkeep, much of which would remain with the elders.
By some lucky happenstance, I was never the victim of the “men of the dew”. However, my cousin Kamaley once encountered them and lived to tell the tale-another story altogether.
Coming up on March 19th….
January is over-and so is my month-long hibernation from these streets.
I know some of you thought I had hibernated to launch my political career- seeing that my kitambi, jingling bunch of keys and a newspaper forever tucked in the armpits, cuts the image of a mheshimiwa.
Forget that- I had hibernated because I was broke than a family of church mice.
The entire January, my mango shaped head couldn’t come up with a story to tell. And when it came, I had no quid to buy bundles to post it. None of my friends came to my aid since I have friends who can readily swing me a crate in December, but can’t buy me 100mbs to catch up with these streets in January.
One story that came to my mind is about the boy’s band we formed once upon a January- as we waited for our KCSE results to come out.
Kamaley was our lead vocal since his voice had broken properly due to smoking things legal and illegal.”Jimmi Hendrix” Kamanja played guitar which was homemade. Shei was our drummer since he couldn’t sing. But boy, that lad caressed the drum (which we had pinched from a church) with his crooked fingers till it moaned with pleasure. I was the band’s nerdy songwriter since I could neither sing nor play any instrument.
For weeks we practiced in Kamaley’s cube, raising a ruckus that could be heard in Kosovo. The Fab Four made their musical debut in a disco matanga of a departed villager I can’t recall.
Our first hit, which we dubbed directly into those C90 cassettes, swept through the village like a hurricane. Overnight, we became instant teen sensations. Wise dads hid their daughters once they heard the quartet had been spotted in their neighborhood.
Soon, we started promising girls season tickets to the Grammys. Puff Daddy, whose record label was to cut our first CD, constantly featured in our talks. Five Alive, and even Boyz 2 Men had nothing on us.
Ah, the idealism of youth!
I will cut this story at that point-just like our dream was cut short soon after. This left us artists without an art form and thus dangerous souls.
The death of the Fab Four marked the end of one of the most promising boys bands to ever come from Murang’a.
Sunsets in Northern Kenya are brief and magical as the hot day rages against the dying of the light. The clouds shaded a yellowish hue, rush like heavenly sheep to welcome the shy moon. Before she sashays in like a prima donna.
This photo was taken in 2014 in Griftu township, Wajir County.
This is arguably the most comprehensive anthropological profile of the Agikuyu people. Written in 1910 by the Routledge couple, the book is now out of print.
Luckily, you can download an e-copy here:
Anytime a man does a horrendous act like killing his spouse, his children, or himself, we generally agree that stress is a national pandemic. Our common reaction is ‘mental sickness is real’ comments in social media then we move on with our lives.
Others ask men to talk, open up, cry, etc. Sometime back I saw a lady recommending men to go for manicures as a way of coping with stress. Whereas such advice from our sisters is well intended, it’s blind to the fact that the way we handle stress is gendered.
During prolonged stress, men use the ‘fight or flight mechanism. Women on the other hand use the ‘treat or nurture’ mechanism. By applying the “fight” reaction, men can respond to stress with a high level of practicality. On the other hand, women are well equipped to calm, share, relieve loneliness and offer support during times of distress.
As we talk about stress, each gender must understand and respect the unique needs of the other. For example, women should honour the “fleeing” man’s need for silence, while men should respect the woman’s need for an embrace and physical touch.
Unfortunately, the ‘flight or fight’ mechanism can manifest itself in several dangerous ways for us men. Such include engaging in risky behavior, aggression, shutting down, etc. On the flip side, there are constructive ways of channeling the ‘flight or fight’ mechanism. Which can include:
1. Engaging in sports-this sucks the bottled up emotions and helps a man solve a problem as he enjoys what he does.
2. Having friends to talk with. Hanging at the estate base with your ‘boys’ is not that bad at all.
3. Half-full glass attitude-look at life from the sunny side of life.
4. Regular exercise-which can include a walk around your hood, jogging, or a game of draughts.
5. Take up an engaging hobby that you take pride in. Which can include growing rare medicinal shrubs, revamping old cars, experimental grafting, repairing old electronic devices, etc.
6.Talk about your problems with a confidant- but not to everybody since this can leave you vulnerable.
7. Avoid situations that will aggravate your situation. Like the company of friends who will disappear home for a whole weekend. Escape is very alluring when one is stressed.
8. Reward yourself when you achieve a milestone. It can be with a book, the mbuzi that you will eat for Christmas, a gadget that will engage you-anything that boosts your ego.
9. Identify a space that calms you. It can be your mother’s house(because it reminds you of your childhood), the village where you grew up, someplace by the riverside, a balcony in a club where they play music of your high school days, etc
10. Join a group of men going through challenges. Then you will realize that your load might be less heavy than others’.