Going Home

When you’ve been hunting money in Nairobi for long enough and now a burnout has accumulated in your small head, time usually comes for you to lay down your tools and go back home.

Going Home
Going Home

You will feel it. Home beckoning. Through dreams. Psychiatric fits. Ancestors calling. Your neighbour will start to annoy you. The weather will get ugly. You will contract a funny tooth ache. Tidings of spirits buried deep in the village pleading that their own goes check on where the umbilical cord was buried. Continue reading “Going Home”

From Kakamega with Love and Laughter

Kakamega
Kakamega

It is 8:30pm Kakamega time when the bus finally arrives. A whole hour late. And no single apology. Do these bus people know what a full hour is? An hour is an era these days of the month. Doctors can rescue you in an hour. Your house can be demolished in an hour. A woman can get twins in an hour. Government money is stolen in an hour. Tell me what you can’t do in a whole hour.

And the driver doesn’t bother to apologise, that’s what’s eating me. Some people were created with hearts in their chests. Others have porcelain cups and this man has a tumbler.

I walk between the rows and finally find a seat near the back. There is already a girl in the seat next to the aisle while the seat next to the window is empty. The girl is of legal age and style. The kind of girl you have to wash your hands before you greet. Short locks find a way through the cap she has on. She smiles at me and I smile at her and start imagining what burnt offering I made to God to deserve this. But you don’t question God, do you? He loves us all and wants us to love so let’s love and be loved.

To show I am a person of values, I wait for the bus to start moving and when I’m sure of her attention, I start (or rather pretend to be) looking for the safety belt. Then I buckle so loudly the underworld can hear. The girl should start clapping.

Nobody claps. I begin to sulk. But somewhere near Makunga she also starts looking for something in her seat and I beam when from the corner of my eyes I see her trying to fit the buckle. She fails miserably. Then she turns to me and asks that I help her press the lock, please. Who said this is a tough month? And the buckle is on the other side of her.

Papa.

God has either mistaken someone’s libation for mine, or he didn’t record the sins I committed last month. Even prophets didn’t live like this. Did a woman ever smile at Musa, no. At Daudi, no. At Nuhu, no. Then why aren’t we agreeing that I have been anointed here? Anointed with oil from freshly pressed palm fronds and water from the Jordan.

We reach Kakamega town in some thirty minutes of love hunting. When critics talk, they should be listened to. Yet this town has grown swiftly since the time I was here last. You don’t eat streetlights and pedestrian pavements but it is great to see your hometown neat and clean even in the stare of the night. We make a right turn at Oilibya near Superloaf and then turn left up past Western Star Hotel. God, even the Indian temple shines this night. When I grow up I want to be an Indian temple in Kakamega.
We ascend further and finally stop at the Western Express office.

Only one guy boards at the Kakamega office. The man is thin with a thinner goatee. Maybe never eats. Or they rear an ogre for a pet. But looks decent with a tie and a high-waist over a calico shirt. One of those from THOSE families, by village standards. He has a big bag on his back. He has a bigger one in the left hand and carries a perforated carton box with a noisy chicken in the other. Some chicken are so unlucky they are transported through hundreds of miles to be eaten by thin people.

Now he walks from the first row back. I think he is looking for his seat. Not to lose touch with my girl I’ve reached that place where I’m asking her what she does in Nairobi. Tells me she is a fresher at the University of Nairobi. Fresher, fresher? Fresher is good. I lie to her that I came back to the village because our doctor leaders are still fighting for our salaries. I hope I sound poor handwriting and chlorine, not the grease and rust at the Indian’s. She complains slightly about us doctors but I get she is happy.


The man who entered gets to the back and then to the driver’s cockpit again. Then he starts moving to the back a second time. All this time the bags make it a big deal moving in the aisle and he was to stretch a leg ahead before he comes back to collect his little body weight and a world of luggage and an unlucky chicken. He might as well be carrying a whole generation in there, who knows. If I were to judge, here stands a man who qualifies for every bit of sympathy.
But talk of the hunter becoming the hunted, because I’m the one in trouble. He stops next to the girl and checks something at the back of her seat. He then reads his ticket and checks again. Then he says:
“Es-choose me mkhana, this is my seat.”
The girl says no. They argue a bit and I almost poke in to tell him to go to hell. Then she sees the mistake. She is of seat number 9, not 19. I feel so bad as she stands up to leave and there is nothing I can do.
“I am very tired,” he says as he drops his bones into the seat. I struggle to hide the fact that I don’t like him. In a few minutes he has told me how the drought has affected crops in the village and how something needs to be done quickly lest we famish to death.


Before the bus leaves he has located a maize vendor outside and bought six cobs of maize. I know it is six because I hear them calculate and bargain. Two are roast while the rest are boiled. Eventually the young man sells him five and adds the last as overtime. That’s how they call it.
Everybody should expect he is buying maize and overtime for the whole bus. I’m not a fan of maize though I find myself beginning to prepare for a feast just after he thwarted (thwarted) my plans with the girl. Where I come from, it is very wrong to reject a meal invite from a kinsman even if he be your enemy. You’d rather sleep with your uncle’s wife or gossip the chief but ensure the food finds justice. For nothing travels to the grandfathers faster than the curse and cries of rejected food.

So I get really disappointed when the bus finally sets off and my brother from another grandfather stuffs all the feast into his bag. I don’t know how fast this reports itself to the ancestors. All I know is that it is also very bad not to invite a grandbrother for a meal.


At around Mukumu the bus stops. Two women get in. The first looks oldish like sixty and I lose touch immediately. The second one is somewhere in her thirties and something interesting about her is that every time she moves, the big live hen in her hands squeaks. She should come take the carton from my friend. Let chicken travel with chicken.
My neighbour is restless though. He keeps looking outside and once plants his forehead into my jawbone when my reflexes work slowly. And when he spots a woman with a tray on her head, he pokes my ribs hard and points. I push the window glass and whistle to her. My friend first confirms the eggs are not expired. He munches loudly. Then he extracts a note from his wallet and hands the lady. He picks more eggs and a sachet of groundnuts then drops them in his bag which he has placed between his legs and covered with the carton. By now I’m convinced he either runs a food kiosk or is expecting guests where he is going.

At Mudete he asks me to hold his carton. He then digs his hand into the bag in his legs and rummages for sometime. When the hand comes up, it is carrying a collage of food. That’s when my real troubles begin. What will you understand when I say he begins to eat furiously? He begins to eat furiously.

Every moment I hate him. I don’t know where my university girl is.
When I wake up we are past Lessos. At first I think a sewer pipe has burst somewhere. I look outside at the naked Kalenjin night. Somewhere someone has drunk mursik. Somewhere someone is making love. It cannot be a sewer pipe. Kalenjins don’t even shit strong shit like that. It is something from real stuff. Real food assembled in a real rectum.
Then as the smell begins to die, another gust of it takes over and things get clear. My brother is farting.


It’s 1:30 ei-farting-em. I wonder what a sane person does at 1:30. Class, what do you do in the heart of the night when you find yourself travelling next to a farting African from Kakamega? Don’t tell me suicide because I am religious. Say something quite good like texting your girlfriend to leave her a will just in case you die before you reach home.
Or an ambulance.

I actually contemplate calling the police, only that the bribe I have is not very enough. So I decide to sit and wait. God dwells with those who wait.


The bus stops at Nakuru.

People alight to go get light services of nature. I think my friend really needs those. I am trailing him when he disembarks. But instead of going to the gents, he takes the route left. Despite the hate, I rush to him and say, it is this way, Kuka.

He looks back and says, what.

The gents, I reply, feeling he needs every single second of this time he wastes.

He laughs. Not the light laughter. He laughs hard like I said something funny. Then he tells me to watch the window while he is away. Says someone might steal his bag. Then he disappears behind the wall to the main street.

He reappears almost immediately. He is with a young man of around 18, if 18-year-olds of this place are also defined by funny hairstyles and sleeveless shirts.

They stop next to the bus and my kinsman starts selecting from the merchandise. He picks biscuits, three bananas and locally made orange juice. I look at them and sympathise first with his small body, and then my nose system. He adds boiled groundnuts. At this rate I start fearing he might buy rat poison. You know people of Nakuru can sell you anything provided change comes home. So when I see him pick some sachets, I lean ahead to make sure no corruption happens in my midst.
The girl. Where is the girl?


In the middle of darkness and ammonia, the bus is caught in a hoarse shout. Someone is asking the driver to stop. My person wants to go out to the bush. When the bus stops at a bend, he rushes out and I see him disappear behind some leaves. He takes his time and when he returns, he is laughing.

I think he is what they had in mind when they were inventing the horror movie.

He will later repeat the call on two more occasions, and each time the driver will have to stop at a less threatening thicket since we are miles away from civilisation.


When we reach Nairobi it is 6 in the morning. I tap at his shoulder to wake him. Sleepily he asks where we are. I say Nairobi. He asks Nairobi where. I tell him Nairobi Kenya. He clicks, and starts laughing.

He collects his luggage slowly. I am impatient but there is nothing I can do. I scan the bus for the girl. I think she is asleep. Seat 9. I will find her and take her contacts. At least I don’t buckle safety belts for free. Not as long as I belong to the ancestors.

I touch down and wait in front of the bus. I come just in time to catch the girl descend the stair. Another young man is ahead carrying her handbag. He helps her get down, and they take the route down River Road without looking my way.

“Poss,” he calls as I get the last glimpse of the girl. He has his two bags and carton with chicken. The goatee plays when he talks. “Poss, do you have 20 bob? I’m going to Kawangware but I’m 20 bob down.”

Stend Chang’aa

If you are going to the heart of the kingdom using the western frontier, you will pass through a village still making amends with the rapid passing of time. It looks at you with sad drooling eyes and begs to be looked at. It is tired. Even the wind walks here with great caution. The village stands on your way just before you reach Emayoni. But if you are going away to the neighbouring kingdom of Buganda, you will greet its wrinkled face before you get to Ejinja on before Ebusia. It is bowed. It is silent. It is dull. Its name is Stend Chang’aa.

Now how does someone begin to talk of Stend Chang’aa to a complete stranger? Eh? Where you come from, how do folks talk of a segregated village, a village pushed to the edge of civilisation because it refused to sing the song of conformity?

And yet when you look at the present day Stend Chang’aa you may be fooled. The shell you see hides the vibrancy that once rattled even the hardest of hearts. Stend Chang’aa was a rude village which allowed the mighty to reign before sending them where they belonged. It contained mountains and folded imaginary horns off the foreheads of the youth. But it was the older generation that saw it dance the dance of life and attract attention of all beholders.

A story is told of Mzee Akapenzo. He was among the first locals to make a name – breaking all odds to become a renowned worker at Pukas. Those days, being the driver of a sugarcane tractor was more than being the father of a Malia today. Akapenzo would come with his Chondia tractor, park it along the Ebusia-Elureko highway and then walk home to take maize or rabbit meat to his third wife. All along he would be flagged with villagers who wanted this or that.

People fought for respect till old age. Akapenzo earned it early in the morning of his life. His name was Akapenzo because he also knew how to write using a penzo, and he could read and write. So respected was he that he was included in almost every affair of Stend Chang’aa. He sat on every committee. When a man wanted to marry, Akapenzo was consulted. When a person wanted to send his child to school, it was Akapenzo who was tasked with approving the move. He sat on every dowry negotiation committee. Stray boys were taken to his home every Saturday to be disciplined. He was a commander of the small world that was Stend Chang’aa.

But he was a feared man too. Nobody talked to his daughters anyhow. Not even Manyasa the boy who had lived in Nakuru working in the kitchen of a Whiteman for seven months and twelve days. Nobody walked near his home beyond six because you would not only be beaten, but the villagers would also task you to run for your miserable life.

Just as life is life, he grew old and retirement age flung its doors for him. Others say that Pukas had a new manager who was cutting the number of workers. Whatever it was, Omukofu Akapenzo was relieved of his work. They gave him his FAS money, whatever Pukas meant with FAS, and home he went.

Every man has a dream. Just before the FAS had rested in his pocket, the dream that had eaten his head to give him a bald suddenly surfaced. This was a few days after checking in the bank. He knocked at the door of Kandia, a respected village smelter and self-declared mechanic one restless morning and they disappeared through the path winding in Wesaya’s cane plantation and took a Mawingo Bus to Nairobi. When they came back, they did not come back on a Mawingo. They weren’t walking either. Akapenzo had many stories about his new old Chevrolet and people came from far and wide to listen to him. Village children were even allowed to say it was theirs.

The second week he again talked to Kandia that evening. The following morning they awoke the village with a mad revving of the Chevrolet as children cheered and called themselves the blood of Akapenzo. In the evening, driver and mechanic revved back. At the back of the pickup was an old posho mill engine he would install in his home and name it after his mother-in-law, proud mother to his Makneta. Villagers had envied this man’s outstanding success once he bought the Chevrolet. But a posho mill made matters complicated because not even the area chief had attained the level of buying a posho mill and planting it in his home to rumble the village with the rumble of food, health and life. His fellow men agreed he was in a different league and it was rumoured that some women were already regretting why they had married their respective husbands when Akapenzo was still alive.

Week three, he took Makneta to Mombasa Makneta, his youngest wife. He said he was going to say sorry to his soul after working so hard so long for Pukas. Those days, the best sorry was to go and bathe in the water with salt. And true enough, he came days later looking better and carrying an extra kilo of himself. That was the week we saw words.

The father of Otwori sent out word that he was throwing a big bash. It travelled quick-quick like news of war. Soon elders were tricking in. I am the one who carried Kuka Aineah’s bag and so I was there with my eyes. Kuka Weyama was also there. Kuka Imondo was there. And two big pots of the water of the gods were also made to sit side by side with elders in that meeting of merry. And wasn’t that Omukhulundu Kweyu at the edge of the group? Omukhulundu Kweyu was a man who in one stride had given a son to the Arabs, built a big church in his compound and still never said no to invites for the water of the gods when elders invited. People respected him a lot and so in any meeting you had to ask yourself thrice if it was him you had seen or his caricature angel.

After blessing the water, elders began to do whatever it was they would do best that evening. The notorious young men who had unwisely responded to the call of elders were given a pot and a gourd of the water and strictly warned to go home immediately the drink was over.

It was not drinking that happened. People drank. People drank. And yet they drank again. That day water was like the water of swollen Nzioa. It was like the air we breathed. And soon the elders began to surrender, one after another. When you say Kuka Aineah dropped his head to the ground in a fruitless battle against the conquest of water, you are not playing with words. And he was not alone. The grandfather of that other boy even showed people his thighs and said that his wife loved urinating at the mukuru of their house. And the young men at the entrance scolded their greed and staggered to rest in the bushes near Akapenzo’s home, for it was a forbidden thing of a young man to rest on Akapenzo’s compound when he still had unmarried girls.

All this while, Akapenzo was just looking.

When it was clear the water had defeated both man and boy, he asked his second wife and mother to Makokha to bring a basin. Nabakolwe being the quick-footed mother ran to her Big House and came with one. Akapenzo ordered her to order Puchi to collect the remaining drink in the basin. Because Puchi was not around, she did it herself, constantly looking in the direction of her Whiteman for approval. The basin was now very full.

He called Nashibe, the wife with big legs. She brought soap and carried the trough to her Whiteman’s bathroom, a leaf-walled structure hidden next to the banana plantation behind the house. Not even Nashibe the mother of seven sons would ask him why he was bathing in the water of the gods. Well, he came out clean. Supported between the shoulders of two elderly men who were passing by when Nashibe and Nabakolwe first rend the air with wails of a dyeing husband. The other elders were dead in their sleep and if these passers-by had not rushed him to Mishen Hospital, bad things would have befallen the kingdom.

He is still alive today. You can visit him.

Another story is told of a teacher. This one was young. But he had change. He lived far away from Stend Chang’aa. But he was the son of the village and it was known where his umbilical cord rested. He came home whenever schools closed. This was one such time.

So when Mwalimu Fanueli went to the market to watch his team play, he found wonders at Sakwa’s video show. Young men and a few misguided ageing elders were there watching a European match when Ingwe was playing. He asked the owner to switch the channel to the one where Ingwe was playing. Being a respected man, his word was heeded and Sakwa did as commanded. But the boys had not seen Mwalimu well, so they resisted. Mwalimu Fanuel being a man of few words stood up and addressed them. Boys, he said, you are very young. Let me tell you that we shall not under this roof watch A Whiteman when Ingwe is playing.

Mumble. Murmur.

Okay, whoever doesn’t want to watch this, I will refund your money tenfold. And Mwalimu Fanuel was not broke that day. He gave then their multiplied refund, one after another, one after the other, and remained watching the game alone. Sakwa’s video show is nowadays called the Video Shop of Mwalimu. Being rich is euphemised as being Mwalimu. And being broke? Boys, find a new name.

Stend Chang’aa has honed talents. But now it looks so quiet you may think a city can be a nun. There was that famous night-runner called Oroya. Though he came from the east of the kingdom, he served the entire kingdom in equal measure. But when he visited Stend Chang’aa he did his work super well. Sleep was not as boring as it is today. Oroya would meet you near Mayoni or Matungu. He would officially tell you in his low voice that he would be your guest tonight. Before you understood it, he would be gone. Only to return during the night and be true to his word. Catch who? You would never trap him however much you tried. He would night-run you until it quenched his body, and then he would run back east before dawn. What a gone talent! Good old Oroya, the naked spice to the sleep of Stend Chang’aa.

Stend Chang’aa sits on stories.

Next week….

Swimming in Life

Getting old this quickly is scaring. One day you will sleep a teenager and wake up a married man with a wife and grey hair. That is the day you will understand. You will visit the book of your teenage and childhood dreams and you will find those when-I-grow-up lines still written in bold ink. Growing up will be the only thing that shall have been achieved and you will find yourself staring the ceiling and trying to recount where the rain might have started beating you. You will open the window to look out for any traces of your youth. You won’t find any. It will be gone and the only sign you will find in those hazy clouds will be the reminder that life has happened and now the ship is coming to take you to the other world where you belong.

I don’t know if I’ll die today or tomorrow but as long as I be, I could find myself among the emerging old men. I have seen life and death. I have crossed borders and learnt how to say Ni hao and merci bocou (spelling is yours). I have seen droughts and survived equatorial floods and storms. The respect that I have, I have earned it myself. Sometimes a woman fights for me and sometimes a tax collector greets me. In short, I am an accomplished man with history to his back. Yet I don’t know one thing.

To swim.

I can’t suspend myself in water like they do. I don’t know. I must admit it gets to jealousy hormones whenever I see kids doing it around town. Sometimes I feel like plucking a stick and beating the shit out their asses because, hey, how could they master such good things at their age when I still don’t know even its fraction? Sexy. I think Apollo and Amadiora were swimmers. Put on enough bikinis at the shore until people came with sorghum and incense and burnt offerings to worship them.

There are many people whom I have seen learn swimming. There is this neighbor we came to the city almost the same time. He came from the part of Kenya they call arid. There, water is strictly for drinking, cooking and paying dowry. But when he came he began attending swimming lessons and now his other name is Big Fish. I, who comes from the rainy part, am still here.

Many swimming offers I turned down.

When people went to swim, I refused because a swimming pool affair would involve us undressing and exposing a flaw we wanted to get rid of. The swimming pools I see in movies always have girls and to add on that, Nairobi girls have 80cc giggling engines especially when they see a mark the size of a fish below a man’s knee. The next day you might just see them come to the pool with a fishing line because they want to take the fish to their cat at home. And when you come in your swimming suit they get out of the water, group together and start taking selfies near your knee as they giggle. So I always gathered an excuse to keep the swimming invitations at bay until they deleted me from their swimming circles.

The when and how I don’t know swimming began long ago at Musenda. The teachers were sometimes good and they would cane you less than ten strokes on a good Tuesday. However, the norm was that they became wild and ruthless especially when parents started rewarding the most disciplinarian ones among them by the roadsides and at the market. What Inzoberi and Issa Matala did to me one fateful Friday is a story for this day.

We had refused to enter the new classroom because it posed a number of threats. First, it was far from the latrines and so what would happen the day our stomachs forgot civility? And it was obvious that learning from a more decent room would naturally raise the bar on us. We would be expected to miss on noise makers’ charts. We would be expected to bathe everyday and clip our nails as an example to others. We would be expected to score more than 15% in Maths tests and when visitors visited, we’d be the likeliest class to be presented. Imagine. But the most dangerous threat was that we would be required to speak in English.

English!

We’d be required to greet each other in English. Borrow a red pen in English. Write our English exams in English. And when the stomach became not your friend, seek leave in English. You see the mischief? Take yourself back to class-six, try out these things and see if you won’t support Trump.

It was only in class-five I had came to know that speaking in English was not just speaking through the nose and laughing a mean laugh. Otherwise I had always blocked my nose with fingers and said Ing’ombe-ya-Panyako-itsia-mulusumu in the most perfect English accent that compelled most of my classmates to rely on me to translate the John Rambo movies. So this was coming just a few months after discovering the difficulty with the language. Not a soul would wish to travel that torturous road again.

So at break-time, Angachi came to ask what I thought of the arrangement. Two or three more members joined us. We held a closed-door consultation conference under the tree at the assembly grounds and after a minute of serious deliberation, I was sent to the class prefect.

“Go and tell that teacher of yours we are not learning from this class. We are going back.”

“You say?”

“I will even escort you to him if you don’t mind.”

At the same time, the others had taken the news to the rest of the class and intimidated the creatures that had already occupied our rightful place such that before break was over, we had all gone back to our old classroom.

Now this classroom had its magic. It had no windows or door. There were just gaps in the walls at places windows were supposed to have been fixed. There were also two large holes which served as alternative entry and exit: one at the back and the other right next to the chalk board. Sometimes if you came early, you found Poksi the sub-chief’s dog just beginning to take a nap for the day. He preferred the hole next to the chalk board and slept with his ears resting in the semi-concrete floor. The other hole at the back was always a special one. The teacher would turn to write something on the chalkboard and when he turned back, the class would be twice full. Sometimes when it was an afternoon Maths lesson, Mwalimu Dickson Inzoberi would face the blackboard to write 2 2 and when he turned back to thank us for maintaining silence, he would turn back to half an empty classroom. And he’d have to teach facing us or else he risked reducing the remaining Africans even more. Sometimes boys would come to graze at Musenda, change into school uniform and sneak into class, find the teacher boring, then sneak back out to go do better work with their goats. That was the power of the holes in the classroom the Babylonians now wanted us to move from.

So after we have fought for the back row and arranged our desks, and forgotten everything, the class teacher enters. In his hand he wields a cypress cane.

“Where is …” He looks around. You can hear a pin drop and an eye blink. “Where is Saibu?” I breath. Relieved.

Yusuf stands up.

“No. Not you. Where is your brother?” Actually we are not brothers with Yusuf. He calls me Small Father because I am the younger brother to his father. But those were the days teachers of Musenda were teachers of Musenda. If they called your grandmother your sister, it had to be like that or else it would be like that with a whip and a crying face.

So I put my elbows on the desk and look around for support. Angachi doesn’t know me. Olunga is busy reading. Eshikwati’s eyes are on the good teacher. Ambani has just used the hole and I’m sure he is now five kilometres away from the school and still running. I can’t win, so I stand.

The teacher first seizes me by the eye. Then sensing what I am about to do, he strides to me in a second. Mwalimu Inzoberi is now nothing short of mad.

The rest, as they say, is history. I earned myself a scar the size of a billboard just beneath my left knee. Throughout my remaining teenage life I had to guard this mark from any girl who looked like she had a fishing line back home.

*                              *                               *

Some people teach their kids to forget their languages. You’ll find them on Sunday afternoons taking the little guy to the dentist. Their car just broke down somewhere because the girl eating biscuits seems scared of Double M even though it is the best bus in the city. She is about five and talks spotless English for her age. Kenglish because of the Kenyan pronunciation her teachers and parents inherited from their teachers who got fascinated by the missionaries’ long noses and forgot about pronunciation.

That could be a problem, but there is another which complicates everything. People who sleep with change after 24th have very mad confidence and they can do any story anywhere and anyhow. Like these guys are talking about a neighbour’s dog. And you don’t know who initiated the topic. In our days, the work of a child in any conversation was to be reprimanded for listening and caned for participating. Or being sent to call another participant. But times have changed and so Tabby (must be a grandmother’s name because which Eastlands middle-class still names their girls Tabitha?) argues that the neighbour’s beagle is cuttier (she says it) than the other one in FLAMES (a movie? A book?). The father says a charged No-Mummy. The girl insists by listing things like Kerry’s shapely ears, the colour, the sexy texture and how he eats. One thing, Double M rides are always silent with the thoughts of lower middle-class patrons disturbed by their loan statuses and reminiscing whether to run away to a hidden village in Madagascar; or commit suicide; or just divorce. So we are all following their embarrassing discussion.

“He is so funny. He eats like our teacher.”

“How does your teacher eat, Tabby?” asks the mother, laughing.

Anakula….” She smacks her lips while mimicking her biscuits as a bone the canine eats. But the father is too alarmed he almost dies.

“Mummy don’t say anakula. Say He eats.”

“But it means the same,” the little thing protests.

“Remember no Swahili at all. Or we shall not go to the park next week. And no more candies.”

“Okay. He fucking eats….” She repeats the biscuit thing and the parents laugh.

There are other parents who boast at their places of work how their kids cannot pronounce a single native word. They boast you will think there is a trophy for it. It’s their freedom. They find gratification in such. Big men with bellies overflowing their waists and with postgraduate degrees in medicine and a Range Rover in the yard will take their boys to the mall for shopping as celebration that the younger things do not know a single word in their languages. Or that the guy has broken a record of not uttering a Swahili word in the house for two weeks and a day.

As you do that, know one thing – there are people who got ugly skin marks below knees just to emancipate you from captivity. But since we all have opinions on tastes and colours, let’s go about it slowly. God is watching.

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