Long time ago, at a time like this, the whole village would be abuzz. Children would be colourful, noisy and with appetite. Young girls clad in red dresses and young boys in long yellow t-shirts that also served as shorts. Some would be in their borrowed school uniform, but the difference in dressing didn’t make any difference in our smiles.
A time like this marked the end of time – our time was measured in years; and the beginning of new time. Even the class eight leavers would tentatively forget their fears about the coming results. It marked the end of a term and a class. On 24th we would have shared our moneys from the savings we deposited with our chief treasurer and accountant, Maureen, and I would have personally gone to the Bata to buy slippers ready for tomorrow. It deserved being a festive season. Where we come from!
Mwalimu Mama, my nursery school teacher and mother, would call me through her window to go slaughter the hens and I would know that at least a hen’s wing, neck and leg would sleep between my ribs. This is 25th. Angeline, on a good morning like today’s, would appease us with jojo sweets and patco, and her doorstep would be swarmed by us little angels (some angels don’t bathe so, right, it was ‘us little angels’). We would go to play, but kept vigil around Angeline’s kitchen until it was time to show what we were made of.
We would go to Otwona’s. Phoebe and Kiladis and Fais would be cooking. We would forget about the pigs. Then we would play tsibanda or tabooh (they no longer call it that) or ikooko or Chuck Norris or whatever game that would buy time to meal time. And those were the days Mama Fais would threaten to cane you if you left her compound without eating.
We would dance kudundu to the market. You know the big tree that was in the market centre? That is where kudundu of Siraeli would take us for mass. This was one of those rare days the boys postponed going to the river to watch women bathe. Then a legendary drums master would pass with Jeshi la Ukofu. His name was Jackson Omukatia. And we would follow Jackson and dance kudundu all the way to Salvation Army. And another band, of Penda I guess, would steal us from Jeshi la Ukofu, and we would dance along the road, past Mukambi Primary, past our homes, past the market, to the Pentecostal Church behind the mosque. Hamza would call Eugene Cosmas and he would call Boyi wa Mastura. Maryam would call me and I had no one younger to call. Boyi wa Otwona would be there, just like Marehemu Yusuf. Maureen too, before she grew wings and left our group, would command us when, where and how to dance kudundu. Bil was still young, but she followed us altogether only if she swore not to cry in church. Badru Okello Zangi, with a flooded nose, would be there. Eating time made everyone superior, and you were respected relative to the speed you used. Even Mohammed wa Majoni will tell you these things. I miss those days.
These days snakes no longer give birth to snakes and rabbits live in holes.
The sparks of love and unity are now gone. We don’t get invites for Shikuku. And if you visit someone the wife tells you he is not in. If you visit someone they say you are not good enough to be guest. Or an invitee replies saying s/he doesn’t subscribe to Kurismas. Those days this would have taken the trophy for the most foolish sentence of the year. The search for money has also killed the hearts. People are looking for money, and they will even dig diamonds from you if you call on them. Halafu, halafu nini…? Yes, hizi porojo za oooh, Alishapapu fwana Alishafindushi. If you don’t invite people to feast then Alishapapu ni wewe. If you forget where you come from then you have no business guessing where you are going to.
(The writer is a former resident of Shianda City. He will be visiting Cosmas tomorrow at Kawangware to bless the house and count the number of children).