UNCLE

Society celebrates mothers, aunties and dotting grandmothers during Mothers Day. We also have a day for fathers which is not a celebration per se but a day for whiskey distillers, hat makers and cologne companies to make a killing. But we do not have an uncles day. Since our work in Drum Major blog is to blaze new trails, we dedicate the last Saturday of September to uncles and celebrate them.

Where I come from, maternal uncles have a special place in young man’s heart. Reason being that if your mom is estranged with her husband, your maternal uncles becomes your adoptive fathers by default. When a young man in my community needs to have his pencil sharpened, he has to seek blessings from his maternal uncle. Failure to which the operation may be botched. Who wants to start life with a botched pen full of ink? That tells you why this decree which was issued by Gikuyu himself just before he died in 1250 B.C. has never been broken.

Last August, I took a sabbatical in the village, which gave me time to interact with my maternal uncle. We are tight with him, but you will not find the two of us hugging. A fellow who always dons a well-sharpened machete does not go hugging like a sissie. My uncle was hewn from the same granite rock with Okonkwo-the famous Achebian character who believed that unnecessary display of emotion is, well, womanly.

However, that does not mean he loves his nephew the less. He often comes hard on yours truly, but in a fatherly way intended to nurture, not hurt. My uncle demonstrates the truism that it is possible to dote on children without necessarily getting mushy. They say a dad is worth his weight in gold. An uncle is worth his weight in wisdom.

One day, during my stay in the village, he found us having a quarrel with my sister. You know those small tiffs between siblings that never mean much? Such. In his characteristic way, he grunted to tell us that we were making noise for him with our silly arguments as he sat under the ancient avocado tree in our home, reading my old newspapers. Then,without much ado, he bid us goodbye. When I caught up with him the following day, he had a story from the Bible, unlike of him.

Paul was once preaching in Malta. He started the story, tapping the pointed tip of his panga on the wet ground under him.

Which Paul? I asked. He went on with the story; uncles are not to be interrupted.

Suddenly, viper jumped at him and coiled on his hand, and bit him. However, Paul shook it off .The vipers in Malta Island were known to be very poisonous .The Maltese expected Paul to fall dead any moment. But Paul suffered no effect and survived, and the Maltese were impressed a lot by that miracle.

Then he kept silent for me to absorb the short story.

So where do you think the viper’s venom went to? He asked me.

I do not know. I said.

Of course, you do not, and that is why I am telling you this story. Paul cursed all the vipers and their venom went into the mouths of women.   He then went to feed his cow leaving me there to ruminate over the story.

Later, I realized he was referring to my earlier verbal tiff with my sister.

The story is from the book of Acts Chapter 28.However, my uncle, like a good storyteller, embellished it here and there to pass a point. Which is a man can’t win a verbal duel with a woman. The story, with my uncle’s embellishment, may look misogynistic-but you do not tell my uncle such a word. You will be in so much trouble to explain what it means such that you will doubt that it existed in the first place.

My uncle teaches like the great master-with simple down to earth lesson that endures in your heart forever. His life is like a lesson that leaves tire tracks in my mind. Here are a few other lessons that I have learnt from him.

On Manhood

When my uncle visits my children, he is all mushy, kneeling like a knight to greet them, bringing them sweet wild berries and fashioning toys for them from bananas stems. When he come to me, his demeanor changes:

Why is this cow not dewormed? Why have you stayed for so long without coming home?

He can be iron outside, but a doting father or grandfather within. To me, this demonstrates that a man can be hard and soft at the same time. And know when each disposition is required.

On Women

My uncle has no doubts about who runs his home. If you go to his home and his wife has gone say to a chama meeting, he will tell you:

Nimungianyua caai no mwene mucii ndari kuo.You would have taken tea but the owner of the home is not there. Women run homes. They are at the centre of each homestead-the fire that warms all the rooms in the house. When a man realizes this, he has no business competing with his wife, leaving him with time to pursue other ideals.

On Marriage

Watching my  uncle and his wife go about their duties-in the evening verandas of their lives-is a study in synchrony. My aunt -who most of the time wears a  white Mothers Union headscarf duties revolve around the kitchen, her small garden and church. My uncle’s life revolves around his cows and goats and the shamba. There’s is a  perfect domestic harmony with the man involved in production, the woman in nurturing .There is a domestic contentment where each knows his or her boundaries. When I look at them, they remind me of the three stages of marriage: Dream, Drama, and Deepening. For me, they explicate the Deepening stage so well.

On Love

My uncle and his wife are not in Facebook.They are not in Instagram or Whats app. They don’t splash their photos of a happily wedded couple on social media-never will. But that doesn’t make them less happy. My uncle has never taken her to Java. Or Ken Chic for those overpriced bland food they call pizza which they yap about on Tuesdays. But that doesn’t make her feel less loved, or make him feel less of a man. The two are so close that you cannot put a paper between them. Love is not defined by what we consume. Love does not have to be screamed out to be. Love is.

On Duty

For my uncle, responsibilities are the anvil on which a man is forged. Daily,his cows have to be fed and milked, be it Sunday be it Christmas. You can tell the time by when he wakes up to see that the cows are fed. Or when he milks them. Does he make millions from that? No. But he holds his shoulders high when his neighbors tell him that his milk is the creamiest in the ridge. His face beams when his peers ask him over a drink: how do we bring up strong heifers like yours? Many men have made millions from what they do, but never found meaning in what they do. That’s what makes the difference.

A man needs another man to help him navigate the rough uncharted seas of life. A man who will lead you by the hand and heart through life’s mazes. Nobody does that better than an uncle.

Celebrate your uncle this Saturday.

DADDY,ME CAKE!

Yesterday,one of the  members of my household turned two years.She called me to ask for  a birthday cake:Daddy,me cake! Then she hang up.Asking for a cake at only two years! But you know kids of these days-they grow like our country’s debt with China-on steroids.So I would rather say she is 730 days old than say she is two years since these digital children live a lot each day.

In our days,we came to know  about birthdays when we  were almost teens.These digital babies are wired differently from us. At her age I was still eating mud  and chasing lady bird beetles thinking they were edible.But again,life goes forwards,not backwards.

I was not at home when she made her début into this world.So I asked her mother to place her phone near her-so that I could feel the life in her.All of  a sudden,the young one broke into those feeble baby cries that  announce to the world-I am alive! See,babies are dishonest creatures.They have no high food prices to deal with.They have no thieving politicians to worry about.They got the whole world running crazy to accommodate them-yet they cry all the time.I don’t get them.

When  I saw her for the first time,I was smitten by her chronic pinkness-all curls and stretches and yawns. She was a soft petal cheeked sweet-smelling darling of a girl.When she curled her little fingers around mine-for the first time in so many years I felt alive.

Unlike us adults,babies live one day at a time,drooling at life,sucking in all visual stimuli.Here is my attempt at chronicling her first 730 days:

Day 0

The mother What-sapped  me her photo -she was cute! We humans will always consider our babies as cute creatures-since they mirror us and we consider ourselves to be cute.Then came the dilemma of naming her. Do I name her after Madikizela Mandela or Rosa Parks or Anne Frank-women of courage I admire? But I reckoned  out that her naming was about her identity,not about my fancy for renegade women from history.Thus we called her Margaret-after her maternal grandmother.

Day 50

She had blossomed from a tiny bundle to a fat round Buddha .And just like Buddha-the enlightened one-babies emit light. Reason why it’s very difficult to look angry when one is looking at a baby-unless one suffers from strange illness whose symptoms include chronic hatred.

In my arms she was  a cute bundle of hope –the closest I came to holding the future in my hands.Anytime I took a look at her I got the temptation to place an order of a  whole year supply of candy for her.But her mother wont allow me to do that.

 Day 100

She uttered her first semblance of a word.I have always cherished  to be there during my children magical moments.Like their first day in school when they shuffle unwillingly in oversize uniforms and Bata Toughees. So I was lucky to be there when she said bbbbaaba  for the first time.

The women folk in my household were not pleased with her uttering  the word ‘dad’ first instead ‘mom’.So they colluded to makes her  learn the word ‘mom’.Baby’s elder sister coached her to say ‘mom’ 100 times and she forgot the word ‘dad’ altogether.Until much later. Women!

Day 200

She demanded my phone as if she owned it.My beef with her is that she was in that stage Sigmund Freud called oral stage-so everything she touches goes to the mouth.I have exhibits of phones she short circuited with her saliva.They are  preserved for my son-in-law who will sweep her of her feet in 2032 A. D.He will have to replace them before I give her hand in marriage.

Day 300

Having played with my phone for a while now,she took her first selfie.A clumsy selfie with gooey drool as lipstick and Weetabix as her cutex-but all in all a selfie.Despite her chubbiness,she had not qualms about snapping herself.We are not born with body weight issues-they are taught to us by TV girls and svelte slay queens.

Day 400

She opened an Instagram account:Baby Maggiex.All pink potties and swanky dolls and pompous pampers. Then they ran a competition for Instagram Baby of the Month in the estate and she won a day supply of pampers and a baby pacifier.Good for her.

Day 500

She took her first baby steps and started going where she wanted to.I realized that I don’t own her-something we parents do not realize until the kids leave us with an empty nest.We don’t own ourselves in the first place-how can we own our children? Our children are loaned to us-they belong to the house of tomorrow which we can never visit even in our dreams.

Day 600

Since she could now walk ,she demanded that I take her to where they sell pizza.It was a terrific Tuesday and she been tagged in  an Instagram post about some pizza shindig going on in the estate.Thus I had to take her out and buy her those manufactured overrated food lest she threw a tantrum and updated on Instagram-Dad sucks!

 

Day 650

She got philosophical.Daddy,where do bundles go? Daddy,who is God? Children are born philosophers-asking questions a  wise man cannot answer.To them everything is a scientific marvel-they will stare at a little green worm for hours on end.

Day 700

She called me on phone.She hasn’t learnt that habit of kids flashing their dad to call back since they believe dads phone is always  brimming with airtime so he should always call.When she is restricted from watching Teletubbies she calls me-all sobs and sniffs.When she wants pizza she calls me-all please dad and woiyes .And that is it about daughters they will always look for a dad’s affirmation in their best and worst moments.Unlike sons who grow up and get swept of by some woman and forget dads, a daughter will always stay close to his dad.

After the first call we graduated to frequent calls.The little one doesn’t know that calling uses airtime,and airtime is taxed.Governments taxes even air.Now she has only  ten teeth and can only form 20  words  but somehow we communicate.But she has more teeth waiting in her gum-like words in a pen of a poet.Thus I am sure our chats will grow,and thus our bond.

Day 730

She called to ask for her two-year birthday cake.I am told after day 730 mothers call them terrible twos.This is because they have the licence to terrorize the entire household.They became little tin pots dictators in diapers who exemplify minority rule.Running a household with two such souls is harder than running a battleship full of cursing soldiers.

That has been the journey with my daughter .So here’s  to her two years,or 730 days if you like.There is no other way of making a man without having him as a child first. Boys are the only way God uses to make  men.Girls are the only way God uses to make women.Babies are a nice way to start people.

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.Happy 730th day baby Maggie.

 

 

 

MY SISTERS, CHAPATIS AND I

sisters

Today, the third Saturday of September, is Celebrate Your Sister(s) Day. It’s not marked in red in the calendars because calendars are made by men but that doesn’t mean that this good day doesn’t exist. Most good days are not marked in the calendar anyway. So today I am celebrating my sisters-those dainty fairies of my childhood that can never be lost in me.

I am sure when my sisters read this, they will smile since they know where I have added the decorations. And that’s the thing about sisters-you can’t lie to them about your childhood. They know you since when you were eating mud and chasing after ladybirds beetles thinking they are edible because they are beautiful and thus would go well with the mud you were eating. You can kid the world but not your sisters.

I arrived in this world only to find my elder sister had gotten there before me.As I grew up I always considered myself to be older than her. I was in that age when one wants to look older. I no longer do that since I am in that age when one wants to appear younger-despite the silver strands on my temples. My second sister came later-blessing  me with my first girl to beat other boys over. When you have two sisters, you wonder how other boys who do not have them survive. Who washes their clothes? To whom do they tell those fancy boyish stories that leave sisters starry-eyed? Oh, to be a without a sister as boy is a serious handicap that the government needs to address.

My sisters were the same-caring, yet different, for each cared for me in her own way. While one cared whether I had eaten, the other cared about whether I had taken my yucky Scott’s Emulsion. They were like flowers from the same garden. They were close to each other, yet afar from each other. Like pillars of a house, they worked best when they were neither near nor far away from each other.

Boys don’t necessarily have something to say to each other. They can sit in a room, silently together and be comfortable with each other. Apart from occasional grunts and mmhhs, they can be silent for hours on end, just scratching their dry knees. But sisters are different. They speak unceasingly and when they exhaust their daily word quota, they use a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks. Then for no reason, they get mad at each other and switch to snorts and sighs and sniffs and sobs then hold on to pillows till they sleep their heads off. Then they wake up the following day and hug like they are meeting for the first time. You can’t doubt me such is the kind of sisters I grew up with.

My elder sister still speaks to me with that I-changed –your-nappies-in-1982-attitude.My kid sister, on the other hand, still views me with that I-will-tell-you- on-mom-that-you-pinched-Ovaltine-look. The thing about women is that they never forget. You see, a sister will forgive you for never repaying her hard-earned cash, but she will never forgive you because you stole Madhivani biscuits from the pockets of her maxi dress  in Christmas of 1985 when she was four.

Seasons came and went. We grew from wearing Pepe jeans to box haircuts. Hormones came along-messing our faces with pimples and our hearts with cravings. My sisters saw it right to be washing my clothes-women have a natural inclination to nurture men around them.Happens especially if they are hunky Adonis like I was in my teens. I am still hunky but today’s post is about my sisters-not me. But they didn’t wash my clothes because they cared a lot for me.They did it because no girl wants to labelled the sister to that dirty boy.

When sisters wash your clothes for you, they start playing your mother. They scold you about how dirty your shirts are, or how unruly your hair is.One day, when one of my sisters was rummaging through my pile of unwashed laundry, she gave me my first lesson in foresight:

It’s always good to wear clean underwear, she started. I ignored the fact that she was implying that I wore dirty underwear. Most boys in Form Two did so anyway.

Where did you read that from-Mills and Boons or Jackie Collins? I asked her.
She smacked her lips. It was in the early 90’s and eye rolling hadn’t been invented then.
I said it’s always good to wear clean underwear! She hit back emphatically.
Ok. Why? I asked.
You never know when you will get an accident. She said triumphantly. Sisters are there to point out the things the rest of the world is too polite to mention.
Or a date….I added cheekily. She sneered, then broke into that you-are-so-naughty-laughter. Women will always enjoy a risqué’ joke, but pretend not to, though their bodies say otherwise.

Then pimples went and we cleared high school and I went to campus .Having sisters became more fun-nothing beats having sisters to tell those macho campus folklore which they don’t realize are silly since women like being told truth with some embellishments.What’s the good of news if you haven’t a sister to share it with? I loved telling them about the end of the world conspiracies after September 11.I watched them cry when I told them the world will crash with the Millennium bug-which didn’t happen. I tried hard being a man to them; they tried hard to keep up with my well-crafted cock and bull stories.

My sisters were blooming to women too. One of the signs of coming of age then was a girl being allowed to cook chapatis.My sisters rolled their first dough as I watched. I watched them graduate from making chapatis the shape of Kenya to square ones. Then they graduated from making oval chapatis to round ones. When they mastered the process, they started embellishing them with pumpkins the way Picasso would embellish his paintings with strokes of yellow. They had come of age.

Thus one day, I came home and was served chapatis. I was a Sociology Major in campus and reading Dialectical Materialism and Existentialism and Utilitarianism and thus walked with my head held high. Yes, the chapatis were perfect round, but harder than granite. With my campus insolence, I asked my mom who among her daughters was trying to kill me-an upcoming great scholar -with granite hard chapatis.

They are here, ask them. My mom, ever the cool matriarch, told me.I ignored the chapatis and ate the ndengu stew only and then went on to say that those chapatis could only be digested by a ruminant. Nobody answered me but since I was reading the fiery works of Karl Marx and Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes, I had no one to fear. Beware the silence of women-it talks louder than words.

I forgot about the incidence until one night when I came home to find the whiff of chapati all over the compound like the smell of overripe fruits in an orchard. My younger sister then served me a plate of ndengu stew and went back to the kitchen.
Where are the chapatis? I asked.
My two sisters held their hands across her chest at the same time like something they had practiced on all day. They looked at me, all silent, like Sisters from the Sorority of Silence. When they decided to speak, it hit hard.
But you aren’t a ruminant, are you? They answered back in unison with a triumphant glee. My mother crocheted furiously. My elder sister pretended to be reading her Drum magazine to keep from bursting with laughter. The younger one flipped through the pages of a Pacesetter novel like a major who had just won a battle. I was alone.

When women conspire to teach a man a lesson, nothing can save him. More so if you are a young man still wet behind the years and yet to know they ways of the female species. It took the intervention of my mother, an old aunt and some coaxing to be put back on my kid sisters chapatis serving list.

If man wont learn about womankind from his sisters, nobody will ever teach him about it.

The media wants us to believe that the only significant relationship we have in our lives is the romantic one. Yet sisterhood is the one that will last longer than any other. A sister will share with you the scents and smells of childhood and later their memories as you sit together in the evening verandas of your lives.Sisters are, in  a way, like best friends you can never get rid of.

Mpesa your sister(s)  a token of love today-if you can.

CHEGE WA MAGUTA

(This story’s title had to be in Kikuyu to capture the local flavour of the idiom. The title means ‘Chege the paraffin seller’)

When people love a person, they get ways to imprint his memory in the sands of time. They put his visage in Mount Rushmore like the Americans did with Martin Luthe King Jnr and others. They put up his statue in Kimathi street like Kenyans did with Dedan Kimathi.They put up mega sculpture like the Cubans did with Che Guevara.The location where I come from loved Chege the paraffin seller but since we didn’t have enough funds to put up a graphite statue of him, we put his memory in our language. Thus, in our place, we have this simile that goes-stay in the same place like Chege the paraffin seller. It denotes that he stayed in the same job for too long, but also it celebrates his fidelity to duty.

Chege wa Maguta sold paraffin such that now men can look back and say-there lived a paraffin seller! You see, when a man works with his hands, he is a labourer.When he works with his hands and head, he is a craftsman. But when he works with hands, head and heart, he becomes an artist. Chege was one.

Chege was born in Kangema in the early 50s.He went to school and cleared his CPE in the mid-60s.Its on record that after he sat his last exams, he got a job at Kangema Township as a paraffin pump attendant the following day. Right from day one, he woke up stronger in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

Chege used to report and leave his workstation so punctually that market women told time by when he came and left work. From sun-up to sun-down, he labored by the pump, like its trusted brother. When his colleagues went home, he would be left alone on duty at the pump, like a sentinel whose colleagues had abandoned their post. Its only when it got too dark to work any longer that he called it a day.

New Year found him at the pump. Easter found him at the pump. Christmas found him at the pump. His work was his holiday. But since he was a Christian, he would leave the pump on Sundays and go to the fence of the nearby Muguru ACK church when service was going on. He would listen to the service and sing with the congregants, one of his eyes on the pump, one in the church.

Whileas we  considered church to be an unnecessary imposed distraction from our avocado stealing sprees,Chege considered Sunday Service an opportunity to rejuvenate his tired limbs and soul. For him, Sunday service was balancing act between his devotion to men and God. And devotion to men is devotion to God anyway.
Years went on-Chege got a family and settled down. Vietnam War happened. The Americans sent some men into the moon. Reagan invaded the Falklands.Berlin Wall came tumbling down, the World Wide Web went up. Chege was still at the pump-like a relic that history had forgotten.

Then the Yom Kippur War happened. Kenya experienced a fuel shortage. Fuel hiked from 6.40Ksh per liter to 7.20 Ksh per litre.Chege reported daily to the pump-fuel or no fuel. Since it didn’t make sense for him to report to work yet there was nothing to sell, his employer Muhia told him:

Chege, why don’t you take a leave and see the world a bit?
This pump is my world. Chege retorted back. He was not a man of many words but when he spoke, gems dropped from his mouth.

The Ethiopian famine happened and Kenya was hit by food shortage. When Chiefs dished out yellow maize and bulgur to the villagers, Chege refused to line up for freebies and reported daily to the pump. Each day he put on his white coat and wore his honour like a ribbon on his chest. Thus he was always there working, cranking the old paraffin pump, like a human landmark of our small town. He was a prisoner of his own industry. He had no enemy; his owns hands imprisoned him, chaining him to his pump.

When I was a small boy with fan like ears and knobkerries for knees, Chege was selling paraffin. When I went to high school and graduated from stealing avocadoes to stealing girls’ hearts, he was still selling paraffin. When I went to college and graduated from quoting the Bible to quoting Karl Marx, Chege was still at it.
Just after graduating from college, I got the temptation to tell him-Pump attendants of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your paraffin smell. But then I remembered what my lecturer used to tell us-beware the fury of a patient man.Thus I desisted from that silly Marxist endevour altogether.

For Chege everyday was the same: the only thing that differentiated one day from the next was the ebb and flow of humanity Gakira market. Unlike shopkeepers who peered lazily from their shops, Chege was always busy keeping the vintage paraffin pump sparkling clean-such that it wheezed like the gears of a Rolls Royce.
One day, those Rwathia millionaires who own that archipelago from Tom Mboya Street all the way to Nairobi River came calling. Loud Subarus and sleek V8s hadn’t been invented then so they parked their Peugeot 504s and Datsun 1600 SSS by his pump. They offered him a managerial post in one of their pump stations in Nairobi. Chege flatly refused, telling them that it was against his principles.

You can’t eat principles. One of the rich men told him. .
But you can live by them. Chege hit back.

They handed him an envelope bulging with crisp notes. Chege dismissed them and went on to serve the next customer with kerosene worth 2 shillings 90cents.An honest man is worthless and just like a thing of real worth, he can never be bought.

Old age started approaching. His days went drip drip drip like drops of paraffin leaking from a broken lamp. But that monotony never wore him away. The older he got, the more powerfully he cranked the pump like he had CV joints at the meetings of his shoulders, instead of shoulder joints. He made the mundane act of pumping paraffin an art as opposed to duty. And art is timeless. Chege was like most musicians who remain poor. But the music they make, even if it does not bring millions, gives millions of people happiness. Chege made us happy by the way he served us.

One dark evening, Chege slept eternally, never to wake up again. The whole location wept, not because he was gone, but because there was no one else to teach young men virtue of diligence and the sanctity of human labour.He had not only taught us how to work, but also to love work.When they buried him in Kiairathe village, they forgot to put a headstone on his grave. Which should have read:

Keep interested in your career, however humble,
It is the real possession in the changing fortune of times.

Many bad men are in good jobs and positions in government; many good men are in poorly paying jobs. But we cannot exchange wealth for honour, for money flits from man to man but honour abides forever. Chege may not have a monument in the streets of Kangema. But anytime we use the phrase ‘tinda hau ta Chege wa Maguta’ (stay in the same place like Chege the paraffin seller) we pay homage to a man to whom duty, however lowly, was a noble calling.

That simile erected in the hearts of the people he served is more enduring than any granite statue.

 

PS
This story is based on a true story.

THE DRUM MAJOR INSTINCT SPEECH

Ever wondered why we called this blog ‘Drum Major’? Wonder no more.Here is the speech behind the name and inspiration for this blog.A blog about harnessing our passions for the common good.

The speech was given by the late Martin Luther King Jnr in a church sermon in Atlanta,Georgia in 1968.

Enjoy listening.

THE LOST SISTER

A long time ago, there lived a young man called Wamwea and his beautiful sister Wachera. Their parents had died in the cassava famine. Their lived in an empty hut whose eaves hang forlornly with want for repair. It was haunted by hunger and need, but the sibling love between them saw them from this moon to the next.
Wamwea used to go the field to tend after their few goats. One day, when he came from the fields, his sister told him:

Two young men came here today. If you go away tomorrow they will carry me off.

Before girls get husbands get husbands to nag, they nag their brothers.

You talk nonsense my sister, Wamwea replied.
I lie not. Wachera said. Wamwea kept silent, ruminating on her sister’s words, turning them his mind.

If they carry me off I will carry a calabash full of seeds which I will drop along the way so that you can follow my trail. Women,unlike men,based on age-old intuition,plan ahead of danger.Men plan when danger looms before their nose.

That following day Wamwea brought the goats from the fields and went away to some muthunguci dance in the next ridge. When he came back home he found the homestead empty. His sister had been carried away by some young men. They had carried her to some faraway land, her young nubile breasts bobbing up and down like two lost mangoes.
Several moons passed, Wachera did not come back. Wamwea had no one to cook for him. He slaughtered goats for his food, and within no time, they were finished. It’s then that he thought of his sister.

The seeds which his sister had dropped in her trail had now grown, and were big shrubs. Wamwea followed them. He journeyed for months in jungles where the sun never seeped through and a green river flowed through the forest floor like an alligator. He got lost in a fogbank of flora, until one day when he came to some children who were fetching water by a gurgling stream. The children took him home like a long lost uncle. Their mother came and served him with little food in a potsherd since he was a stranger. They didn’t give him water to drink-so he drank down the water he used to wash his hands with. After eating he was told to sleep on the floor since there was no bed for him. But since he was tired, he soon dozed and dreamt of his lost sister Wachera.
The following day Wamwea went out with the children to chase the weaver birds from their father’s millet fields. As he threw stones at them, he sadly sang:

Fly away little bird,
As my sister Wachera flew away,
Never to come back again.

Why does he say the name Wachera?  The children wondered.
When they went home they told their mother about this. The following day she came and hid amongst the nappier grass. Then Wamwea started singing again:

Fly away little bird,
As my sister Wachera flew away,
Never to come back again.

At that moment, Wachera realized that this was Wamwea her brother. They slaughtered a goat for him, and there was a great feast and dance. Wamwea lived with his sister for some time, until he came of age and was taken to the river to become a man.

Wachera’s husbands gave him many goats and cows as bride price for her sister. Wamwea grew into a strong man, straight as a Maasai hunting spear. Soon, he fell in love with a maiden called Wacici and they got betrothed. Later, they got married and Wamwea didn’t go back home but set up his home near his sister’s Wachera.

If you go down to the village with big rock facing the river, the names Wamwea and Wacici exist to date.The song too exists in the hearts of boys and girls who sing it as they chase after lost butterflies.

 

PS

This is the last story in the these series of forgotten folktales.If you have folk story that needs to be retold,get in touch with us on njambigilbert@yahoo.com

Thanks for finding time to visit this blog.

MG